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Rick Perry’s Race Speech

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On July 2nd, giving a speech in DC, Rick Perry offered some blunt criticism of how Republicans have approached issues related to race, and called on his party to do better. The immediate reaction was subdued, though, and today I learned why: because the speech immediately preceded a holiday weekend. Today, there were a number of glowing reviews flying around the media water cooler, such as this editorial from the Wall Street Journal (which also printed excerpts from his comments). A number of outlets that are historically less quick to commend former Republican governors of Texas–Time, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, etc etc—also had nice things to say.

Some of the reviewers were clearly surprised, and I found that interesting, for reasons I’ll get to in a second. First, though, here’s a link to the speech for readers who are curious. Perry’s stated topic was the economy, and economic opportunity is my favorite issue for presidential candidates to emphasize, so although I thought it was a great speech too, I would think that. His remarks on race, at the beginning of the speech, included a great point about the Fourteenth Amendment, but his overarching point struck me as straightforward and uncontroversial. He isn’t getting any backlash from conservatives, as far as I can tell, and I don’t see why he would.

So I only have two things to add here. The first is a PSA for Perry’s critics: If you’re genuinely surprised by the possibility that Rick Perry may not be a virulent racist hatemonger, you should check his record. And then you should check your own biases, because you’ve obviously been making unwarranted assumptions about someone who seems to fit your stereotypes. Ya burnt!

The other is a more general comment. Perry has noted before that African-Americans living in Texas see experience better outcomes in terms of employment and education than African-Americans nationwide. Barely two weeks ago, for example, he got a lot of criticism for referring to the mass shooting in Charleston as an “accident”; if you watch the video it’s clear that he meant “incident”, but more to the point, he goes on to talk about economic and educational opportunity for everyone, including African-Americans.

People may dispute the sincerity of his concern. The metrics support his point, but don’t explain why Texas’s outcomes are better—and as governor, Perry rarely talked about issues in terms of race unless race was clearly part of the issue (as when he signed the hate-crimes bill). At the same time, Perry signed a lot of good legislation that has helped mitigated some of Texas’s historic disparities in straightforward ways; the criminal justice reforms he advocated, for example, helped lessen overincarceration. 

In other words, although Perry eschews identity politics, he did improve equity in Texas, even if he didn’t think about it in those terms or intend to do so. The same is true of many of Texas conservatives, and the metrics show that Texas actually has become more equitable, in various ways, during this period of Republican hegemony.

Counterinituitive, perhaps, but it makes sense the more I think about it. In some cases, differential outcomes based on race (or gender, or so on) are actually caused by race (etc). In a lot of cases, though, the real culprit is one or several of the many economic, sociological, or historical factors correlated with race or gender. If so, policymakers focused on the demographic trait would naturally be off on a wild goose chase. Meanwhile, the ones who ignore identity politics are free to think about criminal justice reform or improving access to higher education or whatnot. It’s fair to debate whether our leaders should focus more explicitly on Texas’s various disadvantaged groups. But Perry et al have given us examples of an intriguing possibility: that sometimes, at least, we can promote equity by ignoring it. 

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

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  • Indiana Pearl

    Ms. Grieder, do you have any data to support the notion that African-Americans are doing better in Texas than elsewhere?

    • Jed

      and then show how that is to perry’s credit? if it is true, was it not true before he was governor? the lack of a compelling argument or actual evidence, coupled with the obvious right-wing boosterism, leaves me baffled as to why so many fawn over these articles.

      • John Johnson

        Critical thinking, Jed, which comes easier to those not toking on joints all day. I will further add that no one is going to please you if they offer any type of kudo to a pol anywhere right of Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Isn’t that about it?

        • Jed

          you are asking me to think more critically? wow. if we hadn’t already established that you don’t understand the term, i would be beyond words right now.

          • John Johnson

            Yeah, logic has always escaped my grasp. I don’t have a clue many times when I read your posts.

    • Erica Grieder

      Yes ma’am (ma’am right?). There are a lot out there but they’re a hassle to track down so let me know if you want something specific. In the meantime, I’ll give you two that I consider crucial.

      1) Unemployment. Here are the 2014 averages, from the BLS. In Texas the African-American unemployment rate was a couple points lower than the national average (although it was twice the statewide rate, AKA too high in my assessment):

      http://www.bls.gov/lau/table14full14.pdf

      2) NAEP scores (since today’s educational underachievement is tomorrow’s unemployment rate, and NAEP scores allow for state-to-state comparisons)–African-American 4th and 8th graders in Texas outperform African-American students in most states, and the nation as a whole, in math, reading, and science. (On the right hand side the “snapshot reports” link to the breakdowns):
      http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states/

      • Indiana Pearl

        Don’t know about the rest of Texas, but Austin has about a 6% African-American population, not really valid to compare with states like Mississippi with higher numbers of poor black school districts.

        NAEP scores are a better measure than STAAR tests.

        • Indiana Pearl

          Can’t open your file without Adobe . . . My iPad says no.

          • Erica Grieder

            That file is actually hard on the eyes anyway, so I’ll provide this as an alternative. It’s from 2013, but the pattern is consistent: In Texas, and in the nation as a whole, African Americans have a higher unemployment rate than Hispanics, and both have a higher unemployment rate than Anglos/Asians; but all 4 groups have a lower unemployment rate in Texas, compared to the national average: http://www.epi.org/publication/ongoing-joblessness-texas-african-american/

          • John Johnson

            It’s all about the oil and gas, isn’t it? It escapes me how anyone, including Perry,can take credit for it.

          • Erica Grieder

            John- If it was just the oil and gas we’d be screwed right now, as opposed to experiencing a slower rate of economic growth 🙂

          • John Johnson

            I agree that things have improved since the busts in the 70’s and 80’s, but during Perry’s reign, the money he was giving away to lure tech companies and others into our state came from oil and gas revenues/taxes, didn’t they? Our low business taxes were a result of this oil and gas revenue, too, and this was a drawing card, was it not?

          • Erica Grieder

            John–Not exactly, but more to the point this kind of reasoning puts us on the road to nihilism, because no state or officeholder exists in a vacuum without predecessors or context.

