Archive for November, 2008

Punishment and Fairness, Comparative Nature of Punishment

November 30, 2008

The whole concept of punishment in America is warped. Historically it amounted to simply time in hell. From a prisoner’s point of view the torture (beatings, rape, psychological abuse, inadequate food, lack of medical care – pain, limb loss, death) was equal if not worse than losing what you left behind. The reality is that those that are poor often lose job, savings, house, all possessions, family (divorces are common), and children even for short sentences. The wealthy have only lost a little time and then come back and resurrect their life using their money.

For a while prisons had some element of rehabilitation. Now there is very little – beautician training for women and furniture building for men. They are run by incompetent, ignorant, patronage workers and profiteers. As our leaders have been so inept that small town America has lost most industry, we built prisons in a lot of small towns to provide jobs. If you build too many prisons, you have to fill them. You have to give excessive sentences, no rehabilitation so prison becomes a revolving door, and abuse the law (police etc.) in arresting the innocent and using prisons as mental health warehouses and warehouses for the addicted.

There are very few of these officials who give a damn, let alone know anything useful. The politicians and policy makers are so far from the factory floor of reality in America that hope for realistic and helpful policies is dim.

The main thing prisoners learn right now is hate for the system, for the police, for the courts, for the guards and officials. Abuse of prisoners leads to this viscious cycle. I’m just really surprised that the body count of officers, lawyers, and judges isn’t higher.

The second thing they learn is how to be better criminals. When you return to society without a job, with stigma, having lost everything – what do you think most do! All of you are naive if you think prison has ANY element of justice.

Justice to me is not just punishment – it is rehabilitation so that society can welcome the prisoner back into society as a productive citizen. There is none of this – been there and I’m innocent!

The answer to me is to limit the number of lawyers in Congress and legislatures to 49% of the total and to appoint two non-lawyers to the U.S. Supreme Court, and every State Supreme Court in the land. Heh! I’m ready for the job!

I respectfully find the concept of the “comparative nature of punishment” to be irrelevant. What is punishment? Should it be pure retribution on one extreme or should it be analyzing the danger to society from the offender and the motivation, strengths, weaknesses, and rehabilitation potential of the offender, and then making a plan to transform the offender to a productive citizen, and if need be confining him or restricting his liberty in some way for the protection of society, at the other extreme? There is a little of this in theory in the practice of criminal law today, but none in reality. At least in C[r]ook County Illinois, presentence reports go into a big black hole and emotion and passion of the prosecutor, as well as political corruption determine sentencing.

Comparing unpunished “baseline condition” to “worst, punished condition” as Prof. Kolber suggests only deals with retribution. This is only half of the equation.

I wonder if we are asking the right questions. Is excessive imprisonment and forced poverty and destruction of offenders family, along with the costs this brings to society the answer to crime? I don’t think so, but this is the present system of “justice” in America today.

Let’s rethink “punishment”, think out of the box, start at ground zero and bring reality and rationality back into “justice.” What about mental health care, treating addiction as a disease, restorative justice, community service, education, and removing corruption and politics from the equation? I see a lot of lip service about this in Illinois, talking the talk, but no walking the walk.

From the Blog: Sentencing Law and Policy: A comment –

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Sep 15, 2008 12:52:42 AM

What is the obsession with squashing every convict like a bug? To what end?

This country needs to learn that not everyone needs to go to jail for 20+ years and lose everything they’ve ever known, accomplished, saved or done.

Abuse of Eight-Year old “Murderer” – Are You All NUTS?

November 20, 2008

An eight-year old in St. John’s Arizona has been charged with murdering his father (premeditated!) and another man in his house with a rifle, after he “confessed” to two police interrogators who questioned him with NO ONE else present. (Apache County Sheriff’s Commander, Matrese Avila and St. Johns Police Detective Debbie Neckel) He had recently been taught to hunt. The men’s bodies were found in two separate locations in the house. The prosecutor, Criss Candelaria, is asking to charge the child as an adult! The judge has confined the child to juvenile detention facility, but is letting him out for 48 hrs for Thanksgiving with conditions (no video games? no knives or guns within reach? etc.) The police have him in SHACKLES and handcuffs. The Judge, Michael Roca, is approving this nonsense!!!

The police, the prosecutor, and the judge should be charged with child abuse. The FBI should be called in to take over and investigate this felony violation of civil rights under color of law. This is beyond an outrage and flies far beyond the twilight zone. The child should be immediately released to his mother.

A five year old believes a body is a bag of skin containing blood. A six to seven year old has no concept of death. They are just starting to understand this means the person is not coming back home. They think the person is sleeping.

