Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

When to drop a dime

To judge from Dana Priest's amazing story this morning, Fort Hood suspect Nidal Hasan telegraphed his actions. He took a medical seminar and turned it into a political rant. He did everything but put on scary background music -- shrieking violins, etc. It's as though he was daring his colleagues to drop a dime on him. [For younger readers: There used to be these things called "pay phones." You put a coin in a slot and were allowed to make a call. Long ago, a call cost a dime. This was when woolly mammoths roamed the Earth.]

We all have moments when we have to decide whether to intervene in what seems to be a weird or dicey or peculiar situation. The street-corner argument between two strangers that's getting louder and louder -- is that about to get out of control? The friend who's depressed -- will he snap out of it on his own? Sure, we tell ourselves that we're our brother's keeper, but we also don't want to be nosy. And we're all busy. And we're all lazy sometimes. And we always assume someone else is going to handle it. We tell ourselves that surely that's not our responsibility, really, if you think about it -- right? Except if things go horribly wrong. Then you wish you had done more. Why didn't you drop that dime?

The Hasan case is complicated by first amendment issues. At a fundraiser the other night, a homeland security person told me that the government can't investigate people simply because of what they say. Actions are one things, words are another. As we learn more about this disturbing and tragic case, maybe it will become clear that no one actually dropped the ball, no could have done more. The contrary seems more likely at the moment.

[Update: Here's a passage from Obama's advance text at Fort Hood -- a speech that I found very effective on my laptop:

"It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But this much we do know - no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice - in this world, and the next."]


Okay, so I was Iowa-football bashing last week, but the WSJ this morning says the Hawkeyes have much to be proud of:

While Iowa is roughly four hours from several Midwestern cities, it faces stiff challenges from competitors like Notre Dame, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio State. As a result, Iowa's recruiting rankings aren't usually the stuff of champions. After putting together the nation's 11th-best recruiting class in 2005, the Hawkeyes have ranked 40th, 28th, 53rd and 63rd, according to, a Web site that tracks recruiting. "Of course they have trouble recruiting," says former Iowa president Mary Sue Coleman, now the president at Michigan. "They're in the middle of Iowa."

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 10, 2009; 12:03 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: 'Government-run health care'
Next: Meanest man in the world


"At a fundraiser the other night, a homeland security person told me that the government can't investigate people simply because of what they say. "

And you believed this person because? You are dumber than a bag of hammers.

Posted by: jezebel3 | November 10, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

But, as we know from a long-ago TV show: the middle of Iowa is an excellent place to survive nuclear war.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

jezebel3, I think that you are, like, y'know, totally missing the point, since the rest of the paragraph makes clear that "hammer-boy" is skeptical of that claim.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Wow. That is a conundrum. I mean, everyone has probably heard about life under oppressive regimes in which turning in your bestest buddy for thought crimes was considered a profound act of patriotism. And yet, individuals really do have a responsibility to identify legitimate threats.

I mean, as a government employee we are told to always be aware of suspicious activity. It is routine for us to be pulled into a room and asked questions about our coworkers. And there is always a profound tension between reporting suspicious activity and being an intrusive jerk. Especially since nobody can ever really define what "suspicious" actually means.

And in an environment built on trust things can easily get even more complicated. You go out drinking with a coworker and he or she gets falling down drunk and starts babbling all sorts of weird stuff that may or may not be "suspicious ." Do you report it and risk ruining a reputation and losing a friend, or do you ignore it and end up potentially enabling Something Bad? Hard to tell sometimes. Really hard to tell.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 10, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

jezebel3, I think that you are, like, y'know, totally missing the point, since the rest of the paragraph makes clear that "hammer-boy" is skeptical of that claim.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Where did I miss the point, Pencil Dick?

Posted by: jezebel3 | November 10, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Don't they need you back in Celebritology for an emergency Gosselin snarking?

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Ah, jezebel3 must be an old girlfriend, to have such knowledge. I assume that the 12:46 will be getting zapped soon (which will make this particular post exceedingly cryptic).

Anyway, you missed the point right here: "maybe it will become clear that no one actually dropped the ball... The contrary seems more likely at the moment." In other words: maybe the homeland security person is telling it straight, but that doesn't really seem to make sense.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I was going to at least raise the possibility that the "homeland security person" may have been that bag of hammers his or herself, without any cop, lawyer, or military justice experience. Probable cause as defined by military rules? I'm smart enough to not claim to know that. Something about working for HS makes me think they could be a know-it-all who is talking out of their hinds.

Who was the "homeland security person?"
What are military probable cause rules?

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 10, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Ah, jezebel3 must be an old girlfriend, to have such knowledge. I assume that the 12:46 will be getting zapped soon (which will make this particular post exceedingly cryptic).

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Zapped for what? Oh, my God!! There's an operation now for your problem, Timmy. Check it out.

Posted by: jezebel3 | November 10, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

You know, let me just state that in my experience with the Government laws really are taken seriously. Believe it or not, everyone I work with takes our vow to support the laws of the land very seriously. The easiest way to get thrown out is to break the law. (Which, of course, lends itself to its own sets of problems since one person's red-tape is another person's legal regulations. But I digress.)

The point is, while it might seem all sophisticated and all to automatically discount the statements of a DHS person, my experience has been quite different.

But heck, what do I know. I'm probably reading you e-mail at this very moment.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 10, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

While Iowa may only be able to produce middle-of-the-pack football recruiting classes, they are still AP top 5 in fiction writing. The Iowa Writers' Workshop continues to be one of the country's most noteworthy programs for creative writing.

I drove across Iowa a couple of weekends ago. Like many rural areas now, there are a substantial number of wind farms. It's really amazing how large those towers have become.

The other thing that Iowa is very famous for is the pork tenderloin sandwich, and there are quite a few examples of it for travelers on I-80 who are searching for something more than Mickey D's. They are easily subject to as much debate as "who has the best crab cakes" for you mid-Atlantic types.

Posted by: Awal | November 10, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Nothing like a good food fight right after lunch.

Posted by: ebtnut | November 10, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Iowa is on my Must Visit For All 50 States List (along with Nebraska, Idaho, Michigan, Alaska and New Mexico). I keep trying to convince my wife to be my SAG wagon for RAGBRAI one year, but she keeps insisting there are better ways to spend our vacation. As if.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I humbly yield the floor. I have been totally taken to school by superior logic and ratiocination. I know when I have been beaten.

You're right, sweetie. I was wrong. It was wrong of me to doubt you. You are totally correct, and I am just a fool. A fool in love. Please, can we go snuggle now?

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Wow, just wow.

So I think I was saying something about pork tenderloin sandwiches....

Posted by: Awal | November 10, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Flowers, Tim. Get her some flowers. Maybe she'll respond to flowers.

Snapdragons, maybe. Deadly nightshade. One of those.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 10, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Jez, couple of words to the wise...1/women who complain about size are usually cavernous, 2/those who curse so quickly usually do so because they know they can't win any other way, and 3/you really shouldn't rush into a battle of wits while unarmed.

Jezebel gets thrown out a window by a couple of eunuchs, right? Seems appropriate here.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 10, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, I heart you. I'm throwing virtual roses at your feet, while applauding (that would make it the sound of one hand clapping, I guess).

Posted by: Yoki | November 10, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Well, she *does* have a certain ... je ne sais quois...

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 10, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Jez, couple of words to the wise...1/women who complain about size are usually cavernous, 2/those who curse so quickly usually do so because they know they can't win any other way, and 3/you really shouldn't rush into a battle of wits while unarmed.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 10, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"women who complain about size are usually cavernous,"

How do you know?

"those who curse so quickly usually do so because they know they can't win any other way"

How do you know? When did I curse?

"you really shouldn't rush into a battle of wits while unarmed"

It's virtual flirting - bozo.

Posted by: jezebel3 | November 10, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Does name-calling really work for you? It's not like you called him Sweetheart, or Sweetness, or even Sweet Cheeks. What are you...12? Shouldn't you be at school?

Posted by: LostInThought | November 10, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Be careful of whom you fall in love Tim.
Jezebel lead the Jews to idolatry and sexual depravity.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 10, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Jezebel3 -- that's your virtual flirting?

Seems more like virtual birth control.


Posted by: -bc- | November 10, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm not even gonna ask what she did with jezebels 1 and 2.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 10, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | November 10, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I tried to look through Hasan's Powerpoint slides that were attached to Dana Priest's article. He's really longwinded.

What does the phrasing "Mohammed (SAWS)" mean, exactly? I know that there's a standard locution to indicate that one is saying the prophet's name with thought and respect, but I can't recall what it is, or how SAWS would be its acronym.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Does anybody (including "jez") remember that Timothy McVeigh was in the Army? Gonna support his memory, too, toots?

Posted by: -ftb- | November 10, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

And remember, SciTim, I will always (mostly) *heart* you! No matter what!

Posted by: -ftb- | November 10, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Joel describes an important dilemma. He is speaking from a security context, but it is just as acute in the ethical and criminal realm. People do, say or suggest unethical things all the time. Gummint workers, bankers, lawyers, accountants - these are just a few of the many jobs where one has a reponsibility to pay attention. Often the line is not clear, and one must use one's own judgment, sometimes along with colleagues, to determine whether a comment or action poses a threat worthy of reporting.

I once was involved in a workplace situation where other employees finally had to balance the damage to the workplace from reporting against their individual ethical professional obligations. While the right conclusion was reached, as confirmed empirically by subsequent events, it was a very difficult calculation.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 10, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Um, guys-- I recommend Troll SOP (Standard Operating Procedure).

Reading Dana Priest's article and Hasan's PPT, I think that he must surely have been remanded for some significant counseling after that presentation. Regardless of its precise content, no rational person would respond to a professional training commitment with such an off-the-wall and irrelevant offering. Perhaps the thinking was that he was trying to be declared unfit for duty, and thus unworthy of serious response.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

NPR had a story about Hasan in which the reporter had spoken to doctors and administrators at Walter Reed who had all been openly concerned about Hasan and had contemplated trying to have him removed from his position. His behavior was a frequent topic in staff meetings. But according to this report, it was exceedingly difficult to do anything about his behavior because of all of the protections that were given to the residents; multiple layers of charges and hearings and writeups would have been necessary to have him removed. Ultimately, he responded to threats and pressure from the head of the psych department and was viewed slightly more positively prior to his transfer to Ft. Hood. It was also noted that they were very concerned about "how it would look if they fired their only Muslim doctor."

Posted by: Awal | November 10, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"Perhaps the thinking was that he was trying to be declared unfit for duty, and thus unworthy of serious response."

cf. Cpl. Max Klinger

Posted by: Awal | November 10, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

RD, there are justifiable reasons for contempt for the Homeland Security Department (but not for the people doing good work in the agencies subsumed by it.) I can list them. They have to do with the Bush administration.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 10, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I didn't want to specifically mention Klinger -- but I thought of him, instantly.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"Salla Allahu alaihi Wa Sallam". It means "peace be upon him."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 10, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

A quick off the top of my head Lighter Than Air filmography:

Zeppelin- so so WWI spy flick
The Hindenburg- and we know how this one ends
Wizard of Oz-the Wiz leaves Oz in a balloon
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade-Indy and Dad leave Germany in a zeppelin
Around the World in Eighty Days- Phileas Fogg's balloon
Rocketeer-climax on a Nazi airship
Black Sunday- terrorists attack the Super Bowl by blimp\bomb
Danny Deckchair- spacey Aussie in homemade balloon borne lawn chair
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines- Franco\Prussian duel with balloons and blunderbusses (over a manure heap)
Map of the Human Heart- nice love scene on a WWII barrage balloon

Posted by: kguy1 | November 10, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I saw a man violently hit, across the face, his crying child, seated in a shopping cart, not long ago while shopping in Costco. No Mom in sight. Clearly unnecessary force and child abuse.

