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Gingrich, Perry disqualified from VA primary ballot

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Adult Signature Not Required
Adult Signature Not Required

These jokers are also not really serious about running for the presidency, though at least they went through the motions, unlike the other grifters we mentioned yesterday.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, state GOP officials said Friday evening and early Saturday.

The Republican Party of Virginia announced early Saturday that Gingrich and Perry failed to submit 10,000 signatures of registered voters required to get their names on the ballot for the March 6 primary.

“After verification, RPV has determined that Newt Gingrich did not submit required 10k signatures and has not qualified for the VA primary,” the party announced on Twitter.

The rejection is a significant setback for the Gingrich campaign since he is leading the polls in Virginia among likely Republican voters and is seen as a strong contender for the nomination.

Perry’s campaign told state election officials it had submitted 11,911 signatures, and Gingrich’s campaign said it submitted 11,050 signatures. State party officials spent Friday night validating the signatures.

(click here to continue reading Gingrich, Perry disqualified from Va. primary ballot – Virginia Politics – The Washington Post.)

compare and contrast to President Obama:

President Obama was the first presidential candidate to submit his signatures Dec. 2.

The Democratic Party of Virginia certified his signatures Friday. He was the only Democrat to qualify for the ballot so the State Board of Elections will cancel the primary. All Virginia delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be cast for him, said Brian Moran, party chairman.

My quick internet search didn’t yield an answer to this question: has this happened in the past? Has a party’s nomination ever been derailed because a candidate wasn’t organized to fulfill the requirements in a particular state? I’ve followed politics pretty closely my entire adult life, and can’t recall this happening before, but maybe my memory is faulty.

So, unless something changes, only Romney and Ron Paul are actually on the VA ballot. Can we stop pretending the other grifters are serious candidates now?

Written by Seth Anderson

December 24th, 2011 at 8:27 am

Rick Perry and the Low Wage Economy

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Saturday Morning Lines

Saturday Morning Lines

Rick Perry’s regularly self-touted Texas Economic Miracle is fake, as regular readers of this blog know.

John Turner of the Guardian U.K. concurs:

The low-wage economy is Texas’s dirty little secret, and it is easy to ignore in swaths of the state. The sad scene at Dove Springs was unfolding only a few miles from the majestic domed state house in downtown Austin, a city which is famed for its vibrant music venues and world-class restaurants.

Austin is also famous for its growing technology sector and is becoming the Silicon Valley of the Texas hill country. It is in many places a city of well-to-do neighbourhoods, with manicured lawns and plush housing. The same is true of other Texas urban centres, such as Dallas and Houston, helped by an energy industry that has been buoyed by rocketing oil prices. The state also avoided the worst of the housing bubble.

Perry touts all this when he boasts of the legion of Fortune 500 companies that have flocked to make their headquarters here and he boasts that, since June 2009, about 40% of all jobs created in America are in Texas, a state whose economy is growing at twice the national rate.

But the devil is in the detail. Unemployment is stubbornly stuck at about 8%, below the national level but still leaving one million Texans out of work. In 2010 half a million people in the state earned no more than the minimum wage of $7.25 (£4.47) an hour. Texas, for all its glittering metropolises, has the joint highest percentage, along with Mississippi, of hourly paid workers earning the minimum wage or less.

Jim Hightower, a longstanding Texas liberal and radio host, has a simple description of Perry’s Texas economic miracle. “It is a hoax. He is telling Perry-tales. You can’t make a living off of these jobs,” he said.

(click here to continue reading The dark underbelly of Rick Perry’s Texas | World news | The Observer.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

September 5th, 2011 at 9:22 am

Posted in politics

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Rick Perry grabs a third rail

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Hold on, cowboy
Hold on, cowboy

I don’t think Rick Perry cares if anyone questions his logic; intellectual robustness is not part of Perry’s brand. Perry does want to privatize Social Security, critics be damned. Wall Street loves such talk after all, and they have money to contribute to Perry’s campaign.

