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Ariel Castro, the kidnapper who held Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus, and Amanda Berry  hostage for years in his home, was finally sentenced today.

He had pled guilty to over 900 charges, and was sentenced on many of them to consecutive 8-10 year terms.

Sickeningly, he impregnated the women more than once; in one case, after Knight became pregnant, Castro starved and beat her until she miscarried. As a result, he was charged with aggravated murder, another charge to which he pled guilty. [Of course, he claims he was not guilty, but just did it, effectively, "thinking of the victims."] In his statement, he said, rather disingenuously, "I am not a violent person. I simply kept them there without them being able to leave." [Because, apparently, rape is not a "violent" crime.]

Judge Michael Russo, in handing down the sentence, noted that Castro's vision of what he did was vastly at odds with the evidence: "In your mind, there was harmony and a happy household. I'm not sure there's anyone else in America who would agree with you."

The good news is that, in agreeing to avoid a trial where he would be eligible for the death penalty (for aggravated murder), Castro's sentence is very harsh:

* He has been sentenced to life without parole, plus 1,000 years to be served consecutively. As a practical matter, he will die in prison.
* He has waived his right to appeal his sentence.
* He has agreed to forfeit his home (which will be demolished).
* He has agreed that he will not be able to profit from his crime in any way (e.g., no money from tell-all books, interviews, or anything else).

It is telling that even his own son has said he does not plan to visit his father in prison.

I can't blame him.


Ariel Castro's sentence

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Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 12:43 PM PDT

In defense of "open" primaries

by Samer

Today, Steve Singiser talked about the "folly" of "open" primaries: specifically, California's "top two" system, which, because of its specific rules, allowed Rep. Gary Miller to keep his seat.

I agree with Steve that it points out a bug in the system. I disagree, however, with his conclusions:

The open primary system was well-intentioned, but as the old saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. If voters are not willing to scrap the primary structure all together, it needs several fixes to it, at a minimum. A party should never be penalized for encouraging multiple candidates to seek an office, so a logical starting point would be to eliminate the possibility of a single party holding both general election positions. Time will tell if the two major political parties, or merely those interested in solid representative governance, will try to put a measure to that effect on the ballot.
Follow me below the fleur-de-Kos and I'll explain why.

California's top two system

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Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 06:37 PM PDT

NFL Draft discussion

by Samer

An interesting night. So far, in the first ten picks, we have three offensive tackles, two guards, and three defensive ends. . . . and zero QBs and RBs.

A couple of significant trades, with Miami and St. Louis both trading up.

So far:

1. Chiefs: OT Eric Fisher (Central Michigan)
2. Jaguars: OT Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M)
3. Dolphins: DE Dion Jordan (Oregon)
4. Eagles: OT Lane Johnson (Oklahoma)
5. Lions: DE Ziggy Ansah (BYU)
6. Browns: DE Barkevious Mingo (LSU)++
7. Cardinals: OG Jonathan Cooper (UNC)
8. Rams: WR Tavon Austin (West Virginia)
9. JEST Jets: CB Dee Milliner (Alabama)
10. Titans: OG Chance Warmack (Alabama)

++He has a younger brother named Hughtavious. :-)

So. . . . feel free to cheer, gripe, or b–– about your (least) favorite team's picks here!


Are you watching the draft?

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Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 09:50 PM PDT

Music of relief

by Samer

The day of the Newtown shootings, I posted a diary entitled Music for consolation.

I could have reposted that diary, or posted a second one with more music, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. Instead, I figured I would wait, in the hopes that I would soon be able to post this diary instead.

Below, you can listen to a few pieces of music that, in my mind at least, exemplify a feeling of relief and/or gratitude.


Which of these works did you enjoy the most?

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Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 04:08 PM PDT

Reports of shots fired in Watertown

by Samer

On MSNBC right now, they've had multiple shots fired in the last few minutes.

Police are clearing the streets. Boston PD has said residents of Franklin St. in Watertown should stay in place.

