A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A New Look

I guess many of you have noticed that this blog has a new look. Blogger has been trying for a while to get me to update to their new "layout blog", and I finally got around to doing it. Today is my birthday, so I took the day off and spent it playing with the blog.

I decided if I have to do everything over, I might as well go whole hog and give it a different look. I'm not sure whether I love it or not. What do you guys think? Is it an improvement? I was hoping to give it a unique look (the old template was being used by several others).

The header is still a work in progress. I wasn't able to do what I wanted (going to have to find someone who knows more about computers than I do).

A Lack Of Leadership


Well, the big $700 billion bail-out of Wall Street went down in flames yesterday. One-third of the Democrats and two-thirds of the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against the bailout, making it come up about 13 votes short.

Voices on both the right and the left were quick to denigrate those who voted no on the bail-out, but I can understand them. Like it or not, we have an election coming up, and approving the bail-out could be electoral suicide for many of them.

The American people simply do not like this huge bail-out. Congressmen are getting calls and letters running 30 or 40 to 1 against it (and the people who take the time to call or write are very likely to vote). Polls also show the depth of voter discontent with the bail-out bill.

If the bail-out is really necessary, then our political leaders of both parties have failed to present a compelling case for it to the American people. Ordinary voters are hurting in this economy, with their wages stagnating while price of nearly everything has rapidly climbed.

They have watched as corporations ship their jobs overseas and reward their executives with multi-million dollar bonuses and golden parachutes. It used to be that investment in a companiy's stock allowed that company to expand over the long-term and everyone (including workers) benefited.

But recently, the corporate executives are interested only in the short-term profit and padding their own wallets. People are not stupid. They see this and they are angry. Now the corporate and banking mistakes have come home to roost. Since the corporations have done little or nothing to help voters, the voters are now ready to return the favor and do nothing to help the corporations and banks.

Frankly, it's hard to threaten people who have far less than $100,000 in a checking and savings account, with the possibility of bank failures. They know what little money they have is protected by the FDIC. After the way banks have treated their smaller customers for years, they will now get very little sympathy from them.

If our leaders really think this bail-out is necessary, they're going to have to do a much better job of presenting this to the American people. Right now, they think the "fat cats" are getting what they deserve. I'm not at all sure I don't agree with them.
----------------------
This is the 2,000th post on this blog. I guess that is some sort of accomplishment. When I started in March of 2006, I had no idea I would ever get to 2,000. I want to thank the readers and commenters who have helped me by being there. I hope to give you another 2,000.

Burning Down The House



Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Free Tuition In Aggieland


In recent years, the price of a college education has climbed exorbitantly. Their was a time that private schools were expensive, but state colleges were very affordable. That's not true any more. For instance, the estimated cost for an in-state student to attend Texas A and M is about $19,950. Over $7800 of that would be for tuition and fees.

But it looks like there is some help for students on the way. Yesterday, Texas A and M University announced a program called "Aggie Assurance". The program starts with this year's freshman class, and offers free tuition to students from families that make less than $60,000 a year.

To stay in the program, a student must maintain a 2.5 grade point average. That's about a middle C average, and should be easily achievable by anyone with average intelligence who is willing to do a minimum of studying.

In addition, the students would still be eligible for the other grants, scholarships and loans normally offered. The university says it's trying to make college more affordable for working and middle-class students (the median family income in Texas is $52,355).

I applaud the university for it's forward-thinking program. This is the kind of thing that our state (and our nation) should be doing. A college graduate will make significantly more money in their lifetime, and therefore pay significantly more taxes to the local, state and national governments.

If our leaders were as smart as they think they are, they would be offering free college educations to all students who want it and are willing to do the study and work. This use of tax money would actually make a profit for the government. For a fairly small investment in education, they would get many years of higher taxes from those who got the degrees.

It's good that A and M is doing this, but it's something that should be done by the state and national governments. It's time they started using our tax money to help the people -- and not just the corporations.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Obama Looking Good

It looks like Barack Obama is holding on to his new lead in the polls. One of the last polls to show Obama's recent surge is the Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll. Rasmussen showed the race as being even for several days after other polls began to show Obama taking the lead.

But that has changed now. Even Rasmussen has begun to show Obama with a significant lead. For the last two days that lead has been six points -- 50% for Obama and 44% for McCain. Here is what the Daily Tracking Poll shows for the last two weeks:


09/28/2008
44%
50%
Obama +6

09/27/2008
44%
50%
Obama +6

09/26/2008
45%
50%
Obama +5

09/25/2008
46%
49%
Obama +3

09/24/2008
47%
49%
Obama +2

09/23/2008
48%
48%
Even

09/22/2008
47%
48%
Obama +1

09/21/2008
47%
48%
Obama +1

09/20/2008
47%
48%
Obama +1

09/19/2008
48%
48%
Even

09/18/2008
48%
48%
Even

09/17/2008
48%
47%
McCain +1

09/16/2008
48%
47%
McCain +1

09/15/2008
49%
47%
McCain +2

McCain & Palin Disagree On Pakistan


The McCain campaign seems to be is a state of disarray, where one hand has no idea what the other is doing. In the last couple of days, Bush and Palin have shown us they don't seem to be communicating very well.

