The Brief: Top Texas News For June 30, 2011

The Big Conversation: 

As lawmakers wearily leave the pink building, Gov. Rick Perry wades further into presidential waters. 

The governor addressed a Boy Scout ceremony in San Diego as part of a California trip where he is presumably gauging support for a White House bid. He told the crowd there that the federal government is "rudderless" but urged hope for the future.

"I believe in this country because I believe in our people, and even in our darkest hours, the West Texas optimism that I have in my soul tells me that our brightest hour is just around the corner," he said.

Perry has reason for optimism in his presidential ambitions, too, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In a new national poll from McClatchy-Marist of registered voters, he ranked as  "America's favorite noncandidate" for commander-in-chief.

 

In a move that further underscores his attempt to widen his audience, Perry forayed into foreign policy with the release of a June 28 letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder condemning pro-Palestinian activists planning to disrupt Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza strip. After applauding the Obama administration's "efforts to warn and discourage" the protestors, Perry encouraged U.S. leaders to "aggressively pursue all available legal remedies to enjoin and prevent these illegal actions, and to prosecute any who may elect to engage in them in spite of your preemptive efforts."

This isn't the first time the governor has weighed in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And according to the Houston Chronicle's Peggy Fikac, it's a topic he's often discussed with State Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano. 

"I really do think this is sincere," she told Fikac, "Is it political? Probably. Is it sincere? Absolutely."

Culled:

· Members of the Texas House finally closed shop 24 hours after their colleagues in the Senate — but not without a flurry of finger-pointing as an anti-TSA groping measure failed. The bill's co-sponsor, Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, concluded his first session with a more than 15-minute-long personal privilege speech decrying the politics he said defeated the will of the people.

· A National Journal piece argues a Rick Perry presidential campaign would force "the GOP to confront its ambiguous relationship with the South," which it says has been both a "blessing and a burden" for Republicans. The region has become the bedrock of the GOP voter base — but as it has come to define its values, it has eroded support for the party in other parts of the country.  

· Fort Worth has become the first school district in the state to include harrassment based on gender identity and expression in its anti-bullying policy. Language prohibiting bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity was originally included in statewide bullying legislation considered by lawmakers this session, but was stripped out of the measure that ultimately passed. 

"I'm not only fed up with the TSA. I'm also fed up with phonies, especially phony politicians who take credit for legislation they seek to kill." — Simpson, on his experience of his first legislative session.

 

Must Read:

Rick Perry has a history of acrimony with George W. Bush — Los Angeles Times 

Obama Ignores Democratic Choices For Texas U.S. Attorneys; Chooses GOP Favorites — Main Justice

Gators get their move on in Texas — Austin American-Statesman

6th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upholds individual mandate — Politico

Rick Perry: Deft Leader or Teflon Governor? — The Texas Tribune

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