Sunday, May 27, 2012


Here are two new Lion of the Left posts!  Enjoy!

"...It is one of Wall Street’s best kept secrets:  Securities firms are allowed to selectively confer with favored large investing clients about crucial information as they prepare IPO's." (WSJ-5/24/12)

     Facebook was about to go public, but companies like Morgan Stanley called up "special" (meaning rich) clients and told them Facebook's initial valuation had dropped in the week leading up to the IPO.  (Initial Public Offering)  This meant the initial share price was too high.  Many of the "special" clients sat out the first few days of trading and didn't buy any shares and didn't lose any money.

     Meanwhile, average investors, without the secret information, jumped in.  A 52-year-old retired medical-device salesperson bought 3,000 shares at $42 a share and lost $30,000.  Another bought 2,000 shares and lost $18,000.  This scenario was repeated over and over again.  The rich and powerful clients were warned, while the average investor was left in the dark.

     We have watched a series of high-powered brokers brought down recently on charges of insider trading.  One got 11 years in prison.  We are told insider trading "games" the system and gives a few select individuals an unfair advantage, yet numerous big investors were warned about Facebook's sliding value even as the company raised its initial share price.  They avoided huge losses for their clients, not because they are better...faster...or smarter, but because they had inside information.  What's the difference?

     Wall Street banks are spending millions lobbying Congress to water down the Dodd/Frank financial services reform legislation.  They are pouring money into Republican congressional coffers and showering Mitt Romney with their largesse.  Obama is anathema to them for having the audacity to want new regulations to rein them in.  At the same time we watch J.P. Morgan lose somewhere between $2 and $5 billion and watch their chief executive officer, James Dimon, admit not even he understands what his bank was doing.  Now, while analysts are privately trash talking Facebook's value, the privileged elite are warned, but for the average investor it is caveat emptor.

   How do the 1% become the 1%?  They cheat.  The system is rigged.  The benefit from special treatment, under-the-table deals and a political system where their money prevents government from imposing prudent restrictions on their activities.  The big banks are bigger than ever having swallowed most of their competition with the government's help.  The fed opened its discount window to big banks and allowed them to borrow at almost 0% interest and then they turned around to lend (not very much) or re-invest in the very same shaky products which pushed the financial system to the brink of destruction in the first place.  J.P. Morgan lost billions playing around with credit default swaps.  Yet, Wall Street is fighting tooth and nail to stop reform of the whole collateralized debt system.  Reformers want to make it more transparent.  Wall Street likes things in the dark thank you.

     Dodd/Frank still leaves us with banks which are too big to fail.  These banks need to be broken up and reduced in size so they can better be regulated and risk controlled.  The Volker Rule needs to be strengthened.  (Republicans have been trying to weaken it every day since it was proposed)  Banks cannot be allowed to play financial chicken with federally insured deposits.

     I don't know how many more examples you need before you say enough is enough, but imagine what could have been done with the trillions of tax dollars which were used to prop up the banks.  The housing crisis and the student loan debt crisis as well as more economic stimulus all could have been implemented and Americans would be back at work, consumers spending and a weak economic recovery would be robust.

     The Wall Street Journal summed it up best when it concluded, "...instead the lackluster (Facebook) deal...has illustrated that pockets of the financial world remain firmly stacked in favor of the industry's biggest players."

     Those pockets are huge and they continue to resist any attempt to level the playing field.  They have help from a presidential candidate who promises to kill Dodd/Frank and further de-regulate the financial and banking industries.  James Dimon is thrilled to here this...the rest of us?  Not so much...


 The trial in a Philadelphia courtroom is a first in this country.  A Roman Catholic monsignor is charged with covering up allegations of sexual abuse by priests in the Philadelphia archdiocese.  Monsignor William Lynn was secretary for the clergy in Philadelphia under Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.  He is accused of covering up, transferring and otherwise failing to report the actions of a number of priests who abused children.  From the witness stand, Lynn testified it didn't matter what he knew or thought about these priests.  He had no authority to remove them, transfer them or censure them, unless they admitted  their actions to him in person.  (few did)  It was all up to the cardinal what steps would be taken to deal with the situation.  He is absolutely telling the truth.

