Sex Offenders Get Life Whether They Know It or Not

When did we as a society and individuals become a lynch mob? A very sad case in Florida shows what happens when hysteria over recent child killings by sex offenders takes on a life of its own.

Southwest Florida Herald-Tribune:

A convicted sex offender apparently committed suicide in despair over signs posted in his neighborhood calling him a “child rapist.”

Clovis Ivan Claxton was found dead by his father Thursday with one of the signs beside his body, less than a day after his release from a psychiatric hospital.

Like 75-year DUI records and throw-away-the-key sentences for non-violent drug violations, laws to brand sex offenders forever seem terrific on paper. Supporting them is also a winner on a politician’s campaign resume. But in real life…

Bright yellow, laminated signs displaying Claxton’s picture, date of birth, address and the words “child rapist” appeared earlier this week on utility poles in his neighborhood after a county commissioner proposed posting such information in the community. The sheriff rejected the idea…

After seeing the signs, Claxton, 38, told the sheriff’s office that he felt “extremely scared and feels that people in the neighborhood are now out to possibly hurt him.”

When he threatened suicide, he was involuntarily committed to the mental health hospital Tuesday and released the next day.

Well, good riddance, right? That’s what he gets for doing whatever he did. Ah, if only life were so simple.

Claxton was convicted in Washington state in 1991 of molesting a 9-year-old girl. He was 20 at the time, but his mother said he was developmentally much younger due to a brain injury.

Sounds like Clovis wasn’t much of a threat, especially after 18 years without a single incident of recidivism.

Jane Claxton blames County Commissioner Randy Harris, who proposed the flyers, for her son’s death…

She said her son required constant care and recently relied on leg braces and a wheelchair.

“He hasn’t been in trouble for 18 years, and he’s branded for life,” she said.

So does the county commissioner with the bright idea have any remorse? Nah.

Harris said sex offenders need to take responsibility for their actions.

“I don’t blame his death to the signs,” he said…

Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation movement says that even the worst sinner can be redeemed, after owning past mistakes. Focusing on restorative, not retributive justice, changes lives. Clovis Claxton was doing everything right but he was still considered by an ignorant community deserving of threats and harassment.

Today, Florida’s Senate unanimously passed the Jessica Lunsford Act. It provides a minimum mandatory prison sentence of 25 years to life for people who molest children under 12. Any offender released from prison must wear an electronic monitor for life. And since life is so simple, so black and white, who could be against that?

Worthless Mel Strikes Out Again

One of the things that probably kept Florida’s new senator, Mel Martinez, too busy to notice his staff writing memos was his vote to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He claimed he sold out Alaska in order to save Florida, but the state’s other senator, Bill Nelson, scoffed and said all Mel did was take credit for protection that was set to expire anyway.

Nelson continues trying to get real preservation.

Southwest Florida News-Press:

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Melbourne, sent a tersely worded letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton on Thursday…

In the letter, Nelson complained that Norton failed to respond to a previous request from him and that her staff had been dismissive of his inquiries.

“I’m surprised you haven’t responded directly, and that your staff seems to feel it would be a waste of our time to discuss the issue before you make your decision,” Nelson wrote.

Nelson wants Norton to say that a large chunk of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, south of Pensacola and west of Tampa, will be included in the moratorium on new drilling off the Florida coast that expires in 2012.

But wait a minute, didn’t Mel already bag that?

Triggering Nelson’s concern are recent media accounts that reported the Interior Department plans to include the area in the comprehensive five-year oil and gas leasing program that covers 2007 to 2012.

“They are starting to develop the leasing plan now,” said Mark Ferrulo, director of Florida PIRG (Public Interest Research Group), which for years led opposition to drilling off Florida’s coast.

The issue is being raised as Congress attempts to craft an energy bill which includes nothing about conservation but plenty of tax breaks for the energy industry. South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

The House voted to dispense billions of dollars of tax breaks for energy producers, rejected new standards for fuel efficiency and approved relatively few incentives to develop alternative energy sources. One of the most controversial provisions would shelter from liability the makers of a gasoline additive that is polluting water supplies…

The bill would provide $8.1 billion of tax breaks over 10 years, mostly for oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear industries. It also calls for $2 billion to fund research into oil and gas recovery in deep waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida Democrats Kick Like…Donkeys

More signs of life from Florida Democratics, whose House members continue to challenge Republican-sponsored attempts to shut voters out of the state constitution. From their press release today:

Driven by their purported desire to “rescue the voters” by restricting a citizen’s right to participate in their government, the Republican-led Florida House of Representatives rejected a proposal by three House Democrats that would have allowed everyday voters to amend state law.

“The legislature is trying to close the door in voters’ faces by making it harder to amend the constitution,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Dania Beach) said…

The Republican drive to restrict a voter’s ability to change their own government stems from their belief that “the people of Florida need us [the legislature] to rescue them.” These words, uttered by State Representative Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) at a Judiciary Committee meeting in January, illustrate a belief by some Republicans that the legislature is better informed than everyday people to make decisions about the state’s future.

