Three Strikes and You’re a Witch

Ruling on Texas “three strikes” law in 1980, the court upheld a life sentence for a man who refused to return $120.75 he’d been paid to repair an air-conditioner.
The article in NYTimes.

We have a hard time comprehending why a group of adult men would want to seize a young girl and burn her alive at the stake because they believe her to be a witch.

Why? What’s so hard to understand? What the hell is hard to understand about human behavior that is barbaric, savage, cruel, and irrational? Like locking up a man for life because he refused to return $120 for fixing an air conditioner?

Even better: the justices in their dramatic robes, from their solemn benches, proclaimed that this was indeed rational and just and provided for good order in our society

I don’t feel any need to be diplomatic about the U.S. justice system: Americans who support it and perpetuate it are barbarians and idiots.

Update: Nicolas Kristof on excessive sentencing.

NY Times OpEd on the subject.

The Police Industrial Complex

I love PBS, and I like many episodes of Nova, but the May 29th Episode (2013) entitled “Manhunt – Boston Bombers” was a long, horny, love letter to new, expensive computer technologies, that look absolutely amazing but accomplish very little. And while Nova kind of admitted that, it still acted as if it kind of believed that running infrared scanners from a helicopter will one day help them catch terrorists, or that face recognition software will be able to look at a street video image and match it to a known criminal.

The face recognition software, conceptually at least, has some promise, but it should never be regarded as “proof” of anything for now: it’s an investigative tool. It’s not all that reliable, but it might be helpful for identifying people in a picture. Whenever you hear someone admit that they had to “enhance” the photo (while trying to make it sound magical), beware.

The infrared helicopter camera was just plain silly. The Boston police tried to argue that it helped them find Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding in the boat. Nova  extended a generous segment of rapturous adulation for the system, an advertisement, in fact, and allowed the police to suggest– not directly, but strongly– that Tsarnaev was found by the system. In fact, we know that a citizen saw him in the boat, and even looked into the boat and made eye contact, and then called the police. The police arrived and some idiot– on the police side– fired a gun– which caused all the courageous police officers to open fire, shooting madly in the vague direction of “something happened let’s shoot it” (it is a miracle no bystanders were killed), until Tsarnaev, completely unarmed, finally– equally miraculously– emerged from the boat to surrender, probably because there was no more room in the boat with all the lead the police had dropped into it.

Nevertheless, the police, and the media, reported an “intense firefight”.

Every time someone defends the police and I am tempted to acknowledge, yes, some police do good work, I think about stories about shit like this and pull back.

A day before, the police had cornered the suspects in a Mercedes SUV. No one, so far, has explained how the huge number of police surrounding the vehicle nevertheless allowed Dzhokhar to drive off, stop about a mile away, leave the vehicle and disappear. No doubt the police will erect monuments to their work somewhere near here. There will be a movie with the Tsarnaev brothers shown to have superhuman powers. But only one cop, we will learn, who broke the rules and ignored regulations, was able to subdue him.

In fact, the Nova episode, in spite of all the gee whiz demonstrations of new technology, made a convincing case for more police boots on the ground — if they could learn to restrain their weapons– and an alert citizenry, as the best defense against any criminality.

Those helicopters cost a fortune, about $3 million.  The infrared scanners cost about  $300,000.

The City of Toronto, rationally, decided, a few years ago, that the cost was not justified. The police, like little boys deprived of a new toy, whined about how they would never be able to catch any criminals any more.

The face recognition software is fated to be used by Republicans to scan protesters at their conventions.

Did You Know

This website has the balls to blatantly suggest that the thermal cameras found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding in the boat.  That is an outright lie.  It is interesting, though, that you see this story circulating.  Do the police mind that people believe expensive useless technologies with a high cool factor help them with police work?

Thermal Camera: $300,000

Manhunt – Boston Bombers

Do we live in a Surveillance State?

Yes we do.

Is it constitutional to contract out intelligence services?

