A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ludacris vs. Toby Keith

This must be the silly season. The Republicans are now trying to blame Barack Obama for some lyrics in a song by the popular rapper, Ludacris. Just because Obama has said in the past that he likes the music of Ludacris, the brain-dead right-wing thinks they can now hold him responsible for every lyric Ludacris writes.

In his song, Ludacris had some harsh words for George Bush, John McCain, Jesse Jackson and Hillary Clinton. Frankly, although the lyrics are pretty raw, they contain a lot of truth. Personally, I also like the music of Ludacris. But that doesn't mean I am responsible for his lyrics. Neither is Obama.

But while they condemn the lyrics of Ludacris, the rabid right doesn't seem to have any problem with the lyrics of McCain supporter Toby Keith. As The Field Negro points out, the Toby Keith lyrics glorify lynching. His song contains the following words:

"Grandpappy told my pappy back in my day, son A man had to answer for the wicked that he'd done Take all the rope in Texas Find a tall oak tree, round up all of them bad boys Hang them high in the street For all the people to see..."

Glorifying lynching seems to me to be far worse than anything Ludacris said, but no one on the right is trying to hold McCain responsible for those lyrics. That's because he's not responsible. Only Toby Keith is responsible. By the same token, only Ludacris is responsible for his lyrics -- not Obama or anyone else.

Sometimes the right-wing just maxes out on stupidity.

Just Too Funny



Pictures were taken from the blog of Yellowdog Granny.

Pelosi: Where's The Leadership ?

We learned recently that the Justice Department broke the law by using political beliefs as a factor in determining who would be hired, and tried to manipulate the elections by targeting Democrats for prosecution.

Many people, including myself, believe this was done at the request of the Bush administration. The House Judiciary Committee is investigating this, and recently subpoenaed Karl Rove to testify about it.

Of course, in keeping with the established practices of the Bush administration, Rove thumbed his nose at the committee and the law. Instead of testifying, he went to Europe. He claimed he had "executive privilege".

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee showed some backbone. They voted, along party lines, to cite Rove for Contempt of Congress because he ignored the subpoena. It looked like the Democrats were finally going to hold the Bush administration responsible for their unlawful actions.

But that was before the matter got to Speaker Pelosi. Instead of taking the matter to the full House for a vote, she has decided to play politics with this very serious matter. Her staff says there will be no vote before September, if she even lets it come to a vote then. There is the very real possibility that there will not be a vote at all.

I guess that Pelosi is afraid that it will look like the big bad Democrats are picking on the helpless Republicans. She's afraid that will cost Democrats some votes in the next election. So, once again, she's going to make it look like Democrats are "wussing out" and knuckling under to the Bush administration.

She obviously doesn't realize the Democrats were given a majority so they could rein in the Bush administration. The American people are looking for politicians who will stand up and do the right thing, regardless of the consequences. But instead of showing real leadership, she resorts to political maneuvering.

It was bad enough that she abdicated leadership over the horrible FISA bill, and told each member to vote as he or she saw fit. Now she is doing it again. If she refuses to allow the House to vote on this contempt citation, it will just look to voters like Democrats don't have the courage to stand up for what's right.

This is nothing less than a lack of leadership. Pelosi has shown herself to be a weak Speaker. When the new House convenes early next year, the Democrats should dump her and install a real Democrat who's not afraid to demonstrate some real leadership.

I'm proud of the Democrats for tossing out the old stereotypes and electing a woman to be Speaker. It's just sad that they chose a woman with no leadership qualities or political courage.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The "Nanny State" Strikes Again


The "Nanny State" is alive and well in Los Angeles. The city council has decided that poor people in that city are too stupid to make their own choices, so they're going to force them to make the right choices. After all, the city council members are so much smarter than poor people.

In their infinite wisdom, the council has decided that poor people in Los Angeles are too fat. To remedy this situation, they have banned the opening of any new fast food restaurants in an impoverished part of the city for at least one year. They say it's to give the area time to attract healthier food outlets.

This is just stupid. When did it become the government's job to force people to eat "healthier"? What happened to freedom of choice? Of course, by banning the fast food joints, they are also banning the new jobs they would bring to the area. It would seem to me that jobs are exactly what is needed in a poverty-stricken part of town.

I don't have any problem with the government or any private group trying to educate the public on how to live a healthier lifestyle (or anything else). That is just free speech. But when actions are banned by the government, that is just wrong. In a free country, people should be able to make their own choices, even if those choices are not good ones.

It's ignorant and elitist thinking like this that makes me glad I don't live in Los Angeles.

Alaska Senate Race Now In Play

Even though Democrats thought they had an outside chance of winning the senate race in Alaska this year, most pundits thought it was just wishful thinking. Ted Stevens has held that seat since 1968 and it looked like he would win it again. After all, he's brought a ton of "pork" home to Alaska.

