Saturday, October 11, 2008

It Just Ain't True

Please tell me what you think about this.

I had the distinct impression that many of my gun-loving friends were all for Palin because she supported their gun philosophy. Of course no one admitted that even when pressed; it wouldn't be very flattering. But I'm afraid, just like so many blacks wanted O.J. acquitted 13 years ago for no better reason than that he was black, many gun owners like Palin for no better reason than that she likes guns.Maybe it's just human nature; I'm really not trying to make a big deal out of it.

But, the same guys that I suspect are guilty, or partly guilty of this, also seem to be saying that Obama doesn't believe in the 2nd Amendment and that he's into gun control big-time.

It seems to me it just ain't true.

What do you think?

Same Sex Marriage in Connecticut

The New York Times reports on the reversal in Connecticut of the ban on same sex marriage.

A sharply divided Connecticut Supreme Court struck down the state’s civil union law on Friday and ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Connecticut thus joins Massachusetts and California as the only states to have legalized gay marriages.

Now these are what I call progressive states. I wonder whom they'll vote for in the big election coming up?

The case was watched far beyond Hartford. Vermont, New Hampshire and New Jersey all have civil union statutes, while Maine, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii have domestic partnership laws that allow same-sex couples many of the same rights granted to those in civil unions. Advocates for same-sex couples have long argued that civil unions and domestic partnerships denied them the financial, social and emotional benefits accorded in a marriage.

What about these other states where they've been allowing civil unions? Is there some consistency between attitude towards gays, attitude towards gun laws and presidential preference?

Here's the CNN take on it.

Please tell us what you think.

O.J. Requests New Trial

CNN reports that the lawyers for O.J. have requested a new trial in Las Vegas.

Lawyers for O.J. Simpson have filed a motion for a new trial, saying he was denied a fair hearing when two African-Americans were dismissed from the potential jury pool.

An all white jury found Simpson guilty on October 3 on 12 counts related to a September 13, 2007, robbery involving sports memorabilia at a Las Vegas hotel.

I personally don't think it will help much. The all white jury was probably stacked against him, but would black jurors be likely to be more fair and impartial? I don't think so.

I'm afraid for The Juice, there's not much hope unless the appeals court can overturn the conviction. If they can see some breach in the fair processing, perhaps his time in jail will be cut short.

In my opinion, what happened 14 years ago should not enter into this. I believe, given the limited information I have, that he was railroaded this time. In America that's not supposed to happen.

Here's the take on it from an interesting site called

What's your opinion?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Road Rage - Pistol Drawn

How rare is it?

On the Philly Dot Com site the other day we can read the report of an Upper Darby man who drew down on a woman for honking the horn at him.

A 24-year-old Upper Darby man, infuriated that a woman had honked at him in an intersection, pulled a gun on her and her 2-year-old daughter and said, "You're dead," police said yesterday.

Deaone McNeal, of the 1600 block of Garrett Road, was arrested near his home Saturday after the victim called 911 from her car, Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said. McNeal denied having a gun, but when police searched his vehicle, Chitwood said, they found a .45-caliber, semiautomatic pistol loaded with 16 hollow-point bullets.

Police also found McNeal's 7-year-old daughter terrified in the backseat, Chitwood said.

McNeal was granted a permit in January to carry a concealed weapon, Chitwood said. McNeal stated self-defense as his reason for needing the permit.

The article goes on to recount another incident in which a driver was actually shot. Maybe it's not as rare as some people say. It makes me wonder about the wisdom of allowing certain people to carry guns. What gets me even more, is the way responsible gun owners seem to delineate between themselves and the irresponsible ones, the same way they do between the good guys and the bad guys.

Isn't it true that in any large group, take for example, gun owners, a certain percentage will have problems like any other group? What do you propose we do about that? I put the question to the gun proponents. I personally do not favor gun bans, but I also don't favor gun folks talking like this is not their problem. I say it is.

What's your opinion.

The Innocence Project

In the comments yesterday, Patrick Collins left us a link to The Innocence Project.

The Innocence Project was founded in 1992 by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University to assist prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. To date, 222 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 17 who served time on death row. These people served an average of 12 years in prison before exoneration and release.

