"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Friday, December 16, 2011


A couple of Christmas selections from the Clancy Brothers:

Rare, If Not Non-Existent

So we learn that the death penalty is being resorted to even more "rarely." 78 death sentences to date in 2011 have been imposed.

While the DPIC, an abolitionist advocacy group, reporting these figures, wants to portray the drop off in the DP rate as a function of decreased support for the DP, there are many factors at work in the decline, including most prominently in my view the declining overall homicide rate. ("The homicide rate declined sharply from 9.3 homicides per 100,000 in 1992 to 4.8 homicides per 100,000 in 2010."). Broadly speaking, the fewer number of murders, the fewer expected death sentences imposed.

As far as I know, there are no reported year-to-date murder numbers officially reported, but the number in the last couple of years has been around 15,000.

If that number holds true for 2011, then the death penalty is imposed in a miniscule 0.52% of cases.

Yet again, we can truly say of the death penalty in the United States, that it is imposed "rarely" and certainly only in heinous cases and after exhaustive appellate review of not just the facts and evidence, but the competency of defense counsel. All of which should give comfort to those Catholics who accept the position of the new Cathechism of the Catholic Church that recourse to the death penalty ought to be limited to "rare" cases.

Friday, December 09, 2011

After that, Something Pleasant for the Weekend

Connecticut Metes Out Justice

Death for co-defendant in Connecticut rape-torture-muder. Joshua Komisarjevsky and an associate commited a triple murder of a suburban Connecticut woman and her two daughters. Komisarjevsky was also convicted of sexually assaulting 11 year old Michaela.

I wrote about the first conviction in this case, in which
After assaulting and tying up the husband and father, Dr. William Petit, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky forced his wife to withdraw money from a bank and then sexually assaulted and strangled her to death.Then, turning to the 11 and 17 year old daughters of the family, the two men repeatedly raped them, then tied them both up, doused them with gasoline, and torched the house with the girls still alive inside."A medical examiner described a painful and panic-stricken smoke inhalation death likely suffered by Michaela. Seventeen-year-old Hayley's injuries suggested she was burned as she tried to flee.
This horrific crime reminded the people of Connecticut that sometimes the death penalty is necessary to address the heinousness of a crime and to protect society from vicious offenders. An abolitionist effort to abolish capital punishment in Connecticut which earlier this year had seemed certain of victory could not survive the common sense response of normal people to a crime of this magnitude. Sadly, the abolitionist are right back at it, pledging to ignore the community voice expressed by the jury in this case and seek the end of capital punishment in Connecticut.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Idaho Metes Out Justice

Idaho executes triple murderer.

Paul Rhodes went on a random killing spree in 1987. From the Supreme Court of Idaho's recitation of the facts in one of his convictions we learn that he first,
kidnapped twenty-one-year-old Stacy Baldwin from the Mini Barn convenience store in Blackfoot, Idaho, on February 28, 1987.   He drove her to a secluded area near the Snake River and shot her multiple times when she resisted his attack and attempted to escape.   One of the bullets pierced her lungs, and she died about one hour after he left her in the snow.
Then came 20 year old Nolan Haddon, who "died after lying overnight in a walk-in cooler at the Idaho Falls convenience store where he worked as a clerk. He had been shot five times, and his spinal cord had been severed."
Lastly, he brutally murdered 34 year old Susan Michelbacher. From the 9th Circuit opinion denying habeas relief to Rhodes, we learn that:
Michelbacher's body was found on March 21 in a remote, rural area. An autopsy revealed that she had been raped, she had been shot nine times — once while standing and the remaining times while lying down — and her attacker had ejaculated into her mouth when she was either almost dead or already dead.
The sentencing judge in the 1987 Michelbacher case called Rhoades’ crimes “wicked and vile, shockingly evil and designed to inflict a high degree of physical and mental pain with utter indifference to and with apparent enjoyment of the suffering of Mrs. Michelbacher.”

Mrs. Michelbacher left behind a grieving husband and now motherless two year old son.

May these victims rest in peace, their families have some consolation.

Some cases cry out for the ultimate punishment.

"He's going to get what he deserves."


So said little seven year old rape/murder victim Alyssa Maria Vasquez's mother as her killer was strapped to the gurney.

Texas executed the child rapist/murderer, Guadalupe Esparza, who had "been convicted in the past for assault, sexual assault and cocaine possession."

Some cases deserve the ultimate penalty. Regardless of whether a man like Esparza could be rendered harmless by some other means, his horrific crime, the terror and fright he inflicted on an innocent child before snuffing out her young life, cry out for this ultimate penalty, so that justice may be seen to have been done.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Strike Out

First he goes to bat for the worst of murdering thugs, now Papa Shea's apparently totally gone over to the hard left, supporting the so-called "Occupy" movement ("they have a very Catholic point"), including Occupy Seattle, which has, as its website logo, the red clenched fist of Communism.

His latest brief for the Communists is a lamentation that the police in Seattle were too rough on a certain Mr. Rich Lang, a United Methodist clergy-person, who was pepper sprayed during a scuffle between the revolutionaries and the police. Shea uncritically reports the complaint of Lang, who incidentally proclaims himself to be a "Liberation Theologian", that is, a Communist.

Shea asks whether we'll read Lang's account and not make excuses for the police.

