Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

As I’m writing this, the Supreme Court is considering whether to stay Troy Davis’ execution. I’m following a blog on NPR. From NPR at 9:04PM Wednesday Night:

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that more than a dozen Georgia state police in riot gear have moved into the area outside of the prison. “They were met by choruses of ‘Shame on you’ from the protesters,” reports the AJC.

Larry Cox, the executive director of Amnesty International, which has led protests in support of Davis, told Democracy Now! they don’t know much about what’s going on. He said they’ve met with protesters to try to prepare them for bad news, he said, so they could react properly and within the peaceful spirit of the campaign.

“All we can do is wait and pray,” said Cox.

At The Nation, Richard Kim offers some background on the SCOTUS justices and their past statements about the death penalty.

It does seem that Georgia’s government is determined to kill Davis tonight. Earlier today Davis was refused an opportunity to take a polygraph.

Sadly, everything I wrote above is now moot. I’ve just heard (10:24PM) that the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Davis’ stay request. What a sad day for the so-called justice system. Texas killed another man tonight and Georgia may yet follow suit.

UPDATE: Troy Davis died last night at 11:08PM. From CBS News: Troy Davis executed, supporters cry injustice

Strapped to a gurney in Georgia’s death chamber, Troy Davis lifted his head and declared one last time that he did not kill police officer Mark MacPhail. Just a few feet away behind a glass window, MacPhail’s son and brother watched in silence.

Outside the prison, a crowd of more than 500 demonstrators cried, hugged, prayed and held candles. They represented hundreds of thousands of supporters worldwide who took up the anti-death penalty cause as Davis’ final days ticked away.

“I am innocent,” Davis said moments before he was executed Wednesday night. “All I can ask … is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth. I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight.”

Prosecutors and MacPhail’s family said justice had finally been served.

From The New York Times:

“It harkens back to some ugly days in the history of this state,” said the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church, who visited Mr. Davis on Monday.

Mr. Davis remained defiant at the end, according to reporters who witnessed his death. He looked directly at the members of the family of Mark MacPhail, the officer he was convicted of killing, and told them they had the wrong man.

“I did not personally kill your son, father, brother,” he said. “All I can ask is that you look deeper into this case so you really can finally see the truth.”

He then told his supporters and family to “keep the faith” and said to prison personnel, “May God have mercy on your souls; may God bless your souls.”

One of the witnesses, a radio reporter from WSB in Atlanta, said it appeared that the MacPhail family “seemed to get some satisfaction” from the execution.

Family members of murdered police officer Mark MacPhail

How can anyone “get satisfaction” when the wrong man may have been murdered by the state? I just don’t understand that. In my opinion, the U.S. cannot be considered a civilized or even moral country as long as we murder people in the name of the state, not to mention in the name of profit in our so-called “health care system.” In this country, it is still a crime to be poor, to be black, to be “illegal,” to be muslim, to be different.

The family of Troy Davis

Amnesty International:

“The U.S. justice system was shaken to its core as Georgia executed a person who may well be innocent. Killing a man under this enormous cloud of doubt is horrific and amounts to a catastrophic failure of the justice system. While many courts examined this case, the march to the death chamber only slowed, but never stopped. Justice may be blind; but in this case, the justice system was blind to the facts.

“The state of Georgia has proven that the death penalty is too great a power to give to the government. Human institutions are prone to bias and error and cannot be entrusted with this God-like power. The death penalty is a human rights violation whether given to the guilty or the innocent, and it must be abolished.

“Our hearts are heavy, but we have not lost our spirit of defiance. Millions of people around the world now know of Troy Davis and see the fallibility of the U.S. justice system. As this case has captured the American conscience and increased opposition to the death penalty, Amnesty International will build on this momentum to end this unjust practice.”


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In other news, this story from Mexico is unbelievable. I hope this isn't what the U.S. has to look forward to as we sink into third world status: 35 bodies dumped in Mexican city as president begins effort to woo tourists

As Mexican President Felipe Calderon was unveiling a new campaign and TV program Tuesday to draw wary tourists back to his country, a gang dumped 35 bodies at a busy intersection in the tourist zone in the coastal city of Veracruz….