During the debate Friday night, Obama said, "If the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out." The statement made sense to those of us that think Osama bin Laden should be brought to justice.

But John McCain acted like Obama had committed a mortal sin. He thought it was horrible that we attack al-Queda or the Taliban in the mountains of western Pakistan without first getting permission of the Pakistani government (even though in many instances notifying the Pakistanis is tantamount to notifying the Taliban).

So what happens the very next night? Palin disagreed with McCain. Either she didn't watch the debate, or didn't understand what her running-mate had said.
On Saturday night in South Philadelphia, a Temple student asked Palin if we should unilaterally cross into Pakistan to attack the Taliban. Palin told the student, "If that's what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should."

That sounds like she was pretty sure of her answer -- "absolutely". But McCain nearly popped a blood vessel when he heard what she had said. In effect, she had shot his view down and agreed with Obama's position.

Yesterday, McCain tried to make it sound like Palin had been misunderstood. He told George Stephanopoulos, "She would not…she understands and has stated repeatedly that we're not going to do anything except in America's national security interest. In all due respect, people going around and… sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a sudden that's—that's a person's position… This is a free country, but I don't think most Americans think that that's a definitve policy statement made by Governor Palin."

Maybe McCain and Palin should have a little talk and decide just what their positions are.

(Political Cartoon above is by Steve Sack in The Minneapolis Star-Tribune.)

TPA Weekly Round-Up


The Texas Progressive Alliance had another great week discussing the politics of Texas and the nation. Here are some of the best of those posts:

The Texas Cloverleaf has the new Palin plan for foreign experience:
sitting pretty with puppets.

CouldBeTrue of
South Texas Chisme says welcome to the United States of Corporate Greed.

Dembones at
Eye On Williamson posts on the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR) and their status quo endorsements for the November election, TAR needs to be tarred and feathered.

The past week has been one filled with brilliant people trying desperately to accomplish what is extremely difficult (namely, keeping the US out of a depression) and some exceptionally (some might say BREATHTAKINGLY) stupid people who are narrowly focused on the last shreds of a failed ideology. And their own egos. We at McBlogger have done our best to keep up with all the ups. And downs. First up are the always cretinous folks from the American Enterprise Institute who decided to blame the wrong people for the failures of their own plans. Then there was Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R -unfortunately from Texas) who decided his supercharged ego and underpowered little rat-brain had something useful to add. He found out pretty quickly that wasn't the case.

Off the Kuff projects what the Houston Chronicle endorsements for November will look like.

A majority of voters thought Obama won the first debate, but all the media pundits could talk about was what a great job McCain did.
jobsanger wonders what debate the "Talking Heads" were watching.

North Texas Liberal led an interesting discussion on John McCain's brief campaign suspension.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has refused to answer whether or not the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts should be subject to the Texas Public Information Act and discusses why that was a really stupid move.

Neil at Texas Liberal did not allow the dent in his car to be fixed
by the guy who solicited him for the work in a parking lot. That's just the type of post-hurricane scam people are being warned about.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News does not like
Bush and McCain's response to the Wall Street crisis. He has someitems he wants included in a bailout bill and not bags of money thrown at the problem.

BossKitty at TruthHugger notes: This is where you and I must take a crash course in the money structure of this country and how to avoid loosing everything down to our underpants, because Bush Sold US Another PONZI Scheme.

nytexan at BlueBloggin worries that McCain's Health Could Mean President Palin.

The Ownership Society


Political Cartoon is by R.J. Matson in The New York Observer.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bail-Out Must Have Exec Pay Cap



I still do not like the $700 billion Wall Street bail-out, but if there is to be a bail-out it must have as one of its provisions a cap on executive pay and bonuses. Democrats should not vote for any package that does not have the pay caps.

The executive pay in all American corporations has really gotten out of whack and needs to be adjusted. As Social Seppuku tells us, CEOs made 24 times the average worker's salary in 1965. By 1980, the CEO compensation was 40 times an average worker's salary, and today the CEO pay is 374 times the average worker's salary. While worker wages have stagnated, CEO compensation has risen exorbitantly.

Do the Republicans and their Wall Street buddies really expect these kind of ridiculous executive compensations to be paid out of taxpayer monies? We may have to bail these companies out, but we don't have to make their executives obscenely rich off taxpayer money.