I've got a better idea: how about instead of taking the word of an avowed Communist, an agitator participating in a movement characterized by violence, much of it directed against the police, Shea contacts the Seattle PD or consults the news media to attempt to figure out if Lang is being truthful. It took me no time at all to find this video of the supposedly "non-violent" protest at which Lang was sprayed, together with the mob that was blocking traffic and disrupting the lives of ordinary Seattle residents:

I don't know where the idea arose that the police should do nothing when a group of Communist agitators, or anyone else for that matter, blockade a public thoroughfare.

Here is more on the violence perpetrated by the supposedly non-volent demonstrators:

Officers gave numerous verbal warnings to get out of the street and back onto the sidewalk. At one point a 17-year-old female suspect swung a stick at an officer but failed to strike him. As officers moved in to arrest the female suspect the officers were hindered in their efforts. Officers deployed pepper spray to move subjects away from them so they could affect the arrest of the female suspect. She was taken into custody and will be booked into the Youth Service Center for Assault on an Officer.
...An adult male suspect assaulted an officer near 3rd Avenue and Wall Street.
...Demonstrators marched to 5th Avenue and Pine Street and subsequently blocked the intersection. Officers ordered the demonstrators to vacate the intersection (the oral warning was broadcast over a police public address system).
...Another adult male suspect threw an unknown liquid into an officer’s face. He was arrested and booked into the King County Jail for Failure to Disperse and Assault on an Officer.
...Pepper spray was deployed only against subjects who were either refusing a lawful order to disperse or engaging in assaultive behavior toward officers.
I found these sources in just a few minutes of checking. Shea couldn't be bothered.

What the police did here was exactly right: a warning to leave, and when that was ignored, removal by force, proportional, reasonable force. Pepper spray is very uncomfortable, I know, I've been sprayed full in the face in training. But it is not lethal, it is not lasting, it washes out. But it will make a "demonstrator" think of nothing else for a while besides getting to a source of water. If a "clergyman" or any other protester disregards the lawful demand of the police to move, he or she has only himself to blame if he is forcibly removed. And if a truly uninvolved, innocent bystander gets some pepper spray, I would suggest the fault lies not with police but with the thugs who caused the disturbance in the first instance.

Kudos to Seattle PD for not allowing these lawless idiots to take over the streets of Seattle from the law abiding citizens. The police are doing a fine job in the face of constant taunts, foul verbal abuse, and even physical attack by these Occupy radicals.

As for Shea, it's good enough that the Left complains: he'll uncritically regurgitate it, whether it be laments for a convicted cop-killer or uncritically smearing the police in his community.


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Shea, Strike Two.

I understand that Papa Shea is not an intellectual, he's a "controversialist." And that his urgent dislike is directed against anyone who supports the limited, just use of the death penalty.

But really, first he attempts to tie supporters of the limited, just use of the death penalty such as we have in the U.S. to the corpse of racist practices of the last millenia; now he holds his skirts and titters in mock wonderment that proponents of capital punishment aren't taking the Saudi example as a template for our own capital punishment jurisprudence.

I could throw out phrases like abusus non tollit usus, but that's Latin, so Mark wouldn't understand.

So let's just stick to the easy stuff: we don't yet have Sharia law in this country, so the chances of someone being convicted for sorcery, much less executed for it, are--what's the phrase? "practically non-existent." I'll go further and say that it will never happen unless and until Sharia becomes effective in some state, and then is viewed as trumping the Bill of Rights.

Until then, call me crazy, but I think it's intellectually plausible to condemn Islamic barbarism in Saudi Arabia without in the slightest affecting one's view of the propriety of capital punishment in the West.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Inmate Didn't Read American Bishops' Statements, Kills Despite Imprisonment

Imprisoned violent thug kills behind bars.

A South Dakota inmate who acknowledged killing a state penitentiary guard in a failed escape attempt asked a judge on Wednesday to sentence him to death,
saying his one regret is that he did not kill another officer and that he will kill again.
Eric Robert, 49, pleaded guilty in September to killing Ronald "R.J." Johnson on April 12 — Johnson's birthday — in an attempt to sneak past other security.
Robert told [Judge Bradley] Zell during his pre-sentencing hearing that he was so full of anger and hungry for freedom on April 12 that he would have killed anyone who stood in his way.
"Brad Zell, if you stood between me and the door of freedom, I would kill you," Robert said.
Robert said the one regret he has from April 12 is that he did not bring the pipe with him to the gate to kill the officer who stopped him. Once he realized his plan was going to fail, Robert said he began climbing up the wall of the prison — not to escape but to try to reach for the rifle of an officer on the lookout. "I would have shot that weapon until it was empty," he said.
Lynette Johnson [Ronald's widow] called Robert "evil" and a "coward" and has a hard time responding when one of her six grandchildren ask about their papa.

Unfortunately for Lynette and many other victims of remorseless thugs like Robert, there is an incessant agitation by many to spare people like Eric Robert and enable their continued violence behind bars.

Prison does not render violent offenders harmless; it just shifts the victim population to those inside the prisons, guards, staff, and other inmates.

R.I.P., Ronald Johnson.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"You go see Jesus"

These were the last words Christopher Johnson uttered to his infant son, after bludgeoning and smothering him to death. Johnson was executed yesterday by the state of Alabama. He spent a relatively short six years on death row, and according to his brother, "he has great grief for what he has put upon his family, his wife, all of his in-laws and the rest of his siblings. He's answered to man's laws, now he'll answer to God's laws."


