Reading this story, I started reading about Thailand’s strikingly attractive prime minister. The oddest bit about her? She got a master’s degree from Kentucky State University, an historically black college. What wondrous times we live in.
P.S. The King of Thailand was born in Massachusetts.
Apollo posted this at 12:13 AM CDT on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 as Amer-I-Can!
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At the last Republican debate, I was baffled when Rick Santorum attacked Rick Perry for being soft on illegal immigrants and said that Perry “gave a speech in 2001 where he talked about bi-national health insurance between Mexico and Texas! I mean, I don’t even think Barack Obama would be for bi-national health insurance! So, I think he’s very weak on this issue of American sovereignty.”
Politifact, for all its flaws, did a little run-down on what Perry said. But Avik Roy points out the real flaw with Santorum’s, um, attack: bi-national health insurance is a free market idea that in no way impinges on American sovereignty. There are tons of people who legally travel between the US and Mexico all the time, and giving them an insurance policy that covers them wherever they are isn’t One-World Socialism. And allowing Americans to purchase insurance that will cover them if they choose to get treatments in Mexico, if feasible, would be a perfectly fine thing. Santorum’s “attack” is only an attack because it plays off the negative associations of some syllables in a little-understood phrase. It’s like a first-grader who makes fun of a classmate because his epidermis is showing.
But part of Perry’s 2001 speech stuck out to me as demonstrating Perry’s understanding of the border. He praised a study conducted by the state legislature because the “study recognizes that the Mexican and U.S. sides of the border compose one region…” Five years ago, that statement would have struck me as unfortunate, and “weak on this issue of American sovereignty.” Since then, though, I’ve been to and done business with the Rio Grande Valley, and what Perry said is true.
Americans not familiar with the Valley should think of it as being kinda like Quebec: A large indigineous population of Romance Language-speaking people, complete with their own established culture and folkways, that was annexed by an English-speaking people. The Old World is full of conquered peoples who are goverened by those culturally distinct from them, but the Valley and Quebec are the only examples of this in North America. In California, I saw pro-amnesty marchers with signs along the lines of, “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” That’s not really true in California, where the pre-Mexican War population was tiny and dispersed, and, after the cession, almost immediately overwhelmed by Anglo settlers. The Rio Grande Valley, however, came into America with its own sustainable population and, more importantly, there was very little Anglo migration.
Today the Valley remains as it has always been, inhabited almost entirely by people of Mexican descent. The people there have family and business interests on both sides of the river, and culturally share much more with those on the south side than with Americans north of the Nueces. Try driving there: their driving culture is completely different from anywhere else in America, due in no small part to the fact that about 1 out 5 cars has Mexican license plates.
I’m not saying they’re foreigners. People in the Valley are definately American. They will often speak Spanish (and, more often, Spanglish) among themselves, but they conduct official business in English; I’ve read tons of trial transcripts from the area, and their English is actually a little better than in transcripts from the rest of the state. Their accent reflects their bilingualism – English with a rapid-fire Spanish cadence – and takes a while to get used to. They have names like Rogelio, Federico, and Jose, but they go by Roy, Freddy, and Joe. Their political life is more corrupt than in most parts of America, but not nearly so much as in Mexico. And despite being the poorest part of Texas, they are significantly better off than their friends across the river. In short, the place seems exactly like what you would expect to happen if you took a large number of Mexicans in 1848 and gave them 160 years of consistent government, instead of the revolutionaries and despots that governmed Mexico during that time period. The Valley is a singular refutation to those political scientists who argue that culture matters more than regime.
I would encourage you to examine Rick Perry’s comments about our border (and, in hindsight, those of GWB as well) as those of someone who has been the governor of a legitimately bi-national, bi-lingual, bi-cultural area, and had to deal with the practical consequences that flow from that reality. I don’t say this to excuse or even fully explain his stances (some of which I disagree with), but it’s an aspect of Texas government that most non-Texans, and a great many Texans (the vast majority of whom will never go south of the Nueces) don’t appreciate.
Apollo posted this at 3:49 PM CDT on Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas
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When he’s right, he’s right.
“You want to be commander in chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient,” Obama said during remarks at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Council, the nation’s largest gay rights organization.
The reaction of the crowed at the recent Republican debate was shameful. The reaction of the candidates – more so. It angers me that even those representatives of the party that champions our citizens in uniform would allow such a thing to happen.
Jamie posted this at 10:11 PM CDT on Sunday, October 2nd, 2011 as Conservatism, Denizens of DC
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the police are only minutes away. So goes the old gun-owner’s saying. But this story takes it to a different level–when hours count, police are only a few days away:
La Vau disappeared last Friday night. The retired cable company worker was known for taking weekend trips on his own — to the beach, wine country, shopping — so the family didn’t worry.