Clarence Page writes, in part, about Perry’s equation of Social Security with a Ponzi scheme:

A real Ponzi scheme, for example, is an elaborate con game named after Charles Ponzi, who served time in the 1920s for operating one. Funds from unwitting new investors are used to pay phony dividends to old ones, which attracts newer investors. The scam collapses when it runs out of new suckers. Think Bernard Madoff.

In fact, memories of the convicted Madoff, a respected Wall Street figure until his fund turned out to be a multibillion-dollar Ponzi, give pause to many at the very notion of trusting even more of the nation’s retirement funds to Wall Street. At least with Social Security everybody is in on what the scheme is really about.

Before we talk about reducing what Social Security does, we need to talk more about why this New Deal-era program is so popular: It lifts 13 million elderly Americans out of poverty, according to the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, either as an income supplement or as sole retirement income. Without Social Security, the Washington-based center found, almost half of the elderly — 48 percent — would fall below the government’s poverty line, instead of the current 8 percent.

And more than 3 million children received benefits as dependents of retired, disabled or deceased workers, the center found, or by living with parents or relatives who received Social Security benefits.

Social Security is currently solvent until 2037, according to the Congressional Research Service. And it would remain solvent for decades after that, the CRS says, with such simple adjustments as lifting the caps that exempt upper-income earnings from the payroll tax.

(click here to continue reading Rick Perry grabs a ‘third rail’ – chicagotribune.com.)

Another reason why Rick Perry is not really a Christian, no? Aren’t Christians supposed to help the poor and elderly? Not kick them to the curb so that bankers can make obscene profits?

Written by Seth Anderson

September 3rd, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Posted in politics

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Vitriol for Bernanke, Despite the Facts

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A Fool Too Long
A Fool Too Long

Rick Perry doesn’t seem like the type to let facts get in the way of constant stream of vitriol.

On Aug. 16, while speaking in Iowa, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a Republican presidential candidate, took the demonization of Mr. Bernanke to a new level. He declared in much-quoted remarks — and to appreciative laughter from the crowd — that “we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas,” and that Mr. Bernanke’s monetary policy was “almost treacherous — or treasonous, in my opinion.” The next day, in New Hampshire, Mr. Perry was less inflammatory but more pointed. “They should open their books up,” he said of the Fed. “They should be transparent so that the people of the United States know what they are doing.”…

It’s also hard to fathom what Mr. Perry means when he calls for the Fed to “open its books up.” It publicly releases its current balance sheet every Thursday at approximately 4:30 p.m., and it’s available on the Fed’s Web site. Mr. Perry’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The charge that the Fed is “printing money” seems to be shorthand for recklessly risking or even seeking inflation. That notion “is complete nonsense,” Robert E. Hall, a senor fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution and professor of economics at Stanford, told me. “But it must be exciting to accuse him of things he hasn’t done.”

(click here to continue reading Vitriol for Bernanke, Despite the Facts – NYTimes.com.)

Hmm, Fed open its books every Thursday, at a specific time, and yet Rick Perry continues to insist that the Fed is hiding something. Hmmm. Maybe Mr. Perry just has a reading comprehension problem?

Written by Seth Anderson

September 3rd, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Republicans Against Science Leading GOP

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It's not just rocket science
It’s not just rocket science

I think Paul Krugman is right, Rick Perry is just vile…

Mr. Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissing evolution as “just a theory,” one that has “got some gaps in it” — an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got peoples’ attention was what he said about climate change: “I think 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 almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”

That’s a remarkable statement — or maybe the right adjective is “vile.”

The second part of Mr. Perry’s statement is, as it happens, just false: the scientific consensus about man-made global warming — which includes 97 percent to 98 percent of researchers in the field, according to the National Academy of Sciences — is getting stronger, not weaker, as the evidence for climate change just keeps mounting.

In fact, if you follow climate science at all you know that the main development over the past few years has been growing concern that projections of future climate are underestimating the likely amount of warming. Warnings that we may face civilization-threatening temperature change by the end of the century, once considered outlandish, are now coming out of mainstream research groups.

But never mind that, Mr. Perry suggests; those scientists are just in it for the money, “manipulating data” to create a fake threat. In his book “Fed Up,” he dismissed climate science as a “contrived phony mess that is falling apart.”

