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Bail me out 

Two cases in the news, two bail amounts. For Charlie Lynch, the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary, bail was set at $400,000. In the other case, former sheriff’s deputy Bryan Goossens, arrested on suspicion of downloading child porn, was released on $5,000 bail.

Wha? Glen Starkey the other week did a nice piece pointing out some of the crazier ways our prison system operates, but what about bail? Doesn’t it seem nuts to treat these two cases so differently?

Who would argue that a person operating a medical marijuana dispensary, with a business license and a nice suit, is more of an immediate threat to flee or strike again than a suspected kiddie porn connoisseur? In other words, what goes into setting bail amounts?

The Constitution demands that bail not be “excessive.” Bail is supposed to be a way to guarantee that a person who hasn’t been convicted doesn’t have to serve jail time. It’s supposed to be a way to guarantee they’ll show up for trial, but not supposed to be a punishment in itself.

State judges work on schedules—recommendations for bail amounts—set by the crime. Trust me, those schedules are handy. But Lynch was tagged with a federal rap as is Goossens’ charge a federal beef and federal judges, I’m told, make their own choices, thus the disparity. As usual, don’t look to me for answers.

 

Old Party

I didn’t get the talking points, so let me ask: Are we all just not supposed to mention that the Republican National Convention has, at this writing, been a total mess?

There has to be some collective understanding that it would be unseemly to point it out—unfair or something, since the Democrats’ convention went off surprisingly smoothly, without any big Hillary stink or anything.

Because nobody seems to be pointing out the obvious.

Before I belabor the point—no offense intended, Bristol—I want to make it clear that I like John McCain. We have a great deal in common. He likes campaign finance reform, I like campaign finance reform. He’s against government waste. I’m against government waste. He thinks George Bush is a turd. I think George Bush is a turd. And, like McCain, I often go for weeks without taking my mood-stabilizing medications.

I also don’t think Sarah Palin is as bad a VP choice as the Democrats seem to hope. She has stalked caribou through the Alaskan brush with babies clinging all over her, and she recognizes polar bears for the threat they really are. What could be more American? Just wait until that tedious bore Joe Biden starts droning on about the intricacies of health care reform, and she fires back with a yarn about the time she sawed off her own leg to escape a wolf trap. Zing!

Still, the McCain/Palin coming-out party has, at this writing, been a pisser. Consider:

The Republicans have been left to trump up the way John McCain and Sarah Palin have worked to clean up the shit left behind by their fellow elephants. McCain built his reputation on slowing his own party’s romp to the public trough, by fighting pork and pushing for campaign finance reform. Palin’s primary “maverick” qualities also come from dealing with the corruption and greed of fellow Republicans, particularly Sen. Ted Stevens, who is under indictment for taking gifts from oil companies. Do you think that’s the “party” the GOP was hoping for?

Palin herself cancelled all of her pre-speech media events following the revelation that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. Yawn. Unless McCain was the father, I don’t see any scandal or hypocrisy there, just another family with a challenge. I do understand the idea that the news throws into question McCain’s judgment in picking her, but that’s pretty thin soup since we already knew he’s a mad dog. The stickier stuff is in the worry that, since McCain puts the “old” in Grand Old Party, she stands a good chance of taking that 3 a.m. phone call we’re all so concerned about: “Mom, can you pick me up? I’m at the Kremlin … “

And witness the way they conveniently used a storm that hadn’t even hit yet to subjugate President Bush—the sitting president of their party—to a mere 8 minute speech, delivered via satellite, as if the mere stink of him in the building would have cursed McCain.

Through it all, they’ve been left to pluck the only string left in their guitar; that anything negative pointed out about Palin is the fault of the tofu-eating, stinky cheese-swilling elitist media.

Worst of all, one of the guys given a prime media slot was Joe Lieberman, who not too long ago ran as the vice presidential candidate of a Democrat. In his speech, he talked about how great a president Bill Clinton was. Nobody in the audience knew if they should clap! What a grand old party!

I must say, however, that Lieberman accomplished something that would have been otherwise thought undoable: He united Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, under a shared opposition to our common scourges, such as terrorism, corruption, and Joe Lieberman.

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