But yesterday, all that changed. Senator Stevens was indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges. He has been charged with seven counts of making false statements on his financial disclosure forms. He failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from Veco and it's CEO Bill Allen. Allen pled guilty in May 2007 to making "corrupt payments" to Alaskan officials.

Now there is some doubt as to whether Stevens can even win the Alaskan primary next month. If he does, he will enter the November elections with the charges hanging over his head. If not, then there will be no incumbent in the election.

This is all very good for the Democrats, especially since their candidate is a pretty popular politician -- Mark Begich, the mayor of Anchorage. With all their ethical lapses, the Republicans just keep trying to make it easier for Democrats this year.

Minimum Wage Woes


Cartoon is by Larry Wright in The Detroit News.

Cowboys Cornerback Injured


In Monday morning's practice, cornerback Terence Newman was injured. He was hit "awkwardly" during the practice and injured his left leg near the groin area. Coach Wade Phillips said it was a "significant" muscle tear. It is estimated that he will be out 3-4 weeks and will miss the first two pre-season games.

At this point, I can only hope that the doctors are right and he will be ready when the season opens. The secondary is the absolute worst place for a team injury. Last year, the biggest weakness on the team was a lack of depth at cornerback. The starters, Newman and Henry, were good, but there was a significant drop in ability when one of them was out of the game.

In the off-season, the Cowboys were able to sign "Pacman" Jones. He's an excellent cornerback, but he has yet to be re-instated by the commissioner. Hopefully, he'll be re-instated by the start of the regular season. He has been given permission to practice with the team and is currently in camp. On Tuesday, he filled in for Newman on the first team.

Coach Phillips seems to think Jones will be available by the start of the season. He said, “The guy came in to all our OTAs and there’s been no problems that I know of and worked with the team and now he’s working all of training camp. To me, I am kind of counting on that he will be here for the first game.”

The Cowboys also drafted two cornerbacks this year -- Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick. Both are talented and show a lot of promise, but they are rookies and have yet to show they can handle NFL receivers. It would be better if we didn't have to start one of them right away.

That's why we need Newman back for the season. With he and Henry as starters, and Jones providing the depth, Jenkins and Scandrick could be worked into the lineup more slowly as they learn more about the pro position.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hate-Mongering And Murder


On Sunday, a sick and depraved individual attacked a group of peace-loving citizens at a Unitarian-Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. He killed two people and wounded several others with a shotgun before he was stopped.

This is especially sad because the group he attacked (Unitarians) are among the most loving and non-violent and tolerant people in this country. None of them would have ever done anything to harm this man -- Jim Adkisson (pictured above). Why would he attack such decent and kind people?

Evidently, he was angry because he was out of work and decided to take it out on "liberals". I'm sure he thought he was doing his country and his church a favor by killing some liberals. Adkisson is a sick individual, and deserves a harsh punishment from the state of Tennessee.

But he is not the only one to blame. For the last several years, there has been a concerted effort by right-wingers and fundamentalists to demonize liberals, and they have been very successful. They have labeled liberals as un-American, un-christian and hateful people, and a lot of sick perverts like Adkisson have bought into the lie.

Hate-mongers like Ann Coulter, Karl Rove, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly and many others must accept their share of the blame for this tragedy. They created and put forth the lies so they could gain and hold onto power and enrich themselves and their friends, but in doing so they also fueled the fantasies of sickos like Adkisson.

It's time to tone down the rhetoric in this country. I have a political viewpoint, and I expect conservatives to have their own viewpoint. But just because we disagree on what is best for the country does not make either side evil.

The hate-mongering has gone too far when it results in murder.

More WMD's ?



Cartoon by Cameron (Cam) Cardow in The Ottawa Citizen.

Another Record Deficit Is Predicted


When Democratic President Bill Clinton left office, he gave the incoming president a surplus of $128 billion. It only took George Bush one year to blow that surplus and return the U.S. government to deficit status. In fact, he has posted growing deficits every year of his presidency, and it is now predicted that he will leave the next president with the largest deficit the United States has ever had.

Bush took office calling himself a "small government" conservative, but his spending has been anything but conservative. The deficit for 2009 is now predicted to be a record-breaking $482 billion.

Bush is now blaming the bad economy and the "economic stimulus". I gues he's forgotton that the stimulus package was his own idea. And his cutting of taxes while spending record amounts has a lot to do with our current economic disaster.

Senator Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) puts it well when he says, "If they gave out Olympic medals for fiscal irresponsibility, President Bush would take the gold, silver and bronze. With his eight years in office, he will have had the five highest deficits ever recorded. And the highest of those deficits is now projected to come in 2009, as he leaves office."

Of course, now the Republicans will try and convince Americans that it's the Democrats who are fiscally irresponsible. For Republicans, it's always listen to what we say and ignore what we do.

Gonzales Aides Violated Federal Law


Yesterday, the Justice Department's internal investigation unit submitted their report on the department's hiring practices under Attorney General Gonzales, and it was not good. The report accuses high-ranking members of the Justice Department as not only violating department policies, but also violating federal law.

