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October 13, 2009

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Come on, publius. Every condemned criminal makes a last ditch appeal to the governor. They're pro forma. Maybe this one had merit, but I can't blame the governor for assuming otherwise.

I think, though, that the national reputation of this person should have at least caused someone in the Governor's office to read it, esp. if they knew it was coming (and in light of other doubts, etc.)

I didn't know anything about his reputation, you probably didn't before, and I doubt Perry did either. Imagine you're the governor and you get an 11th hour phone call from an attorney representing a condemned inmate saying he's got a new expert report that proves his client's innocence. I wouldn't read it. You probably wouldn't have either.

" Imagine you're the governor and you get an 11th hour phone call from an attorney representing a condemned inmate saying he's got a new expert report that proves his client's innocence. I wouldn't read it."

This is one of the best definitions of evil I have read in a long time.

"Come on, publius. Every condemned criminal makes a last ditch appeal to the governor. They're pro forma. Maybe this one had merit, but I can't blame the governor for assuming otherwise."

This is so deeply offensive that I have to hope it is satire.

Actually the case had been under discussion for years and was welknown to be controversial for substantive reason so I do think that the governor should have taken time to acquaint himself with new information. Particularly a governor who syles himslef as "pro-life" should do so, but the decision to kill a perosn is so seriouusd thst I think any governor shuld have taken time to consider the possiblity rthat there was new evidence.

Publius knows what I'm talking about. He's got a point in that IF I was aware of the expert's reputation, I'd probably read it. But otherwise, 11th hour capital filings are usually just frivolous. They're seriously a waste of time.

If ever a conservative claims that the government can't get anything right, ask them their opinion of the death penalty.

If they are for it, call them a hypocrite and walk away.

Killing somebody should never be pro forma, and even though 11th hour appeals to the governor are common, it is the governors job to read the appeal. Reading it and then choosing not to intervene is one thing, but choosing to not read it at all is a dereliction of duty that ought to result in impeachment if, as looks to be the case here, an innocent man is executed.

This is one of the best definitions of evil I have read in a long time.

Seconded. The mentality of the murder bureaucrat.

The mentality of the murder bureaucrat.

No, just the mentality of someone aware of all the crap capital attorneys file.

Willingham's murder, as that what it seems like, is in a way the quintessential American murder. Condemned by junk science in a country that detests science, sentenced by a murderous bureaucrats who label themselves 'pro-life', then consigned to a system that cannot be trusted with tax dollars, but is considered infallible in its decisions to end men's lives.

"By execution day, Perry was Willingham's last chance. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected a reprieve, calling the arson expert's report “no more than an opinion.”"

It is interesting that, in the three days between the original letter and the last minute submission to the Governor, the 5th Circuit held that the very brief document was "no more than an opinion". Yet, the Governor is taking the heat for the rapid response.

Do we think it is possible that his office had followed the 5th Circuit hearing and was already familiar with the contents?

Noise Machine -

But given that Texas over the past few years has executed more or less two people per month, were the governor to restrict himself to truly last-ditch appeals, would it be asking too much that he take the time to review one every two weeks? I can't imagine that it would be difficult to quickly determine the difference between a desperate-and-contentless plea and one with actual weight behind it.

And even if it weren't, the time constraint involved is immaterial. This means nothing coming from a death penalty opponent, but I can't fathom how even a pro-death penalty governor could wear the execution of even a patently guilty man so lightly.

No, just the mentality of someone aware of all the crap capital attorneys file.

Really? And just whence comes your expertise in this arena? Dazzle us!

Me, I figure that given the number of innocent people who've been let out of prison in the past decade or so, and given that if I were an attorney with a death row client of whose innocence I was absolutely certain I'd be filing a new appeal about every 10 minutes, it's sorta incumbent on our various governors and penal officials to pay a little better attention.

db: Killing somebody should never be pro forma, and even though 11th hour appeals to the governor are common, it is the governors job to read the appeal. Reading it and then choosing not to intervene is one thing, but choosing to not read it at all is a dereliction of duty that ought to result in impeachment if, as looks to be the case here, an innocent man is executed.