Johnson pled guilty to murdering his infant son, Elias, who was struck 85 separate times breaking his ethmoid bone, which is in the sinuses, and causing his sinuses to fill with blood. His brain had hemorrhaged as a result of blunt-force trauma. Elias had hemorrhages in both eyes and had injuries to his inner lips and nose that indicated that he had been forcefully smothered. Johnson testified that he intentionally murdered his son because he hated his wife, and would have left her long before the murder if it had not been for Elias. He was afraid his wife would have him jailed over alimony or child support. Johnson stated that his final words to Elias were: “You go see Jesus.”

Two points of interest: First, the anti-capital crowd, so very vociferous over the execution of cop-killer Troy Davis, was and is curiously quiet about Johnson's execution. Could it be that Johnson's crime is particularly heinous, and that he does not fit the "profile" for the agitators, i.e., he's a white man, so the "system is racist" meme doesnt fit?

Second, Johnson's brother related that Johnson "had become deeply religious while he was in prison. Johnson and his brother spoke extensively about their faith during the days leading up to the execution." Hmmm, that sounds curiously like the point St. Thomas Aquinas makes about capital punishment:

[Condemned criminals] also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgment that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers.
Summa Contra Gentiles, III, 146.
This point has been borne out before, most notably in the case of Patrick Sonnier of "Dead Man Walking" fame, who, if he had not been sentenced to die for his crimes, probably would not have met Sr. Prejean, and probably would never have come to take responsibility for his crimes and sought atonement. Shortly before his death he received Holy Communion and recited with Sr. Prejean Isaiah 43, “I have called you by your name, you are mine.”

Knowing the moment of your death is not necessarily a bad thing, after all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Too Close to Home

President Barry coming to the firehouse up the road from my house, but curiously not welcoming the public.

Despite campaigning on how he'll create jobs, local businesses negatively affected by visit. "'I'm losing a whole day's worth of work,' said Mary McCullough, who owns the Hair on Broadway salon" next to the fire station.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Capital Punishment Heresy

For a good belly-laugh, check out Papa Shea's current justification for dissent from Catholic teaching, wherein he asserts that abolition of the death penalty is what Catholic teaching requires, and in support of his dissent has reference to this group of "American" Catholic theologians who *surprise* don't like capital punishment and call for its abolition.
This is your usual bunch of typical theo profs from mainstream American campuses, and yes, we all know what that means in terms of orthodoxy.

Among other observations these "theologians" make on their website are the following:
*Tea-partiers are "right wing" ideologues who are harming the common good by resisting raising the debt ceiling.
*The "Occupy" movement protesters are "supported by Populorum Progressio and CST [Catholic Social Teaching] in general.
*Asking "Are We All Michael Vick," we are told "to rethink our relationship with the factory farming of non-human [sic] animals".
*Decrying the "social sin" [sic] of the alleged criminalization of poverty and issuing "a call to restructure and expand the safety net", i.e., government benefit programs.
*Criticizing Abp. Chaput of Philadelphia for terming the battle over legitimizing homosex marriage "the issue of our time," arguing that instead, that issue is really local and global poverty.
* Regarding future federal budgets we learn that a "just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice [who else uses that euphemism?] by all, including raising adequate revenues [umm, would that be another euphemism?], eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly."
* In relation to the budget debate and our economic crisis, a Catholic should ask, "would you deny Jesus foodstamps" as a guide to the continued viability of our welfare programs.

So, we get the flavor, which is that this group is a pretty trendy bunch, and this of course follows in their treatment of the death penalty.

These college profs assert that with regard to the execution of Troy Davis, "serious doubt remains about Davis’ guilt." Well, the jury of seven blacks and five whites, the numerous state and federal courts who reviewed the case closely, and the facts of the case itself all give the lie to this assertion.

The college profs dramatically continue their "theology" by asserting that "the horrific legacy of lynching in the US casts its evil shadow over current application of the death penalty. Studies have shown that black defendants are more likely to receive the death penalty." Ummm, yeah, not so much. While blacks are more likely to be sentenced to death, in states like my Virginia there is no evidence of racial bias in capital sentencing. Since blacks commit more capital-eligible crimes, proportionally, than whites, the existence of a proportional disparity in execution rates proves exactly nothing.

Then comes this whopping bunch of outright lies:

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that “the sanction of death, when it is not necessary to protect society, violates respect for human life and dignity…” In earlier eras, Roman Catholic tradition acknowledged the necessity of capital punishment, in rare cases, to protect citizens from threats to the common good. In recent times, with more secure prison facilities that give us the means to offer such protection without executions, our church leaders have affirmed the need to eradicate the death penalty.
Where to start? First, it is flat out moral error to claim that the death penalty violates respect for human life and dignity, and to the extent that our Bishop's conference asserts it does, they are in direct conflict with 6,000 years of Judeo-Christian moral teaching, and with the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself which clearly admits of the moral validity of capital punishment, ("the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty") while delimiting the circumstances of its just application.

