TCS Daily


The Subversion of Capital Punishment

By Lester Jackson - May 28, 2009 12:00 AM

What they lack in popular support, death penalty opponents more than make up in tenacity, skill - and success. When a one-per-27 minutes, 36-year, 707,000 homicide holocaust results in 1,136 executions (0.16%), capital punishment has been all but abolished. What remains is a costly and agonizing farce, with a token few murderers served up to fool the public. The United States Supreme Court and other courts have played a major role, enormously aided by the media in suppressing critical information.

While laying claim to superlative morality, dishonesty, especially half-truth, is central to those who deem themselves merciful by bestowing mercy upon the merciless. There have been knowingly false claims of innocence. Moreover, in myriad cases, most recently on April 28, death sentences have been set aside or banned when guilt is not even disputed. This is achieved by focusing upon the alleged plight of brutal murderers, while callously withholding compassion, information and even thought about the massive suffering they inflict upon innocent law-abiding victims.

Yet, the public still supports the death penalty with little understanding of the true reasons why it is so rarely enforced. Therefore, proponents should take it upon themselves to actively and widely publicize unreported facts regarding how the courts have addressed murders, murderers and victims. Abolition would fail if the people were well informed of case facts and arrogantly imposed disingenuous legal absurdities, not the least of which is a Supreme Court majority's pretense that the Constitution gives them the right and power to decide if democratically determined criminal penalties are "unacceptable" and to reject them.

Consider the reaction if the public learned of these absurdities, wholly unrelated to innocence, concocted by judges who proclaim the superiority of their "own independent judgment" and lack of confidence in "decent jurors":

A murderer should have a serious chance to succeed with the argument that he would not pose a future threat if sentenced to life without parole because he was "only" dangerous to old ladies. A man can be mentally retarded, yet carefully plan rape and calculatingly murder the victim to avoid capture and return to prison. There can be no death penalty for "ordinary" murder with insufficient torture or suffering - or for barbaric torture without death.

An act that is "heinous" if committed by a person one day over 18 is rechristened "irresponsible" if he is one day under 18 because such a murderer is a "juvenile," a "boy"; but a victim of 16 is an "adult woman." Because the nearly-18-year-old has deficient "moral culpability,' it is "indecent" and "uncivilized" to expect him to appreciate the wrongfulness of premeditated torture-murder and joyfully boasting about it; so he must be kept alive "to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity." When a 300-pound grown man torture-rapes an 8-year-old girl, causing her rectum to protrude into her torn vagina, requiring surgery, this is inadequate "moral depravity" if she does not die. So forget his mature moral culpability; he still has "dignity" that must be "respected" to "allow him to understand the enormity of his offense," one not enormous enough to justify execution.

It is not clear that a rapist really intends to kill a victim when he stabs her 53 times, including 18 in the genital area. One cannot be expected to foresee new murders (an entire family, including a two-year-old) when he merely smuggles a gun-filled chest into a prison to help two convicted murderers escape, one serving a life sentence for murdering a guard during a prior escape.

As a group, the depraved should be rewarded with reduced punishment because their numbers have grown. As individuals, increased depravity ultimately satisfies the court-mandated prerequisite for its fringe benefit: an invented constitutional right to commit new depraved acts free from punishment.

When juries impose death, they cannot be trusted; but when they do not, this reliably shows capital punishment is always unwarranted. Rape under threat of death, three weeks after giving birth, is not harmful. Trial judges must mislead juries to save the lives of convicted murderers.

If capital punishment is a moral issue, as its perpetually pontificating foes assert, a fair debate would cease being largely confined to legal experts but should confront the public - and judicial nominees - with questions such as:

Is it moral to value, in practice, the life of a law-abiding innocent citizen vastly less than that of a clearly guilty barbaric murderer? Is it moral to demand absolute death penalty perfection, with heartless unconcern for the perfect certainty of causing new innocent victims of clearly guilty murderers kept alive by mistakes in catering to abolitionist sensibilities?

Is it profoundly immoral for murder cases to last over thirty years? Given the original torture inflicted, often sadistically, upon victims, is it moral to compound that torture by forcing their also victimized families to endure decades-long obstructive legal proceedings unrelated to guilt or innocence? Is it moral for abolitionists to use this very torture they have inflicted, by manipulating a legal system run amok, as a weapon to compel proponents to surrender by accepting abolition to relieve that torture?

Is it moral to label executed sadistic and premeditated murderers the "real victims" of violence and to "love and care" about them, empathizing with their plight rather than that of those they tortured? To be considered "decent" and "civilized," must one show more concern for the "suffering" and "humanity" of the cold-blooded than their past - and future - victims?

Who should decide what is "moral depravity" and "moral culpability"- five unaccountable justices, or decent jurors and elected legislators? Is it tolerable for the values of unelected justices to trump the public's in a representative democracy? Given their absurdities, does the self-presumed morally superior "independent judgment" of unelected justices merit acquiescence? If they persist in imposing their own unpopular morality, abolishing a penalty expressly authorized by the Constitution, is the Supreme Court entitled to continued respect and the legitimacy dependent upon that respect?