          • John Johnson

            Hey, he held things together; he kept people happy, he deserves some credit…but not as much as you want to give him, and certainly not as much as he has always wanted to award himself. IMHO

          • Erica Grieder

            John–you may be more romantic than me. If nothing else, I think we can all agree that RP didn’t totally screw things up, which is apparently harder than it looks. (cf: 2015 Texas Senate.)

          • WUSRPH

            No, he did not screw things up….but there was so much more than could have been done in so many fields from education to transportation if we had someone willing to get up and level with us. Perry choose to take the easy way out—borrow money for transportation rather than pony up a needed tax increase—cut public education (and never get it back to where it was) instead of showing the courage that Mark White did in 1986 when he told the Leg. a tax increase was required and, if anyone complained, “blame me”. (Of course, the fact that White was shortly thereafter defeated for re-election by a “no taxes” Bill Clements who went on to sign the biggest tax bill in Texas history (to that time) might have discouraged Rick from taking a similar stand.)

          • Indiana Pearl

            For once we agree on something!

          • Erica Grieder

            And you’re both wrong 😉 But always nice to see comity among the commenters!

          • Indiana Pearl

            So how are we “wrong”?

          • Erica Grieder

            You’re ignoring 30 years of rampant economic growth and diversification and the fact that most of the oil and gas tax goes into the Rainy Day Fund rather than GR

          • WUSRPH

            True…BUT the economic activity it generates and the activity that generates and so forth produce a whole lot of sales tax dollars. Oil and gas is no longer THE DOMINANT element in our economy, but it still provides a foundation found in few other states.

          • Erica Grieder

            LaMarcus Aldridge happens to be tall. That doesn’t mean he’s not also good at basketball.

          • Erica has been reading my posts and at least she learned something.
            She also did something most here simply cannot do, admit Perry and republicans did a credible job if not exemplary.
            I’m now officially retired.
            Thank you Erica I can now go out on top. As if there was any other way….

        • Erica Grieder

          You’re right about states like Mississippi and I’m glad you mentioned it because this gets to one of the reasons I’m wary of talking about outcomes that vary by race as if race is the cause. I’m not an expert on all states but I’m at least aware of at least a few things that could be making outcomes worse for African-Americans in other states. 1) A lot of African-Americans live in places–Detroit would be the obvious example—where everyone’s struggling economically as a result of things that would affect workers regardless of race. 2) A lot of African-Americans live in places that are just mired in indelible effed-ness. I wrote for The Economist last year comparing Texas’s Loving County to Louisiana’s East Carroll Parish, the latter of which continues to haunt me:

          http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21603490-places-america-are-equal-norway-or-unequal-south-africa-norway

          Unsurprisingly, the African-American unemployment rate is pretty high in East Carroll Parish. One white resident told me the explanation is that “blacks don’t want to work” 🙁

          Apart from pockets in east Texas, you don’t really see that degree of toxicity here and we certainly haven’t seen the race-neutral economic dislocation other parts of the country have. So whatever Texas is doing, we’re also *not* doing the most adverse things.

          • John Johnson

            How about bringing another group of African Americans into the discussion? The Nigerian immigrants whose country’s history of salvery and hardship pre and post date our own. How is it that they can come here, get jobs, an education and show a higher per capita income than native blacks or whites? I think you could throw other countries like the Republic of Congo in the mix, too.

          • Erica Grieder

            John- the data on African immigrants in the United States is super interesting.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Lotsa different African countiries as well, so hard to compare Somalis to Congolese

          • Erica Grieder

            Lotsa different types of migrants, too, and so depending on the data set you might notice different outcomes reflecting experiential differences between refugees and, say, an emigre who came here for med school.

          • Indiana Pearl

            So true! How about an article about how different groups from Africa integrate into Texas? A good story. . .

          • Indiana Pearl

            Recent African immigrants are not comparable to former slaves.

            You really love Nigerians. How many do you know?

          • John Johnson

            Whaaat? Not comparable? In what respect? Ever studied their history with regards to slavery. Hell, just google it. They are closer to it than a fourth of fifth generation American black person…and they have not had the benefit of living in this country for several generations either. As soon as they get here, they seem to take advantage of the advantages. They overcome. They succeed.
            And yes, I know some Nigerians…but some Congolese families better. I helped move one into a new Habitat for Humanity home, helped get a woman’s recipe for a West African Hot Sauce produced and packaged, and the label designed and UPC code secured. I have watched while their children and grandchidren have straggled into the country as their visas were processed and approved. The last one 14 years after they arrived. I have watched two of the grandchildren finish high school and graduate from UTA….all while the parents work 60 hour, 6 day a week jobs on an electronics assembly line.
            I have no anamosity towards people of color; I have harsh feelings about slackers and those who can work but choose not to; I get upset with whiners who keep telling us how what my great, great grandfather did still has them in a blue funk; I dislike the abuse of our liberal support system; and I can’t stand the pandering that goes on by big business and the major TV networkds to keep native black Americans happy. I love me some blacks; other blacks? Not so much. It’s the same with every ethninticity you can name.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Mind-boggling ignorance . . .

          • John Johnson

            Yours? If you meant mine, you might do me the favor of being a bit more explicit. Care to share what points you disagree with?

          • Indiana Pearl

            Like being kidnapped 400 years ago? You are oblivious . . .

            But I’ll bet you sit in the pews each Sunday and nod “Yes,yes,yes.”

          • John Johnson

            Wow! How disconnected can you get? African Americans have only had 150 years to get over it. Only 150 years. Check out what transpired in Nigeria and the old Belgium Congo during this period of time. They get here to the U.S., say “Look at all this place has to offer”, and get after it. They have close family units, strong faith, and strong work ethic. Who is “oblivious” to the facts, Pearle? Accept them, chew on them, and use some of the Professor’s critical thinking.

          • WUSRPH

            You apparently have never heard of Jim Crow, Share Cropping,, segregation, bad, if any, schools, lynch mobs, denial of the right to vote, discrimination in jobs, housing and everything else we could think off; a legal system biased against them, the KKK and all the other minor things that kept Blacks from enjoying their alleged new “freedom” for most of that 150 years. But then reality would mess up your view of things. (Go listen to the beginning of Perry’s speech….it might educate you a bit.)

