NOT SO FAST
Re: Seton Motley’s Simply Conservative:
Texas Gov. Perry sounds almost too good to be true. Has he been mentioned for ’08? And if not, why?
I was pleased this morning to see the byline of one Seton Motley on the web page of The American Spectator. He’s a good egg who has spent a long time haunting the halls of the Texas Capital Building, and his head and heart are in the right place politically, so it’s good to see his name and writing being distributed on a wider basis.
That having been said, the thesis in his piece on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s performance in office is (how to put this nicely?) a tad overstated on the Governor’s behalf.
Don’t get me wrong: Governor Perry has done a good, solid, workmanlike job for the people of Texas over the last six years. He has kept a keen eye on government spending and waste, and he has indeed signed the good bills that have been sent to him by the Texas Legislature.
But Motley’s piece makes it sound as if he accomplished all these things standing alone against the evil forces of Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and an out-of-control Texas Legislature, and somehow overcame a terrible mess left behind by the departing George W. Bush. This is a reading of history that is at best misguided and quaint.
First of all, the only real powers the Governor of Texas has is to veto bills and make appointments to state commissions and boards. Other than those real powers, the Texas governor only has his personal powers of persuasion. It is in this second, less-defined area that a Texas governor can have the most effect, and it is in this area that George W. Bush was extremely effective and Governor Perry has been more than a little lacking.
George W. Bush when Governor faced a Texas legislature that was ruled over by two of the most powerful Democrat figures in recent state history: Lt. Governor Bob Bullock and Speaker of the House Pete Laney. When Gov. Bush took office in 1995, the conventional wisdom was that Bullock and Laney would completely dominate him and he would get none of his agenda enacted into law. What happened instead was the spectacle of a green Republican Governor playing these two old warhorses like a pair of cheap fiddles, and the 1995 session was one of the most successful sessions in the history of the Texas Legislature, as Bush kept his promises on every one of the seven major issues he had made the centerpieces of his campaign. For six years he was one of the most effective governors this State has ever known, and he left behind a budget in surplus and a state economy growing much faster than the rest of the nation.
Governor Perry, in contrast, has not even been able to establish fundamentally cordial relationships with a Speaker and Lt. Governor of his own party. The recent school finance reform effort got done over the dead carcass of Perry’s own proposal, which was defeated in the House in 2005 by an unprecedented unanimous vote of 126 to 0 (even its own House sponsor could not bring himself to cast a “yes” vote on it), and failed in a later vote by a “closer” margin of 124 to 8. This is not exactly what one might call “leadership.” The truth is that this reform would likely have gotten done more than a year ago were it not for Perry’s refusal to consider ideas other than his own on the matter.
If Seton wanted to give credit where credit is really due for the good things that have taken place in Texas governance in recent years, he should have written his piece about House Speaker Tom Craddick. Craddick is the real driving force behind the great conservative victories in areas such as tort reform we have seen in Texas in recent years, which of course is why he is so reviled in the Texas news media.
Again, it was nice to see Seton’s byline on your website. No doubt even greater things lie ahead for him in the coming years.
I just hope he gets his story straight next time.
— David Blackmon
Perry has just in the last few months decided to put National Guard on the border; this was after he saw which way the wind was blowing. He has not done anything about all the hiring halls put up for the ILLEGALS and the cities that do not allow their police to check for legal status. At least one of our Montgomery County Commissioners has bragged about hiring ILLEGALS for his work crews. Doesn’t the state have anything to say about that?
How can you say we have a “business tax-and-regulatory friendly state in the land,” and then turn around with “just passed in special session is a large, broad and incoherent business tax to offset much needed and Texas Supreme Court mandated property tax reduction.” Perry pushed this tax increase for business.
And I don’t thank him for most of the 300,000+ Louisiana people — our crime rate has gone up since they showed up. They are not used to having laws to live by, just look at Nagin asking for the National Guard to help catch a gang. Their police are useless.
Perry is not doing near enough to stop employers from hiring ILLEGALS and protecting our border.
— Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas
Great article on Governor Perry. As a Texan and a conservative, I already knew there were many good things he has done for the state. Unfortunately, where he has dropped the ball has been on education. The “broad and incoherent business tax to offset the much needed and Texas Supreme Court mandated property tax reduction” is a bit of a misnomer. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state had to find a way to equitably fund education, not reduce property taxes. That was only after school districts such as my own had to sue the state. So-called “property wealthy” districts had to send millions back to the state so it could be redistributed to poorer districts in Texas’s so-called Robin Hood plan. How’s that for a conservative plan of action? The Robin Hood plan resulted in laid off teachers, unrepaired facilities and programs cut because districts were going broke and it would not have changed without the Supreme Court ruling. The deadline to fix it was this summer; the “incoherent business tax” was the result.
— Russell Gil
Do you live in Texas? You’re giving way too much credit to Governor Perry. Recognize that in Texas, the governor has limited ability and the real power rest with the Lieutenant Governor. If Perry is so great, why did it take numerous special sessions to accomplish property tax relief? With a first ever Republican controlled House and Senate? Perry lacks charisma and leadership. Don’t give Perry credit for Texas’ growth in business. The lack of a state tax combined with affordable housing are what contribute to Texas’s business growth. Yes, he “delivered” Prop. 12 but what Republican Governor couldn’t accomplish that with both state houses also controlled by the Republicans? As for Perry’s actions during the hurricanes? Go ask Texans living in East Texas if they are happy with the Governor. Yes, we reached out when Katrina hit. And now we have higher crime in Houston. Rita hit after Katrina and many Texans are still trying to recover.
I vote Republican but do not plan to vote for Perry. The Governor’s seat is largely a figurehead seat and Perry is mediocre at best.
As a “foot soldier” in the Texas Republican revolution (as a college student in 1980 I organized GOP students for Reagan, worked at phone banks and canvassed neighborhoods for two decades, served as a precinct chair in Bowie County and Travis County, served on the Bowie and Travis County Executive Committees and was a delegate to two state Republican conventions), I can state first hand what is taking place in Texas is because of George W. Bush. Before W. Texas was a solidly Democrat state. Thanks to him the Democrat stranglehold on state politics and voter loyalty was broken. Anyone who questions this simple fact knows nothing about Texas politics.
Sadly, this most conservative (his record is more conservative than Reagan’s) of presidents is being frustrated in doing this on a national level by self-described conservatives who couldn’t get elected dog catcher in a “Red Dog Republican” bastion. The good news is that George W. Bush and Rick Perry are not easily addled by the whiny left or right, but stay true to their Texas principles. That’s why we’re kicking terrorists’ butts, taxes aren’t being raised, the national economy is booming, the deficit is dropping faster than John Murtha’s courage, and freedom is on the march after an eight-year hiatus during the 1990s.
— Michael Tomlinson
Unfortunately, through no fault of his own, Gov. Perry will have to sit in Austin for a while, I fear. Because of his predecessor, I fear the nation is not yet ready for another Texas-based POTUS for the near term.
I’m making my “Perry for President 2008” bumper stickers right now!!
— David Wholihan
Los Angeles, California
Seton Motley replies:
So many misconceptions and, to coin a George W. Bushism, misrememberings, of the facts on the ground in the Lone Star State this decade past.
Let me first note a very odd personality trait of the Texas conservative, of whom are the vast majority of those writing in the negative, which may not be unique thereto but is certainly far more pronounced than when found in others of like ideological proclivity. Any single deviation from the conservative checklist, real or (very often) imagined, dooms any pol to eternal intellective damnation.
Save for the current President, who for some reason, despite innumerable flights of unconservative fancy, receives a perpetual pass from these very same supposed ideological bulwarks.
Mr. Blackmon offers some very kind words, for which I am sincerely grateful, but then meanders off into factually challenged oblivion. The very many conservative successes I attribute to Governor Perry, all of which transpired during his gubernatorial administration, are somehow in Mr. Blackmon’s mind the work (at least in part) of his predecessor. Does Mr. Blackmon likewise consider the national economic success we currently enjoy in the Year of Our Lord 2006 to be the result of the good works of President Bill Clinton?