Patrick said the Death Penalty should be abolished. "If even one person is wrongly convicted and executed that should be reason enough to get rid of it. There is ample substantiation this happens." I agree absolutely. It doesn't take a statistician to extrapolate from the figures above and work backwards. Innocent people have been executed.

Another thing The Innocence Project lawyers are working on is proper compensation for the exonerated people. Twenty-five states have no benefits at all, many of the other 25 offer inadequate compensation.

But how do you compensate people whose lives have been disrupted by a wrongful conviction? Are the errors that produced those convictions being examined for wrongdoing on the part of prosecutors, judges and law enforcement personnel? Remember the case in Texas, a Capital case in which the female judge was having an affair with the district attorney? Nothing wrong there, they decided.

Another question I have is this: if somehow we could be certain that no wrongful conviction would ever take place, would we then be in favor of the Death Penalty? I say no. I oppose Capital Punishment because it's wrong, morally wrong. Never executing innocent people would be a side benefit of abolition. By abolishing the Death Penalty we eliminate the awful moral inconsistency of telling people that shouldn't kill one another, but if they do, sanctioning the government to do just that.

What do you think?

The British Invasion of the 1970s

When Freddie sang, "Or just find me an open car I'll make the speed of light outa this place," man, could I relate. And that's not all I could relate to in this song.

For me, Queen, Bowie, the Who, Led Zeppelin, they were the real British Invasion.

Tenement Funster
Words and music by Roger Taylor

My new purple shoes
Bin amazin' the people next door
And my rock'n'roll forty fives
Bin enragin' the folks on the lower floor

I got a way with the girls on my block
Try my best to be a real individual
And when we go down to smokies and rock
They line up like it's some kind of ritual
Oh give me a good guitar
And you can say that my hair's a disgrace
Or just find me an open car
I'll make the speed of light outa this place

I like the good things in life
But most of the best things ain't free
It's the same situation just cuts like a knife
When you're young and you're poor and you're crazy
Young and you're crazy...

Oh give me a good guitar
And you can say that my hair's a disgrace
Or just find me an open car
I'll make the speed of light outa this place

The Old Double Standard

On the wonderfully informative site called The Cognoscenti, Graham asks a very pointed question.

Why does Sarah Palin get a free pass?

This question is in reference to her membership in the Alaska Independence Party. I've read about this here and there, but frankly didn't pay much attention. But, while reading what Graham has to say about it, I realized there's a major double standard going on. Imagine if Obama had selected a VP running mate who had said the un-American things Sarah Palin has said? Do you think the Republican mud-slingers would have been so quite about it? Examples:

"I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."

"And I won’t be buried under their damn flag. I’ll be buried in Dawson. And when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home.”

I'll answer my own question. If Joe Biden had ever said things like that, we would have been bombarded with it like there's no tomorrow. Look at what they've done with the Ayers business, the desperate, straw-clutching Republicans.

The explanation is obvious. Obama must have instructed his advisors to try, as much as is possible in a presidential campaign, to maintain some dignity, to not stoop to using every low blow they could. And the reason for that is also obvious. He could afford to do it. He's the better candidate. People are ready for a change.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Richard Cooey Not Too Fat to Execute

CNN reported the story today that the Supreme Court of the State of Ohio decided the convicted murderer Richard Cooey is not too fat to execute. We discussed this case before when the motion was made. The commenting got fairly heated.

The 41-year-old is scheduled to be executed Tuesday for killing two University of Akron students in 1986.

He would be the first person to be put to death in the state since the end of a de facto moratorium on lethal injection.

I will consider Tuesday a sad day for Ohio and for America. To me it's inconceivable that in the United States of America in the 21st century we cannot come up with a more humane manner of dealing with these dangerous men. And what surprises me is the venom with which people talk about these guys. It's as if doing inhuman things causes them to stop being human beings in the eyes of many.

I say Richard Cooey is a human being, perhaps a sick and damaged one, but human nevertheless, and for no other reason is worthy of respect and humane treatment.

What's your opinion? Is there no better way to deal with convicted murderers? Does the death penalty deter others from committing atrocities? Is the furious killing of a blood thirsty man with seemingly no conscience as bad as the calculated killing of the mafia hit man?