The report accused several department members as lawbreakers (Kyle Sampson, Jan Williams and Susan Richmond), but singled out Monica Goodling (pictured above) as perhaps the most egregious violator of policy and law.

Goodling (and the others) used political affiliation as a litmus test for employment. She used questioned like "What do you admire most about George Bush?" and "How long have you been a Republican?" to include or exclude applicants during the hiring interview.

A good example is when she refused to hire an attorney with terrorism experience because his wife was active in the Democratic Party. Instead, she hired an attorney with much less experience because he was a Republican.

As for Attorney General Gonzales, the report determined that he probably was not aware of what was going on. Gonzales seems to think the report exonerates him. I don't. The report didn't prove him innocent, it just didn't find enough evidence to prove him guilty.

But even assuming he didn't know Goodling was violating the law, I have to wonder why he didn't know. Did he turn his head because he didn't want to know? Or was he just incredibly incompetent? Personally, I think he turned his head and gave tacit approval of the law-breaking.

Current Attorney General Mukasey assures us that the Justice Department no longer is doing this sort of thing. But then, this is the AG who can't figure out whether water-boarding is torture. Can we really believe him?

Monday, July 28, 2008

TPA Weekly Review


TXsharon challenges you to view these pictures of Domestic Drilling Armageddon in the Barnett Shale and still support the Drill and Burn Domestic Drilling agenda.

U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez' Republican challenger for the 23rd Congressional seat is
taken to task by Mike Thomas of Rhetoric & Rhythm for shirking his responsiblity on a critical hospital expansion vote before the Bexar County Commissioner's Court.

WCNews at
Eye On Williamson posts on the GOP's "latest" energy plan in Carter, Oil, & Hair Of The Dog.

Neil at Texas Liberal asks what would be the impact if Polar Bears could vote.

Off the Kuff looks at a Texas Monthly overview of the effects of the Presidential race on downballot elections in Texas and offers his criticism of it.

Guest Columnist JR Behrman at Texas Kaos has a few strong words about
Energy Policy: Democrats Routed. He also has a Texas Plan.

Julie Pippert of the MOMocrats asks the Obama campaign to explain its absence in Texas after they announced the roll-out of their Spanish-Language ads as an outreach to Hispanic voters, then discusses a Senate proposal that would require 50% of US cars to have a flexible fuel system by 2012, and finally the MOMocrats share the draft of their position paper to be submitted to the Democratic National Committee for inclusion in the party platform.

McBlogger
had a great time in the subprime panel at Netroots Nation. So good in fact that he decided to offer some of his own solutions since the panelists, including the dimwitted Rep. Brad Miller, decided to offer nothing of substance.

XicanoPwr reports on the latest poll by the Pew Hispanic Center on the Latino vote. Latino polling shows that 66% of Latino registered voters will support Obama.

Burnt Orange Report points out that Ag Commissioner
Todd Staples finally comes around to what Democrat (and future Ag Commissioner) Hank Gilbert has been saying all along- Texan's are being overcharged at the gas pump due to lack of state inspections.

BossKitty at TruthHugger dreams about the "Count Down To Accountability - Bush, Cheney Indictments"

refinish69 from
Doing My Part For The Left invites everyone to meet Annette Taddeo- A True Progressive Democrat.

jobsanger writes about how after years of the Bush Presidency even our cloest traditional ally no longer trusts us in
Brits Don't Trust Bush On Torture.

Obama and the down-ballot races in Texas are the focus of two articles by R.G. Ratcliffe of the Houston Chronicle. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs summarizes, and finds some to agree with and some not.

Mean Rachel writes an
open letter to Rep. Elliot Naishtat, encouraging him to consider joining the technology age and starting an inexpensive, easy-to-use website tailor-made for state legislators with Wired for Change's DLCCWeb, a Netroots exhibitor.

nytexan at BlueBloggin keeps an eye on Mitch McConnell, the GOP king of distortion and extortion. McConnell plans to block legislation that can impact Americans now and push for a bill whose product will not be seen for 10 years; McConnell Extorts Senate For Off Shore Drilling. McConnell never fails to please Bush and his corporate buddies.

WhosPlayin looks at a new
USGS petroleum estimate for the Arctic Circle, and notes that only a small portion of ANWR is estimated to be productive, and that the study doesn't address economic feasibility. (Includes Map)

Vince from Capitol Annex tells us that, while indicted former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land) won't accept a presidential pardon, he'd love one from Texas Governor Rick Perry.

State Representative John Davis needs a new
pair of boots!
Karl Rove is coming to fundraise for State Rep Davis, probably so he can buy some more pairs of $1500 custom boots!

CouldBeTrue from South Texas Chisme gets upset with crappy newspaper article.