     In the uproar about all the sex abuse cases, one fact seems to be either missed, forgotten or ignored.  All power in a diocese, (a specific geographical area),  rests with the bishop.  The bishop is considered corporation sole.  All decrees and power run through him.  When it was revealed the bishop of Santa Rosa, Ca. had lost millions of dollars of donations playing the stock market, nothing could be done because once it's donated, the money is his.  He can't steal from himself.  The same is true about personnel matters.  The bishop, or cardinal in this case, is the supreme authority.  Msgr. Lynn, could only recommend courses of action.  If the cardinal did not act, nothing could be done.

     This is the emperor-has-no-clothes moment for the Roman church.  Individual priests abused their position and authority to commit unspeakable acts, but the truth is, it was the Catholic hierarchy, bishops...cardinals...pope...who actively sought to cover-up, obfuscate and bury all these matters so no one would find out.  Other than Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, no other American, Irish, English, Australian, Belgian, French or German prelate has lost their position due to their participation in a world-wide conspiracy to cover up the facts.  (Law was given a very cushy job in Rome by Pope John Paul II.)

     The person who should be sitting in the courtroom is Cardinal Bevilacqua.  Unfortunately, he died in January and was never charged.  Msgr. Lynn is collateral damage.  He went along with the cardinal's policies like a good soldier, and thus bears moral responsibility, but the real culprit, in every case throughout the nation, is the bishop.  All power rests with him.  The bishop of Rome is no different.  Pope John Paul II did virtually nothing to address this problem.  His predecessors were equally culpable and silent.  When John Paul II was informed about allegations of abuse by a prominent Mexican priest, who founded a religious order, the Pope ignored the reports and championed the priest.  He protected Law and many others.  He was not alone.  His fellow bishops repeated the same actions all over the world particularly in the United States.

     The Roman Catholic hierarchy has escaped responsibility and accountability for too long.  Individual priests have been prosecuted and removed, but they could not have operated as long as they did, nor caused the damage they caused, if the bishops had not enabled their behavior over and over again because they were more concerned about the image of the Church than they were the victims of the abuse.  This is the same hierarchy now attacking American nuns because of their refusal to be silent about everything from poverty to health care to the role of women in the Church.  The Pope and his fellow bishops are quick to condemn women religious after having ignored or tolerated a scandal of monstrous proportions for over 50 years.

     Msgr. Lynn is a scapegoat and he should be found not guilty legally.  He had no power to make the necessary changes.  His boss, and bishops and cardinals all over the world are the real villains here, but it appears they will never be called to answer for their least not in this life.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


1.   They say hindsight is 20/20, but the reality is many of the public policy disasters which cost billions of tax dollars, usually made things worse, and could have been avoided had people been willing to listen to critics instead of allowing themselves to be stampeded with appeals to emotion or vengeance or both, became law and now we have to somehow fix the mess.

     I was there when authorities found the body of Polly Klass outside of Cloverdale.  It was tragic episode and Richard Allen Davis should have gotten a life sentence for his actions.  However, using her as an emotional catalyst, some law and order types decided California needed a new law for serial offenders.  "Three strikes and your out" was catchy and politicians and media-types jumped on the bandwagon to see it pass.  Ronn Owens beat the drums daily demanding action and asking people to sign initiative petitions.  He promised this would prevent what happened to Polly Klass from ever happening again.  Bad guys would be off the street forever.  If you opposed his point of view he accused you of being a modern "officer Krumky" from West Side Story, meaning you were a sap and soft on crime.  (interesting isn't it how proponents of these things attack like this...opposition to the Iraq war was equated with treason and lack of patriotism by the same media-types)  Many of us opposed three strikes.  I said it gave too much power to prosecutors and took judges out of the loop and the tipping point was the provision in which the third strike didn't have to be a felony.  I knew this was a disaster in the making.  It was equally clear this was going to dramatically increase the size of the state's prison population at a huge cost to the taxpayer.  Unfortunately, emotion and vengeance won.  Three strikes was a bonanza for the guard's union, the most powerful union in the state.  District attorneys loved it and it felt so good to vote to punish all those bad guys.