But when Wednesday came and no one had heard from him, they filed a missing person report with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Officials told the family it would take several days to process the report, [La Vau's son] Sean said.
“We didn’t have time to wait,” he said. So with his sisters, girlfriend and other relatives, Sean turned the kitchen of his Lancaster home into a search-and-rescue headquarters.
There’s no help like self-help.
Apollo posted this at 12:03 AM CDT on Saturday, October 1st, 2011 as Amer-I-Can!
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Gail Collins commenting on how provencial Rick Perry is:
RICK PERRY has never spent any serious time outside of Texas, except for a five-year stint in the military. Nobody sent him off to boarding school to expand his horizons.
So aside from the five years that he spent flying around the world (his website states that he flew to “South America, Europe and the Middle East”) he’s never been outside Texas? Does one have to hate the place one is from and be a rolling stone to spend “serious time” away from the place of one’s upbringing?
And let’s clarify what “outside of Texas” means. Perry is from Paint Creek, but has mostly lived in Austin since 1991. I guess both of those places are “in” Texas, but they’re 268 miles apart. For reference, it’s 250 miles from Woodbridge, Virginia to Manhattan.
So let’s rehash. Rick Perry grew up in the smallest small town on the Texas prairie, spent four years 325 miles away (it’s 328 miles from Woodbridge, Virginia to Yale) at a college whose enrollment was literally thousands of times the size of his high school class, spent five years flying to four different continents and almost certainly being exposed to people from every state and dozens of countries, and has spent 20 years living in a city of about a million people hundreds of miles from where he grew up.
But his horizons weren’t expanded because he didn’t go to boarding school.
Apollo posted this at 1:48 PM CDT on Monday, September 19th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, Kulturkampf
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Nine years and 364 days ago, America was attacked. This was so important an event that most of the journalism this weekend will discuss where the journalists were when it happened. You can find many, many people who were in interesting places, so this blog post is about where we weren’t.
We weren’t on the planes. We weren’t in the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. Physically, we weren’t any place interesting.
We weren’t thinking about Iraq or Afghanistan. We weren’t thinking about promoting democracy or defending civilization. Mentally, we weren’t thinking about the big questions.
We weren’t afraid that today could be it. We weren’t wondering what long wars would do to our souls. Spiritually, we weren’t preparing.
It seems as though Al Qaeda hadn’t planned a serious follow up on their spectacular attacks. 9/11 was less a formal declaration of war than it was a primal scream; it was the sort of scream that unexpectedly starts an avalanche. We thought it was the well planned Chess move of a geopolitical grandmaster. We resolved to hit hard and fast, and then hope that we need hit no more. Hence our “light footprint” plan. One can fight a conventional war against a conventional nation. But this threat to our nation wasn’t conventional.
The American military is the most precise and lethal killing machine the world has ever seen. Nothing is its equal in conventional war, so we can’t exactly blame our enemies for declining to fight conventional wars. Guerrilla insurgencies are cheap, nasty, and effective. A fifteen pound weapon, the RPG-7, in the hands of a foolish teenager, can cripple an M1 tank. The RPG-7 is less than a thousand dollars; the M1 costs at least two million and sometimes more than four. You do the math. This war can be won, but not the easy way of using superior firepower. By the way–these wars weren’t budgeted for, but were handled in emergency supplementals.
We weren’t thinking that flying from DC to NYC would begin at the airport with theater. They pretend to check for terrorists, and we pretend that we’re safer.
The terrorists clearly weren’t expecting that 9/11 would inspire a generation. But we must be on guard. Our intentions are good, but virtually all intentions are. Good intentions are the best justification for ruthless evil, for sacrificing today’s generation for a greater future. Good intentions are the only pavement that goes anywhere, to heaven or hell or Utopia. At least we know there’s no such place as Utopia.
Hubbard posted this at 8:46 AM CDT on Saturday, September 10th, 2011 as Amer-I-Can!
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So I read this hilarious David Brooks column. Without saying as much, Brooks seems utterly horrified at Rick Perry. Personally, I don’t care what David Brooks thinks; the Republicans could nominate David Brooks and he’d still find an excuse to write a preening column endorsing Obama one week before the election.
But he concludes with a thought, variations of which I’ve seen a few times:
The second line of attack [for Romney] is to shift what the campaign is about. If voters think Nancy Pelosi is the biggest threat to their children’s prosperity, they will hire Perry. If they think competition from Chinese and Indian workers is the biggest threat, they will hire Romney. He’s just more credible as someone who can manage economic problems, build human capital and nurture an innovation-based global economy.