The images from the travel television program, called “Mexico: The Royal Tour” — clips of gray whales, Mayan pyramids and glasses of amber tequila — clashed with shaky videos captured by cellphone cameras of panicked commuters, wailing police vehicles and half-naked bodies dumped on an underpass near the Veracruz beaches.

Authorities in Veracruz said the 35 bodies included 24 men and 11 women. They quickly tried to calm the public — and foreign visitors — by saying that most of the dead were criminals who were killed by a warring drug cartel.

That wouldn’t calm me one bit!

A couple of new polls have come out that show Obama continue to loose ground in important areas. A new Washington Post-ABC News Poll show his favorability ratings are dropping with African Americans.

New cracks have begun to show in President Obama’s support amongst African Americans, who have been his strongest supporters. Five months ago, 83 percent of African Americans held “strongly favorable” views of Obama, but in a new Washington Post-ABC news poll that number has dropped to 58 percent. That drop is similar to slipping support for Obama among all groups.

“There is a certain amount of racial loyalty and party loyalty, but eventually that was going to have to weaken,” said Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University, who studies African Americans. “It’s understandable given the economy.”

African Americans have historically correlated approval ratings of the president to the unemployment rate, she said. The slip in the strongly favorable rating continues the decline Obama has seen among all groups, but black voters have been his staunchest supporters. Overall, they still hold a generally favorable view of the president with 86 percent saying they view him at least somewhat favorably.

Gillespie’s view that the decline is tied to the disproportionately high jobless rate faced by African Americans correlates with the drop in their view of Obama’s handling of the economy. In July, only 54 percent of blacks said they thought Obama’s policies were making the economy better compared with 77 percent the previous year.

And a new Gallup poll shows that a “slight majority” of Americans blame Obama for the state of the economy.

A slight majority of Americans for the first time blame President Obama either a great deal (24%) or a moderate amount (29%) for the nation’s economic problems. However, Americans continue to blame former President George W. Bush more. Nearly 7 in 10 blame Bush a great deal (36%) or a moderate amount (33%).

Gallup found a substantially wider gap in public perceptions of how much responsibility Bush and Obama each bore for the economy when it first asked the question in July 2009, the sixth month of Obama’s presidency. That narrowed by March 2010, caused mainly by a jump in the percentage blaming Obama a great deal or moderate amount, and has since changed relatively little. However, the results from a new Sept. 15-18 USA Today/Gallup poll are the first showing a majority of Americans, 53%, assigning significant blame to Obama. Forty-seven percent still say he is “not much” (27%) or “not at all” (20%) to blame.

I managed to find a little humor for you. Elizabeth Warren has gotten quite a bump after her announcement that she’s running for the Senate in Massachusetts. Although Scott Brown’s campaign claims he’s not concerned, a little birdie overheard Brown talking about it on the phone and then told Talking Points Memo.

A Hill staffer, who spoke with TPM by phone, sends this dispatch from the Senate side in the wake of today’s PPP poll showing former White House financial reform adviser Elizabeth Warren leading Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA):

“Just walked passed Senator Brown’s office and in the hallway was the man himself, lamenting into his cell phone, ‘I don’t understand how she can be down 20 points one week and is now up 2. What is going on?’”

Our tipster describes the scene:

Was heading to a meeting after just having read your reporting on the new poll. Was just about to walk by Senator Brown’s personal office when he walked out of the main door of his office, cell phone in hand. He was mid-conversation but was responding to something on the other line with the line I reported. Was kind of dumbfounded to hear that kind of candor in a very public hallway. I’m guessing he realized that too, because he then looked over his shoulder, saw me, and hurriedly entered a side down to his office down the hall.

As a Massachusetts voter, I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to hear that Pretty Boy Brown is a little freaked out by the competition.

That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?

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34 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. Ron4Hills says:

    Scalia basically says, “Innocent, Shminnocent.”

    Revealing, not surprising.

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2009/08/17/56525/scalia-actual-innocence/

    • Boo Radly says:

      In the comments section of the link:

      “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.” Lysander Spooner

    • bostonboomer says:

      Oh. My. God. So that’s why it was OK in Scalia’s mind to stop the two TX executions and not Davis’? That man is plain evil.

