These stories got my attention this week:
1. Perverted Justice.
Ted Rall a Pulitzer Prize nominated editorialist and cartoonist, rails against the prosecution of "Mahmud Faruq Brent, a 30-year-old D.C. taxi driver, is about to spend the next 15 years behind bars for 'conspiring to support a terrorist organization'."
Seems Mahmud had the temerity to attend a terrorist training camp for a group that terrorizes the Pakistani Junta. Now while the Neo-cons in the White House want to promote democracy... they just don't want to do it in Pakistan, where the junta supports the US!! Rall says ok, ship him to Pakistan, let them deal with it. Nope, that might make him a martyr to the cause... lets pay to keep him in one of our jails...
Mahmud, never did anything. He just seemed to check it out. Nevertheless, this is something someone does before becoming a terrorist... I figure that most people who do this type of training become terrorists...Some don't. We are not supposed to incarcerate people for thinking bad thoughts. If we could, Karl Rove would already be in jail.
Another thing, HOW ABOUT SOME FREAKIN' HONESTY FROM THE WHITE HOUSE!!! We only want democracy where that democracy favors our interests...Hey that's ok boys, Our leaders are supposed to care about our interests.
JUST STOP TELLING PEOPLE WE CARE ABOUT DEMOCRACY FOR DEMOCRACY'S SAKE AND THEN SUPPORT JUNTA'S THAT SUPPORT US.
Can't we just be Machiavellians? Let's just admit it, all this nation-building garbage is about our interests and nothing more. If all the dictatorships in the world would support the USA then we would support them?
The people of the world wouldn't like us any better, but at least they couldn't say we are a bunch of two faced liars...
2 Why Just Pick on Bush, The Democrats In Congress are Stupid Too.
Just when you thought Congress was beginning to understand the disaster we call the Patriot Act... the new democrat congress actually passed a bill giving the President more power to spy on us than he asked for (check out this NY TIMES story.)(BTW check out the photo that accompanies it. Tell me Bush, Cheney, Gonzales and the fourth guy don't look like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.)
The legislation changing the FISA law, now allows the government, to demand the business records of "an American in Chicago without a warrant if it asserts that the search concerns its surveillance of a person who is outside of the country." NO WARRANT=NO OVERSIGHT. Thanks Congressmen, Senators. What were you guys thinking???
Here's your money quote:
"The dispute illustrates how lawmakers, in a frenetic, end-of-session scramble, passed legislation they may not have fully understood and may have given the administration more surveillance powers than it sought."
Ok, you're a Congressman or Senator, you have basically one job, pass laws. How the HELL do you pass laws you don't understand?????
GIVE US BACK YOUR SALARIES!!!! Evidentially any idiot can be elected to Congress.
3. DC Circuit Decides:THE DYING HAVE NO RIGHT TO LIVE!!
This one hits close to home on so many points it is painful to write about.
According to the CATO INSTITUTE the DC Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs v. Eschenbach That dying people had no right to experimental drugs until the FDA (Federal Drug Admin.) says they do.
Roger Pilon CATO's head guy, goes on to discuss how it is, that liberals and neo-cons actually came to the same conclusion on this, leaving libertarians in the learch.
His analysis of the Neo-con view of Constitutional law which derives heavily from the writings of Robert Bork, contains a fundamental misunderstanding of the writings of James Madison, Father of our Constitution.
Yet in Robert Bork's The Tempting of America, where conservatives often turn, we find an answer. Describing what he calls the "Madisonian dilemma," Judge Bork writes that America's "first principle is self-government, which means that in wide areas of life majorities are entitled to rule, if they wish, simply because they are majorities. The second principle is that there are nonetheless some things majorities must not do to minorities, some areas of life in which the individual must be free of majority rule." (emphasis added)
That turns Madison on his head. James Madison stood for limited government, not wide-ranging democracy. His first principle was that in wide areas individuals are entitled to be free simply because they are born free. His second principle was that in some areas majorities are entitled to rule because we have authorized them to. That gets the order right: individual liberty first, self-government second, as a means for securing liberty.
