Is Rick Perry a 'sucker,' or was he just lying?

Here’s a good catch by Kevin Drum, by one of his readers in Iowa, and then by the Des Moines Register:Rick Perry Gets Suckered by an Urban Legend.”

From Kevin’s reader:

I was at the Iowa State Fair today and caught Rick Perry’s speech. He started talking about this stupid new regulation that would require farmers to get commercial drivers licenses if they drive their tractors across the road. I remember reading about this very issue on your blog so I yelled “That’s not true” a couple of times (as can barely be heard on the video at the link) and later asked the Des Moines Register’s political editor to fact check the story.

I exchanged emails with her tonight and she sent me a link to their story.

That’s pretty awesome. My only quibble is Kevin’s headline — “Rick Perry Gets Suckered.”

That’s the most charitable possibility — that Perry didn’t know what he was talking about and passed along a right-wing urban legend as truth. But it doesn’t seem to be the most likely possibility.

It seems far likelier that Rick Perry wasn’t himself “suckered,” but rather that he was just trying to sucker Iowans into believing what he knew to be a steaming pile of nonsense.

Here’s what Perry said:

You need to free up the employers of this country to create jobs. Get rid of the regulations that are stifling jobs in America. Free up this country from these stifling regulations. Let me give you just an … this is such an obscene, crazy regulation. They want to make … if you’re a tractor driver, if you drive your tractor across a public road, you’re going to have to have a commercial driver’s license. Now how idiotic is that?

Maybe he really believed that. Maybe the single example of “stifling regulations” that he chose for his stump speech was some wild rumor that, despite being a state governor, he never bothered to check into or to have an aide check into. Maybe he is as naive and gullible and prone to misplaced knee-jerk indignation as the Facebook fools denouncing stories from The Onion thinking they’re true.

But for that to be true, Rick Perry would have to be really lazy and really gullible.

It seems far likelier that Rick Perry was just assuming that his audience was that lazy, that gullible, that naive and that prone to misplaced, knee-jerk indignation.

It seems far likelier, in other words, that Rick Perry didn’t get suckered by this urban legend, but was retelling it to his audience in order to sucker them — to sucker them into supporting his candidacy, to sucker them into thinking that government is always their enemy, and to sucker them into thinking that unfettered, unregulated giant corporations are their friends.

The likeliest explanation for Rick Perry telling this foolish falsehood at the Iowa State Fair is that Rick Perry was lying and that he has so little respect for the decency and common sense of Iowans that he thought he could get away with it.

The presumption of charity teaches us not to presume that someone is lying just because they said something that isn’t true. That presumption works much like the presumption of innocence in criminal court — innocent until proven guilty, or misinformed until proven mendacious.

There’s an impressive circumstantial case against Perry here. He ought to have known better and could easily have found out the readily available truth. He claims to be upset about this, but he never did what any reasonable person would reasonably be expected to do if upset about such a thing — he never checked into it. And he had motive — his falsehood benefited him personally and benefited the interests with which he is allied and benefited the corporate donors who have enriched his campaign.

So I’d ask the jury to consider which is more likely: That Perry is merely gullible and lazy? Or that his self-serving falsehood was deliberate?

There remain two more pieces of evidence that should settle that question. First, will Perry correct his earlier falsehood? And second, will he continue to repeat it?

If he never corrects it, and especially if he continues to repeat it after being corrected by the Register, then I think the presumption of charity can reasonably be replaced with a conclusion of guilt.

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  • Consumer Unit 5012

    “Time for the game show we can all play:  ‘STUPID, or EVIL?'”!

    :-P

  • Anonymous

    I think this is a case where it doesn’t matter.  Either interpretation should disqualify him as a candidate.  A president should fact check before making speeches (or, more likely, have someone do so for them) and a president shouldn’t be in the habit of conning their people.  I realize reality rarely lives up to that, but it should.

  • Anonymous

    One does not necessarily preclude (let alone exclude) the other.

    Remember: If a Republican/Teabagger tells you that the sky is blue, then you’d damn well better go to the nearest window and make sure that the sky is indeed blue — and *then* you’d better check to make sure that he/she hasn’t tinted the glass!

  • MaryKaye

    I don’t think he’s lying, because a liar cares what the truth is–that’s why they’re hiding it.  I don’t think it matters in the least to him whether the story is true or false.  Fact-checking would be totally beside the point.

    I would rather an honest liar, if you see what I mean, than someone who doesn’t care.  It’s evil to start with and seems guaranteed to also lead to stupid.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think he’s lying, because a liar cares what the truth is–that’s why they’re hiding it.  I don’t think it matters in the least to him whether the story is true or false.  Fact-checking would be totally beside the point.

    That is a good point – it meets Harry Frankfurt’s definition of “bullshit” perfectly.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think he’s lying, because a liar cares what the truth is–that’s why they’re hiding it.  I don’t think it matters in the least to him whether the story is true or false.  Fact-checking would be totally beside the point.

    That is a good point – it meets Harry Frankfurt’s definition of “bullshit” perfectly.

  • arc

    I think in some cases at least it goes further than that.  I’ve been getting the impression for some time now that some people have an attitude – maybe you could say it’s a world-view – that I have difficulty describing but am inclined to describe as ‘they don’t believe in the real world’.

    I take it that most people here are what could be broadly described as realists, at least about the ordinary world of ‘medium-sized dry goods’ and other people.  We view these things as existing independently of us, and our statements about them can be wrong, so in principle at least we’re open to correction.  What I’m trying to describe here is a basic attitude towards the world that can be quite independent of one’s official philosophical position, so you could officially be a Cartesian sceptic or a scientific anti-realist yet still be a realist in my sense if you still act and talk in your everyday existence as though there was a real world.

    There are other people, though, who I suspect just don’t have this attitude.  There’s no distinction for them between truth and convenience, or truth and performativity, or truth and feel-goodness, or truth and righteous outrage or whatever. ‘Fact checking’ isn’t something that they can even really understand, because they don’t think there are facts (in our realist sense).  They might send something off to be ‘fact checked’, but to them that means something like ‘if I say things that have gone through this ‘fact-checking’ process then people won’t complain about them’.

    It’s quite hard trying to describe or even understand the outlook these people have in our terms.

    Someone like this isn’t, as MaryKaye says, a liar in the sense they’re deliberately telling falsehoods.  But they don’t even really fit MaryKaye’s alternative description of not caring about the truth.  They actually don’t know what truth even means.  They won’t understand Fred’s criticism of them: they may even think of themselves as good people because they always tell the truth – i.e. that which gets them the right reaction from the audience.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    It’s quite hard trying to describe or even understand the outlook these people have in our terms. 

    I think that Stephen Colbert did a pretty good job of describing it.

  • arc

    I think Colbert’s sketch where he introduces ‘truthiness’ is brilliant, and it’s surely related to the phenomena I describe.

    But I don’t think it’s the same.  ‘Truthiness’ is largely just the phenomenon of believing that which seems plausible to you from sources that you trust (at least, while they’re saying plausible-sounding things), except it’s not you that’s doing it, and you don’t happen to trust these sources.  I think everyone does this to some extent, and it’s completely compatible with being an everyday realist.   I don’t even think behaviour such as dogmatically refusing to accept contrary evidence is enough to show what one’s ontological attitude is.  I think many people who refuse to accept contrary evidence are actually also everyday realists – e.g. I think conspiracy theorists are often everyday realists: they do genuinely think there’s a truth that’s being hidden in a perfectly ordinary realist sense.  Of course, they have different ideas as to who to trust and they’re usually terrible at assessing evidence, and maybe even they’re psychologically set-up to defend their cherished beliefs rather than rationally assess them.  But I’m not talking about epistemic attitudes here, except insofar as someone who has a radically different attitude to what truth and reality are can’t very well have anything resembling the same epistemic attitudes to someone else.

    The people I’d suggest looking for to find people who are more antirealistic in their everyday attitude are the ones that start the conspiracy theories in the first place.

