Thursday, April 05, 2012
A proposal to abolish capital punishment in Connecticut has cleared a major hurdle with approval from the state Senate.
The bill passed early Thursday by a vote of 20-16 would make life imprisonment the maximum punishment for future cases.
Connecticut would become the fifth state in five years to abolish the death penalty.
My long-time readers know I stand foursquare against the death penalty. I don't think it's smart to give the state the right to kill citizens, for one thing, for another it prevents nothing that life in prison can't prevent. And of course, there's the whole Jesus-forgiveness thing.
Like with gay marriage, overturning the death penalty is a slow, long slog to try to enact, and must be done state-by-state. A critical mass is needed, as with so many things in politics and governance.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
MARS, Pa. — Imagine a footrace, but only one runner is on the track.
That essentially is the situation for Rick Santorum. He is all suited up and ready to go. “The clock starts tonight,” he told supporters here Tuesday night, hoping to start fresh after losses in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
But as far as Mitt Romney, his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, is concerned, that clock has run out.
If you look at the results from Wisconsin last night, if Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich had dropped out of the race...hell, if just GINGRICH left the race, then Santorum probably takes Wisconsin. This would have made Santorum an actual credible threat to Romney despite the slack in delegates.
Indeed, if Gingrich and Paul dropped out and gave all their delegates to Santorum, he'd still be seventy short right now, and looking at a yawning four hundred delegate gap by May 1. Not insurmountable, to be sure, but that's only if Gingrich and Paul drop out. Right now, his deficit is insurmountable.
See, Santorum and Romney have this odd dynamic working: If the evangelical Christian vote is over 50%, Santorum wins. If it's under 50, Romney wins. Wisconsin would have been the first state to flip that (Iowa came close).
Santorum is running into a roadblock in April: the only primaries from here on out are in the Northeast, prime Romney territory.
Indeed, Romney can embarass the hell out of Santorum by taking Pennsylvania. This means two things:
1) It will be the second straight statewide election in his home state that Santorum loses and
B) It takes Santorum out of consideration for the Veep nom. After all, do you want someone on your ticket who can't even guarantee his home state?
And now that brings the illogic of a continuing Santorum campaign into sharp focus. If you presume that Santorum is taking this to a floor fight-- his best case scenario is that Romney enters the convention with only 1122 committed delegates and 22 short of the magic number, but this excludes super- and uncommitted delegates-- then the logical conclusion is Santorum is running for reasons other than the nomination. The logical alternative is to show he's a capable fighter even against long odds (which the GOP faces in spades this year) and an almost automatic VP nominee.
Monday, April 02, 2012
So it turns out that the Burmese people actually like democracy...altho only 45 seats were up for grabs, the Aung Sun Suu Kyi led National League for Democracy swept nearly all the available seats, 43.
Behind the challenges to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) being heard at the Supreme Court this week is the idea that Barack Obama wants to take away your freedoms (as Mitt Romney himself asserted today). I’ve long since stopped counting the number of ridiculous things said about Obama, but this might be the ridiculousest of them all. At least the Kenyan rumors have some basis in reality, however threadbare it is, since his father was indeed Kenyan and he does have a funny name, for an American president. But this "freedom" business is simply paranoid and delusional. I defy anyone to name for me a specific and precise freedom that Obama has taken away from the American people. You can’t.[...]The classic definition of freedom, or liberty, is still John Stuart Mill’s. His sentence that goes, “Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign,” can be quoted out of context to imply that a person shouldn’t have to buy health insurance. But context shows that a few sentences earlier, Mill discussed the harm principle. A person can act with complete freedom so long as his actions don’t harm others. Well, pal, if you’re healthy and 35 and you don’t buy insurance and you get hit by a bus and you need $10,000 in medical care and you can’t and don’t pay for it, that harms me, because I’m an insured taxpayer and I’m helping to pick up your tab. That is freedom: not just the right to be left alone, but also the obligation to take responsibility for the consequences of one’s own actions on the freedom of other members of society. By that definition, the ACA is enhancing freedom, and personal responsibility—which is why conservatives were for the mandate in the first place. [Ed: emphasis added]
And here we have it, right there in black and white: the harm principle. The harm principle can be summed up as, "I shouldn't have to clean up your mess."
It is the underlying foundation of any legitimate freedom, from the First through the Twenty-Seventh.
Most important, any conservative worth his salt ought to be acknowledging the truth of it, and any liberal ought to be shouting it from the highest of heaven.
We liberals have ceded too much freedom from harm that we sort of deserve the calumny and disrespect we receive from the right. Take "Stand Your Ground."
Here, on the face of things, is a bill that defends your freedom from harm, but if you look closely on it, it misses Mill's larger point: while preventing harm to others is a societal good, it's the object of government and it is assumed the individual will not always act in the best interests of others.
Think about that for a moment: in "Stand Your Ground," we have a bill that completely abandons societal and common justice to leave the decision about whether harming another person is a good thing or a bad thing in the hands of someone in a situation of heightened emotion and shaky judgement.
Put it another way: we train cops to examine suspects carefully and to default away from irreparable harm to a suspect, even if that means endangering themselves further. You think someone like George Zimmerman was going to think that one step further?
Likewise, as Michael Tomasky points out, by enforcing and insisting on an individual mandate as part of affordable healthcare, we hit a double: we cover the uninsured and we lower our own healthcare costs.
After all, that representative $10,000 in medical bills is $10,000 unavailable for my own needs.
Indeed, going back to first principles, harming oneself in a car accident is harming society (in addition to the hospital bills-- whether insured or not-- the car has to be removed and road cleaned up, which costs the community money,) so enforcing an individual mandate benefits society as a whole, since I'm now free not to clean up all of your mess.