     There is an initiative for the California ballot to re-think three strikes and make it less onerous.  Turns out, everything critics like me predicted has happened.  The prison population skyrocketed and costs went through the roof.  The prison budget is bigger than the budget for the entire U.C. system.  (what more proof do you need about how warped our priorities are when we spend more tax dollars on prisons than we do on the best public university system in the world.)  "Three strikes" hasn't reduced violence nor has it stopped horrific crimes and it is a fiscal nightmare.  Anyone who objectively examined it when it was proposed, saw all this coming.  However, stories of father's leading the fight for this law because of tragedies which befell their daughters won out.  Anytime someone uses blatantly emotional appeals, tells you not to worry about the cost and promises to fix an intractable problem with a slogan, should cause your "spidey sense" to go into overdrive and warn you to be very careful.  When this same law is used to advance media careers as well, it's a recipe for disaster which now has to be fixed.

  2.   A new study says college student loan debt could be the next fiscal time bomb for our struggling economy.  Students are graduating on average owing about $25,000.  However, the real story is students going to most private universities, and most of the prominent, well-known public universities, are graduating owing easily more than $50,000 and upwards of $100,000.  The study says these students will find it very difficult to get post-graduate jobs which pay enough to avoid defaulting on these loans or take home pay will be eaten up by the monthly payment for outstanding loan amounts.  Even worse, student loan debt could make it impossible to get a loan for a first home purchase causing a huge drop in housing demand by the next generation which would have huge fiscal implications for the economy.  Really?  Ya think?  Where have you been?  Right now Congress is debating what the interest rate should be for some of these loans because if it doubles, it could seriously depress economic growth and result in many students not being able to cope with huge increases in monthly payments.  All of a sudden everyone is weeping and gnashing their teeth about all the debt students, or their parents, are taking on.  I have been doing my best imitation of Cassandra on this subject for 10 years at least.  I pointed out how much debt students were shouldering and predicted it would become so burdensome, it would mean young people couldn't afford a mortgage, nor become new consumers because of how much of a bite loan payments would take of their pay.  This wasn't and isn't rocket science.  It must be addressed soon.  A dual track of holding down university costs and reducing tuition has to be pursued.  College should, in fact, be free.  It's as simple as that.  Free college would do more to goose our economy than 10 stimulus packages.  We spent trillions of tax dollars to shore up the financial system so that J.P. Morgan could lose up to $5 billion playing with depositor’s money.  (you have to love Wall Street)   It would cost about $50 billion a year to make college free. (we spent this much in five months of war in Iraq)  The end result would be more money in the hands of middle class parents...more money in graduates pockets...more money for consumers to spend and since 2/3 of the economy is driven by consumer spending, it would grow at a healthy rate, putting people back to work.  Much more important, anyone who could qualify, could go to college.  We read study after study about the need for an educated workforce to compete globally in the new world economic environment.  This would guarantee we could compete.  At the very least, we need to give graduates a way to reduce this mountain of debt by offering them a chance to teach or otherwise volunteer for one or two years in disadvantaged communities benefitting both the communities and the students.  Mine was not the only voice, yet once again no one listened and we are trying to close the barn door after the horse has already gotten out.  What does it take to engage the average taxpayer's interest in this country and in spending their money intelligently?

