Looks Tough Firing Blanks
If you’re a Tea Party member, or you have significant sympathies with them, I’d caution you against climbing aboard Rick Perry’s TransTexasCatastrophe. The Media is doing everything possible to paint this guy as a bronc-busting, cattle-roping, Texan, but in truth, there are more than a few things you ought to know about him. He’s no friend to individual rights, except in an election season, and he’s not really the trend-setter he’d have you believe. His record on jobs isn’t actually so swift as he’d have you believe, and he’s got less in common with the average Texan than he does with the Wall Street types with whom he prefers to consort. He’s no friend of Main Street, and he’s certainly no friend to real entrepreneurs, and for all his posturing as one of us, he isn’t, and it’s been quite plain. Those of you from outside Texas can be forgiven for mistaking Perry for a conservative. It’s assumed because he’s a Republican, and he’s from Texas, he must be. Let me now explain a bit of why this isn’t the case.
Friday I heard the increasingly estimable Mark Davis claim that you shouldn’t mind that Perry converted from the Democrat Party to the Republican Party because, as he points out, Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat too. Of course, this is a lie by omission, because what Davis doesn’t mention is that it was a long stretch of years between Reagan’s conversion and his arrival in California electoral politics. This isn’t the case with Rick Perry. He was Al Gore’s Texas Campaign Manager in 1988, and following the loss, immediately reversed course and ran as a Republican. I don’t know about you, but despite Davis’ rather disingenuous interpretation of Reagan’s conversion, painting it as just alike, I’m inclined to believe he left some details out intentionally.
Rick Perry has been a regular guest on Davis’ show on WBAP in the D/FW area for years, and to consider Davis anything like an objective or unbiased voice in this stretches all credulity. Frankly, I hope Limbaugh finds somebody else to be a regular fill in, because Davis is clearly in the tank for Perry, and it runs against Limbaugh’s general premise that he will take no position in a Republican primary, except in general terms on behalf of conservatism.
You may have heard some of Perry’s more recent statements about conditions along the Texas border with Mexico, and you might be inclined to believe Mr. Perry thinks more should be done. He even tried to repair his credibility on the issue by being broadcast on a live feed from a base of operations near the border for an interview on Greta Van Susteren’s show. If you believe that stage-managed bit of theater, I’m inclined to let you know right now that he’s relatively no more conservative in real terms than George Bush, which is to say on the matter of his statist, globalist reflexes, he’s no conservative at all. I’d hate it if anybody else broke the news to you, because I believe bad news is best delivered by a friend. Check out the following video for where Rick Perry really stands on issues of the border:
I realize there’s a tendency to overstate things in the name of supporting one’s position, but it’s really no exaggeration to suggest that Perry isn’t really very close in his thinking to Tea Party Members, not when measured against what he’s been saying since October 2010, but in what he has said all along throughout his career. He’s taken money and support from La Raza, ACORN, and other groups that advocate spending tax-payer dollars for dubious programs and projects.
He’s also a crony-capitalist. If you’re like me, that’s simply something you can’t abide. I love the free market, but Governor Perry’s revolving door between his staff and corporate boardrooms is a well-established phenomenon, and frankly, if you buy into his nonsense, he’s going to wind up exploiting your good intentions too. Companies like Merck and Cintra are more his style, and his staff has reflected this over the years of his gubernatorial reign.
You’ve undoubtedly heard about the Gardasil flap, and likely been willing to dismiss it as a fluke. That would be a serious and potentially tragic mistake. The most ridiculously egregious thing he may have done in his tenure as Governor of Texas was the proposed TransTexas Corridor. You may have heard of it, but may not have any details, so let me expound on that for a moment or two. This was the project that first enlightened me to Perry’s big government answers to all things. The upshot is this: It was to be a vast network of toll roads, but more, it would have included some form of light and heavy rail, pipelines, and all manner of things. On the surface, this might sound attractive, but as with any such project, the devil lies in the details.
The plan included 4400 linear miles of a toll road network, running parallel in many cases to existing Highways and Interstates already in existence. The corridor’s right of way was to be a full 1/4 mile wide. Simple math tells you that even ignoring junctions and interchanges, this would have consumed 1100 square miles of Texas’ territory. You might argue that while it’s a lot of land, Texas is a big state. That’s all well and good if the state already owns the land, but since it doesn’t, it was going to acquire it by use of eminent domain. Again, you might argue that building roads is one function for which eminent domain ought to apply, but once you look at the rules to be applied to this project, you might well conclude otherwise. Rather than basing their offers to property owners on free market value, they instead intended to limit it to “fair market value” as determined by a panel of cronies they would gin up for the chore.
This project actually proposed bisecting county and farm roads, and even property, dead-ending what are fairly important thoroughfares for the communities they serve. More, it would have bisected school districts and even towns along its path. Again, you might think that impossible until you understand that this was to be a closed system with few exits or on-ramps, only permitting access at major Highway and Interstate junctions. This threatened to destroy many rural communities, and they rose up against it. Once the details became clear to the public, it was quickly sent back for re-work, and eventually dumped.
Here were the things they didn’t advertise, but you need to know. It was supposed to be operate by a concessionaire, Cintra, for a period of 50 years. It was going to employ tolls of roughly $0.26 per mile. A geographical understanding of the scale of Texas immediately prompts the question: “Who on Earth would voluntarily pay to enter a closed-system roadway at that cost over the huge distances in Texas, when a free parallel alternative is just a few miles away in the form of an Interstate, or Highway?” Good question, and the answer is: Almost nobody. So how did they intend to make this work? In 2004,TxDOT applied to the USDOT for a waiver so that they could charge a toll on the existing I-35. The first leg of the proposed TTC system was called TTC-35, the leg that would run from Laredo to an undetermined point on the Oklahoma border. In other words, it was a corridor to nowhere, but in order to get you to use it, they were going to toll the free Interstate and let it fall into disrepair.
Opponents at the time argued that the existing I-35 corridor could be widened, and this was met with a dismissive rejection by Perry’s Transportation Commission. They said it couldn’t be done in a cost-efficient way. Your confusion at this statement matches that of the average Texan who realizes that this couldn’t possibly be true. How hard is it to add a few lanes here and there? Yes, you’ll have some eminent domain issues, but nothing on the scale of what the TTC proposed.
They also promised it would promote economic development, but what they kept concealed for a while, until they no longer could do so under the law, was that because it was a closed system, Cintra, the corporation from Spain that would build and operate it, would also have exclusive rights to all concessions along its length. More, due to the limitations on exits and on-ramps, it could never be shown how this colossal highway system would provide any sort of economic boon to anybody, because you wouldn’t be able to access most smaller towns from along its length. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the fact that one of Perry’s top staffers was a former Cintra VP, and the fact that one of his own staffers had gone on to work for Cintra had absolutely nothing to do with Perry’s TTC plans. Right?
Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve fallen prey to the hype about Perry, you may be forgiven, particularly if you’re not from Texas. You’re not aware, as so many here, that Perry isn’t the fellow he’s now being portrayed to be. He’s not a friend to the Tea Party, despite his seeming 2010 conversion, because much like his conversion in 1989, this conversion also seems to be one of convenience. I will assure you, this is most definitely the case.
Perry likes to put on an act about his conservative credentials, and his sympathies with the Tea Party, but if the truth is told, he’s no more one of us than the man in the Moon. You might want to let your fellow conservatives and Tea Party patriots know it too: We’re being hustled again.
Previous Posts on Perry:
Rick Perry Shows His True Nature
Why Rick Perry Isn’t Suited to Be President