Friday Evening News and Open Thread

A judge in Texas has ruled the state's death penalty is unconstitutional because of the risk innocent people will be texecuted. He believes it's already happened.

“Based on the moratorium (on the death penalty) in Illinois, the Innocence Project and more than 200 people being exonerated nationwide, it can only be concluded that innocent people have been executed,” state District Judge Kevin Fine said. “It's safe to assume we execute innocent people.”

Fine said trial level judges are gatekeepers of society's standard for decency and fairness. “Are you willing to have your brother, your father, your mother be the sacrificial lamb, to be the innocent person executed so that we can have a death penalty so that we can execute those who are deserving of the death penalty?” he said. “I don't think society's mindset is that way now.”

New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced he's starting a program to monitor convictions to reduce the risk of wrongful convictions.

The New York Times says Lindsay Graham and Republicans are hijacking our courts.

Is anyone excited about the Oscars Sunday? I'm looking forward to the Red Carpet.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Texacute: not a good (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 08:39:55 PM EST
    term IMO.

    I think it's perfect (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 09:23:45 PM EST
    Texas has the highest rate of executions in the country. I've been calling them Texecutions for years. But your disagreement is noted, thanks.

    One of my favorite infrequent (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 09:40:49 PM EST
    commenters soonergrunt has a diary up at kos tonight that stopped my heart.  I thought it fit well with Jeralyn's site because it is about his experience being falsely accused of rape in a military setting.  It chilled my blood because I can so easily envision this happening.

    new baby (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 10:39:01 PM EST
    Down here (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 07:02:57 PM EST
    in Ga the budget is hijacking our courts or so I've been told locally.

    If you voluntarily give up something, (none / 0) (#2)
    by MO Blue on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 07:07:40 PM EST
    is it really being hijacked. Obama does have the option of saying "no" we will do it in court. As president, he does have that power.

    How about marijuana use, psychosis and (none / 0) (#3)
    by kidneystones on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 07:08:33 PM EST
    political narratives?

    It's both sad and instructive to watch pundits of the left and right struggle to dump the corpse of former mental patient and marijuana user John Patrick Bedell on the opposition doorstep.

    Australian researchers recently published more evidence linking early marijuana use with increased risks of psychotic breakdowns in adults. Bedell's family is devasted. He was evidently bright and showed promise as a student. Most countries outside the US take an extremely dim view of allowing or encouraging drug use.

    In America and Canada smoking pot or taking more serious drugs is seen as a rite of passage. Many Americans see drug use as perfectly normal. Mickey Kaus called the number of teenagers in rehab the great un-reported story of the last decade. Cuts a little too close to home for some.

    So, rather than be displayed as a long-term marijuana user who had a psychotic breakdown, Bedell becomes a political club. Meanwhile, the number of children taking drugs continues to rise/fall?

    Article indicates (none / 0) (#4)
    by BackFromOhio on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 07:32:08 PM EST
    that he'd been taking marijuana for the last few years.  He is 36.  Perhaps I skimmed too quickly, but I did not see any reference to "early" drug use.  I'm not familiar with the Australian research you refer to, but my guess is that the reference to "early" drug use they mean ages 25 (or younger) and below, while the brain is still developing.

    I share your concern that kids are using drugs at earlier & earlier ages here.


    Is drug use higher in the US and Canada (none / 0) (#5)
    by observed on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 07:37:09 PM EST
    than elsewhere?
    I wasn't aware of that, if true.

    I'd ask my friends in Amsterdam about it ... (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Ellie on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 08:04:04 PM EST
    ... if I didn't think the answer would be buried within a lot of giggling layered with the sound of munching. (Not my poison.)

    for comparison, isn't the (none / 0) (#6)
    by observed on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 07:40:07 PM EST
    rate of alcohol consumption MUCH higher in Europe than in the US? That may not be true for college age people, but for older, I think it is.

