Do You Condone Capital Punishment?

The controversy surrounding capital punishment is once again in the news. It is one of the most complex social issues in America.

There are compelling reasons why a society might feel the need to have a protocol to kill members of its community for commission of heinous crimes. Correspondingly, there are legitimate reasons why an advanced and highly educated society should denounce the killing of anyone for any reason.

This essay will present both sides of the capital punishment issue.

The arguments for capital punishment include a strong desire to root out the most dangerous members of society. Hammurabi, a Babylonian King, indicated in 1755 B.C. that a legal system should be based upon an eye for an eye. If you kill someone without cause, you should be put to death. The principle is based upon revenge against others that have done you harm. So, a person who takes the life another without cause does not have the right to live.

The whole concept of fairness and retribution is particularly important to survivors of a crime, specifically family and friends. I suspect that an individual who is appalled by capital punishment would change his mind if a relative or friend was to become a victim. Giving closure to someone whose life has been destroyed by a senseless crime would appear to be a justifiable and noble ending.

Keep in mind that capital punishment is reserved for the most outrageous crimes against humanity. They include premeditated murder, kidnapping, serial killings, torture, child abuse etc. Capital punishment is not justifiable for lesser crimes, which have a far less impact on individuals and society in general.

The second issue is the value of life. If a person has made a career of murdering others, what use is he to society? Is his life important to others? Do we really want it to be possible for a murderer to have an opportunity to be freed in the future and kill again? Wild animals are captured and killed if they are a danger to society.

A murderer certainly has the same impact on the community. Execution is the only way to be sure a rogue is no longer a threat. Of course, if it is determined that the convicted murderer is not guilty in the future, his execution would have been a terrible mistake. There are no mulligans for capital punishment.

The execution of serious criminals is as old as man himself. From the beginning of time, individuals were put to death for crimes. Nevertheless, there is a lot of moral and religious precedent supporting societies that believe that all killing is sinful, but capital punishment advocates have significant legal history supporting their perspective. Have societies around the world suddenly awoken with a new sense of mortality about killing a rogue member of society.

Probably the worst outcome is a situation wherein a man is not put to death for murder, for whatever reason, is released from captivity at some point and ruins another life and family. To be soft on crime is potentially disastrous.

If an individual, including a policeman, kills someone who killed another unjustifiably, he is likely to escape prosecution. So, there is a loophole for those who kill for their own protection or that of others.

One final comment about executions is the long history of wars between countries. Millions have been killed in battle for causes right and wrong. Seldom do soldiers get prosecuted for killing when ordered to do so.

Let’s turn to those who oppose capital punishment. There is a long list of objections that the opposition has accumulated overtime. Here is a short list:

  • You cannot reverse an execution.
  • Evidence may arise later that vindicates a convicted killer (new science).
  • Killing is not sanctioned by any legitimate religion.
  • Capital punishment is more prevalent among people of color. It’s unfairly applied in our society.
  • The judicial system is more favorable to white criminals than criminals of color.
  • Legal representation of people of color is not as proficient as counsel for white people.
  • Revenge does not undo the acts of a criminal.
  • A sentence of life imprisonment is just as effective as an execution.
  • Capital punishment is cruel and unusual punishment period
  • The whole system of capital punishment and the years of jockeying before the final event is a waste of time and money.

The people who decide to mete out capital punishment, juries, have no legal experience to make such a grand decision. What can be done to make this situation better for our society? Frankly, the easier road is to ban capital punishment because it is generally applied unfairly in America. Letting someone live but in confinement for life for a serious offense is safe for everybody. The criminal has lost his freedom and can no longer hurt others. And perhaps, our society should a eschew Hammurabi forever.

On the other hand, there are many Americans who favor capital punishment. They say the people involved are generally bad actors and to make an error about their lives would be no big loss. This perspective is abhorrent to the author. But I do not believe capital punishment should be banned without further investigation.