Precious Doe Killer, Harrell Johnson, Convicted

Harrell Johnson was convicted of First Degree Murder in the death of the 3-year old daughter of his wife known as Precious Doe. CNN reports that in exchange for agreeing to allow the trial to take place in Kansas City, the prosecution asked for Life in Prison without the possibility of parole rather than the death penalty.

During closing arguments, prosecutors told jurors a guilty verdict would finally bring justice in a case that brought an outpouring of public grief after a police officer found Erica's naked, headless body in a wooded area of Kansas City in April 2001.

Do you think the guilty verdict will really bring justice to this case? Would the death penalty have accomplished that if they'd sought it?

While high on drugs, according to the mother of the victim, Johnson kicked the little girl. The couple decided not to seek help because they had outstanding warrants and were afraid of being arrested. Michelle Johnson, 33, testified against her husband Tuesday after she pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder in Erica's death.

A pediatric neurosurgeon testified Monday that if the couple had quickly sought medical attention for Erica, doctors probably could have reversed the damage.

On the Rush of Time blog, Jim takes issue with the prosecutor.

On the Pearl's Window site, there's a heartbreaking picture of the little girl, but no opinions that I could see.

What's your opinion? Does the fact that he was high on drugs mitigate the gravity at all? What about that exchange? Is it right for the prosecutor to trade the death penalty for an agreement to keep the case in his own jurisdiction? And, what do you think about the mother? Isn't it a bit severe to charge her with murder when she just failed to get medical help out of fear?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A-Ha Video - Take On Me

Via Matthew Yglesias via Jason Kottke.

To me the 1980s were a wonderful decade. I turned 27 in 1980 and was to have the best times of my life during those years. How was it for you? Do you agree with the famous Austin Powers' line, "The 70s and the 80s? You're not missing anything, believe me. I've looked into it. There's a gas shortage and A Flock of Seagulls. That's about it."

The Second Debate - McCain vs. Obama

The New York Times provided a lengthy and what I believe is a comprehensive analysis of the debate. They highlighted 12 items for their veracity check, things like Health Care, Getting Bin Laden and Taxes. What I noticed is that gun control and capital punishment were not mentioned. If they made it into the debate at all, the New York Times considered 12 other things more important. That's interesting considering what we're always talking about on this blog.

What do you think about that? Does it perhaps mean that those two topics are really not as important as we seem to think? I suggested before that the reason some people like and support Palin for VP is because she's pro gun. Of course that was roundly denied. My point was that maybe the gun issue is not all that important in the big picture. But, what about all those claims that it's the 2nd Amendment that protects the 1st Amendment? I don't think I accept that, do you?

One thing I got a kick out of was that Obama's claim of lowering taxes for 95% was exaggerated. But at least it wasn't vague; otherwise it could not have been so precisely analyzed.

Mr. Obama said he is proposing a tax cut for “95 percent of Americans.” But the Tax Policy Center, a non-partisan organization, did some sophisticated modeling of both candidates’ tax proposals and concluded actually only 81 percent of tax filers would get a tax cut under Mr. Obama’s plan.

CNN had this report. And the Declarations of Pride site declares Obama the winner.

What's your opinion? Did Obama really win? Is it simply a case of momentum he's built up since Palin began fading away two weeks ago?

Death Penalty Sought for Yacht Killer Skyler Deleon

CNN reports on the case of a former child actor accused of throwing a couple off their yacht bound to an anchor. Skylar Deleon has pleaded not guilty to the murders; the prosecution is seeking the death penalty.

Deleon is accused of killing the Arizona couple, Tom and Jackie Hawks, in 2004 to steal their yacht, and killing another man from whom he stole thousands in 2003.

In a surprising opening statement the defense attorney Gary Pohlson said "Skylar is guilty of all three murders," which is not the same as a guilty plea. It seems it was a dramatic way of trying to avoid the death penalty for his client. I'm afraid it might take more than theatrical performances to save Skyler Deleon.

