A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Friday, October 31, 2008

U.S. Trying To Pressure Bolivia


Last month, the country of Bolivia kicked out the American ambassador, Philip Goldberg, because he was trying to interfere in the internal affairs of that country. The Bush administration was unhappy because the country had elected a leftist president who was taking steps to share the country's wealth with the poor indigenous people living there. That meant American corporations would get less of that wealth, and Bush couldn't have that.

Bush responded by kicking Bolivia's ambassador out of the United States, even though he had done nothing to harm this country. It was just to punish Bolivia for for standing up for itself. But Bolivia hasn't given in and turned the country back over to the greedy rich, so Bush is now threatening to take further action.

The Bush administration is now ready to suspend the trade benefits that Bolivia has with the United States. That move would cost as many as 20,000 jobs in Bolivia. But Bush doesn't care about the poor or the workers in Bolivia. He just wants Latin America to kiss America's butt and funnel it's wealth into American corporations.

The excuse Bush is using to suspend the trade benefits is that Bolivia won't cooperate with American drug agents or let them fly over Bolivian territory. That's a load of crap! Bolivia is trying hard to stop cocaine production, while allowing farmers to grow the coca leaf. The two are very different things, and the leaf is chewed in the country to stave off hunger, fatigue and altitude sickness.

Meanwhile, cocaine production grew by 27% last year in Columbia (more than five times as much as Bolivia), but Bush is trying to give Columbia even more trade benefits. That's because, in spite of the huge increase in cocaine production, Columbia's president will do whatever Bush wants, even if it hurts the ordinary citizens of Columbia.

It is time for the United States to back off and let the countries of Central and South America decide what is best for their citizens. Since we would never let those countries interfere in our internal affairs, why do we think we should have the right to interfere in theirs?

Once again Bush proves he doesn't really believe in democracy -- only corporate profits.

Fall Classic


Political Cartoon is by John Sherffius in the Boulder Daily Camera.

University Of Texas Survey


The University of Texas conducted a survey of 600 Texans during the week of October 15-22. One part of the poll is very disturbing to many of us here in Texas. It showed that about 23% of Texans are complete and total idiots. That's the percentage of Texans who believe Barack Obama is a muslim.

This campaign has gone on for nearly two years, and Obama's life has been gone over with a fine-tooth comb. At this late date, anyone who believes Obama is anything other than a life-long christian is either feeble-minded or completely dishonest. I don't know which is worse, but frankly it kind of scares me to think that 23% of my neighbors are this outrageously ignorant. With no more brain-power than that, how did they ever learn to dress and feed themselves?

Now I can understand someone disagreeing with Obama's politics or his stand on the issues. I don't agree with them, but I can understand it. But the very least a voter can do is get the facts straight. A person should vote for whatever candidate they want to vote for, but they shouldn't base that vote on a lie that any ordinary third-grader can see through.

Aside from the fact that 23% of Texans are nitwits, the survey did have some other interesting statistics. For instance, 48% of Texans consider themselves to be conservative, while only 20% say they are liberal. The rest say they are moderates. That is a bit of a surprise to me, since I would have thought the percentage of conservatives would be higher. Maybe that's because I live in a very red part of the state.

Another surprise for me is that only 37% call themselves Republican, while 35% say they are Democrats and 28% identify themselves as Independents. In a state generally regarded to be a very "red" state, I would have thought the Republican percentage would be higher.

These figures seem to suggest that a good middle-of-the-road Democrat might be able to win state-wide office. That would be a change, since all state-wide offices are currently held by Republicans. Maybe the economy is even starting to have a political effect here in Texas. This is backed-up by the numbers Governor Perry received in the survey. He's making noises like he's going to run for another term, but only 38% approve of the job he's doing as governor.

The survey also shows McCain and Senator Cornyn with weaker numbers than would have been expected in a very red state. McCain leads Obama in Texas by 51% to 40% and Cornyn leads Noriega by 45% to 36%. At this late date, McCain has only 51% and Cornyn is still 5 points under 50%!

Most of the pundits still believe both of them will win, and they certainly might. But I'm not ready to concede yet. Texas is experiencing a record-breaking early vote, and that could carry through election day. With a record-breaking voter turnout, and many young people and African-Americans voting in larger numbers than ever before, those two races could be much closer than anyone suspects.

Texas is probably still a red state, but it looks like the political wind may be starting to blow in a new direction here. The future for Democratic candidates looks better than it has in a long time.

McCain On Women's Health


Political Cartoon is by Mikhaela Reid.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tx Voting Totals - 9 Days In


Early voting this year in Texas started with a bang, and hasn't let up since. After 9 days of the 12-day early voting period, we have just about equaled the total for all 12 days of 2004's early voting. That looks great, especially since voting usually picks up in the final three days rather than tapering off.