You bet I reported it immediately to an employee at the front of the store, standing near the customer service desk. I described the man. The employee wandered the aisles trying to find him, but couldn't. Finally, I located the father near the frozen food section and gave the employee a hand signal that that is the individual whose actions I reported.

Yet, because the employee didn't witness anything (he tagged behind for about 30 seconds), the employee didn't approach the man. The man continued to shop, but now I'll always wonder about the small kid and how he'll grow up, and whether he'll continue to be battered.

The fact that the FBI was eavesdropping on Hasan's e-mails to the radical cleric now in Yemen for the past year or so gives the story an entirely new twist since the shooting occured last week, doesn't it?

Posted by: laloomis | November 10, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

OK... picking on Iowa... from people in NY City, no less. The best college football team in NY is Penn State.

The key to Iowa football is their tradition of solid ground attack fundamentals. They recruit early and well. Often, folks chase after their recruiters to try to pick off a hidden gem, but Iowa gets a lot of good talent and have for decades. Plus, they get all the farm kids east of Nebraska who want to be professional linemen. (I attribute it to those sturdy breakfasts)

Let's take a random college football team, say the community college of Florida at Gainesville. Here are the players that have used up their eligibility and moved onto the NFL:

Alex Brown Chicago Bears Defensive End
Andre Caldwell Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receiver
Cooper Carlisle Oakland Raiders Guard
Joe Cohen Detroit Lions Defensive Tackle
Channing Crowder Miami Dolphins Linebacker
Andra Davis Denver Broncos Linebacker
Jabar Gaffney Denver Broncos Wide Receiver
Earnest Graham Tampa Bay Buccaneers Running Back
Rex Grossman Houston Texans Quarterback
Derrick Harvey Jacksonville Jaguars Defensive End
Percy Harvin Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver
Cornelius Ingram Philadelphia Eagles Tight End
Todd Johnson Buffalo Bills Safety
Jevon Kearse Tennessee Titans Defensive End
Marquand Manuel Detroit Lions Safety
Bobby McCray New Orleans Saints Defensive End
Ray McDonald San Francisco 49ers Defensive End
Jeremy Mincey Jacksonville Jaguars Defensive End
Jarvis Moss Denver Broncos Defensive End
Louis Murphy Oakland Raiders Wide Receiver
Reggie Nelson Jacksonville Jaguars Safety
Mike Peterson Atlanta Falcons Linebacker
Keiwan Ratliff Pittsburgh Steelers Cornerback
Ian Scott San Diego Chargers Defensive Tackle
Lito Sheppard New York Jets Cornerback
Brandon Siler San Diego Chargers Linebacker
Max Starks Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Tackle
Fred Taylor New England Patriots Running Back
Marcus Thomas Denver Broncos Defensive Tackle
Phil Trautwein St. Louis Rams Offensive Tackle
Gerard Warren Oakland Raiders Defensive Tackle
DeShawn Wynn Green Bay Packers Running Back

That's 36 or 37


Posted by: russianthistle | November 10, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse


Now, here is the very short list from Iowa:

Jonathan Babineaux Atlanta Falcons Defensive Tackle
Jason Baker Carolina Panthers Punter
Ladell Betts Washington Redskins Running Back
Dallas Clark Indianapolis Colts Tight End
Colin Cole Seattle Seahawks Defensive Tackle
Sean Considine Jacksonville Jaguars Safety
Jared DeVries Detroit Lions Defensive End
Bradley Fletcher St. Louis Rams Cornerback
Robert Gallery Oakland Raiders Offensive Tackle
Charles Godfrey Carolina Panthers Cornerback
Mike Goff Kansas City Chiefs Guard
Shonn Greene New York Jets Running Back
Chad Greenway Minnesota Vikings Linebacker
Abdul Hodge Cincinnati Bengals Linebacker
Kenny Iwebema Arizona Cardinals Defensive End
Nate Kaeding San Diego Chargers Place kicker
Aaron Kampman Green Bay Packers Linebacker
Brandon Myers Oakland Raiders Tight End
Seth Olsen Denver Broncos Guard
Matt Roth Miami Dolphins Defensive End
Bob Sanders Indianapolis Colts Safety
Eric Steinbach Cleveland Browns Guard
Casey Wiegmann Denver Broncos Center
Marshal Yanda Baltimore Ravens Guard
Albert Young Minnesota Vikings Running Back

That's about 25. Illinois with Chicago has 18 players playing in the NFL and Indiana has 9. Maryland and Virginia both have 24 players.

For comparison, Texas has over 50 players in the NFL and USC checks in at 37.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 10, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Some of you guys may remember someone named Jonathan Babineaux. He recorded 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks on Sunday against Washington. Then there was Ladell Betts trying to win it for Washington.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 10, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

kguy, the Boy saw "Up" this year. I think it was a house floating with balloons. "Howl's Moving Castle" might also qualify, as it used stilts but also, I vaguely recall, flew.

The other dimension to the "drop a dime" dilemma is words vs. actions. It is easier to justify intervening against bad actions. Partly thanks to our strong cultural bias for free thought and speech, people are much less comfortable intervening where the question is words. Which was Hasan's presentation? Arguably it was speech. Also arguably, taken as a whole it was action comprised of spoken and written words done as a physical presentation. Would it matter?

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 10, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

My husband also mentioned, a handful of days ago, the possibility that Hasan may have been acting oddly to get a Section 8 (refer to MASH's Klinger).

Only more reporting will tell over time.

Hasan's attorney, John P. Gallagan--born to a military family at Fort Bliss, El Paso--doesn't want his client to talk at all and feels because of the media exposure, including Obama's trip today to Fort Hood, that his client Hasan won't be able to get a fair military trial, according to reporting earlier today.

We ducked out for lunch today, and the big-screen TV where we ate had CNN reporting from Fort Hood. I was mildly surprised to see John McCain at the ceremony.

Posted by: laloomis | November 10, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse


You forgot Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Somebody did the deed "on" a barrage balloon? Wow. Not while it was aloft, I hope.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 10, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Yep, on the balloon. It's a cool scene, sort of like an enormous waterbed in the sky.

Posted by: kguy1 | November 10, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Since Hassan actually did kill people, he wasn't 'acting' for a Section 8. He deserved one.

Nobody could report him because he hadn't done anything wrong, but when he did it everybody says 'We knew he was going to do that."

That's some catch, that Catch-22.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

"Sky Captain". Wow. Now there's a movie just bad enough to be mildly fun. A real comic book of a movie.

I've been amused at all these headlines shouting that Hasan was awake and could talk. He might can talk, folks, but I guarantee that if his attorney has anything to say about it you'll never hear him talk. Do not delude yourselves that any criminal proceeding will result in the truth coming out, if by "truth" you mean a real understanding of why he committed these crimes. Neither civilian nor military criminal proceedings are designed for that.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 10, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

kguy, I am in the startling position of contradicting you on a movie moment, unless my memory is failing me: I believe the climax of The Rocketeer takes place in a flying wing, not an airship. At least, that's certainly how it happens in the graphic novel, which I have read adoringly, several times. Have you ever *seen* Dave Stevens' paintings of Betty? They're enough to make steam come from your ears! Y'know, if you like that sort of thing.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

My flight to someplace I just recently visited is going to take 3 hours and 55 minutes and that is only half way to California, so I want to know what airline goes coast to coast in four and a half hours.

Non-stop from BWI to LAX is five hours, 48 minutes. If anything, I want faster travel. California back to Baltimore is an entire day once you account for the time difference and getting to and from the airport.

People in the US won't take Amtrack across the country let alone a zep which I guarantee would cost twice as much.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Not a good place to have a pencil dick, kguy. Puncture that barrage balloon and it's a long way to the ground.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 10, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"unless memory fails" = UMF

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

That Hasan bought the FN Five-Seven only this last August when he learned he would deploy to Iraq/Afghanistan will not look good at the trial. The handful of high capacity (20 rounds each) magazines he bought at the same time show intent as well. Suddenly his old .357 revolver wasn't good enough.
What are the chances of needing more than 20 shots in a personal defense situation?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 10, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Quite true, Imom... "Truth" and "a just verdict" are very often demonstrably different.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 10, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

If you divide the span of the continental US (~2400 miles) by the reported cruising speed of a Boeing 747 (603 mph), you get about 4 hours. Everything else is dealing with traffic, indirect routing, and, of course, those pesky adverse winds.

I estimate that a zeppelin trip would cost at least 6 times as much for salaries. All the same mechanical expenses. Not as much fuel cost. Similar insurance costs. Too bad, it would be so cool. But if one had a private zeppelin...

The problem with a zeppelin is parking that sucker while not in use -- and, of course, they don't really fly high enough to avoid weather, and they're too fragile. Let's face it, a zeppelin may have class, but it's a poor choice for practicality.

Another airship movie: Miyazaki's "Castle in the Sky". "Howl's Moving Castle" is, indeed, on legs, so it really wouldn't count.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

President Obama just finished delivering a great speech. I hope you all have a chance to see it.

Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 10, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Sorry I'm late to this discussion, I've been absorbed in real work.

It just fascinates me when people like jezebel3 show up and try to get ugly. I've been involved with this community since August 2005 and I never remember anyone who posted with a bad attitude and won an argument. The folks here are too sharp and too numerous to let the crazies get away with anything for long.

It's always hilarious while it lasts, though.

Posted by: slyness | November 10, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Yello: Thanks for going back to Catch22. That was my initial thought - Yossarian. And Major Major Major.

Posted by: ebtnut | November 10, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

This Betty, Tim? (kinda safe for work)

Or this one? (rather not safe for work)

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

A friend is seeking a patent for an invention that, in hindsight, is obvious. But it wasn't obvious prospectively. The situation's a bit like clever roof tiles invented in Japan during the Tokugawa shogunate. The new tiles swept the country about as fast as people replaced roofs.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 10, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Watch the last 15-20 seconds of this and tell me I'm mistaken about The Rocketeer-

Posted by: kguy1 | November 10, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Unverified, but:
"Note that "zygotic personhood" (the idea that a fertilized egg is a person) is a recent concept. For example, before 1869, the Catholic church believed that the embryo was not a person until it was 40 days old. (Aristotle agreed with this 40-day threshold.) Thus, the church did not believe a human had a soul until day 40. Pope Innocent III in 1211 determined that the time of ensoulment was anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks. This means that the Catholic church, for centuries, did not equate abortion with murder."

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 10, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

A fine speech indeed, rickoshea -- NYT has a transcript.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 10, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Every sperm is sacred:
Monty Python tells me so.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

NYT is reporting that Lisa Nowak, the diapered astronaut/spurned woman, pleaded guilty and got probaation.

Posted by: Yoki | November 10, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I think I'd check all of Hayao Miyazaki's animated movies for airships. He obviously loves being in the air. The latest movie, Ponyo, doesn't have any aerial antics, but does have a lot of stuff in the water. Do jellyfish qualify as airships?

I suppose everyone who had anything to do with Dr. Hasan is having lots of hindsight. Since I have lousy foresight myself, I won't say anything nasty about others. But the situation reminds me of The Firebugs, a classic modern play by Max Frisch.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 10, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Well, by Gadfrey! That *is* a zeppelin! However, I don't think it was in the graphic novel. The movie, being a derivative and second-rate production, does not constitute canon in my book.

Yes, yellojkt; THAT Betty. And the other one, too.

I always wondered why the rocket exhaust did not burn his heels off.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

"Zygotic_Person" would be a pretty good Boodle handle. In the plural, it might be a Pretty Good Name for a Rock Band.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Ah, but the movie stars Jennifer Connelly as Betty, and that pardons a multitude of sins. Her role in "Mulholland Falls" was more in the spirit of the Stevens stuff- ACHTUNG! THIS CLIP IS NSFW! REALLY NO KIDDING NSFW!

