The President of the United States must be a leader who can anticipate challenges and be pro-active about minimizing the risk of a disaster. The protection of the citizens of the United States must be the paramount concern of our President. In Rick Perry’s Texas his paramount concern is personal gain rather than wasting his time on the protection of Texans. Rick Perry has done irreversible damage to his state, and seems to think he should be promoted instead of jailed. The wildfires raging in Texas are a powerful example of the disaster of Rick Perry’s leadership in Texas. His failure to anticipate and mitigate the problems are predictive of the disaster that would inevitably follow President Perry.
As of August 30, 81 % of Texas’ land area was classified as being in the grips of “exceptional drought” conditions, the most serious of all categories. Since May the percentage of Texas in the “exceptional” category increased from 51% to 81%. This drought was identified as a problem for Texas as early as July of 2009, and two years ago it was projected to worsen. In the winter of 2010 the drought was identified as “one of the worst” in Texas. A child could have predicted that Texas was headed for unprecedented problems associated with the drought, including wildfires.
Rick Perry doesn’t believe that man has contributed to global warming. Even Dr. Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M, Perry’s alma matter, said:
“…humans have increased the temperature …pretty much everywhere. And what that means is it makes the heat more extreme and increases evaporation from the soil. “
The US National Academy of Sciences, along with the science academy of every major industrialized nation, believes that human activities — such as burning fossil fuels and cutting forests — contribute to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which is heating the planet.
During the Republican debate this week Perry was specifically asked to identify a single source of information to justify the argument that global warming is not real. Perry failed to identify even one.
Over 21,000 wildfires in Texas have burned 3.6 million acres since Rick Perry was re-elected for a third term as Governor of Texas. More than 1500 buildings have burned just since Sunday. Just one of these fires was 14 miles wide and burned Bastrop county, 25 miles east of Austin, Texas. Governor Rick Perry has pleaded with President Obama for help, while referring to him as an “abject liar.” At least four people have been killed and hundreds have lost their homes and all their worldly possessions. . Surely those devastated by the fires wouldn’t call the person in control of their future an “abject liar.”
Can we blame Rick Perry for the wildfires and/or the drought in Texas? Probably not. But we can blame Rick Perry for the failure to be prepared to fight the fires and to minimize the damage done. When it was known as early as July 2009 that Texas was facing unprecedented drought, there was time for a leader to anticipate the problems and prepare for an appropriate intervention. Instead of anticipating the problems, Rick Perry got a hair cut and went on vacation.
Instead of determining where he could find the funds necessary to support firefighters in the state, Rick Perry was giving away money to his political donors.
4. Funding for Firefighters
In Texas approximately 80% of the state’s firefighting force are volunteers. Those volunteers respond to 90% of the state’s wildfires. . Thus 80% of the state’s firefighters give of their time and risk their lives, and all they ask in return is that the State of Texas provide the equipment necessary to allow them to do their jobs. Rick Perry thought that was asking too much. Under Rick Perry’s leadership, Texas recently cut the funding for volunteer fire departments by 75%. The Texas Forest Service faces almost $34 million in budget cuts over the next two years, roughly a third of the agency’s total budget. Worse yet, the Forest Service in Texas has appropriated $117.7 million for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. That amount is not even enough to cover the expense of fighting the fires that are already burning in Texas. The state has already approved “supplemental spending” to pay for firefighting that has already taken place, which is also $61 million short of what is needed. In Rick Perry’s Texas, the budget intentionally appropriates less money than the Forest Service actually needs to maintain the illusion of fiscal responsibility. While demanding more federal money to make up the gap, Rick Perry declares that the Obama administration needs to stop spending.
5. Perry Relies on Prayer
On April 21, 2011 Rick Perry determined that the proper role of the government in Texas was to seek divine intervention, instead of human intervention. Perry declared that the citizens of Texas should pray for an end to the drought and wildfires. “Prayer” is a great political tool. It doesn’t cost anything. You can’t be blamed if it doesn’t work. It makes it appear that you are special. Any one who opposes or criticizes you is evil.
