Friday, August 22, 2014

Rick Perry Must Be Innocent: His Lawyer Says So!

I'm getting tired of the BS. Some rich guy is indicted for something and he goes out and hires a legal team. In this case the rich guy is Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, and the legal team is composed of some of the best-known and highest-priced lawyers in the country.

No one was surprised when the legal team held a press conference to announce that their client is innocent. They declared that just accusing Perry of a crime is a nasty attack on the rule of law and the Constitution. Perry has a right to free speech, they said, just like anyone else.

Perry does have a right to free speech, but his speech must be governed by the same laws that govern everyone else. The charge against Perry is that he made a threat against an elected official to force her to resign from office. Then he carried through the threat with a veto of funds for a public interest watchdog, the PIU. The PIU has been investigating a few of Perry's campaign donors who also received contracts from a charity Perry controls. So the veto has the appearance of Perry protecting his friends from an investigation.

The lawyers also showed a videotape that has been shown over and over again on national television. The videotape shows the elected official seriously intoxicated. The lawyers intend this video to prove that the official is incompetent. But it doesn't prove that. It proves that she has a drinking problem. The lawyers do not mention--because no lawyer ever tells the whole truth--that the official is not going to run for re-election, so the threat was unnecessary and the veto was superfluous. One possible motive for Perry's veto is to protect his friends from indictment.

The lawyers also claim that the charges against Perry amount to an attempt to "criminalize politics". The real crime here is the attempt by the lawyers to turn a trial for corruption into a public relations campaign. The right wing has had great success with this tactic, much to the detriment of public safety and morality. A politician has no incentive to behave in an upright and just manner if he can pay a lawyer to get him out of any illegal shenanigans he becomes involved with.

A corporation has no incentive to produce products that are safe if it can hire a PR firm to convince the public their products are safe when they are not. The asbestos industry spent millions to convince the public its products are safe when they cause cancer. Asbestos producers were only thwarted by a fluke when it turned out the type of cancer caused by asbestos--mesothelioma--is ONLY caused by asbestos.

Tobacco companies continue to sell a product that causes lung disease and premature death because they have been able to convince the public, through a massive, ongoing PR expenditure, that their products should be kept legal. I'm still stunned by how many of the celebrities of the twentieth century died prematurely because they smoked tobacco: John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Sammy Davis Junior, Yul Brynner, John Candy, Nat King Cole, Gary Cooper, Walt Disney, Mimi Farina, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ian Fleming, Bob Fosse, Errol Flynn, Betty Grable, Susan Hayward, George Harrison, Judy Holliday, Michael Landon, Doug McClure, Steve McQueen, Roy Orbison, Jackie Onassis, Jesse Owens, Lee Remick, Stan Rogers, Babe Ruth, Rod Serling, Robert Shaw, John Thaw, Robert Taylor, Bea Benaderet (voice of Betty Rubble), Sarah Vaughan, Dick York, and many more.

I noted that Bea Benaderet was the voice of Betty Rubble because the cigarette companies used the Flintstone characters in an advertisement for tobacco. Who were they advertising to if not children?

Despite this long list, and the millions of people who have died from smoking-related diseases, no tobacco company executive has ever been prosecuted for his/her depraved indifference to the effects of tobacco. It was proven that they all knew what those effects were, yet kept quiet about it while they reaped the rewards of their executive salaries.

Public Relations is the main reason that thousands die every year from smoking-related diseases. And public relations is what is keeping the world from facing up to the challenges presented by climate change.

So public relations is being used to claim that Rick Perry should not be prosecuted for his publicly acknowledged actions. It makes me sick.

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