The point that the Republican party seems to miss, and that the Democratic party hasn't got across to the public, is that the purpose of lifting the ceiling on the national debt isn't to allow President Obama to spend more money. It's to allow the government to borrow to pay Congressionally-approved bills that it's already run up with full bipartisanship. (The 2011 budget was approved by 60% of the House Republicans and 42% of the House Democrats.)
I have this delightful mental image of Congress collectively going out to dinner at a white-linen restaurant, and gorging its way through the menu from the appetizers through the lobster entree and the after-dinner drinks, ending with desserts. Only after the check arrives, which they can't pay because their credit cards are maxed out, do they argue about whether it was the appetizers or the desserts that pushed the tab out of reach.
I"ll have a more serious thought on the national debt ceiling in a while, but it struck me yesterday that as our nation's elected senators and representatives like to spend beyond their means (Republicans as well as Democrats, but with different priorities) even as they decry our deficit, they could join in the commitment to reduce the deficit by making a small symbolic sacrifice. The constitution does not mandate any particular size for the House of Representatives -- Congress fixes its size by law. There's no magic in the current number of 435 representatives,a nd Congress could pass a law to reduce the House of Representatives by, say, 20%, down to 338 members. The savings is small relative to the size of the budget, but it would be a tangible sign that they believe in the smaller government for which they have long been advocates.
The state treasurer of Oregon has checked over the income projections for the Columbia River Crossing and has found that they're $240 million to $407 million short. The state treasurer of Washington has ordered that toll projections not include annual increases in tolls, based on unpleasant surprises in the revenues from the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Together this means that there will be between $468 million and $598 million less to spend on the $4 billion bridge-highway-train-consultant project than the proponents have hoped for.
Who will be the first person involved in the project to say, "We have $600 million less to work with than we thought we'd have. Here's the $600 million that I propose to cut out of the budget"? Don't hold your breath.
This follows up on last week's post about convicted murderer Gary Haugen discharging his attorneys and waiving his right to appeal his sentence of death for killing another prisoner. The news stories about Mr. Haugen quoted only a few words that he said in court, and focused mainly on the disagreement between Mr. Haugen's lawyers (now his former lawyers) and the judges who conducted the hearings. It's not possible to understand Mr. Haugen's position, and to discuss the question of whether he's competent to waive his right to appeal his death sentence, without listening to the man himself. Here are some excerpts from his May 18 hearings. The entire transcript is online here, courtesy of the Salem Statesman-Journal.
The first section is a hearing before Judge Thomas Hart of the Marion County Circuit Court, who was presented with a motion by Mr. Haugen's attorneys to remove Judge Joseph Guimond from the case. "The Court" is Judge Hart. Mr. Goody is one of Mr. Haugen's court-appointed attorneys.
THE COURT: Well, I already know that based on the conversation that you were not provided that copy of the motion that was filed on your behalf.And the motion essentially asks for recusal of Judge Guimond, and that's what I'm here to work on today. Have you --
MR. HAUGEN: Well, Your Honor --
THE COURT: You sat through the whole thing. You were here at your trial.
MR. HAUGEN: Absolutely.
THE COURT: You uncomfortable with Judge Guimond?
MR. HAUGEN: Oh, I am more than comfortable with Judge Guimond. I sat with him for three months through our trial and assisted in our defense, myself and my codefendant, and had no problem with Judge Guimond at all. I think he is not only an articulate, butI think he is very -- he has the tools. He is very competent, in my opinion.And I feel that at this particular juncture, Your Honor, and in the appellate process,according to statute, this is my time. This is my time to choose, right? This is -- by statute this is my time to make a choice. My right, you know,constitutional, statutory, and a God-given right of free will to choose.
MR. GOODY: Your Honor, I object to anymore -- I need to make a record --
THE COURT: Sit down. Sit -- sit down, Mr. Goody. Do you want to be held in contempt? Sit down. I am asking him a question, okay?The idea has to be it's his right. And I understand that you want to act on his behalf. You have -- but at some point in time the court is making a decision with regard to whether or not Mr. Haugen is capable to choose on his own behalf.
