I've found it highly amusing this year to watch news media coverage of the U.S. presidential campaign, and what issues the media picks to focus on during the campaign.

It seems to me that every single execution in the state of Texas is big news now that TX Governor George W. Bush is the presumed Republican nominee for President. Why this is, though, I don't understand.

If the media has a liberal bias (which I believe they do, but that's another node), why would they choose this issue when it's clear that 70% of the U.S. population unshakably favors the death penalty? You couldn't get 70% of the U.S. population to agree that oxygen is good!

It just seems so damned counterintuitive to me.

While on the California campaign trail, a state known obviously for its population of bleeding hearts such as Barbara Boxer and the People's Republic of Berkeley, George W. Bush came under severe fire from the local double plus liberal media (yes, I am descending into Newspeak) as well as the national liberal media for his stance on the death penalty. Again, never mind that Bush usually has absolutely nothing but the final say on executions, the media managed to portray him as the overseer of the Texan death penalty, the judge, jury and executioner all rolled up into one (to quote Judge Dredd). So he delayed a single execution, then as soon as he left SoCal, he gave the "go order". The media cried foul. Ugh.

Let's look at it this way. The Governor, in truth, has the ability to delay an execution, but that's about it. The American judicial system, no matter how screwy it sometimes is, has already decided that this convicted criminal is to die for his crimes. If an execution is delayed, all it does is waste time and money, because the case will go back to appeals, costing more money, the prisoner will spend some more time on taxpayers' money, and basically, it's pointless. In addition, the Governor is just basing his decision on recommendations from the judicial system. Frankly, I don't think the Governor should even have that power, but now that he does, it creates all sorts of opportunities of tomfoolery, blame and fingerpointing from the press.

So what. It just so happens that Texas gets more death penalty convictions than other states. Big deal. Texas is a big state. Heck, never mind Texas, the total number of executions in the whole United States pales in comparison to the monthly total in China. It isn't George W. Bush's fault he has to say "Kill the sod" more times than other governors. And why should he give them more time? So they can pray hopelessly and face the dread of impending death once again?

Add this factoid to the fact that most Americans support the death penalty, then you realize that the whole deal about George W. Bush being a murderer is no more than simple slander from the liberal media. True, compassionate conservative is a bad choice of words, but admit it, Al Gore is no more compassionate than Bush is. You heard me, liberals are not kind people by default. I've met plenty of nasty Democrats. I mean, Al Gore released heavy metals into rivers in his hometown! You call that compassionate? Sounds like idiocy to me.

The biggest laugh I got out of the whole GOP convention was the sight of a bunch of would-be anarchists yelling,

"George Bush
You can't hide
We accuse you
Of Homicide!"

I wonder if these kids even know who Rickey Ray Rector was? He was a black guy in Arkansas who was convicted of murder. He subsequently attempted suicide and made a pretty mess of it. He only blew away part of his brains. This left him in the mental state of a 5-year-old. He probably didn't understand anything that was happening as they readied his execution.

It is illegal to execute anyone incapable of understanding his crime or his punishment, but Bill Clinton suddenly quit working on the New Hampshire primary in 1992 so he could fly back to Arkansas and personally supervise this particular execution.

When Rector was taken from his cell to be killed, he told the guards he was saving some of the pecan pie he had been given "for later." When they put him on the table, he helped the executioners strap him in and find a vein, believing that he was being treated for some medical condition.

I don't know about the legality of this, but I do recognize the hypocrisy of the silly wannabe hippies. The silver lining in this cloud is that only 32% of folks age 18-24 voted in the last Presidential election. Forecasts say the figure will likely be lower this year. This, my friend, is the good news.

Today, the state of Texas executed Oliver David Cruz, a man who had been diagnosed as mentally retarded with an IQ of 63. Lest anyone argue that he might have deliberately faked the test results, Cruz took special education classes when he was in school, and had to repeat the seventh grade three times. He is functionally illiterate.

The American Bar Association urged Governor George W. Bush to block Cruz's execution, but under state law, Bush could not do so without the approval of the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole. The Board had already voted 18-0 against granting clemency to Cruz. However, Bush did have the authority to grant a one-time 30-day reprieve. Because Bush is busy campaigning for the Presidency at the moment, however, the decision was left to his Lt. Governor, who declined the opportunity.

Since the Supreme Court lifted a national ban on death penalties in 1982, 227 executions have been carried out by the Texas legal system. 140 of those have been performed while Bush was Governor. Bush has granted only one 30-day reprieve and one commutal to life imprisonment. While it may be true that most Americans support the death penalty, it can hardly be denied that Texas is rather more triggerhappy than it ought to be. Recently, the state of Illinois put a moratorium on all executions because, according to Governor George Ryan (who is a member of the same Republican party as George W. Bush), too many people are being executed unjustly by a fallible justice system.