I don’t think so and I want it on the record here and now so that, in twenty years, when it finally reaches the Supreme Court, I can say I was right.

Quick Easy Money

It must be an easy way for smart people to make a LOT of money.

There is a man who detects and removes bedbugs for you in New York.  He says that 80% of his customers do not have bedbugs.  He is always busy.  No matter what the economy is doing, people will call about suspected bedbugs and in most cases his job is easy: do some ritual cleansing and then announce that there are no bedbugs.   You can make a lot of money doing that.

You do have to be intelligent smart. Not smart smart, like Vint Cerf. More shrewd smart, like Bill Gates. You start a firm that specializes in “cyber-security”. Ok, you are half way there because almost nobody understands what cyber-security is or how it works. Even better– since there may not be as much of a threat out there as people generally think there is, it will be hard for anyone to prove that you aren’t successful at it.

I call it the “gravity market”. You sell people a service to keep the objects they own from floating up into outer space. You can offer lavish guarantees.

Rashomon Zimmerman

Anyone familiar with my previous comments on the police and murder investigations and wrongful convictions might be a bit surprised at my take on the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Many people seem to have settled into a comfortable consensus that a suspicious Zimmerman chased Martin through a quiet neighborhood on a rainy night, even after the police dispatcher told him not to, and tried to detain him, because Martin was black, and then assaulted him and, when Martin defended himself, shot him to death. And that is almost indisputably what happened. Martin is dead, Zimmerman had the gun. Martin did not go looking for a guy in a pick-up truck. Zimmerman was looking for burglars.

The part that is hard to figure out is what happened exactly at the moment Zimmerman met Martin. The first narrative is that Zimmerman tried to detain or stop Martin from returning to the condo where he was staying with his father’s fiancé at the time, and when Martin refused to remain with him to wait for the police, Zimmerman tried to physically restrain him and a struggle ensued. During the struggle, Zimmerman reached for his gun and shot Martin in the chest. By this account, yes, Zimmerman was shooting in self-defense, in a sense: against a man resisting his attempt to detain him without cause. Given a richer understanding of all the information we have, that seems like the fairest explanation of why Zimmerman did have signs of injury on his face. No rational person can believe, in the least, that he simply walked up to Trayvon Martin and shot him. There was an altercation.

Zimmerman claims that Martin surprised him. But Zimmerman had left his car to go looking for Martin. I doubt we’ll ever know if Martin, knowing Zimmerman was following him, decided to confront him, or Zimmerman, trying to justify shooting an unarmed man, made it up. In Zimmerman’s parable, Martin says “you got a problem”? That’s good dialogue. That makes sense, in a way.

There are photos of Zimmerman’s face that show rather convincingly that he did take some abuse during the altercation. There is some evidence– fairly strong– that he called for help before the shooting. There is very convincing evidence that he followed Trayvon Martin and confronted him. Zimmerman was not wearing a police uniform because he was not a cop. He did not appear to have identified himself as a “neighborhood watch” official, as if. He was just a citizen with a gun in a nation that has insanely stupid laws about guns. As far as Trayvon Martin was concerned, this was just some prick following him and looking for a fight. Trayvon Martin is black. He knows what it’s like to be an instant suspect.

Under existing U.S. law and jurisprudence, if Trayvon Martin had had a gun, he could have simply shot and killed Zimmerman for following him in the dark. “Stand your ground”, man. In fact, let this be a cautionary tale for all black young men in the U.S.: join the NRA and start packing. And the first piece of information you want to get out there after you shoot somebody is “I was frightened” and “I am a member of the NRA exercising my sacred God-given right to defend myself”. You’ll be fine.

Yes, if the law were applied equally.

But, in fact, I suspect that if Martin had done so, he would have been arrested and charged with murder immediately, and the motive would have been robbery, and there would have been no long delay while people publicly disputed whether any racism was involved or if Zimmerman were on drugs, and the NRA would have not have stepped up to defend Martin’s sacred right to use a gun to defend himself when a strange mixed-race man approaches him in the dark. Does anyone doubt this? I’m open minded. Show a similar case.

