Texas Governor Perry Indicted in Texas-Sized Partisan Shoot-Out

 

Texas Governor Rick Perry has been indicted by a grand jury for “abuse of power.”

His crime? He vetoed funding for the Travis County District Attorney’s office after District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign after she was convicted of a DWI.

Governor Perry was indicted on two felonies: Abuse of Official Capacity, and Coercion of Public Servant.

District Attorney Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving in April of 2013. She was fined and sentenced to 45 days in jail. She actually served 21 of those 45 days. She has not resigned.

What has followed appears to be partisan politics from both sides of the argument. There were the usual outraged calls from Texas Republican legislators that District Attorney Lehmberg resign. This always happens when a political figure is in disgrace. Members of the opposite political party call for their resignation.

But, she didn’t resign.

She was subsequently investigated by a grand jury that decided she should be allowed to say in office. An Austin attorney brought a civil suit for the purposes of removing her from office under Texas statute. She won this case in court, which again left her in office legally.

This year, Governor Perry vetoed funding for the Travis County District Attorney’s office. A group called Texans for Public Justice filed an ethics complaint accusing the governor of coercion for attempting to use his veto to force District Attorney Lehmberg to quit.

It appears to me that what we have here is a case of partisan politics running out of control on both sides of this debate. If District Attorney Lehmberg holds her office legally, Governor Perry has no business vetoing funding because he, personally, finds her behavior inappropriate. It does, on the surface, have the appearance of an attempt to coerce her to leave an office that she legally holds.

Indicting Governor Perry for two felonies in a game of partisan gotcha is destructive to the max, as well.

This whole business of trying to remove people from office or end their careers by using felony indictments to destroy them because they are of the opposite party is outrageous. I don’t have any doubt that this is exactly what is going on here.

I can guarantee that if Attorney General Lehmberg had been a Republican instead of a Democrat, the “outraged” politicians at the state capitol would have all switched sides. The Ds would have been outraged and Rs, not so much.

If Attorney General Lehmberg was a Republican, would Governor Perry have vetoed funding for the Travis County DA’s office? I doubt it. I think that if she had been an R, he would have said “the law is the law, and she’s in office legally, my hands are tied” and signed the funding without debate.

If Governor Perry was a Democrat, would Texans for Public Justice have filed the lawsuit that resulted in this indictment? Would a Republican version of the same thing would have filed one instead?

My point is that if the people involved switched their party affiliations, everybody else would switch sides right along with them. That’s because this is not a legitimate deal on anybody’s part. It’s all politics. Dirty. Nasty. Destructive politics.

The fact that we are talking about trying to force someone out of office for partisan reasons is outrageous.

It is also a terrible thing to drag anyone into our courts of law under felony charges. It doesn’t matter if they are a governor or a paper boy. No one should ever be put through that hell for any reason except legitimate ones.

This DWI conviction of a local politician is small political potatoes. She did the crime. She did the time. Let the people of Travis County Texas sort it out. That is, after all, their right.

It should have stopped there.

It would have stopped there except for the vicious insanity of take-no-prisoners partisan politics.

I would go on, except that this is Texas we’re talking about. They do everything big down there; including their partisan shoot-outs. Let’s just watch and see what happens next.

From ABC13 Eyewitness News:

AUSTIN, TX (KTRK) –A grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday for allegedly abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption – making the possible 2016 presidential hopeful his state’s first indicted governor in nearly a century.

A special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he promised publicly to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit, which is run by Travis County Democratic District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s office. It’s the same office that indicted U.S. Rep. Tom Delay as part of a finance probe.

Several top aides to the Republican governor appeared before grand jurors in Austin, including his deputy chief of staff, legislative director and general counsel. Perry himself did not testify, though.

READ ITRICK PERRY INDICTMENT

Grand jurors indicted Perry on abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony with potential punishments of five to 99 years in prison, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony that carries a punishment of two to 10 years.

No one disputes that Perry is allowed to veto measures approved by the Legislature, including part or all of the state budget. But the left-leaning Texans for Public Justice government watchdog group filed an ethics complaint accusing the governor of coercion because he threatened to use his veto before actually doing so in an attempt to pressure Lehmberg to quit.

“I took into account the fact that we’re talking about a governor of a state – and a governor of the state of Texas, which we all love,” said Michael McCrum, the San Antonio-based special prosecutor. “Obviously that carries a lot of importance. But when it gets down to it, the law is the law.”