Treasury Secretary Paulson opposes the cap on executive pay. He says he's afraid some companies won't participate in the bail-out if executive pay is capped. That sounds stupid to me. Paulson has been telling us that these companies will go bankrupt and cease to exist if they aren't bailed out by the taxpayers.

Is he now telling us these companies would rather be put out of business rather than accept executive pay caps? If so, then it is easy to see why these compaies are in trouble. Their executives have put their own greed above what is good for the company.

I say we must proceed with the pay cap as a requirement for getting bail-out money. If a company doesn't want taxpayer money (and the rules that go with it), then they don't have to take it. We should not beg any company or force any company to take bail-out money from the taxpayers.

I like Senator Feinstein's attitude when she said, "I'm told that the reason the Treasury Secretary doesn't want limits on executive compensation is because he believes that an executive then won't bring his company in to partake in any program that is set up. Well here's my response to that. We can put that executive on his boat, take that boat out in the ocean and set it on fire if that's how he feels. That's what should happen, or his company doesn't come in."

(Numbers in above illustrations come from The Economist.)

Birth Of The Bail-Out



Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

What Debate Were "Talking Heads" Watching ?


I watched the debate between Obama and McCain on C-SPAN last night because I didn't want to hear any pre-debate nonsense from the networks. I wanted to make up my own mind about how the candidates did. After the debate was over, I thought Obama did very well. McCain did better than I thought he would, but not well enough to really help himself.

So imagine my surprise when I flipped over to CNN and MSNBC after the debate, and all I heard from either was how well McCain had done and how many opportunities Obama had blown. It was almost as though we had been watching different debates. I turned off the news and hoped America had been watching the same debate I had seen.

It looks like Americans saw the debate a bit differently than the "talking heads" did. CNN and CBS both did overnight polls. Both of those polls show that Obama did very well.

In the CNN poll 51% said Obama did a better job in the debate, while only 38% thought McCain did the better job. The poll also showed:

Obama was widely considered more intelligent, likable and in touch with peoples' problems, and by modest margins was seen as the stronger leader and more sincere. Most said it was McCain who spent more time attacking his opponent.

The CBS poll had 39% believing Obama had won the debate, while only 24% thought McCain had won. The other 37% saw it as a tie. Obama also showed a 16% improvement in the number of people who thought he was prepared to be president -- up to 60%. The poll also showed:

In another Obama advantage in the CBS poll, far more said their image of him had improved as a result of the debate than said it had worsened. More also said their view of McCain had gotten better rather than worse, but by a modest margin.

Democracy Corps got 45 undecided voters together in St. Louis. About 33% of them identified themselves as Republicans while 27% said they were Democrats. They had voted 2-1 for Bush in 2004. They picked Obama as the winner of the debate by a 38% to 27% margin. This group also showed:

A look at the underlying numbers shows that Obama made important gains that could endure through Election Day. These undecided voters had a strong positive reaction to Obama on a personal level. Before the debate, just 40 percent viewed Obama positively, but this skyrocketed to 69 percent after the debate – a remarkable 29-point gain that left him more personally popular than McCain despite this group’s conservative leanings. He also made large strides on being seen as independent, from 44 percent to 65 percent. And in head-to-head matchups against McCain, Obama made significant gains on who “shares your values” and is “on your side."

McCain did not fare as well. His personal standing also improved, but not to nearly the same degree as Obama’s. And while he made impressive gains on being a “maverick,” he actually lost slight ground on “offering a different path than Bush,” showing that these gains were more about style than substance. Moreover, McCain either remained stagnant or lost ground on nearly every other issue we tested. He went into the debate being seen as the more negative candidate by a 7-point margin and expanded that dubious honor to 26 points by the conclusion of the debate.

It looks like the voters saw the debate quite differently than the media's "talking heads" did. Maybe the media should put aside their own prejudices before watching the next debate. Then they'd have a chance of seeing what the voters are seeing.

Debating The Calamities


Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Washington Examiner.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bail-Out Could Be A Trap For Democrats


The biggest news happening right now is the president's proposed $700 billion bail-out of Wall Street. I don't like the bail-out and consider it to be a bad idea, but I'm smart enough to know that it's probably going to happen. Furthermore, it may even be true that this horrible idea is necessary to keep the American economy from spiraling downward into a deeper recession (or even a depression).

Right now, it looks like most Democrats and a few Republicans have agreed to approve the bail-out with some changes to protect the American people. These changes were needed, and make the bail-out barely palatable. There is probably enough of Congress on board to approve it, but that should not happen.

Currently, a majority of House Republicans oppose the plan. This opposition is laying a trap for Democrats. A clear majority of Americans either oppose or don't understand the bail-out and why it needs to happen.

The Republicans are the ones who sold out to Wall Street. They are the ones who removed regulations and refused to allow oversight. The Republicans have the primary responsibility for creating the current economic crises, and Democrats should not let them off the hook.

