Point Austin: Have You Been Screwed by Rick Perry?
The governor's political offenses outstrip his sexual ones
That sort of foolishness is brought to you courtesy of Robert Morrow, the Austinite who garnered national coverage last week with his full-page Chronicle ad requesting leads on the new presidential candidate's sex life. For the record, Morrow placed his ad (and alerted other publications) on his own; this news desk read it when our readers did. Morrow's a hard-right GOP activist (of the Ron Paul variety), and his obsessively sexual conspiracy theories are old hat around here. He first came to Austin's attention with a viciously gay-bashing attack on former state rep Glen Maxey, a strong supporter of former City Council candidate Margot Clarke in the 2005 election.
Here's a representative sample of Morrow's more recent emails (emphases entirely his):
"There are a LOT of things that George Herbert Walker Bush does not want you to know about him and the disgraceful and often criminal way he has lived his sorry life.
"Some of his ugly behavior includes 1) his very likely ties to the MURDER of John F. Kennedy as a high ranking CIA officer in 1963 2) his gargantuan COCAINE SMUGGLING with Oliver North, Bill Clinton, Jeb Bush, the CIA in the 1980's 3) his use of CIA Pegasus ASSASSINS to scare Ross Perot [out] of the race (temporarily) in 1992. ... (Perot knew ALL about Bush's CIA drug smuggling.)" – Dec. 6, 2009
Morrow's ad caught the attention of Salon, whose Justin Elliott reported on it, as did Slate's David Weigel, although Weigel linked unwittingly to a video of an interview with an entirely different "Bob Morrow" from Maryland, who claimed to be a former CIA agent involved indirectly in the Kennedy assassination. It's likely that unremarkable coincidence is already woven into the baroque imaginings of assassination obsessives.
Assault on the Weakest
I have no idea who Rick Perry has slept with and couldn't care less. However, the man has a long and appalling public record of screwing the citizens of Texas. Consider only his now-legislated insistence that Texas women seeking abortions first be subjected to a narrated transvaginal ultrasound – is that not a sufficiently outrageous governmental violation of personal privacy?
In the service of his national political ambitions, Perry refused to consider either rational state tax increases or even the use of the state's emergency reserve funds to avoid devastating cuts to state services, especially public education and health care. For just one example, ADAPT of Texas, which advocates for people with disabilities, calculates that this year roughly 12,000 more people will lose community services, meaning either tremendous additional burdens on their families or more expensive institutional care or both. "Texas has 100,000 people on [the] waiting list for community services and more people in state institutions (over 4,000) than any other state in the country," said ADAPT organizer Jennifer McPhail in a press release. "Now we are cutting 12,000 people from community services. This isn't a 'Texas Miracle,' it is for thousands of people a 'Texas Nightmare.'"
Perry can't stop talking about his alleged record of "job creation." Texas was already in the middle of the state pack (26th) in unemployment, which ticked upward to 8.4% last week (the highest since 1987), and we haven't yet felt the full effect of the layoffs prompted by the radical state budget cuts. Even while we slide backward into a national recession, Perry and his Republican colleagues are demanding more cuts, more layoffs, and more hardship – especially for the most vulnerable citizens.
A Sorry Standard
It's flat difficult to get too excited about Perry's sexual peccadilloes when his administration is steadily undermining whatever economic progress Texans had made over the last two decades. Last Friday, the Center for Public Policy Priorities and the national policy center Demos issued a report, "Under Attack: Texas' Middle Class and the Opportunity Crisis," highlighting dismal facts about Perry's Texas. 1) "In 2010, 27% of working-age individuals in Texas lacked health insurance compared to nearly 17% nationally." 2) "Young workers with only a high school diploma have seen their earnings decrease by about 16% in the past generation." 3) "58% of college graduates in Texas entered the labor force with student debt in 2009, and their average debt totaled $20,015."
Or as Austin Rep. Elliott Naishtat pointed out in February, following Perry's dishonestly boosterish State of the State address, "We continue to have the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the country, the lowest percentage of residents over 25 with a high school diploma, and the dirtiest air in the nation."
The Texas superlatives march on. Percentage of nonelderly population uninsured: 1st. Percentage of uninsured children: 1st. Amount of carbon dioxide emissions: 1st. Amount of volatile organic compound emissions: 1st. Amount of toxic chemicals released into water: 1st. Amount of carcinogenic emissions: 1st. (Source: "Texas on the Brink," Texas Legislative Study Group, 2011.)
It's no mystery why Texas stands so consistently low on the national scale. The state's wealthiest citizens, who have prospered mightily under Perry and his predecessors, refuse to pay their fair share of the costs necessary for real social prosperity. Texas has the nation's fifth most regressive tax structure, reports analyst Karen Kraut of United for a Fair Economy: "The top 20% of taxpayers pay 4.4% of their income in state and local taxes, whereas the lowest-income taxpayers pay 12.2% of their income in state and local taxes."
That's what politicians like Perry – and their political underwriters – consider a Texas miracle. An equitable tax system that reversed that imbalance, Kraut says, would raise an additional $72 billion for Texas. As you may remember, the 2011 state deficit which Perry refused to address in any way with new revenues was $27 billion.
But hey – if you think what disqualifies Rick Perry from high public office is his alleged sexual hypocrisy, tell that to the 100,000 Texans with disabilities now waiting for home health care. And then work your way down the list.