Tag Archives: Rick Perry

Tom Craddick: testament against term limits

Fifty years is a long time to do anything, whether it’s selling shoes, branding cattle . . .  or writing legislation.

Tom Craddick, a feisty Midland Republican, is about to cross the half-century mark as a Texas legislator during the upcoming legislative session. I’ve had some differences with Craddick, dating back to when I was editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News. That was then. Today I want to say a good thing or two about this Texas Capitol institution.

He and I got crossways some years back when he engineered the ouster from the Texas House speaker’s chair of Pete Laney, a Hale Center Democrat, whom the newspaper supported. Laney was no flaming liberal as speaker and did a good job representing the Texas Panhandle while running a relatively smooth Texas House of Representatives.

Then the Republicans took control of the House and Craddick cast his eyes on that big ol’ gavel that Laney wielded. He enlisted the help of Laney’s Panhandle pals — namely fellow Republican state Reps. John Smithee of Amarillo and David Swinford of Dumas. They turned on their old friend, Laney, and backed Craddick for speaker.

We became angry with Smithee, Swinford and Craddick for depriving the Panhandle of a powerful voice . . . and we said so on our Opinion page.

Craddick sent me a testy letter in response. I responded with equal testiness.

That was a long time ago.

Laney, from what I understood, took his ouster personally. He retired from the House and became a lobbyist. Craddick, though, is still on the job, 50 years after being elected the first time.

Craddick ran the House with a heavy hand. It helped him shepherd legislation through a GOP-controlled chamber, but his tactics also created plenty of political enemies.

Since leaving the speakership himself in 2009 after enduring — ironically — an ouster from his fellow Republicans, Craddick has continued to be an effective legislator.

I applauded his work, most notably, in persuading the Legislature to impose a ban on handheld cell phone use while driving. Craddick was tireless in his pursuit of that legislation over the course of five legislative sessions. It was an odd sight to see: a Republican legislator in a heavily GOP state that endorses “personal liberty” working hard to enact a bill that critics decried as a “nanny state” measure. Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it in 2011, but then Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law in 2015.

Tom Craddick, I submit, is a walking, talking, breathing testament against term limits. He’s been on the job for 50 years and, according to the Texas Tribune, hasn’t lost an ounce of zest for the job of legislating. He’s done a good job for his Permian Basin constituents, who continue to send him back to Austin to work on their behalf.

Tom Craddick is one tough dude. Stay with it, sir.

Thank you for your service, Justice Johnson

It is with a touch of sadness and a bit of pride as well that I have just learned that a member of the Texas Supreme Court is retiring at the end of the year.

Justice Phil Johnson is calling it a career.

I’ve known Johnson for several years. I worked as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News and Johnson was chief justice of the 7th Court of Appeals based in Amarillo. Thus, he became a source for me. We developed a nice relationship over the years.

Why the sense of pride?

Well, it goes like this. When the vacancy occurred on the state’s highest civil appeals court 13 years ago, I authored editorials for the newspaper urging Gov. Rick Perry to look past the I-45/I-35 corridor from where all Supreme Court justices hailed. I checked out the histories all the remaining eight justices and learned they all came from communities within that swath that runs through Central Texas.

The newspaper urged Gov. Perry to look westward. Johnson expressed an interest in getting appointed.

To his credit, Perry did appoint Johnson to the court.

Now, I am not going to take credit for the appointment. It’s likely no more than a coincidence. After all, Johnson did have one powerful friend in the Texas Senate, fellow Republican Bob Duncan — a former law partner of Johnson in Lubbock — who very likely made it known to the “right people” that Gov. Perry needed to appoint Johnson to the Supreme Court.

So, I’ll take all the credit I deserve for Justice Johnson’s appointment.

I also want to wish this good man well as he rides off into retirement.

Where are the wind turbines?

CASPER, Wyo. — We drove 275 or so miles today from suburban Denver to this central Wyoming community and didn’t see something I thought I’d see during our entire journey here.

Wind turbines. They were, um, nowhere man!

The terrain was perfect for them. Rolling hills. The atmosphere was, too. We ran into occasionally stiff wind almost throughout our drive.