This doesn’t obscure the fact that Zimmerman is a jerk precisely in the sense that he is a product of a mentality and culture that believes we would all be safe if we all had guns, safer than we would be if nobody had guns. But he is not a jerk in the sense that he seemed to be looking for someone to kill. He did something criminally stupid and he should be punished for criminal stupidity, but I haven’t seen any evidence to indicate that he acted out of malevolence.


American Secret Police

The hypothesis is this: the NSA’s secret telephone and internet surveillance program will reduce the chances of a terrorist attack on U.S. citizens.

As Karl Popper lavishly demonstrated, a hypothesis can only be considered proven if it is theoretically possible that it could be proven false. Now, there are two possible outcomes to the NSA’s secret telephone and internet surveillance programs. 1. There continue to be terrorist attacks. 2. There are much fewer or no terrorist attacks. And here’s the problem: if the result is 1, Obama can and will argue that the surveillance program is even more necessary because we have terrorist attacks. If the result is 2, the surveillance program is successful. Either way, we keep the surveillance program (does anyone seriously believe that, barring the election of Rand Paul, it will ever go away?).

This is an argument Obama cannot lose because it cannot be, in Popper’s phrase, “falsified”.  That is, no matter what the evidence shows, the program is considered a success.

I have not heard anyone yet refer to something I would call “the secret police”. That is in fact exactly what the tens of thousands of employees of the NSA and Homeland Security are. They are governed by secret laws, authorized by secret courts, and conduct all their operations in extreme secrecy. The argument that, well, Congress has oversight, is so patently ridiculous it must be regarded as a rather preposterous, offensive joke.

John Oliver on The Daily Show made an excellent point with a brief joke. He suggested we combine cell phones with guns. That way, the Republicans and the NRA would be sure to resolutely oppose even the slightest inclination to list, register, track, or document cell phone calls.

Which leads me to another interesting thought: why didn’t Obama, being in favor of gun registration, simply create or empower a secret agency to record every gun sale in the U.S., registration number, bullets, and names and social security numbers of the purchasers? Then he could assure Americans that the government will never look at the data unless an absolutely genuine authentic warrant is approved by a secret panel of judges appointed by, oh, say, the President? I’m sure the NRA, which is so concerned about the safety of Americans, would roll over very quickly on that. Especially since the justification for the NSA surveillance program is 3,000 American deaths ten years ago, while guns kill 30,000 people every year.

Just how effective do you think this data collection program is, anyways? Both the hysteria and the apologetics serve the same function here: to glamorize the operation and suggest power and efficiency and authority. Here are a few things I think of when I consider just how effective the program might be:

  • it is run by the same government that had virtually no Arab speaking agents in any of its intelligence agencies before 9/11
  • it is run by the same government that blatantly lied about Saddam Hussein and Iraq’s capabilities and culpabilities before the invasion of 2005
  • almost all of the recent terrorist arrests and convictions were the result of paid informants providing dubious information, false confessions, or outright lies or agents provocateurs who goaded naïve young fanatics into going along with manufactured plots
  • about half of the people incarcerated in the Guantanamo prison are regarded by the CIA itself as innocent (but they are still there)
  • officials in the government and military regarded torture as an acceptable strategy for obtaining information from suspected terrorists (who often turned out to be completely innocent)

When NSA or Homeland Security officials, and Republicans, claim that they have thwarted several dozen terrorist attacks (as they do claim, in fact), I find it depressing to consider that many Americans will believe them. I don’t. Firstly, we know that they see terror plots everywhere and have charged and convicted individuals on the flimsiest evidence imaginable. Secondly, they say they can’t prove it because that would compromise national security, which is the first thing I can think of that I would say if I were trying to hide the pathetic failure of an incredibly expensive program, in terms of money and civil liberties. I would lie. I would say, the program is a great success but I can’t prove it to you because that would compromise the effectiveness of the program. You can’t lose.