The jury will also consider the separate murder charge in the death of a man Deleon met in a work furlough program in 2003 while serving jail time for burglary. Murphy said Deleon got $50,000 from John Jarvi, then drove down to Mexico and slashed his throat and dumped his body before coming back.

What's your opinion? Mine is that the death penalty is morally unacceptable. But this case brings up another question which we've looked at before. What's worse, the cold blooded premeditation of these crimes or the furious uber-violent killings we've looked at before, here for example? Is the calculating mafia hit man worse than the mentally ill obsessed killer?

On Kanedax Live Journal it's unclear if the author is in favor of the death penalty or not. Initially he thought Skyler had killed his own parents, but what he mainly seems to be complaining about is CNN's using the child actor angle in their article.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More on the VP Debate

Robert Parry over at The Smirking Chimp has a wonderful post, Neocon Desperation is Showing, about the VP debate. Without doubt, it is the most incisive and informative article I've read about the debate. He basically refutes the spin which Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard wrote in his article entitled “Comeback.”

Of course, it would have been quite a feat to positively spin the following Palin gem:

“Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be-all, end-all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period. Our nuclear weaponry here in the U.S. is used as a deterrent. And that's a safe, stable way to use nuclear weaponry..."

It must have had them rolling in the aisles, not only her mispronouncing the word nuclear four times but with that ridiculous "be-all, end-all" expression.

Parry again:

Palin’s “shout-out” to some Alaska school kids and other folksy chatter might have charmed some casual voters, but Palin’s casual style – masking a shallowness of knowledge – might have been unnerving to many other Americans who are in the mood for some gravitas.

What do you think? Can you really imagine this small-town personage actually performing the role of the Vice President?

Multiple Murder / Suicide in California

CNN reports on the latest tragedy to strike.

A man distraught because he could not find work shot and killed his mother-in-law, his wife and three sons and then killed himself inside a home in an upscale San Fernando Valley neighborhood, police said.

How depressed would one have to be to do something like that? Although the article says there was no history of mental illness, could that man have appeared normal in the days preceding the tragedy? Do you think he would have killed his entire family of six people with a kitchen knife if he'd had no gun? I say the availability of the gun was a factor, and although I don't preach banning guns as a solution, I would suggest that gun proponents by their philosophy alone are, if not responsible for this, at least involved in it somehow.

On the site Kezins, there's a post today called How Bad Is the Economy. He says, "There’s a fundamental problem with society when people with MBAs can’t find jobs. I’m sure we’ll be reading about more suicides caused by the economy over the next year or two."

On Steve White's blog, Static and the Radio, there's a post accusing CNN of going too far.

On The Gun Guys blog, there's a bit of information that I didn't see on CNN.

Karthik Rajaram, 45, used a handgun he purchased on Sept. 16th to murder his family before killing himself.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I'm very sorry for the relatives and friends of the Rajaram family.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Great Gun Survey Results and Conclusions

I thought we'd have something more transparent and trustworthy in taking our own little poll and analyzing our own stats, but now I don't know. I tend to think we're going to see what we want to in these numbers just like we do in any other survey. And, speaking for myself, when I don't see what I want, I discount the whole thing as the product of someone's bias. I'm sure none of you do that.

My Column A is now without Tupac. As Weer'd suggested, stopping at the same traffic light in Vegas is pretty a flimsy connection. But, I have had a few dramatic events up close and personal. I'm convinced the gun made the difference.

I wondered about what Weer'd said: two people he knew killed themselves with guns. Now, I understand the guns didn't do it and I understand they could have used other means, but doesn't anyone see that the gun is so unforgiving as a means of taking one's life that its availability is a major factor? That's my idea anyway.

Bob's two Column A entries weren't all that dramatic and certainly shouldn't offset his Column C.

Although Thomas didn't provide details about his single Column A entry, even if it were an awful tragedy it would be hard to offset his Column C. His is one autobiography I'm looking forward to, as I mentioned before.

Conclusions not only from the Survey but for all the posts and comments:

1. Gun Bans or extreme gun control laws will never work and I do not support them. This is for two reasons: most gun owners won't stand for it and the criminals will continue to do their thing anyway. Yet, I do support some sort of registering and background checks, but they should be only enough to inhibit the criminals from acquiring guns easier than they can now.

