January 3, 2009 archive

Soft On Crime: Deterrence, The Death Penalty, and George Bush

For all of my fifty years on the planet the Republicans have been the party of crime and punishment. Republicans were tough on crime, Democrats were Soft on Crime. From Nixon onward, this has been a major line of attack against all Democrats. Democrats coddled criminals like Willie Horton, for instance, while Republicans would have locked him up for life….or put him to death.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the administration of Republican President Richard Nixon continued the full-on attack against crime begun by Johnson — but with an emphasis on law and order. Nixon’s policy, however, came under attack, largely from liberals, who saw Nixon’s law and order campaign as attempts to put down civil rights activists and antiwar demonstrators. President Nixon, on the other hand, used the rising public sentiment that criminals were out of control and city streets unsafe to assail members of the Democrat Party as being “soft on crime.”

Though many Liberals support it too, the Republicans have always been the party of the death penalty as well. By far the most used argument being that facing the ‘punishment’ of death will deter people from killing others. The death penalty deters murder. Stiff sentences deter crime. Three Strike laws deter career criminals. It is not inaccurate to say that ‘Soft on Crime’ and deterrence through harsh punishment and penalty was one of the Right Wings great themes of the late 20th Century.

Republicans are tough on crime. Because being tough on crime….prevents future crimes. If you do not harshly punish crime, it just leads to more and greater crimes.

Which brings us to George Bush….and the various and sundry crimes that he and the officials of his administration have committed. And make no mistake, crimes HAVE been committed. From outting an entire CIA network, to the 269 War Crimes that have been documented to the outright confessions of Bush on Domestic Spying and Cheney on authorizing the torture program and the resulting homicides, there can be no doubt left that there is plenty of cause for, at the very least, a thorough investigation. In fact you see very little if any questions as to whether Bush and company have committed crimes. The debate now is over what to do about them.

Virtually none of the comments I have seen opposing the idea of appointing a Special Prosecutor to even investigate the crimes of the last eight years have centered on guilt or ignorance. Every piece of punditry, comment and column has centered not on the criminality and the crimes themselves….but on the politics of the situation. Not the crimes…not the victims. And certainly not what it means to be an American in an America that tortures. They do not want to think about that….they do not want to know. And so they dimish it to a “political matter” and refer to the false meme of “criminalizing politics” ….rather than as the politicization of a War Crime.

Some say it is revenge, not justice, that is the motivation for a Special Prosecutor. Is prosecuting crime, any crime, and punishing crime, any crime….just revenge? What about merely investigating whether crimes have been committed or not, is that revenge too? Or is it being….tough on crime?

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Analysis: Bush’s personality shapes his legacy

By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 37 mins ago

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush will be judged on what he did. He will also be remembered for what he’s like: a fast-moving, phrase-mangling Texan who stays upbeat even though his country is not.

For eight years, the nation has been led by a guy who relaxes by clearing brush in scorching heat and taking breakneck bike rides through the woods. He dishes out nicknames to world leaders, and even gave the German chancellor an impromptu, perhaps unwelcome, neck rub. He’s annoyed when kept waiting and sticks relentlessly to routine. He stays optimistic in even the most dire circumstances, but readily tears up in public. He has little use for looking within himself, and only lately has done much looking back.

Bush’s style and temperament are as much his legacy as his decisions. Policy shapes lives, but personality creates indelible memories – positive and negative.

Sign The Goddamn War Crimes Petition Already!

Don’t expect me to or even ask me to tell you why you should sign the petition.  

You already know why you should sign the petition. You don’t need me or anyone else to tell you why you should sign the petition.

Petition Badge Click the Badge to read and sign the Formal Petition to Attorney General-Designate Eric Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in War Crimes.
Get Badge Click “Get Badge” to get the html code and post the badge on your blog or website so other people can find and sign the petition too.

A Century Of Progress

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles


Well, not really.  On my drive home from running errands, I heard part of the Metropolitan Opera’s Saturday broadcast of La Boheme.  It amazes me that an Opera set in 1830 and written in 1896, would have a setting that is so very timely in 2009.

Please join me in the nosebleed seats.

“The Old Man and the Storm”

Last night, 1-02-009, on the PBS News Hour they held a discussion with “Frontline” correspondent and filmmaker June Cross who describes her documentary “The Old Man and the Storm” which will air on PBS’s “Frontline” on Jan. 6th, New Orleans: Three Years After Katrina.

This is a timely documentary more than three years after Katrina and especially as to the way the Government has been handling that compared to the extremely quick bailouts of the financial institutions in the present economic collapse and at other times when the corporate elite demanded their political friends come to their aid. There are three short video’s at the ‘Frontline’ site that I’m embedding below, the third one touches on just that, especially as to the promises made by the President bush and other Government Officials and to the rapidly failing ‘free market’ ‘trickle down’ economic policy of the GOP.

Obama’s Weekly Address

US and global manufacturing collapsing

Original article, by Joe Kishore, via World Socialist Web Site:

Manufacturing in the US is collapsing, with a key index falling to its lowest level in 20 years on Friday. Other figures released yesterday show a downturn in production throughout the world.