All of us know that five year olds have no concept of time – “is it time yet!” An eight year old thinks a body is a bag of skin with bones randomly placed in it.

Children this age are good mimics and repeat what they hear adults say and what is said on TV but they don’t know what they are saying or what the words really mean. They mimic TV and the line between fantasy (what they see on TV) and reality is blurry for them. That’s why they believe so much in boogey men under the bed and in closets.

My son was five and I was called by a baby sitter in panic when she told me that he “knew everything about sex” so some one must be abusing him or telling him everything. The sitter often watched soap operas during the day and they show couples in bed in their bedrooms under the blankets with lights out. The word “sex” is used but not explained. I later found out the sitter would tell the kids to go away from the TV and play in a stern voice whenever bedroom scenes came on. She told the kids they shouldn’t watch because there was “sex.” The subconscious message was bedroom scenes were “bad.”

At dinner I had a casual playful conversation with my son and worked in the word “sex” by saying – “someone told me the word sex today – it sounds bad”. My son said that the sitter didn’t want him to say the word because it was “bad”. I asked him what it meant. He said: “Its when you shut off the lights and tickle each other under the covers.” Then he had a big giggle and ate his pie.

To get even with the sitter for scolding him about being naughty my son used what he knew would press her button. Even a two year old learns to manipulate before he understands what he is doing! He told her: “I know what you do with uncle Joe under the covers.” Uncle Joe and Aunt Carol let my son sleep over to play with their dog, when I am out of town or there is a special event like a baseball game my brother and son like to watch together (my son lost his father so interactions with my brother were important). Aunt Carol, the sitter, thought this meant adult sex and had a cow. My son only knew that Auntie thought the activities under the cover were “bad”. He didn’t know what those activities were – so he imagined them – tickles.

I think this is a case similar to the Ryan Harris murder in Chicago where two little boys were charged after false confessions and an atrocious interview and later exonerated when the DNA matched an adult.

I am a pediatrician and the interview was atrocious. If you want to put words in a child’s mouth and manipulate them into confessing to something they didn’t do, all the techniques are illustrated on this video – be nice start out with facts and then move to theoreticals and abstract concepts which you lead on – imply what you want – voila! – you get a confession! Children LOVE to please.

The biggest mistake is that children DO NOT understand the abstract at this age (death, murder, life, love, suffering). Abstract is beyond their grasp. Consequences are beyond their grasp unless they are short term. Premeditation for more than a short time is beyond their grasp and cannot involve the abstract.

The child was learning hunting from his father. Perhaps his father taught him to be humane and put a wounded animal out of its misery because it was “suffering”. The child then was taught to equate “suffering” with the sight of blood. The child could have been equating blood with being wounded and talking about putting the men out of their misery by shooting them, even if the child did not shoot them. Was he talking in the concrete or the abstract; past, present, or future? You can’t take what he said literally!

Words at this age may not connect with actions. They may be used as if in reality but in actuality the child is discribing fantasy, or mixing up past actions with present (shooting a wounded squirral v seeing his dad covered with blood). They don’t communicate precisely. Actions don’t connect with results very well. They are just learning these concepts.

Children are NOT little adults! Shame on everyone who thinks that this interview has ANY inculpatory evidence whatsoever. The child should not be in juvenile jail. He should be home with his mommy.

For the press to perpetuate this myth that the boy shot or murdered his father and the border is obscene. How in tarnations could an eight-year old surprise and overpower two adults in different parts of the house who are familiar with guns, aim perfectly, and kill them? Are you all nuts! The murderer is by now long gone!  It is NOT alright to use a defenseless, naive, sweet eight-year old as a scape goat and headliner! You are all barbaric and then defame his deceased father with baseless allegations of child abuse!

The press should be ashamed. Perhaps they should study Edward R. Murrow and learn about ethics.

 

See also:  http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-na-juveniles21-2008nov21,0,5205156.story

In this case Mr. Doody was a 17 year old in AZ when he was accused of murdering 9 people at a Buddhist temple. The only evidence was his “confession” extracted after he was “de-Mirandized” per the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals due to inappropriate 12 hours of intense interrogation without counsel or family. His conviction was overturned and he was granted a new trial.  Sound familiar?