Repubs Getting Desperate About HD 129


Things are certainly getting interesting in House District 129. There was a time when this was considered a safe district for the Republicans -- but no more. Democrat Sherrie Matula is proving to be a much more formidible candidate than the Republicans expected.

Matula has outraised her opponent in campaign funds, and currently has a few dollars more on hand than does her opponent. Her campaign workers have also hit the ground and knocked on over 5,000 doors in the district, with more being done each weekend. It's now looking like Matula has a very good chance of beating the Republican incumbent.

It looks like the Republicans think so, too. So much so that House Speaker Craddick has decided to step in and give the Republican a hand. According to Capitol Annex, Craddick has decided to give a fundraiser for Republican John Davis, and the guest of honor is someone from the Bush administration -- Karl Rove.

Yes, Craddick has reached into the gutter and invited the dirtiest Republican campaigner of all. A man who would expose our covert CIA agents, pervert the purpose of the Justice Department, ignore subpoenas from the U.S. Congress and lie to the American people.

With people like Craddick and Rove on his side, it becomes even more important to defeat John Davis in HD 129. It is time for honesty and competence in that district, and that can only be provided in this coming election by Sherrie Matula.

She's going to need more funds to match what Craddick and Rove will provide for her opponent. If you can, give her a small (or large) donation. Or volunteer to her her campaign. With your help, we can send one more ethically-challenged Republican home to stay.

McCain Nightmare



Political Cartoon by Mike Luckovich in Atlanta Journal Constitution

Spaniard Wins Tour de France

The 2008 Tour de France ended yesterday in the streets of Paris. This year's Tour was won by Spanish rider Carlos Sastre. Sastre is a veteran rider who has been among the best riders in the Tour for several years, but this is the first time he has won the big prize -- the overall championship.

The best American finish this year was by Christian Vandevelde. The Chicago rider finished in fifth place -- only 3' 05" behind the winner after 21 stages and a couple of thousand miles of racing. It was a great finish and establishes him as one of the favorites for next year's Tour de France. He rode for America's Garmin Chipotle team.

The other American team, Columbia, also showed themselves to be very competitive. They had a team member win five of the Tour's stages. Both American teams were competing in their first Tour de France, and will probably do even better next year. Here are this year's winners:


YELLOW JERSEY (overall winner)
Carlos Sastre (Spain) CSC Saxo Bank

GREEN JERSEY (sprinter)
Oscar Freire (Portugal) Rabobank

POLKA DOT JERSEY (climber)
Bernhard Kohl (Austria) Gerolsteiner

WINNING TEAM
CSC Saxo Bank

Will Ft. Worth Regret It's Greed ?


Back in April and May of this year, Fort Worth approved the drilling for natural gas within it's city limits. Both residents and government officials let their greed get the best of them, and opted for kick cash from the drilling companies. The right to drill for the gas was given both in residential areas and in the downtown area. Soon drilling rigs and pipelines will be all over the city.

The gas companies have made all sorts of promises to the city about clean drilling and safe pipelines, but the sad fact is that they're promises that probably can't be kept. There is no such thing as clean drilling or pipelines that will not leak (at least eventually).

Take for example, the land owned by Jay Marcom in Ranger, Texas. His land is criss-crossed by pipelines and a compressor station, and they're leaking. His surface dirt smells like oil and the ground water smells like gasoline. And both have been polluted with chemicals like benzene, xylene and toluene -- all are cancer-causing agents. In fact, the ground water is so polluted that if you put a match to it, it will burn.

Is this the legacy the gas companies are leaving Fort Worth? Things seem fine now as wallets are fattened and promises are made. But what about the future. Will future generations inherit a city where large portions of it are toxic sludge pits and poisoned soil and water?

Fort Worth is a wonderful city that has just recently revitalized it's downtown. I hope they're not now sowing the seeds of their own destruction.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jealousy



Cartoon is by Mike Lane in the Baltimore Sun

A Day Of Executions


Today, Iran will be showing the world just what a backward nation they really are. They will be publically executing 30 people. Executions in Iran are carried out by hanging the person from a large crane (see picture above).

Some of the people being executed have committed serious crimes such as murder, kidnapping, armed robbery and smuggling arms. Sadly though, others are being executed for far less serious crimes such as selling drugs or alcohol. Some will be executed for activity that would not even be considered a crime in most countries, such as adultery.

Last year Iran executed 317 people. Only China executed more people (470). The United States executed 42 people, most of them here in Texas. I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't like the company we're keeping on this issue.

I think it's time we joined the rest of the civilized world, and outlawed government-sanctioned killing.

Republican Dream



Cartoon by Mike Keefe, The Denver Post

Are Cowboys In Trouble At Wide Receiver ?


Yesterday, the Dallas Cowboys released wide receiver Terry Glenn, who they had been counting on to return this season as their number two receiver. Glenn was a great wide receiver, but had missed most of last year because of a knee injury.