This article is based on and fully documented in a detailed work that can be downloaded here.
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190 Comments

I oppose the death penalty...
because the 'justice' system has been proven to convict the wrong person more than once, and in some cases, such a conviction was known by the police and prosecutors to be false.
Until the 'justice' system operates like the NTSB and truly seeks to find the truth, instead of finding someone they can convict, I will oppose the death penalty.

Killing Prisoners
I cannot recall when TCS has published such a shallow essay. Lester Jackson wants civilized people to kill prisoners; that much is clear. What he doesn't even hint at is Why. There have been a lot of murders (and other heinous crimes)... True, but the death penalty is not a deterrent. There are failures of the court system... again, true, but many are unrelated to the death penalty and some failure are directly caused by the possibility of a death sentence. Killing prisoners isn't even cheaper, unless we are willing to put up with a large, but unknown, rate of "false positives."

Before I will participate in the killing of a person made helpless by shackles and iron bars, I need a really good reason. So, what is it, Lester? Revenge? Hate? The victims' (families) need for revenge. No, wait, I asked for a GOOD reason.

Here's your good reason
It's only good common sense to expect that a brutal killer will kill or brutalize again if given the freedom to do so. Any "manimal" who violently rapes children, or sadistically stabs and tortures women to death, should be summarily dispatched from this earth, without remorse or revenge on our part.

This is merely taking care of the rest of us by preventing future victims. It's just taking out the trash. It's no more controversial, and no less moral than shooting a rattlesnake or rabid pit bull that invaded your home and yard. Which may not deter the next rabid dog or rattlesnake but it sure extinguishes the threat of the present one.

Yes, there are cases where the death penalty is a difficult decision, but there are many where it is not. And that is what the author is writing about - the easy obvious cases.

Yet the preening shallow 'moralists' miss even those. You refuse to destroy a monster, even when your own child, full of love and promise is the next victim. And you think this makes the world a better place? You are a Fool.

And "not cheaper"? What BS. Certainly, if common sense prevailed throughout in these obvious cases, then justice would be greatly cheaper, swifter, more effective, more merciful to the victims, and therefore - more just.

reasons and how to make cheaper
You might find it easier if it had been your daughter who the raped till she was inside out.

Often people say it's not a deterent even when nobody has mentined that aspect; there are other resons like ensuring that that guy will never do it again.

The debate about the high price is ridiculous, it doesn't need to be drageed out for years, at such great expense.
Here are some ways;
-he could be executed right after the trial, and the price of the bullet billed to his family like they do in china
-he could be denied that expensive last meal,
-he could be denied the education to become a lawyer in jail,
-he could have some parts extracted, like kidneys, lungs, eyes, etc. to defray costs and pay retribution to the victim or victims family,
-in some cases he could be forced to work and thus defray costs,
-any property he owns could be confiscated.

As for myself I'm against the govenment doing capitol punishment, but instead would leave it to others like the victims, or victims seconds.

"the easy obvious cases. "
How does anyone know with 100% certainty they are 'easy and obvious'?


Cases of absolute innocence
The article does a commendable job of exposing the errors of people who oppose capital punishment for what may be the wrong reasons, while glossing over the abuses of a system that permits it, even in cases where absolute guilt and innocence are being disputed.

The penalty is overwhelmingly exacted against poor and minority defendants, and virtually never even mentioned in cases of egregious murders committed by "people like us". The reason is that those "people like us" can (a) afford decent legal counsel, and (b) are difficult to portray to a jury as being despicable subhumans. Poor minorities, on the other hand, can't afford attorneys and are often represented, especially in the southern states, by drunks and other attorneys who can't find work any other way. These court-appointed stooges are often unfamiliar with the details of the case and disinterested in the defendant as being a fellow human being, possibly innocent of the crime.

Routinely in my state we are finding cases of absolute innocence, usually after many years of incarceration. Even after exculpatory evidence gets presented the case can take several years to resolve, given the barriers presented by the legalities of the original conviction and imprisonment.

Bad enough when the fellow has wasted twenty years or more behind bars, for something he didn't do. In a different category of error, though, when he has been executed.

Prosecutorial misconduct is a primary cause of wrongful conviction and imprisonment. And it has become a commonplace for such fights to be waged in the defense of death row victims, where crucial facts of the case were hidden by zealous prosecutors with political ambitions, as well as by the self-righteous actions of small town sheriffs' departments. And I'm sure, big city police departments as well.

The issue is a timely one today, with the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. She is being accused of "judicial activism" for the offense of believing that the human dimension should be applied to law. And death row appeals provide an ideal venue for the dialog between this alleged grave flaw and the contrasting approach of "strict construction" to unfold (that is, consideration ONLY of the legal issues under dispute).

Let's posit an inmate on death row who did not commit the crime for which he was convicted.. but who has used up all his legal avenues of appeal. And let's further posit that DNA evidence has just come to light showing that the perp had to have been someone else. What to do? Is he still to be considered "guilty"?