Solving the Problem of Pervasive Judicial Arrogance, Incompetence, Political Corruption, and Fecklessness

November 18, 2008

In Illinois judges are selected by vote or by temporary appointment of the Illinois Supreme Court. To be retained every few years, they must garner 60 % of the vote.  There is no requirement for judicial training, no college for judges, and no certification for judges. Its kind of like a physician with a few years experience in family practice being allowed to do brain surgery, open heart surgery, or psychiatry. The result is disaster.  Even when all the legal societies evaluate and rate judges it is useless. In 15 years or more, no judge has been removed from office by vote, even if rated as unqualified by all legal societies. It is worse than a joke. It is scary! The Bill of Rights means NOTHING in Illinois.

The Constitution means NOTHING in Illinois. Democracy means NOTHING in Illinois. The innocent are convicted. The guilty are free. The mentally ill are neglected and abused. The abused are kicked when they are down. The poor have no hope and are scapegoats. The rich and powerful are unfettered in their greed and inhumanity. Bullies, thieves, sociopaths infect the ranks of prosecutor’s offices, honorable police departments, and correctional departments.

If you don’t believe this then read this and view the evidence here.

I offer the following solution:

Judges in Illinois should be appointed by a panel of 9 persons. Five must be law professors who question the candidates as if they were defending a dissertation to make sure they have the fund of knowledge and intellect necessary to be a judge. Three of the panel would be citizens from different walks of life (doctors, accountants, tradesmen [like “Joe the Plumber”] and housewives). One would be a politician. The law school deans would have a rotating responsibility to appoint the law professors. Public interest groups would have a rotating responsibility to appoint the citizens. The Governor would appoint the politician.

There would be developed a College for Judges which awards a diploma or certificate after one year. No judge could take the bench unless he was certified.

Perhaps, then we might move Illinois from [in] justice and the fact that it presently is a totalitarian police state where judges are influenced by politics, corrupt prosecutors, and police, rather than by the Bill of Rights, to the fair and honorable democracy that we all dream of.

  

Political Trials – Still Alive and Well in 21st Century American [In] Justice

November 18, 2008

Protecting Defendants Charged for Political Reasons

SUPREME COURT JUSTICE DOUGLAS IN 1970 – “Does the answer to the problem of political trials involve defining the procedure for conducting political trials or does it involve the designing of constitutional methods for putting an end to them? . . . . It will be time enough to resolve those weighty problems when a political trial reaches this Court for review.”

THE TIME MAY BE NOW!

The State of Illinois through first Attorney General Jim Ryan and now Attorney General Lisa Madigan along with incompetent, ignorant, and/or corrupt officials in Illinois Medicaid including Bill Bradley, Investigator Reibel in the State Police, and Patrick Keenan in the State Police Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, with tacit approval by many other corrupt officials in the State of Illinois, have perpetrated a scheme for ten years to deny mental health services for persons on Medicaid in violation of the Federal Medicaid Code. See my other posts on Medicaid on http://illinoiscorruption.blogspot.com/.

In order to falsely advertise that she is “tough on fraud” so that she can advance her personal political ambitions, Lisa Madigan continues to fraudulently and without legal authorization indict outstanding providers of mental health services to Medicaid patients. Judges Schultz, Fox, Pantle, Alonso, and Egan have participated in these void and illegal prosecutions and done great harm to the citizens of Illinois in their illegal acts of violation the United States Constitution, in aiding and abetting this violation of federal law and civil rights.

I have been one of the persons illegally indicted and defamed, presently awaiting trial over a period of four long years. The harm to me, my patients, and my family is immeasurable and painful. I have persistly legally and appropriately through the legal process of at first representing myself and filing scholarly motions proving that higher court precedence (stare decisis) does NOT PERMIT this kind of persecution for political gain, and that my case is null and void ab initio (from the start).

I have been punished for vigorously advocating for my constitutional rights to redress of grievances and due process (including the right not to be tried for something that is not a crime) for four years with four incarcerations for contempt (two thrown out by the Illinois Appellate Court – pepetrated by Dishonorable Judge Pantle), one presently before Hon. Judge Coar in federal district court on a habeas corpus petition (asking the court to vacate and expunge the conviction on the basis of violation of constitutional rights and voidness – pepetrated by Dishonorable Judge Pantle), and one in limbo – dismissed for want of prosecution, but potentially can reinvigorate the appeal later (perpetrated by Dishonorable Judge Alonso).