Exactly.

Part of the difficulty in pro-death penalty states, however, is evidently that with the sheer number of people being killed by the state, it seems that it does become pro forma. Any idea that it is a truly horrible thing to deliberately kill a human being, has evidently long since gone out of the system - left with a casual "hey, he's probably guilty, and anyway, it's nearly 5pm".

"No, just the mentality of someone aware of all the crap capital attorneys file."

(So you see, libs, it was really Willingham's defense attorneys who forced Perry to wrongfully execute Willingham. Also!)

Seriously: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is wrong with you, Noise Machine? Guy loses his daughters in a goddamned fire that he seems not to have set, and is then wrongfully executed, and you act as though this is and acceptable outcome. That is the definition of moral sickness.

I agree that Perry should have spent time, but the governor's power is of last resort. Why is the Court system so bad as to have let it come to that?

Why is the Court system so bad as to have let it come to that?

Because having the death penalty as an option encourages disrespect for human life and consquent carelessness about getting an accurate verdict. Once someone is dead, the appeals normally stop and the dead convict is left for guilty - so there's no real need to worry if someone who's been accused of a crime is actually guilty: once they're dead, that won't matter any more.

I am going to repost this comment. I would really like an answer from Publius. The other thread on this subject seems to raise a number of legitimate questions. This is just inflammatory muckraking. IMO.

From the Houston Chronicle

"By execution day, Perry was Willingham's last chance. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected a reprieve, calling the arson expert's report “no more than an opinion.”"

It is interesting that, in the three days between the original letter and the last minute submission to the Governor, the 5th Circuit held that the very brief document was "no more than an opinion". Yet, the Governor is taking the heat for the rapid response.

Do we think it is possible that his office had followed the 5th Circuit hearing and was already familiar with the contents?

He's prolife, you see . . .

Why is the Court system so bad as to have let it come to that?

Because it's in the South.

Marty -- later today, I'm actually going to dig around and read up on the 5th Circuit decision. Though they are essentially a rubber stamp for execution -- the not-very-liberal Supreme Court has called them out a few times on this

"Marty -- later today, I'm actually going to dig around and read up on the 5th Circuit decision. Though they are essentially a rubber stamp for execution -- the not-very-liberal Supreme Court has called them out a few times on this"

Thanks Publius, I just think it is very likely that the Governor had more, and gave more, than ten minutes to the issue. He probably had the document for several days.

Negating the point of this post.

Not according to the Chronicle.

It's hard to see how and why Perry would conclude that he was better qualified on this issue than an actual expert in the field. How could it have done any harm to stay the execution for a week, consider the report in a mature way, and reach a publicly justified conclusion? Are the lives of citizens so cheap and easy to discard that Governor Perry had no qualm about doing so - and is now clearly covering up his malfeasance? I would suggest that, in any case where the death penalty is imminent, and the governor refuses clemency, he should be required to document the reasons for his refusal in a publicly available dossier which includes all communications on the subject.

"I would suggest that, in any case where the death penalty is imminent, and the governor refuses clemency, he should be required to document the reasons for his refusal in a publicly available dossier which includes all communications on the subject."

I agree with this up to the point of documenting internal discussion. His reasons should be public record beyond denial.

[i]I agree that Perry should have spent time, but the governor's power is of last resort. Why is the Court system so bad as to have let it come to that? [/i]

You probably already know the answers to that, Sebastian. Because District Attorneys are elected and run based on how good their conviction rate is. Because police often lie in arrest reports and on the stand. Because once a trial conviction is obtained there's enormous bias against upsetting the status quo. Because of American culture's ideas generally on crime, punishment, the penal system, etc.

Imagine you're the governor and you get an 11th hour phone call from an attorney representing a condemned inmate saying he's got a new expert report that proves his client's innocence. I wouldn't read it.

