The Rockin Johnny B

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Rick Perry Idiocy

The Texas Droopidor Ricketts Perry
There Ain't No Such Thing as Global Warming
The Scientists are Goddamned Nuts
On Monday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry left the presidential campaign trail in South Carolina to attend to the most destructive wildfire in his state's history. Touring the flames in Bastrop, which has lost 600 homes to the blaze, he urged people to be "incredibly careful" because "people's lives, pets, livestock, and frankly, legacies of generations to come can be put in jeopardy." Perry was warning against sparking fires with cigarette butts, but not, it would seem, against sparking them with his own risky brand of climate change denial.
According Jianbang Gan, an environmental science professor at Texas A&M University, global warming is strongly tied to an increase in wildfires. He predicts that if the temperature climbs by 7 degrees Fahrenheit—what climate experts predict for Texas by the end of the century—the number of wildfires will more than double. Increased concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere will cause plants to grow faster, while higher temperatures will dry them out more quickly, setting the stage for the kind of intense blazes that have consumed 3.5 million acres in the Lone Star State this year.
The direct causes of this year's wildfires are a record-breaking heat wave and the worst single-year drought in state history, which is itself linked to climate change. The drought has been the result of storms shifting northward—the same conditions predicted by climate change models. Though it may also be caused by the naturally occurring La NiƱa weather pattern, human-induced global warming "is almost certainly making this extreme event worse," Texas A&M climate scientist Andrew Dessler told ThinkProgress Green. "There is absolutely no way that you can conclude that climate change is not playing a role here."
George H. Ward, a research scientist at the University of Texas Center for Research in Water Resources, predicts that global warming could spell disaster for the state's water supply. Population growth alone would make coping with a multi-year drought like the one Texas experienced in the 1950s "extremely difficult," he writes. But when you factor in the mid-century effects of climate change, which he predicts will reduce flows in rivers and streams by an additional 42 percent under drought conditions, "the situation is even more serious."
And that's not all. "Temperatures will rise; heat waves will occur more frequently; there will be less rain west of the Interstate 35 corridor; severe weather will become more frequent; in-stream flows will fall; biodiversity will decline and the sea level will rise," writes Jurgen Schmandt, the editor of The Impact of Global Warming on Texas.
Climate change is already exacting a steep economic price on the Lone Star State. The Texas Agrilife Extension Service estimates that this year's severe drought will cause $5.2 billion in losses to farms and businesses. By 2030, climate change will cause $3.6 to $6.5 billion in agricultural losses just in the Edwards Aquifer zone around San Antonio,according to (PDF) the Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER). A 2009 study by the Environmental Defense Fund estimates (PDF) that a 1.5 meter rise in sea level in the Galveston Bay region near Houston will displace 98,000 households and impact 75,000 buildings at a cost of $12.5 billion. CIER predicts that climate change will hit the Texas Gulf Coast harder than other parts of the country as a result of its population growth and its natural resource-intensive economy.
Yet despite these threats, Perry has done worse than nothing to tackle the climate problem. In his book Fed Up!, Perry calls the scientific consensus around man-made global warming "all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight." In a 2007 appearance in California, Perry said, "I've heard Al Gore talk about global warming so much that I'm starting to think that his mouth is the leading source of all that supposedly deadly carbon dioxide." During the GOP presidential debate last night, Perry again stressed that climate science "isn't settled."
To be sure, Perry must abide his state's fossil fuel industry, which has given his campaigns $11 million since 1998. But Texas environmentalists say that native sons such as T. Boone Pickens and the state's own burgeoning wind power industry have given Perry some room to occupy the middle ground on climate issues. The problem is that Perry's stuck in the past, says Ken Kramer, the head of the Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter: "The long term interests of the state of Texas and its people and its economy are basically being betrayed by the governor."
Josh Harkinson is a staff reporter at Mother Jones.
This guy is the worst possible person to be in control of the Great State of Texas.  Can you imagine what he would be like as President of the U.S.?  OMG!  Keep him in Texas where he can be crazy like all those wonderful Bushes.
But you still say you still are not convinced???
