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Video's gone but not forgotten [Aug. 27th, 2011|07:54 am]
[Current Mood |annoyed]

So somebody (we can guess who) intimidated the person who put the video of that hilarious song up and they took it down.

But you know, you seriously, really, do not want to elect someone who can't stand to be laughed at and who wants to hide his mistakes.

So while I encourage some filkwriter friends to come up with something even better, here's a little more about Perry and his approach to governance.    Or, "How much Perry likes the death penalty and how far he will go to hide the fact that  he's killed innocents."

Some of you may have seen this on a national TV program (don't remember which network, though...but certainly not Fox.)   There's an account of the case in the September 7, 2009 New Yorker (one of its big investigative pieces, by David Grann.)

A man named Cameron Todd Willingham was accused of murdering his three children by deliberately burning down his house with them in it.   The local fire investigator was sure he saw signs of arson--but he wasn't an expert, had no training.   He did call in a state investigator, but this was a man who said under oath that as far as he knew he never made mistakes...the very signature of "closed mind, ignore contrary evidence."   They immediately chose Willingham as the most likely suspect.  The local prosecutor found it easy to get a conviction.   Willingham was on death row over ten years...during which time more more evidence emerged that the fire was not arson and he had not murdered his children...and that both the state and local fire investigators had indeed made mistakes and were not as expert as the court had made them seem.

But Governor Perry refused to grant a stay of execution.   He has repeatedly refused to grant stays of execution when new evidence or expert testimony has been found, just as Texas courts are reluctant to allow appeals.   He vetoed a bill that would have kept mentally retarded individuals from being subject to the death penalty (on the grounds that there were already enough safeguards for them in place.  And how are those safeguards protecting them from execution under Gov. Perry?  Um...not very well at all.   Anyway, this is part of his "tough on criminals" stance (doesn't apply to corporations, of course.  Or their CEOs.  Though it wasn't Perry, it was one of his strongest supporters in the Texas legislature who apologized to BP for the criticism BP received after the disasterous oil leak in the Gulf.)   That's one part of Perry and the death penalty--he really likes that big tough stance looking down on the low-income criminals.   (It's pertinent that Willingham was unemployed at the time of the fire.)

But there's worse.  Five years after that execution,  an investigator from  the Texas Forensic Science Commission, looking at the evidence again,  decided that the fire could not have been arson.   Not "maybe wasn't" but "could not have been."   His testimony would have been heard before the Commission, but Perry fired and replaced three of the Commission's members...ensuring that there'd be no hearing on the case.  
So not only was he a pigheaded SOB about the evidence in the first place, now that there's expert testimony that's going to make it clear he goofed and had an innocent man executed, he uses his power as a governor to cover it up.   Couldn't just say "Damn, I was wrong, and I'm so sorry...and I'll learn from this that maybe I, too, am not God and do make mistakes."    No.  Like Bush before him, he can't stand to have anyone think he's less than gold-plated perfection.

But gold plated stupid mistakes are still stupid mistakes.  A man who can't admit error has no business in power.   As my engineer mother used to say "You can't fix a mistake if you don't admit you made it."


[User Picture]From: fengi
2011-08-27 01:51 pm (UTC)
Could you provide the name of the song and the person who made it? It's possible someone made a copy - it often happens.
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[User Picture]From: fair_witness
2011-08-27 03:17 pm (UTC)
Indeed it does happen:

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-08-28 01:36 am (UTC)
Sorry, I was off at ArmadilloCon all day. And I see that someone else has found a copy, and my husband says it's back up at Juanita Jean's.
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[User Picture]From: wouldyoueva
2011-08-27 10:20 pm (UTC)
I remember reading about that case in the NEW YORKER, and being horrified. The depressing part is that there are probably many cases like this.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-08-28 01:38 am (UTC)
Too many. One is too many.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-08-28 12:57 pm (UTC)
I have very conflicted thoughts and feelings about the death penalty, and they're not all related to innocents being killed.

The difficulty with any judicial system that I've ever read about is that there are always people in a society who want harsher punishment and always those who want more leniency than whatever statute was written to provide. And the situations people get into when they break laws are complex enough that both sides (harsher, less harsh) have potentially good arguments. At the same time, the point of "law" as opposed to "whim" is that the process and the punishment are not just some judge's whim...judges (through history, across cultures) are notoriously susceptible to influence (one way or the other) and individual enough that their decisions--if not confined by law--will not deliver anything remotely resembling justice. Juries can be like little mobs, and judges have (in my view) entirely too much discretion in withholding from juries all the facts in a case that are relevant to it--based again on the judge's individual biases.

I do think some crimes "deserve" death, but my view on that differs from the official one (killing a law enforcement officer is automatically a capital murder crime in Texas...killing a child is not, and sometimes isn't even charged as murder. Killing a wife used to be "an affair of honor" if the husband claimed he found her in bed with someone else.) Mass murders (walking into a building and shooting a lot of people) is one that flicks my meter; murder with abduction and torture, ditto. Blowing up trains, planes, buildings (showing a willingness to kill people you don't even know) is another.

Part of it is a strong dislike of long confinement (which is the alternative presently)--prisons are bad for prisoners, but also for prison guards. It's like slavery, in that the power bias is so great those in charge are permanently damaged in ways that propagate into society--they become less empathetic, more violent, more like the prisoners they guard, as a mirror's reflection is more like the person reflected than is comfortable. I think long confinement--and especially perhaps life sentences--makes it more likely that prison guards will feel absolute power and thus (like anyone in possession of absolute power) be likely to abuse it. Why (one side of my mind asks) should we risk people who--before becoming prison guards--were potentially decent people, just to keep prisoners whose guilt is not in doubt alive for 30 or more years?

The other side of my mind says "There might always be doubt." But not, I think, when someone is caught in the act, having already done heinous things. There are such cases. I can think of several. And when that's so, and if there's a death penalty, then the execution should be quick. (Back in high school, I wrote a story [very bad, like all my high school stories] in which the condemned person was given a choice of ways to die, on the grounds that this was more merciful, and if you were going to kill someone anyway, why not choose the little mercy available? The hero of that story chose to jump off the (readily available and official) cliff.)

The way we do it here is--obviously--badly flawed. Someone can be held on Death Row for decades as appeals go on--and even if they don't, there's an official waiting period (I forget how long, but longer than I'd want to be on Death Row if I were waiting for execution.) That's time for the misery of long confinement to be added to the death penalty--and one is enough. Or, if you're totally opposed to the death penalty, more than enough.

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[User Picture]From: gauroth
2011-08-30 12:08 am (UTC)
I'm glad we don't have the Death Penalty in the UK, I must say, not only because if a mistake is made it can't be rectified, but also because it gives the accused no opportunity to repent. I know, I know, that's naive!! x
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