a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Arthur Silber - Once Upon a Time. . .Nicholas Kristof - Framed for Murder?
Judge Fletcher's dissentContacting Governor SchwarzeneggerContacting Jerry Brown (campaign)Contacting Jerry Brown (attorney general)Dorothy L Sayers - Begin Here (1941)
“California may be about to execute an innocent man.”
That’s the view of five federal judges in a case involving Kevin Cooper, a black man in California who faces lethal injection next year for supposedly murdering a white family. The judges argue compellingly that he was framed by police.
Mr. Cooper’s impending execution is so outrageous that it has produced a mutiny among these federal circuit court judges, distinguished jurists just one notch below the United States Supreme Court. But the judicial process has run out for Mr. Cooper. Now it’s up to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to decide whether to commute Mr. Cooper’s sentence before leaving office. . .
. . .Judge Fletcher wrote an extraordinary judicial opinion — more than 100 pages when it was released — dissenting from the refusal of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to rehear the case. . .
. . .A woman and her sister told police that a housemate, a convicted murderer who had completed his sentence, had shown up with several other people late on the night of the murders, wearing blood-spattered overalls and driving a station wagon similar to the one stolen from the murdered family.
They said that the man was no longer wearing the beige T-shirt he had on earlier in the evening — the same kind as the one found near the scene. And his hatchet, which resembled the one found near the bodies, was missing from his tool area. The account was supported by a prison confession and by witnesses who said they saw a similar group in blood-spattered clothes in a nearby bar that night. The women gave the bloody overalls to the police for testing, but the police, by now focused on Mr. Cooper, threw the overalls in the trash. . .
. . .This case is a travesty. It underscores the central pitfall of capital punishment: no system is fail-safe. How can we be about to execute a man when even some of America’s leading judges believe he has been framed?
Lanny Davis, who was the White House counsel for President Bill Clinton, is representing Mr. Cooper pro bono. He laments: “The media and the bar have gone deaf and silent on Kevin Cooper. My simple theory: heinous brutal murder of white family and black convict. Simple as that.”
That’s a disgrace that threatens not only the life of one man, but the honor of our judicial system. Governor Schwarzenegger, are you listening?
. . .the fact that war has occurred will not automatically make virtue easier to achieve. By calling the last war a "war to end war", and by talking about "homes for heroes" and a "new era for society", we did somehow manage to persuade ourselves that a world exhausted, impoverished, and resentful presented an exceptionally favorable site for the building of the New Jerusalem. We are still unwilling to admit that this is not the case. . ."
The fact that we failed in the past must not deter us. In 1918, we were given an opportunity to rebuild Europe on better lines. We bungled that as we have bungled other opportunities from time to time. That cannot now be helped. We need not therefore think that we are innate and predestined bunglers, for whom a release from bungling is in the nature of things inconceivable. To think so is, to be sure, the surest way to make us so, just as, if a child is nagged into looking upon himself as a hopeless butter-fingers, he will inevitably tend to drop everything he touches. The cure for all such paralyzing thoughts is resolutely to think otherwise, and indeed, to brood as little as possible upon what happened last time. The whole set of ideas connected with the word "sin" is nowadays considered old-fashioned; it has become more usual to regard our actions as automatic reactions or responses to the pressure of varying environment. This view, however interesting, is apt to make us feel very helpless. There is a good deal to be said for the opinion that a sin is a sin and an error is an error; that both should be examined, admitted, repented of, and then put out of our thoughts. Repentance is, in fact, another way of saying that the bad past is to be considered as the starting point for better things. We bungled the last opportunity; very well. Let us admit that and try to do better with the new one. . .
There are things that the professional cannot do for us, and others that, though he can, he ought not to be permitted to do. He cannot, for example, feel our emotions for us, and he ought not to do our thinking for us. . .
Is it ridiculous to say that we try to let specialists feel our emotions for us? I think not. . .
. . .Happily for us, it is not possible wholly to hand over our emotions to other people. . .
. . .The case is not quite the same as regards thought. It is far easier to get through life without thinking than without feeling. . .
. . .the acquisition of knowledge is not the same thing as thinking; it is only the first step toward it. Knowledge does not become thought till we have made it part of our lives by relating it to our experience and acting upon it. Thus, we may know and repeat upon authority that a motorcar is driven by an internal combustion-engine, but the recital of that fact does not mean that we have ever seriously thought about internal-combustion engines. Only when we are called upon to make an engine or to mend one that has gone wrong do we begin to think our knowledge into action and so make the principles of internal combustion a real part of our lives. . .