If the Democrats pass this huge bail-out without at least a majority of Republicans supporting it, the Republicans will just go to the electorate and use this as an example of Democrats being "big spenders". That must not happen. The Republicans created the problem and they must participate in the solution -- especially since the solution is so unpopular.

There is only one way for Democrats to avoid this electoral trap. They must stick together and refuse to approve the bail-out until the Republicans are on board. If the Republicans continue their opposition, then the bail-out should not be approved before the election.

Since the Republicans screwed up the economy, they must either join Democrats in fixing it or take the blame for further economic troubles. Anything less lets them off the hook and makes the Democrats look like the bad guys.

With the election only a little over a month away, we cannot let that happen.

(The political cartoon above is by Daryl Cagle at MSNBC.com)

Evangelist Arrested For Child Sex Offense


Last weekend, federal agents raided the 15 acre compound of evangelist Tony Alamo in southern Arkansas. They were investigating Alamo for child abuse and child pornography. They searched the compound and took several children into protective custody.

At that time, Alamo said he was being persecuted and compared himself to Jesus. He said, "Why were they after Jesus? It's the same reason. Jesus is living within me."

But yesterday, things got more serious for the preacher. He was arrested in a joint effort by FBI, Arizona DPS and Flagstaff Police as he and his wife left a Flagstaff hotel. He was taken to the Coconino County Jail, and will appear in federal magistrate court today. He is being charged with Transporting Minor Across State Lines With Intent To Engage In Sexual Activity.

It looks like Alamo is just another pervert who thought he could hide behind the facade of his religion. Last Saturday he told a reporter that he thought it was OK for young girls to havs sex saying, "...consent is puberty. In the Bible, it happened. But girls today, I don't marry 'em if they want to at 14, 15 years old. Because we won't do it, even though I believe it's OK."

Alamo was sent to prison back in 1991 for tax evasion. He has also been accused of child abuse in the past, but the charges were dropped for insufficient evidence.

This 74 year-old pervert is just further proof that having religious credentials doesn't make you any less likely to engage in criminal behavior.

The Puppet


Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Race Is Still An Electoral Issue

There are some people out there, some of them in the mainstream media, who are living in a dream world. They actually think race will not play a major factor in this year's presidential election. That's just delusional.

A recent poll showed that about 30% of whites in the United States harbor at least some kind of negative feelings toward African-Americans and are honest enough to admit it -- how many more are hiding those feelings? Couple this with the fact that Congressional Democrats in general have a much larger lead in polls than their presidential candidate -- Barack Obama.

Americans have lost respect for George Bush and are more than ready to boot the Republicans out of power, and yet they are considering electing a white man who voted with Bush 95% of the time (and at least 53% believe McCain will follow Bush's policies). That can only mean a significant segment of the population will use race as the deciding factor to cast their vote.

This story from the generally liberal state of Oregon (where Obama has a lead in the polls) brings this feeling into sharp focus. George Fox University is a small school in the Willamette Valley south of Portland of about 1800 students. It was founded by the Quakers (known for their humane and peaceful views).

But racism has reared its ugly head, even in this idyllic setting. Some perverted fool has brought a vision of Southern lynchings to the christian school. He (or she?) took a life-size cardboard cutout of Barack Obama, wrapped a fishing line around the figure's neck, and hung it from a campus tree. Fortunately, a custodian found it and took it down before it was seen by many people.

University President Robin Baker told the students he was "disheartened and outraged. It has been my dream to establish a university that more adequately represents the kingdom of God. This act causes some to question our commitment. What I've learned is we still have work to do." Sadly, he is right.

In fact, our whole country still has a lot of work to do regarding our racial attitudes. I know some whites thought we had settled our racial problems when we passed a few laws banning Jim Crowism. Actually, that was just the first few tiny steps toward facing our racial problems -- much remains to be done.

I hope Obama is able to use our economic disaster to build a sizeable lead in the next five weeks. He'll need it to overcome the "Bradley Effect".

What The Election Is Really About



Political Cartoon is by Bob Englehart in The Hartford Courant.

McCain's Running Scared !


For the last week, John McCain has looked like a deer caught in the headlights. The campaign has turned big-time to economics and the current economic crises -- a subject that McCain has admitted he has little expertise in. In fact, his voting record on economic policy has been straight down the line with our discredited and very unpopular president.

McCain has a history of wanting to deregulate big business and Wall Street. He's also parroted President Bush (and Herbert Hoover) by assuring Americans that our economy is "fundamentally sound". But in the last week it has become clear that both those positions are untenable, so he is floundering around to find something that works.

Now he wants to pose as a regulator, even thought his history shows he is just the opposite. He has also started talking about "greed" on Wall Street, forgetting that his economic votes help that greed to take root and create the current crises.