          • John Johnson

            Yeah, you know a lot about American history…not so much about African slave nations the last 100 yrs or so. Places like Nigeria and the Republic of Congo. You are an apologist. You are in love with yourself. While appreciating your historical knowledge, you turn me totally off because you are constantly looking backwards.

          • Indiana Pearl

            “Ad hominem” . . . tsk, tsk,tsk

          • WUSRPH

            It is called putting things into perspective. You have to know how we got into the mess to figure out how to get out of it…..

          • John Johnson

            Funny, I don’t remember you looking forward very often. You don’t seem to be much of an idea person…mostly “ya but Bush…” and the like.

          • WUSRPH

            You memory is clearly failing with your age.

          • John Johnson

            Terrible inequities, but the U.S., with all these things going against black people here, was still much better than what blacks in Nigeria and some of the other African countries faced during this period of time. So why do they do so much better when they get here than the average black person born here with regards to a solid family unit, education and income? I think that is a valid question. You obviously don’t.

          • James

            Very valid question and I completely agree with your reasoning. I think the reason might be that the immigrants from those countries are the people who are willing to work hard and take the necessary steps to better their situation in life. Just taking the initial step to immigrate takes a lot of drive.

          • John Johnson

            Yep…I’m sure that those that come are more “driven”.

          • James

            Admittedly, drive wasn’t the best word I could have used but I hope the broader point wasn’t lost because in semantics. But you don’t think that there are some people in African countries that try harder than others to better their life?

            And if the point wasn’t lost on you then you are nitpicking and not giving my idea fair consideration. Just providing a little snark. Which is your prerogative but don’t pretend you are here for discussion. You are clearly a very smart, knowledgeable man with a wealth of experience and some great ideas and I really do appreciate what you bring to the comment section. You’re one of my favorite commenters. But you tend to talk down to people and sh*t all over others’ comments without giving them fair consideration.

          • John Johnson

            Hey, I was truly agreeing with you. No snark intended. When I do turn crass and rude, there is usually no difficulty in picking up on it. What made you think I was being a a..hole?

          • James

            I guess the comment just seemed curt and like you were writing the idea off. It’s impossible to convey tone in text. My apologies for assuming your comment was negative.

          • John Johnson

            No apology necessary. I am crass and rude on occasion, so I can understand why you might have taken my comment that way.

          • John Johnson

            I’m sorry you took offense. I was truly agreeing with everything you said.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Many African immigrants have come here within the last 50 years. If you look at the article I posted, most of those who have arrived in the U.S. came willingly. They were fleeing murderous civil wars in their own countries, many were highly educated. What “slavery” in Nigeria do you mean?

          • WUSRPH

            Slavery (or involuntary servitude) for debt was not that uncommon in Sub-Sahara Africa….but it was only until the debt was paid…It was not life time nor was it under the conditions like here.

          • James

            I read the article you posted and thought it was very interesting. I didn’t say anything about slavery in Nigeria. I’m not sure what point you are trying to make.

          • Indiana Pearl

            I didn’t mention slavery in Nigeria. That’s JJ’s shtick.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Here’s some info about recent African immigrants:

            http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/sub-saharan-african-immigrants-united-states

            Coming in chains 400 years ago is quite a different experience than arriving here in the 1980s with a college degree.

          • WUSRPH

            You insight is hardly new..Daniel Patrick Moynihan told us all about the problem about 40 years ago.

            See

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Negro_Family:_The_Case_For_National_Action

          • John Johnson

            Very, very interesting. Obviously, I’m not the only one who missed it. The group must include Sharpton, Emanuel, and even the President.

          • WUSRPH

            Sorry but most of us have been actively working since then to try to improve the situation….Not as much progress as we’d like….but some made….while you have just caught on.

          • John Johnson

            We’ll give yourself another big pat on the back if you want to, but it would seem you’ve made little or no progress whatsoever. You think fatherless homes are decreasing, joblessness, black on black crime?

          • WUSRPH

            The very statistics Perry cited in his speech are just one sign of the improvement that has been made. But still a long way to go.

          • John Johnson

            Yeah, the right words were spoken last week, and Moynihan’s words were written 40 years ago, but I don’t see a concerted effort to correct the problems. Oprah? Michelle Obama? Jesse Jackson? Anybody? I read a book about the income disparity adding to education, morality, and crime…not only in black inner city communities, but white, as well.

          • WUSRPH

            Then you obviously have not been paying attention to any of the proposals put forth by both the Democratic and Republican parties in recent years, much less the President’s. They disagree on the solutions, but not on the problems….but the partisan (we will make him a one-term president, etc.) nature of politics today has made it impossible for either side to enact most of what they propose. Even Rick had some positive suggestions……..The problem, as you have complained many times, is the deadlock.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Moynihan was not universally honored in his lifetime.

          • Indiana Pearl

            You DO KNOW that the largest percentage of woman utilizing SNAP are white????

          • John Johnson

            Yes, I did. Poverty, fatherless families, joblessness, crime and domestic violence are not mutually exclusive, but it is hard to find a hell hole worse than black sections of Chicago.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Not so – I know a fair bit about Chicago – tough there, but so is Compton or inner city Houston.

          • WUSRPH

            And, as we all, know it is all “THEIR” fault.

          • oh I don’t know…..Baltimore….philly…..NOLA…..all run by dems.

          • WUSRPH

            You have to understand when dealing with JJ that he does not believe in statistics, he does not believe in “experts”, he does not believe anything the government says…He hates any idea of “putting something into perspective”…In fact, .ALL he believes is anecdotal information…..and then only if it agrees with his preconceived notion.

            And he goes berserk if you suggest that things were worse before and that they are getting better. He sees America as a broken, sick and damaged country hanging on by its fingernails to its place in a hostile world. And it is all clearly President Obama’s fault.

          • José

            What I don’t understand is how someone can use the term “worst president ever” and then complain that it’s irrelevant to compare one president to another. Inconsistency and rudeness don’t mix well.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Perhaps he should move to Somalia – not much government there, but the food is great!

