Tag Archives: DJ Rippert

The problem with the death penalty

death penalty

D.J. Rippert

Virginia’s non-debate.  Politics in Virginia includes a lot of debates.  Trasnportation funding.  Medicaid expansion.  Taxes.  However, one critical aspect of Virginia law has fallen from view – the death penalty.  This lack of debate over the death penalty is not due to a lack of executions.  Since 1976 Virginia has posted the third most executions of any state – far behind Texas but only one execution behind Oklahoma.

The Innocence Project.  The Innocence Project is a non-profit group of lawyers who re-examine the cases of people convicted of serious crimes.  The group often uses new DNA techniques to determine whether a conviction was correct or in error.  To date, the Innocence Project has exonerated 16 Virginians of serious crimes.  Some of those innocent people were on Virginia’s death row when they were exonerated of the crimes that landed them on death row.  One such case was the conviction of Earl Washington.  Convicted of rape and murder Earl Washington was sentenced to death.  Subsequent DNA testing cleared Washington of the rape and murder convictions.  Mr. Washington’s case prompted an independent audit of Virginia’s DNA testing lab.  The results were not encouraging.

  • “This laboratory that touts itself as the best DNA laboratory in the country generated erroneous test results in a capital case, twice, using two different DNA methods,” said Peter Neufeld, co-director of the Innocence Project. “The audit reveals not only that the laboratory’s most senior DNA analyst, responsible for DNA testing in many of the state’s capital cases, made serious errors, but that the laboratory’s system to catch these errors completely failed. This audit provides compelling evidence that crime labs cannot police themselves, and that only with the statutory requirement that they be subject to independent, expert oversight can we have faith that appropriate controls are in place.”

Enter the feds.  Virginia is not the only political entity with suspect processes in criminal investigations.  Recent evidence suggests that the vaunted FBI may have been responsible for systematic and willful mismanagement of critical evidence.  Of the 2,600 convictions obtained through these flawed processes 45 resulted in the imposition of the death penalty.  More troublesome, the agency did not inform the convicts of the problems after they were discovered and spent years debating the matter rather than promptly following up on the convictions.

Redo.  You can’t undo an execution.  Conservatives in Virginia will rail against abortion as the murder of innocents.  However, reasonable people can honestly debate when life begins.  There can be no debate as to whether a person convicted of a crime is alive or not.  There can only be a discussion of whether state sanctioned murder is an appropriate remedy for the crime.  In too many cases shoddy evidence analysis and law enforcement puts these convictions in doubt.  It is time for Virginia’s politicians to restart the necessary debate as to whether the state should execute living human beings on behalf of its citizens.

 

Elections have consequences

by D.J. Rippert

What a difference two years make. In the run up to the 2012 election Barack Obama and Mitt Romney debated foreign affairs. Obama had recently been caught making an offhand comment over an open mike to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Obama promised the Russian that he (Obama) would have “more flexibility” with Russia after the election. Obama used the subsequent televised debate to ridicule Romney for considering Russia a geopolitical foe.

The liberal reaction. The liberal screech-o-sphere went into overdrive after the debate taking Romney to task for his obvious stupidity in considering Russia a potential problem for the United States.

From Mediaite.com:

  • “I don’t know what decade this guy’s living in,” MSNBC host Chris Matthews said with a sigh on March 28, 2012. “Is he trying to play Ronald Reagan here, or what?”
  • Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein agreed that Romney’s statement was evidence of an “antiquated worldview.” He fretted further about how Romney, should he become president, would enter the office having severely complicated America’s bilateral relations with Moscow given his carelessly provocative statement.
  • I can appreciate why the Romney campaign would try to make Obama’s “hot mic” story interesting, but the problem is the former governor just doesn’t have any real policy chops in this area. He’s out of his depth, and struggles when the subject takes center stage. (Rachael Maddow)
  • Calling Romney’s comments “a throwback to the Cold War,” [Andrea] Mitchell insisted that “we work with Russia all the time.” “Hardly an ally but certainly not an adversary,” she declared.

Crimea river.  Russia, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, has effectively occupied Crimea.  He has armed rebels in Ukraine and those rebels used his arms to shoot down a passenger airliner.  The Russian backed rebels have prevented investigators from seeing the crash site or even recovering all the bodies of those who they murdered.  Today, U.S. and NATO countries are insisting that they will defend NATO countries with military force if confronted by Russia.

