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The National Shame of Texas

Rick Perry is not a conservative. He is a man of little intelligence who has used charm and looks to build a political career. And his success is a crime against democracy.
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When listening to Rick Perry campaign in Iowa, the question that occurs to those of us who have watched and reported on him since 1985 is simple: How in the hell can this be happening? There is a bright shining light on the Texas governor's ignorance and hypocrisies and yet the latest poll shows him with 14 percent of the Iowa caucus vote.

What's the matter with Iowa?

His latest bit of oblivion occurred when he was asked yesterday about a landmark Supreme Court case called Lawrence v. Texas. During the early 70s, while the rest of America was worrying about the Vietnam War, the Arab oil embargo, and violence in the streets, free love and cheap marijuana, down here in Texas our state government was fretting over consenting adults of the same sex making love. The state passed a law making it illegal. A quarter of a century later, Harris County sheriff's deputies in Houston were looking for a gunman and broke into the apartment of two men engaged in sex. They were arrested under the Texas law. Eventually, the men decided to fight to protect their privacy and the Texas Homosexual Conduct Law was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court during Rick Perry's third year as governor.

But yesterday in Iowa, the man who has fought so hard to protect marriage as an institution reserved for the union of males and females, admitted to the Austin American Statesman's Ken Herman that he didn't know a damned thing about the Texas law. Perry's flat-out stupidity on this issue must be difficult for even his most ardent supporters to process. When the Texas GOP nominated him for governor in 2010, the party's platform had a plank that called for making it a felony for same sex couples to be married and any public servant who performed such a service to be prosecuted as a felon. The measure did not become law but Perry's going to be back in Texas shortly after his further national embarrassment and he's likely to be bored and vengeful.

The rank hypocrisy of Perry on the matter of the law and government and same sex partners is a bit astonishing. He has built his political career on the notion that the government's rights and responsibilities stop at an individual's doorstep, or, at least that is his rhetoric. Unfortunately, there are voters in Texas and Iowa that appear foolish enough to think he actually practices the principles he espouses. The government only stops at your doorstep in Perry's world if it is trying to enforce a law that he and radical conservatives don't like. Perry's commitment to making "government as inconsequential in your life as possible" is abundant garbage when he wants you to act more fundamentally conservative. In those cases, it's okay for the law to break into your home and tell you that you are having illegal sex or that your daughter must take an HPV shot developed by one of his major campaign donors and promoted by one of his oldest friends and lobbyists.

Perry has no shame about any of this because he does not have the intellect to even begin to understand what's wrong with his contradicting ideas. The same principle of political stupidity applies regarding his notion of a part time congress. The Texas governor wants to reduce government spending and stop making life so easy and pleasant for members of congress and make them more accountable. Government spending is okay, however, in fact, even kind of sweet, when it comes time for him to double dip on the taxpayers of Texas. Even though he is still on the state payroll for $150,000 as governor, Perry has filed for and receives a Texas government pension that amounts to $92,000. When Congress gets pensions and benefits, Perry calls it excessive spending but in his case, he and his staff have referred to it as smart "estate planning."

In his polemic book that was ghostwritten under his name, Perry yaks and yabbers about activist and interventionist judges subjugating the will of the states and how frivolous lawsuits are destroying America's economy. He refers to the Supreme Court justices as "oligarchs in robes," which, apparently, is a lesser being than an oligarch in cowboy boots and hat. Perry thinks federal courts ought to stay out of state business.

Except when he needs them to step in to save his presidential campaign.

He filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to overturn the Virginia ballot access requirement that a candidate collect 10,000 signatures before they be placed on the presidential nominating ballot. Perry wanted one of those awful activist judges to tell the state of Virginia its rules are stupid and illegal. He has also promulgated the idea that when people file what Perry views are "frivolous" lawsuits and they lose their case, they ought to be responsible for all legal costs. It is doubtful that when he was told by a federal court that Virginia's regulations were the state's prerogative and were just fine the way they were implemented and his case was lost that he was willing to write a check to pay Virginia's state lawyers for their time and the court's costs.

His lawsuit wasn't frivolous. But yours will be. Rick Perry has worked very hard to close the courthouse doors to citizens who have been harmed by corporate incompetence. Caps on settlements make it almost impossible to cover the legal costs simply to get a case to the point of being placed on a docket. These changes in the law are helping to lure big businesses to Texas. Of course, the multi-million dollar taxpayer checks Perry is giving corporations that promise jobs, which often never materialize, also helps lure industry south of the Red River.

Rick Perry is not a conservative. He is a man of little intelligence who has used charm and looks to build a political career. And his success is a crime against democracy.