After the first 9 days of early voting, the absentee and early vote total for Texas' largest 15 counties in 2008 stands at 2,390,051. That's 28.25% of all registered voters in those counties. In 2004, the total after 9 days was 1,534,963 or 18.87% of the total registered voters. That's an increase of 855,088, or 55.71%.

In 2004, for the entire 12 day early voting period in those 15 counties, there were 2,412,952 or 29.66% of all registered voters. Since 2008's total already stands at 28.25%, it's clear that we're going to go well past 2004's total early vote. If it just maintains the 55.71% increase (and it might even do better), then 2008's total early vote would be 3,757,208. That would be 44.41% of the total registered voters in the 15 counties.

In 2004, the early vote percentage of 29.66% turned into a total turnout through election day of slightly more than 56% of all registered voters. Just think of what a 44.41% early vote could turn into! I think that a minimum of 70% of registered voters will vote this year, and that total could easily climb to over 80%.

That's the kind of turnout that Texas Democrats pray for. If the turnout tops 70%, then all bets are off and Texas could actually become a blue state. This election is starting to really get exciting, even in Texas. Here are the combined early vote and absentee totals for the 15 counties through the first 9 days:

Harris....................490,680(25.29%)
Dallas.....................343,414(28.42%)
Tarrant.................304,404(31.73%)
Bexar.....................280,283(30.11%)
Travis....................202,884(33.30%)
Collin......................145,761(34.33%)
El Paso.....................76,204(19.61%)
Denton...................111,312(31.05%)
Hidalgo....................56,964(18.66%)
Fort Bend..............107,696(36.02%)
Montgomery...........71,730(29.65%)
Williamson...............72,987(31.46%)
Nueces.....................45,521(22.88%)
Galveston................53,552(28.33%)
Cameron..................26,659(15.30%)

The Deregulators


Political Cartoon is by Bruce Plante in Tulsa World.

Led Zeppelin Or Not ?

Nearly a year ago (December '07) the legendary hard rock band Led Zeppelin reunited for a concert in London. Drummer John Bonham, who died years ago, was replaced by his son Jason. That concert got the rumors flying, and fans all over the world (including myself) began to dream of a reunion tour by the band.

Jimmy Page (lead guitar), John Paul Jones (bass) and Jason Bonham (drums) were excited by the reunion concert and decided they liked the idea of reuniting for an album and a new tour. But lead singer Robert Plant is not on board. He said,
“Contrary to a spate of recent reports, Robert Plant will not be touring or recording with Led Zeppelin." Evidently, Plant (pictured) is happy being a solo act these days.

Now it looks like Page, Jones and Bonham are planning a new album and a tour, even if Plant doesn't want to participate. Jones has told BBC Radio that the trio have been practicing and trying out some lead singers. He said, “We want to do it. It’s sounding great and we want to get on and get out there. It’s got to be right. There’s no point in just finding another Robert. You could get that out of a tribute band, but we don’t want to be our own tribute band." He's right.

Replacing Robert Plant is far different than replacing Bonham on the drums with his son (who plays a lot like his father). And replacing Plant with someone who sounds like him would be a mistake. Quite simply, the band is NOT Led Zeppelin without Plant.

Don't get me wrong. I believe the trio without Plant are still a talented and formidible group, and if they find a good lead singer, I'll buy their album and probably purchase tickets to their concert. Just don't try to tell me it's Led Zeppelin -- it's not.

They should get a new name for the group. They should also put off touring until they have enough new material so a concert would be made up of mostly new material. It would be a mistake to form a new group and then play mostly Led Zeppelin tunes.

The band is either Led Zeppelin, or it's not. I think without Plant, it's not.

Ignorance And Fear


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

Sarkozy Has No Sense Of Humor


The picture above is of a Sarkozy "voodoo doll". It is the brainchild of the publishing company K & B to poke some good-natured fun at the French President. It comes with pins that can be pushed into quotes by the president such as "work more to earn more".

The company also made a doll of Sarkozy's opponent in the last election, Segolene Royal. Royal laughed it off saying, "I have a sense of humour." But it looks like President Sarkozy has lost his sense of humor, if he ever had one.

Being the right-wing nut that he is, instead of finding it humorous, he filed a lawsuit against the makers of the doll. He claimed he had "exclusive and absolute" rights over his own image. Somebody needs to tell him that he gave up those rights when he became a politician and ran for office. I wonder if he sues over his likeness being used in political cartoons?

Yesterday, a French judge gave Sarkozy the bad news, when he threw the case out of court. The judge said the doll was "within the authorised limits of free expression and the right to humour". Sarkozy's lawyer says they will appeal the decision.

In a way, the appeal is good news for the doll maker. Since Sarkozy sued them, the sales of the doll have been boosted. An appeal would do nothing but keep the issue in the news and sell more dolls.

The McCain Strategy


Political Cartoon is by Mike Lane of Baltimore, Maryland.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama Wins !


