Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why Perry Won't Run for President

                                                               photo by: Bob Daemmrich

It is always risky to make predictions.  Even sports analysts, who are great prognosticators, are very reluctant to predict the winner of the National Football League or the World Series.  Conventional wisdom says if you claim to be an expert in something and make a wrong prediction, it somehow diminishes your credibility.  Nonetheless, here goes as far as our governor’s presidential ambitions.

Having been a watcher of Rick Perry’s career for many years, and having served with him in the Legislature, I believe that much like the leopard, his spots do not change.  First of all, Perry is an opportunist; and a very lucky one at that.  Perry got elected as a Democrat and switched to the Republican Party to run for Agriculture Commission after having advocated the end of that office because the incumbent had the audacity to insist that farmers reveal to farm workers what poisons they were spraying on them in the fields.

Perry got elected Lt. Governor with the assistance of the Bush family in a year when there was a Republican tsunami.  Mom and Pop Bush got on television and told Texas that Rick Perry was like a son to them and ought to be elected.  He narrowly outdistanced State Comptroller Sharp who had reaped national claim in office as an excellent public servant.

Perry walked into the office of Governor by default when George Bush went to be president of the United States.  Ironically enough, in a five-person race, in which the Bush family switched their loyalties and supported Kaye Bailey Hutchinson, Perry managed to get elected Governor of this state with 38% of voters voting for him and 62% voting for someone else.  Nonetheless, Perry took it as a mandate and took a sharp turn to the right, consolidating the far-right base and demanding strict loyalty of all of his appointees, which by the most recent election was 100% of the state appointments.  The bottom line is that while Perry has been praised for his political acumen, most of it has been luck and timing.

First of all, my prediction is based on the fact, and my belief, that Perry has never intended to run for President.  Perry loves the attention and once again seeks the opportunity for taking advantage of perfect timing.  Perry is safely in the office of Governor and can take advantage of the taxpayers of the state paying for much of his travel expense; and thanks to the most recent session of the Legislature, can do so without public scrutiny.

Perry continues his move to the far right and while making speeches all over the country, has endeared himself as the “darling” of the Tea Party group and religious right-wingers.  

This is part of the reason I truly believe he will not have the guts to become an official candidate for president and endure the scrutiny that will bring.  As an example, while touting his ability to fight with the federal government on such things as the environment, time has proven him wrong -- there IS, in fact, global warming and Texas’ record of producing jobs at the expense of a healthy climate is becoming more and more apparent.  Perry brags about the state leading the nation in job creation but does not mention the other areas in which Texas leads the nation. These include such things as being near the top in bad statistics -- such as health for children, lack of high school graduates, and use of the death penalty.  

Perry appears to be owned by the super rich in Texas.  In most all cases they demand legislative action benefiting their own personal interests while ignoring the vast majority of Texas’ citizens.

Perry’s treatment of Hispanic and other minority groups will bring more focus and will come to light more if and when he is seriously considered as a real presidential candidate.  A good indicator is the recent foray into San Antonio where Perry spoke to a conservative group of Hispanics who basically sat on their hands instead of giving him the usual standing ovation when he finished his speech.

Most of all his ideological bias will be revealed as intolerant, bigoted and self-serving.  A glimpse into the real Rick Perry is revealed by his recent attempt to present himself as a major disciple of Christ.  In politics it is true as elsewhere that birds of a feather flock together.  Perry has decided to use religion to shore up his image in politics by calling for a national prayer day for Christians only.  The American Family Association with whom he has joined up in this effort is a well known intolerant group which ignores the “love they neighbor” part of the Bible and seems to hate more than it loves.  This group and Perry have made it clear the August 6th prayer meeting is for Christians only.  

Perry's alignment with the American Family Association also hitches him to the pastor helping to lead the charge -- John Hagee. John Hagee was disclaimed by John McCain when Hagee tried to endorse McCain during the 2008 election.  Hagee has asserted the Catholic Church is the “great whore.”  He also said God sent Adolph Hitler to be a “hunter of Jews.”

