Monthly Archives: August 2011

Quote Of The Day

From a commenter over at Kevin Drum’s place. The discussion was about problems with the American educational system:

Yep. And as the posts by Aaron Carroll and Austin Frakt have shown over the last year (link below) the same is true of our health care system. We’ve gone through a 30+ year binge of hypercapitalism, naively believing the free market is a magic bullet for all problems. Health care and education stand as clear counter-examples and unless we get our act together national decline is inevitable.

Yes, the intense reliance on the free market in our education and healthcare systems clearly proves that capitalism doesn’t work. And here I thought that those areas of our economy were dominated by government, not the free market. Silly me!

West Memphis 3 Freed with Alford Plea

MSNBC Reports a very big development in the West Memphis 3 case:

JONESBORO, Ark. — Three men convicted of killing three 8-year-old Cub Scouts were freed Friday after nearly two decades in prison and after a judge OK’d a deal with prosecutors.

Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley agreed to change their pleas from not guilty to guilty in the 1993 killings in West Memphis, Ark.

They did so using a legal maneuver that lets them maintain their innocence while acknowledging prosecutors likely had enough evidence to convict them.

After the closed hearings before a judge, Baldwin told reporters that he had been reluctant to plead guilty to crimes he maintains he didn’t commit, but that he went along so as to help Echols, who was on death row.

“That’s not justice, however you look at it,” he said of the deal.

Echols called the 18 years of prison and appeals “an absolute living hell.”

“It’s not perfect,” he said of the deal. “It’s not perfect by any means. But it at least brings closure to some areas and some aspects. We can still bring up new evidence.”

I confess – I’ve never heard of an Alford plea until today. The article goes on to explain:

Friday’s move was a complicated legal proceeding that protects Arkansas from a potential lawsuit should the men win a new trial, get acquitted, and seek to sue the state for wrongful imprisonment, Prosecutor Ellington said.

The men agreed to what’s known as an Alford plea. Normally, when defendants plead guilty in criminal cases, they admit that they’ve done the crime in question.

But in an Alford plea, defendants are allowed to insist they’re innocent, says Kay Levine, a former prosecutor who now teaches at Emory University in Atlanta. She is not involved with the Arkansas case.

It seems to me that this was a compromise that neither the WM3’s defense team nor the prosecutors could refuse. The defense team and their clients believed they would ultimately prevail with the discovery of DNA evidence that was supposed to be presented in December of this year. On the other hand, the possibility of losing (again) would have put Damien Echols at risk once again of receiving a death sentence. Turning down the opportunity to have their freedom back must have also been nearly irresistible – even if it meant pleading guilty to a heinous crime they continue to maintain they did not commit.

For the prosecution this move was IMO about saving face and protecting West Memphis from being exposed to lawsuits or compensation the WM3 may otherwise have been entitled to. The prosecution would not have been able to get away with the kinds of shenanigans they got away with the first time due to the media attention the case has received and would continue to receive.

It’s a damn shame that this is the closest to just result as this case will ever get. No compensation from West Memphis to the wrongfully convicted. No real closure for the families. And perhaps most importantly, there will be no justice for the 3 boys who were killed by unknown person(s) who will now almost certainly get away with their murders.

While it’s true that justice wasn’t served with this plea deal, it’s certainly better than these young men spending another second in prison. Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley are now free men and can continue the pursuit of clearing their names once and for all.

The video below is the press conference that was held earlier today with the WM3 and their legal team.

Related Post: Disturbed Offers New Single Download to Support ‘West Memphis 3’

I Didn’t Even Know Gary Anderson Was Running in 2012!

I came across this in this discussion thread at the Agitator that I thought was too good not to share:

I’m pretty sure “Thom” wasn’t referring to Gary Anderson, the former kicker of the Minnesota Vikings (who to my knowledge isn’t running for president) but rather Gary Johnson the former governor of New Mexico (who is running for president).

I think this is exemplifies one of Gov. Johnson’s problems with name recognition. Both “Gary” and “Johnson” are such ordinary, everyday names. There’s a Gary Johnson who is an insurance agent who has an office not far from where I live. His name could just as well be Bob Smith or Bill Jones. If he were elected president, he would be the third President Johnson in U.S. history.

Names like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum are uncommon enough that they stick in your memory once you have heard or seen the names in the media. I mean really, I have never met anyone who had a name like Mitt or Newt. These names are uncommon enough I don’t even have to hear someone say the last name to know s/he is referring to the former governor of Massachusetts and former Speaker of the House respectively. As for Ron Paul, while in isolation both names are quite common, he has the whole two “first names” thing going on.

Maybe the best thing Gov. Johnson could do is do what another famous Johnson did… » Read more

Ron Paul Campaign Alleges Media Bias in Politico Article Headline

I saw this on my Facebook news feed from the Ron Paul FB page yesterday:

Now that I have had a chance to follow the link today, the Politico article headline now reads “Michele Bachmann wins Ames Straw Poll.”

It seems to me that Ron Paul’s supporters called them on it and Politico had the headline changed.

The Paul campaign does raise a great point here. I can’t remember the last time I’ve ever seen a headline reporting on any contest that listed 1st and 3rd place while leaving out who came in 2nd. Then when you consider that 2nd place is a statistical tie (Bachmann beat Paul by only 152 votes) while Tim Pawlenty had 2,530 fewer votes than Bachmann, one has to wonder why the headline writer would write such a headline if s/he didn’t have some sort of anti-Paul (or pro-TPaw) bias.

Personally, I believe the bias is more than anti-Paul but anti-libertarian (or anti-anyone who doesn’t tow the big government Republican Party line). Ron Paul would be ignored the way Gary Johnson is if Paul didn’t have such a strong following or wasn’t competitive with establishment candidates (though I wouldn’t really call Bachmann an establishment candidate either). Even as Paul has as an impressive showing as he did in Iowa, there are still those in the MSM who treat him as though he is a 1%er who doesn’t merit any serious attention. It wasn’t that long ago that talk radio host/blogger Hugh Hewitt wanted the RNC to take over the debates and “exile” Ron Paul (along with Herman Cain and Gary Johnson) from the debates.

But in the end, the results are what they are. If the Iowa straw poll is any indication, Ron Paul is a force to be reckoned with in this primary battle. Tim Pawlenty wasn’t as encouraged by his 3rd place finish in the straw poll as perhaps the Politico headline writer was. In fact, Pawlenty was so disappointed in the results that today he dropped out of the race. Gary Johnson says Pawlenty “should be applauded for a great effort” and respects Pawlenty’s decision but also said “it’s too early to be picking winners and losers” indicating that he won’t be wrapping up his campaign anytime soon.

I tend to agree. It is still very early. Tim Pawlenty made his exit just a day after Rick Perry announced that he too is getting into the race. And who knows what Sarah Palin will do?

My frustration is that it seems that the media is trying to decide which candidates are worthy of being covered and which are not. Leaving Ron Paul out of a headline he logically should have been in or ignoring Gary Johnson almost entirely is but a couple of examples. Newt Gingrich had a very valid point in the Iowa debate when he said that the campaign coverage should have more to do with ideas than on the horse race aspect. I really couldn’t care less about the inside baseball B.S. concerning which campaign is losing staff members or who gives the best stump speech. What I want to know is how candidate x plans to govern as president or explain why s/he would be better for our liberty and our economy than the current president.


Just as I was about the click on the publish button for the above post, I saw this video that I thought was very interesting and seems to confirm my suspicions about the media.

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