    The other thing I’d say about Colbert and ‘truthiness’ is that he’s still half-describing it in the way his audience (broadly liberal and broadly realist) will readily understand, rather than entirely from the perspective of someone who actually thinks like that.  He kind of has to do it that way to make for accessible comedy.  Whenever I try to make sense of the antirealist attitude I’m describing, I find myself descending into impenetrable phenomenology pretty quickly. 

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In either case, it speaks poorly for his integrity as a candidate.  Either his information gathering capacity is incompetent, or he bears false witness for personal gain.  Neither of which are characteristics desirable in a governing official.  

  • Anonymous

    But … he doesnt care. He’s discovered that if caught in a blunder or lie, the thing to do in american politics now, is to repeat it, louder and more stringently, and reject/ignore all criticism. The political media are so inert or browbeaten, they will let candidates get away with this -all-the-time. If you doubt me, look at Palins career … or GWB’s for that matter.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The political media are so inert or browbeaten, they will let candidates get away with this -all-the-time. If you doubt me, look at Palins career … or GWB’s for that matter.

    Indeed.  This is precisely the problem with the press these days.  Whatever happened to Edward R. Murrow’s idea, “The job of the press is to sell papers and raise hell.”  These days, they just parrot back what is said to them with no fact checking to enforce accountability.  They are too scared of people who support the politicians being parroted tuning out to risk upsetting them with the truth.  

  • Anonymous

    And that’s what happens when one pauses in the middle of typing a comment to remove a cat from the top of the fridge. *sigh*

    What he said.

  • Anonymous

    Rick Perry recently held a Christians-only pray-for-guidance-in-government rally that, by Christians-only, I mean New Apostolic Movement Christians only.

    He wants to be seen with someone who has claimed that the Emperor of Japan has sex with the sun goddess, Amaterasu, and that is why Japan has had economic woes.

  • Anonymous

    It gets rather worse than that.

    The Response (which was the one he appeared at, subsequent to the numerous prayer rallies called ‘The Call.’  “This is getting needlessly messianic.”) was set up by members of the New Apostolic Reformation, which is related to the Latter Rain and “Joel’s Army” movements.  “Joel’s Army” sects advocate an armed, forcible conversion to their flavor of Christianity.  They’re dominionists, who believe that Christ will come when the Kingdom of Heaven is established on Earth.  Their rather odd beliefs with questionable rationality are secondary to the fact that these people believe in conversion by the sword. 

  • http://willbikeforchange.wordpress.com/ storiteller

    That is more scary than hell.  Seriously.  Because I’m the kind of Christian who doesn’t believe in the traditional hell (it’s complicated) and the fact that they truly want a hell on earth type of future….yeesh.

  • Anonymous

    It gets rather worse than that.

    The Response (which was the one he appeared at, subsequent to the numerous prayer rallies called ‘The Call.’  “This is getting needlessly messianic.”) was set up by members of the New Apostolic Reformation, which is related to the Latter Rain and “Joel’s Army” movements.  “Joel’s Army” sects advocate an armed, forcible conversion to their flavor of Christianity.  They’re dominionists, who believe that Christ will come when the Kingdom of Heaven is established on Earth.  Their rather odd beliefs with questionable rationality are secondary to the fact that these people believe in conversion by the sword. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    The man’s whole campaign for President is predicated on the lie that Texas is doing well under his rule.  Speaking as a Texan, I’d just as soon see Governor Perry hanged as anything else.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    The man’s whole campaign for President is predicated on the lie that Texas is doing well under his rule.  Speaking as a Texan, I’d just as soon see Governor Perry hanged as anything else.

  • Anonymous

    And sadly, not only will he get away with it, the lie will help him in some circles. Because I know a good portion of that Iowa audience doesn’t like having a [racial slur] as a president so much that’ll they swallow bullshit eagerly and end up shooting themselves in the foot, and face, voting for folks like Perry and their policies. An addict has to want to stop, and outrage junkies are hooked into riding this thing to the horrible end, and taking us with them.

  • Anonymous

    And sadly, not only will he get away with it, the lie will help him in some circles. Because I know a good portion of that Iowa audience doesn’t like having a [racial slur] as a president so much that’ll they swallow bullshit eagerly and end up shooting themselves in the foot, and face, voting for folks like Perry and their policies. An addict has to want to stop, and outrage junkies are hooked into riding this thing to the horrible end, and taking us with them.

  • Anonymous

     It’s funny that snopes.com has now been cast as some evil liberal propaganda, since ridiculous crap like this has been so thoroughly debunked.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    It’s funny that snopes.com has now been cast as some evil liberal propaganda, since ridiculous crap like this has been so thoroughly debunked.

    The key factor in determining whether something is liberal propaganda (or just liberal biased) or not is this:  Does it disagree with Republican talking points, even when those points are utter bullshit?  If so, then it is a dirty libural lie, and nothing it says can be trusted!  

  • Rikalous

    It’s funny that snopes.com has now been cast as some evil liberal propaganda, since ridiculous crap like this has been so thoroughly debunked.

    I believe it was Steven Colbert who said that reality has a liberal bias.

  • FangsFirst

    …wait, really?
    Snopes is now “liberal propaganda”?!

    Sigh. The world is NOT helping with my attempts to try to be open to the possibility that I am wrong about things.

    I always thought, “You know, maybe some things have a tiny bias, far, FAR, FAR less than what they suggest, but maybe some things ARE misrepresented, and the people who say these things aren’t just so isolated from reality that they are making up a whole new alternate one.”

    I guess…not so much. That’s really depressing.

  • Tonio

    Snopes is now “liberal propaganda”?!

    Years ago I heard an NRA member claim that Snopes was biased against the Second Amendment, so this isn’t a new thing.

  • FangsFirst

    Well that’s…comforting (?)

  • http://twitter.com/willf Will Fitzgerald

    Playing the Is he Stupid? Or Evil? game is never a useful game to play.

  • http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/ mr_subjunctive

    Playing the Is he Stupid? Or Evil? game is never a useful game to play.

    It isn’t? Please elaborate.

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    Playing the Is he Stupid? Or Evil? game is never a useful game to play.

    It isn’t? Please elaborate.

    I think the issue might be that the answer is almost always “both”, rather than one thing or the other. The subject in question is both a floor wax AND an ice cream topping.

  • Guest

    The man believes in young earth Creationism, and you find it impossible to believe he could’ve heard this and not bothered to do any research into whether it was factual?

  • P J Evans

     It’s a good question whether he actually believes in YEC (or in anything else, except the power of Money). I suspect at least some of his religious and political statements are intended to get hiim votes more than to express his actual views.
    But I still wouldn’t trust him any farther than I could throw him, and I wouldn’t vote for him.

  • Beatrix

    Your next President, Perry is.  Never mind this foolishness.

  • Tonio

    I’m currently taking predictions on which candidate would bring the US closer to the Republic of Gilead, Perry or Bachmann. So far, the former has the lead.

    But for that to be true, Rick Perry would have to be really lazy and really gullible.

    I’m surprised that Fred seems to treat deliberate lying as the only alternative. What about a third option, willful ignorance? He’s written eloquently that RTCs invest themselves in a worldview that doesn’t conform to reality, describing how they regularly reject reality to some degree in order to hold onto the worldview. I strongly suspect that Perry is engaging in that practice. He’s smart enough to know better but chooses to believe the tractor story anyway because it confirms his worldview. If true, I think that would be worse than gullibility or deliberate lying, because few things would be scarier than a President who chooses to wall him/herself off from reality.

  • Anonymous

    I’m surprised that Fred seems to treat deliberate lying as the only alternative. What about a third option, willful ignorance?

    I think the willful ignorance train is too far gone on just about all conservative leaders. It would take a lot for me to believe that they actually believe anything they say, rather than just say whatever the people who pay their bills want them to. For example, Fox News has started calling billionaire investor Warren Buffet a “socialist.” The man who literally made billions of dollars off the most capitalistic of enterprises is now being labeled a “socialist” for stating the obvious fact that his tax rate of 17% is the lowest out of anyone in his office.