Huh? Why would he seem more credible at that? Rick Perry has been governor of Texas for ten years, during which it has grown by 4.3 million people (20%); in the last 10 years (only 4 of which involved Mitt Romney), Massachusetts grew by about 200,000 people (3.1%). Texas gained 4 congressional seats; Massachusetts lost 1 (last time Massachusetts gained a seat? 1910). Under Rick Perry, Texas has gone from worse than Massachusetts in unemployment, to about the same (all while absorbing a new population of 4.3 million; it has taken Massachusetts since 1890 to add 4.3 million residents to its population). Go here and poke around; in 2000, per capita GDP in Texas was 81.8% that of Massachusetts, and in 2010 it’s 83% (in 1990, it was 84%, so Texas lossed ground to Massachusetts during the 90s, then gained on Massachusetts during the Perry years, 4 of which overlapped with the Romney years).
I don’t want to turn this into bash Massachusetts time; plainly that’s not my intention. By any number of measurement it’s a nicer place than Texas (divorce rate, illegitimacy, literacy, personal income, summer weather). But Brooks (and some others I’ve seen but ignored) specifically asked who is more credible at “manag[ing] economic problems, build[ing] human capital[,] and nurtur[ing] an innovation-based … economy.” Perry has done just that in Texas; during the current downturn, the strength of the Texas economy that Perry has presided over has caused the state to really stand out. Romney was governor of Massachusetts for four years, during which … well, I guess it was a fine enough state to live in, but I don’t remember stories about the booming Massachusetts economy, or Massachusetts doing markedly better than other states, or Massachusetts being the place to move,the sorts of stories we’ve seen about Texas for most of the last decade.
So looking at their track records, why would Brooks so flippantly assert that Romney’s “just more credible” on this front? Beats me. My presumption is that there is a subset of respectable Republicanish types who view any believing Christian from south of Mason & Dixon as nothing more than a backwoods culture warrior. I’m already seeing Perry being painted in this way, but I don’t get the impression that’s how he’s running his campaign (notice Jonah’s article doesn’t really show any examples of Perry picking these fights). He’s got a genuinely excellent record of achievement in public office to run on – better than any Republican nominee’s since, at least, Reagan – and I’d prefer to see the northeastern snoots at least pretend to address that before blowing him off as some bumpkin who’s unfit to carry Mitt Romney’s sandals.
Apollo posted this at 10:22 PM CDT on Friday, August 26th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism, Wicked Crazy Massachusetts
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David Axelrod says that Rick Perry “has called for secession.”
That’s exactly like saying Thomas Hobbes “has called for the state of nature.” Perry discussed what might lead to secession, and said that secession would be a Bad Thing. What Axelrod said is a lie, and if he thinks that will work, I’m happy to say that he doesn’t know Rick Perry. With a smile and a laugh Perry will leave Axelrod looking like a fool.
Apollo posted this at 8:09 PM CDT on Friday, August 12th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, Scorched Earth
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Oh man, I’ve lived in Texas for four years now, and I am quite excited that the rest of you guys are going to get to meet Rick Perry. I encourage you to read about the man (this story, linked from Drudge, covers Perry’s rural Texas childhood), but here’s what you need to know:
1. He is the most important man in the room. I’ve personally seen him in a large room full of very important people, and he stood out as obviously the most important. During last year’s Republican primary he was opposed by Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Hutchinson is well liked here, has won numerous state wide elections, and is a sitting U.S. Senator. Standing with Perry on the debate stage, she looked like his secretary. Perry wears French cuffs with cowboy boots without the slightest hint of affectation. How? Because he’s the most important man in the room.
2. The man is a political hovercraft: he skims over the choppiest water without getting tossed about. He’s made a few proposals here that have not gone over well at all (requiring HPV vaccinations for girls; a very large highway building scheme), but at the end of the day he comes out smelling like daisies. I’ve never met another person who actually admits liking the governor, but then he beats a sitting U.S. Senator 51-30 in a primary, and trounces the mayor of the state’s largest city 55-42 in the general election. There are things that happen that seem like bad political news for Perry, but they actually have little effect on election results.
3. The man is a bona fide conservative. Not a nobles oblige conservative like W., not a that-seems-like-the-right-thing-to-do-for-my-country-right-now conservative like McCain, but a genuine conservative. Like most of us who grew up in rural America, he understands that pretty much any time the federales get involved in the lives of citizens, it’s bad for the citizens. He believes – like a good Hobbesian – that government needs to be small, predictable, and out of sight. Don’t let the libertoids distract you by pointing to some weird religious practices they may object to; this man would certainly be the most conservative and libertarian president since Reagan. The comparisons may, actually, need to go back farther than that.
4. He doesn’t lose.
Apollo posted this at 12:21 AM CDT on Friday, August 12th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, Is It 2012 Yet?
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Markets will rise and fall. But this is the United States of America. No matter what some agency may say, we’ve always been and always will be a triple-A country.
The fact that we elected a president who would make this statement is proof that this statement is false.