          • Democrats are more than twice as likely to use food stamps than republicans. Who is more likely to be a 47%er a dem or a rep?
            http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/07/12/the-politics-and-demographics-of-food-stamp-recipients/

          • Indiana Pearl

            You don’t know much about Africa either.

          • John Johnson

            Just what my friends from there tell me. Certainly no expert. One part of the world I have never visited.

          • Indiana Pearl

            He has heard about it, but thinks “those people” should just get over it.

          • Indiana Pearl

            “Only 150 years . . .” More like 450 years . . .

            Up until the civil rights movement of the 1960s, black folks had lousy schools, couldn’t get loans to buy a home or business, lived in neighborhoods with poor streets, sidewalks, and lived in fear that some crew of night riders would lynch them.

            “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” – Santayana

          • José

            What he means is that until 150 years ago the blacks in America had guaranteed jobs and housing.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Yeah. They had it really good . . .

          • WUSRPH

            Now, now….We treated them just like they belonged to us.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Thanks for this article. Only NY county has a statistically significant sample size IMO, but the folks at The Economist know more about these analyses than I do, I’m sure.

          • José

            Wow, trying to draw meaning from statistics of the populace of Loving County, that’s just not a good idea. One person–that is quite literally one person–could easily make the averages jump a lot. And it doesn’t surprise me a bit that the most extreme outliers, both the most unequal and the most equal, tend to be the smaller counties as well. Small data sets will do that since they inherently have more uncertainty. Sort of the opposite of “regression to the mean”. I understand that you mention this in passing in the Economist article but the analysis still seems a bit suspect.

          • Erica Grieder

            Jose- you and Indiana are both right that the sample size is too small to make meaningful extrapolations. But there’s room in this world for qualitative analysis. I was a little skeptical for the same reason, and Loving County definitely has some idiosyncracies, but I’m glad we used it as a case study because it really is an amazingly “equal”-feeling place.

        • James

          I think I understand what you’re getting at but what state(s) should we compare to and by what metrics then? Any evidence to disprove Ms. Grieder’s notion that Texas African-Americans experience better educational and employment outcomes than the country as a whole?

          For what it’s worth, Texas has an 11.91% African-American population placing it at the 18th highest in the US by percentage (4th by numbers alone at 2,979,598). The national percentage is 12.6.

          Side note, not sure if you are aware but Austin has been seeing a quick decline in African American population which has been a local concern as of late.

          • Indiana Pearl

            I’d like to see an analysis/comparison that weighs percent minorities, state poverty levels, per capita student expenditure, teachers’ salaries and other data before I’d claim Texas is doing a great job educating minorities. In statistics there are the mean, the mode, and the median and all measures. Texas might be doing a great job, but these data are inconclusive. Mississippi, for instance, has about a 37% African American population. Comparing apples and oranges . . .

            I’m new to Austin, but have been told by the locals that housing is so costly here that it’s driving low income families away.

          • James

            I can’t say that I know of any report that has those metrics but I’d be willing to bet they are out there. But something tells me that still wouldn’t do it for you. It seems you’re mind is already made up and you believe Texas’ policies can’t possibly be good for minorities educationally and economically. I’m not saying that our policies are good for minorities. I think Texas’ has LOTS of room for improvement in this area. But this post at least lets makes me think about the possibility that an idea in contrast to what I currently believe might have validity. That’s a good thing. And so far in these comments all I have seen is some data that seems to support Ms. Grieder’s statement and none disproving it. It’s healthy to entertain the idea that our preconceived beliefs could be erroneous.

          • Indiana Pearl

            I like data and stats, not opinions or “bets.”

            I suspect Texas has good results compared with more impoverished states, but who takes the credit? That black gold under the ground .

          • Erica Grieder

            West Virginia has a lot of mineral resources too. If you have time to look through those NAEP scores (via the link you already have) you can see how its students fare.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Looked briefly through the W. VA stats – must consider that it’s 3.6% black, 1.2% Hispanic . . . those pesky apples and oranges again.

          • James

            Do you expect to find a state that has exactly the same demographics and revenue sources as Texas? There is not going to be an exact comparison between any two states. What point are you trying to make, prove, or disprove?

          • Indiana Pearl

            People who do these analyses for a living have all sorts of algorithms to determine the “weight” or value of different variables. Agricultural economists invented statistics back in the 1930s to answer these questions.

          • WUSRPH

            You just had to raise the old question: “Percentage of What?” didn’t you? As long as you ignore the size of the base against which tings are measured it is easy to claim greater progress or, in contrast, great harm. For example, when someone starts screaming that “burglaries are up 50% in our neighborhood” It sounds horrible, but it is not so alarming when you realize that the base against the growth was based was four burglaries. and we now have had “six” (out of the thousands of homes in our neighborhood.). It is an old spin technique that has to be counted by asking “% of what?”.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Absolutely! So how does one evaluate results? Better analysis . . .

          • WUSRPH

            You start by doing what JJ hates—putting things into perspective which includes a %of what analysis.

          • WUSRPH

            Part of the reason for the decline, of course, is that laws were changed to make it impossible to keep blacks and others confined to certain areas (ghettos). They are now free live where they want and Black middle class families often have the same reasons for moving to the suburbs as white’s do. Better schools, new housing, etc.

      • Indiana Pearl

        “Ma’am” it is, although “Ms.” would be better. “Pearl” is best.

  • Lauren

    *et al. ?

    • Erica Grieder

      ah nice catch. thanks!

  • WUSRPH

    Perry is clearly NOT a racist. What he is, however, is either unsympathetic to or unaware of the consequences of some of his beliefs. This was most clear in his protestation in his last campaign that he was a strong support of the civil rights legislation passed in the 1960s while, at the same time, expressing views on the methods used to pass those acts that would have made them impossible.

    In his book (sic) Perry clearly says he supports those acts—including the public occupancy laws—but at the same time he says that he would have preferred that they had been based on what he terms the “Reconstruction Amendments”—the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments—rather than on the “Commerce Clause”….What this totally overlooks is that the only way the Congress could have passed and enforced public occupancy was by the use of the Commerce Clause. Court rulings—going back to the decision overturning the 1875 Civil Rights Act—have consistently held that the 13th, 14th and 15thAmendments prohibited discrimination by THE GOVERNMENT, NOT BY INDIVIDUALS. Thus, had the Congress not used the Commerce Clause, we would have been left today with a society in which individual business owners would still have the ability to deny access or service to blacks, browns, Jews, Catholics or any group they desire.

