— Andrew Sullivan, on Rick Perry.
Rick Perry has done something his opponents have been hoping he’d do for years: retire. But it’s not what the governor’s detractors had in mind.
Perry officially retired in January so he could start collecting his lucrative pension benefits early, but he still gets to collect his salary — and has in turn dramatically boosted his take-home pay.
Perry makes a $150,000 annual gross salary as Texas governor. Now, thanks to his early retirement, Perry, 61, gets a monthly retirement annuity of $7,698 before taxes, or $6,588 net. That raises his gross annual salary to more than $240,000.
LTMC: Speaking as a person with no small interest in public finance, this is the sort of abuse of the public pension system that gives civic-minded municipal managers grey hairs. It is also, for that matter, something that many on America’s political Right often rave about. Pensions are not meant to be a supplemental revenue stream. Pensions are, in their purest form, intended to be a source of income to live off of when you’ve grown too old to work. Rick Perry is contributing to the same public spending problem that he has railed against on more than one occasion.
get on top of it, folks. If you know what I mean.
Yesterday the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles refused to commute the death sentence of inmate Troy Davis, who was convicted in the 1989 death of a police officer.
Who serves on such boards? Radley Balko points it out for us, quoting the Associated Press:
"Gale Buckner, a former Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent … . Robert Keller, the ex-chair of a Georgia prosecutors group … James Donald, the former head of the Georgia Department of Corrections, Albert Murray, who led the state’s juvenile justice program, and Terry Barnard, a former Republican state lawmaker."
The A.P. notes dryly that commutation is seldom granted. I’m shocked!
Troy Davis’ supporters claim that there is substantial proof that he is an innocent man; I haven’t researched that proposition enough to comment on it, but better minds than mine are concerned based on the available evidence.
I hardly see the point of a commutation review if you’re going to pack the board with hardliners, though. The board makeup appears calculated to assure that commutations are not granted — that the possibility that the executive will exercise its pardon powers will remain hypothetical. I’m not saying that such a board ought to be packed with defense lawyers. However, it ought to reflect more diversity of thought and opinion. Optimally, I think, a board ought to include someone with a background in prosecution, someone with a background in criminal defense, someone with a background in law enforcement, and a respected forensic expert who has testified for both the prosecution and the defense. The forensic expert would assist the board in evaluating arguments about forensic evidence. You might assume that the defense lawyer would always vote for clemency, but you would probably be wrong — a principled defense lawyer would help separate the meritorious arguments of ineffective assistance of counsel from the ones that are mere Monday-morning quarterbacking.
But that’s not going to happen. In the forty years that politicians have tried to convince us that “law and order” is a principled legal position rather than a crowd-pleasing political slogan, the subjects of the death penalty, commutation, and the pardon power have become not only political, but cultural. Pardon rates have plummeted since the first half of the century in the face of that culture. When the Republican debate audience roared with approval that Rick Perry’s Texas had executed 234 people, that did not represent a legal position, or a deliberate “we trust the government” sentiment, or a thought-out refutation of the evidence that Texas has relied on junk science to execute an innocent man and Rick Perry has helped cover it up. Rather, it was applause for a culturalteam, and everything that’s bundled together with that team. People tend to support their team through good times and bad, despite its warts and its players’ mistakes and misbeaviors. When people roar with approval forthe death penalty in the abstract, they’re often roaring against people who held candles in a vigil for Ted Bundy and people who think guns are icky and ought to be banned and people who think Texas is awful and backward. (Similarly, when people roar against the death penalty in the abstract, they’re often roaring against Texas and guns and anti-gay sentiments and et cetera.)
But people are not abstractions — including the people on death row, and including the victims that at least some of them murdered. Their fate ought to be governed by the rule of law, by good science, and by at least a good-faith gesture towards dispassionate evaluation, not by the winds of the culture wars.
|ROMNEY:||"But the real question is does Governor Perry continue to believe that Social Security should not be a federal program, that it's unconstitutional and it should be returned to the states or is he going to retreat from that view?"|
|CNN'S WOLF BLITZER:||"Let's let Governor Perry respond. You have 30 seconds."|
|PERRY:||"If what you're trying to say is that back in the '30s and the '40s that the federal government made all the right decision, I disagree with you. And it's time for us to get back to the constitution and a program that's been there 70 or 80 years, obviously we're not going to take that program away. But for people to stand up and support what they did in the '30s or what they're doing in the 2010s is not appropriate for America."|
|ROMNEY:||"But the question is, do you still believe that Social Security should be ended as a federal program as you did six months ago when your book came out and returned to the states or do you want to retreat from that?"|
|PERRY:||"I think we ought to have a conversation."|
|ROMNEY:||"We're having that right now, governor. We're running for president."|
|PERRY:||"And I'll finish this conversation. But the issue is, are there ways to move the states into Social Security for state employees or for retirees? We did in the state of Texas back in the 1980s. I think those types of thoughtful conversations with America, rather than trying to scare seniors like you're doing and other people, it's time to have a legitimate conversation in this country about how to fix that program where it's not bankrupt and our children actually know that there's going to be a retirement program there for them."|
|ROMNEY:||"Governor, the term ponzi scheme is what scared seniors, number one. And number two, suggesting that Social Security should no longer be a federal program and returned to the states and unconstitutional is likewise frightening."|
Photo of the Day: At last night’s GOP debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry reportedly got physical with Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) during a commercial break, walking up to his podium and grabbing his wrist.
No word on what set off the heated exchange.
Boy do I really hope this gets some media attention. Even a little boost for Paul’s campaign. We saw that 1) Ron Paul obviously scared Perry with his ad against him and 2) people disagree with Perry’s physical contact to Paul. Two good things for the campaign. They should work with it.
The best thing that could happen here is an interviewer on MSNBC or CNN or somewhere will ask him about it. Then it’ll be really out there.