     Finally, I know he has disappointed many of you.  Certainly, I'm not happy with him, but if President Obama is not re-elected, the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt, the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson and the safety net of countless Democratic Congresses, will be shred to pieces.  One look at Paul Ryan's budget...some time spent listening to Mitt Romney advocating running this nation like he ran Bain Capital...reading the agenda of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (the most evil organization in America) will tell you they will gut everything from Social Security to Head Start to tax credits for the working poor while cutting taxes for the 1% and increasing military spending.  It is a recipe for economic and social Darwinism, which this country walked away from a long time ago.  Women will find access to reproductive services cut off.  Middle class students will find it harder to get access to college.  Unions will be busted and wages driven to the lowest possible denominator and environmental regulations would be controlled by the industries most affected.  Regressives will finally get their wish and return us to the Gilded Age.  Look it up, and see if a return to such conditions sounds like the America you were born and raised in.  It isn't just a matter of voting.  It is also a demand to juice up others so they get out and vote...contribute to political campaigns...volunteer wherever you can and get involved.  If Obama loses...I TOLD YOU SO!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The student body at Georgetown University wants to invite Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius to speak to them.  The president of Georgetown believes a university should be a marketplace of ideas for students to sample, and he is fine with Sibelius addressing the school.  However, the cardinal of Washington D.C., and the Catholic bishop's association are outraged by the invitation and want to prevent her appearance.  Why?  Sibelius championed a change in the health care law mandating employers provide access to contraception for employees through their health insurance plans and required Catholic institutions, like hospitals and social service agencies, to comply.  Georgetown is a "Catholic" university and thus Sibelius should not be allowed to speak if the authorities disagree with her and her politics.

     What makes the bishop's position so hypocritical and politically tone deaf is just weeks ago Congressman Paul Ryan was allowed to speak at Georgetown and the cardinal and bishops didn't say a word about the invitation.  Over 90 members of the Georgetown faculty signed a letter protesting Ryan and his claim his budget proposal was consistent with his Catholic faith.  Ryan claims his budget, which rips the social safety net to shreds, increases military spending, adds to the deficit and cuts taxes for the richest Americans, is a document Jesus could embrace.  Ryan's budget would decimate programs from food stamps to Head Start to Medicaid and end Social Security and Medicare as we know them.

     One of the key tenets of the Catholic Church’s reading of scripture is a call for each individual to support a fundamental option for the poor.  It means working for and supporting programs for the poor, disadvantaged, the sick and elderly of our society.  The Jesuits, and others who signed the open letter to Ryan, pointed to his budget, which passed the House recently, as violating this fundamental teaching.  It is impossible to see the historical progress of the Church's social gospel over the last century and claim, as Ryan does, his budget is faithful to this understanding.

     Ryan's budget increases the deficit over 10 years.  It increases the gap between the rich 1% and everyone else.  It puts the priorities of our war machine over the needs of our families and children.  It proposes cutting taxes for the richest Americans and eliminating the earned income tax deduction for working Americans who earn under $28,000 a year.  It does nothing to address the immoral treatment of investment income verses earned income for tax purposes...another sap to the rich.

     Despite Ryan thumbing his nose at over 100 years of Catholic social teaching, and putting the needs of the rich and corporations over those of the downtrodden and needy, Ryan was allowed to bring his Darwinistic philosophy to Georgetown and allowed to try to sell it to the students with no interference from the Catholic hierarchy.

     Sibelious is invited to speak, fronting an agency which is trying to expand health care to millions of the poor who cannot afford meal programs and food distribution ideas to combat hunger...fight to control everything from diabetes to obesity and other health concerns and to serve "the least of our brothers and sisters", but she is persona non grata according to those running the Church in America.

     This same dispute arose when President Obama was invited to speak at Notre Dame.  President Bush, who instigated a war which the bishops labeled "immoral", supports the death penalty which the Church condemns, and encouraged torture, could speak at any Catholic institution without any interference from the bishops because he was opposed to contraception and abortion.  Does anyone see a disconnect here?

     At a time when the Vatican is attacking American nuns and their activities in this a time when sex scandals still roil the waters all over the a time when the church cannot produce enough priests to serve American Catholics and at a time when the Church continues its sexist and sinful policies toward women, the hierarchy objects to a speech by the secretary for more healthcare and more human services and welcomes with open arms a politician who proposes a budget social Darwinists would love, but Jesus would condemn.  (if you doubt me, read Matthew 25:31 and following)

     It is hard to be a conscientious Catholic these days in America.  Church leadership is obsessed with sex and reproduction and orientation issues while millions of children go to bed hungry, millions of Americans struggle to find and hold onto shelter, and we continue military adventurism and drone strikes all over the globe.