  • Tonio

    It would take a lot for me to believe that they actually believe
    anything they say, rather than just say whatever the people who pay
    their bills want them to.

    My suspicion of willful ignorance involves neither one of those. If I understand Fred’s old columns, they know on a subconscious level that what they say isn’t true, but they choose to believe it anyway. It’s not an honest type of belief. They could be doing this because what is true conflicts with their worldview. But they could also be doing it to convince themselves that they aren’t paid mouthpieces.

    Looking at people like Limbaugh and Beck, they were Top 40 radio personalities for years before finding more lucrative gigs. The idea that they and their counterparts are merely handed the morning’s talking points and a stack of Ben Franklins by their secret masters – that’s too simplistic and cartoonish. But also simplistic is the suggestion that they don’t believe their schtick. My theory is that they always leaned conservative and found an aspect of themselves and their performing styles that resonated with audiences, and it grew from there. Of course, it resonates because it’s demagoguery.

  • Anonymous

    The idea that they and their counterparts are merely handed the morning’s talking points and a stack of Ben Franklins by their secret masters – that’s too simplistic and cartoonish.

    Except we demonstrably know that’s what happens. It is indisputable that, at least as far as Fox News goes, that the reporters and commentators are handed this morning’s talking points and a stack of Ben Franklins. And if you pay attention to Republican politicians, well they all sound the same. Sorry, but dozens of politicians don’t endlessly repeat the exact same words (lies) unless they are handed this morning’s talking points and stack of Ben Franklins.

  • Tonio

    With politicians, yes, they obviously get their talking points from lobbyists. My point wasn’t about the politicians or the Fox News staffers but the independent commentators.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’m surprised that Fred seems to treat deliberate lying as the only alternative. What about a third option, willful ignorance? He’s written eloquently that RTCs invest themselves in a worldview that doesn’t conform to reality, describing how they regularly reject reality to some degree in order to hold onto the worldview. I strongly suspect that Perry is engaging in that practice. He’s smart enough to know better but chooses to believe the tractor story anyway because it confirms his worldview. If true, I think that would be worse than gullibility or deliberate lying, because few things would be scarier than a President who chooses to wall him/herself off from reality.

    We (Catholics) have a whole section of moral theology devoted to ignorance. I find the idea of culpable ignorance interesting and useful–including in the notorious debate about the moral strength of good intentions.

    In the examples Fred often raises where a public figure makes an ignorant statement that has negative implications or effects on other people, I’d argue that if the statements *are* ignorant (which we mostly can’t know for sure) they look like cases of culpable (or vincible) ignorance to me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Blotzphoto Louis Doench

    To be completely fair to Governor Perry, there’s no reason to assume that merely because he appears venal and avaricious in his pursuit of personal and political power that he cannot at the same time be as dumb as a bag of hammers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Blotzphoto Louis Doench

    Great piece here at Newscorpse on the venal and avaricious side of the Governor.
    http://www.newscorpse.com/ncWP/?p=5189

  • Mr. Heartland

    For most people, even smart ones, the laws of science and reason exist only as distant abstractions.  Society and its mores are in practice the highest form of reality in our lives. 

    The conceit behind creationism and other forms of denialism is nothing new, and isn’t particular to American culture.  Nor was Orwell imagining some fantastic, otherworldly new horror with his ‘doublethink’ concept. 

    To imagine oneself as entitled to social control is necessarily to see that entitlement as the highest standard of truth in the universe, subject to no outside notions of objectivity.  It’s as simple as that, and old as dirt.  Think of the Caesars having themselves made posthumous gods, and failing to see anything funny about it.  Snopes is ‘evil liberal propaganda’ because it dares to treat right-wing folk wisdom as if it is subject to outside standards of truth.  And the same thing is what’s mostly behind the ancient ‘liberal media’ gripe.    

    When Perry was spreading the ‘tractor CDL’ bunkum, was that, without the guidance of the natural ruling class enforcing the eternal godly norms, the nation was doomed to fall into a wonderland of nonsensical new rules and standards serving no purpose but to leave Good White Christian Folk Like Us flaying in the dark and making us feel foolish, helpless, powerless.   And since his supporters are certain that this is the case, the tractor story is therefore true in all the ways that matter to them  

    Or, to be far more concise than all that.  Yup.  Bullshit. 

  • Anonymous

    There was a very depressing interview with one of the folks behind Snopes where they were asked if they considered themselves a tonic to misinformation and an important factor in setting the record straight, and the person told them flatly no. The person went on to say that they still get hate mail for one of the many Obama smears they debunked. Angry, outraged letters for spreading lies and hurting America when all they did was collect some links to show that utter bullshit was utter bullshit. People are going to believe what they want to believe.

  • FangsFirst

    Actually, I don’t like that, but I like the fact that you conveyed that information. If you see what I mean.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    People are going to believe what they want to believe.

    Yep. Even when you confrotn them with absoltue evidence that the facts aren’t on their side, they will just look at tyou like you’re a very stupid child and sort of laugh and call you ‘honey” and say “Well, I don’t think that’s true.”  You can show them the absolute incntravetrtable evidence that the hate-fiullled garbage they’re spewing is _lies_ — not simply mistakes but malicious fabrications — and they’ll just say “No, they’re true” and dismiss your own facts.  And they’ll smile while they do it, and sort of nod to onlookers and say “Come on, deep down you KNOW I’m right”

    If it werent’ for the fact that they are running our political discourse and actually harming people, it would be sort of funny.

  • Lori

    Perry is the dumber, more extremist version of Michele Bachmann. By virtue of the fact that he has a penis he is automatically considered a more electable candidate by the Very Serious People. The GOP power brokers are apparently worried about how whackadoo he is because Karl Rove, the man who gave us W, has already been on TV talking smack about him. 

    IOW, whether Perry is lying or just a careless moron is of no significance at all. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GVT7C7S6IP2OC44PFUZGAJ4OBM JohnK

    I keep hearing this story about how George Bush really hates Rick Perry. Anyone know if there’s any truth to that? It might explain why Rove is trying to torpedo him. I’ve also heard that Perry is actually a worse governor than Bush.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve a friend who lives in El Paso– she says Perry is actually just about the worst they’ve had. I can’t think of everything he’s done, but just off the top of my head, he tanked sex education in schools, cutting it down to “abstinence!” and when people pointed out that teen pregnancy rates were skyrocketing in the communities it was tried in, he sort of went “No, it works!” and that was the end of THAT.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’ve also heard that Perry is actually a worse governor than Bush.

    Who has the higher bodycount as governor?

  • Lori

     Who has the higher bodycount as governor?  

     

    I think this is one of those times when quality matters more than quantity. I don’t know whether there have been more executions under Perry than under Bush. However, Perry authorized the execution of a man he knew was actually innocent. Not “get off on a technicality” not guilty, but did not do the crime for which he was sitting on death row*. IOW, Perry’s a murderer. Bush was a scum who mocked a woman on death row, but at least Tucker had actually done the crime. 

    *Or any other crime for which he could have gotten the death penalty, even in execution happy Texas

  • P J Evans

    And he forced on member to resign from the board which could have stopped that execution, and appointed a new member from his own staff, in order to make it go forward. That makes Perry a murderer, in my opinion.
    (I’ve read a lot of statements about how much better Texas is than California. Having lived in both for time-measured-in-years, I can say that it isn’t so.)

  • Lori

     And he forced on member to resign from the board which could have stopped that execution, and appointed a new member from his own staff, in order to make it go forward. That makes Perry a murderer, in my opinion.  

    Not just murder, but basically murder for financial gain since he did it mostly to get reelected. Ironically, murder for remuneration is a capital offense in Texas. 

  • http://gocart-mozart.blogspot.com/ gocart mozart

    Nice try Lori, I don’t think that would fly.  I would go with obstruction of justice (or is that obstruction of an injustice investigation?)