According to strict constructionists in the Texas Court of Appeals, his guilt has been established at the original trial, and confirmed by subsequent appeals. No further basis for considering his case are permitted. It is closed.

When asked whether they would support the man's being put to death on that basis, these individuals have said only that the law has been followed, that no further appeals are permissible and that the case is closed.

Regardless of any "bad" reasons to abolish the death penalty that the mind can come up with, we do have to consider the one very good reason to abolish it. From time to time it kills innocent people. And that is an injury that cannot be repaired, unlike the now-routine release of convicts found innocent of the original charges, after having spent as much as thirty years behind bars.

In that light, do we have any compelling reasons to keep the death penalty? Are these wrongful executions acceptable losses, just to keep a system alive that allows us to legally kill people?

The certain knowledge of guilt
I feel your rage for some kind of retribution. And to some degree I share it. The only issue is whether the fellow everyone feels "did it" actually did it.

Let's look at the not unusual case of Terence Garner, convicted of a number of charges including aggravated assault, malicious wounding and armed robbery, and sentenced after being fingered by an impeccable eyewitness tp 32 to 43 years in prison. If the shot had been an inch to the right or left, the charge would have been murder. And in this state, the sentence would certainly have been death.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/ordinary/etc/synopsis.html

Only trouble is, the eyewitness was wrong. What convinced the jury was that she stared into the shooter's face while he shot her twice, in the chest and face. And she pointed to a skinny sixteen year old named Terence.. when the actual shooter turned out to be a heavier 35-year-old named Terrance, who didn't look anything like him. Other than also being black.

Had this been a death penalty case, and had a particularly dedicated Wayne County sheriff not taken an interest in the ragged edges surrounding the case, the innocent Terence might now be dead. And the guilty Terrance never apprehended.

So I agree.. if we really knew who was guilty and who wasn't, the penalty would be appropriate. But as it happens, those people who say God only knows, so only God has the right to punish, have an important message for us.

At Terence Garner's trial, the jurors really thought they were doing the right thing. Trouble is, they were mistaken.

Off topic: "Black Panthers had wielded weapons, blocked polls"
You asked for it.

"The incident - which gained national attention when it was captured on videotape and distributed on YouTube - had prompted the government to sue the men, saying they violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act by scaring would-be voters with the weapon, racial slurs and military-style uniforms"

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/may/29/career-lawyers-overruled-on-voting-case/?feat=home_cube_position1

Editorial Drama aside...
Colonel,

You said "I'm against the govenment doing capitol punishment, but instead would leave it to others..."

In a civil society the government undertakes such security services on behalf of its citizens and so that the anarchy of vendettas should not disrupt the economy...a tax-base that the government relies on. We are human resources for the government and the industrial companies that use us as workers and consumers. We can't be allowed to go about killing each other off...we are valuable assets of the state.

Nevertheless, we are squeamish about actually executing anyone...in large measure because the police officers investigating these crimes...and the courts...do not know the parties or understand very much about what probably happened...and the police officers misbehave. But we won't let our citizens take the law into their own hands...therefore egregious crimes simply go unpunished here in America.

Let me tell you how this works in the Philippines. The government does not have a lot of money to spend on prisons. Municipal police do not normally carry guns. The Philippine National Police (PNP) are located throughout the country but they seldom get deeply involved in such local matters and everyone lives inside a more or less defensible neighborhood (barangay) with about 3,000 residents, mostly related and all known to each other for their entire lifetimes. Everyone has guns.

When something terrible and unforgivable occurs then one of the relatives summarily executes the bad guy and a payment of money...$1000-$1500...is made to his family. And it is over. Similarly, if someone is killed in an accident or over something like a girlfriend or some business or gambling debt then that same sort of payment is made to the family of the person who got hit by a car or who said the wrong thing in a bar where he should not have been drinking anyway. And that matter is settled.

Ultimately, bad people are punished. Understandable situations...however unfortunate...are put behind us. When there is a dark shade of gray regarding the justification for someone's death there may be a deadly response on the part of the victim's family and instead of them receiving payment for the loss of their relative they make such a payment in the other direction. This is not a vendetta. It's something reasonable.

Such over-reactions might be more likely when a powerful person has been killed...and he really deserved it...by a subordinate player who should have known better. In that case, the killer can expect to be murdered and his family will be paid for their trouble.

This is also the case when a dirty cop finally goes too far and gets himself shot. The other cops are certainly going to come for the drug dealer who was sick of paying those large bribes. But that sort of thing does happen and the possiblity of pushing the wrong guy too hard keeps the cops in line too.

We are safe in our own neighborhoods. Outsiders who walk around are constantly being watched. They do something wrong and they literally risk their lives. Their relatives won't defend them...everyone knew the dumb ******* was going to get himself killed someday. His own family kept him away from the women and children too. Being a little crazy he was useful actually and his people kept him out of trouble when he stayed with them.

No one needs the government to take care of this sort of thing for us. America is wasting its money...again.