    The Economist.. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Raskolnikov on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 08:30:18 PM EST
    ...had a piece a few weeks back on the perceived demise of Britain, including a lot of interesting stats on drinking, teen pregnancy, etc.  From a graph they had comparing Europe and American, US steadily declined from 1980 to 2007 from a little above 10 L/person to around 8.5 L/person.  Britain rose from 9.5 to about 11, and France dropped from 20 to about 12.5.  

    One point they mentioned which is interesting and more relevant perhaps than overall consumption was that the number of people totally abstaining from drinking has increased, while the incidence of binge drinking during the same time period has also increased.  So less often but more.  Our local school (U of Iowa) paper did a report on the rise in binge drinking in Iowa City in the last decade.  The blood alcohol level of those admitted to emergency for alcohol overdoses or thrown in the slammer for public intox has increases dramatically in the last five years, and anecdotally I see a lot more blackout drunkedness and fighting downtown than I used to, though it was always bad.


    I'm aware of binge drinking. Tha'ts why (none / 0) (#23)
    by observed on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 06:12:41 AM EST
    I mentioned college students.

    Cultural Metric: Wine vs Beer vs 'Harder' Spirits (none / 0) (#8)
    by Ellie on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 08:23:07 PM EST
    Any metric relating to excess excess would probably have to profile what's consumed over a long period and shorter term (daily/weekly) habits, like what someone drinks with dinner &/or TGIF &/or the Saturday Night debauch at the local tavern.

    (FWIW, I was an 'early' drinker, in that it's okay for 12-14 yr olds to get a small red wine spritz or sangria accompanying my family's Spfretalian cuisine but not cool to throw back the hard stuff. Bitter irony: I'm always the Designated Driver because after dinner, I stick to the soft stuff.)


    France has been going through (none / 0) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 07:00:15 AM EST
    a period of "alcohol awareness", and wine consumption has dropped drastically.  It has made many French wines more affordable in the U.S. and there are more of them in this house now.

    In America... (none / 0) (#26)
    by kdog on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 07:25:00 AM EST
    getting high is seen as a right of passage, and a crime...don't forget the crime bit.

    It is interesting to ponder what sets somebody's screw loose...I'm thinking his arrest and the associated trauma is a big part of it.  When you get chains slapped on your wrists and treated subhuman because you smoke a certain plant, it tends to make an individual very angry.  

    I'm no scientist, I won't be so bold to sat that smoking too much weed can't make someone crazy, I can only speak of personal experience.  I think it helps keep me outta the loony bin in this f*cked-up world.

    As to the rehab stuff, I know of more than one kid who was sent to rehab by panicked parents who found a dime bag in their jeans, kids who had nothing resembling a drug problem.  That's pretty common I think in a society where personal failings are increasingly attributed to one addiction or another.  That's gotta be effecting rehab stats.



    3 per cent of all Canadian high school students (none / 0) (#34)
    by kidneystones on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 09:51:28 AM EST
    are classified as cannabis dependent, 11 percent of all users.

    You may feel the need to self-medicate. Many do. My own feeling is that it might be better to stay clear-headed and work to make civil society a more appealing place.

    I don't have the link handy, but students enter high-school with not much experience taking drugs and leave with much more. Of that group that has used marijuana, slightly more than 1 in 10 is already exhibiting signs of chemical dependency.

    Kool? I think not.

    Here's a link to the CAMH page pdf page. The numbers cited in this post are from the 1999-2009 report.


    Of course it ain't cool... (none / 0) (#37)
    by kdog on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 06:45:29 AM EST
    for kids to drink and drug...silly rabbits, getting stoned is for adults!

    I can't put any stock in this reefer causing dependency and psychosis...not saying it can't happen to a person prone to dependency and/or psychosis, just saying it flies in the face of my personal experience.  If anything smoking reefer helps keep me sane in a psychosis-causing world full of misery, tyranny, and pain.

    To use this Pentagon shooter nut as justification for continued marijuana prohibition would be beyond the pale, imo. Like the stoned black man raping white women myth...it's an indecent false argument.

