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Jim Hightower and Rick Perry’s Army of God
Posted on Aug 18, 2011
Peter Scheer: This is Truthdig Radio on 90.7 KPFK, and you’re listening to Jim Hightower of JimHightower.com in conversation with Robert Scheer of Truthdig.com.
Robert Scheer: How is he going to deal, Gov. Perry, with this whole immigration issue? Because actually your population, you got more legislators recently because your, basically, Hispanic population increased. And you got a curious love-hate thing going with the immigrant population, which has long carried the state.
Jim Hightower: You know, Texas has not had, at the grass-roots level … yeah, I mean we’ve got our immigrant-haters; we’ve had the border-patrol types, and let’s build a fence, and all that sort of stuff. But it’s not on a scale like California has had, or Arizona has had, in large part because we have a long, long history of family relationships, particularly with Mexican-Americans, in this state that has ameliorated a lot of that. It’s hard to hate somebody if you’re related to them. Well, maybe that’s not true [laughs]; it depends on your family. But there’s a relationship there that makes a difference.
Now, Perry had previously been pretty decent as a governor, saying I don’t want to do this Arizona-style legislation against undocumented workers. But now that he’s, when he kind of began to get this inclination that, wow, you know, I could be the darling of the tea party nut balls, then he began to go more in that direction. So he passed a bill preventing Texas cities from becoming sanctuary cities, meaning that the cops in those cities would be cops and not border patrol officers. He passed a voter ID bill.
So whatever little advance he had made with Mexican-Americans, or Latinos generally, it was totally destroyed by his actions in this session of the Legislature. In fact, he spoke to the National Association of Elected Latinos in San Antonio just a month or so ago, and got just a chilling reception from them; he was zinging out his zingers, and nobody was catching them; nobody was applauding, and in fact they were looking at their watches and continuing to finish their lunch, and he got tepid applause at best.
Robert Scheer: You know, Jim Hightower, I appreciate you taking this time, because we’re going to have to all learn a lot about Texas. And the big issue that he’s going to raise, he already raised in his opening statement, he wants to keep Washington out of the lives of people; Washington is the enemy, government spending. And you’ve been in Texas your whole adult life, and you’ve observed it; it seems to me federal money has gone into Texas with a certain amount of abandon, whether it’s defense or whether it’s road building, and Gov. Perry used stimulus money pretty effectively to help bridge over what was a budget gap, didn’t he?
Jim Hightower: Absolutely. He made a big fuss about I’m not going to take that … unemployment money from the Obama administration, because we have state’s rights. But then he ended up having to go to the federal government and borrow from them to cover the loss in our state unemployment fund; in fact, it was bankrupt. And he himself, by the way, has been a recipient of farm subsidies, he and his family, and he’s not abashed at all about taking federal money to benefit the corporate powers in this state.
And by the way, before we go into the notion … that Perry is such an opponent of government intrusion into life, a bill that he passed—and indeed he declared it an emergency piece of legislation, meaning it rose to the top of what the Legislature dealt with—was a sonogram bill. So any woman needing an abortion in this state must now have a device up her uterus so she can view the embryo, and a state-scripted lecture from her doctor about why she should not have an abortion. And I believe you can’t get more intrusive than the state being in a woman’s uterus.
Robert Scheer: Well, yeah, that’s obviously a powerful point. But who is the real Gov. Perry? And this remark he made about—he’s attacked, now, the Fed, and the Fed chairman; he’s called him, implied that he’s a traitor, Bernanke. And yet, you know, come on; the business community in Texas—these guys want the government, the banks bailed out. You say Bank of America is down there—there wouldn’t be a Bank of America if there hadn’t been a government bailout. So is the business community going to get behind this guy? And, what, they think he’s just being cynical and he’s playing to the tea party people, and trying to steal Ron Paul’s …
Jim Hightower: On the one hand, as I say, he’s Michele Bachmann with a better hairdo, in terms of the hard-core right-wing appeal. But his real heart is as a George W. Bush corporate plutocrat, though without the intelligence or the ethics of Bush …
Robert Scheer: Really? That’s frightening. Tell us more about that! Wait a minute, wait a minute …
Jim Hightower: You said, people said well, it couldn’t get worse than Bush; well … you know, Molly Ivins in one of her last columns, the great iconic Texas …
Robert Scheer: Oh, we carried her on Truthdig faithfully, let me tell you. I love Molly.
Jim Hightower: … yeah, and Molly in one of her last columns in the Bush years said the next time I tell y’all that somebody, some governor from Texas should not be president, pay attention. [laughter] Well, pay attention, cause this guy is actually worse than Bush.
Robert Scheer: In what ways?
Jim Hightower: His total fealty to … well, one, his lack of integrity. I mean, he will say anything and he will change positions and do anything to advance himself. And by the way, also, to make money for himself; Perry became a multimillionaire while in public office. That’s kind of strange, because we don’t pay our public officials that much money here in Texas. And he got that by dealing with lobbyists who cut him into deals, and made money for him. His big donors are the people who gave more than $100,000—AT&T, Wal-Mart, Koch Brothers, Clear Channel, Boone Pickens, Time Warner, Exxon Mobil, Bank of America, right on down the line. This is who he really is.
Robert Scheer: So he’s not going to betray their interests; he’s going to want the Fed to bail them out, he’s going to want big government in effect, right?
Jim Hightower: Absolutely, yeah.
Robert Scheer: And so let me ask you about his intelligence. [laughs] I never thought of George W. Bush as having the highest level, and you’re telling me this guy is not as, what …
Jim Hightower: Yeah, he’s …
Robert Scheer: Not as gifted?
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