Friday, September 28, 2007

My poor baby.........

My friend Izzy is 11 years old now. He's normally picky, vivacious, spoiled, fiercely loyal, hard-headed, affectionate, and plays like a puppy.

But yesterday, he had to have a large mass (benign, thankfully) removed and 4 teeth extracted. His poor little head is shaved, he has stitches in 2 places, and he's still feelings the effects of the procedures.

He's just so pitiful. He can't stop staring at me. And he wants to be no where else but in my lap - which he is right now. This isn't the Izzy that I've known and loved for so long.

I know that what we did yesterday was for his own benefit. But I didn't expect him to be quite this way. Which makes me feel that I didn't ask enough questions before hand. I'm told that he should be "back to normal" in about a week.

Still, it's hard to watch him suffer. He whines and whimpers a bit from the pain. I give him the pills for pain that his vet prescribed for him. But only when he gets to that point.

So if you can spare a positive thought or two for Izzy today, please do so. Trust me, he deserves it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"........bad people with evil intent"

Wow, I hope that my Georgia readers and others will wander over to Lydia Cornell's blog and check out "Blackwater Takes Taxpayer Money." Lydia reminds us that Obama and Clinton are upcoming guests on Basham and Cornell Radio. Recent guests have included Kucinich and Edwards. Their interviews are available from their archives.

She also threw this in:

"Best selling author John Grisham is finally speaking out. He said the current administration is built around "bad people with evil intent" and contends President Bush played politics as thousands died in Iraq. "

She then includes an article by Corey Flintoff on Blackwater and its GOP and fundamentalist Christian ties.

Great read.......go check it out.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

AJC's "Life or Death" series

This week's AJC special series on the death penalty has made for some interesting reading for those of us that are interested in the topic. So far, lots of different angles have been covered by the AJC staff in terms of what kinds of cases get consideration, prosecutors and their personal feelings on the issue and what goes into their decision to seek or not seek the death penalty, concious and unconcious racism, jury perspectives, and the role of DNA in the acquittal of several residents of death row.

Regular readers of this blog might recall that I used to be in favor of capital punishment. However, over time, my position has changed. It has changed because I do not believe that the death penalty is a deterrent to crimes involving murder. Not to mention the fact that we now know for sure that there have been defendents found guilty of murder and sentenced to death who should not have been. Yes, the death penalty is fallible yet irrevocable once administered. Also, I don't think that I can morally justify the deliberate taking of life sanctioned by government, especially in light of such risk of getting it wrong.

More and more Americans are reaching the same conclusions that I have. The AJC's research shows that fewer prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, and fewer juries are willing to levy it. According to this Heather Vogell article in the AJC, here are some reasons why:

"Ten of the 38 death penalty states have put executions on hold — seven because of challenges that lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, according to state officials and the Death Penalty Information Center.

Exonerations of death row criminals because of DNA and other evidence have also heightened fear that an innocent person could be executed, experts say.

Scott Sundby, a law professor and death penalty expert at Washington and Lee University, said he believes better training and support for defense lawyers also explain the drop in death trials. Three U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 2000 have underscored that the court will overturn a death sentence if the defendant is not represented properly.

The cost of death penalty prosecutions has climbed as capital defense has grown more thorough. Sundby said those higher costs, the reduced odds of victory, and a perception that perhaps the public isn't demanding death as it once did may all be discouraging prosecutors from taking death cases to trial."

But, rest assured, there are "though on crime" zealots out there that are trying to reverse these trends in spite of what we are finding out about the death penalty and the social issues surrounding it. Vogell notes that earlier this year, a group of them tried to change the law requiring a unanimous decision to impose the death penalty be changed to make it easier to get more death penalty verdicts. Surprisingly, we even had a Democratic gubernatorial candidate pander to those zealots in 2006 by coming out in favor of applying the death penalty to cases not involving murder.

I've mentioned this before, but I grew up in a home that was located approximately 15 miles from the heinous 1973 Alday murders, committed by escaped convicts from Maryland on a joyride through north Florida and south Georgia. Not only that, but based on the accounts of several different books and a movie on the subject, the killers drove right past the turnoff for our dirt road, not even 2 miles from where we lived. They also stopped at the mom and pop grocery store where I was later to work during my high school years. I even worked with an attorney that was assigned to defend one of the defendents in the original trial held in Donalsonville.

One of the most shocking aspects of this brutal crime was that it was so random. According to my parents, we were home. I was a little over a year old. So I never experienced the full shock of the actual events. But it left the people of our small, rural community devasted. By all accounts, these murderers killed good, decent, hard working people who may have been of simple means (as we all were), but were valuable assets to their community.