  • Lori

     Nice try Lori, I don’t think that would fly.  

    It wasn’t a try, it was a statement of fact. Perry used the power of his office in order to murder an innocent man for financial gain. Obviously he could never be persecuted for it, but that’s what he did.

  • http://gocart-mozart.blogspot.com/ gocart mozart

    I think he should be persecuted for it, but my point was he couldn’t be prosecuted for it.  It was more of a manslaughter than a murder anyways.  The money angle is a bit of a stretch IMHO.  Can we agree that he should be given an atomic wedgie and pelted with rotting fruit until he begs for mercy on national television?  For starters.

    Respect.

  • Lori

    What I’d like is for Perry to be punished for participating in Willingham’s murder by being unelectable at the national level. Sadly, that’s not true. In fact there are some voters who will consider it a plus because they really like a guy who’s “tough on crime”. Tough on crime meaning, railroads the poor and Them while letting rich white folks break the law with impunity. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I think the relevant talking point is “Even a bleeding-heart could under some circumstances have a guilty man executed; it takes a guy who’s _really_ tough on crime to execute an innocent man.”

    (But seriously, when you’re the kind of person who believes in truthiness rather than facts, a man on death row is _guilty_, and that doesn’t change just because some librrl “science” says it’s “proven beyond a reasonable doubt” that his guilt is “impossible”.  Sure, maybe he didn’t _technically_ “commit the crimes for which he was accused and sentenced”, but the fact that he’s on death row _means_ that he’s a bad person who deserves death — it’s just _what he is_, not one of your silly liberal “facts”)

  • Lori

    I think that’s sadly true, but I think in the Willingham case the execution went forward for much more banal reasons. The people in power didn’t want to admit they were wrong and Perry wanted to get reelected. 

    If you watch the Frontline interviews you see how defensive everyone is about their role. The arson investigator is your bog standard old school guy defending his professional reputation. The anti-science attitude was the result, not the cause. Pretty much the same deal with Willingham’s original defense attorney, who doesn’t want to own the fact that he basically tanked the case of a guy who didn’t do it. There’s a woman, I can’t remember if she was a juror or just some “woman on the street” type of interview. She just wants someone to pay for the fact that 3 little girls died horrible deaths and has no truck with the idea that there may not be any blame to be had. Her blood-thirsty drive for vengeance is truly a credit to the human race in general and the state of Texas in particular. 

    Perry didn’t give a shit about any of that. He wanted to keep his job and he knew that in Texas letting a guy get off death row is a career limiting move, so Willingham had to die and die quickly. It’s a long way to the top and you don’t get there by being sentimental about crushing the little people.

  • Lori

     Who has the higher bodycount as governor?  

     

    I think this is one of those times when quality matters more than quantity. I don’t know whether there have been more executions under Perry than under Bush. However, Perry authorized the execution of a man he knew was actually innocent. Not “get off on a technicality” not guilty, but did not do the crime for which he was sitting on death row*. IOW, Perry’s a murderer. Bush was a scum who mocked a woman on death row, but at least Tucker had actually done the crime. 

    *Or any other crime for which he could have gotten the death penalty, even in execution happy Texas

  • http://gocart-mozart.blogspot.com/ gocart mozart

    “Who has the higher bodycount as governor?”
    Perry holds this dubious execution record, at least among “Christian” leaders.  Kim Jong Ill probably has him beat.

  • Anonymous

    My only quibble is Kevin’s headline — “Rick Perry Gets Suckered.”

    Steve Benen pulls this shit too.
    For instance, from one of yesterday’s posts:

    I know the right has been struggling with the argument [that unemployment benefits help create jobs] for quite a while, but it’s really not that difficult to understand.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_08/theres_nothing_puzzling_about031545.php

    Listen, Steve and Kevin, after a certain point you can’t claim that these guys are confused or misguided or just kind of dumb. Not when pretty much every conservative in the public eye regularly gets everything wrong for two decades.  
    After a certain point you’ve got to throw in the towel and admit that a nonzero number of Republicans are actively lying.

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

    I wonder if these people’s perception of reality couldn’t be summed up in something as simple as “Intent…It’s Effing Magic!”

    Think about it. Reality for them was spoken into existence by an all-powerful God. Therefore, when God says something, It Is So because God is the ultimate authority and he’s (supposedly) the ultimate good. Somehow this belief gets translated into the notion that anything that anyone says is True in a sense…not based on any factual reality, but based upon the Goodness and/or Authority of the speaker. Therefore, anyone that speaks on behalf of the Ultimate Speaker of Existence and Goodness, or anyone who follows the commands or even anyone who merely claims to follow the commands of the Ultimate Speaker is Automatically Right regardless of facts. Their intent makes them right, not their facts.

    Because when God (or a self-appointed mouthpiece) speaks, It Is So. Even when it isn’t. That’s how their world works. It’s all about Intent.

    Then in the same breath they accuse us Evil Liberals of “moral relativism” and claim that our lack of absolutes is what’s destroying the country. Ow, the irony.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GVT7C7S6IP2OC44PFUZGAJ4OBM JohnK

    That one doesn’t work. The very first evangelical, born-again Bible-thumping President was Jimmy Carter, and he’s… ah… not exactly popular with the right-wing. Clearly the ‘fundamentalist or evangelical Christian’ might be necessary but it’s not sufficient. You have to fall into line with all of their beliefs.

    (Hell, I’m not even convinced that the fundamentalist Christian thing is even necessary — Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich barely even mentioned their religious beliefs and they were swept into office. It’s all about ideological purity.)

  • Albanaeon

    There’s something scarily logical about that hypothesis…

  • arc

    I think you have hit on something genuinely helpful here, thanks.

    I’m not sure how connected it will end up being to God’s being able to make things true just by saying them – although it’s a fascinating idea and I’ll give it some thought.

    However, I think you’re quite right about the treatment of authority here.  God’s reality-altering powers aside, he’s also the ultimate authority for Christians of these stripes, especially if he wrote it all down in some reasonably accessible book.  
    And they do show a propensity to believe whatever is said by authority figures who say the right kinds of things to show they’re the right kind of authority figure.  They’ve a huge epistemic trust in these forms of authority.

    And I think you’re also right that it’s kind of inconceivable to them that the world could be other than what their authorities tell them.  I’m not sure it’s entirely right to say that intent’s making things true here (although I’ll think about it), but anyway there’s not a lot of functional difference to ‘reality is created by my authority figure’s intent’ and ‘reality is independent from what my authority figure says, but despite this it’s inconceivable that it could be different from what he (they’re normally ‘he’s) says’.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I wonder if these people’s perception of reality couldn’t be summed up in something as simple as “Intent…It’s Effing Magic!”Think about it. Reality for them was spoken into existence by an all-powerful God. Therefore, when God says something, It Is So because God is the ultimate authority and he’s (supposedly) the ultimate good. Somehow this belief gets translated into the notion that anything that anyone says is True in a sense…not based on any factual reality, but based upon the Goodness and/or Authority of the speaker. Therefore, anyone that speaks on behalf of the Ultimate Speaker of Existence and Goodness, or anyone who follows the commands or even anyone who merely claims to follow the commands of the Ultimate Speaker is Automatically Right regardless of facts. Their intent makes them right, not their facts. Because when God (or a self-appointed mouthpiece) speaks, It Is So. Even when it isn’t. That’s how their world works. It’s all about Intent.

    I don’t buy this.

    First of all, I think you’re conflating morality of intent with an argument from authority, where the authority is “someone speaking on behalf of God”.

    But more significantly, a person who says that their message reflects the commands of God, and who displays evidence of good intent, but whose message is not right wing, socially conservative and nationalistic is rejected out of hand. Prominent Christians who speak out on issues of economic justice or environmentalism, for example, are scorned by the group I understand you to be referring to.

    It’s not about the speaker’s intention at all. It’s the message. If you have a message that conflicts with the economic and social worldview that people decide to hold, they don’t give two shits about your intent.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Or, what JohnK said.