     I don't know how many collective toes the bishops have left, but they are using a Gatling gun to eliminate them as fast as they can and their moral influence over average Catholics is going up in the smoke.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Hello everyone!  Here are three new posts from The Lion of the Left!  Enjoy!

 On July 21 of this year, the Volker Rule is to take affect reducing the kind of risky financial activities big banks used to set off our worst economic depression since 1929.  Part of the Dodd/Frank Financial Reform legislation, the Volker rule is supposed to limit the banks ability to use their own money to make risky financial deals.  Banks like Goldman Sachs, J. P. Morgan and Bank of America have spent millions trying to water down the rule claiming it will hurt liquidity and raise prices in markets.  Besides, they say, we have learned our lesson and won't ever do it again and don't need further regulation.

     J.P. Morgan, this week, has now admitted it lost over $2 billion because of a trade gone badly.  In a scene right out of a Vegas casino, a gambler in London made a bet.  He bet billions the economy would continue to improve and a basket of companies would continue to see their value go up.  The gamble was based on a Chicago mob favorite tactic, the protection game.  J.P. Morgan bought credit default swaps, in essence insurance policies, agreeing to pay if the company's value decreased.  The world economy slowed down, the company's value decreased and Morgan is out over $2 billion.

     When first asked about this disaster on April 13, 2012, Morgan CEO James Dimon dismissed the question as a, "...tempest in a teapot."  Now, Mr. Dimon says he didn't really know what was going on in his own bank.  Which is it?  He seemed to know enough to dismiss the inquiries as not worthy of concern, but then says he didn't know what was going on.

     According to the Wall Street Journal, the gambler in London had made similar bets totaling over $300 billion.  This was 15% of the company's total assets.  Mr. Dimon says, now, he didn't understand the level of risk being taken on and the company's actions were, "...sloppy...full of errors...bad judgment."
     It's as if the financial meltdown never occurred and it's business as usual on Wall Street.  The same people who needed trillions of tax dollars to bail them out are at it again.  They have succeeded in watering down financial reform to the point they are in a position to lose billions again and they are fighting to prevent even the most minimal of rules to be imposed on their actions.

     One of the proposals they are resisting with all their might, besides the Volker rule, is an attempt to regulate the $700 Trillion (with a T) derivative market of which credit default swaps are just one piece.  J.P. Morgan's own analysts didn't understand what this high roller in London was doing or how risky his actions were.  While the loss is "only"$2 billion or so, it is a replay of exactly the conditions which led to the fall of Lehman Brothers, A.I.G. and the global financial markets.  Banks like Morgan and Goldman Sachs and Citigroup were " too big to fail" and after taking all these risks, making huge profits which they gave to themselves and their 1% friends, and then abusing the nation's financial trust in them, were given trillions of tax dollars, returned to profitability and then refused to lend to small businesses on Main Street or assist in helping America's economy to recover.

     This gambler in London isn't using $300 billion to create new jobs or new industries.  He wasn't using the money to make something or spur consumption.  He wasn't feeding economic progress.  He was playing high stakes poker plain and simple.  This is the problem with all of Wall Street.  They resist reform and regulation saying it will hurt their ability to invest and be innovative, yet it's clear their innovations are the same as they were in 2007-2008 and all these investments add little value to the American way of life.

     De-regulation always hurts the average, gum-chewing American.  De-regulation always benefits the industry and corporations it targets putting more cash in the hands of the 1%.  De-regulation is shorthand for let us do anything we want, take any risk, gamble however we wish, knowing we will get the taxpayer or rate payer to bail us out if we fail.  I wonder if Americans will ever rise up and put an end to de-regulation?  Will taxpayer's outrage lead to regulation of the derivative's market before another disaster occurs?  Will we continue to let Wall Street's money, currently flowing like a tsunami into Republican coffers, stave off the much-needed regulation they deserve?