I have been beaten, tortured, and medically neglected during these incarcerations and when I protested, a correctional officer, Sgt. Anthony Salemi, came into my cell and committed assault and battery against me. He falsified his records and I was charged and convicted of aggravated battery to an officer for allegedly “ramming him with my wheelchair” causing a skinned shin, and “kicking him in the chest with my RIGHT leg” causing soreness. This was impossible for me to do do to a partial RIGHT hemiparesis and extreme weakness secondary to dehydration caused by mendical neglect. I was sentenced to two years despite no criminal record and was released from Dwight penitentiary after being tortured on March 31, 2008. I was punished and placed in solitary confinement for 6 months because I refused to walk (I was unable to due to my disability) and forced to swim in my diarrhea on a 2 inch mattress with no sheets or clothes for days, except for a roughly quilted velcro smock and blanket, without toilet paper, without water (I was too week to get myself up to the water fountain at the sink or the toilet). The United States Attorney has been informed and so far has done NOTHING! My weight dropped from 171 lbs to 127 lbs and by the time I was released I couldn’t even sit up because of severe dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance. I was immediately taken to an emergency room and treated. The incompetent and barbaric sadists and psychopaths in Dwight’s medical department had insisted I was faking my medical problems.

Due to my protests, all reasonable and responsible and polite, I have been illegally and immoraly denied self-representation by Judges Pantle and now Alonso without legal authority in violation of my constitutional rights. I am being prosecuted for political reasons as a whistle blower. I testified against now convict and ex-Governor George Ryan in a class action suit for illegally denying 73 million dollars in funds for the care of handicapped children. I have won suits against Sheriff Sheahan in C[r]ook County for violating the American with Disabilities Act. I have won suits against the State of Illinois for failing to investigate barbaric and illegal abuse of mental health patients/inmates at Cook County Jail, and I have numerous pro se civil rights, mandamus, and injuctive suits pending in federal and state court against these corrupt officials. I am a target of the corrupt cabal in Illinois and C[r]ook County.

Justice Douglas in Illinois v. Allen, 397 U.S.337 wrote the following in a concurring opinion, which is very much on point. My case is ripe for Hon. Juge Coar to address in this manner in the federal district court. It is a political case! This quote, by Justice Douglas in his opinion, about Penn is fascinating and you everyone should enjoy it!.

HOWEVER IT IS SAD THAT IN THE 21ST CENTURY IN ILLINOIS, CITIZENS WHO ARE DOING NOTHING BUT PROVIDING MUCH NEEDED MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES TO THE NEEDY, WHO HAVE DEVOTED THEIR LIVES TO SERVICE, AND WHO VALUE OUR CONSTITUTION, ARE STILL THE TARGET OF POLITICAL ATTACKS IN A MOST VICIOUS AND BRUTAL MANNER!

THIS IS WHY I ASK FOR THE HELP OF THE PUBLIC TO FUND MY DEFENSE AND TO HELP ME CONTINUE TO HELP OTHERS DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION. See link at the right on this blog if you wish to help.
________________________________________________________________________
QUOTED FROM CONCURRING OPINION BY JUSTICE DOUGLAS IN ILLINOIS V. ALLEN, 397 U.S. 337 (1970):

Our real problems of this type lie not with this case, but with other kinds of trials. First are the political trials. They frequently recur in our history, [Footnote 2/2] and, insofar
as they take place in federal courts, we have broad supervisory powers over them. That is one setting where the question arises whether the accused has rights of confrontation that the law invades at its peril.

In Anglo-American law, great injustices have at times been done to unpopular minorities by judges, as well as by prosecutors. I refer to London in 1670, when William Penn, the gentle Quaker, was tried for causing a riot when all that he did was to preach a sermon on Grace Church Street, his church having been closed under the Conventicle Act:

“Penn. I affirm I have broken no law, nor am I Guilty of the indictment that is laid to my charge, and to the end the bench, the jury, and myself, with these that hear us, may have a more direct understanding of this procedure, I desire you would let me know by what law it is you prosecute me, and upon what law you ground my indictment.”

“Rec. Upon the common law.”

“Penn. Where is that common law?”

“Rec. You must not think that I am able to run up so many years, and over so many adjudged cases, which we call common law, to answer your curiosity.”

“Penn. This answer I am sure is very short of my question, for if it be common, it should not be so hard to produce.”

“Rec. Sir, will you plead to your indictment?”

“Penn. Shall I plead to an Indictment that hath no foundation in law? If it contain that law you say I have broken, why should you decline to produce that law, since it will be impossible for the jury to determine, or agree to bring in their verdict, who have not the law produced by which they should measure the truth of this indictment, and the guilt, or contrary of my fact? ”

“Rec. You are a saucy fellow; speak to the Indictment.”

“Penn. I say, it is my place to speak to matter of law; I am arraigned a prisoner; my liberty, which is next to life itself, is now concerned: you are many mouths and ears against me, and if I must not be allowed to make the best of my case, it is hard, I say again, unless you shew me, and the people, the law you ground your indictment upon, I shall take it for granted your proceedings are merely arbitrary.”

