Thinker's Thoughts...

After a year-long hiatus, I've decided to bring this thing back to life. I'm looking for a few people who might be interested in contributing so that we can get a few different viewpoints on similar issues. On rare occasions people actually find a side to an issue even I haven't thought about! Anyone interested can feel free to shoot me an email and I'll set you up as a contributor.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Good thing we installed "democracy" there

I used to hammer this point a lot, but recently I've sort of let it go. But this article made me angry, and made me want to reiterate a point I've made before: Democracy is not the same thing as freedom. Merely electing officials by popular vote does not make a country free. The founders of the United States knew this, which is why they spent so much time in the Federalist Papers discussing the Tyranny of the Majority and how to prevent it. Without the proper checks and balances and enforced guarantees of the rights of minorities, democracy is nothing more than a majority vote to persecute and oppress those who don't agree. It's mob-rule dictatorship. And this incident illustrates this fact perfectly. The Afghan government better not drag their feet on this. They'd better get this guy freed and tell the local provincial leaders they can't do this shit. Fuck federalism and fuck local control--if the government (whether local or national) can arrest you and punish you merely for viewing material that the majority doesn't like, your country is not free. Period.

Afghan 'blasphemy' death sentence

An Afghan journalist has been sentenced to death by a provincial court for distributing "blasphemous" material. Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, was arrested in 2007 after downloading material from the internet relating to the role of women in Islamic societies. A primary court in Balkh province said that Kambakhsh had confessed to blasphemy and had to be punished. The court also threatened to arrest any reporters who protested against Kambakhsh's sentence. Kambakhsh, a student at Balkh University and a journalist for Jahan-e Naw (New World), was arrested in October 2007 after material he downloaded was deemed to be offensive to Islam. Shamsur Rahman, the head of the court, told Reuters news agency: "According to... the Islamic law, Sayed Perwiz is sentenced to death at the first court. "However, he will go through three more courts to declare his last punishment," he said. 'Deeply shocked' Balkh province's deputy attorney general, Hafizullah Khaliqyar, warned other journalists that they would be arrested if they attempted to support Kambakhsh. Kambakhsh did not do anything to justify his being detained or being given this sentence Reporters Without Borders But Agence France-Presse reported that journalists were gathering outside the home of the condemned reporter. The sentence has been welcomed by conservative Islamic clerics in Afghanistan but criticised by international human rights groups. Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said it was "deeply shocked" by the trial and appealed to President Hamid Karzai to intervene "before it is too late". In a statement, the group said the trial was "carried out in haste and without any concern for the law or for free expression, which is protected by the constitution". "Kambakhsh did not do anything to justify his being detained or being given this sentence." Kambakhsh's brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, said the verdict was "very unfair" and appealed for help from the international community, reported Reuters.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Real American Badass!

Sgt. Henry Lincoln Johnson

Now this isn't exactly what I'd had planned for an update, but I'm not finished with the other piece I'm working on and I stumbled across this and just had to share it. This guy is what movies like Rambo are modeled after. He's a beast! I'd never heard this story before, and I'm somewhat of a history buff!

Anyway, let this hold you over until I finish my latest rant about what I'm pissed off about most recently and I'll try to get that update up soon!

In early 1918, Henry Lincoln Johnson was working as a humble redcap porter in the New York City Subway system, which basically means that his job revolved around picking incredibly heavy things up and putting them wherever The Man told him to. As you can probably imagine, this type of work sucks balls. Well when the United States decided it was sick of Germany's bullshit and joined in the 24-Hour All-Night European Booze-and-Babes Fiesta known as World War I, Johnson knew that this was a perfect opportunity to go to France and beat the shit out of some stupid jackasses. He enlisted into the New York National Guard and was shipped out with the all-black 369th Infantry Division, better known as "The Harlem Hellfighters".