You may be thinking that I'm being a bit premature, but that's not my headline. It's the headline of the New Mexico Sun News that hit the streets a few days ago. Why would they print such a headline more than a week before the election?

The New Mexico Sun News is a bi-monthly newspaper, and they needed to go to press with their October 26-November 8 edition. They would not have another edition until days after the election was over, and by then they would have been "scooped" by nearly every newspaper in America. So they decided to do something about that.

To explain the headline, the editors of the paper wrote, “When it comes to calling the winner of a presidential election, everyone wants to be first. The New Mexico Sun News hereby claims that achievement.” The paper did go on to urge its readers to get out and vote "even if it did spoil the ending for you."

But the newspaper is not the only entity that has already decided the election is over. A couple of weeks ago, the largest bookie in Ireland also declared Obama the winner and paid off on their bets. The largest Obama bet they paid on was 100,000 euros.

I'm hoping both the bookie and the newspaper are right.

Finally !


Political Cartoon is by Dick Locher in The Chicago Tribune.

The Military's Dirty Secret


Here's a rather shocking statistic from the Veterans Affairs Department. About 15% of all the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who seek medical care from the VA have experienced some kind of sexual trauma while serving in the military -- ranging from serious sexual harassment to outright rape.

While this is experienced by soldiers of both sexes, it affects about 1% of male veterans. But at least one out of every seven female veterans has suffered sexual trauma. This trauma makes them 1.5 times more likely to need mental health services from the VA.

The survey done by the VA doesn't cover active-duty soldiers, because they don't receive services from the VA. But just think about this. In 2004, there were 212,000 women serving in the military -- about 35,000 were officers and 177,000 were enlisted personnel. I suspect the numbers are even higher today.

Let's take the officers out of the equation (although many of them may suffer the same kind of trauma). One-seventh of the remaining 177,000 is about 25,300. That's a big number to likely be victims of military sexual trauma.

Making matters even worse, the VA says about 40% of the veterans seek help from the VA. They suspect the number that really needs help is probably higher, but many of them are unaware they can be helped.

Frankly, this whole situation is outrageous. I don't think for a minute that the military can't do anything to eliminate this sexual trauma, whether it is harassment or rape or anything else. They simply haven't gotten serious about eliminating the problem.

It is time that we, the American public, let our politicians and military leaders know that we won't put up with this kind of behavior in our military anymore. And being at war is no excuse. Our military women deserve better.

A Really Scary (White) House - Part 2


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

A Good Quote

Forgive me for getting a little schmaltzy today, but I was listening to National Public Radio and heard a quote that I just had to pass on. The NPR reporter was talking to an African-American gentlemen about the election this year, and the gentleman said the following:

"Rosa sat so Martin could walk.
Martin walked so Barack could run.
Barack is running so our children can fly."

I know the gentleman was talking about African-American children in the quote, but after thinking about it I think it could refer to children of all colors and ethnicities. Obama is running to be president of the entire country. I don't think he sees things in terms of black and white, like many Americans who are trying to live in the past.

I really think Barack Obama would like to build an America where all children can "fly".

A Really Scary (White) House


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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Texas Early Voting - Updated


Tradition has it in Texas that a small or mediocre voter turnout favors the Republican Party, while a large turnout favors the Democratic Party. The first few days of early voting here was at record-breaking levels. The Secretary of State has now released figures for the first seven days of early voting, and it looks like the huge turnout is continuing.

After seven days of early voting in the 15 largest Texas counties, 1,772,441 people have voted. That is 20.95% of all registered voters in those counties. Back in the 2004 general election after seven days of voting, 1,086,745 people had voted. That was 13.36% of the counties' registered voters. That's a very significant jump in early voters (63%).

The total for all early voting and absentee voting for 2004 was 2,412,952, or 29.66% of the total registered voters. Including election day voters, 56.57% of all registered voters voted in 2004.

If the 63% jump in voters holds all the way thru early voting, then this year's total number of early and absentee voters would be 3,933,112 (46.49%) for the 15 counties. It should be interesting to see if the early vote actually reaches this lofty level by the time it ends this week.

If it even gets close, this year's total vote could climb from 2004's 56% to 70% or 80% for 2008. That would be very good for Texas Democrats.


Here are the totals for the largest 15 counties after seven days:

Harris.................359,613(18.53%)
Dallas..................256,683(21.25%)
Tarrant..............221,216(23.06%)
Bexar..................206,194(22.47%)
Travis.................154,988(25.44%)
Collin...................107,382(25.29%)
El Paso..................57,433(14.78%)
Denton..................78,598(21.92%)
Hidalgo.................42,776(14.02%)
Fort Bend.............81,975(27.42%)
Montgomery........53,151(21.97%)
Williamson............55,294(23.84%)
Nueces..................33,734(16.96%)
Galveston.............40,797(21.58%)
Cameron...............19,637(11.27%)

Early Voting


Political Cartoon is by Jeff Darcy in The Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

Another Plot To Kill Obama


It's now happened for a third time. Two men have been arrested for plotting to assassinate presidential candidate Barack Obama. Daniel Cowart (20) and Paul Schlesselman (18), self-described white supremacist skinheads, are currently in a Tennessee jail. They have been charged with possessing a sawed-off shotgun, conspiracy to rob a gun dealer, and making threats against a presidential candidate.

