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The often-ridiculed Jonah Goldberg is one of the smartest of the right-wing talking heads.  His writing style is to affect a sort of false everyman or perhaps you might call it a sort of studied nescience.  Mr. Goldberg's strength, much like Tony Montana's, is that he doesn't snort his own stash.  

With the possible exception of Jefferson Davis, Mr. Goldberg's favorite president is Calvin Coolidge, because of course, Herbert Hoover did too much about the Great Depression.  But of course, one doesn't see Mr. Goldberg disconnecting his water and electrical power so as not to use federally-generated resources from Depression-era projects, nor, I suspect, does Mr. Goldberg keep his money under his mattress to avoid the evil of FDIC insurance.

Mr. Goldberg enjoys jabbing at liberals, whom he professes to believe are, in true Exorcist fashion, are both child-like and yet immeasurably evil.  His latest piece-de-troll is now uploaded over at National Review Online:

... when the murderer is white or racist or his crimes so incomprehensibly ugly, the anti-death-penalty crowd stays silent. It’s the smart play. If your long-term goal is to abolish the death penalty, you want to pick your cases carefully.

But the simple fact is, if the death penalty is always wrong, it’s wrong in the politically inconvenient cases too.

For this last quote I nominate Mr. Goldberg for the Golden Stopped Clock Award of Duplo-Diurnial Correctitude.

Mr. Goldberg is certainly correct in one thing, and that is that the only really principled approach for the opponents of the death penalty is to oppose it everywhere, for everyone, regardless of of the nature of the crime.

Where Mr. Goldberg is wrong however is his assumption, based on his willingness to perceive liberals as unprincipled, that liberals are afraid to make this open stance, for fear, I suppose, of being seen as "soft on crime", one of the oldest strategies in the Republican playbook.

In fact this turns out not to be the case.  The opposition to the death penalty -- regardless of the crime or the certainly of the proof -- has been strong among the left.  There have been many diaries on this site alone, such as:

* Ty Alper: Why the Execution of a White Supremacist Murderer Matters Too
* Eugene Robinson writes against the death penalty and I disagree in part
* The One About... Troy Davis Is Easy. It's Lawrence Russell Brewer That's Hard.

And this isn't limited to anonymous leftie bloggers.

Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon, a Democrat, announced last year that he was placing a moratorium on all executions so long as he was governor.  

This would be an excellent opportunity for the Republicans to mount a recall election (yes, we have them in Oregon), in Wisconsin-style ... if they could actually find enough genuine interest in this state, where voters have twice repealed and twice reenacted the death penalty.  Since the most recent reenactment in 1984, there have been two executions, both of whom were of persons who gave up their appeals.  Meanwhile there have been, to my own personal knowledge, at least two people wrongly convicted of aggravated murder (but fortunately not executed) who were later shown to have been completely innocent.

In short, Governor Kitzhaber did what Jonah Goldberg and the rest of the right-wing noise machine thought a liberal could never do, which is to openly denounce the entire death penalty regime as a colossal and unfair waste of resources.  

BTW, if anyone thinks the death penalty is fairly meted out, I'd be interested in hearing how Gary Ridgeway, the convicted killer of 48 women, many of them prostitutes whom he'd hired, avoided the death penalty, whereas Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute who was convicted of killing 7 men who hired her, received the death penalty.

This is not to mean that problems with individual cases should not be brought to the attention of the courts and the public.  But it does show that principled opposition may in fact be the better strategy to obtaining the permanent abolish of the death penalty.


Is it possible to fix the death penalty so it can be fairly and impartially carried out?

26%8 votes
73%22 votes

| 30 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 08:09:09 AM PDT

  •  Well, then, I guess... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, kevinpdx, Larsstephens

    ...the right wingers owe Michael Dukakis an apology.

  •  I do. (7+ / 0-)

    Oppose it everywhere, for every crime, in all circumstances.

    For many reasons, but one stands out above all ...

    However egregious the act, however heart-rending and despicable, we have made so many mistakes that there can never be certainty that we will not make another.

    Indeed, we can be certain that we will.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 08:17:45 AM PDT

    •  Goldberg was referencing the Aurora shootings (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BoiseBlue, twigg, john07801, Larsstephens

      But I don't see how one can even talk about that at this point.  Is it really possible to prevent further massacres by the use of the death penalty in that instance?

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 08:23:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, it isn't (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cany, Cartoon Peril, john07801

        and the larger problem is that if we accept the Death Penalty "on principle", then we have to decide to which crimes it applies.

        Then we make mistakes.

        It wouldn't stop mass killings because most of them either end in suicide, or death by cop.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        by twigg on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 09:40:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yup. Stopped clock. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, tytalus, john07801

    But as long as I've been against the death penalty, I've been against it in ALL cases.

    This diary speaks for me.

    The simple truth is that so long as we continue to permit the death penalty to exist anywhere in this country using Lawrence Brewer as our excuse we are going to continue to end up executing a lot of Troy Davis's.

