Gov. Rick Perry · Government Spending

Perry seals travel and expense records until after November election

Daily Kos

Rick Perry is currently embroiled in a legal battle to block the public from viewing his travel and expense records, but The Washington Post notes that everything from July of this year forward will remain under seal until after the November 2012 election:

In the meantime, during a special session that ended July 1, the Texas Legislature, at Perry’s urging, added language to a school finance bill that will seal the governor’s travel records for 18 months — until after the 2012 presidential election. The measure would cover the records going forward, not those in the past, which have been the subject of the court fight.One Republican legislator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the governor as “extremely concerned” about keeping his records sealed, and said Perry was actively lobbying key legislators to get it passed in the waning days of the special session. The legislator said Perry’s wife, Anita, also was pressing legislators on the issue.

That’s probably the first time Rick Perry has every given a damn about a school funding bill, but given that his travel and expense records probably include more examples of things like this …

…the governor’s critics contend that it has as much to do with politics as safety — especially after the embarrassment for Perry when taxpayers learned that they had been paying for scuba gear and golf cart rentals for officers who accompanied Perry and his wife to the Bahamas in 2004.

… and this …

In 2009, Perry traveled to Israel where he was given the “Defender of Jerusalem” award. According to a local television report, he and his wife flew first class at more than $5,000 per ticket, paid for by an energy company financier. Four security detail officers also went on the five-day trip at a cost of more than $70,000 to taxpayers. The expenses included $17,000 for rooms at the King David Hotel, nearly $13,000 for food and more than 350 hours in overtime pay.

… you can understand why he’d want to keep them out of the public eye. On the other hand, it’s hard to understand why the tea partiers who are his biggest fans don’t seem to give a damn about his use of public resources for private gain.

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Federal Appeals Court Suggests Rep. Chabot’s Town Hall Camera Ban Violated The Constitution

Think Progress

Last week, Rep. Steven Chabot (R-OH) banned ordinary citizens from bringing cameras into a town hall meeting — even having police confiscate cameras from citizens who dared to violate this rule. Bizarrely, Chabot still allowed reporters to bring in cameras and record the event.

Coincidentally, just four days after Chabot took this extraordinary measure to prevent embarrassing clips of him from appearing on YouTube, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit handed down an opinion saying citizens have a right to film police engaged in their official duties. The court’s reasoning, however, has very clear implications for Chabot’s camera ban:

Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting “the free discussion of governmental affairs.” Moreover, as the Court has noted, “[f]reedom of expression has particular significance with respect to government because ‘[i]t is here that the state has a special incentive to repress opposition and often wields a more effective power of suppression.’” […]

The First Amendment right to gather news is, as the Court has often noted, not one that inures solely to the benefit of the news media; rather, the public’s right of access to information is coextensive with that of the press. […] The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.

Chabot might take some small comfort in the fact that he does not reside in the First Circuit — Ohio is part of the much more conservative Sixth Circuit — but Chabot should not expect the right-leaning judges on his home circuit court to bail him out. As the First Circuit notes, at least three other appeals courts and numerous trial courts agree with their holding that government officials cannot simply ban cameras.

Moreover, Chabot’s case is weakened by his entirely arbitrary rule that only media may bring in cameras. While it is possible to imagine official government actions where no cameras should be present — a meeting of top-level national security officials, for example — Chabot’s willingness to allow some people to bring cameras and not others gives the lie to his already-weak claim that there is a legitimate reason to keep his town hall secret.

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Rep. Eric Cantor

Cantor: No Hurricane Emergency Funding W/O Spending Cuts – Democratic Underground

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Think Progress

Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene this weekend, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) today stood by his call that no more money be allocated for disaster relief unless it is offset by spending cuts elsewhere. The Washington Post reported this morning that FEMA will need more money than it currently has to deal with the storm’s aftermath and is already diverting funds from other recent disasters to deal with the hurricane, but Cantor’s comments suggest Republicans won’t authorize more funds without a fight.

Cantor took the position following the tornadoes that devastated Joplin, Missouri and elsewhere in the spring and summer, and after last week’s earthquake, the epicenter for which was in his district, but the hurricane’s level of destruction is far beyond that of those disasters. Still, Cantor told Fox News that while “we’re going to find the money,” “we’re just going to need to make sure that there are savings elsewhere to do so.”

Cantor referred a bill the Republican-controlled House passed that approves $1 billion in disaster relief, which was financed by a $1.5 billion cut from loan program to encourage the production of fuel-efficient vehicles. But the need in the wake of the hurricane will likelygreatly surpass $1 billion, and that spending package was supposed to be used for tornado recovery efforts, for which several hundred million dollars has already been outlayed.

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Hurricane Irene 8/2011

Historic (1870s) Covered Bridge in Bartonsville Vermont swept away by Irene flooding – Democratic Underground

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This is the bridge before its destruction by Hurricane Irene.

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Bachmann: Hurricane is God’s warning about government spending | Raw Replay

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Raw Story

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann told voters in Florida Sunday that Hurricane Irene and the recent East Coast earthquake were just God’s way of telling politicians to reign in government spending.

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians,” Bachmann said during the speech in Sarasota.

“We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

At least 21 people died over the weekend due to the storm.

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Jack Cafferty

CNN’s Jack Cafferty Slams GOP Frontrunners: Why Are Americans ‘Allergic To Brains?’

When I lived in New York for the first 50 years of my life, in the 70’s and 80’s I used to watch Jack Cafferty on our local ABC affiliate.  I can remember him being opinionated way back then.  Since he’s been on CNN, I think they’ve  given him an even longer rein to “express” himself…


Cranky CNN commentator Jack Cafferty lit into Republican superstars Sarah Palin (R-FNC), Gov.Rick Perry (R-TX), and Rep. Michele Bachmann(R-MN) on Wednesday’s The Situation Room, comparing them to The Three Stooges (sansShemp), calling Perry’s instant burial of Mitt Romney in the polls “a little scary,” and asking, “When it comes to presidential politics, why does America seem to be allergic to brains?”

Tell us how you really feel, Jack.

Since becoming a national media figure, Jack Cafferty has become known for this kind of Howard Beale-meets-Abe Simpson venting, and last night’s rant was vintage Cafferty. He blasted Bachmann’s promise of $2 gasoline, called Perry and Bachmann “whackjobs,” and derided “former half-term dropout governor of Alaska” Sarah Palin by sarcastically calling her a “Mensa member.”

Cafferty went on to praise candidates like Ron PaulNewt Gingrich, and Jon Huntsman as examples of “the other end of the intellectual spectrum.”

Part of Cafferty’s critique had to do with the amount of attention being given to “Larry, Curly, and Moe” (as he calls Perry, Bachmann, and Palin), but people like Jon Huntsman have been getting tons of air (especially compared with his poll numbers) for trying to inject some sanity into the proceedings, to little effect. Cafferty can’t hang this on the media, but he’s dead-on when he asks why Americans are “allergic to brains.”

It’s tempting to see this as a strictly conservative problem (their contempt for academia and journalism certainly enabled it), but the media and the Democratic establishment have long played along with the modern American idea that intellect is a political liability. Many would trace the phenomenon to the Al GoreGeorge W. Bush race, but this “who would you rather drink a beer with?” garbage has been around for as long as I can remember.

The silver lining to Cafferty’s critique is that the American allergy to brains will become a significant asset when the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse arrives.

Here’s the clip, from CNN’s The Situation Room