The men were arrested last week after an aborted robbery attempt, and their plot was uncovered during questioning by authorities. The two men were going to rob a gun store to get weapons and ammunition. Then they were going to shoot 88 African-Americans and behead 14 more (the numbers 88 and 14 are considered "special" by some white supremacist groups).

After that, they were going to try to kill Barack Obama. The plot they devised is kind of silly, but then most white supremacists are not rocket scientists. They were going to dress in white tuxedos and top hats, get in a car, and drive straight at Obama while firing out the windows. They expected to be killed in the attempt.

This is the third arrest for threats on the life of Barack Obama, with one being in Florida and the other in Colorado. I expect their will be more, and I hope the Secret Service is up to the task of foiling each and every plot. We've already had too many leaders killed in this country.

Maybe if the culprits in all these cases are dealt with harshly, it will prevent others from doing the same. I hope so.

Not Again !


Political Cartoon is by Dana Summers in The Orlando Sentinel.

Alaska Seat Up For Grabs

A few months ago, no one believed the Democrats could ever reach the veto-proof magic number of senators -- 60. But yesterday, they took another step to possibly doing that when Alaska's Senator was found guilty of seven counts of violating federal law.

The federal jury convicted Senator Ted Stevens of lying about $250,000 in gifts he had received as a senator. He will not be sentenced until early next year, and could receive anything from probation to 35 years in prison. While it is unlikely the 84 year-old senator would get a 35 year sentence, it is very possible it could affect his chances for re-election.

He was already in a tough fight for his senate seat with popular Democrat Mark Begich. A research poll conducted earlier this month showed the race to be a statistical dead-heat. The guilty verdict could be the thing that puts Begich (pictured above) over the top.

Surely the Alaska voters wouldn't re-elect a convicted felon, who may be booted from the senate even if he's not sent to prison.

20-20 Hindsight


Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies in The Record.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Palin Rigged Pipeline Builder Selection

Sarah Palin has repeatedly referred to her approval of a $40 billion natural gas pipeline as evidence of her competence and ability to help solve America's energy problems. The pipeline would bring natural gas from Alaska's North Slope to the lower 48 states. But now it looks like it is just more evidence of old-style Republican favoritism.

Before the selection process, Palin had said the process would be fair and without government pre-conditions, but then she set some conditions on the bidding that cut out the gas producers and most other companies. It turns out that those conditions actually favored only one company -- TransCanada, the company that was awarded the contract.

Palin had also promised not to talk with any of the bidding companies, but broke that promise by having phone conversations and meetings with several companies, including TransCanada. But then, how can you rig a process for something you don't understand without talking to the bidders?

In addition, a former executive of TransCanada served as a consultant to the pipeline team put together by Palin. A member of that pipeline team was a woman who had done some lobbying for a subsidiary of TransCanada, and her former partner in the lobbying firm was TransCanada's lead lobbyist on the pipeline deal.

And it looks like Palin's pipeline plan is a really sweet deal for TransCanada. Four years earlier, the company had said it would build the pipeline without a government subsidy. But the Palin plan will give the company up to $500 million in subsidies.

Palin has been telling the American public that she is a maverick -- a different kind of Republican that wants to clean up government and make it fairer. It looks like she was lying. This deal smells like the same old Republican policy of enriching their friends at the expense of American citizens.

It's time to stop listening to Republican lies and boot them out of office.

Socialism ?


Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

TPA Weekly Review


It's Monday, and that means it is time for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance Weekly Roundp-Up. This week's edition is compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

Oh, and don't forget to vote early!

The Texas Cloverleaf helps spread the truth about ACORN. John McCain describes the economy as a drive by shooting. The Texas Cloverleaf calls it a whack job.

McBlogger takes a look at our own Congressman from Clear Channel, Mike McCaul, and discovers that he is indeed different.

jobsanger points out the dysfunctional aspect of this year's Republican campaign, first in Palin Disagrees With McCain, and then in Repubs Can't See The Reality.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is sad to recognize that while America’s Foreign Policy Suffers - Unemployment Soars - Religion Goes Toxic America's short attention span has been grabbed by personal survival and courted by political and religious philosophies.

As early voting begins Eye On Williamson charts the early voting numbers in Williamson County. HD-52 Democratic candidate Diana Maldonado continues to rack up the endorsements and launches her latest ad, taking on the insurance companies and high homeowners insurance.

