Friday, September 9, 2011

I Hinted Rick Perry is a Nutjob. Is That Civil Discourse?

In the previous post, I hoped that the GOP might nominate a "nutjob" for 2012. I might have been referring to Rick Perry. Does that run counter to my preference for civil discourse?

Well, it might, in as much as Rick Perry seems to function quite well and hasn't raced into a local IHOP with guns a-blazin', though the pictures I adorn this post with do seriously call his personal priorities into question.

So, I'll split the difference. Governor Rick Perry is by all accounts rational, functional, and can dress himself. However, in the policy and public-statement areas, he borders on delusional. It doesn't help that he also often lies, either outright or through omission. I believe that public officials rarely say the things they say because they're ignorant. To believe otherwise would be insulting.

How does he demonstrate a lack of common sense? How does he sport nutjob tendencies? Let us count the ways:
  1. To Rick Perry, "Social Security is a Ponzi scheme" and a "monstrous lie." For one thing, it's not a Ponzi scheme just because we pay for it out of current income through payroll taxes. That's the way it was always supposed to work, and with minor tweaks it can work that way forever. Since that's so, it's hardly a monstrous lie. Who would say different? Either a liar or a nutjob, or at the very least someone who works reality for style points rather than substance.
  2. Rick Perry continues to obfuscate on global warming, saying that "There are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects" and "I think we are seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change." The problem is neither statement is even remotely true. For a clearheaded view on this watch this video with Bill Nye the Science Guy.
  3. On evolution: ""How old do I think the earth is? You know what, I don't have any idea," Perry has said. "I know it's pretty old so it goes back a long long way. I'm not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely how long, how old the earth is." Perry has also recently said of evolution that “It’s a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it. In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools. Because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.” Again, here's Perry wrong or making stuff up about something that can be checked. If you read this report from the Texas Tribune, you learn that the Texas science standards "do not call for teaching creationism in the classroom." What's more, if it were taught in Texas public schools, it would be a violation of the U.S. Constitution as confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the decision Edwards v. Aguillard in 1987. Not that doing something unconstitutional would bother someone from Texas like Perry. He'd rather secede and would depending on the circumstances. He on the record with that one.
  4. Think Progress, The Texas Tribune, and the Chicago Tribune have documented Rick Perry's record on the death penalty. As Megan Carpentier of the Guardian in the UK points out, there's little downside for a Texas governor running for president to seem to relish his role in the execution of 234 people on his watch. But to me, it's pretty creepy, and it makes me think I'd rather have someone in the presidency who would think more deeply about the implications before taking actions that lead to the deaths of individuals.
  5.  Perry has said his fill about religion. “That’s the question: Who do you worship? Do you believe in the primacy of unrestrained federal government? Or do you worship the God of the universe, placing our trust in Him?” he said in a speech last year. He's also said that it’s “extreme to say that our laws should not be inspired and informed by the views of the faithful. Freedom of religion is not to be confused with freedom from religion.” By which I can only construe him to mean that we are free to pick our religion but not free to live without one. In any event, do you want to live under a president whose views swing that far? Do you want to live under a president who has stated that the BP oil spill was "an act of God." I thought it was a result of a bunch of humans screwing up big time, but what do I know?
 I could find more examples, but enough. If a guy wants to be president, fine. But it's 2011, we've been on this planet for hundreds of thousands of years -- though you wouldn't know it by listening to Rick Perry -- and it's high time we adopt science as a system of inquiry that, bit by bit, leads to an understanding of how this universe works. And that, as humans evolve, we find ways to stop killing each other, or at least learn to stop taking such pleasure in blowing stuff up. We can, after all this time, look around and say, holy crap, we're sort of screwing up this Earth, and it's high time we actually do show that we love our children and want them to be healthy and enjoy the world the way we have.

So, in the end, looking around at real pictures of the real Rick Perry and watching videos of the real Rick Perry and reading the words of the real Rick Perry, the reality is that he strikes me, in as civil a way as I can put it, as being a real nutjob.

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