aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, October 22, 2007
Report on teen sentencing around the world
In December, the United Nations took up a resolution calling for the abolition of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for children and young teenagers. The vote was 185 to 1, with the United States the lone dissenter.
Indeed, the United States stands alone in the world in convicting young adolescents as adults and sentencing them to live out their lives in prison. According to a new report, there are 73 Americans serving such sentences for crimes they committed at 13 or 14.
Here’s the report. And an All Things Considered interview with Bryan Stevenson, executive director for the Equal Justice Initiative (significantly, out of Montgomery, AL):
Mr. STEVENSON: About 75 percent of these children had been condemned to die because the judge did not have discretion to consider their age or their background or any of the circumstances of the offense.
Mandatory sentencing laws have played a critical role in seeing these kinds of harsh sentences imposed on kids who are 13 and 14.
NORRIS: Now, someone say that there are judges who have exercised judicial discretion, who have stepped outside of these laws and these sentencing guidelines when they see fit.
Mr. STEVENSON: Well, mandatory sentencing means that for certain kinds of crimes, the judge doesn’t have that discretion. That doesn’t mean that discretion is eliminated. What mandatory sentencing has done in most systems is shift discretion from the judge to the prosecutor and to the police.
The prosecutor can always choose to not move that a child be tried as an adult or charge differently or prosecute the case differently.
I’d really like to see the cultural dialog shift from activist judges to willful prosecutors.
Viagra & sudden hearing loss
My friends are eagerly pointing me to the news:
Men taking any of three erectile dysfunction drugs—Viagra, Levitra or Cialis—may be at increased risk for sudden hearing loss, prompting Food and Drug Administration officials to require label changes for the medications.
The FDA said manufacturers must change the labels “to display more prominently the potential risk of sudden hearing loss,” according to the agency’s Web site. [...]
Men taking any of the ED drugs and experiencing hearing loss should immediately stop taking the drug and see their physician, the FDA said.
I hear there’s talk of lawsuits. Fortunately or no, I won’t be eligible, much to Doug’s chagrin.
As to the status of my hearing loss, by now I’m as adjusted as can be. I have very tolerant friends and I’ve become proficient at faking conversation in noisy crowds.
I count my blessings; it could be so much worse!
The most activist justice on the Supreme Court is… Scalia!
The Judicial Restraint Award, for the most humble exercise of judicial power, goes to Justice Stephen G. Breyer. Overall, he votes to uphold agency decisions more than four-fifths of the time. Notably, Breyer votes to uphold conservative decisions 64% of the time.
The Judicial Activism Award, for aggressive use of judicial power, goes to a most surprising winner: Justice Antonin Scalia. He upholds agency decisions only about half the time. This is an impressively low number. Under established principles, to which all members of the court subscribe, agencies are supposed to get the benefit of the doubt.
What about the partisans?
Justice Clarence Thomas is the winner of the Partisan Voting Award for the most politically skewed voting pattern. When the agency decision is conservative, Thomas votes in its favor 84% of the time. But when the agency decision is liberal, Thomas votes in its favor merely 38% of the time—a remarkable 46% swing.
Partisan voting can be found among some of the court’s more liberal members as well. Justice John Paul Stevens is the runner-up—with a 40% swing. When the agency decision is conservative, he votes in its favor 46% of the time; when it’s liberal, his validation rate soars to 86%. Stevens’ partisan voting rate is nearly the mirror image of Thomas’.
Scalia photo via Gideon.
FOLLOW-UP: My commenter is not alone in questioning the conclusions. Miles and Sunstein have posted a response to their critics here.
Obama pulls a Romney
Senator Barack Obama’s campaign announced its latest effort to attract people of faith to the campaign: a gospel concert tour.
All three of the dates of the “Embrace the Change” tour are in South Carolina, where Mr. Obama is locked in battle with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for black voters.
Gospel acts including Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and Hezekiah Walker, Byron Cage and the Mighty Clouds of Joy are scheduled to appear.
Donnie McClurkin? Is that the same pray-away-the-gay preacher, gospel singer and Bush supporter who performed at the Republican National Convention?
World Kiss Out Day
Coinciding with World AIDS Day, gay rapper Deadlee plans to launch the first World Kiss Out Day, which asks LGBT couples to openly show their affection.
“Many people accuse lesbian, gay, and bisexual people of ‘flaunting’ their sexuality when they talk about their partner, hold hands, or kiss one another in public,” Deadlee said in a statement Tuesday. “These are activities that heterosexual couples do all the time. Due to homophobic reactions, some lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are actually forced to hide their sexuality in public, not flaunt it.”
Last winter the NYTimes took up the topic. In A Kiss Too Far they looked at “how a simple display of affection grows in complexity as soon as one considers who gets to demonstrate it in public, and who, very often, does not.”
I was quoted because the reporter found this old post on public displays of affection.
It looks like I’ll be doing a lot of hand-holding on December 1.
- Thanks Chelsea!
The “peace & stability industry” and the end of the nation state
Jeremy Scahill was interviewed on Bill Moyers Journal last week:
BILL MOYERS:: If you go to the CBS News website reporting on Lara Logan’s interview [link] with-- with him, what the headline says is “Blackwater chief welcomes extra oversight”. Could that have been the message? Hey, look, this was a terrible thing that happened over there. But we really want you, the State Department, government, military, to hold us more accountable.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. But I mean, there’s a very Orwellian vibe to all of this. I mean-- let’s remember here, Blackwater says they’re not a mercenary company. Erik Prince calls that a slanderous term. And they’re not even in the private military company business. They’re in the peace and stability industry. We’re in the business of peace because peace matters.
BILL MOYERS:: Peace and stability. Is this how the industry promotes itself?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Oh, yeah. The mercenary trade association, Blackwater recent left it. But they’ve been a leading member and funder of it. It’s called the International Peace Operations Association. And their logo is a cartoon sleeping lion. I mean, it’s so incredibly Orwellian. And I think this idea that they want accountability, this has been a line they’ve been pushing for years. I mean, Erik Prince said it was excellent that the democratic legislation passed through the House that was allegedly about contract or oversight. And the reason why Blackwater endorses it is because it looks great on paper. There are gonna be laws that govern the use of private military companies. But in reality, it’s totally unenforceable. [...]
BILL MOYERS:: What does it say that this industry has become so essential, this peace and stability industry-- these mercenaries as you call them. .
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. Well, I think we’re in the midst of the most radical privatization agenda in our nation’s history. We of course see it in schools. We see it in the health care system, in prisons. And now, we’re seeing it full blown in the war machine. What I ultimately see as the real threat here is that the system of the very existence of the nation state I think is at stake here. Because you have companies now that have been funded with billions of dollars in public money using that money to then build up the infrastructure of private armies some of which could take out a small national military. And the old model used to be if a company wants to go into Nigeria for instance and exploit oil, they have to work with the juntas forces in order to do that. Now, you can just bring in your own private military force
Emphasis mine. The video is here.
In the sweep of history we’ve gone from the city-state to the church-state to the nation-state. I have long thought that up next is the corporate-state.
More on Blackwater CEO Erik Prince here.