I could point out that Mr. Perry is buying into a truly crazy conspiracy theory, which asserts that thousands of scientists all around the world are on the take, with not one willing to break the code of silence. I could also point out that multiple investigations into charges of intellectual malpractice on the part of climate scientists have ended up exonerating the accused researchers of all accusations. But never mind: Mr. Perry and those who think like him know what they want to believe, and their response to anyone who contradicts them is to start a witch hunt.

(click here to continue reading Republicans Against Science – NYTimes.com.)

and to Dr. Krugman’s larger point, willfully ignorant, anti-science idiots like Rick Perry (and Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, et al) are the standard bearers of the Republican party. That’s what is really scary – the thought of one of these anti-intellectuals winning the election keeps me up nights, worrying.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 29th, 2011 at 7:05 am

Posted in politics,science

Tagged with ,

Rick Perry and the Myth of the Texas Miracle

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Lone Star Lame Duck
Lone Star Lame Duck

Another generated tale, in other words, which when examined by rationale minds isn’t so great after all. Just ask the Texas teachers who are about to be fired. Rick Perry is still going to repeat his so-called Texas Miracle fable thousands of times in the next few months though, facts be damned.

While Texas has created more jobs than any other state in the past two years, the increase is far less than advertised. The rate of increase is not much higher than a number of other states, including former rustbelt centers like Pennsylvania or liberal sanctuaries like Vermont.

Moreover, its recent performance is a classic case of “all hat, no cattle.” Texas lost 34,000 jobs in June, causing its unemployment rate to jump to 8.2 percent, which ranks it 25th among states and leaving it worse off than its immediate neighbors. Even as Texas’ unemployment rate rose along the lines of the entire country, the neighboring states of Louisiana and New Mexico saw their unemployment rates fall to 7.8 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively.

Moreover, to the extent Texas has succeeded in adding jobs over the past two years, most of its good fortune rests on conditions that are not replicable elsewhere. Soaring oil prices have provided a substantial number of new jobs and tax revenue since it is the nation’s leading oil- producing state, even as those $4-a-gallon gas prices drained consumers nationwide and put pressure on other states’ budgets. An influx of new government defense spending has also pumped up revenue, while the state has used oil revenue to postpone a sharp cutback in state and local government employment, which is about to hit in full force.

Two other factors that may not play well with Republican Party primary voters also contributed to the Texas   economic performance over the last decade and through the Great Recession. According to a recent analysis in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, state debt grew by 282 percent over the last decade, a slightly faster rate of increase than the ostensibly more profligate federal government. Local government debt in Texas grew by a heady 220 percent over the same period.

Texas also benefited during the downturn by having tighter housing finance rules – a stark contrast to the business-friendly regulatory environment Perry likes to tout. After the savings and loan crisis of the early 1990s, which hit Texas hard, the state legislature prohibited “cash out” mortgages. The state’s tough mortgage rules kept housing prices in check and saved it from the huge price declines and foreclosures that devastated many other areas of the country. Still, construction employment fell by 95,000 jobs during the recession and remains 14 percent below its pre-recession peak.

“Anyone who thinks the relatively strong performance in Texas has much to do with state government policy is wrong, except when it comes to housing, where regulation helped the state,” said Howard Wial, an economist and fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “In Texas, the worst is yet to come.”

(click here to continue reading Rick Perry and the Myth of the ‘Texas Miracle’.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

August 14th, 2011 at 7:22 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

Farmers Oppose GOP Bill on Immigration

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Lets Make a Deal
Lets Make a Deal

Hmm, another crack in the GOP coalition? I don’t think Wall Street is very happy with the Tea Baggers right now, and now agribusiness is concerned too? Hmm, the election of 2012 will be interesting, won’t it?

Farmers across the country are rallying to fight a Republican-sponsored bill that would force them and all other employers to verify the legal immigration status of their workers, a move some say could imperil not only future harvests but also the agricultural community’s traditional support for conservative candidates. Blogs

The bill was proposed by Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. It would require farmers — who have long relied on a labor force of immigrants, a majority here without legal documents — to check all new hires through E-Verify, a federal database run by the Department of Homeland Security devised to ferret out illegal immigrants.