This is wrong. I feel strongly about this.

I was a clerk for a federal judge, and I read every eleventh-hour filing that landed on my desk. So did my boss, so far as I know -- though it was my job to tell him which ones needed more attention than others. And a few of those executions did get stayed.

A state governor's office can afford someone competent to do that job. And when that person sees something that needs further inquiry, the governor should put the brakes on the process.

It's true that the capital defense bar always files last-minute stay requests. Part of that is because a stay is a win -- the client lives another day.

But another part is because those very dedicated attorneys are starved for resources and the time and attention always have to go to cases that need it immediately.

You don't know which kind of situation you're dealing with unless you read the papers. That's why you read the papers. That's all there is to it.

Imagine you're the governor and you get an 11th hour phone call from an attorney representing a condemned inmate saying he's got a new expert report that proves his client's innocence. I wouldn't read it.
Why not? If you're the governor, signing death warrants is your job, as is hearing the last minute appeals for clemency. I don't particularly like dealing with last minute requests in my job either, but I realize that this is what I get paid for. No one's forcing Gov. Perry to be governor.

Why is the Court system so bad as to have let it come to that?

Texas is notorious for having extremely incomptetant defense attorneys, yet for the current Supreme Court an attorney sleeping through a case, for instance, doesn't mean the defendant didn't get a "fair trial"! Why it so bad, others have said, but it is, without a doubt, very, very bad.

Killing somebody should never be pro forma, and even though 11th hour appeals to the governor are common, it is the governors job to read the appeal.
This gets at the heart of it. Even if the last-minute appeal has all the hallmarks of being obvious arrant nonsense, if you have taken the responsibility of deciding whether a human being will be killed then you've taken the obligation to do everything you can to be sure that you're not making a terrible, unrepairable mistake.

It's like they say: execute in haste, repent at leisure.

This is one of the best definitions of evil I have read in a long time.

Seconded. The mentality of the murder bureaucrat.

The motion is carried.

You guys are assuming that the governor has infinite time. Yeah, in a perfect world he'd read every single document personally five times before making a decision. But the real world doesn't work that way. Given time constraints, I think it could--emphasis could--be rational for Perry not to read it, given the low probability of merit such last minute filings tend to have.

Irrumator, if five pages is too much for Perry to read when a man's life is at stake, he is clearly too busy to govern Texas. And no, it is not "rational" to assume that a last minute filing has no merit. It is gross negligence.

Irrumator, we're not assuming the governor has infinite time. We're just placing a very high value on human life, especially when that life is going to be ended as a premeditated and carefully controlled action of the state, rather than as an indirect effect of some policy decision or in a spur-of-the-moment action over which the governor has limited control.

Also, I don't think most of us would criticize the governor if they were to delegate the reading of the last-minute appeal - so long as they did so in an appropriately sincere manner, giving the responsibility to someone they respect and who will take it seriously and to whom they will listen.

You guys are assuming that the governor has infinite time.

I'm going to use that one next time I get an inevitable call for last minute changes on a project!

Irrumator, this is a known quantity. In the execution of his duties as Governor, Perry knows that there will be an inevitable last-minute appeal. Even for Texas, there are not that many executions, and it is known when they are going to come up the pipeline for the governor to sign. It is reasonable to assume that someone whose job description is to handle such things would be capable of setting aside time to deal with it. widget's example is a good one: people whose job description entails dealing with inevitable last minute appeals take that into account for their job.

Now you're just engaging in emptyheaded excusemaking to be argumentative.

It's a well known fact that Louisiana law is based upon the Napoleonic Code rather than on English Common Law.

It's a lesser known fact that Texas law is actually based on the Cardassian legal system:

Every suspect is guilty before even appearing in court, their sentence already spelled out – almost always either death or imprisonment in a harsh labor camp. The criminal is given a Conservator, equivalent to a public defender, except that the Conservator is not supposed to win but to prepare the criminal for a moving confession of guilt on the floor of the court.... The Chief Archon, or judge, of the court plays to a televised audience, their duty not to judge the prisoner's innocence or guilt, but rather to give an emphatic display of the futility of crime on Cardassia and reinforce the public's trust in the judicial system. (Memory">http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Cardassian">Memory Alpha)

You guys are assuming that the governor has infinite time.