The Cowboys wanted him to agree to only a $500,000 paycheck if he was unable to play again because of the knee. Glenn wanted his entire paycheck, whether he was able to play or not. In the end, Jerry Jones decided not to take the chance and released him.

Now many in the media are worried that the Cowboys may not have enough depth at wide receiver, and this might keep them from going as far as they could otherwise. Some are even using words like "desperation". Personally, I think that's going a bit overboard at this point.

It's pretty obvious who the number one receiver for the Cowboys is -- Terrell Owens (pictured above). He's just signed a new contract and is still one of the best wide receivers in the league (if not the best). The number two receiver is Patrick Crayton. He performed well in that capacity last year and there's no reason to believe he won't do as well or better this year.

It's the number three and four receiver spots that is worrying most people. The Cowboys run quite a few plays requiring three wide receivers, and that makes these two spots very important.

There are three returning players that could well fill these slots -- Sam Hurd, Miles Austin and Isaiah Stanback. All are pretty talented and now that they have a little experience, they might be ready to step in and contribute some valuable minutes. I hope so, because with Glenn gone, as least two of them must be productive.

But even if all of them perform as expected, that only makes five receivers, and the Cowboys will probably keep at least six receivers. Right now the two most likely prospects for the sixth slot are rookies Mike Jefferson and Danny Amendola. I'm partial to Amendola.

If you were lucky enough to see some Texas Tech games, then you know what an extraordinary player he is. He may not be the biggest or the fastest receiver, but he's a real "player". He catches everything thrown his way, and when it comes down to clutch-time, there's nobody better to depend on. He reminds me a bit of a past Cowboy with a knack for making third-down plays -- Preston Pearson.

Training camp has only just started, but I believe Amendola has a really good chance of making this team. And if the other receivers don't watch out, he may wind up as the fourth or fifth receiver in his rookie year.

The Cowboys still might trade for a receiver, but I personally don't think it's necessary. I like the crop of receivers they have.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Iraq Banned From 2008 Olympics

In spite of the continuing violence in their occupied country, Iraq had been planning on sending a small contingent to the 2008 Olympics in China. They had two rowers, a weightlifter, a sprinter, a discus thrower, a judoka and an archer that were hoping to make the trip. But it doesn't look like that will be happening now.

The International Olympic Committee has announced that Iraqi athletes will not be allowed to compete in the upcoming Olympics. IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said, "The deadline for taking up places for Beijing for all sports except athletics has now passed. The IOC very sadly has now to acknowledge that it is likely there will be no Iraqi presence at the Beijing Olympic Games, despite our best efforts. Clearly, we'd very much like to have seen Iraq's athletes in Beijing. We are very disappointed that the athletes have been so ill-served by their own government's actions."

Iraq was banned because the puppet Maliki government replaced the duly elected Iraq Olympic Committee with government appointees last May. On June 4th the IOC placed a ban on Iraqi athletes, because a country's olympic committee must be free from government influence accoding to the IOC charter.

The IOC had asked the Iraqi government to meet with them in Switzerland to try and remedy the situation, but the Iraqis ignored that request. Once again the ineffectual puppet government in Iraq has shown it is incapable of completing any task it is given.

It's too bad the Iraqi athletes will not be allowed to compete, but the IOC should not be blamed. The blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the Iraqi government.

Some Parents Are Stupid

What the hell gets into some parents when they choose a name for their child? Do they not care that the child is going to have to live with that name?

A judge in New Plymouth, New Zealand, did an unusual thing in a custody case he was hearing. He made the child a temporary ward of the state so she could change her name. The 9-year-old girl was so embarrassed by her given name that she refused to tell anyone at her school what it was. She just told them to call her "K".

The judge said, "The court is profoundly concerned about the very poor judgment which this child's parents have shown in choosing this name. It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap, unnecessarily."

What was the name these wayward parents chose? The name was "Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii". I don't know what would make the parents choose such a ridiculous name, but I think it's very close to being child abuse.

I don't know the girl's new name, but whatever it is it has to be better than the one her parents gave her. I applaud the judge's action.

The Bush Flip-Flop



Political cartoon is by Nate Beeler, The Washington Examiner

Southwest Airlines Bucks The Trend


Recently several airlines have revealed that they are experiencing millions of dollars in losses. They blame this on the rising costs of jet fuel. But this week, Southwest Airlines bucked that trend by reporting a second quarter profit of $321 million. In spite of the rising fuel costs, their profits are actually larger than the second quarter profits they posted last year ($278 million).

In an effort to try and cover their huge losses, most other airlines have initiated a host of extra fees their customers must pay. These include charging for checked luggage, aisle seats, extra leg room and beverages. But Southwest hasn't added any of these fees, and they still turned a nice profit. How did they do it?

They were able to do it by contracting to lock in lower fuel costs with their suppliers. A little planning and foresight can go a long way. They are currently raising ticket prices gradually at some locations, and are instituting a more expensive business fare.

