Tag: Ricky Perry

Fake News Alert: Ricky Perry

So last night, the NYT ran a sensational story about how Rick Perry, Trump’s nominee for Energy Secretary, doesn’t know what the Energy Department does. According to them, he thought it mostly promoted fossil fuels or whatever and didn’t understand that much of their authority centers around regulating and maintaining our nuclear arsenal. Social media jumped all over it, liberals wrung their hands while others pointed out that this claim seems thinly sourced.

Oh, yeah … it was total bullshit:

The New York Times interpreted a quote from a former Trump transition official to mean that Rick Perry, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of energy, didn’t fully grasp the role of the Department of Energy.

That former transition official, Michael McKenna, told The Daily Caller Wednesday that the Times misinterpreted him and Perry “of course” understood that a key role of the Department of Energy is caring for the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

In fact, you can go back to Perry’s acceptance of the nomination to find him talking about the nuclear arsenal. And, back in 2012, his campaign platform talked about closing the Department of Energy … while moving its control of the nuclear stockpile to the Department of Defense. So, yes, Rick Perry knew what the job entailed. He almost certainly knew it better than most of the people currently mocking him.

This building hysteria is becoming a problem with Trump’s cabinet nominees. I can certainly see why people don’t like some of them. I don’t like Sessions. I think Tillerson was out of his depth. And while I’m open-minded on DeVos, she badly flubbed some questions. But this is getting ridiculous. Perry at Energy is actually one of the less alarming appointments. Perry was a successful governor of Texas. His Presidential campaign floundered, I think, because he didn’t really want the job. He always crossed me as the sort of Republican I grew up with: somewhat bumbling, vaguely competent; the kind of guy who wants to get the job done as expeditiously as possible so he can get back to the golf course or his mistress (or both). Save your ammo guys. There are away more alarming people in this Administration than James Richard Perry.

We’ll see how the hearing goes, but the NYT’s report is garbage.

Perry Stumbles


To be fair … I do some amount of public speaking and have occasionally had a brain cramp. Just last week, an unexpectedly raucous response to a throwaway joke threw me off my stride. But experienced speakers — and Perry is one — have ways of recovering. You combine this with his prior debate performances and his drunken syrup speech, and the impression is of a candidate who is just winging it. (Not that he’s the only one who gives that impression). If the Bush years taught us anything, it’s that the ability to communicate ideas is one of the most critical aspects of a presidency.

The other thing I take from this is that Perry hasn’t really invested a lot of thought in which department he would keep and which he would cut. His plan to cut three is just something to say. The actual departments he would cut are irrelevant since it’s very unlikely to very happen. Frankly, it seemed last night that Romney and Huntsman were the only ones to be thinking about how to govern and what actual policies to implement rather than what sounds good in a 30-second sound bite.

On its own, this gaffe would be amusing but meaningless. When you consider it in the context of an inept campaign, it’s an apotheosis of everything that’s gone wrong for Team Perry.

Perverted Justice

What Lee once called the Best Magazine on the Planet devoted this month’s issue to our criminal justice system. And today, they unveiled a searing indictment of sex offender registries. You really should read the whole thing. A few choice passages:

On Georgia’s exclusions zones which bar offenders from being near just about anything:

Under the 2006 law, all 490 registered sex offenders in DeKalb County, most of them men who as teenagers had consensual sex with younger girls, were required to move because their residences were within 1,000 feet of a covered location. The law applied even to sex offenders dying in nursing homes. One Georgia woman, labeled a sex offender because she performed fellatio on a 15-year-old boy when she was 17, had to move in 2005 because she was too close to a day care center. When the legislature added school bus stops to the list of prohibited locations in 2006, her new home became illegal as well.

On the claim that 90% of sex offenders are recidivists:

A 2003 Justice Department study of 9,700 sex offenders found that 5 percent were arrested for new sex crimes within three years of being released from prison. (By comparison, 23 percent of burglars were arrested for new burglaries, and 22 percent of people who had served time for nonsexual assault were arrested for new assaults.) Studies that cover longer periods find higher recidivism rates for sex offenders, but still nothing like those claimed by panic-promoting politicians [90%]. Two meta-analyses of studies involving a total of 29,000 sex offenders, published by the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1998 and 2005, found a recidivism rate of 14 percent after four to six years. A study of 4,700 sex offenders, published by Public Safety Canada in 2004, found that 24 percent were charged with a new sex crime over a period of 15 years.

I would take those numbers with a lot of salt, since sex crimes tend to be under-reported. But they aren’t under-reported by a factor of five. And the recidivism rate among 17 year-olds who had sex with 15 year-olds or 30-year olds who took a leak in the woods has to be close to zero. Georgia’s own study indicated that only about 5% of those on registries were truly dangerous (which makes you wonder why they’re not still in jail). So, even if you ignore the consequences to individuals, we’re spreading our child-protecting resources out by a factor of four to twenty by putting people on registries who have no business being there.

The big problem with the registries is — stop me if you’ve heard his before — the Law of Unintended Consequences. The registries have encouraged prosecutorial overreach because they allow prosecutors to bring ridiculous charges and then offer a “deal” of registering to the accused. They have also been consumed in the mentality of many prosecutors to bring charges in all cases without any discretion or common sense. Most people, if they heard that an 18 y/o had consensual sex with a 17 y/o would say, “Well, technically it might be illegal, but come on. Give ‘em a slap on the wrists.” You have to have gone to law school to think someone’s life should be ruined over that.

The problem, of course, is that no one is going to run for office on a platform of reforming the registries. To do so would expose the pol to the most damning political invective. The political class would not care about the subtleties; they’d say he wanted to let child molesters roam free. The incentive against any flexibility is so strong that Ricky Perry — he of the Presidential aspirations — recently vetoed a bill that would have carved out a Romeo-and-Juliet exemption to Texas age of consent laws. And I expect Reason’s article to draw a slew of “libertarians think child molesting is OK” invective from Balloon Juice or something.

I’m not saying that we should get rid of sex offender registries; I’m saying they should be limited to people who are, you know, dangerous. I’m saying that urinating in the woods should not get you on a registry; that a 17 year old who blows a 15 year old should not be on a registry; that a 16-year-old who has sex with a 13-year-old claiming to be 15 does not belong on a registry; that when a 17-year-old sends a naked picture to her 15-year-old boyfriend, they do not belong on registries; that having sex with a prostitute or being a prostitute or even just streaking should not land you on a registry. And these examples are not hypotheticals — all of them represent real people who have ended up on registries.

But the forces supporting this nonsense are strong. And those opposing it are outnumbered.