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Posts Tagged ‘Rick Perry’

One of the best bets I ever lost

At the beginning of August, I made a bet with a labmate of mine. I said that Rick Perry would win the Republican presidential nomination. The terms were that if I won, my labmate owed me lunch, and if anyone other than Rick Perry won, I would owe him lunch. This is called a “field bet,” and it was a mistake. I should have made him pick someone in particular, as opposed to anyone other than Perry. Alternatively, I could have weighed the stakes differently, so that I owed him a lunch if I lost, but he would owe me, say, 3 lunches if I won.

But I didn’t do either of those, and the reason is that I was feeling very confident. Rick Perry had the swagger and alpha male patriarchal gravitas that Republican voters craved, I thought. He’d sign off on executing innocent people in Texas and not give a fuck. He’d lead with his gut, and not listen to a bunch of egghead “experts.” He was a tough talkin’ Texan, unafraid to display his strong religious faith and wage a cultural war against gays, or the nonreligious, or anyone else that seemed acceptable to pick on:

And at first, it seemed like I made a smart bet. Below is the polling for the GOP nomination, and Perry is in blue:

Almost immediately after I made the bet, he sailed right past Romney! Things looked good. But then a funny thing happened. I hadn’t counted on a few key facts. Namely, Rick Perry was too stupid to talk. I had never listened to him before, but I assumed that because he had won all 10 of his previous electoral contests, he presumably had this basic skill more or less covered. I was wrong. In debate after debate, he showed this very clearly:

And as you all know by now, his support tanked and it never came back. The more conservative base of the GOP that didn’t want Romney moved on to other possibilities: Cain, then Gingrich, then Santorum. As Stendhal explained, this more or less guaranteed that Romney would remain the frontrunner.

Today, the news broke that Rick Perry will drop out of the race and throw his support to Gingrich. Who knows, Gingrich may even win South Carolina and build off that win to challenge Romney. But either way, the bet is over and I bought my labmate lunch. But let me just say, I’ve never been so happy to have lost a bet. Of all the GOP nominees, Perry is the one I disliked the most. His cruelty, ignorance, callousness, and stupidity were an awful and dangerous mixture. In the end, I made the best kind of bet: the kind you win either way. I would gladly buy a lunch if it meant that this awful man would never be president.

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I know, Rick Perry at this point only deserves to be ignored. He has no chance of winning in South Carolina, etc.

But this quote from Perry about the Marines who allegedly urinated on Taliban corpses struck me:

When you’re 18 or 19, you do dumb things. These kids made a mistake, there’s not any doubt about it,” the Republican presidential hopeful said. He went on to note that other famous military figures acted the same way in a war environment: “[Winston] Churchill did the same thing.”

Although the Marines should be “appropriately punished” Perry criticized “the idea that this administration would go after these young people for a criminal act.”

You know what’s funny? I almost agree with Perry. Kids do dumb things and make terrible mistakes; punishments for them should be different than those for adults.

I wonder what Rick Perry would say about the case of Napoleon Beazley. When he was 17, Beazley committed a brutal murder of a 63-year-old John Luttig during a carjacking. As a result, the state of Texas in turn murdered Beazley by lethal injection for a crime he committed when he was a “kid.” (He was also convicted by an all-white jury; he was black.) Kids make mistakes and Napoleon Beazley made a terrible one. His environment was rife with violence, and he committed a horrific act of violence. His environment and his age do not excuse his act, certainly, but does his act of murder deserve a murder in kind? Surely, there must be some leniency offered to “kids.”

Except, of course, I already know what Rick Perry says about this case. 18 state legislators, as well as the original trial judge, wrote to Perry to ask him to commute Beazley’s sentence. His response?

“To delay his punishment is to delay justice.”

No leniency. No “just kids.” No “dumb mistake.”

Now, one could argue that murder is different than corpse desecration, but I doubt Perry’s response would be any different for alleged murders of civilians committed by American troops at war. When they are committing a murder that Perry likes, they are “just kids.” When they are committing a murder that he doesn’t, they deserve “ultimate justice.”

Were it not for a Supreme Court decision banning executions for crimes committed while a juvenile, I’m sure Perry would gleefully pull the switch himself.

Rick Perry, good Christian, enjoys murdering his own citizens in the name of justice. He is proud of it, whether they were kids or not.

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Here’s his new ad:

Luckily, his poll numbers are in the basement because he’s too stupid to string sentences together.

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Despite my schadenfreude at the hilarious Perry implosion at the “debate” last night, I want to point out that Perry is being lambasted for forgetting which three agencies he wanted to destroy, but he should have been disqualified for wanting to simply eliminate three federal agencies at all!

Instead, the whole Republican field is so far to the right that Perry’s position to eliminate federal agencies was downright moderate.

Rather than knocking Perry (or Cain) out for his awful policies and crazy ideas, it looks like the Republicans will probably just oust him for being a boob.

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I currently think Rick Perry is the most likely person to win the GOP presidential nomination. And when I think of Perry, the first thing I think of is Cameron Todd Willingham. And I will admit to being hopeful that if only we could explain what happened to people, they would be repelled by Perry’s role in the matter. But after being more honest with myself, I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. People just don’t care about the death penalty that much, don’t want to learn about its injustices, and when they do hear about them, are likely to say things like “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs” or even “it takes balls to execute an innocent man.”

Thankfully, TNC has some sobering yet nonetheless encouraging words:

I don’t much care that the Willingham case won’t deep-six Rick Perry. That kind of cynical utilitarianism has never been my bad [sic? I think he might mean “bag”]. Frederick Douglass couldn’t stop Jim Crow or achieve universal suffrage either. But we live in Douglass’s America, not Bobby Lee’s.

In this long battle, in this longer war for a more informed citizenry, and thus a more responsible political class, Willingham should not be forgotten. Activists, agitators, writers and thinkers who measure their efforts by presidential cycles should take up another business. This is no place for fast food intellectuals.

This will be a long, difficult battle. And unlike the one for marriage equality, which I consider destined for success for simple demographic reasons, there is no guarantee of success at any point during my lifetime. But it’s a battle I will never shy away from. It’s time for me to make another donation to the Innocence Project. I suggest you consider doing the same.

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And he must realize it. You might recall that a few weeks ago I blogged here, here, and here about Cameron Todd Willingham, the man who was executed by Texas for a crime that never happened. He was put to death for allegedly starting a fire that killed his children, but subsequent examinations showed that arson was not to blame. Without arson, there was no crime.

The Texas Forensic Science Commission was set to hear testimony two days from now from the author of one of the reports that concluded that arson was not the cause of the fire. However, Gov. Perry has removed three of the members of this commission and replaced them, and now the testimony has been postponed indefinitely. Perry claims that the replacements were routine because the their terms had expired, and that may be true. But one of those he replaced – the chairman – had previously written that the investigation should go on. His replacement is reportedly one of the most hard-line prosecutors in the country. How convenient for Perry, eh?

Like TNC says, it’s difficult for people to admit error. The more severe the error (and this is about as severe as they come), the less likely it is we will ever see Perry come clean and admit his role in the execution of an innocent.

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