Wednesday, March 23, 2005

OH Really George?

From today's Washington Post

This is a complex case with serious issues, but in extraordinary circumstances
like this, it is wise to always err on the side of life.(Applause.)

-George W. Bush, Governor of Texas issuing one of his many death row

Okay, Not Really. No, that was our Dear Leader today, explaining his decision to sign the Schaivo bill to a crowd in Houston

Now since the president didn't burst into flames on the spot, we can only assume whatever celestial entity was in charge of the SMITE button fell asleep, and we'll be charitable and assume the attendant press was too busy getting out of lightening strike range to ask the proper follow-up questions. Which leaves us to do it for them:

The Irony of W's commitment to the "Culture of Life" even though he presided over 152 executions In Texas (an all time record since the founding of the Republic) Has already been noted.

I'm far more interested in his assertion that it is "Best to Err on the Side of Life". A noble sentiment and one I wholeheartedly agree with. But one that's a little difficult to see in his record . in the words of the late great Warner Wolf...."lets got to the Video tape" :

Bush approved the execution of Odell Barnes, whose court-appointed lawyers
failed to interview witnesses who might have helped their client, and conducted
no scientific investigation of blood and semen evidence the state said linked
Barnes to the crime
Hmmm. Well, maybe an aberration, Let's try again:

Bush signed off on the execution of Canadian Joseph Stanley Faulder, convicted
of murdering a wealthy oil heiress, despite the fact that theprosecutor had been
hired and paid for by the victim's family , and that the state had withheld
evidence that its principal witness waspaid more than $10,000 to testify against Faulder
. The state's chief psychiatric witness, whose testimony was essential to securing a death sentence, was later expelled from the American Psychiatric Association for presenting unprofessional testimony in Texas death penalty cases.

Nope. No "erring on the side of Life" there. Maybe he was just getting warmed up. He'll get it this time:


Bush also did not pardon Betty Lou Beets, a 62-year-old grandmother. Beets was
eligible for a death sentence under Texas law because she wasconvicted not only
of murder but of aggravated murder. {aggravation wasbased on} the state's claim
that she killed her husband in order to recover his insurance and pension
benefits. Without the aggravation,Beets could not legally be condemned to death.
Beets' attorney, E. Ray Andrews (who later served a three-year federal
prison sentence, never told the jury that Beets didn't even know about the
insurance policy on her husband at the time he was murdered. She learned of it
more than a year later thanks to Andrew himself.
Andrews had obtained the
literary and movie rightsto Beets' life story in lieu of payment for defending
her. Had he revealed her ignorance of the insurance policy, he would have had
towithdraw from the case and testify on her behalf. That would have also meant
losing lucrative rights to Beets' story

Nope. A clean whiff. Still, I'm sensing a pattern:

Bush refused to stop the execution of James Beathard, whose co-defendant, Gene
Hathorn Jr., recanted his testimony following Beathard's conviction and said he,
not Beathard, had been solely responsible for the murder of three members of
Hathorn's family. TheTexas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to grant Beathard a
new trial because state law requires that new evidence be presented within
30days after a judgment is entered. Hathorn's recantation came 11 months too

Aha! Now it makes sense. Apparently, Bush only errs on the side of life in complex cases. In the ones where the evidence of the person's innocence is overwhelming, then its perfectly fine to "err on the side of Death". yes it all becoming much clearer:

Bush also failed to intercede on behalf of Andrew Cantu, who ended up
representing himself after two lawyers assigned to his case withdrewand a third
never even interviewed the defendant, claiming he didn't know where to find him.
(He apparently didn't try death row.) Cantuwas executed without either state or
federal habeas corpus review ofhis claims.

See? that was A simple case, none of those lengthy Due Process appeals or nuthin'. Just like this next case. It was real simple, no confusing evidence at all to consider:

In 1997, Bush approved the execution of David Spence for the grisly stabbing
deaths of three teenagers, despite evidence that Spence mayhave been framed by
police and the lack of physical evidence linking him to the crime.

It all fits. And it also explains his remarkable efficency in presiding over the State's death factory. With the invaluable assistance of Our Attorney General Al "what torture?" Gonzales; W was able to make simple even the most complex cases removing anye need to "err on the side of life" For Example

In 1995, a one-eyed drifter named Henry Lee Lucas was headed for execution by
injection in a Texas prison for the murder of an unnamed womanThe task of
recommending whether then-Gov. George W. Bush should grant a reprieve or commute
Lucas's death sentence fell to Alberto R.Gonzales, In a memo Gonzales marshaled
a case for Lucas's guilt... Left out of Gonzales's summary was any mention of a
1986 investigation bythe Texas attorney general's office that concluded that
Lucas had not killed the woman

And Gonzo was invaluable in reducing to its bare essentials the famous "sleeping Lawyer" case:

Carl Johnson was executed in September 1995, during the first year that Governor
Bush was in office, Mr. Johnson was represented by alawyer named Joe Cannon, who
slept through the major portions of the trial and who was apparently notorious
in legal circles for thisbehavior. In his challenges appealing the trial and
conviction, Mr. Johnson argued consistently that he had had ineffective
assistance ofcounsel, primarily based on the sleeping lawyer who represented him at trial. Gonzales one-page summary of the case made no mention of these claims.

I could go on but that's enough. I'm getting a little sick.

The sanctimony surrounding this issue is overwhelming. The Republicans and W in particular love to parrot the phrase "Culture of Life" at every opportunity to Bad they've obviously never read Evangelium Vitae where that catchy phrase originates. Seems the Pope s worried about just a bit more than feeding tubes :

"whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation,
torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself;
{Cough Abu Gharib, Gitmo, Salt Pit, "extraordinary renditions"cough}

whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions,
arbitrary imprisonment, deportation,
{ Jose Padillia, the thousands of Arabs
rounded up after 9/11

as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and
responsible persons;

{ Bankruptcy Bill, Social Security privatization, }

all these things are infamies indeed. They poison human society and they do more harm to those who practice them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator",.5

Are you Listening George?


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