The profs then amazingly assert that in Catholic tradition the death penalty was limited to rare cases! I challenge the whole lying lot of these dissenters to produce evidence for the claim that the Church ever in the past as a universal principle urged that the death penalty be used only "rarely," much less that She ever viewed capital punishment as a mere tool for protecting society from threats. In fact, this is the novelty of the modern teaching that is precisely the bone of contention between orthodox Catholics and those who want to change the Church's moral teaching. You can see a summary of what the Church really used to teach here. Suffice it to say, the Church taught that capital punishment is not simply a practical, last resort necessity for the defense of society, but rather that its use is a vindication of the sanctity of life, a requirement of the Fifth Commandment, and a component of a truly just system of criminal punishment.

Lastly, these luminaries allege that it is because of our nifty modern secure prisons that we must cast off capital punishment. This of course is a reference to #2267 of the contemporary Catholic Catechism, which says,

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."
But the problem is that this passage glaringly fails to identify precisely which "possibilities" exist for a modern state to render offenders incapable of doing harm (it certainly can't be suggesting solitary confinement for life, which would surely be viewed as cruel). And as we've catalogued at some length here, in the US at any rate, even life without parole does not render offenders harmless.

So in sum, the college profs Shea relies upon: 1) are not really engaged in theology at all, but in dime-store criminology and sociology, large parts of which they are flat out wrong about; 2) they are attempting to deceive people about what the Church has taught in the past, and about what it teaches now; and 3) they put their own, unwarranted, unsupported gloss on #2267 of the CCC, which nowhere explains what "possibilities" exist for rendering offenders harmless, but as I've shown, certainly can not mean life without parole, which demonstrably does not render offenders harmless.

That a group of American college teachers and some American bishops think we ought to get rid of capital punishment does not in my mind trump the perennial moral teaching of the Church.

I can only hope that Papa Shea and his ilk will stop their dissent on this issue and return the bosom of Holy Mother Church.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pushing the Envelope of Dissent

Papa Shea, in another posting of gargantuan illogic, has dredged up some questionable executions from the last millenia to argue, that... the death penalty is unjust now?

But this is what a nation signs on for when it wants to maximize the death penalty and cheer for the maximum number of people put to death. I spoke the other day of Christian *zeal* for the death penalty. Arguments for the death penalty seem to me, in the end, to always boil down to saying, "We are willing to say yes to the disgusting executions of these people so that we get to kill Lawrence Brewer, Ted Bundy, and Timothy McVeigh. We *love* killing those guys (hence the cheers for Rick Maximum Death" Perry) and are willing to kill a few victims like this as human sacrifices to that love.
Logic is not highly valued on the Left, apparently. Does it really need pointing out that use of the DP in the 1940's South and use of it now are apples and oranges? I've challenged Shea on this point before, and he can never support his slander that there is Christian "zeal" for the death penalty, nor that anyone has argued that the death penalty be "maximized" or that anyone cheers for the "maximum number of people put to death." Unless, of course, by "zeal" one means: there exist a discrete number of cases where recourse to the death penalty is just, given the atrociousness of the crime, the need to deter and to demonstrate society's hatred of murder, and the need to protect society (which includes prison inmates and staff) from people who refuse to stop killing. I've been over some examples of such cases before.

I guess Papa Shea's trying to tar any support of the reasoned, measured, rare use of the death penalty in this country as mindless bloodlust. Problem: there just ain't any facts behind that view. It's a variation of the reductio ad hitlerum, where one simply smears his enemy and calls him names, because he cannot support his own position (in this case) with the teaching of his Church (which supports the limited, rare, American-like use of the DP), with facts, or with logic.

Why does Papa Shea try so hard to minimize Church teaching, and see how far he can push his death penalty opposition without overtly crossing the line and explicitly denying six millenia of Judeo-Christian teaching on the licitness of capital punishment?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Tale of Two Executions

So Troy Davis, convicted cop-killer, has gone on to answer to the highest tribunal, to the accompaniment of an outcry from a bevy of activists, secular, like Al Sharpton and Jimmy Carter, religious, like Pope Benedict and Desmond Tutu, and international, like France and Germany.

Of course, National People's Public Radio and the mainstream media were firmly in the corner of the cop-killer, consistently implying or declaring that Davis' conviction rested on only eyewitness testimony, a blatant lie, since in addition to nine eyewitnesses pegging him as the shooter, the evidence further proved that after the killing Davis changed his shirt and fled to Atlanta. The night prior to killing Officer McPhail, Davis shot a man at a party, wounding him in the jaw. Bullet casings from both shootings were recovered and were found to have been fired by the same gun. Davis himself admitted being present at the scene, while denying shooting McPhail. He claimed at trial that the witnesses were lying about his involvement, the same claim he is still making years later, a claim rejected by the jury and every court which has considered it.

Nevertheless, the usual media/left/religious apparatus is in full swing attacking the jury's verdict and the entire process of exhaustive legal review that has found no reason to disturb the verdict.