    I know it's not fair, and it's not right. But it is what it is.

    It's time that we stand up and say No More Killing! No ifs. No ands. No buts. No Lawrence Russell Brewers. No Troy Davis's.

    Troy Davis was an innocent man that was executed. Lawrence Brewer was a horrific man that was executed. It's EASY to be against the death penalty in Davis' case. It's IMPORTANT to be against the death penalty in Brewer's case as well. And I'm against both.

    My own (not very well-written) diary on this topic is here.

    You never heard of Paul Ezra Rhoades before today because he was locked up and unable to harm another human being.

    Now he's dead.

    So how are you better for that?

    I wrote that one after Idaho's last execution, after arguing with my girlfriend for two days about the death penalty.

    Rhoades was a terrible, awful, no good person. But killing him did NOTHING. Not for the victims, not for society, not for anyone.

    P.S. I am not a crackpot.

    by BoiseBlue on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 08:23:59 AM PDT

  •  You need to rewatch Scarface. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, RickBoston

    The quote is, "Don't get high on your own supply," and it's uttered not by Tony but by his mentor Frank. Of course, Tony later disregards this advice and calamity ensues. Not that Frank fares any better...

    •  Well, that was only after he'd killed his best (0+ / 0-)

      friend and started a war with the Columbian drug cartel, so I'm cutting Tony a bit of slack there.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 08:34:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is one I took on directly (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    yesterday. Although until that time I did not know Jonah's nickname among liberals.  :)

    "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asimov

    by tytalus on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 08:35:05 AM PDT

  •  here's why i support the death penalty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    although i don't support it.

    The death penalty is an excellent plea bargoning chip. Just the threat of it will make many confess. The problem is, is that the threat of it means nothing if that threat isn't made good on from time to time.

  •  It's my understanding the only reason (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, tytalus

    The Green River killer avoided the death penalty is because he agreed to disclose the locations of other bodies.

    Still, that's a lot of bodies to make that deal. =x

    It gives a lovely light.

    by CayceP on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 08:40:59 AM PDT

    •  Whatever the situation was, they had long (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CayceP, tytalus

      suspected him.  This was probably the world's record in terms of most women killed and no death penalty.  Here's a blog which discusses this:

      Gary Ridgeway, a serial killer and confessed murderer of 48 women in the infamous Green River killings, sits right now in a jail cell fantasizing about what he did. With no remorse whatsoever, Ridgeway slaughtered women for decades with no regard for suffering, loss, or human decency.  Ridgeway was given a plea bargain to save himself from the death penalty so that he might reveal details of the Green River murders, and locate missing corpses of the women that he murdered. To complete this plea bargain, Ridgeway got to revisit the scenes of his crime, and further his warped fantasy life yet again.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 08:47:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Jonah Goldberg smart!? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    Whose stash are you snortin'?

    If your characterization was meant as sarcastic, it was lost on me. Among the many dimwitted blowhards on the fringe right, he is one of the dimwittiest.

    Revenge is a dish best served on White House china.

    by RickBoston on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 09:52:00 AM PDT

  •  Jonah Goldberg, the sight-impaired squirrel /nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Ensanguining the skies...Falls the remorseful day".政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 09:59:30 AM PDT

  •  Goldberg (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    Is just plying an age old right wing trick of trying to point out "hypocrisy" on the left because of some thing we're not talking about that apparently we're supposed to be.

    For example, they've totally convinced themselves that feminists are "silent" when it comes to bad treatment of women in the Islamic world.  It's very bizarre, but it plays into their bizarre fantasy that the left wants sharia law and so feminists hold off criticizing muslim nations or something.

    He even admits it is sensible for death penalty opponents to focus atttention on the cases most likely to move public opinion (duh) so really he's just trolling us to waste energy and resources on Holmes, who, absent an insanity finding, is almost a sure bet to be executed.  I don't see welfare and safety net opponents like Goldberg making a case over social security cheques going to disabled veterans or 9/11 victim families.  No, they try and find cadillac driving welfare queens, and when they can't find them, they just invent them.  

    Fuck you Jonah Goldberg.  As usual.

  •  Jonah Goldberg (0+ / 0-)

    reads like a high-school reporter if adolescents reported on politics and life-and-death issues.  

    As the son of Lucienne Goldberg, a Nixon "dirty-tricks" operative and Linda Tripp's mentor, he's been raised in an environment of sleezy politics and lies.  His writing reflects that.

    I've never known anyone who opposed the death penalty in some cases.  That's just as fallacious as those who favor DP only for really, really, really egregious murders.  As soon as you OK the punishment, you have to draw a line to separate the kills from the non-kills.  And that's where innocent people die.

    It doesn't sound like Goldberg is opposed to DP but if he were to change his thinking, I'd stop talking about his mother.

    Only weak men fear strong women

    by john07801 on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 06:13:41 PM PDT

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