Posted by: kguy1 | November 10, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Gee. That was very different from her work in "Labyrinth."

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 10, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm also a fan of The Rocketeer because it features an homage to Rondo Hatton, and I've always had a soft spot that tragic individual. And of course the Jennifer Connelly thing...

Posted by: kguy1 | November 10, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

The Post is dropping its National Weekly Edition at the end of the year.

Another paper publication made obsolete by the Internet. I'll miss it anyway.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 10, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon all, interesting afternoon on the boodle.

An update on the boy who was trapped on the ice floe, he was rescued, but now some of the rescuers are trapped in the ice, seems their boat is caught in the ice.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 10, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

For you red persons fans, Jason Reid is suggesting that you really need another head ache. Likely to take Larry Johnson for their running back since he is now available.

Posted by: bh72 | November 10, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the rescuers will probably be OK, dmd. They may have to wait a day, but chances are food and warmth can be gotten to them somehow while they wait. I worry about that boy - 3 days on an ice floe. I'm guessing he couldn't help with his rescue at all - no climbing into a helicopter basket. Can you even use helicopters up there?

Posted by: Wheezy11 | November 10, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I too hope the young man is OK, I presume he would have been dressed warm just to venture out on their expedition but three days is long.

Not sure if they can use helicopters, think the bigger problem would be a helicopter with the range to get to the ice floe. Unless there is an ice breaker close enough that would have a helicopter on board.

Shriek, your two cents.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 10, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Choppers can do the North, it's the altitude that does them in places like Tibet or Peru.

The North is a big place and our CG has a very small fleet. They can send an icebreaker with an helicopter but it will take some time. It's too far for the bases of the regular rescue helicopters (the CH149#EH101), I think. The old Buffalos can drop stuff. They will have to rethink these things if the NW passage becomes open to the navigation of commercial ships.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 10, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Split Rock Lighthouse is lit tonight, and the ship's bell rang 29 times today for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 10, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Sorry if this is old news that I missed in my backboodling. Reminds one of the metric calculation which threw off the space mission. Gotta take care of those details!

Posted by: skiohio | November 10, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

frosti, I remember it well. So terrible. Hearing the song doesn't help, of course.

Posted by: Yoki | November 10, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Jack this is for you, wouldn`t happen to have a degree in Library sciences would you?

Posted by: dmd3 | November 10, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Tis a lovely evening. Perhaps boodlers are

making little boodlers?


Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 10, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

No boodlepups here
Despite wooing lady dogs;
I'm sadly neutered.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 10, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh CP, let's see. Went for pizza. Helped the womenfolk bake some cookies. (I measured stuff all by myself.) Helped the daughter purchase a CD from a local retailer's website. Pumped iron. (Or at least aluminum alloy...)

Exchanged some delightful e-mails. Walked the dog. Tried to decide whether to replace the battery in my son's car. (Probably..)

And now I am about to figure out if I should wear one of those little mask thingies that always make me feel like I am asphyxiating myself or just risk inhaling the Mahogany dust in my workshop.

After that I might have a glass of Shiraz and read some words by Michael Palin with the bunny.

Man, do I live life on the edge or what?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 10, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Wow... I was doing the exact same thing as RD... except for the cookies, CD, pumping iron, emailing, dog, battery contemplation, mask, workshop, Shiraz, Michael Palin or the bunny.

You'd think we were twins separated at birth or something.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 10, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Wear the mask, RD, so that in assisted living you do not need the oxytank.


All good ways to keep the Eve.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 10, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

You do live on the sharp edge RD. I went to the vet with the VLP for his annual. The ladies earned their monies with that puppy. There was slime everywhere when we left. The VLP grabbed at least 4 toys that were for sale in low shelves and slimed them. He slimed four pair of ladies' uniform pants as well.
He's famous for pulling one of the senior vets across the whole place a couple of years ago (he wanted to meet a couple of his best friends he had met 5 minutes ago at the x-ray machine). Like water skiing behing a large muscular low-slung dog. Got to be an Olympic sport.
It's an all-women crew at the clinic, from say 95lbs (a short marathoner) to about 120lbs (a very tall marathoner). They don't take large dogs anymore but I am a legacy customer. They also appreciate the dog good behaviour with people and the aw factor to be loved by such a beast.
I just wish people with small dogs would realize the VLP is not exactly their little pooche's best friend.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 10, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Care to join me in the sitting on my butt, doing nothing of worth TBG.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 10, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

What a coincidence! I too, like TBG and DMD, am doing the very same things, except that I'm also watching V. I can't decide if it craptacular or crap.

Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 10, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I tried to go see Duff of Ace of Cakes at the local OtherBigBoxOfBooks but you would think they'd just released a new Harry Potter book or something.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Butting is worthy.

I am multi-tasking:

butting and grading.

Do I need my mouth washed out?

Perhaps the better word is


Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 10, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

I plead guilty, RoS to liking the original V. In a campy, lizard-eating- flesh way.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 10, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse


Did some extra-curricular activity running around with the kids, helped out with home work, made dinner, started writing a fairy tale with my youngest (got the story arc figured out and some of the details down), cleaned up the kitchen, started some laundry, paid some bills and am considering staring some engine repair work on the Dodge (the head's coming off, so when I go in for a penny, I'm in for a pound).

But now I'm Boodling and considering the wisdom of a glass of wine that will likely send me off to dreamland.


Posted by: -bc- | November 10, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

The original V was way cool. Haven't seen this one. Although the young lady in the adverts is kinda cute.

Went with the mask despite the discomfort. I sometimes think my oxygen requirements are unusually high. Heck, as a kid I couldn't even read a book under the covers without coming up for air.

And, hey, I wasn't trying to impress anyone. I just live a very kinetic life.

But now it is time to retreat to the bunny room.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 10, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I'm impressed with all you productive people. I put the dishes in the dishwasher and cleaned the sink, rode the exercycle for 20 minutes, and read over the scripture for tomorrow's Bible study (I Chronicles 17-20. More war and more war.)

Mr. T and I are going to paint the living room and foyer later in the week. I have lived 12 years with a color I have never cared for and am happy for it to go away. We purchased a lovely soft green for the foyer and a pale pink for the living room, to complement the colors of the furniture and my favorite oriental rug.

Next project: purchase fabric I like and make six panels to flank the three windows in living room and dining room, hopefully before Christmas decorations go up.

Posted by: slyness | November 10, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

oh, and ebtnut et al. I haven't been to Grapeseed yet - I keep getting sucked into the Lousiana Kitchen across the street.

But I mean to, I really do.

And ebtnut, man, I haven't thought about the Royal Mile in years. Was a good place for me to hang out back in the day, though sometimes I'd sneak over to Hunters because they had good live music, though somtimes it was a bit rough in there.

Let me know how the new owners are treating the RMP; maybe I'll drop in there one of these days.


Posted by: -bc- | November 10, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Oooh. Yello, that is pretty cool. Because you know what it means to meet Duff.

Only one degree of separation from Mary Alice.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 10, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

So have to find a way to include craptacular in my vocabulary more often - love it.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 10, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

John Muhammad Allen was executed a few minutes ago. Sigh. Very sad about all of it and all who suffer. 2002. My goodness. Seems like yesterday.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 10, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

We are still resting from an intensive demonstration wherein Wilbrodog showed off his mad skillz in fancy retrieving, noticing overhead obstacles, and hearing dog work.

And of course, the most important skill-- blowing me off-- such as when he realized he couldn't get the scissors out of the wastebasket without risking a head-wastebasket incident.

He solved this problem by avoiding it-- he grabbed the wastebasket instead and brought it over for me to get those ^&%^&% scissors myself.

Once we got home, he collapsed to spend the whole evening basking.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 10, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

I was knitting, after having Mr seasea's homemade egg rolls for dinner. Prior to that, I went to the local pharmacy and got a swine flu shot. My lower arm feels a little sore. Also went to the library, where Anne Frank's book awaited me, and started reading that. It is quite good, isn't it? Have to do the dishes, then get back to knitting. I didn't make it through all of V last week, might try again tonight.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 10, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog rulz! Sounds like you both did a great job.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 10, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Watched the Muhammad coverage just now. He made no final statement. "Staggered" into the death chamber supported by deputies. Injection started at 9:06 and at 9:11 he was pronounced dead.

I am terribly conflicted about the death penalty in general (I agree with Von Drehle's "Among the Lowest of the Dead" analysis that it's insanely costly compared to life in prison, because of the endless appeals, and I also doubt it can ever be fairly implemented -- it's a sanction that offers no further review) but feel no sorrow that this very bad man who killed innocent people and terrorized the Washington area is gone. Any other thoughts out there?

Posted by: joelache | November 10, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

CqP, I just felt a slight surge of relief at your post. I agree on how fresh 2002 still feels especially with the reminders.

Maybe at last we will be released from the news coverage on that subject.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 10, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

This one is for SciTim...

Boodler Baby,
Just slip the tether from the tree
For me
It's an awful nice day
Boodler Baby,
So hurry get the zeppelin high

Boodler Baby,
The sky was meant for us two
Light blue
I'll wait up for you, dear
Boodler Baby,
Oh hurry get the zeppelin high

This stairway isn't hard to climb
And heaven really isn't hard to find
First on the balloon bump list
An air kiss that will blow your mind

Boodler Baby,
I want it aloft and really that's not
A lot
Let's do it like angels my dear
Boodler Baby,
Do hurry get the zeppelin high

Posted by: DNA_Girl | November 10, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Joel-- just relief.

I feel too tired to be angry or sad or anything, just grateful they caught the right people and made sure they couldn't do it again, ever.

I lived and shopped near a Michael's store right off a Beltway exit. Had they not been caught, their pattern would have clearly took them to that store-- possibly their very next target.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 10, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse


There were three people signing, but I don't know them well enough to recognize them from the backs of their heads.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 10, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I am very much against the death penalty, and have been avoiding the stories all day. I cannot imagine watching the coverage, I would find it very disturbing. I have watched one person die and hope never to repeat that experience - I feel for those who have to witness the execution.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 10, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

I wrote and deleted a long and complicated thing and then deleted it.

I deleted it because, although I am against the death penalty in general, sometimes I feel a gut reaction of 'yea.' I am ashamed of that reaction. Tonight, when CP posted that it had happened, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

I think that the reason for that is that I didn't live in Washington and environs when Mohammed and Malvo were on their rampage. But my 'yea' reactions were from times I had direct knowledge of killers' heinous crimes.

Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 10, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Dmd, when it's a guy who could have shot down you, your parents, neighbors, friends, or coworkers refilling gas as though they were deer, you might feel differently.

I'm against the death penalty in general, but I'm not crying over this.

As far as I am concerned, October 2002 was an act of two-man war and terrorism. It was not a normal crime at all.

But yes, I don't really want to hear about his death, either.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 10, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I feel sort of the same way. As was discussed in the boodle several years ago (is there anything we haven't discussed?) I object to the death penalty because mistakes do happen. And the cost argument is a valid one as well. Not to mention the general coarsening of society that I believe executions foster.

But I agree that this was a bad man. I mean, I remember very well the insane anxiety over parking next to white vans and line-of-sight considerations while pumping gas. Remember the tarps?

And, when they cancelled my daughter's soccer game she cried for a very long time. This angered me then and angers me now.

Heck, I used to frequent the hardware store where one of the shootings occurred.

And yet I feel no sense of "closure" from this event. All this execution does is contribute to my sense of being brutalized.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 10, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

I had meant to hit the 'preview' button, but I hit the 'submit' button by mistake, so please excuse me if my comments were incomprehensible or reprehensible.

Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 10, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

RoS. I felt sick too. I remember the two weeks when my second grader wanted me to zig zag run with him from the car to school.

But, despite this, I also remember this childlike logic:

why do we kill people who kill people to show people who might kill people that killing people is wrong?

Let us be realistic and honest about our feelings; let us also create laws and codes that are above our feelings and truly measured and wise and fierce and compassionate and just.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 10, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

RoS - made sense. Is honest. Thank you for the courage; makes it possible to be realistic about the utter devastation then and now.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 10, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

I remember that killer well, my husband had a business trip to DC/Georgetown while it was going on, I remember being very nervous.

Do not feel any sympathy for the killer.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 10, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm against the death penalty too - but in the case of the Beltway sniper, or Tim McVeigh, or Ted Bundy, I don't lose any sleep. The sniper case was very disturbing to me, because I had lived in those areas, and had friends (and future friends) there. But also because it seemed so easy. I was so glad when he was caught (at a rest stop I had frequently used).

I'd be ok if the death penalty was eliminated, if there was absolutely no way for someone convicted of heinous crimes or mass murder to get out - steel walls, alligator-filled moats, etc.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 10, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm right with you, Joel. In theory, I am against the death penalty, but theory has a way of getting knocked around by life. Here was an evil man who will do no more harm, but does that make it right?

Maybe life in prison is a worse punishment, but I don't know.

The Home Depot where the victim was killed is the one where my brother-in-law shops. We were certainly worried about the whole family's safety during that terrible time.

Still, an execution feels so Old Testament. I would like to think we are beyond that.

Posted by: slyness | November 10, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Rickoshea-- of course. That's only too human.

All life is sacred, even the worst of the worst, I suppose, but he had five years longer than his victims had to live.

That's enough "sacredness" for me. I have no complaints with that; I'm not the one deciding he had to die.

Maybe it really takes 50 years in prison instead of 5 for somebody like that to develop a conscience and atone spiritually. Or maybe it takes the fear of execution to really do it. I do not know.

I do know that nobody's life was sacred while he was on the loose.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 10, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

RD, CqP, I've been avoiding that particular news as much as I could; I no longer live around there and I still couldn't get away from that feeling whenever I heard of recent events.

I've been doing mindful writing (writing out trauma) on the subject, though, on a friend's suggestion.

I was mugged only a few months after the seige and for that and other reasons, I suffered intense fear to the point I was a virtual prisoner in my apartment whenever it got dark, and none too comfortable walking in the daytime, either--

Until I got and trained Wilbrodog. He's no use against snipers, but he can handle my fear of more normal baddies just fine.

And there's that fur therapy, too.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 10, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Hadn't thought too much about the sniper lately. I remember quite well the very long NoVA fall with no outdoor recess, at least it felt like all fall, certainly more than three weeks. Students sure I could protect them because "Ms. Frostbitten used to be in the Army" made me feel braver than I felt. Mr. F was in Iraq, frostdottir was boarding at school in Front Royal, and I was very glad they were both away-though in the grand scheme of things Mr. F's odds would have been better at home.

Still, I can't support the death penalty just because in this particular case we are sure who did it. There are too many times when we can't be sure; I suppose even one time is too many on that count. I've long felt there's no point arguing the morality of having the death penalty until we can be certain no innocent person is ever executed.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 10, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

I too am generally against the death penalty but don't feel bad about this execution, probably because there's no question about his guilt. Even tho' I lived far away, I remember being riveted by the news coverage and feeling the fear that his murderous rampage caused. I do think just locking him up in a very secure prison should be enough. The desire for revenge is not one of our more admirable qualities but it's understandable when the crime(s) was so heinous.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 10, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Howdy all
Generally I am not in favor of the death penalty.But this evil man seemed to care very little about anything,showed no remorse for the innocent people he killed,their families and everyone in general.Also the fact the his accompliss was a boy who seemed to brainwashed by the power of this evil man and the killing would have probably continued have they not been caught.

I think the whole reason he was tried,convicted and sentenced in Virginia was so the state could carry out this execution.

Maybe and hopefully within your children's lifetime,the death penalty will be outlawed.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 10, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't feel any sorrow, either, "that this very bad man who killed innocent people and terrorized the Washington area is gone."

But that doesn't make killing him right.

Posted by: byoolin1 | November 10, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Some great comments here -- I envy the people who AREN'T conflicted in some way on this issue and who are firmly in one camp or the other. I think a lot of us are torn on this, no? Yeah, there's something very chilling about state-administered lethal injection. Doesn't make me want to celebrate. But fyi, I don't think this is about "revenge." Punishment is not necessarily vengeful. It can have a practical element. It can defend basic civility and decency. We have ascending levels of punishment for crimes against people (and society more generally) and the most heinous have to be punished more than the not-as-heinous. The sniper murders were off the charts. So I don't think it's wrong for society to give the guy the ultimate sanction. I do think it's unlikely that the sanction can be administered fairly. For that matter, there are surely people in prison for life for crimes they didn't commit. At least they have a shot at winning their lives back.

Posted by: joelache | November 10, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Well, this is the spiritual test, isn't it? I have said, and continue to say, that I am against the death penalty in any case. Four cases have sorely tested that conviction; Bundy, Olsen, Bernardo, Mohammed. And yet, I found, when I examined the deepest reasons I object to it (the brutalization of me [and in that I stand for society in general]), and the coarsening of our collective capacity for genuine forgiveness, wherever we find the impulse (religion, philosophy, history, law, poetry, music, journalism...) that even in those four I am against it. But I had to work *really really* hard to feel it, to find my opposition in a place I could own and that was true to me.

I think our great weakness as human beings is our capacity for vengeful anger, and our glory is that we are capable of such deep thought and hard heart's-work to move beyond it. To be generous-spirited, against all odds.

Posted by: Yoki | November 10, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

They chose not to value our lives
then we chose not to value theirs
Or maybe it was
the other way around
I forget now how
this circle began
But I remember
how it will end
I will be ended
one way or another
I'd rather go in peace
I will not end.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | November 10, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Watching "Warplane" on PBS. Went to pull up the boodle, saw the Muhammed headline, and had a similar reaction to ros. When an individual is caught red handed, particularly for crimes of a high and aggravated nature, I get the eye for an eye feeling. The emotion is particularly intense if the perp is a man. Give him the Fester treatment. When the worm turns, and a woman is the perp, I feel differently. The Susan Smith case is but one example. The death penalty, IMO, is not justified. Better to go to the expense of keeping them alive, in near solitude, so they have to think about their circumstance every day. Susan Atkins. Sirhan Sirhan. LWOP seems just. These folks have a lot to answer for. Time to sit and think seems to be an appropriate tonic.

Posted by: -jack- | November 10, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and Joel, thanks, but here's the thing. We tend to start off our sanctions for petty offenses at a much too punitive level, and so the "ultimate" sanction always has to be something nearly unthinkable. What if the "ultimate sanction" were life (and I mean real life) in solitary (which I don't think it should be, being crueler than execution and equally an annihilation of the self) and the least were, as it is for infants, just a frown? Instead, we're always cranking up the harshness of the least. That leaves us few options for the worst.

Posted by: Yoki | November 10, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Oh dear. I meant to give everybody a funny report of my evening, and got sidetracked, and a bit exercised.

Sleep well, Boodle.

Posted by: Yoki | November 10, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Yes. A thick jail is comforting in most cases.

I wondered if it would be fully so in this case; after all if he could corrupt Malvo and get him to do egregious crimes--
what's to stop him from doing exactly that again even in prison, around so many young criminals with similarly troubled histories and who also have a hope of getting out much earlier than Muhammed had?

Solitary isolation would be the only surety against that, but for life? That's inhumane, cruel. Sadistic.

Sure, he could be watched by people who know him for what he is, but people forget and get less wary after a decade or two, especially if he was on good behavior.

And what else would he have to think about in prison, except his own goals?

In this case, jail simply may not be enough of a deterrent to prevent him from doing it again. Not even if it's for life.

This is why I decided I was fine should the death penalty occur, or if he was at least kept on death row until he died naturally.

It would not be for vengance, but for the self-defense of society.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 10, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

I taught two sibs that had a younger cousin that has made national headlines for a deed done as a juvenile. He's since come of age, and is still appealing his conviction. That is a circumstance deserving of therapy and possible redemption, but I have trouble wrapping my head around the possibility of that individual becoming a functional member of society. Possibly under extreme supervision, but that person would still have to overcome the collective weight of excess baggage. No easy answers tonight. I can always dream of being a finalist for the archivist charged with collating and organising the Grateful Dead's collection at UCSC.

Posted by: -jack- | November 10, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

I've always wished I had a consuming-enough passion that might become a new career that it would force me back to university to become qualified for it with yet another degree. I don't, and it won't. My best things are, pretty much just eating, sleeping, and reading (and publishers aren't hiring much these days, so a reading job is out). My other vocation requires no qualifications whatsoever, except skill.

Although I was cheered, some years ago, when a young cousin was hired to fish, for three consecutive summers, the thing he loves best in the world.

Posted by: Yoki | November 10, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

I don't fish, because I won't take the hook out. Been fly fishing, though. Right at the top of the list of the coolest things I've ever done. Ida's rain bands are arriving with increased rapidity. Nearly 5 cm of precip since this morning, with another 5-10 on the way. Good weather for ducks.

Posted by: -jack- | November 10, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

I can't sleep.

Love the word craptacular!

The DC sniper = the devil incarnate

I, too, am torn regarding the death penalty but there is some evil that needs to be publically eliminated.

Posted by: Windy3 | November 11, 2009 3:36 AM | Report abuse

Earlier this week a lady livestreamed the birth of her baby. Video here:

You only need to watch the first ten minutes or so. Or not.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2009 4:49 AM | Report abuse

RE: Muhammed, I could keep my thoughts simple and direct, but then I'd indubitably aggravate people here that I care about.

And that's not a good thing to do on one's anniversary.

*saluting frosti and my fellow veterans* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2009 6:12 AM | Report abuse

What is the proper greeting? Happy Veterans Day just doesn't sound right. My wife and I have to work but I will remember all those that have guarded our nation's freedoms in both war and peace.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2009 6:58 AM | Report abuse

From Ruth Marcus's column today:

"I'm hoping, for your sake, that you didn't spend your Saturday night as I did: watching the House debate health-care reform on C-SPAN. Pathetic, I know."

Judging by the live-boodling on Saturday, she was in good company.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2009 7:00 AM | Report abuse

The Moon has set.

The dead trees had a pretty good inside page headline:

///Maryland logger Moon gets axed in final Poker Series game.///

Posted by: yellojkt | November 11, 2009 7:03 AM | Report abuse

BEC biscuits in the ready room, along with a pot of proper coffee. Salt on the side for our Navy and Marine vets. Happy Veterans Day, with thanks for your service.

Posted by: -jack- | November 11, 2009 7:03 AM | Report abuse

And a happy, wet morning to all those in the mid-Atlantic. Many leaves down, and more to come. I would be happy if the trees were bare when Ida moves away.

Today is Thirddottir's third anniversary. Amazing to consider that she and the hubbie, a veteran of Afghanistan, have been married 3 years! I sent a cool e-card.

This story, from today's Charlotte Observer, profiles an Army nurse who was a neighbor and friend of my mother's:

Posted by: slyness | November 11, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Back at you S'nuke.

On Mr. F's first Veterans Day as a veteran he was tapped to attend a Canadian ceremony at MacDill AFB as an official rep. I told him not to be in awe of their exotic sophistication.

Yoki-yes! we start out the least punishment way too high and have little left for the worst. Nice to backboodle in the morning and have an aha moment. Thanks.