“Rec. The question is whether you are Guilty of this Indictment?”

“Penn. The question is not whether I am Guilty of this Indictment, but whether this Indictment be legal. It is too general and imperfect an answer, to say it is the common law unless we knew both where and what it is. For where there is no law, there is no transgression, and that law which is not in being is so far from being common that it is no law at all.”

“Rec. You are an impertinent fellow, will you teach the court what law is? It is ‘Lex non scripta,’ that which many have studied 30 or 40 years to know, and would you have me to tell you in a moment?”

“Penn. Certainly, if the common law be so hard to be understood, it is far from being very common; but if the lord Coke in his Institutes be of any consideration, he tells us, That Common Law is common right, and that Common Right is the Great Charter-Privileges”

“Rec. Sir, you are a troublesome fellow, and it is not for the honour of the court to suffer you to go on. ”

“Penn. I have asked but one question, and you have not answered me; though the rights and privileges of every Englishman be concerned in it.”

“Rec. If I should suffer you to ask questions till tomorrow morning, you would be never the wiser.”

“Penn. That is according as the answers are.”

“Rec. Sir, we must not stand to hear you talk all night.”

“Penn. I design no affront to the court, but to be heard in my just plea: and I must plainly tell you that, if you will deny me Oyer of that law, which you suggest I have broken, you do at once deny me an acknowledged right, and evidence to the whole world your resolution to sacrifice the privileges of Englishmen to your sinister and arbitrary designs.”

“Rec. Take him away. My lord, if you take not some course with this pestilent fellow to stop his mouth, we shall not be able to do anything tonight.”

“Mayor. Take him away, take him away, turn him into the bale-dock. [Footnote 2/3]”

The Trial of William Penn, 3 How.St.Tr. 951, 958-959.

The panel of judges who tried William Penn were sincere, law-and-order men of their day. Though Penn was acquitted by the jury, he was jailed by the court for his contemptuous conduct. Would we tolerate removal of a defendant from the courtroom during a trial because he was insisting on his constitutional rights, albeit vociferously, no matter how obnoxious his philosophy might have been to the bench that tried him? Would we uphold contempt in that situation?

Problems of political indictments and of political judges raise profound questions going to the heart of the social compact. For that compact is two-sided: majorities undertake to press their grievances within limits of the Constitution and in accord with its procedures; minorities agree to abide by constitutional procedures in resisting those claims.

Does the answer to that problem involve defining the procedure for conducting political trials or does it involve the designing of constitutional methods for putting an end to them? This record is singularly inadequate to answer those questions. It will be time enough to resolve those weighty problems when a political trial reaches this Court for review.
_______________________________________________
[Footnote 2/2]
From Spies v. People, 122 Ill. 1, 12 N.E. 865, involving the Haymarket riot; In re Debs, 158 U. S. 564, involving the Pullman strike; Mooney v. Holohan, 294 U. S. 103, involving the copper strikes of 1917; Commonwealth v. Sacco, 255 Mass. 369, 151 N.E. 839, 259 Mass. 128, 156 N.E. 57, 261 Mass. 12, 158 N.E. 167, involving the Red scare of the 20’s; to Dennis v. United States, 341 U. S. 494, involving an agreement to teach Marxism.

As to the Haymarket riot resulting in the Spies case, see 2 J. Commons and Associates, History of Labour in the United States 386 et seq. (1918); W. Swindler, Court and Constitution in the Twentieth Century, cc. 3 and 4 (1969).

As to the Pullman strike and the Debs case, see L. Pfeffer, This Honorable Court 215-216 (1965); A. Lindsey, The Pullman Strike, cc. XII and XIII (1942); Commons, supra, at 502-508.
As to the Mooney case, see the January 18, 1922, issue of The New Republic; R. Frost, The Mooney Case (1968).

As to the Sacco-Vanzetti case, see Fraenkel, The Sacco-Vanzetti Case; F. Frankfurter, The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti (1927).

As to the repression of teaching involved in the Dennis case, see O. Kirchheimer, Political Justice 132-158 (1961).

[Footnote 2/3]
At Old Bailey, where the William Penn trial was held, the baledock (or baildock) was
“a small room taken from one of the corners of the court, and left open at the top, in which, during the trials, are put some of the malefactors.”

Oxford Eng. Dict.