If SCOTUS reiterates that capital punishment is constitutional with proper controls, executions will continue. If SCOTUS says it’s up to states to make their own decisions, capital punishment will continue.

In this case, it would be worthwhile to have judges decide whether to apply capital punishment rather than laypeople. At least we would be giving the appeal process head start.

Biden Is Challenging Voter Integrity

Regarding voter rights, President Biden has taken a forceful approach in recent days, recognizing that a Senate filibuster threat and Republican appointed SCOTUS justices will not allow the federal government to ride roughshod over state influence on elections. But many opponents resent the tone of Biden’s comments and the accuracy of them.

Biden has resorted to name-calling and inappropriate rhetoric about Republican state efforts to ensure our elections are fair. He says the GOP is attacking our democracy, and that the current situation is tantamount to a Civil War (a terrible reference, the Civil War ended slavery). What the president doesn’t do is apply common sense or moderation to his approach. For this reason, he will fail in his efforts to increase voter participation with his misdirected proposals.

Notwithstanding Democratic accusations that Republicans are trying to tilt elections in their favor, do they really believe that they are the only party taking the high road? Do Democrats believe only they are trying to streamline elections and ensure they are fair? Liberals are trying to convince the public that conservatives would trash our democratic ideals to win an election. Funny, this is exactly what the previous president accused Democrats of doing during the 2020 election.

There is plenty of voter reform that should be considered by federal and state regulators and Congress. Our election systems are falling behind and creating doubt among some voters, as to their accuracy. Myrna Perez, a Biden judge appointee said the following before she was recently installed on the bench: “Our democracy works best when we believe that everybody should have free, fair and accessible elections.” All Americans, regardless of political affiliation, should agree with this pronouncement. But freedom, fairness and accessibility have practical limitations.

Let’s analyze the situation in another way. What should every American want on Election Day? Every qualified voter should be able to be able to find time to go to a polling place or fill in an absentee ballot at home, and vote. Every voter must be qualified meaning that the person is alive and resides in a certain voting district.

Regarding absentee ballots, they make the process more universal, but there are major issues that need to be considered. Are ballots only going to qualified voters? Are they being sent to correct addresses? Are cheaters collecting absentee ballots and voting illegally? How can we be sure that the person submitting an absentee ballot is the one actually voting?

The system was far from foolproof before all of the grandiose Democratic efforts began in recent years to improve our voting system. That’s not to say change was not needed. Previously, in New York, a voter went to the polling place, signed in, entered a voting booth and cast a ballot. Now voters may vote early, days and months before Election Day. Blank absentee ballots are being mailed without any verification. Poll hours have been increased. Photo ID’s are not required in some places. Ballots can be deposited in drop boxes located throughout the voting area. There is a great deal of opportunity to cheat. What is troublesome is that some elections are being decided by a few hundred votes, so that just a little bit of malfeasance can change a campaign result.

Common sense has to reign over decisions to change our voting system. Some proposals will be beneficial to Democrats and some to Republicans. It’s nonsense to say that Republicans benefit by low turnout, and so they are working to cause voters to stay home. The fact is, most changes have come from Democrats up to this point. Republicans are responding to Democratic proposals to increase voting that make no sense and/or creating a dangerous opportunity to cheat.

I want more voters and more integrity of their votes.

The Human Race Needs Consensus To Thrive

Have you noticed lately that our federal government is incapable of getting anything done without strong opposition from one group or another? Even the most insignificant items are intensely opposed around every corner.

For the past half century, our country has faced many trying moments. Nevertheless, our leaders and lawmakers were able to conduct routine government business and debate, tooth and nail, on a number of great social and political issues such as abortion, gun ownership and war. The point is our government never stopped operating, even during stressful moments. Obstructionism by the minority party was focused on grandiose changes, not every-day operations of the government.

