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Worst President in History


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In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2012 11:13:51 AM PDT
IGS- You have a point. Still, I'd like to think that each case would be reviewed- one must recognize that innocent people have be given the death penalty. Why have the option of clemency if it is not to be taken seriously?

Your second point, concerning the examination of presidents, is well made. It seems difficult for people (myself included) to make an unbiased remark about our most recent presidents. Even if the remarks are unbiased, they seem to be too inflammatory for a scholarly discussion. I'd put the timeline at about 40 years, but this is your discussion, so set the rules as you see fit. Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2012 11:26:55 AM PDT
IGS says:
imagine

All cases are reviewed. Its called a trial. Moreover, they are all looked at again. They don't put nice people to death and they don't give marginal cases the death penalty. These are generally horrible people. I don't generally believe in execution either but these are really, really, bad people.

Truth be told, rules are what the posters make them. I just see it as difficult to rate those of your own time as everyone seems to think there own time is so important and so determinative of the future of the nation. But sadly, it isn't. Perhaps not even a blip on the radar screen, regardless of what people want to think. That is why you see so many Clinton, Reagan, Bush, Obama, Carter, is the anti-christ posts even thought it is impossibly ridiculous to make such statements. As you say, to inflammatory for unbiased discussion. To be truthful, that seems to be the case as far back as Wilson and FDR for some. It is only now that people are beginning to realize that JFK is a relative non-entity and Nixon was not the anti-Christ but just another guy, corrupted by power and greed. But 40 years, maybe that is the meaningful measure.

Posted on Jul 7, 2012 1:01:07 PM PDT
I'm going surfin' says -"I am always grateful that we spare the lives of those who murder in cold blood, aren't you. Makes me feel good all over."

Sorry Dude, I'd rather spare the life of all the cold blooded murderers and let them languish in jail, than sentence one innocent man to death - something that appears to have happened on multiple occasions in Texas under Bush's accelerated agenda. The death penalty is problematic when you make a mistake, you can't offer restitution for an error.
Even when someone is as ruthless and obviously guilty as Karla Faye was, the idea that someone in charge of their execution thinks it's cute to mock them (as it is claimed of Bush) makes me feel a "fair minded" reflection can be made. Bush was a willing executioner - a guy who allowed more executions than any governor and one who championed Christian "charity" and compassionate conservatism when it served him, politically. He was the decider, wasn't he?

Of course, we could talk about the pragmatic problems with the death penalty - like the huge financial cost of getting an inmate into the death chamber - or we could simply streamline the whole affair, "get it dun quicker" and increase the possibility of innocent people being executed by the state.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2012 2:15:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 7, 2012 4:01:48 PM PDT
IGS says:
Marley

"Sorry Dude, I'd rather spare the life of all the cold blooded murderers and let them languish in jail, than sentence one innocent man to death"

Happens all the time in war. Wrong guys, surrendering guys, friendly guys, innocent civilians, you name it.

"sentence one innocent man to death - something that appears to have happened on multiple occasions"

Really? Prove it, not suggest it.

There is a certain cost that society pays for anything. Nothing, nothing, is perfect. There is a certain probability of error I am willing to accept. The vast majority, and I mean vast majority, of murderers are never sentenced to death in the first place. Moreover, the vast majority of those cases are commuted. And even the majority of those cases are never acted upon. Moreover, all, ALL of those cases have been mulled over and examined by many people along the way. And it is your assertion that the examination by one person, the one least likely and qualified to render a reasoned judgement (a state governor), look at it again? What possible value is there in that? None.

The voters of Texas have spoken, they have decided they are willing to sanction a death penalty for some cases, the people have been tried by a jury of their peers, they have been found guilty, the cases have been reviewed, generally many times, and a sentence is carried out in accordance with state laws. Your outrage, to the extent it is even remotely justified, is misplaced. Your beef is with the people of Texas.

To further belabor this point, the idea that some state governor somewhere is even marginally competent to render a meaningful judgement in such cases, is little short of ridiculous.

Just as a query, is his rate of executions (per year) higher than any governor of Texas over the last 20 years?

And as an aside, when mentioning "compassionate conservatism", the governor is faced with a choice compassion for the murderer or peace and closure for the family and loved ones of the perpetrator. One is guilty of a horrible crime, the other, wholly innocent of any crime. For most people the choice is inevitable.

