Yes, it’s that time for national political reporters to venture forth amongst the exotic creatures who have chosen not to live on the East Coast. The New York Times columnist Gail Collins is even going to write a book about Texas — for which Ray Wylie Hubbard already has a response. Just listen.
Anyway, another New York Times reporter goes to Paint Creek, Texas, the Panhandle town where Gov. Rick Perry was reared. The reporter learns that “Mr. Perry and his friends roamed the fields, camped out in the pastures, played with Mr. Perry’s Shetland pony and shot — or shot at — rabbits. They started driving tractors at about age 10 before they became Eagle Scouts….”
And a Washington Post reporter notes the differences between the two Republican frontrunners, Perry and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney:
One was born into a privileged family in a tony Michigan suburb; the other, onto a flat expanse of West Texas dirt with no indoor plumbing. One spent his youth tooling around his father’s car factory; the other, selling Bibles door to door so he could afford to buy a car. One excelled at Harvard University, simultaneously earning law and business degrees and swiftly climbing the corporate ladder; the other, his hope of becoming a veterinarian dashed when he flunked organic chemistry at Texas A&M University, joined the Air Force….
“In every single possible way, they come from different worlds,” said Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, who advised Romney in his 2008 race but is unaffiliated in the 2012 race. “You can see the playbook pretty clearly here: It’s populist against patrician, it’s rural Texas steel against unflappable Romney coolness, conservative versus center-right establishment, Texas strength versus Romney’s imperturbability, Perry’s simplicity versus Romney’s flexibility.”
• While we’re talking politics, can we remind candidates that when they go into restaurants to campaign, they need to pay their bills!
CNN reports from Darrell’s, a restaurant in Monticello, Iowa, frequented by politicians. The owner says that two politicians made stops at the place and “chumped me on the bill,” according to the owner.
• More people died from drug overdoses in 2009 than in traffic accidents, the L.A. Times reports:
While most major causes of preventable death are declining, drugs are an exception. The death toll has doubled in the last decade, now claiming a life every 14 minutes. By contrast, traffic accidents have been dropping for decades because of huge investments in auto safety.
The large increase in drug-related deaths is being fueled by a surge in prescriptions written for pain and anxiety drugs, such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma. One new drug, Fentanyl, is a painkiller that is 100 times more powerful than morphine but is administered through a patch or a lollipop.
In 2009, at least 37,485 people died from drug overdoses.
• The removal of dams on American rivers mentioned in the Weekend Roundup is the real deal.
The Portland paper wrote Sunday about the breaching of the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in Washington. On October 26th, a hole will be blown through the bottom of the dam, beginning the process of removing the entire dam.
• Amish living in Graves County, Kentucky, say they will not put orange triangles on the back of their buggies, as required by state law.
A judge ordered nine Amish men to jail last week for refusing to pay traffic fines for failure to have the warnings.
The Amish families put reflective tape and two red lights on their vehicles, but not the bright triangles, which they feel violate their code of modesty. The men say they are willing to serve more time rather than to mount the triangles.
• Most tax breaks go to households, not to corporate interests, a Washington Post article says:
The number of tax breaks has nearly doubled since the last major tax overhaul 25 years ago, with lawmakers adding new benefits for children, college tuition, retirement savings and investment. At the same time, some long-standing breaks have exploded in value, such as the deduction for mortgage interest and the tax-free treatment of health-insurance premiums paid by employers.
All told, federal taxpayers last year received $1.08 trillion in credits, deductions and other perks while paying $1.09 trillion in income taxes, according to government estimates.
Only about 8 percent of those benefits went to corporations. (The write-off for corporate jets equals about .03 percent of the total.) The bulk went to private households, primarily upper-middle-class families that Obama has vowed to protect from new taxes.