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Rick Perry's Compassion and Honesty Deficits

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Talk about a disconnect.

On Wednesday night I see Governor Rick Perry on television, with that little cowboy sneer he gets, saying, "The lieutenant governor, the speaker and their colleagues are not going to hire or fire one teacher, as best as I can tell."

Kind of like he's saying something funny or clever.

Then Thursday morning I go to Dallas school headquarters and sit through heartrending speeches by parents of DISD students begging the board not to gut their kids' teachers.

What is wrong with that guy? How can he think this situation calls for his brand of smart-aleck macho bird-flipping? Does he thinks parents are all "mo-fos"?

If his commitment is firm and his conscience clear, then why can't Rick Perry afford to express some compassion for the mayhem he is causing in the lives of Texas families? Why does he have to sneer at them?

On March 3 I had a column in the paper reminding us that Perry's responsibility for this catastrophe is not a theory. Five years ago then-Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a Republican, analyzed Perry's 2006 tax "reform" and made a stark prediction: Perry and his Banana Republican supporters had slashed property taxes but reneged on a promise to replace them with new business taxes.

Strayhorn said Perry's failure to do what he had promised on business taxes would create an overall state budget deficit of $23 billion in five years.

This is five years. The deficit is $27 billion. Strayhorn undershot it because she, like the rest of the world, failed to foresee the Wall Street meltdown. Otherwise it was right between the eyes.

The deficit in state aid to schools this year will be somewhere between five and 10 billion dollars. For Dallas that means firing between a quarter and a third of the entire teaching staff.

There were catch-in-the-throat blinking-back-tears moments in that board room yesterday at DISD headquarters. For once in my life I even felt empathy for the board and for district staff, struggling to salvage what they can from a torpedoed ship.

I said in my column two weeks ago that the people who are doing this stuff -- Perry, the Tea Party, the Banana Republicans and their Foxzi supporters -- do not mean well for our state, our community or our Republic.

But I talk too much. You don't have to read any of this. Just look at the sneer, man. It's all right there. Every single thing you need to know about all of this is right there in that Rick Perry sneer.

(Here's a report from KVUE in Austin that includes Perry's comment and some reaction to it.)

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