Saturday, May 30, 2015

Five Reasons that the Death Penalty will be Abolished

Time -- David Von Drehle -- The Death of the Death Penalty

Capital Punishment in the United States

Tsarnaev is in no danger of imminent death. He is one of more than 60 federal prisoners under sentence of execution in a country where only three federal death sentences have been carried out in the past half-century. A dozen years have passed since the last one.

The shift is more pragmatic than moral, as Americans realize that our balky system of state-sanctioned killing simply isn’t fixable. As a leader of the Georgia Republican Party, attorney David J. Burge, recently put it, “Capital punishment runs counter to core conservative principles of life, fiscal responsibility and limited government. The reality is that capital punishment is nothing more than an expensive, wasteful and risky government program.”

The Justices all know that the modern death penalty is a failure. When they finally decide to get rid of it, “evolving standards” is how they will do it.

The facts are irrefutable, and the logic is clear. Exhausted by so many years of trying to prop up this broken system, the court will one day throw in the towel.

(five reasons why)

Wikipedia -- Capital Punishment

"Many countries have abolished capital punishment either in law or in practice. Since World War II there has been a trend toward abolishing the death penalty. 36 retained the death penalty in active use, 103 countries had abolished capital punishment altogether, 6 had done so for all offences except under special circumstances and 50 have abolished it in practice because they had not used it for at least 10 years or were under a moratorium"

"In the European Union member states, Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits the use of capital punishment.[4] The Council of Europe, which has 47 member states, also prohibits the use of the death penalty by its members.

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted, in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014[5] non-binding resolutions calling for a global moratorium on executions, with a view to eventual abolition "

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Nebraska abolishes the death penalty

NY Times -- Nebraska abolishes the death penalty

"Opponents of the death penalty here were able to build a coalition that spanned the ideological spectrum by winning the support of Republican legislators who said they believed capital punishment was inefficient, expensive and out of place with their party’s values, as well as that of lawmakers who cited religious or moral reasons for supporting the repeal. Nebraska joins 18 other states and Washington, D.C., in banning the death penalty."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

ISIS Expands

CNN -- ISIS is 'everywhere' in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra

"We consider this ... a culture battle for humanity and all the world," Abdulkarim said. "Palmyra is very important in the minds of the Syrian people and also the international community. Now we are very afraid."

Palmyra's Theater

Intn’l NY Times -- How ISIS Expands

"A central goal of the Islamic State is expansion. This week, the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, took over key cities in Iraq and Syria. It aims to build a broad colonial empire across many countries. A year after announcing its expansion goals, it is operating or has cells in more than a dozen countries."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Just the cost of doing business

USA Today -- 5 banks guilty of rate-rigging, pay more than $5B

"Once again the actual perpetrators and criminal architects of the fraud scheme will avoid criminal liability," said Gurulé, now a University of Notre Dame law professor. "While the payment of these large fines may help to reduce the federal deficit, such penalties will do little to change the pervasive culture of corruption that currently exists in the banking sector. Real change will only occur when corrupt bank officials are indicted, convicted and sent to prison for their crimes."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Decreasing Support for the Death Penalty - Conservative Nebraska moves toward death penalty repeal

“But in a two-hour debate, state lawmakers said they have turned against the death penalty for a number of reasons. They cited religious reservations, the difficulty the state has in obtaining drugs used for lethal injections, the arbitrary application of the penalty to some murderers and not others, the specter of wrongful convictions and the emotional exhaustion of the families of crime victims who endure decades of appeals by death row inmates.”

Huffington Post -- Kim Bellware Nebraska Lawmakers Vote To Repeal The Death Penalty With Veto-Proof Majority

Republican abolitionists have criticized the death penalty as being out of step with conservative values of fiscal responsibility, protecting life and limiting the role of government.

The Atlantic The Death Penalty Becomes Unusual

In 2012, only 59 of the 3,144 counties in America actually sentenced people to be executed.

The last ever public execution in the United States, 1936.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Death Penalty -- Should it be reconsidered?

Three different perspectives on the the death penalty.

The Atlantic (June 2015) -- Jeffry E. Stern -- The Cruel and Unusual Execution of Clayton Lockett -- The untold story of Oklahoma's botched lethal injection—and America’s intensifying fight over the death penalty

From the chemical room, the paramedic heard someone say, “He’s trying to get off the table!”

The Supreme Court decided to consider the challenge to Oklahoma’s lethal-injection method. Oral arguments were scheduled for April 29, the one-year anniversary of Lockett’s death. Warner’s co-complainants have been granted stays until the Court decides the case or Oklahoma changes its execution method. Then–U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recommended that all states stop executions, at least until the Court issues its ruling.

