Monday, April 27, 2015

Nebraska Reconsidering the Death Penalty -- Nebraska Legislature’s Vote Signals Growing Conservative Support for Ending Death Penalty

“If there is one thing conservatives hate, it’s a failed government program that gives the state power it shouldn’t have. In recent years, however, there is one government policy many conservatives continue to rally behind even though it wastes millions in tax payers’ hard-earned dollars, puts innocent lives at risk and fails to keep Americans safe: the death penalty.”

“Fortunately, the tide is beginning to turn, and more and more lawmakers, scholars and pundits on the right side of the aisle now recognize that its bad policy to give an all-too-fallible government the power to execute its own citizens.”

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hillary, Bill, and the Clinton Foundation

International NY Times -- Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company

“Uranium investors’ efforts to buy mining assets in Kazakhstan and the United States led to a takeover bid by a Russian state-owned energy company. The investors gave millions to the Clinton Foundation over the same period, while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s office was involved with approving the Russian bid.”

“Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.” -- The Disastrous Clinton Post-Presidency

All sorts of unproven worst-case-scenario questions float around the web of connections between Bill’s private work, Hillary Clinton’s public role as secretary of State, the Clintons’ quasi-public charity, and Hillary’s noncompliant email system. But the best-case scenario is bad enough: The Clintons have been disorganized and greedy.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Are there double standards?

Stealing $500 is a felony. Defrauding the public of billions of dollars and paying a large settlement or fine is just the cost of doing business.

Jon Stewart -- Fraud City

The Fiscal Times - The Biggest Outrage in Atlanta’s Crazy Teacher Cheating Case

“If you don’t remember these kinds of creative prosecution strategies during the financial crisis, that’s probably because no prosecutor ever used them. Teachers ordered to falsify tests and the superiors who demanded it, amid desperation to save schools from destruction, deserve no mercy from the court. Bankers who ran a criminal enterprise to engage in the largest consumer and investing fraud in world history deserve our thanks.”

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Religious Persecution of Christians and the Silence of Obama

Consider that Kirsten Powers is a liberal columnist who usually supports Obama. Obama refuses to recognize radical Islamic terrorism by name but has near silence on the tragedy of the persecution and ethnic cleansing of Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere.

USA Today -- Kirsten Powers: Christians thrown overboard left to drown by Obama

“If a Christian mob on a ship bound for Italy threw 12 Muslims to their death for praying to Allah, does anyone think the president would have been so disinterested? When three North Carolina Muslims were gunned down by a virulent atheist, Obama rightly spoke out against the horrifying killings. But he just can't seem to find any passion for the mass persecution of Middle Eastern Christians or the eradication of Christianity from its birthplace.”

“Religious persecution of Christians is rampant worldwide, as Pew has noted, but nowhere is it more prevalent than in the Middle East and Northern Africa, where followers of Jesus are the targets of religious cleansing. Pope Francis has repeatedly decried the persecution and begged the world for help, but it has had little impact. Western leaders — including Obama — will be remembered for their near silence as this human rights tragedy unfolded.”

Victims ask that Tsarnaev’s life be spared

LATimes -- Victims ask that Tsarnaev’s life be spared

Death or life in prison for convicted Boston Marathon bomber

“They say they worry that long death-row appeals will only remind them of the bombings and block their healing process as victims.”

“Among those asking that Tsarnaev's life be spared are Martin Richard's family; Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, two newlyweds who each lost legs in the explosions; and the sister of MIT police Officer Sean Collier, who was killed in the manhunt leading to Tsarnaev's capture two years ago.”

"If there is anyone who deserves the ultimate punishment, it is the defendant," Kensky and Downes said in a statement Sunday. "However, we must overcome the impulse for vengeance."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ISIS -- an essential article for understanding this terrorist organization

Spiegel Online -- The Terror Strategist: Secret Files Reveal the Structure of Islamic State

An Iraqi officer planned Islamic State's takeover in Syria and SPIEGEL has been given exclusive access to his papers. They portray an organization that, while seemingly driven by religious fanaticism, is actually coldly calculating.

“Thousands of well-trained Sunni officers were robbed of their livelihood with the stroke of a pen. In doing so, America created its most bitter and intelligent enemies.”

Bakr was merely modifying what he had learned in the past: Saddam Hussein's omnipresent security apparatus, in which no one, not even generals in the intelligence service, could be certain they weren't being spied on.

“The plan would always begin with the same detail: The group recruited followers under the pretense of opening a Dawah office, an Islamic missionary center. Of those who came to listen to lectures and attend courses on Islamic life, one or two men were selected and instructed to spy on their village and obtain a wide range of information.”

“IS has little in common with predecessors like al-Qaida aside from its jihadist label. There is essentially nothing religious in its actions, its strategic planning, its unscrupulous changing of alliances and its precisely implemented propaganda narratives. Faith, even in its most extreme form, is just one of many means to an end. Islamic State's only constant maxim is the expansion of power at any price.”

“True to Haji Bakr's plan, the phase of infiltration was followed by the elimination of every person who might have been a potential leader or opponent.”

“As the West's attention is primarily focused on the possibility of terrorist attacks, a different scenario has been underestimated: the approaching intra-Muslim war between Shiites and Sunnis. Such a conflict would allow IS to graduate from being a hated terror organization to a central power.”