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ISIS, Boko Haram, Ebola, Gay Marriage and Pope Francis in Korea

I’ve been too busy with family matters to write today. Here are a few headlines from the last 12 hours.

ISIS’ and Boko Haram:

ISIS Massacres 80 Yazidis in Northern Iraq. 

Boko Haram Abducts Dozens in Northern Nigeria. 

Syrian Christians facing extinction: ‘A tragedy of historic proportions’

What’s Behind Europe’s New Tolerance of Anti-Semitism?

And Ebola:

WHO: Ebola Outbreak ‘Vastly Underestimated.’

Inside the Ebola Outbreak with the CDC

America:

Hundreds Attend Emotional Charged Meeting on Firing of Church’s Gay Music Director

Greta: Speak Out Against the Persecution of Christians

Surprise: Pro-Gay-Marriage Christians Reject the Rest of Christian Teachings, Too. 

Pope Francis:

Pope to Asian Youth: Are You Ready to Say Yes to Christ?

Youth Who Lunched with Pope Impressed by His Humility

True Freedom Means Loving God Pope Tells Thousands at Mass

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Catholic Church Growing in South Korea


The Church is growing in South Korea.

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Shark Week Debunked


Are we watching fake shark attacks on the Discovery Channel?

You decide.

 

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Pope Francis and His Kia

It looks shiny and new.

But it’s hardly the limousine visiting heads of state normally use.

Here’s a video of Pope Francis, stepping into his Kia for his Korean visit.

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One Question Answered: BOTH Sunnis and Shias Condemn the Barbarity in Iraq

 

I published a post a few minutes ago asking the question if the Muslim leaders who had condemned the genocide in Iraq were coming from just one side of the Sunni/Shia hostilities

My colleague, Hind Makki, of the Patheos Muslim Channel, answered me with a “no.” She also supplied details as to why I was wrong in my thinking,

I updated my original post with her reply. But this is important enough that I want to also do it in a separate post. I’m more than glad that both sides of this internal Muslim conflict have spoken out against the genocide. That gives me hope for all of us.

The other question, about whether or not some members of the Iraqi military helped ISIS gain control of American armaments, remains. If there is information on that, please share it.

As for the first question, this is one time I’m uber glad to be wrong.

Here’s Hind Makki’s reply:

Dear Rebecca Hamilton, the denunciations against ISIS have been given by 
both Sunni and Shia leadership and lay people. Looking at piece you 
wrote yesterday, I would like to share some information with you. I hope
you will update your piece reflecting this information: Ayatollah 
Sistani – Shia. Indonesian Ulema Council – comprises all Muslim groups 
in Indonesia, Sunni, Shia and everything else. Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam -
Sunni. Lebanese Muslim Association – Sunni. International Union of 
Muslim Scholars – comprises all Muslim groups in the world and one of 
it’s missions is to counter sectarianism. Yusuf Qaradawi – Sunni. 
Organization of Islamic Cooperation – non-religious political group of 
all countries with large Muslim populations. Iyad Ameen Madani – Sunni. 
Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate – Sunni. Where did you get the 
information that they are all Shia?

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Update! Before We Go All Twittery Over the Muslim Denunciations of ISIS, a Couple of Questions

I published a post yesterday listing various denunciations of ISIS barbarity from Muslim political leaders.

As I was assembling that list, I noticed that the denouncers were Shia. Based on what I’ve read, I believe that ISIS is Sunni.

I don’t have much knowledge of Shia vs Sunni, but I think, from what I’ve read, that this is a blood feud that is largely tribal and historic.

After I published that post, I could almost hear the massive sigh from readers. At last, a few of them said, the Muslims are joining us in combating the genocide.

I don’t want to put a pin in that balloon. Not yet. Because I’m not sure of anything.

But I do have these niggling questions that I think we need to consider before we go all twittery and weak-headed. It is critical to not allow ourselves to believe what we want to believe because we want to believe it. Let’s think a bit and chew on it a while first.

Here are the questions:

20140724 isis mod

1. How did ISIS get all that American heavy armor from the Iraqi army? Press reports have said variously that they “took it in battle,” or that it was “abandoned.” That is too simplistic and too facile to mean anything.

What an Okie would say, is “that don’t add up.” And this Okie agrees.

I find it a little hard to believe that those pristine armored vehicles were “lost in battle.” I also find it hard to believe that a military with those armaments would be so easily overpowered. Frankly, that equipment would give the Iraqi army quite an edge in a battle.