Ironically, while undergoing their orgy or self-congratulatory selective moral outrage, white supremacist Lawrence Brewer was also executed Wednesday in Texas for the horrific racially-motivated dragging death of James Byrd, Jr. Brewer's execution was carried out without letters of protest from the Vatican, without NPR hand-wringing, without an Al Sharpton appearance. In fact, even the local anti-capital punishment outfit in Texas couldn't gin up much interest in Brewer's dire plight. Explaining why their group had not focused attention on Brewer's execution,

Kristin Hule, president of the Texas Coalition to End the Death Penalty, said that while her group's members "unconditionally oppose all executions," her Austin-based organization must "as a matter of resources and capacity focus on the case that's right in front of us," referring to two cases with execution dates before Brewer's.
Added the group's founder, David Atwood of Houston, "I think Brewer's case is a little under the radar screen. I don't think many people, the attorneys, did anything. A lot of people haven't realized who Lawrence Brewer is."
And so it goes: certain murderers get poster-child status and are feted by foreign governments, by the media, and by some religious figures, as martyrs to the merciless machinery of a vindictive government.

Others, like the vile racist Brewer, whose cases aren't so appealing to the left, die without a whimper on their behalf from the multitudes who would make a martyr of Troy Davis.

Mind you, I have no more sympathy for Brewer than I do for Davis. My point is, when the crime is viewed as outrageous enough, when the narrative of a case doesn't fit the left's playbook, in other words, when they see it as carrying out their view of justice, even the left doesn't really oppose capital punishment.

They just want to be able to pick out who the state should execute.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jews and the Confederacy

Richmond is commemorating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, and the Times Dispatch has been running an interesting series on various little-known aspects of the war as it affected Richmond.

Last Sunday's story was a fascinating review of the role that Jews played in the Confederacy. Many people know that Judah Benjamin served prominently in the Confederate government, but fewer realize that there was a substantial Jewish community in the South, and in Richmond in particular. These Jews in the main were strong supporters of the Confederacy and served in the military. I recently discovered that a relative by way of marriage was a Jewish merchant who served in a Confederate unit.

Again, few people realize that Jews were subjected to substantial prejudice... not by the South, but by Northern luminaries, mostly notoriously by none other than U.S. Grant, who issued this lovely General Order #11:

The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.
Post commanders will see to it that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any one returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters. No passes will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application of trade permits.
This Order, countermanded by Abraham Lincoln, would have expelled the Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Concurrent with this vile piece of infamy, Grant had written a letter to the Assistant War Secretary as follows:

Oxford, Miss., December 17, 1862.

HON. C. P. Wolcott, Assistant Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.: I have long since believed that in spite of all vigilance that can be infused into post commanders, the specie regulations of the Treasury Department have been violated, and that mostly by Jews and other unprincipled traders. So well satisfied have I been of this that I instructed the commanding officer at Columbus to refuse all permits to Jews to come South, and I have frequently had them expelled from the department, but they come in with their carpet-sacks in spite of all that can be done to prevent it. The Jews seem to be a privileged class that can travel everywhere. They will land at any wood-yard on the river and make their way through the country. If not permitted to buy cotton themselves they will act as agents for someone else, who will be at a military
post with a Treasury permit to receive cotton and pay for it in Treasury notes which the Jew will buy up at an agreed rate, paying gold. There is but one way that I know of to reach this case; that is, for the Government to buy all the cotton at a fixed rate and send it to Cairo, Saint Louis, or some other point to be sold. Then all traders (they are a curse to the army) might be expelled.
U.S. GRANT,Major-General[1]

The incident raised hackles even in the North, where the New York Times criticized the Order's "disregard of the simplest rules of English composition. To be dealt harshly with is had enough, but to be vilified in execrable English is cruel, if not unusual, punishment." The Times did get around to condemning the content of the Order as well.

It's well to remember that in history, it is rare that virtue resides entirely on one side of the ledger.

Troy Davis, cont.

Well, the clock has about run out on cop-killer Troy Davis, as the Georgia Parole Board denies him last-minute clemency.

We've visited his case here and here (where we surveyed the reactions of the some of the useful idiots on the religious left to the SCOTUS's denial of relief for Davis).

RIP, Officer Mark McPhail, and may his family experience consolation at the justice about to be delivered to his murderer.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Texas Contra Mundum, or at least Contra Mexico

National People's Radio yesterday broadcast a blurb wherein it was asserted that "despite" "errors" in his trial, the state of Texas was planning to carry out the sentence of death on an illegal Mexican immigrant, Humberto Leal. Wow, sounds horrible, executing someone whose trial was riddled with errors. Surely NPR could let us know what those errors were?

Leal was convicted of capital murder for the rape and killing of a 16 year old girl who was

drunk and high on cocaine at an outdoor party in an undeveloped neighborhood of San Antonio and was assaulted by several males. At some point, prosecutors said, Leal showed up and said he knew her parents and would take her home and explain the situation to them.

Witnesses said Leal drove off with Sauceda around 5 a.m. Some partygoers found her brutalized body later that morning and called police, prosecutors said. When officers arrived, they found Sauceda's head battered by a 30- to 40-pound chunk of asphalt and evidence that she had been bitten, strangled and raped. A large stick that had a screw protruding from it was left in her body.
The errors that NPR and the Obama administration are wringing their hands over? Leal was supposedly not informed of his right under the Vienna Convention to contact the Mexican consulate. This "error," it is argued, deprived him of the chance to have really, really good attorneys provided to him by the Mexican government.