      • dakinikat says:

        Scalia is so involved with his “beautiful mind” and its constructs that he frequently misses the overwhelmingly obvious picture. I believe tree meet forest might be appropriate. He gets carried away with his little intellectual constructs and games on his little pet thoughts about original intent that he misses things implied big ideas in “promote the general welfare, ensure justice” … you know those big constructs sticking out there in the preamble to the constitution as a guiding frame work.

    • Fannie says:

      Let Them Die……………….ought to be the Motto for the Republican Party. The last debate was all about “let em die.” Mercy.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    We must be really proud today as a nation in executing another human being in the wake of “reasonable doubt” surrounding his sentence.

    If this execution does not call for the end of the death penalty I am at a loss to find another.

    • bostonboomer says:

      We’re a devolving nation: corrupt, immoral, greedy. Our society is sick and twisted in so many ways.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Years ago I sat on a jury that convicted the murderer with a sentence of life without parole. He is still there and all appeals have been exhausted. Good riddance.

    The evidence was pretty clear from the outset and the when the defendant chose to take the stand in his own defense his lies proved his guilt as well.

    I don’t believe in the death penalty and would more than likely never have been chosen to sit on this jury had there been one. In MA a life sentence is just that.

    Hand down the sentence and throw away the key. Execution does not solve a thing nor does it end crime.

  4. Branjor says:

    “I did not personally kill your son, father, brother,

    That’s a strange statement on Davis’ part. It leaves open the question “well, how did you do it then, impersonally?”

    Anyway, yes to the above. The U.S. is a corrupt and greedy nation and the death penalty is immoral.

  5. jawbone says:

    This situation fits, for me, a comment about atheism and believers I heard on a talk show. The speaker* said he was agnostic; he actually hoped there was a benevolent being guiding us, but was pretty sure there wasn’t.

    He said his girl friend remarked to him that she could bear knowing there was no heaven, but couldn’t deal with there being no hell…as there were so many who deserved punishment and didn’t get any here in this life on Earth.

    Just recalled the speaker was the writer/creator of “Breaking Bad,” which I’ve never seen but have heard about.

    I see this as applying to the GA board.

    • jjk says:

      I think the speaker was Vince Gilligan. In addition to Breaking Bad, he was also one of the head writers for the X-Files. A very talented guy-

  6. Gregory says:

    Just glanced through an AP article and former President Carter had this to say:

    “If one of our fellow citizens can be executed with so much doubt surrounding his guilt, then the death penalty system in our country is unjust and outdated,” Carter said.

    I totally agree with him; however, the death penalty has always been unjust and has been outdated for many, many decades since we developed such an advanced prison infrastructure. Back before the depression I guess I could have seen why the death penalty was necessary (not really) because it was difficult to house these guys but now, we’ve got a huge prison system where they can be locked away and even kept away from other prisoners if in fact they are extremely violent. And that is for the obviously guilty. Let’s just not mention the hundreds if not thousands of people who have been wrongly executed in this country since its inception. Unjust doesn’t even begin to describe it.

  7. jawbone says:

    BTW, I was looking for a Search the Site feature and couldn’t find one. Am I missing it, or isn’t there one?

    I was trying to find a very recent bit from Suskind’s book about Obama, where he seems impervious to fact-based arguments once he’s made up his mind. It was about what type of downturn this is… I’m pretty sure Dakinikat posted it.

    I wanted to point it out to a talk show host who was interviewing Suskind, who, wow, seems impervious to realizing Obama is not a good presidentl He admits time after time Obama has not been a leader, seems to be rolled, but, somehow, he, Suskind, has seen “growth” and “development” in Obama and now he’ll be an actual leader. Oh, my.

    In this discussion, now completed, with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, Obama told Suskind that he lamented that he made these wonderful speeches and then there was no policy ready for the Congress to follow up on. When he’d made his Big Speech on health care (from which, for the life of me, I can’t recall anything of importance; also, it was always about health insurance), he told Suskind he was surprised there was no policy ready to go. Suskind said, iirc, that this showed remarkable perspicacity on Obama’s part.

    HOW could Obama NOT know the status of his own administration’s health insurance reform policy????