The pet theories of liberalism.  The next time some liberal advances one of their pet theories on say … immigration reform, global warming or medicaid expansion replay the clip from the 2012 debate.  Then, replay the MSNBC clips of various liberal media stooges ridiculing Romney for his warnings about Russia.  As my father used to say, “Liberals are often wrong but never in doubt.”

Is Virginia America’s Most Corrupt State?

handcuffs

by DJ Rippert    

As the Rolex turns. The McDonnell family corruption trial has Virginians transfixed. People can’t wait to get the latest installment in this soap opera of a trial. Most Virginians wonder at how this could have happened. I wonder at how it could have taken so long for America’s most corrupt state to finally erupt.

Bi-partisan graft. While Virginians gawk at the details of the McDonnell affair there have been plenty of other scandals and “odd dealings” in Virginia. The current governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, went through the election cycle under a shroud of suspicion as federal agencies opened investigations into GreenTech Automotive, a company he co-founded. McAuliffe and Hilary Clinton’s brother were accused of running a “visas for sale” operation as the funding mechanism for this car company. His opponent, Republican Ken Cuccinelli, failed to disclose gifts from the same entrepreneur that has gotten McDonnell into so much trouble. Ultimately, Cuccinelli agreed to donate the value of his suspicious gifts to charity. McDonnell’s predecessor, Democrat Tim Kaine, accepted a vacation on a private island worth an estimated $18,000 as a gift from Virginia telecom investor James B. Murray, Jr. The fact that telecommunications is heavily regulated and taxed at the state level did not concern Gov. Kaine or Virginia state law. The gift was considered legal. When Murray’s appointment expired, Kaine reappointed Murray to the Virginia Commission on Higher Education Appointments. Even centi-millionaire Mark Warner got in on the act. Between 2001 and 2004, Warner received $190,362 in gifts and travel.

Gifts, not just for governors anymore. While governors and would be governors get most of the spotlight there is plenty of largess for the lesser members of our political class. Democratic State Senator Phil Puckett earned a look from the FBI for his conveniently timed resignation from the General Assembly. E-mails that have been made public indicate Virginia Republicans were readying a plum job for Puckett on the notorious Tobacco Commission. All he had to do was resign and effectively block Medicaid expansion. Speaking of the Tobacco Commission, its former head, John Forbes II, is serving a 10-year stint in federal prison for stealing $4 million from the commission. Apparently, Forbes lacked the experience and acumen to parlay his position into a series of valuable gifts instead of just stealing the money. The FBI also investigated a special tax break given to Orion Air pushed by a legislator who ended up working for Orion Air. No “smoking gun” was found and the matter declared “hunky dory” (by Virginia standards anyway).

Odd dealings. Lavish gifts and courtroom drama only heighten the suspicion of the state’s many “odd dealings”. The Route 460 paradox had the state of Virginia shelling out $250 million to contractors for a road that hasn’t had an inch of pavement laid. A private contractor was being paid $20 million per month for a road where the environmental permits had not been received. Our political class in Richmond seems utterly unconcerned about the legitimacy of this quarter of a billion dollar expenditure. Just today the Pilot Online broke the story of a two- sentence paragraph in this year’s budget bill that saved a private bridge owner in Portsmouth $500,000 per year in taxes. “Somebody was trying to bury this,” Portsmouth City Manager John Rowe said. Even as the McDonnell trial monopolizes headlines, the beat goes on in Virginia.

Fair warning. Back in 2012 the State Integrity Investigation gave Virginia an “F” rating for potential corruption and ranked it 47th in terms of corruption risk abatement. The usual crowd of Richmond apologists came out of the woodwork to discount the study. It was potential corruption. We have reporting for gifts and contributions. And, my all-time favorite, the study didn’t understand “the Virginia Way”. Unfortunately, it seems the study fully understood the “Virginia Way.” The Virginia Way allows our politicians to rob, cheat and steal for their benefactors while passing the burden of financing the state onto the simple citizens who lack the means to provide high priced perks to the crooks in Richmond. Is Virginia America’s most corrupt state? That’s hard to say but it sure must be in the top five.

Conservative vs. Progressive: Global Climate Change

climate_changeKiller Bs. In an unprecedented move, two prominent Virginia blogs, Bacon’s Rebellion and BlueVirginia, have agreed to cooperate in a structured debate over a series of possible programs designed to combat global climate change. The programs were selected based on two major criteria – they had to be applicable to Virginia and they had to encompass actions that could conceivably start in 2014.  The blogmasters from both blogs have agreed to post the articles verbatim on their blogs. This introductory article is designed to explain the “rules of the road”.