I'm assuming that the governor has time - or makes time - to perform the most important elements of his job. (Given that in Texas the state legislature does most of the heavy lifting of day-to-day governance and that the governorship of Texas is little more than a bully pulpit, yeah, I'll wager Perry had time.)

What's more important than making sure that someone isn't wrongfully killed?

mightygodking raises a valid point: what else is occupying Gov. Perry's precious time that reading last-minute appeals for clemency are too burdensome for him? I'm interested in hearing from Irrumator what other pressing issues facing the office of the governor are typically at hand that only a few minutes twice a month can be made for dealing with these issues. He sounds like he has personal knowledge of the pressing duties of Gov. Perry at the time, so I am rather interested in hearing about them.

Another thing we forget is that the governor is supposed to play a role in the judiciary system. In this day and age when the courts have limited authority to hear appeals, the executive branch is supposed to act as a escape valve in the event that evidence of a client's innocence can no longer be heard by the court system, so his administration should be putting time in, as such actions are an integral part of his gubernatorial duties, just as we expect courts to sift through all briefs handed to them.

I'm interested in hearing from Irrumator what other pressing issues facing the office of the governor are typically at hand.

For Christ's sake he's the governor of a major state! You doubt he has other responsibilities?

Another thing we forget is that the governor is supposed to play a role in the judiciary system. In this day and age when the courts have limited authority to hear appeals, the executive branch is supposed to act as a escape valve in the event that evidence of a client's innocence can no longer be heard by the court system

This is just plain false. What do you mean this day and age where courts have limited time to hear appeals? The Fifth Circuit heard his appeal in full before he was executed. It rejected his appeal. The governor has the power to pardon, but he has no obligation to exercise this power, and it doesn't make him part of the judiciary.

For Christ's sake he's the governor of a major state! You doubt he has other responsibilities?
You assert this. Molly Ivins, who undoubtedly forgot more about Texas politics and government than everyone commenting here put together, even the Texans like Publius, frequently asserted that the most important official in the Texas government was the Lieutenant Governor, and that the Governor was little more than a figurehead. Sadly, Molly is no longer among the living to defend that proposition, but she had a pretty good track record. What leads you to assert that the Governor of Texas indeed is bowed down with the weight of his many responsibilities?

You also haven't responded to JustMe's excellent point that the last-minute appeal was predictable and the time to read it could have been planned for and set aside.

And while it's interesting that you feel that the Governor's power to pardon does not confer any responsibility to contemplate using it, even when a life is at stake, reasonable people might disagree. In any case, the fifth circuit to whose sign-off on this execution you give so much weight is that same court that ruled that a death penalty defendant had no right to representation by an attorney who's actually conscious. So you'll perhaps pardon me if I'm less than reassured by their approval of an execution.

This is just plain false.
I do really wish you would inform yourself before taking part in this conversation. The courts have made an effort to limit the number of appeals and the ability of defendants to go "back to the well" in order to argue their innocence in the name of "finality." One can make defensible arguments in favor of this, and one of those defensible arguments is that the executive branch is at liberty of offering clemency or pardons outside of the justice system when all of the trappings of a supposed 'fair trial' are in place but a verdict comes down at odds with the actual guilt of the defendant. So in fact it is one of Gov. Perry's core duties to fulfill this role as a escape valve to intervene when the courts are no longer able to do so.

Molly Ivins, who undoubtedly forgot more about Texas politics and government than everyone commenting here put together, even the Texans like Publius, frequently asserted that the most important official in the Texas government was the Lieutenant Governor, and that the Governor was little more than a figurehead. Sadly, Molly is no longer among the living to defend that proposition, but she had a pretty good track record. What leads you to assert that the Governor of Texas indeed is bowed down with the weight of his many responsibilities?

