Monday, July 21, 2008

Its time for some campaignin'

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Happy 4th of July from President Bush

I have resisted making any commentary on President Bush on this blog until now. But his disgraceful behavior on July 4th, can not go unmentioned. This has nothing to do with the politics or his policies in his presidency. This is about his disrespect for our American history and the people who made it.
As is tradition, President Bush was at Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello to swear in new United States citizens. In his speech he quoted from a letter Jefferson wrote to Roger Weightman, stating,
“May it be to the world, what I believe it will be -- to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all -- the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government."

What a wonderful sentiment to share with hundreds of people who have fled their birth nations and have chosen to become US citizens. The problem I have with it is that President Bush opted to remove a line from the quote. Lets look at the original.

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.

What is the lesson President Bush taught those becoming Americans that day. If you don’t like history, change it. Feel free to twist and distort our American heritage to fit your needs. Lie about history, because that is becoming the American way, especially for those which would place our country under the chains of monkish ignorance and superstition.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Biblical answers on the death penalty

This discussion of the capital punishment wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t look at the Biblical view of the death penalty. The Bible is absolutely clear about God’s opinion…or is it. We all know Ex 21 which includes the phrase, “An eye for an eye, ” but very few people have ever looked at the context. Well, here it is Ex 21 22-27

22 "If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
26 "If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth. NIV

So the whole “eye for an eye” thing is talking about accidentally striking a pregnant lady while in the middle of a brawl. Considering the context of this verse, I think it is fair to say, the use of this verse in the death penalty debate is worthless. But don’t worry there is plenty in the Bible to support the capital punishment.

Here is an extremely short list of offenses which call for the death penalty.

Murder Gen 9:6

Disobedient children Ex 21:15, Ex 21:17 Lev 20:9

Witches Ex 22:18

Those who worship other Gods Ex 22:20

Those who break the Sabbath Ex 31:14, 31:15 and Ex 35:2

Blasphemy Lev 24:16

Bestiality Ex 20:15 and don’t forget to kill the animal also.

Not being a virgin your wedding night Dt 22:13-22

Rape victims who don’t cry loudly enough Dt 22:23-24

That would seem to settle the case the Bible is clearly in favor of capital punishment. Except then Jesus has to go and make things all complicated. Let’s all turn in our Bibles to John 8:3-7. This is the story of the woman caught in adultery which is summed up in the statement, “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.”

So, we don’t have a clear message from the Bible. People are free to pick and choose the pieces of scripture which fit their preconceived position. This is a little troubling because according to Deuteronomy 13:6-11, I should be getting a pious execution any day now.

6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. 9 You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again. NIV

Friday, July 11, 2008

Death Penalty

Putting aside the legal issues, lets discuss some of the other issues that surround capital punishment. Some of the arguments for the death penalty over life imprisonment include deterrence and the financial burden on the sate to prosecute and imprison.

I like the deterrence, as opposed to the more philosophical arguments, because it makes a specific claim which can be studied and published in hard numbers. What do the studies show? The answer is mixed. There is a collection of peer reviewed studies available at

I hoped to find a clear trend one way of another. After spending a few hours reading abstracts I found that most of the research, statistics, and interpretation of data is in dispute. I would encourage people to go look at the papers, how they collected their data and the measures used.

Here is my opinion after 12 years of locking people up. With a few exceptions of homeless people who would commit crimes before winter storms in order to get guarantied shelter, I never arrested anyone who expected to get caught.

Ask your self about your own driving habits. Do you make an estimate of the amount of a fine and points you can afford. Most likely you answered “No, I drive what I feel is a safe speed and I besides, I probably won’t get pulled over.” The hundreds of people I have arrested over the years don’t plan on getting a ticket or arrested. This includes the people I have arrested for homicide. They are consistently shocked that they are being cuffed.

There are two ways at looking at the financial issues. One is that I, as a taxpayer, don’t want to fund the room and board of a murder for the rest of his natural life. This is going to be a long time considering that most murders are committed by suspects who are in their late teens to 20s. The average life span of the American male is currently 73 years. The average cost of housing a prisoner is $88 per day. That is a little over 32,00 per year. This doesn’t factor in the additional cost of being in a maximum security prison.

The other way to view the financial impact of the death penalty is in the increased cost of the prosecution and appeals. The following figures compare the cost increase from a life with out parole trial to a death penalty case. Kansas 16 times more, Tennessee 48% increase, North Carolina spent 2.16 million more per case. Indiana reported at 38% increase in cost. Consider this when 20% of Indiana’s death penalty convictions are overturned. Many of the financial figures of a death penalty case can be viewed at

After all the facts and figures, here is my take on the financial issue. The cost should not be an issue when we are deciding to take a life. Whether you are for or against the death penalty, I think that from a moral position we could agree that if capital punishment is wrong, it is wrong regardless of the cost of life in prison. If we are going to exercise capital punishment, it should not be taken lightly and the burden on the state should be enormous.

More to come next week. As always comments are always welcome.