Picking sides.  A few regular contributors from both blogs have been divided up into “conservative” and “progressive” teams.  The division into teams was based on political outlook not “home blog”.  Here are the teams:

Conservative – Jim Bacon (BaconsRebellion) and Don Rippert (Bacon’s Rebellion)

Progressive – Lowell Feld (Blue Virginia), kindler (Blue Virginia) and Peter Galuszka (Bacon’s Rebellion)

No hitting below the belt. In order to foster a constructive debate all participants have stipulated certain things.  They are:

  • The Earth is warming.  All participants accept the consensus of leading scientists that the Earth is warming.
  • Humans cause a substantial amount of the warming. While there may be disagreement on the relative role of humanity in causing global warming there is agreement that humans are a cause of global warming.
  • The speed with which the Earth will warm is not known with precision.
  • The impact of the warming Earth on human civilization is not known with precision.

Marquess of Queensberry.  The rules are simple.  A series of policies that may, or may not, be effective in combating global climate change have been selected.  Each potential policy is applicable to Virginia. Each policy could conceivably be part of a law enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia in the upcoming 2014 session.  A blog article will be written for each possible policy.  The blog article will have the following three sections:

  • Factual description.  A neutral party has written a description of the potential policy with relevant facts.  Both the conservative team and the progressive team have reviewed and accepted the factual description of the possible policy.
  • Conservative viewpoint(s).  A conservative perspective on the policy written by one or more authors from the conservative team.
  • Progressive viewpoint(s).  A progressive perspective on the policy written by one or more of the authors from the progressive team.

Just some facts, ma’am.  All authors have been encouraged to document their assumed costs and benefits of the potential policy in as quantitative terms as possible.  However, it must be recognized that a strict quantitative cost or benefit may not be possible in all circumstances.

Let the games begin.  The first potential policy initiative is … Virginia should adopt a strong (mandatory) Renewal Portfolio Standards as opposed to the weak (voluntary) Renewal Portfolio Standards currently in place.

See you at the next blog posting for the first policy debate!

-D.J. Rippert
Bacon’s Rebellion      

Christmas at Bacon’s Rebellion!

sexy_girl_santa_411Christmas time is here and with a few lapses all of you bloggers and commenters have been very good little boys and girls this year.

So, here is what you can expect to find under the tree or in the stocking:

Jim Bacon: His very own MOOC course titled, “A conservative’s take on everything in the world and beyond.” Jim dives into human settlement patterns, entitlements, lazy public school teachers, feral high school students, ObamaCare, climate change denial, The Charlottesville Bypass,  the need to privatize everything, and why Jesus and Santa are really, truly White Men. Naturally, Jim’s MOOC course will be available to millions of interested and diligent students around the world and perhaps in outer space and on other planets. The course, of course, will be free, and that means Jim will NOT get paid, either (sorry Jim).

Don the Ripper: His very own Richmond Clown Show Action Figure set! Imagine playing with lifelike recreations of Bill Howell, Ken Cuccinelli, Tommy Norment and others on Christmas morning! Batteries not included.

LarryG:  An original, autographed copy of the Dillon Rule. This extremely rare find was actually signed by Iowa judge John Forrest Dillon in his 1872 “Municipal Corporations” study that established the “Dillon Rule” and later wreaked havoc on Virginia municipalities for decades.

TMT: A Caribbean cruise with the Editorial Board of The Washington Post.  Sunny skies and warm sea breezes mix like a smooth daiquiri as Post editors Fred, Lee and the gang explain that they are really not liberals but neocons in disguise. They would never, ever ask a reporter to twist his facts to match their views. Added extra: A private lecture by Charles Krauthammer at a beachfront Tiki hut.

Andrea Epps: Anatabringiton Cream. This new crème developed by Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the soon-to-departed CEO of Star Scientific (soon to be called Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals) will make all public officials everywhere accountable for what they say and do. This miracle cream was beta tested by Maureen McDonnell, so you know it’s good!

Peter Galuszka: A huggable Paul Krugman doll. When the wind whips the cold rain on dreary nights and one feels insecure and alone in his or her progressive thoughts, there’s always the Paul Doll to hug and make everything all right.

Merry Christmas! Peter G.