Rick Perry's Juvie Record.
Why did the GOP presidential contender wait six years to clean up the culture of child rape at Texas youth detention centers?
Mon Sep. 12, 2011 3:00 AM PDT
Mary Jane Martinez's son Jimmy entered the Texas criminal justice system in 2003 because he missed his school bus. He was charged with truancy and destruction of property (for throwing rocks) and sent to live in a county juvenile detention center for a sentence of six months. After five months, instead of being released, he was transferred to an academy 400 miles away, managed by the Texas Youth Commission, the agency that oversees detention and treatment centers across the state. Jimmy finally came home, four years after he was sent away, a period his mother now describes as a living hell. His best friend had been murdered, and Jimmy had been beaten and raped—both, Mrs. Martinez testifed, by TYC guards.
"It just made him worse," Martinez says of the treatment. "My son has PTSD now. He's schizo." Unable to find a job after getting out, he was arrested for burglary and landed in a prison facility eight hours away from his native San Antonio.
Martinez's story is hardly an outlier. For years, the Texas juvenile justice system was wracked by reports of rape, unsanitary conditions, and physical abuse. According to statistics submitted by the TYC in 2007,83 percent of residents who requested counseling that year were ultimately diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. At one youth facility in central Texas, the mistreatment and squalid conditions (feces on the walls and bed-sheets, steel bars blocking fire escapes) were so bad they left no choice but for the agency to shut it down entirely.
Gov. Rick Perry did not take swift action to address the problem, which his office knew about for years. Allegations of systematic mistreatment at TYC facilities first came to the Governor's desk in 2001, when then-Rep. Dick Armey (R-Texas) forwarded along a complaint that his office had received. That was six years before media coverage of the conditions in juvenile detention centers launched a public scandal. And critics of Perry, who is now a frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, point out that he received tens of thousands of dollars from lobbyists and executives for a firm tied to some of the worst abuses.
Far from the picture initially painted by Perry, of a shocking scandal that was dealt with swiftly and emphatically, his administration had sat on the concerns for years.
The TYC's own numbers tell the tale. The commission officially reported 535 cases of abuse at its facilities in 2002, more than double the total from just four years earlier. Likewise, the number of residents diagnosed with mental illnesses skyrocketed during that same period, from 27 percent in 1995 to nearly half in 2002. And despite his office's initial denials, top Perry staffers had been formally briefed on abuses at juvenile justice facilities as early as 2005. In 2006, President Bush's Department of Justice even initiated a probe of the TYC conditions, but declined to intervene because it was not able to prove that any victims sustained "bodily injury."
"I think that prior to the abuse coming out, everybody dropped the ball—and I mean that by like everbody that was running the institution you know, everybody that had complaints, that knew about that complaints and did not bring it forward out of fear of retaliation, everybody dropped the ball," says Ana Yanez-Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, a watchdog group that's pushed for more lenient sentencing guidelines.
Perry, for his part, tried to change the subject. "I think this 'When did you know? When did you know it? Do you think someone should have done more?' is missing the point of how are we making progress to getting these kids the protections that they need," he told reporters after the Austin American-Statesman reported on his administration's complicity in the abuses. Perry called on the Statesman to retract its report (the paper refused).
It was only when the public found out about the TYC abuses that Perry sprung into action—and even then, some of the worst offenders got off easy. In February of 2007, the Dallas Morning News broke the news that multiple employees at the West Texas State School, a juvenile detention center in the small town of Pyote, had filed formal complaints alleging that staffers had sexually assaulted inmates and traded favors for sex. But the agency, rather than investigating the claims, had simply deferred the charges to the local level, where the charges were dropped.
Over the next six months, the Morning News and the Texas Observer fleshed out the story: The abuses weren't unique to Pyote; all in all, the TYC had received 750 complaints of sexual misconduct from inmates since 2000, and it had, for the most part, failed to act. One prison guard who was accused of sexually assaulting inmates was found to be a registered sex offender already—and unbeknownst to the agency, was living on site with a 16-year-old boy.
So, you Tea Partiers want Mr. Perry for President?  Get serious!  This guy is a loser...a big time loser.
Still not convinced?