With his poll numbers falling like a rock, McCain knows that the upcoming debate on Friday could be disastrous to his campaign. It was supposed to center on security and foreign policy, but with the current economic crises, there is no way that a discussion of economic policies can be avoided. What was McCain to do?

He did what any Republican would do -- he tried to avoid the debate by lying and posturing. He asked that the debate be postponed, because he must go to Washington to solve the economic crises. That might have worked if he had actually suspended his campaign and immediately flew to Washington -- but he didn't.

Instead, he went to an interview with CBS's Katie Couric, and tomorrow he will address President Clinton's Global Initiative in New York. Only after that bit of campaigning will he go to Washington. The economic crises is too important to go to the debate, but it is not so important to stop his campaigning in New York.

That tells me that his trip to Washington is just a sham to try and get out of the debate, while trying to look like a leader. He wants to stop the bleeding of his poll numbers and he's afraid the debate will just make it worse (and he's probably right about that).

But Obama didn't fall for his desparate gambit. Sensibly, Obama said with only 40 days until the election, America deserved to hear the candidates debate. The debate sponsors agreed and refused to postpone it. I suspect McCain will give in and go to the debate.

The specter of being represented by an empty chair while Obama talks to the American people, is even worse than the prospect of losing the debate.

Can Bush "Fix It" ?



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

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Drugs Didn't Do It


Soprano's actor Lillo Brancato would like for us to believe he's not a murderer -- the drugs made him do it. He told a CBS interviewer, "I'm not the monster that they portray me as in newspapers, a cold-blooded killer and all of that. I'm not that person at all." He said cocaine had become his "devil" and the drugs were to blame for the crime.

Brancato and a cohort broke into an apartment looking for prescription drugs. They got into a shootout with Police Officer Daniel Enchautegui, and the officer was killed. His murder trial is scheduled for October.

I can understand that with the trial coming up, Brancato is scared and would like to pass the blame on to someone or something else. But the excuse he has come up with is a load of crap. The drugs didn't do it. Drugs didn't break into that apartment and kill a police officer.

Brancato may be a drug addict, but he still makes his own decisions. He made the decision to use drugs. He made the decision to burglarize an apartment. And he made the decision to involve himself in a violent crime that resulted in the death of a police officer. He must accept the responsibility for his own decisions.

The drugs didn't kill that officer. Brancato and his buddy did that. Now they must pay for it.

Still Want To Privatize ?



Political Cartoon is by Mike Lane of Baltimore, Maryland.

Sex Offender Mayor Does It Again !


Last November, I wrote about the mayor of the Texas city of Poteet, a small town of 3600 people about 30 miles south of San Antonio. The mayor, Lino Donato, had just pled guilty to two counts of Indecency By Exposure (Child) and one count of Indecency By Contact (Child). He was given deferred adjudication, placed on probation and required to register as a sex offender.

Although Donato had pled guilty and was now a registered sex offender, the county attorney ruled that he didn't have to resign because he was given deferred adjudication instead of a final verdict. Doanto refused to resign. At that time, I called upon the people of Poteet to remove this pedophile with a recall election.

I don't know why, but the mayor was not recalled. Maybe the people felt sorry for him, or maybe they felt he was innocent (even though he had pled guilty). In any event, they allowed him to remain mayor of their city. Now, it looks like that was a mistake.

The mayor has done it again. On Monday, a grand jury in Atascosa County indicted Mayor Donato on three new child sex offenses -- all of them felonies. He is now charged with Aggravated Sexual Assault, Indecency By Contact (Child) and Attempted Indecency By Contact (Child).

The mayor's term does not expire until 2009, but I again call on the citizens of Poteet to petition for a recall election. Do you really want a pedophile as your mayor? Do you enjoy being the laughingstock of the Lone Star State?

Bush Sympathizes


Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at MSNBC.com.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Is The Bailout A Good Deal ?


I have put off writing this for several days, because I wanted to see if I could come up with any kind of justification for Bush's plan to bail out Wall Street. But I can't. I don't replace the losses of Las Vegas gamblers with my own hard-earned money, and I can see no reason why I would want to bail out the Wall Street gamblers (just because they like to call themselves "businessmen").

These are today's "robber barons". They have made it their mission to pay off this Republican administration to remove the rules and regulations that were put in place to protect investors. Then they made a series of bad decisions designed to do only one thing -- push up the value of stock and fatten their own pocketbooks with no thought given to tomorrow.

The short-term profit was everything and the long-term be damned. Although they kept telling the small investor to leave their money in the market and think long-term, the rich didn't think that axiom applied to them.

Well, those deregulation mistakes and bad decisions have now come home to roost. Many of the big banking, investment, mortgage and insurance companies are looking bankruptcy squarely in the face, and they want the government (American people) to bail them out by giving them enormous sums of money.

