Open Thread Feb. 1: Our Cup Runneth Over With Bullshit

Filed in National, Open Thread by on February 1, 2018

At this point, is there anything Trump could do that would cause Republicans to abandon him? My Magic 8-Ball says, “Outlook not so good.” The Orange Doofus is at war with the FBI, and is so stupid he can’t even hide his motives. Sources tell CNN that he’s embracing the memo as a way of discrediting the Russia investigation. Granted, we all know that, but Fox News lying depends on at least the pretense of deniability.

I doubt Trump could find Bears Ears or Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah on a map — hell, I doubt he can find Utah — but he’s allowing an Oklahoma-style land rush there so mining operations can start. Trump or no Trump, we’re already living in a Russia-style kleptocracy.

Two members of Congress announced yesterday they won’t run for re-election, and both count as good news for liberals. Trey “Benghazi” Gowdy of South Carolina said he’s going back to the courtroom, which won’t hurt the GOP in numbers but does deprive them of his legal acumen. More promising for liberals: Bob Brady, the troglodyte Democrat from Philadelphia, is retiring after a close call with prosecutors over paying a rival in a primary to drop out. Let’s see if an actual progressive can push through the usual crowd of grifters and opportunists who have already expressing interest in the job.

Bullshit outrage of the week: I’m supposed to be upset over people whispering that Nimrata Haley is having an affair with Donald Trump, because that’s a sexist insult. Mika Brzezinski shut down author Michael Wolff on the subject this morning, declaring, “You might be having a fun time playing a little game dancing around this but you’re slurring a woman, it’s disgraceful,” she said. Here’s the problem with that line of reasoning: By claiming this is a “slur,” it assumes the charge is a lie, which is as bullshit as assuming it’s true. Nobody ever shuts down speculation about a man fucking around by saying, “It’s a slur.” In all the time America’s press corps hyperventilated about Bill Clinton’s fucking around, nobody ever stopped to say, “Wait a second. We’re slurring him.” If it’s a slur when we say it about a women, then it’s a slur about a man — except even feminists don’t believe that. Funny thing about the Haley stuff in Wolff’s book — nobody has even tried to deny the quote about her being “as ambitious as Lucifer.” Apparently that’s not considered a slur.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul resurfaced on Stephen Colbert’s show, after months of recovery from an attack by his neighbor left him with broken ribs and lung damage. “I’ve been shot at. I’ve been mugged. I’m hoping 2018 is a better year,” said Paul, who was also on the baseball field when Republican politicians were attacked by a nut with a gun. “We are channeling a lot of rage on both sides, politically and otherwise, grass clippings, you name it. We’re unhappy with each other. And I think sometimes we see people on television and we think that person’s not human. They don’t hurt, you know.”

Here’s my version of good news: Asshole who likes killing big animals with big guns gets shot to death as he prepares to shoot a lion. This piece of shit was retired and wanted to dedicate his life to shooting animals after others tracked them for him — canned hunting, as it’s known. Wouldn’t it be great if all these people shot and killed each other instead?

Speaking of which, this is the guy all the “get rid of the death penalty, no exceptions” people will simply never convince me deserves to live: He’s in a custody battle with his ex-wife. When his daughters, 6 and 9, come for their scheduled visit, he puts them on speaker phone with his wife while he shoots them to death. But if I’m progressive, I’m supposed to want to keep him alive. Sorry, no can do. This is precisely the sort of case I make an exception for: Exceptionally heinous, no doubt whatever of his guilt. I won’t hold a party when he’s gone, but you’re gonna have to work overtime to show me, or anyone else, that the country is worse off for his execution — or that executing people like this is our country’s biggest shame. I don’t think it makes the top 1,000.

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  1. ckars says:

    Alby, at one point in my life I was in complete agreement with your position on the death penalty. I believed it should be used for the worst of the worst which to me included child killers, contract killers and serial killers. Then I was appointed to handle several capital murder cases and it became very apparent to me that we do not handle capital cases on any kind of rational basis. Too often factors like race play way too large a role. As you know in the U.S. we sentence very dysfunctional people to death. In Delaware a more narrowly drawn death penalty was expanded so any killing could fall within it. The cases with which I was involved all had moral ambiguities. In my view our blood lust moves us to include many cases that are not the worst of the worst. I do not think we have a rational approach and somewhat reluctantly concluded we should not use the death penalty at all, even for the monster you described. On a much happier not I find your writing excellent, enjoyable and informative.

  2. Alby says:

    @ckars: All you say is absolutely true. Ironically, I moved in the opposite direction. What changed my mind was the white supremacist in Norway who murdered 80+ children because they were going to a leftist day camp. He did it with impunity knowing he would never be put to death. He was rational enough in the planning and execution that he might not have done it had he faced execution for it.