“In such a case, IS propaganda about the approaching apocalypse could become a reality. In its slipstream, an absolutist dictatorship in the name of God could be established.”

Monday, April 20, 2015

Islamic State militants in Libya shot and beheaded groups of captive Ethiopian Christians.

Fox News -- White House condemns ISIS video that purportedly shows killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya

“In the video released Sunday, Islamic State militants in Libya shot and beheaded groups of captive Ethiopian Christians. The attack widens the circle of nations affected by the group's atrocities while showing its growth beyond a self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq.”

Yet more reasons to reconsider the death penalty

Yet more reasons to reconsider the death penalty

Boston Globe Op-ed -- Denise and Bill Richard - To end the anguish, drop the death penalty

“But now that the tireless and committed prosecution team has ensured that justice will be served, we urge the Department of Justice to bring the case to a close. We are in favor of and would support the Department of Justice in taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal.”

‘We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives. We hope our two remaining children do not have to grow up with the lingering, painful reminder of what the defendant took from them, which years of appeals would undoubtedly bring.”

“We believe that now is the time to turn the page, end the anguish, and look toward a better future — for us, for Boston, and for the country.”

WP -- FBI overstated forensic hair matches in nearly all trials before 2000

“The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.”

The Far Center -- Reconsidering the Death Penalty in Ohio

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Republicans push for a permanent aristocracy

WP -- Republicans push for a permanent aristocracy

“On Tuesday afternoon, the House Rules Committee took up H.R. 1105, the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015,” with plans to bring it to a vote on the chamber floor Wednesday — Tax Day. It is an extraordinarily candid expression of the majority’s priorities: A tax cut costing the treasury $269 billion over a decade that would exclusively benefit individuals with wealth of more than $5.4 million and couples with wealth of more than $10.9 million.”

Never underestimate the ability of the Republicans to shoot themselves in the foot. There is no chance this would survive a veto and it just reinforces the Democrats campaign argument that they are the party concerned about the middle class and income inequality. The Republicans position should instead be that the Democratic policies over the last six years have not helped the middle class and even lead to more income inequality.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hillary and the Liberal Way of Lying

WSJ -- Hillary and the Liberal Way of Lying

How the Clintons pioneered the methods by which Obama sold his Iran deal.

“To you and me, the Clinton lies were statements demonstrably at variance with the truth, and therefore wrong and shameful. But to the initiated they were an invitation to an intoxicating secret knowledge.”

“What was this knowledge? That the lying was for the greater good, usually to fend off some form of Republican malevolence. What was so intoxicating? That the initiated were smart enough to see through it all. Why be scandalized when they could be amused? Why moralize when they could collude?”

Iran deal. An honest president might sell the current deal roughly as follows.

“My fellow Americans, the deal we have negotiated will not, I am afraid, prevent Iran from getting a bomb, should its leaders decide to build one. And eventually they will. Fatwa or no fatwa, everything we know about their nuclear program tells us it is geared toward building a bomb. And frankly, if you lived in a neighborhood like theirs—70 million Shiites surrounded by hundreds of millions of Sunnis—you’d want a bomb, too.”

“Yes, we could, in theory, stop Iran from getting the bomb. Sanctions won’t do it. Extreme privation didn’t stop Maoist China or Bhutto’s Pakistan or Kim’s North Korea from building a bomb. It won’t stop Iran, either.”

Remember, however, that every single republican candidate in the last presidential election also stated they would not let Iran get a nuclear weapon with no explanation about the risks or how they would do that. They also all stated that they would not accept raising even a dollar of taxes even if this was offset by 10 dollars of cost savings in the budget. Pandering in politics is not constrained to only one party.

Monday, April 13, 2015

WSJ - Terrorists and Their Quranic Delusions

Wall Street Journal - Terrorists and Their Quranic Delusions

Egypt’s grand mufti on ugly distortions of Islam masking a hunger for power and bloodshed.

“These groups have the audacity to dismiss any Quranic verses that don’t fit their claims. They declare unilateral war against both Muslims and non-Muslims who don’t share their barbarous mentality. They completely disregard the Quranic conception of human brotherhood and peaceful relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.”

Saturday, April 4, 2015

More reasons to reconsider the death penalty

NY Times -- The Supreme Court’s Death Trap

“The number of death sentences imposed last year, 72, was the lowest in 40 years. The number of executions, 35, was the lowest since 1994, less than half the modern peak of 98, reached in 1999. Seven states, the fewest in 25 years, carried out executions.”

“California has the country’s biggest death row, with more than 700 inmates. Many more of them die of natural causes — two since mid-March — than by execution. Last July, a federal district judge, Cormac J. Carney, concluding that California’s death penalty had become “dysfunctional,” “random” and devoid of “penological purpose,” declared it unconstitutional; the state is appealing.”

Washington Post - Alabama inmate free after 30 years on death row. How the case against him unraveled.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Why Reconstructions Matters

New York Times -- Eric Foner Why Reconstructions Matters

Americans will probably devote little attention to the sesquicentennial of Reconstruction, the turbulent era that followed the conflict. This is unfortunate, for if any historical period deserves the label “relevant,” it is Reconstruction.

Issues that agitate American politics today — access to citizenship and voting rights, the relative powers of the national and state governments, the relationship between political and economic democracy, the proper response to terrorism — all of these are Reconstruction questions. But that era has long been misunderstood.