Got it? The problem is not that he's innocent of the crime; not that he was denied a fair trial with competent representation; not that imposition of the death penalty is disproportionate in his case. The reason Texas and it's citizens in the form of a jury are to be deprived of the opportunity to punish a crime committed in their state, according to NPR and the President, is that the murderer may not have been able to call the Mexican consulate, a fact that apparently grievously offends the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Never mind that the U.S. Supreme Court has specifically ruled, in Medellin v. Texas that "the U. N. Charter does not contemplate the automatic enforceability of ICJ decisions in domestic courts. Article 94(2)—the enforcement provision—provides the sole remedy for noncompliance: referral to the United Nations Security Council by an aggrieved state."

So: Mexico can complain to the Security Council about Texas executing a rapist/murderer. But Texas has every right under the law to give effect to the determination of the jury in this case.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Irish in 19th Century America

In this year, marking the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of that cataclysm known locally as the Late Unpleasantness, I offer this Friday reflection on the role of the Irish in the war. Many Irish immigrants, fresh off the boats from Ireland in the aftermath of the great famine, and their impoverished brethren already here, were pressed into service with the Union army. The Federal government went so far as to attempt direct recruiting efforts in Ireland itself.
The Irish had suffered from discrimination, and outright persecution in New York, Boston, and other northern cities in the years leading up to the war. Their relationship with the Yankee Republic had always been a tense one. In the war against Mexico some Irish in the U.S. army questioned the whole enterprise of Protestant Manifest Destiny at the expense of Catholic Mexico, and defected to form the San Patricio Battalion:

But most Irish sought to assimilate, and hoped that service for the Union would establish their patriotic bona fides. During the war, the Irish contingents were often thrown into hopeless attacks, from the slopes of Marye's Heights in Fredericksburg, to the Sunken Lane at Antietam. As the war dragged on, many Irish became disillusioned with the role they were asked to play in it. The institution of the draft helped stoke the fires of disillusionment, as many impoverished Irish saw it as discriminatory against the poor, since a man could buy out of the draft with a $300 payment. It is not surprising, then, that a young Irishman might have these sentiments:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Executed: Convicted Killer Who Killed in Prison

Ohio executes yet another killer the state could not "render harmless" by imprionment:

A man was executed Tuesday for beating and stomping to death a fellow jail inmate days after the two had argued over what to watch on television.

Clarence Carter, 49, died at 10:25 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. He was the second inmate killed using the surgical sedative pentobarbital as a stand-alone execution drug. Carter, who was waiting to be sentenced for aggravated murder in 1988 when he attacked Johnny Allen Jr., looked to see if any of Allen's family members were present. Seeing none, he still delivered an apology.

[...] Allen died two weeks after the December 1988 beating in the Hamilton County jail in Cincinnati. Investigators said Carter punched, choked, kicked and stomped on Allen for a half-hour period, periodically stopping to mop blood from his sneakers. Witnesses said Carter had punched Allen in the eye earlier in the month when one of the men changed a TV channel. Allen was being held on a theft charge. Carter was in the jail waiting to be sentenced on a prior conviction of aggravated murder in the death of Michael Hadnot.

(from the AP) So again I ask the U.S.C.C.B.: just what are these means that society possesses for rendering murdering offenders harmless short of capital punishment?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Viva Cristo Rey

Interesting movie coming soon about the Cristero uprising against the Masonic, Communist Mexican government of the 1920's. I've posted about them before.

Sadly, Woodrow Wilson, who had begun Mexico on this path by helping install and then support a series of more or less revolutionary and anti-Catholic governments, turned a wilfull blind eye to the plight of Mexico's Catholics.

Perhaps even more sadly, the Church, in attempting to conciliate with the revolutionary government of Plutarco Calles, pulled the rug from under the Catholic rebels, ordering them to cease hostilites. They were obedient sons of the Church, and complied, whereupon some 6,000 of them were summarily slaughtered by the government. Nevertheless, these brave men, peasants and small landowners and shopkeepers, had fought valiantly for the Faith, and for religious freedom. Like so many more in other times and places in the 20th century, they suffered and died at the hands of a secularist, Godless, totalitarian state.

The struggle of the Cristeros has relevancy still.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Troy Davis, "Not Innocent"

Supremes reject actual innocence appeal of Savannah cop-killer Troy Davis:

The most unusual fact of the Davis case was that, for the first time in nearly a half-century, the Supreme Court itself explicitly ordered a federal judge to go over the evidence to test Davis’s claim that he did not commit the crime that occurred in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant and bus station in Savannah on the night of August 19, 1989.

That judge wound up ruling that Davis “is not innocent.” Because of what that judge and the Eleventh Circuit Court had done later in the case, Davis’s last hope was in the Supreme Court itself. But, after examining at one Conference the complex array of maneuvers his lawyers had attempted, the Justices simply rejected all of them.

Not a single Justice dissented from the Supremes' ruling.

We last encountered Mr. Davis when he was trying his luck getting that District Court hearing, while getting useful tools on the political and religious left (alas, even some who claim to be orthodox Catholic apologists) to carry water for him.

Finally, there may be justice carried out for Officer Mark McPhail and his family.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Hell Freezing Over

Sonya Sotomayer is right. Sort of. Antonin Scalia is wrong.

Michigan police responded to a shooting call and found a man with a wound, asked him what happened, and he said he was shot by the defendant. The victim dies a few hours later. At trial, the victim's statements are introduced against the defendant and he is convicted of murder.