Farm laborers, required like other workers to show that they are authorized to take jobs in the United States, often present Social Security numbers and some form of picture ID. Employers, many of them labor contractors providing crews to farms, have not been required to check the information and are discouraged by antidiscrimination laws from looking at it too closely. But it is an open secret that many farmworkers’ documents are false.

“Most of our folks are Republicans,” said Paul Wenger, the president of the California Farm Bureau. “But if the Republicans do this to them without a workable worker program, it will change their voting patterns or at very least their involvement in politics.”

(click here to continue reading Farmers Oppose G.O.P. Bill on Immigration – NYTimes.com.)

Purple and White Onions

Purple and White Onions

and we’ve mentioned how difficult it is to find Americans willing to crouch in the dirt for 12 hours a day, agriculture work is not for the soft of belly and back:

…But farmers and their advocates scoff at that notion, saying that regardless of high unemployment, few American workers are willing to sign up for what are often hard, hot and long hours in the fields.

“People just don’t want to do farm work,” Mr. Wenger said. “They don’t want to pick berries. They don’t want to pick lettuce. And the pay is just as good as working at the hamburger shop or making up hotel rooms, but they just don’t want to do the work.”

Mike Carlton, director of labor relations for the Florida Fruit and Vegetables Association, agreed. He said his group monitored hiring by citrus growers, who are required to offer jobs to Americans before they can turn to the H-2A program for temporary foreign laborers.

In one sample, Mr. Carlton said, 344 Americans came forward to fill 1,800 pickers’ jobs; only eight were still working at the end of the two-month season.
Mr. Carlton said Florida growers had flocked to Washington, telling lawmakers they had glimpsed the possible impact of Mr. Smith’s proposal after a verification mandate narrowly failed in the Florida Legislature this spring. “Just the prospect of it, and some of our workers left the state,” Mr. Carlton said.

Labor shortages were also reported by Georgia growers, said Charles Hall, the executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, after lawmakers there imposed a state mandate to use E-Verify this spring.

Some of the most forceful feedback has come from Mr. Smith’s home state, where farmers have the backing of the larger Texas Business Association. The group used its clout recently to kill an immigration crackdown law in the State Legislature, even though it was supported by Gov. Rick Perry, a possible Republican presidential contender.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 31st, 2011 at 8:41 am

Historic Rainfall in Chicago

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Another Monsoon
Another Monsoon

Intuitively, we knew there was a lot of rain this year, and especially this month, and we were right:

Two passing storms overnight dumped enough rain to make this July the wettest one in the city’s history. They also knocked out power to tens of thousands of area residents and raised fears of more flooding.

The wave of storms, which spurred tornado and flood watches across the area, raised this month’s rainfall total to 9.75 inches, drowning the previous record of 9.56 inches set in July 1889.

And with more rainy weather on the way, the record is expected to keep climbing, forecasters said.

“Ten inches isn’t out of the question,” said Andrew Krein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

It could be even more.

A lot of rain wasn’t needed to smash the old July record.

As of early Wednesday afternoon, 9.05 inches had fallen this month at O’Hare International Airport, the official measuring station, about half an inch less than the record 9.56 inches that fell here in July 1889, according to the weather service. The city has averaged 3.51 inches of rain in July from 1871 through last year, weather service records show.
This July is now the ninth wettest month in Chicago history. The all-time monthly rainfall record is 17.1 inches, set in August 1987.

(click here to continue reading 122-year rainfall record for July falls, more storms coming – chicagotribune.com.)

Seems as if Rick Perry’s prayers for rain to fall in Texas and his other affronts to God had an effect after all1

Accidental Storm Bokeh
Accidental Storm Bokeh

Clarity of distress

Clarity of distress

Footnotes:
  1. kidding, really, I am. Praying for rain has no relevance to actual weather patterns in the slightest. []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 28th, 2011 at 9:40 am

Rick Perry Hates Most of the World – Still Wants Your Vote

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Looking Up- Texas Capitol Building Austin

Looking Up- Texas Capitol Building Austin

Baffles my mind that such an ignorant, government-hating hypocrite as Rick Perry is considered Presidential material. Also, remember those quaint old days when politicians honored the intent of U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and considered Church and State separate entities?  Wouldn’t it be pleasant to have some secular humanists in charge for a change, instead of these Christian Taliban fools?