“We are building a moat around the Capitol and drawing up the bridges,” said Rep. Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach). “It’s like some are saying that democracy would be a whole lot easier without the voice of the people.”

Caught on Tape: Evangelical Leaders Plot Subversion of US Judiciary

An audio recording obtained by the Los Angeles Times: has nabbed two leading wingnuts plotting to subvert the federal judiciary via Congressional fiat, chiefly by zeroing out funding for courts whose decisions they and their Constitution-hating supporters don’t like.

The two plotters are Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, and James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. They were caught on tape by a representative of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s more than one way to take a black robe off the bench,” said Perkins, according to the Times. He also said that he had huddled with Republican congressional leaders recently to plot the the stripping funding from certain courts. “What they’re thinking of is not only the fact of just making these courts go away and re-creating them the next day but also defunding them,” Perkins said.

He said that instead of undertaking the long process of trying to impeach judges, Congress could use its appropriations authority to “just take away the bench, all of his staff, and he’s just sitting out there with nothing to do.”…

Dobson, who emerged last year as one of the evangelical movement’s most important political leaders, named one potential target: the California-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Very few people know this, that the Congress can simply disenfranchise a court,” Dobson said. “They don’t have to fire anybody or impeach them or go through that battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit doesn’t exist anymore, and it’s gone.”

Even poor SpongeBob Squarepants was dragged into the coup plotting:

As part of the discussion, Perkins and Dobson referred to remarks by Dobson earlier this year at a congressional dinner in which he singled out the use by one group of the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants in a video that Dobson said promoted a homosexual agenda.

Dobson was ridiculed for his comments, which some critics interpreted to mean the evangelist had determined that the cartoon character was gay.

Dobson said the beating he took in the media, coming after his appearance on the cover of newsmagazines hailing his prominence in Bush’s reelection, proved that the press will only seek to tear him down.

This will not be the last thing that you read about that makes me look ridiculous,” he said.

From his lips to God’s ears.

Recruitment Blues

It must be hard to make the Army sound appealing these days. At least, that’s what some top ad agencies so rudely found out today.

In a blow to six agencies that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to pitch the U.S. Army for its advertising account, the government today canceled the long-running review…

The government had originally intended to announce a review winner last December, but decided to delay the award for six months. Executives familiar with the matter said the Army today told agenices that “at this time, Government anticipates re-soliciting for the ‘U.S. Army Recruiting and Advertising’ program,” in a fax distributed to the contenders…

Calls to the Army were not returned at press time.

A review, as you probably gather, is when a client invites several agencies, usually including the one they’ve already got, to take a fresh shot at things. Yours truly, and most freelancers, avoid such shenanigans, in which agencies give up their best ideas on spec.

Anyway, it’s interesting that some of the biggest names in the biz (the article goes on to list them) couldn’t come up with anything the Army thought would help them. Maybe it goes back to the old truism that even a great ad can’t sell a bad product.

Message Point: If Being Gay Is a ‘Choice,’ Ergo Heterosexuality Is a Choice Too

Wingnuts like Lou Sheldon (right), chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, and the reverends Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and their ilk must cast gayness as a “choice” in order to prevent same-sex orientation from being considered “natural,” which would make gay people worthy of protection under civil rights laws. (Thus ending one of their most lucrative fundraising hot buttons.)

Many years ago, the best response our side could come up with to charges that we “chose” to be gay was – Who would choose to be part of a hated underclass – a societal pariah?Although there is truth to this, it conjures up the very sociological paradigm we’re trying to move past.

The fact is, nobody chooses their sexuality. Some people are born with a predeliction to be 100% straight; others are born definitely gay. What muddies the water – especially for rigid-minded, unworldly folks like Evangelicals who can only see the world in black or white – is that there’s a third group of people whose sexuality is more fluid. These people experiment in college but usually settle down, one way or the other. In this sense, bisexuals can, and do, “choose” their sexual preference.

But here’s the point: If gay people “choose” their sexuality – and presumably this happens at some point during adolesence – then it stands to reason that straight people must make a choice during their teen years too.

So here are some open question to Lou Sheldon: Sir, would you please tell us about the moment in your life when you chose to be heterosexual? What sort of introspection led up to this decision? Was it a difficult choice? And how many sexual encounters with other males did you have before you decided to be straight?

(Of course, this assumes that Sheldon is, in fact, straight. His effeminate, even mincing behavior has set off more than a few gaydar detectors over the years. And the record is now replete with self-loathing gays in the Republican ranks – Jeff Gannon/James Guckert, Rep. Mark Foley, Rep. David Dreier, and Gop operative Arthur Finklestein, just to name a few.)

Schwarzenegger Meltdown Continues – Top Dem Ally Brought in

Today’s Los Angeles Times – front page, above the fold – has a story titled “Schwarzenegger’s Top Ally Steps In.” The “ally” is, of course, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Shriver, shown at right consorting with the enemy at last year’s Republican convention.

