Ron Honberg of the National Association of Mental Illness begins his recent op-ed for the National Law Journal describing a situation so strange that one assumes it is fiction:
A person diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia is accused of murdering his in-laws. He insists on defending himself without counsel and wears a TV-Western cowboy costume while on trial for his life. He attempts to subpoena the Pope, John F. Kennedy and Jesus Christ. He rambles incomprehensibly, scares the jurors by pointing an imaginary rifle at them, and he believes the judge is a devil worshiper.
Yet this case is all too real. The trial was allowed to go forward and Scott Panetti, the person with extreme mental illness described above, was sentenced to death by the State of Texas.
Years later, attorneys for Panetti argued that mental illness made him unfit for execution, taking his case all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court in Panetti v. Quarterman (2007). Panetti won his case, which was sent back to the lower courts for reconsideration.
One might think that winning at the Supreme Court might have been enough to save Panetti from death row, but Honberg says Panetti’s attorneys are now asking the Court to hear his case again.
As Honberg explains:
The Supreme Court explicitly recognized that the views of mental health experts would be critical in further proceedings in Panetti’s case. Yet, in spite of the court’s directive, the Fifth Circuit and the district court ignored the diagnostic features and clinical realities of [Panetti’s] long-standing psychotic disorder.
The whole op-ed is worth a read. By the end, one can’t help but wonder: How in the world can somebody so obviously mentally ill still be considered sane enough to be executed?
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We used to hear more often about those malignant institutions serving, or rather plaguing, the poor: the loan sharks who charged 100% or more per year in interest, the furniture or radios that ended up costing several times their value on the installment plan. Two or three decades ago, however, we didn’t think of an education as being part of the landscape of predation upon the poor. Now, as Astra Taylor and Hannah Appel explain, when it comes to a new crew of “for-profit” colleges, higher education has gone hyena and is tearing at the financial flesh of the poor.
Even mainstream institutions can be sketchy these days, if you look closely enough. Most liberal arts college programs give their students a vague, if exhilarating, sense that the best possible outcome of their vocation is practically an inevitability, and yet there are far from enough tenure-track jobs, top galleries, or niches on bestseller lists for all the people being educated.
Though people make it in all these fields, they are a tiny minority. So many others pay their dues and get little for it, except whatever is inherently meaningful in their education, which won’t, of course, lighten their loan burden at all.
Once upon a time, it was different. The radicalism of the 1960s, for instance, should be chalked up in part to the great freedom of youth at a time when the fat of the land seemed inexhaustible and the safety net unbreakable. The two radicals I know who became wanted fugitives in the 1970s and then tenured faculty members (now retired with pensions) operated in a more forgiving era — and a more affluent one.
Here comes another major hit to the west coast. I don’t think this is the first one. And I don’t think this is the worst one. And I think there’s more coming. And I wonder how long ObamaLLP + JG can keep California or some of it’s sea industries from suing.
The groundwater bypass at Fuku is showing some success, but the ice wall is still a failure (they’re still trying) and they’re still leaking tons of hot water into the Pacific. It amazes me that other countries aren’t taking action. The damage to their sea industries is eventually going to overcome the campaign contributions from the Nuclear Industry.
We must not forget our OWN Fukushima, Hanford. Entire families are dying of something the Government is SURE isn’t related to anything stored there. And they’re seeing “clusters” of anencephaly, a severe defect in which babies are born missing parts of the brain. Also officially not related to anything on that site.
Have you ever heard of epigenetics? In short, these are inheritable changes that do NOT result from changes to genes but from changes to the “ladder” that holds the genes. This causes the genes to be expressed more often or less often. So you can have a perfectly find gene, but it’s always off and thus you suffer the consequence.
Another major discovery that began with “What the hell is that?!?”. It seems that we’ve got bubbles of gamma rays above and below the central hole of our galaxy. Best theory is that the hold ate something big a few million years ago.
If dark matter exists and if our theories about it are correct, we should detect and excess of positrons because of it. We do.
They managed to get another specimen of the colossal squid to study. This one isn’t as big as the other one, only about 350kg. Don’t eat before reading, there are some photos in the story that make it look like they’re dissecting snot. I’m sure glad this squid is only found in Antarctica, as it would certainly be a man eater if it could get us.
The IgNobel awards were issued last week. Saluting the humor in science and in general research that should NOT have been attempted. This years winners include a study on the friction between a banana skin and a shoe bottom with respect to the friction between the banana skin and the floor. And an attempt to learn what happens in your brain when you see Jesus in a piece of toast.