Anyway, Rick Perry is hosting a Christian-only indoctrination camp in Houston which is decidedly anti-secular. Anti-humanity, in fact. Read on:

In early August, Texas Republican governor and possible presidential candidate Rick Perry will host a prayer summit at Reliant Stadium in Houston. The event, dubbed “The Response” and funded by the American Family Association (which was labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center), is designed to combat the economic, political, and spiritual crises facing the United States by returning the nation to its Biblical roots. The Response’s website proclaims, “There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.” And in a video message Perry sent out this week, he noted, “I’m inviting you to join your fellow Americans for a day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our nation.” Perhaps Perry should have clarified what sort of “fellow Americans” he meant, for at this event only Christians will be allowed to share the podium with Perry.

Since the event was first announced in early June, organizers have suggested that it would be a great opportunity to convert non-Christians. Now, they’ve gone even further: According to an email blasted out by The Response, only Christians will be permitted to speak at the non-denominational event. If representatives of other faiths (particularly Muslims) were to be included, the email noted, such inclusion would promote “idolatry.” In a message sent out under The Response’s official letterhead, Allan Parker, one of Perry’s organizers, described the event in less-than-ecumenical terms:

This is an explicitly Christian event because we are going to be praying to the one true God through His son, Jesus Christ. It would be idolatry of the worst sort for Christians to gather and invite false gods like Allah and Buddha and their false prophets to be with us at that time. Because we have religious liberty in this country, they are free to have events and pray to Buddha and Allah on their own. But this is time of prayer to the One True God through His son, Jesus Christ, who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

With this prayerfest, Perry is associating himself with rather radical folks. The American Family Association’s issues director, for instance, has said that gays are “Nazis” and that Muslims should be converted to Christianity. Another organizer, Doug Stringer, has said that 9/11 was God’s punishment for the nation’s creeping secularism. And then there’s Jay Swallow, whose endorsement is trumpeted on The Response’s website, and who runs “A Christian Military Training Camp for the purpose of dealing with the occult and territorial enemy strong holds in America” (his description). Consequently, it’s not much of a mystery why only one of the nation’s other 49 governors has so far accepted Perry’s invitation to attend the event (Perry invited all of them)—arch-conservative Sam Brownback of Kansas.

(click here to continue reading Rick Perry’s Christians-Only Prayerfest | Mother Jones.)

I do wonder how the organizers of this summit will screen potential visitors. Will they check their genitals for signs of circumcision? Will they float potential ticket holders in the water to see if they float? Curious.

Evilution
Evilution

Written by Seth Anderson

July 2nd, 2011 at 8:24 am

Rick Perry Is a Hypocrite

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Austin Capitol From The East Side

Not that this is breaking news or anything, but Governor Good Hair Perry is a hypocrite and a liar. And a raging Tea Bagger, in deed if not words. I thought Rick Perry was advocating Texas secede? I guess he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions, all talk, no cattle, as the phrase goes.

Asked by a Dallas television reporter whether he agreed with Texas leaders that the federal government should take some governing cues from the Lone Star State, President Barack Obama said he saw “a little inconsistency” in that position.

“Keep in mind, Gov. (Rick) Perry helped balance his budget with about $6 billion worth of federal help, which he happily took, and then started blaming the members of Congress who had offered that help,” Obama said during an April 18 interview with WFAA reporter Brad Watson at the White House.

The roughly $800 billion federal stimulus package, named the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by Congress, became law in February 2009 after receiving only three Republican votes, all in the Senate. State governments were the primary recipients of the money, although funds have also gone directly to entities such as schools, hospitals and utilities.

The law specified that governors had 45 days after its passage to certify that their state would “request and use” the offered funds. On Feb. 18, 2009, Perry sent Obama the requisite letter of certification, assuring the president that the state would accept the funds and use them “in the best interest of Texas taxpayers.”