Unfortunately, early on in the campaign the Hellfighters really didn't have the opportunity to dole out these much-needed assbeatings, because as you can probably imagine the cracker-ass American High Command decided to give the all-black regiment every single bullshit job on the Western Front. They unloaded cargo vessels, dug ditches and did all sorts of fucking menial shit, the extent of which fell somewhere between janitorial work and dishwashing on the Badassery Scale. Finally, after weeks of this bullcrap with no end in sight, the French Command was like, "well if you jerks won't let these guys get in there and start busting heads than we will", and decided to see if "Harlem Hellfighters" was more than just a clever name. The 369th and Johnson were tranferred to the French Command and immediately pressed into service in the Argonne Forest.

Well like a week after they were transferred, Sergeant Henry Johnson and his buddy, Private Needham Roberts, were put on guard duty one night and told to keep an eye out for any Kraut bastard desperately in need of having a bullet jammed into his ocular cavity. So Johnson and Needham were just out there minding their own business when all of a sudden an entire platoon of German Infantry (between twenty-five and thirty men) came running out of nowhere and started kicking the crap out of the two Americans. Johnson was hit with a grenade and shot in the chest with a motherfucking shotgun, while Roberts was shot twice with a pistol and knocked to the floor like a sack of potatoes that had just been shot twice at close range with a fucking handgun. The Germans rushed in, gave Johnson the finger, grabbed Roberts, and hauled him off as a prisoner.

Well Henry Lincoln Johnson wasn't about to sit around and let that shit fly. As the Germans headed back to their secret lair deep below the Earth's crust, Johnson managed to somehow stagger back to his feet and start firing his rifle like a madman. The Germans continued to make their escape however, so Johson harnessed his immense powers of Getting Super Fucking Pissed and started charging after them, gun blazing. When his weapon jammed, he started chucking grenades at them. When he finally caught the poor bastards, he started wailing on them with his rifle butt. When he broke his rifle over some jerk's head he reached over and whipped out his bolo knife.

Now try and picture this for a minute. You've got one dude who's already been shot twenty-one motherfucking times with everything from shotguns to rifles, armed only with a fucking machete, in the midst of about twenty German soldiers and he's going off like Miyamoto Musashi, hacking these bastards to pieces while they stand around like Black Ninjas from a bad 70's Kung Fu flick. Despite massive injuries, Johnson samurai-slashed, weaved and hacked at anything that moved. He killed four men, wounded an additional twenty-four, strode over the a huge steaming pile of dismembered corpses and dragged Pvt. Roberts back to his foxhole. The next morning when reinforcements arrived they found the two wounded men sitting together singing some sweet-ass jazz songs around a raging campfire.

Johnson was the first American to ever receive the Croix de Guerre, the highest award for bravery offered by the French Government. Just in case you think that "the highest award for bravery offered by the French Government" is an oxymoron, note that he also received the United States' Distinguished Service Cross as well. He returned home as a hero, got a ticker-tape parade in New York City, had a son who went on to be a Tuskeegee Airman (no small feat of badassery in and of itself) and is now remembered as one of the most badass American heroes of World War I.

Be sure to check that link out too. Lots of kickass stories like this one there. The guy who writes that does an excellent job!

Monday, August 27, 2007

I R Retarded.

Given my current situation and the emotional mess that is me, I just called a promoter and will be fighting in a local MMA show. Granted, I have trained a bit and know what I'm doing, but I'm waaaaaaaaay rusty. At this point, I don't really care. I have an intense need to hit someone and be hit also. I have 2 weeks to get back in shape. That means I'll be losing weight, which is scary. I'm a fat, lazy 236 right now. I plan on concentrating on pure cardio for 2 weeks, which means I'm going to lose weight. Top of the weight class is 265. And I'm unsure if I'm allowed to use elbows. in either event, I'm going to hurt someone. I have sooooo much pent up angst.

All Alone.

I've fucked up,
It's all gone now.
I know it was my fault.
But I'm not sure how
We got to this point.
Weeks of fighting,
For things that I've done.
But since you've been gone,
I know you were the one.
I've never been fair,
But you didn't care.
Now I'm all alone,
Wishing you'd call my phone.
So much confusion. Don't know where to start.
Realizing now,
I never really did my part.
It came to this,
You had to leave,
To make me see just what I believe.
In all my life,
This is my biggest mistake.
My heart is the worst thing,
That you could take.Al

Sunday, August 26, 2007

It's over.