Result: Sotomayor concludes there was NOT a violation of the Confrontation Clause, because the police were not eliciting testimonial statements from the victim with a view towards ultimate prosecution, but responding to a perceived on-going emergency in which they did not know where the shooting happened, who the shooter was, or where he was located, and informally asking the victim questions geared to addressing those objective concerns.

Scalia, in dissent, and with his usual coyness, holds that:
Today’s tale—a story of five officers conducting successive examinations of a dying man with the primary purpose, not of obtaining and preserving his testimony regarding his killer, but of protecting him, them, and others from a murderer somewhere on the loose—is so transparently false that professing to believe it demeans this institution.
Scalia suggests that rather than focusing on the "primary purpose" of the questioning, a focus on the interrogator, the proper inquiry is solely on the declarant's purpose in making a statement. He concludes that in this case, the declarant could not have perceived anything other than that the police were hoping to identify his assailant in order to arrest and prosecute him. Result: a testimonial statement subject to the right of confrontation.

Justice Thomas, as is usually the case, answers the issue correctly (concurring in the majority result) rejecting the whole venture of attempting to recreate what the "primary purpose" of a questioning was. He maintains that this test is unhistorical and generates much uncertainty among police and trial courts.

Rather, according to Thomas, the Court should "consider the extent to which the interrogation resembles those historical practices that the Confrontation Clause addressed. See, e.g., id., at 835–836 (describing "practices that occurred underthe English bail and committal statutes passed during the reign of Queen Mary")." If the interrogation practices in a given case do not approximate those historical practices, then there is no violation of the Confrontation Clause by introducing the contents of the interrogation.

The case is Michigan v. Bryant.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wisdom From an Unusual Source

From Washington state comes this:

Byron Scherf was serving a life sentence for his third rape conviction. By many board of corrections measures, he was viewed as a model inmate, having completed a slew of typical prison rehabilitation fare, such as the "Peace Between People" workshop, "Advanced Peace Between People" program, "Discipleship seminar," and a "How to be Your Own Best Friend" program. It seems he failed the practice portions of these worthy programs, however, when he strangled to death a female correctional officer in the prison chapel.

Just another example of a violent inmate killing while in prison? Well, yes, but Scherf himself tutors us on exactly why we can never hope to render some offenders harmless short of executing them:

"'I took her life and I think I should forfeit mine,' Scherf told Monroe police investigators earlier this month, according to the documents. 'If I get a life sentence and she's [dead] then there's no punishment attached to it because I already have a life sentence.'"


LWOP simply does not render violent offenders harmless, if anything, it is a blank check to assault or even kill fellow inmates or correctional staff. After all, what punishment can be inflicted worse than LWOP when you're already serving that sentence?

H/T: Crime and Consequences.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Life Informing Art, or The Empire Strikes Out, Part Two

Not even 20 years after the Boer War, during which misuse of Colonial Australian troops (dramatized in episodes such as the 'Breaker' Morant case) began to strain Australian allegiance to the Crown, came the infamous Gallipoli campaign during World War I.

The English, seeking to capture Constantinople, knock the Ottoman Turks out of the war, and open the Dardanelles to Russian shipping, devised a campaign which began with a naval bombardment in February of 1915. The campaign was devised by the same Lord Kitchener who had gained infamy in South Africa for his actions in the Morant case, and by the future Prime Minister of England, Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty. The opening naval attack successfully neutralized the Turk forts of Sud El Bar and Kum Kale in the approaches to the Narrows.

But then, on March 18 disaster struck and three British battleships were sunk by mines and shore-battery fire, and three other battleships crippled. The British then decided that in order to clear the waterway to Constantinople, a land assault would be required to silence the shore batteries and allow the Narrows to be swept for mines.

This assault on the narrow penninsula overlooking the strategic Dardanelles, was doomed to failure, through a combination of faulty intelligence and negligent planning, and would result in a bloody 9-month attempt to consolidate a number of beacheads and move inland towards Constantinople. In the event, very little progress was made even where the troops could get off of the beacheads. The extreme terrain and a dogged resistance of the well-entrenched Turks combined to produce a heartbreaking waste of life of the Australian, Irish, and English troops involved. When the plug was finally pulled on the operation in January of 1916, over 200,000 casualties had been suffered by the Allies.

The horrors of the beach assaults, especially those at Sud El Bar and Suvla Bay, and the push inland were vividly remembered by the survivors. Many Australians and Irish were horrified at the senseless loss of life incurred by the inept planning and execution of the campaign. A 1981 Australian movie, "Gallipoli," while taking the usual dramatic license with some details of the campaign, graphically portrays the futility of the conflict. In the ultimate scene, after waves of attacks on the Turks have been bloodily repulsed, the Australians wait to hear from their commanders if yet another wave of men must be thrown at the machine guns of the Turks:

A great anti-war song inspired by Gallipoli was written by a Australian, "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda:"

The Irish, who also suffered at Gallipoli serving under the British standard, perpetually chafing against British rule, would end in armed rebellion against what they hoped would be a distracted and weakened enemy within a year of the Gallipoli disaster. A famous folk song composed by Father P. O'Neill in 1919 to honor the men who fought and died at the Easter Rising of 1916 in the attempt to gain Irish independence, specifically recalls Gallipoli with the words, "It was better to die/ 'Neath an Irish sky/ Than at Suvla or Sud El Bar."