If it actually did thwart an actual terrorist attack, why was no one charged and convicted? I suspect that that is what he is talking about– plots that were thwarted before anyone actually committed an indictable offense, because if anyone actually did commit an indictable offense that could be proven or disproven in court, it would be. Would these Strangeloves miss an opportunity to toot their own horns, to prove the efficacy of their methods, their massive spending orgies, their infringement of civil liberties, just so the could to Congress with their pathetic, anemic, “we’ve had actual cases but we can’t tell you about them”?

Just think about it. Just because a computer has massive amounts of data in its files doesn’t mean that any of it is useful. The concept is probably this: a terrorist is caught (like, say the one Boston terrorist still alive) and authorities have access to his number. They get authorization from FISA (easy-peasy: the FISA court never rejects an application) and look up his number and get a list of all the other numbers he has called. I presume programmers would write a function to scan the data base for any similar numbers being called by other phones and correlate them to numbers used by other suspects. Then what? They go interview the recipients of these calls? They tap the phone?

So, is Al Qaeda so stupid that they would use phones to communicate their evil plots? Does anyone seriously think they didn’t already know that the phone system was being watched? What would prevent them from establishing the basic plans in person and then using code to send any signals that needed to be sent remotely? Who can assure us that the investigators looking at this information are smarter than the ones who were warned about the underwear bomber but ignored the information? Or the ones who couldn’t find a suspect because they had misspelled his name?

In the meantime, how hard would be for a conservative, Republican president to come along and decide that environmentalists or union organizers or animal rights activists were a threat to society, and could engage in terrorist acts, and therefore needed to have their data pulled from the data base for Homeland Security could investigate them more thoroughly?

Don’t laugh: that is almost exactly what happened during the Republican National Convention in 2004.

And More Yet

Are Americans disturbed to find they have a Secret Police force? No, because they are very, very easily frightened. Yes, for all the bluster and bragging of their anthems and monuments and parades, Americans are remarkably easy to throw into hysterics.

And because nobody uses the word “Secret Police”, because that’s what the Communists had, because they were very, very bad, and we’re very, very good. So, no, we don’t have secret police, or secret courts, or Big Brother, or torture, or rendition, or Guantanamo, or Mitch McConnell. We are good people.

Why does “soft on terrorism” have such political resonance but “soft on gun control” does not? If you are soft on terrorism, you would be partly responsible for a small number of casualties in the past five years. If you are soft on gun control, you are partly responsible for 150,000 deaths over the same period of time.

And One More Thing

Gail Collins on FISA

The magical outcome of this scandal is that Rand Paul’s chances of getting the 2016 Republican presidential  nomination are considerably improved.  Think about it– at those primaries and caucuses, where a small number of true believers can have a large impact?

The Secret Constitution

The one thing people need to understand about the U.S. Constitution is that it does not have force. The government has force. So in that sense, the Constitution says exactly whatever the government says it says.

That is why no “constitutional” government ever violates the constitution. If the president does it, then it’s legal, as Nixon said.

The government puts on a dance of the seven legal veils, now you see it, now you don’t, appoints some compliant pussies to a secret court, strong-arms a few congressional representatives into complicity, beats its breast and weeps copious tears about how the greatest intrusion into citizens’ private lives is “constitutional” and legal and you should see how many terrorists we are catching! Except we haven’t caught anybody, yet. Except, it’s a secret. We can’t tell you because then we would have to have trials and facts and evidence, and we shouldn’t have to bother, because everyone knows the guys were caught were guilty, even if the only evidence is the compromised testimony of a corrupt informant.

Given the esteem with which Congress is now held by the American people, it is rather preposterous for defenders of the extensive surveillance conducted by the U.S. Government to keep tooting about Congressional oversight– it’s all okay, some congressmen and senators knew about it– as if that makes it constitutional. I’m not putting words into anyone’s mouth here: tonight on the PBS News Hour, that is exactly what some former general or admiral said. That’s like saying that the man who broke into your home at night and read all your mail was wearing a police uniform. Therefore, it was not a break-in.