This is just the difference between an airline who's leadership plans for the future, and other airlines who are constantly trying to catch up with what happened yesterday.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Cowboys Are Back !



It's that time of year again. The time when Dallas Cowboys football gets started. As readers of this blog know, there is no sports team I love as much as my Dallas Cowboys. Since they started in 1960, I have never missed a game either in person, on TV or on the radio.

Well, except for one -- the day I was shot. That day, the Cowboys played while I was in the operating room. But even then, the first question I asked when I woke up was, "Did the Cowboys win?" That will give you some idea of how big a Cowboys fan that I am.

The team arrives in training camp today. Their first practice is tomorrow afternoon. The first pre-season game (and yes, I even love the pre-season games) is on August 9th against the San Diego Chargers. I can hardly wait.

What a great time of the year!

Birds Of A Feather



Cartoon by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

Sorry, John - It Wasn't The Surge !


The last few days have not been good for John McCain. After casting his lot with an extended war in Iraq and staying until a final victory is achieved, it seems like everyone, even his friends have turned against him.

Obama has been saying for some time that he would withdraw all the troops from Iraq within a general timetable of 16 months. A few days ago, the Iraqi leader (Maliki) also began to press for a timetable for withdrawal. He even went further and said Obama's timetable sounded about right to him. Then George Bush succumbed to pressure from the Iraqis and agreed to "time horizons" -- he couldn't bring himself to call it a timetable.

The American public is further from McCain's position. Over 63% of Americans would like to see the troops withdrawn within a year. This left McCain out in the cold on the withdrawal situation. So for a few days he's just been repeating that the surge was his idea and it worked, and Obama should admit that. But is it the truth?

In the first 6 1/2 months of 2008, over 220 Americans and more than 4,000 Iraqis have been killed. That is a long way from victory, but it does reflect a cut in the number of deaths. McCain would have us believe the troop surge was responsible for the smaller number of deaths. Some of the media are buying his argument.

But the truth is that two other things happened in Iraq about the same time as the troop surge, and both of them probably had more to do with the drop in deaths than the troop surge did. First, many of the Sunni tribal chiefs stopped supporting al-Queda and began to fight them. Second, al-Sadr declared a truce and ordered his Shiite brigades to not attack American troops.

Without those two things happening, it is highly doubtful that the troop surge would have had any effect at all. Also, with the two things occuring, the drop in the number of deaths would have happened even without a troop surge.

I realize that McCain is grasping at straws to try and maintain his credibility regarding the Iraq war, but his argument that the troop surge worked just doesn't hold water.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chesapeake Energy Attacks Texas Blogger


For the last few months, one of our blogger friends has been exposing the shenanigans of Chesapeake Energy and others as they drill the Barnett Shale. TxSharon of the excellent blog Bluedaze, has written posts and posted pictures of gas drilling companies who have left unsightly messes, and poisoned the land and groundwater in violation of state rules (even though the Republicans on the Railroad Commission choose to ignore the transgressions).

I have been very proud of TxSharon's actions in exposing these egregious violations. But it looks like she's getting to the company, because in their latest newsletter, Powell Barnett Shale Newsletter, they attack her by calling her a "radical" and saying she has no right to be doing what she is doing.

If exposing illegal and unethical behavior by a corporation is "radical", then we need a lot more radicals here in Texas. I was particularly offended by the following:

"...we find it disturbing that outsiders who have no stake whatsoever and are often ill-informed somehow think that they have the right to influence public policy. These policies could result in the minerals owned by law-abiding citizens not being developed, in clear violation of the law of the State of Texas.

In these United States of America we are granted freedom of speech and freedom to assemble. However, in our opinion outsiders who have no legal stake in an area and often don’t have all the facts have no right to try to influence public policy that only impacts someone else. Not in My Backyard is everyone’s right. Not in Someone Else’s Backyard however, is absurd and cannot be tolerated."

Frankly, this sounds like intimidation to me. They are trying to make it sound like TxSharon is breaking the law by exercising her right of free speech. Poisoning groundwater is illegal (or at least should be), but informing the public about it is definitely not.

And since when do citizens not have the right to try to influence public opinion, regardless of who's property is being discussed? When was our free speech restricted to matters only relating to our own property? Can we not also try to warn our neighbors and fellow citizens when we see wrong being done? Of course we can!

I applaud the excellent blogging on Bluedaze. I urge everyone to go over there and read it. This is information everyone needs to know. As for the gas company, maybe they'd better re-read our Constitution.

(Above picture is of sludgepond - courtesy of Bluedaze)

Progress In Afghanistan



Political cartoon by Moir, Sydney, Australia, The Morning Herald

Court Ruling Puts Davis On Ballot


It looks like the lackluster senator from District 10 in Fort Worth is going to have to beat his opponent in the November election if he wants to keep his seat. Kim Brimer, a Republican state senator with ethical concerns (he charged the state for "rent" he said he paid to his wife), has lost the court case he filed against his Democratic opponent.