Unlike earlier, when everyone was obeying the lockdown request, now a large crowd appears to be gathering to see what's going on.


On Facebook, I posted this comment last night, basically to vent:

So let me see if I understand this correctly. . . . this week's events are indications that what we need are FEWER restrictions on weapons that can kill?


And, BTW, thanks, NRA, for also making it harder to trace the explosives used in the Marathon bombings. And by thanks, I mean #%@!%# you.

A few minutes later, one of the few true RWers I know (yes, I actually have a couple of them on Facebook), posted this (emphasis mine):
If you think that this week has indicated we need more restrictions on weapons that can kill, get ready for everyone to submit to a background check before they can buy pressure cookers, timers, nails, and ball-bearings.

I tend to think that we need an approach that will address the desire rather than the means.

As I replied:
Ummm, I do believe there's something important missing from your list. . . .

Should I unfriend this person?

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Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:57 AM PDT

Mitch McConnell proves he's a jackass

by Samer

This will be a very, very short diary, because, well, res ipsa loquitur.

From the Mitch McConnell campaign's Facebook page:

"We love the memes you send us! Keep them coming!"

In reference to this:

Mitch McConnell is a jackass

Is Mitch McConnell a proven jackass?

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Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 05:03 PM PST

Music for consolation

by Samer

Grief is universal, but how we grieve is not.

While I cannot imagine what it must be like to have to grieve the loss of a child, I have had to grieve the loss of loved ones.

Personally, I find solace in music. Below the fold, I've provided links to a few pieces of music that I've found consoling.

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This will be a relatively short diary.

A blog at the Financial Times discusses Romney's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week he's had.

It then goes on to explain why this video is so awful for him:

Even with America’s relatively low voter turnout rate, Mr Romney’s first instinct to defend his words seemed reckless. Is he now committed to stick to his guns? If indeed he refuses to retract anything but his inelegant wording, we are probably in for a ruthless stretch of the campaign (having celebrated Thanksgiving early, the Obama campaign is now moving onto Christmas). Alternatively, should Mr Romney waver and then try to retract, the backlash from the right could be strong. There is also the problem of his reputation for flip-flopping.

Whichever way you look at it, Mr Romney’s campaign is in trouble. It is possible for a politician to insult some of the people some of the time and get away with it. To insult half the people indefinitely looks like a poor bet.

In a nutshell, he has two choices. First, he can be Mr. Etch-a-Sketch and try to paper things over with the voters he's insulted by "walking this back" somehow. His first attempt went over about as well as the Hindenburg, and doing so would just help alienate the conservatives he needs in order to win.

Second, he can "stand firm" here. That would be relatively new political ground for him, but at least he would be honest. Of course, it would alienate a significant percentage of the voting population.

Either way, Mother Jones and James Carter just threw Mr. Romney an anchor.


What will Mr. Romney do?

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Fri May 11, 2012 at 09:08 PM PDT

The photo Mitt Romney sent me

by Samer

I don't understand how it happened, or why, but for some inexplicable reason the Republicans seem to believe that I am one of them. Just today, I received two letters from them: one an "invitation" to "join" the RNC (i.e., give them money). I admit I haven't opened that one yet; I imagine I might send them a few pieces of newspaper in the sure-to-be-enclosed prepaid reply envelope.

Anyhow, the reason I didn't open that one was because of the large, slick envelope that read DO NOT BEND—PHOTO ENCLOSED.

And, yikes, what a photo it was.

You can see it below the fleur-de-Kos.


Would you trust the man in that photo with $10, let alone the Presidency?

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I think we've reached the epitome of awful. It'll be hard to top this:

Uploaded with


Can you think of a better/worse headline than this?

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Tue Jan 17, 2012 at 11:17 AM PST

The anti-Romney billboard I want to see

by Samer

My humble suggestion (done in about two minutes with Paint) if Mitt refuses to release all his tax returns:

Uploaded with

I'd call it poetic justice.


Is this a good idea?

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