Gun control

There is abundant evidence that our cities are safer with guns. One of the most remarkable examples of this simple maxim is Washington, D.C.

Thirty-two years ago, lawmakers banned gun ownership in D.C. Over the next three decades, the murder rate in the nation’s capital skyrocketed 134 percent. Yet in the two years since a federal appeals court overturned the D.C. ban of handguns, the incidence of gun violence has dropped dramatically.


Anti-gay attacks and hate crimes — why most Republicans don’t get it

The vote in the House of Representatives yesterday to extend hate crimes from a victim’s race, color, religion or national origin to include sexual orientation was a matter of common decency. In the end, 131 Republicans voted against it, while 44 supported it.

When it comes to fairness and equality and gay rights, the train has left the station. Ending discrimination, preventing bias when hiring and firing, allowing gay couples to live open and free lives, extending full benefits to those couples, and, yes, gay marriage is the future. Tolerance and acceptance is becoming the norm, not the exception.


Is the death penalty defensible?

I never agree with Bob Herbert, the New York Times columnist. But on this one, he may have a point. He wrote a column today about the plight of Cameron Todd Willingham, a Texan who was put to death for the crime of starting a fire in his own home, a fire that killed his three small children.

He was charged with murder, and refused to take a plea deal because he insisted that he was innocent. It turned out that he was right and the folks who had him executed him were wrong. Later evidence proved to exonerate him, but that exoneration did little good. He is still dead.


The Beer Summit

It’s an Irish thing to work out differences over a beer.

When Officer Crowley told the president, “Let’s talk about it over a beer,” he was inviting Mr. Obama and Mr. Gates into a longstanding Irish tradition of fostering better relationships over some libations.

The Irish are friendlier when they have a couple of beers in them. It loosens them up a bit and gives them a chance to relax their inhibitions.

Drinking at the local pub is, of course, an Irish tradition stretching back generations. Back in the old country, it was at the local pub where information was shared, music was played, stories told, politics discussed.

Fighting the Drug Cartels: Rhetoric vs. Reality

Set aflame and burning out of control, the U.S.-Mexico drug trade is devouring everything in its sight, including money that the U.S. doesn’t have. So far in 2009, the U.S. has allocated $700 million to the Mexican government to combat drug cartels. In addition, the U.S. traditionally spends over $17 billion a year on Nixon’s War on Drugs.

These numbers are only going to get more out of control as the U.S. further arms the U.S.-Mexico border with Iraq- and Afghanistan-style military armaments.


Their budgets in crisis, governors, legislators, and prison officials across the nation are making or considering policy changes that will likely remove tens of thousands of offenders from prisons and parole supervision.
David Crary, Prisons Feeling Budget Crunch. A.P.

So, common cents may accomplish what common sense could not. Alternatives to prison always made sense, fiscally and as a correctional approach; but it took the current budget stress to force public officials to consider other, better ways to deal with many of the people convicted of crimes.

The Fix is in on Blago

Americans love a political scoundrel. And God knows we’ve seen a lot of them.

Mayor James Michael Curley ruled Boston from his prison cell. Wilbur Mills had his Ways and Means with stripper Fannie Fox. And James Traficant cried “Beam me up, Mr. Speaker” all the way to his federal prison cell.

But we’ve never seen any scoundrel quite like Rod Blagojevich.

Mexico's Growing Threat

Viciously attacked from all sides, our great nation is forced to turn its attention to that which is immediately present, while paying little notice to long-term threats with frighteningly powerful, unhinging capabilities. The historic election of President Obama, a sluggish economy and two wars have created a thick fog with low visibility.

Once clearly on the national security radar, Mexico border security has nearly disappeared from our sights. Mexico is facing its own battle within — and they're not winning their internal struggle.

Thoughts on Capital Punishment

The blurb in The New York Times today caught my eye, and proved a point. Americans — right or left — need to clear their heads about capital punishment.

Today’s blurb (A21) reports that Richard Cooey, convicted of raping and killing two women in 1986, unsuccessfully appealed his execution to the United Sates Supreme Court. His reason: he is 5-foot-6 and weighs 267 pounds, so a lethal injection under Ohio law might cause Cooey agonizing pain, in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Lie and Order

I admit it. I watch "Law and Order.” I'm not proud of that, considering its leading players are cynical cops who routinely bully each and every citizen they encounter and prosecutors who daily violate the letter and spirit of the Constitution in their simple-minded effort to convict or execute anyone they've decided is a "bad guy.”

What? That's not what the show’s characters are about? They're heroes, not thugs, you say? The program is a look at the brutal world of crime-fighting on the mean streets, you say?

We're both right. It is a jungle out there. Except that while celebrating the exploits of our so-called protectors, it glosses over their willingness to run roughshod over our fundamental rights in their zealous pursuit of truth, justice and the American way.