Why Sorenson will go to jail and Perry won’t

Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson pled guilty this week to Federal charges that are likely to send him to prison. The influential Tea Party Senator accepted $73,000 from the Ron Paul campaign in 2012 to shift his endorsement from Michele Bachmann to Paul in the Iowa Caucus.

Meanwhile, Rick Perry has been indicted on flimsy charges of “abuse of office” for scheming to cut off an investigation into one of his numerous shady political deals. It is unlikely that Perry will ever even see the inside of a courtroom, much less a jail cell.

There is one very important reason why Iowa Sen. Sorenson is looking at a prison stint and Texas Gov. Rick Perry is still planning to run for President. Bribery is legal in Texas.

Both cases are complex, but each of them turns on details of their respective state laws. Iowa’s laws on public corruption provide an effective means of prosecuting those who try to buy official favors. Texas’ law does not. Though Sorenson was charged and pled under Federal indictments, those indictments related to Sorenson’s illegal efforts to protect himself from a state-level prosecution in Iowa.

Perry is operating in a state with almost non-existent laws on official corruption. With no need to conceal his actions, he doesn’t risk tripping over Federal fraud and campaign reporting requirements like Sorenson did. Rick Perry can accept millions of dollars from contributors like the late Bob Perry in return for setting up entire regulatory schemes in their favor. He can dole out millions of dollars in state “venture capital” funds to friends and donors without hiding. It’s all legal.

Bribery is effectively legal in Texas because of the carefully worded provisions of the state’s laws. First, for comparison, let’s look at how Iowa defines the offense of bribery:

[Bribery is a] benefit to a person who is serving or has been elected, selected, appointed, employed, or otherwise engaged to serve in a public
capacity, including a public officer or employee, a referee, juror, or jury panel member, or a witness in a judicial or arbitration
hearing or any official inquiry, or a member of a board of arbitration, pursuant to an agreement or arrangement or with the
understanding that the promise or thing of value or benefit will influence the act, vote, opinion, judgment, decision, or exercise of
discretion of the person with respect to the person’s services in that capacity commits a class “D” felony. In addition, a person
convicted under this section is disqualified from holding public office under the laws of this state.

Iowa retains a fairly standard definition of bribery. Here’s how Texas defines bribery:

BRIBERY. (a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly offers, confers, or agrees to confer on another, or solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept from another:

(1) any benefit as consideration for the recipient’s decision, opinion, recommendation, vote, or other exercise of discretion as a public servant, party official, or voter;

(2) any benefit as consideration for the recipient’s decision, vote, recommendation, or other exercise of official discretion in a judicial or administrative proceeding;

(3) any benefit as consideration for a violation of a duty imposed by law on a public servant or party official; or

(4) any benefit that is a political contribution as defined by Title 15, Election Code, or that is an expenditure made and reported in accordance with Chapter 305, Government Code, if the benefit was offered, conferred, solicited, accepted, or agreed to pursuant to an express agreement (emphasis added) to take or withhold a specific exercise of official discretion if such exercise of official discretion would not have been taken or withheld but for the benefit; notwithstanding any rule of evidence or jury instruction allowing factual inferences in the absence of certain evidence, direct evidence of the express agreement shall be required in any prosecution under this subdivision.(emphasis added)
……
(d) It is an exception to the application of Subdivisions (1), (2), and (3) of Subsection (a) that the benefit is a political contribution as defined by Title 15, Election Code, or an expenditure made and reported in accordance with Chapter 305, Government Code.

In Texas, as long as your bribe is reported as an official campaign contribution and you do not record the terms of the bribe in some “express agreement” anything goes. Bribery is legal in the absence of a contract.

Let’s be clear about what this means. Unlike in Iowa and other states, in Texas your campaign contributions can buy a politician’s vote so long as you do not reduce the agreement to a contract. Bribery via campaign contribution is solid, officially protected political speech in Texas.

Looking at the ethics rules for the Texas House and Senate presents an even uglier picture. Part of the trap Sorenson walked into was set by the strict ethics rules of the Iowa Senate. Texas legislators face no such obstacles.

In Texas, legislators are allowed to live off of their campaign contributions, vote on matters affecting businesses they own, and use money from donors to pay for vaguely defined “out of pocket expenses.” Texas State Senators are strictly prohibited from using campaign contributions to pay for laundry expenses. I’m not making this up. Apart from the laundry taboo, the Legislature is pretty much open for business.

Gov. Perry likes to travel the country encouraging people to relocate to Texas, touting its enviable freedom from regulation. Sen. Sorenson should have heard Perry’s call. Sorenson could have accepted that bribe from the Ron Paul campaign in Texas without going to jail. He could have used the method perfected by former Rep. Tom DeLay.

In Texas Sorenson could have accepted the money in the form of campaign contributions, used the money to pay living expenses, vacations, and other important items, and never needed to hide his activities. This is the method DeLay was using to fund his campaign to get Texas legislators to write a redistricting plan for him.

DeLay was only indicted because he was laundering corporate contributions, and doing it in a laughably sloppy manner. Bribery was never at issue because, as explained above, it isn’t illegal in Texas. DeLay ultimately walked free because a Texas Appellate Court ruled that his money laundering operation wasn’t illegal either. God bless Texas.

