Perry: Texas Now All “Urbany”

urban-jungle-2In Robert Draper’s well-done NYT Magazine piece on Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison, Perry goes on about how under his leadership, Texas is no longer hard — it’s gone all “urbany.”

“I think it was Sheridan that said, ‘If I owned hell and Texas, I would rent out Texas and live in hell.’ I mean, this was a really hard place. You look at the men that founded it — the Bowies and the Travises, even Sam Houston, in my opinion possibly the greatest leader this country’s ever developed. . . . I don’t think Texas becomes an urbany, really highly cultured place until like the last decade.”

First of all, if Perry is going to praise Sam Houston, I wish he would govern like him. Perry, who speaks seriously of secession, should learn that Houston opposed secession. He lost the governorship over it.

Anyway, back to urbany Texas. What could Perry possibly mean? Is he praising the arts? Is he praising the deterioration of rural life? Does he mean that Texas life is now just a bowl of cherries? Is he denying the great income disparity that condemns the poor and middle class to second-class status?

Maybe he’s talking about the maturation of gated communities, something like, “Only in the last decade have we developed a true high-culture civilization behind exclusive subdivisions separated from the mob by high fences and economic policies that immobilize the poor?

Urbany? Is that a town in Sarah Palin’s Alaska?

Springtime Democrats in December

LucyFootball Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has played her Charlie Brown’s Lucy-and-the-football trick one more time. Nope, she’s not resigning from the Senate. “AAARGH!” shout Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Attorney General Greg Abbott, and various other would-be GOP placekickers who are now forced to cool their heels.

Health care reform is up in the U.S. Senate. The economy continues its slow recovery. A jobs bill is on the way. Misled by Fox News, I guess, some doomsayers have, until now, thought 2010 wasn’t gonna be great for Democrats. But suddenly they remember: Gov.  Rick Perry was elected with 39 percent of the vote in 2006.

Texas, meanwhile, is an incumbents’ nightmare, and all the incumbents are Republican. Why is it a nightmare? Because Hutchison is playing a practical joke,  Perry is a practical joke, Dewhurst is a bad joke, Comptroller Susan Combs writes dirty jokes (bodice rippers, anyway), Abbott doesn’t get the joke, and House Speaker Joe Straus and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson would rather be at the track or the gun range, respectively, no joke.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that while teabaggers do their best to redraw a Mason-Dixon line along the Red River, most moderate Texans are alarmed that they can’t afford their kids’ college, they can’t afford health insurance, they’re losing their jobs, their mortgage company is knocking on the door, they pay tolls to a Spanish company for the privilege of waiting in traffic and breathing poisonous air. They can’t even get a glass of water when they stop at the diner because there’s a drought and nobody’s planned for the state’s water woes.

Watch out, because December is almost here, the deadline for filing for office just six weeks away, and there’s about to be a scramble among Democrats to see who is running for which statewide office.

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What? No Musical Chairs?

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison announced late yesterday that she won’t resign the Senate until after the March gubernatorial primary. She is, of course, campaigning against Gov. Rick Perry. Houston Mayor Bill White and former Comptroller John Sharp are running for the Hutchison seat that is suddenly not empty. So was Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Etc. Etc. Endless speculation will follow Hutchison’s announcement. But I think it’s best to have a visual, metaphorical representation of the blind musical chairs our political leadership has been engaged in.

People Get Ready

train1I love Texas. I love the Fort Stockton mechanic whose hunger keeps him from scrubbing all the grease from his hands before lunch at the diner. I love the Houston Fifth Ward parents working two jobs each so they can save enough for their three kids’ college. I love the crusty old wildcatters. Got my name from one, Glenn McCarthy. Musicians, artists, teachers, saloon keepers, nurses, firefighters, boot makers, longshoremen, linemen, and Friday night high school football announcers — I salute them all, and whatever little I’ve done in politics and journalism I’ve done for them.

Today’s Republican leadership in Texas has betrayed them all, and it’s time to quit reading tea leaves, playing for personal advantage and holding our fire for days of a sure thing and a safe bet. It’s time to get down and throw the bums out. “This train is leaving it’s rolling down the tracks and there ain’t no turning back.” The Parlor Mob sang that. Not a bad anthem for the times.

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Rick v. Kay, or Godzilla and Mothra on the Mall

Godzilla03Today we begin a new educational feature: Fun with Rick and Kay. The series will provide a continuing look at the antics of our favorite cheerleaders, engaged as they are in a “watermelon watermelon watermelon rind” yell fest with one another. Guest writer whiskeydent launches the series.

Reporters and headline writers are pulling out all the warfare metaphors to describe the Rick and Kay race.

The Washington Post calls it a “Big-Name Showdown.” Politico says it’s a battle between “Two GOP heavyweights,” a description that I’m sure Sen. Hutchison appreciated.  There are so many other pugilism references that I can’t pick just one.  That said, I think “Godzilla vs Mothra!” best sums up the race.

At the moment, the campaigns’ primary weapons are press releases, most of which quote breathless, bombastic spokespersons who are anything but big names.  A reviw of their September literary efforts suggests this race is really being fought out in a sand box instead of a boxing ring (Most of the releases can be found here.)

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Perry Terminates Board Members Investigating Execution

nooseGov. Rick Perry, like Pilate before him, washed his hands of any responsibility for the execution of a man experts say was innocent. And now Perry has fired three board members of the state agency investigating the controversial 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. If ever there was a story that the Texas press corps should to pursue to the point of saturation coverage, this is it.

“Business as usual,” Perry told the Associated Press the firings were “business as usual.” No kidding. Last time it was just some university regents who no longer supported him. This time it was a group of people investigating whether Perry’s government killed an innocent man.

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Moderate Texan Backlash Against Hate Talk, Secession

tejas means friendIs Kay Bailey Hutchison’s surprise showing in a recent poll an indication of a strong backlash among moderates against the politics of hate and threats of secession from Rick Perry and his teabagging mates?

Kay Bailey Hutchison caught up with Rick Perry in the recent Rasmussen poll. Down 46-36 in July, Hutchison is now ahead (within the margin of error), 40-38.

Perry’s hypocritical blustering against the federal stimulus money (he took the money) may also have hurt him with everyone who isn’t a Lipton-lidded teabagger.

The same pollster, Rasmussen, found last April that 75 percent of Texans rejected the secession talk. Dog-whistling the bigots, Perry might be discovering that they are far outnumbered by more tolerant Texans.

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Dog Day Afternoons: Kay and Rick On the Porch

They are like two old show dogs sleeping on the front porch of a Classical Revival mansion while their owners sip Kentucky bourbon and bestir themselves with tales about the parlous condition of their portfolios.

I’m talking about Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison, the thoroughly domesticated governor and U.S. senator. I mean no offense. Both, after all, would prefer we assess their lengthy tenures in dog years. Perry’s nine becomes a youthful one-plus and Bailey’s 16 becomes a little more than two. Continue reading “Dog Day Afternoons: Kay and Rick On the Porch”