I did not know that. If the governor is a figurehead, then why aren't people blaming the lieutenant governor. Do you have any cite for that in terms of the actual powers held by both men?

I did not know that. If the governor is a figurehead, then why aren't people blaming the lieutenant governor.
Because the pardon power is one power that the governor does indeed have.
Do you have any cite for that in terms of the actual powers held by both men?
I'm pretty sure that Ivins addressed this in her collected columns and/or in her 2000 biography of Dubya, at least briefly, but I haven't read them in years and years. If I recall correctly, Ivins actually considered the statutory power of the Texas Governor left them less important than several other statewide elected officials, not just the lieutenant governor.

There's always Wikipedia, of course:
Lieutenant Governor

The Lieutenant Governor of Texas is the second-highest executive office in the government of Texas, a state in the United States of America. It is considered the most powerful post in Texas government because its occupant controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the Legislative Budget Board. ... The Lieutenant Governor is elected separately from the Governor, rather than on the same ticket
It may be significant that, unlike the Lieutenant Governor Of Texas, the Governor of Texas doesn't seem to have a Wikipedia article describing his job; the following appears in a preface to a Wikipedia article listing Texas Governors:
Compared to the governors of other US states, the Governorship of Texas is often cited as a fairly weak office. Indeed, in some respects it is the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, who presides over the state legislature, who is a more powerful political figure able to exercise greater personal prerogatives.

The Lieutenant Governor of Texas is the second-highest executive office in the government of Texas, a state in the United States of America.(emphasis added)

Well, the Wikipedia article says he's the second highest executive, with the governor the first. The notion that the Lieutenant Governor is more important is based entirely on his control over the legislative branch. The Governor is still the highest executive, which is far different from your claim that "the Governor was little more than a figurehead." And how do you know Ivins wasn't talking specifically about W., who was "little more than a figurehead" as President?

Bold

/B /Bold

Ivins was talking about the office, not the man. And, of course, figureheads can be important - they're just not overloaded with official duties.

Copied by hand from Amazon's Look Inside function of pages xii-xiii of the paperback edition of Ivins's Dubya biography:

The single most common misconception about George W. is that he has been running a large state for the past six years. Texas has what is known in political science circles as "the weak-governor system." You may think this is just a Texas brag, but our weak-governor system is a lot weaker than anybody else's. Although the governor does have the power to call out the militia in the case of an Indian uprising, by constitutional arrangement the governor of Teas is actually the fifth most powerful statewide office: behind lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, and land commissioner but ahead of agriculture commissioner and railroad commissioner. Which is not to say it's a piddly office. For one thing, it's a bully pulpit.
There's also a longer footnote there that I didn't bother to transcribe.

It's hardly germane to divagate through exactly who is the more powerful official in Texas. What matters is the power Perry had in this case, and how he failed in his duty, and then followed up by attempting to rig the relevant commission. Could we please get back to the point of the thread, rather than debating the lieutenant governorship and other diversions?

Marty,
It is interesting that, in the three days between the original letter and the last minute submission to the Governor, the 5th Circuit held that the very brief document was "no more than an opinion". Yet, the Governor is taking the heat for the rapid response.

The courts are often limited by their procedures and processes- see eg Herrera v Collins Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s majority opinion held that a claim of actual innocence based on newly discovered evidence did not state a ground for federal habeas relief.
The governor's clemency does not have such limitations; in fact, I have heard those sorts of procedural limitations on the courts defended on the grounds that the executive has the power of clemency outside of the court system and thus safeguards against situations such as 'acutal innocence.'

So we shouldn't dismiss Perry's indifference by saying he was relying on the courts- at least, not if he or his staff has any knowledge about how the judicial system works.

were the governor to restrict himself to truly last-ditch appeals, would it be asking too much that he take the time to review one every two weeks?
and
You guys are assuming that the governor has infinite time.

