Zachary R. Shemtob, assistant professor of criminal justice at Connecticut State University, and David Lat, a former federal prosecutor have a rancid idea:
Executions in the United States ought to be made public.
Right now, executions are generally open only to the press and a few select witnesses. For the rest of us, the vague contours are provided in the morning paper. Yet a functioning democracy demands maximum accountability and transparency. As long as executions remain behind closed doors, those are impossible. The people should have the right to see what is being done in their name and with their tax dollars. [...]There is a dramatic difference between reading or hearing of such an event and observing it through image and sound. (This is obvious to those who saw the footage of Saddam Hussein?s hanging in 2006 or the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during the protests in Iran in 2009.) We are not calling for opening executions completely to the public ? conducting them before a live crowd ? but rather for broadcasting them live or recording them for future release, on the Web or TV. [...]
Ultimately the main opposition to our idea seems to flow from an unthinking disgust ? a sense that public executions are archaic, noxious, even barbarous. Albert Camus related in his essay ?Reflections on the Guillotine? that viewing executions turned him against capital punishment. The legal scholar John D. Bessler suggests that public executions might have the same effect on the public today; Sister Helen Prejean, the death penalty abolitionist, has urged just such a strategy.
That is not our view. We leave open the possibility that making executions public could strengthen support for them; undecided viewers might find them less disturbing than anticipated.
No mention from these gentlemen about how long it would be before certain elements in our society started lobbying for some twisted version of American Execution, in prime time, with commercials and applausometers. Lethal injection, the current supposedly benign method in vogue in most states, would certainly not satisfy viewers (or media outlets like Fox) for long. For the audiences in 17th and 18th century England, nothing drew more ooohs and aaahs than when a poorly adjusted noose tore off someone's head (while pickpockets, obviously undeterred by the capital punishment often exacted for that crime) worked the crowds.
How long would it be before there was an unquenchable thirst for audience participation and a lottery was set like Utah authorities have used to pick the firing squad for executions in that state? Surely some clever someone could create an Internet-enabled push-button version allowing the executioners to take part from the comfort of their sofas. Zap! For a handsome price, of course.
The disgust that opponents have for the death penalty in all its forms is far from "unthinking," as Shemtob and Lat would have it. It is, most definitely, noxious and barbarous. And it's way past time to make it archaic as well.
At Daily Kos on this date in 2007:
Whatever else can be said about Senator Barack Obama's "Comprehensive Strategy to Fight Global Terrorism" speech today, it has certainly put the spotlight on foreign policy in a manner far more suited to get to the root of things than the silly media-enhanced spat over whether a Democratic President should dial up the likes of Fidel Castro, Kim Jong-il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the afternoon of January 20, 2009.
The screaming started before the verbatim transcript was to be found anywhere. You can find it here.
Among progressives, foreign policy is always difficult to discuss for more than three minutes before the shouting starts. Because progressives (that is, liberals and those of us further to the left) have divergent goals, and we don't have the same analysis, although there is considerable overlap. It's that overlap which makes us allies. Over the past few years, we've been more or less united around getting out of Iraq and staying out of Iran, but when the talk turns to the details, and when we go further afield, our differences cannot be submerged. In part, that's because some progressives choose words that make other progressives (and especially the full spectrum of Democrats) squirmy: words like "imperialism" and "hegemony."
This is nothing new obviously; it's essentially where we were during the Vietnam era. It's why many people are asking whether, say, Senator Hillary Clinton is an updated 21st Century version of a Cold War liberal or somebody with a fresher vision. It's why the term "terrorism" itself, much less "global war on terrorism." can kindle the outpouring of fierce debate we've seen today.
Turns out Newt has faked his Twitter followers, also. Sigh. Has anyone started a Newt Gingrich Campaign Demise Pool yet?
Open thread below.....
No, the surprise appearance of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords does not make me feel any better about it.
Still, scores of progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans voted against the legislation, which ultimately passed 269-161. Democrats split evenly: 95-95. The Republicans broke down 174-66. Though House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) voted for the legislation, they did allowed members to vote their conscience. And in a sign of Pelosi's underlying disapproval of the measure, her top allies, including Reps George Miller (D-CA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) ultimately voted no.
The measure is meant to slash $2 trillion from the deficit. Most of those savings, if not all, will come from cuts to domestic and defense spending. The bill guarantees no tax increases.
The Senate will take up the legislation Tuesday. Though a time has not yet been set for that vote, its path to passage is much clearer in the upper chamber, where partisan divisions over taxes and government spending on key social programs have not called into question the imperative of avoiding default.