Docudharma Times Saturday January 3

GM Loosens Credit Standards

For Car Loans

Just Another Credit Crisis On The Horizon

Saturday’s Headlines:

U.S. Debt Expected To Soar This Year

Rural idyll or terrorist hub? The village that police say is a threat to the state

French film industry racist for barring black actors from dubbing white stars

Minority Arabs seethe as bombing intensifies

Iraq bombing kills 23 at gathering of Sunni, Shiite tribesmen

Fire dies under China’s once booming manufacturing industry

Growing Taliban use of marksmen worries U.S. military

Ghana awaits final poll outcome

For Africa, 2008 a year to forget

In Cuba, Cellphone Calls Go Unanswered

Israel prepares to send in the tanks

By Kim Sengupta in Jerusalem and Anne Penketh

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Israel appears poised to extend its week-long assault on Gaza by launching a ground assault, amid renewed reports last night that troops and armour were preparing to move into the besieged Palestinian territory.

As more than 300 foreign passport holders were allowed to leave Gaza after the border was temporarily opened, Israeli officials warned that a ground offensive was needed to break the military power of Hamas, which has continued to carry out rocket attacks despite pulverising air strikes.

‘What happens in war happens’

In 2004, photographs of abuses at Abu Ghraib shocked the world. Seven people were charged, but the face of the scandal will always be Lynndie England, the 21-year-old private grinning at the camera. Emma Brockes meets her

Emma Brockes

The Guardian, Saturday 3 January 2009

The road to Fort Ashby, West Virginia, runs through Mineral County, an area of freezing grey farmland and barrack-style bungalows, where the sign outside the bar – “Hunters welcome” – has an unnerving effect on the passing non-hunter. In Cindy’s coffee shop, customers speculate on the whereabouts of a lost cow and tell a weird Republican joke about the noise a chicken makes when its head is cut off: “Barack-Obama!, Barack-Obama!” Lynndie England has lived in Fort Ashby since she was two, but when she appears, suddenly, in the car park, her outline is crooked with self-consciousness. She grew her hair for a while, but people recognised her anyway, so she cut it short again.

The last time journalists came to Fort Ashby in any number, they upset residents by portraying it as “a giant trailer park”. There are two bars, two banks, a fire station, a school and a bookshop – the woman who runs the latter says, “I’ve no sympathy for what she did, but people behave differently in war than they do in their chairs at home, watching it on TV.”



Obama’s View on Power Over Detainees Will Be Tested Early


Published: January 2, 2009

WASHINGTON – Just a month after President-elect Barack Obama takes office, he must tell the Supreme Court where he stands on one of the most aggressive legal claims made by the Bush administration – that the president may order the military to seize legal residents of the United States and hold them indefinitely without charging them with a crime. The new administration’s brief, which is due Feb. 20, has the potential to hearten or infuriate Mr. Obama’s supporters, many of whom are looking to him for stark disavowals of the Bush administration’s legal positions on the detention and interrogation of so-called enemy combatants held at Navy facilities on the American mainland or at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Late Night Karaoke

All Languages Welcome

stone temple pilots – interstate love song

Reclaiming the Word Liberal In the Age of Obama


The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

Words matter. Labels matter. Although it has become vogue to say, “Voters are tired of labels” they remain powerful. How we define the meaning of those labels is critical. Those of us who call ourselves “liberal” have learned this the hard way. As a liberal activist who slogged, blogged and endured, I find myself reflecting about the word “liberal” and the abuse it’s absorbed with Obama’s inauguration less then three weeks away.

It seems like only yesterday I volunteered for the Dukakis campaign in college as my candidate defensively denied he was a liberal. At the time voters associated the word “liberal” with convicted rapists. In the last days of the ’88 campaign, Dukakis finally declared himself a liberal and attempted to define it on his own terms. Alas, it was too little too late.

Random Japan

New Year blues in Japan

It will be very interesting to see how busy Japan’s department stores are on January 2, the traditional start of the New Year sales season. In normal years, keen shoppers queue in their hundreds to get first in line to pick up the bargains. But last the 12 months, and the last few weeks in particular, have been anything but normal.

Indeed, while Japan’s problems remain the same-slowing demand and a surging yen-the size of their combined impact is growing remarkably quickly. During the last few weeks, companies, including Toyota, Honda and Panasonic, have all issued profit warnings as the yen surged higher, hurting their profitability, and demand for their products fell faster. Temporary workers are being laid off in their thousands, while the government, whose Prime Minister Taro Aso has an approval rating of just 21%, has been predictably slow to react to the crisis.

Rolando Cruz was railroaded

cross posted at kos

There has been a lot made of whether Roland Burris wanted Rolando Cruz dead rather then alive in 1992.

I do not know whether he did or not.

But I do remember the Jeannine Nicarico case.

Little Jeannine, age 10, stayed home from school one day because she was sick. Someone broke into her home, removing the door from its hinges and robbed it. She hid under a bed but was discovered and taken. Her body was found several days later in a wooded area. Her head smashed in and she had been raped, probably postmortem.

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