We are done here. We have a difference of opinion. My position is logical and supported by facts and logic. Yours is supported by what? Take it up with the people of Texas.

Posted on Jul 7, 2012 3:29:42 PM PDT
Bookgirl says:
In my lifetime.....it would be 0, next Jimmah Carter;)

Posted on Jul 7, 2012 5:29:31 PM PDT
I'm goin' Surfin' says Really? Prove it, not suggest it."

OK, read about the case of Carlos DeLuna and Cameron Willingham... and about other false conviction death penalty cases outside of Texas. While you might not think that a state governor is marginally competent to render a meaningful judgement, they are - by law- allowed to render such a decision or offer clemency. As for Bush, his number of executions was the highest of any Texas governor in the past and, more importantly, Texas continues to lead the nation in executions, accounting for over one-third of US executions since 1976, despite the fact that there have 41 DNA exonerations of death penalty cases since Bush left the Governor's Mansion. Since then, the Supreme Court restricted the application of the death penalty to "life without parole" in cases where prisoners were under 18 years of age when the capital offense was committed, and 29 under age prisoners were removed from death row.

Other examples:

D'Ambrosio v. Bagley (Ohio- faulty crime scene analysis, information withheld by law enforcement, other known viable suspects.)

Elmore v. Ozmint (South Carolina--ineffective counsel, no eyewitnesses, evidence fabricated)

Keith v. Bobby (Ohio-- no DNA, blood or fingerprint evidence, other known viable suspects)

Noling v. Bradshaw (Ohio--unreliable eyewitness identification, other known viable suspects)

Arkansas v. Howard (Arkansas -- DNA withheld)

Skinner v. Switzer (Texas -- DNA withheld following Supreme Court intervention.)

Your position is not supported by the facts, they are just the impassioned opinion of a speculative, conservative dude with a big attitude... and, yes, we are done here.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2012 5:35:45 PM PDT
Nat says:
Having the death penalty which I don't completely reject does kill people who have been innocent. Will kill people who are innocent. I have a had time reconciling that. I would think that if it was ambiguous to such a degree then so be it. But based upon pure evidence leaves too much room for the evidence that was not available or able to discern. On that I don't think the death penalty is such a good Idea

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2012 5:37:17 PM PDT
Nat says:
Yes they do and they have and they will again. Humans are innate to make mistakes

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2012 6:07:59 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 7, 2012 6:22:03 PM PDT
IGS says:
Marley

Willingham was guilty. As for DeLuna, possibly not, but after some 10,000 man years, a doubt remains that the got the verdict wrong. Pretty thin chance and even at that, he was likely guilty.

As for the DNA cases. Give me a break. You presume there is not other evidence, which there always is. DNA is typically used as a nail in the coffin. Just one more piece of evidence. If you want me to give you a lecture on the myriad of flaws inherent in genetic evidence I will. It is by no means as important as you would have us believe. The assertion of other "known suspects". There are always other suspects. The jury disagreed with you. Case closed. The bad news for you is that in virtually all cases, the jury disagreed with you. Sorry. Fabricated evidence in capital cases are so infrequent as to be almost a myth.

I think speculation is what you are doing. Every single case you brought up has a jury that agrees with me and no one but a few speculators agreeing with you. Sorry, the legal system did it's job. Execution is a part of the penal system. You don't like it, change it.

But what I did notice is that out of the stack of points I made, you chose only to argue one and based on speculation alone. Rough going if you asked me. Do better next time. Gosh, you failed to really address a lot of stuff in my post. Very, very troubling for a convincing argument.

Now, let's get back to it. Beyond the last 40 years (i.e., less impassioned critique) how do you think of the presidential occupants. W worse than Coolidge or Buchanan, that is letting your current passions do too much talking.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2012 6:19:22 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 7, 2012 8:20:10 PM PDT
IGS says:
Nat

Your position is reasoned and I sympathize with it. I'd be dreadfully sick if it was me or my family who had a falsely convicted member. But quite frankly, it is the nature of an imperfect world. Moreover, I am not sure a lifetime prison sentence is better than death. I can accept your logic, just not Marley's which does not seemed to be based on anything but passion. Barring all death sentences on the basis of a few. The one argument that I found most amusing of all was his statement "Even when someone is as ruthless and obviously guilty as Karla Faye was". This belies a very interesting dichotomy of logic. What am I supposed to make of it? She is guilty or not? What is the standard of uncertainty?