She's gone. I know this is what I wanted and what will be the best in the long run, but I'm a mess right now. I guess it's because this is the first time in more than 9 years that I am completely alone. I'm really not so sure I've done the right thing at all. We had some bad times, but we also had some really great ones too. She hasn't even been gone a whole day and I already miss her so bad it hurts. I never thought it was going to have this sort of effect on me.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Australian Woman Killed By Amorous Camel

(AP) An Australian woman was killed by a pet camel given to her as a 60th birthday present after the animal apparently tried to have sex, police said Sunday.

The woman, whose name was not released, was killed Saturday at her family's sheep and cattle ranch near Mitchell, 350 miles west of the Queensland state capital Brisbane, state police Detective Senior Constable Craig Gregory said.

The 10-month-old male camel — weighing about 330 pounds — knocked the woman to the ground, lay on top of her, then exhibited what police suspect was mating behavior, Gregory said.

"I'd say it's probably been playing, or it may be even a sexual sort of thing," Gregory said, adding the camel almost suffocated the family's pet goat by straddling it on several occasions.

Camel expert Chris Hill said he had no doubt the camel's behavior was sexual.

Hill, who has offered camel rides to tourists for 20 years, said young camels are not aggressive, but can be dangerous if treated as pets without discipline.

The fate of the camel was not known.

The woman was given the camel in March as a birthday present from her husband and daughter. "She had a love of exotic pets," Gregory said.

Alone Tonight.

Causing some trouble
to make things right
Causing my friends
to all want to fight
Hoping one day
that I'll see the light
Wishing my goals
were somewhere in sight
Wondering if "the one"
is in another's arms tonight
Kicking myself
for knowing she might
Staying depressed
because money is tight
Wanting to leave
just for spite
Knowing in my heart
that this isn't right.
That's how I feel,
alone tonight.

Copyright Thinker 2006

Dubya "Shiftless" says Reagan

Direct quote from the just published REAGAN DIARIES.

The entry is dated May 17, 1986.

'A moment I've been dreading. George brought his ne're-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work.'

So there you have it. Conservative icon Ronnie Raygun had the same opinion of Dubya as most of America. He's worthless. That quote, to me at least, makes it sound like Little Georgie was riding Daddy's coat-tails asking for handouts. "Almost 40 and never had a real job." Fantastic. And now he's the leader of the free world. Is it any wonder that his Presidency has been marred with special favors for his friends? No wonder he doesn't seem to understand the common man. This makes me wonder why Daddy Bush decided to help Little Georgie and not Jeb. Jeb actually isn't that bad. I'd go so far as to say he's the best of the Bushes and now he's got virtually no chance of ever gaining the Presidency. My best guess is that Daddy Bush thought Jeb could do it on his own, and he could have if Dubya hadn't sullied the family name.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

This is what happens when you lie a lot.

Poll: Majority mistrustful of upcoming Iraq report

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A majority of Americans don't trust the upcoming report by the Army's top commander in Iraq on the progress of the war and even if they did, it wouldn't change their mind, according to a new poll.

President Bush frequently has asked Congress -- and the American people -- to withhold judgment on his so-called troop surge in Iraq until Gen. David Petraeus, the commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, issue their progress report in September.

But according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Thursday, 53 percent of people polled said they suspect that the military assessment of the situation will try to make it sound better than it actually is. Forty-three percent said they do trust the report.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said he doesn't think the mistrust is directed at Petreaus as much as it is what he represents.

Holland said, "I suspect most people are hearing the words 'general' and 'Iraq' and that's what they're basing their opinion on."

He added, "It does seem to indicate that anyone associated with the Bush administration may be a less than credible messenger for the message that there is progress being made in Iraq."

Another interesting thing about the poll, Holland said, is that it indicates that about half of those surveyed -- 47 percent -- feel that the military is making progress in Iraq, although slightly more -- 49 percent -- do not.