Mr. Haugen compares his right to be executed with reproductive rights and freedom of choice:
THE COURT: The reason I ask about that is I want to make sure that when you and I communicate that you know what I'm saying and --
MR. HAUGEN: Absolutely. I understand you completely, Your Honor. And I appreciate you offering me the opportunity to speak to you as much as the conflict between myself and counsel is interrupting that process. And the only denial I see of due process here is my counsel against my right to sit back and incompetently (sic) make a decision here today. And I feel that they're doing everything they can to -- like a woman. That's the only thing I can relate it to, is a woman's right to choose. And the appellate process at this juncture, this is my right to choose. And they're trying to take that away from me, Your Honor. And it's damaging my spirit, you know.
Mr. Haugen was seated throughout the hearing. As the hearing is about to end, Mr. Haugen asks to address the judge again, but he doesn't stand:
THE COURT: You're supposed to stand when you address me anyway.
MR. HAUGEN: Oh, excuse me, Your Honor --
MR. SIMRIN: I don't think that chair slides back.
MR. GOODY: The plan was that he wasn't supposed to stand, Your Honor.
THE COURT: That wasn't my plan. I came down here, I'm going to give him the respect that he deserves for dealing with how he needs to be dealt with. It's not like there aren't enough people around, okay? Mr. Haugen, you're going to do what you need to do, correct?
MR. HAUGEN: May I stand, Your Honor?
THE COURT: Yes, sir. I hate to -- yeah, yeah. I don't want your drawers falling down, okay?
Judge Hart rejects the attorneys' motion to remove Judge Guimond from the case. Judge Guimond then takes the bench and presides over the hearing on Mr. Haugen's request to discharge his counsel and waive his appeals. Mr. Haugen starts to explain his choice:
MR. HAUGEN: Your Honor, if I may, please. With all due respect to you, Your Honor, and this court, what I find happening right now is it is extremely sad that it has come to this, right? This is my free will. This is my constitutional right. We are at a point where I get, as I said before, a right to choose. And you've got people who have got political and ideological beliefs and positions. And they're willing, like tree huggers, they're willing to kill the tree and run off with it until it dies somewhere else before they allow the loggers to come in and cut the tree down. And it's the best analogy I can come up right now. And I find it really sad that they have to continue to attack your character, Your Honor. You know, I mean, you're here and I have nothing but the utmost respect and faith in your ability, your tools, your position today. I understand the gravity of this situation. And, apparently, other people don't understand the gravity and the situation in relation to my perspective and my right by statute and my choice, my ability to choose. And they're going to continue to sit back and throw out motions and rhetoric and whatever to postpone and delay. And like I told Judge Hart, they're damaging my spirit, you know. They're totally attempting to take me off my game, as you will, sothat you and I can communicate in an intelligent and reasonable manner the things that you and I need to do to get this process going again.
Mr. Haugen lets a little bit of humor sneak in to his speech:
MR. HAUGEN: And all this is doing -- it's probably breaking so many hearts to have to come in here over and over and over when we need to take care of this. You know, we need to put this to sleep. That's probably the wrong expression.
THE COURT: Probably the wrong term, Mr. Haugen, but I understand.
MR. HAUGEN: Probably the wrong term, but it's all I can come up with.
Judge Guimond proceeds to ask Mr. Haugen a series of questions to determine whether he's rational and understands what he's doing:
THE COURT: All right. Mr. Haugen, do you understand you've been convicted of two counts ofaggravated murder?
MR. HAUGEN: Yes, I do.
THE COURT: Do you understand that youwere sentenced to death for the aggravated murder ofDavid Polin?
MR. HAUGEN: Yes, I do.
THE COURT: And you do understand thatyou've been sentenced to death; is that correct?
MR. HAUGEN: Yes, Your Honor.
Judge Guimond asks Mr. Haugen if he understands the effect of the death sentence, and probably didn't expect this answer:
THE COURT: Do you understand what the effect of the death sentence will be?
MR. HAUGEN: Well, one of them will be that we'll never have to have this conversation again.
Judge Guimond continues with the questions. A bit later:
THE COURT: Mr. Haugen, maybe you've already answered this but it's an important question, I want you to answer it. Why do you not wish to challenge your death sentence?
MR. HAUGEN: Well, I kind of written out -- do we got a moment?
THE COURT: Yes. Go ahead.