Court Appointed Capital Punishment Case Defense Attorney...
For the most part court appointed defense lawyers in capital punishment cases are highly capable, highly compensated professionals who do this all the time. They are well known by the prosecutors and familiar inside the courtrooms of the trial judges they are likely to argue before.

The reason is that such convictions get overturned too easily when it can be deomonstrated that the accused was poorly represented. So states have gone all the way in the other direction. My own brother in law has been credentialed for capital punishment defense assignments for several years now, he make really great money with that practice and he is an astoundingly good lawyer. If the state does not have a solid case then they will simply plea the thing out rather than to face him and lose. I talk to him about this stuff all the time.

Most of the bad guys actually "did it", of course, and with CSI raising the evidence bar for the prosecution a beyond a reasonable doubt case must be sound.

Sure there are innocent people in jail and sure the cops misbehave. We live in an open society, surrounded by strangers, awash in drugs and armed to the teeth. Our prisons and courts are overwhelmed by small-time drug offenders while the cops earn $150,000+ a year, making their arrest numbers with dumb stuff and writing a lot of parking tickets. If there are gunshots...they generally show up after everyone is already out of bullets. Serve and protect...my butt.

We really don't execute many people very often. We are not good at this capital punishment business and it does not serve justice very well...or as much of a deterrence. American politicians are hypocritical and the government won't let us take care of these things ourselves. We're all in prison. It's just a matter of to what degree.

Due process..
We live in a nation of strangers. We rely on the integrity of the police and the blind justice of the courts to protect us from the bad people among us and from the authorities themselves. There is no such thing as "these obvious cases" here because our system of law makes prosecutors prove "beyond any reasonable doubt" that the accused is actually guilty.

In a different society...where no such "due process" is exercised...their criminals are far more careful not to do something that will get them executed on the spot if they get caught. But that is because people live inside permanent defensible neighborhoods and compounds, with extended family members and other such relatives. There is seldom any doubt what happened or who did it. Strangers are routinely discouraged from even walking through...and any sort of misbehavior is likely to be their last stupid move on this Earth.

But we can't live like that here. We use our houses as portfolio investments rather than homes. So this is what we get.

A different sort of justice
You and I may be living in different centuries.

Here where I live, court appointed attorneys have no resources. And jury trials are won by precisely the same means that elections are won: the side with the superior resources wins.. nearly invariably.

That means that when a person is killed, the police throw a case together proving that the spouse was responsible. And if the spouse has no resources, the state wins the case. Whereas when the spouse DOES, then it becomes a "celebrity case". And it rarely even progresses to the indictment stage.

Everyone understood from the outset that Ann Miller actually did kill her husband Eric. They even knew how she had procured the arsenic, when she got it and how she had administered it to him, over a period of a couple of months before he finally died an agonizing death.

But for years, no indictment. The same is true for the Peterson fellow. Yet when you're poor, spit, spat.. you're on death row.

It's a different sort of justice.

VERY far off topic
I'm sorry.. could you make the connection between this and anything I've said more explicit? It has all the relevance of a hockey game.

My comment above was just in amplification to yours, in "I oppose the death penalty". Same thing.

Maybe is wasn't you Roy. Maybe it was Bob.
Some socialist on this board challenged the fact that Black Panthers were intimidating voters on election day.

Now BHO is rewarding such activity.

What a uniter!

California...
"How much justice can you afford?" does have a ring of truth under our system. But any artificially imposed policing and judicial system that proposes to take the social responsibility for these matters away from us is less interested in equity and more concerned with the shifting agenda of the government.

In Japan, if you get arrested, the likelihood that you will be convicted is extraordinarily high. I don't know if this is because they have much better police officers or if their courts are ruthlessly unfair.

Don't ever let yourself be arrested in Eqypt or Brazil. Fight to the death instead.

Must have been BJ.
http://www.tcsdaily.com/Article.aspx?id=103008A

He was the one who was so sure BHO would reach across the aisle.

Selecting a racist judge is a great start, no?

Taking the long view
You're right, of course. There are varying levels of savagery. In the earlier civilizations they hadn't yet thought up the idea of incarceration. So any deviance from the social norm was punishable by death. No mess.

Then later they had advanced. Crimes under Hammurabi's code could be atoned for by paying a fine to the offended party, to his family or to the State.

But I like to aspire to a higher level of civilization, and not lightly tolerate a society where guilt and punishment depend on one's socio-economic status.. and celebrities, or even "respectable high-born gents and ladies" get a free pass. I like a society that tries its best to adjudicate the same way for all, as though Lady Justice were wearing a blindfold to considerations of station.

Maybe I'm just ahead of my time.

"adjudicate the same way for all "
Then you must oppose BHO Supreme Court nominee?

How can such adjudication occur when you don't support the Constitution, the law under which such adjudication must occur?

The whole Truth and nothing but the Truth
This kind of response shows some muddled thinking, IMO.

1. "Then you must oppose BHO Supreme Court nominee?"

Why? My comment went to the idea that whoever you were, one class of person didn't deserve more justice than another. Not because of gender, or net worth, or social status. And certainly not because they were higher up in the power structure.