The lesson for Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson is that Rick Perry is right. Life is better, at least for the well-connected and the wealthy, in Texas. Sure, you can’t use campaign contributions to pay your laundry bill, but who needs that when you can launder money instead? Paying for your own dry cleaning is a small price to pay to avoid getting a taxpayer-funded orange jumpsuit.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Election 2016, Texas
79 comments on “Why Sorenson will go to jail and Perry won’t
  1. Crogged says:

    And while we blithely describe global strategy and how to fix the world (I love the Southern ‘fixing’………..)

    “Sotloff, and Foley too, went to Libya, Syria, and other dangerous locales not to cheer for more war or to agitate against it, and not to propagandize for any cause, but rather to bear honest and clear-eyed witness to the human tragedy unfolding beyond the abstracting lenses of policy and strategy through which politicians, elites, experts, the media and by extension the public, often view these “foreign” wars.”

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      (shrug) Fifty asked the question. Others responded. I’m still amazed at the contrast between those drooling over a quick and luridly violent “fix” which does little but make the rubble bounce and recruit more terrorists, and those who would rather confront the difficult root causes which encourage ISIS and those like them.

      As for Sotloff and Foley, they are heroes, no doubt — but not just for the United States. They were truly acting as global citizens.

      Should we be angry that ISIS targeted and killed them as Americans, despite their innocence and observer status? Absolutely.

      Should we view it as some kind of existential threat to our survival, or some massive damage to our national pride? Well, only if you have the outlook and perspective of a nine-year-old child.

      Sotloff and Foley knew they were operating in a dangerous area. That doesn’t make their deaths “right” or “justified”, in any way. But we don’t demand military action against BP when oil workers die, even through clear corporate negligence; we don’t leap up and down insisting on a bombing campaign against a volcano when it kills an American researcher (though it would do about as much good as catering to Megyn Kelly’s screech to “DO SOMETHING”).

      At what point do we consider it dishonest and abhorrent to keep treating the American public like spoiled and ignorant children, by providing swift but ineffective responses that are merely simplistic swaggering rather than sober solutions?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        I should probably clarify: I’m not opposing *any* form of military action. Mainly, I’m still shaking my head to clear the foam left from Tracy’s slavering enthusiasm over indiscriminate bombing.

      • flypusher says:

        I agree that doing something for the sake of doing something is a bad plan. But there have been some discrete and logical “somethings” that we should act on. For example, helping the Kurds take back the Mosul damn from those mofos.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        “treating the American public like spoiled and ignorant children”

        Yes.

      • objv says:

        Owl, believe me, I have a visceral reaction when I hear of indiscriminate bombing of civilians. My mom was eleven when WWII ended. Since she lived in an industrial area (near Hamburg) she spent a good chunk of her childhood fearing the next air raid. One night, my grandmother fell while getting into a bomb shelter. She never walked again.

        Awful as this was for my mom and her family, it would have been worse if Hitler had succeeded. Can you imagine a world where being a member of a non-Aryan race meant death? Unfortunately, massive loss of life was the only way to stop Hitler and the Nazi party.

        Sadly, our country may need to make a decision to stop ISIS. Yes, civilians will in all likelihood be injured and die, but we need to ask ourselves what it would be like if a Caliphate is established. Wouldn’t there be more long-term suffering of women and children if they were forced to live under Sharia law?

        http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/04/world/meast/isis-inside-look/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        objv claims, “Sadly, our country may need to make a decision to stop ISIS.”

        Why? Do we also need to make the decision to stop Russia through massive military action? How about North Korea? How about violent forces in Sudan? How about Boko Haram? When and why do you make the distinction? Purely on the basis of who’s convenient, not too capable of retaliation, and has a skin color or religion that enough of us don’t like?

      • objv says:

        Owl, ISIS is a more dangerous threat to the entire world. It has nothing to do with skin color. White Russian soldiers raped my father’s sisters. If I had to have feelings of revenge against any nationality, it would be towards Russians.

        I consider the religion the extremists practice a perversion of Islam. ISIS has done more harm to fellow Muslims. It is despicable how they treat women.

        Darker skin has always been more attractive to me than my own white paleness. I’m very light with bright blue eyes, but my Dad is dark for a German. His hair was pitch black when he was younger, and he has dark brown eyes and a ruddy complexion. He was always considered handsome (and still is), so I grew up associating darker skin with good looks.Who knows what contributions are in my family tree? I keep on meaning to get a genetic test done. There might be some surprises. 🙂

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        objv claims, “Owl, ISIS is a more dangerous threat to the entire world.”

        Stuff and nonsense. I suspect Ukrainians, for example, consider ISIS a far lesser threat than others they face at present. Technologists might well consider Russian or Chinese hackers a more imminent danger than ISIS. Human CO2 emissions may pose far more dire challenges to the existing world order than ISIS does.

        “White Russian soldiers raped my father’s sisters. If I had to have feelings of revenge against any nationality, it would be towards Russians.”

        And one would hope that, as a rational contributor to this blog, you understand that not all Belarusians can be held guilty for the sins of a few, particularly over the span of one or more generations. Those who call for unrestricted bombing of civilian population centers don’t seem to have quite grasped such subtleties.

        “I consider the religion the extremists practice a perversion of Islam. ISIS has done more harm to fellow Muslims. It is despicable how they treat women.”