Boxturtle (My personal favorite was when they actually did compare apples and oranges)
Finally, somebody commenting on the state of Iraq thinks George W. Bush got something right. Turns out it’s ISIS. In the new hour-long ISIS-produced film about how nice it is to die for ISIS — Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun – Bush is quoted: “You are with us or against us.” Video shows him saying “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” A graphic in the upper corner of the screen reads: “Bush spoke the truth, although he’s a liar.”
What truth does ISIS think Bush spoke? The Manichean truth that there are two groups of people on earth with nothing in common between them and a shared dedication to annihilate each other. Of course, the notion that they have nothing in common is delusional. They have almost everything in common: their belief in violence, their monotheism, their stupidity, their desire for a U.S. war in the Middle East.
“In the face of the dark wave of the crusader force…” begins the ISIS movie.
“This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while,” said Bush.
ISIS shows Obama as well as Bush and denounces both as liars, including rejecting Obama’s lie that he won’t send combat troops to Iraq. As even a number of U.S. Senators and Congress Members have pointed out, the 1600 troops he’s already sent are trained and equipped for nothing other than combat, and a pilot in a plane is engaged in combat.
But ISIS wants more. This film is not aimed at provoking the United States the way the beheading films were. It’s far too long and boring for Americans to watch.
(Why did ISIS make a full-length movie? Because they couldn’t find an editor.)
This film is aimed at recruiting fighters. ISIS claims to be fighting the United States, to have long been the core of the resistance to the United States, and to be defeating troops armed with U.S. weapons. (ISIS never mentions that its own “beloved” weapons come from various infidels, including the U.S.) Here’s the ISIS pitch to recruits:
Join us in fighting the evil empire. If you die you’ll go to paradise. The afterlife is far longer and more important than this life. “Unshakable faith” is the “most effective weapon of war.” Come join “Allah’s soldiers” and experience courage, excitement, vengeance, adrenaline, the thrill of victory, and martyrdom. Never mind that our movie is so boring, the fighting is really fun, and Allah is guiding our RPGs!
Of course, ISIS is mistaken. God does not have time to be guiding their RPGs when he’s busy making sure the football team that prays the loudest wins each game. And of course Obama has told us that “No religion condones the killing of innocents,” forgetting that all the religions of Moses contain this teaching: “Kill every male among the little ones and Kill every woman that has known man by lying with him. But all the women children that have not known a man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves” — forgetting in fact that all of these religions have violent and peaceful traditions but venerate as holy ancient texts from a barbaric age and teach as essential the idea that there is another magical world that matters more than this one whose climate we are destroying. Sing it, soldiers!
Here’s the ISIS pitch to the U.S. government:
We will accept only victory or death, just like Patrick Henry, and we will fight you. Fighting you builds our movement because people hate you so much after the past decades of your attacks. We have no doubt that you are stupid enough to fight us if we keep insulting you.
Here’s their pitch to opponents:
Oppose us, and we will make you dig your own grave on camera, because we are so courageous and brave that we wear masks to hide out faces and shoot anybody we don’t know how to talk to.
Here’s their pitch to Hollywood:
We’ve got dramatic potential. Sure, make us the bad guys, but put us on the silver screen. We’re not as slick and convincing as a White House video news release aired by an “independent” media outlet, but we’re way more dramatic. We only have a narrator, no actual characters, but we’re still more entertaining than C-Span, and the weapons makers are going to absolutely love us — just check with them about funding. Then die, you faithless dogs.
Here we have Obama restarting the war in Iraq, escalating his proxy war in Syria, while threatening WWIII with Russia, and we’re having a climate change protest march. A protest march led by corporate interests. Sure, the people mean well, but the thing is led by the damn establishment man.
These paid activists on the left are starting to annoy me. They think that in order to fight the system they need to use the system, and they end up being dependent on the system. Here’s my PayPal account, thank you very much. That simply won’t work. We knew that back in the sixties, those of us that took it seriously. The counterculture, the radicals, the real hippies, the ones who had it right. We railed against the “establishment” back then. You rarely hear that anymore. Now they want to work within the establishment. You want to really change what we’re doing on this planet, you are just going to have to be radical, anti-establishment. Anything less is nothing, it’s just perpetuation.