    Perry’s failure to realize this—or more likely—his willingness to ignore it—suggests
    a lack of understanding that while not racist, is not sympathetic to basic human rights.

    I might also note that Perry voted against sanctions on South Africa when he was in the Legislature—another sign of his apparent lack of appreciation of racial problems.

    • Erica Grieder

      WUSRPH – I love this comment. I’ve read Fed Up!, but didn’t think about that part. Now that you’re pointing it out, though, you’re right. I haven’t thought about the commerce clause v the Reconstruction amendments in this context before but your explanation totally makes sense to me and I will know about it from now on 🙂

      • WUSRPH

        Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are also not friends of the Commerce Clause. Paul made a statement similar to Perry’s position right after his first primary election and had to quickly back track when it was pointed out what impact that would have had on public occupancy laws.

  • Jed

    “Perry’s stated topic was the economy, and economic opportunity is my favorite issue for presidential candidates to emphasize, so although I thought it was a great speech too, I would think that. ”

    yup. actual insights optional.

  • Jed

    “So I only have two things to add here. The first is a PSA for Perry’s critics: If you’re genuinely surprised by the possibility that Rick Perry may not be a virulent racist hatemonger, you should check his record. And then you should check your own biases, because you’ve obviously been making unwarranted assumptions about someone who seems to fit your stereotypes. Ya burnt!”

    straw man. to whom are you talking? i think we could fill a volume on perry’s deficiencies without mentioning race. ya burnt!

  • Timely topic, Kate Steinle, 32, who was walking the pier with her father, was shot dead in sanctuary city San Francisco. The democrats ignore our immigration laws and give sanctuary to illegals many with criminal records. The Obama admin selectively enforces immigration laws protecting Americans.

    Once again my work here is done. We know that 16% of the population are incapable of logical thought. As demonstrated on this thread, it doesn’t matter how ruthless or how despicable a democrat elected official/candidate may be, democrats will vote for them for one of 4 reasons.
    1. Skin color
    2. gender
    3. Sexual preference
    4 or a (D) by their name.
    Most liberal democrats are not capable of processing critical information about the issues in order to make a logical decision.

    Stop the senseless killings of American citizens by illegals. American citizens lives matter, too.
    Can some republicans be racist? Sure, as many are also liberal. But dems are much more so as their history shows.

  • WUSRPH

    As to the benefits a growing economy can offer to minorities, as well as majorities. That only became possible when barriers were removed by the kind of government Perry finds objectionable—one working to “level the playing field”, “open the doors to opportunity” and all those pro-active things that make it possible for minorities as well as others to enjoy the benefits of our economic system. Without those steps, none of the benefits he cites were available to the minorities he now says best benefit from GOP policies. Perry, of course, overlooks all of that or, at the least, takes for granted what other people struggled for and died to make possible.

    • Jed

      not just perry. also the author of this piece.

      • Erica Grieder

        for a guy who hasn’t read this post you have oddly strong feelings about it.

        • WUSRPH

          The point I was trying to make, above, is that Perry takes for granted (and discounts the importance of) laws and policies that made it possible for more to participate. He disparages an activist government when the situation he now surveys was made possible by just that kind of a government. A little recognition of how things got to this point would be nice.

          • Erica Grieder

            I was talking to Jed in the previous comment. Your point is valid. 🙂

        • Jed

          have you ever considered the writing technique of reverse-outlining your own argument? look again and tell me i haven’t read it.

          • Erica Grieder

            Thank you for the offer, but I don’t need unsolicited writing advice from a guy who struggles with reading.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Gratuitous slam . . .

          • Jed

            whatever. i’ll give you a long form critique of your “argument” when i have a minute. seriously, congrats on getting paid for this stuff.

          • Jed

            i’ll get back to this in august. on a family trip this month, no time for all there is to say about this piece.

  • José

    Erica, that bit about Perry’s critics being surprised that he’s not “a virulent racist hatemonger” seems to pose a false dichotomy. It is entirely possible that the man is not a KKKer while he is still deserving of much criticism for his record on issues regarding race. The Voter ID measure of 2011 is certainly such an example. Capital punishment is another. While neither matter is overtly racist it’s pretty clear that the first is intentionally discriminatory while the latter has a strong racial bias, all other factors considered.

    • Erica Grieder

      @disqus_MSSRss41o0:disqus Fair point (and fairly argued) but in my experience it’s not entirely a straw man. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time trying to promote what we might call greater cultural awareness of Texas and it’s history, politics, and politicians–I mean, that’s journalism. But also I get a lot of emails and calls from national reporters asking me to recommend sources or fill in some background and I also have these discussions a lot on Twitter. The questions/criticisms I hear give me some insights on what outside observers believe about Texas. In Perry’s case, there are three things people cite as evidence against him in this context:

      1) The “secession” comments from 2009. That was a really big deal to national observers for a reason I totally didn’t even see until a couple of years later when I was talking to a DC editor: for non-Texans, that sounded like an allusion to the Confederacy. Once I realized that I instantly understood the backlash because dog whistles about the Confederacy are repellent. But I had naturally taken the comments as alluding to the Republic of Texas, as I think most Texans did, and I’m sure Perry meant it that way.

