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July 09, 2011

Houston Chronicle Publishes Ignorant Column Ridiculing Rick Perry For Failure To Exercise Power He Doesn't Have Under The Texas Constitution

Good grief! It is hard to know where to start on this joke of a column that someone at the Chronicle seems to think constitutes a serious piece of political commentary. Of course, they borrowed it from the San Francisco Chronicle, so they have "plausible deniability" for the erroneous premise of the hit piece.

Last night, Texas governor Rick Perry ignored the pleas of President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush and gave the green light for the execution of Humberto Leal Garcia, the Mexican who raped and killed a 16-year-old girl.

So did the US Supreme Court. For that matter, so did a lower federal court a couple of weeks back when it found (in just the sort of hearing that the proposed legislation invoked by Obama would have granted to Leal) that the claim that counsular contact would have impacted the outcome of his trial to be utterly without merit. In other words, Leal got all the due process required by American law -- and more than an American citizen would have gotten for the identical crime.

But let's continue the fisking of this laughable piece of character assassination.

Now, we are told that the evidence against Leal Garcia is enough to be almost certain that he did it and, whether you agree or disagree with the death penalty, few will mourn his demise. But that's not the issue here. First of all, "almost certain" or "probably did it" isn't the same as "100 percent, iron clad certain". If somebody is getting the lethal injection, there shouldn't be even the slightest, minutest chance of doubt. Not possible in a criminal case? Then the death penalty is immoral. Better 100,000 guilty men walk free than one innocent man suffers, let alone dies.

Using that argument, we need to fling open the gates of every prison in the land. After all, 100% certainty -- the level of metaphysical certainty -- is impossible on anything, much less a criminal conviction. Our system uses the standard of "beyond a REASONABLE doubt", not "beyond ALL doubt" as its standard -- because there is always room for unreasonable doubt in any situation. We live that in our daily lives. I'm not 100% certain that a mosquito does not have equal moral weight to a human being -- but my level of certainty is such that I will still slap the blood-sucker when it lands on my arm because I am reasonably certain that the life of a bug is of lower value than human life and is therefore not murder.

But more importantly, is Perry genuinely executing Leal Garcia, and the other 200-plus people that have been killed-by-justice on his watch, for the right reasons? He has overseen the execution of more people than any other governor in US history. He has done this because he knows that right wing voters in Texas love the "hard line" approach. He knows that this stance plays well with the Tea Party and the rest of the American right. The fact that he is fiercely anti-abortion and gay marriage doesn't do his cause any harm with those guys either.

Perry has presided over the executions of more people than anyone else in US history? Yeah, he has. Why? Because he is one of the longest serving governors in history, in one of the largest states in America -- and Texas is not shy about using the proper sanction against killers. In other words, the statistical claim does not indicate any sort of blood-thirstiness on Rick Perry's part. Now I suppose you might choose to criticize Perry for supporting the death penalty, opposing gay marriage, and trying to stop abortion if you disagree with those positions, and you may even argue that he has used his positions on those issues to garner votes. But so what? Politicians seek votes by taking positions on issues and appealing to like-minded voters, and to feign shock and outrage over Rick Perry doing so with those three issues is like claiming that you are shocked to find gambling in a casino or prostitution in a brothel.

Oh, and by the way Mr. Arnfield, your pro-abortion position here is rather interesting. Are you "100 percent, iron clad certain" that those unborn babies are not innocent human beings guilty of no offense worthy of death? If not, how can you support and advocate for legalized abortion? Are your hands really clean on that one, or are you guilty of a much greater hypocrisy than you lay at the feet of Rick Perry in this case?

Does Perry know for certain that he hasn't executed any mentally challenged or mentally ill people while on his rampage? Probably not. Is he 100 percent certain that all of the people that he's given the syringe to are guilty? How can he be? If it later comes to light that one of the people that he has killed was innocent, will he volunteer for a dose of death serum himself? Doubtful.

A position that makes no more sense than requiring a member of a jury agree to serve time in prison if it is later demonstrated that the person they convicted was actually innocent of the crime.

The death penalty is a very difficult issue. Some go with the "eye for an eye" argument, while others think that to take the life of a murderer brings society down to the murderer's level. As Gandhi said, "an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind."

Either way, both sides agree that the motives for the death penalty have to at least be pure. Does Perry really believe that he's making the streets safer by killing these people? Maybe, but it is hard not to believe that his primary concern is for his polling data.

Now there is a strawman argument -- that everybody agrees that the motives of the death penalty need to be pure. I certainly don't feel that way, because I know that there has been only one person in the history of the world with that degree of purity -- Jesus Christ. Indeed, I've never even heard the argument made by Arnfield here advanced by anyone before today. I'll settle for those involved in the death penalty having as their primary motive the imposition of justice and the carrying out of the penalty that society has determined through legislation and the courts to be the proper one in a particular case.

One final point. Steve Anfield seems to be under the delusion that Rick Perry has the independent power to stop the executions. As Texans know, he does not -- a condemned prisoner may get one 30-day reprieve without approval from the Board of Pardon and Parole. Without their recommendation, any effort to pardon a convict is null and void -- and would be grounds for impeachment and removal of the governor for exceeding his constitutional authority. Perry (and any Texas governor) is merely fulfilling a strictly administrative role when he signs the order for execution, not personally deciding to execute anyone -- indeed, that decision was made by a jury, and has been repeatedly reviewed by by the courts on appeal before the paperwork directing that the sentence imposed at the time of trial ever reaches the governor's desk. So much for the argument that Perry is signing the paperwork because of his desire to raise his poll numbers. He did so because the laws of the state of Texas and the provisions of the Texas Constitution require him to do so after the condemned has received all the due process of law he is entitled to -- which is why he signed that death warrant for Humberto Leal, an admitted rapist and murderer.





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This is not surprising. The Houston Chronicle is a complete joke! The publication consists of articles and columns copied and culled from the New York Times, the Wash Post, LA Times, AP...and anything else with a completely liberal perspective. Their columns and editorials are most always left wing drivel. Most sensible people have given up their subscriptions. The Chronicle's coverage of anything conservative is always slanted and meant to damage and discredit. How sad that the fine city of Houston has to be exposed to the ignorance of this publication.

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