Fixing America’s [In] Justice System

November 16, 2008

The Myth of American Justice:

There is no way that we can have anything but injustice if the office of the prosecutor is given 10 times the budget of the office of public defender. Defendants are subjected to the situation of the defenders of the Alamo – the odds are overwhelmingly against them. In this dysfunctional system, a defendant is guilty until proven innocent to the hilt, despite the theoretical innocence until proven guilty. There are far too many innocent people in prison, mentally ill people in prison, and non-violent criminals guilty but sentenced excessively with no rehabilitation available for them or help in re-introducing themselves to society when they get out.

We can solve this problem in several ways:

1-Parity in terms of budget for both prosecutors and public defenders;
2-Mandate that all attorneys must provide a specified amount of pro bono services – they won’t do it without a mandate as in the federal court system;
3-Raise the level of required training for the police so that they stop abusing laws such as trespass laws, disorderly conduct laws, and resisting arrest, laws – now often used for harassment and to retaliate against whistle blowers and activists, as well as for judges – who often violate the Bill of Rights out of ignorance of the law;
4-Revise grand jury rules so that the jurors are told that they can call witnesses and so that it is more likely that defense witnesses will be called to prove there is no probable cause;
5-Increase penalties for prosecutors who commit fraud upon the grand jury by mistating the law and withholding exculpatory evidence including witnesses;
6-Revise our criminal statutes so that non-violent crimes may be dealt with more by mediators and not all “crimes” are automatically forced to trial so that judges are freed up to deal with more significant crimes;
7-Increase funding for mental health services including drug addiction treatment and offer more diversion for first time offenders and non-violent drug offenders to remove their cases from the trial schedules.

Most importantly we need to have civilian oversight over judges and prosecutors. There will have to be creative thinking as how to accomplish this task. The fox cannot guard the hen house!

I am sure that there are a lot more who through creative thinking can come up with the solutions that I am too ignorant to figure out.

Abortion – Pro Religion Viewpoint

November 16, 2008

CORRUPT OFFICIALS WIN WHEN AMERICANS FIGHT EACH OTHER –

LET’S STOP FIGHTING

 

      Freedom of Religion – The United States Constitutional Amendments – Amendment I
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,”

        I am absolutely devoted to our Constitution. As such, I cannot condone neither the Pro-Life nor the Pro-Choice organizations. I am Pro-Religion.

         I, at their birth, resuscitated and stabilized the “lightest set of triplets”, the Vincent triplets, according to the “Guiness Book of World Records” 1997 ed. Therefore, I believe I have a certain perspective that others may not.

       The Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade is now outdated. The trimester system no longer has any relationship to the potential for life, if one believes that life is defined as that which can be sustained outside the womb. We can now sustain the lives of most newborns at 24+ weeks gestational age, and a few at 22-23 weeks gestational age, although most are severely impaired.

       United We Stand. Divided We Fall. We are Americans, not Saudi Arabians, not Northern Irish, not Italian, not Iranians, not Pakistani, or any other nationalities where religion to some extent rules political decisions.

     We can all agree that abortion of a viable fetus after 21 weeks is vile unless the fetus is non-viable. Non-viable is a very complex topic and this cannot be discussed and decisions made in a paragraph.

       At one extreme is a fetus that is anencephalic (no skull or brain behind the face or above the spinal cord). I do not consider this life and have no difficulty with an abortion in this case at any time in the pregnancy. This situation is no different than brain death and I cannot understand anyone disagreeing with me here. Then there is a large grey area, where the fetus may be alive and viable for at most a few days, but cannot be saved, such as with extreme spina-bifida where the brain sticks out of an opening in the neck and the skull is empty except for fluid. Again in such a tragic case, I do not believe that abortion at  any time is not appropriate if decided by the parents in conjunction with medical personnel.  However, forcing the mother to have a C-Section would be cruel and more dangerous and the emptying of the fluid from the empty skull to facilitate the birth by shrinking the skull to make more space for the brain sticking out to pass through the cervix and not get ripped off of squashed is appropriate in this rare case. It is exactly this type of case where the lay term “partial birth abortion” was, in my opinion, inappropriately formed and used for  political purposes. The medical name for this procedure is dilation and extraction, if done prior to birth. Other types of fetal malformations which are incompatible with life are a gray area as to how best to handle them. Perhaps, this is the area where laws might be illegitimate to use to intervene and it is best left to the parents and the physician..