The problem may be that many Americans have been very unhappy with our presidents no matter which party they represented. Jimmy Carter was incapable of leading the country through the Iranian hostage affair. Ronald Reagan slept at cabinet meetings. George Bush 1 didn’t keep his promises. Bill Clinton was more concerned about satiating his libido than anything else. George Bush 2 was not intelligent. Obama was a political novice. Donald Trump is a wingnut and should never have been elected in the first place. Biden is too old and tired to be president. Is it possible that the US has not had one commander-in-chief in all this time that was supported by a large majority of the country?

The problem with all this political infighting, name-calling and gamesmanship is that the country is no longer able to unify when it really counts. Every American should be concerned with our defense, China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, high tech influence over our country, cyber-attacks, inflation, income inequality, immigration reform, diversity, too many guns, voting reform, etc. They are very complex subjects, but together, they constitute huge existential risk to our democracy, our great lifestyle and our freedom. We need to come together to meet these challenges.

What is particularly troubling is the controversy over vaccination of our citizens. Unbelievably, our leaders have not been able to muster a strong consensus to protect us against sickness that has the potential to wipe out mankind. For 100 years, our researchers, scientists, doctors and gurus concerned themselves with one off diseases like cancer and such. And they, for the most part, ignored the risks associated with a pandemic. Moreover, some nations have not been helpful in the process to defeat COVID. Is there any issue that would result in 70, 80 or 90% consensus? Would an invasion by aliens bring Americans and the world together?

I believe in individual liberties. And so, I respect the decision by some Americans to not be vaccinated. However, I don’t understand how they can make such an uninformed choice. It is not their fault that our leaders have not been able to convince them of the benefits of immunization.

Far worse, some politicians and medical people politicize COVID. Are the people who lead us and care for us unable to layout the risks to Americans so they can make a sound decision? It should not be a federal mandate. Our leaders should convince us, in layman’s language, of the health benefits of being vaccinated.

COVID is mutating. Other germs are creeping around looking for victims. The world is fraught with disease and starvation, that need to be addressed now. Teamwork and tolerance are important for the preservation of the human race.

It Hasn’t Been Easy For Biden

President Biden has had a hell of a difficult time over the past few weeks. His inability to deliver promises made is based upon several issues that are getting worse with each passing day.

The main problem is Biden has yielded to the most radical elements in his party. Pelosi, Sanders and AOC are driving the government further left each day. But the administration cannot legislate in such a progressive fashion because of the composition of Congress and the reticence of critical senators.

It’s been difficult for Democrats to accept that the House is divided, almost equally, and their mandate is not overwhelming. The left has only a small majority, so that the liberal base is in jeopardy on every important bill proposed.

Further, the Senate is split evenly at 50/50, so Democrats have a majority only if every Democratic senator votes with the caucus and the vice president joins them. Sen. Manchin and Sen. Sinema have resisted attempts by Senate Leader Schumer to pass legislation that is partisan on major issues such as social entitlements and the filibuster, which has been driving the Democratic leadership mad.

Regarding major funding for social entitlements that could be upwards of $4 trillion, the aforementioned Senate outliers have balked, so its passage has been effectively blocked

A “nuclear change” that would decrease the number of yea votes needed to pass laws from 60 to a simple majority (the filibuster) is not feasible because Manchin and Sinema oppose it.

The ultimate effect of all this is that true infrastructure legislation for bridges and roads and the like, which is supported in a bipartisan fashion is being held up because Democrats are linking it to passage of a human infrastructure law. No doubt this legislation would dramatically increase inflation resulting in a weaker dollar. But progressives care not about the financial implications of income redistribution.

That is not all that is impacting Biden’s overall ratings, which are dropping as of late. The crisis on our southern border is reaching a boiling point. The performance of US border agents has been hampered by an extraordinary flow of illegals across the border. The imprisonment and horrible conditions that we see on TV are similar to that what we’ve seen in Syria and Africa. It’s a humanitarian crisis that unempathetic countries to our south are perpetuating in response to the bizarre comments of our president.

There are many other issues that are dogging the administration, which are related to saving face. America would be better off focusing on things that will make America safer and more prosperous.