Even worse is Perry’s dismantling of education in Texas, running his own slush fund to give to his rich buddies -- without adequate oversight and no check on flagrant pandering -- instead of giving to consumers, all of which will soon catch up with him.  I believe, however, Perry’s plan is to raise as much money as possible, while teasing the Republican right-wing that he may really become a candidate, amassing his own slush fund for politics and firmly establishing himself as the “darling” of the far right, hoping that whoever wins the Republican nomination will be almost duty-bound to select him for the number two slot on the Republican team.

You heard it here.  Perry is not running for President.  He is running for Vice-President.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The "RULE OR RUIN" Strategy

Recently the Republican minority leader of the United States Senate was being interviewed concerning the crisis of the Middle East--specifically, the relationship between Israel and Hamas.  He, McConnell, observed there would never be peace between Israel and Hamas because Hamas denied the existence of Israel, and its stated purpose is to destroy it.

Having heard this, it occurred to me that minority leader McConnell’s attitude toward Obama is much the same as Hamas’ attitude about Israel.  At numerous public meetings, Republicans have avowed their stated purpose of opposing everything our president is for in hopes his presidency would fail.  I wonder what’s happened to us in America.  Once upon a time, after the election, everybody advocated putting aside partisanship and with hope to unite behind our president for the common good and for America.  It was then called patriotism.  Now, apparently, it’s all politics.

Sadly, too many Americans are buying into this “rule or ruin” strategy.  

Picture yourself as the coach of a football team.  Suppose you made a judgment about the person who should lead the team as the quarterback, and you discovered a minority of the players were disgruntled about your pick to lead the team.  This disgruntled minority conspired to lay down on the job to score, and to do the best they could in a team effort to make your quarterback look bad.  Would you keep these people on the team?  Would you question their loyalty?  

How can you be truly a loyal American while working to keep the leader of your nation from succeeding in his job to defend the country, to promote the common good and to bring back a shattered economy he had not caused but inherited?  

Harry Truman truly believed any political leader should be a student of history.  He reasoned that, given a set of circumstances, human beings pretty much react in the same manner faced with similar circumstances.  On the eve of the Great Depression, Republican Herbert Hoover advocated balancing the budget, cutting back on spending--most of the same things Republicans advocate now as a way to overcome a sick economy and the drastic shortage of jobs.  FDR on the other hand took the opportunity for America to use its credit card to help us climb out of the depression, and at the same time invested our borrowed money on the infrastructure which in turn created jobs.  

Just here in Jefferson County there remain numerous reminders of FDR Programs which helped end the depression, and left us with a better community.  The courthouse, for example, was built as a part of such a program--and also the sub-courthouse in Port Arthur, and Woodrow Wilson as well as Franklin school.  Most of our basic national parks were put together by Roosevelt’s Conservation Corp.

Too, in our review of history, we should not forget how we got to where we are.  In recent history, one of our most prosperous times when we enjoyed a surplus was under President Clinton, prior to the Bush tax cuts.  The Bush tax cuts, which cost us trillions of dollars for the last 10 years, have apparently not provided jobs for middle-America.  

A major cause of our current fiscal dilemma was brought about by the deregulation efforts of Phil Gramm, a Texas Republican who spent most of his career trying to help the banking industry, which now pays him a very handsome salary to do very little but consult.  Gramm’s efforts at deregulation probably are directly connected and a probable proximate cause of bursting the housing bubble which in turn was the beginning of our economic collapse.  Gramm, and others, expanded their efforts for “voodoo”-type accounting practices, deregulating and removing the watchdogs from Wall Street which caused ordinary working folks to lose millions on companies like Enron.  

The same folks who applauded all of the above measures are now trying to convince us that, by simply trusting insurance companies, the cost of medical care will become affordable for us all--and we will all be taken care of.  

I am also having a difficult time understanding the Republican strategy that spending cuts will somehow lead to more jobs.  I thought a recent quote I read made lots of sense when one fellow observed that it is difficult to starve yourself to success.

Some people bemoan the fact that liberal policies of Democrats are simply an effort to redistribute the wealth. They seem to overlook the fact that for the last 10 years Republicans have done a great job of redistributing the wealth by moving most of it to the top wealthiest folks in our society.  
Instead of creating jobs, all they have done is create huge fortunes that these folks are sitting on while whining about programs which will give the elderly some comfort in their old age and Medicare which will at least give us a safety net when we are old and ill. 
Aren't these among the basic things you would expect a decent democratic country--both the majority and minority--to do for its citizens?