Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 21st, 2011

Before the Davis Execution Takes Place

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James Fallows has a very good column that points out some uncomfortable truths about the death-penalty cheerleaders:

This is not my normal beat, and I have no expertise or special standing to comment on the case.

But before the executioner makes this matter moot about four hours from now, in my “special standing” as a human being and as an American, I wanted to say these things:

1) Please read Andrew Cohen’s masterful explanation of the philosophies, practicalities, and politics of modern capital punishment. It is long but truly important, and among other things it clarifies why use of the death penalty nationwide has been declining, even as it has been on the rise in the South. (Since 1976, there have been four times as many executions in the South as in the rest of the country combined. Texas alone has accounted for nearly 40% of all U.S. executions in that period; together with Virginia, it accounts for almost half. Texas executed 17 last year; California, with more people and more crimes, has executed a total of 13 since 1976.)

One crucial part of Cohen’s argument is that the kind of willful over-reach we see from the Georgia authorities in the Troy Davis case will eventually turn the national tide against the death penalty as a whole. He argues that the 1976 Supreme Court ruling making the death penalty permissible again was based on the faith that it would be carried out with utmost sober-minded care, even reluctance, and that operationally its workings would seem to be “fair.”

That’s quite obviously not how things seem about the death penalty in general, with the partisan whoops at the mere mention of executions and the comments from public officials (it’s not just Rick Perry) that they haven’t lost a moment’s sleep about even some obviously tainted cases. It’s also not how things seem in the Troy Davis case, in which most of the original witnesses have changed their stories and numerous non-softies including Ronald Reagan’s appointee as director of the FBI haveasked the state of Georgia not to take the irreversible step of putting him to death. As Cohen says of Davis:

Whether the trial witnesses against him were lying then or are lying now, by fighting against his requested relief Georgia is saying that its interest in the finality of its capital judgments is more important than the accuracy of its capital verdicts…. In their zeal to make good on cynical campaign promises to be “tough on crime,” in their pursuit of vengeance on behalf of grieving families, in their reckless disregard for the racial realities of capital punishment, elected or appointed proponents of the death penalty are in the process of ruining the mandate the Supreme Court gave them 35 years ago.

There is a lot more; I will simply say, please read Cohen’s essay during the next few hours. It probably won’t make a difference in Davis’s case, but it is an important analysis of a national shame.

2) Please also read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s account today of another murder case in the South, and how the death penalty may or may not be applied. Also from our site, Emily Hauser and Clive Crook.

3) OK, back to Cohen. He makes a point that can’t be emphasized often enough. The death penalty debate is not exclusively or even mainly about the condemned people themselves, including those who are indisputably guilty. It is about us. Cohen writes about Duane Buck of Texas. No one disputes that he is a killer, but the US Supreme Court this week stayed his execution because of racial bias in the sentencing process. Cohen says:

Why should I care about the procedural technicalities of this guy’s sentencing case when his guilt is not in doubt? Since he’s guilty of murder, how fair does his legal treatment really need to be? People of all political stripes asked the same questions….The guy did it. He is getting more justice than he gave to his victims.

That last part is true. Of course, defendants like Duane Buck get more justice than their victims. That’s the whole point of our criminal justice system — and of the rule of law. That’s why we outlaw lynching, why angry mobs can’t storm jailhouses, and why we have judges. It’s why we have a Constitution. In America, we aim to give the guilty more justice than they deserve. We do so because of how that reflects upon us, not upon how it reflects upon the guilty. Andwhen we fail to do so it says more about us than it does about the condemned.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2011 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

For you Barney Kessel fans: Here’s That Rainy Day

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Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2011 at 1:31 pm

Posted in Jazz, Video

Fight crime: Open legal marijuana dispensaries

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Interesting report by John Hoeffel in the LA Times. You’ll note that the city attorney’s arguments against the study’s findings and methodology are vacuous and uttered without backup data or study—just to say something negative quickly. The report begins:

Medical marijuana dispensaries — with storerooms of high-priced weed, registers brimming with cash and some clientele more interested in getting high than getting well — are often seen as magnets for crime, a perception deepened by a few high-profile murders.

But a report from the Rand Corp. reaches a startling conclusion: The opposite appears to be true.

In a study of crime near Los Angeles dispensaries — which the investigators call the most rigorous independent examination of its kind — the Santa Monica-based think tank found that crime actually increased near hundreds of pot shops after they were required to close last summer.

“What I would take away from it is maybe there should just be a little bit less fear about having dispensaries,” said Mireille Jacobson, a health economist who was the lead researcher. “Hopefully, this injects a little bit of science into the discussion.”

The researchers compared the 10 days before the city’smedical marijuana ordinance took effect June 7, 2010, with the 10 days after, when many of the more than 400 illegal dispensaries shut down — if only briefly.

They found a 59% increase in crime within three-tenths of a mile of a closed dispensary compared to an open one and a 24% increase within six-tenths of a mile.

The city attorney’s office, which has argued in court proceedings that the number of dispensaries needs to be reduced to deal with “well-documented crime,” called the report’s conclusions “highly suspect and unreliable,” saying that they were based on “faulty assumptions, conjecture, irrelevant data, untested measurements and incomplete results.”

In particular, the office challenged the idea that most dispensaries closed June 7, 2010, and were not open for at least 10 days. And it offered its own conjecture for the rise in crime: infighting among collective members, increased traffic for pot fire sales and customers disgruntled to find their dispensary closed.

Jacobson said Rand did not assume dispensaries shut down exactly on that date and said that, if more of them closed earlier or later, it would mean only that crime increased more than the report found.

The researchers acknowledge that the results are subject to a large margin of error, so the increase in crime within less than a third of a mile could range from as low as 5.4% to as high as 114%.

“These are noisy data over a short period of time,” Jacobson said. But she noted that the numbers, which were subjected to complex statistical analyses, clearly show crime increased.

The researchers did not try to draw conclusions on why crime increased, but offered the hypothesis that dispensaries may heighten security in the areas around them because they employ cameras and guards, increase late-night foot traffic, replace illicit street sales and draw heavier police patrols.

In a review of crime statistics from 2009 ordered by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, the LAPD found that banks were much more likely to be robbed than dispensaries. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2011 at 9:07 am

Posted in Drug laws, Science

J.M. Fraser: Wonderful stuff

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I find J.M. Fraser to be an exceptionally good shaving cream, lightly fragranced and curiously effective at softening the beard. I used a Vie-Long horsehair brush this morning—this one does good work, but (oddly) I had to refresh the lather for the third pass. This possibly is due to the effects of The Shave Den’s pre-shave balm, quite oil-rich. I used the last of it today—only a small amount—and I didn’t get quite same slickness at the end. I think I perhaps will omit a second MR GLO wash. When I get my supply, I’ll try washing beard with MR GLO, applying TSD pre-shave balm, shower, then return to sink and apply lather, no further wash.

We’ll just have to see whether the balm turns out to be compatible with good lather or not. (Yesterday was fine.)

At any rate, a very nice shave using the Eclipse Red Ring and the Swedish Gillette blade it’s been holding for a while. Three passes, a splash of Saint Charles Shave New Spice aftershave—a very pleasant fragrance, and unlike Old Spice: fresher, lighter…

Cleaning ladies today, so light blogging as I prepare.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2011 at 7:36 am

Posted in Shaving

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