From the master of juxtaposition, Matt Drudge:
Some local (Colorado) news today: Our Governor John Hickenlooper has granted a “temporary reprieve” to convicted Chuck E. Cheese murderer Nathan Dunlap. Excerpt:
Faced with a decision to allow the execution of killer Nathan Dunlap or grant him clemency, Gov. John Hickenlooper chose to do neither. Instead, he granted an extraordinary “temporary reprieve” that likely means Dunlap won’t face execution as long as Hickenlooper is governor.
With Colorado’s first execution in 15 years set just three months away, Hickenlooper on Wednesday issued an executive order that angered victims’ families, ignited a political firestorm over capital punishment in Colorado and gave hope to death penalty opponents.
“Colorado’s system of capital punishment is imperfect and inherently inequitable,” Hickenlooper said after announcing the reprieve. “Such a level of punishment really does demand perfection.”
For non-Coloradans and those who may not remember, Nathan Dunlap was convicted of the premeditated murder of four people in an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese in 1993. He has been on death row since his conviction.
This smells of a political dodge. Note that this decision was only for a temporary reprieve; the next Governor could easily rescind the order and allow the execution to proceed. In doing this Governor Hickenlooper has avoided actually making the decision to grant full clemency, allowing Dunlap to instead serve a life sentence. He has also dodged the decision to allow the execution to go forward. Prevarication, nothing but.
And speaking of that next governor, the first challenger has thrown his hat into the ring. Tom Tancredo ran on the American Constitution Party ticket in 2010 after losing the GOP nomination to Dan Maes. Tom undoubtedly split the ticket in so doing, but it likely would not have mattered; he and GOP candidate Maes only collected a tad over 47% of the vote.
The 2014 election may be different. I have some concerns about Tom; I’ve met him on several occasions and he served as our (District 6) Congressman for four terms. Tom is a personable guy and a solid fiscal conservative, but he also embraces a number of social-issue conservative positions with which I don’t agree. Surprisingly though, he does favor the legalization of marijuana, as do I; in a 2009 Westword article, he was quoted as saying about our misguided war on drugs, “The issue of violence that surrounds it — not just on the border — and the crimes all over the place. The number of people in prison and the amount we spend to keep them there. The broken families.”
That being said: On balance I’ll support Tom if he gains the nomination. The only way I’d ever get to vote for a candidate I agree with on every issue is if I entered politics myself, and I’d sooner shovel shit; it’s honest work and it smells better. And this 2014 election here in Colorado will be fought largely on two issues, the Dunlap reprieve and the package of unpopular gun control laws that has 54 of 64 county sheriffs filing suit against the state.
The gun control laws are wildly unpopular in quite a few of the rural Democrat areas like the Arkansas valley, party of the Western Slope and the south-central area around the San Juans. It may well tip enough swing voters to put the GOP candidate in office. I think it’s a bit of a long shot, but there’s a chance, if the state GOP apparatus can pull itself out of the usual circular firing squad long enough to get behind the candidate.
Mid-week, and the ongoing Banghazi/IRS/wiretap scandals just keep getting worse. Some stories from around the media:
These serial scandals are rapidly growing past the normal second-term difficulties. For example: The IRS director who ran the division that investigated conservative groups, Lois Lerner, invoked the Fifth Amendment in her refusal to testify. Now, it’s true, the First Amendment is not only invoked to prevent having to self-incriminate – but that is the reason more often than not.
Will the Congressional investigators offer her immunity in return for flipping on her bosses? That would be the smart move.
Whatever else happens, all three of these issues show every indication of snowballing. It’s going to make for an interesting spectacle. Many pundits are already drawing comparisons to Watergate, and those of us old enough to remember Watergate can appreciate some of the similarities. But there is one major difference: In the Watergate scandal, nobody died.
On a sadder note, we’ve probably all seen footage and news reporting on the massive tornado that destroyed swaths of some Oklahoma City suburbs. As of this writing 51 are reported dead, (just revised down to 24 on radio coverage as I was getting ready to publish this post) and more expected. Some more stories:
Photo gallery here.
I grew up in tornado country. I remember when I was a little tad, the folks loaded me in the car and we went to see the town of my birth, Oelwein, Iowa, following some major tornado damage. A year or so later we made a similar trip to the north-central Iowa town of Charles City, which looked like it had been barraged with 8-inch howitzers. Only a few years ago, while I was visiting family in Iowa, my old high school buddy Dave and I went to see the town of Parkersburg which was hit by a bad twister.
Tornadoes are fickle, unpredictable and very, very destructive. It’s informative that, whenever we humans manage to muster up a little hubris about how powerful we are, nature has a way of taking us down a peg – or several.
Our hearts go out to the families of Moore, Oklahoma. Weather reports indicate more thunderstorms in that area today. Hopefully nature will give them a break this time.
Three Signs There’s a Cover-Up. Excerpt:
The late columnist William Safire once said that a good clue that someone in Washington was engaged in “an artful dodge,” i.e., a cover-up, was that they used the phrase “mistakes were made.” Safire defined it as a “passive-evasive way of acknowledging error while distancing the speaker from responsibility for it.”
The phrase became infamous when both Richard Nixon and Ron Ziegler, his press secretary, deployed it to explain away Watergate without explaining who did what and when or whether any ill motive was involved.
Astonishingly, the Internal Revenue Service resurrected the Nixonian expression within hours of its clumsy revelation that it had targeted tea-party groups and other organizations with “patriot” or “9/12” in their names. “Mistakes were made initially,” the official IRS statement on May 10 read, implying that the mistakes ended after a short “initial” period. We now know that the scandal and cover-up unfolded over a three-year period, and the IRS publicly acknowledged them only after the 2012 election was safely past.
This seems a little more than just second-term shenanigans, but it’s early yet. What’s instructive is watching officials of the Obama Administration being grilled by Congress; just below is a rare piece of footage of one such session.
In the linked article above, one of the three signs (indeed, the first) is that “nobody seems to be able to name the players.” We’re seeing a lot of that in Washington right now.
For instance, the IRS scandal: We now know that President Obama met with the very IRS union chief days before the targeting of conservative political groups began. What did they discuss? We don’t know, but it’s hard to believe that the use of the IRS hammer on political opposition was not on the agenda.
It’s a long, long way to the 2014 elections, but it’s not unreasonable to think these things will have an impact. How much? We’ll see.