But I think your logic is within reason. It just boils down to the fact that false convictions comprise such a small portion of convictions that, in balancing the equities, I can accept the carrying out of an execution. Others may not be. It is just the contrary reasoning I find troubling.

Have you ever had a crime committed against the family member? I have, it can change everything.

Posted on Jul 7, 2012 6:27:27 PM PDT
ah no, surfer dude, I pass on your lecture about my flaws... at least you have a dedicated fan base of one.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2012 6:44:28 PM PDT
IGS says:
Steve

I appreciate your passion, I really do. I think you could be correct, I just don't think that you are. That is legit and I presented valid arguments for it. You did not dispute them. This leads me to believe they are valid. As to your dislike of my posts, you caught me in an impolite day, sorry about the tone.

In the end, death is a deterrence against some people and it also causes other guilty people to immediately plead their cases which vastly reduces their cost to the public. It's not a perfect world Steve. I wish there weren't cases like that of Lawrence Brewer. I read the closing arguments in that case. I have a hard time reconciling that person with humans as I understand them. The idea that such a man could have spent the rest of his life deducting budget money from my kids future ... sits very poorly with me. Perhaps, it should not. But it does.

BTW, the lecture was on the flaws of genetic evidence. At the present state of technology, it is a crap shoot as to accuracy. Have you ever seen defense experts attack it at trial? There are flaws.

G'nite

Posted on Jul 7, 2012 8:51:19 PM PDT
Its got to be GW Bush . Although , kinda in his defence , was he ever really the president ? In 8 years did he ever truly have any
stand alone power ? I think cheyney was probably the worst and the most powerfil Vice President ever. So its back to Geore W again because he chose Cheyney as running mate in the first place.NOT just Cheyney , all the neo-cons overwhelmed Wubya , mind you that was never very hard to do....lol....

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 10:12:43 AM PDT
Bookgirl says:
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Posted on Jul 8, 2012 10:47:17 AM PDT
I'm goin surfin says - "BTW, the lecture was on the flaws of genetic evidence. At the present state of technology, it is a crap shoot as to accuracy. Have you ever seen defense experts attack it at trial? There are flaws."

Let me recap my position regarding "the facts" surrounding the death penalty and George W. Bush. (forgetting for a moment any value judgement about him as president)

1. The United States has one of the highest execution rates of any modern nation - much higher than in any of the western democracies.
2. Texas leads the nation with the highest number of executions of any US State (over 1/3 of all executions since 1976 - a percentage that may actually increase as some states abandon capital punishment)
3. In any criminal justice system, mistakes and false convictions are made for a variety of reasons - including police corruption, jury bias, false testimony, poor forensic work, etc.
4. In the US, the death penalty is unequally applied, with wealthier (and whiter) convicts receiving more life sentences, while poor and minority convicts face higher prospect of execution.
5. There are cases - a few of which I cited - where the guilt of executed prisoners was unlikely and a few others where innocence was certain.
6. Once the state executes an innocent prisoner, there is no method of correcting the states error or paying some form of restitution (except to a relative)
7. Of course, defense attorneys will play on the uncertainty of DNA collection techniques and test results to argue that the prosecution cannot claim 100% certainty that their client is guilty. It is impossible to say with 100% accuracy that two people could not share enough similar DNA markers that "someone else might have done it". That raises doubt and is a tactic used by defense lawyers - like OJ Simpson's team. HOWEVER - DNA evidence can easily show that the genetic markers between a crime sample and one taken from the accused don't match - with certainty. If you're accused of rape and the semen sample taken from the victim at the crime scene simply doesn't match your sample - guess what?
8. DNA samples from crime scenes have been tested along with a sample from already convicted death row inmates and have proven innocence and a reversal of the conviction.
9. The entire legal and criminal justice cost of bringing a convict to execution, often cost more to the state than simple incarceration "for life". This is especially true in our State of California. While it's hard to put an exact number on the cost of the death penalty vs life imprisonment (states have very different methods for shouldering the cost) overall, capital murder trials cost more, because they have two phases - the trial itself, and then sentencing, which requires a separate verdict. Selecting a jury that's willing to impose the death penalty can take weeks or months longer, and the death sentence itself can also lead to more legal appeals. For example, the recent challenge to the constitutionality of lethal injection as a method of execution went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. If you divide the overall cost by the number of actual executions, the death penalty is very expensive. "The cost per execution is at least $3 million -the US has somewhere around 3,000 people on death row... the cost to taxpayers are in the billions.
10. To reduce the high cost of the death penalty we would need to lessen the "checks, balances and appeals" on capital crimes - which would only increase the odds of executing innocent people.