And there's nothing I've seen in Sotomayor's extensively scrutinized comments to make me think she would see that any differently than I do.

What she appears to have been telling us is that she favors a common sense approach to the law. That is, if a law literally apllied is injurious to a litigant on EITHER side, in an unfair way, then that law is flawed. Flawed, regardless of any argument someone else might make as to its constitutionality.

Constitutionality is NOT the sole indicator of the validity of a given law. Slavery was once both constitutional and lawful. Now it isn't. And we're a better nation now, for that striking down of a body of law that was within the confines of our Constitution.. but unjust to human beings.

"How can such adjudication occur when you don't support the Constitution, the law under which such adjudication must occur?"

For you it must always be either ALL or nothing. If I don't say I'm 100% in favor of anything anyone makes an argument as being "constitutional" then it follows that I must be AGAINST the Constitution in its totality, and everything it stands for no matter how noble.

Are you really that much of an idiot? Let me ask you this:

Do you actually believe in every last line of the Bible, as being the literal truth? Do you think there was once a man names Jonah, for instance? And that he was swallowed by a whale? And that later he walked out again, whole and hearty? Do you?

Or do you believe NOT A WORD of the Bible, and believe it to ALL be a pack of lies?

Which is it? There is no middle ground available to you. It MUST be all one or all the other. Pick one.

Vendetta law
Hi, FB. You seem to be well travelled. Have you ever lived somewhere that you, personally, came under vendetta law? I have.

This was a place you can't travel unless you're under someone's protection. And my host was local, subject to tradition.

After I'd been there several nights and he understood I'd be around for a while to come, he gave me a heavy beam to brace the door. And told me to block it without fail.. and to never go out at night without understanding I would be at risk.. and to never under ANY circumstances to answer the door by opening it up. To anyone. For any reason.

This was all because of something someone once did to someone else's great grandpa. It's an internally consistent system, all right. But all the same, I like living under the rule of law. Much more convenient.

That's why I like it best when the workings of justice work equally well for everyone. Even those of modest origin. Like humble self. I wouldn't want to get pulled from the courthouse and strung up.

Especially not if the mob was just in a mood that day to demand retribution from SOMEone.. and I had just been standing too near by.

"Constitutionality is NOT the sole indicator of the validity of a given law."
Then what is?

Until such Constitution is lawfully changed, it IS the law of the land regardless of what a latina or you might think it should be.

I used to think the Dred Scott was a bad decision. It was a Constitutional decision which could only be changed by changing the Constitution. Which did occur.

It is the same with Roe v Wade. That was NOT a Constitutional decision and the debate still rages. I would think you would support such a Constitution that requires such a majority to change.

A document enabling slavery
If laws permitting the sale and possession of human beings are considered "constitutional", then the Constitution is flawed. If it is flawed it needs repair.

Should the required paperwork involve changes to the wording of the Constitution, that's fine with me. But mere constitutionality should never be an excuse to continue to uphold bad law.

It was changed. Pay attention.
How about laws enabling the murder of babies? How Constitutional is that?

Of course the Constitution is flawed. It was written by men and has mechanisms for correction.

What rights don't you like in the Constitution?

different justice
You go against your own case. Normally you try to jusitify big governments confiscatory taxes by saying that you must pay that for 'rule of law', and defenses against mad max, and your neighbours killing and raping, etc.

But lately, you keep making giving evidence how you can't can't depend on government for justice, or even basic law enforcement.

Not only can't they prevent crime, they mostly can't even catch the perp, if they do there still usually is no justice. Do you still instist that they force everybody for this lack of service?

vindetta law
You contradict yourself. You have just been telling us about how there isn't any real justice in the system, and that even in DC with its 31 or so law enforcement agencies, you still can't walk down the street, just like in that third world place you go to.

Walk us through how this would work; the guys get into your house, maybe even just by knocking on your doorbell, once instide, they grab you and your phones, and those of your family, they do as they wish. Now while that's going on, try to keep making the case to us that you're really happy to pay all those taxes for rule of law, cop protection, etc. This could easily happen to you any day of the week. You maintain it doesn't happen because the state is preventing it; I say it doesn't happen because most people really don't want to rape and pillage you.

Places without vendettas...
Inside cultures that perpetuate vendettas there can be no peace. All the men are angry all the time about some dumb thing that happened recently...due to some stupid thing than occurred a hundred years ago. If those societies have nothing better to do..then fine. What does it matter?What's the loss?

However, this stuff is disruptive and it makes everyone miserable all the time. You can't look at or speak with a man's mother, his sister, wife or daughter without causing a major problem. Women are protected and are wrapped in 10 yards of black cloth...so no one can reasonably say he was provoked. It works for them, but they waste a great deal of time doing nothing much else and they stay poor in a world where everyone else is busy making money.

One-thousand years ago when capitalism was practiced at the point of a sword and most people died young everyone had time to spare with this sort of foolishness because once you planted the seeds you mostly sat around watching the grass grow and herding the stupid goats. Going to war...not so much. Running a company...even less. Sailing a boat involved sitting around watching the wind blow most of the time.