        On those points you will get no disagreement whatsoever from me. I’m a fan of Irshad Manji’s book from several years ago titled *The Trouble with Islam*, which points out the problems Islam opened itself to when it ceased to allow questioning and criticism. Islam is in dire need of its own Reformation.

    • Owl, Objv, I’m *not* suggesting indiscriminate bombing. I am suggesting massive use of force. I’m quite content to drop leaflets advising non-combatants to get out of target X. But rather than follow up by sending in the marines (which is exactly what our enemies want, and exactly what we did in Ramadi and Fallujah), I’d send in the B-52s. Doing that sorta takes all the adventure and fun out of Jihad, if you catch my drift

      In Afghanistan and the second Gulf war we won some tactical victories (at an necessarily high cost in American lives), but we never achieved unconditional surrender. Then we ceded the field. And so here we are *again*. Maybe, just maybe, we ought to consider doing the job right this time around.

      Objv, we bombed Hamburg to oblivion in WWII. The Hamburg firestorm killed tens of thousands and incinerated 8 sq. miles of the city. That is the sad, horrific nature of total war. Then again, the Nazi concentration camps exacted an 83% casualty toll among the portion of my maternal grandsparents’ family trapped in Europe. Two out of twelve survived the war. Six million of their coreligionists didn’t.

      Was the firebombing of Hamburg (and numerous other German and Japanese cities) moral? No. Was it morally justified and necessary? Yes. That Hamburg is once again a proud, vibrant and beautiful city, part of a democratic, peaceful Germany, proves the point. We’d still be fighting Nazis today if we had applied the Bush doctrine of war in WWII, let alone the feckless dithering of Obama.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Tracy simpers, “I’m *not* suggesting indiscriminate bombing. I am suggesting massive use of force.”

        Oh, please. Tomato, tomahtoe. Your bloodlust is still quite clear.

        “In Afghanistan and the second Gulf war… we never achieved unconditional surrender.”

        Boo-hoo, you insecure wanker. The practical beds we make for ourselves in the real world, as opposed to the blood-soaked sheets that result from your neo-conservative wet dreams, are not always conducive to such simplistically absolutist standards. I realize your pitifully weak insecurities demand the ball-squeeze of such abject capitulation, but that’s more a statement about you than about real-world results.

        “Was the firebombing of Hamburg (and numerous other German and Japanese cities) moral? No. Was it morally justified and necessary? Yes.”

        Let’s acknowledge the historical fact that the firebombing of Japanese cities was worse than that of German ones. Why? Gosh, perhaps the depictions of each ethnicity in period cartoons might offer some hints. So, Tracy, even your historical examples are replete with the rancid racism that ultimately underlies most absolutist warmongers. Go right ahead and start ranting about “ragheads” so we can get a complete and honest picture of your views.

        “Certainly [the 9/11 attacks were] not [immoral] from the standpoint of Al Qaeda.”

        And so you advise, without having the balls to say it outright, that we eagerly seek the same moral level, or perhaps just lack of same, as Al Qaeda. Oh, but perhaps not:

        “[C]onsidering morality and war in the same sentence is fundamentally an exercise in cognitive dissonance…. [G]iven that war is being thrust upon us, I’d much rather go straight to total war…. Now, I’m not suggesting that we nuke ‘em….”

        Oh, why not, you pansy? You call for “total war” and then fuck around with self-imposed limitations? Really, I thought you were smart enough to avoid such obvious hypocrisy. But it seems I was wrong about you. What about all your asinine crowing about knife-fights with no rules? No, no: you just want an excuse for a Countess Bathory skin treatment, soaking in the blood of innocents to create some false image of youth and power to salve your sick vanity.

        “In war fear must precede respect…” — Ah! *Oderint dum metuant*! — “it’s simply that some are guilty, some are not, and we can’t distinguish the guilty from the innocent” — Ooh! *Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius*!

        You are utterly disgusting, and a shame to the American spirit.

      • objv says:

        Tracy, sorry for the misunderstanding. I did not connect “indiscriminate bombing” with the comment you had written.I picked it up from Owl’s post.

        I agree with you on the use of massive force. It does no good to poke at a hornet’s nest in hopes the hornets will learn to behave themselves. The nest has to be removed completely.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I don’t even know what “unconditional surrender” looks like in this region.

        We had German and Japanese governments with which to deal. Hitler was dead. We have killed any number of “leaders” of various terrorists groups, and that does moderately little to lead to surrender.

        We could get 20 various “leaders” on a boat signing a formal surrender, and there would be 20 other “leaders” not on board with the surrender.

        Heck, we could happily kill the 20 leaders and there would be 20 new leaders next week.

        When the bad guys are not associated with any government, any particular nation or arbitrary lines on a map, I’m eager to learn how we get unconditional surrender.

        There may be precedent for such things in other regions of the world, and this is absolutely not my area of expertise, so I’m open to learning it.

        OBJ…other than there being oil in the region, I’m not sure why ISIS is a greater threat to the planet than are any number of bad folks around the world.

      • flypusher says:

        “OBJ…other than there being oil in the region, I’m not sure why ISIS is a greater threat to the planet than are any number of bad folks around the world.”