Then you have the absurdity of Government spokesmen, including Obama himself, and Diane Feinstein, saying he would “welcome” a debate about the issue of the Government keeping a log of all your phone calls. But first, let’s string up the guy who let the cat out of the bag.

If the government had ever publicly announced that it was going to pass legislation enabling it to collect the data they are now collecting about all of your phone calls (and e-mail messages, and Facebook posts– let’s not fool ourselves), there would have been such an uproar that it would never have been passed, and they know it. The only reason about half the population right now approves of the measure is, firstly, because there are a lot of stupid people out there who don’t really give a damn about privacy or freedom, and, secondly, because it it was never proposed and discussed first. The results of any kind of discussion of this kind of extensive surveillance plan is a foregone conclusion: it would have been howled into oblivion. First the leaders, the lawyers, the constitutional experts, the civil rights activists would have spoken, and then the generals, the authoritarians, the nanny-state advocates, and the old white senators would have spoken.

And maybe then even some of those conservatives who wail like hysterical little wussies about intrusive government when it tries to pass a safety regulation or limit carbon emissions would have realized that Government surveillance of your phone records is a far greater threat to freedom than Obamacare ever was.

If the U.S. decided to kill Edward Snowden, can a drone reach Hong Kong? Ah, but the U.S. would never do that, would they? Well, they wouldn’t, but it’s instructive to consider why not. We send them to Pakistan all the time. What’s the difference?

Well, Pakistan is relatively powerless. They can’t do anything to us when we violate their airspace. China, however, obviously can.

Next, you’ll say, but Edward J. Snowden is an American Citizen! They can’t assassinate him, can they? Well, they probably won’t, now that he has gone public. They can’t disappear him now, I think. But if you can justify obtaining and storing millions of private phone records, and killing alleged American terrorists abroad, why not kill someone who is just as much of a “threat” to national security?

Aside from the fact that it’s too late.

Just to repeat what I’ve been saying for a long long time: there is no “war” on terror and there never was. This is a lie.

It could only be true if it were possible to prove that there would ever be circumstances in which we did not have any attacks that could be labeled as “terrorist” and held as justification for “war”. If you go back 30, 40, 50 years, you will find that there never was such a time. (Read your history: the air plane hijackings, the bombing in Beirut, the first World Trade Center attack, the Oklahoma bombing, etc., etc.) Therefore, the government is essentially arguing that we are always at war, therefore, “extraordinary” measures are always justified. There fore they are not justified. Therefore, the government is building a police state.

During the entirety of the “troubles” in Ireland, Britain never enacted laws giving the government the powers it gave itself after 9/11. We’ve been hoaxed by authoritarian officials who will never not try to aggregate as much power and authority as a conscientious citizenry will allow it.

The question is, do we even have a “conscientious citizenry” any more? It appears that the government– especially the Bush/Cheney regime– has succeeded in frightening people into submission. The people should be ashamed of themselves.

Charlton Heston’s Naked Butt

I was watching “Planet of the Apes” on PBS the other night and there was that famous shot of Charlton Heston being presented to the ape officials for disposal, naked, from behind.

I have seen this movie at least three times, on television. I have never before seen Charlton Heston’s naked buttocks blurred out. But here it was, on PBS, the “enlightened” network, blurred out, just like Stewy’s naked butt on “Family Guy”.

What the hell? Has PBS joined the hoards of frigid hysterical puritans who have decided that the moral life of the nation is threatened by the back view of a man’s naked buttocks? In a country that enjoys dismemberment, explosions, bikinis, gratuitous sex and violence, and Fox News? Spare us.

The Boston Marathon Bombing

In the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, Fox TV pulled an episode of “The Family Guy” off the internet. The episode in question depicted Peter trying to win the Boston Marathon by running over competitors with a car. Carnage ensued, to comic effect. In the same episode, Peter is shown dialing a number on a cell phone given to him by a shady new friend. When he dials a number, we hear an explosion. He tries again and this time an explosion and screams are heard.