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

    I see your point, and I may be conflating a bit of morality of intent with pure authoritarianism. I was thinking more of “perceived” intent rather than the actual intent of a speaker…and that perceived intent seems to rest entirely on a speaker’s ability to spout the right talking points.

    I guess my main point was that there seems to be a subset of people who, instead of accepting reality as True because, hey, it’s right here and I can see it…rather accepts reality as True because Someone said that it is. Because if ultimate reality was spoken into existence by God, doesn’t that mean that if someone with enough Authority says something enough times, it’s probably true? Words create Truth.

    That doesn’t at all explain how a person goes about choosing one worldview over another, or deciding who to follow as an authority…on that I got nothing :P But it might explain some of the blind trust in said authority figure’s words despite any amount of evidence to the contrary. Real Reality being all about what God says it is rather than what actually gets unconsciously translated down to other authority figures in one’s life.

  • Mr. Heartland

    You’re really onto something here.  It stands to reason that authoritarians would be able to comprehend honesty or dishonesty in any other context except that of either lying to avoid punishment or meekly accepting it.  Dishonesty is therefore at root disobedience, just like every other bad behavior.  While honesty is at root a show of loyalty, just like everything good.   

    It may be that they are unable to conceive any such thing as honest assessment of statements and facts, or honest examination of their own beliefs, because outside the ‘hand in the cookie jar’ scenario they do not see honesty as existing by itself but only as part of the unified, absolutist, One True Way encompassing all wisdom and virtue, which naturally includes belief in the Christian God and the superiority of the United States.  Anyone who loudly loudly and aggressively states his belief in these things is therefore entitled to trust, and any claim that they are wrong on their facts will be fiercely opposed not on reason but as a matter of loyalty and honor.   

  • http://gocart-mozart.blogspot.com/ gocart mozart

    “It’s not about the speaker’s intention at all. It’s the message. If you have a message that conflicts with the economic and social worldview that people decide to hold, they don’t give two shits about your intent.”
    This is similar to the legal difference between criminal intent or “malice of forethought” and Intentional or reckless disregard for the truth vs negligent disregard in civil tort law.  In a murder case its the difference between 1st and 2nd degree murder or manslaughter and in a civil suit it would effect whether someone can get punitive damages.  The intent effects the punishment.

    [I could write the above more clearly but I’m be lazy]

  • Beatrix

    Brad – Texas really seems to be doing very well.  As a Texan, or just a person (but on the ground experience is always nice), can you explain why it isn’t?  Are you suggesting that the Texas economy is doing well, but Texas is doing poorly in some other way?  Would you care to elaborate?  I’m genuinely interested in your take on this.

  • Jared Bascomb

    I know anecdotes aren’t data, but there was a letter in the LA Times last week (Sunday?) by a woman from El Paso who had been vacationing in CA. She implored Californians to wake up and *not* let their state become the disaster that is her Texas.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GVT7C7S6IP2OC44PFUZGAJ4OBM JohnK

    California is on its way. They have an incredibly weird, unsustainable tax and spending structure that defies belief. People talk about the federal debt crisis but that’s largely a self-inflicted wound; California’s budget system really is a mess. I don’t know if it’s as bad as Texas (I don’t know much about Texas at all) but those Propositions are making it pretty much impossible to impose fiscal responsibility. You can’t raise taxes and you can’t cut spending — on anything.

  • Anonymous

    California’s primary problem is Prop 13 and the 2/3 requirement to raise taxes. Imagine all the gridlock of the Senate from 2008-2010, every year.

    We also have the idea that you can have a lot of services without paying taxes. And that undocumented immigrants deprive the state of – when adjusted for inflation – infinity dollars, and if we could just deport all of them then we’d be flush with cash again. Basically, California is a microcosm of the country as a whole, with a bunch of red districts blocking any attempt from the majority of blue districts to accomplish anything. It’s a very large state and quite ideologically divided between coastal blue cities and red inland areas.

    I could expound at greater length, but I’m kind of in crunch in one of the two jobs I have to replace the one old job I had that paid just as much.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    California’s primary problem is Prop 13 and the 2/3 requirement to raise taxes. Imagine all the gridlock of the Senate from 2008-2010, every year.

    I live in Washington, and it always amazes me that every few years it seems like some anti-tax advocacy group tries to put up a proposition to limit legislators ability to alter tax rates.  It always has me frustrated, how can legislators actually do the job they are elected to do if they are so bound by voter restrictions that they can do nothing?  We cannot guarantee that we will know what the situation will be like in five years, let alone ten or fifteen, so how can we justify making restrictive regulations of our lawmakers which inhibit our local government’s ability to adjust to those new situations.  

    Especially since for so many of those anti-tax activists, it is not as though their tax rates are particularly encumbering, or limit their ability to do business and live lives.  They seem to operate on a basis of “tax == bad” without regard for context or affordability.  

    Basically, California is a microcosm of the country as a whole, with a bunch of red districts blocking any attempt from the majority of blue districts to accomplish anything. It’s a very large state and quite ideologically divided between coastal blue cities and red inland areas.

    It has been my observation that is true of all the states on the west coast.  It certainly is in Washington, and it seems to be so from the friends and relatives that I have in Oregon.  Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to split all three states into two states each.  At least that way the political cultures do not end up having to wrestle with each other so much and might actually get something done.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

     Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to split all three states into two states each.  At least that way the political cultures do not end up having to wrestle with each other so much and might actually get something done.

    I’d prefer to create three separate states: A coastal strip the runs up to the Cascades, the desert area east of the Cascades, and a Libertopia in Orange County.  (OC really doesn’t fit with either part of California).  Any of the Proposition maps prepared by the Secretary of State would show the dividing lines quite clearly.

    (We might actually want to have the third state be LosSaniajuana.  The Southern half of Cali skews much more conservative than the Northern half.  Although I wouldn’t mind letting SoCal in with NorCal since we’d get Hollyweird and Pacific Beach.)

    (All the East Coasters and non-Americans are going “Huh????”)

  • Hawker40

    “Cascades”? “Orange County” as Libertopia?

    Living in Southern (Very Southern) Cal distorts my view of course, but the “liberal Coastal Strip” starts in Venice Beach (Just South of the People’s Republic of Santa Monica) to the Oregon Border. South of there, it slowly gets more Republican, maxing out behind the Orange Curtain, dropping until Oceanside/Camp Pendleton, then increasing again until you hit Point Loma to drop back down slightly in OB. Going inland tends to get more conservative, with the exception of Imperial County (Liberal, but only compared to San Diego).

    The biggest distortion of California in perception comes from this simple fact: Los Angeles is the 3rd largest city in the country. San Diego is 6th. San Fransisco isn’t in the top ten.  San Fransisco and Oakland combined aren’t as big as San Diego.  San Fransisco, Oakland, San Jose, Fresno, and Sacramento combined aren’t as big as Los Angeles.

  • P J Evans

    You should see the proposed split cooked up by a Riverside county supervisor. It would leave LA in with the north (along with far-more-conservative Ventura and Santa Barbara counties), but take the San Joaquin Valley as part of the south. (I think it has zero chance of going anywhere, especially once all the ag, industrial, and warehousing people realize it will put a state line between them and all the major sea and airports.)

  • P J Evans

    You should see the proposed split cooked up by a Riverside county supervisor. It would leave LA in with the north (along with far-more-conservative Ventura and Santa Barbara counties), but take the San Joaquin Valley as part of the south. (I think it has zero chance of going anywhere, especially once all the ag, industrial, and warehousing people realize it will put a state line between them and all the major sea and airports.)

  • Jared Bascomb

    A few weeks ago a Riverside County politician proposed splitting CA into two states, with (liberal) LA being in NorCal, and Orange, San Diego, Imperial, Riverside, Kern et al being in SoCal.

    First of all, good luck dividing Orange/LA into two states; they’re too intertwined. Secondly, San Diego (city) and parts of OC are far more liberal than this guy thinks. And finally, it would mean that San Diego and Orange – which have actual industires and income – would be subsidizing wastelands like Kern County.