Apollo posted this at 3:22 PM CDT on Monday, August 8th, 2011 as Amer-I-Can!, Barack Obama Couldn't Persuade a Bear to Crap in the Woods
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I have always maintained that in a democracy, the people everywhere and always get exactly the government they deserve. I, therefore, will not comment on the American people in light of this. How the world’s greatest republic came to have such a petulant and irresponsible ruling class will one day be the subject of numerous books. I hope I will have enough money to buy them.
Apollo posted this at 9:20 PM CDT on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 as Amer-I-Can!
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When you use a one-time cash infusion to create or preserve jobs that would naturally not exist, the impact of that cash infusion is temporary.
I’ll give you an example of how this is working. Here in Texas, we almost had to cut the budget back in 2009. It was going to be a pretty dramatic budget cut. But then a ton of stimulus money rained on us, so we were able to avoid laying off government employees (mostly teachers). Well 2011 has rolled around and money failed to fall from the heavens on us, so we either had to raise taxes or cut the budget. So obviously we cut the budget. The actual amount of budget cutting ($4 billion – that’s not a per capita budget cut, but an actual decrease in the amount of money we’re spending) matches up almost perfectly with the amount of stimulus money we got two years ago.
So now tens of thousands of government employees (mostly teachers) are getting laid off. Considering that the main purpose of the stimulus was to give state and local governments money to avoid laying off government workers, I have to presume a similar phenomenon is taking place in jurisdictions across the country this year.
In the end, the number of jobs “saved” by the stimulus will continue to shrink. The relevant statistic will not be how many “jobs” were saved, but rather how many “job-years” were saved. Because the effects of a temporary stimulus are, shockingly enough, temporary.
P.S. +5 internets to the first Democrat who suggests that the tailing off of the stimulus’s impact means we need a “permanent stimulus.” A super bonus of 10 additional internets will be awarded if that same Democrat suggests the 14th Amendment allows the president to borrow money for a stimulus without Congressional approval (“Without a permanent stimulus, our unemployment rate will, eventually, rise to 100%, which will bring into question the validity of our debt in violation of the 14th Amendment. The president has to see that the laws are faithfully enforced, so it’s a no-brainer that he has the power to borrow this money.”)
Apollo posted this at 3:53 PM CDT on Monday, July 4th, 2011 as Bailoutistan, CHANGE!, Deep in the Heart of Texas, It's Economics - Stupid!
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Judging by the recent hubub in Wisconsin over stripping government employees of their collective bargaining rights, we government workers of Texas are mighty oppressed. All of those things the Wisconsinites lost – we’ve never had!
Today’s Austin American-Statesman has a neat story on what life’s like here behind the Lone Star Curtain for oppressed government employees. It’s the story of Travis County settling a lawsuit with a woman for $90,000. In the course of this story we learn:
- For six years, the discord between this woman (who made $141,181 per year at the time of her firing) and another female county employee (one of her subordinates, who eked out a meager existence on $118,598 per year) created a bad work environment for others.
- To learn that fact, the county hired a consultant for $54,500.
- To alleviate the discord, the county hired a mediator for $12,900.
- When the $12,900 mediator failed (!), the county fired the two women.
- The county paid $40,000 to the subordinate to avoid a lawsuit, but rejected the supervisor’s settlement offer of “more than $500,000.”
- The supervisor, the subject of the story, then sued the county.
- Because certain people at the county attorney’s office might be called as witnesses, the county hired outside legal counsel.
- That legal counsel has thus far cost $125,000 just to deal with this matter.
- The county is now paying this woman a $90,000 settlement, because it would have cost $200,000 to take it to trial.
What lessons has the county drawn from these facts?
[County Judge] Biscoe said he does not think Perez should be rehired to the human resources department. However, Perez could seek employment with other county departments that are run by other elected officials and for which the commissioners do not make personnel decisions, he said.
And so the wheel turns.
Apollo posted this at 7:49 AM CDT on Thursday, June 30th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas
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Just because my governor has better hair than they will ever have and is an impeccable dresser does not make it acceptable for unkempt journalists to spread rumors that he’s gay. Rumors of metrosexuality – in case any acid-dropping hippy-types have flashbacks to 2004 – should also be considered shot down.
Apollo posted this at 8:16 PM CDT on Monday, June 20th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism
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Can it really be that we’re going to kill off the ethanol subsidy? In one fell swoop, could Congress both make my food cheaper and make my car’s engine last longer? Short of cutting me a check, it’s hard to think of a single act that Congress could take that would have better effects on me personally.
P.S. I’m sorry for the ghastly picture of DiFi the Post has at the link. Block that out of your mind. Think, instead, of the gorgeous new M5, and all the pleasant sounds it will make while burning corn-free gasoline.
Apollo posted this at 12:34 AM CDT on Friday, June 17th, 2011 as Amer-I-Can!, It's Economics - Stupid!, Tea Time
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