While the others received jail sentences, ringleader Carl Isaacs got the death penalty. Isaacs became the longest serving resident of Georgia's death row as he spent 30 years filing appeals and eventually won a new trial. During those 30 years, he spent much of it calling the residents of south Georgia "rednecks" and mocking the survivors of his victims by saying, "The only signifcant thing the Aldays ever did was to get murdered by me." However, Isaacs did eventually meet his date with death in 2003.

Perhaps even more cruel is the fact that the Alday family and the residents of Seminole County continued to suffer the consequences of Isaacs' and his friends' actions. With all of the male members of the Alday family dead, their widows and children lost their farms. The county, being one of the smallest and most poor in the entire state, was financially strapped and unable to provide some services to its own residents because it was burdened by Isaacs' endless appeals and chicanery.

So if anyone ever deserved the death penalty, it was Carl Isaacs.

I go into such personal detail, not to pretend in any way that I could ever understand the 30 year nightmare of the Alday survivors. Because I can't. I do it because I want those of you that care to read this to know that I don't sympathize with people who do such horrible things. My sympathies lie with the victims.

But even having known some of the people involved in one of the most traumatizing events in the history of the state of Georgia, I think it's important for people who support the death penalty to look into and understand the complexities of the issue. There are problems - serious problems that cross racial lines, economic lines, and go right to the heart of our sense of right and wrong. It's something that we all should consider.

Monday, September 24, 2007

One and done baby!

Dawgs take it in OT in T-town! h/t Dawg Videos

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Radical Christian Conservative "Activists" Gear Up for 2008

First of all, if you haven't figured it out by now, if someone introduces themselves to you as a "Christian conservative activist," this is your cue to run away as quickly as you can in the opposite direction. Because these are people that are led by some of the most evil people on the face of the planet. It's not necessarily that they are evil people themselves. It's just that their fundamentalist "I'm right, you're wrong, and you're going to burn in Hell for all eternity" Sunday School brainwashing has prevented otherwise reasonably intelligent people from joining the rest of society in the 21st century where religion sits alongside science and reason.

I have said and will always believe that the downfall of the Republican Party was their late 70's marriage to the far right Christian evangelical radicals. President Reagan's alliance with Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority paid short term dividends. Falwell dishonestly convinced Middle America Christians that President Carter wasn't a Christian at all, but a man given to secular thought and a supporter of immorality. And Christians went to the polls in droves to oust Carter and annoint Reagan, a man who didn't even go to church.

Meanwhile, Carter spends the rest of his public life dirtying his hands with things that Falwell never, ever did. Notice that Carter doesn't spend his time touring Europe, Japan, Australia, etc. vacationing in lavish hotels and collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees, even though he could. Instead, he focuses most of his energy on helping people that are otherwise forgotten by most of the world - the sick, the starving, and poor people who have little control over their own lives. You know, the people that many Christians claim to care about but don't do anything for.

But those short term benefits are now long passed. Even many Republicans have begun to move away from radical evangelicals' dangerous fundamentalist philosophies while maintaing their own faith. However, someone forgot to tell President Bush about this trend. His adminstration is littered with quite a few of the dimmest minds of Falwell's Liberty University. Funny, I would've expected more accomplished people from places like Harvard, Duke, or Stanford.

These radicals have noticed the fact that they're losing their grip on mainstream politics. And they're meeting in Florida to rally the troops:

"In Tampa, most panels stuck to hot-button themes aimed at
getting Florida conservatives involved in politics: The Homosexual Agenda. Life Issues. Redeeming the Culture Through the Legal System. The Church and Voter Registration. Several speakers highlighted threats from militant Islam, an increased emphasis in the movement."

In other words, their tactics haven't changed. Preach and encourage discrimination and hate against the LGBT community, put the government back in control of a woman's own body and using the death penalty as a cruel and racist tool, misusing the legal system to enforce their rigid, fundamentalist, flawed beliefs, and refuse to seperate church and state. And if all else fails, ignore their own shortcomings by pointing out radicals of other religions.

One of the absolute few bright spots in Georgia politics in 2006 was the repudiation of Ralph Reed. For that to happen in a red state was a significant sign nationally. But that doesn't mean that these radicals have given up. They're obviously getting ready for another round of battles in 2008.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Thank goodness for the Blogroll!

I didn't have a lot of time for posting last week. But I did do a lot of reading from the blogroll. Thanks guys and girls for keeping me informed..........

Mel means business (even on Saturday morning) with this youtube clip that she posted over at Blog for Democracy. The recall of various Chinese goods has been on my mind all year long as my archives will attest. So I'm happy to see that Wake Up Walmart is focusing on this.

Larry is all over Blackwater USA. They just happen to be major donors of the Republican Party, and they also have contracts with the our government to the tune of $500 million. No bids are necessary apparently. Along those same lines, Beyond the Clintons posted a youtube clip all about "Blood for Oil." Give that clip a look. Bush definitely has some low friends in high places.