     James Dimon is supposed to be the golden boy of Wall Street.  His reputation is someone detail oriented and intimately involved in everything going on at J.P. Morgan.  Now we find out he had no idea an employee, who is still employed by them, was gambling with $300 billion of the bank's money.  Even worse, this is exactly the kind of thing the Volker rule is supposed to rein in.  Oh, Mr. Dimon says this $300 billion roll of the dice would not have violated the Volker rule even if it were already in place.  Whew!  Good to know we can sleep better after July 21.


 President Obama now says he believes in the right of gay couples to be married.  Is it a political calculation?  Of course...
Did he take this position to improve his chances of being re-elected?  No doubt...Is this an example of presidential leadership and courage?  Absolutely not...Is it the right thing to do?  YES

     54% of Americans now believe same sex couples should be able to get married.  Six states, and the District of Columbia, allow gay couples to marry.  Over 70% of people under 35 believe its time to give same sex couples the same rights as straight couples.  Last week, Vice President Biden and Education Secretary Arnie Duncan came out in favor, saying it was a simple matter of civil rights.  They are right.

     When the Constitution was proposed, many of the founders feared a tyranny of the majority.  They worried, in a democracy, the majority could impose its will on minorities.  They had already seen this in the Massachusetts Bay Colony where Puritans, who fled persecution for their religious beliefs to the New World, turned around and outlawed any religious belief but their own.  They forced Roger Williams to leave and establish Rhode Island as an oasis of religious tolerance.  Jefferson and Madison feared the power of state religions and tried to disestablish them in Virginia.  The bill of rights was added to the Constitution to establish certain rights which the majority cannot take away unless the state can show a compelling interest as to why these protections can be abrogated.

     No one argues laws against gay marriage are not discriminatory.  They instead argue they have good reasons to justify ignoring the Constitution.  It is acceptable to discriminate against same sex couples because the state has an interest in protecting the institution of marriage for a man and a woman.  Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney reiterated this exact position this week.  The problem Mitt have is they cannot give a good enough reason why this institution must preserved as is thus justifying excluding a whole population of Americans from its benefits.

     The Catholic Church argues marriage is a scared institution devoted to reproduction.  Since sex between same sex partners cannot produce a child, it is sinful and immoral and cannot be sanctioned.  The problem for the Church is they still allow couples to be married who have no intention of every having children, or who are sterile and unable to produce children.  If the purpose of marriage is to reproduce, the church violates its own stance and opens itself to allegations of prejudice and bigotry.

     There is not much steam left in the screed which says straight parents raise mentally balanced children, while gay parents could do great emotional harm to children raised in their homes.  It should be remembered most gay people today were raised in straight households.  It should further be remembered studies have now shown, loving parents, whether gay or not, are the key to raising healthy children.  Thus, there is no compelling state reason to justify denying same sex couples due process and the freedom to wed.

     Marriage is an economic contract which anyone should be able to enter into and benefit from.  Marriage has huge economic benefits.  Everything from tax rates to inheritance laws to end of life decisions are affected by whether one is married or not.  Those Catholics or Mormons or evangelicals who wish to add a religious element to the equation are welcome.  They can add their seal of approval after the state.  However, religious prejudice or bigotry is not allowed to trump the concept of equal treatment and due process.

     President Obama is trying to energize his constituency.  His decision is certainly an attempt to rev up his youth base and make some clear distinctions between himself and Mitt.  Obama will face some pushback from the African American community.  (A memo has surfaced from Republican strategists about how to peal off African Americans from Obama over this issue and use it against him with Hispanics too)  For reasons I don't understand, as a group who faced similar discrimination, including laws prohibiting them from marrying certain other ethnic groups, the African American community's antipathy towards homosexuals baffles me.