I agree with you on one point "Surfer", it's not a perfect world. It can be made better and more objective, through the application of carefully crafted legislation and judicial revue procedures. In my "passionate opinion" - based on the facts and talking at length to a close relative (an attorney who represented the State of California in defending the legality of specific death penalty convictions all the way up to the US Supreme Court) I've decided that the death isn't such a great idea. Interestingly, although my relative spent an entire career defending the right of our state to execute the "will of the people" to apply the death penalty, she felt that it was, ultimately, a waste of resources.

You are entitled to a different opinion, of course - but those are the facts.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2012 11:11:56 AM PDT
IGS says:
Steve

Misdirection aside, you did not address my points.

As for cost, the numbers are drastically all over the board, on trial costs and more so on incarceration. It also does not address the escalating prison costs. Most importantly, you have not addressed the most important cost saving. Plea bargains. The threat of such reduces the cost of every murder case in the state. Vast savings. I really don't have time for more now.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2012 11:53:37 AM PDT
nope

transfers the cost to keeping them in jail for many years

do like judge roy bean did
whack them now and then no future expense

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 12:53:27 PM PDT
At this point, surfer, I don't know what points you even want addressed. The fact that you "had a crime committed against the family member changes everything"? That you imagine plea bargains make the threat of death penalty cost effective? That you say "Execution is a part of the penal system. You don't like it, change it."... well yeah, I'd like to - but what's your point?
Give me something of substance to address, here... 1. you claim that "It also does not address the escalating prison costs." In fact, the "privitization" of prisons is actually lowering the cost of incarceration per inmate/per year (whether the quality or treatment of prisoners suffers is a debatable point) What data can you provide that shows that "plea bargains" in death penalty cases are "the most important cost saving"?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2012 2:11:29 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 9, 2012 8:59:01 AM PDT
IGS says:
Steve

I see your point, I just don't agree with it.

"than sentence one innocent man to death"

As versus these other considerations.

Point 1) Happens all the time in war. Wrong guys, surrendering guys, friendly guys, innocent civilians, you name it. These are all innocent people.

Point 2) But you are okay with a life sentence for the same innocent man. Imprisoning a man that may be innocent for the rest of his life on account of there is some extremely unlikely chance that he may be innocent? I am having trouble with this logic.

Point 3) You said "sentence one innocent man to death - something that appears to have happened on multiple occasions"

I believe it is VERY uncommon. All of the cases you offered seemed to indicate that the convicted was in fact guilty, and the "errors" were likely unimportant and moreover disregarded the other compelling pieces of evidence. That is why I said, prove that they innocent, not merely suggest it. In every case, every single one, no more than a suggestion has been offered.

In the associated point, because you brought it up, DNA that is not a match can not match for a number of reasons. It can be corrupted in so many ways it isn't funny. All DNA can do is be one more piece of condemning evidence, the contrary is irrelevant. My favorite case is one where the DNA evidence showed that the forensic chemist did it. Cross contamination. As I said I used to work in a mole bio lab.

Point 4) There is a certain cost that society pays for anything. Nothing, nothing, is perfect. There is a certain probability of error I am willing to accept. I accept it because it has a benefit as well.

I remind that: The vast majority, and I mean vast majority, of murderers are never sentenced to death in the first place. So this wipes out about 99% of your problem to start with. Moreover, the vast majority of those convictions are commuted. So that carves away some 80% of the rest. And even the majority of those cases are never acted upon So we are down in pretty thin air to start with. Moreover, all, ALL of those cases have been mulled over and examined by many people along the way. And it is your assertion that the examination by one person, the one least likely and qualified to render a reasoned judgement (a state governor), look at it again? What possible value is there in that? None.

Point 5) The voters of Texas have spoken, they have decided they are willing to sanction a death penalty for some cases, the people have been tried by a jury of their peers, they have been found guilty, the cases have been reviewed, generally many times, and a sentence is carried out in accordance with state laws. Your outrage, to the extent it is even remotely justified, is misplaced. Your beef is with the people of Texas not their governor.

