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Monday, October 24, 2016

Trial lawyers will tell you that any good prosecutor could convince a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

Well, meet that ham sandwich! Here in my burg of Austin, Texas, a grand jury has just indicted Gov. Rick “Rooti-Toot-Toot” Perry, a real ham — only not as smart. He’s charged with official abuse of power — specifically, threatening to veto all state funding for a public integrity unit that, among other things, was investigating corrupt favoritism in one of the governor’s pet projects. Perry was trying to muscle out of office the woman who is the duly elected head of that unit, presumably to halt its inquiry. Leave office, he publicly barked at her, or I’ll take away all your money. She didn’t, and he did.

Not smart, for that’s an illegal quid pro quo, much like linking a campaign donation to an official favor. This led to a judge, a special prosecutor, a grand jury and now the indictment of the gubernatorial ham sandwich.

Perry and his Republican operatives quickly denounced and even threatened both the special prosecutor and the jurors as partisan hacks who, in Rick’s words, “will be held to account.” Thuggish as that is, the national media have mostly swallowed Perry’s hokum that he’s the victim, indicted for nothing more than exercising his veto power. It’s crude politics, Rick howled. But political candidates should avoid getting defensive — as old-timers put it, any candidate who’s explaining is losing.

So it’s a hoot to watch Gov. Rick “Oops” Perry try to explain away his felony indictment for abusing his gubernatorial power. His first ploy has been to try dodging real questions by turning the indictment into a circus.

He literally mugged for the cameras when getting his mugshot taken as he turned this courthouse moment into a raucous Republican political rally. Image consultants had advised him to ditch the horn-rimmed glasses that previous image makers had told him to wear so he’d look smarter. Also, he wore a light-blue tie, for the consultants said that color conveys trust. Of course, he always coifs his trademark hair, but they also told him to apply skin makeup to avert any sweaty look and to put cool packs on his eyes on the morning of the shot so he wouldn’t look haggard or … well, guilty. Think pleasant thoughts as the picture is snapped, they instructed, and smile — but a humble smile, not an overconfident one.

Perry did all of the above, except the humble smile, giving his usual arrogant smirk instead. The day before his courthouse circus opened, Ringmaster Rick brought in the clowns — a whole troupe of $450-an-hour, hotshot lawyers wearing red power ties, came blustering onstage with Perry from out of a back room, as though tumbling out of a tiny clown car. Introduced as the indictee’s legal dream team, each tried to outdo the other in a slapstick show of résumés, puffing themselves up as junkyard-tough lawyers who would shred this prosecutor and his flimsy case. Meant to show how strong Perry is, the pack of lawyers only raised another question for Perry in the public mind: If the charges against you are nothing, as you keep saying, why do you need so many heavyweight, extremely pricey lawyers?

Perry has hornswoggled the pundits, but don’t let them fool you — Perry clearly abused his power as governor. Again, the issue is not Perry’s veto, but his linking of a veto threat to his effort to oust an elected public official. As for his hamming it up about being a poor victim of Democrats, the judge who appointed the prosecutor is a Republican, and the prosecutor himself was nominated to federal office by President Bush I, and endorsed by Texas’ Republican senators. This indictment is not a show. It’s way more serious than Perry is, and the real explaining he’ll have to do will be in a somber courthouse — under oath. To keep up with Perry’s circus, go to Texans for Public Justice at

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at

AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan

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  • Dominick Vila

    Why does The National Memo waste so much time on losers like Perry, Palin, and Bachmann? None of them have a chance of being the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2016, and if there is a lesson to be learned from what has taken place in red states in recent years, it is that the more crooked the candidate, the more their constituents like them. We don’t have a chance to unseat Republican incumbents in states like Texas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, or even Florida. Why don’t we focus on competitive states and districts, instead of parts of the country where ideology is incompatible with Democratic policies and goals?