        Oil, and Israel, and the fact that’s one of our major spheres of influence, so we have a whole lot of skin in that game. I find the likes of boko haram to be equally odious in their beliefs and actions, but they don’t threaten our interests so much. Now if ever the window of opportunity was there for something like a precise drone strike against some of those bastards, that would be fine. I just heard on the news that it looks that we offed the head of al shabab, who was the mastermind if that mall massecre in Kenya. Sounds like no innocents got torched either, so nice shooting!

      • Gee, Owl, did I cut a bit close to the bone? Or is ad hominem all you got? 😉

        BTW, the difference in the battle damage from incendiary bombardment in Germany and Japan had much more to do with construction materials than racism. Wood construction, rice paper shoji screens and tatami mats burn quite a bit more readily brick and mortar. But, hey, since “rancid racism” is what floats your boat, just go with it. I’d hate to see you strain what passes for your gray matter.

      • HH, you have a point, although it’s worth noting IS stands for Islamic *State*, complete with a functioning government bureaucracy. Such is the banality of organized evil.

        In effect, IS is carving out its own borders from preexisting surrounding states. If one examines history, it becomes readily apparent that this is in fact how most nations came into existence. So, yes, unconditional surrender should be the goal. A televised event hosted in the caliph’s capital city of Allepo in which he is called out onto the carpet to sign unconditional surrender documents would be most instructive for folks in that part of the world. What then becomes of IS territory is open to debate

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        flypusher claims ISIS poses a significant threat because of “Oil, and Israel, and the fact that’s one of our major spheres of influence, so we have a whole lot of skin in that game.”

        U.S. domestic production of petrofuels has grown hugely of late: I believe the U.S. is on schedule this year to produce more oil than it imports for the first time since 1995. Crude oil production in Texas has nearly doubled since 2008. Almost half of our oil imports come from Mexico and Canada. Oil is simply not the huge bugaboo that our ravenous military-industrial complex and xenophobic right-wing partisans would like to pretend it to be.

        Who cares about Israel, other than AIPAC and those they hold in feckless thrall? It’s an apartheid power that regularly spits in our face despite being the fattest piglet dangling from our foreign-aid teats, a rogue state that ignores international condemnations and threatens its neighbors with a massive military and an undisclosed nuclear-weapons program. Israel is far more a CAUSE of our problems with ISIS than a likely casualty of them.

        And “spheres of influence” is oh-so-Nineteenth-Century, wouldn’t you say? Haven’t we grown up enough as a country, and a civilization, that we don’t have to strut around in jodhpurs and play the Great Game like bullying little boys?

        Now, mind you, I don’t have any complaints about offing the al Shabaab leader in Somalia. That’s exactly the kind of action I’m claiming is far more sane than unrestricted bombing campaigns.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Tracy, it’s amusing for you to whine about ad hominem attacks when your jingoistic rhetoric regularly comes close to disclaiming all humanity.

        “BTW, the difference in the battle damage from incendiary bombardment in Germany and Japan had much more to do with construction materials than racism.”

        And, of course, if you decide to be honest for a change, you’ll admit that a major reason we used nuclear weapons on Japanese populations centers was as a demonstration to the Soviet Union, rather than as a uniquely necessary tactic to end the Pacific War. Heck, Groves’ Target Committee’s second largest consideration was “making the initial use sufficiently spectacular for the importance of the weapon to be internationally recognized….”

        “I’d hate to see you strain what passes for your gray matter.”

        This from the bomb-fellater who demands “unconditional surrender” (just like in Japan, achieved through the shock and awe of nuclear weapons), “total war”, bombing “to oblivion”, and so on, and then hypocritically demurs about the actual use of our most powerful weapons, the ones used to achieve exactly those war goals?

        The only reason you’re acting offended is that you’re pitifully unable to respond to any of the logical points I’ve raised. The more fool you.

  2. fiftyohm says:

    So gang, what do you think we should do about ISIS? I’m interested in your take. (Unless it’s playing golf.)

    • John Galt says:

      Send them to their paradise. Preferably using American bombs from above and American guns in the hands of Kurds and Iraqis. When that doesn’t work, send in the Marines. Beheading a few journalists is certainly attention-grabbing, but their barbarity towards women and children in that area is intolerable (as in, cannot be tolerated by civilized people). Bring back any Americans captured and try them for treason. Hand any British citizens over to them for the same purpose.

      • fiftyohm says:

        To your assessment, I’d add only the word, ” Now”.

      • fiftyohm says:

        By the way, I read yesterday the UN is considering forming a committee to investigate the matter.

      • flypusher says:

        Agree with all of that and I would add let’s allow /facilitate the formation of a formal state of Kurdistan. For so long the justification for propping up a tyrant in that region has been it’s the least of all the evils and it promotes stability. This looks like a golden opportunity to promote stability by supporting someone who is not a bad actor.

        If Iraq could get a government that could rise above all that Shiite-Sunni infighting, there’s another potential island of stability, but that isn’t anything we can do. The Iraqis have to do that for themselves.

        I understand there will be objections (Turkey for example). That’s what diplomacy and deal-making are for.

      • fiftyohm says:

        FP- In retrospect, Pahlavi, Assad, Hussein, the House of Saud, and numerous others did, in fact, provide regional stability for a very long time. Mind you, I’m not endorsing them of their actions – simply pointing out that vicious strongmen with their people under iron fists seem to be able to keep these regions, (regions, and not countries in any historical sense), under some measure of control.

