In History, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on February 4, 2014 at 11:35 am

Joy Stewart, 22, was nearly eight months pregnant when she encountered Dennis McGuire in Preble County, Ohio, while visiting a friend.

McGuire wanted to have sex with her but Stewart refused.

Dennis McGuire

So he raped her.

No, not vaginally.  She was so pregnant he couldn’t have sex with her.

So he anally sodamized her.  With a knife.

Not surprisingly, Stewart became hysterical.  And this made him fear that he would go to jail for raping a pregnant woman.

So he choked her.  Then he stabbed her with the same knife he had used to anally rape her.

Finally, he severed her carotid artery and jugular vein. He wiped blood off his hands on her right arm and dumped her in a wooded area where she was found the next day by hikers.

Joy Stewart

The date was February 11, 1989.

When questioned by police, McGuire blamed Stewart’s kidnapping and murder on his brother-in-law.  But the accusation didn’t hold up–and DNA evidence clearly implicated McGuire.

McGuire was convicted of kidnapping, anal rape and aggravated murder on December 8, 1994.  But even while facing a grim future, McGuire managed to postpone his fate as victim could not.

First, his attorneys appealed his conviction to the Ohio Supreme Court on June 10, 1997.  To the dismay of him and his mouthpieces, the court upheld the verdict on December 10, 1997.

By this time, McGuire had already outlived his ravished victim by eight years.

Second, his attorneys appealed to the United States Court of Appeals, for the Sixth Circuit.  During this appeal, as in the first, McGuire’s attorneys didn’t argue their client was innocent.

They simply claimed that a jury never got to hear the full details of his chaotic and abusive childhood.

As if that had been so much more horrific than the details of Joy Stewart’s rape and murder.

The case was argued on December 16, 2013, and decided on December 30.  The court upheld the death penalty verdict.

By that time, McGuire had outlived Joy Stewart by 24 years.

But McGuire’s lawyers weren’t through.

Third, they asked Ohio Governor John Kasich to spare McGuire, again citing his chaotic and abusive childhood.

Kasich rejected that request without comment.

Fourth, on January 6-7, 2014, McGuire’s lawyers argued in Federal appeals court that Ohio’s untried two-drug execution method would cause their client “agony and terror” as he struggled to breathe.

Supplies of Ohio’s former execution drug, pentobarbital, had dried up as its manufacturer put it off limits for executions.

Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction planned to use a dose of midazolam, a sedative, combined with hydromorphone, a painkiller, to put McGuire to death.

That appeal proved unsuccessful.

Finally, on January 16, 2014, McGuire kept his long-delayed date with the executioner in a small, windowless room at the Lucasville Correctional facility.

Strapped to a gurney, McGuire gasped, snorted and snored as it took him 26 minutes to die.

“I’m going to heaven,” were his last words.

His surviving family members, of course, feel that a travesty of justice has occurred.

On January 25, they filed a lawsuit in Federal court, claiming that McGuire’s execution was “unconstitutional.”

According to the lawsuit, McGuire suffered  “repeated cycles of snorting, gurgling and arching his back, appearing to writhe in pain.  It looked and sounded as though he was suffocating.”

The McGuire family wants to ensure that such an execution never happens again.

During the execution, his adult children sobbed in dismay.

For him.  Not his ravaged and innocent victim.

The old saying, “Justice delayed is justice denied” remains as true–and relevant–as ever.

In order to be effective, punishment must be certain and swift.  To repeatedly postpone it–literally for decades after the perpetrator has been convicted–is to inflict further agony on the victim.

Or, in this case, the surviving family and friends of the murdered victim.

And it sends an unmistakable message to those thinking of victimizing others: “Hey, he got to live another 25 years.  Maybe I can beat the rap.”

Opponents of capital punishment have long argued that the death penalty is not a deterrant to crime.

In fact, it is.

Having finally had sentence carried out on him, Dennis McGuire will never again threaten the life of anyone.

Prisons scheduled for executions are now facing a chronic shortage of the drugs used to carry out such sentence.  The reason: Many drug-makers refuse to make them available for executions.

This has caused some states to reconsider using execution methods that were scrapped in favor of lethal injection.

Methods like

  • hanging
  • the gas chamber
  • the electric chair
  • even the firing squad.

In line with this debate should be another: Whether the lives of cold-blooded murderers are truly worth more than those of their innocent victims.

And whether those victims–and those who loved them–deserve a better break than they now receive under our legal system.


In History, Politics on May 15, 2012 at 12:01 am

Just how radical are today’s Republicans?

A better question might be: Does the philosophy of today’s Republican Party reflect the principles outlined in the last, justifiably famous paragraph of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inagural Address?

The end of the Civil War was finally coming into view when Lincoln delivered this address on March 4, 1865.  So his words must be taken as evidence of the sort of Nation he intended to rebuild once the fighting ceased:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in–to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan; to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Now consider the following sentiments expressed by today’s Republican candidates–and their supporters:

  • During the September 7, 2011 GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, the moderator, NBC’s Brian Williams, told Texas Governor Rick Perry:

“Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times….”

Suddenly, the right-wing audience broke into cheers and applause, interrupting Williams’ question.

“Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?” asked Williams.

“No, sir, I’ve never struggled with that at all,” answered Perry.

  • During the September 12, 2011 GOP Presidential debate in Tampa, Florida, CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer asked Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas): “What do you tell a guy who is sick, goes into a coma and doesn’t have health insurance? Who pays for his coverage?”

When Paul fumbled for an answer, Blitzer persisted: “Are you saying society should just let him die?”

“Yeah!” several members of the right-wing crowd yelled out.