Brimer had filed the court challenge in an effort to keep his opponent, Wendy Davis, off the November ballot. He claimed she could not legally run because even though she had resigned her city council seat before declaring her candidacy, she had to serve until her replacement was chosen (as the law required).

The court ruled that the Davis candidacy did not violate the rules, and she should be on the November ballot. That's bad news for Brimer. Davis was a very popular council-member, and a 2008 poll of District 10 voters showed only a minority of them even know who Brimer is. There is a very good chance he will lose in November.

Because of this, there is a very good chance Brimer will appeal the decision. His best chance of winning is to not have an opponent. I doubt if the appeal will help him much though. Davis did everything she could do to follow the rules.

Upon hearing of the ruling, Wendy Davis said, "I'm very very confident in the law and I'm very confident, that regardless of the appellate level that hears this case, we are legally on the ballot. I hope it sends a message to my opponent. That message being that it's time to start debating the issues that are important to the voters of Senate District 10 and put aside these petty legal obstacles."

The Slow Death Of Newspapers


Princeton Survey Research Associates International recently did a survey of newspapers in the United States. The survey included 50% of newspapers with a circulation of over 100,000 and 30% of newspapers with a circulation between 50,000 and 100,000. What they found was not encouraging.

They found that newspapers are containing less news than in the past, especially national and international news. What little national and international news they do carry is probably pulled off one of the wire services. That's because nearly all the papers are reducing their staff of reporters.

The dwindling pool of reporters are being used to cover mainly local stories, and even then they must cover more stories than in the past. This results in shorter, more superficial stories. In-depth coverage is becoming a thing of the past.

Most of the editors surveyed blame the internet for their problems. More and more people are getting their news from the internet. Even though the papers have established their own sites on the internet, they have yet to figure out how to make as much money off their internet ads as they do on their lucrative print ads. Less money means less reporters, and that translates into fewer and more superficial stories in the paper.

I believe this is true. The internet has to be affecting newspapers. But I believe this survey is ignoring another factor that is having just as big a negative effect on newspapers as the internet -- corporate ownership.

It is getting to be almost impossible to find a home-owned newspaper. Almost all newspapers, especially those with less than a 100,000 circulation, have been bought by large corporate conglomerates. A prime example of this is my own home-town newspaper, the Amarillo Globe-News. It is now owned by a Georgia-based corporation.

Ask yourself, what is the primary concern of this Georgia corporation? Is it to inform the Amarillo public of the news that is important to them? If you answered yes to that, then you're a very naive person. Their primary concern is the same as any other corporation -- to maximize their profit.

If a corporation can make more money by firing reporters and getting their stories off the wire, then that is what they'll do. If they can get more profit by firing reporters and increasing the load on the remaining reporters, then that is what they'll do. The quality of the product is of little concern as long as the bottom line shows a healthy profit.

And while most newspapers would be loathe to admit it, the corporate interest in the bottom line affects the newspaper in other ways. You simply will not see a negative story about a business or business-owner, especially if they're heavy buyers of newspaper ads. If it is a big story that cannot be ignored, it will be very superficial. You won't get the in-depth dirt on that person or company.

And most editorial pages have long-ago gave up any pretense of fairness. They are little more than corporate-Republican propaganda pages. I don't even go to the editorial page of my home-town newspaper anymore, because I know from experience it'll contain nothing but corporate-friendly right-wing crap.

Most of the editors in the Princeton survey are worried about the future (and they should be). About 95% of them said they had no idea what their newsroom would look like even 5 years from now.

I don't know if the profit-driven newspapers as we know them can survive or not. But sadly, the news-driven papers of the past are dying fast. Quality in-depth reporting and fairness belong to another era.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Poor Taxpayer



Cartoon by Nate Beeler, The Washington Examiner

Potter County Jail Problems


This hasn't been a good year at the Potter County Jail. It seems like the problems just won't stop. It started with the jail failing its state inspection. According to the inspectors, there were overcrowding, cleanliness and staff training problems.

Then the county sheriff was arrested. Last month, he was convicted of bribery and is currently in a neighboring county's jail. A new sheriff was appointed until one could be elected next November, and it was hoped better days were ahead.

Then a couple of weeks ago, a prisoner committed suicide by hanging himself. He was awaiting trial for murder. It was not something a person wants to see, but sometimes these things do happen.

But a couple of days ago, another prisoner was found dead in an isolation cell. No details have been released about this death, and the body has been sent to Lubbock for an autopsy. Maybe it's just a weird coincidence, but two deaths in less than a month is a lot even for a jail in a large urban area, let alone a city the size of Amarillo.

Hopefully, the people of Potter County will elect a new sheriff with the experience and leadership qualities to take the jail into better times. We really don't need another year like this one has been.