      • John Galt says:

        “If Iraq could get a government that could rise above all that Shiite-Sunni infighting…”

        Will never happen. Shiites and Sunnis have been infighting for 1,400 years, literally since the day Muhammad died. It is not going to stop in our lifetimes. We have to force ourselves out of this “can’t we all just get along” polyanna attitude.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        JG…under Hussein, the Sunni/Shiite squabbling was kept generally to a low simmer in Iraq. While not a good situation in perfect world, I would argue it was a much better situation for a larger number of Iraqis than what we have now.

      • flypusher says:

        50- I agree that they kept order, but the price of maintaining that order kept getting higher as time went on. Compounding interest, or like trying to keep a lid on a kettle of water as the temp ratchets up and up.

        JG, I’m not optimistic about Iraq either. It’s probably best to let it split along those religious/ethnic fault lines. There may be a role for the West in mitigating some of the chaos, but trying to force Iraq to stay together strikes me as a fool’s errand.

      • John Galt says:

        Homer, you’re right. Hussein did keep sectarian strife to a minimum. He did it through a ruthless authoritarian dictatorship that suppressed dissent by the Sunni majority using unsavory means. As 50 implied, it’s effective, but not exactly the model of Middle Eastern democracy one might (naively) wish for.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        50,

        Why now?

        Serious question. What bad happens if we wait longer, watch things further shake out?

      • flypusher says:

        Bobo, I would say for the same reason you say “now” if you are afflicted with a malignant tumor. These lowlifes are now metastasizing.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Another thing is to cut off the oil revenue. with severe sanctions on all who buy it, and selective destruction of pipelines and terminals. (We can fix them later.)

    • Crogged says:

      We know who the leader is and he is dead man walking. And the next one and the next one, all the way until the Islamic fundamentalists who listen to their own version of Mohammed Robertson reach the prophesy of how the last caliphate ends, which signals the return of Mohammed. The mark of the beast, Area Code 666 and all the Western Christian fundamentalists will then realize the real truth–the answer is………..

      Beyond that, it is up to the people there as to whom they will rally around (and we should notice that ISIS isn’t particularly popular among the more settled Islamic nations). Maybe they will select someone not so keen on beheading people and declaring weird historical references as fulfilling ancient b——t, which never happens here in the good ol’ USA.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Dunno, Crogged. ISIS is not formed of extraregional fighters, by and large. They come (largely) from the local population.

      • Crogged says:

        Yes. So? Kill them all? Iraq is a fiction of a country we blew apart and now we’re supposed to delve into crap we need to let them not figure out as they have not done since 1000 AD? Get rid of the caliph, deal with the next-we can’t control what is next.

    • flypusher says:

      Also we should NEVER pay them any ransom for hostages, and we need to pressure our allies to STOP doing that. It’s a harsh decision, and I’m not without sympathy for these captives and their families, but it needs to be made.

      Sending in a SEAL team if intelligence looks promising is a good call, but can we NOT talk about any misses.

      • Crogged says:

        We shouldn’t unless we need too. It’s nice to make sweeping Hollywood declarations, but maybe paying one sect to release a prisoner exposes the hypocrisy to the foot soldier and the citizens. All of a sudden it’s not about fulfilling ancient philosophy as much as it is an organized criminal conspiracy desperate for cash. You know, kind of like when Jimmy Swaggart turned out a little differently than the image from the pulpit.

      • John Galt says:

        No, no, no, Crogged. I don’t agree with this at all. It doesn’t expose the hypocrisy if those benefitting from the funds claim they are to be used to continue fighting in Allah’s name. It provides huge incentives to continue kidnapping. It doesn’t end with just one.

      • Crogged says:

        If you consider ISIS a criminal enterprise you can spend a lot of time dealing with all the foot soldiers, or you can deal with the headquarters and try to cut the head off. And since we don’t have any concerns with constitutional niceties when dealing with enemy combatants, go for the head.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        FP…the hostage issue is a tough one. I’m not sure paying ransom provides any greater incentive to capture Americans that the incentives they already have. It might motivate more low-level players to attempt kidnappings, but I think most Americans in the region already know there already is motivation for people to take you.

        So, I think I could endorse some backdoor, fourth-party negotiations and payouts, and then after every release of a hostage, we follow it with a massive bombing of the folks likely receiving the money. The carrot is followed with a really big stick.

      • flypusher says:

        Homer- the trouble is, the European governments have paid out some really big ransoms, as in millions of dollars. That’s a major revenue stream for these scumbags. I agree that they have other reasons for capturing Westerners, so a no random policy wouldn’t stop the practice, but it would deprive them of income.

    • fiftyohm says:

      And we’ve talked about the cost of efforts like these too. Let’s consider this: From our foreign trade numbers, everyone who doesn’t participate or participates at a level below their trade level with us, gets a bill, (an assessment, if you will), when the dust clears. They can either pay it, or get slapped with import and export tariffs until the debt is retired. And the juice starts on day one. Don’t like it? Fine – go trade with ISIS, or the Norks, or whomever you please.. (Do I see this as a likely scenario? C’mon. But at least it’s making the situation somewhat “manageable”.)

      Anyone who fails to see this group as an existential threat to civilization as we know it is kidding themselves. FOUR!