"This deal trades peoples' livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it. Progressives have been organizing for months to oppose any scheme that cuts Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, and it now seems clear that even these bedrock pillars of the American success story are on the chopping block. Even if this deal were not as bad as it is, this would be enough for me to fight against its passage. This deal does not even attempt to strike a balance between more cuts for the working people of America and a fairer contribution from millionaires and corporations. The very wealthy will continue to receive taxpayer handouts, and corporations will keep their expensive federal giveaways. Meanwhile, millions of families unfairly lose more in this deal than they have already lost. I will not be a part of it. Republicans have succeeded in imposing their vision of a country without real economic hope. Their message has no public appeal, and Democrats have had every opportunity to stand firm in the face of their irrational demands. Progressives have been rallying support for the successful government programs that have meant health and economic security to generations of our people. Today we, and everyone we have worked to speak for and fight for, were thrown under the bus. We have made our bottom line clear for months: a final deal must strike a balance between cuts and revenue, and must not put all the burden on the working people of this country. This deal fails those tests and many more. The Democratic Party, no less than the Republican Party, is at a very serious crossroads at this moment.
For decades Democrats have stood for a capable, meaningful government - a government that works for the people, not just the powerful, and that represents everyone fairly and equally. This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country. We have given much and received nothing in return. The lesson today is that Republicans can hold their breath long enough to get what they want. While I believe the country will not reward them for this in the long run, the damage has already been done. A clean debt ceiling vote was the obvious way out of this, and many House Democrats have been saying so. Had that vote failed, the president should have exercised his Fourteenth Amendment responsibilities and ended this manufactured crisis. This deal is a cure as bad as the disease. I reject it, and the American people reject it. The only thing left to do now is repair the damage as soon as possible."
It's pretty much a combination of the worst aspects of all the Republican plans that have been floated.
For me this isn't a shocking disappointment. I have felt that this whole process was a disaster from the beginning and it really doesn't matter to me if the Democrats eke out a couple of concessions about defense cuts or close a few loopholes "in return" for these cuts. That isn't "shared sacrifice," it's asking the poorest, oldest and sickest among us to give up a piece of their meager security in exchange for the wealthy giving up some tip money and the defense industry giving up a couple of points of profit. It's stripping the nation of necessary educational, safety and environmental protections while the wealthy greedily absorb more and more of the nation's wealth and the corporations and financial industry gamble with the rest.
The idea that they are even talking about this at a time of nearly 10% official unemployment with the economy looking like it's going back into recession (if it ever left) makes this debate surreal and bizarre. To cut the safety net and shred discretionary spending in massive numbers at a time like this is mind boggling. That it's happening under a Democratic President and a Democratic Senate is profoundly depressing.
But it's happening. And sadly, I still think it will be mostly Democrats who end up voting for it.
And by the way, David Plouffe and The President really, really need to stop saying that progressives should want to do this bullshit. It's insulting ... and blindingly infuriating.
Liberals don't think paying ransom only to have the hostage killed anyway is a "resolution" anyone should celebrate.
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In case the Satan Sandwich has raised your blood pressure:
At 6:30 a.m. - a side canyon just below milepost 1 on the Catalina Highway north of Tucson.
On the drive down the mountain this evening the temperature dropped to 61 degrees during a heavy rain. Stay cool.
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The radical right has now won a huge tactical and strategic victory. Democrats and the White House have proven they have little by way of tactics or strategy.
By putting Medicare and Social Security on the block, they have made it more difficult for Democrats in the upcoming 2012 election cycle to blame Republicans for doing so.
By embracing deficit reduction as their apparent goal ? claiming only that they?d seek to do it differently than the GOP ? Democrats and the White House now seemingly agree with the GOP that the budget deficit is the biggest obstacle to the nation?s future prosperity.
The budget deficit is not the biggest obstacle to our prosperity. Lack of jobs and growth is. And the largest threat to our democracy is the emergence of a radical right capable of getting most of the ransom it demands.
I sometimes wonder what's to be done. Before the Tea Party I used to think everybody could be convinced, given time and exposure to other adults with different ideas. I'm starting to think we just need to wait a few years for the worst fantasy of the[...]
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Title: Brokedown PalaceArtist: Grateful Dead
Jerry Garcia was born 69 years ago today. Here's one of my favorite Dead tunes. What's yours?
Let’s face it, gold bulls have had it pretty easy the last 2 1/2 years. During that time QE1 and QE2 drove a gigantic rally out of the 2008 eight year cycle low.
Folks, at some point a move like that has to enter a lengthy consolidation.
With quantitative easing coming to an end (and QE3 not politically feasible at the moment), the economy likely rolling over into recession, and the dollar possibly setting up for a powerful rally out of the three year cycle low, I think the next deflationary period is now upon us.
The last two deflationary episodes forced a severe (2008) and a moderate (2010) correction in gold. I do think demand is strong . . . → Read More: TIME FOR A MUCH DESERVED REST
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(Posting is very questionable for this week, by the way.)
God bless Gabby Giffords - as shown in this clip, she returned to D.C. to cast her vote in this debt ceiling nonsense...
Nate Silver's analysis of the debt deal is broadly similar to mine, actually. He acknowledges that fiscal policy will be anti-expansionary in the near term, but that the cuts are not that deep in fiscal year 2012, and that defense will bear at least some[...]
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