    Besides, the Goldman Sachs boys have exhibited a psychotic dependence on vast unearned riches, and we don't prohibit bailouts, or currency itself...that would be overkill, like our drug war.


    rehab in lieu of jail (none / 0) (#38)
    by beowulf on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 08:08:10 AM EST
    Sorry for the belated comment, but a school psychologist friend recently told me that when poor kids in her district get caught with drugs by the school, the cops ends up getting involved and the kid ends up with a drug conviction on their record (and possibly jail time).

    However, when rich kids get busted, their parents immediately lawyer up and whisk the kid off to rehab before the cops are called to detour around the criminal justice system.  Certainly a better deal than the deal offered by judges for decades,  army or jail.


    A question of confidence (none / 0) (#11)
    by Politalkix on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 09:11:15 PM EST
    Please visit this link
    More people trust the President to do the right thing on health care reform than Congressional
    Democrats or Republicans. More people trust physicians on health care reform than anyone else.
    No professional group that Americans trust most on HCR has advocated single payer or Medicare for all or Medicare for all over 45.
    Expecting the President to ram the kind of HCR that physician groups would oppose is not reality based thinking; it is surprising to see how many people in this forum are caught up in their own

    You really know how to (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by nycstray on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 09:37:58 PM EST
    win friends and influence people, eh?  ;)

    Yes (none / 0) (#15)
    by Politalkix on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 10:19:27 PM EST
    I don't do wimpy tea and coffee parties, I splash strong vodka to make an argument, win friends and influence people. You have a problem with that!
    :-) :-).

    The AMA opposed Medicare, too. (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Anne on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 12:12:01 AM EST
    So much for that theory.

    The political reality (none / 0) (#28)
    by Politalkix on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 07:34:33 AM EST
    is ''Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not".
    LBJ came before Reagan and BHO after him! A lot of damage that Reagan caused will have to be undone before the political climate goes back to what you had in the 1960s.

    Obama (none / 0) (#20)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 05:18:59 AM EST
    seems to have the Bush problem: they like him personally but don't like what he does or his ideas since when you talk about the HCR bill it's unpopular.

    I'm sure that if Obama supported the PO (none / 0) (#21)
    by observed on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 06:10:37 AM EST
    or Medicare for All, you would sing a different tune. Hey wait, Obama DID support the public option.
    Heck, he was strongly opposed to mandates.
    You should really have arguments that are more like pretzels, if you want to sway opinion  towards Obama.

    No (none / 0) (#30)
    by Politalkix on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 07:53:27 AM EST
    I still support a strong public option (though I am opposed to single payer) but I recognize political realities better than you. I still dislike the mandate.
    "Medicare for all" while sounding good in theory may in practice only push people above 65 towards geriatric care management to prevent Medicare from going bust (unless Fidel Castro is hired as HHS secretary :-); I admit Castro has the power to dicatate to doctors and patients what salaries and care each should be getting).

    What's your objection to single-payer? (none / 0) (#33)
    by Anne on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 09:40:09 AM EST
    I mean, I would really love to know what you think the private insurance companies are bringing to the table.  How do private insurance companies facilitate care?  How do they resolve the conflict between their business model, which is to make money, and keep Wall Street happy, and the people from whom they take that money and who have reason to expect not to hear "no" from paper-pushers with no medical training when they are in need of care?

    And if your answer is that other countries have managed to balance a hybrid of single-payer and private insurance, there are two things I would say: (1) dig a little deeper below the surface of things like "but the Netherlands is making it work," and (2) whatever success has flowed from hybrid systems is due to stringent and forceful regulation of the private insurance industry.

    If you cannot successfully regulate the insurance industry - and I think it's clear that by most measures, that is not happening in this country - they are always going to be more of a barrier to affordable and accessible care than they are a facilitator.