The Schwarzenegger regime (the Times refers them as his “senior staff” and “campaign team” ) is roiling from what insiders describe as a “dysfunctional” atomsphere and a “civil war” within its upper ranks.

Schwarzenegger is facing infighting among his senior staff and campaign team, which has contributed to a series of political missteps that threaten the once soaring governor’s ambitious agenda, more than a dozen aides and lawmakers said Thursday.

“More than a dozen” aides were quoted?! When that many people are talking with reporters, I think the term “meltdown” is accurate for what’s going on in the Governor’s office.

One sign of the governor’s troubles is the active involvement of his wife, Maria Shriver. The first lady is conferring with consultants to refine the governor’s message and working to ensure that her husband hears a broader range of voices.

Begs the question: Why? If we’re to believe Maria’s various quasi-patronizing quotes over the years about her husband’s right-leaning politics then we can assume that underneath her journalistic objectivity she’s still a Kennedy-style liberal.

Since she’s constantly stepping in to help Arnold out of political jams, further analysis would bring us to the conclusion that whatever her political beliefs are, she’s laying them aside in order to help her husband – and thereby the enemies of liberalism and its tenets of freedom, fair play, privacy and integrity -in the Republican Party. Shriver wades into these frays inside the GOP without batting a lash. This makes her a collaborator of the first order. Beyond that, whatever journalistic bona fides she may have had are forever compromised by these political activities.

Flipping it around, you also have to wonder why the Gop operatives around Arnold – like Mike Murphy, for just one example – would be comfortable having a Kennedy within the inner circle.

But back to the Governor’s problems:

Schwarzenegger is reeling after successive policy reversals, gaffes and clashes with well-organized opponents have deflated his once-buoyant approval ratings. The latest setback came this week when he told a newspaper publishers association that the United States should “close its borders.” He later apologized, explaining that he misspoke because of his imperfect command of English.

Who are you reminded of when you hear the excuse that Arnold’s “imperfect command of English” caused the gaffe?

If this were happening in, say, April 2006, as Arnold’s campaign for re-election was gearing up, I’d say there was genuine hope that he could be defeated. But, as I noted in a previous rant, Schwarzenegger can communicate with Calfornia voters via a megaphone that no other politician in the state can acces: He can go over the heads of the California television news – which doesn’t cover politics anyway – and go on Oprah, Access Hollywood or other national entertainment outlets – which most Californias do watch. This is how he got elected last time, and it’s almost undoubtedly how he’ll do it next year.

In fact, Shriver is already doing it:

Several people familiar with the governor’s office described Shriver as very “unhappy” and “frustrated” over her husband’s fortunes. Shriver, the niece of former president John F. Kennedy who has intervened before when her husband’s political interests were in jeopardy, is using a national tour promoting her new self-help book for teenage girls to defend her husband, making her case with administration talking points.

PR Reviews ‘The Family’ by Kitty Kelly

The Family, by Kitty KelleyiconTHE FAMILY: THE REAL STORY OF THE BUSH DYNASTY by Kitty Kelley.
Published by Doubleday, September, 2004.

Reviewed by Pensito Review contributor Violet in NC.

Kitty Kelley is a brave woman. She writes, with both authority and vengeance, tell-all unauthorized biographies of powerful American personalities who are long of reach, big of ego, and short of tolerance. In other words she takes on the elite and goes for the jugular. This time her book takes on the Bush clan who have succeeded in claiming the chieftainship of the greatest country in the world. And have passed it down. And hope to pass it on. Citizens! Beware!

The theme of Kelley’s book is the conscious, deliberate attitude of entitlement enjoyed by the Bushmen and their women. Bar (maliciously nicknamed after a Prescott Bush family horse) runs the stable of political studs in the manner of Don Corelone, with a firm hand and behind the scenes maneuvers. She masquerades as a genial grandmother while controlling her family and associates with biting vitriol. Married working women receive special scrutiny with questions such as: When are you going to quit and have a baby? Or: Why aren’t you home with your children?

The Bushmen–Prescott, G.H.W., and George W.– are portrayed as ruthless elites who are driven, not by ideology, but ambition, to best the Old Man, whoever he may be. All three of them are Yalie Bonesmen with all the accruing benefits of rank and pull. The two elder were excessively penurious with their offspring, providing instead of money, connections into the high-flying world of finance, oil, and politics. Motivated by best-for-me ideals, they find the surest road to success neither guided by principal nor feeling. The lack of connection with those not occupying their stratosphere is astounding. Their careless exploitation of the sincerely held beliefs of certain narrow misguided religious segments is breath-taking.

The Family is a horror story. But ironically and tragically for the United States and the world, it is non-fiction. Kelley writes with a slant. Absolutely. But she also tells her story convincingly with the research and depth of investigation needed to make it ring true. It is as real as your worst nightmare. If you still have trouble believing that two of these men have acquired the desk chair once occupied by FDR and JFK, read this book.. Then you will get it.

Order The Family by Kitty Kelly from Barnes & Noble.