Now...we are busy. No time for vendettas. If we must someday fall back into a social structure...here in America...where we take care of such things for ourselves...or if we already live in a place without a strong central government to "serve and protect" then better we look to the Philippine model than the Palestinians.

It isn't just that Arabs live in the desert and that has made them hard. Lots of people live in terrible places and they have much happier cultures. In the modern world there is too much to lose with something as demanding as vendettas. Societies that cannot grow past that sort of thing will suffer for it. But this is none of our business. If they want to live like that. Tough for them.

Give to Ceasar what already belongs to Ceasar...
I am saying that the 200 sovereign governments of the world already have us all divided up between themselves and there is precious little we can do but pay their taxes. Complaining that they misbehave buys us nothing. What we need to do is stay away from those people as much as possible. Insofar as you rely on any government to do the right thing for you...you will be disappointed. The state must be self-perpetuating in order to compete with the other sovereign nations. We are simply human resources, taxpayers and consumers to them.

Nevertheless, there will always be governments just as there will be multinational corporations and very large banks. There are also always going to be angry oceans and earthquakes. Hot summers and icy winters.

There will also be human nature. And we do not seem to get past the expediency of dealing in death to solve certain problems in our lives. That's a reality. We might never get past it. Therefore, we need to be able to protect ourselves and, in the end, some people really do need killing.

Do we want the government of the United States flying all over the world sweeping people...good and bad its hard to tell one from the other...off the streets, trying to re-engineer societies with further threats of "shock and awe" and generally insinuating themselves deeper into our lives and treating us like an occupied nation here in our own neighborhoods? Or do we want to mostly take care of these matters ourselves...according to our own cultures and among our own people...who we do understand and they understand us? We all know what is expected and reasonable. If someone needs to put my stupid cousin down because he just could not control himself and he did something unforgivable and he can't be trusted even around his own people anymore...then let it be one of us. Not some stranger from the government. One of us who does not mind. One of us who will not think about it too much after. And that ability is rare. We were not all born to do such things. But some of us were. There should be no joy in this.

I find it unfortunate that killing must ever occur. I don't like it. But I also do not like the fact that we must slaughter cattle in order to eat beef. Some things in life are difficult. Other things do not bear thinking about too much.

We have all done some things we do not talk about. Things we should not think too much about. The problem with our young soldiers today is they are too sensitive about the way that they feel themselves. They are too concerned with their own feelings. No one asked me growing up how did I feel. Or even what did I think. They asked me what I was going to do with my life. That was it. How I felt about anything never came into it.

My father's generation knew how to care of the people around them and how to put their own things that were best forgotten into the past. World War II was terrible. But it was like a dream to them. Like a story they'd heard. Someone else in another life. They seldom talked about it. They seldom thought about it. They looked forward to better times and they worked hard to get there.

If happiness is giving someone who depends on you something to look forward to...then sadness is a great big nothing...something useless inside ourselves to forget about.

How do you like your steak, Colonel? Here, have a beer.

Ideal would be ideal...
That's why they call it an ideal. We might get close. But human nature is venal and self-serving. Power is not power unless it is used. Getting yourself out of trouble seems like a terrific application of your wealth and hierarchical position...when you are in trouble. Ideals are put aside...get me out of this mess.

However, we should not be such individual actors. When we mess up and someone must get us out of trouble then our entire extended family should be invested and involved in the process of making sure we do better. Left to our own devices we fall right bank into the same self-defeating behavior. Leadership implies that subordinates need to be told what to do. Here in America we get to a certain age with wisdom and accomplishment...and we are then the dominant member of our family...we look around us and we realize that family does not actually exist. No one lives with us. We seldom see our grandchildren. We never see our cousins. We need to demobilize this society and fall back into our family compounds. We may be educated, experienced and wealthy...but why are we alone? Surrounded by strangers and mostly waiting to die? We messed this thing up somehow.

The number is growing.
Why be limited to 200 'sovereigns'? Why not 200 million or 2 billion or even 6 billion sovereign individuals?

Caesar had Brutus
Dictators need subjects. Politicians need voters. Companies need customers.

People have become more aware of the power they truly have, and the concept of sovereignty is changing.

Resign yourself to being subject to the whims of 'sovereigns' if you want. I choose to be free.

Yeah...
Tom,

This author is too lazy to rewrite his own stuff so it's readable or he needs an editor...really bad. Hard to imagine what TCS must be thinking to print such garbage.

Actually, it is difficult to understand the point of the article. Is this guy complaining that we execute too few criminals? Is he saying we execute so few of the men we convict that we should just stop it completely already? It's unfair. It's pointless. Shut down the death rows and save all that money. Or is he implying that we are a nation of milk-toast sissies too afraid to defend ourselves? In the end he makes no recommendations about anything to do better. He's just bitching.

None of us like the way America works. We spend too much money on social services, we are overrun by drugs, too many people die needlessly in automobiles...driving recklessly and too often intoxicated. And the cars just keep getting faster.

