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Rick Perry Busy Grasping at Straws and lies

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Sep 3, 2005
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Perry is pot to Congress' kettle

Published 10:51 p.m., Thursday, November 17, 2011

When I saw Gov. Rick Perry's new television ad decrying insider trading by members of Congress, two competing thoughts leapt to my mind. The first was: Right on, Governor! Good for you for calling for the prosecution of members of Congress who abuse the public trust.

But almost simultaneously, Perry's statements evoked Claude Rains as Capt. Renault in Casablanca, who was so memorably “Shocked! Shocked!” to learn that Rick's Café condoned gambling. Even as I watched the governor express deep umbrage at the assorted members of Congress highlighted by a CBS “60 Minutes” report Sunday, Capt. Renault's false outrage rang in my ear.

Perry is the same man, after all, who made $38,000 buying and selling shares of Kinetic Concepts Inc., a health technology company owned by Dr. James Leininger of San Antonio, a top Republican donor and advocate for conservative causes. Perry acknowledged in a 1998 newspaper interview that he spoke with Leininger the same day his stockbroker bought the highly profitable 2,800 shares of Kinetic Stock, but denied that the conversation influenced his purchase.

That's just one instance in an ever-growing list of occasions when Perry's position as governor has proved profitable for himself or his political supporters.

Just this week, several Texas newspapers reported that two prominent Perry donors were able to win a controversial permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality last year, over the objections of Montgomery County officials and the recommendations of two administrative law judges.

Bryan businessman Phil Adams, appointed by Perry to the Texas A&M University Board of Regents, and Barry Switzer, former Dallas Cowboys coach, are connected to the company that obtained the permit. Local officials say the permit will allow disposal of wastes that could contaminate water in the greater Houston area.

According to Texans for Public Justice, Adams gave $290,183 to Perry's gubernatorial campaigns from 2001 through this year, while Switzer gave $10,312 to Perry's gubernatorial campaign in 2009. In addition, according to the Austin American-Statesman, Switzer raised more than $57,000 for Perry's 2010 re-election and, this August, hosted a fundraiser for Perry's presidential campaign that took in $273,500.

The latest episode echoes the controversy over a permit granted to Dallas financier Harold Simmons to operate a radioactive waste dump in West Texas. Just as in the Montgomery County case, Perry's appointees overruled the concerns of their own staff to issue a permit that will make a lot of money for the man who — at least in December 2010 — was the governor's second-most-generous contributor.

And while Perry touts his Texas Enterprise Fund for creating jobs in Texas, there's evidence it has tipped the scales of capitalism to favor his donors. According to TPJ, individuals associated with 43 companies that received $333 million in TEF grants donated some $7 million to the governors' campaign coffers. That means nearly half of the companies that won grants from Perry's fund had connections to his campaign donors.

Sunday's “60 Minutes” report focused on individual members of Congress — notably Democrat Nancy Pelosi and Republican Spencer Bachus — who made lucrative stock transactions while in a position to receive inside information on the markets. It's another version of crony capitalism that shouldn't be tolerated.

But Perry believes the answer to congressional corruption is to model Washington after the Texas Legislature. That's right — the august body that includes one member who last spring urged his colleagues in a public speech not to regulate loan sharks because it would personally hurt his payday loan business.

Perry would argue that members of Congress should, like Texas legislators, have to earn a living at an occupation other than lawmaking. But in practice, Texas' part-time lawmakers wind up voting on public policies that affect their livelihoods.

Just as Capt. Renault sanctimoniously shut down Rick's Café in a flourish, Perry would remake the U.S. Congress in the image of the Texas Legislature. If the idea gets traction, we'll get to see a real live version of the rest of the scene in Casablanca, when a café employee shoves a wad of cash into Renault's eager hands, with the understated punch line: “Your winnings, sir.”

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Fact-checking Perry’s New Ad

The New York Times fact-checked several of the claims in Perry’s new advertisement and raised many of the same issues that were raised here and by MSNBC yesterday; namely that the “lazy” attack line is horribly out of context and the idea that President Barack Obama grew up living a privileged life is absolute bunk.

Speaking about Mr. Obama, Mr. Perry replied: “It reveals to me that he grew up in a privileged way. You know, he never had to really work for anything. He never had to go through what Americans are going through.”

Mr. Obama, whose background could be considered no better off than middle class, was raised partly by a single mother who at times, he has said, was on food stamps. He also achieved the pinnacle of legal education, winning election as president of the Harvard Law Review.


The Truth-O-Meter Says:

Says President Barack Obama thinks Americans are lazy.

Rick Perry on Wednesday, November 16th, 2011 in a television ad

Rick Perry says Barack Obama thinks Americans are lazy

Our ruling: Obama said America had acted lazily in some regard. Exactly whom he considers lazy, we're still not sure. But it’s clear that he was not wagging his finger at the American public at large. Perry's presentation distorts the president's remark by taking it out of context. We rate his claim Mostly False.


Nov 16, 2011 6:13pm

Perry Ad Distorts Obama ‘Lazy’ Comment

Texas Gov. Rick Perry takes President Obama to task in a new TV ad for recently suggesting — in Perry’s words — that “Americans are lazy.”

“Can you believe that? That’s what our president thinks is wrong with America? That Americans are lazy? That’s pathetic,” Perry says in the spot that’s airing in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The only problem: the full context of Obama’s remarks made Saturday during a meeting of CEOs in Honolulu indicates he wasn’t suggesting that at all.

Boeing CEO James McNerney asked Obama about his thinking on the perception by some countries of “impediments to investment” in the U.S.

Obama replied that “we’ve been a little bit lazy” about actively trying to attract private foreign investors to U.S. soil — referring broadly to American government and business sectors, not the American people themselves.

Obama’s comments in full:

“I think it’s important to remember that the United States is still the largest recipient of foreign investment in the world. And there are a lot of things that make foreign investors see the U.S. as a great opportunity — our stability, our openness, our innovative free market culture.

But we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We’ve kind of taken for granted — well, people will want to come here and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America. And so one of things that my administration has done is set up something called SelectUSA that organizes all the government agencies to work with state and local governments where they’re seeking assistance from us, to go out there and make it easier for foreign investors to build a plant in the United States and put outstanding U.S. workers back to work in the United States of America.

And we think that we can do much better than we’re doing right now. Because of our federalist system, sometimes a foreign investor comes in and they’ve got to navigate not only federal rules, but they’ve also got to navigate state and local governments that may have their own sets of interests. Being able to create if not a one-stop shop, then at least no more than a couple of stops for people to be able to come into the United States and make investments, that’s something that we want to encourage.”

ABC News’ Sarah Parnass contributed to this report.


Rick Perry Busy Grasping at Straws

Posted: 11/18/11 08:20 AM ET

The now fearless debater has also been busy running advertisements. His most recent ad uses an out of context quote from President Obama to suggest that President Obama thinks that Americans are lazy. The well coiffed and indignant Perry then calls the President "pathetic" for making such a statement.

It would not be hard to put the actual statement in context and doing so would reveal that Rick Perry had so distorted the president's intentions that in addition to being a cowboy we can now very appropriately call him a liar. He did not stretch the truth this time; he was guilty of perpetrating a "monstrous lie." Yet another "pathetic" attempt for Rick Perry to gain some momentum with the conservative base.



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