White House press secretary Tony Snow reacted to the poll, saying that he hoped that "people do not try to engage in personal attacks on Gen. Petraeus or Ambassador Crocker."

"David Patraeus is basically the guy who's written the manual on counterinsurgency, and the one thing that you see with returning Democratic and Republican congressman is that something very significant has taken place," Snow said.

How the report is phrased also might determine how it is received, Holland said. If the report details military progress, that might be better received than what political progress the Iraqi government is making.

Twenty-six percent of those polled feel that the Iraqi government is making progress, while 69 percent said that it wasn't.

"We haven't done a lot of polling about the Iraqi government," Holland said, "but the numbers we have seem to indicate that people are pretty skeptical of any government official in Iraq."

The poll indicates that most of America's mind is made up about the war -- 72 percent said the report will have no effect on their view of the war.

Of those opposed to the war, 47 percent said Petreaus' report could not change their mind while 17 percent said it could.

Thirty-three percent said they support the war.

The poll was based on interviews of 1,029 Americans by telephone between August 6 and 8. The sampling error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, except for the questions based on the respondents' support or lack of support of the war, which was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Innocent Man Sentenced to Death Under Cruel Texas Law

By Liliana Segura, The Brooklyn Rail
Posted on August 14, 2007, Printed on August 15, 2007

Kenneth Foster's time is running out.

On Tuesday, August 7, in a six-to-three decision, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied his final writ of habeas corpus, giving the legal green light for his execution. Foster, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on August 30, is now at the mercy of the merciless Board of Pardons and Paroles. The odds are bad. Five out of seven board members must recommend clemency before Governor Rick Perry will consider it -- and in a state that has executed nearly 400 people in thirty years, clemency has only been granted twice. But Foster's supporters, who are spearheading a letter-writing campaign to the board and governor, are relying on one particularly salient detail to move their minds, if not their hearts: Foster didn't kill anyone.

Foster was convicted for the 1996 murder of Michael LaHood Jr., who was shot following a string of robberies, by a man named Mauriceo Brown. Brown admitted to the shooting and was executed by lethal injection last year. Now Foster faces the same fate. So, if Brown was the shooter, what did the 19-year-old Foster do to get a death sentence? He sat in his car, 80 feet away, unaware that a murder was taking place.

Foster was convicted under Texas's "law of parties," a twist on a felony murder statute that enables a jury to convict a defendant who was not the primary actor in a crime. This can mean sentencing someone to death even if he or she had no proven role in a murder. Texas's law states that "if, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it." Defendants, the Texas courts say, can be held responsible for "failing to anticipate" that the "conspiracy" -- in Foster's case, the robberies, for which he was the getaway driver -- would lead to a murder. Foster's sentence, death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal recently commented, "criminalizes presence, not actions."

In theory, the law of parties is "a well-recognized legal document," says Houston defense attorney Clifford Gunter, and most states with the death penalty on the books include a similar provision for "non-triggermen." Nevertheless, critics of the Texas law say it's an aberration -- a slippery legal statute that stands in direct violation of the 1982 Supreme Court decision in Enmund v. Florida. Still the "prevailing view," according to Gunter, Enmund held that the death penalty was unconstitutional for a defendant "who aids and abets a felony in the course of which a murder is committed by others but who does not himself kill, attempt to kill, or intend that a killing take place or that lethal force will be employed." In Texas today, the law or parties says exactly the opposite.

Even more troubling is the law in practice. When Justice Byron White wrote the Enmund decision in 1982, he observed that the Court was not aware of a single execution of someone who did not kill or intend to kill. What a difference another quarter-century makes. Months after Enmund was decided, Texas executed its first prisoner since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. In the tidal wave of capital cases that followed, numerous defendants would be sentenced to die under the law of parties.

