Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Sad Story of Jose Ernesto Medellin

One of the most popular posts on the old Word Press Blog was this one about Jose Ernesto Medellin. I've retained the same title, which I thought was cleverly ambiguous. Although I often write about the rights of convicted murderers, I'm quite aware of the victims' tragic stories as well.

This comment from Jessica came in today, which made me think about the revenge aspect of capital punishment and incarceration. It suddenly struck me that Jessica, as justified as she thinks she is, sounds oddly similar to the criminal she's raging about. Isn't it a contradiction to say that his fury and rage towards those girls was wrong but our fury and rage towards him is all right? This is a good illustration of exactly what I find objectionable with the death penalty. What do you think about it?

Like the comment below states; if it was your loved ones lying in bushes with maggots covering their face and genitals, their faces unrecognizable, smashes in by the steel toed boot of the same demon possessed killer that just got through taking her viginity by rape on train tracks, on the same tracks they drug them up and down, up and down by their feet, after jumping up and down on their throats and faces. This land we live in is a wonderful land made by the people WE OURSELVES elect. Once we elect these officials, IT IS OUR CIVIL DUTY TO SUPPORT those officials and what they do for our country. The death penalty has been around for centuries. If in fact the God we trust in has beef with our capital punishments, I do believe it would not still be here in this century. And to be honest, this 'poor poor' boy GOT MUCH BETTER THAN WHAT THE GIRLS GOT! I can only hope he GOT IT in prison like he gave her years ago, and I'm not talking about the beating, I am obviously referring to the gang rape! And I can only hope that he gets it OVER AND OVER AND OVER again in the after life! I believe Satan will reward with an eternity of sodomy!, for such work he did for his master.

Favorite Movie: The Big Lebowski

You know what I do? I gravitate towards a favorite movie and stick with it for a year or two. Every two or three months during that period, I watch it. In recent years it's been Pulp Fiction, The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. The reigning film right now, and for the past year or so, is The Big Lebowski. I wrote about it before. (Big hat tip to Weer'd for suggesting how I might lighten up the blog).

One time a friend told me she never would read a book a second time or see a movie a second time, since there are so many not yet read or seen. That impressed me, but I do it differently. Books, I read three or four times if I really like them. That's over decades. Movies I can see between 10 and 20 times if they're favorites.

How about you? How do you do it?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Marines and Motorcycles

CNN reports that more Marines have died over the last year in motorcycle accidents than in Iraq.

Motorcycle accidents have killed more Marines in the past 12 months than enemy fire in Iraq, a rate that's so alarming it has prompted top brass to call a meeting to address the issue, officials say.

Twenty-five Marines have died in motorcycle crashes since last November -- all but one of them involving sport bikes that can reach speeds of well over 100 mph, according to Marine officials. In that same period, 20 Marines have been killed in action in Iraq.

So, does that mean the Iraq number is very low or the motorcycle number is very high, or both? It sure caught my attention; I'll tell you that. I can easily identify with the young Marines who drive too fast and engage in other risky behaviors that 20-year-olds often engage in.

What really caught my attention, though, was at the end of the video when Barbara Starr, the Pentagon Correspondent, said the Marine Corps had considered "banning Marines from owning these types of sports bikes."

Bob S. has often asked me to compare my ideas about guns to problems with other things, cars for example. He would say things like, so many people are killed in car accidents, why not ban cars? I'm paraphrasing there, but that's more or less the question. I've always resisted going into those types of comparisons because I don't believe in gun control or gun bans. But just for argument's sake, if the Marine Corps banned motorcycles, most or maybe even all of these 25 guys would still be alive. Does that mean it's the motorcycle's fault? No, of course not. Does that mean it's the fault of the availability of the motorcycle? Yes, indeed.

How does this apply to guns? If someone wants to do harm with a gun and none is available, he might grab a knife or club, something less lethal and do less damage. If a young Marine wants to ride fast and feel that freedom that riding a fast bike gives, and none is available, he might get in a car, drive fast and if an accident happens, possibly survive.

This is not to say let's have gun bans and motorcycle bans as a solution. It's simply to say, just like the availability of those powerful motorbikes is the problem, gun availability is a big part of the gun violence problem. Can we all agree on that?

Is There Fear of a Black President?

The Mother Jones site ran a very interesting story yesterday written by James Ridgeway about the reaction some white folks are having to the ever-increasing prospect of a black president.

The prospect of an African American president is bringing the nation's white supremacists out of the shadows—and, along with them, some subtler versions of racialist populism. Both hearken back to another economically and socially turbulent time in the United States, in the early 1980s.

On the official David Duke website, the election of Barack Obama is referred to as a "wakeup call." Is that some kind of code word that the true extremists recognize? It's a frightening prospect to think that there may be a powder keg of of racial hatred just waiting to be ignited.

On Huffington Post, the article called Five Reasons Why the Obama Infomercial was Worth the Cost seems to smooth the waters a bit.

Let's be honest: the Obama infomercial was about comforting white Americans -- especially middle and working class white Americans. That said, it was arguably necessary and -- for what it was -- very effective.

