Tea for Texas | Biden on the West Bank

Tea For Texas —News reports had the Tea Party candidate losing the Texas Republican primary, as Houston nurse and Ron Paul disciple Debra Medina won only 18 percent of the vote in the governor’s race. Medina, who wanted to eliminate property taxes and ensure that citizens are better armed than the police, might have staked out the more extreme position on guns and taxes. But the incumbent governor owned the rhetoric and record of the Tea Party. Rick Perry didn’t run against Medina or Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. He ran against Washington—and won 51 percent of the vote.

The governor’s rant has been consistent since his “secession speech” last April. He didn’t actually use the word, but responded to reporters after protestors at an anti-tax rally in Austin shouted “secede.”

“We’ve got a great union,” Perry said. “There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.” Perry punctuated his election night victory party by giving Washington the finger: “From Driftwood, Texas, to Washington, D.C., we are sending you a message tonight: Stop messing with Texas.”

Perry’s teabagger bona fides placed him in stark contrast with mainstream Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who polled well ahead of him one year earlier but won only 30 percent of the primary vote.

During the 2009 legislative session, Perry endorsed a (failed) non-binding Tenth Amendment “sovereignty” resolution that ordered the federal government to “cease and desist certain mandates,” and laid the groundwork for refusing to comply with federal law. Perry also said he would consider invoking the Tenth Amendment to block health care reform that might be enacted in Washington.

Recently he has sued the EPA—”to defend against federal overreach” in the agency’s attempt to regulate pollutants.

Under Perry, Texas is one of two states refusing to accept standards being drafted by the U. S. Department of Education, a decision that could cost Texas $1.3 billion in federal funds. And he returned $555 million in federal stimulus dollars designated for extended unemployment benefits.

Hutchison was endorsed by George H.W. and Barbara Bush, Dick Cheney, and former Secretary of State James Baker III. Her campaign got help from George W. Bush aides Karen Hughes and Karl Rove. (It was Rove who transformed Perry from a West Texas Democratic legislator working on Al Gore’s first presidential campaign into a Republican agriculture commissioner, and later the lieutenant governor who would complete George W. Bush’s final unfulfilled term.)

Perry faces former Houston Mayor Bill White in November and is included in a small group of Republicans positioned to challenge Barack Obama in 2012.

Biden on the West Bank—Vice President Joe Biden’s appearance on Al Jazeera, one day after Israel’s Interior Ministry announced the planned construction of 1,600 new households in East Jerusalem, got little notice beyond right-wing news outlets. Speaking from the West Bank, Biden condemned the ministry’s announcement as an act that “further undermined the trust [between Israelis and Palestinians]” and implied that it was a calculated attempt to undermine indirect negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. President Obama’s demand that Israel cease construction in Palestinian territories, along with his Middle East peace initiative, now appear to be in the ditch.

Israel has received $100 billion in U.S. aid since 1948. The only U.S. president to slow the flow of that aid was George H. W. Bush, who briefly withheld funds for housing construction in an attempt to stop West Bank Israeli settlements. The Obama administration’s response to the affront from the Netanyahu government thus far has been Biden’s appearance on Al Jazeera, his late arrival for a dinner with the Israeli prime minister, and a reprimand from Hillary Clinton.

Haaretz reporter Akiva Eldar parsed Netanyahu’s apology and his order to Interior Minister Eli Yishai to draft procedures that would prevent the U.S. administration from being embarrassed again: “But what exactly does that mean? The next time he comes, the Planning and Building Committee will be asked to defer discussion of similar plans until the honored guest has left?” As Eldar read it, Biden’s gracious acceptance of Netanyahu’s assurance that construction of the 1,600 homes wouldn’t begin for several years conveyed a clear message: “Israel essentially received an American green light for approving even more building plans in East Jerusalem.”