       In the first many weeks of a pregnancy, there is no human form, only potential life if you are pro-choice, rapidly dividing ball of cells — now known as a blastocyst at 4 weeks of age,  then this ball of cells transforms as an embryo – a rapid migration and differentiation of cells to forms parts of the body into  a fetus at 9 weeks into pregnancy – which has the basic early form of a body but not fully developed organs and  brain.  The organs and brain develop through the fetal period until birth, but are sufficient for viability barely at 21 weeks but usually at 24 weeks. Those who are pro-life believe that it is murder to abort at any time as they believe that when the sperm enters the egg this constitutes life even through the period of a blastocyst or embryo.

        Whether there is “life” before a functioning brain is formed is not a political question, but a religious question. No one can prove to you your faith. How can anyone justify laws that interfere with this religious question? I find protests or insistence of laws by both groups in this area disturbing and unconstitutional, just like I would find protests over the death bed of a brain dead person disturbing.

      We should be joining together spending our money more wisely to prevent unwanted pregnancies, to help those who cannot deal with pregnancy and choose to go to term to deal with their situation and become good and productive mothers, to help those that obtain abortion never need another one again.

       This is the common ground. This should be the starting point of all discussions. This is how I believe we should reframe the question.

For a different most interesting discussion of the abortion issue see:

http://littlecog.com/2008/11/15/abortion-is-wrong-but-should-be-legal/

Our Economic Crisis – Causes and Fixes

November 16, 2008

I believe the best analysis of the situation is by George Soros on Bill Moyers Journal on October 9, 2008.

 

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/10102008/transcript1.html

 

Three of the things he says are very important:

 

The first has to do with the fact that for 25 years we have been consuming more than we were producing and living more and more on credit that evolved into virtual credit and then into noxious instruments that no longer reflected the true value of the items for which credit was given (houses etc).

 

1) “You see, for the last 25 years the world economy, the motor of the world economy that has been driving it was consumption by the American consumer who has been spending more than he has been saving, all right? Than he’s been producing. So that motor is now switched off. It’s finished. It’s run out of — can’t continue. You need a new motor. And we have a big problem. Global warming. It requires big investment. And that could be the motor of the world economy in the years to come. “

 

The second thing he points out is that the free market does not work without the invisible hand described by Adam Smith. You can’t let the fox (banks and wall street) watch the hen house (noxious instruments). Credit has had a disconnect with the true economy (actual goods and services) growing twice to three times as fast. All of a sudden (actually over time but quickly) the world has realized that their virtual money (credit and noxious instruments) have no clear relationship with actual goods (houses etc) and services in terms of value, and that the agencies evaluating the risk (whether the instruments are good or not) has made totally bogus judgments based on faulty assumptions (credit ratings like AAA).

 

2) “There was a failure of regulations because they couldn’t understand these new instruments. But they said, “Oh, well, the banks have very good risk management techniques. So we leave it to them to calculate their own risks.

And, you see, it wasn’t only in the housing market. There were all kinds of other financial instruments. So there was not just one bubble. I describe in my book there is the housing bubble. But this housing bubble, when that burst, it was only the detonator that exploded the bigger bubble, the super bubble.

 

Which is this 25 years of constant credit expansion using greater and greater leverage. The amount of credit in the economy has been growing at, I don’t know, I don’t know the exact figure, but maybe at least twice as fast as the economy itself. I think it’s more like three.

 

And now, suddenly, you have a contraction of credit. And it’s a sudden thing. And it’s a period of great wealth destruction. And that’s how these poor people in Texas suddenly find that their 401(k) is worthless. “

Finally he essentially says that unbridled greed which is fueled when there is a disconnect between actual value and virtual value (credit) ignores the interests of society and replaces self-interest must be controlled by the invisible hand.

 

3) “Actually, these market fundamentalists are making the same mistake as Marx did. You see, socialism would have worked very well if the rulers had the interests of the people really at heart. But they were pursuing their self-interests. Now, in the housing market, the people who originated the houses earned the fee.

 

And the people who then owned the mortgages their interests were not actually looked after by the agents that were selling them the mortgages. So you have a, what is called an agent principle problem in socialism. And you have the same agent principle problem in this free market fundamentalism. “

 

He also states something very disturbing – that Paulson doesn’t know what he is doing and it was obvious that the 700 billion bailout was useless at that time. He suggests that the first step is buying equity shares in banks – injecting capital at that point. Read the whole transcript and it makes a lot of sense. He should be Secretary of the Treasury.

Lets End Politics of Fears, Smears, and Defamation – That’s for the Third World!

November 16, 2008

This is my comment in response to a post about President-Elect Obama and William Ayers on “Illinois Review” an ultraconservative Illinois blog written by honorable people, who have a very rigid philosophy. They made a mistake in their article stating that Ayers was a Professor at the University of Chicago, where Obama once taught. The article suggests that Obama should be faulted for promoting ideas of radical activists against the Vietnam war (domestic terrorism) that were those of Ayers 40 years ago.