    Here are some (none / 0) (#35)
    by Politalkix on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 06:30:20 PM EST
    (1) Do not want my income tax to go any higher. Not convinced about spending control through single payer.
    (2) Not sure about quality of service.
    (3) Recruiting and retaining doctors will be a problem. Richer patients will be willing to pay more for better doctors, less waiting times, etc. More and more doctors will provide private care services in private clinics and hospitals to affluent patients.  
    (4) Politicization: Favoritism for the politically connected, endless election campaigns about tax payer money going towards abortion, need for prayer therapy and separation of church and state when it comes to health care tax dollars, allocation of health care earmarks, etc.
    (5) Patient groups with better advocates will get attention, those without advocates will suffer. Reimbursements to health care providers will be based on politics.

    If you feel that government is not listening to you (irrespective of the party in power) and cannot trust it, why do you want to give it more power over you through single payer?


    and add (none / 0) (#36)
    by Politalkix on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 06:39:52 PM EST
    the prospect of physicians, nurses and hospital workers going on strike....

    Unsolicited e mail from Sen. Franken: (none / 0) (#17)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 11:38:31 PM EST
    here's my plan.  House passes Senate HCR bill "as is."  House sends fix it bill to Senate, which, in the spirit of cooperation, passes the fix it bill.

    It's nice to have fantasies, Al. (none / 0) (#18)
    by shoephone on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 12:09:21 AM EST
    Hm.. I thought he was Senator now, (none / 0) (#22)
    by observed on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 06:11:24 AM EST
    not a humorist. Still, that's a good one.

    They'll run and hide (none / 0) (#24)
    by mmc9431 on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 06:41:53 AM EST
    Just like they fixed the Patriot Act, FISA and Medicare prescription drug bill.

    When, and if, they ever pass this supposed HCR bill, they are not going to want to open up the battle again for years if ever.


    Great, CNN says this morning (none / 0) (#27)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 07:32:05 AM EST
    that we can all look forward to a higher probability of being audited.  The IRS income stream has diminished.  Really?  Duh....nobody has a job or a 401k they need to pay any taxes on because any profits were stolen along with the capital.  Wow, is it possible that the Hamilton Project failed to consider that when you wipe out the middle class economic engine in your goal to be the Master of the Universe that you also destroy the means to run the government that controls the people that you desire to be master of?

    Looking at it all wrong kid... (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by kdog on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 07:48:27 AM EST
    it's IRS auditor/high-priced shark tax accountant job stimulus...and if ya can't afford one of those sharks it's warrant squad stimulus if you don't cough it up.

    Though I must say, the IRS is allright in my book, for tax year 2009 anyway...they adjusted my sh*t up, musta read me pissin' and moanin'...and I got my check!  If they think they can buy off my armchair critiques they've got another thing comin'...but credit where its due.

    NY State Dept. of Taxation & Finance still s*cks...make Uncle Sam look downright effecient and charitable.  Sweating if I'm gonna get that one in time to blow it in Mexico.  Chop chop Dave, before you resign will ya?  An adjustment akin to Sam's wouldn't hurt either.


    I'm so flamed (none / 0) (#31)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 08:04:58 AM EST
    there isn't one thing in play to level the playing field for the middle class being pulverized right now by our predatory financial system, our predatory healthcare system, and the predatory rich.  I don't care how much bullcrap they warp either to keep saying that we really aren't experiencing inflation.  My property taxes are up 20%, insurance is up 20%, credit card debt is now charging you whatever they want, the IRS is scoping our intestinal tract for anything it can find, and this is just the beginning of this pain.  This is only the start of how trapped and stripped we are all going to be.

    We need to look at Greece... (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by kdog on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 08:26:45 AM EST
    now I don't know the whole score over there but I do see people en masse in the streets trying to make sure they ain't holding too short an end of the stick when all is said and done.

    Over here it's like "Thank you for my 20% increase Mr. Business Man, Mr. Government Man" and "It's ok boss I don't need a raise, I know times are hard, we'll get by somehow".

    Now I hate to think we need to become cut-throat predators too, but we can at least quit being such easy and appreciative prey.  I still got half a mind to go down to Goldman Sachs and get me a gold plated stapler, but then somebody will say I had a "marijuana-induced psychosis" and there's "nothing to see here"...it just ain't worth it:)