According to a February 2009 PBS News Hour online post, some stimulus money was meant “to help states avoid slashing funding for education and other programs that lawmakers could trim to offset shortfalls.”

Abrams, asked for backup for the president’s statement, pointed us to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which in turn sent us its July 2009 report on state budgets. According to the report, state budget-writing Texas lawmakers in 2009 were short $6.6 billion in revenue for 2010-11 and relied heavily on stimulus funds for a solution.

(click here to continue reading Barack Obama: “Gov. (Rick) Perry helped balance his budget with about $6 billion worth of federal help, which he happily took, and then started blaming the members of Congress who had offered that help.” – Latest Barack Obama News – Barack Obama: 2008 US Presidential Candidate – Newsbeet.)

Somebody's Girlfriend in front of the fire

And now that the Texas drought is helping Texas go up in wildfire flames, Governor Perry wants more of that sweet, sweet federal cash. And a kiss too.

Given the fact that Texas will certainly break the record for the most acres of land that has ever burned, in state history, it is obscene that Texas Republicans — who control every level of state government, as they have for every year since 2003 — are planning to do this, according to KVUE news here in Austin, TX:

State funding for volunteer fire departments is taking a big hit. It is going from $30 million to $7 million. Those departments are already facing financial strains. The State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas represents 21,000 state firefighters. The Association says more than 80 percent of volunteer firefighters are reporting taking a personal hit in the budget crisis. They have started using their own money to help pay for equipment and supplies.

“We’ve seen budget cuts, but this is the worst time that we’ve ever seen,” said Executive Director Chris Barron. “As far as the budget crisis and the fuel cost stuff for example continues to go up and it doesn’t help us out any whatsoever, so with the rising fuel and the budget cuts from the state it’s taken a great effect. I think the citizens and the public is going to see that.”

Most of the State of Texas is protected by volunteer departments. There are 879 volunteer departments compared to 114 paid departments and 187 departments that are a combination of both paid and volunteer firefighters.

To summarize:

  • 1.8 million acres of Texas land has burned, guaranteeing Texas will have the worst year for wildfires in recorded history
  • So far this year local fire departments have saved over 10,000 structures from being burned
  • There are 879 volunteer fire departments in Texas, compared to 114 paid departments and 187 that are a combination of both
  • Texas Republicans have voted to cut funding for volunteer firefighters by over 75%.

By the way — Governor Perry’s solution for all of this was simple: pray.

(click here to continue reading Burnt Orange Report: While Texas Burns, Texas Republicans Could Cut Funds for Volunteer Firefighters by 75%.)

Rain Collector

The Governor is gonna make it rain…

This straight from the “How is it we are not making this up?” files: Gov. Rick Perry has declared this weekend Days of Prayer for Rain in Texas. Well, that’s cheaper than coming up with real water policy. Obviously you are currently checking the date but, no, this is not a delayed April Fools story. It’s on his website.

In an accompanying statement, Perry said, “It is fitting that Texans should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this ongoing drought and these devastating wildfires.” What makes this particularly galling is when he goes on to ask Texans to pray for “the safety of the brave firefighters and emergency management officials who have worked tirelessly to protect lives and property around the state.” This would mean something if Perry’s people had not stood in the way of a measure that would have improved the safety of exactly those firefighters. It is not just that the current wildfires, which have destroyed over 1.5 million acres and killed two firefighters, are so huge: It is that Texas is increasingly building housing outside of cities. Unincorporated areas are very attractive to developers because there is usually lots of space and fewer regulations. However, there are also fewer hospitals, fewer police, and fewer firefighters. That means less equipment, fewer fire stations, and worse response times.

Texas had a chance to fix that two years ago, and Perry was at least passively part of the effort to squash that fix. Back in 2009, now former Travis County Democratic state rep Valinda Bolton authored House Bill 3477, a measure that would have allowed those hugely overstretched rural emergency service districts to hold short-term tax elections for desperately needed infrastructure. The sole purpose was to cut response times and give them a better chance to fight exactly this kind of fire. It is interesting to note that, when the accompanying House Joint Resolution 112 came up in committee, every witness spoke for the bill – except for Michele Greg of the Texas Apartment Association. Somehow, the bill still failed, and word at the time was that the governor’s office was pleased that even a vitally needed and broadly supported ‘tax’ bill sputtered out. If it had passed, then it would have given ESDs the ability to ask voters to give them more resources to fight wildfires in unincorporated areas. It would also have meant more infrastructure in place like Oak Hill, which was severely damaged by fire this weekend, when they are incorporated.

