Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rosemary's Baby

     About four weeks ago in his byline here, Mike Flannigan opined that we've become so wearied by and used to corruption, we can no longer be trusted to identify it and respond appropriately to it. I will add here and now that not only is that true, we're outraged by the most ridiculous things and are led astray as easily as a pod of whales inexplicably beaching themselves. No one knows why it happens. It just does.
     Even the so-called "liberal media", that Goldstein of American journalism that doesn't exist any more than unicorns and ethical Republicans, doesn't think there's anything to the Rick Perry indictment. And most of the people we're listening to, including that punchline of jurisprudence, Fox's Judge Pirro, haven't even read the two page indictment neatly summing up the two counts against Rick Perry.
     Even David Axelrod, a vicious partisan prick and psychodelic bozo on the best of days, blew off the indictment on his Twitter account, which was enough to make headlines and start the echo chamber. The Perry indictment has already been tried in the court of public opinion and dismissed as partisan hackery and Texas politics as usual. Despite the usual paranoid screaming about the so-called "liberal media" by those on the far right lunatic fringe, the consensus has been one quiet yawn. Compare that to the media frenzy surrounding the Clinton blow job and Don Siegelman (more on that later).
     And as usual, these well-monied and well-heeled pundits we keep trotting out onto TV sound stages like so many precious Jon Benet Ramseys are stupid, lazy, ignorant and deliberately uninformed or misinformed about the basic facts of this indictment.
     To start, Rick Perry's veto withholding $7.5 million in funding wasn't the issue at stake and a cursory read through the slender indictment itself will disabuse anyone who cares about the truth of that falsehood. Unlike the President of the United States, the Governor of Texas has line item veto powers and it was entirely within Perry's legal purview to withhold funds from the Travis County DA's office. What was illegal, however, was Perry's avowed reason for doing this: Trying to force the resignation of Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg.
     Lehmberg, as we all know, was arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced to prison for drunk driving. Perry, every bit the reformed, God-fearing drunk as his predecessor, got on his high horse and made the colossal mistake of making those $7.5 million of state funding contingent on her resignation. If he'd simply denied the Travis County DA's office the funds, he would've been out of this clean and simple. It would've been the same as a hiring manager refusing to hire someone in his 50's but just not saying why.
     Lehmberg is just one of over 300 local prosecutors in Texas. In other words, she's a local elected official, ergo a local problem. Perry's withholding of funds from Lehmberg's office being contingent on her resignation is the basis of one of the indictments. This kind of bullying at the state level is a big no no even in a fabulously corrupt and dysfunctional state such as Texas.
     There's nothing really special about the Travis County DA's office except for one little thing: It's the one that houses and controls the Public Integrity Unit, the investigatory body that polices the state government of corruption. Had Lehmberg resigned, Perry would've had the latitude to name her successor and one can only imagine how dysfunctional the PIU would've gotten after that. Think of what happened after Cameron Todd Willingham was executed for a crime he didn't commit and Perry's conduct toward the Texas Forensic Science Commission. Perry 86'd the Chairman and two others who were pushing for a new investigation. In other words, the sleazy, tried-and-true Republican tactic of installing cronies and yes men onto commissions and courts in the interests of altering reality, evading justice and serious inquiries and shaping public perception.
     Now, compare the collective yawn of the Perry indictment to the media shark attack during and after the Siegelman case over a decade ago. The Bush-era Justice Department, acting on orders from piano wire artist Karl Rove, went after Siegelman year after year until they finally removed the Democratic Alabama Governor from office. We all now know specious circumstantial evidence was brought against Siegelman and Richard Scrushy that eventually sent them to prison, They were convicted by a viciously partisan right wing judge.
     The (Republican) judge in Bexar County appointed Michael McCrum, a former HW Bush prosecutor, to be the special prosecutor. McCrum, you might remember, had been handpicked by both John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison to take over the US Attorney's Office in the Western District of Texas. So much for the hysterical bloviating from the human convection ovens on the Far Right about this being a partisan witch hunt.
     Far from this indictment being a tempest in a teapot, this could lead to much bigger things when one considers Perry's hamfisted attempt to gain control of the Public Integrity Unit by forcing Lehmberg's resignation. Compared to his other crimes for which he has not been convicted, such as the execution of an innocent man, the Perry indictment indeed pales in comparison to the legal trouble he ought to be in. Because Rick Perry executed an innocent man, called him "a wife beater", packed his own Forensics Commission with political hacks and ignored exculpatory evidence that would've saved Cameron Todd Willingham's life.
     Rick Perry should be tried, sentenced and executed for murder instead of being allowed to turn his booking and mug shot into a circus of a photo op and staggering down the Presidential campaign trail to the yawns of the "liberal media."


At September 8, 2014 at 6:42 AM, Anonymous Anton said...

Robert: Linked this to my FB page; could not do so with your 'link to' link, which only goes to Google accounts. (Anthony Fazio, Ithaca, NY).

I have done this several other times with your great articles in the past 2 years.


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