Over at Blue Bloggin', nytexan blogs about an odd quote from our illustrious Yale grad prez.

Christopher picked up CREW's list of this year's "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" list. Not surprisingly there are only 3 or 4 Dems on the entire list. So I felt the need to congratulate Georgia's own Rep. David Scott for being one of them. You read all about his "service" to the public here.

David Sirota talked about the "New NAFTA." I never imagined that I would be so disappointed with this Democratically controlled Congress. From weak leadership that allows a president with approval ratings in the 20's and 30's to run roughshod over them to a sellout of the American middle class, it's almost as bad as having a Republican controlled Congress again.

Flack attack puts the spotlight on Sadie Fields. Leaving 200K poor kids uninsured isn't very Christian-like. And neither is lying about it. She needs some knee pads for her nightly prayers, because she's got a lot to ask for forgiveness for.

And Birmingham Blues made some interesting observations about the "Jena 6" story. She asked the important question of why black students had to ask for permission to sit under a tree where white students normally sit in the year 2006. Unbelievable..............

Oh, and I wanted to do a posting about UGA vs. Alabama this week. These two used to be huge rivals for about 50 years. In fact, Alabama's fight song "Yea Alabama" includes references to three schools, two of which are UGA and Georgia Tech.

But when Georgia Tech and Tulane withdrew from the conference in 1963, the SEC did some badly needed revamping of the conference schedules. Unfortunately, the UGA vs. Alabama series ceased to be an annual game. Still, when the Dawgs and Tide get together, it's usually a great game.

So here's hoping that Richt and the boys can "hunker down" tonight in Tuscaloosa. But they'll have to do it without Larry.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ditch the Electoral College?

Since Republicans are trying to move California away from a winner-take-all electoral state, perhaps it's time to seriously think about doing away with the electoral college altogether. This isn't a new question. There have been proponents of a move to deciding elections for POTUS by popular vote for as long as I can remember. But considering the popular vote would've spared the U.S., and indeed the world, a George W. Bush presidency these last 7 years, that idea sounds like one deserving of some thought.

Just think, Al Gore would probably be in his second term right now. Thousands of soldiers and possibly millions of Iraqi civilians who were alive in 2000 would still be alive today. Our country would be involved with peaceful, constructive plans of action for stability in the Middle East, and not the cause of further unrest. Millions of people around the world who either looked favorably towards the United States or at least were neutral would not look upon our country as the instigator of war and suffering. And thousands of people who have decided to devote their lives and the lives of their children to terrorism against the United States and its allies would likely be going about their business every day without giving us more than a second thought.

On the homefront, the city of New Orleans would likely be well ahead of where it is now in their recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina. We would've never seen thousands of mostly poor, African American faces wandering around on I-10 bypasses wondering why no one seems to care as their loved ones suffer from thirst and dysentary, and their homes lay under water.

There would've never been an Attorney General John Ashcroft, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, or a Patriot Act restricting the freedoms of average Americans, while giving their government overreaching powers that could turn freely elected leaders into tyrants and dictators. There would have been no Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to send our troops into action without all proper equipment and forms of protection. Corporations like Haliburton wouldn't have their own hotline to the Vice President giving them a very large say in our nation's foreign and domestic affairs. And maybe, just maybe the people responsible for 9/11 would be apprehended and dealt with long ago. Or maybe there would've never even been a 9/11? I don't know if that's fair to say or not. But an America led by Al Gore would not be in the quagmire it is today.

Yes, deciding the winner of the 2000 presidential election by popular vote sounds good indeed.

Every other elected office in this country is decided by popular vote. So why not POTUS? I understand the need for every state to ensure that it has some level of importance in deciding our leader. It should be a 50 state process with all 50 states getting to see the candidates up close and personal. But when you see how the polarizing tags of "red state" and "blue state" diminish the importance of some states by one party or another, I'm not so sure that we wouldn't be improving things by going to the popular vote.

I found the National Popular Vote website via BuzzFlash. According to them, these Georgians are amongst the hundreds of politicians nationally that support their effort.

My Common Cause bretheren have been supportive of this movement for a while too. Maybe it's time I considered joining them?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bush and China and the Death Penalty

Bush is in Sydney, Australia for the APEC summit. Yesterday, he spent 90 minutes with China's leader Hu Jintou. Amongst the topics for discussion were currency exchange, product safety, and North Korea. And Bush accepted an invitation to attend the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

New York Democratic Senator and China critic, Chuck Schumer, wasn't satisfied with the results of what Bush called a " very constructive " conversation with the Chinese leader, saying:

``We need to get China to start playing by the rules on currency, safety of exports, and allowing American companies in key industries access to its markets,'' Schumer said in a statement in Washington. Bush ``has maintained a `talk softly and carry no stick' strategy for China.''