But … we saw not a single turbine spinning in the wind during our lengthy drive, producing electricity to be shipped elsewhere or to be consumed by the locals.

I want to offer this only for observational purposes. I have no particular answer as to why much of northern Colorado or western or central Wyoming haven’t seemed to have invested in this form of alternative energy.

Now, you may spare me the notion that Wyoming digs a lot of coal out of the ground or pumps oil and natural gas. Texas also has a lot of fossil fuel, albeit no coal. Still, Texas extracts plenty of petroleum and natural gas out of the ground. It also has invested heavily in wind energy, dating back to the George W. Bush and Rick Perry governorships.

I don’t know whether local politics keeps the wind farms from springing up along this vast landscape. I will concede as well that the Colorado-Wyoming countryside is quite gorgeous.

Still, Wyoming is as politically conservative as the Texas Panhandle and the South Plains of Texas. Maybe more so.

Texas is full of these clean-energy devices. Why not Wyoming? Or Colorado?

Waiting for the wind to become part of our energy policy

SNYDER, Texas — This picture really doesn’t do justice to the subject of this blog post, but I thought I’d show it anyway.

I snapped this shot Thursday as we sped along U.S. Highway 84 on our way to Interstate 20. I intended for it to show the seemingly endless array of wind turbines along this stretch of West Texas highway.

It begs a question I have had kicking around my noggin for some time: Where is U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and why isn’t he using his new federal platform to carry the message of wind power to the nation?

I ask the question for what I believe is a valid reason. He served for 14 years as Texas governor and on his watch as the state’s leader, Texas became a model for alternative energy production through the use of wind turbines. Texas and California moved to the head of the line in the promotion of wind energy.

Think about that for a moment: Two states with wildly different political profiles had this one important energy-related matter in common!

You see them everywhere in West and South Texas. For as far as you can see — and even if you stand up on your tip toes — you see the turbines blowin’ in the wind. They are cranking out megawatts of electrical power. For every megawatt of wind-generated electricity, that’s a megawatt that is not necessarily produced by fossil fuels.

Wind energy is as clean as it gets. “Clean coal” is a misnomer, yet the Donald Trump administration keeps harping on its plan to “save” coal jobs by producing clean coal energy.

Those of us who live — or have lived — in West Texas also know that wind energy is the ultimate renewable energy source. Those fossil fuels? They’re finite, man! You pull the oil out of the ground, it’s gone forever. The wind keeps coming. It keeps blowing. It keeps providing “fuel” to make those turbines turning and making energy.

Rick Perry knows how this system works. If only he would use his Cabinet post as a bully pulpit to promote it to the rest of the energy industry.

His silence is quite unbecoming.

New state anti-texting law: no apparent deterrent

A friend posed a question on social media that needs an answer and a brief rant from yours truly. She asked whether anyone else “looks in their rear view mirror” when they are stopped to see if the person behind them is texting while driving a motor vehicle.

I answered “yes,” although I should have been a good bit more emphatic about it.

Texas legislators in 2017 finally approved a statewide ban on the use of hand held communications devices while driving motor vehicles. Amarillo already had an ordinance on the books, along with several other cities throughout the state.

To their credit, our local lawmakers backed the ban. It went to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk and he signed it, reversing the position taken by his immediate predecessor, Rick Perry, who vetoed a nearly identical bill in 2011; Gov. Perry offered one of the most idiotic reasons ever recorded for his veto, calling it a form of “government intrusion.”

So, then, are laws against speeding and drunk driving … if you follow Perry’s nonsensical “rationale.” Texting while driving is every bit as dangerous as swilling alcohol or speeding.

My rant follows this track. Since the enactment of the law, I do not sense a serious decline in the incidents of texting while driving. I see motorists constantly doing that very form of dual-tasking.

I curse them, often out loud and in a bellicose voice.

I haven’t traveled out of state in a while, so I cannot confirm this, but the last time my wife and I went beyond the state line I didn’t see any signage on the return trip advising motorists that texting while driving — or using hand held cell phones while driving — was against state law.

Not that such a warning necessarily will deter motorists from breaking the law, but … you get my drift.

There. Rant over.

I’ll now refer to a bumper sticker that once adorned a car we used to own — but which was destroyed in 2012 by a driver who rear-ended my wife while she well might have been texting while driving. The cops never revealed it to us.

Get off the phone and drive!

Nature: Mother of all that is fickle

Can there possibly be another force that is more fickle than Mother Nature?

Consider what has transpired in just the past six months.

We began 2017 enduring a virtual deluge of rain and, yes, some snow. The Texas Panhandle set records for moisture accumulation during the first half of the year. Amarillo reached its annual precipitation level before the summer had expired.

The playas were full. The grass was green and lush. Our livestock were well fed. Dryland farmers were beside themselves.

Life was good, man. Remember?

Then came October. Or thereabouts. It all stopped. Virtually nothing has fallen from the sky since.

The playas aren’t so full these days. The grass that goes dormant in the winter isn’t likely to bounce back with its traditional gusto. Those dryland farmers, the folks who depend on Mother Nature to irrigate their land, enabling them to grow their crops, providing harvests that fill our pantries with food and their pockets with cash? They’re still beside themselves — but for vastly different reasons.

The weather forecasters now are sounding borderline panicky as they report on the extreme fire danger that exists. The wind that usually arrives in these parts in March are howling. The grass that should be somewhat moist from those spring thundershowers are susceptible to being torched by the tiniest of sparks.

What are our remedies? We cannot tell Mother Nature to do our bidding. She doesn’t jump when we tell her to jump.

When he was governor of Texas, Rick Perry took some ridicule when he suggested Texans pray for rain in the middle of an earlier drought. His view was that if we sought divine help, then perhaps we could rely on our collective faith that our fortunes would turn for the better.

They did. The rain came. We were left to wonder whether our prayers made the difference. Who can say categorically that they didn’t?

That time is at hand once again. Mother Nature’s fickleness is causing plenty of angst across our parched landscape. Given that we cannot force her to adhere to our demands, maybe we can go over her head and talk directly to God.

We need help from wherever it’s available.

Still favor in-state tuition for all Texas residents

You are welcome to call me a bleeding-heart liberal if you wish, but I am going to make this point once again.

Texas is blessed with a large body of young people who want to improve themselves and who want to attend our public colleges and universities. Even those who are living here illegally because Mom and Dad sneaked them into Texas from somewhere else.

Accordingly, those de facto Texans, people who have grown up here as full-blown Texas residents, deserve to pay in-state tuition to attend those higher education institutions.

I wrote about this most recently three years ago:

Texans split on in-state college tuition issue

I still believe to this day in that policy. The state’s two previous Republican governors — George W. Bush and Rick Perry — both supported the idea of offering in-state tuition privileges to these students.

I’m unclear where Gov. Greg Abbott stands on this. My guess is that the GOP base is pressuring him to kick those students out of Texas. Were he to do that, he would perform a profound disservice to the state.

I wrote in 2015, “Allowing the in-state tuition rates for these students does not harm the public university system in Texas, as some have contended. It enriches the system by granting young students a chance to attain the goals they have set for themselves — while living as Texans.”

They are making their dreams come true.

Perry, not Trump, set the tone for stiffing the media

Donald Trump likes to crow about how he uses Twitter to “talk directly” to Americans, avoiding the “filter” of the “fake news” mainstream media.

The president, it appears to me, would have us believe he has been a trendsetter in this regard.

I would beg to differ.

Trump is a bit late to this game of sticking it in the ear of the media. Rick Perry, the energy secretary, blazed that trail in 2010 while running for what turned out to be his final re-election campaign as Texas governor.

I wrote about it then:

Perry skips the ed board

Perry, too, wanted to forgo talking to newspaper editorial boards while campaigning for governor. He stiffed us in the business. He didn’t even come to Amarillo, where I worked at the time as editorial page editor of the Globe-News. He might have earned our newspaper’s editorial endorsement against the man he faced in that year’s general election, former Houston Mayor Bill White; the paper had a policy at the time of declining to make endorsements in contested partisan primaries.

The governor decided to stay away during the primary campaign in which he faced former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and then later in the general election.

