Category Archives: Capital Punishment

Hot Air

The Chopping Block

Let’s ponder for a moment our very, very good friends, our dear pals, the Saudis.

Saudi Arabia is one of this holy land’s staunchest allies. American diplomats for years have touted the “special relationship” our two nations share. “Special relationship,” BTW, being a term used historically to describe our coziness with the United Kingdom. So, you see, we’re now starting to look upon the Saudis the way a philanderer will view his mistress.

“Honey, you’re special, honest. Sorry, I gotta go now.”

Our last two presidents, Barack Obama and George W. Bush both have crowed about their close personal friendships with members of the Saudi royal family. Oh, see, Saudi Arabia is a kingdom. That means, all legislative, executive, military, and judicial functions in the country are dictated by royal decree. And the decree-er, natch was, is, and always will be, a man. Women, those silly things, aren’t even allowed to drive a car there, much less run the government — or even have the least say in the running thereof.

The name of the place, for pete’s sake, comes from the surname of the royal family. For all intents and purposes, the Al Saud family owns Saudi Arabia. No wonder we feel such an affinity for them.

The only difference between us and the aforementioned philanderer is that we flaunt our relationship with Saudi Arabia. Oh, sure, the UK knows all about it. How open-minded! Then again, in keeping with these more indulgent times, the UK also is having an affair with Saudi Arabia.

Leaders

US & UK Leaders Woo Saudi Kings

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in knowing that our darlings who dominate the Arabian Peninsula — as well as much of the world’s oil and other hydrocarbon reserves — just this past week executed their 100th citizen by beheading this year.

Beheading Victim

And He Smokes, Too, The Fiend

Yup. Saudi Arabia chops the heads off people who give it a pain, pun intended, in the neck. This 100th fellow, acc’d’g to the government-run (read: Al Saud-run) press agency, had been trafficking in amphetamines. That’s a no-no in S.A., as it is here, although amphetamine traffickers in the United States are far less likely to be executed and, in fact, would be hailed as saviors in certain precincts such as sports team locker rooms, college dormitories, commodities trading floor break rooms, and the like.

Amphetamine traffickers here, should they be caught, charged and found guilty (and, of course, should their skin be dark) may be sentenced to serve a five- to 25-year sentence under federal criminal guidelines. Now that’s no kiss from your sister but it ain’t getting your coconut lopped.

Think about beheading. You might say, hell, what’s the diff. between chopping off someone’s head and executing him or her via lethal injection? Both are state-sanctioned killings. Fair enough, but at least we acknowledge the barbarity of head-chopping, hanging, the firing squad, and other pastimes of the executioner set. Chopping off a guy’s head involves splat noises, gushing blood, the clunk of the disembodied bean into a basket, and perhaps the twitching for a brief moment of the disem-headed body. We may be killers, but we have gentility.

Hypo-ing a condemned man with a fatal mickey makes us feel better about the whole sordid affair. We can pretend we’re just sending the guy off to a peaceful sleep — from which he’ll never wake up.

It’s a damned sight better than that of the butcher shop tableau seen a hundred times thus far in 2015 in Saudi Arabia.

You and I might become sick to our stomachs imagining all those beheadings but to our leaders, our diplomats, and our oil company executives, that’s just one of the silly little things our special friend does.

Hot Air

Sterling Trey-dux

Talk about mixed emotions. My immediate reaction to the NBA’s lifetime exile of Donald Sterling was one of elation.

Yesterday, league commissioner Adam Silver symbolically drew his forefinger across his throat and thus the fate of the racist, reptilian owner of the LA Clippers was sealed. Goodbye, Donnie boy. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

Silver/Sterling

Silver To Sterling: Beat It

Then again, Sterling — although a loathsome warthog — was done in by being secretly tape recorded in his own home (apparently). If so, we’ve got official sanctions coming down now due to the growing culture of surveillance and for the crime of thought. I don’t like any of that one bit.