Given the close, mutually beneficial relationship between China and the Bush family that goes back at least to 1974 when former President George H. W. Bush was ambassador to China during the Nixon administration, we shouldn't hold our breath on Bush doing a darn thing towards China. Since then, the Bushes have profitted from a few business ventures with the Chinese (Tiananmen Square be damned). This would include Uncle Prescott Bush building China's first golf course. Wow, now there's something to brag about...........

"Neil Bush, the third of George H.W. Bush's four sons (George W., Jeb, Neil and Marvin), is the latest family member to hitch his fortunes to China.

In 1974, President Nixon named George H.W. Bush as his ambassador to China, a position he held for two years. In the 1980s, George H.W. Bush's brother, Prescott Bush Jr., began pursuing business opportunities on the mainland. In 1988, he teamed up with Japanese businessmen to build China's first golf course in Shanghai. He struck up a long friendship with former President Jiang, whose son is now a business partner of Neil Bush.

Prescott Bush Jr.'s Chinese ties generated their own share of controversy. He was criticized for meeting with Chinese business and government leaders just three months after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

The Shanghai golf venture became an embarrassment when allegations surfaced that his Japanese partners were trying to get business contracts by bribing Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega. Prescott Bush Jr.'s ties to an American firm, Asset Management, were scrutinized in 1989 because it was the only U.S. firm able to skirt sanctions and import communications satellites into China.

When Asset Management later went bankrupt, Prescott Bush Jr. arranged a bailout through a Japanese investment firm later accused of having ties to organized crime. There was no evidence he was aware of the alleged mob connection."

The Chinese leader did seek to comfort Bush and Americans by saying that China was doing all it could do to ensure product safety. They did after all execute an official because over this earlier this year. I doubt that Bush even flinched over that considering his record on executions as Texas governor.

Speaking of China and executions, Amnesty International says that they continue to lead the world in executions. They are responsible for at least 91% of the world's known executions. This AI report says that it's impossible to know exactly how many people are executed in China each year because it's a "state secret." However, the "true number is believed to be as high as 8,000" executed in that country in 2006. There is also a report that Chinese school children were once a part of an audience of 2,500 attending the deaths of 6 men.

And I can't think about the death penalty without thinking of Troy Davis. Stay strong, Troy.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

UGA "Dawgties" Cowboys, 35-14

As expected, the 13th ranked Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 35-14, yesterday to open the 2007 college football season. UGA controlled the game throughout, but the Cowboys were still in it at halftime, trailing only by 7.

But that's when UGA's much questioned young defense stepped up to the plate, made some adjustments, and shutout the Pokes in the 2nd half. OSU's offense was ranked in the top 10 in both yardage and scoring last year, averaging 500 yards of offense, including high powered showings vs. OU, Texas, a rout of Nebraska, and a win over SEC rival, Alabama.

UGA's other trouble spot, the offensive line, did a good job. They should continue to improve barring injuries. They only gave up 2 sacks on Stafford. And did well enough to spring Brown free for 2 TD's, and Southerland for another. Freshaman sensation Knowshon Moreno wowed the crowd with his moves and his speed.

Speaking of Matthew Stafford, the UGA QB went 18 of 24 for 234 yards with 2 TD's and 0 INT's. The difference in his poise and control of the offense is like night and day from this time last year. His WR's did a great job of holding onto the ball, which was a problem last year. And it was great to see SR. Sean Bailey have a good game after missing all of last year with an injury.

And how 'bout Mikey Henderson's big punt return? He backpeddled to his own 5 and ran 70 yards down to OSU's 25. That return all but sealed the Cowboys' fate.

For a better recap of the game, here's what the Athens Banner-Herald had to say.

From a Cowboy perspective, here's one blogger's take on UGA, Athens, and southern football in general.

Next up: The South Carolina Gamecocks

Should we boycott the Beijing Olympics?

According to this Yahoo News article, Richard Gere thinks we should..........

"Why should the world reward people who are obviously so bad to their
own people, so bad to other people."

Here in Atlanta, we saw for ourselves what the International Olympic Committee is really all about. The IOC is filled with a werid mix of rogue, thuggish elites that think they're worthy of titles, such as, "your excellency." How the government of China treats its citizens is of no concern to them. Apparently as it was no concern to those that awarded Olympiads to Adolf Hitler and the peace loving USSR, who just months before hosting the 1980 Summer Olympics, invaded Afghanistan.

I love the Olympics and what they stand for. But I'm not for governments using them as a propaganda campaign to put on a friendlier face for the world. I suspect this is the only reason why China was ever interested in hosting.

And I say that as someone who was proud of Atlanta's Olympic effort to put on the largest games in Olympic history. Attending the 10 year anniversary celebrations brought back some wonderful memories. But thanks in part to the IOC, not all of our memories were good ones.

Gere has always been a champion of the Tibetan people, who have been abused by the Chinese, and serves as Chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet.