At Maverick PAC he founded, Ted Cruz finds himself amid a younger Hurd’s herd of less polarizing politicians

Good Monday Austin:

I spent Friday and Saturday night at the Maverick PAC Mavericks Conference.

Traveling back from Dallas, I arrived just in time Friday night.

There were protesters outside Brazos Hall who had marched up from a rally at Republic Square protesting the separation of immigrant families at the border.

Maverick PAC appeared well-heeled. They had Brazos Hall Friday night and the Moody Theater at Austin City Limits. There was food. There was an open bar.

And the protesters – or at any rate their presence outside – got shout-outs from the stage, a kind of satisfied recognition that their gathering was significant enough to merit pickets.

This was not a Texas tea party audience. The several hundred attendants were generally young, successful businesspeople from around country who, collectively, contribute about a quarter million dollars through the PAC to help other young Republican candidates like themselves win election to Congress.

While now national, Maverick PAC got its start 15 years ago with young alumni of the George W. Bush presidential campaign in Texas, starting with Cruz and George P. Bush, now Texas land commissioner, way before either of them had run for anything.

On Friday night, Cruz and Maverick co-chairs Morgan Outages and Fritz Brogan answered a few questions from reporters, including Stephanie Hamill of the Daily Caller in D.C.

Hamill asked Cruz about the importance of MavPAC.

I wanted to follow-up on what Cruz had told Patrick Svitek earlier in the day, during an appearance in Cedar Park, about his role in the pardon of Dinesh D’Souza – Dartmouth’s answer to Joe Arpaio.

And then, like a Russian nesting doll of credit-claiming, there is this.

ALEX JONES (HOST): ​You know, we really pushed it to Trump. He didn’t even know that [former sheriff Joe] Arpaio had been “convicted” by a judge of contempt and was facing a year in prison. And I know a lot of folks pushed [Dinesh] D’Souza. In fact, I personally pushed [Roger] Stone — I’m just bragging, this is true, I know other people did it, other people did as well — D’Souza, D’Souza, D’Souza, D’Souza, D’Souza. Because that will bring all that up and show the hypocrisy. I know for a fact Stone brought that up to Trump because he told me he did.


I asked about Cruz to review his role in the Dinesh D’Souza pardon.

CRUZ: I’m very glad the president chose to pardon Dinesh D’Souza because I think the Obama administration’s prosecution of him was incredibly unfair. It was political persecution is what it is. The crime he was charged of was an offense that typically is handled with a civil fine and it’s typically handled with a slap on the wrist but because he was a such a prominent  critic of Barack Obama, the Obama administration targeted him and charged him with a felony.

It was an abuse of power. It was abuse of power when it happened. I spoke out against it then and in fact it was right about the same time you may recall, when the Obama administration targeted a filmmaker right after the Benghazi attack happened, and they tried to blame the Benghazi attack on a filmmaker. Turned out that was not true but they went back and put that filmmaker in jail, a year in jail on unrelated charges.

Listen, I don’t think we should countenance the administration of justice being used for political and partisan ends. That’s what was done under the Obama administration.

So I had the opportunity to raise the issue with President Trump, I encouraged him to pardon Dinesh D’Souza and I’m very grateful the president made the decision to do so.

I asked Sen. Cruz if he considered D’Souza a friend and an ideological soul mate.

CRUZ:  Dinesh and I are friends.

CRUZ:  I think he has been very effective tearing down many of the lies of the far left.

CRUZ: You know it’s interesting. You see liberals on Twitter  going crazy that they’re so upset he was pardoned.

What’s interesting  is, just a few weeks ago we saw revelations that Rosie O’Donnell  apparently committed the same offense five times, five times, when she broke the identical law that Dinesh was prosecuted for.  I don’t recall any of those liberal activists on Twitter calling for Rose O’Donnell to be prosecuted.

The Department of Justice and the criminal justice system should not be used as a partisan tool and the Obama administration far too often put politics ahead of the rule of law so I am glad that President Trump made the decision  to issue the pardon.

I think the pardon furthers justice because criminal prosecutions shouldn’t be used to score partisan ends.

I asked if Sen. Cruz thought Trump was sending a message about his use of the pardon.

CRUZ: I  think the message of the pardon is very simple, which is that justice should be served and political prosecutions are not just and that’s exactly  what happened with Dinesh D’Souza.

And by the way, none of the people who are decrying – I read some of the editorials saying how terrible it was  he was pardoned – no one takes issue with the fact that his prosecution and his sentence were grossly disproportionate to  just about anybody else who had committed the exact same offense.

Imagine the reaction Jonathan,  during he Bush years, imagine if the George W. Bush  Justice Department had gone out there and  prosecuted Michael Moore or Alec Baldwin or any of the other liberals in Hollywood who criticize the president. That would have ben obviously wrong.  The press would have been completely against it.

And yet when the Obama administration targeted a conservative filmmaker, you didn’t get the same outcry. I’m glad the president stood up and stood for the principles of juice by pardoning what aw an unfair political prosecution.

For an alternative view, here is Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times.

During Barack Obama’s administration, the conservative author and activist Dinesh D’Souza wrote a book, “Obama’s America,” full of gross speculations about the sex life of the president’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who was a pioneering anthropologist. “Ann’s sexual adventuring may seem a little surprising in view of the fact that she was a large woman who kept getting larger,” wrote D’Souza. He described her as a “playgirl” who used “her American background and economic and social power to purchase the romantic attention of third-world men.”

D’Souza’s insinuations had little to do with his ostensible thesis, which was that Obama sought to undermine America. It was simply a timeworn insult — calling someone’s mom fat and promiscuous — that tells us nothing about Obama’s family, but a lot about D’Souza’s character.

Besides being a huckster and a sexist weasel, D’Souza is a felon who, in 2014, pleaded guilty to routing illegal campaign donations through a woman he was having an affair with, and the woman’s husband. (At the time, D’Souza was married and serving as president of the evangelical King’s College. His ex-wife would later accuse him of physical abuse.) For his crime, he spent eight months in a halfway house. On Thursday, Donald Trump gave him a full pardon, tweeting that D’Souza had been “treated very unfairly by our government.”

Trump’s action, a clear abuse of his pardoning power for political ends, serves several purposes. Most seriously, the D’Souza pardon, like those of the former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and the former Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby, is a message to Trump confederates facing legal trouble. It says that if they stay strong, he’ll take care of them. As a former federal prosecutor, Joyce Alene, pointed out on Twitter, D’Souza was convicted of one of the same crimes, a campaign finance violation, that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen is now being investigated for.

The pardon is also a culture war smoke bomb, distracting from manifold other scandals and disasters: the study estimating that around 4,600 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria; outrage over migrant children ripped from their parents’ arms at the border; and an incipient trade war with our allies. Adding to the diversionary spectacle, on Thursday, Trump told reporters that he was considering commuting the sentence of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, a onetime contestant on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” and pardoning Martha Stewart, who hosted a “Celebrity Apprentice” spinoff.

D’Souza, who made his name in the 1990s fighting campus political correctness, once had a reputation as a middlebrow conservative provocateur, but he’s really more gutter-dwelling troll. His 1995 book “The End of Racism” argued, “In summary, the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well,” and called for the repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. D’Souza wrote a bizarre book blaming the “cultural left” for provoking the jihadists who struck America on Sept. 11 and arguing for an alliance of the American right and conservative Muslims in “opposition to American social and cultural depravity.” During the Obama years he, like Trump, became a full-bore conspiracy theorist, accusing the president of spearheading a third-world scheme to subvert America.

In the Trump era, he’s become even worse. He mocked survivors of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting who cried after the Florida Legislature voted down an assault weapons ban, tweeting, “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.” (He later apologized.)

He described Rosa Parks as an “overrated” Democrat. He played a major role in spreading the lie — which Barr tweeted on Tuesday — that the billionaire financier George Soros, who was a Jewish child in Nazi-occupied Hungary, was really a Nazi collaborator.

And now Trump has singled this man out for grace. One former White House official, speaking to BuzzFeed News, denied that there was “any grand strategic reasoning” behind the pardon, which may well be true. But even if Trump was acting out of instinct rather than calculation, he has an intuitive ability to speak to his supporters’ dark impulses, and an insatiable need to smash boundaries that constrained his predecessors.

The fact that D’Souza is utterly undeserving of a pardon might be part of the point; it signals that fealty to the president transcends all other values. In his new book “The Road to Unfreedom,” the historian Timothy Snyder quotes the Russian fascist philosopher Ivan Ilyin, who is beloved by Putin’s circle. Fascism, Ilyin wrote approvingly, is “a redemptive excess of patriotic arbitrariness.” Trump has almost certainly never read this line, but he understands it.

Not all critics of the pardon are on the left.

Back to the MAVPAC press gaggle Friday night with Cruz:

Stephanie Hamill: Your opponent. His real name is Robert, correct, not Beto, and you released an ad and you highlighted the absurdity of a white man using the nickname Beto. As  Latina and a daughter of an immigrant, I’m kind of in the same boat as you, so when I hear somebody using that name, and to me I find that pandering for votes.

What’s you reaction to the criticism of  left over the ad that you put out.

Cruz: Well, we had some fun, I actually think in campaigning, it’s important to have some fun.

In it included a line, “Lberal Robert wanted to fit in so he changed his name to Beto and did it with a grin.”

That was done to be light, to have fun. But I’ve got to say the reaction of some Democrats, the reaction of some folks in the media was predictable. They stamped their feet they were so upset. How dare you point out that his name is Robert Francis.

And was also quite amusing  to see som of the Democrats explain,  “No, no,no, you don’t understand, Congressman O”Rourke is Robert Francs, he’s not Hispanic.. He just has  an Hispanic nickname. Whereas Cruz ….  his name is Rafael, he is he son of a Cuban immigrant, he’s Hispanics, but he uses the nickname Ted, aha, we got you.”

Well, I don’t know if this counts as stamping my feet, but when the ad came out I did a First Reading in which I wrote:

I think that little ditty contains within it everything you will need to know about the Cruz campaign against O’Rourke. This is not based on anything anyone has told me. It is simply my intuition.

Ted Cruz means to do nothing less than crush Beto O’Rourke’s candidacy and do so by destroying his good name, or at least, his first name, by turning BETO into a four-letter word, an epithet to be spit out in anger or, better yet, derision, the telling diminutive of a liberal beguiler, imposter and poseur, who is either an opportunist trying to fool Hispanic voters into thinking he is, at least in part, one of them, or, some kind of deluded, self-hating Anglo (albeit Irish-American Anglo), whose sentimental, fuzzy-headed, liberal notions of bi-nationalism and multiculturalism have robbed him of the most basic understanding that what makes Texas Texas is a strong border and unfettered access to guns.

The jingle, and Cruz’s follow-up comments, send the message to his voters that Cruz — the Hispanic son of an immigrant — is, by taking the name “Ted,” assimilating the way it’s supposed to be done, while O’Rourke, by calling himself Beto, is going weirdly the other way, undermining what made America great.

Little Beto, in the photo at the top of First Reading, may look innocent, but, Cruz’s jingle tells us, don’t believe it.

And, one would think, if O”Rourke’s parents were planning a pander knowing that he would one day be running for Senate on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Francis Kennedy – that Irish Catholic Democrat with famous appeal to Hispanic voters and who, in hair and teeth and general affect, O’Rourke is already frequently likened to – they would have stitched Robert Francis on his pre-school sweater.

For the record, here is what O’Rourke told me about his the derivation of his nickname.

My grandfather, Robert V. Williams, who passed away when I was 4 years old, but when I was little, my mom tells me, that since there were two Roberts around, so such a little guy, look, we weren’t going to also call you Robert, because that was confusing, and in El Paso, if you’re not Robert, you’re Beto, if you’re not Albert, you’re Beto, if you’re not Umberto, you’re Beto. Beto is as common in El Paso as Bob might be in Dallas. There’s Beto’s Tacos. Wood Floors by Beto. Beto, your mailman. Beto, your congressman.

But, back to Hamill’s give-and-take with Cruz on whether O’Rourke is Beto-worthy”

HAMILL:  Yeah, but you’re bicultural, aren’t you? So you can technically go either way, but it’s absolutely absurd  for a white man to use the nickname Beto.

Cruz: Well he’s entitled to call himself anything he wants but I will say that  we had poll just this week a Quinnipiac Poll, and I don’t put a lot of stock in good polls or bad polls,  but the thing that was interesting, this poll showed me beating congressman O’Rourke among Hispanic voters in Texas. I think the reason is our values are commonsense conservative values.


CRUZ:  If  you look at what Hispanics want – we want jobs, we want opportunities. What resonates in our community is faith, family, patriotism, hard work, the American dream. Those are the values of Texas Republicans and those  are the values of most Hispanics voters in Texas.

HAMILL: He’s promoting illegal immigration, people that are in this country illegally, 

Immigrants from Mexico, from everywhere else, they want the border wall, they want border security.

I saw signs downstairs (of the protesters outside the window) that said “No borders,” “Love,” all these things … they said, “Defund ICE, CBP.”

It’s an outrage.”


CRUZ: Usually, in a general election in Texas a Democrat runs to the middle, at least pretends to.  Congressman O’Rourke isn’t doing that.

He is running hard left, just like Bernie Sanders. He is running on rising your taxes and  repealing the tax cuts.  He is running on more job-killing regulations. He is running on expanding Obamacare and socialized medicine.

You’re right. On immigration, he is running on defending sanctuary cities, not only opposing a wall, he says there are too many walls, too many fences, tear down what we have.

And he’s running also on aggressive gun control, and impeaching Donald Trump.

Now those are great campaign issues if he were running to be the senator from the state of Massachusetts People running Elizabeth Warren might have a problem with  Congressman O’Rourke attacking from her left flank.

But those aren’t the values in Texas  – low taxes, low regulation, more jobs,  border security. We want the rule of law respected … legal immigrants like my father when he came from Cuba in 1957 right here to Austin, he came with a student visa … It’s legal immigrants who find their jobs are lost and wages are driven down by illegal immigrants.


CRUZ: You know if you want to know what someone’s values are see what they stand for.

The State of the Union, every member of Congress gets to invite one guest. The last State of the Union, Congressman O’Rourke chose to invite an illegal immigrant. That’s what he wants to highlight – that he’s fighting for illegal immigrants.

On the other hand, at the State of the Union, I joined with Congressman Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, and the two of us together invited  Stephen and Pamela Willeford.

Stephen was the hero of Sutherland Springs who risked his life saving people and you know I think  between Congressman O’Rourke’s invitation and mine we illustrated  who it is we are fighting for every day.  He chose,  his number one priority according  to the State of the Union is illegal immigrants. My number one priority is standing up and fighting for Texas and defending our Constitution.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke

Official blog of the US Representative for El Paso, TX
Jan 29

My Guest For Tomorrow’s State of the Union

Meet Daisy Arvizu, my guest to this year’s State of the Union Address. I first met Daisy in 2016 at a Dreamers town hall we held in El Paso that brought together Dreamers in our community and those who support them.

Daisy was brought to this country at the tender age of one year and eight months. She grew up in our community; she works two jobs; she’s a student at the El Paso Community College; and she’s hoping to continue on to UTEP. In every way that’s meaningful, Daisy is every bit as American as my three kids. We need to do right by Daisy and the 800,000 Dreamers in Texas and across the country who are contributing so much to our communities — making us stronger and safer and more successful every day.

I’m grateful that Daisy is able to join me for the State of the Union, and I’m going to keep doing everything I can to ensure that she and Dreamers across the country can continue contributing their full potential to the only country they’ve ever known — as citizens.

Daisy Arvizu after the State of the Union

On Saturday night, in addition to panels that included George P. Bush Gov. Greg Abbott Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison, there was also a panel of young Republican members Congress, the oldest of whom, at 40, was Rep. Will Hurd, who is seeking a third term in the swing 23rd Congressional District, that stretches from San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso.

The next morning, Hurd was interviewed by Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation.

BRENNAN: We turn now to Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. He sits on Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees. And he joins us live from San Antonio.

Congressman, good morning to you.

I want to quickly ask you this “New York Times”-obtained letter from the president’s attorneys laying out their arguments, saying, he as president has complete control over federal investigations, cannot be compelled to testify, and could not have obstructed the FBI’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Sitting on House Intelligence, as do you, what do you make of this argument?

REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Well, this is going to be something that is going to be sorted out through the judicial system.

And I’m not a lawyer. But one of the things I have learned is, if you are innocent, act like you’re innocent. And Bob Mueller should be allowed to continue his investigation and turn over any stone and pursue any lead.

BRENNAN: Should the president be compelled to testify to Bob Mueller, the special counsel?

HURD: Again, I think this is going to be a judicial issue that — to figure out what is, what can he be compelled to do?

Again, if you don’t have anything to hide, why wouldn’t you testify? Because I think that would help get — close this investigation quicker, which I think that is something this administration wants to see.

But one of the things that I’m focused on is on issues that is firmly in the responsibility of Congress. And that’s trade, that’s immigration, and these are big issues that are going to be coming to the forefront over the next few days and weeks.

BRENNAN: And I do want to ask you about trade, but just to button this up, the president’s attorney said this morning the president probably has the power to pardon himself, though doing so would be unthinkable.

What would happen in the House if the president tried to do that? What would the political ramification be?

HURD: Look, I think that would be a terrible move. I think people would erupt.

I think even thinking about trying to fire Mueller is a bad move politically. So, I hope we don’t have to get to that point. And it’s hard to predict what would happen. But that would — that would be — that would create outrage on both sides of the political aisle.

BRENNAN: But let’s get to that issue of trade you brought up there.

Would there be support in the House, where you sit, for legislation that would require the president to get congressional approval before putting on tariffs? There’s talk in the Senate about doing it. Would you support something in the House?

HURD: Absolutely.

The Congress has shared our responsibility when it comes to trade with the executive branch over the last couple of decades. And I think that is something that we need to reevaluate. One of the things that — as you know, Margaret, I spent nine-and-a-half years as an undercover officer in the CIA.

I was the dude in the back alleys at 4:00 in the morning. One of the things I learned is, be nice with nice guys and tough with tough guys. Make sure your allies know you have their back.

BRENNAN: So, Canada, Mexico and European Union are not national security threats, from your point of view, which is the authority the president used here?

HURD: No, they’re not. No, we are lucky to have Canada and Mexico as our neighbors.

Imagine what some of our other allies have to deal with. A sound foreign policy, sound trade policy does not mean penalizing your allies while you’re rescuing a Chinese company that firmly and clearly violated U.S. sanctions. And I’m speaking about ZTE.

So, let’s address the real problem. China is dumping steel on the world markets. Let’s address that. China is stealing intellectual property. Let’s address that. Let’s not help one Chinese company continue to sell their widgets all around the world, while we’re going to ultimately impact the American consumer.

Why should my fellow Americans compare about this? Here in South Texas, it’s hot. And if you like a drink, a cold beer on a hot day, it’s going to be more expensive. If you have got to fill up your car with gasoline, it’s going to be more expensive.

If you have to buy clothes, it’s going to be more expensive. If you buy food in a grocery store, it’s going to be more expensive. And so this makes absolutely no sense. And to say that this is going to create jobs in the United States of America, we are celebrating 3.8 percent unemployment.

That is the best it’s ever been in almost half-a-century. So where — what jobs is this going to be bringing back? It’s only going to impact jobs. And so that’s why most of us, a lot of us in Congress thinks this is not the way you handle trade, this is not the way you deal with your allies.

BRENNAN: On the issue of immigration, the majority of Americans polled seem to support some kind of protection for dreamers, so-called DACA recipients.

But your bosses in Congress have tried to block a vote on this. Do you have a surefire way to force a vote in the House and get a bill to the president’s desk?

HURD: Margaret, let me correct you for a second. They’re not my bosses. My bosses are the 800,000 people that I represent in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas.

And that’s why I’m working on this issue with friends like Jeff Denham from California, Carlos Curbelo from Florida, Elise Stefanik from New York, in order to force this vote.

This is this discharge petition, where it’s saying, hey, we’re going to bring multiple bills to the floor on immigration and have that vote. I hope teachers are still teaching in school that having a public conversation and discourse is still important to keeping democracy alive and thriving in the United States of America. And that’s what we’re trying to push.

BRENNAN: Well, Speaker Ryan — Speaker Ryan and his whip and everyone with him are trying to block this vote from happening.

Do you have the votes to force this to the floor?

HURD: We do. And we’re adding votes every single day.

We’re engaged in conversations to figure out, is there another path? I don’t believe that there is. And the time has come. It’s 2018. We don’t have operational control of our border. We have a million-plus young men and women who have only known the United States of America as their home that are in this uncertainty period. They don’t know about their future.

Now is the time to solve this problem and do it once and for all.

And guess what?

BRENNAN: You expect that vote this month?

HURD: Yes, this month of June.

BRENNAN: All right, Congressman, thank you very much.

HURD: Always a pleasure.

Hurd, 40, Curbelo, 38, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsoin, is 34, and Stefanik, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in 2014, is 33, were all on a panel together moderated by Hamill. (Cruz is 46, and O’Rourke is 45.)

Here is something about the members of the panel.

Stefanik Selected as Co-Chair of Republican Tuesday Group

January 11, 2017

Press Release

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) has been selected as Co-Chair of the House Republican Tuesday Group, a policy caucus within the House Republican Conference.

“I am honored to be selected by my Tuesday Group colleagues for this important opportunity,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “The Tuesday Group is comprised of Members who are willing to work across the aisle to advance policy solutions for their constituents, and I look forward to working on critical issues facing our nation in this important role.”

“Representative Stefanik is an outstandingly talented and dedicated member of the Republican Conference,” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA-15), Co-Chair of the Tuesday Group. “As a millennial, Elise brings a fresh perspective to a number of issues. The Tuesday Group is fortunate to have her in a leadership role as one of our co-chairs.”

And Carlos Curbelo.

A Miami Republican makes enemies in Washington
By Alex Daugherty
November 26, 2017
WASHINGTON Carlos Curbelo is picking fights.

He attacked the NRA for opposing his bill to ban a firearm accessory that allows semi-automatic rifles to fire like automatics. He attacked the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, currently made up of all Democrats, for denying his membership application.

And he is attacking the Trump administration and fellow Republicans who oppose efforts to combat climate change.

These spats give the second-term Republican congressman from Miami ground to criticize both sides of the political spectrum for unyielding partisanship, and they allow Curbelo to deliver a message to his constituents and voters that the right and the left are both responsible for Washington’s dysfunction


According to Bipartisan Index ranking of bipartisanship in the last Congress, Curbelo ranked 11, Stefanik, 31, O’Rourke, 77,  and Hurd 112.

In 2017, Curbelo ranked 4, Stefanik, 27, Hurd, 49, and O’Rourke, 93.

In the Senate, Cruz ranked 85, and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate, was 30. Bernie Sanders was last. In the last Congress, Cruz was next to last, ahead only of Sanders.

Oh, and there’s this, a press release from Curbelo’s office.

South Florida DACA Recipient To Join Curbelo at State of the Union

Washington, D.C., January 26, 2018 | Joanna Rodriguez (202-225-2778) | 0comments
On Tuesday, South Florida DACA recipient Adrian Escarate will join Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) at the State of the Union.

“I’m honored to have Adrian be my guest for the State of the Union,” Curbelo said. “One of my chief legislative priorities this Congress and the last has been to forge a compromise on immigration that delivers a fair, permanent solution for young immigrants like him. I was encouraged by the immigration outline the White House released yesterday, and look forward to working with colleagues from both sides of the aisle next week to make sure Congress fully recognizes America’s Children – young men and women like Adrian who are contributing greatly to our country.”

Escarate was born in Santiago, Chile and was brought to the United States when he was 3 years old. Initially, his parents had only intended to live in Miami for five years, but after assimiliating, South Florida became their permanent home. Growing up, Adrian played competitive tennis while also achieving great academic accolades during his primary schooling. Adrian was also able to attend the University of North Florida and St. Thomas University as a student-athlete by playing on the men’s tennis team at both universities. Although undocumented, he was able to attend school with private scholarships and graduated Cum Laude from St. Thomas University in 2011 with a Degree in Communications Arts and a minor in Psychology. It was a great accomplishment, but unfortunately he could not exercise his degree because of his undocumented status. When Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) went into effect, Adrian was able to acquire a work permit, social security number, and a Florida Driver’s License.

Curbelo first met Escarate when he was advocating for a DACA solution in Washington. Since then, they’ve met on several occasions in Washington and in South Florida.

Curbelo and Escarate are available for interviews together from Washington, D.C. Tuesday and Wednesday.


One of the key players in congressional negotiations on immigration, Curbelo has consistently made Dreamers a priority. Curbelo introduced the bipartisan Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act, which would provide three paths to legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, last year and in the 114th Congress. The RAC Act was the first permanent legislative solution for the DACA population introduced in this Congress and the only one introduced in the 114th Congress.

According to a Niskanen Center report,  passage of the RAC Act would increase gross domestic product (GDP) by $79 billion over ten years and create 115,000 new jobs. 

Curbelo has stated he would support any legislation that offers a permanent solution for the DACA population.

And, finally, Mike Gallagher.

How to make it as a maverick from Trump country
By Katie Glueck at McClatchy:

April 01, 2018 

He had barely been in Congress four months, but already, Mike Gallagher was being discussed as presidential ticket material.

“The Republican ticket in 2020 will be: Trump-Pence, Pence-Haley, Kasich-Martinez, Sasse-Gallagher,” read a Twitter poll posted by prominent conservative Bill Kristol one morning last May.

It was a lighthearted survey and the Gallagher option, paired with Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, came in last. But it was an early sign that the freshman congressman was on the radar of high-profile Beltway Republicans.

 Nearly one year later, Gallagher, of Wisconsin, has cemented his image as a rising star — one with an unusually independent reputation in today’s Republican Party.

In an era of intense political tribalism, Gallagher is the rare House member from a strongly pro-Trump district who has broken sharply with the White House over a range of issues, including the firing of ex-FBI Director James Comey and the Russia-related investigations.

Even more rare: he has done it—so far—without sparking crippling conservative backlash.

“All Americans should want the president to be successful, right? If he’s successful, the country’s successful,” Gallagher told McClatchy in an interview in his Capitol Hill office last month.

But, he said, “It’s not my job to just salute everything the White House does.”

“He’s done a very, very good job of navigating the Trump rapids,” said Kristol, the editor at large of the Weekly Standard and a Trump critic. “Of not picking unnecessary fights with Trump and Trump supporters, but not in any way bending over backwards, as so many other Republicans have, to give up principles or…be obsequious to Trump.”

Gallagher, 34, is a Princeton- and Georgetown-educated Marine veteran with a Ph.D., and an acolyte of former Trump National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. He delights in policy wonkery, which offers some cover when he breaks with Trump: party leaders, referencing his resume, suggest that Gallagher has earned “the right to his own opinion.”

His Marine discipline shapes his personal life, too: Gallagher, one of Congress’s youngest members, sleeps in his office, works long hours and has health nut tendencies.

“Let’s get some vegetables and some protein!” he said one recent morning, unsatisfied with the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “heavily salted almond” offerings. “Let’s also install pull-up bars…if you have to endure the pain of raising money, at least you can knock out a set of pull-ups in frustration.”

Republican donors and operatives see the freshman workaholic as the next sterling-credentialed member with a maverick streak who could shape the future of their deeply divided party—if he can outlast the turbulence and tribalism of the moment.


Gallagher presents as breezy and self-deprecating. But he is, clearly, intensely driven.

Rep. Seth Moulton, another Ivy League-educated Marine veteran who has traveled with Gallagher, called him “witty, fun, engaging,” but also “very intellectual, likes to read a lot, he tends to go to bed early, sometimes you have to work a little to get him to stay out.”

Like Gallagher, Moulton—a Democrat—is often mentioned as a future leader of his party.

“My deep hope is people like Seth and Mike…become the next generation of John Kerry and John McCain,” said McKnight, Gallagher’s friend from Iraq who also knows Moulton. “Does that mean he stays in the House for forever, becomes a senator, goes into the administration? Those people I referred to initially did all of those things.”

They also both ran for president.

“Everyone’s looking to see who the young rising stars of the party are and whether they will stick through the current turmoil and, if they do, whether they will survive and be successful,” said Jamil Jaffer, former chief counsel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he became friends with Gallagher.

“The answer,” he said, “is absolutely yes.”

The Mavericks Conference panel were not Hamill’s usual Daily Caller interviewees.

But she gamely sought to draw them into her worldview.

HAMILL: As a young Republican I see everything were surrounded by. We’ve got the legacy fake news media  attacking us 24/7, and then not only do we have that but we have liberal Hollywood just shoving propaganda down our throats in their movies and their late-night comedy, and our education system which has basically turned into a liberal indoctrination center.

She then segued into a truly weird person-in-the-street interview she had just done in Washington, D.C.

Now, none of this would have thrown Ted Cruz off his game. He would have offered Hamill something on the order of what she was looking for.

But the Hurd Herd simply stared at Hamill, and, then, one by one, offered what amounted to a rejoinder.

Stefanik: So, I think one of our biggest generational challenges is people are unwilling to hear or listen to people they don’t agree with. I think that is going to be a challenge for policy-makers in this country and the media exacerbates that. You don’t hear stories about bipartisan victories when the media covers what Congress is doing. The reality is 80 percent of our bills are actually bipartisan. You don’t hear about those significant legislative victories. I think the onus is on individuals to really stand up and be strong messengers about collaborative policymaking.

Curbelo: One of our flaws as a movement, as a party, as Republicans, is that we have forfeited on many issues over the decades – an agenda that helps people rise out of poverty, whether it means the environment, immigration, something that we’re trying to change now by actually having a  debate in the Congress, and be able to engage on all these issues and show a younger generation of Americans who have real concerns that we have solutions or at least are willing to listen to them and consider some of their ideas and solutions. So I would stay, stop forfeiting on ideas, engage on every issue. We have an agenda that is loyal to the founding principles of this party but also can respond to the concerns and the fears and the anxieties that a lot of people feel about the future with the new economy, with issues like sea level rise in the 26th Congressional District where everyone lives near the sea or at sea level.

HURD: If the Republican Party in Texas does not look like Texas, there will be not be a Republican Party in Texas. So we have to engage in places where most Republicans have never been. And I consider myself the vanguard of this because I’m in communities, they’ve never seen a Republican before.

GALLAGHER: At the risk of being a buzz kill, I do think we need to look at our own house. I understand that the tactics and the disinformation of the left can be frustrating at times, but they certainly don’t have a monopoly on it. I was at a Lincoln Day Dinner recently, and this has happened a thousand times and I am the least experienced member of this panel.  A lady came up to me and said, “Congressman Gallagher, you need to do something for me. There are Democrats who won’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. They’re sitting down and their protesting and they’re disrespecting our country.”

And I’m like, “I’ve never seen that,” and she said, “I’ve got proof,” and she pulled out a whole email thread chain and there’s pictures of people that look like legislators and they have names and they were sitting down and they were at desks, though, and in the House of Representatives, we don’t have desks.

“This is not the House of Representatives, we don’t have desks. Maybe it’s the Senate.”

“Oh, it’s the Senate. I think it’s the Senate. It’s the Senate.”

And I look at the names and I go, “Ma’am, I don’t know all the names of all the members of the Senate off the top of my head, but these are not the names of any U.S. Senators.”

“This could be some weird other country where they’re sitting down, but it’s not the United States of America.”

And I left there thinking just how much of this misinformation is out there, you know. And social media has made it worse. 

And I tend to think most people value honesty, and they don’t expect you to agree with them on everything, but if they just have some sense you are being honest with them and real with them, they’re willing to put up with a lot. So I just do think there’s an element of this where we can’t allow the same thing in our own party.

HURD: We all know not to get in a car with a stranger – asterisk, an Uber or Lyft driver – so why are we sharing things from people we don’t know who they are or where that information from?

As a professional intelligence officer, it really drives me crazy.

After the conference, I talked with Gallagher and with MAVPAC co-chair Fritz Brogan, who worked for Florida Gov. Jeb bush as a young man, worked in the George W. Bush White House (with Stefanik), interviewed George P. Bush at the conference Saturday night, and is now restaurateur in Washington D.C.

(Maverick PAC national co-chair Fritz Brogan and U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, at ACL Saturday night.)

I told Gallagher that I thought it admirable that he had straightened that woman out at the Lincoln Day Dinner and that he retold the story at the conference.

“It kind of reminded when McCain was running,” said Brogan, recalling that famous moment in the 2008 presidential campaign when John McCain corrected a woman at one of his rallies who said she didn’t trust Obama because he was an “Arab.”

Gallagher: There’s not common field of intellectual combat where we can keep track. What does the evidence say? What are the facts?

But, for many Republicans in our Year of Trump 2018, McCain is nothing but a throwback, a memory, and not a good one.

Cruz’s views on immigration and Dreamers are a lot harder line than those of George W. Bush or Rick Perry were.

Returning home from MAVPAC, Friday night I turned on Bill Maher who was describing the Republican Party as the conspiracy-minded, conspiracy-guided party not just of Donald Trump but Alex Jones.

And the newly-pardoned Dineh D’Souza.


With a shiv to the cities: Dan Patrick and the practice of `positive polarization.’


Good Tuesday Austin:

Yesterday morning I did a podcast with Jim Henson and Josh Blank of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, one of a series of podcasts that is used as part of a summer course on contemporary Texas politics and government.

We mostly talked about the progress of the Legislature’s special session, ending with a conversation about Lt. Gov Dan Patrick’s provocative comments Friday on FOX about cities, particularly those led by Democrats, being the source of all of America’s problems.

Dan Patrick:

People are happy with their governments at the state level. They’re not with their cities. By the way, Stuart, there’s something going on that you really need to focus on. And that is, our cities are still controlled by Democrats. Where do we have all our problems in America? Not at the state level, run by Republicans, but in our cities that are mostly controlled by Democrat mayors and Democrat city councilmen and women. That’s where you see liberal policies, that’s where you see high taxes, where you see high street crimes. Look at New York, look at Chicago, look at…go around the country. So the only place Democrats have control of is our cities and they’re doing a terrible job.

Here from our conversation.

JH: A pretty interesting and direct kind of articulation of this development that we’ve been seeing in the last year or so of kind of mobilizing people’s allegiance to the state and setting up this conflict between the state and the cities.

JT: It’s very much of a piece with Abbott’s whole emphasis on protecting individual rights by curbing local governments and that the state should be the repositoryof power. The thing about Dan Patrick is that he takes it and he sort of adds a shiv to it. He just comes on stronger and makes it more us against them, even though the governor’s been pretty direct about how it smells better when you leave Austin because you get the smell of freedom…

With Dan Patrick it’s always got to be a little bit more ..

JH: Nixonian – edgier, more pointed.

More polarizing.

Gov. Abbott is every inch a lawyer.

Patrick is every inch a talk radio host, where polarization is a virtue, and he is our state’s leading practitioner of what in the Nixon presidency was known as “positive polarization.”

From George Packer in the New Yorker in May 2008: The Fall of Conservatism. Have the Republicans run out of ideas?

Note: Buchanan here is Pat Buchanan, the Nixon adviser who in his subsequent pitchfork campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination in 1992 and 1996 was the clearest forerunner of the populist nationalism of President Donald Trump and most obviously  represented in Texas by Dan Patrick. Note also that, like Spiro Agnew, Dan Patrick is a native of Baltimore, Maryland.

Buchanan urged Nixon to enlist his Vice-President, Spiro Agnew, in a battle against the press. In November, Nixon sent Agnew—despised as dull-witted by the media—on the road, where he denounced “this small and unelected élite” of editors, anchormen, and analysts. Buchanan recalls watching a broadcast of one such speech—which he had written for Agnew—on a television in his White House office. Joining him was his colleague Kevin Phillips, who had just published “The Emerging Republican Majority,” which marshalled electoral data to support a prophecy that Sun Belt conservatism—like Jacksonian Democracy, Republican industrialism, and New Deal liberalism—would dominate American politics for the next thirty-two or thirty-six years. (As it turns out, Phillips was slightly too modest.) When Agnew finished his diatribe, Phillips said two words: “Positive polarization.”

Polarization is the theme of Rick Perlstein’s new narrative history “Nixonland” (Scribners), which covers the years between two electoral landslides: Barry Goldwater’s defeat in 1964 and George McGovern’s in 1972. During that time, Nixon figured out that he could succeed politically “by using the angers, anxieties, and resentments produced by the cultural chaos of the 1960s,” which were also his own. In Perlstein’s terms, America in the sixties was divided, like the Sneetches on Dr. Seuss’s beaches, into two social clubs: the Franklins, who were the in-crowd at Nixon’s alma mater, Whittier College; and the Orthogonians, a rival group founded by Nixon after the Franklins rejected him, made up of “the strivers, those not to the manor born, the commuter students like him. He persuaded his fellows that reveling in one’s unpolish was a nobility of its own.” Orthogonians deeply resented Franklins, which, as Perlstein sees it, explains just about everything that happened between 1964 and 1972: Nixon resented the Kennedys and clawed his way back to power; construction workers resented John Lindsay and voted conservative; National Guardsmen resented student protesters and opened fire on them. 


Nixon was coldly mixing and pouring volatile passions. Although he was careful to renounce the extreme fringe of Birchites and racists, his means to power eventually became the end. Buchanan gave me a copy of a seven-page confidential memorandum—“A little raw for today,” he warned—that he had written for Nixon in 1971, under the heading “Dividing the Democrats.” Drawn up with an acute understanding of the fragilities and fault lines in “the Old Roosevelt Coalition,” it recommended that the White House “exacerbate the ideological division” between the Old and New Left by praising Democrats who supported any of Nixon’s policies; highlight “the elitism and quasi-anti-Americanism of the National Democratic Party”; nominate for the Supreme Court a Southern strict constructionist who would divide Democrats regionally; use abortion and parochial-school aid to deepen the split between Catholics and social liberals; elicit white working-class support with tax relief and denunciations of welfare. Finally, the memo recommended exploiting racial tensions among Democrats. “Bumper stickers calling for black Presidential and especially Vice-Presidential candidates should be spread out in the ghettoes of the country,” Buchanan wrote. “We should do what is within our power to have a black nominated for Number Two, at least at the Democratic National Convention.” Such gambits, he added, could “cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half.”

The Nixon White House didn’t enact all of these recommendations, but it would be hard to find a more succinct and unapologetic blueprint for Republican success in the conservative era. “Positive polarization” helped the Republicans win one election after another—and insured that American politics would be an ugly, unredeemed business for decades to come.

From R.G. Ratcliffe’s interview Monday with House Speaker Joe Straus for Texas Monthly.

JS: Dan Patrick has a history of trying to pit people against each other, and in the House we try to focus on what made Texas a success, not looking to blame anybody, but trying to focus on solving problems. It’s a signal of national politics seeping into Texas. Divisive rhetoric like that doesn’t solve problems.

RGR: Has that hurt the Republican brand in Texas?

JS: You can’t look at elections and say that it has, but it also hasn’t helped us address in meaningful ways some of the problems of the state.

Back to the podcast discussion of the difference between the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s rhetoric around the state vs. the cities.

JH: Gov. Abbott has made this a kind of constitutional argument, about state government … 

JB: Philosophical really.

JH: There’ a philosophical underpinning to it.

JT: He carried Harris and Bexar counties, so he doesn’t want to be so divisive that he sacrifices some votes in the process.

Here is how the governor concluded his announcement for re-election in San Antonio on July 14.

Liberals think they’ve found cracks in our armor.

In 2014, I won Harris County and Bexar Country. In 2016, Hillary won them both.

What happened?

George Soros for one.

He poured big money into Harris County and they won every county-wide race.

Liberals are messing with Texas.

Every far-left liberal you can think of from George Soros to Nancy Pelosi is trying to undo the Texas brand of liberty and prosperity.

But I have news for the liberals. Texas values are not up for grabs.

I’m a fighter and I know that you are too.

With your help, we’re building the largest grass roots army in Texas history right here in Bexar County and across the state.

I’m committed to preserving your Texas Liberty.

I’ve proven that I’m willing to fight Washington D.C. but I’m counting on you to have my back.

Texas is the Lone Star State for a reason. We stand apart as a model for the rest of the nation.

Our exceptionalism is rooted in our very beginning. Courageous heroes died so Texas could be free.

Since that time, Texas has charted a course that has elevated it to the premier state in the greatest nation in the history of the world.

Now I need your help to write the next chapter in our extraordinary history.

Together, we will keep Texas the most exceptional state in America.

But, Patrick goes a little further.

Back to the podcast:

JH: Whereas it takes Dan Patrick all of 30 seconds to paint this portrait of dysfunctional, crime-ridden cities, which is a different kind of tack rhetorically.

JB: There’s not a lot that he could say that would surprise me. He’s a talented politician. He’s not afraid to wade into controversial areas. But the antagonism with which he sort of moved this argument forward is really a pretty notable, and this is a further escalation … in this city vs. the state thing. The fact that all the major cities save Fort Worth banded together in the debate over the sanctuary cities and that’s kind of notable.

As, Blank said, was the ferociousness of Patrick’s attack.

JB: This to me was really interesting, just in it was such an antagonistic tone.

The philosophical argument … Abbott’s not necessarily wrong, right?

The cities and the county governments are creations of the state government. You can’t really deny that that’s true. But to say that basically the cities, where a huge share of Texans choose to live, and elect their own representatives and government are somehow the cause of all the problems …

JH: The cities are also economically very important in a week when the governors been talking about the Texas miracle, when more large corporate businesses actors are getting involved and being a little more aggressive …  about the timing of the special session in this fight over some kind of bathroom legislation and taking a more cosmopolitanposition on this, it really does kind of underline how much there is a political edge to this that I think is not going to be easy to resolve in the longer term. Our polling is showing there is a kind of baseline agreement in the general orientation here, particularly among conservatives Republicans  in their views of state vs. local government.

From my story on Sunday’s Statesman from my Friday evening interview with the governor.

Gov. Greg Abbott had no choice but to call a special session of the Legislature for what amounted to a technical fix.

But, making a virtue of necessity, the governor set out an expansive 20-item conservative agenda, including some previously intractable issues. This weekend, with scarcely a dozen days to go and sweeping success hardly in sight, Abbott expressed complete confidence that the session will end with a flurry of votes on many of his priority items — and compromise between the House and Senate, both led by Republicans with large majorities but with competing visions on how to approach issues ranging from the public school finance system to local tree ordinances.

“That’s why I said … if we’re going to have a special session I’m going to make it count, and almost to a point of certainty, I can tell you that in 10 days we are going to have a Texas that I consider to be far better, more conservative, that will continue the Texas model for conservative governance,” Abbott told the American-Statesman on Friday evening.

From polling by the Texas Politics Project polling in cooperation with the Texas Tribune.




Meanwhile, Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, pointed out yesterday that Gallup a year ago found that Americans continue to have more trust in local than state government.

From Gallup in September 2016.

For the past 15 years, Americans have expressed more confidence in their local government than their state government to handle problems. Similar to polls since 2013, about seven in 10 (71%) say they have a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of trust in local government to handle problems, compared with about six in 10 (62%) who say the same for their state government.

Gallup also found that Republicans were those most likely to have confidence in their state and especially their local government.



“Stop, drop, and roll, Lt. Gov. Patrick. Your pants are on fire,” said Rodriguez. “Folks trust their local governments more than any other branch of government, for the government closest to the people is the most responsive and relevant in their daily lives. Survey responses show this trust has persisted since Gallup first asked Americans in 1972. Now, more than two-thirds of people of any political affiliation express confidence in their local government.”

“In fact,” Rodriguez said, “even more Republicans than Democrats trust local government to handle local problems. This just goes to show how far Dan Patrick is out of touch, even with his own base.”

In February of last year, Gallup reported  that residents of smaller states tended to have more confidence in their state government. But Texas was an exception.

In my conversation with Gov. Abbott Friday night I noted that some of his special session agenda items pre-empting local prerogatives – like creating their own cell phone or tree ordinances – had run into resistance and that, for many citizens, his constitutional argument might be new to them and strike them as counterintuitive to their sense that local governments should be free to express the public will in  regulating behavior in their midst.

Abbott replied of his argument:

It actually is old  because it’s a principle that is in the Constitution. The Constitution is very clear. It says all power not delegated to the federal government in the Constitution is reserved to the state or to the people.

The original intent of the architecture of the United States is for the power to rest in the state and in the people. Now states have created municipalities as part of the state process but what we’re really trying to achieve in this session is not to pit the state against cities.  What I’m doing is I’m taking the side of the people, of individuals when individual liberty is being trampled  contrary to what I consider to be constitutional standards.

For example, private property rights used to mean something in Texas. It was quintessential Texas to have private property rights. Now municipalities trample private property rights, right and left. I consider that to be un-Texan. And so someone has to stand up for the individual,and in this case it is the state of Texas.

For the longest time in the state of Texas there wasn’t that much of an issue because private property rights and individual liberties were largely respected and even local governments weren’t all that heavy-handed in the regulations they imposed.

It’s been really a modern concept, as municipalities have worked together, you know, they have these national conferences they are involved in all the time and they talk about the very types of ordinances that Texas-based municipalities are imposing on people.

What has sprung up over the last few decades has been this model of governance at the local level to take away individual liberties.

I asked the governor when he thought these municipal intrusions on the Texas way began.

He mentioned that when Sen. Kirk Watson was mayor of Austin, “Watson was a proponent of smart growth.”

“Austin’s doing something now – Code Next,” he said. “They are not inventing the wheel here, they are applying the prefab wheel. That’s part of the strategy.”

From a 2014 blog post by historian Steven Conn: The anti-urban tradition in America: why Americans dislike their cities.

Conn, who was then at Ohio State and is now at Miami of Ohio, is the author of Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century. 


He writes:

The urban-rural divide has existed in American politics from the very beginning. It is a central irony of American political life that we are an urbanized nation inhabited by people who are deeply ambivalent about cities.

It’s what I call the “anti-urban tradition” in American life, and it comes in two parts.

On the one hand, American cities — starting with Philadelphia in the 18th century — have always been places of ethnic, racial, religious, and cultural diversity. First stop for immigrant arrivals from eastern Europe or the American south, cities embodied the cosmopolitan ideal that critic Randolph Bourne celebrated in his 1916 essay “Trans-National America.”

Not all Americans were as enthusiastic as Bourne about cities filling up with Catholics from Italy and Poland, Jews from Russia and Lithuania, and African-Americans from Mississippi and North Carolina. Many, in fact, recoiled in horror at all this heterogeneity. Many, of course, still do, as when Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin campaigned in North Carolina and called small towns there “real America.”

On the other hand, the industrial cities that boomed at the turn of the 20th century relied on the actions of government to make life livable. Paved streets, clean water, sanitary sewers — all this infrastructure required the intervention of local, state, and eventually the federal government. Indeed, the 20th century city is where our commitments to the public realm have been given their widest expression — public space, public transportation, public education, public housing. And anti-urbanists then and now have a deep suspicion of those public, “collective” commitments.

In this sense, cities stand as antithetical to the basic, bedrock, “real” American values: self-reliant individualism and the supremacy of all things private. The 2012 Republican Party Platform, for example, denounced “sustainable development,” often associated with urbanist design principles, as nothing less than an assault on “the American way of life of private property ownership, single family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices, and privately owned farms.”

The Austin Public Library doesn’t have Conn’s book. I got it from Amazon on Kindle, and it has a long and very interesting chapter on Houston.

But the Austin Library does have a couple of other books by Conn, including this edited volume.


From the book description:

Americans love to hate their government.

There is a long tradition of anti-government suspicion that goes back all the way to the founding of the nation. The election of Barack Obama, however, has created one the largest backlashes against government in our history.

Tea partiers, fueled by talk radio and cable TV demagogues, have created a political atmosphere of anger and hostility toward our government rivaled perhaps only by the pre-Civil War era of the 1850s.

Lost at the Tea Party rallies and in talk radio fulminations, however, is this simple fact: the federal government plays a central role in making our society function, and it always has.

This book is a collection of essays to remind Americans of that fact. Written by some of the nation’s foremost and most engaging scholars, this book considers ten key aspects of American life – from education, to communication, to housing, and health – and charts the way the federal government hascontributed to American progress and everyday life.

Essential – and fun – reading for anyone who wants to understand our political history and our political present, it will help inform the choices we must make about our future.

Forget Kindle. In Texas, this book sounds more like kindling.

Finally, on the podcast we also talked about comments that Gov. Abbott made in our interview about his predecessor, Rick Perry.

From my story:

It has been noted that unlike his predecessor, Rick Perry, who served as a member of the Texas House and as lieutenant governor presiding over the Texas Senate, Abbott, a former state Supreme Court justice and attorney general, has never served in the Legislature and might be less wise in its ways.

“We have achieved legislative goals that Perry pined for but was never able to achieve,” Abbott said. “Our success rate has been superior. Our results have been superior. We have done more to cut taxes, to limit spending, more to advance education.”

And of his signature success in passing a ban on sanctuary city policies during the regular session, Abbott said, “Perry not only pined for it; he also called a special session for it. He pushed, he pushed and he pushed, and he was just never able to get it done.”

What made the difference this time?

“Could be the pusher,” Abbott said.

As one might suspect, some Perry partisans were taken aback by the governor’s words – that Abbott would think that, let alone say it..

I heard from one who wondered, why in the world Abbott would say that stuff?

I suggested maybe the governor had grown tired of hearing people pining for Perry.

“Sounds like a case of Edward Clark syndrome,” he said.

“Who?” I asked.

“Exactly,” he said.

From the Handbook of Texas:

CLARK, EDWARD (1815–1880). Edward Clark, governor of Texas, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on April 1, 1815, the son of Elijah Clark, Jr., a brother of John Clark, governor of Georgia from 1819 to 1823. Edward Clark spent his early childhood in Georgia. After the death of his father in the early 1830s, he and his mother moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar. In 1840 he was married to Lucy Long in Alabama, but his wife died within a few months. By December 1841 Clark had moved to Texas and opened a law practice in Marshall. In July 1849 he married Martha Melissa (Mellissa, Malissa) Evans of Marshall. The couple had four children.

Clark was a delegate to the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1845, a member of the first state House of Representatives, and a senator in the Second Legislature. He served on the staff of Gen. J. Pinckney Henderson in the Mexican War and received a citation for bravery in the battle of Monterrey. From 1853 to 1857 he was secretary of state under Governor Elisha M. Pease. He was appointed state commissioner of claims in 1858 and was elected lieutenant governor of Texas on the independent Democratic ticket headed by Sam Houston in 1859.

When Governor Houston refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy in the spring of 1861, the Secession Convention declared the office of governor vacant and elevated Clark to the position. As governor, he moved quickly to address problems brought about by secession. Regiments commanded by John S. (Rip) Ford and Henry E. McCulloch were mustered to protect the frontier, ad valorem and poll taxes were raised in an effort to stabilize the state’s finances, and the state was divided into military districts for recruiting and organizing the troops required by the Confederate government. After the firing upon Fort Sumter and the outbreak of war, Clark worked closely with Confederate authorities to help obtain supplies for the army. The archaic state militia system was reorganized, and a system of training camps was built. Clark proceeded cautiously and within his constitutional powers. Even so, he exercised more authority and power than any previous Texas chief executive in recruiting, enrolling, and training troops, in purchasing weapons and supplies, and in communication with Confederate officials and governors of Mexican states.

He ran for election to a full term as governor in the autumn of 1861 but was defeated in an extremely close race by Francis R. Lubbock. Lubbock, who had the support of regular Democratic party leaders, received 21,854 votes, Clark, 21,730, and Thomas Jefferson Chambers, 13,733. Although there were widespread rumors of fraud, Clark accepted the outcome of the election without protest.

After he left the governor’s office, he received a commission in the Confederate Army as colonel of the Fourteenth Texas Infantry regiment, which served as part of Walker’s Texas Division in the repulse of the Union invasion in the Red River campaign of 1864. Clark was wounded in the leg while leading an attack at the battle of Pleasant Hill and subsequently discharged from the army. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier general before his discharge, but the promotion may not have been confirmed by the Richmond government.

When the Civil War ended, Clark fled to Mexico with other prominent civil and military leaders of the Southwest. He remained there only briefly and returned to his home in Marshall. After several business ventures, he resumed his law practice. He died on May 4, 1880, and was buried in Marshall.

Rick Perry takes break from Cabinet duties to intervene in Aggie GlowStickGate


Good day Austin:

Well, I suppose glow sticks do come under the purview of the Department of Energy.


After all, all you do is crack them and they produce light, which is some crazy science, and in some post-apocalyptic, post-grid, Mad Max world might be the only light we have to read by, in our caves.

And, unlike coal or oil or gas or other fossil fuels, glow sticks probably don’t contribute to climate change, if you believe in that sort of thing. Right?

Now, it is true that Perry’s job has more to do with overseeing the nation’s nuclear arsenal than its glow stick stockpile, which is really the purview of Walmart, the Dollar Store and  Party City.


As the New York Times reported in January:

Two-thirds of the agency’s annual $30 billion budget is devoted to maintaining, refurbishing and keeping safe the nation’s nuclear stockpile; thwarting nuclear proliferation; cleaning up and rebuilding an aging constellation of nuclear production facilities; and overseeing national laboratories that are considered the crown jewels of government science.

And yes, the Times’ story noted – unlike his predecessor, Ernest J. Moniz, who was chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics department and directed the linear accelerator at M.I.T.’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science,” and Moniz’s predecessor, Steven Chu, a physicist who won a Nobel Prize – Mr. Perry studied animal husbandry and led cheers at Texas A&M University.

But there is no shame in that.

Which brings us to Perry’s Op-Ed in today’s Houston Chronicle.

As Texas’ first Aggie governor and as someone who was twice elected Yell Leader of Texas A&M University, I am deeply troubled by the recent conduct of A&M’s administration and Student Government Association (SGA) during the Aggie student-body president elections for 2017-2018.

(Rick Perry, far right, in the 1971 Texas A&M yearbook, The Aggieland. This is a photo of the Aggie Yell Leaders)

When I first read that our student body had elected an openly gay man, Bobby Brooks, for president of the student body, I viewed it as a testament to the Aggie character. I was proud of our students because the election appeared to demonstrate a commitment to treating every student equally, judging on character rather than on personal characteristics.

 Unfortunately, a closer review appears to prove the opposite; and the Aggie administration and SGA owe us answers.
Brooks did not win the election. He finished second by more than 750 votes to one Mr. Robert McIntosh. However, McIntosh was disqualified by the SGA Election Commission and Judicial Court through a process that – at best – made a mockery of due process and transparency.
At worst, the SGA allowed an election to be stolen outright.

Here are the facts: Six hours after the election polls closed, the SGA Election Commission received 14 anonymous complaints, accusing McIntosh of voter intimidation. Rather than question McIntosh or conduct an investigation, the Election Commission immediately disqualified McIntosh and declared Brooks the winner. Later, the Commission added a second charge – again from an anonymous complaint – that McIntosh had failed to provide a receipt for glow sticks appearing in a campaign video on Facebook.



You can watch the video here, though you may have to slow it down to Zapruder speed to really savor the the cameo by the contested glow sticks.

Here’s what may be the critical freeze frame.


Let’s pause here.

When I first saw Perry’s Op-Ed last night I doubted it’s authenticity.

Putin, I thought.

Or maybe some Macedonian fake Op-Ed mill.

But, no. It appears to be real. The genuine article.

And, based on the facts, at least as Perry describes them, one Mr. Robert McIntosh, does appear to have gotten a raw deal.

And yet …

Back to Perry:

Now, as someone who appointed university regents for more than a decade, I assumed that the administration would have briefed the Board of Regents, considering the allegations of widespread voter intimidation and the disqualification of thousands of student votes. If anything is worthy of oversight, these events should qualify.Incredibly, it appears that the Board of Regents was never informed.

Well, not so the Secretary of Energy, who it appears is deeply informed on the matter.

One can only hope that he didn’t skip any meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about the possibility of a first strike against North Korea after a series of recent ballistic missile tests by Kim Jong Un’s government, for another GlowStickGate briefing.

Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Perry extends his regrets for his absence, but, well you know and understand  (or maybe, Rex the Longhorn, you don’t) the priority he has placed on the Glow Stick Matter.

The concerning point here is that Secretary of Energy Rick Perry seems to know way too much about the ins and outs of the recent student government election at his alma mater.

To wit, picking up the tick-tock in Perry’s Op-Ed:

Upon appeal, McIntosh was cleared of all charges of voter intimidation. None of the complaints were made by students who interacted with McIntosh, and many of the accusers turned out to be supporters of Brooks or his campaign volunteers. In other words, the entire episode that initially disqualified McIntosh was dismissed as a series of dirty campaign tactics.

The second charge of missing receipts was upheld by the Court, despite the fact that McIntosh had acquired the glow sticks for participating in a charity event prior to the campaign. Further, they were no different than visual props used by McIntosh’s rivals’ campaign videos – none of which were itemized or expensed.

In its opinion, the Judicial Court admitted that the charges were minor and technical, but, incredibly, chose to uphold the disqualification, with no consideration given to whether the punishment fit the crime. The desire of the electorate is overturned, and thousands of student votes are disqualified because of free glow sticks that appeared for 11 seconds of a months-long campaign. Apparently, glow sticks merit the same punishment as voter intimidation.

Putting aside the merits of the case, Perry might have done well to acknowledge that he knows one Mr. David McIntosh.

From Lauren McGaughy in the Dallas Morning News:

McIntosh, a senior, is the son of Dallas-based Republican fundraiser Alison McIntosh, who worked on Jeb Bush’s 2016 campaign and Mitt Romney’s 2012 run for president. Perry, twice a presidential hopeful himself, is featured in photographs with McIntosh’s other children on Facebook.

From the Texas Tribune:


Add to that, McIntosh was a major fundraiser for President Trump in Texas in 2016.

And yet, the personal relationship with the McIntoshes may not have been the overriding motivation for Perry to get involved.

Just as likely, it was simply his existence in Aggieland.

I began a First Reading earlier this month:

One of the revelations for me on moving to Texas was how often people’s core identity was connected to their alma mater, and how it often seemed that the most fundamental divide in the state was not so much red and blue as Longhorns and Aggie

It now appears that in Aggieland, Brooks v. McIntosh was already Bush v Gore and the Russian hacking of the 2016 election all rolled into one.

How else to explain the response the Texas Tribune’s Abby Livingston got when she asked U.S. Rep. Joe Barton about the controversy late last night at the Capitol on the eve of the big vote on health care.

Another high-profile Aggie, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, was already well-versed in the matter during a brief interview at the U.S. Capitol late Wednesday night.

“I’m aware of the controversy,” he said, explaining his understanding that a video used in McIntosh’s campaign included unreported glow sticks on a campaign finance report.

“I believe if you’re going to have a student-run organization, then it ought to be student-run,” Barton said. “I certainly don’t think this is worthy of federal intervention or former-governor intervention, but I do think on the merits the student that won, won. And maybe he should have paid a fine or something, but the candidate that got disqualified claims that he did not purchase the glow sticks, therefore did not think he had to report them. And to me, that seems to have merit. When somebody voluntarily gives you some material or something happens to be available, that shouldn’t in and of itself be grounds for disqualification.

“Then again,” he continued, “If you have a student-run organization, and the students make decisions, then generally you should stand back and let the students make those decisions.”

Aggieland’s angina may have been stoked, or informed, by a report on the disputed election Monday by Jon Cassidy at

It begins:

Some bureaucrats-in-training at Texas A&M have revoked the results of the election for student body president over some orange, pink, yellow and purple glowsticks.

Despite winning 35 percent of the vote in a four-candidate race, Robert McIntosh won’t be student body president next year after a student elections official accused his campaign of voter fraud and failing to properly account for a handful of glowsticks seen in a promotional video.

The voter fraud alleged: volunteers from the campaign asked passersby if they could walk and talk with them about voting for McIntosh, which could be construed as intimidating, which could in turn be considered fraud.

Student Election Commissioner Rachel Keathley decided that the anonymous and obviously coordinated complaints were proof of voter fraud, which is defined in student government rules as “anything … deemed to be voting fraud by the Election Commissioner.” Her witness at a hearing was from a rival campaign.

Keathley’s determination was rejected by a student court, but the six members of the court upheld her glowstick charge based on their own inability to comprehend standard written English.

Though the stakes are low here, the incident shines a light on the dangers of campaign finance law and the sort of people who enforce it.

Back to Perry:

Now, Brooks’ presidency is being treated as a victory for “diversity.” It is difficult to escape the perception that this quest for “diversity” is the real reason the election outcome was overturned. Does the principle of “diversity” override and supersede all other values of our Aggie Honor Code?

Every Aggie ought to ask themselves: How would they act and feel if the victim was different? What if McIntosh had been a minority student instead of a white male? What if Brooks had been the candidate disqualified? Would the administration and the student body have allowed the first gay student body president to be voided for using charity glow sticks? Would the student body have allowed a black student body president to be disqualified on anonymous charges of voter intimidation?

We all know that the administration, the SGA and student body would not have permitted such a thing to happen. The outcome would have been different if the victim was different.

Election Commissioner Rachel Keathley must explain why she chose to overturn a fairly won election and disqualify thousands of votes on the basis of anonymous complaints and flimsy technicalities. Chief Justice Shelby James must explain why she treated these cases as annoyances rather than with respect. The administration must explain why it stood passive while equal treatment was mocked in the name of diversity, and why officials did not brief the Board of Regents.

Campus diversity is something every school and student should strive to consistently improve. But it must be done the right way. The quality of diversity on a campus depends on fair treatment, rather than preferred outcomes or engineered results. McIntosh’s treatment suggests that A&M is choosing preferred outcomes over equal treatment: that the ends justify the means, and that not every student is deserving of the same treatment.

That is precisely opposite from the values that I learned as an A&M cadet.

Robert McIntosh was not treated the same as his competitors.

If we do not serve him and the voting majority of students, then we fail every student at our beloved university – and tarnish the ring that our alumni wear with pride.

And there it is. The ring.


When each of the four candidates for student body president was asked by the student newspaper, The Battalion, to name their favorite tradition, it was McIntosh who answered, “the Aggie ring, because you can’t go to any airport in the world without seeing a ring, and it’s an instant connection because you make a ton of new friends just by asking what class year they were.”


The favorite traditions of the other three candidates were two musters (including Brooks) and a Howdy!

I hope that the current unpleasantness which, for better or worse, Rick Perry, class of 1972, has now laid bare for all the world, doesn’t shroud the Howdy.

From the student newspaper last night.

McIntosh, who is a university studies senior, said he was unaware of Perry’s plans to write a op-ed and appreciates the Secretary’s comments, which he feels gives validity to his cause.

“I’m thankful for Secretary Perry’s support of fairness in the Houston Chronicle today. I did not at all expect his editorial and I’m humbled to have his support,” McIntosh said. “He made a compelling case which I fully support and continue to fight for. Our campaign team won the election and was subsequently disqualified unfairly. Diversity, at its heart, is equal treatment of all, and we hope this situation is resolved in a way that ensures a fair and more transparent process now and in future elections.”

So, it looks like GlowStickGate has a lot of life left in it.

But wait.

There must be something that can lift us out of this moment.

Of course, it’s our …


When the four candidate for student government president were asked by The Batt, to name their favorite yell, McIntosh went with The locomotive.

Rah, rah, rah, rah. I think it’s a crowd favorite and I like the way it gains steam the more you get into the yell.



Kilian Bresnahan also went with The Locomotive.


Rah, rah, rah, rah. I love it.


Ben Ikwuagwu chose Beat the Hell Outta, though he just referred to it as Beat the Hell, but I assume it’s the same thing.

And what was our (contested) winner Bobby Brooks’ favorite yell?

Drum roll please …

Brooks: I’m gonna have to say the Sit-Down Bus Driver is my favorite yell, as infrequent as we use it. Just watching the other coach get mad, I just love it. Sit Down Bus Driver. It cracks me up. What can I say?

(To see how it’s done, look at this instructional video.)





Oh, and the official Aggie reply to Perry’s Op-Ed, from Amy B. Smith, senior vice president, chief marketing and communications officer, Division of Marketing and Communications, Texas A&M University (in other words, spokeswoman):

We appreciate Secretary Perry’s long-term commitment to his alma mater and to the state in general. We were surprised that he weighed in on the university student body election and respectfully disagree with his assessment. These elections are run by the students with advisors from student affairs and issues that arise are adjudicated in accordance with the Student Government constitution and by-laws. 

The disqualification of the leading vote-getter resulted in the certification of Bobby Brooks as the next Student Body President effective April 21, 2017. To suggest that the same decision of disqualification would not have been made if the roles were reversed is to deny the Texas A&M of today where accountability applies to all.

Bobby Brooks, in this role, represents all students of all backgrounds. I know that he takes this responsibility seriously and we look forward to working with him.


Trump’s Eagle Scouts: On the split between Rick Perry and Rex Tillerson on gays in Scouting

Governor Rick Perry answers questions during an interview at the Governor's Mansion on Wednesday, December 17, 2014. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Governor Rick Perry answers questions during an interview at the Governor’s Mansion on Wednesday, December 17, 2014. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Good morning Austin:

I think it’s fair to say that President-elect Donald Trump is no Boy Scout.


In fact, thanks to the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, we know that the PEOTUS apparently covered his son’s $7 registration fee for the BSA in 1989 with Trump Foundation money, though, who knows, maybe that comes under the heading a penny saved is a penny earned.

It is likewise hard to imagine a Norman Rockwell image of Trump helping an old lady cross Fifth Avenue without stopping to shoot someone to test his belief that he could do so without losing a single vote.

Nonetheless, the two Texans that Trump has chosen for his Cabinet – ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and former Gov Rick Perry – are both Eagle Scouts for whom the Boy Scouts of America have continued to be a central devotion of their lives.

But, as the confirmation hearings for the two Eagle Scouts approaches – Tillerson this Wednesday and Perry probably a week from Thursday – it is worth noting that Tillerson and Perry were diametrically opposed to one another on the central issue facing the Boy Scouts in recent years – how to contend with homosexuality.

With that in mind, it is well worth watching these two videos in which each of the men, within a month of one another in the spring of 2013,  address the question that was then before the BSA – whether to allow openly gay young men to participate in Scouting.

The first is an interview with Perry by Tony Perkins, head of the Christian conservative Family Research Council on May 8, 2013, in which, as it is described, You will learn what you can do to preserve Scouting as its founders envisioned it – as a resource for young men to develop in morally, mentally, and physically healthy ways, free to be boys and teens without the invasion of cultural controversies.



The second are remarks Tillerson, who served as president of the BSA from 2010 to 2012, delivered to the closing general session of the BSA’s National Annual Meeting in June 2013 at which they had voted to change their policy on gay Scouts.



The background of the Perry video is, per FRC, as follows:

 On Sunday, May 5, 2013, FRC hosted a special webcast, “Stand with Scouts Sunday.” You will learn what you can do to preserve Scouting as its founders envisioned it – as a resource for young men to develop in morally, mentally, and physically healthy ways, free to be boys and teens without the invasion of cultural controversies.

Speakers included:

Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
John Stemberger, President,
Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas)
Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.)
Pastor Robert Hall, Calvary Chapel Rio Rancho
Zina Hackworth, Moms of Boy Scouts

In the voice-over introduction to the FRC’s Stand with Scouts Sunday Simulcast, we are told that the BSA is “one of the last non-religious institutions that has not yielded to political correctness.”

Under pressure from corporate elites and homosexual activists, the leadership of the Boy Scout is proposing a change regarding open homosexuality in the Scouts. It’s a change that would introduce what Scouts themselves call open and avowed homosexuality into Scouting. It would change Scouting forever. The impact of the change would not be limited to the Boy Scouts. It will dramatically change the culture and moral landscape of America.

From Perry:

Scouting for over  a century now has been the bedrock of values and traditions and developer of men and it’s the kind of young men by and large that you want knocking on your door asking your daughter out on a date or for that matter standing beside you if you’re in a fight  in the military or whether or not you’re trying to make a dollar in the free market capitalist economic system that  we have in this country.


The spiritual side of growing up its very important. I know there are those in the world who would tear that apart, but the fact is this is private organization. Their values and principles have worked for a century now. For pop culture to come in and try to tear that up to be the flavor of the month so to speak and to tear up one of the great organizations that have helped millions of young men and helped them to become men and to be great fathers, frankly, that is no  appropriate and frankly I hope that the American people will stand up and say, `Not on my watch.’

If we change and become more like pop culture, young men will not be as well served, America will not be as well served and the Boy Scouts will be set on a decline that will not serve this country well as we go into the future.

In 2008, Perry wrote a book, On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For.



During Perry’s first run for president, Justin Elliott in The New Republic, on Sept. 14, 2011, explained why he thought the book was a must-read for people wanting to understand where the Republican candidate was coming from.

His real political passion is he protection of traditional American institutions against elitist attacks. It’s no accident that even though Perry’s campaign is supposed to be founded on his economic record as governor of Texas, he’s been having trouble staying on message.

In making his book-length indictment, Perry paints with a startlingly wide brush. “Student campus unrest, rejection of authority, the ‘self-esteem’ movement, moral relativism, and the demands of secularists all gradually fused into a series of attacks on American institutions,” he writes in the book. We learn that he disdains “secular humanism,” the “self-esteem movement,” and youth sports leagues that don’t keep score. For good measure, he compares homosexuality to alcoholism, and supports corporal punishment of children.

Ultimately, for Perry, the Boy Scouts are the litmus test in adjudicating sides in this culture war. (Perry, it bears mentioning, is a proud Eagle Scout; he’s known to still wear his Eagle pin on the lapel of his suits.) As Perry tells it, the Scouts are at the center of two of the main fronts in the culture war: religion and homosexuality. The group has long barred participation by atheists or “avowed homosexuals.”

But it also becomes clear (to the reader of On My Honor, if not the author) that Perry’s fervor to protect traditional American culture—the reason he sees it as simultaneously fragile and central to the country’s fate—is motivated by his own nostalgia for an idealized childhood he can’t recover. Perry emphasizes that he learned to love the Scouting movement as a boy in the rural isolation of west Texas. There is poignancy here in his inability to distinguish between the personal and the political, the parochial and the historical. “Growing up in Paint Creek, I thought the things we were taught as Scouts—to do our best to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent—were pretty much what the Founding Fathers had intended for succeeding generations when they created our nation,” he writes.

If the focus on the Boy Scouts feels oddly dated, that’s because it is right now—and it was in 2008, too. The Boy Scouts have faced a number of anti-discrimination cases, but their heyday was in the 1990s. Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale, the case that upheld the Scouts’ no-gays-allowed policy, ended in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2000. But Perry is insistent on placing the Boy Scouts in the context of a larger historical struggle within American society between traditionalists and “the forces of nihilism and self-centeredness.” “If we believe our technology, firepower, and educational attainment will save us from licentiousness, godlessness, and undisciplined living,” Perry writes, “we bet on a losing proposition according to the history of civilization (Rome, Greece, and Babylon, to name a few).”

Perry’s most explicit target in this fight is a familiar Republican Party bogeyman: the ACLU. The ACLU, mentioned over 100 times in On My Honor, is Perry’s favorite foil and he proceeds to reduce it to the caricature of cliche. (One sample: “Whether it is protecting the rights of pornographers, molesters, perverts, terrorists, garden-variety thugs, or those merely hostile to a belief in God, the ACLU is there to provide aid and comfort, in addition to a well-funded legal arsenal.”)

But for Perry the operative dividing line in the national culture war is between traditionalists and relativists, not Republicans and Democrats: party loyalty is secondary to ethical correctness. In that way it’s telling that long before they began sparring over Social Security, Perry and Romney butt heads over the Boy Scouts. When Romney, as head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, barred the Boy Scouts from participating in the events, Perry seethed.

Tillerson is Perry’s equal in the ways that he was shaped by and remains devoted to the Boy Scouts and all Scouting represents.

From Steve Coll, author of Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power,  in December in The New Yorker.

Tillerson’s life has been shaped to a profound extent by two institutions: ExxonMobil and the Boy Scouts of America. He grew up in Texas, where his father was a modestly compensated administrator for the Scouts. Tillerson became an Eagle Scout. An engineering major at the University of Texas, in Austin, Tillerson joined ExxonMobil in 1975. He has never worked anywhere else. Of all the companies that were born out of the breakup of Standard Oil, Exxon is culturally the most direct descendant of John D. Rockefeller’s monopolistic giant, which was organized on principles of ruthless capitalism and Protestant faith. Exxon today is an unusually cloistered corporation that promotes virtually all of its top executives from within. Former executives I interviewed mentioned that as recently as the nineteen-seventies, it was not unusual to start company meetings with a prayer. When Tillerson finally won a competition for the top job, in 2004, he directed substantial time and charitable activity toward the Boy Scouts. In public appearances, he comes across as sophisticated, yet his life is rooted in environments that are fundamentally nostalgic for imagined midcentury virtues and for the days when burning fossil fuels did not threaten to trigger catastrophic climate change. Tillerson once listed his favorite book as “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel that has become a touchstone for libertarians and promoters of unbridled capitalism. Compared to the records of some of the other people around Trump, Tillerson’s is at least one of professional integrity; Exxon is a ruthless and unusually aggressive corporation, but it is also rule-bound, has built up a relatively strong safety record, and has avoided problems such as prosecutions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, even though it operates in many countries that are rife with corruption.

When Tillerson’s name surfaced as a potential pick for secretary of state, Tony Perkins sounded the alarm.

Donald Trump put a lot of names in the pipeline to head the State Department, but few have fueled more controversy than ExxonMobil CEO and Chairman Rex Tillerson. The oil mogul, who’s spent his more than 40 years with the company, is one of the many names floated for the most-watched nomination of the new administration.

The Left, which doesn’t usually need a reason to oppose Trump’s choices, won’t find many here, since the ExxonMobil executive may be the greatest ally liberals have in the Cabinet for their abortion and LGBT agendas. That should be particularly alarming to conservatives, who’ve spent the last eight years watching the State Department lead the global parade for the slaughter of innocent unborn children and the intimidation of nations with natural views on marriage and sexuality. No sooner had Hillary Clinton taken over the State Department in 2009 than the White House ordered her to use the agency as a club to beat other nations into submission on sensitive culture issues — a tradition that successor John Kerry has been all too eager to continue.

Now, after two terms of exporting radical social policy, Americans could finally see the light at the end of the Obama administration tunnel. To hear that Donald Trump may be appointing a man who not only led the charge to open the Boy Scouts to gay troop leaders but whose company directly gives to Planned Parenthood is upsetting at best. FRC knows Tillerson all too well, having worked for years to put the brakes on his reckless agenda for a scouting organization that was already dealing with staggering numbers of sexual abuse cases. Unfortunately, the BSA, under Tillerson, ultimately caved to the pressure of the far-Left, irreparably splitting the Scouts and destroying a proud and honorable American tradition. Under his chairmanship, ExxonMobil’s score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate “Equality” Index has also skyrocketed to 87 percent. Still, Trump calls Rex a “world class player and dealmaker,” but if these are the kinds of deals Tillerson makes — sending dollars to an abortion business that’s just been referred for criminal prosecution and risking the well-being of young boys under his charge in an attempt to placate radical homosexual activists — then who knows what sort of “diplomacy” he would champion at DOS

Here is a post from Boy Scouting Magazine on June 6, 2013 about the Tillerson video below.

“So we’ve made the decision. We’re going to change,” says Rex Tillerson. “Now what?”

Less than 24 hours after the volunteer delegates voted to change the BSA’s membership policy for youth, Tillerson addressed a large room full of Scouting volunteers and professionals at the closing general session of the BSA’s National Annual Meeting.

In a powerful, heartfelt speech, Tillerson made his message clear: Change is inevitable, but “The Main Thing,” which is to serve more youth in Scouting, hasn’t changed. With that in mind, he reasoned, it’s time for all of us unite toward this common goal.

Tillerson, immediate past president of the Boy Scouts of America and a 2010 Silver Buffalo recipient, knows something about making big decisions and dealing with change. When he’s not serving as a Scouting volunteer, he’s the chairman, president, and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., one of the world’s largest companies.

In 1999, Tillerson worked for Exxon when it merged with Mobil—definitely a big change for both companies.

Take 10 minutes to watch the video below and listen to Tillerson’s message. Then, share it with the members of your Scouting family.

Putting aside the merits of his argument, this is a very impressive performance and one that suggests to me that he will handle the senators considering his nomination – and who are likely to be more exercised over this relationship with Vladimir Putin than his role in changing how the Scouts contend with homosexuality – with aplomb.

From a very good piece this week by Matt Viser of the Boston Globe:

WASHINGTON — Rex Tillerson commanded the stage and addressed a crowd of thousands of national Boy Scout delegates who were very much on edge, having just made a deeply divisive decision.

Some were angry, others brought to tears. Some pledged to never accept the change that Tillerson, a national leader of the organization, had helped engineer: allowing gays into the Scouts.

Tillerson, an Eagle Scout himself and a longtime booster of the organization, roamed the stage and spoke, unscripted, about the need to accept societal change even while honoring cherished traditions.

“What went on here was a remarkable thing,” Tillerson said, in a deep-voiced Southern drawl. “We’ve got to listen to people. We’ve got to listen to their concerns, we’ve got to listen to their fears. We can’t be dismissive of them.”

This is what secretary of state nominee Tillerson’s art of diplomacy looks like. In this case, during a 2013 gathering in Texas, he took on one of the most fraught issues ever faced by an organization that he deeply loves.

As the most recent president of the Boy Scouts, he had just helped lead the century-old organization into endorsing a historic change. And then he had to help calm the tempest that followed.

The years-long debate over allowing gay Scouts — a seismic shift the group called, euphemistically, the debate over “membership standards” — left deep fissures. Tillerson’s role during that period provides insights into his diplomatic instincts, his pragmatism, and his willingness to accept change.

It illustrated as well how he approached thorny questions without a clear answer — the kind secretaries of state often encounter — and showcased a leadership style centered on consensus building, putting people at ease by absorbing their thoughts before rendering his own judgment.

But while he recognized the need for the change, several close observers at the time said, he seemed to do it more to help the organization survive than out of a moral sense about gay rights. Even while overseeing shifts at the Scouts, the company he’s run since 2006 — Exxon Mobil — maintained policies that were considered far more discriminatory against gays than other Fortune 500 companies.

Those who have worked with him up close say that his style can be more deferential than one might expect of the chief executive of a vast multinational oil company. He doesn’t suck up all the attention in a room, he soaks it in.



Two years after Tillerson’s tenure as Scouts president, Bob Gates took over. As defense secretary, Gates had overseen the dismantling of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that barred members of the military from being openly gay. Like Tillerson, he was a longtime Scouting advocate.

When he came on board, he oversaw the next change in its policy on gays: allowing openly gay leaders. The change was not as controversial as the first step had been, and Gates is said to have consulted with Tillerson.

Their bond over Scouting is something that would become vital later on. Gates became a consultant for Exxon, and, in December, he was meeting with Trump at a time when the new president-elect was trying to figure out whom to nominate as secretary of state.

Gates was the first one to bring Tillerson to Trump’s attention.

“If you want to understand Rex Tillerson, and it may be a corny thing to say,” Gates told The Washington Post in December, “but you’ve got to understand that he’s an Eagle Scout.”



From a James Osborne story in the Dallas Morning News in September 2014: Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson an Eagle Scout to the core 

Despite increasing pressure from gay rights advocates, Exxon has refused to create a specific policy barring discrimination against gay employees, as many Fortune 500 companies have done. Nonetheless, Tillerson was instrumental in lobbying the Scouts’ board to accept openly gay youths, said John Hamre, president of the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, of which Tillerson is a board member.

“I can’t get into the intimacy of these conversations. But he agonized over this. He prayed on it, and ultimately he came to the conclusion the only thing that can guide him here is what’s best for the young boys,” he said. “I think he became a key leader in helping the group come to a consensus.”

Tillerson’s connection to Scouting extends back before he was even born 62 years ago.

His parents met at Boy Scout camp as teenagers. His father, Bob, worked at the camp and met his mother, Patty, while she was visiting her brother; sparks flew over a sing-along.

After serving on a battleship during World War II, Bob returned to North Texas and eventually took a full-time job with the Scouts, a career that would span four decades.

As the family moved between Boy Scout offices in Wichita Falls, Stillwater, Okla., and Huntsville, Scouting was ever-present for Tillerson. As a child and into adolescence, he racked up not just merit badges but some of Scouting’s highest awards, designated for leadership abilities and dedication.

To this day, Tillerson lists his rank of Eagle Scout on his résumé. And he maintains a reputation in the business world for honesty and straightforwardness, traits some interpret as proof that despite his success and wealth, he remains a Boy Scout to his core.






Hillbilly effigy: On Rick Perry’s descent from alpha to alfalfa male




Good afternoon Austin:

OK America. You feel better now? You got that out of your system? You all had your big laugh at Rick Perry’s expense?

Hee haw, ladies and gentleman. Hee Haw.

Last week, his debut dance, began with the longest-serving governor in Texas history grabbing a corn dog from Rick’s Corn Dog stand and dancing a cha cha to God Blessed Texas on his way to garnering a last-place finish.

This week, it was Perry climbing off a tractor to do a quick step to the theme from Green Acres on the way to a second last-place finish.

Except, instead of playing Eddie Albert’s Oliver Wendell Douglas character as the urbane sophisticate seeking the simple pleasures of rural life, they had Rick Perry high-stepping like some hillbilly doofus, some rube, some rustic, some simple country simpleton.






OK. So the theme of last night’s show was TV theme songs.

But did they have Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez dancing to the theme from the Bill Dana Show?

No, of course not.

So where was the Yokel Anti-Defamation League lighting up the phones after Perry’s demeaning playing-to-stupid-stereotype?




Where was Donald Trump (who, incidentally, ala Oliver Wendell Douglas, knows what it’s like to have a beautiful, pampered wife who talks like a Gabor). Trump –  The Tribune of the Great Less Well-Educated White Masses – ought to have said,  “No. Stop. This is Rick Perry, who led the most successful red state in America longer than anyone, who commanded the 12th largest economy in the world (Greg Abbott recently upgraded it to 10th.).  Rick Perry, who with greater courage, precision and erudition than anyone else denounced me early on as throwback to the Know-Nothings? How dare you mock Rick Perry.”

But, not so much as a tweet from Trump on Perry’s humiliation.

Of course, Perry, and no doubt many of those who love Perry, saw it as no such thing.

Indeed,  Rick Perry appears to be having the time of his life on Dancing with the Stars.


You can watch the whole sorry mess here:

And here:

When it was announced that Perry would be on DWTS (that’s what we call it – we, now including me), I wrote:

Perry said he’s not a good dancer. He doesn’t particularly like dancing. During his 14 years as governor he danced in public four times “in some attempt to appear to be waltzing” with his wife and daughter at each of four inaugural balls.

So when the ABC reality TV show “Dancing With the Stars” called about six weeks ago asking him to join their show this fall, he turned them down.

But Jeff Miller, who ran his presidential campaign last year, persuaded him to reconsider, telling the longest serving governor in Texas history, “This is a completely different demographic than you’ve ever been around. People will get to see you the way we’ve gotten to see you. You’re not some stiff — well maybe on the dance floor.”

And, Miller told Perry, he could seize the opportunity to bring his advocacy for America’s soldiers, active duty and retired, to a vast audience largely detached from the lives and needs of America’s fighting men and women.

“I want Americans to know these young men and women the way I know them, the personal stories, the sacrifice,” Perry told the American-Statesman.

“Dancing With the Stars” has variously proved a way for a celebrity to build a brand, resuscitate a career or repair a reputation.

Perry is mindful that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, owes much of his success to his long, popular presence on reality TV. But Perry, who a recent Public Policy Polling poll found could beat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz among Texas Republicans in 2018, said he isn’t doing this with an eye to another campaign.

“I think that’s a bit far-fetched for me,” Perry said. “We don’t have to toy around here. People talk to me and ask me about going to the Senate, running for the Senate.”

On a visit to Austin last week, Trump complimented Perry at a taping at ACL Live of Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News and at a private fundraiser at the Headliners Club.

But Perry said, “I’m an executive. That’s how I spent my life as ag commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor.”

“I run big things,” he said, and the Senate holds little allure.

“I would never, ever say absolutely no way,” Perry said. “I would say it’s very far out of my interest and for that matter desire.”

But he described “Dancing With the Stars” and his publicity blitz for military men and women as “a campaign.”

“It’s a campaign to win votes. It’s a campaign to win public relations,” Perry said. “It’s entertainment and one of the things that I came to really respect this election cycle in particular is that this is show business, and if you don’t understand this is show business, you might be at a little bit of a disadvantage.”

True. But the problem here is that Trump’s reality TV series was built around Trump the All Knowing and All Powerful.


Here is Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of the great new book Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, explains in a piece in the Boston Globe how Trump’s reality TV life helped explain his appeal to evangelical Christians:

Trump has tapped into the fear and hope underlying the Rapture, I think, by standing as a powerful judge who decides who is saved and damned. In “The Apprentice,” his wildly popular reality TV show that ran for 16 years, contestants compete to win a $250,000-a-year management job — a secular heaven. Trump sits at a table in a corporate boardroom, in black suit and tie, lips pursed, the judge. Later, on judgment day, he tells one man who had been put in charge of two other contestants, “Sam, you’re no longer with us. You’re fired.” Then, addressing Sam’s two subordinates, Trump says, “You guys go up.” To Sam he says, “You go down.”

During his campaign, Trump promotes or condemns as well. If a news report displeases him, the reporter is banished from his campaign events; at one point, even The Washington Post was left behind. And what is building a wall on the Mexican border or banning all Muslims from entering the United States but drawing a line between the saved and left behind?

Like an Old Testament God, Trump judges. Most of all, he tacitly promises his faithful followers that he will restore their sense of being, visibility, and honor. Trump seeks it for personal reasons, they for circumstantial ones. This visibility comes, metaphorically, with the aura of that Trump Tower penthouse, with floor-to-ceiling marble, crystal chandeliers, pillars and statues of gold —not unlike the gold that abounds in many Rapture believers’ descriptions of heaven.

Although Trump is nobody’s model Christian, he has uncannily managed to appropriate the iconography of belief: images of a long-awaited judgment soon to come, when merciless vengeance will be wreaked on evildoers, wrongs will be righted, and untold blessings delivered to the deserving. This hidden source of his powerful appeal is nothing less than a secular version of the Rapture.

But, on his reality TV show, DWTS, Rick Perry is not the alpha male. He’s the alfalfa male, the rube, the bumpkin about to get bumped off the turnip truck.


On his show, Donald Trump did the firing. On his show, Rick Perry is in very real danger of being the first fired.

From Houston Chronicle music critic Joey Guerra’s quick and brutal review of last night:

Rick Perry brought out the rhinestoned pitchfork for his second spin around the floor on “Dancing with the Stars.” And it still earned him the week’s lowest score.

The former Texas governor left no stereotype unturned with his quickstep to the theme song from classic TV show “Green Acres.” The only things missing were a few farm animals.

Perry skipped across the ballroom and planted a kiss on his wife, Anita, after the performance, which lacked any sort of musicality and drew mixed reactions from the judges.


The season’s first couple will be eliminated Tuesday night on ABC. Expect Perry to be the first sent out to pasture.

Now, about Anita.


I don’t think she is pleased about this. I suspect she would like to slap the judges silly, kick Tom Bergeron in the keister, hiss a “stay away from my man” into his dance partner Emma Slater’s ear, and grab her husband by his ear and haul him back to Round Top. Enough with this foolishness.


But dammit, that’s not going to happen. So we – you and I and all those vets he’s doing this for and all those Texans he served lo those many years – need to come to Rick Perry’s rescue and vote for him.


Because it is his destiny. It is our destiny. And, of course, it has for years been Rick Perry’s ultimate dream to be on national television the night of the first presidential debate, only, of course, this wasn’t exactly how he envisioned it, as the lead-in to the debate on a shortened one-hour edition of Dancing with the Stars. (Shades of the presidential undercard debate to which Perry was consigned.)


It is reminiscent of the movie Bedazzled, in which the hapless protagonist is perpetually thwarted by a devil who takes the desires our hero is selling his soul for absolutely and maliciously literally.

From Wikipedia:

The Devil will always spoil his wishes by adding something he doesn’t want. Elliot wishes to be rich and powerful, with Alison as his wife. The Devil makes him a Colombian drug lord whose wife despises him and cheats on him with Raoul, his co-worker, who is secretly planning to get rid of Elliot and take his position and property. Soon after there is a firefight between his and Raoul’s people where Elliot “dies”. When he returns to the real world, the Devil points out that he never wished for Alison to love him.

Secondly, Elliot wishes to be emotionally sensitive so he will understand the needs and desires of women. The Devil makes him so sensitive that he spends most of his time crying over how beautiful the world is, and constantly asks Alison, his girlfriend of “three magical weeks,” whether he has hurt her or if she needs anything. Alison says she has had enough of it and wants to be with a man who is strong and shallow. She then leaves Elliot for a man who is strong, rude and completely different from the romantic and emotionally sensitive Elliot. Elliot then wishes to be a superstar athlete who would be a woman magnet. The Devil makes him a cliché-spewing NBA star, but also gives him a small penis and a low IQ, which causes Alison, a sports reporter, to lose interest in him shortly after they meet.

He then wishes to be intelligent, witty and well-endowed. The Devil grants this by making him a famous writer whom Alison falls in love with at a cocktail party. When they arrive at Elliot’s home to make love it is revealed that Elliot is gay and living with a flamboyant male partner. Lastly, Elliot wishes to be President of the United States to try to improve the world and get Alison to take him seriously. The Devil makes him Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on the night of his assassination
























































`Yes! Five, I love you! You’re awesome!’ On Rick Perry’s higher math




Good morning Austin:

Yes. Texas. Rick Perry and his dance partner, Emma Slater, scored straight 5’s on the season premier of Dancing with the Stars last night. Four fives for a grand total of 20 points, the lowest of any of the couples. Perry and Slater were among the last to dance – a sign of respect for his audience draw, I suspect – so he knew where they stood.

But Perry reacted with the same exuberance as if they had scored straight 10’s.

Yes! Five! I love you! You’re awesome!

Perry’s seemingly irrational exuberance  – directed at a middling numeral – startled and delighted host Tom Bergeron.

“Spoken like a real politician,” said a laughing Bergeron.

But it made sense.

This is a man who was famously, indelibly, done in by the diabolical number 3 when he ran for president the first time, so 5, a whole string of 5’s, had to look really fat and made Perry really happy.

And, truth to tell, it is Perry’s contagious enthusiasm, his lust for life, that has made him an attractive political figure even in some of his darkest moments.

How else to explain a man who, indicted on corruption charges that could have landed him in jail for a century, took the best looking booking photo ever and then went to Sandy’s for ice cream – and tweeted it.




I had never watched Dancing with the Stars before and, being in Austin, where Rick Perry had reigned supreme as the longest-serving governor in Texas history, I wanted to go out and watch it in a public place with other people. But last night was Monday Night Football, and, after calling a few bars inquiring about the possibility that one of their TVs might tune into DWTS, I realized I would have to show up in person and make the request and, if I did, I might end up like Pee Wee Herman dancing on the bar to Tequila.




Luckily, I was pointed in the direction of a Facebook page of some folks raising money for an ailing dog who were going to watch the show at the Star Bar.

And, lo and behold, when I got there, I discovered that these were not just dog lovers, but Democrats, including Glenn Smith, a liberal columnist for the Austin American-Statesman and director of the Progress Texas PAC, who I described when Perry was under indictment, as  the ” field marshal for Texas Democrats,” making the case that Perry was guilty as charged.


(The view from the Star Bar)
(The view from the Star Bar)



In other words, I said to Smith, after Perry’s performance, this was a crowd that would have preferred to see Perry doing time than keeping time.

“He seems to have avoided doing both,” Smith replied.


(Prisoners of Love, from The Producers)

Indeed, Bruno Tonioli, one of the DWTS judges, said Perry seemed in his dancing to be on Midwest or East Coast time, but definitely not Pacific time.

“Timing is very important,” Tonioli told Perry.


But the judges also noted that Perry was starting from scratch, having only, as he says here, previously danced in public four times – once at each of his inaugural balls.

But, truth be told, Perry is leaving out his most famous experience dancing in public, and his most famous dance partner – state Rep. Elliott Naishtat – the Austin Democrat, who was at the Star Bar Perry watch last night.

As one might imagine, Perry’s Dancing with Jews proved very popular, and, Naishtat recalled, led Don Imus to ask on his radio show, “Who’s the guy in the blue yamaha?”

Which led me to suggest that The Guy in the Blue Yamaha would be the perfect title for Naishtat’s memoirs of his years as  New York Jew in the thick of Texas politics.

But, back to Perry, the overnight reviews were tough.


From Joey Guerra at The Chronicle. Headline: Perry dances horribly; security scare targets Lochte on ‘DWTS’:

Rick Perry’s “Dancing with the Stars” debut went about as well as his two presidential bids. But the evening took a dramatic turn when a security scare targeting Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte interrupted the show’s live telecast.

The former Texas governor took his inaugural spin around the floor Monday night during the show’s Season 23 premiere. He was partnered with Emma Slater for a cha cha set against a carnival backdrop to the tune “God Blessed Texas.”

Perry earned a total of 20 out of 40 points for his flailing arms and lumbering footwork. It was the lowest out of the show’s 13 couples.

Judge Len Goodman called the dance “a little bit pedestrian.” Bruno Tonioli dubbed it “not exactly subtle.”

I don’t know if you were on Western or Eastern time. You were not on this time,” Tonioli joked.

Julianne Hough commended Perry for going “full out” crazy instead of holding back.

Perry was unfazed by the reception.

“This is crazy good. This is as good as it gets,” he yelped at the end of his performance.

About that, from the New York Times:

The Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, making his debut on Monday night on the season premiere of the ABC competition “Dancing With the Stars,” was rushed by at least one protester, causing a significant disturbance that sent the program to an abrupt commercial break.

The Los Angeles Police Department said two men were detained by security guards for trespassing during the live broadcast and were handed over to the police. The men’s names had not been released late Monday night.

“No one on set was touched at the time the incident occurred,” said Officer Mike Lopez, a police spokesman.

An ABC spokeswoman confirmed that the disruption had taken place, saying, “An individual stormed the dance floor tonight and was immediately subdued and escorted out of the building.”

Pictures from the scene showed two men seated with their hands behind their backs wearing shirts that displayed Mr. Lochte’s name overlaid with the universal red “no” symbol. News reports citing witnesses at the show said several other protesters were wearing similar shirts in the audience.

It was not immediately clear what had happened during the broadcast. One of the show’s judges, Carrie Ann Inaba, was delivering her assessment of the performance of Mr. Lochte and his partner, the dancer Cheryl Burke, when she suddenly cut her statement short, apparently in response to what was happening onstage.

“Hey, back off!” Ms. Inaba shouted, as security guards appeared to rush past her.

The chaos onstage was not shown on television, but in the aftermath, the camera cut to the show’s host, Tom Bergeron, who sent the show to commercial as an apparently flustered Mr. Lochte wiped sweat from his brow.


From Dawn Burkes in the Dallas Morning News. Perry dances to the bottom and Lochte gets rushed on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

He was stiff, but he seemed in his element. He even said that it was much better than any presidential debate. He’s starting from the bottom here, though.

The former Texas governor says he’s just there to learn how to dance — and to raise awareness for veterans. And he was all smiles all the time, even doing the running man behind another couple as they were in the kiss and cry area. He’s gonna have some fun with this, even with his lowest score of 20.


Former Gov. Rick Perry brought some Texas flair to the Season 23 premiere of “Dancing With The Stars,” but his footwork brought few plaudits from the judges.

The show partnered Perry, who performed in a floral embroidered Western jacket, with professional dancer Emma Slater and the two cha cha’ed to “God Blessed Texas” by Little Texas. All four of the show’s judges — Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, Julianne Hough and Bruno Tonioli — gave the former governor a five out of 10 points, making Perry the lowest scoring contestant of the night. 

Top scoring teams included race car driver James Hinchcliffe and partner Sharna Burgess, and Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez and partner Val Chmerkovskiy. Both ended with a final score of 31 out of 40. And although Perry’s low rankings may foreshadow his bowing out sooner rather than later, there are no couple eliminations for the show’s first week, which means Perry still has a shot at winning. 

He came. He cha cha’d. But he hardly conquered.

Former Gov. Rick Perry made a good-natured debut Monday night on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” but tripped the light far from fantastically on the live season premiere.

Because subtlety has no place in a competition of celebrity amateurs and professional dancers, Perry rocked a floral embroidered black Western jacket to compliment his now signature glasses as he spun and sauntered about his pro dance partner Emma Slater to the country hit “God Blessed Texas” by Little Texas.

 Perry clearly had fun cutting the rug with Slater, whom he referred to as having to take “a lump of coal to shine up as a bright diamond.”

Alas, Perry’s cha cha was about as stiff as his ensemble’s bolo tie. Perry and Slater finished with a 20 out of 40 from the show’s four judges, the lowest score of the night. Each judge gave the couple a 5 out of 10.

Head judge Len Goodman called Perry’s dance “a little bit pedestrian at times,” but still gave a “good on you” to Perry for giving it a go with no dance experience. Perry hopes to get that in time for his daughter’s upcoming wedding.

Fellow judge Julianne Hough called it fun to watch but definitely crazy at times. And the ever-effusive judge Bruno Tonioli deemed it “bold, brash, not exactly subtle” and urged Perry to work on his timing.

Perry took the judges’ low poll numbers, er, paddle numbers in stride, calling his final 5 score “awesome!”

OK. Enough. Forget those nattering nabobs of negativism.

Perry may not have the judges. He may not have the press. But as any reality TV star this side of Donald Trump knows, he has (maybe) the ones who really matter – THE PEOPLE.

Or at least I think that’s how it works, because, as I mentioned, this is unexplored territory for me and the DWTS voting rules are more complicated than a Voter ID law in a Southern state.


The voting system is based on the international format for Dancing with the Stars, in which 50% of the judges’ vote and 50% of the public’s vote give the final result. If a celebrity is still in the show after the judges have issued them a low score, it means they have received a large amount of votes from the public.

Voting – frequently asked questions | DANCING WITH THE STARS …

Television New Zealand

From the voting FAQ from ABC.

2. So how do I vote?
We have three convenient ways for you to keep your favorite stars dancing. You can vote by phone or do it online, either at or on the Facebook Canvas Page. You have to be 18 years old and in the U.S. or Puerto Rico to vote on and the Facebook Canvas Page…sorry, tweens and international fans!

3. When exactly can I vote?
Phone voting begins during the show, and is open until 60 minutes after the conclusion of that show per time zone.

Online voting at both and Facebook opens each Monday when the show begins on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) and stays open until 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) the next day the first week of the season, and open until 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT) the following morning for all other weeks, including the finale.


5. What if I want to vote online? Anything in particular I need to do first?
To vote at, OneID account is a must. We’ve hopefully made the process pretty easy for you. In fact, if you already have a Facebook account, you can sign in with that, connect it to a OneID account and you’re ready to go. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can simply sign up for a OneID account at 

To vote via Facebook Canvas Page, you will need to have pop-up blockers turned off for Facebook and authorize the Dancing with the Stars voting app. 

6. Multiple members of my household would like to vote. Can they?
Sure — the more the merrier! Just make sure to log out after you finish voting, then have your other household members log in with their Facebook or OneID accounts. It’s perfectly fine to vote on the same computer.

That would be Jeff Miller, who ran Perry’s second, indictment-compromised presidential run, and who talked Perry into doing DWTS, with the ice cream cone to Perry’s left, in  their visit to Sandy’s to celebrate after his indictment was thrown out.

The point is, Perry may not have fleetest feet on the dance floor, and he may not have been elected president, but he is a proven vote-getter in the nation’s second biggest state and with a national following.

He can do this.

From ABC News in 2010:

Bristol Palin pasa-dobled her way to her highest scores of the season on “Dancing With the Stars” Monday night, and now she is in the final three, but her journey, like most things Palin, has not been without controversy.

The daughter of political powerhouse Sarah Palin, has consistently landed at the bottom of the leader board, yet still managed to earn a coveted spot in the finals. There’s a debate brewing over whether Bristol Palin is being kept alive on “DWTS” by her pluck and charm, or by way of her famous mom’s political pull with Republicans and the Tea Party.

Is the Tea Party stuffing the ballot box?

“There are people on the political blogs who are saying vote for Bristol as part of your allegiance to the Palin brand,” said Matt Roush, senior television critic at TV Guide Magazine.

In an interview with Barbara Walters over the weekend, Sarah Palin addressed the controversy.

“What do we do? Call every Tea Party person? I haven’t got the time,” Sarah Palin told Walters. “Bristol has the greatest work ethic of any person I know. I knew that she would do well. And when ‘Dancing With the Stars’ called her and wanted her to be on the show, I said, ‘Bristol, you know you’re going to open yourself up to criticism just because of your last name. And Bristol said, ‘Mom, you know it doesn’t matter what I do. They’re going to criticize me, so I might as well dance.'”

Who survives on “DWTS” each week is based on the combined total of judges’ scores and public votes. According to PR guru Howard Bragman, who appeared on “Good Morning America” Tuesday, “Dancing With the Stars'” viewership sways Republican — possibly giving Bristol Palin an advantage among the voting public.

“DWTS is a very big show among Republicans and not quite as big among the Democrats. It is very family oriented. Of course that’s helping her,” Bragman said.


Rick Perry reaching for a corn dog at the start of his dance routine.





Forget the Trump cabinet, Rick Perry’s Dancing with the Stars!


Good morning Austin:

I guess we’ll all remember where we were when we found out that Rick Perry would be appearing on the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars.

I had just gone for a free swim at Barton Springs Pool and was at Radio Coffee and Beer working on this  First Reading about the suddenly contentious race to replace Robert Morrow as the Travis County Republican Party chairman.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 5.44.51 AM

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot?

OK. Let’s back up here.

From Entertainment Tonight:

ET can exclusively confirm that Jana Kramer, Marilu Henner, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Vanilla Ice are the latest celebrities headed to DWTS. Retired football star Calvin Johnson and Indy race car driver James Hinchcliffe are also on tap for the fall season, ET has learned.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 5.09.10 AM

They join a celebrity cast that includes Olympians Laurie Hernandez and Ryan Lochte, Brady Bunch star Maureen McCormick, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Amber Rose, Jake T. Austin and Little Woman: LA star Terra Jole.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 5.09.26 AM

The full cast and pairings will be revealed on Good Morning America on Tuesday. ABC does not comment on casting.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 5.10.13 AM

Dancing With the Stars premieres Monday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 5.27.49 AM


From Ben Jacobs at The Guardian:

Although the show has been televised for 23 seasons, Perry will be only the second former elected official to take his turn twirling on stage.

However he won’t be the first competitor with close ties to the GOP. Past seasons have featured the former House majority leader Tom DeLay, who resigned in 2006 after being charged with campaign finance violations, as well as Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol, and Antonio Sabato Jr, a former soap opera actor who spoke in support of Donald Trump in Cleveland in July.

In the show’s most recent season Marla Maples, Trump’s ex-wife, finished tenth behind former NFL player Doug Flutie and ahead of actor Mischa Barton.

Although several have launched their political careers on reality television, including Wisconsin congressman Sean Duffy who appeared on the sixth season of MTV’s Real World and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump who hosted NBC’s The Apprentice before running for president, Perry will break new ground using elected office as a springboard for reality television.

There is one precedent for a former governor going on reality television. In 2010 the former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich appeared with Trump on Celebrity Apprentice after being impeached and removed from office for corruption.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 7.27.52 AM

The show was his second choice after the judge overseeing his corruption trial refused to let him travel to Costa Rica to appear on tried to appear on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Frankly, the news left me reeling.

Yes, sure, Ryan Lochte.


Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 6.04.00 AM


But, I thought, for a politician going on Dancing with the Stars suggested they were coming off — or maybe in the thick of — a rough patch.

I mean, how could hey overlook Anthony Weiner?

But Rick Perry has been on a roll of late.

A Public Policy Polling poll a few weeks ago found that Perry could beat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in a Senate primary.

Then Trump came to Austin last week, praised Perry at a Headliners Club fundraiser and at a taping of Hannity, even suggesting he would put him in charge of border security if he were elected president.

So why this? Why now?

“Rick Perry has 2020 vision,” my wife told me last night.

He sees the Trump campaign imploding, reducing the possibility that he will be serving in a Trump administration — but he has learned the lesson of Trump’s success. Perry tried the route of study, contemplation, briefing books and new glasses to prepare for a second run for the White House in 2016. Didn’t work.

This time, he’s going to do it right to prepare for a 2020 run. Reality TV. Becoming a beloved member of the family for America’s viewing audience.

But can he dance? What about his back?

We know he can do the hora.

Here he is dancing with Elliott Naishtat and a few other Jews.

And, I assume he sought counsel from Tom “Jazz Hands” DeLay.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 6.46.53 AMScreen Shot 2016-08-30 at 6.47.13 AM


Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 6.47.52 AM




Beyond DeLay, Perry might also want to look to Trump friend and admirer Vladimir Putin.

I don’t how or when he did this, but it’s pretty fabulous. Maybe it’s Dancing with the Tsars.



(Rodolfo Gonzalez)
(Rodolfo Gonzalez)

One might have thought that with the closing of the elevator door on the chairmanship of Robert Morrow, the Travis County Republican Party would have returned to an Edenic state of bliss.

One would be wrong.

From my story Saturday.

Robert Morrow’s short, weird and nationally famous tenure as Travis County Republican Party chairman is over.

Unsurprisingly, the end was accompanied by a farcical moment as Morrow tried to crash Friday morning’s press conference by party officials who were eager to announce that he was out as chairman, only to be thrown out of the room.

As he was being escorted away, Morrow said he agreed that his recently launched write-in candidacy for president had, under state election law, disqualified him from continuing to serve as county party chairman.

“Their interpretation of election law is correct,” Morrow, in the colorful jester cap he’s often worn since becoming chairman at the end of June, called out in answer to a reporter’s question.

Morrow was elected chairman during the March 1 state primary, generating national headlines because of his unorthodox views on almost everything, which he tweeted with unabashed enthusiasm. It lasted scarcely two months, but Morrow’s leadership seemed an eternity for party officials who found him a perpetual embarrassment and who had been looking for some way, any way, to remove him from office.

Morrow handed officials what they wanted when he filed paperwork with the secretary of state’s office a week ago to be certified as a write-in candidate for president.

Under state election law, a party chairman cannot run for public office unless it’s for another party position, and so, as soon as Morrow filed his declaration of candidacy, he was out.

David Duncan, executive vice chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, will serve as acting chairman until the county party’s executive committee, made up of precinct chairmen, meet to elect a permanent successor, probably on Sept. 20.

David Duncan and Robert Morrow. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez.
David Duncan and Robert Morrow. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez.

Hand to mouth

At the press conference, Duncan said he hasn’t yet decided whether to seek election as the chairman, but he had by then already cast aspersions on a potential rival for that position — James Dickey, the man Morrow unseated as chairman in the primary election.

“Our previous chairman left us with no money, no ability to pay staff, and we had no planned fundraiser,” Duncan said. “There are still unanswered questions about where the money was spent, but having no money, we were left with no money for a proper audit.”

Dickey, who wasn’t present, was caught off guard by Duncan’s statements.

The Travis County GOP has always been a hand-to-mouth operation, and, Dickey said, Morrow’s election had made fundraising nearly impossible. Of the meager resources at its disposal, Dickey said, “the executive committee publicly voted to donate the majority of party funds to local candidates in May.”

“David has not raised any concerns about this to me, either privately in those meetings, or in the eight weeks since he’s taken office,” said Dickey, who added that if he were persuaded that he could best do the job of chairman, “I would be willing to put my hat in the ring.”

The tent closes

If the immediate future for Travis County Republicans is a contest to replace Morrow, it promises to be less flamboyantly newsworthy than what preceded it.

Morrow offered an unusual combination of attributes. He is smart, independently wealthy, imposing in stature and willing and able to stand his ground.

He also is well-known to political reporters across the country for his steady stream of negative research on and assertions about Lyndon B. Johnson, Rick Perry, the Bush family, Bill and Hillary Clinton and, most recently, Donald Trump.

He is the co-author, with longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, of the 2015 book, “The Clintons’ War on Women,” about Bill and Hillary Clinton’s alleged treatment of the women in Bill’s life. Morrow made news by protesting Trump’s recent Austin visit with a large red sign proclaiming, “Trump is a child rapist,” referring to an anonymous lawsuit filed in New York.

Asked about his legacy as chairman, Morrow said it would be that he was a truth teller, whether the truth was about Hillary Clinton or Trump.

Asked about his presidential platform, Morrow said what he always says.

“Well, I want to promote boobyliciousness every day,” Morrow said. “I want to start having bikini contests on the South Lawn of the White House. On the Fourth of July, I want to have a wet T-shirt contest. I think this is a way to bring America together and de-escalate political tensions.”

At the close of the party’s pressconference,spokesman Andy Hogue noted that the party had struggled mightily to keep its “tent” big enough to function as a respectable party even as Morrow did “his thing.”

“Now we are glad that he is stepping outside of our big tent,” Hogue said.


Travis County GOP members, including Chair James Dickey, right, stand and recite the pledge of allegiance Tuesday night June 7, 2016. The local party is set to officially approve a plan they have been designing to limit the fallout from Robert Morrow's election as party chairman, including numerous bylaw changes and a new entity to hold the cash and social media accounts during Morrow's rule. RALPH BARRERA
Travis County GOP members, including Chair James Dickey, right, stand and recite the pledge of allegiance Tuesday night June 7, 2016. The local party is set to officially approve a plan they have been designing to limit the fallout from Robert Morrow’s election as party chairman, including numerous bylaw changes and a new entity to hold the cash and social media accounts during Morrow’s rule.

Well, the exchange was only the opening salvo between Dickey.

I was provided with a copy of an email that Dickey sent to Duncan – and copied to 16 other leaders of the county party –  yesterday morning.

When I called Dickey, he said did not intend for the email to be public because it would hurt the party in much the same way that he thought Duncan’s public comments hurt the party.

“I chose to address it privately for exactly that reason,” Dickey said.

Oh well. Here is Dickey’s message to Duncan

I have always kept the interest of the Party at the forefront. For that reason alone I have refrained from responding to your slander of Friday morning in the same national news forum you chose to use to deliver it.

Instead I am addressing it directly to you, with only a copy to those most directly affected:

– the officers and staff who served so faithfully before, during and after my tenure,

 – the members of the steering committee, and

– the SREC members in whose territory Travis county plays the most significant role.

Your choice to make unfounded slanderous statements publicly:

  1. Utterly wasted the largest PR gift the TCRP has ever been given. Your actions literally changed the headlines from “Celebration for all Republicans” to “Drama at the TCRP”.
  1. Revealed your dereliction of your duty. If you had concerns about an expenditure, then as EVC you had a duty to get the details as soon as you became aware of it. Yet, as recent as Thursday evening you asked me nothing about any transaction. 

 TJ did ask me for only a general description on exactly one expense item. The one which, according to people present, you have publicly, fraudulently described as “James spending almost $600 on a Corpus hotel for Spring Break.”

 When he asked me in June “about a Corpus hotel bill” I gladly provided verification that the Party covered the cost of a night’s hotel for one of the several quarterly TRCCA meetings I attended. I added that Rosemary could verify my presence at the meeting since she was also there. TJ replied that over $500 for that seemed extravagant, and I agreed. That was the end of the conversation.

With far less energy than you apparently devoted to spreading false information about the party’s expenses, and with zero negative fallout to the party, you could have obtained the facts.

Since you chose not to do so for whatever reason, I did it for you today. It was so easy to do that it’s tragic you’ve never bothered. Here are the steps required:

  1. Call the hotel and ask for a receipt for James Dickey for any stay at the hotel in the past few months. 

In less than a minute the hotel desk found that I had not stayed there since the TRCCA meeting in August of 2015 and emailed me the detailed receipt, attached below, for a total of $210.95

  1. Ask the Party Treasurer to confirm the payee name on the March expense showing from the Holiday Inn. Within minutes he was able to confirm that the payee was the Holiday Inn Austin and NOT the Holiday Inn Bayside.
  1. Search email for reference to the name “Holiday Inn Austin”. Within seconds find the email (on which many of you were copied) planning the SD14 Convention Committee meetings. The first two nights of those committee meetings were indeed held at the Holiday Inn Austin, and the bill was for the cost for the meeting space.

There is zero reason that you could not have taken those steps at any time in the 8 weeks since you were elected.

There was zero need for an expensive audit – or the funding for the same – to address this “concern”.

 There is zero justification for the way you handled your “concern” about this.

 Yet, the party faces real fallout as a result of your choice.

As for the specific comments that distracted so much from what would have been the celebration of Robert’s departure: “…left the party with no office, almost no money… and we had no planned fundraiser…”

     1. No office.

First, that was no surprise, as the minutes reflect that the Executive Committee had months of advance warning about that. Everyone knew that the Texas Federation of Republican Women terminated our lease so they would not have to be in close proximity to Robert. Implying that was in some way my fault was disingenuous at best.  

 Second, those paying attention during 2015 know that when the party faced a lease increase to $3k/month at our prior location, we saved over $20,000 by going without an office for 7 months. During those same 7 months, we planned and executed the highest grossing fundraiser in 15 years. So no office is no problem – unless you let it be.

  1. “Almost no funds”.

 Less than $3,000, but with no long-term liabilities and less than $200/month in monthly recurring expenses that are cancellable at any time, resulting from public discussions and votes by the EC, and reflected in the minutes of the meetings in April, May and June.

 Presenting it now as part of “problems over the last two years” indicates that you either were being disingenuous or had not paid attention during the meetings prior to running for EVC in June.

  1. “No planned fundraiser”.

In 2014 my team put on a fundraiser in less than 6 weeks that grossed over $65,000. You knew the party needed funds and have been in office for 8 weeks. How many meetings have you held with donors? How many meetings have you held with precinct chairs to plan a fundraiser? How many donors have you called for donations? How many times have you reached out to me to ask for help fundraising?

Our past several fundraisers have all been in August/September. Yet you have done nothing during your time. Instead, you present it to the press as a nefarious action on my part that I did not plan this August’s fundraiser between March 2 and the end of my term in early June, even though I would not be in office when it would be held. Plus, at the same time I was required to:

– manage the SD conventions,

– manage the runoff election,

– manage the press fallout from the election, and

– ensure the bylaws and party structure were modified so the damage Morrow could do was minimized.

Most troubling to me is that you did not bring up any of this in the many conversations we had while:

– I endorsed you and spoke on your behalf at the state convention,

– I endorsed you for your run for Executive Vice Chair,

– We were together in Cleveland for several days for the national convention, or even when

– We spoke on the phone Thursday evening less than 15 hours before the press conference.

For the party’s sake I will do as I did post the election and minimize harmful drama in the press.

You chose to make this a national public issue, though, and you need to figure out how to fix it on an equal level. Even though you have not at all responded to either of my emails from Friday I hope to hear your thoughts today on the above and your plan to fix the damage you did to the party and to correct your slander of me.

James Dickey

 Dickey said that if this is the kind of abuse he is going to be subjected to for offering his leadership, “I’d have to have a hole in my head” to seek to reclaim the chairmanship.

That said, he may have that hole in his head because he’s still thinking about it.

I called Duncan last night to ask if he had a response to Dickey’s email, and he sent me the email he had sent to Dickey, and the other interested parties,  in reply

(Jay Janner)
(Jay Janner)

Here is Duncan’s email to Dickey:


  1. Nothing I said at the press conference was untrue. I was not the first to raise concerns. Since the presser, others have said that they too had concerns.
  2. You and you alone are responsible for the condition of the party at the end of your tenure. You cannot blame it on unkind fate as if your failure to defeat someone as nutty as Morrow was an unavoidable act of nature.
  3. I’m sorry that you had problems after your defeat. But I have had my own difficulties picking up the pieces of the mess you left, without the actual position of “Chairman” or having a “team” already in place when I took office. Not to mention the fact that no one wanted to give money to the party as long as Morrow was the chairman.
  4. The night before the presser, when you called me already looking for support to run for Chairman, I advised you not to run. But you were so hungry to regain your old office you ignored my advice – and my warning that some people had concerns. I felt then that I could no longer continue sweeping the matter under the rug.
  5. If you are in an embarrassing position, it is of your own making. If you continue to press the matter I have no doubt that more criticism will come out. Not from me, but from others. If you want to have a future, drop this, and work on whatever your next goals may be.
  6. Before I am accused of personal motive, my hope was that several qualified candidates would come forward. I did not decide to run until yesterday – mostly after seeing your continued intransigence.
  7. Thursday night I tried to be gentle. Now I am being blunt. Drop out now before you, yes you, damage the party further.

David T Duncan Jr
Executive Vice Chairman
and Acting Chairman
Travis County Republican Party

Duncan said he didn’t want to elaborate beyond his email, except to say, “I hope I don’t hear anything further from him on this.”

And the vote for chairman will be Sept. 20 at the Crown Plaza Austin.

I also have it on good authority that Austin political consultant Brendan Steinhauser is considering running for the post, though he did not have any comment last night.

Meanwhile …


In memory of the wonderful Gene Wilder, here are dance numbers from Young Frankenstein and The Producers, which some observers have suggested provided the working model for the Trump campaign.



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It’s not too late! Trump-Perry 2016.

Good morning Austin:

I begin today’s First Reading with a fantasy sequence.

It’s Tuesday. The day before yesterday. We are at Rick and Anita Perry’s home in beautiful Round Top, Texas. It’s a rainy early morning. Anita Perry is in the spacious  country kitchen preparing a breakfast scramble. The coffee is perking on the stove. Marcus Lutrell, who has been up since before dawn, is fussing with a window seal through which water is leaking.

The governor is not evident. He’s been sleeping in the guest room the last couple of nights because the miscues of the Trump campaign have left him too restless to sleep well and he hasn’t wanted to keep Anita up.

Anita calls upstairs. “Ricky. Your coffee’s ready. It’s that dark roast you like from Espressions.”


“Ricky. Coffee. I’ll bring you up a cup.”

Anita goes upstairs. The bed is empty. The sheets have been stripped, ripped, braided, one end secured to the bed post and the other end thrown out the open window.

“Marcus,” Anita shouts out. “He’s done it again. He’s gone. And he left the window open. The floor is soaked.”

“The Chevelle’s still here,” Lutrelle replies.

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“Check the barn,” says Anita.

She’s right. Paint Creek, Perry’s trusty steed, is gone. Ricky had saddled up and rode before dawn.


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“All right. Let’s turn on the TV,” says Marcus.

“Fox?” asks Anita.

“Try CNN,” says Marcus. “I don’t know why, but my gut says CNN. He must have ridden to Houston.”


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Anita flips on he cable. She and Marcus sit themselves on the love seat, coffee in hand.

And, sure enough, there he is.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.50.44 PM


Marcus was right. CNN.

He’s talking up Trump.

And talking down the Gold Star Khan family.

Anita and Marcus slump in their seats.


Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.49.49 PM


“Ricky, Ricky, Ricky,” says Anita.

“He looks good though,” says Marcus. “Really good. That’s a long hard ride. Sounds good too.”

“He does look good,” says Anita. “I hope Mr. Trump realizes what he’s got in Ricky.  Oh Ricky.”

From Perry:

Mr. Khan is the one that went out and struck the first blow. And in a campaign, if you’re going to go out and think that you can take a shot at somebody and not have incoming coming back at you, shame on you.


I think the Democrats used him in a way that quite frankly I’m not sure that I approve of. We love our veterans, we love our Gold Star families, but the fact of the matter is Mr. Khan politically used his time on that stage to go after Donald Trump. Why in the world he thought that he was going to get a free ride with that is beyond me. He shouldn’t get a free ride when he’s going to inject himself in the political arena.

Oh my.

History may remember Khizr Khan as the Trump slayer, the man whose convention appearance crystallized the outrage at Trump, and, who, by drawing Trump to respond, ad infinitum, attacking a Gold Star family, undid his already shaky campaign at a crucial juncture.

And, yet, just as the Khan controversy had subsided, here was Rick Perry bringing it up again.

On the face of it, it appeared nonsensical.




Whoa Wu, whoa.

That’s the longest-serving governor in Texas history you’re talking about – the guy whose portrait you’ll walk past every day you’re in the Capitol.


Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez.
Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez.


And then yesterday, there was this from the latest Public Policy Polling poll of Texas.

PPP’s new Texas poll finds that Ted Cruz has become unpopular in the state, and he could be in trouble for winning the Republican nomination in 2018. Overall only 39% of voters in the state approve of the job Cruz is doing, to 48% who disapprove. It was already clear from national polling that Donald Trump had come out ahead in his feud at the GOP convention with Cruz, but we find that even in Texas 52% of Republicans now say that they prefer Trump as their nominee this year to only 38% who would go with Cruz.

The skirmish with Trump seems to be contributing to an overall weakening of Cruz’s position with Republicans in the state. Only 50% of GOP voters say they’d like Cruz to be their Senate candidate again in 2 years, to 43% who say they would prefer someone else. He hovers right around that 50% mark in hypothetical match ups against both Michael McCaul (51/19) and Dan Patrick (49/27). Against Rick Perry though, who shares Cruz’s universal name recognition, Cruz faces a 9 point deficit at 46/37

The PPP poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, completed two days before Perry rode off to Houston to attack the Khans on Trump’s behalf.

But no matter.

The point here is Rick Perry is back in the mix, even if his passions sometimes seems sort of mixed up.

Early in his second run for the White House last year, Perry emerged as the principled – even erudite – anti-Trump.

From a July 18, 2015 story by Sarah Rumpf at Breitbart:

Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) says Donald Trump is “unfit to be Commander-in-Chief,” and says the New York billionaire “should immediately withdraw from the race for President.”

Perry’s sharp words come after Trump attacked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), saying that McCain was not a war hero and was only regarded as such because he had been captured and held as a prisoner of war.

A few days later, Perry – at a time that Ted Cruz was cozying up to Trump – delivered a powerful speech describing Trump as a “cancer on conservatism.”


Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry called Donald Trump’s politics “toxic” and his 2016 candidacy a “cancer” on conservatism Wednesday. The comments represented the strongest condemnation yet of the 2016 front-runner from any of his Republican rivals.

Perry’s criticisms came during remarks at the Opportunity and Freedom PAC forum in Washington, D.C., and they are the culmination of an increasingly bitter and personal spat between the two candidates.

“He is without substance when one scratches below the surface. He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: A toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued,” Perry said. “Let no one be mistaken — Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.”

After his own candidacy ended, Perry threw himself into campaigning for Cruz with a passion that rivaled anything he had brought to bear on his own behalf.

From Iowa.

And then, the first week in May, three days after Trump thrashed Cruz in Indiana, ending his candidacy, with Cruz lashing out at Trump as a “pathological liar” and “utterly amoral,” here was Perry, not only happily endorsing Trump but advertising his availability to be his running mate.

From my story the day that Perry unveiled his portrait at the Capitol.

Former Gov. Rick Perry’s official portrait was unveiled Friday at the Capitol Rotunda, and no, he is not wearing the brainy hipster glasses he used to rebrand himself going into his second presidential run.

But the actual Perry was wearing them to see the oil painting hung on a day that broke with a “Thank you Rick!” tweet from Donald Trump amid speculation that Perry might be called upon to help make America great again.

The speculation was mostly generated by Perry telling CNN on Thursday that he would say yes if Trump asked him to be his vice presidential running mate — the same Trump whom Perry last July called a know-nothing “cancer on conservatism.”


With new glasses and far better preparation, Perry entered the 2016 race offering himself as the successful governor of the largest red state.

His campaign never gained traction, but he offered the most serious critique of Trump in the early portion of the campaign, saying the mogul would lead the Republican Party the way of the Whigs — to the graveyard.

Perry was the first of the large Republican field of presidential candidates to fold his tent, later endorsing and campaigning for Texas’ Sen. Ted Cruz with zeal in Iowa, South Carolina and Texas.

Of his stark warnings about Trump, Perry said Friday, “The rhetoric is in the heat of battle, it’s in the chaos of a presidential bid. If no one doesn’t understand that, then they don’t understand how our process of elections work. We compete, and then we let bygones be bygones.”

“When the choice is Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, that becomes abundantly easy for me to make that decision,” Perry said.

Perry earned the positive tweet from Trump by telling CNN that the New York billionaire “is one of the most talented people who has ever run for the president I have ever seen.”

“He knows how to market, he knows how to brand, and he’s vanquished 16 pretty capable men and women,” Perry said Friday, adding that he believes Trump has what it takes to improve the economy and rebuild the military, and that Trump recognizes “he’s going to need some people who have great experience” to help him govern.

Perry didn’t get the nod, but he has remained an aggressive, if unofficial, Trump surrogate.

At the Republican National Convention, Perry even faulted Cruz for failing to endorse Trump.

OK. So what gives. Naked ambition? Pure politics?

I would offer a slightly different take.

It’s simply love of the game.

I think it was George W. Bush who loved the John Fogerty song, Centerfield.

But it’s Perry who really embodies the “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play, today” spirit.

And this is why Trump should have chosen Perry as his running mate and not that stiff Pence, who won the nomination with his mealy-mouthed endorsement of Cruz in the Indiana primary in which he praised Trump so much it did Cruz more harm than good.

As campaigners, as politicians, there is simply no comparison between the junior varsity Pence and  the Gold Medal Olympian Perry. Pence is a wan Man from Glad. Perry is the ebullient Man from I’m-Thrilled-to- be-Here.

I have a selfish interest here. Covering the Perry vice presidential campaign would have been the joy of a lifetime.

So, as Trump retools his campaign, I ask, is it too late to dump Pence for Perry?

It looks to me like Trump is already laying the groundwork, this week unveiling a new campaign sticker design that not only strips the “RUMP” from “TRUMP,” but dispenses with Pence entirely.


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It’s not too late. The stakes are too high. Trump-Perry 2016!

And Lord knows that Trump needs some more able surrogates, because right now, the polls don’t look too good.

All of them.




Will God punish America for rejecting Ted Cruz, and if not, what’s up with that?

Good morning Austin:

Saturday Night Live opened with Dana Carvey reprising his role as Church Lady, hosting Taran Killam’s Ted Cruz and Darrell Hammond’s Donald Trump on Church Chat.

Church Lady recalled that John Boehner had called Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh.”

And now you’ve quit the race entirely. Why did you think it never worked out?

Well, Church Lady, I suppose the American people weren’t ready for a candidate with strong Christian values, someone like me who follows the righteous path and lives his faith every blessed moment.


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 CL: Has anyone ever told you that you’re just a little preachy. Just a little bit. We like ourselves , don’t we love  ourselves. There’s that happy, superior face because we love Jesus more than anybody else.
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TC: Yes I do pray to God often and I think everything that happens was part of God’s plan

CL: Was it? Was it God’s plan for you to get humiliated by an orange mannequin? That’s kind of an odd plan for God to have for you.

Cruz leaves but returns during Trump’s segment of Church Chat as Satan. But when Trump belittles him, a hurt Satan Cruz says, “You’re such a jerk, Donald. I’m going back to Hell. They’re nicer there.”


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As you may recall, Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign ended with a big bang last Tuesday

On Tuesday morning, as the polls were opening in Indiana, Trump was on a telephone interview with Fox News when he had this to say about Rafael Cruz, Ted’s father:

You know, his father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being, you know, shot. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this? Right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.

As I wrote last week:

What had apparently set Trump off was a video clip Fox aired of the elder Cruz, a pastor and frequent surrogate for his son, in Indiana.

“I implore, I exhort every member of the body of Christ to vote according to the word of God and vote for the candidate that stands on the word of God and on the Constitution of the United States of America,” Rafael Cruz said. “And I am convinced that man is my son, Ted Cruz. The alternative could be the destruction of America.”

“I think it’s absolutely horrible that a man can go and do that, what he’s saying there,” said Trump, whose ability to out-poll Ted Cruz with conservative evangelical voters in many primary states has proved critical to his success.

Other Cruz surrogates and supporters have also identified the Texan as God’s chosen candidate.

“Make no mistake, we are being watched,” broadcaster Glenn Beck said at a Cruz rally Sunday in La Porte, Ind. “We’re being watched by our maker. … Every single state is being required, and I believe — and they’re going to rake me over the coals for saying it, so be it — I believe that’s the Almighty God saying, ‘Each one of you, I want you to stand and you choose: good or evil?’ Which way will we go?”

Katrina Pierson, national spokeswoman for Trump, said it was precisely that kind of apocalyptic, good-and-evil religious language — suggesting that God would wreak vengeance on America if Trump were elected — that galls Trump.

“Mr. Trump is just pointing out all these ridiculous things that we’ve heard that have just been hovering over the Cruz campaign,” Pierson said.

On the heels of Trump’s comments on Fox, Cruz held an impromptu press conference in Indiana at which he proceeded to describe Trump, in vivid detail, as something like Lucifer in the flesh – an amoral, pathological liar, serial philanderer, and narcissist.

Of this last assessment, Cruz said, Trump is  “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country has ever seen.  Donald Trump is such a narcissist that Barack Obama looks at him and says, “Dude, what’s your problem?”

I thought when he delivered that line that it was the weakest in his otherwise persuasive tirade, because it was a cheap partisan shot and feeble attempt at humor that undermined his essential point that Trump is sui generis in his awfulness. But also, I thought,  gazing into the pond of self-regard this campaign, Cruz might also have seen his own reflection. After all, in  a large and pretty religious Republican field, Cruz was the only candidate who was routinely introduced and presented by surrogates – especially including his father – as God’s anointed candidate.

Cruz didn’t have to say God said vote for me, because other people, again especially including his father, said it for him. And, if it made him the least bit uncomfortable to be so described, he could have pulled Papa Cruz aside at some point and whispered in his ear, “Dad, love ya, but ixnay on the annointedyay.”

But, not having done that, and having been introduced time and again as God’s chosen, well, as Jeff Foxworthy might put it, “You might be a narcissist if you think you are God’s choice to be president and that, if you are not elected, God just might smite America.”

Now, we know, thanks to PolitiFact (a source the Cruz disparages as “a new, particularly noxious species of yellow journalism that is beginning to infect what passes for modern political discourse”), that Trump’s maligning of father Cruz was without foundation, earning a Pants on Fire rating.

Trump’s charge appears to be based on a National Enquirer report alleging that Rafael Cruz is the man standing next to Oswald in a photo from 1963. But technical experts told PolitiFact that no such firm conclusion is possible given the quality of the photograph, and several historians of the period told us they’ve never seen Cruz’s name come up in connection with Oswald.

But, as far as I know, PolitiFact has not checked out the claim that Cruz was God’s anointed candidate for president, and that God might visit destruction upon the land if Cruz were not elected.

Presumably, we will find out in due time, but, either way, this presents a dilemma for us and for Cruz.

If, in the coming months and years, America is destroyed, it will prove Rafael Cruz et al. right, and will make his son a shoo-in in 2020 as the ultimate, I-told-you-so candidate. Only, for that to happen, America will have been destroyed so it will be very much a Pyrrhic victory.

Alternatively, if America proceeds on its merry way under President Trump or President Clinton, Rafael Cruz and Co. will appear to be just so many doomsday cultists who made the mistake of setting a date for the end of times near enough to be disproven.

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Cruz himself was forever talking about America being on the edge of the abyss, and if, four years hence, his rhetoric still suggests we are teetering on that same abyss he will be in danger of being seen as, well, the man who cried abyss. (Though, perhaps in such cases, abyss is as good as a mile – yes I did attend the O.Henry Pun-Off Saturday.)

It seems to me there needs to be some accountability here.

And so I put the question to John Fea, chair and professor of history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and also writer of the very interesting blog the way of improvement leads home: reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life.

My Q:

My question is that, per Rafael Cruz and others, God will now wreak his vengeance on America for not electing Ted, but how will we know? Could that just mean the election of Trump or does there need to be some more tangible wreckage – earthquake, floods, plague, nuclear annihilation? Is there any accountability? Or can Rafael use the same line again in four years with impunity? Is he just another end-of-days guy who pushes the date back as needed?

Fea’s reply:


Good question.  In this view of the world just about anything can be viewed as divine judgement.  Every “anti-Christian” move that Trump makes will be a sign of this judgement.  (Especially if he gets elected and does not appoint a religious conservative to the Supreme Court). If Trump loses, a Hillary presidency will be interpreted as judgement.  Of course if something catastrophic happens this will also be seen as a sign of judgment.  Think Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell blaming 9-11 on gays.

There is a long history of these kinds of prophetic jeremiads in American evangelicalism/Christianity going all the way back to the Puritans in the 17th century. The idea is that God is in a special covenant with the United States much in the same way that God was in a covenant with Israel in the Old Testament.  When the nation conforms to the teachings of the Bible (and elects someone like Ted Cruz) God will bless the nation.  If the culture does not conform to biblical teachings then God will punish.  Think of Cruz’s use of Chronicles 7:14.
(“If My people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.)
So yes, Rafael can use this line of argument (if you can call it an argument) over and over again.  He is not the first to use it, and he will not be the last.
On a somewhat related matter, I thought it was interesting when Cruz said in his post-Indiana speech that he was “optimistic” about the future of liberty in the United States when earlier in the morning, during his attack on Trump (and throughout the entire campaign), he said that we were “at the edge of the abyss.”
It’s all politics.
Maybe, but it seems to me that if Cruz in 2020 is going to re-stake his claim to being the anointed, it would be nice if he could point to a plague or two that was unambiguously visited upon the land in divine retribution for his defeat. Say a national infestation of head lice that forced the closing of all public and private schools and left home-schooling as the only alternative. Or perhaps a failure of the power grid that left only those states that Cruz did not win in darkness. Or a rain of hail that riddles Manhattan. Or a contagion of boils that only afflicts Hoosiers. Or the death of the first-born of all those evangelical voters who somehow chose Trump over Cruz in the primaries.
Fea is right that Cruz’s often apocalyptic rhetoric was an uneasy fit with his simultaneous effort to strike a sunny Reaganesque optimism.
As he said in ending his candidacy:
Together, we left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we’ve got, but the voters chose another path. With a heavy heart but with boundless optimism for the future of our nation we are suspending our campaign.

In the aftermath of his defeat, Glenn Beck made it clear last week that we are all in for a heaping helping of God’s wrath.

When we say we don’t know what the Lord has in store for us, oh, I do – our reaping of what we have sown. So I really think was the last reckoning for us. This was like, `please, guys.’


We just continue to make the wrong choice. So I would look for the things that we’re were supposed to learn as individuals, but I think the country, and all of us as individuals, are going to reap what we have sown and there is nothing that’s going to get us out of that.

His consequences are eternal and they are not judgments, they are promises. You do this, and this is what happens. You do this, and this is what happens. We did that, so we are going to get that. Now we can still turn to Him, which all of us have done, and can say, `Help us make it easier, help us learn from  it, help us help other people through it.’ But I don’t think there’s a savior coming in on a white horse.

Because, quite honestly, we are a petulant child. We’re the child that we have talked to, we have reasoned with, we have put in time out, we have grounded, we have spanked, and the behavior is getting worse. The last thing you do is right before the punishment come in and say, `Hey, you know what, I’m going to take that all away.’ That would be a bad. That would be a very bad dad and the one thing I know about God, he ain’t a bad dad.


Meanwhile, Cruz was the last man standing against Trump, and if Trump implodes and is buried in a landslide, there would be a logic to Cruz emerging as the front-runner for 2020. But, as he said, he “left it all on the field in Indiana.” His 2016 campaign capped a meteoric political rise in which Cruz ran against his colleagues in the Senate and against the Republican leadership in both houses, while playing the God card to the hilt.

But what does he do now?

If he returns to the Senate as the same old Ted Cruz, his colleagues will still hate him but they will be even less likely to cut him any slack and more likely to do everything they can to make sure he is not a viable candidate in 2020. But if he returns to Washington as a new Cruz with a mind toward building relationships and getting something done, he risks becoming one of them and a mark for whatever All About Eve understudy sizes him up as past his prime and seeks to take his place.

And what does he do about endorsing or not endorsing Trump.

From Jennifer Steinhauer in The New York Times, Ted Cruz at a Crossroads as He Returns to the Senate

WASHINGTON — Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is expected to return to the Capitol this week, the last of four Republican senators battered and beaten by Donald J. Trump to trudge back to the world of meetings over cafeteria cod and roll call votes to name the national mammal.

But Mr. Cruz’s return is more fraught with curiosity than those of the other three, Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida. He made it the furthest, winning 10 states and coming tantalizingly close to pushing Mr. Trump to a contested convention, only to drop out on the same day the billionaire developer suggested that Mr. Cruz’s father had conspired with Lee Harvey Oswald.

The party’s presumptive nominee had also insulted Mr. Cruz’s wife, baselessly alluded to extramarital affairs and labeled him “Lyin’ Ted.”

Now the man who helped create an outsider movement in national politics, only to have it eat him alive by the co-opter of that idea, must decide which group among his fellow lawmakers to join. Will he stand with the hold-your-nose set, as Mr. Paul has done, and support Mr. Trump? Or join forces with “Never Trump,” as Senator Graham did on Friday, and publicly decline to get on board?

Or will he take the route of Mr. Rubio, in effect giving a non-endorsement endorsement, saying he will support any Republican nominee, but not explicitly name Mr. Trump?

“I think all of us will be interested to see what position Senator Cruz takes,” said Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, who is more or less in the same place as Mr. Graham. “After he pretty much excoriated Trump on the final day of his campaign, it would be quite a turnabout if he were to support him now.”

Millions of voters are watching, but for now, he won’t say. Mr. Cruz “is currently scheduled to be back in D.C. next week, and that’s as much detail as we’re sharing right now,” his spokesman Phil Novack said on Friday.

But, in the meantime, no one, even in Texas, seemed to be waiting on a signal from Cruz before deciding what to do.

I think it was notable how quickly and easily his mentor, Gov. Greg Abbott, and his Texas chairman, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and former Gov. Rick Perry – who had campaign passionately for Cruz after his own campaign flamed out, and offered a thoroughgoing critique of Trump back when Cruz wouldn’t – all indicated they would be with Trump. They didn’t defer to Cruz and they were apparently not sufficiently repelled by Trump’s attacks on Cruz, or Trump’s threat to conservatism, to withhold their support even for a little while.

From Ross Douthat in Sunday’s New York Times – The Conservative Case Against Trump.

THERE are many lessons that conservatives need to learn from the rise of Donald Trump. There are elements of his message that the party should embrace. There are grievances among his voters that the Republican Party must address.

But for conservatives to support Trump himself, to assist in his election as president of the United States, would be a terrible mistake.

It would be a particularly stark mistake for conservatives who feel that the basic Reaganite vision that’s dominated their party for decades — a fusion of social conservatism, free-market economics, and a hawkish internationalism — still gets things mostly right.

In large ways and small, Trump has consistently arrayed himself against this vision. True, he paid lip service to certain Reaganite ideas during the primaries — claiming to be pro-life, promising a supply-side tax cut, pledging to appoint conservative judges. But the core of his message was protectionist and nativist, comfortable with an expansive welfare state, bored with religious conservatism, and dismissive of the commitments that constitute the post-Cold War Pax Americana. And Trump’s policy forays since clinching the nomination have only confirmed his post-Reagan orientation.

Reaganite conservatives who help elevate Trump to the presidency, then, would be sleepwalking toward a kind of ideological suicide.


In sum: It would be possible to justify support for Trump if he merely promised a period of chaos for conservatism. But to support Trump for the presidency is to invite chaos upon the republic and the world. No policy goal, no court appointment, can justify such recklessness.

To Trumpism’s appeal, to Trump’s constituents, conservatives should listen and answer “yes,” or “maybe,” or “not that, but how about…”

But to Trump himself, there is no patriotic answer except “no.”

If Cruz says “yes” to Trump, he will be hard-pressed to maintain his self-description as a courageous conservative. If he doesn’t endorse Trump, it will stand as a rebuke of all those Republicans – including his allies in Texas – who so easily fell in line behind Trump.

And, if somehow Trump should win?

In another skit on Saturday Night Live – Quiz Whiz 2018 – “Contestants (Taran Killam, Brie Larson) struggle to name the candidate who came in second to Donald Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential race.”

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(Spoiler alert: The contestant, played by Brie Larson, is Heidi Cruz.)

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When they unveil Perry’s portrait will he be wearing a Trump-Perry button?

Good morning Austin:

A ceremony unveiling the official portrait of Rick Perry, the 47th and longest-serving governor of Texas, will be held this morning in the Capitol Rotunda.

James Tennison, a Fort Worth artist who also painted the portrait of Ann Richards that hangs in the rotunda, finished the Perry portrait a year ago. It has been under wraps in Austin ever since. Only a handful of people have seen it.

“Mystery surrounds this portrait,” Tennison said – the big mystery being whether Perry will be pictured wearing the hipster intellectual glasses with which he rebranded himself before making his second run for president.

There were skeptics about the glasses.

Like Donald Trump.

He put glasses on so people will think that he’s smart and it just doesn’t work. You know people can see through the glasses.

Trump had already made fun of Perry for sweating when he announced his candidacy in a sweltering airplane hangar.

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“I’ll let the Donald do what the Donald does,” Perry said of Trump’s critique.

While it is true that Perry’s second run wasn’t ultimately any more successful than his first, he did redeem himself to some degree, especially in delivering two very good speeches, both in Washington, D.C.

One, delivered on July 2 at the National Press Club, was about Republicans and race. The other, delivered July 22 at the Willard Hotel, was about Donald Trump, describing him and his candidacy as a “cancer on conservatism.”

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The full text is at the end of today’s First Reading, but here’s the nut graph.

In times of trouble, there are two types of leaders: repairers of the breach and sowers of discord.

The sower of discord foments agitation, thrives on division, scapegoats certain elements of society, and offers empty platitudes and promises. He is without substance when one scratches below the surface.

He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued.

Let no one be mistaken – Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.

It cannot be pacified or ignored, for it will destroy a set of principles that has lifted more people out of poverty than any force in the history of the civilized world – the cause of conservatism


And, a little further down:

We will be no better off with a Republican divider in the White House than the current Democrat divider in the White House.

Donald Trump, the reality television star, is a great generator of ratings. But Donald Trump the candidate is a sower of division, wrongly demonizing Mexican-Americans for political sport.

It is wrong to paint with a broad brush Hispanic men and women in this country who have fought and died for freedom from the Alamo to Afghanistan. He scapegoats Hispanics to appeal to our worst instincts, when we need a president who appeals to our best.

This is not new in America.

In the 1840’s the “Know Nothings” emerged as a political movement, scapegoating Irish and German immigrants for the problems of the nation.

They were obsessively anti-Catholic, so much so that when the Pope sent marble for the building of the Washington Monument, they smashed it to pieces and helped delay its construction for 35 years.

These people built nothing, created nothing. They existed to cast blame and tear down certain institutions. To give outlet to anger.

Donald Trump is the modern-day incarnation of the know-nothing movement.

He espouses nativism, not conservatism. He is negative when conservatism is inherently optimistic.

He would divide us along bloodlines, when conservatives believe our policies will work for people of all backgrounds.

He has piqued the interest of some Republican voters who have legitimate concerns about a porous border and broken immigration system. But instead of offering those voters leadership or solutions, he has offered fear and soundbites. This cannot stand.

Conservatism doesn’t foment agitation through identity politics. That’s what Democrats do. But as a supporter of socialized medicine, the stimulus package and Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump is quite suited to follow the Democrats’ example.

I, for one, will not be silent when a candidate for the high office of president runs under the Republican banner by targeting millions of Hispanics, and our veterans, with mean-spirited vitriol.

I will not go quiet when this cancer on conservatism threatens to metastasize into a movement of mean-spirited politics that will send the Republican Party to the same place it sent the Whig Party in 1854: the graveyard.



To this day, Perry’s speech back in July is probably the most concise, coherent and powerful conservative critique of Donald Trump. And it was delivered only five weeks after Trump announced his candidacy for president on June 16, and at a time when Sen. Ted Cruz was Trump’s leading fan and toady among the 16 candidates competing with Trump for their party’s nomination.


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Perry paid a price for tangling with Trump. Among Trump’s rivals, he was Trump’s first, belittled victim.

On Sept. 11, in a speech before the Eagle Forum in St. Louis, Perry became the first of the big field of candidates to fold his tent.

Two days earlier, Cruz, once against sidling as close to Trump as humanly possible, had maneuvered to have Trump join him at a rally outside the Capitol against the Iran nuclear deal.

In his remarks in Missouri, Perry issued two warnings. Without naming names, the first warning was directed at Cruz. The second warning was directed at Trump.

Here’s an excerpt:

As Americans we have the power to make the world new again.

But let me issue a couple warnings. First, the answer to a president nominated for soaring rhetoric and no record is not to nominate a candidate whose rhetoric speaks louder than his record. It is not to replicate the Democrat model of selecting a president, falling for the cult of personality over durable life qualities.

Only in Washington do they define fighting as filibustering, leading as debating.

Where I come from, talk is cheap. And leadership is not what you say, but what you do.

Missouri is the “show me state”, and this must be a “show me, don’t tell me” election, where we get beyond the rhetoric to the record to see who has been tested, who has led and who can be expected to stand in the face of fire.

And for the record, if a candidate can’t take tough questions from a reporter, how will they deal with the president of Russia, the leaders of China or the fanatics in Iran?

My second warning is this: we cannot indulge nativist appeals that divide the nation further. The answer to our current divider-in-chief is not to elect a Republican divider-in-chief.

Conservatism is inherently optimistic. It celebrates the power of the individual, it believes in free markets over state-controlled solutions. It knows free individuals can govern their own lives better than centralized government.

Progressives think we need to protect the people from themselves. Conservatives think we need to protect the people from government.

We have had too much government – too many government answers, too much government meddling – all at the expense of individual freedom.

We need to get back to the central constitutional principle that, in America it is the content of your character that matters, not the color of your skin – that it doesn’t matter where you come from, but where you are going. In an America blind to color, that champions the individual, that recognizes merit, there is no room for debate that denigrates certain people based on their heritage or origin.

We can secure the border and reform our immigration system without inflammatory rhetoric, without base appeals that divide us based on race, culture and creed.

Let me be crystal clear: for those of us in Christ, our citizenship is first and foremost in God’s kingdom, our brothers and sisters are those made in the image of God, and our obligation – after loving God with all our heart, mind and soul – is to love our neighbors as ourselves, regardless of where they come from.

Demeaning people of Hispanic heritage is not just ignorant, it betrays the example of Christ. We can enforce our laws and our borders, and we can love all who live within our borders, without betraying our values.

It is time to elevate our debate from divisive name-calling, from soundbites without solutions, and start discussing how we will make the country better for all if a conservative is elected president.

Both warnings went unheeded, and all the way into December, Cruz resisted criticizing Trump head on.



Well, the cage match was not to be avoided, and it ended last week with Cruz’s defeat in Indiana and withdrawal from the race Tuesday, leaving Trump the presumptive nominee.

But, hours before bowing out, Cruz issued a memorable tirade directed at Trump, the most sustained attack on Trump since Perry’s, but way more personal.

But, even before he delivered that comprehensive takedown, Perry, who campaigned enthusiastically, passionately, for Cruz in Iowa, South Carolina and Texas, was on The ViewThe View! – saying that he was ready to back Trump if he were the nominee.

And yesterday, Perry went one step further, saying not only that he would be backing Trump, but that he was ready and willing to be his running mate.

If called to serve, he was rested, ready, and no longer under indictment.

From CNN:

Washington (CNN)Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry told CNN Thursday he will support Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee and will do everything he can do to help him get elected.

Perry, speaking by phone from his hometown of Round Top, Texas, acknowledged Trump is not his ideal choice. When Perry was a candidate for president earlier in the 2016 cycle, he was the first to come out and criticize Trump and question his conservative credentials, calling his candidacy a “cancer on conservatism.”
“He is not a perfect man. But what I do believe is that he loves this country and he will surround himself with capable, experienced people and he will listen to them,” Perry said Thursday.
“He wasn’t my first choice, wasn’t my second choice, but he is the people’s choice,” Perry added.
After he ended his own bid for president, Perry eventually endorsed fellow Texan Ted Cruz, and campaigned hard for him.
“When Ted said he is done and suspending his campaign — that was the last individual who had a chance,” he said, speaking of beating Trump.
“I believe in the process, and the process has said Donald Trump will be our nominee and I’m going to support him and help him and do what I can,” Perry said.
“He is one of the most talented people who has ever run for the president I have ever seen,” he added, saying Trump knows how to market and brand like no one he has ever seen.
Perry, speaking on the same day House Speaker Paul Ryan told CNN that he was “just not ready” to back Trump, urged the party to unite behind the presumptive nominee.
“We need to come together and heal the wounds,” he said.
Perry, who has been urged to run as a third-party candidate, dismissed that notion as “quixotic.”
“Anyone who is considering a third-party run does not understand what is going on in this country — does not understand the anger that the country has,” Perry said.
“I don’t think it accomplishes anything,” he added. “I ran to be the president of the United States, and when it became clear the electorate didn’t want me to be president, I stepped away.”
When asked if Perry would consider being Trump’s running mate, he left the door wide open.
“I am going to be open to any way I can help. I am not going to say no,” Perry said.
“We can’t afford the policies and the character of Hillary Clinton,” he added. But, Perry said, he has not spoken to Trump in at least six months.

So, as Gov. Perry’s portrait is unveiled this morning, let us observe that the man still aspires to be a player on the national scene, and marvel at how the political world turns.

Last summer, Rick Perry was denouncing Trump as a cancer on conservatism, who, if successful, would render the Republicans  a new Know Nothing Party, and Ted Cruz was still delighting in the Joys of Trump. Nine months later, Cruz has denounced Trump as a cancer on conservatism and a venereal disease on the body politics all rolled into one. (Yes, he did go there, quoting Trump describing to Howard Stern his battle with venereal disease as his own personal Vietnam) And Perry is describing Trump as one of the most talented people who has ever run for president, and announcing that, were Trump to ask him to join him on his ticket, I am not going to say no.

The only question for Perry would be, if chosen, whether or not to don the glasses, and I guess that would be up to Mr. Trump.


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Here is the full text of Perry’s cancer on conservatism speech:

Thank you. The next president will face serious issues that demand serious leadership.

Because of the failed foreign policy of the Obama Administration, our 45th president will have to deal with an emboldened Iran that will have renewed access to hundreds of billions of dollars that even the Obama Administration acknowledges can be used to fund terrorism.

This, combined with an agreement that amounts to nuclear appeasement, promises a major realignment in the Middle East at the expense of our Arab allies and Israel. And it will surely lead to the development of a Sunni bomb.

The challenges in the Middle East extend beyond Iran.

Despite White House declarations, ISIS continues to expand its territory. The atrocities continue. They have become so normal they no longer make the front page. It’s a sad commentary on the state of the world.

Syria remains a complicated war zone, led by a brutal dictator that our president said must go several years ago. He is still there, after crossing a red line attacking his own people with chemical weapons.

And his nation is also a hotbed for jihadist recruitment.

The mistakes of a few years ago leave few good options for the next president.

Russian aggression has been met with strong words, but again feeble action. Putin has annexed Crimea, and invaded the mainland of Ukraine. And we have yet to even provide lethal weapons to those fighting for Ukrainian sovereignty and democracy.

Mr. Putin has become the greatest threat to peace and order in Europe and parts of Asia as the message has gotten out that the American Administration speaks loudly, but is loath to use a big stick.

China is threatening its neighbors, stealing our secrets, and violating trade agreements.

In the face of all these threats, we are now on course to have the smallest military since June of 1940. The hollowing out of our military forces is an invitation for our enemies to test us.

Gathering threats abroad are matched by storm clouds at home.

The recovery is anemic, leaving millions of workers uncounted in the unemployment rate. One in ten workers are unemployed, under-employed or too discouraged to search for a job. One in seven Americans live in poverty, including more than one quarter of our African-American population that has suffered for decades under Democratic policies that lead to failed schools, few opportunities, and lives lost to poverty or crime.

Our debt is at historic levels. President Obama is on course to racking up as much debt as his 43 predecessors combined.

Our border is under siege, our infrastructure is aging, our entitlement programs are in fiscal jeopardy.

These are, indeed, troubling times.

Yet America has faced worse. And America has been blessed for more than 200 years with magnanimous leadership in the presidency, individuals who were raised beyond their personal limitations to steer the nation through war, depression and disaster to a better future for all Americans.

Each one of these leaders have been repairers of the breach, such as Lincoln who – at the height of the Civil War – insisted on the completion of the Capitol Dome. He meant the world to know our Union endured. And showed it in acts small and large.

Here was a president who ordered hundreds of thousands of men to war, and ultimately, to their deaths.

And yet, once he had won the war and freed the slaves, after so much blood had been spilled, he set out to bind the wounds of the nation, declaring “malice toward none, with charity for all.”

Lincoln was a healing force who rose above great differences to preserve our union. He was a repairer of the breach.

When King George the 3rd inquired what George Washington would do upon winning the war, he was told he would return to his Virginia farm.

To which the king responded, “if he were to do so, he would be the greatest man of his age.”

Thousands of years of history had informed the world that to the victor go the spoils, that conquering heroes seize power, and reign with impunity. But George Washington reluctantly accepted the presidency, only after the Constitution had been written, guaranteeing power to the people.

And because of his humility – because he never wavered from his revolutionary principles – ours was the first nation to be founded on an idea: that all “are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Even great antagonists, like Adams and Jefferson, in later life were able to put differences aside, exchanging letters until the day they both died.

It was Adams who wrote a prayer about the presidency to his wife Abigail, saying, “May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof.”

Ulysses S. Grant – the head of the Union Army, our president from 1868 to 1876 who had led a great many into battle – would come to symbolize the healing of our nation campaigning under the banner, “let us have peace.”

At his funeral the pallbearers would include two Union generals, and two Confederate generals, Simon Bolivar Buckner and Joseph Johnston.

In more recent years we were blessed to have in the Oval Office the quiet strength of Harry Truman, the leadership of the Supreme Commander Dwight David Eisenhower, the inspiration of John F Kennedy, the vision and resolve of Ronald Reagan.

During the second World War, FDR sought the power of God to preserve the nation and protect our people.

These were all fallible men. But they were great men. And they all possessed a goodness and decency that allowed them to rise above the petty, the personal and the partisan for the good of the nation.

The White House has been occupied by giants. But from time to time it is sought by the small-minded – divisive figures propelled by anger, and appealing to the worst instincts in the human condition.

In times of trouble, there are two types of leaders: repairers of the breach and sowers of discord.

The sower of discord foments agitation, thrives on division, scapegoats certain elements of society, and offers empty platitudes and promises. He is without substance when one scratches below the surface.

He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued.

Let no one be mistaken – Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.

It cannot be pacified or ignored, for it will destroy a set of principles that has lifted more people out of poverty than any force in the history of the civilized world – the cause of conservatism.

I feel so strongly about this because I believe conservatism is the only way forward for this country.

We have tried the policies of the progressive left for the last six and a half years. The Democratic candidates for president could offer them for the next eight.

Their failures are self-evident. We have never spent more money on welfare in the history of our nation, with few results to show for it.

One in five children now live in families on food stamps. This is not a success of the Obama recovery, but the evidence of its failure. Millions have stopped looking for work, and are uncounted in the unemployment rate. Over-regulation has frozen access to credit from community banks,harming small businesses. ObamaCare has decreased healthcare choices, and premiums have skyrocketed.

And for all the liberals’ talk about income inequality, the fact is their own policies of over-regulation make the cost of living exorbitant for single moms and small business owners in blue states like California and New York.

They have mastered the politics of grievance, when in reality Americans are the victim of their policies that caused the housing crash, that have produced the slowest recovery since the Great Depression, that have caused a precipitous increase in the cost of college tuition.

The Democrats see the problems of their own party’s making and offer to double down on them.

Now Senator Sanders says college tuition should be “free.” But as we know, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Forcing taxpayers to hand more of their money over to colleges will only incentivize those colleges to raise their prices even further.

Secretary Clinton is now talking about profit-sharing. I believe in profit-sharing.

Many of America’s best companies, like Whole Foods and Apple to name just two, use profit sharing and stock options to reward their workers.

But history shows that when government gets involved, there are fewer profits to be shared.

Indeed, Mrs. Clinton would pay for her unwieldy, bureaucratic, one-size-fits-all plan by raising taxes on businesses, directly reducing their profits, leaving them with less ability to raise workers’ salaries and invest in the future.

American workers aren’t looking to get something for nothing. They want to make an honest wage. They want a shot at a good job. And big government won’t give it to them.

That fair shot can only come from free people, and free markets, and the free market incentive known as the profit motive.

Conservatism can lead us out of the Valley of Economic Ruin.

It places faith in individuals, not government.

It restores personal freedom instead of restricting it.

It lets business owners and families keep more of what they make, so they can invest it in the economy and create jobs.

I believe in a conservatism that empowers people to make the most of their lives rather than government that makes a mess of their lives.

We have the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. Lower it. This will bring jobs and investment back home from overseas.

Democrats want to punish businesses for making the rational choice to locate their offices and factories in countries with lower taxes. Instead, we should reform our tax code to attract those companies—and many others—to our shores.

We have had six and a half years of government growth. We need a policy of economic growth.

We need to realize the best welfare program is a job. That welfare benefits are a means to an end, not an end. That the best welfare programs give people the tools of self-sufficiency.

We need to stop pretending that we can throw money at our inner cities and hope it solves their problems.

Rather than providing people incentives to stay on welfare, we need to expand on ideas like the Earned Income Tax Credit to build a bridge to the high-paying jobs of the future.

We need to end regulations that lead to high-cost housing, that keep single moms living hand-to-mouth with no hope of getting ahead.

We need to bring regulatory relief to small businesses that are being punished by Dodd-Frank. Financial regulations are killing Main Street rather than cleaning up Wall Street.

We need to expand energy production to create jobs, and end the ban on foreign exports. Thanks to President Obama, Iran will soon have the ability to export its oil, while America is barred from doing the same.

Carter era policies didn’t work when he was president, they certainly won’t work now!

If we bring jobs and investment back home and invest in American energy, we will realize a manufacturing renaissance.

Common sense, conservative economics can lead to removing barriers to trade, job creation and opportunity. They can be implemented without harming our environment.

It is time we get about the business of unleashing growth in America again.

Under all this lies a main premise: I trust American workers, American entrepreneurs, to do what’s best for their lives and for the public interest more than I trust government.

I am an optimist. I have faith in our people.

Liberals don’t.

They profess faith in government because they look down upon the individual. But you can’t raise people up by talking down to them.

And if someone is not equipped to govern their own affairs, surely a colossal bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., is no better positioned to do so.

We need to replace over-regulation with smart regulation. We need to overhaul the welfare state to create greater independence. We need to create incentives in the tax code for productivity and job creation, rather than for corruption and favoritism and the outsourcing of millions of jobs overseas.

I believe in America.

I believe in our people.

I believe we can out-compete, out-produce the workers of any nation.

I believe each of you can make better decisions for yourselves and your families than government.

I believe in personal freedom over bureaucratic fiat.

The era of the liberal nanny state must end.

But it cannot be replaced by reactionary politics founded on division.

We will be no better off with a Republican divider in the White House than the current Democrat divider in the White House.

Donald Trump the reality television star is a great generator of ratings. But Donald Trump the candidate is a sower of division, wrongly demonizing Mexican-Americans for political sport.

It is wrong to paint with a broad brush Hispanic men and women in this country who have fought and died for freedom from the Alamo to Afghanistan. He scapegoats Hispanics to appeal to our worst instincts, when we need a president who appeals to our best.

This is not new in America.

In the 1840’s the “Know Nothings” emerged as a political movement, scapegoating Irish and German immigrants for the problems of the nation.

They were obsessively anti-Catholic, so much so that when the Pope sent marble for the building of the Washington Monument, they smashed it to pieces and helped delay its construction for 35 years.

These people built nothing, created nothing. They existed to cast blame and tear down certain institutions. To give outlet to anger.

Donald Trump is the modern-day incarnation of the know-nothing movement.

He espouses nativism, not conservatism. He is negative when conservatism is inherently optimistic.

He would divide us along bloodlines, when conservatives believe our policies will work for people of all backgrounds.

He has piqued the interest of some Republican voters who have legitimate concerns about a porous border and broken immigration system. But instead of offering those voters leadership or solutions, he has offered fear and soundbites. This cannot stand.

Conservatism doesn’t foment agitation through identity politics. That’s what Democrats do. But as a supporter of socialized medicine, the stimulus package and Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump is quite suited to follow the Democrats’ example.

I, for one, will not be silent when a candidate for the high office of president runs under the Republican banner by targeting millions of Hispanics, and our veterans, with mean-spirited vitriol.

I will not go quiet when this cancer on conservatism threatens to metastasize into a movement of mean-spirited politics that will send the Republican Party to the same place it sent the Whig Party in 1854: the graveyard.

As a veteran, I took offense to his attack on Senator McCain, and I found lacking his defense that he spent a lot of money on veterans’ parades.

Donald Trump was born into privilege. He received deferments to avoid service in Vietnam. He breathes the free air thousands of heroes died protecting. And he couldn’t have endured for five minutes what John McCain endured for five and a half years.

Think what you want about Senator McCain’s politics, but let no one question his service to our country.

Here was a man offered the chance to go home. He refused, knowing it could cost him his life. There was no way he would leave before any man captured before him. This is the embodiment of duty, honor, country. Mr. Trump does not know the meaning of those words.

But most telling to me is not Mr. Trump’s bombast, his refusal to show any remorse for his comments about Senator McCain, but his admission that there is not a single time in his life that he sought the forgiveness of God.

A man too arrogant, too self-absorbed, to seek God’s forgiveness is precisely the type of leader John Adams prayed would never occupy the White House.

Adams, Lincoln, FDR – they all went before God on bended knee. They all held this office of great power with humility.

When a candidate under the Republican banner would abandon the tradition of magnanimous leadership of the presidency, when he would seek to demonize millions of citizens, when he would stoop to attack POWs for being captured, I can only ask as Senator Welch did of Senator McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

My fellow Republicans, beware of false prophets. Do not let itching ears be tickled by messengers who appeal to anger, division and resentment.

Resentment is the poison we swallow that we hope harms another. My fellow Republicans, don’t take the poison.

Scripture tells us “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

The candidate who wins the Republican nomination for president will articulate the best vision of “a house united.”

It will be based on a conservatism that works, that appeals to our better angels, that believes in the power of individuals, through hard work and thrift, to improve our lives.

We need a president who rises above personal grievances, petty differences, raw partisan politics. Who puts the nation first, who inspires Americans to believe again and produce again and dream again.

We must move past the empty calories of Trumpism, and return to conservatism.

Ronald Reagan put it best when discussing the stakes of the election in 1964. He said, “This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

We shall not abandon the Revolution.

We shall not give up on the animating idea of our Republic – a nation founded on the principle of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

There is nothing wrong in America that cannot be fixed with the right leadership.

We need leadership that repairs the breach in America, that brings the country together, that sets our sights on greatness after a long period of pettiness.

Let’s get on with the business of building that America. Thank you.