    • sigrid28

      I have resigned myself to it. Maybe the National Memo’s advertisers like this sort of thing. We tolerate “feature” writing in all newspapers. I see stories like this as the National Memo’s equivalent, akin to “This Week in Crazy.” As Eeyore says glumly at his birthday party in “Winnie the Pooh,”: “You don’t always want to be sad on my birthday, do you, Little Pooh?”

    • Billie

      Well, we are working like beavers trying to get dems out to vote. Wendy may not win but by golly Abbot is going to get a run for his money. I took the class to be a certified voter registration clerk. There is some misconception in Texas that people who have committed felonies can never vote. In Texas that is wrong. If you have served your time and parole or probation you can vote. You only have to have cleared up all your problems.

    • stcroixcarp

      It’s August, Washington is on vacation so everyone is looking elsewhere for “news”.

    • Buford2k11

      Because the corruption has become a very difficult hurtle…the more we “See and Talk” about the corruption of this Nation, the more folks should realize how to change it…the Power structure in place now, doesn’t want any light shown on it…hence the distractions of the “clown car”…

    • FT66

      I have studied you Dominick for quite sometime, and have come to a conclusion that you are not a Dem, though most of the time you pretended to be the one. I might be wrong, BUT every part of my body tells me you are fooling us around. Why do you do so?? It is so absurd!

      • Dominick Vila

        Besides ideology, one of the greatest differences between Republicans and Democrats is that the former march in goose step to anything their leaders say, while the latter include a variety of convictions that range from center-right to center left orthodoxy.
        I support Social Security, MEDICARE, MEDICAID, the Affordable Care Act, and most of the foreign policy initiatives embraced by Democrats. However, I part ways on issues such as abortion, which I only support when the life of a mother is at stake, and in cases of proven incest or rape. I don’t support perpetual welfare, if nothing else because it promotes dependence on government handouts, which does not help the recipient overcome the problems they are having, and does not help us as a society. I also part ways on the issue of illegal immigration. I do not support amnesty for people who broke our laws, if nothing else because our laws must be respected and because amnesty encourages more people to enter the USA illegally. I believe children born in the USA are American citizens, consistent with the Constitution (14th Amendment), I support amnesty for the children of illegal immigrant parents who have been raised and educated in the USA, because I don’t believe we should punish children for crimes committed by their parents. On fiscal policy, I support living within our means, paying for what we need and use, stopping our dependence on borrowed money and accumulation of debt, and ending deficit spending.
        On the environment, I abhor “solutions” such as the Keystone pipeline, raising obstacles to delay the development of alternative energy sources, ostensibly to help the oil and coal industries.
        I believe strict regulation is needed to protect our environment, to ensure workers perform in safe environments, and to put an end to the abuses and corruption of Wall Street and at all levels of government.
        Last, but not least, I oppose the influence of money in American politics, I believe lobbyists should be banned from all government institutions and should not be allowed to promote their interests.
        If positions like these are disturbing to you, or are inconsistent with what you believe a Democrat should stand for, I think you have a bigger problem than I do.

  • midway54

    The clown always comes though with his antics. Those in the Loon Star State must be proud of him and their other rightwing crackpots like Gohmert and Cruz .

  • Buford2k11

    remember when Chris Christie joked about the Bridge?…

  • ExRadioGuy15

    I can see Dominick’s point about paying attention to GOP losers…
    However, I have a policy that I feel would work well….
    Unless a Republican is a currently-serving politician or running for political office, IGNORE THEM….
    Yosemite Sam is still the Governor of Texas, so he’s fair game. Since this indictment occurred as a result of his actions as Governor, he’s still fair game. And, should he announce a run for President in 2016, that would still make him fair game.
    But, in the cases of Fox “News”, Palin, Huckabee, Santorum, etc.: IGNORE THEM!

    • Faraday_Cat

      We (sane people) ignore them at our peril, because as much as we don’t want to give them a second thought, many on the right not only do that, but swallow it hook, line, and sinker. This is why we pay attention, because hearts and minds are being won over by the loads of BS that we would rather ignore.