I don’t recall him using Twitter at the time; indeed, I cannot even remember that particular social medium becoming the tool it has become in the past couple of years.

I wrote at the time of Perry’s decision to stiff the media that we didn’t “take it personally.” I might have to walk that back just a bit. In truth, we did take it as a mild insult. “Who does this guy, Perry, think he is?” we thought at the time.

It turned out to be a stroke of genius. The media had become the whipping child for conservative politicians. Perry became the spokesman for the Stiff the Media crowd.

Newspapers all across the state ended up endorsing Mayor White for governor. White talked to the Globe-News and made a strong case for his candidacy. So, the Globe-News — a longtime ally of Republican politicians — endorsed a Democrat for governor; I say “longtime ally” of GOP pols understanding that in 1994, the newspaper endorsed the late Democratic Gov. Ann Richards in her bid for re-election, which she lost to George W. Bush.

So … sit down, Donald Trump and stop implying that you’re hacking your way through some sort of political wilderness with your continual Twitter tirades. You aren’t the first to stick it to the media.

Trying to process Perry’s affection for fossil fuels

I am having a bit of difficulty processing Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s recent tortured and convoluted connection between the use of fossil fuels and sexual abuse.

The former Texas governor spoke in Washington the other day and said — you have to follow this closely — that nations in Africa can avoid sexual abuse of children and young women if they burn more fossil fuels that help “keep the lights on.”

I’m still in a bit of a fog over how one connects one with the other — and does so with a straight face.

I want to offer another element in this strange conflating of energy use and sexual abuse. Actually it’s hard setting aside Perry’s nutty notion that sexual attacks occur only at night, but I’m going to try nevertheless.

When the energy secretary governed Texas, our state turned into a leader in the development of alternative energy sources. I’m talking mostly about wind power. Yet the energy boss seems to have swilled the fossil-fuel Kool-Aid served up by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general who seems enamored with the oil and natural gas industry.

If the energy secretary believes it’s important to keep the lights on, why doesn’t he fall back on the wind power that has become such an enormous presence in places like, oh, the Texas Panhandle and the South Plains?

I don’t often say something positive about Perry, but the development of a clean, renewable alternative energy source — which has an infinite supply out here on the Caprock — provides a pretty stellar legacy that should make the former governor proud.

Indeed, he ought to speak more openly and aggressively about promoting wind energy as a critical component of the national energy policy.

I haven’t heard much from Perry on that score. Instead, he offers a silly notion that connects burning fossil fuels as an antidote to sexual abuse.

Weird, man.

Follow the logic if you can

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick “Oops” Perry has made a curious leap between fossil fuel development and consumption and sexual abuse.

I’m trying to connect the dots. I am having a difficult time of it.

Perry said fossil fuel consumption can prevent sexual abuse because the “lights are on.” The Energy boss made his remarks at a forum sponsored by NBC News and Axios.

According to The Texas Tribune, Perry said: “It’s going to take fossil fuels to push power out into those villages in Africa, where a young girl told me to my face, ‘one of the reasons that electricity is so important to me is not only because I’m not going to have to try to read by the light of a fire and have those fumes literally killing people.’”

Oh, boy.

Is he pushing fossil fuels as an energy source or is he speaking about the brutality of sexual abuse suffered by villagers?

I’m going to assume — given the secretary’s former position as the governor of Texas, which produces a goodly amount of oil and natural gas — that he is pitching fossil fuel consumption.

Or is he?

Here seems to be where the Trump administration that Perry serves is missing the boat. This big world of ours is full of alternative energy sources that also can keep the lights on. Wind, solar, hydropower … they all are renewable, clean and safe. I’ll also throw nuclear power into that mix, too, even though nuke plants — which are safer than they used to be — aren’t yet totally safe from cataclysmic accidents.

Perry went on, according to the Tribune: “But also from the standpoint of sexual assault, when the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts,” Perry continued.

The Sierra Club, one of the nation’s foremost environmental interest groups, has called on Perry to quit in light of his remarks. I won’t go that far.

Perry offers confusion

I do question the logic the energy secretary is employing in connecting fossil fuels with sexual predation.

He lost me.