MR. HAUGEN: I kind of written out a little something. But, number 1, so that these people don't ever have to experience this with at least me again. And also, you ask why I'm willing to sacrifice myself. The answer is simply I feel the system has failed. I am disgraced by the hypocrisy that is passed off as justice, a facade supported by those who benefited at taxpayers' expense. I sit in my little cage on the row and I watch as every day as rulings are made that reinforce the fact that there is no such thing as equal protection and that law doesn't actually apply. I watch as the courts overturn their own rulings favorable to us contradicting every principle those previous rulings were based on just so they can justify rubber stamping our appeals. I watch as the courts overturn or reinterpret the Oregon Constitution for every individual appeal so as to justify rulings that would support ideological or political positions currentlypopular. Or just blatantly ignore precedents set down by the United States Supreme Court to protect our constitutional rights, passing those violations of our rights off as harmless error as if there was such a thing as harmless error when a person's life is involved.
After 30 years, Your Honor, 30 years I've been in the joint, I've been in the penitentiary. I was an indigent defendant, lost all trust in attorneys, and have no faith in the justice system. I'm hoping you'll revive that for me. I'm willing to sacrifice myself, fall on my sword, if you will, in protest of the arbitrary, capricious, and vindictive nature of Oregon's death penalty scheme that is structurally and systemically flawed. For example, how do you justify putting me on death row because a murderer died in prison? And Ward Weaver sitting on a fresh concrete with a little girl dead in a barrel 3 feet beneath him conducts an interview with the media smoking a cigarette, while in a shed 20 feet away another little girl is stuffed in a cardboard box.
The guy who cuts our hair is Dayton Leroy Rogers, man. Are you for real? You think I'm going to spend the next 15, 20 years, Your Honor, fighting appeals with cats like that touching me, interacting with me?
Judge Guimond found Mr. Haugen to be competent to discharge his attorneys and waive his appeals. Now that you've read Mr. Haugen's own words, what do you think?
Gary Haugen, convicted of murder and sentenced to a drug-induced death, wants to fire the court-appointed lawyers who are filing appeals to prevent the state from carrying out the sentence. Today a Marion County judge granted his request. This doesn't mean that he'll be executed next month, as he wishes; the new lawyers will have to evaluate whether Mr. Haugen is competent to wish to be put to death for his crime.
It's Mr. Haugen's misfortune not to have a terminal illness, because under Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, the lawyers and courts wouldn't be involved. If Mr. Haugen were terminally ill, made two requests for assisted suicide 15 days apart, and had two physicians of his choice agree that he was mentally competent, they could prescribe the appropriate drugs for him to take. Why shouldn't he be able to have his wish to die honored, if he can satisfy similar safeguards: make two requests in writing 15 days apart, be evaluated by two physicians of his choice, and if they agree that he knows what he's doing, allow the judicial system to do its work? It's odd to argue that a person who wants to die rather than endure up to six months of pain is rational, but another person who wants to die rather than endure forty years in a maximum-security prison isn't.
Richard Inukai didn't talk much about his experiences in the two years he spent in a federal prison, mainly because he didn't remember much about those two years, for they started in 1943 when he was born in Minidoka, Idaho.Tule Lake, California. His parents, residents of Hood River, were among the tens of thousands of Americans of Japanese descent uprooted when they were ordered by the federal government in 1942 to leave their homes in Washington, Oregon, and California and spend the rest of World War II in confinement. Tule Lake was not called a prison, of course; its official name was the unassuming "Tule Lake War Relocation Center," a pleasant euphemism that made no difference to the men, women, and children confined there. The Supreme Court, in the Korematsu and Hirabayashi cases, had held that the constitution did not prohibit imposing special curfews on, and then relocating and imprisoning, United States citizens in wartime, including Richard Inukai and other newborns, strictly because of their race.
After the war his parents made their way back to Oregon, and then to Portland, where his father, Tom Inukai, operated a service station. Richard Inukai, who died the morning of July 3, absorbed his father's work ethic -- Tom Inukai often worked seven days a week -- but after serving four years in the Marine Corps Reserve he went into a different part of the car business, first in the Ron Tonkin organization, where he rose to be the manager of Ron Tonkin Gran Turismo, then in the early 1970s as the operator of a used-car lot on 82nd Avenue, and later in that decade as the owner of Dick's Country Dodge in Hillsboro. Over the years he added Ford, Chrysler, and Jeep franchises, also in Hillsboro, operating under the common name of Dick's Auto Group.
