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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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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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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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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I suspect if I were to show you this map and tell you that, in Texas, Travis County (Austin) was the blueberry in the tomato soup, you’d be able to find it.
So let’s say you’re the heavily Republican Texas legislature. And let’s say that Lloyd Doggett’s (D-Austin) continued employment in Washington D.C. really peaves you off. But Austin is already split into three congressional districts that, combined, sprawl out to include all of 17 counties and parts of 4 others. So we’ve already got large swaths of Travis County included into two Republican districts. Most people would say that’s enough.
But not these guys. Under the new plan Travis county will be split into five districts. You would be able to travel from Fort Worth to San Antonio (more than 250 miles north to south), or from Houston to Leakey (over 250 miles east to west) while remaining exclusively in congressional districts that include parts of Austin. Talk about cracking! Almost certainly four of these disctricts would be Republican, and the fifth would combine the most Democratic portions of Austin with the most Democratic portions of San Antonio. East Austin and south San Antonio! Now that’s packing!.
Whatever your thoughts on gerrymandering – I’m ambivalent; it has its pros and cons – you’ve just got to admire the artistry and chutzpah behind this map.
Apollo posted this at 11:44 AM CDT on Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, Politics
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It looks like I fell prey to a widely misreported story about a bill in the Texas legislature that would allow an 85 mph speed limit. Yesterday the Statesman‘s steadfast transportation reporter set everyone straight about what the bill actually would do (perhaps coincidentally, I see that Statesman story I linked to in my previous post is now a dead link).
The upshot: Only about 40 miles of one toll road (which is currently under construction and seems to be the most uneeded road construction project I have ever seen) would have an 85 mph limit. And maybe not even there. Sigh.
The new story does post a reminder about another bill I’ve been following that would raise the general statewide limit to 75 and get rid of our stupid 65 mph nighttime limit. Not as good as 85, but it’s movement in the right direction.
Apollo posted this at 7:59 AM CDT on Monday, April 18th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas
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California lawmakers [some of whom are Democrats!] come to Texas to see how it’s done.
I think this anecdote is essential to understanding how bad California has become:
The day’s agenda included a lunch session with Andrew Puzder, CEO of the company that owns the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurant chains.
Puzder, whose company is based near Santa Barbara, created a stir in California earlier this year when he announced a major expansion in Texas, strongly criticized California’s business climate and suggested that he might move his headquarters to Texas.
Puzder said Thursday that California’s permitting process makes it hard for his company to build new restaurants there and that it is difficult to employ restaurant managers without running afoul of the state’s restrictive labor laws.
When he returned to California from Texas, Puzder said he received a phone call at home from Gov. Jerry Brown, who wanted to talk with him about improving the business climate in the state.
He said representatives of his chain have met with state officials recently and came up with a way to reduce the permitting process from eight months to six.
In Texas, Puzder said, the same process takes six weeks, and there are no arbitrary work rules that affect restaurant managers.
“You can’t build stores in California, you can’t manage them in California, and, even if you can build them, you have to pay a big tax,” he said. “In Texas, you can build them and run them, and you don’t have to pay (income) tax.”
So the best that state officials in California could come up with was reducing the permitting time from 5.7 times as long as it takes in Texas to 4.3 times as long as it takes in Texas? Even their attempts to free up their sclerotic bureaucracy are sclerotic.
Apollo posted this at 8:31 AM CDT on Friday, April 15th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, It's Economics - Stupid!
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Be still, my heart, but the Texas House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow speed limits as high as 85 mph. Having driven the road to El Paso, I’m not convinced 85 is high enough (I was once given a warning in Hudspeth County for doing 86 in an 80, and I was spending about half of my time in the right lane being passed), but it’s better than the status quo. The only reason I can think of to keep the limit that low is that American drivers have for too long been forced to drive too slow, so the speed limit should only be increased incrementally. Given the capabilities and safety of modern automobiles, there are large stretches of the American West where the speed limit, if there should be one, should have three digits.
The harping from the insurance lobbyist is the typical nanny state drivel, arguing that even increasing the speed limit to 75 would cause a “dramatic” increase in deaths. This is poppycock. Since the repeal of the 55 mph limit, most states have had 70 or 75 mph speed limits, and the death rate per mile driven has decreased steadily. We still have a higher fatality rate than Germany, which is more densely populated than America and still has lengthy sections of unrestricted highways. Looking at this map, it’s not obvious to me that the Western states with a 75 mph limit fare significantly worse than those states with a limit of 70 or below.