Point 6) To further belabor this point, the idea that some state governor somewhere is even marginally competent to render a meaningful judgement in such cases, is little short of ridiculous.

Point 7) And as an aside, when mentioning "compassionate conservatism", the governor is faced with a choice compassion for the murderer or peace and closure for the family and loved ones of the perpetrator. One is guilty of a horrible crime, the other, wholly innocent of any crime. For most people the choice is inevitable.

I have sat in a few closing arguments in murder cases (after all what else is there to do while your docket is coming up). Thus, I have spent some time viewing murder prosecutions. I always look at the mom's of the kids or adults that have been killed. It is very hard to do. Please do this. Even only a couple of times. It may reshape your opinion. It is not an easy thing to do, actually. Closure.

Point 8) As for cost, the numbers are drastically all over the board, on trial costs and more so on incarceration. It also does not address the escalating prison costs. Most importantly, you have not addressed the most important cost saving. Plea bargains. The threat of such reduces the cost of every murder case in the state. Especially if the execution are enforced with some sort of predictability.

As an aside, we are talking ALL murder cases. Because the sentence can be applied to any of them. The only exceptions are negligent homicide and manslaughter and such killings without mitigating circumstance.

I am thinking you have no judicial officers in your family and don't know any prosecutors or defense counsel. This changes your view radically. If you get even two pleas, you have lowered your cost drastically. So the cost savings argument you offered is untenable.

My evidence is anecdotal based on criminal judges I know relatively well. Very instructive on this matter is the State of Kansas which received over 100 pleas in the month the death penalty was enacted. How solid these numbers are or how true they are is of course open to dispute, but it is a reasonable presumption.

But in the end, you have your reasons, I have mine. I have spent some time viewing murder prosecutions. As I said I always look at the families of the kids or adults that have been killed. I am guessing you never have. Do it, then we can we have this discussion. This is the real world we are talking about not some abstract upon which you are relying. Please do this. Even only a couple of times. It may reshape your opinion.

I suggest we quit spending time arguing that each other are idiots and focus on the issue at hand. I simply think it is an appropriate remedy. Especially in cases like the Brewer/Byrd case. I just can't envision that poor black man being dragged over asphalt by a truck and cruelly whipped around until his bloody body died. Death is an appropriate penalty for such people. You would say it is not. This is the point where you and I strongly disagree. Perhaps you should knock on the door of the Byrd family and plead your case. Somehow I do not believe you'd have the nerve to do it. I know I would not. What is your response to that ... I can't wait to hear.

There are cases where the death penalty is appropriate.

If your case is that the death penalty is not to be used ... ever, than we are not in agreement. If it is your position that it is appropriate for extremely callous or cruel murders and where there is no doubt as to guilt, then we have some commonality and we are merely arguing about where the line should be drawn. This I can accept. A blanket ban, I cannot.

This responds specifically to your question.

Posted on Jul 9, 2012 10:15:26 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 9, 2012 10:17:25 AM PDT
W.T. says:
Historically, I would call Pierce the worst. In modern times, Obama for trampling on the constitution to an extent that is unprecedented. The total disregard for checks and balances makes this the most terrifying period in our history since perhaps the Civil War.

Best to me has to be Washington. He defined the standards that all later presidents are held to, and only a handful have come close to measuring up. Truly a citizen before being a politician, he served reluctantly and then returned to his private life, where he ideally would have preferred to have been all along. That''s single characteristic ought to be a bare minimum requirement for anyone who seeks the job. If they really want it, then they aren't fit to serve.

Posted on Jul 11, 2012 12:39:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 11, 2012 1:18:14 PM PDT
Rachel says:
I continue to defend Washington to no avail!

Hey! I think, the USA has done extremely well, even with mediocre Presidents, who after all were humans with the defects that come with this condition, not saints.

As an outsider, and now an American citizen for a long long time, I say this: it is the system that developed, more than individual people, which made America work so well.

Rachel

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2012 12:50:29 PM PDT
Lois says:
Well said, Rachel!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2012 1:19:01 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 11, 2012 1:19:21 PM PDT
Rachel says:
Lois:

Good to see your post.
Thank you.
I meant it!

Rachel

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2012 1:22:22 PM PDT
Lois says:
You are welcome. =]

Posted on Jul 11, 2012 1:31:57 PM PDT
Kathy Edens says:
Obama...he is the only one to make Carter look less bad. (Can't bear to say good).
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