  • http://gocart-mozart.blogspot.com/ gocart mozart

    I think this is a good idea but he may be drawing the lines wrong.  It should be geographical rather than some convoluted gerrymandering along political lines.  I would cut it in half somewhere above San Fran.  The south would be where all the big cities are and the north would have a larger land area and more rural character like Oregon or Washington.  Why should CA with 20X the people have the same # of Sen as Montana?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Why should CA with 20X the people have the same # of Sen as Montana?

    Because otherwise, Rhode Island would never have voted to join the United States.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Why should CA with 20X the people have the same # of Sen as Montana?

    Because otherwise, Rhode Island would never have voted to join the United States.

  • Jared Bascomb

    A few weeks ago a Riverside County politician proposed splitting CA into two states, with (liberal) LA being in NorCal, and Orange, San Diego, Imperial, Riverside, Kern et al being in SoCal.

    First of all, good luck dividing Orange/LA into two states; they’re too intertwined. Secondly, San Diego (city) and parts of OC are far more liberal than this guy thinks. And finally, it would mean that San Diego and Orange – which have actual industires and income – would be subsidizing wastelands like Kern County.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

     Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to split all three states into two states each.  At least that way the political cultures do not end up having to wrestle with each other so much and might actually get something done.

    I’d prefer to create three separate states: A coastal strip the runs up to the Cascades, the desert area east of the Cascades, and a Libertopia in Orange County.  (OC really doesn’t fit with either part of California).  Any of the Proposition maps prepared by the Secretary of State would show the dividing lines quite clearly.

    (We might actually want to have the third state be LosSaniajuana.  The Southern half of Cali skews much more conservative than the Northern half.  Although I wouldn’t mind letting SoCal in with NorCal since we’d get Hollyweird and Pacific Beach.)

    (All the East Coasters and non-Americans are going “Huh????”)

  • Lori

     I live in Washington, and it always amazes me that every few years it seems like some anti-tax advocacy group tries to put up a proposition to limit legislators’ ability to alter tax rates.  It always has me frustrated, how can legislators actually do the job they are elected to do if they are so bound by voter restrictions that they can do nothing?  We cannot guarantee that we will know what the situation will be like in five years, let alone ten or fifteen, so how can we justify making restrictive regulations of our lawmakers which inhibit our local government’s ability to adjust to those new situations? 

    This is one of the main reasons that the balanced budget amendment is such a terrible idea. People complain the Congress isn’t doing its job (which is true) and then try to pass a law (probably unconstitutional) that makes it impossible for them to do the biggest part of their job (not a smart response to the problem). 

  • Lori

     I live in Washington, and it always amazes me that every few years it seems like some anti-tax advocacy group tries to put up a proposition to limit legislators’ ability to alter tax rates.  It always has me frustrated, how can legislators actually do the job they are elected to do if they are so bound by voter restrictions that they can do nothing?  We cannot guarantee that we will know what the situation will be like in five years, let alone ten or fifteen, so how can we justify making restrictive regulations of our lawmakers which inhibit our local government’s ability to adjust to those new situations? 

    This is one of the main reasons that the balanced budget amendment is such a terrible idea. People complain the Congress isn’t doing its job (which is true) and then try to pass a law (probably unconstitutional) that makes it impossible for them to do the biggest part of their job (not a smart response to the problem). 

  • P J Evans

    The redistricting should help. The new boundaries are actually an improvement, and cut out a lot of ‘safe’ seats. The Republicans are complaining loudly because hey don’t have a good shot at a majority, or at least enough of a minority to gridlock the legislature the way they have for the last couple of decades.
    (I’m hoping that at some point we can get the proposition passed that requires initiatives to get signatures from at least 10 percent of the registered voters. It will cut out some of the fringier stuff.)

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, redistricting should help a bit. It’s easy to tell, because the Republicans are threatening to sue to stop it. It’s interesting to see the new maps contrasted with the old on the LA Times’ website; my parents’ place was located in a snaking tendril from a district two cities east of them.

    It’s also a good way to see just how sadly segregated LA still is.

    As for me personally, I’d support an initiative to end the initiative process. It’s pretty clearly become either a knee-jerk reaction (prop 8, 187, etc.), or the tool of corporate interests. See Amazon this year trying to gather signatures so that they can continue to tacitly encourage tax fraud, for a prime example.

  • P J Evans

    I’d rather not see an end to the initiative process (it’s one way to get things done when the people in the sandbox refuse to do their job), but slowing it down, by requiring more signatures, seems like a reasonable start to getting it under control.
    (I only saw Amazon’s signature collectors once. That move seems to have fizzled nicely.)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    As for me personally, I’d support an initiative to end the initiative process. It’s pretty clearly become either a knee-jerk reaction (prop 8, 187, etc.), or the tool of corporate interests. See Amazon this year trying to gather signatures so that they can continue to tacitly encourage tax fraud, for a prime example.

    I dunno’, here in Washington the initiative process can produce some interesting results.  If nothing else, they can be used to make an effective statement, even if they do not get passed.  
    Like this one.  

    Vote yes on I-831.  

  • http://gocart-mozart.blogspot.com/ gocart mozart

    Heh!  Awesome.

    INITIATIVE TO THE PEOPLE:
    WHEREAS, Tim Eyman’s ill-conceived anti-tax initiatives are an
    irresponsible means of legislating tax policy, an abuse of the
    initiative process, and insult to our system of representative
    democracy; and
    WHEREAS, Tim Eyman is an admitted liar, who paid himself $45,000
    from campaign funds, while publicly denying any personal gain from
    the state-wide initiatives he sponsored; and
    WHEREAS, Tim Eyman diverted $165,000 of campaign contributions to
    a for-profit corporation he controls, with the intention of paying
    himself an additional $157,000; and
    WHEREAS, Motivated by self-aggrandizement and personal gain, Tim
    Eyman has consistently misrepresented the initiatives he sponsored,
    and misappropriated funds donated to support them; and
    WHEREAS, Tim Eyman readily admits, in his own words, that “I just
    feel like an ass;”
    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the citizens of the State of
    Washington do hereby proclaim that Tim Eyman is a Horse’s Ass.
    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be
    immediately transmitted to Tim Eyman, his wife, and his mother. So
    there

    [I hope he was careful to check first with a defamation lawyer but he should be alright if he reasonably believes the facts to be true i.e. not knowingly or recklessly false.  Its a lot tougher to slander a public figure.  See NYT v. Sullivan.  He is fine with the “horse’s ass” claim because it obviously can’t be taken literally.  See Falwell v. Hustler or just watch the movie.]

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

     [I hope he was careful to check first with a defamation lawyer but he should be alright if he reasonably believes the facts to be true i.e. not knowingly or recklessly false.  Its a lot tougher to slander a public figure.  See NYT v. Sullivan.  He is fine with the “horse’s ass” claim because it obviously can’t be taken literally.  See Falwell v. Hustler or just watch the movie.]

    Eyeman himself, in a show of good sport, actually offered to be the first signatory of the initiative.  However, he never showed up to do so, saying he did not feel up to it at the last minute.  
    The initiative is clearly a joke, obviously, but in the grand tradition of satirical comedy, it is a joke with a point to it.  In this case, to show how broken the initiative system as it exists is, when someone like Tim Eyeman can keep making initiatives which, even if they pass, will get shot down in court, but are otherwise close enough to plausible to get on the ballot.  That getting shot down in court of course angers Eyeman’s supporters, who then give him more money to make another initiative which will get shot down, and the cycle repeats.  