And, in the end, isn’t that life? Nothing is pure and we take what we can get even if it stinks to high heaven.

Better Than NPR

Hah! We beat the pants and skirts off the national news gang at NPR.

Yep, only this morning did NPR discover Thomas Piketty. The Pencil, in case you didn’t know, told you about the French economist and latest rage in the bookselling world, Friday.

Hmm. I wonder if NPR reporters and producers are regularly scanning The Pencil for leads. If not, they ought to.

Anyway, I insist WFIU’s Will Murphy and Annie Corrigan begin using the following tagline each morning:

The news every morning on Bloomington’s NPR station, WFIU. Second only to The Electron Pencil.

It’s only fair, no?

Murphy

Murphy: Golly, I wish I Could Work For The Pencil

Real Death Sentences

We haven’t talked much about capital punishment in recent years. There’ve been far more important issues like Miley Cyrus’s tongue, Barack Obama’s birth certificate, death panels, guns, gays and, natch, god.

But the State of Oklahoma whacked a guy last night. The job was far sloppier than any performed by the dedicated professionals of the Chicago Outfit over the years. Using a new “cocktail” of dope, OK executioners attempted to send one Clayton Lockett to what they considered his just deserts. Rather than play his part according to script, Lockett instead twitched and spasmed and agonized for some three quarters of an hour before, behind a closed curtain, prison officials dispatched him properly.

Lockett, of course, was dark-skinned; as you know, white people rarely commit capital crimes. His icing was so botched that Oklahoma authorities decided to deny themselves the pleasure of another execution, scheduled for this afternoon, to make sure they can do it without forcing innocents to watch a man die while flailing about.

We can’t have that.

Weird, isn’t it? Just 20 years or so ago, capital punishment was one of the biggest controversies in this holy land. Now? Hell, we kill guys so routinely that executions only make news when the job is pooched.

Just a little info about the Guv of the great state o’Oklahama. As you know, it’s the governor who’s the final arbiter in the process of any state-sanctioned offing. Yesterday, it was Mary Fallin, the Republican boss of the state, who gave the thumbs down. Republicans traditionally have been gung ho for cap. pun. while Dems most often call for all criminals to be allowed to freely rape and murder your daughters.

At least that’s the way I read many GOP arguments for the ultimate time-out.

Fallin

Fallin

Fallin is a real piece of work, even more remarkable than, say, Sarah Palin. While Palin generally talks as though she’s under the combined influence of PCP and psychosis, at least she quit her job as Alaska governor years ago. Fallin, meanwhile, still steers the ship of OK.

Gov. F. just this month signed into law a bill she championed, banning OK cities from instituting minimum wage standards higher than the federal gov’t’s. See, she doesn’t want her state’s cities to get all liberal like Barack Osama Stalin Obama. And, besides, minimum wage earners, in her fairy tale world, don’t need raises.

Wait, as they say on TV, there’s more.  Late last year, Fallin issued an order cutting off all spousal benefits for National Guard members, lest those who are gay might insist their sexually sick and criminal partners get same.

Neat, huh?

Happy killing, Mary.

Your Daily Hot Air

Bureaucrats’ Big Night

So, the great state o’Texas whacked yet another prisoner last night.

Texas, home of many, many, many fiercely proud, independence-minded, anti-government types, has killed more than 500 people since the death penalty was reinstated by the US Supreme Court in 1976. Today, some 298 prisoners languish on death row in Texas prisons.

The guy who took the collar last night was a Mexican national. Few people would suggest he didn’t pump three slugs into the skull of a cop who’d arrested him after a drunken brawl in 1994. The only real controversy in the case was why Texas prosecutors denied him the opportunity to get legal help from the Mexican consulate.

Texas long has been known as the execution king of this holy land. Them good ol’ boys sure love to tie nooses, aim rifles at people’s hearts, or watch with glee as doctors inject lethal drugs into people’s arms.