2. Guns in the possession of people like Bob, Weer'd, Nomen (no survey ?) and Thomas pose no threat whatsoever and in fact increase the security of their immediate environs. But, I'm afraid that's not the case with all legal gun owners. I believe you guys have exaggerated in describing the exemplary responsible behaviour of the gun owners you know and you have downplayed the fact that in any large group of people you've got some unstable ones and some violent ones, some with anger management problems, etc. I think this is only human nature. The percentages are up for debate.

3. The fact that almost all guns are manufactured legally means that the ones in the hands of criminals are to some extent coming from the pool of legally owned guns, the number of which according to Bob S. is 65 million. Some people might want to increase that number to 100 or 200 million in order to arm not only the teachers in Texas but many more of the good guys. For me, this is wrong because the more you increase the one the more you increase the other. The percentages are up for debate.

4. The small percentage of crimes committed with guns compared to the huge numbers of guns out there, the famous 65 million, is not the point. The small number of murders is ONLY 20,000, we were told. Only? Every single one of them is serious. I think we've become numbed by the numbers. The point is, not that there's an acceptable small percentage of killings, but rather that the killings have nothing or next to nothing to do with you guys - see conclusions 1 and 2.

5. Firing weapons is one of the most thrilling and exhilarating things I've ever done. The fact that you guys, to a man, have tried in various ways to deny that makes me wonder what's up. I think it's defensive manoeuvring. Thomas said strapping on a gun was no different than attaching a flashlight to a utility belt and that there was no "exhilaration" at all involved in shooting. Yet, he said one hasn't lived until he has hunted his own steak. The latter statement sounds more believable to me.

6. Philosophically, I think Ghandi had it right and the gun enthusiasts have it wrong.

What's your opinion? What conclusions have you drawn from our little Survey or from our debates?

Oh, You Won't See Him No More

That's what Fat Clemenza said to Sonny the day after he shot Pauly in the Jersey Meadowlands and said the unforgettable and oft-quoted, "Leave the gun, take the cannoli."

Well, that's what I say about O.J. You won't see him no more. The L.A. Times reports that the jurors claimed to not be prejudiced because of what happened 13 years ago.

"We've been painted as an all-white jury that hates O.J.," said Dora Pettit, one of seven jurors at the news conference. "That's not true."

Pettit said she prayed for Simpson throughout the trial and said it was "unfortunate that he's facing the same charges as somebody who robbed a bank."

That was unfortunate indeed. The way I see it there was more than enough reasonable doubt to go around in the case. According to Dora Pettit, it's the evil Nevada law that's to blame, certainly not that they were prejudiced.

What amazes me is how some people who tend to extol the benefits of law and order, of holding people accountable, of Lady Justice blindly doing her thing, seem to think it's good that O.J. is convicted in this case even if it's a miscarriage of justice in order to make up for the wrong acquittal. Although I'd never condone their actions, I think I'd have more respect for a lynch mob.

What's your opinion? Did O.J. pay in this trial for the murder many think he committed 14 years ago? Is it good for the system to operate like that? Wouldn't a justice system that can do that be open to much worse abuses?

Let us know what you think.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The VP Debate

I wasn't able to watch or read much news this weekend, but judging by Digby's post, Take Me Out To the Ballgame, at Hullabaloo they must have been mixing up the sports metaphors.

After the Republicans successfully worked the refs and lowered the bar, last Thursday Sarah W Palin was in her wheelhouse and kept her eye on the ball. While she didn't hit it out of the park, she proved that she could take a punch and serve an ace when it counted. Biden meanwhile, showed that he's a team player right out of the gate by avoiding time in the penalty box and probably won on points. But with her humor, personality and confidence, Palin hit the trifecta.

The question for Tuesday is whether McCain will throw another hail mary or if Obama will fall on the ball and run out the clock. The one thing he needs to avoid is dancing in the endzone or spiking the ball before the final score is on the board. He needs to keep his eye on the ball. McCain, on the other hand, is behind on points, so he needs to strike out the side, get the ball over the plate and score a knockout.

Who do you think is winning? Did the VP debate make much difference? Will Tuesday's debate between Obama and McCain?