When asked about the bill’s demise last year, Perry said he did not know about the specifics. However, during the 2009 session it was pretty clear to everyone that HB 3477 was squashed as part of the general anti-tax, anti-public investment rubric coming out of his office. So now Perry’s solution to out-of-control wildfires caused by a massive and ongoing drought (ssssh don’t mention climate change) is prayer. Maybe we should be praying for longer hoses.

(click here to continue reading Perry Gonna Make it Rain – News Blog – The Austin Chronicle.)

With wildfire season gearing up out West, more tankers are expected to be available. A total of 18 air tankers are scheduled to be cycled in for use by mid-June, and four more military C-130s could also be called upon in an emergency.

Severe drought set the stage for these massive wildfires, but the intense winds and abundant shrubs that grew as a result of last year’s more plentiful rains stirred the pot for Texas and its surrounding areas (ClimateWire, April 21).

Texas State climatologist John Nielson-Gammon said that while the Texas fires themselves cannot be attributed to climate change, global warming likely sparked some of the conditions leading to the blazes.

“Global warming probably produced a slight enhancement of the rainfall, leading to a little extra plant growth,” he said. “Also, the warm temperatures during the past couple of months are probably a degree or two warmer than they would have been without the rise in global temperatures, thereby increasing the dryness,” he added.

(click here to continue reading Fighters From 43 States Battle Far-Flung Texas Wildfires – NYTimes.com.)

Skull and Concrete

But, don’t forget, Obama is the culprit, not Rick Perry and his teabagger tendencies.

Wildfires have already ravaged nearly two million acres in Texas, and Perry is requesting federal help to pay for the emergency response, officials said. Spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said without the federal assistance, “we’re going to have to get pretty creative.” She said it has been about 10 days since the state requested federal disaster assistance and the governor, who has repeatedly bashed Washington, believes disaster response is one of the government’s “core functions.”

She said the state has estimated the cost of the response at $70 million. The state can pay 25 percent of that, or about $17.5 million, Cesinger added. Perry wants Uncle Sam to pick up the rest of it.

“We can’t afford ($70 milllion),” Cesinger said. “That’s why we asked them for help.”

(click here to continue reading Texas governor: Disaster could blow hole in budget – BusinessWeek.)

A federal major disaster declaration could reimburse Texas and local governments 75 percent of the cost of their response. Local departments and the Texas Forest Service have spent more than $60 million since Sept. 1 responding to wildfires, state forest service spokeswoman Linda Moon said.

“Governor Perry’s request is currently under review, and will continue our close coordination with the state as they work to protect their residents and communities,” FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Racusen said.

She said Texas has already received 22 grants to help pay fire management expenses this fire season, including 16 in April alone.

In the past, Perry has charged that the Obama administration is punishing Texas. The Republican governor has been an outspoken opponent of the federal health reform law, and the state is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a proposal to end Texas’ independent air quality permitting program for factories and refineries.

(click here to continue reading UPDATE 1-Governor says Obama leaving Texas in the dust | Reuters.)

Written by Seth Anderson

April 29th, 2011 at 9:39 am

Posted in government,politics

Tagged with , ,

Texas Education and Its Enemy – the GOP

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Austin Capitol From The East Side

Rick Perry and his fellow GOP-ers are busily ensuring that Texas remains at the bottom of most education metrics for a long while. I guess their philosophy is to turn Texas into a third world country, and depress wages, thus ensuring the Texas oligarchy healthy profits when Texas secedes from the US.

Paul Krugman writes:

Texas likes to portray itself as a model of small government, and indeed it is. Taxes are low, at least if you’re in the upper part of the income distribution (taxes on the bottom 40 percent of the population are actually above the national average). Government spending is also low. And to be fair, low taxes may be one reason for the state’s rapid population growth, although low housing prices are surely much more important.