First William Ayers is NOT a professor at the University of Chicago. He is a professor at the University of Illinois.

Second, I do agree with Ayers that guilt by association and false assumption about why Obama and Ayers met or what they said to each other is despicable.

For example, I met Fred Hampton Jr. at a lecture involving law professors and an important area of law. This does not mean I am a Black Panther supporter! To say that about me would be PURE and UNETHICAL defamation of character.

The statement that Obama “pals around with terrorists” is no different – PURE and UNETHICAL defamation of character of Obama. It has nothing to do with the despicable acts done by Ayers in the past.

Third, I personally will vote against ANY candidate in the future who continues to use such unethical tactics in his/her campaign.

There is a reason the Republic Party is on a severe decline. This is one of them. The Republican Party was severely hurt by their unethical tactics using Ayers in this fraudulent manner. That is why we need new leadership in the Republican party. Politics of fear, smears, and defamation must be buried. That is part of the American dream.

In response to my comment the editor of “Illinois Review” wrote what I believe to be an inappropriate comment falsely suggesting I (and Obama) support domestic terrorism. Clearly I said no such thing and the editor is trying to put words in my mouth. This kind of remark will not help rebuild the Illinois Republican Party:

What’s it like to defend a domestic terrorist? The message you’re trying to get us to swallow is that it really wasn’t that bad to firebomb police, judges, and the Pentagon. You’re trying to tell us that it was excusable to attack public servants because he didn’t like what they were doing?

Abtinence Programs for Sex Education Worse than NO Sex Education

November 16, 2008

I did extensive scholarly research on abstinence programs about 6-7 years ago. My notes have been lost, but I am absolutely sure that what I found was that they didn’t work at all and in fact may have increased the pregnancy rate.

 

We should stop wasting our taxpayer dollars on things that sound good but have no value.

 

We don’t need to re-invent the wheel. After all sex has been around for a long time!!! All we have to do is obtain objective scientific data on how well different programs work and then promote programs that really work.

 

I’m sick of decisions being made based on emotion, religious views, and partisan politics. There is a more rational and accurate way to make such decisions. We need real, honest, transparent, cost-benefit analysis.

 

I plan to do this regarding sex education and I’ll report the results to you when I am finished. It may take some time.

Prison Industrial Complex Tearing Down Economy and Society

November 16, 2008

One in ten jobs in America are related to the prison industrial complex. We incarcerate 40 times more individuals than any civilized country and the same number of citizens as China which has five times our population.

This is a tremendous burden on our economy. We don’t produce saleable goods or increase the gross national product from our prison industry. Our tax base is eroded when all of these people don’t work. Huge health care costs, not paid for by those using it (the prisoners) increase the public expenses. Welfare and Medicaid expenditures are bloated by the needs of the families of the incarcerated who can no longer support them. Potentially productive workers for new high tech and energy industries are frozen in dead end jobs (correctional officers and employees), when they could be producing saleable goods and services while increasing our country’s productivity. Salvageable workers are thrown to the wind by ignoring and vastly underfunding drug and alcohol abuse treatment and mental health treatment.

Our 40 year experiment concerning being “tough on crime” has failed miserably. Ultimately we will be increasing the crime rate as angry, hostile, untrained prisoners, whose mental illness, addiction, and bad habits are ignored, are released into the population – as we reap the fruits of that which we sow. The ranks of those being released each year are growing exponentially as the steadily increasing numbers incarcerated are released – now about 600,000 persons a year.

I believe until:

  1. we take the profit out of the prison-industrial complex; 
  2.  increase transparency in contracting, juvenile justice, mental health care, training of officers and staff, and policy decisions;
  3. increase training for correctional officers and most importantly for parole officers (who have the toughest and most complex law enforcement job in the country);
  4. take corruption out of the system (particularly in Illinois where all contracts with the State require a 10% kickback or bribe, leading to hiring unqualified patronage workers as officials and officers of the prison system); 
  5. legalize marijuana and control it like tobacco or alcohol to free up law enforcement, prosecutors, and the courts to deal with more substantial crimes;and
  6. most importantly add rehabilitation into the prison system so that the prisoners who are released become productive citizens; as well as
  7. abolish the costly and useless death penalty, 

the system will remain hopeless broken and costly, helping to drive our economy into the ground.

For more information about corruption in the Illinois and Cook County prison/court systems see my blog: 

 http://illinoiscorruption.blogspot.com/


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