I dont know why people are assuming that this needs to be carried out personally by the governor.
Once we remove that arbitrary limitation, there's no reason some trusted member of his staff couldn't have made time to read and process a 5-page document.

I agree that Perry should have spent time, but the governor's power is of last resort. Why is the Court system so bad as to have let it come to that?

It's true that not enough attention is being placed on the malfunctions of the courts (public defenders, the "expert" witness system, etc). But that doesn't exonerate the governor at all- if anything, flaws in the system ought to emphasize his role as a last resort rather than rendering it pro forma.

It's exactly germane to divagate the respective powers of Texas officeholders. That's the heart of the whole thread. It goes directly to what other responsibilities Rick Perry had, which is what determines whether it was rational or not to ignore this filing in light of those other responsibilities.

In that respect, I don't think the jacket cover of a Molly Ivins book is a definitive source. If someone can show me evidence that Perry had nothing better to do I'll change my mind.

The "culture of life" kills, again!

God Bless their wonderful & righteous souls.

Irrumator,
(1) It's not the jacket cover. You could try clicking the link. Or even just noticing that I gave page numbers. If it matters, it's from the preface to the original edition.
(2) You are the one who's been asserting that he had loads of other responsibilities. I found a plausible authority who disagreed. Maybe she was wrong - but you haven't bothered to seek any evidence this is so, or to find any plausible authorities who assert this is so.
(3) Even if we were to grant that he had loads of other responsibilities - which appears suspect - there's the issue of whether they were more important than a man's life. Why do you say "nothing better to do" than consider whether to save a man's life?
(4) There's also the issue that JustMe raised, that the last-minute appeal was predictable and time could have been set aside for it.

The "culture of life" kills, again!

God Bless their wonderful & righteous souls.

That angle has already been discussed extensively on the other Perry thread. It's just threadjacking to bring it up here again.

"(4) There's also the issue that JustMe raised, that the last-minute appeal was predictable and time could have been set aside for it."

There is also the distinct possibility that the time was spent before the faxed document arrived, like when it was presented to the 5th circuit.

So we shouldn't dismiss Perry's indifference by saying he was relying on the courts-
You do have to admit that the courts and the governor have set up a nice racket when something goes wrong, though. The courts can say, "there's nothing we can do! a fair trial is a fair trial! The executive can intervene in these cases!" allowing the governor to say, "the courts have spoken! They made the decision!"

Irrumator has long been in the willfully obtuse phase of the discussion. I am not sure what further use pressing the issue will be, except for the edification of outside observers.

Warren Terra,

I think the statement that the governor of a major state is presumptively valid as a matter of common sense. If you want to argue otherwise it's incumbent on you to provide evidence. I was looking for something along the lines of statutes or scholarly analysis. Molly Ivins was a populist windbag, and I don't see why anyone should trust her assertions without corroboration. This is a disreputable woman who had the habit of comparing her adversaries to Hitler.

Irrumator, it is not germane to engage in a meandering consideration of what Molly Ivins may or may not have said in re: Bush II. We know what Perry's powers are, and what he did or did not do. Rambling through the administrative structure of Texas adds nothing to the discussion of Perry's misconduct. If you disagree, explain what the relevance of the Lt Governor etc. is to this specific case.

Look, I don't usually go around calling people trolls, but "Irrumator" is clearly a troll, and people should stop encouraging him. His repulsive puerile handle alone ought to put him beyond the pale (once you look it up, I admit that my otherwise respectable vocabulary didn't previously sink to those depths - now I want to wash my brain with soap).

Irrumator,
Needless to say, I don't agree with any of your 3:41 PM. I'm not even sure I understand the first sentence, but I'm sure I don't agree with it.

You say you're "looking for something along the lines of statutes or scholarly analysis". Well, I welcome your intention to look. I haven't seen any evidence that you're actually looking for anything; certainly, you haven't cited anything.