     This controversy about marriage is a good example of why the terms liberal and conservative no longer are operative.  President Obama's decision expands rights to a disenfranchised group.  This is progress.  Equal treatment and more freedom are ideas to be spread among all our citizens.  Those who oppose same sex marriage, wish to regress to a different era.  They wish to continue to discriminate based on personal bias and prejudice even though the constitution clearly prohibits such actions.

     President Obama will not get a profile in courage award for his stance.  The political calculations are clear.  However, he reinforces a trend which is inexorable.  Extension of full civil liberties to gay couples is inevitable.  Obama deserves credit for stepping into a controversy during an election year.  He deserves credit for doing what is right.  He deserves credit for standing up for the rights of a minority and he deserves credit for ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the military and now supporting full enfranchisement for gay Americans.

     Obama has drawn another clear line which differentiates the differences between him and Romney...differences which should make it clear which man represents progress and expanding the American dream.


  California may have an initiative on the ballot outlawing the death penalty.  I hope you will vote yes and encourage your friends to as well.  The most pragmatic reason to vote for this is it costs taxpayers too much to maintain death row and the money could be spent on education or any number of other better opportunities.  It may be pragmatic, but it's also wrong.  The reason to vote to abolish the death penalty is because it is immoral, cannot be fixed, and it represent us at our most base and vile selves.

     We execute people in this country out of revenge.  We can protect society without the death penalty.  The death penalty is pure blood lust disguised as justice.  If we are a moral and just society, the death penalty must go, not because we are cheap.   We should vote to outlaw capital punishment, not because its too expensive, but because if we could just do it cheaper it would be acceptable...but rather because civilized Western society long ago abandoned it because they saw how it eroded their moral values and made life a commodity with a price tag attached.

     Ours is an adversarial legal system.  We hire advocates to represent our side against others or against the government.  As such, the quality of your advocate has a direct affect on your chances of success or failure.  The reason so few rich people sit on death row, is because they can afford quality representation.  Most people on death row are indigent and their advocates, by and large, sucked.

     You have heard many of the horror stories.  Lawyers for poor defendants in capital cases fall asleep during the trial...they get drunk during the trial...they fail to challenge evidence or witnesses and lack investigatory resources.  Lawyers who take capital cases are not the cream of the crop from the top of the Harvard law class.  Look no further than O.J.Simpson.  The Los Angeles district attorney accused Simpson of heinous, awful murders.  If anything fit the definition of a death penalty case, it was this one.  Yet, he didn't ask for the death penalty.  Why not?  He knew Simpson could afford great lawyers and knew great lawyers could blow holes in a death penalty prosecution.  He didn't want to run the risk of losing.  If they weren't going to ask for the death penalty for Simpson, how can they justify it for anyone else?  The Simpson case shows the death penalty is just a macabre lottery with the winner losing in the end.

     Advocates for the death penalty say it provides closure.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Studies have shown an execution does not enable someone to move on beyond the case and loss.   Sister Helen Prejean, the inspiration for the movie Dead Man Walking, says in the years she has been counseling families, the ones who can move on are the ones who are able to forgive the perpetrator and do not advocate for execution.  Revenge is certainly a poor reason as is economic concerns and it is clear the death penalty isn't a recipe for emotional health for the victim's family.

     The reason to oppose the death penalty is because it is morally wrong.  When confronted with an adulterous woman, who warranted death by stoning in Jewish law, Jesus rejected the premise and asked who among us has not sinned or made mistakes.  He sends the crowd away telling the woman she will get no accusation from him and she could go live her life and sin no more.  Jesus, himself an innocent victim of capital punishment, is a cautionary figure lending credence to the immorality of execution.  Hundreds of Americans have ended up on death row only to be exonerated at a later time.  What do we do or say as a nation if an innocent person is executed?  Oooops?

     Don't vote against the death penalty to save a few bucks.  Vote against it because it's immoral and unjust and reflects the worst of our human nature, not the best.

P.S.  Life without the possibility of parole is also immoral and a concept which has to be challenged. To take away hope makes people very dangerous and lacking basic humanity.  It is a topic for another day.