I think they have a lot of gall to think they deserve this money, especially since they don't want to have to give up anything to get it. These are the same people who oppose unions, the minimum wage, universal healthcare, social security and help for the poor.

They're unwilling to pay their fair share of taxes and help out the millions of Americans who are having a hard time making ends meet, but they think they deserve $700 billion to $1 trillion of taxpayer money. Well, I don't think they deserve it!

The bail-out program Bush is asking for is outrageous. He wants the government to hand over $700 billion to the Treasury Secretary to use as he sees fit with no supervision. Theoretically, he would use the money to purchase the bad debts these companies have created for themselves, but without oversight from courts, Congress or any administrative agency.

Outrageous! We've known Bush was incompetent for a while now, but this exceeds incompetence. I think he's progressed to full-blown insanity. In his desire to bail out his rich buddies, Bush is ready to give them the keys to the United States Treasury.

But while I oppose the bail-out, it looks like many members of both political parties are buying into it. They have fallen for the line that these companies are "too big" to allow them to go under. I would like for Congress to kill this ridiculous program, but I think the best we can hope for is that Congress puts some conditions on the money.

If we're going to buy up the bad debt, we should get a controlling interest in the companies. The current management should be fired (without any golden parachutes), and government regulators should run the companies until they can be sold.

The money given out should be subject to oversight from Congress, appropriate administrave agencies and the court system. New regulations should be written that will prevent this from happening in the future. And personally, I would like to see corporations banned from lobbying the federal government.

Even if all that was accomplished, it's still a bad deal for taxpayers, but I have little faith in the good sense of Congress and none in the Bush administration. It will probably be approved without nearly enough oversight.

(Political Cartoon above is by Patrick Chappatte.)

Voters Blame Repubs For Bad Economy


It looks like the American people may not be as stupid as the McCain campaign had hoped they were. Since the Republican convention, McCain has been trying to separate himself from Bush and the Republican economic policies. But it doesn't look like it's working.

According to a brand new CNN poll taken this last weekend, twice as many people blame the Republicans for the disastrous economy as blame the Republicans. Here are the numbers:

Blame Republicans.....47%

Blame Democrats......24%

Blame both parties....21%

Blame neither party...8%

The news is also good when voters were asked who would handle an economic crises better. Obama was picked by 49% and McCain by 43%. When asked who would handle the economy better in general, the Obama lead lengthened to 10%.

McCain's efforts to differentiate himself from George Bush is simply not working. At least 53% of voters say McCain would mostly just follow Bush's economic policies. Bush's own disapproval rating rose by 3% since the last CNN poll.

CNN's last poll was a couple of weeks ago. At that time, the poll had Obama and McCain tied at 48% each. That has now changed (and seems to still be changing). Registered voters now favor Obama 51% to 46%.

Perhaps most surprising is which groups are shifting. According to the poll, Obama now has a slim lead among all men and among the elderly. These two groups were in the McCain camp a couple of weeks ago.

The current economic crises is worrying Americans. 22% say the crises has frightened them, while 67% say they are concerned. Only 11% say they are not worried.

The situation is definitely giving the Obama campaign a lift. How much of a lift? That probably won't be known for a couple of weeks, when we'll see if McCain can stop the bleeding or not.

Bush's Legacy


Political Cartoon is by Larry Wright in The Detroit News.

Monday, September 22, 2008

TPA Weekly Review


It's time again to take a look at some of the posts of the Texas Progressive Alliance in the last week. Here are the week's submissions.

BossKitty at TruthHugger still expects the Bush Administration to pull a fast one, because the Pakistan Meltdown Offers Bush More Opportunities To Create Crisis, the dogs of war are still salivating ...

CouldBeTrue of
South Texas Chisme notices cronies are number #1 in Texas from insurance companies to power companies.

jobsanger points out the blatant racism at the "Values Voters Summit" sponsored by the Family Research Council, and wonders if John McCain's "senior moments" are indicative of a more serious psychological problem.

WhosPlayin took a moment to pin that pesky
"redistribution of wealth" meme back on the Republicans, where it originated and operates today.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News urges all to
contact your Congress people now about this bad, very bad $700 billion taxpayer funded bailout of the financial industry. Otherwise, for the next three months, and then an additional six months after that, the Treasury Secretary can do anything "appropriate" with your money without anybody anywhere looking it over.

nytexan at
BlueBloggin wonders how John McCain cleans up Washington and Wall Street of the lobbyist when 177 Lobbyists Work For John McCain “The Reformer”

North Texas Liberal unveils the second installment of their Sarah Palin series.

McBlogger takes a moment to
demystify what's going on in financial markets. And call some people really bad names.