Molly Ivins was certainly a populist, and loved to talk. Like many others, I loved to listen to her. Does this make her a windbag? She always seemed to me to be saying something worth hearing, so I'm inclined not to think so. As to whether "anyone should trust her assertions without corroboration", you seem inclined to distrust her assertions without corroboration, which hardly seems better. Her opinions about the structure of Texas's government hardly seem likely to be dishonest or even to be partisan - do you really think that if Bush had been exerting massive levels of executive power for six years she wouldn't instead have attacked the decisions he'd made? And I'm not aware that she "had the habit of comparing her adversaries to Hitler" - the closest and indeed the only example I can recall offhand is her memorable quip about Buchanan's 1988 convention address, and I've read many hundreds of pages of Molly Ivins.

I guess it's difficult to slander a public figure, though, and impossible to slander a dead one.

Irrumator, it is common knowledge in Texas that the position of governor was deliberately made a relatively weak position in the state constitution of 1876 (as a reaction to the strong state governments in the Reconstruction era, which had the temerity to insist upon equal rights for blacks). If you are not from Texas, there is no reason why you would already know this, but if you can't be bothered to Google up the state constitution then please accept Publius' word for it.

Byrningman, I've been humoring Irrumator, although I agree with you about the disgusting nature of that handle, because although I saw Irrumator engage in behavior I would label as Trollish over the weekend I figured that it would only be fair to give it a fresh start since the commenting rules were reiterated yesterday. And - until it slandered the late Ms. Ivins - its comments have been rational, have lacked profanity or other offensiveness, and have been at least related to the topic. But I certainly take the point that at some point I stopped responding to a disagreement and started perpetuating a threadjack. Sorry.

Warren Terra,

I wasn't trying to slander Ms. Ivins. I was just saying that I'm not sure she's the best source. I glad that you recognize I'm arguing in good faith and not trolling, however.

its comments have been rational, have lacked profanity or other offensiveness, and have been at least related to the topic.

Warren Terra, no need to apologise to me, I just fear for your sanity!

In all seriousness though, the handle is so obnoxious, it's a deliberate attempt to offend with every post. I wouldn't let a student stay in my class if he dropped his trousers and was waving his penis about, even if he happened to be making superbly-well arguments and profound observations as he did so.

But I've made my point, so I'll leave it at that and won't bring it up again, not least because accusations of trolling can be almost as tedious as trolling itself.

Noise,

Out of every hundred people executed in this country, how many innocent ones are you willing to execute? You seem to have a much higher tolerance for injustice than I have.

Should someone posting with the handle "Noise Machine" and linking to Glenn Beck's site really be taken seriously? If someone starts posting as "Ima Troll" or "Just Joking", will they similarly be accepted as actually trying to make an argument?

The excuse that Perry was too busy to read five pages even when a man's life was a stake rang a distant bell in my head. It took a minute and then I remember: Reagan could take time to rwead a fifteen page report about all the soldiers who died in Lebanon as a result of his orders.

Bottom line: people who persume to get themseles into leadership positions need to be willing to do the work, especially on issues of human life and even more especially if said person is going to claim to be "pro life".

Sheesh.

Should someone posting with the handle "Noise Machine" and linking to Glenn Beck's site really be taken seriously?

That presupposes an important and highly debatable point.

Reagan could NOT take time.

Sheesh again.

"That presupposes an important and highly debatable point."

Which point is that Slarti?

Should someone posting with the handle "Noise Machine" and linking to Glenn Beck's site really be taken seriously? If someone starts posting as "Ima Troll" or "Just Joking", will they similarly be accepted as actually trying to make an argument?

I think anyone should be able to pick any handle they want and link to whatever websites they want to make their argument.

And then if the mods won't ban trolls, it would be helpful if the rest of us would just ignore them.

If someone starts posting as "Ima Troll" or "Just Joking", will they similarly be accepted as actually trying to make an argument?