Although only time will tell, it appears that the Obama infomercial accomplished exactly what it needed to do: soothing skittish white undecided voters without alienating current supporters.

What do you think? Is this a problem? Is there any possibility that small bands of fanatics armed with well-read copies of The Turner Diaries will rise up and wreak havoc?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why Is McCain Silent on Guns? has a fascinating article about John McCain's having missed an important opportunity by not pushing the Second Amendment agenda.

Guns are a potent force in American politics. As I have pointed out before, had Al Gore won Tennessee, Arkansas or West Virginia — all winnable states — in 2000, he would not have had to win Florida, and he would have become president.

But Gore lost all three states, and guns had a lot to do with it. Gun owners simply didn’t believe Gore when he said he was not going to take their guns away. (They did believe Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 when he said the same thing, but Clinton sold his “Bubba” image effectively and was far more trusted in small-town and rural America.)

The article makes a convincing argument for the benefits of a Republican campaign using the gun control issue to its benefit, but it doesn't offer much to explain McCain's not doing so.

What do you think could explain it? I was thinking the reason is it's not that important in the big picture, but those examples about Gore tell a different story.

What's your opinion?

Harrold Texas - Trendsetter

We talked before about the Texas school where teachers are now armed. Here's a video produced shortly after the new rules went into effect. The folks interviewed are a bit ingenious, but they do cover most of the issues. What do you think? (H/T to Patrick)

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

8-Year-Old Killed in Uzi Accident reports on the tragic accident that resulted in the death of an 8-year-old.

As his father raised his camera, an 8-year-old boy aimed an Uzi at a pumpkin set up at a shooting event. Before his father could focus, the third-grader from Connecticut squeezed the trigger, and the high-powered weapon recoiled and fatally shot the boy in the head.

The tragic death of Christopher Bizilj has raised a furor in the gun blogging world. Bryan Miller, who you may remember was involved with the infiltrator Mary McFate, has written an article which describes the incident as "unconscionable, selfish, stupid." Not much to argue with there. But he goes on to question whether the real motivation for this "sport like any other" might not be psycho-sexual. I guess this is what gets people upset.

On the Snowflakes in Hell blog, which I like very much and often read, Sebastian says about Bryan, "He’s shown himself to be hysterical, and not interested in rational discussion." To me that doesn't seem like a fair criticism. Then Sebastian's commenters really go over the top, accusing Bryan of dancing in the blood of the little boy.

I say, it's perfectly reasonable to use a real life example to illustrate one's point. It's perfectly fair to ask questions like, what kind of sport is that? Is it really like any other, boating for example? Bryan's point seems to be that it isn't; that something's wrong with people who like guns. I can certainly understand why gun lovers would get defensive about this kind of questioning, but their anger and name-calling just obscures their answers.

Is there something to the theory that men who like to shoot guns are compensating for some kind of inadequacy in themselves? Is it so offensive to even ask the question? Isn't it possible that some gun enthusiasts are enthusiastic because of low self esteem, inordinate fear, feelings of inadequacy or paranoia? If so, how many, what percentage?

Another question arises in this case. A weapon like the Uzi seems to be outside the normal description of something needed for self defense or home protection. Or is it? Are these so-called assault weapons required for these purposes? If so, where do we draw the line? Should people be allowed surface to air missiles, hand grenades, land mines? For the very affluent gun enthusiast, the sky's the limit, I guess.

I say there should be some limits, but I honestly don't know where that line should be drawn. What do you think? What's your opinion.

Obama's 30-minute Ad

CNN reports on the 30-minute TV ad run by the Obama campaign.

Sen. Barack Obama's 30-minute TV ad, which ran simultaneously on broadcast and cable networks at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, is muscle-flexing that has little precedent, a campaign advertising expert said.

"It's evidence, if you needed any, that the Obama campaign has more money than there is ad time left to buy," said Evan Tracey, director of the Campaign Media Analysis Group. "This is flexing the muscles."

I guess flexing the muscles is OK. It made me think that Barack is doing exactly what he advised his supporters to do after the last debate, not to rest on their laurels, not to count their chickens before they're hatched, etc. He's raised a lot of money and he's using it.

In the ad, McCain and the Republicans are not even mentioned; making a complete departure from the negative campaigning that had gotten a bit too prevalent.

One thing I found confusing is that ABC initially refused to accept the ad, and after negotiating an agreement, Obama's folks had made other arrangements. Meanwhile, Fox, not only took the business, but actually had the World Series game delayed to accommodate the Obama ad. Did I miss something?

The IMAO site has a humorous take on the latest Obama news.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Detroit's ex-Mayor Goes to Jail

The New York Times reports on the ex-mayor of Detroit beginning his prison term.

Kwame M. Kilpatrick traveled around town in a black Cadillac Escalade, relished his ever-present entourage of admirers and surrounded himself with as many as 21 bodyguards. But for the next four months, Mr. Kilpatrick must spend 23 hours of each day alone, in Cell 14J-4 of the Wayne County Jail.

That doesn't sound like much of a prison sentence to me, but he already served time, which I imagine was taken into consideration.