Neil at Texas Liberal posted the second part of his Who I Would Have Supported For President series. The latest entry covered the years 1824-1852.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News is keeping the early voting info up for the voters who need it but did notice that all the PUMAs have come home to Obama.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that the Texas Association of Business has finally pleaded guilty in connection with its 2002 violations of Texas' campaign financing laws and that State Rep. John Davis (R-Clear Lake) and State Sen. Kim Brimer (R-Fort Worth) have taken big bucks from a company the TCEQ fined more than a quarter million dollars last week for polluting.

CouldBeTrue from South Texas Chisme has some hints about how to get your specific sample ballot. Be prepared!

Off the Kuff analyzes the high level of early voting in Harris County so far.

XicanoPwr analyzes the GOP attack on ACORN and the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters carried out by Paul Bettencourt in Harris County.

North Texas Liberal reports on Sarah Palin's $150,000 shopping spree at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, and discusses why it could signal the end for her and John McCain's faltering campaign.

As Democrats in Harris County appear on the verge of something historic, the trends in the extraordinary early voting turnout portend the same blue surge that the rest of the country is about to experience. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has the deets.

refinish69 at Doing My Part For The Left wants everyone to say thanks to Barbara at Avenue Gallery- NOT!!!

nytexan at Bluebloggin points out just how McCain and Palin are alike with their FEC violations. We’ve gone from 8 years of the “emperor has no clothes” to “the empress has new clothes.” The GOP is priceless. Palin is following in McCain’s footsteps for FEC violations, what a pair of mavericks. CREW Files FEC Complaint Against Palin. And, for McCain, apparently he and Palin have an affection for Russia; McCain’s New FEC Violation: Asks Russia For Campaign Money.

George at The Texas Blue wants you to know your job's not over just because you voted. We look at the early voting excitement across the state and remind you that it's critical to tell your friends and family to vote as well!

Endangered Species


Political Cartoon is by John Trever in The Albuquerque Journal.

Purple Tomatoes ?

That's right -- PURPLE tomatoes! They are the product of work done by scientists at the John Innes Center in Norwich, England. The John Innes Center is dedicated to finding ways to increase the level of health-promoting compounds in fruits and vegetables.

The purple color comes from an antioxidant pigment called anthocyanin, which is commonly found in the blackberry, cranberry and chokeberry. The scientists took the anthocyanin from snapdragon flower and incorporated those genes into the tomato plant. The new tomato has been tested on mice, and the mice who ate it were healthier and lived longer than those who did not.

They are ready now to test the tomato on humans. Anthocyanin is known to have anti-cancer properties, and has been particularly effective against colon cancer. It is thought the new tomato may also help boost eyesight, protect against cardiovascular disease and age-related degenerative diseases, and help to stave off diabetes and obesity.

I have no problem with the change in color from red to purple -- especially if it is significantly healthier to eat. But I do have one important question. Does it still taste like a red tomato?

A Winning Position


Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at MSNBC.com.

Robert Taylor for Potter County Sheriff

Potter County (Texas) needs a new sheriff. I believe the best man for the job is Robert Taylor. He has the experience, the qualifications and the honesty necessary to make a great sheriff. For more details, you can go to http://www.myspace.com/taylor4sheriff

Contributions to his campaign can be made at Taylor Campaign, PO Box 31121, Amarillo, Texas 79120.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another Texas Dragging Death !


In Paris, two white men have been been arrested for dragging a black man to death underneath a pickup. Paris is located in northeast Texas near the Oklahoma border. It was a bloody death, and the victim's mother (pictured above) said pieces of his skull could be found on the highway three days after it happened.

This brings back memories of the incident in Jasper a few years ago, when three white men chained James Byrd and drug him to death behind their pickup. That was obviously a racially-motivated murder and caused a lot of racial tension in the state.

There are some who believe this new death was also racially-motivated. The New Black Panthers have held a news conference at the courthouse, and community-activist Brenda Cherry says, "There's a problem in Paris, Texas. I don't see a difference in getting dragged behind a truck and getting dragged under a truck."

But the authorities in Paris say any comparison to the death of James Byrd is "preposterous". They point to the fact that the victim (Brandon McClelland) and the two white men had been friends for years.

The police have arrested Charles Ryan Crostley and Shannon Keith Finley. The police believe the three men were drinking together when they ran out of beer, and decided to drive to Oklahoma to buy more.

They got the beer and started back, but then began to argue about who was sober enough to drive back. McClelland took some of the beer and said he would walk back. As he began to walk, Finley started to bump him with the pickup. When he fell, Finley drove over him and drug him underneath the pickup.

Findley and Crostley then drove the pickup to a car wash to wash off the blood. Both men are charged with Murder and Tampering With Evidence.

Unless some kind of new evidence is discovered, this doesn't look like a racially-motivated murder. It sounds more like an alcohol-fueled anger killing. Of course, that doesn't make it any less tragic, and doesn't excuse the two murderers.

They should receive a long prison sentence for this inexcusable murder

A Slight Miscalculation


Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Denver Post.