Then there is this quote from Janice Roger's appellate dissent.
it is startling, she noted, that the rights "to marry, to fornicate, to have children, to control the education and upbringing of children, to perform varied sexual acts in private, and to control one's own body have all been deemed fundamental, but the right to try to save one's life is left out in the cold despite its textual anchor in the right to life." Because the rights at issue here are "fundamental," she concluded, the court must apply, in judicial parlance, "strict scrutiny." The burden is on the FDA to show why its interference is justified — to show that its regulatory interests are compelling and its means narrowly tailored to serve those interests.
I am telling you now FDA or No, If Someone I love or me, needs a med and the FDA won't agree to release it, I will have no problem crossing this line. If arrested my plea will be based on self defense. The Constitution guarantees me a right to life. It doesn't mention the approval of the FDA.
4. Morality in Media Wastes 300k of the Public's Tax Money Trying To Find Porn to Prosecute...After Two Years of Looking, They Found None.
Governments can't help but find boondoggles to pander to. In this case the whackadoo's at Morality in Media, (a good name wasted on a bad right wing neo-con group that hates the First Amendment and believes that it is the final arbiter of morality) came up with a computer program to sniff out porn... Of course two years and 300k of our hard earned tax dollars later...THEY FOUND NONE THAT DOJ AGREED TO PROSECUTE!!! Yes ladies and gentlemen and kids of all ages, of 67000 complaints were referred over to DOJ, but the lawyers there could not find one to prosecute. They realized they couldn't win the cases. They found not one tape or website that could be prosecuted for being pornographic.
Alberto, George, Dick, could you spend a little more time finding this guy Osama Bin Laden and a lot less time telling adults what to watch in the privacy of their own homes??? Oh yeah, STOP WASTING OUR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS ON ASININE PROGRAMS LIKE THIS ONE!!!!!!
5. Child Sentenced to 11 Years for Manslaughter of Another Teen
We Americans are really completely uninformed about children and how to handle their criminal behavior. Everyday I hear about younger and younger kids getting more and more time for behavior that, while improper and dangerous, is not uncorrectable.
In this case, the losing pitcher (13) in a little league game,(Pony league actually) takes a bat to the head of a 15 year old opponent, who is teasing him about beating their team. The child claimed that the older boy was bulling him and that the kid felt threatened as the victim was One Hundred pounds heavier and a foot taller than him.
Either way, the court ruled that the child acted in the heat of passion and convicted him of Manslaughter 2d. The court gave the kid 11 years which probably makes the mom and dad of the dead kid feel like they got justice.
They didn't, the kid didn't and we didn't. What we got was useless retribution. Expensive and useless retribution.
I do not think that all heavy sentences for children are necessarily bad. However, does it seem so odd that a thirteen year old might do something unthinkable stupid during the heat of passion?
We already know that boys mature more slowly than girls and that their brain doesn't process impulsive behavior until they are in their mid twenties.
That doesn't mean that they cannot be taught to handle anger. It also doesn't mean that we as a society can mothball a young life so that it will be nearly useless until he dies.
How long would it take to correct the behavior? How long will it take for the work to be done to help this kid live with the serious thing he did to someone else? Eleven Years????
Nope this one is harsh for harshness' sake. It is a sentence to appease others. It will deter nothing and more importantly it will destroy the living kid while doing nothing for the dead kid.
Here is an idea. Four years, mandatory counseling and therapy, Community service of 750 hours over the course of 2 years, and a judgement against the kid that will not be dischargable in Bankruptcy.
Why? Because there has got to be a positive outcome for this tragedy. Because otherwise the dead child died in vain. Because otherwise the child/defendant cannot ever improve the situation, and he is much to young to have to live with the realization that he did something that can have no bright side ever.
We should not be treating children like adults. If the child had been 15, maybe a longer sentence should be imposed. That sentence still needs to have opportunities for redemption included in it.
I wish I knew the families here. I wish Sister Helen Prejean knew them. She would know how to bring the dead child's family to the defendant child, how to start the healing. How to make this end better than the courts will allow it to. I hope there is someone like Sister Jean out there in California, or if not as good as her, maybe as willing as I am. It is important that we look to salvage as many children as we can. Children are too young to lock away on a shelf and pretend we did something good.
I will pray that these adult decisions do not come back to haunt society in the future.