  • On September 22, 2011, the audience at the Republican Presidential debate in Orlando, Florida, jeered an openly gay soldier stationed in Iraq. 

He had just asked, through a video connection, if any of the candidates would, if President, reinstate the just-repealed “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” law that had banned gays from serving in the military.

Not one of the candidates objected to the disrespect shown a soldier who was then serving his country in an extremely dangerous part of the world.  And all the candidates made it clear that, if elected, they would reinstate DADT.

  • On May 10, 2012, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives voted to slash Medicaid, benefits for federal workers and programs to help feed hungry Americans–all to spare the military’s growing budget from mandatory cuts. 

Under the deal reached last summer, $1.2 trillion must be “sequestered”–cut–from the budget over the next 10 years, with about half coming from the military.

Such reductions would still allow the defense budget to grow by 20%.

Rather than decrease military spending, the Republican plan

  • cuts $83 billion in federal retirement benefits (equivalent to about a 5 percent pay cut);
  • saves $49 billion by capping medical malpractice lawsuits;
  • slashes about $48 billion from Medicaid programs;
  • cuts food aid by more than $36 billion;
  • tightens enforcement of eligibility rules for the Food Stamp program, and guts a 2009 benefit increase, costing a family of four $57 a month.

Fully 25% of the cuts come from programs that benefit the poor–such as Meals on Wheels for the elderly, child care and child abuse prevention.

So add it up:

  • Rick Perry’s Tea Party supporters cheer at the thought of 234 men and women executed by the State.
  • Perry utterly rejects the possibility that “any one of those might have been innocent” to more Tea Party cheers.
  • Ron Paul’s Tea Party supporters cheer at the thought of letting an uninsured patient die rather than save his life through public-funded coverage.
  • A Republican audience boos a soldier serving in Iraq when he declares himself openly gay.
  • The Republican House of Representatives votes to drastically slash programs to aid the poor so the over-bloated military budget can remain unscathed.

Then ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is today’s Republican Party one that Abraham Lincoln would be proud to lead?
  2. Does the Republican Party’s vision of America reflect any of the values expressed in Lincoln’s Second Inagural Address?

A truly honest answer to both questions would have to be: NO.


In Bureaucracy, Humor, Politics on September 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Yes, it’s Presidential campaign season again.  That special time when, every four years, would-be Republican leaders try to prove

  • Who hates liberals the most;
  • Who will suppress abortion and birth control the most;
  • Who hates gays the most;
  • Who will abolish the Environmental Protection Agency;
  • Who will build the most prisons;
  • Who will execute the most convicts; and
  • Who will most support the right of the rich to not pay taxes.

For 2012, Republican voters have embraced one right-wing candidate after another–Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry. 

And, in each case, these voters have found, to their dismay, that s/he’s simply not right-wing enough. 

Thus, Republicans fear that none of these candidates is sufficiently Fascistic to win Rush Limbaugh’s nomination for President.

So it’s possible that the future of the Republican party may one day rest on the still-to-be perfected science of cloning.

Imagine how this procedure could affect the way Republicans choose their Presidential candidates. 

The top officials of the Republican party decide to create the perfect, unbeatable Presidential candidate.   

They direct scientists at the National Institute of Health to use DNA samples to resurrect several past, hugely popular Republican leaders. 
The first is, of course, Abraham Lincoln–destroyer of slavery and defender of the Union.  Then the scientists introduce him to a sample of Republican voters to gauge his current popularity.  
The test-audience goes crazy–but not in the way party officials expect. 
“If it hadn’t been for him, we wouldn’t have all these damn civil rights laws now,” yell some. 
“He invaded the South and destroyed states’ rights!” scream others.
To head off a riot, Republican officials rush the bewildered Lincoln clone off the stage.
Then they bring out their next resurrected clone-candidate: Theodore Roosevelt, the trust-busting conservationist. 
Again the test-audience goes wild: “Tree-hugger!  Tree-hugger!”
“Trust-buster!  That’s the guy who attacked the big corporations–lousy Commie!” 
Once again, there is a near-riot as startled Republican officials hustle Roosevelt off the stage and out of the building.
Then they introduce their third resurrected candidate clone: Ronald Reagan. 
“Not him!  He legalized abortion in California when he was Governor!”
“Yeah, and his first wife–Jane Wyman–divorced him. We can’t have a divorced guy in the White House.”
Desperate, Republican leaders go into a huddle: “What are we going to do?  Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan were the most popular leaders we’ve ever had.”
“Yeah, but that was in the PAST,” says another party hack.  “We need a candidate who appeals to our base TODAY.”
“Hey, I’ve got an idea,” says the first one.  “But it’s a bit radical.  The guy I have in mind wasn’t actually born in the United States.”
“So what?  People won’t mind if he gives them what they want.”
“What about the Constitution?  You have to be a native-born American to be President.”
“Hey, you know what the oil companies say: Why spoil the beauty of the thing with legality?”
So the Republicans once again call in the geneticists and tell them to go back to work one last time. 
When the last resurrected candidate is finally presented to the test-audience, the crowd rises as one, shouting: “That’s him!  That’s him!” 
“The one we’ve been waiting for!” 
 “The one who REALLY speaks for us!” 
“He’s totally anti-abortion–and he HATES uppity women!”
“Yeah–he hates Commies, gays and non-whites, and he REALLY believes in a STRONG military!”
“All right, I’ll do it–I’ll accept your nomination,” says the clone-candidate.  “But the last time I tried to lead people to greatness, they proved unworthy of me.  So I’ll do it again–but only on ONE condition.”
“Of course, of course!” yells the test-audience.  “Anything you want!  What is it?”
“This time…. 
…no more Mr. Nice Guy!”

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