Death Chamber

Your Room Is Ready, Sir

Which is really ironic since everybody involved in a state-sponsored execution is…, well, an employee of one government or another. Papers must be shuffled, reams and reams of them. Food must be served to death row inmates. Their medical needs must be taken care of. Arrangements must be made, deadly drugs procured, and undertakers must be called.

All done by bureaucrats. From the time a suspected capital criminal is hauled in to the time he or she is separated from this vale, payrollers from the city, the county, the state, and, eventually, the federal government* get involved.

[*Capital punishment cases almost invariably are reviewed by the US Supreme Court.]

Funny that Texans — who are well-known to be suspicious of government-run health care, are petrified that the government has a secret plan to seize citizens’ shootin’ irons, absolutely loathe the fact the tax moneys are spent on food, education, and housing assistance, and, in general, fervently wish all governments would simply disappear from the face of the Earth — depend so passionately on bureaucrats and operatives paid for with our precious tax dollars to carry out state-sponsored homicide.

Texas, babies, is a weird country.

Cabin Fever

I will brook no argument against the following pronouncement:

This has been the worst winter I’ve experienced since The Loved One and I left Chi. in March, 2007.

Bloomington Winter

Kirkwood Avenue (Herald Times/Jeremy Hogan photo)

One of the reasons I was convinced to leave that November-through-March hell was the prospect that I wouldn’t have to endure sub-zero temps and crushingly gray January days.

I’d always said that if my beloved former hometown didn’t have depressing, dangerous, often fatal winters, its population would at least double and possibly triple.

There’s nothing in the world like a late spring morning walk along Chicago’s lakefront. The waves lapping the shoreline, the sun rising over the distant watery horizon, the spectacular skyline opposite — why, it’s a slice of heaven. There are, I might reasonably estimate, two, perhaps three, such days to be had in each Chicago year.

So, my two years in Louisville followed by four mild winters here in Bloomington have convinced me we made the right move. Until now.

B-town, you’ve got a lot of making up to do.

Big Science

Natasha Mura will talk about the Science of Obesity at the next session of the Bloomington Science Cafe, Wednesday, January 29th, 6:30pm, at the Root Cellar Lounge, underneath Farm Bloomington.

Science Cafe czar Alex Straiker sez Mura  is “quite passionate” about obesity. Odd that: she’s as thin as a rail. I probably could fit three of her into a single pair of my billowy dungarees.

Bloomington Science Cafe People

The Science Cafe Gang*

In any case, I’ll be dropping by the Root Cellar to find out the scientific reason why I warp the floorboards. I hope to see you there, too.

[* (l to r) Jim Wager-Miller, Alex Straiker, Natasha Mura, and Marta Shocket.]

Much Appreciated

Thanks to everybody who has extended warm wishes and support as my family and I facilitate my mother’s journey out of this mortal coil.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child well-fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth.” — Joan Chittister

WHY DON’T YOU MARRY HIM?

This is the best endorsement of Barack Obama yet.

Pee-wee Herman has come out four-square for the incumbent.

If you can’t trust Pee-wee, who can you trust?

THOSE WHITE CROSSES ON 3rd STREET

I’m told the pastor of St. Charles Catholic Church on 3rd Street is big — really big — on the abortion thing.

As you know if you’ve followed these screeds for the last year or so (yep, it’s been that long), I’m pro-abortion.

There. No mincing of words for me. None of this “pro-choice” mealy-mouthing. If you’re a woman and you don’t think you can handle a kid, do something about it. Give it up for adoption or, if you can’t bear going through with the entire pregnancy, avail yourself of a surgical procedure that is legal, to one extent or another, in all 50 states of this holy land as well as most of the nations on Earth.

The anti-abortionists, by and large, bug me. I find it hard to believe they are so reverent of human life that they feel god’s love even for the multi-cellular human zygote. That said, I’ve got to hand it to the Catholic Church.