      2) The “Niggerhead” rock (as you can see, someone’s referenced this in the comments). I agree that the word is a slur and the only time I would use it is in quote marks for journalistic purposes. However, if you read the 2011 investigative story in the Washington Post that brought the world’s attention to the matter, it really has nothing to do with Perry, who responded to the rock itself, and questions about it, in a way that I would consider appropriate:
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/rick-perry-familys-hunting-camp-still-known-to-many-by-old-racially-charged-name/2011/10/01/gIQAOhY5DL_story.html

      3) In 2011 Perry said that further rounds of qualitative easing would be “almost treasonous”, in his assessment, and that if then-Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke came to Texas, we would “treat him pretty ugly.” I disagreed with Perry’s comments on the merits (under the circumstances, I think our monetary policy was sound during that period) and I also thought his tone was out of line. At the same time, I didn’t think he was threatening to “lynch” Ben Bernanke. To be fair, I only know of one person who for some reason took it as a specific reference to lynching. However, the guy in question–his name is Brad Delong–has literally been denouncing Perry about it FOR YEARS. And even crazier, he’s been denouncing ME for years, at intermittent intervals, for being a lynching apologist, I think because back at the time I had seen him denouncing Perry and chimed in that as a journalist who’s covered Perry fairly closely, I’ve never known him to celebrate lynching and in fact he had signed the aforementioned hate crimes bill etc. (Nb. If this guy was just some random mentally ill person railing at people on Twitter I wouldn’t pay him any mind but he’s a professor in California and some kind of blogger or columnist in progressive media, so he’s smearing Perry, and me, to some kind of audience, which I think is uncool.)

      But again, I hear you. (As far as the death penalty, I think there’s some nuance in the record–among the CJ reforms Perry signed was 2005’s life without parole law–we were the last state to give juries that option in capital cases–but it would be fair to argue that he should have done more.) Or maybe, now that I’m thinking about it, my comment poses a false dichotomy *in Texas*, but not in reference to national critics? (They’re who I was referring to–I think Texans have a more nuanced view of Perry, hence people like you and @wusrph:disqus are pushing back with well-informed criticisms.)

      • José

        If you’re saying that former Gov. Perry has received lots of unfair criticism I would agree. He’s a presidential contender with a pretty high profile nationally. It comes with the territory. But I’ll repeat that there’s also plenty of criticism that is both fair and valid.

        It doesn’t appear to me that Mr. Perry has had to put up with anything close to the indignities of having to prove that your birth certificate is not a forgery, or the ordeal of putting up with a series of repetitive and highly partisan congressional special committees designed to sabotage your campaign by inventing rumors of conspiracies surrounding the deaths of American officials.

        • Erica Grieder

          Oh I totally agree there is plenty of fair and valid criticism, hence this comments section being unusually substantive. To those critics I say: “Ya not burnt!” 🙂

    • WUSRPH

      He took a fairly hard shot in 2012 over his less than stellar college transcript which was amplified by his Oops moment….but that seems not to be an issue this year. The question is whether it is still in the back of people’s minds. He is clearly not an unintelligent man but he was too busy with the Corps and Yell Leading to pay attention to his classes plus he started out in one of the toughest courses A&M offered.

  • roadgeek

    Interesting op-ed by Ms. Grieder. Not what I expected when I saw her name. Poor Rick Perry. Although he’s hopeless on the immigration question, I think he did a good job as governor, and I voted for him several times. But he could cure cancer, negotiate a lasting peace in the Middle East, solve the financial problems in Greece and invent a working warp drive for interstellar travel and he still wouldn’t please the target demographic of Texas Monthly and this blog.

    • Indiana Pearl

      So could Obama, but the GOP would blame him for, say, the plague in medieval Europe.

      • roadgeek

        I concede your point.

      • John Johnson

        It’s the lies, Pearle…and the IRS, and Benghazi, and GSA, and AG, and Iran, and Sec of State, and Al Sharpton as emissary. I could go on. He’s a loser and does a sorry job of leading. He’s the worst ever.

        • Indiana Pearl

          “The Iraq war will be paid for with Iraqi oil money.” — Dick Cheney

          I can go like this for hours . . .

          • Indiana Pearl

            I DO agree about Al Sharpton . . .

          • John Johnson

            You calling the rest of the list bogus? Destroyed emails at the IRS and State Department, spitting on Israel, getting on TV in defense of black hoodlums before all the facts are in, and on, and on, and on….

          • Indiana Pearl

            Yup.

          • Indiana Pearl

            Yupyupyup.

          • WUSRPH

            Yupyupyupyup. Anybody remember Richard Nixon or Warren G. Harding? Obama may not be up there with Washington, Lincoln and the Roosevelts…but with the ACA meeting a more than 100 year old goal, the recovery from the Great Recession and if he can pull off a workable, sensible and effective agreement with Iran, he will definitely not go down as a failure.

          • Indiana Pearl

            You call it “spitting on Israel.” I call it restoring balance in the equation. Are you a Zionist? I’m not.

  • Gritsforbreakfast

    “the criminal justice reforms he advocated, for example, helped lessen overincarceration”

    He signed de-incarceration reforms pushed by others in the Lege, I don’t recall him advocating them much while in office. Since he left, much more so.

    • Erica Grieder

      You and I should talk about this over a coffee. As it stands I agree with you that he didn’t do much advocacy or PR about these reforms while in office and I highly doubt he signed them after careful study and reflection on structural racism. At the same time, it is surely easier to push reforms through the Lege when the governor has already signed a few and is known to have close ties to TPPF, and by extension to Right on Crime. So I wouldn’t give him ALL the credit but I do give him some. (So does Pam. She gave him a B+ on criminal justice.)

      • Gritsforbreakfast

        Happy to chat over coffee. Pam gave him a B+, but not because he advocated reforms, just for signing them.

        • Erica Grieder

          oh I see we’re having this talk because I used the word ‘advocated’ in the post. haha, good point. in retrospect, I would have said ‘supported’, because even if that’s all he did, for a governor to sign a cluster of conceptually related reforms clearly signals support for this type of thing. fair?

      • Indiana Pearl

        Who is “Pam”?

        • Unwound

          Colloff, I’m betting

          • Indiana Pearl

            Thanks!

  • dave in texas

    I never thought of Rick Perry as a virulent racist or hatemonger. What I always saw was somebody that seemed to be largely oblivious or indifferent to the disparities in opportunity that have faced African Americans. I also understood why some people would think he was racist, especially on the national stage. Let’s not forget the whole “Ni**erhead” episode. There’s also the fact of his party affiliation–Republicans have spent a lot of time and energy, not only on things like the hard-to-quantify Southern Strategy, but on more concrete policy examples like voter ID.