Our police officers are overpaid, arrogant and many times they are abusive. Our prisons are full and we don't have the money to keep building more. So this thing we're doing can't be sustained and we have not yet figured out how to operate our society better.

Change. Hope. For the moment we are throwing money at our problems and lying to ourselves that we have hit bottom.

Articles like this don't make anything better. The fact that they get printed at all seems to indicate that some people out there have already given up trying.

What sovereigns must do to keep the favor of their 'subjects'.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090530/ap_on_en_ot/us_prince_harry_39

Prince Harry plays games with children. Why do they need to suck up to the public?

This is exactly why I don't talk to you...
You can't be reasonable. We can't have a proper conversation. You just want to talk crazy. I do like your spirit though.

Why are you afraid?
Can't you defend your assertions?

re without vendettas
You said, "1k years ago when capitalism was practiced at the point of a sword". That was NOT capitalism, but say primitive feudalism, dictatorship, theocracy, etc.
Capitalism free markets and private property, and those items were absent in those systems you describe.

re edit drama
When you said, 'the government undertakes..." that's only in theory, in practice they don't protect you, and probably won't catch the perp, if they do, still no justice usually because of the corrupt court system, etc.

So statists, guys like Roy, want citizens to pay a huge amount of money for a dysfunctional system. That would be a system that benefits mostly the predatory government.

I am familiar with the barangay system. So if I were married there and had a family member tortured till she was inside out, like the example, I would rather depend on that system for justice than in say....DC.

overpaid, arrogant cops
I know of one place where the cops get about 70k + a year, and are more interested in waitress ppuussyy at the coffee shope than they are in preventing crime, or catching perps ex post facto. It got so disgraceful that there were so many cops parked at the coffe shops that instead of calling 911 or help, they were starting to call the coffe shop instead. It was such an embarrasment that they had to do something, right? Guess what they did, instead of telling cops they shouln't be wasting so much time there, and try to catch criminals; what they did was tell them to disbuse themselves amongst many different shops so the abuse wouldn't be so noticable!

Your tax dollars at work, yet statists claim we depend on these parasites for our protection.

giving to Cesar
Nobody gives to Cesar, he takes it by force.

You said the government considers us as simply human resources. The relationship would better be described of as 'sheeple', or say cows ready to be milked. They can't just kill us off because then there would be no milk. So they provide a welfare state, and plenty of propaganda, so they can KEEP miling us, rather than the one time pillage of former years.

I know that many hypocritical statists like Roy say that we should just submit to modern-day serfdom, but to keep alive the notion of freedom is always admirable even though it seems remote. I still admire Spartacus, even though I wouldn't emulate him. I admired the founding fathers for risking their lives to be free of the British tyranny(only to form their own brand within a few years).
I admired those slaves in Jamaica that fled to the hills and formed their own stateless society, and the huge one in Brazil.

Freedom is an ideal that we should always strive for(except for those people who prefer to live under tyranny, like a masochist should be able to hook up with a sadist if he wants).

afraid of freedom
I think many statists are afraid of freedom because they have become so infantilized by the massive brainwashing they have received in the gulage indoctrination centers that are the public schools.

They try to pose the nanny-state as the parent replacement, keep you dependand on them.

Without ideals, what is there to strive for?
Why bother getting married if 50% get divorced? Why bother having children if they will all end up idiots on the government dole?
Why bother living if their is nothing to live for except immediate gratification?

".but why are we alone?"

Why are the old folks alone? Because they want something better for their children and they are just as selfish as their children. Parents must earn respect. Too many today never grow up and act like their children, or worse.

What in the hell are you talking about?
I haven't said any of those things.

Make sense. Otherwise you're just wasting our time.

Praise for vigilantism
Forest, ordinarily you make excellent arguments in support of your case. But this one, I think, falls short of the mark. In your response to thecolonel, above, you give stirring praise for the system of vigilantism you've witnessed in the Philippines:

"Let me tell you how this works in the Philippines. The government does not have a lot of money to spend on prisons. Municipal police do not normally carry guns. The Philippine National Police (PNP) are located throughout the country but they seldom get deeply involved in such local matters and everyone lives inside a more or less defensible neighborhood (barangay) with about 3,000 residents, mostly related and all known to each other for their entire lifetimes. Everyone has guns.

"When something terrible and unforgivable occurs then one of the relatives summarily executes the bad guy and a payment of money...$1000-$1500...is made to his family. And it is over. Similarly, if someone is killed in an accident or over something like a girlfriend or some business or gambling debt then that same sort of payment is made to the family of the person who got hit by a car or who said the wrong thing in a bar where he should not have been drinking anyway. And that matter is settled."

But certainly you must see how no hard line between such citizens' initiatives and vendetta rule can be drawn.

All it takes is one passionate case, where a family member is not satisfied with the payment of a sum of cash.. and blood for blood will be required. And that starts a feud going. Atrocities get piled on top of one another, and each one only makes the case stronger that more blood must be shed.

The best cure for this congenitally unstable system is for the state to take over the administration of justice. And for THAT system to be perceived as fairer, it must be administered with one scale of justice for all. Not one law for the poor and another for the protected.