That is more than a might silly, when one considers that the Perry policies that created these Texas times of plenty were often complete reversals or rectifications of those of then Governor Bush. To cite but one example, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) incepted by Bush was a slapdash, I-need-to-run-for-President-as-a-compassionate-conservative-candidate free for all, with literally no means test in place. The graft and loot that followed was inevitable, not that Bush cared as he would by then be long out the door. (See also: the Medicare prescription drug monstrosity.)
Governor Perry took the considerable political hit for the team and cleaned up the mess that Bush left, putting in place a financial ceiling for eligibility and receiving the inevitable Texas Press excoriation for so doing.
Of course Bush was better at working with Democrats than Perry, then as now (for example, Ted Kennedy on No Child Left Behind). But are these the results for which we really wish to strive?
The credit he attributes to Speaker Craddick is equally baffling. To wit, in 2003, facing the $10 billion shortfall, Perry commandeered the legislative session and, working with the 1994 nationally reminiscent Republican freshmen, slammed the door on spending and carved out an eminently responsible budget.
But this angered both Craddick and Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst, who did not like having the power and the following spotlight shining elsewhere. Perry magnanimously, and mistakenly, returned the reins to the Dyslexic Duo for the 2005 session, and an 18.7 percent budgetary increase was the result.
And Dewhurst is an unquestionable, unanimity-vote seeking mess, trying to get the most Starboard and Port Senators to agree on not just anything, but everything, which is a recipe for the type of legislative and budgetary disaster we saw last year.
The border is not Perry’s, nor any state-level officials, job, and he is most certainly not responsible for rounding up illegals trudging to work in the boroughs of Montgomery County or anywhere else. That being said, he has done far more than any other Governor, including the likes of fellow border statesmen like Arizona’s Janet “Federal Declared Emergency” Napolitano, and her New Mexico cohort in the all-talk-no-action coalition, Bill Richardson.
The lawsuit mentioned related to the Robin Hood perpetually fund the Rio Grande Valley money pit plan was brought by counties that had been forced by said system to the $1.50 per $100 valuation constitutionally mandated property tax limit, enough of them being present to represent a de facto, unconstitutional statewide property tax quorum. Robin Hood was the result of a 1987 Texas Supreme Court decision predicated on the definitions mentioned; the recently addressed ruling was as a result of the land levy limitations.
That Perry is blamed for a nineteen-year-old judicial ruling, when he was at the time a Democrat state Representative, speaks volumes to the aforementioned Texas conservative intellectual peculiarity. He is hamstrung by, not culpable for, this idiotic bit of judicial tyranny.
The same two reasons why the budget increased nearly 20% in two years are the same two reasons why it took so long to accomplish property tax relief; they are Speaker Tom Craddick and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst.
And then Governor Bush had very little to do with Texas becoming a solidly Republican state. That was just another swell on the Ronald Reagan Southern tide unturnable on which Bush was merely hanging ten. Fortuitous timing, little more.
BLINK AND SINK
Re: Lisa Fabrizio’s Who’s Listening?:
Good points by Lisa Fabrizio, as we have grown to expect. What I am listening to is the Dems’ loud howl that they are NOT in favor of “Cut and Run” — when in fact, they are in major miff mode over the label. I think what Murtha’s Marine Maulers actually want is for them to BLINK and SLINK. Has a nice ring for that broadening yellow streak down the blue state peace seekers-at-the price-of-honor, huh?
— Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California
Ms. Fabrizio once again, with surgical precision, cuts the vitals from Democrat demagoguery. Democrats are the party of retreat, surrender, and victimhood. I am reminded of Winston Churchill’s speech while seeking election during the dark and early days of WWII when he said “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil tears and sweat.” The Democrat equivalent for today’s cowardly crew might be: “We have everything to offer if only you will surrender your national pride, your freedom, morality, language, and religion.” This is clearly a party that would have both Franklin Roosevelt and JFK spinning in their graves.
Democrats, what ever happened to Jack Kennedy’s “bear any burden” in defense of democracy?
— Jay W. Molyneaux
Juno Beach, Florida
Ms. Fabrizio’s article on “Who’s Listening” hit the mark. I have one more group to add to hers, the other folks listening are military families. We hear our weak-minded and loosed lipped congressmen/women and senators bash our soldiers. We see how the terrorists are emboldened by remarks of elected leaders who should know better than to paint a target on our soldiers. We hear the rush to condemn Marines who were fired upon and the judgment given them, even before a proper discovery of facts or a trial. We know that those who were beheaded at the hands of insurgents lost their lives because folks in Washington gave the insurgents the reason to kill them. We know. We have seen the face of war in ways they never will.