It is appropriate, during February and March, to remember the sacrifices made by the brave men during the Gallipoli campaign, and to call to mind the dangers of empire on the one hand, or subjugation to any other nation's agenda on the other.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Empire Strikes Out

I've immensley enjoyed Don McClarey's posts over at American Catholic. He is a great amatuer historian of the Civil War and a fan of military history in general; and a co-laborer in the legal trenches to boot. I thought of him as I prepared this post, because I've always enjoyed the way he weaves history with pertinent film clips.

So after winning a particularly difficult robbery case yesterday, I felt the perverse need to relax by watching "Breaker Morant," a too-little known Australian gem from 1980. I've never found a clean copy of it; I'm happy that Netflix now has it among their titles, and it's a greatly improved version with cuts restored and excellent sound and picture quality.

The movie generally tracks the true story of Australian Breaker Morant and two of his colleagues, members of an elite British unit during the Boer War of 1899-1902 (see here for a quick but fair synopsis of the war). This unit, the Bushveldt Carbineers, was tasked with going out into the bush and fighting the Boers in the same guerilla fashion in which they had begun to fight the English. The three men are put on trial for their actions fighting the Boers, and for the killing of a German "missionary."

The movie is a fascinating and very timely tale of how a civilized army deals with fighting a foe that does not follow the laws of war. It's also a morality tale of the peril of empire, with the Australian defendants being tried for crimes committed while fighting a war of subjugation in South Africa for their "mother country:"

Not only is this an excellent war movie, it is in my view really a great courtroom drama, as the accused contend against an English military court that seems determined to make an example of them:

The Australians' defense counsel is also a "colonial," and despite having little trial experience, is tasked with trying to save the lives of his three clients, who the English want to sacrifice in order to appease the Germans, who are looking for a pretext to enter the war on the side of the Boers. His development as a vigorous advocate for his clients is wonderful to watch.

The Morant case became legendary in Australia, particularly when coupled in the popular imagination with the debacle some ten years or so afterwards at Gallipoli, where Australian and New Zealand units serving under the British were butchered by an ill-conceived offensive during the First World War (Lord Kitchener, ironically, had a hand in both Morant's case and in the Gallipoli campaign). Another Australian film highlights the reckless stupidity of the British in that campaign.

Recent attempts to gain a posthumous pardon for Morant and his comrades have been unsurprisingly rebuffed by the Britain.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Imprisoned Killer Kills Again, Or "The Price of Misguided Compassion"

Yet another example of why incarceration does not "render offenders harmless:

A man who was already serving a life prison term for a 1992 murder in Orange County has been sentenced to 88 years to life for strangling two cellmates.Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus said Tuesday that Kurt Karcher didn't show remorse for killing Scott Manning at a state prison in Lancaster in 2006 and Edgar Jimenez at the Twin Towers jail in downtown Los Angeles in 2007.

Marcus told the 42-year-old defendant that he was "essentially a killing machine."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Uh oh, Dude!

Marijuana use may negatively affect men's sexual function because the penis contains receptors for marijuana's active ingredient, according to a recent study referenced in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

What a shame, since we all know how otherwise attractive potheads are.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Gleason Story, Chapter II

In June of 2009 I posted about a Virginia inmate, Robert Gleason, Jr. Now follow this:

Gleason was convicted of a 2008 murder (having said of his victim in that case that what happened was “what needed to be done.”). Sentenced for that murder, he was serving a sentence in one of Virginia's super max prisons. While in prison there, in May of 2009 he beat and strangled his cellmate to death because the man was singing, screaming, and acting obnoxiously. After that murder he said: "I'm gonna do it again. Someone needs to stop it." He was to be sentenced for the 2009 behind-bars murder on February 22, 2011.

But in the interim, he has made good on his threat and has been indicted for murdering a fellow inmate on July 28, 2010. "Gleason told The Associated Press he convinced Cooper [the victim] to try on a necklace while both were in separate cages in the recreation yard and then he strangled him."

In a super max prison for murder, and he murders not one, but two fellow inmates.

What, short of the death penalty, would render this man harmless to those around him?

Serial-killer abortionist: Death Penalty Candidate?

If you can bear it, you can read the Philadephia grand jury's report detailing the grisly practices of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell who stands charged with eight counts of murder, one from killing a patient, and seven stemming from his repeated practice of delivering live babies, then thrusting a scissors into the backs of their necks, and snipping their spinal cords. Live, breathing, born children. Apparently this criminal routinely aborted very late term children; the seven indictments in this case are cases where the child was not in the mother's body, but had actually been delivered.

Not surprisingly, the Pennsylvania Department of Health had turned a blind eye to the filthy conditions of the clinic Gosnell ran, and appears to have ignored repeated complaints about the health and safety practices of the clinic.

According to Pennsylvania law, Gosnell would seem to be a fitting candidate for the death penalty, in that seven of his victims were children. One of the statutory aggravating factors permitting imposition of a death sentence is "[t]he victim was a child under 12 years of age."
(under Virginia law, he would be death-eligible under the additional aggravating factor of his murder of more than one person within a three year period.)

The number of victims, coupled with the filthy and degrading conditions of his clinic, his butchery of various women under his care, and the brutality of his actions (not even anaesthetizing his victims), militate strongly for the death penalty in this case.