It would seem likely that in most traditional societies, two families would get together and demand one eye for one eye. And everything would be adjudged settled. But somehow as the centuries roll by, a lot of these occasions still get out of hand. And no one alive can remember just how they started. But the families are still bound to the code of vengeance.

Which is a long way of saying I prefer that it be replaced by the rule of law, fairly applied.

Making better rules
"That's why they call it an ideal. We might get close. But human nature is venal and self-serving."

I believe our Founding Fathers were in agreement. However the way they saw it, we could have two choices. The first would be to accept the fact, relax, tolerate corruption and theft from the less fortunate by the more fortunate as being the normal state of things.. OR we could try to devise some sort of methodology, by which these normal human inclinations would be thwarted by institutional checks and balances.

They chose the latter.

They also noted the human mind's endless ingenuity in devising new ways to scam the public. So they advised that we be eternally vigilant, not just accepting of human nature as being the (presumably acceptable) norm. And they devised a way the system could constantly be inproved upon.

Unfortunately this often takes the form of adding new layers of rules, instead of replacing old, corrupted systems with new systems. So over time government tends to become more cumbersome, more expensive and less effective. (Much like that other complex system we maintain, health care.)

Naturally, those among us who would prefer a "wild west" atmosphere where everyone is on his personal honor, would like to sweep away such rules as still stand in the way of their pockets and our money. Those rules get so damned inconvenient!

First principles
It is called returning to first principles.
Basing all rules upon the same standard.
Instead of adding more regulations with the intent of preventing fraud, why not prosecute the fraud in the first place?

Our present situation is exactly what you advocate Roy, 'positive law'.

This is NOT what the founders of our Republic had in mind, though. They advocated 'negative law' and so stated in the the Constitution, which you (surprise) don't respect.

His assertions need no defense
Marjon, FB's being very nice about it, but he's calling you a half wit. Best to close mouth and savor the moment.

His point about 200 sovereign nations went to the fact, well expressed by him, that if any of them were to try out your stateless ideal it would immediately be swallowed up by one or more of the neighbors.

In other words your ideal is unattainable in this life. Perhaps in Heaven a kindly Lord will allow each of us one cloud to call his own. But that's not the setup here on earth.

False assumptions lead to false conclusions.
The false assumption is the quality of the sovereignty of those 'sovereign' states.

Baker lives and/or has a business in PI. The concept of sovereignty is weakening as more people around the world gain wealth and have the opportunity to move. Such 'sovereign' states must then compete for 'subjects'.

This sounds more like a business competing for customers than a sovereign state and all that it implies.

As an example of such weakened sovereignty, people all a across the EU can live and work in other EU countries.

Anyone with enough money can buy Swiss residency.

What is 'sovereignty' unless is is mutually recognized by the other 'sovereigns'?

Given such weakness in sovereignty, Baker's assertion that we must submit to the sovereign's subjugation is false. In fact, it is the 'sovereign' that must accommodate and submit to us. It was called 'the consent of the governed'.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,"

"It's impossible for female and minority judges to overcome their biases"
"In more succinct terms: Sotomayor does not mind, and may even prefer, that the outcomes of cases are affected by the gender and race of the judge (at least when the judge is not white and male).

Judge Cedarbaum, she noted, "believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law." Does Sotomayor share that noble sentiment? Not entirely.

"Although I agree with and attempt to work toward Judge Cedarbaum's aspiration, I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases. And I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society" (my emphasis). Which comes alarmingly close to saying:
It's impossible for female and minority judges to overcome their biases, and it would be a shame if they did"

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/05/31/sotomayors_aversion_to_impartiality_96737.html

Why bother with ideals?

Military imperialism as a form of capitalism...
By capitalism (with a small "c") I mean (broadly) the gathering together of the factors of production...material, labor, real estate and tools...into wealth creating operations.

Military Imperialism did precisely that because once the warlord had run through his pillaged wealth then he needed to put the assets and resources he'd captured back to work making more. Otherwise, military hegemoney was not sustainable.

Financial capitalism was much more benign and ultimately more productive because entrepreneurial ventures do not require so much death and destruction to get something new launched.

The casualty rates for businesses started on the battlefield were as high one-thousand years ago...as they are for new restaurants launched in Chicago today. Tough, competitive industries...the same sort of players...and a little bit dirty.

your own definitions
You can give an alternate definition of a word if you describe what you actually mean, as you did here. Then at least people would know what you're talking about.

But if you just say that something means whatever you want it to mean, then you're like the guy in Alice in Wonderland.

Capitalism is not normally thought of as having anything to do with military imperialism. Would you also say that the Romans and Alexander the Great were capitalists?

Capitalism means private property, free markets.

talking about
Here's a survey to see if people agree with me that Roy has said the following:
-that there isn't much justice about,
-that everyone must be forced to pay for governments that don't give justice, or protection.

You have said all of those things at various times, but I imagine it's hard for you to be held accountable for your views; at once disparaging of the corrupt collusion between government and business, and your slavish devotion to statism.

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