I saw how this played out. It was billed as a “Peace and Climate Movement”. Exactly what happened with the Occupy movement which started out with ending the Afghanistan war as a centerpiece. Never heard much of that after the 99% thing became the narrative.
“But the developing climate emergency does not exist in isolation. And we must understand and confront the social and economic context that produced and accompanies it: war and unlimited military expenditures, corporate globalization, vast social inequality and racism.”
Most everything I’ve read since then reporting on this “event” has nary a word about Peace. It’s all climate change. There’s no big clamoring to stop Obama from bombing in Iraq and Syria, it’s all about the CO2 levels that purportedly are going to kill all of us before those darn nuclear weapons kill us. Don’t worry about the wars, imperialism, militarism, nuclear weapons, millions being killed, displaced, subjugated and hegemonized right now. The very actions that are driving the use of more oil, more diamonds, more zirconium and natural gas. There will be billions killed very soon if we don’t stop driving cars and shopping at Walmart! We must warn the people, they have to change! Let’s have another Earth Day!
There have been many before us that have warned us about war and imperialism. War and imperialism have always been the most insidious evil humans perpetrate on each other. After WWI, an especially ugly and brutal war, the world was so aghast that it tried to abolish war and imperialism. That effort culminated in the Kellogg-Briand Pact, eventually signed by 62 countries including the United States. It’s actually still in effect, but like treaties and laws regarding war, it means nothing to the western ruling class.
Evidently the “establishment” took hold of this event and steered it in the moderate, sanitized direction the ruling class prefers. The radicals were dispensed with, the moderates were paid off and the event proceeded with the usual “smell of cooptation in the morning”. Everybody goes home, a certain segment pledge to carry on, then the next climate change conference is arranged so everybody can get paid and books can get signed.
I saw where many were proclaiming this event a success because it is “creating awareness” about climate change. Again nothing about War and imperialism. The wars will go on, Obama will go bombs away in the MIddle East/North Africa region, but more people will have their eyes on that new Prius in the window. Hey it’s powered by electric batteries, that’s better isn’t it?
Many have lamented the antiwar movement since Obama took office. They say Obama killed it. The allegience of the mainstream left, which was instrumental during protests against the Bush wars and imperialism, was too tied into the lesser evil democratic party and it’s new savior Obama, the newest Presidential war criminal. They’re so freaked out by the republican party that they will allow their own to do things even worse. Quite the human social phenomena.
Everybody has an opinion, you know what they say about that. In my opinion we need to stop the ruling class from conducting wars and imperialism NOW. We need a national and international citizens revolution against the imperialism and militarism that is rotting this earth. We need to stop the western ruling elite from seeking their insane New World Order, their utterly delusional human belief that they can rule the world. We can combine that with the demand for a new way of living that will address climate change. I believe if we can do that, we CAN address climate change in the way it should be addressed. I believe if we don’t, we can’t.
Before the “no” vote on Scotland’s independence, The New York Times, carried a post by Neil Irwin in the Upshot making the point that the then upcoming vote “shows a global crisis of the elites.” He argues that the independence drive reflects “. . . a conviction — one not ungrounded in reality — that the British ruling class has blundered through the last couple of decades.” He also thinks that this applies to the Eurozone and the United States to varying degrees, and is “. . . a defining feature of our time.”
Irwin then updated his first post last night, expanding it and recognizing the victory of the “no” votes in the referendum. His new post did not add anything essential to his “global crisis of the elites” diagnosis, so the references and quotations below come solely from his pre-vote post. But the points made apply equally well to his update.
To summarize his argument, for decades now, the elites in major modern, industrial nations have committed leadership blunders and created great discontent among the citizens of their nations, to the point where their polices have contributed to damaging their economies seriously, and the rise of popular resistance embodied in extremist parties and independence movements. Elites have had vast power, but have not lived up to their responsibilities to serve the people of their nations. Discontent with their actions and results is so high that many are questioning the legitimacy of the very governing institutions that claim to serve them, and are exhibiting a greater and greater willingness to do something about these institutions and the policies that they and the elites are generating. Scotland is but one example of that, and his implication is that more examples are in the offing.
It’s significant, some might say even remarkable, that Irwin’s article appeared in The New York Times, since it is a flat out criticism of elite leadership over a number of decades and a warning to elites to improve their performance or deal with the consequences. But I think it still misses the most important question. That question is whether there is a global crisis of elites or a global crisis of democracies? I’m afraid I think that the crisis of elite leadership is only a symptom of the underlying cause of a broader global crisis of democracy.
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