One was Norman Green. Green was charged for a murder during a botched robbery in an electronics store in 1985. He got death. His accomplice, the man who actually pulled the trigger, got life. The arbitrary result exemplifies what Green's appellate lawyer, Verna Langham -- who also handled Kenneth Foster's first appeal -- sees as the danger of the law of parties. "[It] is subject to such loose interpretation," she told the Austin Chronicle in 2005. "A kid in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people can end up being sentenced to death." Green was executed in 1999.

No formal study has been done on the number of defendants subjected to the law of parties in Texas. Anti-death penalty activists estimate that Texas death row has 80 to 100. This number seems high to David Dow, founder and director of the Texas Innocence Network and author of Executed on a Technicality (2005). But he says that it could be an accurate measure of the number of prisoners whose juries were given the choice of applying the law of parties, even if their conviction did not hinge on it. "In a lot of cases, you have a [law of parties] instruction, but jurors have to find one or the other: Either the person was responsible for killing the victim or they are responsible for participating in a crime where it should have been anticipated that a murder would take place." For a defendant facing lethal injection, it's a distinction without a difference. Regardless of the number of times the law of parties has been used, its clear effect has been to broaden the pool of defendants eligible for death. By inviting a jury to speculate whether a defendant "should have known" a murder could happen, it drastically lowers the burden of proof for a punishment supposedly reserved for "the worst of the worst."

From the zeal of prosecutors to the legal machinery that supports them, "the structure of the Texas's legal system makes it easier to sentence people to death," says Dow. Between the Polunsky Unit in Livingston and the women's death row in Gatesville, nearly 400 prisoners are awaiting execution. By the end of the summer, Texas will have killed its 400th prisoner since the death penalty was brought back. The state that famously carried out 152 executions under Governor George W. Bush has seen Gov. Rick Perry surpass his record. Since taking office in December 2000, Perry has signed off on over 158 executions -- a number that will be dated when this piece goes to press (and which would be higher still were it not for the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Roper v. Simmons, which forced Perry to commute the death sentences of 28 prisoners who were younger than 18 at the time of their crime). In this context, it's hard not to see the law of parties as an irresistible tool in a legal system designed to summarily execute people. Especially if the defendant is black and the victim is white.

Kenneth Foster's case is a good example. He's not just a black man accused of killing a white man; he was convicted for killing the son of an attorney highly esteemed by the legal community. As with so many other cases involving families of influence, the media was all over it, and the LaHood family's wish for an execution quickly became public knowledge. (LaHood's mother reaffirmed her support of Mauriceo Brown's execution last year.) In other particularly high-profile cases, the law of parties has come in similarly handy for the prosecution. In the trial of Patrick Murphy Jr. -- one of the notorious "Texas Seven," who in 2000 escaped from prison, killed a police officer on Christmas Eve, and were summarily sentenced to die -- prosecutors seeking death sentences across the board used the law of parties to circumvent the fact that Murphy was not at the scene of the crime. Prospective jurors were asked not just how they felt about capital punishment, but also about the law of parties specifically. (It worked. Murphy is now sitting on death row.)

The many excesses of Texas capital law offer a portrait of a brutal and broken system -- one that has long been protested by anti-death penalty activists. More recently, prisoners themselves have begun to organize from the inside. Kenneth Foster is among them. In 2005 he helped found D.R.I.V.E, a group of death row prisoners who protest the death penalty as well the abusive conditions of their incarceration. D.R.I.V.E, which stands for "Death Row Inner-Communalist Vanguard Engagement," is multi-racial, highly political, and, perhaps most important, thriving -- on one of the most repressive death rows in the country. Members encourage fellow prisoners to protest on execution days, and to protest their own executions (refusing to walk to the van that takes them to the executions chamber; refusing last meals). They also protest inhumane prison conditions. Last fall, a dozen death row prisoners at Polunsky went on a hunger strike to protest the inedible food and constantly overflowing toilets in their cells, among other abuses. Comparing themselves to the hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay, they eventually caught the attention of the New York Times.