As for my family and the families of many others…we will remember. I believe there will be one family who loses a loved one who will draw a line in the sand and file a lawsuit in federal court charging reckless endangerment and name large numbers of Democratic senators and congressmen charging them with encouraging the enemy in a time of war. They will do it because they know the loss of a son or daughter can be pinned squarely on those who treasonously supported and encouraged the insurgency.
The dishonor belongs to the Democrats and their pandering to our enemies. They put our children in harm’s way and then tease the terrorist by daring them to attack and destroy us. This isn’t a game of brinkmanship but a war in which we fight for our survival as a nation…and yes, one nation under God. We will remember…we will long remember.
— Beverly Gunn
East Texas Rancher and Military Mom
I am so thankful that Bush was our President instead of Gore after 9/11, but I am very unhappy with him over border security with the understanding that Gore would have been even worse…if that is possible. The Dems cannot be counted on to protect this country. They have shown they are very good at rolling over and playing dead. I see a picture of Kerry, Kennedy or any of the cut and run group and think, of the old joke, would you buy a used car from this person? Would you bet your life they will protect you?
I laughed out loud when Bush said it was URGENT we control our border and I wrote and told him, “NO, URGENT was doing something when you first took office, not 6 years later.” Border control is past being urgent, it is vital for our national security.
As far as illegal immigration the laws we have now would work if anyone had the guts to enforce them. Big business is pulling the strings on this; they love the cheap slave labor.
REMEMBER THE ALAMO!
— Elaine Kyle
LASH AT WHOM?
Re: Ralph R. Reiland’s The Great Backlash?:
I suspect I wasn’t the only one who, when starting to read Mr. Reiland’s piece, was expecting some insight as to how we “average folks” are getting pretty fed up with the elites in our own Republican party — a president who ignores the will of the people on immigration; senators and representatives as prone to drunken-sailor-like, out-of-control spending as any members of any congress in the past; media types who are as guilty of demonization of the opposition as the opposition is of them.
But no, Mr. Reiland confined his focus to the Democratic Party — not that there’s anything wrong with that! It’s just that Republican elites would do well to take the points of Reiland’s piece, hold them up to a mental mirror, and recognize that at least in some ways the reverse reflected image is no more attractive, no more appealing, every bit as off-putting, and may ultimately prove every bit as self-defeating.
— C. Vail
Too slippery. In Bush’s country the individual has a choice to accept Bush’s plan or not. Al Qaeda does not give the individual that choice. We peons know this.
— Annette Cwik
I must not have gotten enough sleep last night or, could be I am just not insightful enough, but I seem to have missed some point Mr. Reiland was trying to make in his piece today. Regarding Governor Perry however, that was very interesting reading.
— Roger Ross
And your point is? The last two paragraphs don’t conclude logically to make the point in your title or premise in what would otherwise be a good article even if it is somewhat “Frank” and condescending. I would give it a B- if I were an English professor.
May I with tongue in cheek give a big SPOT ON. Agree with all you have said. The nice part of this is the Democrats just keep talking and turning off more voters.
— Elaine Kyle
This article hits the nail squarely upon its head in many respects. This, it seems to me, is precisely the origin of the Reagan Democrats that voted heavily Republican in 1980 and 1984. It is quite clear that the world of academe, from pre-school to the highest graduate schools, is completely dominated by the socialist elite that took over the Democrat Party after the train wreck of the 1968 Democrat convention. They have taken over and dominate the entertainment industry, except perhaps the country music genre. Yes, I agree that the MSM is similarly dominated, as is the industry of governmental bureaucracy.
My quibble with the authors is that the world of the elite has moved on, but the authors have not addressed the transition. Democrat or left wing no longer seems to describe the white wine and brie crowd, in my humble opinion. They have become one-world, open borders, pacifist, utopians, and the news media is trying to get out front of the crowd.
