By now most people are aware of the various laws passed by, almost exclusively, Republican controlled state legislatures that ostensibly are supposed to prevent voter fraud at the polls (33 states so far. 180 restrictive voting bills have been introduced in 41 states just since the beginning of 2011.) They attempt to accomplish this by requiring photo IDs that are mandated to be produced before someone votes. On its face, it seems logically innocuous. We all have photo IDs (driver’s licenses, etc) that show who we are, don’t we? What’s the big deal? We need to produce an ID when we cash a check, or obtain credit, or get on an airplane, the argument goes, so why not when we show up to vote? Besides there are all those unscrupulous people out there committing voter fraud, impersonating someone else in order to vote more than once, right?
Troy Davis was executed last night. All indications are that there is significant room for doubt as to his guilt. He was convicted solely on the basis of nine separate eyewitness testimonies, seven of which have retracted their testimony. Of the other two, one has remained completely silent since the trial, and the other is an odds-on favorite for the actual killer. This is what we knew, prior to injecting him with a life-taking chemical. If this is what we had known prior to his conviction, he would not have been convicted in a legal system that relies on a “reasonable doubt” standard. If there is no reasonable doubt in what we now know, then the words “reasonable” and “doubt” don’t mean what I learned in law school.
There’s an old trick football play that, according to football lore, was used to win the game at the last minute. It involved the quarterback taking the snap from the center, falling back and pulling his throwing arm back as if to throw the ball way down field. Instead of releasing the ball, however, he holds it in his other hand, pumping the throwing arm as if it still holds the ball. He them hands off to a back, and is left there standing like the Statue if Liberty * with her torch, while the running back runs around behind him and takes the ball down the field for the touchdown and the game winning points. (He then does a little dance in the end zone, spikes the ball and points to the sky with his finger, thanking the Man who made it all happen). The play works because the defense sees a pass play forming and adjusts to guard the receivers, when in fact the running back is doing a fast sprint along the sideline to the goal before they realize they’ve been duped.
PZ regularly posts some of the crazy email he gets to his blog. I’d love to be able to say I get the same shit, but I don’t. Oh, occasionally some whack job Christian shows up here, and leaves really odd comments (I’m looking at you, Gideon), but they usually do it right on the blog, rarely by email. I’ve gotten a few over the years, but never anything to get worked up about.
Recently, Salin Palin, noted Constitutional scholar, opined on the state of the law on The O’Reilly Factor. When asked to compare America today with America in 1776, she read off her palm:
Well, that new kind of world view that I think is kind of a step towards a fundamental transformation of America that some want to see today, I think, again, that it is an attempt to revisit and rewrite history. (entire sentence, sic) I think we should kind of keep this clean, keep it simple, go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant. They’re quite clear that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the 10 Commandments. It’s pretty simple.