Texas Early Voting Totals


Most of the pundits have written off Texas as a Republican state. They gave Barack Obama and senatorial candidate Rick Noriega almost no chance to win the state. But they may just have spoken too soon. In Texas, the larger the voter turnout the better the Democrats do in the election.

If the turnout in early voting is any indicator, and it usually is, then the Democrats may still have a chance to turn Texas blue this year. The early voting and absentee voting totals are up significantly
and are foretelling a huge voter turnout this year.

Listed below are the early voting totals (early voting and absentee combined) for the first four days in the largest 15 counties in Texas. The totals for the first four days in 2004 are listed first and then the totals for 2008. The percentages in parentheses are the percent of the total voters registered in that county.

COUNTY...........................2004.............................2008

Harris............................98,850(4.95%)............208,010(10.72%)
Dallas...........................100,404(8.15%)...........158,463(13.12%)
Tarrant.........................86,524(9.42%)............139,127(14.50%)
Bexar............................74,949(8.25%).............136,910(14.71%)
Travis..........................66,473(11.36%)............107,494(17.65%)
Collin............................38,860(10.52%).............61,407(14.46%)
El Paso........................32,244(8.67%)................39,228(10.09%)
Denton........................30,456(9.47%)................49,199(13.72%)
Hidalgo.......................18,237(6.76%).................30,394(9.96%)
Fort Bend...................20,277(7.97%)................49,038(16.40%)
Montgomery.............19,852(9.27%).................32,875(13.59%)
Williamson.................21,229(10.60%)..............35,589(15.34%)
Nueces........................16,817(8.34%)................21,911(11.01%)
Jefferson....................16,061(9.72%)
Cameron..............................................................14,529(8.34%)
(In the last four years Cameron has passed Jefferson in population.)

TOTAL,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,655,265(8.06%).............1,112,466(13.15%)

These are the kind of numbers the Democrats needed if they are going to retake the state. If this voter surge continues through election day, and there is no reason to believe it won't, then Texas could give the nation a big surprise on election night.

Needs More Than A Makeover


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

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Economic Stimulus


Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Washington Examiner.

Repubs Can't See The Reality


An odd thing seems to be happening in the 2008 election. The Republican base seems to be thrilled with the campaign that McCain and Palin are running, and yet that campaign is clearly dysfunctional to most people. As the election grows nearer, Obama pulls further ahead and the Republicans don't seem to understand why that is happening. Can they really not understand what is happening?

To answer that question, Democracy Corps conducted a survey of Republicans. What they found was an amazing disconnect from the truth among the Republican base. They just don't seem to understand where the electorate is in the 2008 election. Consider the following findings:

*The Republican base thinks they lost in 2006 and are trailing badly in 2008 because they were not conservative enough, but a sizeable majority of voters think they were too conservative.

*About three-fourths of Republicans think Sarah Palin was an excellent choice for a vice-presidential candidate, but a majority of the electorate think just the opposite.

*Two-thirds of Republicans believe McCain has not campaigned aggressively enough, but a majority of the electorate think McCain has been too agressive.

*A large majority of Republicans thnk the party should move further to the right in the future, but an even larger majority of voters think the party should move more to the center.

*Over 60% of Republicans think if Obama is elected their party should oppose whatever he tries to do, but over 70% of the electorate thinks they should give Obama the benefit of the doubt and help him achieve his goals.

Quite clearly, most of the Republican Party just doesn't understand the mood of the public in this election. Once this is understood, it becomes clear why their campaign has been so off-track. But their views become even more unreal when they are asked what would be the reason for a McCain defeat. Here's what they think:

Mainstream Media bias.........65%
Uncontrollable economic events..........29%
Democrats had more money..........25%
McCain wanting to continue Bush policies..........12%
Palin pick was a mistake..........10%
Big spending and deficits..........8%

Personally, I hope the Republican base continues to think this way. It'll make it a lot easier to win again in 2010 and 2012.

Spread The Wealth Or The Gap ?


Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Denver Post.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bush Still Protecting Polluters


Even though he has less than 100 days in office left, George Bush is still acting to protect polluters -- even though they are poisoning little children. I guess if you sold out to the corporations years ago, and you're already the most unpopular president ever, why should you change? After all, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Recent scientific studies have shown that lead is dangerous at much lower levels than previously thought. This is especially true for children, where lead can cause internal injuries and IQ loss. Because of this, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided to make the monitoring of lead levels from businesses more strenuous.

The EPA wanted to monitor any business thought to produce at least a half-ton of lead pollution each year. That would have required up to 600 monitors near places like lead smelters, cement plants and steel mills. But the Bush administration wouldn't hear of it.

After a few e-mails passed between the EPA and the White House, the EPA has suddenly adjusted its new standards. Now a monitor will be required only for plants that produce over a ton of lead each year. That cuts out 60% of the businesses that would be monitored. It would require only 135 monitors (and 133 exist already). Basically, Bush has gutted the new monitoring standards so that no businesses will be monitored that aren't already being monitored.