Some mischievous pranksters out there– you devils!– spliced the two segments closer together than they were in the actual episode to suggest that … actually, nobody knows what they were suggesting, though there is talk about conspiracies and clairvoyance and other nonsense. Yes, there are people who believe that the Boston Marathon Bombing was a hoax perpetrated by the U.S. government to try to abridge our civil liberties and take away our guns. I’m not making this up.

What I am interested in is the question: how long until we can go back to “enjoying” the comedy of runners getting killed and bombs going off? The question is, why did we ever enjoy it, and why should we all be so delicate and sensitive about it now?

This kind of carnage goes on every day in Syria and Iraq and it never bothered us before to have a good chuckle about Peter’s violent shenanigans. And just days before the Marathon bombing, the American government made a profound statement: no amount of carnage is sufficient to justify the slightest inconvenience for any lunatic who wants to by a semi-automatic rifle with 50 shot magazine.

The political hypocrisy is bad enough, but Seth MacFarlane’s condemnation of the mash-ups (placing the two clips closer together to imply that the bomb was at the Boston Marathon) is a little nauseating. MacFarlane’s bread and butter is vulgarity, shock, and jokes about bodily functions, and it seems manifestly evident that questions of good taste never entered his mind before– ever– except as an imaginary line he could routinely cross over for pure shock value. But he sees which way the wind is blowing on this one and is careful to distance himself from his own bad taste for the moment.

And really… couldn’t they find something in South Park that was even more offensive?

We don’t hate violence. We love it. On the same day as Newtown and the same day as Columbine and the same day as Boston, you could scan any movie listing for any Cineplex in the country and find people paying extravagantly to see glorious full-color high-resolution loving depictions of humans slaughtering humans with guns, bombs, knives, and forks, with ropes and stakes and fangs, and swords and arrows and spears, and grenades and razor blades and stilettos. We LOVE violence more than anything except, perhaps, bikinis and beer.

When we are attacked, as in Boston, we act as if it is the violence directed towards other human beings that we are appalled at, because we are good people who would never intentionally harm anyone else, because to admit that we don’t really mind the violence when it’s done to somebody else reveals too much of our inner selves. We are shocked and outraged and monumentally indignant, really, because our tribe took a hit. We call it “justice” but what we really want is revenge. We say we want to prevent it from happening again when what we really want is for it to happen to them.

Without a doubt, a lot of people are appalled at violence in general, and when there is a catastrophe like Newtown or Boston, they prevail on public discourse because it is momentarily transparent that what we enjoy in the theatre and in our video games is exactly what it is: appalling. The perpetrators at least have an excuse: they have a cause.

The rest of us are just being entertained.


Even some gun proponents agree that there should be some effort made to keep the guns out of the hands of lunatics. But not really. Any rational definition of lunacy would have to include generals like Curtis LeMay, Vice-Presidents like Dick Cheney, and Senators like Ted Cruz who espouse ridiculous and preposterous theories about government and guns and violence and taxes and civic responsibility and the nature of the world — yes, yes, yes: if only we could keep weapons out of the hands of lunatics.

The Expensive Iranian Hostage

The former U.S. hostages in Iran believe they should be able to sue the government of Iran for compensation for the horrible suffering they experienced during their 444 days of captivity. I don’t know what kind of scale can be applied here but I know that everyone thinks that their specific suffering is more entitled to sympathy and compensation than anyone else’s suffering, and that while it is never, ever about the money, it is always, always about the money.

And advertisers.

ABC Television decided to run a nightly news program called “Nightline” which was primarily a big fat wet kiss to Ronald Reagan: “The Hostage Crisis! Day blah-blah-blah” making it sound like the entire world had come to a stop to wait to see if the American hostages were going to make it home all right. There were ribbon campaigns, lots of speeches, and miserable old Jimmy Carter stewing in the White House incapable of doing anything about it. Other than, of course, the ill-advised rescue attempt.