    I should point out that, while he began as an amateur anti-tax activist, Eyeman’s cost of living is now entirely funded by campaign donations for the initiatives he keeps proposing year after year. Putting tax-limiting initiatives on the ballot is his full-time job these days.  He even admitted as much himself, with appropriate tears, but that has not stopped him or his supporters.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

     [I hope he was careful to check first with a defamation lawyer but he should be alright if he reasonably believes the facts to be true i.e. not knowingly or recklessly false.  Its a lot tougher to slander a public figure.  See NYT v. Sullivan.  He is fine with the “horse’s ass” claim because it obviously can’t be taken literally.  See Falwell v. Hustler or just watch the movie.]

    Eyeman himself, in a show of good sport, actually offered to be the first signatory of the initiative.  However, he never showed up to do so, saying he did not feel up to it at the last minute.  
    The initiative is clearly a joke, obviously, but in the grand tradition of satirical comedy, it is a joke with a point to it.  In this case, to show how broken the initiative system as it exists is, when someone like Tim Eyeman can keep making initiatives which, even if they pass, will get shot down in court, but are otherwise close enough to plausible to get on the ballot.  That getting shot down in court of course angers Eyeman’s supporters, who then give him more money to make another initiative which will get shot down, and the cycle repeats.  

    I should point out that, while he began as an amateur anti-tax activist, Eyeman’s cost of living is now entirely funded by campaign donations for the initiatives he keeps proposing year after year. Putting tax-limiting initiatives on the ballot is his full-time job these days.  He even admitted as much himself, with appropriate tears, but that has not stopped him or his supporters.

  • Lori

     As for me personally, I’d support an initiative to end the initiative process.  

    I agree. When I was living in CA I got to the point where I said that the only initiative that I would vote for was an initiative to end initiatives, and I wasn’t really kidding. I understand why people originally thought it was a good idea, but I think on balance it’s been a disaster. If your lawmakers aren’t doing their jobs making it impossible for them to do their jobs is not a good solution. 

  • http://gocart-mozart.blogspot.com/ gocart mozart

    Also, since Citizens United watch for Big Money funding all sorts of “fuckthemiddleclass” ballot proposals.  You aint seen nothing yet. 

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, redistricting should help a bit. It’s easy to tell, because the Republicans are threatening to sue to stop it. It’s interesting to see the new maps contrasted with the old on the LA Times’ website; my parents’ place was located in a snaking tendril from a district two cities east of them.

    It’s also a good way to see just how sadly segregated LA still is.

    As for me personally, I’d support an initiative to end the initiative process. It’s pretty clearly become either a knee-jerk reaction (prop 8, 187, etc.), or the tool of corporate interests. See Amazon this year trying to gather signatures so that they can continue to tacitly encourage tax fraud, for a prime example.

  • Jared Bascomb

    I know. I live in CA. Ballot-box budgeting and the initiatiave process have tied the legilsture’s hands, and when you throw petty partisan one-upmanship into the mix, it ain’t pretty.

    Locally, we couldn’t get voter approval to raise the hotel room tax, a tax that 99% of the local population will never pay (uness they do a romantic weekend or a stay-cation).

  • MD

    “Brad – Texas really seems to be doing very well.  As a Texan, or just a
    person (but on the ground experience is always nice), can you explain
    why it isn’t?”

    Not Brad, but the story of exactly what has been going on in Texas under Rick Parry’s governorship is scattered throughout the internet-o-sphere. For example:

    “Despite being one of the loudest critics of President Obama’s stimulus,
    Perry used billions of dollars of federal money to patch Texas’ budget
    shortfalls, and was thus able to create and maintain lots and lots of
    public sector jobs. In fact, if you look at net job creation between
    2007 and 2010, it’s clear the only thing keeping Texas buoyant was
    government jobs.” (http://tinyurl.com/3w9yud5)

    Or:

    “But that doesn’t mean that all is well with employment in the Lone Star
    State. Texas leads the nation in minimum-wage jobs, and many positions
    don’t offer health benefits. Also, steep budget cuts are expected to
    result in the loss of more than 100,000 jobs. …
    Factoring in that population growth means Texas would need to create
    another 629,000 jobs, or 5.6% more positions, just to reach its
    pre-recession employment level, according to the Economic Policy
    Institute. …
    Going forward, the Lone Star State will have to work even harder to
    create jobs. That’s because Perry signed a budget in May that slashes
    $15 billion in government spending over the next two years. Also, the
    federal stimulus funds that poured into the state since 2009 have
    largely dried up.”

    So, Parry balanced the TX budget using stimulus funds (sorry, “job-killing socialism”) and now that he’s run out of federal dollars to pad the bottom line, his budget had a $15B hole he had to fill.

    The A is for America. Also for IowA.

  • MD

    Sorry, second source: http://tinyurl.com/3vcnjto

  • Anonymous

    Texas is broke, and it’s education system is falling apart, and it’s prisons are overcrowded. Again, if the media was worth a damn they’d play up the fact that on the same day Perry had his prayer rally in another stadium in Houston local outreach groups where giving away school supplies and vaccinations to those in need. Over 100,000 people showed up, they had to turn folks away there were too many.

  • Beatrix

    No, honey, California’s broke.  And I’m so glad you mentioned the education system; here, one of the the greatest satirists of our age destroys (Nobel Prize winnah!  I swear, they give those things out in cereal boxes) Paul Krugman on the subject of school results re. Wisconsin, Texas, and those evil unions:  http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/03/longhorns-17-badgers-1.html

    And of course, because after all he did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express the night before, round two:  http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/03/badgering-the-witless.html

  • Beatrix

    And yeah, I really do mean the teacher’s unions are evil.  No sarcasm there.

  • Albanaeon

    And you appear to be a condescending nitwit, if you’re fooled by accounting tricks and demonizing the people teaching the future for wanting to have the ability to do so.  No sarcasm here, either.

  • Anonymous

    @Albaneon:disqus Remember: keep calm and don’t respond.

    I’m curious to see how Perry fares outside of the tiny evangelical bubble that is Iowan primary voters. I can’t possibly see someone whose best response to significant problems is to try and pray them away, actually playing at all to anyone who isn’t a dyed-in-the-wool RTC.

    Of course, I’m also curious as to why the nation as a whole cares about who a tiny sliver of Iowan evangelical corn farmers thinks should be president. The last few weeks have been devoted to the political indecision of 16,000 rural Americans who will eat fried butter on a stick. At the risk of sounding condescending… well, I guess my condescension is pretty clear at this point. I guess I don’t have much patience for people who loudly champion small government while simultaneously demanding every presidential candidate pay tribute to their farm subsidy/ethanol demands, not to mention their invasive pro-life/anti-gay/theocratic agenda. The fact that they chose Bachmann, Paul, and Pawlenty, three of the least likely candidates to ever possibly become president, speaks plenty as to why we should pay as much attention to them as we do our resident Candyman.

  • FangsFirst

    eat fried butter on a stick.

    Oh god. I saw a picture of that. I normally have a very strong stomach, but the idea of that still kind of makes me want to vomit if I do not carefully control it.

  • Anonymous

    @Albaneon:disqus Remember: keep calm and don’t respond.

    I’m curious to see how Perry fares outside of the tiny evangelical bubble that is Iowan primary voters. I can’t possibly see someone whose best response to significant problems is to try and pray them away, actually playing at all to anyone who isn’t a dyed-in-the-wool RTC.

    Of course, I’m also curious as to why the nation as a whole cares about who a tiny sliver of Iowan evangelical corn farmers thinks should be president. The last few weeks have been devoted to the political indecision of 16,000 rural Americans who will eat fried butter on a stick. At the risk of sounding condescending… well, I guess my condescension is pretty clear at this point. I guess I don’t have much patience for people who loudly champion small government while simultaneously demanding every presidential candidate pay tribute to their farm subsidy/ethanol demands, not to mention their invasive pro-life/anti-gay/theocratic agenda. The fact that they chose Bachmann, Paul, and Pawlenty, three of the least likely candidates to ever possibly become president, speaks plenty as to why we should pay as much attention to them as we do our resident Candyman.

  • http://aaron.acephalo.us Aaron

    “Accounting tricks?” I realize you’ll call me a troll and ignore me for asking, but what’s wrong with those figures?