That decision is expected in June.

Int’n NY Times -- Death Sentence for Boston Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Unsettles City He Tore Apart

To the amazement of people elsewhere, Bostonians overwhelmingly opposed condemning the bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, to death. The most recent poll, conducted last month for The Boston Globe, found that just 15 percent of city residents wanted him executed. Statewide, 19 percent did. By contrast, 60 percent of Americans wanted Mr. Tsarnaev to get the death penalty, according to a CBS News poll last month.

The jury was “death qualified” — each juror had to be open to the death penalty; anyone who opposed it could not serve. In that sense, the federal jury did not reflect the general population of the region. Massachusetts abolished the death penalty for state crimes in 1984 and has not carried out an execution since 1947.

BBC News -- Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's ex-leader, sentenced to death

Morsi has rejected the authority of the courts.

An Egyptian court has pronounced death sentences on ousted president Mohammed Morsi and more than 100 other people over a mass prison break in 2011.

The death sentence was also condemned by Amnesty International, which said it had become a tool "to purge the political opposition"

See also from The Far Center - Reconsidering the Death Penalty in Ohio

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Jeb Bush -- on Common Core and Immigration

Governor Bush describes a moderate position on common core and immigration in an interview with Megyn Kelly

Fox News Video -- Megyn Kelly’s interview of Jeb Bush

“The simple fact is we need higher standards. They need to be state driven. The federal government should play no role in this, either in the creation of standards , content or curriculum.”

“As it relates to in-state tuition, it passed this year. A conservative Republican legislature led by a very courageous Speaker of the House, Will Weatherford passed this and the governor signed it under law. It didn't happen under my watch, but I supported that. Because if you've been here for an extended period of time, you have no nexus to the country of your parents, what are we supposed to do? Marginalize these people forever?”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Jeb Bush -- An Important and Perhaps Pivotal Speech

Governor Bush shows some depth and gravitas in conveying

Christian values and their importance in Western Civilization.

The Federalist -- Mollie Hemingway Jeb Bush Defends Christianity And Religious Freedom. Good For Him.

“No place where the message reaches, no heart that it touches, is ever the same again. And across our own civilization, what a radically different story history would tell without it. Consider a whole alternative universe of power without restraint, conflict without reconciliation, oppression without deliverance, corruption without reformation, tragedy without renewal, achievement without grace, and it’s all just a glimpse of human experience without the Christian influence.”

Bush said “there is no more powerful or liberating influence on this earth than the Christian conscience in action.”

“From the standpoint of religious freedom, you might even say it’s a choice between the Little Sisters and Big Brother – and I’m going with the Sisters.”

WP -- Kathlen Parker -- Jeb Bush’s eloquent defense of Christianity

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech

Kirsten Powers -- The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech

Lifelong liberal Kirsten Powers blasts the Left's forced march towards conformity in an exposé of the illiberal war on free speech. No longer champions of tolerance and free speech, the "illiberal Left" now viciously attacks and silences anyone with alternative points of view. Powers asks, "What ever happened to free speech in America?"

TheDailyBeast -- Book review -- How Liberals Ruined College

“College should be a place of new ideas and challenging views. Instead, liberals have made it a place of fear and intimidation.”

“Close to 60 percent of the four hundred–plus colleges they surveyed “seriously infringe upon the free speech rights of students.”

“The root of nearly every free-speech infringement on campuses across the country is that someone—almost always a liberal—has been offended or has sniffed out a potential offense in the making. Then, the silencing campaign begins.”

Monday, May 4, 2015

Baltimore -- A deeper look

Money alone has not and will not fix the problems which are not unique to Baltimore.

Things that money alone cannot fix:

  • It’s important to have a father in the home or a mentor. Statistics also show that two young people who finish high school and get married before having children seldom end up in poverty.

  • The worst thing that city government can do to a poor neighborhood is to lower expectations. The “broken window” effect described by James Q. Wilson in the 1980’s was the basis of the concepts used by Mayor Giuliani to turn around New York City. Combating what can only be described as bureaucratic neglect in these areas can begin with code enforcement such as mowing overgrown properties and boarding up or tearing down vacant houses. Much of the cost of this can be placed as an assessment on the property of the absentee owners and recovered. I have been there and done that in Columbus, Ohio in the early 1980s. We reduced the code violations in a section of the city from 50% of vacated properties to less than 9%. It is not a matter of money or manpower, but a matter of political will.