The hostages were released after the Iranians were sure that Carter had lost re-election (after he stupidly launched a military rescue attempt) and a deal was concluded which, among other things, specified that the hostages could not sue the Government of Iran for damages.

The State Department had no objection to this clause because you can’t sue a sovereign government for damages anyway.

This outraged the hostages. “How dare the U.S. government sign an agreement that keeps us from untold wealth?!”  Did I say it’s not about the money?

They were hoping to go after seized Iranian assets. But you can see the problem, can’t you? The Iranians could turn around, of course, and sue the U.S. and Great Britain for sponsoring the coup that brought the Shah to power in the first place, and allowed him to repress and torture his own citizens for 35 years while looting the country of billions in oil wealth, and hold massive coronation parades for himself, and buying lots and lots of U.S. military equipment to defend Iran against– get this– the communists! Yes, it was a quaint period in our history..

Could native peoples sue our governments for forcing treaties on them and then violating those same treaties anyway? How about the Vietnamese, whose elected government was overthrown by the French, and then the Americans? Or Guatemala or Nicaragua? Why there is no end of tearful stories.

Among all the tearful stories in the world, the Iranian Hostages don’t rank among the teariest. For one thing, they were willing participants in a corrupt government relationship with a dictatorial regime. For another, it was Carter’s stupidity in allowing the Shah to enter the U.S. for medical treatment that precipitated the crisis. How kind, to our old friend, the dictator! Just as Thatcher was kind to Pinochet! Our selective kindnesses sometimes do us in.

And finally, the biggest complaint the hostages have about their treatment is that they were held against their wishes and they often feared that something awful was going to happen to them. In general, however, they were not treated too badly. Not nearly as badly as the dissidents the Shah imprisoned and tortured.

So, I’m not against compensation. Let’s add them to the list and indulge in no end of suit and counter-suit and counter-counter-suit.


Part of the story you won’t hear anything about: the families of the victims of the Newtown Connecticut attack are all going to receive big checks from the government.

So, you think, that’s nice. The government stepped in and compensated people who were victims of serious crimes. This required legislation because there is no existing government policy of compensating victims of violent crime.

So when can the mother of Trayvon Martin expect her check?

Oh wait…

The Latest DSM

The latest DSM manual will now assert that grieving the death of a loved one is a dysfunctional condition that calls for treatment.

As in, paid for by your benefit plan.

Your therapist will almost certainly prescribe a drug. In my opinion, what the drug does is not all that different from what marijuana or cocaine or methamphetamine does. The difference is all in the packaging, including the “therapist” and the doctor and the pharmacist, the rigid doses and schedule, and everyone soberly declaring that this substance can correct some kind of deficiency in your brain cells which is the cause of your unhappiness. Except that death is not a chemical deficiency, so we have an unusually naked moment here: hell, let’s just call a spade a spade: people who are sad should do drugs.

If you packaged marijuana in the same way, you could convince just as many people that this is some kind of impressive therapy that addresses a real medical condition. Exact dosages, on a schedule, with monitoring. The difference is, marijuana would not have as many side effects and would not be nearly as expensive. The difference is that marijuana is not patented.

There, done. While we’re at it, children who have discovered that school work is “work” should do drugs. Every teenage girl in the country who worries about how she looks should do drugs. Every mother who wishes she could put her feet up and watch tv all day while strange men fall over themselves to buy her gifts should do drugs. Every businessman who thinks the competition is competition should do drugs. Every liar should do drugs.

As you read the previous paragraph did you think of the fact that, for all practical purpose, they are all doing drugs, with nice names and prescriptions.

I have my own suggestion: every executive at every pharmaceutical company should do drugs, just as every congressman should go through the long lineups at the airports and every congressman’s firstborn child, male or female, straight or gay, should enlist.

And every Ayatollah who believes in the Intifada should be the first to strap on that explosive belt. Lead the way!