      • Crogged says:

        Speaking of ‘existential threats to civilization as we know it’, ladies and gentleman, your 2016 Republican Presidential nominee, Mike Huckabee!

        No, they are not that to the West. I mean, we don’t elevate all the kids who grasp onto Scientology as evidence of a ‘growing epidemic’ and the fact that disaffected yewt do anything speaks more to youth than it does to the problem presented.

        Scary primitive fear mongering idiots I can go with, but becoming ISIS to ‘fight’ ISIS is the problem, not the solution.

      • fiftyohm says:

        A decidedly good thing, if you ask me. An actual country with historic and cultural roots!. What a concept!

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      The temptation I have with ISIS and much of the region is for containment and ignoring.

      With Gulf War One, dealing with Iraq in Kuwait was the right thing to do, but I also felt like it was an opportunity for Saudi Arabia and other allies in the region to step up and “handle their own” rather than have us do it. If Saudi Arabia was really worried about a Iraqi invasion (which was never going to happen), they could spend the dollars and resources to deal with it. We did not need to set up shop in Saudi Arabia.

      I get that we need to protect the world’s oil supply, but I think we could argue that our actions over the past 20 (and certainly 10 years) have destabilized the region more than stabilized it.

      The US (or Britain or the Soviets) were never going to “fix things” in that region. If it doesn’t happen internally, it isn’t going to happen.

      Unfortunately, “containing and ignoring” the threat is harder now than it was 20 years ago.

      So, my solution, go back in time to the 90s, and modify the US approach to the region. Would that help? Probably only a little.

      Alternative approach – relocate Israel to a nice parcel of land in Utah/Nevada. Similar terrain with fewer bombs (except our leftovers from nuke testing).

      • rightonrush says:

        “I get that we need to protect the world’s oil supply, but I think we could argue that our actions over the past 20 (and certainly 10 years) have destabilized the region more than stabilized it.”

        I agree 100%. Unfortunately we broke it so we have the obligation to “help” fix it. My emphasis is on “help”. The Gulf states have a dog in this fight against ISIL, so they need to belly on up to the bar and get more involved. I for one am tired at being at the beck and call to go it alone because of Big Oil. F–k’em, without oil sales those countries are DOD. It will force America and Europe to find alternate energy faster.

      • flypusher says:

        There are few things, in an international affairs sense, that would delight me more than being able to say to ME (from a position of not needing anything from them):” Screw you guys, we’re going home.”

        But because I’m more mature than young master Cartman, I’d add “If you ever want to join the 21st Century, you have our number.”

      • RoR, is the “you broke it you bought” analogy the only way to approach the situation? We used to utilize the concept of the punitive expedition, i.e., you sullied our nest; we’re going to *trash* yours in return. After we break it, fix it your own darn selves. Perhaps it’s past time to revive the concept of the punitive expedition.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      What should we do about ISIS?

      We should allow Iraq to cleave along ethnic and sectarian lines, into the geographical components that make logical sense rather than the arbitrary conglomeration Churchill drew on his colonialist whim.

      We should announce as a matter of executive policy that any world region which lacks a stable government with widespread international recognition cannot, by definition, have war declared against it or by it… and proceed with impunity to lob cruise missiles at and pilot unmanned drones against any armed forces within those regions (whether in Iraq or Syria, or Somalia or Sudan) who threaten either our interests or our allies.

      We should end all military aid to Israel, and strongly curtail foreign aid, until that nation agrees to either A) a two-state solution which creates an economically viable and contiguous Palestine, or, B) a one-state solution which makes Palestinian Arabs full citizens of a secular Israeli state. We should also welcome Palestine into the United Nations General Assembly, and bind it into a global trade network which gives it more to lose through violent misbehavior than it has to gain.

      We should curtail military aid to Saudi Arabia, contingent on movement toward gender equality and democracy in that nation, and on an end to support for Wahabbist elements both within and without their borders. Pakistan deserves similar measures, as do any other exporters and encouragers of violent religious conflict.

      We should deal with the fact that oil might get more expensive in the global market. Perhaps our European allies will shoulder part of the burden, or perhaps not. Meanwhile, we should launch a Manhattan-Project-scale scientific effort, funded annually by no less than a quarter of a percent of U.S. GDP (as was the original exemplar), devoted to research into new non-petroleum-based energy sources, whether those be biotech, nuclear, or space-based solar.

      And, yes, we should take reasonable steps to punish those who gratuitously and publicly slaughter innocent American citizens without the benefit of even a show trial… but not act like it’s some matter of national shame if we don’t immediately “DO SOMETHING” (in the words and case of one shrieking FOX News maven) just to be seen as taking some action, any action. Giving in to taunts from those inherently weaker than you is, itself, a sign of weakness.

      • rightonrush says:

        ⬆⬆ What Owl said. I’m as old as some of the hills, but I can still fly just about any aircraft available to the military. I’d be more than willing to pay the MF’s back for all the innocent men, women, and kids they have slaughtered.

      • Uh, Owl, the Palestinian ‘leadership’ (using the term loosely) is not interested in a ‘two-state’ solution. They want a one-state solution in which Israel no longer exists. Your option B) is the same thing.

        As for cleaving Iraq along ethnic and sectarian lines, that’s exactly what IS is doing. Of course, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette, or a radical Sunni caliphate, as the Yazidis are discovering. Note that Hitler did much the same thing, viz. with respect to Austria and Sudetenland. Just think of all this as a sort of jihadi Anschluss. And Putin’s doing much the same now in Ukraine. How cool is that? You are so very hip!