Mike Thomas at
Rhetoric and Rythm questions whether Republican Congressional candidate Lyle Larson would fight for San Antonio's share of federal funding based on his latest ad blasting all Congressional earmarks as wasteful "pork".

Neither the authorities nor the media have found any bodies hanging from the trees in Galveston or on Bolivar Peninsula -- mostly because there aren't any trees high enough to catch one -- but that didn't stop PDiddie from posting the rumors at Brains and Eggs.

WCNews at
Eye On Williamson posts on the real world effects of the TRCC in Williamson County, Builder protection agency "hits home" in Williamson County.

Off the Kuff takes a look at the lawsuit filed by Libertarian Presidential candidate Bob Barr to force John McCain and Barack Obama off the ballot in Texas.

The Texas Cloverleaf
spots State Senator Kim Brimer at a union hall. Unfortunately as they say, you can't put lipstick on a pig.

Vince at
Capitol Annex tells us that State Rep. John Davis is up to his same old tricks down in HD 129. This time, he’s holding a fundraiser in Austin while his district is without power, and his constituents are without water. He’s clearly addicted to campaign cash. Someone throw this guy a roll of quarters before he has a stroke.

McCain-Palin Reform ?



Political Cartoon is by Drew Sheneman in The Newark Star Ledger.

Texas Loses Outstanding Judge


Yesterday, Texas lost a great liberal judge. 83 year-old U.S. District Judge Barefoot Sanders died at his home on Sunday. He was the senior judge of the Northern District of Texas.

Judge Sanders had served as Deputy Attorney General in the administration of Lyndon Johnson. He was appointed to the federal bench in 1979 by President Carter. He was probably best known for presiding over the desegregation of public schools in Dallas, Texas.

Rest in peace, Judge Sanders. You served your country well.

Hooked



Political Cartoon is by J.D. Crowe in The Mobile Register.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Choice Is Clear In District 129


Hurricane Ike has been devastating to the Texas coast, but it has done one good thing. It has made it clear to voters who the best candidate is in Texas House District 129. While the Republican incumbent left the district before the hurricane hit, Democratic candidate Sherrie Matula stayed at home in the district.

Even now, the Republican has gone to Austin for a campaign fundraiser. But Matula has reopened her office so she can help her future constituents. How much clearer could it be. One candidate is worrying about collecting campaign funds, while the other is worrying about the people living in District 129.

Sherrie Matula has reopened the campaign headquarters at 17300 Saturn Road in Houston. She is offering help to residents (of any political persuasion). If you need to use the internet, make faxes, recharge a cell phone or laptop, or just get out of the heat, the office volunteers will be glad to help you. They are also a good place if you have questions or don't know where you can receive help of any kind.

Matula's campaign volunteers will also be doing some block walking to pass out information to residents about where they can go to find out about Federal, State or local resources giving aid. They will also be making calls to district residents and keeping the office open on the weekend from 1-8pm.

A Bit Of Needed Tutoring


Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Polls Close - Contributions Are Not


If you believe the political polls, the presidential race is a virtual dead heat. The two candidates are separated by statistically insignificant numbers (numbers within the polls' margin of error). But I'm not sure the polls really know what is happening in this election. After all, they were wrong far more than they were right in the primaries and caucuses.

But there's no doubt who is winning in the amount of political contributions. Obama has outraised McCain in every month so far, and that did not change last month. In August, Obama raised about $18 million more than McCain did. Obama raised $65 million, while McCain raised $47 million.

It looks like those who give political contributions are betting that Obama will win this election. This is unusual. In recent years, it has become commonplace for Republican presidential candidates to outraise Democratic candidates.

That is because the rich and the corporate interests are very willing to spend money to see their interests are protected. But it looks like even they believe this election is likely to produce an Obama victory. Many of them are now trying to hedge their bets by giving to the Democratic campaign. This, added to the many small contributions being received by Obama, has allowed him to easily outraise the Republican candidate.

Together, the two candidates spent $94 million in August, mostly on advertising in the so-called "toss-up" states where polls show the race is very close. That is a record-breaking $3 million dollars a day.

Evidently, both candidates have decided that the race is over in Texas. The only advertising being seen in Texas is that bought on the national news networks (CNN, MSNBC, etc.). I think that's a shame.

Texas might actually be in play if some money and effort was put in to the state by Democrats. In the Spring primary, the Democrats were able to turn out a significantly larger number of voters than the Republicans.

The Rowing Gets Harder


Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Another "Senior Moment" ?


I admit it. John McCain is starting to worry me now, and I'm not talking about his political beliefs (although those are bad enough). No, I'm starting to worry about his mental health.

McCain has pulled a number of gaffes in this campaign, such as not knowing the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, accusing Iran of supporting al-Queda (even after being corrected by Lieberman), and not knowing that Czechloslovakia has not been a country for 15 years among other things.