As for those things being “abandoned,” give me a break. I think that Sunni members of the Iraqi army gave that American armament to ISIS. I may be wrong. But that’s what I think.

Shiavssunni

2. Are we being played by the Shias to use us against the Sunnis? If the only Muslims speaking out against the genocide are Shias, and ISIS is Sunni, and these people are at war with one another, well then, that sounds like politics to me.

I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing for any Muslims to speak out against the genocide, for whatever motivations. I’m also not saying that we should not welcome their help. The point here is to stop the barbarity. I sincerely welcome anyone whose actions add to that fight.

But that doesn’t mean I trust them like they were blood kin and just blindly assume that their motivations are the same as mine and that their future actions will be what I would do.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. In this case the outraged American public is the unwitting enemy of the Sunnis, simply because the Sunnis are slaughtering innocents. That makes us the (temporary) friends of the Shias.

There’s a saying in Okieland — I don’t have a dog in that fight. We don’t have a dog in the Sunni-Shia fight. Our objective is to end the genocide.

Let’s remember that and not go all politically-correct gaga and attribute our motives to other people we know very little about.

These are my questions. These ideas of mine are conjecture. What do you think?

The videos below are a couple of months old. I don’t agree with everything said in either analysis, but they highlight a bit of how this situation developed and give us information about American arms falling in ISIS’ hands.

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UPDATE: Hind Makki, of the Patheos Muslim Channel shared this information with me.  I am very glad to hear that both Sunnis and Shias have denounced the barbarity in Iraq.

Dear Rebecca Hamilton, the denunciations against ISIS have been given by 
both Sunni and Shia leadership and lay people. Looking at piece you 
wrote yesterday, I would like to share some information with you. I hope
you will update your piece reflecting this information: Ayatollah 
Sistani – Shia. Indonesian Ulema Council – comprises all Muslim groups 
in Indonesia, Sunni, Shia and everything else. Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam -
Sunni. Lebanese Muslim Association – Sunni. International Union of 
Muslim Scholars – comprises all Muslim groups in the world and one of 
it’s missions is to counter sectarianism. Yusuf Qaradawi – Sunni. 
Organization of Islamic Cooperation – non-religious political group of 
all countries with large Muslim populations. Iyad Ameen Madani – Sunni. 
Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate – Sunni. Where did you get the 
information that they are all Shia?

 

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Robin Williams is Dead. Does that Mean We Win?

 

I confess. I haven’t been all that interested in the obsessive coverage of Robin Williams’ death.

My feelings about Mr Williams before his death were generally positive but mostly disinterested. I enjoyed his movies and wished him well.

I knew, as soon as I heard that he had died, that we would be in for another of these 24/7 whatevers that the media does when someone famous dies. Sure enough, I flipped briefly to the news last night, and I saw a talking head interviewing one person after another eulogizing Mr Williams.

I don’t want to say anything bad, negative or dismissive about Robin Williams, his tragic suicide, or the hell his family and the few people who truly loved him must be going through right now. I’m also not going to say anything faux profound about depression or suicide.

What I do want to write about is one thing: Why?

Why do we go into these orgies of obsession every time someone famous dies?

It is so predictable and so bizarre that I am beginning to think that these griefathons serve some sort of purpose for us as individuals. The media is consistent about intoning gravely that we are engaging in a “national mourning” and then carpet-bombing our senses with what begins as worshipful eulogies spiced with titillating details about how the person died, and finishes with sordid details about their personal failures and picadillos.

It’s a script. The media follows it like a cooking recipe, and we eat it up like it was dessert.

What’s the purpose? I don’t mean the obvious purpose of getting ratings and a kind of prurient interest in other people’s pain, but what is the real purpose for this obsessive and downright irrational behavior?

And it is irrational. Because, my friends, you didn’t know Robin Williams. You didn’t know Michael Jackson. Or Sonny Bono. Or Princess Diana. Or Marilyn Monroe.

You didn’t know any of them.

They were two-dimensional representations of themselves on big screens and little screens and videos to you. This does not belie the fact that they were people and that other people loved them deeply and suffered the extremes of grief and emotional dislocation when they died.

But the fact is, you are not one of those people. You did not know them. You did not love them. Before their passing, you did not even think about them all that much.

