Free Speech 5/10/11

End Capital Punishment now
Mr. Walker,
[You said] “We are the only civilized country in the world that still kills its citizens.”
This is true. Most of the world’s executions are in China, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, the United States and Saudi Arabia. What is that saying? “You are known by the company you keep?” I am a retired Orthodox priest. Last year at this time I was visiting three prisoners on Ohio’s death row. Since then, Michael Beuke was executed on last Ascension Thursday. Mr. Beuke was the most remorseful, repentant and rehabilitated prisoner I ever met. The sentencing judge in Hamilton County wrote the Parole Board that Beuke was not repentant. That judge hadn’t seen Michael Beuke for more than 27 years! This is justice?
Joe D’Ambrosio was released after 20 years on death row, and his criminal record was expunged. Joe’s co-defendant is Michael Keenan. The facts in his case are identical to those in the D’Ambrosio case, yet Joe was released and Michael languishes in prison. It’s time for Ohio to abolish capital punishment before there are economic sanctions against Ohio-based companies.
– Rev. Richard Rosenbaum
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
[RE: “Death and Dollars” by Tim Walker, 5/3/11]

Who cares?
Not to be whatever, but most people with iPhones pretty willingly provide all this information via applications. You click yes or no on most apps to activate tracking in order to personalize and enhance services. I could really care less if Steve Jobs wants to know where I work or eat lunch, but maybe I’m in the minority here.

– Tiffany Whitten
Dayton, Ohio
[RE: Debate Forum Topic, 5/3/11]

iPhone too amazing to care
I totally bought an iPhone yesterday.  Guess what? It’s so freaking awesome. I don’t care if Apple tracks my every move. That thing actually downloaded my Google calendar without even being asked. Then it bought me dinner and rubbed my shoulders while reading Robert Frost. Then my wife walked in and it was really awkward, so I threw her out of the house and kept the phone. Whatever Apple wants to do to improve my experience, have at it.
– Ben
[RE: Debate Forum Topic, 5/3/11]

GOP’s Growing Sideshow
Terrorism’s global icon is dead. His sudden demise will affect our world and our politics on every level. A president who only days ago was mired in a birth certificate swamp has earned nationwide acclaim regarding the most vexing foreign policy issue of our time. In some ways, life after Osama bin Laden feels like a different world. Yet politics never occurs in a vacuum. The issue of President Obama’s full birth certificate release, the inconsequence of which is now embarrassingly obvious to most everyone, will provide an ongoing contrast between him and his opponents.
It goes without saying that nothing about the bin Laden operation was political (only rabid conspiracy theorists will discount the post-strike response from defense leaders of all stripes). However, as time passes and the high-risk bin Laden attack settles in our minds, with its snapshot of Obama as robust foreign-policy leader, the fact that GOP leaders were condoning the birther circus while the military attack was going into motion will stand out.
The certificate release itself brought on a whirlwind of analysis, yet one argument that never came up was that the administration might have acted in part to preempt GOP candidates looking to make a clean break with their party’s fringe. It would be nearly impossible now – to imagine any GOP opponent not condemning birtherism. But, when the issue was still relevant, they failed to do so. Obama’s release of the document removed any chance for them to act (no matter how tardy) on the issue.
It was Obama, the candidate, who found a way to set himself apart from a much-maligned Washington status quo via his consistent opposition to the Iraq war. A Republican disowning birtherism could have shown a similar independence and gained easy points in their speeches by calling out Washington’s toxic partisanship (which is a current pet-peeve of voters). It would have provided such a candidate a strong argument for how they could win back 2008 general election voters.
Instead, the rare GOP protests against birthers were tepid, and finally the president himself had to clean up the humiliating mess. Now, the issue will go back to festering quietly among those extremists the GOP has been enabling over the years. Without a doubt, that fringe is large enough to haunt a 2012 GOP fearful of challenging it.
In the larger political picture, economic concerns will return to the fore. Events like the bin Laden mission tend to provide only unsustained polling bumps for sitting presidents. But the death of Al-Qaeda’s leader also provides closure for the 9/11 wound – and it stands as a strong corrective for a variety of criticisms of Obama. GOP candidates will have to dig deeper than winking at birthers to beat Obama.
For one, Republicans can plan on hearing plenty of 2012 Obama surrogates whipping the GOP for becoming “so irrational that the President himself had to silence them -while busy with planning the Osama attack.” The Obama campaign, free of a primary challenger, will reap rewards simply from hinting to voters that they risk electing the party of Trump if they vote Republican. All politics aside, the GOP’s condoning of bigotry-tinged birtherism will linger on as a disgrace.
– Craig Kaufman

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