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Two Great Political Reads

4 September 2011

1) Radley Balko on Rick Perry’s criminal justice record. Money quote:

Still, while Perry’s record is better than most, I still think his actions in the Willingham case should disqualify him from the White House, for a reason that goes beyond crime and the death penalty: Faced with the prospect that the state of Texas may have done the worst thing a state government can possibly do to one of its citizens, Perry has expressed resolute faith that the government got it right, refused to even consider the strong evidence indicating otherwise, and has spent the years since trying to prevent the public from knowing what happened. Again, this goes beyond capital punishment. When you consider what we’ve seen from the last two administrations on issues like torture, rendition, black sites, state secrets, the innocent detainees in Gitmo, and a host of other issues, Perry’s demonstrated instincts in the Willingham case are disturbing. And they certainly aren’t the instincts you’d hope to find in a guy claiming to run as the limited government candidate.

Balko’s an excellent writer and analyst whose view is both Libertarian and highly rational, two exceedingly rare traits. He’s well worth reading and following.

2) An absolutely devastating piece by Mike Lofgren, a long-time GOP operative who walked away from public service after 28 years, fed up by intransigent (and crazy) Republicans and weak, feckless Democrats.

One of many money quotes:

Both parties are rotten – how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats’ health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats’ rank capitulation to corporate interests – no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.

But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

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