Depends of what is in the posts. There are quite respectable persons that use 'Troll' in their pseudonyms over here (admittedly they chose that handle before the net became popular or even existed). I think 'ir.ru.ma.tor' is uncommon enough to not draw suspicion (and revulsion) instantly unlike e.g. "Teh Awsome Baby Rapist" or "Proud Slut-Slapper".
Personally, I think what Irrumator's posts display is a mentality so common in the US (and especially in positions of influence) that it partially explains my lack of desire to cross the pond to get there (or even to make a stopover there while going to e.g. Canada). I also think that the power over life and death should not be given to anyone in a society where such callousness is prevalent.
As said before, I vote for the ancient Chinese model: False convictions should carry the same penalty that was inflicted on the falsely convicted for anyone involved. Execution of an innocent? Hang the judges, the prosecutor, the jury*, false witnesses and the executive not acting to prevent the miscarriage of justice.

*unless there are really good reasons against. Being fooled ist not one of those.

And then if the mods won't ban trolls

I think we're all inclined to cut everyone slack. Even when it's regular commenters who ought to know better, misbehaving.

If regulars can regularly ride the gray area where posting rules are not clearly violated, so can trolls. If the regulars want better policing, there's a downside.

Which way do you want it? Do you want slack, or no slack?

Since we are talking about trolling, there are times to let the line out and times to reel it in. Consistency 100% of the time not only doesn't happen, it gets frustrating trying to pretend it does.

(This isn't a slam in any way, I'm hugely grateful for you taking this on and I hope that people realize what a pita this kind of work is, so will take a request to chill out from you seriously)

I'd be a poor moderator indeed, if I couldn't take suggestions or criticism.

It's a decent point. I'll allow it, for now :)

But otherwise, 11th hour capital filings are usually just frivolous. They're seriously a waste of time.

This is utterly disgusting. At first I thought it was praiseworthy snark, but now I see it's simply an appalling indifference to the value of human life. The phrase "the banality of evil" comes to mind.

There is nothing frivolous--ever--about ensuring that you are about to irrevocably kill the right human being. You don't get a do-over.

Note this attitude well the next time death penalty apologists try to claim that the imperfection of the system is acceptable because of the checks and balances in it. This is one of those checks--and you are asserting that it doesn't matter because it's usually a "frivolous ... waste of time."

The difference between saying this, and extending that to saying that a jury trial for someone who's obviously guilty is a waste of time, is a matter of degree, not kind.

Oviously, it's not legitimate to dismiss all last minute filings in a capital case as a "frivolous . . . waste of time" when the case under discussion presents a clear example of a last minute filing in a capital case which was not a frivilous waste of time.

Imagine a quality inspector at a manufacturering plant. 99.9% of the parts the inspector examines are just fine, but 0.1% of the time, the parts have a flaw that could cause a fatal accident. Would the inspector be justified in blowing off his job and taking a nap rather than inspecting parts?

And this gentleman's name is a gross obscenity in Latin, which to my mind, violates the posting rules here, although of course my opinion on such matters is not worth the paper its printed on.

Note this attitude well the next time death penalty apologists try to claim that the imperfection of the system is acceptable because of the checks and balances in it. This is one of those checks--and you are asserting that it doesn't matter because it's usually a "frivolous ... waste of time."
The pattern we're seeing is to eliminate things like appeals and the like by pointing out that there are still "checks on the system." And then the next step is invariably to claim that the checks on the system are a waste of time or interfere with justice.

I am astonished (okay, not really) that people are really arguing the governor didn't have time to read the last-minute appeal. He has made it perfectly clear in subsequent remarks that the issue wasn't time pressure; it's that he believed the man was guilty as charged and deserved to die.

Kay Bailey Hutchinson, who is solidly pro-death penalty, pointed out that Perry has just made himself the poster child for the anti-death penalty camp. She's right. When your attitude is "screw it, I'm late for dinner", you have conceded that the real reason you support the death penalty is that you do not value human life.

The Fifth Circuit heard his appeal in full before he was executed. It rejected his appeal.

If by this you mean that the appeal was dismissed on the same day it was filed, without any hearing, then yes.

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Whatnot


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