Texas is one of twenty-five states that allows the execution of convicted killers who are diagnosed as being mentally retarded. In addition, he maintains that he was intoxicated on liquor and LSD before committing the rape and stabbing that led to his conviction. Together, these facts lead one to conclude that he could hardly have been in a normal frame of mind when his crimes were committed.

Throughout the past year, the liberal media has thrown mud at George W. Bush for being the executive leader of the state of Texas. In particular, they chastize Bush as being a killer, in regards to the number of executions carried out at the state level. Almost every single author of these articles I've read by these has either ignored or forgotten the following facts:

1. In 1972 in a 5-4 decision, Furman v. Georgia prohibited the execution of criminals under state auspices, claiming a violation of the "cruel and unusual" clause of the Eighth Amendment. However in 1976, three seperate cases, Gregg v. Georgia, Jurek v. Texas and Proffitt v. Florida upheld the constitutionality of the state's right to chose the death penalty as an option for offenders, provided "guided discretion" was used.
When Gregg v. Georgia was ruled, 63% of the people of Texas voted to reinstate Texas' pre-1972 policy of sentencing first degree murderers to death.

2. In 1935, 199 people were put to death for crimes. In 1999, the figured tolled 98. Although numbers have steadily increased since 1990, this is due to the rigorous checking system of the state which leaves the average inmate on death row for over ten years. When you consider that sentencing the death penalty became legal again only after 1976, this trend is to be expected.

3. According to the Texas state constitution, the Goveror has the following powers in regards to the death penalty:

Article 4, Section 11 reads: (a) The Legislature shall by law establish a Board of Pardons and Paroles and shall require it to keep record of its actions and the reasons for its actions. The Legislature shall have authority to enact parole laws and laws that require or permit courts to inform juries about the effect of good conduct time and eligibility for parole or mandatory supervision on the period of incarceration served by a defendant convicted of a criminal offense. (b) In all criminal cases, except treason and impeachment, the Governor shall have power, after conviction, on the written signed recommendation and advice of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, or a majority thereof, to grant reprieves and commutations of punishment and pardons; and under such rules as the Legislature may prescribe, and upon the written recommendation and advice of a majority of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, he shall have the power to remit fines and forfeitures. The Governor shall have the power to grant one reprieve in any capital case for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days; and he shall have power to revoke conditional pardons. With the advice and consent of the Legislature, he may grant reprieves, commutations of punishment and pardons in cases of treason.
Texas, like all other states, gives the judicial system the power to sentence convicted criminals. Once convicted, the Texas legislature provides for the Board of Paroles to oversee the sentencing and execution procedures. The Governor is also required to personally ensure that the proceedings of the trials were in order, and that guilt has been proven.

Now, think about this: What if George W. Bush decided to pardon criminals on death row, in favor of a life sentence? He would be chased right out of Texas. Firstly, he would have to have the approval of the Board of Paroles, which obviously has already decreed the guilt of said offender. Unless Bush had mysteriously found a loophole or violation that hundreds of case reviewers had missed, he would be SOL. Secondly, George would be attempting to single handedly overturn the entire judicial process, and would be highly in contempt of the state of Texas. As a leader, he is required to uphold the rules provided by the state constitution and uphold the voice of the majority of the citizens of the state of Texas. Pardoning offenders based on a personal dislike of the death penalty would be showing complete disregard for the desires of majority of the people residing and voting in Texas.

Simply put, George W. Bush is next to powerless with regards to the method in which criminals in his state are punished. In addition, his only powers of repriveval and pardon are governed by a committee. It is complete lunacy to point a finger at Bush for the death penalty.

As the writeups above have pointed out, George W. Bush doesn't have the ability to grant a pardon from the death penalty, so blaming him for the issue doesn't really make sense. However, there is one point which hasn't been brought up here yet, and I think it does need to be mentioned.

There is a reason Texas has a higher than normal number of executions. In Texas, juries do not have the option of sentencing a convicted criminal to life without possibility of parole. So the only way one can insure that a criminal will never again be a menace to society is to sentence him to death.

Why is this? I have no idea. However, even though I support the death penalty, I feel juries should at least have the option of sentencing a criminal to life without parole. After all, there are people who are so strongly against the death penalty that they wouldn't want someone who murdered them or their loved ones to be sentenced to death. These people should have some assurance that the criminal will never again be allowed to harm them or anyone else, and that he will spend the rest of his life in a cell.

So is this Bush's fault? Not directly, as I see it. Sure, if he felt strong enough about it, he could suggest that the legislature allow a life without parole sentence. Even that wouldn't guarantee it would happen, though. The only way this would change is for the people of Texas to become concerned enough to evoke the attention of the state legislature, which isn't likely to happen. After all, most Texans are death penalty supporters

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