Here is Governor Perry’s Proclamation:
TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL COME:
WHEREAS, the state of Texas is in the midst of an exceptional drought, with some parts of the state receiving no significant rainfall for almost three months, matching rainfall deficit records dating back to the 1930s; and
WHEREAS, a combination of higher than normal temperatures, low precipitation and low relative humidity has caused an extreme fire danger over most of the State, sparking more than 8,000 wildfires which have cost several lives, engulfed more than 1.8 million acres of land and destroyed almost 400 homes, causing me to issue an ongoing disaster declaration since December of last year; and
WHEREAS, these dire conditions have caused agricultural crops to fail, lake and reservoir levels to fall and cattle and livestock to struggle under intense stress, imposing a tremendous financial and emotional toll on our land and our people; and
WHEREAS, throughout our history, both as a state and as individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up through prayer; it seems right and fitting that the people of Texas should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this devastating drought and these dangerous wildfires;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICK PERRY, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas. I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on those days for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal way of life.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto signed my name and have officially caused the Seal of State to be affixed at my Office in the City of Austin, Texas, this the 21st day of April, 2011.
Governor of Texas
Perry tried again 3 ½ months later by turning to prayer, instead of taking affirmative steps to solve the problem. He enlisted 30,000 people to pray with him in Houston at Reliant Stadium. It’s been longer than a month since those people prayed, and the fires are more prolific than ever.
The REAL DANGER
The wildfires in Texas will eventually be brought under control. People will buy new houses and acquire new possessions. The REAL danger is that Rick Perry is running for President. Imagine the harm that he could cause to the entire country. Every President in recent history has faced natural and man-made disasters. Hurricane Irene,
and the Gulf Oil Spill
are just a few of the most recent catastrophes that President Obama has faced. As President Obama faced each challenge, he may have said his prayers as he was flying over the devastation, but he took responsibility to do everything within his power to anticipate and address the crises.
In Rick Perry’s Texas his way of coping with a disaster is to blame the disaster on God, even though he or one of his financial supporters is clearly at fault. Remember when he said that the Gulf Oil spill was an “act of God”? Not only did Governor Perry fail to identify BP as the culprit, but he defended the company that had been a supporter to his campaign. Rick Perry said BP has “historically had a very good safety record from my perspective.”
This is an example of B.P’s “very good safety record,” which focuses on the failures of BP that occurred in Texas under Perry’s watch.
The Texas refinery was one of two BP refineries that accounted for 97% of all “flagrant” violations in the U.S. refining industry. Not only was BP responsible for virtually ALL of the refinery violations in the country, but 760 of the violations were classified as “egregious willful.” As if the explosion and the people killed or injured, on the day of the Texas City tragedy were not sufficient to get Governor Perry’s attention, OSHA imposed the largest fine in history against BP as a result of its many failures at the Texas City plant. In October 2009, just six months before the Gulf Oil explosion on the Deep Water Horizon well, OSHA imposed a record $87 million fine against BP for lack of compliance with safety regulations, and for failure to make agreed-upon improvements at its Texas City refinery. The US Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis, reported that during 17 inspections since the explosions four years ago, OSHA found 270 cases where BP failed to comply with changes BP had previously agreed to make. Additionally OSHA found 439 “willful” violations involving pressure release systems on units at the Texas City refinery.
BP donated $250,000 to restoration of the Governor’s mansion. According to the Austin American-Statesman, “The largest donation for renovating the Governor’s mansion is $250,000 from energy giant BP America.” (Source: Austin American-Statesman, January 30, 2009). Perry also gave $750,000 to create 150 jobs in League City, Texas. It was soon revealed that, “50 already work for BP and live in the area.”
Both the wildfires in Texas and the Texas Refinery explosion are very real and specific examples of Rick Perry’s failure as a Governor to take care of the citizens of Texas. When disaster could have been avoided or reduced, he failed to act. When BP repeatedly proved to be a danger, Rick Perry defended them. When the wildfires were predictable due to the unprecedented drought, Perry cut the budget for the very people who volunteered their time and lives to fight the fires. In Rick Perry’s Texas volunteer firemen are penalized, and employees of BP who repeatedly and consistently violate safety regulations are rewarded. BP donates money to Rick Perry. The volunteer firefighters have only their time to donate to their fellow Texans. When the state of Texas could not handle the financial burden of fighting the wildfires, Perry demanded that the Federal Government come to the rescue. That is the same Federal Government that Perry has condemned for spending too much money. While insulting the President, he expects the President to take care of Texas. While touting himself as a fiscal conservative and cutting the budget for firefighters in Texas, Rick Perry then calls upon President Obama to spend the money to help Texas that Perry was unwilling to spend. When another disaster occurs as a direct result of failure of BP to follow safety guidelines, Perry blames the disaster on God. Perry prays to God to solve the drought, but expects the Federal Government to save Texas when his prayers go unanswered. Whether Rick Perry’s actions, and inactions, were the result of corruption or just stupidity may be hard to determine. The lesson for the country is that we can’t afford to entrust our future to the prophet, Rick Perry.