But the minute they die, we focus on them and the endless blabbing about their “contribution,” “genius,” and their saintliness begins and goes on for days and weeks until we finally wear it out and turn to something else.

We stop working, stop talking to our families, stop thinking about paying the bills and taking the dog for a walk, just plain stop our lives and sit transfixed in front of the tube watching hour after hour of celebrities being interviewed by talking heads who are themselves celebrities, saying the same trite things over and over about the newly departed. We are like spotlighted deer, staring at the images of this person we didn’t know and pushing ourselves to a kind of vicarious grief over their death.

Later, as the inevitable take-down starts and the tawdry details of their lives drip through, we extend the obsession into fascination and tut-tut our way through more wasted time and energy.

What’s going on here? People give whole days and weeks of their lives over to emotion about someone they never met, and then turn around in six months or a year when another big celebrity dies and do it again.

What are they getting out of it? What beast in the subterranean oozy places of our minds is this feeding?

Maybe it stems from that thing we know but don’t really believe: Our own mortality. Does this have something to do with an affirmation that Robin Williams/Michael Jackson/Sonny Bono/Princess Diana/Marilyn Monroe are dead … but we are alive?

Is this a backdoor way of dealing with the fact that we are all going to die and that this knowledge haunts us all of our living days? Robin Williams threw away the one thing that any of us ever truly possesses: His life. He refused years of living.

I don’t want to say anything about suicide or depression. I have no deep thoughts to add to that conversation. But it is a fact that Robin Williams revoked his own lease on life. He gave up what most people would fight with everything they had to keep: Life.

I have no doubt that this titillates us.

But what makes it writ large is that he had everything that the gods of this world have taught us makes life worth living. He was a success on an international scale. He was up there as high as you can get in his very public profession; one of the handful out of the billions who walk this planet today. He had more money than we can count and the adulation of millions. He had everything we have been taught to spend our lives striving to get; every “if only” we think would make us happy and fill the holes in us that keep us awake at night.

That fascinates because if affirms in a silent sort of way that maybe all those things we’ve been taught to want and never got — the fame, success, endless money and pretty young things on our arms — don’t matter all that much after all. If the rich and famous can tumble to our feet like this, then maybe we aren’t missing all that much. Maybe we’re more ok than the same media that is now riveting us to Robin Williams’ death tells us we are.

Maybe our old jalopy and our two-bedroom house with the leaky faucet and our humdrum jobs that bore us to tears and our sadistic bosses from hell aren’t all that bad after all.

Because there’s this: He/She/They are dead. And we’re not.

Maybe the fascination lies in the fact that if the richest and most successful among us can die by their own excesses or even their own deliberate intent, then, maybe, in spite of all their glitzy success and our lackluster workaday lives, we, in fact, win.

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Updated: Muslim Leaders Join in Condemnation of ISIS

1539530 Articolo

On August 8, the Oriental Bishops called on Islamic leaders to issue Fatwas against the genocide committed against Christians and Yazidis in Iraq by the group that calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

So far as I know, there has been no Fatwa against genocide. I found one Fatwa issued against ISIS by Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who is said to be Iraq’s most influential religious leader. Ayatollah Sistani called for a Fatwa urging Iraqis to fight against ISIS. However, I believe that this particular FATWA was aimed at defending Shia Muslims against Sunni Muslims. I do not think it addressed the slaughter of Christians and Yazidis.

I don’t know anything about either Fatwas or the arguments between various branches of Islam. I am only quoting what I have read. So this could be wrong. ISIS itself issued a charming Fatwa in favor of rape, but nothing else from religious leaders.

On August 8, the Indonesia Ulem Council Issued a Fatwa against ISIS. Again, it was not against the genocide or the barbaric actions of ISIS. The Fatwa seemed to be based on the potential ISIS has to harm Islam.

The Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, who is said to be Egypt’s top religious authority condemned ISIS yesterday. Once again, his basis for doing so was that ISIS is damaging to Islam. The article I read did not contain a condemnation of the genocide.

If Public Catholic leaders know of Fatwas issued by Islamic religious leaders against the genocide in Iraq and Syria, please share the information and I will publish it.

At the same time that Islamic religious leaders are mostly silent on the genocide, Islamic political leaders have spoken out. The Arab League accused ISIS of crimes against humanity as regards the Yazidi. In another article, they were said to have called for the formation of a “national unity government” in Iraq. I have no idea what a “national unity government” might be, but I view it with suspicion. The article I read said nothing about the crimes against Christians. It may simply be an incomplete article.