  • Illegal drugs are a major contributing factor to the decline of inner city neighborhoods. Drugs are the cause of much of the violence and, along with poor schools, a cause of the flight of middle class families. When I was an orthopedic surgical resident in the Bronx area of New York City in the early 1970’s, I saw a community essentially implode and destroy itself with a heroin epidemic (see the movie “Fort Apache the Bronx”). Studies at that time showed that mainline heroin addicts committed 250 felonies each a year to support their habit. Discarded needles destroy all of the public green spaces. The place to begin is a zero tolerance for heroin which can also be well justified as a health policy related to AIDS and hepatitis and deaths from overdoses.

  • The teacher’s unions have been at least a part of the problem with the inner city schools. The results for those inner city children who have been able to go to charter schools have generally been better.

  • Perhaps ironically, I think that it can be argued that one of the things that could be done to improve both the issues of police misconduct and the perceptions of injustice in the inner cities would be for more states to abolish the death penalty.

WP -- Michael S. Rosenwald and Michael A. Fletcher -- Why couldn’t $130 million transform one of Baltimore’s poorest places?

“Sandtown-Winchester is crumbling, and there is little to suggest that two decades ago visionary developer James Rouse and city officials injected more than $130 million into the community in a failed effort to transform it. Instead there are block after block of boarded-up houses and too many people with little hope.” -- Krauthammer: Baltimore’s schools are a failure of liberal ideology.

“After talking about the problem of fatherlessness in Baltimore, Krauthammer said, “the other issue is the terrible schools, and the idea that they have been deprived of money is preposterous. Baltimore the second highest per-capita spending on students in the country……The public schools are rotten. What the parents need is school choice.”

NY Times - Thomas B. Edsall - Sex, Drugs and Poverty in Red and Blue America

“The problems of majority black Baltimore are extreme, but many of the trends found there are as extreme or more so in majority white Muskogee.”

“The Baltimore poverty rate is 23.8 percent, 8.4 points above the national rate, but below Muskogee’s 27.7 percent. The median household income in Baltimore is $41,385, $11,661 below the $53,046 national level, but $7,712 above Muskogee’s $33,664.”

40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon

4 Perspectives on the fall of Saigon 40 years ago.

WSJ -- William McGurn -- When America Loses a War

The real lesson is that bad things happen when the U.S. loses or walks away from a war.

In the 40 Aprils that have come and gone since, Vietnam has become shorthand for a political orthodoxy built on the idea that American military intervention overseas creates more problems than it solves. This thinking feeds an entire industry pumping out tedious lectures about “The Lessons of Vietnam.”

Still, the most obvious lesson of Vietnam is the one hardly ever acknowledged: the terrible price paid—human as well as strategic—when America loses a war.

Foreign Affairs Winter (1991/92 issue) -- George C. Herring
America and Vietnam: The Unending War

“Why did the United States invest so much blood and treasure in an area so remote as Vietnam and of so little apparent significance? Why, despite its vast power, did the United States fail to achieve its objectives? What were the consequences of the war for Americans-and for Vietnamese?”

Foreign Affairs -- Nov/Dec 2012 -- Fredrik Logevall
What Really Happened in Vietnam

“The Saigon government, meanwhile, was crippled from the outset by three principal shortcomings that no amount of U.S. intervention could overcome: professional military inferiority, endemic corruption, and insufficient popular support.”

Quartz -- Matt Phillips
Vietnam, ruled by communists for 40 years, is now the No. 1 fan of capitalism on the planet

Much like China, Vietnam remains an authoritarian country today. And it’s communist, too, but in name only. Things have changed a lot over the last 40 years. According to a recent Pew Research survey, Vietnam today has the single most positive views on capitalism of any country, with an enthusiasm that is even more widespread than in Germany, India, or the United States.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Two views of events in Baltimore

National Review -- Riot-Plagued Baltimore Is a Catastrophe Entirely of the Democratic Party’s Own Making

“American cities are by and large Democratic-party monopolies, monopolies generally dominated by the so-called progressive wing of the party. The results have been catastrophic”

“The evidence suggests very strongly that the left-wing, Democratic claques that run a great many American cities — particularly the poor and black cities — are not capable of running a school system or a police department. They are incompetent, they are corrupt, and they are breathtakingly arrogant. Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore — this is what Democrats do.”

American Prospect -- In Baltimore, Police Thuggery Is the Real Violence Problem

As officials call for peace and nonviolence, perhaps the police could heed some of that same advice.

In 2014, police killed more than 100 unarmed people.