I also would opine that the elitist wing of the Republican Party is racing full throttle to join the crowd. One sees this in the McCain, Graham, Hagel, etc., cabal in Congress. One sees it on full display with Brit Hume and Fred Barnes and their like-minded compatriots nightly on Fox News. They demonstrate their separation from and total lack of understanding of the regular citizen outside the Washington Beltway with their take on the illegal immigrant invasion and other issues.
The new elite may not all agree with the UN or George Soros as the one true role model, but they are all sold on a globalist, “we are citizens of the world” approach. The majority of citizens in red state America will not surrender to this philosophy. I am glad that I am old enough that I shall not likely see the outcome of the struggle.
— Ken Shreve
I’m a little surprised to read this accurate summary of the current U.S. political scene in TAS. Apparently George W. Bush has exhausted his political capital and is so far behind in his payments that conservative pundits are starting to consider him a credit risk. Since religious faith is the lingua franca between W. and Osama, maybe we should encourage both of them to wander off into the desert and meet God. The Crusades are so Middle Ages.
— Paul Dorell
Highland Park, Illinois
One can’t help but wonder if the current Republican Congress won’t find itself the object of a stinging backlash from its base, the result of its profligate spending and its contemptible squandering of the taxpayers’ money on so many ridiculous “earmarks.”
— John G. Hubbell
Re: James Bowman’s Wordplay:
I would welcome a return to the crossword puzzles whose answers were synonyms for the clue word. When I started the puzzles at a relatively early age, it was a good way to build your vocabulary. One could easily find puzzles targeted to about any difficulty level that one wished. The standard newspaper puzzle (not the Times) was a medium level of difficulty and both fun and challenging. If I could regularly completely solve them, I felt it an accomplishment. I have NEVER completely solved a Sunday Times puzzle.
Now the typical puzzle is nothing more than a game of Trivial Pursuit in a crossword format. But then it seems that no public school graduates under 40 years old have the vocabulary for the puzzles of the 1950s anyway. Just my observations.
— Ken Shreve
Re: Tom Bethell’s Why Isn’t the Whole World Developed?:
I think you could add some of the things written about by P.J. O’Rourke. I paraphrase that he says the government should be mostly corruption free, people need to believe in their government and the laws of the land, people need the right to own things and have the ability to vote, and women need those rights as well. I think instead of those pitiful ads that come on TV begging for money to “save a child” we should be sending birth control to women in poor countries. A woman who NEVER has any chance of having a say in her reproduction rights is a slave. I am a woman and old enough to remember what the U.S. was like before birth control pills and after birth control pills. Women took off in business, in government, in every area. We became even richer and more free as a people when civil rights and women’s right took off.
Thanks for the article. Makes good sense.
— “A Fan”
Another excellent book about this subject is P.J. O’Rourke’s Eat the Rich. After he looks into (in his own special way) the economies of several nations the list he comes up with for prosperity is:
– Hard Work
– Property Rights
– Rule of Law
– Democratic Government
It’s a great book that’s full of his own brand of humor, plus being a useful explanation of economics.
— Troy Harmon
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Re: Jameson Campaigne’s letter (under “Three Easy Steps”) in Reader Mail’s The Nature of the Game:
Re Jameson Campaigne’s solution to the border problem — Good one! I had thought a good back-up would be to add piranhas, but then I thought no, alligators might eat them — swallow them whole. Then the piranhas might gnaw their way to freedom, disabling the alligators for the purpose intended. And then PETA would get involved and we would wish we had just built a bridge over troubled waters, instead.
Mike Showalter’s Virginia “giggle” reminded me of the one about West Virginia — they were thinking about doing a CSI: West Virginia, but they couldn’t because the DNA was all the same and there were no dental records.
— Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s The Boy Speaker:
This is a little late since I didn’t stumble across your piece on Newt until it hit the Washington Times and then RealClearPolitics.com.
Ever since Newt’s long-ago remarks about how women would be bad candidates for combat because they get “infections” that would preclude their serving “30 days in trenches,” I’ve wanted this yokel to get a public putdown from thinking conservatives — and I’m a believer in limiting roles for women in combat. Thirty days. Trenches. Infections. Just three words told me how ignorant and superstitious this man is.
Bravo. (James Pinkerton’s column in Newsday helped, too.)