    WTF??? Is Obama oblivious? (Well, yes. Recall the paragraph Dakinikat posted, when Obama asks “What’s my narrative?” Is that him asking what role am I supposed to play as an untrained actor? It seemed plaintive when I first read it; perhaps he was angry at his handlers/writers for not having finished the script…. )

    According to Suskind, Obama compared himself to Carter and Clinton as having the “wonk disease.” Has Obama ever sounded remotely “wonky” in his ability to explain or even talk about policies? (Not to me he hasn’t, but I’m not a Versailles courtier.)

    Suskind also said Obama told him he envied Reagan’s trained actor’s ability to turn on the confidence and charm. But, he thought he himself as quite charming, but just wasn’t a trained actor. (Which might explain why he comes across as a phoney when he’s trying to “act” to bamboozle us rubes?)

    Anyway, Suskind is making a big deal about Obama’s learning curve, which is now nearing completion and going forward Obama will be “his own man” and know how to lead the nation forward.

    Let’s see: It’s now almost October 2011. So, it’s taken at least 2 and a half years of learning (and screwing up the economy), but we’re supposed to think that now he will be a strong president?? Yeah, riiiiight.

    • dakinikat says:

      search is very last thing in the right hand column

      • jawbone says:

        Did you post what I was trying to describe? Or did I see it somewhere else… And my history won’t work anymore (went kaput about 3 months ago), so I can’t focus on the last one or two days. It was a searingly telling paragraph or so.

        Obama was known to U of Chicago co-workers as not listening to counter arguments or facts once he’d made up his mind, and this Suskind graf described something similar when his econ team was trying to get him to understand what the cause of the downturn/high unemployment was. And Obama had absorbed and fixated on the righwing take on things…iirc.

        Haven’t found right search terms yet — not finding here.

      • jawbone says:

        Thought I’d thanked you for the search location — must not have hit Post. So, T/U. Once I saw it..it seemed to obvious….heh.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Suskind is either deluded or trying to keep his access for the next book. The book itself, IMO, is very enlightening. I can hardly put it down.

      • Beata says:

        I will have to wait to get the Suskind book from the library. Anyone who is reading it, please post comments and quotes. I am eager to know more.

      • northwestrain says:

        To DAK — re 0bowma’s love of Raygun — it’s in Suskind’s book — end of last chapter.

      • madamab says:

        I am reading it right now. It is a little hard to get through the obvious Obama worship. I certainly hope it gets better.

      • northwestrain says:

        With books like Suskind’s — here’s a trick I discovered — if after the first two chapters the heavy reading remains heavy — Start at the back — read the last chapter and then the next to the last — etc. At some point you can try again with Chap. 3.

        I have a Kindle copy — so I’m underlying and making notes — which helps the reading.

        But very often merely reading the last chapter of a heavy reader — with the conclusions and summaries — and then returning to read the book again — makes the book easier to read.

        My impression is that Suskind is working way to hard to make 0bowma likable and seem competent. 0bowma is off somewhere — doesn’t take charge and rarely has personal involvement in what’s going on. He is an aloof person.

    • djmm says:

      “…he, Suskind, has seen “growth” and “development” in Obama and now he’ll be an actual leader. Oh, my.”

      I think that means he is leaving the door open to write a followup book and wants access to the White House again.

      djmm

    • northwestrain says:

      This is the quote from the book that I posted — about 0bowma being pig headed —

      Apparently 0bowma doesn’t have a better understanding of Economics than the Republicans

      http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=10904

      A couple days ago I suggested that Obama might not be particularly well-informed about economics:

      It seems increasingly clear that Obama doesn’t have a good understanding of economics. He approaches issues like a very bright non-economist using his common sense.
      It now appears that it’s even worse than I thought. I found this quotation from Ron Suskind over at DeLong’s blog.

      Both, in fact, were concerned by something the President had said in a morning briefing: that he thought the high unemployment was due to productivity gains in the economy. Summers and Romer were startled.

      “What was driving unemployment was clearly deficient aggregate demand,” Romer said. “We wondered where this could be coming from. We both tried to convince him otherwise. He wouldn’t budge.”

      I recall reading similar statements by his former colleagues at the University of Chicago. They’d make arguments to him, and he just wouldn’t seem to get the point. He’s obviously very bright, but it’s also clear that he falls into that relatively large group of Americans who have their own very strong views on economics, and couldn’t care less what professional economists think. (An issue recently discussed by Noahpinion, Robin Hanson, and Sean Carrol.)