    • Indiana Pearl

      I doubt he’s a raving racist, more an oblivious pol. Unfortunately for him, the base is to the right of where he is. Remember the debate in 2012 when he suggested that not educating the children of undocumented parents was not fair (paraphrasing here)? The audience fell on his throat!

      • Erica Grieder

        Bingo. So this gets to the counterargument to “Perry should have done more/been more explicit in his advocacy.” On illegal immigration and criminal justice reform his record as governor is significantly more pragmatic than people might think and includes things like the Texas DREAM Act. (It’s the same on other issues but those are the two big ones.) But he never went around giving inspirational speeches about those issues; it’s possible he just did all this by accident or because polls said it was good politics or whatever. At the same time, if he had been going around calling on Texas conservatives to look in the mirror and take measures to redress various state-level injustices and systemic inequities, that might have been counterproductive. Alas, we’ll never know his true motives because we can’t read his mind.

        • José

          If a Republican candidate truly has a pragmatic and moderate record in office but cannot or will not run on his or her achievements, why should we praise the candidate? I don’t get it. I admired Gov. Perry, albeit briefly, when he showed a human side on the immigration issue in 2012. But if he changes his message in order to get the nomination then that’s just lying. And if he can’t get the nomination by telling the truth and convincing the voters then maybe he’s in the wrong party. More likely, the party is wrong for us pragmatic and moderate Americans.

          Mitt Romney had it worse. He couldn’t brag about his signature achievement as governor of Massachusetts. It was embarrassing watching him fumble around spouting nonsense about how Romneycare was different from Obamacare.

          • Indiana Pearl

            So true!

        • Indiana Pearl

          The Texas stand on the confederate flag license plate was a reasoned argument. But where did that originate – Guv or AG?

  • WUSRPH

    The Troll’s figure of 16% unable to make a logical decision explains about half of the hardcore Republican vote. I wonder how explains the rest of it?

  • donuthin2

    Never know what Perry really thinks as whatever he thinks or says is a function of what his managers think best for his political future and has nothing really to do with his own thoughts. It is not even what his managers really think, but what the believe is politically expedient.

    • John Johnson

      I’ve always felt that way. He is not very smart. I’ve had more than one person who personally knows him from years back tell me so. Give him Winston Churchill’s looks and he would still be growing cotton.

      • WUSRPH

        I have to disagree with you about Perry being “not very smart”. From all I have seen over the years he has a good deal of native smarts…what he does not have is a good education. (I commented on his problems at A&M and his transcript below.) In addition to that he came out of a tiny (11 or so students in his class) school district without adequate facilities or resources. Added to that was an apparent lack of interest in academic subjects…..This left him without the base of knowledge you want in a governor and especially a president which was more than apparent in 2012. But he has always done well when he is interested and has shown an true ability to recognize and use talent. He has worked over the past four years to fill in some gaps in his knowledge of anything other than politics…..but only time will tell whether crash courses in economics, history (I hope) and foreign relations and international politics can make up for the weak base he started with. He is certainly not behind people like Santimonious and the Arkansasian in this regard.

        • John Johnson

          I disagree. He repeats what his handlers provide. Furthermore, I don’t think his foundation is sound. He has moved around all over the place on all sorts of issues. He is just another political chameleon.

          • WUSRPH

            A politician who does not change some of his positions over his career is certainly not someone I want in office. I want someone who is willing to examine and then reexamine his positions and consider the evidence even if that means he changes his position. After all, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

          • John Johnson

            Oh, don’t me wrong, I like someone who is willing to make adjustments, however, I want to hear them announce why they are doing so. Maybe an “I’m sorry, I made a mistake” on occasion. The obvious Perry effort to “out conservative” Cruz failed, so now he is back working the middle. I don’t like those kinds of shifts simply for political gain.

          • donuthin2

            Agree, rather than smart he has been opportunistic. At least smart enough not to screw up the Bush coat tail.

        • Indiana Pearl

          That didn’t work too well for GWB.

  • Ogie Wilson

    Well, it looks like the Grieder-Perry honeymoon has begun. When was the wedding? .

  • Blue Dogs

    Perry’s speech had good points, but it’s likely too little, too late!

  • WUSRPH
    • Blue Dogs

      Just read about that in the newspaper while eating lunch, should Paxton talk Governor Abbott into pardoning him if things get very bad ?

      • WUSRPH

        It would not do him much good. As I understand it, the Texas governor’s pardon does not work the way the President’s does….NO prior to conviction pardons and, I believe, not on his own decision…We tightened up on pardons here when Ma & Pa Ferguson were charged with selling them. Since then the governor can only pardon those recommended by the board of pardons and paroles. (Art. IV, Sec. 11, Texas Constitution).

  • WUSRPH

    Got a chance to listen to and read the speech…….Pretty good……A serious speech on a serious subject……no big applause lines and few sound bites…….totally contrary to his normal campaign speech……Of course, I did not agree with some of the things he said, but it was an impressive performance…….building from a more than serious beginning. There was even a little recognition that laws, such as the civil rights act, have made the situation better…….

  • Indiana Pearl

    Jonathan Chait’s view of Perry’s race speech – another perspective:

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/07/rick-perry-republicans-and-the-black-vote.html

    • WUSRPH

      Very interesting article. Especially interesting was the point about the soured of most of the restrictions, regulations and taxes Perry and the GOP hate so much is the very state and particularly local governments to which they want to give more powers. I guess Gov. Abbott was ahead of the author in this–based on his anti-“Californization” program to take powers away from the locals.

      • Indiana Pearl

        Note that low-income Texans pay 12.5% income tax, high-income Texans pay 2.5%.

        • WUSRPH

          The Legislature knows that. The Senate tried to duck the question by not having a so-called “Tax Equity Note” done for its tax relief proposals…but the House would not let them get away with it. Everyone knows it…and has for years….but there is not the will or the votes to do anything about it. And it will continue that way as long as we rely on the sales tax as our primary tax……Proposals to do something about this “disparity”—ranging from a “circuit breaker” tax rebate on property taxes as used in some states to an income tax—have and will go nowhere as long as the Legislature is dominated by the GOP. Remember poor folks do not vote. Wealthier folks do.