        The curious thing is, Hitler didn’t stop at cleaving his neighbors along “along ethnic and sectarian lines.” Care to make a bet on where al-Baghdadi or Putin will stop? (Or what it will take to stop them?) 😉

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Tracy, in Palestine, much like in Texas, the leadership are a bunch of corrupt, self-serving thugs. The Palestinian *people* would be happy with either solution, I suspect. But you don’t seem to care about other people. I guess that’s what being a libertarian really means: the excuse to be a navel-gazing asshole.

        As for your flagrant descent into Godwin’s Law, well, Republicans show evidence of being far closer to Nazis than anyone else in American politics.

      • “You’re thus saying there was nothing morally wrong with the 9/11 attacks.”

        Certainly not from the standpoint of Al Qaeda. Radical Islamists regard *all* of us as the enemy, and they will strike at *any* of us whenever the opportunity presents itself. Perhaps we might want to wise up and consider returning the favor. (No, this is not a matter of stooping to their level; it’s a matter of understanding that there are no rules in a knife fight.)

        Owl, et al, considering morality and war in the same sentence is fundamentally an exercise in cognitive dissonance. The resulting bewilderment displayed by our C in C regarding current events is a case in point. I’d much rather, given the option, that we not go to war. However, given that war is being thrust upon us, I’d much rather go straight to total war.

        You folks seem to think I delight in slaughtering non-combatants, that I have little regard for those whose lives we end. That’s false. Say rather that I hold the lives of our own citizens and soldiers in higher regard, and I’m not willing to trade American lives to preserve the lives of our enemies, be they combatants or non-combatants.

        Unleashing the full fury of our military capacity on our enemies is likely to save lives (both ours and theirs) in the long run. If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting. If you kill a whole bunch of them in a hurry, and do so in a way that demonstrates the utter futility of continuing to fight, they stop fighting that much sooner. (That, after all, was the entire point of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.) Now, I’m not suggesting that we nuke ’em, but I am most definitely suggesting that we eschew fighting them mano a mano, street-to-street, house-to-house, as we did in Ramadi and Fallujah. B-52s are a wonderful contrivance paid for by our tax dollars; we ought to employ them vigorously.

        HH, I am most definitely suggesting that they need to fear us more than the local bad guys. I’ve said as much directly in prior posts. In war fear must precede respect; in peace respect must precede friendship. That’s the lesson of our relationships with Germany and Japan.

        Fly, it’s not guilt by association, it’s simply that some are guilty, some are not, and we can’t distinguish the guilty from the innocent. That is, by definition, what makes war so ugly and morally repugnant. What I’m trying to get across is that we should quit pretending that we can make war clean and morally pleasant. We can’t. So embrace the suck, and do what needs doing to make it all as brief and unambiguously decisive as possible. Be cruel to be kind, if you will.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        TT…I get what you are saying about fearing us more than they fear their local warlord.

        I’m just thinking that to achieve that level of fear will take almost an unprecedented level of munitions for an unpleasantly long period of time.

    • Well, it is kinda interesting to watch the gang coming around to the LeMay POV. One supposes my tolerance for head lopping is just a tad lower that the rest of y’all. 😉

      So, uh, Bobo, how many more Americans have to get their heads chopped off before you get your dander up? Just curious.

      • flypusher says:

        Actually Tracy, I’d rather go with the Powell Doctrine.

        Damn shame Bush 43 didn’t.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Tracy’s slavering adoration toward indiscriminate civilian bombing sounds for all the world like the supporters of Officer Darren Wilson who idolize his “good kill” of Michael Brown.

      • Owl, the terrible, ugly truth of the matter is that the German populace tolerated and/or were complicit in the rise of the Nazis. The same was true of the Japanese populace and Imperial Japan. The same is true today with the IS. Do you not think that Saudi Arabia could just as easily be supplying close air support to the IA as us? I urge you to cogitate for a few minutes on why this is not the case.

        It is a modern, peculiarly American conceit to consider civilian populations in the regions that spawn terrorists to be pure as the driven snow. Nothing could be further from the truth. The IS rolled across the Sunni portions of Iraq because many of the locals were supportive or at least tolerant of their aims.

        In short, civilian targets are, in many cases, legitimate targets of war, and particularly in situations where the civilian populace aids and shelters combatants.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        You’re thus saying there was nothing morally wrong with the 9/11 attacks.

        What an ethical giant you have proven to be.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        There is pretty big room to quibble here about civilians being legitimate targets for war. The folks hijacking planes certainly felt that civilians in NYC were legitimate targets for war, and I don’t think we would agree with their characterization.

        I don’t think anyone here would argue that much of (if not most) of the civilian populations in the region are at least tolerant of some of the really bad folks. Many may even be supportive of those bad folks.

        However, I think it is highly likely that the tolerance/support is more of a “please just leave me the heck alone and don’t hurt/kill me or my loved ones” kind of tolerance/support rather than “death of those folks several thousand miles away who don’t believe in the same set of gods as me”. The civilians are in positions of more immediate danger (or opportunity for benefit) from the local bad guys than they are from us.

        I’m not sure that makes them legitimate targets for war.