Until now, his staff has affectionately passed these off as just being "senior moments". I don't like that phrase since I'm fast approaching seniorhood myself (turn 62 in 10 days). My mother, bless her soul, is in her mid-eighties. Neither of us has as many "senior moments" as John McCain seems to have.

But his latest major gaffe may be the worst one yet. In an interview with a Spanish journalist, McCain seemed to not know who the Prime Minister of Spain was, and refused to say he would meet with him. Even after the journalist twice told him they were talking about Spain and even mentioned Europe, McCain seemed confused and kept referring to him as though he was a Latin American dictator.

Even his staff realizes this gaffe can't be passed off as a "senior moment", so they are trying to say that he meant to snub the Spanish Prime Minister. But that makes no sense. Spain is not only a European democracy, they are our NATO ally and even have 800 of their troops in Afghanistan fighting beside our own troops. Surely he's not trying to turn this ally into an enemy!

No, I think he was just as confused as he sounded like he was, and that's what has me worried. The world is a dangerous place and our economy is being destroyed. We need a president whose faculties are sharp and intact. When a crises of any kind happens, we cannot afford for him to be confused or have another "senior moment".

Will McCain really be in chaege and making the decisions if he is elected? Or will he merely be the smiling puppet waving to the crowd, while his unelected staff has to make the real decisions? Is he experiencing the early stages of dementia? The American public has a right to know. Maybe this is why only selected reporters were given a very short period of time to review the thousands of pages of his medical records.

Maybe it is time for him to release those records. Either that, or submit to a mental health exam. It's reaching the point where it can't be laughed off anymore.

At any rate, it should make the first debate interesting (and crucial) viewing. Will he be sharp or will he look confused? Will he be able to think on his feet, or will he be reduced to the rote reciting of campaign lies and talking points?

I hope the American people tune in and pay close attention. It's very important.

The Only Thing We Have To Fear


Political Cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.

Woman Says High School Flag Is Satanic


Sometimes people just take their religion a bit too far. Take Nadra Arnold-Curry of Granbury for instance.

Granbury High School, just southwest of Fort Worth, got themselves a new coach this year, so the Booster Club decided something was needed to whip up a little community support for the football team.

Since the team is called the Pirates, they got a couple hundred black flags with a skull and crossbones on it. It looks like the "Jolly Roger" that used to fly on pirate ships. Businesses all over town have started putting the flags up on Thursday and taking them down on Saturday (most games are played on Friday night).

But Ms. Arnold-Curry has decided the flags are "satanic", and she wants people to stop flying them. She told the Hood County Commissioners Court, "I appreciate our teams and coaches, too. But I have to stand up for my biblical convictions. Everything I’ve ever read about black flags and white skulls and bones, it’s called the 'flag of death. That’s what I automatically think of when I see it, gloom and doom."

The Commissioners Court politely heard Ms. Arnold-Curry speak, and then gave their permission for the flags to be flown on county property. Frankly, flying the Jolly Roger is very fitting for a team nicknamed the Pirates. While the flags may be a bit scary-looking, there is nothing satanic or anti-religious about them.

The new football coach has spoken with Ms. Arnold-Curry, and he says, "The difference between us is she thinks the flags are satanic and I think they’re nautical history."

The coach is right.

Ta Dah !!!


This was taken from the excellent blog of Yellowdog Granny.

Friday, September 19, 2008

State May Take Property Of Ike's Victims


It looks like there's a new bit of bad luck that could affect victim's of Hurricane Ike. Even if both they and their beach houses survived the hurricane, they could still lose their house and beach property. Others may not be able to rebuild. It all has to do with a Texas law passed back in 1959 called the Texas Open Beaches Act.

The law says the strip of beach between the average high tide line and the average low tide line is considered to be public (state) property, and no one can build or own a structure on that property. Before Ike came, these houses were not on state property, but that could well have changed since a lot of the beach was likely washed away by the storm.

When Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson toured the area this week, he said he saw hundreds of houses in jeopardy of being declared to be on state property. Making matters even worse is the fact that the state won't decide for at least a year where the state property line is now. Patterson said they want the beach to go through all four seasons before they make their decision.

That means the owners who have houses still standing could lose them a year from now. Others won't be allowed to rebuild for at least a year. Some may try to fight the law, but they will probably just lose. As Charles Irvine, a coastal law attorney, says, "No one has ever succesfully ever beaten the state when the state comes after you under the Open Beaches Act."

And if a homeowner's land is taken, he/she may not even get any compensation for the land or the structure. A Land Office spokesman said the state used to give owners $50,000, but he is unsure if that fund still exists.

It seems like the bad news just won't end for Texas beach-dwellers. First they had to endure a devastating hurricane, then they had to put up with the incompetence of FEMA and state officials, and now they must wait for a year to see if the state will condemn their property.