          • Indiana Pearl

            I do, to my continuing sorrow.

          • WUSRPH

            The biggest problem we have is fighting off the efforts to replace the property tax with a “consumption tax” (read as a 16 to 20% sales tax)….or efforts to make your property tax exemption as %age of value rather than a fixed amount. Both of those will benefit the wealthier classes far more than the poorer…But, of course, the Trolls of this world would only think that was natural.

  • WUSRPH

    ‘The same is true of many of Texas conservatives, and the metrics show that Texas actually has become more equitable, in various ways, during this period of Republican hegemony.”

    You might consider the possibility that some of that increase in equity is the result of programs put in place before the advent of the GOP hegemony (major school finance reform predates them….HB 72 and the basic new funding system, for example)….or from federal actions (Chips, expanded Medicaid, etc.) many of which would not have been adopted if the GOP had been in full control as it is now.

    The only GOP “reform” in education was George W.’s fixation on “testing” which the Legislature has been backing away from for the last several sessions……They have done nothing to resolve funding iniquities—other than to make them worse.

  • WUSRPH

    Sales tax revenues for June were DOWN from June of last year. This ended a 64 month period in which they were always higher. What happens this month will tell us more about the state of the Texas economy.

    http://www.texastribune.org/2015/07/08/state-sales-taxes-drop-ending-62-month-growth-stre/

    • Indiana Pearl

      Don’t bother him with facts.

      • WUSRPH

        Actually, he is partially right….in that the results are mixed. Sales down, jobs up (after being down the month before)…That is why the next couple of months will tell us a lot. If jobs drop again (there should be an increase in the number of people seeking work because of the new job entrants—high school and college grads, for example, but that is expected) it will be worrisome.

        http://bizbeatblog.dallasnews.com/2015/07/new-report-texas-still-at-high-risk-of-home-price-decline.html/

      • John Johnson

        Don’t bother you with links…my info came from reading his link. It would have been rather hard for him to disupte what I said after touting the piece himself.

  • John Johnson

    Interesting. No doom and gloom predicted. 25,000 job loses in May. 33,000 added in June. Building sector still strong. Flat tax revenues projected for next several months which will not send the state into the austerity mode.

  • John Johnson

    March 19th ICE head Saldana tells congressional committee that she needs help getting sanctuary cities to turn over illegal alien criminals to them. The very next day, she issues a release retracting those words and staying that it would create problems and be counter productive to put pressure on those cities. Her reversal was clearly due to pressure from her boss, the President. Today when asked how the White House felt about the death of the young lady in San Francisco, O’s press secretary stated that the White House was not going to get involved with this issue…that the reporter needed to ask ICE about it. Obama is the worst President ever.

  • John Johnson

    How’s Obamacare working? Maybe too well. Insurance companies asking for as much as a 54% premium increase because people are using it too much. Obama is the worst in my lifetime.

    http://www.newsmax.com/t/newsmax/article/653444

    • Indiana Pearl

      My Medicare Part D (which I was forced to buy under GWB) donut hole has been reduced significantly since O-Care.

      GWB is the worst in MY lifetime.

    • Indiana Pearl

      FYI, are you a Medicare recipient? If so, you are taking out $2.5-3 for every dollar you put in.

      • John Johnson

        Really? I thought it would be more than that. If you remember correctly, I have been for Medicare reform for years now. People run to the doctor with every cold and sniffle. Doctors schedule follow ups 3 mos apart instead of 6 mos or a year.
        But….with regards to what I have paid into programs that Obama now wants to call “subsidies”, I will never get muy money’s worth. I paid in money that, instead of being invested, was used up right after it got there. If in an investment account, like it should have been, our SS system would not be on such shakey ground.

        • Indiana Pearl

          Really. Really. Really.

          Evasive tactic . . . you’ve got yours, but poor people should die. That’s the GOP motto.

          Prior to O-Care indigent care either didn’t exist or was shifted to the taxpayers through various avenues.

          Privatizing SS was a complete PR disaster for your hero GWB. Think what would have happened during the Bush recession of 2008.

          • John Johnson

            It is not their moto…it just something you keep saying over and over.

            I am also beginning to think you are suffering from dementia. GWB is not my hero. Send me your email address to me at [email protected] and I will send you a copy of a piece on the subject I wrote back years ago.

          • Indiana Pearl

            No e-mails, please. No dementia, but an open mind.

            You don’t like GWB now, but I’ll bet you voted for him.

          • WUSRPH

            He is not exactly right about the money he pays not “not being invested”. Technically, it is invested in special Treasury Notes. Plus, if he is like most people on Social Security and Medicare, he will get back much more than he paid in unless he dies very early. But why bother with the facts.

            http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2013/feb/01/medicare-and-social-security-what-you-paid-what-yo/

            http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/18/us-column-miller-socialsecurity-idUSBRE89H0YG20121018

            P.S. The problem with the ACA to date is not that people are using it too much (altho any use by many is more than in the past) but the fact that less younger people have signed up than is desirable. That means the insured have more demands on the pool that are not being balanced out by younger policy holders not making demands. That will probably change as time goes by when the fines for not having coverage start to hit home.

          • Indiana Pearl

            The individual mandate hasn’t been implemented yet. That may change the demographics.

  • Furry Lewis

    Former President George W. Bush
    charged $100,000 to speak at a charity fundraiser for U.S. military
    veterans severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, and former First Lady
    Laura Bush collected $50,000 to appear a year earlier, officials of the Texas-based Helping a Hero charity confirmed to ABC News.

    The former President was also provided with a private jet to travel to Houston at a cost of $20,000, the officials said.

  • 6660splendidday

    Ms. Grieder, thank you for a well written column. From a vantage point of eighty-seven years behind me I was reminded of what Martin Luther King said after first meeting Richard Nixon.
    “No less a man than Martin Luther King Jr. saw a glimpse of the monster
    beneath the veneer the first time they met, when King was the rising
    leader of the civil rights movement.” “Nixon has a genius for convincing
    one that he is sincere,” King wrote in 1958. “If Richard Nixon is not
    sincere, he is the most dangerous man in America.”
    What does this have to do with Rick Perry? I do not think Rick Perry is sincere.