But here’s the thing: While low spending may sound good in the abstract, what it amounts to in practice is low spending on children, who account directly or indirectly for a large part of government outlays at the state and local level.

And in low-tax, low-spending Texas, the kids are not all right. The high school graduation rate, at just 61.3 percent, puts Texas 43rd out of 50 in state rankings. Nationally, the state ranks fifth in child poverty; it leads in the percentage of children without health insurance. And only 78 percent of Texas children are in excellent or very good health, significantly below the national average.

But wait — how can graduation rates be so low when Texas had that education miracle back when former President Bush was governor? Well, a couple of years into his presidency the truth about that miracle came out: Texas school administrators achieved low reported dropout rates the old-fashioned way — they, ahem, got the numbers wrong.

It’s not a pretty picture; compassion aside, you have to wonder — and many business people in Texas do — how the state can prosper in the long run with a future work force blighted by childhood poverty, poor health and lack of education.

But things are about to get much worse.

(click here to continue reading Texas, Budget Cuts and Children – NYTimes.com.)

and concludes, in case you missed his point:

The really striking thing about all this isn’t the cruelty — at this point you expect that — but the shortsightedness. What’s supposed to happen when today’s neglected children become tomorrow’s work force?

Anyway, the next time some self-proclaimed deficit hawk tells you how much he worries about the debt we’re leaving our children, remember what’s happening in Texas, a state whose slogan right now might as well be “Lose the future.”

Written by Seth Anderson

March 7th, 2011 at 10:55 am

Posted in government,politics

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Texas In Trouble

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Looking Up- Texas Capitol Building Austin

Ru-oh. How is Governor Good Hair going to spin this? I’m sure if Texas had seceded, this wouldn’t even be discussed in public. Too bad there isn’t an impeachment mechanism in Texas – Rick Perry has been leading Texas into its current sorry state for a long time.

Texas is expected to collect $72.2 billion in taxes, fees and other general revenue during the 2012-13 budget, down from the $87 billion used in the current two-year budget, Comptroller Susan Combs announced Monday. That puts the shortfall at $27 billion given that maintaining services would run $99 billion for biennium.
Collections for the current budget will come in $4.3 billion less than budgeted.
Click here to read the comptroller’s report (PDF)

Combs’ estimate dictates how much the Legislature will have to spend in the upcoming budget on education, prisons, health and human services and a slew of other state functions.

(click to continue reading Revenue estimate puts shortfall at $27 billion | Postcards.)

Written by Seth Anderson

January 11th, 2011 at 11:51 am

Posted in government

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Rick Perry Vs. Reality

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The bane of Texas, Governor “Good Hair” Perry, resisted accepting stimulus money from the federal government, but was eventually over-ruled by his legislature. Ironically, without the stimulus money, Texas would really be in dire straits. Will Perry apologize? Ha, only when Houston freezes in July.

Listen to the Ice

The Texas state legislature eventually pushed Perry to accept the money, but even in his official acceptance letter, Perry wrote that “I believe there are better ways to reinvigorate our economy and believe [the bill] will burden future generations with unprecedented levels of debt.” However, as the Wall Street Journal noted this morning, the stimulus is the reason that Texas currently has a balanced budget:

[T]he economic downturn is catching up with Texas. Sales-tax revenue started falling in February 2009 compared with the previous year, and only started to recover a bit in April of this year. Although Mr. Perry has railed against the federal economic-stimulus program, billions of dollars from that initiative helped Texas legislators balance the current budget.

Texas faces an $18 billion shortfall in its next two-year budget, which amounts to 20 percent of the total. And Perry’s refusal to consider tax increases is setting the state up for draconian cuts. “There is no way that they will be able to come up with $18 billion in cuts,” said Eva DeLuna Castro, a senior budget analyst at the

(click to continue reading Wonk Room Stimulus-Critic Rick Perry Only Able To Balance His State’s Budget Because Of Stimulus.)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Bill White, better be using this tidbit in his ads against Perry for the upcoming election.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 28th, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in politics

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