Apollo posted this at 3:12 PM CDT on Thursday, April 7th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas
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Since moving to Texas I’ve been baffled by the virtual absence of brewpubs. The environment seems perfect for them – a state of do-it-yourselfers, a regulatory environment that encourages small businesses, and a culture that prizes authentic Texasness almost above all else. Yet in my city of a million people, I’m aware of just a small handful. Austin should be absolutely teaming with small breweries.
Intuitively, I guessed the reason was government, and it turns out I’m right. The quote in the title of this post is from a brewpub owner, who points out that if he owned a brewpub in another state he could sell his beer in Texas grocery stores and restaurants, but because of the inanity of Texas’s alcohol regulation, a brewpub in Texas cannot sell beer at any other site. Another brewpub owner in the story points out that he owns other restaurants and cannot sell the beer from his brewpubs at other restaurants he owns.
The story quotes a beer distributors’ lobbyist presenting the “argument” in favor of maintaining the current regulations:
Both sides cite the Texas wine market, which allows wineries to sell both to consumers at the vineyards and to wholesalers for distribution in stores, in their arguments about HB 660.
McKinney says the wine market is “chaotic.”
Oh, the chaos!
Apollo posted this at 10:06 AM CDT on Monday, April 4th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, Who's Your Nanny?
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Because the less money government has, the less it can snoop on you. Scott Henson has a list of some of the horrid “Big Brotherish” dreck currently pending in the Texas legislature. Whatever the substantive arguments of allowing law enforcement to closely monitor citizens, our $23 billion shortfall almost surely means these new programs won’t pass.
Apollo posted this at 9:03 AM CDT on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 as Budgets, Deep in the Heart of Texas, Who's Your Nanny?
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What happens when a law is declared unconstitutional? It doesn’t magically disappear from the statute books; every lawyer and law student in Texas knows that Penal Code Section 21.06 (“Homosexual Conduct”), declared unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas back in 2003, is still on the books. Unenforeable in any context, but still there. The Supreme Court can’t alter what appears in the law books; that takes a legislative act.
There’s some slight movement in the legislature this session to remove the section. Fine. If they’ve got time to do it and don’t mind doing so, bully for them. I can’t imagine it makes a lick of difference one way or the other, but making people happy is what democracy is all about.
But the story cites someone claiming that it would make a difference:
“By leaving it on the books, you create the potential for abuse,” said Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project , which is representing two gay men who were kicked out of an El Paso restaurant in 2009 for kissing in public.
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas could not stop people of the same sex from engaging in sexual activity. Today, the Texas Penal Code still states that it is a Class C misdemeanor to engage in “deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex” — just after a line explaining that the law is unconstitutional.
El Paso police cited the “homosexual conduct” wording when the two men were kicked out of a Chico’s Tacos restaurant. The men refused to leave and called the police, assuming the restaurant staff was out of line with a city ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Instead, an officer told the men it was illegal for two men to kiss in public and said they could be cited for “homosexual conduct.”
At the time, El Paso Police Department spokesman Javier Sambrano described the officers involved as “relatively inexperienced.”
Section 21.06 addresses “deviate sexual intercourse,” not kissing, so not only was the officer ignorant of Lawrence, he was ignorant of the law he cited. But Harringon would have us believe that repealing the unenforceable law will make a difference because an inexperienced police officer who isn’t aware of perhaps the most prominent Supreme Court case of the last decade (which is noted under Section 21.06 in every copy of the penal code I have seen), or of the text of the law itself, will be aware of an unpublicized legislative act that strikes already meaningless language (which the officer hadn’t read) from the penal code?
But what do I know? Perhaps keeping it there actually does “creat[e] a climate favorable to bullying, gay-bashing and hate crimes.” One can imagine some hate criminals, sometime next year, setting out in their rebel-flag-adorned pickups to lynch some gay guy they thought made googly eyes at one of them in the bar. But as Cletus gets in his truck, he sees in a stack of mail he’d picked up earlier that day a hot-off-the-presses 2012 copy of the Texas Penal Code. “Hey fellers,” says he to his buddies, “let me take a gander through here to make sure them queers is still fair game.” And there, where Section 21.06 had been each and every time he’d consulted prior penal codes before lynchings, is a note that the law has been repealed. “Mah Gawd,” says he, “we got to change our lynchin’ policy.”
Apollo posted this at 11:51 AM CDT on Monday, March 28th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot
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