The St. Charles Catholic Church Front Lawn

The Vatican instructs its faithful that life is sacred. To prove it, big boss Joseph Ratzenberger, AKA Pope Benedict XVI, and his predecessors have stressed that not only is abortion an evil, but so is war and capital punishment. Fair enough, I won’t quibble with that kind of philosophical consistency.

Problem is, we hear too much about what an abomination abortion is from the Catholic rank and file but when a state executes a man or woman — say in Texas, which is really, really good at it — churchgoers seem fairly mum.

Anyway, St. Charles’ top man, Thomas Kovatch, apparently has really got the flock going on his pet sin. The parish has erected 3,315 little white crosses on the church’s front lawn, one for each of the fetuses aborted every day in America. I checked on the church’s figure and found that it has taken the Guttmacher Institute‘s estimate of 1.2 million abortions performed in the United States in 2008 and simply divided by 365. Again, fair enough.

I’ll be looking for similar displays dramatizing the number of dead resulting from our Mideast Wars and our criminal justice system’s lethal injection program over the next year. The ball’s in your court, Thomas Kovatch.

[Ed.’s Note: When The Loved One and I stopped by the church this morning to take photos, we noticed the signs said 4000 fetuses are aborted a day. I took the above figure from the church’s weekly bulletin.]

STIFLED GENIUSES

Just in case you haven’t seen this (which, I presume, means you’ve been in a coma for the last two or three days):

Chart From Mother Jones

You know, we on the Left tend to portray the wingnuts on the Right as sub-primates but, honestly, this graphic indicates that they’re quite an imaginative group.

And, when all is said and done, the “journalists” over at Fox News also have long demonstrated their collective creative streak.

Dang, these folks ought to be writing mysteries, alternative histories, and graphic novels. They’d put out great stuff.

Just goes to show how perverse your life can become when you stifle your creativity.

THE BEAUTY OF LANGUAGE

You know who’s the hottest new sex symbol?

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s sign language interpreter, Lydia Callis.

Dig:

She turns signing into art.

So shoot me, I’m a guy.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.


Sunday, November 4th, 2012

CLASS ◗ Dagom Gaden Tensung Ling MonasteryIntroductory Course on Buddhism; 10am

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoBrunch Show: Peter Kienle on guitar; 11pm

FEST ◗ IU Cedar Hall, Union Street Center2nd Annual Traditional Powwow, Native-American arts, crafts, foods, etc.; 11am-6pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallSenior Recital: Kaitlyn Reho on clarinet; 1pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center, Recital HallStudent Orchestra Recital: Timothy Kantor on violin, Micholas Mariscal on cello, Clare Longendyke on piano, Tal Samuel, conductor; 1pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallMaster’s Recital: Brendan Shea on violin; 2pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Chocolat“; 3pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallDoctoral Lector Recital: Hugh Conor Angell, baritone; 3pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallFaculty/Guest/Student Recital: Mu Phi Epsilon Founders Day Program; 4pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallSenior Recital: Jeremy Sison on trombone; 5pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubTom Roznowski; 6pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallDoctoral Recital: Grigor Khachatryan on piano; 6pm

MUSIC ◗ Bear’s Place — Ryder Film Series: Double feature, “Two Angry Moms” & “Keep the Lights On“; 7pm

STAGE ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center, Auditorium — Comedy-drama, “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleDavid Sisson; 7-9pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallStudio/Class Recital: Edmund Cord Studio; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s CafeAdriana and Maya; 7-9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdMatisyahu; 8pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits through December 1st:

  • “Essentially Human,” By William Fillmore
  • “Two Sides to Every Story,” By Barry Barnes
  • “Horizons in Pencil and Wax,” By Carol Myers

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits through November 16th:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf
  • Small Is Big

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits through December 20th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners
  • Gender Expressions

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibits:

  • The War of 1812 in the Collections of the Lilly Library“; through December 15th
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

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