Windy, windy, windy here last night and then a driving rain blew through. I will not complain, we hit 62 here yesterday! Winter will not be 6 months long.

Later gators.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 11, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Thirddottir has excellent taste in anniversary dates, Slyness... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2009 7:24 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle, on this Veteran's Day. Not exactly the best day in the world to be discussing the death penalty, but we don't control the timing of current events.

I respect the opinions of those of you who are flatly opposed to the death penalty in every case, since that opinion rests on a principaled stand. And I have many qualms about how it is carried out, and the fairness issue, and I wish there were far fewer executions.

Nevertheless, I think I come at the question from a far different perspective than many of you. First, I believe a lot of the so-called justifications for the death penalty are nonsense: the idea that having somehow deters others being the main one. It deters no one. And I am not especially interested in "retribution," nor in "punishment" as reasons. (I always thought that in order to be punished, one must be able to survive the event in order to feel bad about what one has done. If they simply kill you, you don't feel anything.)

And this next idea may outrage some people, but in a way, I think a reasonably quick, clean execution is overall somewhat more "humane" than keeping this person in prison for life, where he can be abused by fellow prisoners forever. If you want to talk about brutally torturing someone, that's my idea of it: 30, 40, 50 years in jail. We have no problem as a society of "putting down" an injured horse or a very sick old dog as a compassionate act. I'm not entirely sure that "putting down" a psychologically twisted and warp person isn't equally compassionate. What do you think is going on in Manson's mind on any given day? Is whatever that is truly "human" and worth keeping alive?

No, I come at it simply by making a list, as a few of you have already done. This is a list of people who I have no problem agreeing they should be executed:

The psychos: Bundy, Dahmer, Gacy, Manson, Berkowitz, etc. (In theory, one should try to dehumanize one's "enemies," but in a way that's exactly what I want to argue, that a sociopath like, say, Dahmer, lacks such a key part of his structure that he is not fully "human" and meaningfully "the same" as you and me.)

The politicals:

Eichman (the poster boy for simply disposing of creatures beyong the pail of humanity; this is a person who should be left to live out his life? No.)


Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 11, 2009 7:25 AM | Report abuse


A journalistic conundrum from a Supreme:

I don't know that I share the overall sense of outrage. *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

And I might actually watch something other than football Sunday evening, as this is sounding velly velly eeeeeeenteresting:

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

It is a nice cool, sunny November morning here, normally it is grey, cold and overcast on Remembrance Day - nice change.

I would like to state that although I am firmly anti death penalty there are many cases that make me wish I felt differently, nor does my stance in any way negate the evil of their actions or my compassion for the victims and their loved ones.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

SCC: pale

In addition to Eichman:
The 12 (?) Nuremberg defendents, plus the 7 Japanese war crimes defendents executed after int'l trials (1 German, Goering, and 2 Japanese defendents committed suicide before conviction or execution; had the lived, add them to this list). In addition, there were many others who could/should have been similiarly tried and executed. (The Chinese, who had a VERY legitimate grievance against the Japanese, tried and convicted thousands and executed 150. God knows how many the Russians executed.) This also raises the question of what we'd have done had Hitler or Mussolini and some of their henchmen survived. I can't conceive of the argument that Hitler merely deserved life without parole, and nothing more.

I tend to agree with the death penalty for some of the other politicals (had they survived): Lee Harvey Oswald (assuming he did it and/or our evidence was more ironclad), John Wilkes Booth (we did hang 8 of his co-conspirators, at least some of them truly guilty enough I have no problems with it), the guys who shot McKinley and Garfield, etc. I think assassinating a president is sufficiently different from all other acts of murder that it resides in its own special category for "punishment," and the country as a whole must make a political statement about it.

Whether to put Hasan in the "political" category isn't yet clear, but in general I have no problem with executing the mass killers like this. But there are lots of mass killers, spree killers, and serial killers who I have no problem applying the DP to.

The thing is, once you have started a list like this and put even a few names on it, or even just one name, then you have to say you are amenable to the death penalty in principle. So yes, perhaps it is a slippery slope argument, but the problem with real life is that sometimes some slopes are slippery.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 11, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "one should NOT, NOT, NOT try to dehumanize one's "enemies..." Left out the "not."

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 11, 2009 7:54 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. It's nice in Ottawa too dmd, for a change on this Remembrance Day. It always make me wince when I see the old vets standing in the pelting rain or melting snow during the ceremonies. It will be sunny today.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all. I truly hope 'mudge's second half makes the cut. His first half is a worthy read.

So....should states like Virginia eliminate the DP, or do you believe, to be practical, we should keep it as law for the "just in case" monsters among us?

I've not had a problem with the death penalty in my lifetime. True, there are those who have been in prison unjustly, we read about someone being released from time to time. Our systems are imperfect.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 11, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Mudge made it, super. Slippery slope.

Happy Veterans' Day, to you all and members of my own family.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 11, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Oh to teach; hope I avoid the rain. Otherwise, the thin, tell-tale line of mud on my plether regions and back. It ain't easy bein' green some days.

About the DP -- if we were perfect for that is what is required, to not kill innocent people.

Yoki -- agree with your post last night. We have to work at balancing feelings and honor. Honor -- and shame -- might be drivers away from our feelings to what is just.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 11, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Basically, VL, I'd say yes, keep the DP option on the books for the really egregious cases.

I would very quickly have to agree with all those who say there have been far too many DPs done, too many innocent people, too much unfairness, etc. To some that means society should eliminate the DP. To me it simply means we have to fix it. One doesn't necessarily eliminate a system simply because it has many flaws and abuses. If we followed that idea there'd be no such thing as a public school system. The problem is, this is real life: sometimes when things are broken you fix them, and sometimes you just have to throw them out. Deciding which is the hard part. Nobody said life was going to be easy.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 11, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

I watched an excellent documentary last night on the Canadian history television, "Convoy". Nat Geo and A&E were in the credits as well so it will likely be shown in the US at one point. It's a 4 one hour episodes series about the battle of the Atlantic.
Now, Canadians are a little obsessed with the BoA (naval officers still had lively arguments about it when I was working for the Navy, more than 50 years after the facts) but the producers made sure to give plenty of exposure to the BoA American elements.
The point of views are too kind to the UK Sea Lords IMHO but it's pretty good.
The 2 episodes that have been shown already are available (in Canada anyway) on the web.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I'm perfectly happy to know that murderous crackpots like Yoki's favourite Clifford Olson, Robert Pickton and Normand Guérin will rot in jail for the rest of their useless miserable life.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, she and the hubbie got lucky that November 11 was a Saturday that year. He picked it for that very reason.

Posted by: slyness | November 11, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Shriek, my uncle Pete was torpedoed twice in the Battle of the Atlantic. Survived both times. (He was merchant marine, not US Navy.)

(I was too young at the times he talked about it to know enough to ask the pertinent questions: where they were, was it a Murmansk run, etc. All I know is North Atlantic.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 11, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Hi All,
I have been reading the Boodle for years and always appreciated the civility and good nature. Seeing jezebel3's comments reminded me of why this is an oasis in a desert of unreadable message boards and comment sections. Thanks to all.

Posted by: just_passing_through | November 11, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

My husbands grandfather served in both wars, Merchant Navy as well as his father in WWII (starting on his Dads ship at a young age). Have started watching the web episode but have to go to work, thanks for the link Shriek.

Note the episodes on Passendale are excellent as well.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Hope you stay aound just_passing_through.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, the most unkind moments in last night's episode were directed at Ernie King, the USN top guy at the time. King was putting all his energy on the Pacific war (maybe rightly so) and was ignoring the rising problem of the u-boats' poaching on the Eastern seabord. When people started gatherig on the beaches of New-York to look at merchant ships being torpedoed he took notice.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 11, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

A Remembrancy Veteran's Day to all.

Joel started a very interesting discussion with his comments and questions about the death penalty. As you all know I work in the system and am intimately familiar both with the laws and with the practical aspects: cost, consequences, results. The Boodle has expressed some very powerful thoughts well. I have a couple of comments.

First, many of you expressed the essential conflict most people recognize at the thought of capital punishment. A majority of states and the federal government have concluded that, under limited circumstances, taking a life is punishable by taking a life. Very few people are truly comfortable with this and that is probably as it should be. Taking a human life is viscerally repugnant to us, and it is hard to stomach even when State-sanctioned. On the other hand, death penalty crimes by definition involve taking a human life (let's leave out recent attempts to legislate otherwise, please) and, again by definition, in a most heinous way. Simple premeditated murder doesn't qualify, in any jurisdiction.

Many of you expressed this discomfort, explicitly or implicitly, in terms of feelings. It is very common to justify imposition of the death penalty in this way: we feel that some crimes are simply so horrible that everyone will agree they deserve or justify execution. Many of you stated that you did not feel bad for or sorry for Muhammad. You either were personally affected by his crimes, or remember them vividly although you were not there, or understand the frightening effect he had on others extending far beyond his actual victims. That is, you base your decision on this execution on your feelings about the criminal.

Mudge's list is another example of this; he assumes, probably correctly, that a majority of people will agree those people could justly be executed.


Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

The problem with reserving the DP only for *really* horrific cases is that this determination is inherently subjective. Who gets to determine what is horrific and what is not? I mean, it is an extremely reasonable defensible position in theory, but n practice I worry the standard would be applied arbitrarily. And that, in a nutshell, is where I have a problem with the death penalty. The system itself is not up to the high standard it requires, and I don't see how it ever can be.

And then there is my *personal* response to executions, which is to feel emotionally assaulted. Of course, I understand that for others the response can be relief and a sense of justice served. And I am not arrogant enough to generalize my personal response to policy. But still, don't the sensibilities of people like me count for something?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all, and to all you Veterans out there, Thank You. This is your day.

Speaking of Your Day, a very Happy Anniversary to the Nukes. It seems like only yesterday that we gathered by the river to witness two become One, yet More.


Posted by: -bc- | November 11, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

(part 2)

Several of you also commented that you wish the system were more fairly designed, or that there were fewer executions. The capital punishment system certainly has inherent flaws. I cannot defend it. I can say, however, that even if it were scrupulously fair and only innocent people were executed as a result, some of your concerns would not be alleviated. That is because the criteria nationwide for imposing the death penalty are wider than the extremely narrow list suggested by Mudge (and others). That is, the law allows execution of all kinds of criminals who have committed heinous crimes but who may not, subjectively, deserve execution. If you support capital punishment in certain circumstances based on your feelings about the criminal, you can never be satisfied with the system.

Perhaps we might more severely limit the cases subject to execution. We can certainly do this - the laws could be rewritten to exclude particular types of murder from death which are now included. That will not be enough. Mudge's list includes "psychos" and "politicals". Individually, these all tend to be people who committed or oversaw mass murders, either in civilian life or during wartime. While I agree that each one of the civilian murderers was nuts (in the vernacular), each was sane under our law. The murders committed by the wartime leaders were sanctioned within their systems at that time. He also includes a special category for those who assassinate Presidents.

It would be very difficult to write legislation which could reach murderers like these, without reaching at least some others. In addition, some people would argue that some single murders are so heinous as to deserve death. If your legislation is broader than mass murder and assassination, in order to include those murders, then you're right back to the problem we have now.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Finally, someone mentioned closure. Sadly, even families of the victims very rarely reach closure after an execution. Their loved one is still dead. The fact that the criminal is permanently removed from society and has no opportunity to kill may bring relief, but does not necessarily end the episode.

In practice, the death penalty is applied disproportionately to minorites and poor people. It is applied more often where the victim is white than where the victim is a person of color. It is applied more, and for a wider range of crimes, in Southern and Western states (including Oklahoma) than in other capital punishment states. Some of this begins with the prosecutor's discretion in charging the crime. Some of it is within legislation permitting the charge. Some of it results from a judge or jury's willingness to recommend or impose the sentence in a given state. Some of it is in the frequency with which any state carries out the execution after the sentence is affirmed.

Capital punishment is a big can of worms. I am glad to see such intelligent people discuss it so seriously.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Sure, Padouk, your sensibilities (and mine, and VL's, and IM's, and everybody else's) do "count," insofar as we are all equally members of a statewide and nationwide, and we all get to vote for politicians we hope will make the policies we want. And we all have a certain amount of free will and personal choice in how much time and energy we all put into trying to change policies and society itself.

But how are your sensibilities regarding the DP diffeerent, than, say, Cassandra's sensibilities regarding racism, or Tim or ftb's sensibilities about antisemitism, or CqP's sensibilities about social justice, etc. We all of us have various sensibilities about this or that issue that we find offensive or in need of change. How do we rank them? Which sensibilities are more important than which other sensibilities? I have no idea.

Given that only a dozen or so people are ever executed in any given year, how do we say that those dozen lives are worth more time and effort and energy and concern than say, the thousands and thousands of poor people who will starve to death, or die of preventable illness and disease? I have no idea. How do we balance the sensibilities about the killers against the (largely ignored) sensibilities of the victims' relatives? I don't know.

There are all sorts of issues all over the place, and to embrace all of them equally is to effectively embrace none of them, even to trivialize them if all things are equal, which they are not.

Time spent on earth is finite, and I cannot in my own mind justify spending too much time worrying about a Muhammad or a Hasan or a Bundy or a Manson when there are so many much more pressing issues to worry about.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 11, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I must admit that my "until we are sure no innocent is executed" stand is just a tactical argument. To me it just makes the justness of the DP a moot point. My own little conversational survival mechanism after years lived in places where people are proud their government is not squeamish about executions.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | November 11, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, did you mean a dozen people or so are executed in any given year in Virginia? One year we executed at least twelve in Oklahoma alone. Now we probably do six or seven a year. I'm sure Texas has at least a dozen a year, and Florida is pretty high too. I don't want to look up the statistics but in fact there are more than a few per year.

As an aside, most of the people executed in Oklahoma committed single murders. A few killed more than one person. Only a handful killed several.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I get confused by those who push forward the idea that first trimester abortion is wrong but the death penalty is okay. Just seems inconsistent to me.

Posted by: LostInThought | November 11, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

LiT, that's not me, but I think it's a relatively straightforward viewpoint. Innocent person vs. guilty person.

Posted by: -bia- | November 11, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Well, at least we don't hang for horse theft anymore.

Posted by: VintageLady | November 11, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

LiT, it's an old testament/new testament thing. The whole Jesus thing was feel-good, but not totally applicable.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 11, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I was thinking of nationwide Dp cases, Ivansmom, but no, I didn't realize the national numbers were that high. I'm not sure it changes my view much. But I agree a lot of those single-victim cases in OK and other places are ridiculous.

I agree that drawing a line arbitraily asking how many murders is "enough" to justify DP is crazy, but I'm not sure such arbitrary line drawing is any different in asking how old someone needs to be to drive a car or vote, or serve in the military. The response that in DP cases might be that in that instance, people's lives are at stake. But drawing a line at age 18 for military service also potentially makes life-and-death distinctions. There's even a pretty good argument that allowing a 16-year-old to drive or an 18-year-old to drink has life-and-death consequences.

I never said any of this was easy.

I am sympathetic to the arguement that the DP is much higher in southern and western sates, but to me it kind reduces down to the argument that we have to eliminate the Dp because people in Texas are barbaric, whereas they are much more civilized in New Hampshire. (That all may actually be true, but how do we codify it in social policy?) I am also troubled by the idea that even if they are more barbaric in Texas and Oklahoma and Mississippi than they are in New Hampshire or Oregon... at the end of the day it's *their* state and not mine, and we ultimately come back to the problem of majority opinion and community standards. I'm in Maryland, and I'm not quite sure how I can tell people in Texas what to do or not do. It reduces ultimately to the states' rights versus federal issue, just like a lot of other stuff I care about, such as, for instance, gay marriage or school systems or abortion law, or whatever. I can't do anything about Texas and Mississippi. God knows, I wish I could, but I can't, and there is a certain point where we all have to respect some other jurisdiction's right to do what it wants. (As I know you know, they have a thing called the Supreme Court which is assigned to work all this state-versus-federal stuff out.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 11, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Happy Anniversary, Scotty! *phweeeeep phweeeeep throwing cconfetti, releasing helium filled balloons skyward*

Posted by: -jack- | November 11, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

One odd consequence of the way in which the Supreme Court may review state capital cases is that, as long as any given state's system is constitutional, laws may vary widely. It is possible for a person to commit a murder and (a) be ineligible for the death penalty because they are mentally retarded in one state but not another; (b) be prosecuted for capital punishment in one state, but not be eligible in another state which has different aggravating factors necessary for imposition of the penalty.

Common aggravating factors, which increase the capital statistics for individual murders, include: murder of a law enforcement officer; murder for remuneration; murder which is especially heinous, atrocious or cruel (aren't they all, you ask? well, no); murder by someone who has prior violent felony convictions; whether the defendant poses a continuing threat to society. This last is quite broad and may be proved by prior criminal violent and non-violent history, bad acts which were never charged as crimes, or the facts of the murder at hand.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Just about every anti-abortionist I know has changed their political viewpoint to anti-capital punishment if it wasn't there already, namely to maintain consistency on their faith about the sanctity of human life.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 11, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Now, the execution of John Allen Mohammed.

My personal bias in this case is writ large, simply because I've frequented the locations where he and Malvo had murdered people, and he was arrested a short distance from where I live. I remember those days, and that sinking feeling when having to shop or put gas in the car, and leaving the kids home when I did so.

Doing my best to put that aside, I ask: Is it reasonable to only assign sentences that can somehow be retracted or undone later?

I believe that sentences should fit the crimes and the circumstances of it, as the laws and legal systems allow, as executed by those we have entrusted or assigned to do so. And we have courts of appeal and other means for reviewing decisions.

As far as Capital Punishment goes, some legal systems allow for it, others do not as they see fit. In most cases, Corporal Punishments such as stockades, flogging/whipping, and caning are no longer on most state or federal books as sentences, though I think at least one or two US states may still have them on the books (why do I keep thinking Delaware?).
They are perceived by many as torture, and therefore have been stricken from the books.

We humans are imperfect, and make mistakes, and our legal systems have many allowances for that such as appeals processes and judicial reviews, and even appeals for clemency.

As much as I admire the desire to have the ability to undo decisions or actions (legal and otherwise), we cannot yet reverse time with total omniscience. And I don't think it's reasonable to limit sentences to only that which can be 'undone,' as much as my heart aches for people who were wrongly convicted and served long prison sentences before the decison being overturned and their release. They will not get back that time they served and the victims of said crimes remain so.

As much as I believe in spiritual or personal redemption, I also believe that justice must be served. In some cases, sentences can be assigned with hope that the person will straighten up and fly right after serving their punishment. I depend on those we have entrusted with that responsibility to determine that for us, and to carry it out.

In Mohammed's case, the sentence was handed down, he exhausted his appeals, and the sentence carried out accoring to the law.

If there is some redemption for him - spiritual or otherwise - it is not of this world, and not for we imperfect humans to have any part of it.


Posted by: -bc- | November 11, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I'm not convinced that I have any particular moral qualms about the death penalty. I personally might well have been willing to bludgeon to death Muhammed or McVeigh.

But I'm unalterably opposed to the death penalty as a societal tool, because I think that it's completely impossible to mete out the punishment in a rational manner, and that allowing "society" to kill is a cowardly way of avoiding responsibility for a heavy, heavy decision.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 11, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

bc, Delaware is legal mecca for corporations. Your association of it with corporal punishment like horsewhipping might just be wishful thinking.

Happy anniversary, Scottynuke!!

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

just passing through folks
nothing to see but a kind
soul glimpsed at light speed

Posted by: DNA_Girl | November 11, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

The execution in Texas of Cameron Todd Willingham, who may (or may not) have been innocent, is raising all sorts of thorny issues for Gov. Perry.

Posted by: laloomis | November 11, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Happy Anniversary Scotty & Nukespouse!

Having lunch today with a friend from college whom I see occasionally and another woman I knew then whom I haven't seen in 40 years - yikes.

To all veterans today, thank you for your service.

Posted by: badsneakers | November 11, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, bc & jack! *currently celebrating in a Borders cafe, waiting for NukeSpouse to finish some orientation at her new employer -- yeah, great timing, I know*

As to the DP, I guess I will offer my view (although I believe I have before anyway).


The DP is necessary from the standpoint of society as an organism. Call it an immune response, if you will. There are individual actions that threaten society to the point where society must irrevocably remove the individual from existence, just as the body (under proper circumstances) will expunge things that threaten the body. True, civilization has advanced to the point that things such as "stealing another's mate" are no longer so contra-survival that they warrant execution, but the ongoing conversation shows there are still actions that cross that threshold.

Is the system perfect? No, but how many times have we here uttered the all too-true phrase, "The perfect is the enemy of the good" for similarly important topics? As cold-hearted a b@$t@rd as I'll sound for saying this, the DP's error rate is the price society as a whole pays for the ability to protect itself over the long haul.


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

*tossing a fly into the ointment*,0,597884.story

Posted by: -jack- | November 11, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

And thanks Sneaks, Imom and anyone else I miss during the course of the day! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Complete non-sequitur:

anybody got good Latin? I am struggling with the phrase "antequam postmodo." It is the "antequam" in this context with which I struggle. Postmodo is easy.

Horace and Livy, among others, used antequam, but I can't put my finger on a decent translation.

Any suggestions?

Posted by: Yoki | November 11, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I understand your point, Bob, but I tend to think that "society" really does exist as some sort of actual entity, and as such "society" as a thing has a right to operate and hold opinions. I don't think I agree that we "allow" society to do our killing for us because we are too cowardly to do it ourselves. I think I might even argue the exact opposite: that it is society's duty in these DP cases to do the killing precisely *because* we don't want individuals making such distinctions and doing the work. I kinda think maybe that is society's job,simply as a way of taking the idiosyncratic human element out of the equation.

I want to through out two other thought problems:

1) In the egregious cases (Eichman, McVeigh, Manson, Dahmer, et al.), perhaps the question isn't "how can we justify executing them" but rather, "how can we continue letting them stay alive." If you turn the question around like that, it gets hardly. What is the argument that Eichman deserves to live? I know what some answers might by (life is sacred, etc.), but I happen not to agree with that. And how can one fight and kill millions in all of WWII and then say life is sacred and Eichmann deserves to live? I know I can't do it.

2) To amplify LiT's point: I've always thought the notion (generally on the right, but not necessarily) that abortion is wrong (murder) but the DP is OK was exactly the opposite side of the coin of the reverse argument, which one also hears (generally on the left) quite a lot, that abortion is OK but the DP is wrong.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 11, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke - I'd submit that the only thing the death penalty has going for it is long-standing tradition. In an age of really good drugs and a large class of professional jailers, there are plenty of ways to remove someone from society, to any arbitrary degree of exclusion desired.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 11, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

We remember.

Posted by: engelmann | November 11, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I made the motor in my son's car make a happy noise. That's always a good feeling.

Mudge - you are quite right in that there is something far too precious in getting more bothered about executions than other injustices. My only defense is that, like most people, I respond to the salient more than I should.

Seems to me that there is a distinction that must be made between the philosophical debate over CP and how it is actually implemented in the real world. This argument mirrors, a bit, ones about interrogations.

The thing is, sure, *if* we could guarantee that only guilty people were put to death and *if* we could guarantee that it was applied fairly and equitably, and *if* people always responded to this with a satisfying sense of closure and *if* all potential criminals viewed it as a warning and *if* it were implemented in a timely manner and at reasonable cost and *if* it were only applied to truly heinous criminals and *if* it really were unambiguously accepted as the appropriate ultimate punishment then I could view it as a reasonable option.

But that, for me, is a few too many ifs.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Happy Anniversary greetings to Snukeums and Mrs. Snukeums (unless she goes by Ms. Snukeums).

I remember those terrifying times during the sniper days and can't quite believe that 7 years have gone by since. I held off getting gas for the car and groceries for as long as I could. I remember finally putting gas in the car and crouching (painful with my body) behind the gas pump. There is a wooded area behind the station I frequent and it was simply terrifying, never knowing which direction an assault might come from.

I guess I'm glad he's dead, finally. But my thoughts about him and about the Ft. Hood guy concern mental illness and the mentally ill and how we as a country and as a society tend to sweep it all under the rug and pretend that it's not happening.

Just as parents don't generally have an owner's manual for raising kids (well, I'm sure Dr. Spock books are still available), children aren't born with their own owner's manual. Life begins with a smack on the tush (figuratively speaking) and continues on with various forms of a smack in the face. Those who survive and thrive have discovered -- pretty much subconsciously -- that resilience to life's vagaries will get you farther, and make it easier to somehow shrug off the bad stuff (therapy helps, too). Those who wolf down anti-depressants and still wonder why they're still depressed and angry might need to look for other ways to help them control their lives and feelings better. It's a matter of reaching out and getting help -- if the first place you look doesn't help, find the next place. Not all therapists are good, and one doesn't have to settle.

Sometimes triggers for mental illness are genetic. Sometimes triggers are witnessing traumas -- directly or indirectly. Kids of abusers tend (without help) to recreate that scenario, both on the giving end and on the receiving end.

And then there's war -- where there are enormous inequities in regard to who orders whom into battle. Without a draft, not everybody in this country (or any country) has a sense of ownership of what they are doing and why. And, yet, how many people want to see a draft for military service anymore?

There have apparently been a tremendous number of suicides by those having served in the military in Iraq particularly and I think even some having served in Afghanistan. This is -- if you'll pardon the expression -- *insane*!

I have no illusions that there will be an increase in care by entities public or private (unless there's money to be made, of course) for those who are mentally and emotionally damaged for some reason or another.

My several cents worth, I suppose.

Posted by: -ftb- | November 11, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Iowa. I finally read that WSJ article, and I didn’t know that Stanzi had been injured. Clearly they don’t have a lot of depth. The test will be this weekend against Ohio State.

True Iowa story. Setting: flying into Cedar Rapids.

DD: I bet there’s going to be a lot of bunnies here.
me: why do you say that?
DD: (pause) well … it’s called Cedar Rabbits you know.

Cute story or stinging indictment of my pronunciation? You decide.

Posted by: engelmann | November 11, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

(1) DNA_Girl, you poor misguided would-be tease: don't you know that I could never be with a molecular biologist? It's just not fated, sweetie.

(2) I posit that the fact that numerous war criminals chose death for themselves rather than face trial and probable execution on terms not of their own choosing, indicates that death was, for them, the least significant consequence that they faced. As Mudge noted in his even-handed disquisition, it can't really be punishment if the subject is not available to experience it. I can imagine no punishment more awful or humiliating for a Nazi war criminal than to be cared for attentively and gently for the rest of his very long and healthy life by an unfailingly polite and professional cadre of comfortably multi-racial and multi-ethnic individuals.

(3) On this morning, I do not feel any safer or more just than I did yesterday, when John Allan Muhammad was a living prisoner of the state. I do not feel perceptibly less so: the departure from life of John Allan Muhammad does not leave the world a poorer place, and it is demonstrably true that the world would be a richer place if he had departed life much earlier. The ruined life of Lee Malvo attests to that, as well as the ended lives of their victims. But between yesterday and today, we have not made ourselves a better society, and in the process we have taken a life that we didn't HAVE to take for immediate necessity, as we would if the death occurred in war or during police operations.

(4) I do not disagree with the list of monsters offered by Mudge, terrible persons undeserving of life. My disagreement is on a different point in the spectrum of evil. There is inevitably some continuum, some ranking of monstrousness. We needn't quibble over details: the point is that the ranking COULD be done, with the logical certainty that there must be some dividing line between persons of marginally differing awfulness wherein one dies, one lives. We propose ourselves to police that line. Yet we set the line at different levels: either the setting of the line is arbitrary and unfair, or it is fair and the murderers of different states vary in their actual depravity according to the state in which they committed a capital crime. I find the latter argument hard to accept (except, perhaps, for Texas and Mississippi ;) ). The logical conclusion is that the death penalty is arbitrary and intrinsically unfair. And that is not justice.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Apropos of very little...

You know you're up against tough fantasy sports competition when you're batting .650 and are basically bringing up the rear... :-O

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Morning all
Happy anniversary Snukes via 88 fingers louie from the Flintstones

Thanks to everyone who has ever served,you folks are the greatest.

I have been reading Tom Brokaw's "the greatest generation speaks" ,very moving and well done,speaking about tough, not knowing if their husbands were alive or dead.where their units were fighting,the next battle etc......Communication then was slow and not always availible. To get the letter from your sweetheart,parents anyone was precious.

I was sorry to hear the MD logger didn't win the wsop,but I am sure the "hillbilly" can live quite nicely on 5 million.We may never see him again.......

Posted by: greenwithenvy | November 11, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Tossing a different fly into the ointment. (This article threatened my whole philosophy)

It incidentally seems to support Mudge's.

Bundy finished up his business in the town I went through high school in. It was a lot like raping the entire town. One day kids could walk along minding their own business. Next day, and forever after, that was not so. Against the DP, I still was coldly satisfied the day Bundy died.

A big salute to all the veterans here. You know who you are. Too bad mementious isn't a word: have a mementious Veterans Day.

Ivansmom, I'm pretty sure you don't want to ensure only the innocent get executed, above. Help, I need a new lawyer! ;)

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 11, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

*snort* Greenwithenvy, I was humming EXACTLY that tune in my head this morning... :-)))

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, that's an easy one. Antequam means "before the quam".

Posted by: engelmann | November 11, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Aren't there lots of antequam shops in Alexandria and Georgetown?

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 11, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Jumper. I knew about the effects of solitary isolation.

It's terrifying; I will also comment that many mentally ill and disabled people are often subject to this in some degree which does not help them meld into society any better.

I would like to see any research on how much human contact is sufficient to combat the effects of solitary isolation, and how much of the effects come from limited opportunity to engage in asocial activities.

This would have implications for the welfare of millions, not just thousands of prisoners.

It seems to me that many pioneers themselves experienced some form of solitary isolation, although not on a continual basis, but the tasks of survival and sporadic contact may have helped them.

It's a subject that calls for more intensive research, especially as we apparently are already subjecting thousands of prisoners to cruel and inhumane punishment in our prisons just because our sentencing system doesn't stipulate how prisoners are to be kept; that's up to the individual penal system and state laws, I assume.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Jack beat me to the punch. I was going to post last night that justice seems swift in Maryland compared to California. Ib CA, DP is just a make work program for certain classes of the legal profession. Paid for by the tax payers. The appeals go on until the subject succumbs from other causes.

We lived in Petaluma neighborhood when Richard Allen committed his horrid deed, My wife joined the searches for Polly. When that bas$%&&&d was convicted, he turned to Polly's father in the court room and gave him the finger. An event recorded for all the see that evening on TV.

He will never be executed. Meanwhile we continue to foot the bill for endless frivolous appeals.

Posted by: bh72 | November 11, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

SCCs, In CA.
We lived in THE Petaluma neighborhood.

I mean we were footing the bill when I still lived in CA.

Posted by: bh72 | November 11, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

St. Jerome’s Vulgate, Matthew 1:18

Christi autem generatio sic erat cum esset desponsata mater eius Maria Ioseph antequam convenirent inventa est in utero habens de Spiritu Sancto

King James version, same verse

18 - Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

Posted by: engelmann | November 11, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, engelmann!

Posted by: Yoki | November 11, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

So, the only "before" in that quotation was "before they came together". If that matches "antequam", then we must deduce that "quam" is Latin for "did the nasty."

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, there is no overarching "sentencing system". The interplay between state and federal systems is complex. However, thanks to vigorous Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence in the area of corrections, state prisons and jails are subject to fairly stringent federal regulation, and certain minimums, particularly regarding housing and medical conditions and food, must be met.

Jumper, you're right. Executing only the innocent would never work. It is so hard to prove innocence, we'd never execute anybody.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

And now for something completely different: more nano technology. Rice U. researchers have made some fun discoveries. I cribbed all this from the Rice alumni magazine.

1: nanocups. Locked into sheets and oriented in a unified direction, the metamaterial can catch and redirect scattered light, essentially making a material invisible and letting an observer see what is behind it. Scientist: "The material should not only transmit the color and brightness of what is behind it, but also bend the light around, preserving the original phase information of the signal." Thank themal solar power, or transmitting optical signals between computer chips.

2: nanotubes which unzip into nanoribbons. Unzip nanotubes and you get very strong flat water-soluble ribbons of graphene, without the 1500 degree chemical vapor deposition process. Think conductive material - flat-panel displays, touch panels, electronic ink, solar cells.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I have nothing but contempt for the Pundit Contest, but Joel's critique of the contestants is here (you have to scroll):

There is also a link to the Achendictionary in Joel's brief bio! Thanks, mo and kbertocci, and all the Boodlers who contributed. Hmmm, probably needs to be updated...

Posted by: seasea1 | November 11, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

More airship movies:

The Mummy Returns - had a long balloon flight
Master of the World - Jules Verne adaptation wherein a megalomaniac attempts to destroy the world's armies using a super-scientific airship
Steamboy - I think this takes place partially on some type of airship
Voyage en Balon - French animated movie. Sort of proto-Terry Gilliam in its look
Madam Satan - Very strange DeMille movie culminates with an elaborate costume party on a zeppelin.
The Lost Zeppelin and Dirigible - I always get these two confused, since both are about a zeppelin expedition to Antarctica which crashes on the ice. Both were likely inspired by the real-life Italia, a semi-rigid airship which crashed in the Arctic in an attempt to reach the North Pole. Largely forgotten now, both the expedition and subsequent international rescue efforts were media sensations at the time.
The Red Tent - Overlooked Sean Connery movie about the Italia disaster. There was an eerie synchronicity for me when I first watched this movie. It was the morning of September 1, 2003 and I stopped the movie to take care of something. When the tape stopped, a broadcast came on about the unfolding Columbia shuttle disaster.

Posted by: rashomon | November 11, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Strangely on-topic piece about the death penalty in California -- from the LA Times,0,597884.story

Posted by: nellie4 | November 11, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

lol Ivansmom.

Wilbrod, I wonder how much ONLINE socialization is needed to undo the effects of isolation. Also, how much is too much? (I THINK Twitter is "too much.")

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 11, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I wish I could see Scandinavia from my porch.

Posted by: Boomslang | November 11, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone mention "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" among movies with airships? I don't recall.

I gather that "The Red Tent" is not related to the Biblical fiction novel of the same name from a few years ago. All the gals were reading it -- and me, too. The first half was very good at evoking a world that is hard to grasp today. The second half was weaker, being mostly about suppressed rage and revenge. Who cares? I have my own problems.

I loved the look of Steamboy. The plot and the over-the-top finale with the casual destruction of London and the A-Team-like pretense that mass destruction and machine-gun fire are unlikely to cause loss of life --it didn't work so well for me.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt - I meant to tell you earlier: Thanks, pal! I've had the song "Every Sperm is Sacred" running around in my head now for close to twenty-four hours. It's becoming painful.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 11, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Jo, men det kan jag, Boomslang. Jag behöver bara öppna min Entourage och titta på alla eposter jag har fått under årena från Sverige, Norge och Danmark. Inga tyvärr från Island.

Det blir jättemörkt jättetidigt i Sverige just nu och i verkligheten kan man inte se något. Vad synd!

Just thought I'd toy with you Boomslang. This time of year sunset is about maybe 2 in the afternoon in Stockholm (same latitude as Anchorage) and it's totally pitch certainly by 3. Light may come around 9 in the morning and one desperately swoons over snow, so that the snow will reflect any light during the day and make things seem lighter and brighter.

And, now, off to draft some Request for Admissions. Lucky Ducky Me. *sigh*

Posted by: -ftb- | November 11, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh, go on with you, ftb. You know you just love practicing law.

Posted by: Yoki | November 11, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, well . . . I sure wish the clients would pay, though.

*now I really gotta get outta here*

Posted by: -ftb- | November 11, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

SciTim - Massive destruction of cities seems to be a standard theme in Japanese popular culture. Akira is another obvious example in anime, and then there are all the giant monsters that have stomped Tokyo into dust over the years. I imagine that thousands of pages of pop psychology and doctoral dissertations have been written about how this relates to the effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Japan's national psyche.

I think the title of The Red Tent relates to a tent that the survivors used while waiting for rescue, but it's been a while.

Posted by: rashomon | November 11, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

So, it's not where Sean Connery went while menstruating?

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Now I'm wondering how much alcohol it's going to take to get that image out of my head

Posted by: rashomon | November 11, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

The Reliable Source is featuring a story about musician-science-geeks and Carl Sagan's birthday. But did they send any love my way? No, they did not.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be." - Kurt Vonnegut

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 11, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I do think it's important to note that I have no particular reason to believe that Glenn Beck raped and murdered a young girl in 1990.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 11, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Um, Bob. I sorta feel like that's crossing a line -- admittedly, a line that Beck himself crosses with abandon.

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 11, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

OK, I gotta concede it's a pretty tasteless way to make a point.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 11, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I really wish Vonnegut hadn't said that, because it is such crap. I mean, really.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 11, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Here's a laugh: at the moment it appears Denver is only a 3 1/2-point favorite over the Redskins.

Bwahahahahahahaha. The true number has to be what? something in the mid three digits? Jeez.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 11, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse


Very good Ruth Marcus column at about all the mis-statements and distortions the GOP told at the health care debate in Congress. But here's what pisses me off no end: why did Marcus have to wtrite this column? Why wasn't this a straightforward news story at the time? Why wasn't a routine part of coverage: "Reps, D, E, F, G, H, I, and J stood up and said XYZ. They were flat wrong. Her's why:" And then do what Marcus did, explain the correct answer.

It is absurd to allow this kind of GOP crap to exist without major truth-telling going on with it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 11, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I am shamed. I recently learned that Glenn Beck was educated in the same school system as was I. Further, my brother-in-law attended some classes with him.

All my brother-in-law remembers is that Glenn had a very loud voice.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 11, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Bob S, do I detect a hint of paralepsis about your person today?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Glenn Beck... has he stopped beating his wife?

Some good stuff here about last night's execution. It's made me sad all week. It's like watching a mom hit her young child while yelling, "Don't hit!"

I think what Muhammad did to his young protege is almost as bad as what he did to the folks he shot. Another life lost. Sigh.

I did hear recently that families of victims are often counseled NOT to advocate for the death penalty because it drags the case on for so long, "closure" is nearly impossible.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 11, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Another one of those days when you really appreciate the level of civility here on the boodle, many differing opinions and no rancour.

I liked SciTim's three points, a similar though had crossed my mind when I tried to imagine how my feelings on DP might be influenced on someone like Hitler. It did occur to me that putting him in jail with multi-ethic jailers and watching the world changes in the later half of the twentieth century might be painful for him, the thought of him seeing the birth of Israel made me smile.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

There's been an interesting exchange on this thread about Muhammad and the death penalty. I, too, found myself conflicted about Muhammad's execution. Undoubtedly because, like everyone in the DC area, I was personally affected to a degree. In my case I was stunned by how many of the murders occurred in locations I had been to: The gas stations in Kensington, Aspen Hill, and Manassas. The parking lots in Wheaton and at Leisure World. The Home Depot parking garage. Just about half.

I don't have a "moral" problem with execution. Some people really don't deserve to live. Curmudgeon's example of Eichmann is a particularly good one. In general, I oppose it for the simple reason that innocent people are convicted of capital crimes. The spate of recent reversals as DNA forensics evolved is abundant proof of this. The philosophical issue of granting the government powers of life and death is also a little troubling. But with Muhammad, I couldn't escape the visceral reaction of "get a rope."

Still, I opposed the execution. I think it was Bill Maher who summed up my feelings rather eloquently (I think he was talking about the use of torture in questioning terrorist suspects) saying, approximately: If your principles don't apply in all situations, they're not principles, they're hobbies.

Posted by: rashomon | November 11, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks,seasea, for the link to Joel's criticism of the blog contestants. I have no interest in the contest and didn't read any of the contestant attempts, but found Joel's comments both entertaining and enlightening. Thanks for reading, Joel, so I didn't have to.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 11, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Another issue unfortunately conjoined with the DP is that there are far more minorities condemned to die than there are whites (didn't want to say "majority"), and this is *not* because a larger number of minorities commit capital crimes. It's just an easier way to get rid of "them."

So, am *I* the only one watching SYTYCD this go-round? Frosti, are you watching it? Raysmom? Anybody? There are some good ones, some very good ones, and some not so much. I keep a running conversation with my knees, telling them that *no* we're not going to try that at home. . . .

Okay, all the RPDs, Roggs and RFAs are done. What's next, I ask you?

Posted by: -ftb- | November 11, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I may watch later ftb, but I watched the previous season, then through the last few months the 2nd season for the Canadian show, I am a little SYTYCDed out right now.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 11, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

On the other hand, if you use every news headline as a reason to be affronted or upset on principle, you'll push yourself over the edge mentally.

I will say that I disagree with torture for many reasons, not on a single principle alone. That makes the difference to me.

On the other hand, when I examine all my principles, I only find one that is actively against Muhammed's execution, and even that is weakened by weighing all the other possibilities (including my profound antipathy to torturing even a serial killer.)

For me my principles are a network of interacting rules to be reasoned with on an emotional and an intellectual level. Some rules are much stronger than others, some more humane and kind, while others are a bit more selfish.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I agree about the Marcus opinion piece - should have been front page news. That's one reason I could not listen to the "debate" - too many lies. Her last line:
"You have to wonder: Are the Republican arguments against the bill so weak that they have to resort to these misrepresentations and distortions? "

YES! YES! YES! Why is that even a question, especially at this late date?

She also said the outcome of the vote was not in doubt - you could have fooled me. I'm sure Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn were fairly confident they had 218 votes, or they would not have been voting - but it would only have taken a couple of faint-hearted Democrats to defect. And I can't tell you how grateful I am to Rep Cao (R-LA) - I emailed him telling him so.

RD, did you catch the brouhaha when the mayor of Mount Vernon, WA (Glenn Beck's hometown) gave Beck the key to the city a few months ago?

Posted by: seasea1 | November 11, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm watching, ftb. I'm not really emotionally engaged yet, though. I think I heard they're going to go back to only summers after this season -- good idea.

Posted by: -bia- | November 11, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Boodle-by, then off to an errand. Shall break out the car because I am cold and wet from three bike treks to and fro work.

LiT and another boodler referred to the consistency (or inconsistency) about holding positions that look like these:

pro-death penalty but pro-life OR

anti-death penalty but pro-choice

Here is the "consistent life ethic" or "seamless garment" position. Full disclosure: this is my position about the death penalty and abortion. However, I recognize that in a democracy, reasonable people will disagree about legislative or constitutional solutions. So, we must learn to live with disagreement with civility. We should also concede or acknowledge the reasonableness of different views. We are not good at this. But, I digress...

Here is how the term "seamless garment" entered the language and culture:

Joseph Cardinal Bernadin of Chicago called Catholics to task about consistency on life issues. He asked us all to value defenseless life at the beginning and at the end. He asked us to look with the eyes of God upon the wretched murderer.

The occasion? A Gannon Lecture at Fordham University in New York, circa 1993 or '94. In the audience were theologians, some bishops, Catholic activists, clergy, scholars, and lay people. The seamless garment term has circulated among the Catholic Worker community and the two large anti-nukes/pro-peace groups known as the Pacific Life Community and the Atlantic Life Community. (Me, member of PacLife in the 80s.) The anti-nuke movement touched base with the pro-life movement in overtures sometimes called the New Abolitionist Movement. Both groups are (were) committed to non violent witness to the "innocents" who suffer by war and those who suffer by abortion.

These movements come out of a larger movement in social Catholicism called Social Teaching. The social teaching is one of a preferential option for the weak, the poor, hungry, the homeless, the unemployed, the refugee, the sick, the oppressed, those without voice or power.

Bernadin, who died in 1996, noted that this shared value is not clearly expressed within the Catholic community. However, nearly all teachings underscore the seamless garment approach to the sacredness of life. I know that last night in Richmond, phone calls and emails about sparing JMA's life were sent by the National Catholic Conference of Bishops and the Vatican. This is standard and pro forma in all cases of the death penalty. (Tim Kane really did serve as governor first and Catholic second, as JFK promised in his campaign.)

I close with these words from Bernadine about our lack of civility as we debate these great questions of our day:

“we should maintain and clearly articulate our religious convictions, but also maintain our civil courtesy. We should be vigorous in stating a case and attentive in hearing another’s case; we should test everyone’s logic, but not question his or her motives.”

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | November 11, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Pro-choice is just that. Pro choice. Not pro death. So I see no conflict there.

But there is a conflict I don't understand: no abortion *except for in the case of rape or incest.*

What? So abortion=murder only in some cases? And sometimes it's not? I'd rather see someone against it all the time than sometimes.

Otherwise it proves, to me, that their principles are, indeed, only hobbies, as Rashomon shared earlier.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 11, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"For me my principles are a network of interacting rules to be reasoned with on an emotional and an intellectual level."

I like that a lot, and in general I think it's the best way to live life without going crazy, or becoming so rigid about certain topics that it borders on obsession.

The death penalty is one of the things that I see in very nearly black and white terms, though. The principle being that any system that inevitably throws a few innocents into the fire in order to satisfy a sense of "justice" (actually, vengeance) is inherently wrong.

Posted by: rashomon | November 11, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

About the DP-what Mr.Mudge said. There are monsters among us.

Posted by: Manon1 | November 11, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

New Kit! (would-be-pundit critiques)

Posted by: seasea1 | November 11, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

new kit about the pundit contest.

Posted by: -bia- | November 11, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

CqP, I honor that teaching and could not imagine the church taking any other position. The church is called to teach us what true morality should look like and remind that even the best of us are but flawed, imperfect sinners in the face of the Ultimate.

Jesus's death penalty by the Romans--and very unjust it was-- lead to his greatest miracle and the genesis of the very same religion and church that long ago helped to outlaw execution by crucifixation and is now working to end the death penalty.

For some reason that appeals to me very much in a Taoistic way.

It may be that God works all things for good, even the death penalty. This doesn't make us inculpable for our actions, of course.

But I have had no role in this death penalty process; I've never voted for it, so I feel no culpability for this death; in fact my feelings run the opposite.

Today is Veterans' day. I feel more agonized about the wars still waged by our country. I voted best as I could to end those wars.

Here's hoping we come up with the best workable plan to do for that.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | November 11, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company