The EPA will put a new monitor in each city of over 500,000, but that is just window dressing. A monitor that is not placed near the source of the lead is of no actual value.

Once again the Bush administration has acted to protect polluters at the expense of the health of American citizens and their children. They should be ashamed of themselves.

The New Reality


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

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Threatening Letters From Amarillo


It looks like someone here in Amarillo has gone off the deep end, and it's not something that makes the decent citizens of our fair city very proud. Some nut is mailing threatening letters containing a white powdery substance all over the country, and the letters were all postmarked from Amarillo.

So far, there have been dozens of the letters, and they have been sent to Texas, New York, New Jersey, District of Columbia, Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, Colorado, Oklahoma, Georgia, Virginia and California. And that may not be the end of it. More letters show up each day.


The sender seems to be upset by the banking crises. Most of the letters have been sent to Chase Banks, in addition to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of Thrift Supervision (both of whom oversee financial institutions).

Frankly this whole thing is a bit scary. Both my daughter and I do our banking at Chase Bank in Amarillo. What if this nut escalates his criminal behavior. I don't particularly want to be in the bank when he decides to drop off a bomb or decides to go postal on bank employees and customers.

That may sound silly, but who knows what a nut-job like this will decide to do? A $100,000 reward has been offered for his/her arrest, and the FBI is investigating. I hope the culprit is quickly apprehended and severely punished.

Resurrection


Political Cartoon is by John Cole in The Scranton Times.

An Unsatisfactory Voting Experience

Anyone who regularly reads this site will probably know that I'm a political junkie. I have always loved the campaigning, the speeches, the polls, watching the returns on election night, and most of all, exercising my own right to vote. In the past, voting has always been an empowering and very pleasurable experience for me. But this year was different.

It wasn't the waiting. Actually, I only had to wait in line about fifteen minutes, which I guess is a long time for a small county like Potter (Potter and Randall counties combined only have about 135,000 voters). And while I didn't like the election worker treating me like I was an idiot, that really wasn't it either. She just insisted on explaining the voting machine in great detail, even though I knew very well how to operate it.

No, what ruined my voting experience was the voting machine itself. It was an electronic machine with absolutely no paper trail. It was not hard to operate, and at the end it told me I had voted for every Democrat on the ballot (and a couple of Libertarians). But is that the way it will be counted?

As I left the voting area, all I could think of was how machines in other places were switching votes. There was no way I could be sure that the machine will count my votes as they were cast. As a matter of fact, no one else can be sure the votes were correctly counted either. The only thing that can be checked is whether the correct number of votes were counted (because of the paper sign-in sheets).

Even worse, there is no way the votes can be recounted to make sure they were counted correctly. I felt as though I was completely at the mercy of a machine I don't trust and people I don't know. Even a poll watcher would be of no value.

We have got to outlaw these electronic machines with no paper trail. What good is an election you cannot trust?

No Fraud Here


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

Perverted Evangelist Denied Bail

Last month, I posted about the arrest of 72 year-old evangelist Tony Alamo (his real name is Bernie Lazar Hoffman) on charges that he took a 13 year-old girl across state lines to have sex with her in 2004, and then again in 2005. He was arrested in Arizona and transported back to Arkansas.

Yesterday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant denied bond to the evangelist, and said he would remain in custody until his trial. The judge noted that Alamo is accused of a serious and violent crime, he has fled charges in the past, and he owns property in several states (none of which is in his name). Because of these factors, the judge deemed him to be a flight risk.

Several former members of Alamo's church testified at the hearing, saying he practiced polygamy and at least one of his "wives" was a 9 year-old child. He also ordered vicious beatings of his followers, even to the point of them bleeding through their clothing.

Each of the two charges against Alamo carry a penalty of 10 years to life in prison and a $250,000 fine. Personally, I believe he should receive the maximum penalty if the government is able to prove their case.

Religion should never be used as a cover for any kind of crimes -- especially child sex abuse.

Endorsement Of Peace


Political Cartoon is by Henry Payne in The Detroit News.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

U.S./Iraqi Agreement Already In Trouble


Last week the new U.S./Iraqi agreement was unveiled. It would keep United States troops in Iraq until at least 2011. The agreement was supposed to be final. The Bush administration said it could not be amended. The Iraqi Parliament would either have to approve it or reject it.

Bush thought that would force the Iraqis to approve it even though they don't like it much. Once again, it looks like he was wrong. The agreement hasn't even reached the Parliament and the Iraqis are already talking about amending it.


In an effort to try and save the agreement, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned Iraq that failure to approve the agreement would cause "dramatic consequences". He said if there was no agreement, the United States would have to "basically stop doing anything".


That doesn't sound like much of a threat to me. That's exactly what the Iraqis want. Just a couple of days ago, the followers of Moqtada Sadr marched against the agreement. They don't want the United States to stay through 2011. They (and the vast majority of Iraqis) want us to leave immediately.