  8. jawbone says:

    In googling, I came across this (it’s so easy to get lost in Linkland):

    400 Richest Americans Pay 18% Tax Rates.

    From Steve Rattner, a Wall Street financier, who gave the figures on Mornings With Joe,MSNBC.

    My recollection is that MSNBC doesn’t provide transcripts for Morning Joe….

    • Gregory says:

      I think what we ought to do is declare a proclamation or something to the effect that the wealthy elite are physically, morally and ethically superior to the rest of us and declare that they no longer are bound by the laws of the land since they are so clearly better than the rest of us by virtue of their wallet.

      In all seriousness, I first encountered this thinking when I first moved to Texas in 1985. Never understood it then. Don’t understand it now. Somehow, someway these people have gotten it into their heads that they are not a part of the community and are not like the rest of us and don’t have to pay their fair share. They are like leeches or parasites living off of other peoples sweat and toil only to gobble up all of the best leaving the rest with scraps. I don’t know how they live with themselves.

  9. dakinikat says:

    This is amazing:

    Yu Muroga was doing his job making deliveries when the 11 March 2011 earthquake hit in Japan. Unaware, like many people in the area, of how far inland the Tsunami would travel, he continued to drive and do his job. The HD camera mounted on his dashboard captured not only the earthquake, but also the moment he and several other drivers were suddenly engulfed in the Tsunami. He escaped from the vehicle seconds before it was crushed by other debris and sunk underwater. His car and the camera have only recently been recovered by the police. The camera was heavily damaged but a video expert was able to retrieve this footage.

    http://www.flixxy.com/japanese-tsunami-viewed-from-a-car.htm#.TntvuLSnOB8.facebook

    • Delphyne says:

      Wow – it made me very nervous watching it. I simply cannot imagine that kind of watery devastation – and that country is still reeling.

      • jawbone says:

        I was watching and realized I’d been covering my mouth with my the back of my hand — and I remembered driving in my car, hearing about the airplane hitting the first WTC tower. The first news was about a small plane. Then an accounting type (not on-air guy) came into the broadcast booth at WNYC and said he’d seen an large passenger jet flying past his window; he didn’t make out the airline, but it was absolutely an air liner, and then he heard the impact and explosion. He’d looked out because he heard the sound of a large jet, but couldn’t believe there was one that low in Manhattan….

        So, before the second plane hit, I new it was terrorists using a passenger jet as a weapon, just as had been warned about at the G8 summit in Italy that Bush attended and where he had to sleep on a Navy vessel due to the warnings about a plot to fly planes into the meeting site, maybe hotels. The pretty big deal Condi had forgotten about by September….

        As I was listening, realizing the extent of the damage, I noticed I’d put my hand over my mouth. Even tho’ I was driving alone on a back road in Northern NJ Suboonia. There were only about two other cars that passed me going the opposite way — and those drivers didn’t have their ohands over their mouths. I remember thinking they didn’t know yet.

        Then, later, watching coverage of those escaping from Lower Manhattan, the horror of the fall of the South Tower, i noted all the people watching with hands over their mouths, I realized what an instinctual, human reaction this is. Is it global? I think so, but am not sure.

        So, sitting alone watching the video of the tsunami, I had my hand over my mouth. I kept trying to see if the guy sitting on the roof of his car would survive. I saw another car where someone had used a round ended tool to break out the driver’s window, so I began to wonder about that driver. Every vehicle — how many people in them…. That pedestrian seen trying to balance as the earthquake hit.

        And, now, all those people who may be being being silently attacked by the radiation….

    • bostonboomer says:

      Incredible!

  10. foxyladi14 says:

    pray for Japan.

  11. northwestrain says:

    Very often the prosecutor and cops will use the family of the victims — especially when they have a shi**y case or they are trying to cover up that they have the wrong person.

    The way the mother of the victim gets attention and puts on her whinny show for the media makes me think of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. She really could care less about justice for her son — because the real killer is out there (the one witness who has not recanted his testimony).

    One probably innocent man murder by the state — now we can focus on the ones who are responsible for her murder — and in that corner is the mother — who got a whole lot of attention.