On the rare occasions that Mr. Inukai talked about the war years, he sometimes showed his anger, not for himself but for the other children locked in the camps. That anger may have led him to become a generous contributor to the Boys and Girls Clubs, and to lead the funding of the near-tripling of the Hillsboro club, now named the Inukai Family Club. It's not named after him, at least not exactly; and I suspect that in his own mind he thought of it as being named after his parents, so that they could, by proxy, give to the children of Hillsboro something that the United States government kept them from giving to their own.
A.P. Herbert, whose works adorn our more-or-less annual celebration of Income Tax Day, provides a reading for our friends in the District to consider as they take on their legislative duties. This is a portion of one of Herbert's aptly-titled "Misleading Cases in the Common Law," headed "In Re MacAlister," and subtitled "What is the Liberal Party?" An elderly woman has died and left one million pounds to "the Liberal Party," and thirteen different political parties each assert that they are the one true Liberal Party. The judge's efforts to forge a compromise fail, and, as he says, "it says much for the sincerity with which these colleagues detest each other that, rather than share a common bank-balance, they would cheerfully continue with thirteen independent overdrafts." So Mr. Justice Tooth must decide which one of the thirteen Liberal Parties is the Liberal Party, which he does by looking at the principles for which they stand. The rest is quoted from the story, with some light abridgment:
I have therefore turned my attention in another direction, which was suggested by one of the plaintiffs, a Mr. Haddock of Hammersmith, who confesses frankly that the Liberal Party which he represents is a party of one, but insists nevertheless that it is the only Liberal Party. It has struck me as odd that no one of the distinguished Liberals concerned in this case has used the word Liberty, and had it not been for the obscure Mr. Haddock the subject might never have entered my head. But Mr. Haddock has argued with some force that there must at one time have been some shadowy connexion between the Liberal Party and the idea of Liberty. Now in cross-examination, the witnesses Asquith, George, Grey, Simon, Runciman, and indeed nearly all the plaintiffs, have confessed that they have been guilty from time to time of legislation, or proposals for legislation, of which the main purpose was to make people do something which they did not wish to do, or prevent people from doing something which they did wish to do. Few of them could point to an item in their legislative programmes which had any other purpose, and, with the single exception of Mr. Haddock, they have no legislation to suggest of which the purpose is to allow people to do something which they cannot do already. On the contrary, it appears, they are as anxious as any other party in Parliament to make rules and regulations for the eating, drinking, sleeping, and breathing of the British citizen. On these grounds, therefore, Mr. Haddock has argued that these plaintiffs have not the idea of liberty in the forefront of their political equipment, and do not therefore deserve the name of Liberal. Mr. Haddock's own programme is simple: (a) to propose no legislation unless its purpose is to allow people to do what they like, and (b) to support no legislation whose purpose is to stop people from doing what they like.
Here and there, he admitted, good cause being shown, he is prepared to compromise; but that, prima facie, is his foundation and beginning. For example, the first measures which he intends to introduce are a Bill to repeal the Marriage Act of 1886, by which a wedding may not take place after three o'clock in the afternoon, a Bill to allow the sale of Bodily Refreshments at any Hour at which Any One is Willing to Sell Them; a Bill for the Institution of the Death Penalty for Police Officers who Enter Respectable Clubs Disguised in Evening Dress, Bills to amend the laws relating to Divorce, Lotteries and Gaming, Sunday Toil and Entertainment, and other beneficent measures whose purpose is neither to improve, uplift, enrich, nor reform the British subject, but to increase, by however little, his liberty and contentment.
The younger Laquedem cousins and I enjoyed last night's baseball game with gusto, not to mention the fireworks afterward. We did notice one oddity unrelated to the game itself. Organizations that support the armed forces and returned veterans were out in force for the Patriotic Weekend events. One of them gave each of the Laquedem cousins a U.S. Army pin, for them to wear in support of our military. What was odd about that? You've probably guessed already, but here's the photo anyway.