        TT, your position suggests we need to make them fear us more than they fear the local bad guys, and that is going to take a lot of bombs (and likely troops) to make that happen.

        Plus, I’m pretty sure killing a bunch of civilians in a country or two probably generates a fair amount of enemies in a bunch of other countries.

        In general, I believe people get the government they deserve. If the folks in the region are OK with the bad guys, more power to them, as long as we can isolate the badness to not harm legitimate US interests and swat the badness when it does interfere with our interests.

        I would like to think we could do that without laying waste to a chunk of the civilian population in the region.

        If we want to nation build, sure, we’ll have to kill them all and start over again, but I doubt

      • flypusher says:

        “It is a modern, peculiarly American conceit to consider civilian populations in the regions that spawn terrorists to be pure as the driven snow. Nothing could be further from the truth. ”

        You sound like you’re indulging in the polar opposite conceit that they are all equally guilty via association (or proximity), which is equally far from the truth.

    • texan5142 says:

      Nuke um!

  3. Paul Johnson says:

    Perry/Bush should be a lesson in how not to run a government. Maybe Abbott or Davis can prevail. Abbott, as we all know, is spending public tax dollars suing the POTUS every day of the week. Besides campaigning, that is what he does. He also sued, and won for $7 million in damages received while loitering under a tree in River Oaks during a rain storm, but then leveraged that money into a public position and then cutting off tort payouts for a payout of less than $250k statewide for tort cases, no matter what the actual damages may be.

    CPRIT is also a HUGE issue with an HUGE oversite issue for Abbott. $10’s of millions, being redirected to his donors companies. Some of them employing relatives.?

    Hey Greg, you don’t think we are checking up on you or what?

    • John Galt says:

      Abbott is mostly using the AG’s budget as part of his campaign chest, pleasing his base by suing everyone remotely connected to Washington or abortion rights.

      CPRIT is a travesty. Texas taxpayers did not approve this so it could be a slush fund for the politically connected. There is a very effective, rigorous, and respected means for disbursing research funds so there is no excuse beyond cronyism for it.

      • flypusher says:

        I’ve benefitted from that funding source in the past. Lots of worthwhile research that can be funded here. You can’t keep cutting edge research going without public funds, so this mismanagement damages on several levels.

  4. geoff1968 says:

    I suppose that appearances count twice. I’m not surprised that the Governor was indicted. That’s business as usual in our current scheme. Keep hurling mud until you find something that sticks.

    The Governor probably acted strictly within his rights as Governor. It may not look right, but some people don’t understand the law.

    The presumption should be innocence.

    I’d invite you all to re-examine Plato’s Republic, and then we can discuss again.

  5. flypusher says:

    OT, but I can’t resist sharing this. Watching the birth of conspiracy theories is fascinating, in a totally scary way:

    http://m.theweek.com/article/index/267310/america-created-the-islamic-state-of-iraq-and-syria-meet-the-isis-truthers

    Perhaps we can forge a link to Perry or the people who indicted him.

  6. Crogged says:

    So if we bring up the ‘a’ word there are 200 comments in less than a day (and I would wager this would be true on a holiday weekend too…..).

    As written the Texas constitution was a romantic document, every other year people who could afford a non-paying position would agree how to create an efficient system of public free schools, even for freeloaders. We see how well that is going now.

    They also wrote laws regarding railroad companies which recognized each of private and public interests, which is communism in its purest form.

  7. johnofgaunt75 says:

    The Texas law is a perfect example of what happens when corrupt people write laws to their benefit.

    Reading the law on its face doesn’t sound that bad. But application of such a law means that, essentially, you have a be a complete idiot to get caught. The law specifically states that there must be “direct” evidence of an express agreement. Juries are not allowed to make factual inferences in the determination of whether there was an express agreement or not. That means one either has to have an express agreement in writing or it be recorded. Indirect evidence of an express agreement is not good enough and juries can’t even take that indirect evidence (even if it is very persuasive) and infer that an express agreement was there. That is the problem.

  8. John Galt says:

    The Republican prosecutor and judge who let this indictment go forward certainly seem to think they have something. I don’t think it will go as far as a conviction given the relaxed attitude toward corruption here, but Perry’s path to the GOP nomination doesn’t go through Texas voters, it goes through Iowans. Do you want to script the campaign ad from one of his GOP rivals or should I?

  9. Turtles Run says:

    Perry’s indictment centers on two things: 1) he threatened the funding of the Public Integrity Unit if Lehmberg did not resign 2) he offers Lehmberg a high paying job within the office for her resignation. To me a case can be built that there was a specific offer in exchange for action. I do not think this case is as weak as many make it out to be. Now will a conviction occur in this case….no I do not think so.

    All this case highlights is the weak political controls this state has and the corrupt environment Perry and his supporters insist be the standard operating policy in this state. Chicago corruption doesn’t even hold a candle to the tea party establishment running this state.

    Here is a perfect example of the Perry supporters trying to confuse the issue on the Perry indictment.

    http://blog.chron.com/texassparkle/2014/08/indictment-of-gov-perry-is-political-abuse-of-the-court-system/

  10. flypusher says:

    That also explains why DeLay screwed over his supporters and dropped out of the 2006 TX-22 Congressional race after he won the primary. Campaign $ can also be used to pay lawyers.

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