Frankly, I think it's time to give them what they want. We can't solve their problems for them. They know that and want us to get out of the way. Bush and McCain are the only ones who still believe that democracy can be spread by American military power, and they're wrong. The only thing we are accomplishing is to get more people killed -- Americans and Iraqis.

Forget the agreement. Bring our troops home. Let the Iraqis run Iraq however they want to.

The Question About Capitalism


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

Hospital Charges For Waiting


Parkland Hospital normally commands a lot of respect. It's the public hospital for Dallas County. If you don't have any insurance or much money, then it's probably your choice for healthcare. In fact, for the poor of Dallas it's their only option. But it sounds like lately they're leaving a lot to be desired.

Take the hospital experience of Amber Joy Milbrodt. Milbrodt is a chiropractic student in Dallas. She had an accident and broke her leg. She knew it was broken because she got an x-ray at her school. Being a student, she had little money and no insurance. She went to Parkland Hospital.

She knew she would have to wait to see a doctor, but she had no idea just how long that wait would be. After she had been there for 3 1/2 hours, a nurse came out and checked her vital signs. Surely her wait was nearly over. But after another 15 1/2 hours, she was still waiting. She gave up and went home.

She rested for a few days and then put the leg in a brace. Then she got the bill from Parkland. They couldn't find the time to give her any medical care, but they still charged her $162. That's some pretty expensive waiting!

The hospital said they had charged her for the nurse taking her vital signs -- not the waiting. But that sounds a bit ridiculous. $162 dollars for someone to take your blood pressure and tempature? Milbrodt should be glad they didn't give her an aspirin. That would have probably cost her another $100.

Just a few days before this, a 58 year-old man also had a 19-hour wait at the hospital. Then he died of a heart attack. It doesn't sound like Parkland is doing a very good job. No one should have to wait 19 hours for treatment, whether for a broken leg or a heart problem. That kind of wait tells me the hospital emergency room is not adequately staffed. That can and should be fixed -- even if the county has to cough up a few more dollars.

Obviously, our healthcare system is broken. But until we are willing to cover everyone with health insurance (like all other industrialized countries), the county hospitals are the only option for the poor. As long as that is true, these hospitals must be adequately staffed. No one should have to wait 19 hours or die in the waiting room.

Milbrodt says she's not going to pay the $160. I don't blame her since she received no medical care. As for the other gentleman, the hospital going to have to pay for that negligence.

Repubs Left With Only Accusations


Political Cartoon is by John Darkow in The Columbia Daily Tribune.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Palin Disagrees With McCain

A couple of weeks ago, Sarah Palin spoke without thinking and found herself opposing a position staked out by John McCain in the presidential debates. She said she would support unilateral strikes into Pakistan to get al-Queda leaders. The problem was that was the position taken by Obama in the debate and vilified by McCain.

Now it looks like she has once again gone off the reservation. While McCain doesn't support gay marriage, he has always opposed a federal ban on it. He believes it is a matter that should be left up to the individual states. Palin doesn't agree, and she made that public in an interview released by the Christian Broadcasting Network on Monday.

She told the CBN interviewer, "I have voted along with the vast majority of Alaskans who had the opportunity to vote to amend our Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I wish on a federal level that's where we would go. I don't support gay marriage."

I don't know whether she just let this slip because she felt safe talking to CBN, or whether she just really doesn't care what John McCain's positions are. One thing is sure -- she hasn't mastered the concept of supporting the views put forward by her running mate.

Then she went on to make a completely ridiculous statement. She told CBN, "What we have heard through some mainstream media is that folks have hollered out some atrocious and unacceptable things like 'kill him'. If I ever were to hear that standing up there at the podium with the mike, I would call them out on that, and I would tell these people, no, that's unacceptable."

That was either a blatant lie, or she has some serious hearing problems and needs to get to an audiologist fast to be fitted with a hearing aid. No one else has had any problems hearing the outrageous remarks from her crowds.

The Split Among Republicans


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

Obama Suspends Campaign


Presidential candidate Barack Obama is suspending his campaign for at least a few days. But this is no grandstand play like McCain's suspension to "fix the economy". Obama is flying to Hawaii to be at the bedside of his beloved grandmother (pictured above) who is seriously ill. Our best wishes go out to Obama and his relatives during this family emergency.

Here is the story from MSNBC:

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Democrat Barack Obama is canceling nearly all his campaign events Thursday and Friday to fly to Hawaii to visit his suddenly ill 86-year-old grandmother.

Campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday that Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham, who helped raise him, was released from the hospital late last week. But he says her health has deteriorated to the point where her situation is very serious.

Gibbs said Obama would return to the campaign trail on Saturday, though he was unsure where.

Obama events originally planned for Madison, Wis., and Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday will be replaced with one in Indianapolis before he makes the long flight to Hawaii.