  • Albanaeon

    Texas enacts a budget every two years. The last budget was enacted before the scope of the economic downturn was realized, which gave the illusion that it was doing well when in fact its budget wasn’t reflecting the reality of the situation. Texas’s unemployment numbers also aren’t great, and with a much bigger growing population, this is also going to create a bigger drag. Add in that even if they have better numbers than some states, it is still bought by extremely low spending on education per pupil and extremely low health insurance coverage. So, in summary, the touted numbers are not reflective of reality and they were bought originally by cutting services to the most needy. And let’s not forget that Texas, in the midst of it worst drought ever, it’s governor did not look at things like desalination plants and massive irrigation infrastructure, which would help both the drought and employment problems, but set up prayer rallies. Which, in addition to being dodgy Constitutionally, did nothing to solve the problem. Texas epitomizes the “SOL if your not one of us” mentality of the GOP, as well as the base deceit that they use constantly.

  • P J Evans

    And a lot of the jobs that Gov Goodhair is touting are low-paying, in a state where the median income is already low. For Ghu’s sake, I was working for a city in Texas, 13 to 30 hours a week, for a couple of years, and I was getting only minimum wage after two years. (Some of that, I will admit , is due to the @#$%^&* city manager, whose budget style would probably make Perry very happy: he’d put stuff in the budget just so that he could take it out and say that he cut the budget. (He was willing to tell his kid how wonderful the public library was, at the same time he was trying to kill it. He had the fire and police departments mad at him, too.)

  • Albanaeon

    There is that too…

    It just pisses me off when people point to how successful conservative policies are when it’s based on fudging numbers and/or basically being shitty to everyone who is not privileged.

  • Inca

    “The presumption of charity teaches us not to presume that someone is
    lying just because they said something that isn’t true. That presumption
    works much like the presumption of innocence in criminal court —
    innocent until proven guilty, or misinformed until proven mendacious.”

    I think this has to be pointed out more, including the other side of it. When someone high up in office speaks an untruth, it can be lying, but it can be something other. However, the ‘something other’ means that someone is displaying incompetence in that task. If someone is telling untruths about something they *ought to know* the alternative to lying shouldn’t be seen as favorable. It means they are not doing their job well. And since this is not about a local shop salesperson that doesn’t know the price of item x, but someone who wants to run for *president* that is a major issue!

  • Matri

    “Run for president”? They want to run your life!!

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    People keep bringing up Colbert, but it was the Daily Show that had the better break down of stuff like this:

    “Evil?  Or Stupid?”

    Either is plausible.  Either is damning.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s a lot less ‘evil’ than this, Fred.  You’re assuming Perry is working alone and making all this shit up on his own.  He’s not.  This is some story told to him by one of his flunkies who lines up the talking points.  That flunky got it off some email or right-wing blog or something, and didn’t fact check it.  He reads whatever he’s given, because he assumes that the folks working for him have checked everything out & there’s no reason for him to believe otherwise.

    I think the worst that he’s probably guilty of is believing something vaguely outrageous because it conveniently fits his world-view, in the same way that I believe Sarah Palin’s husband was an official in the Alaskan secessionist party.  I don’t know this to be true, and haven’t really fact checked it myself, but it’s certainly something that is outrageous, yet it fits my world-view (and tickles my fancy), so I choose to believe it.  Also, I’ve seen it in a couple of places, so it *must* be true… right?  :)

    I’m not defending him as a person.  He scares the shit out of me, and if he’s elected I may become an ex-pat.  But, in this case, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt, because that really seems like the most likely situation.

    Peter

  • Lori

      Remember: keep calm and don’t respond.  

     

    Someone really needs to photoshop this onto one of those little signs. Sort of like this one, but more troll specific:

  • Anonymous

    Your wish, my command, etc. etc. I had one before but Disqus eated it. EDIT: It eated this one too, apparently. Here’s a link.

    The Cameron Willingham thing is frightening. I wasn’t aware of it before.

  • Lori

     Your wish, my command, etc. etc. I had one before but Disqus eated it. EDIT: It eated this one too, apparently. Here’s a link. 

    Thank you!

     The Cameron Willingham thing is frightening. I wasn’t aware of it before.  

     Isn’t it? Did you watch the PBS thing on it (I think it was a Frontline episode). That broke my heart and made me want to smack the every loving crap out of a whole bunch of folks, Perry right up there on the list. The fact that so many people would rather murder an innocent man than admit to having been wrong is just terrifying and enraging. 

  • Jared Bascomb

    This reminds me of one of my favorite Lily Tomlin bits, when she was in character as Edith Ann, the five year old, and confronted with the accusation that she wasn’t telling the truth. Edith Ann’s response was [paraphrasing]: “No. I am not making things up. That is lies and lies are not the truth. But the truth can be made up if you know how.”

  • Lunch Meat

    There’s also the fact that while some Texas cities are doing really well–Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio were ranked by Newsweek among the cities that are resisting the recession and recovering the best–most cities here are small towns that are experiencing zero or negative growth. In Abilene, for instance, a good sized town, some of my friends with master’s degrees couldn’t get jobs. Most of the jobs that you can get there are minimum wage or part time. And Abilene is not unique in that respect.

  • P J Evans

    Cities are competing for prisons, just to get jobs. That’s pretty bad, and Perry should be ashamed that prisons are a ‘growth industry’ in Texas.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Cities are competing for prisons, just to get jobs. That’s pretty bad, and Perry should be ashamed that prisons are a ‘growth industry’ in Texas.

    The Prison-Industrial Complex is a growth industry EVERYWHERE in America.  We’ve got a larger portion of our population locked up than Soviet Russia did.  

  • Tonio

    The “stupid or evil” dichotomy is confusing to me because it appears to deal with motivation, but many people seem to treat it as though it deals with accountability. But people are accountable for their words and actions no matter what their motivations are. I’m interested in motivations from an empirical standpoint, meaning the question of why Person X would say something that’s obviously false. Human beings being combinations of good and bad and indifferent and it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time, there are many motivations that don’t fit neatly into the dichotomy.

  • http://gocart-mozart.blogspot.com/ gocart mozart

    Google says, 234 executions in 10 years for Perry, 134 in 5 years for Bush. 

    Also an interesting column by E.J. Dione
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/07/11/the_death_penalty_and_the_costs_of_an_obsession_110519-full.html

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, if Bush, Cheney, & Co. can escape prosecution while openly admitting they instituted torture…

    Isn’t it? Did you watch the PBS thing on it? (I think it was a Frontline episode.)

    This was actually the first I’d heard of it, but I’ll definitely check it out. Netflix streams Frontline episodes sometimes. Perry had lost me at “Republican governor from Texas,” and every time he opens his mouth he confirms his awfulness (see his comments on the Fed and climate change this week). He’s so deplorable in so many ways, I haven’t really invested a whole lot of time into looking into his actions as governor.

  • Lori

    Frontline has the episode up on it’s website. I don’t remember what it’s called but if you search by Willingham you’ll find it. 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I’m starting to think the main difference between Texas and the Middle East is the ready availability of alcohol.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I’m starting to think the main difference between Texas and the Middle East is the ready availability of alcohol.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I’m starting to think the main difference between Texas and the Middle East is the ready availability of alcohol.

  • Albanaeon

    Ughh.  Ballot initiatives.  Colorado, I’ve heard, has one of the easiest to amend constitutions in the nation, which gives us a hell of a lot of crap every election.  Last time it was basically “let’s do away with governme… err TAXES altogether.”   Fortunately, it was voted down pretty handily, but still we’ve got the fricken’ Taxpayers Bill of Rights, that turns good times into bad times and bad times into disasters because getting any increase in revenues is near impossible.  And then the endless “Personhood” amendments.  No thought involved in trying to make every fertilized human egg a person.  Definitely on how it could potentially make every sexually active woman’s periods a potential murder, or townships to fertility clinics, or genocide charges.  Just, “we want a culture of LIFE” and no fore-brain thought at all.


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