Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Troy Davis
The last few weeks in Atlanta we've heard a lot about Troy Davis, who is scheduled to be executed tomorrow evening at 7pm. I didn't know anything about his case until recently but after reading and listening to the details it would be pretty perverted to put him to death. I actually waiver on the death penalty. If I'm going to argue a side, it's usually against the death penalty, but it's one of the few issues on which I don't always have clear conviction.

Davis was convicted of killing a police officer in Savannah, GA in 1989. There was no physical evidence in this case. The murder weapon was never found. The testimony of 9 witnesses is the basis of the evidence, and out of those 9, 7 recanted. Many witnesses have stated that the police officers on the case intimidated them into pointing to Davis as the killer.

There are few states in the US that exercise the death penalty with regularity (Texas leading the bunch by a gross margin) but it does happen. According to an interview I heard on NPR there is actually a Georgia law that makes it illegal to go through with a scheduled execution if there is any credible doubt of the defendant's guilt. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that 7 out of 9 people taking back their testimony is credible enough to warrant another look.

So it's not looking good for Troy Davis. His last hope is the US Supreme Court (All of the state boards and courts have denied clemency) who aren't scheduled to hear his case until next week. After he is scheduled to die. Useful.

On another, completely unrelated note: I am a news junkie. I listen to and read about (and sometimes watch) all I can get. Much of the time I am trying to figure out what is going on in the world, and much of it I'm searching for news sources that cover issues with an even-handed gravity. As it usually turns out, neither of these goals are met.

This result increases exponentially with the US presidential campaign season. They call it a season but it ends up going on for, as Tony Blair joked with Jon Stewart, about 4 years.

I've often expressed my intrigue with the importance and futility of the executive branch of this country, but all that goes out the window when I follow the campaign. 4 years ago I was obsessed. I genuinely wanted John Kerry to be president (when I saw him at the DNC I thought about how grateful I was that this year the nominee isn't a zombie) and followed the race, registered friends to vote, and attended many (rather pathetic) rallies.

This time round I've gotten very emotionally involved. Donnie and I watched both of the conventions (on CSPAN, the only channel without the drivel of commentary about balloons and pantsuits) and we'll be glued to the tv for all 4 of the debates. When Sarah Palin was announced I went through many stages, including surprise, denial, grief, and finally anger and acceptance.

I suppose my point is that before this leg of the campaign I didn't mind John McCain. I thought he was a rather moderate republican, but since he's begun drinking the conservative kool-aid he's changed his position on every issue that got him that maverick title. This is no longer about him. It's about who he's bringing with him and who he's comunicating with that makes this so scary. His snap decisions, lack of restraint and willingness to trade his lifetime reputation for the now darling of the conservative base infuriate me. I place no blame on Sarah Palin, there are thousands of Sarah Palins in America. It's the people running the most deceitful campaign in recent memory that really irk me.

People like Carly Fiorina, one of McCain's economic advisers, who said this in response to Tina Fey's performance as Sarah Palin on SNL:
"...in that case they were defining Hillary Clinton as very substantive and Sarah Palin as totally superficial. I think that continues the line of argument that is disrespectful in the extreme and yes I would say sexist in the sense that just because Sarah Palin has different views than Hillary Clinton does not mean she lacks substance, she has a lot of substance." (emphasis mine)
First of all, I don't know how many of y'all watched this, but neither of the caricatures of these women were substantive. If they had been it wouldn't have been funny. And it was. Oh, Lord was it funny. Also I'm not entirely sure Fiorina knows what sexist means. I can be pretty sensitive when it comes to gender sterotyping and unequal treatment, but this is ridiculous. In the last 12 months evidence of sexism in the treatment of women politicians is abundant. The pathetic excuse for news on cable tv uses thinly veiled attacks at women's femininity and masculinity often at the expense of discussing actual issues. But this? This is a stretch, at best. Buy a dictionary and shut the hell up, please.

I suppose that's the end of my rant. With every plop into the toilet bowl of the McCain/Palin campaign media frenzy I've wanted to open the floodgates of my reactions. It's best that I've kept it in. Hopefully by November all the entertaining bullshit will have faded and we'll be rewarded with leadership we can trust, if only a little more than the last 8 years.

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