In Australia, Samier Dandan, president of the Lebanese Muslim Association, called the man whose little boy was photographed holding the head of a victim of ISIS, “a lunatic.”

The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) issued a condemnation of the forced expulsion of Iraqi Christians. Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who is said to be an influential Muslim religious leader, posted this condemnation on his website. “These are acts that violate Islamic laws, Islamic conscience and leave but a negative image of Islam and Muslims,” the statement said. “The Christians are native sons of Iraq and not intruders.”

Iyad Ameen Madani, Secretary General for the Organization of Islamic Cooperaton, which represents 57 countries and 1.4 billion Muslims, officially denounced “the forced deportation under the threat of execution” of Christians, calling it a “crime that cannot be tolerated.” He said that ISIS has “nothing to do with Islam and its principles that call for justice, kindness, fairness, freedom of faith and coexistence.”

Mehmet Gormez, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, the highest religious authority in Turkey, said that Muslims should not be hostile towards “people with different views, values and beliefs, and regard them as enemies.” This doesn’t sound like a Fatwa, but it is at least an Islamic religious leader, speaking on the general subject.

And finally, Indonesia has declared ISIS illegal. 

This response from Islamic leaders around the world is heartening. Decent people everywhere need to unite against these crimes against humanity, whoever does them, wherever they happen.

This roundup is informal in the extreme. I hope that Public Catholic readers will add information to it if they have it.

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UPDATE: For a survey of reaction against the Iraqi genocide in the Muslim press, go here.

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Vatican Unambiguously Denounces and Condemns Unspeakable Jihadist Acts

 

Public Catholic reader Ken brought this to my attention.

The Vatican has released a statement condemning the crimes against humanity that are occurring in the Middle East. The statement lists what it calls “unspeakable criminal acts … which bring shame on humanity,” including beheading, crucifying, abduction of women and girls as spoils of war, the barbaric practice of infibulation and forced conversions.

From the Vatican Website:

The whole world has witnessed with incredulity what is now called the “Restoration of the Caliphate,” which had been abolished on October 29,1923 by Kamal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. Opposition to this “restoration” by the majority of religious institutions and Muslim politicians has not prevented the “Islamic State” jihadists from committing and continuing to commit unspeakable criminal acts.

This Pontifical Council, together with all those engaged in interreligious dialogue, followers of all religions, and all men and women of good will, can only unambiguously denounce and condemn these practices which bring shame on humanity:

-the massacre of people on the sole basis of their religious affiliation;

-the despicable practice of beheading, crucifying and hanging bodies in public places;

-the choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis between conversion to Islam, payment of a tax (jizya) or forced exile;

-the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, elderly, pregnant women and the sick;

-the abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as spoils of war (sabaya);

-the imposition of the barbaric practice of infibulation;

-the destruction of places of worship and Christian and Muslim burial places;

-the forced occupation or desecration of churches and monasteries;

-the removal of crucifixes and other Christian religious symbols as well as those of other

religious communities;

-the destruction of a priceless Christian religious and cultural heritage;

-indiscriminate violence aimed at terrorizing people to force them to surrender or flee.

No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. This constitutes an extremely serious offense to humanity and to God who is the Creator, as Pope Francis has often reminded us. We cannot forget, however, that Christians and Muslims have lived together – it is true with ups and downs – over the centuries, building a culture of peaceful coexistence and civilization of which they are proud. Moreover, it is on this basis that, in recent years, dialogue between Christians and Muslims has continued and intensified.

The dramatic plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious communities and ethnic minorities in Iraq requires a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, as well as those engaged in interreligious dialogue and all people of good will. All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and in denouncing the use of religion to justify them. If not, what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders have? What credibility can the interreligious dialogue that we have patiently pursued over recent years have?

Religious leaders are also called to exercise their influence with the authorities to end these crimes, to punish those who commit them and to reestablish the rule of law throughout the land, ensuring the return home of those who have been displaced. While recalling the need for an ethical management of human societies, these same religious leaders must not fail to stress that the support, funding and arming of terrorism is morally reprehensible.

That said, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is grateful to all those who have already raised their voices to denounce terrorism, especially that which uses religion to justify it.

Let us therefore unite our voices with that of Pope Francis: “May the God of peace stir up in each one of us a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated by violence. Violence is defeated by peace. “

[01287-02.01] [Original text: French - working translation]

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