— Joan Maltese
TO EACH HIS OWN
Re: Mark Gauvreau Judge’s Doubting Coulter — At First:
I’d like to say a few words to Mark Gauvreau Judge in reply to his “Doubting Coulter — At First” essay.
Mr. Judge, your gut instinct was right — Coulter crossed a terrible line. It is regrettable that you felt compelled to over think that instinct and offer the world a sophomoric apologia for her.
I say sophomoric because no one more mature than the average college sophomore could be satisfied to conflate his own deepest personal feelings with someone else’s, then subject those feelings to hair-splitting until he produces a conclusion that not only condemned the widows for their words but actually works overtime to shackle them to unrelated matters like the Wellstone funeral and gun activists (incidentally, why not compare the widows to that particularly disgusting breed of activists who parade around public beaches and parks with giant photos of mangled aborted fetuses?).
I believe you completely when you say “the night Dale died” and your own father’s cancer are experiences you can address only obliquely. But I find it simply unbelievable that you cannot imagine that other people might find a different way, no less sincere or heartfelt, to address the terrible tragedies that have befallen them.
Coulter’s vastly wrong, and this time so are you. At the very least, you might note that the words chosen by the widows are more personal, humble, and factually true than those chosen by Coulter, in whom I see only politics — no philosophy, spirituality, or love of country at all.
— Jack Rune
Los Angeles, California
I had to laugh all the way through Mr. Judge’s article about Ann Coulter’s new book. The horrid things she has written and said in this book and publicly deserve no defending by a conservative or liberal publication.
Taking one line in a statement from four widows who lost their husbands on 9/11 and suggesting that maybe they aren’t grieving is ridiculous. I’m sure the writer is aware of this fact and more than likely needed to come up with something nice to say about Ms. Coulter in a publication like The American Spectator.
The title of Mr. Judge’s book should be “Spineless.”
— Todd Olsen
WORD WAR ESCALATION
Re: A.A. Reynolds’s letter (“Word War III”) in Reader Mail’s The Nature of the Game:
Regarding Counselor Reynolds’s cute retort in Wednesday’s Reader Mail: I am shocked — SHOCKED, I tell you! â€” that a real, honest-to-goodness, Doctor of Jurisprudence (not just the more-plebian “Juris Doctor,” which — rather pretentiously, in my view — superseded the honorable, if ancient, “Bachelor of Laws”) would make such a logical faux pas as to infer that I believe that those not having studied with the Jesuits are limited in their reading comprehension skills. I stated only that computer spell-checkers were designed to assist people who *are* so limited.
The Jesuits force-feed Latin to their charges. The word Mr. Tyrrell used (and that Mr. Reynolds’s spell-checker failed to recognize) is of Latin derivation — therefore, I was able to discern its meaning without referring to either of my boat-anchor dictionaries. The slam was intended against the toy dictionaries loaded into computer spell-checkers (with a mild rebuke to those who depend upon them, to the exclusion of the more-utile W2 and/or OED).
Since many of the entries in Black’s Law Dictionary are also in Latin, I’ve not found them particularly difficult to understand — even though I it’s been over 45 years since the Jesuits had their way with me (this is my humor-impaired method of letting Mr. Reynolds know that I got his “tops” dig, and am not averse to laughing at his petty smearing of Jesuits as homosexual pedophiles — to my knowledge, none of my instructors were so-inclined).
— David Gonzalez, B.S., B.S. (And he thinks I’m pretentious and humorless — HAH!)
Re: The “Seoul Self-Help” letters in Reader Mail’s The Nature of the Game:
Having read the letters posted on this subject, I could not agree more. I served 20 years in the U.S. Navy and have been to South Korea. We need to be out this year, not in five. The most anti-American demonstrations of local public opinion I have have seen were found in two places: South Korea and Germany. Let’s exit both and NOW!
— Robert Barninger
Re: Lawrence Henry’s Dumb Golf:
While reading Mr. Henry’s lament about the absence of a 1-iron in the bags of today’s pro golfers, I was reminded of an old joke that answers his question: Why should you always carry a 1-iron with you when there’s lightning? Because even God can’t hit a 1-iron.
— Andrew J. Macfadyen, M.D.