Mr. Kilpatrick was jailed more than nine months after the eruption of a scandal that heaped more misery and embarrassment upon this economically depressed city and state. Text messages published by The Detroit Free Press showed that Mr. Kilpatrick had lied under oath when he denied having an extramarital affair with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, and that he conspired with Ms. Beatty to fire police officers who might have revealed their indiscretions. The city settled a lawsuit by those officers for $8.4 million.

Is that what it's all about? He'd had an affair and lied about it? Didn't we learn anything from the Clinton / Lewinsky affair? Doesn't the whole country hang its communal head in shame that we actually impeached a President for nonsense like that, while serious issues abounded.

I think what happens is, when people in power come after you, for whatever reason, they often attack on the moral issue of sexual conduct. The fact that these two men, the former President and the ex-mayor of Detroit were made to answer questions under oath about their sex lives is ludicrous. In Europe, I can tell you, America is a laughing stock over this.

The differences in these two cases are much more glaring than any similarities, however. The ex-mayor, at least according to that NY Times description in their first paragraph, was flaunting his power and abusing his office. Clinton, I don't know, I guess he was just being a Democrat during a time of rising conservative fervor.

Here's the CNN take on it.

What's your opinion? I realize the readers of this blog know a lot more than I do about these things, so I'm interested in your ideas.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Have Arrived. I've Been Tagged for a Meme

I was tagged by Daisy for a Seven things meme:
* Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.

* Share 6 / 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.

* Tag 6/ 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.

* Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

1. When JFK was shot, I can remember a boy in my class who cried. I can still remember his name. But the main thing I recall is how impressed I was that he took it so personally. We were 10.

2. I used to have cats as pets; now I'm allergic to them.

3. I have three tattoos, which I got in 1978, 1983 and 1984 respectively, before they were trendy.

4. I've lived in Miami, Las Vegas, Fort Wayne, several cities in NJ and several in CA. Now I live in Rome Italy.

5. My kids, who are 12, 9 and 4 and a half, speak three languages, Turkish, Italian and English, in that order. Their mother tongue is Turkish, literally because my wife is from Turkey.

6. I jumped out a perfectly good airplane two times - with a parachute.

7. I went to university in my mid-thirties and studied Classics and Philosophy. Great stuff.

I hope some of my friends would like to come out and play. I'm tagging
Weer'd, Principe, Earl, Slyde, Mimi, Vicki and White Rabbit.

Brooklyn Man Allegedly Sodomized by Police

CNN reports today on the disturbing story of a Brooklyn man who claims he was sodomized by policemen in the subway.

Lawyers for Michael Mineo, 24, allege he was jumped by five officers inside a Brooklyn subway station, then sodomized with the antenna of a police radio.

NYPD chief spokesman Paul J. Browne told CNN that several people who were near Mineo when he was arrested "do not support Mineo's story that he had been sodomized."

It's hard to give the benefit of the doubt to both sides in a case like this. Initially, I leaned towards the police, which is against my nature. But the more I read, the more I believed Michael Mineo's story.

The World Prout Assembly site has some pretty gory details that support the victim.

Especially damning for the cops is the Brooklyn View site and the All NY Blog, the latter of which contains a picture of a distraught Michael Mineo in the hospital bed.

I'm still taking it all with a grain of salt; I think that's wise when reading stuff on the internet. But, it certainly brings up some of our favorite questions. Do cops tend to abuse their power? How frequent is that? I'll bet law enforcement supporters would be offended at the mere questioning of it, and like the gun enthusiasts, they'd surely claim the percentage of abusers is minimal, perhaps even less than 1%. What do you think?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Do You Like Sci-Fi?

I didn't realize I did until I glanced at the list provided by these guys and saw how many of the top 50 I'd read.

Here are some of the ones I recommend:

Foundation, Isaac Asimov
1984, George Orwell
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clark
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut
Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

What about you? Are there some on the top 50 that I really need to read? Do you have any favorites?

School Shooting in Arkansas

CNN reports on the latest school shooting, this one in Arkansas.

Two people were killed and one wounded in a shooting at the University of Central Arkansas on Sunday, according to a hospital spokesman.

The shooting prompted a campus lockdown.

One suspect was in custody and three others were being sought, police said in a recorded message.

Even with these sparse details, I think the questions we've often discussed can be raised again. Is this kind of incident preventable? How? Should the gun-free status of universities be changed and licensed gun owners encouraged to carry on campus? Or would that solution move us into an area of even greater problems?

The UCA site will hopefully contain some updated information later today.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Do You Twitter?

I've been hearing about Twitter for a couple months now. Finally I decided to look into it and after reading this article, signed up.

Bye-bye blogs: The net's cool kids are all on Twitter now -- and they use it for everything.

I never really wanted to be one of the "cool kids," at least not for the last thirty years or so, but this thing really is cool. For starters, it's the simplest sign-up procedure I've ever done on the internet. How it might fit in with blogging remains to be seen; although I find many blogs too lengthy for my rather limited attention span, the 140 character limit on Twitter seems a bit extreme. Maybe the two, blogging and twittering can go together.

Do any of you have experience with Twitter?


This one's going around the internet. It's funny, poignant, appropiate.

Hat tip Jon Talpin via Marc Cooper