    I agree that the death penalty almost never acts as a deterrent — but we can’t be sure it never does. I agree that most cases have moral ambiguities, and those should not be eligible. I agree that given our adversarial justice system, rather than one that seeks to find the truth, probably shouldn’t have the death penalty, because prosecutors use it as a weapon, not a deterrent.

    Yet I refuse to accept that, because perfection is impossible, it is incumbent upon all progressives to declare that the state should never put anyone to death. As a practical matter, I could live without it. But I won’t enshrine that as a principle.

    Even if we got rid of the civilian death penalty, it would remain in place in military justice, so clearly some acts would still merit state-sanctioned execution. Even if we got rid of that, the state makes decisions all the time that will lead to the death of some citizens — are those cases OK because we don’t know exactly who will die of cancer from pollution? The government makes decisions that doom people every day, without an iota of remorse.

    Blanket prohibitions are put in place to spare people the hard work of having to judge on a case-by-case basis. Eliminating the death penalty will fix the part of our dreadful justice system that affects the fewest people and is nowhere near that system’s biggest problem. I find it funny, and not in a ha-ha way, that progressives put so much effort into it, while out-of-control police forces across the land execute far more citizens every year than the rest of the justice system combined.

  3. Dave says:

    “This is precisely the sort of case I make an exception for”

    Me too. Except, that if the price of the exception is the death of someone innocent of the crime for they are sentenced, then it’s a price I’m not willing to pay. If there were some means to guarantee that everyone so sentenced is guilty, then I would be fine with it. But there are just too many cases where zealots got their man, who turned out not to be their man. If the police and prosecutors were more focused on finding the guilty and less on finding anyone guilty, the situation might be different.

    Unfortunately, while his guilt seems evident and in isolation the penalty is appropriate, we have to consider the totality of its application and in that totality, we finding significant errors of commission and omission which results in consequences for which there is no reclama. In short, there are no mulligans when the death penalty is applied.

  4. Alby says:

    ” If there were some means to guarantee that everyone so sentenced is guilty, then I would be fine with it.”

    It should only be applied when guilt is beyond all doubt, not just reasonable doubt — and not even then. Most murders are crimes of passion. Those shouldn’t be eligible. Only in conditions of extreme heinousness and absolute certainty.

    That said, yours is a good justification for ending capital punishment. I am not saying that it shouldn’t be abolished. I’m against using that position as a litmus test for progressivism, because it’s not.

  5. Dana Garrett says:

    My problem with the death penalty is that it makes a third person, someone hired by the state, a killer of the convicted murderer. This third person isn’t a victim of the person they kill. Regardless if the executioner doesn’t feel any regret about carrying out capital punishment, the state is putting that person in the position of performing an outright murder. Of course, what this means is that if someone was a victim of the murderer (say a relative of the deceased), then they would be in the moral position to perform the execution. And that’s the only way I can see capital punishment being justified: a jury finds someone guilty of murder and deserving of capital punishment by a victim. If the victim decides to push the button to kill the murderer, fine. But if the victim doesn’t push the button or won’t, life in prison with no chance of parole.

  6. Gerry W says:

    But here’s the death penalty hypocrisy, in Florida the most common cause for being on death row is murdering a convenience store clerk. In New York State you can murder a convenience store clerk but you can’t get the Death Penalty for it. In New York State you murder a Cop you get, or are eligible at least for the Death Penalty. So Progressive New York State says there are different levels of humanity and Law Enforcement officers rate above Convenience Store Clerks, I don’t think so. In California there was a case of a male who brutally tortured and raped at least 20 women, however none died so no death penalty. Should he get the death Penalty, I think anyone who brutally rapes 20 other humans should get the death penalty. Baltimore City, 343 homicides in 2017, almost all committed by African American Males under the age of 45 against other African American males under the age of 45. If the trend holds true, very, very few persons will be convicted of these murders and none will receive death penalty – most will receive a shockingly short prison sentences. So the value of a African American male’s life is 1/4 of the life of a South Asian Convenience store clerk who life is worth 1/3 of a White suburban female who’s life is only worth 2/3rds of a Police Officer. I don’t buy that. Until every life has the same value in terms of sentencing I can’t support the death penalty.

  7. Alby says:

    Delaware also started with cops, at which point other first responders complained, “But they can kill us?” so they were added. Then children, then the elderly, then during commission of a felony and so on, till they ended up with 23 different ways a murder could qualify for the death penalty and so every case was eligible.

  8. ckars says:

    This is an important conversation to me and I wish it could be conducted live and not by blog. The two cases in which I was involved were Delaware cases. Each was a crime of passion, and in each the death penalty was ordered. For different reasons neither sentence was carried out. Two other things. I thought that for prosecutors it became a “badge of honor” to have sought and gotten death penalty sentences. And Alby is correct that the Delaware statute went from relatively narrow to almost any killing would qualify. For me if we cannot confine ourselves and administer the death penalty in a rational way then we should not use it at all.