Some members of the group also invoke the legacy of Gary Graham -- a.k.a. Shaka Sankofa -- the Texas death row prisoner who was executed in 2000, despite overwhelming evidence that he could be innocent. Graham, who was put to death amidst widespread protests, maintained his innocence until the end, declaring in his last statement, "They are murdering me tonight." This era, which Dow considers the "heyday" of protest around executions, coincided with increased repression on Texas death row. Following an attempted prison break in the late 90s, the death row population was relocated. At their new home in the Polunsky Unit, prisoners are housed for 23 hours a day in cells that are 60 square feet (the American Correctional Association recommends a minimum of 80 feet). Work and recreation privileges are pretty much non-existent, and the few prisoners entitled to small luxuries can easily have them taken away. Such is the case of Stephen Moody, whose participation in last fall's hunger strike led to the confiscation of his radio. Texas death row prisoners are allowed no contact visits, and only a few phone calls a year.

Despite this, Kenneth Foster and D.R.I.V.E. have allies on the outside. In addition to his supporters and family in Texas, a New York-based political hip-hop group called the Welfare Poets is speaking out on behalf of Foster and other prisoners on Texas death row; grassroots groups like the Campaign to End the Death Penalty are working to protest Foster's execution, from Harlem to Austin. With Foster's legal recourses almost dried up, a letter campaign to members of the appeal board is underway. But it's a long shot. "Perry has never granted clemency in a capital case before, even when the Board recommended it," says Bryan McCann, a CEDP activist in Austin. In a state that will have executed 400 people by September, clemency has only been granted two times. "If Kenneth Foster has a good innocence claim, that would be great for him," Dow says, noting that innocence is what gets attention these days. But while Foster's supporters argue that Foster is innocent -- that nobody should be executed "for driving a car," in the slaughterhouse state of Texas, innocence can be harder to prove than guilt.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

How the hell is this even legal? By legal, I mean Constitutional. Texas seems to have some pretty retarded reasons for killing people. I wouldn't agree with it, but I could at least see the reasoning if they could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this guy had any clue what was going on, but come on! This guy has already spent years on death row and now he's about to get the needle for sitting in a car at fairly decent distance with no evidence to support that he was in any way involved! Fuck Texas!

Disclamer: No offense was intended toward any of our audience who may inhabit the great State of Texas. Unless you're a politician that supports this kind of bullshit.

Dying in a plane crash...

I have a recurring dream about dying in a plane crash. In fact, I had one last night. It's happened so much I feel that I'm as much an expert in dying in plane crashes as any living being can be. I'm not superstitious. I'm not afraid to fly. But on the off-hand chance this dream turns prophetic, I feel qualified enough to make a request for anyone unfortunate enough to be on that plane with me...

I don't mind the idea of dying in a plane crash. In my dreams, I've done it a thousand times under a thousand different conditions. In most instances, death is instantaneous and painless. The thing that does bother me is what happens during that final plummet. Yes it's terrifying. But please, for the love of God, what's with the screaming? I understand you're frightened. I understand you don't want to die. I'm coming to terms with that myself as is every other passenger on that plane. But while I'm facing my imminent demise looking out the window in absolute silence and stunned horror, you're ruining the last few moments of everyone else's existence with your incessant shrill chimpanzee-like shrieking.

You're going to die. Of what possible use is a last-minute vocal exercise going to serve other than to completely annoy everyone around you and make a terrible situation even more unbearable? We are all in shock. Our sense of time slows and our senses become sharper. Now is not the time to be yelling. I'm not a religious man; but I don't mind if you pray. I might even hold your hand. But please keep it within an acceptable decibel level. If your God is real, he isn't hard of hearing, and he's most certainly aware that the plane is going down. He apparently has a plan, and he's not going to change his mind on the basis of how loud you beg him to alter it. Besides, you have an eternal life to look forward to. Look at me... I'm an atheist, and I'm keeping my mouth shut. Superman doesn't exist, so I'm hoping you're not calling for him. Anyone who can help you is already busy trying.

All I'm asking for a bit of reverence so we may die in dignity. If you treat it like a fucking roller coaster, I swear I'm going to punch you in the fucking teeth for depriving me of this... and I'm pretty sure I'll get away with it.

New Feature Added!

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