McCain's Foreign Policy Descent


Ask nearly anyone in the media, and they would tell you that McCain's strong point is his foreign policy expertise. That would be bad enough in a campaign that most people think will be decided on domestic economic issues, but it seems like McCain and his handlers are determined to destroy even his credibility on foreign policy.

There have been a series of gaffes, some of them almost unbelievable. First, McCain decides it's a good idea to take a hard line on the Iraq War. Knowing that about 70% of the country believes Iraq was a mistake and wants to find a way to leave, he announces that it's OK with him if we stay in Iraq for a hundred years.

For most candidates, that would be a big enough gaffe to last a long time. But this is John Sidney McCain, and he was just beginning. He then goes into a series of mistakes that any person with even a rudimentary knowledge of current events would never make.

First, he can't seem to keep the Shiites and the Sunnis straight in Iraq and the Middle East. More than once, he tried to tell us that Iran was supporting and arming al-Queda in Iraq. The problem is that Iran is a Shiite regime and al-Queda is composed of Sunnis, and the two groups absolutely hate each other.

Then he tells two crowds on two different days they he doesn't like the way Russia is treating Czechloslovakia. You would think his campaign people would have corrected him after the first time, but evidently they didn't know either that Czechloslovakia hasn't existed for 15 years. In 1993, it split into Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Just this week, McCain told ABC news that things were not going well on the Iraq-Pakistan border. They didn't call him on it, but the two countries don't share a border. Maybe someone ought to get McCain a high-school geography book.

But these pale in comparison to his current blunder. He decided to point out that he's been to Iraq several times, while Obama hasn't been in years. He virtually dared Obama to go to Iraq.

Sadly for McCain, Obama took him up on the challenge. So this week, Obama visits Afghanistan and Iraq and gets some great media coverage, while McCain flounders in this country with little coverage.

Then as if on cue, Iraqi leader Maliki tells the press that he agrees with Obama's timetable for American troops to leave Iraq. His handlers later realized he had "dissed" Bush with the statement, and tried to say he had been misunderstood. That would have been easier to believe if the words hadn't been translated by Maliki's own translators, and if Maliki hadn't said several times he wants a timetable for withdrawal.

Even Bush seems to have jumped the McCain ship on Iraq. He is now also talking about "time horizons". Call it what you will, but it sounds suspiciously like a timetable to me. McCain has been left swaying in the wind and muttering about the surge working and victory being near. But is it?

So far this year, 220 Americans have been killed in Iraq, and well over 4,000 Iraqis have been killed. If this is what McCain calls victory, do we really want him running the war?

For someone who's supposed to have foreign policy expertise, foreign policy seems to have been a disaster for John Sidney McCain in this campaign.

Monday, July 21, 2008

G8 Cutting Emissions



Cartoon by Martyn Turner in The Irish Times

TPA Weekly Review

The Texas Cloverleaf asks if John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison want more HIV in the global pandemic? Our TX Senators were 2 of the 16 votes against the latest HIV/AIDS bill in the Senate this week that passed overwhelmingly.

WCNews at
Eye On Williamson posts on Diana Maldonado's great fundraising numbers in Diana Maldonado Has Almost 4 to 1 COH Advantage In HD-52.

WhosPlayin at
WhosPlayin steped outside of his comfort zone a bit and commented on the Fannie and Freddie situation.

jobsanger blasts Republican attempts to allow offshore and ANWR drilling in Drilling Won't Make Us Energy Independent and in Bush Playing Politics With Oil.

The bar may be open, says TXSharon at Texas Kaos in
Fire Water: With Compliments from EnCana, but if Encana's serving up the cocktails, it might be better to abstain.

McBlogger's own Harry Balczak has a new recurring feature,
Harry Balczak's Reminder To You People. In this edition, he'd like to remind Those Of You Who Just Couldn't Vote For Kerry that your decision was, well, pretty stupid. He is nice about it, though.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that
poultry kingpin Bo Pilgrim paid to jet around Texas Governor Rick Perry's staff to promote the ethanol waver he bought and paid for with a $100,000 contribution to the Republican Governor's Association.

Mean Rachel contemplates whether Fannie and Freddie have anything to do with being raised in 78704, but living through young-adulthood in 78749 in
Crashes.

The final word, for now, on the
Webb County Sheriff's race says Martin Cuellar wins by 41 votes. Since the various 'official' totals for Cuellar have been +37, -133, +39 and finally +41, CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders what the h*ll happened!

Off the Kuff looks at the Harris County campaign finance reports and finds good news and not-so-good news for Democratic campaigns.

The Texas Observer's Melissa Del Bosque had an observation about one of the panels at Netroots Nation this past weekend, and PDiddie at
Brains and Eggs had some observations about what she observed.

BossKitty at
BlueBloggin shows us smuggling humans into the US is no problem at all; From Africa to Mexico to US, Any Way They Can Immigrate.

BossKitty at
TruthHugger points out the continued struggle by our soldiers suffering from PTSD and the inadequate response by the incapable VA, in But, When They Come Home ….