Rick Perry's Texas Miracle—for Corporations

The governor gave big companies hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to create jobs. When they failed to deliver, he fudged the numbers.
Thu Sep. 8, 2011 3:00 AM PDT
Over the past several years Gov. Rick Perry has crisscrossed his home state, braggingabout the Texas Enterprise Fund, his economic program that has given millions of taxpayer dollars to corporations such as Caterpillar Inc., Texas Instruments, and Home Depot. The TEF program is supposed to draw businesses to the state and create jobs. It has been a centerpiece of the so-called Texas economic miracle Perry now touts on the presidential campaign trail. 
But there is a problem behind his happy Texas tale: The program appears not to have worked nearly as well as Perry claims. The governor has repeatedly overstated how many jobs it has created, according to several Texas-based advocacy and research groups. Moreover, Perry's office has stonewalled attempts to get clearer information about the program's lackluster results. 
In January 2010, Perry's office claimed that TEF had created 54,600 jobs since it began in 2003. But company-reported data shows that, by the end of 2009, fewer than 23,000 jobs could be attributed to TEF. And two-thirds of TEF-backed companies failed to meet their job targets. The program handed out nearly $440 million during that period.
The TEF program requires applicants to agree to produce a certain number of jobs by a certain date in exchange for a grant, the largest of which have been a pair of $50 million awards granted to the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine and Texas Instruments back in 2004 and 2005. (Former presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty enacted a similar program during his time as governor of Minnesota.) Recipients are supposed to face a "clawback" penalty on the funds if they fail to meet their hiring targets. 
But the Perry administration hasn't exactly gone hard on corporations that have fallen short. In 2007, TEF awarded Lockheed Martin with nearly $5.5 million; in return, the company promised to create 800 new jobs by the end of 2008. Subsequently, Lockheed quietly renegotiated its deal with Perry's office, agreeing to just 550 new jobs from 2007 through 2014, explaining the lower number as a result of "federal cutbacks." In exchange, TEF also lowered its grant to Lockheed to $4 million unless the company managed to meet its original hiring target of 800. Meanwhile, Perry's office didn't collect any clawback penalties from Lockheed—while continuing to report that it had created 800 jobs.
This scenario—Perry's office allowing companies to amend their job targets while continuing to tout the higher, unrealized target—was replicated in more than a dozen other instances in 2009, Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) found. The group's 2010 reportdrew on campaign finance fillings, company-reported hiring data, and the Perry administration's own numbers.
The program also suffers from a conspicuous lack of transparency, according to Andrew Wheat, the research director for TPJ. Wheat says that his colleagues intended to use government data from 2010 to assess the program, but they were forced to rely on numbers from 2009. "We put in a request to get that data covering 2010," he said. "We're still waiting."
Even if Perry's office disclosed its TEF numbers more expediently, Wheat argues, the game would still be rigged. "Imagine what the bean counter's job is like," he said. "On the one hand, you're supposed to be conservatively protecting taxpayer dollars and imposing clawbacks, basically enforcing a contract. On the other hand, you know that this is the centerpiece of your boss' campaign. So it has to be presented as a success."
Don Baylor, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, says there is no way to verify Perry's claims more broadly. "It's quite simply not possible to know whether these companies would have come to Texas without the cash," Baylor says.
One thing is clear, though: Perry paid for a sizable chunk of TEF at the expense of Texas' unemployed. Because the Texas Legislature is required to submit a balanced budget every two years, any new spending programs must be offset by an equal amount in spending cuts. So in 2005, to offset spending on TEF, Perry created a 0.1 percent employer unemployment insurance tax. To offset that increase, the general unemployment insurance tax rate was reduced by 0.1 percent. From 2005 to 2009, that resulted in a transfer of almost $162 million from the unemployment fund directly to Perry's TEF fund.
Politicians of both parties are clamoring for clarity on TEF. Last year, former gubernatorial candidate and mayor of Houston Bill White, a Democrat, called for a formal audit of TEF spending on a biotech lab based at Texas A&M University, Perry's alma mater. His objective was simple: to get a clear explanation of why certain companies had been allowed to reduce their employment goals after they'd already been awarded TEF money. "We asked for basic information, such as whether companies had met the original projections or commitments for increased employment they had submitted to the state when wanting the taxpayers to finance their businesses," White said. His call for a public audit was ignored.
State Republicans also take serious issue with Perry's program—especially tea party members like Rep. David Simpson. "It's legal plunder," Simpson told Bloomberg. "You can't avoid the appearance of impropriety when you take money from everyone and you give it to a select few."
That problem is only compounded by the fact that over the years, a number of the the program's beneficiaries—including huge banks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America—have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Perry-associated PACs.
Even without the program, Texas' low-tax, heavily deregulated business climate may well have shielded it from the worst of the recession. But thanks to Perry's not-so-sly system of corporate welfare, we may never know for sure.
This is a poor excuse for a presidential candidate!

Siddhartha Mahanta is an editorial fellow at Mother Jones

1 comment:

  1. And Finally....

    In a USA Today op-ed published online on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry seeks to clarify his position on Social Security.

    The Texas governor writes that he believes current recipients of Social Security benefits should be protected from potential reforms to the entitlement program. For younger Americans, however, he says, "We must consider reforms to make Social Security financially viable."

    Perry explains, "For too long, politicians have been afraid to speak honestly about Social Security." He adds, "We must have the guts to talk about its financial condition if we are to fix Social Security and make it financially viable for generations to come."

    The attempt from Perry to outline his position on Social Security comes one week after the Republican hopeful raised eyebrows with harsh language he used in addressing the issue during last week's GOP presidential debate in California.

    During the forum, Perry didn't run from his past characterization of Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme." He also repeated his criticism of the entitlement program as a "monstrous lie."

    The Texas governor, however, did abandon his use of the questionable choice of words in Monday's op-ed.

    This guy has no idea what a Ponzi Scheme is.