A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Religion Kills A Few Hundred More


For centuries, human beings have been killing other human beings because of religion. We seem to think whatever god we happen to believe in will approve of killing other people who do not have our particular religious views. Although most of the major religions, sects and cults claim to believe in a "god of love", their followers keep trying to please this loving god by presenting him (or her) with more and more blood.

None of this makes any sense at all, and one would expect that in the 21st century, people might gain the wisdom to see the insanity of killing others for their religious beliefs (or lack of religious beliefs). But that doesn't seem to be happening. People seem to be quite content to try and justify their beliefs by spilling blood.

This last week saw more evidence of just how far mankind has NOT come. The Plateau State in Nigeria just had an election. The state and its capitol city of Jos sit in the middle of Nigeria -- between the christian south and the muslim north. Naturally, both religions think they should control the city and the state, since each of them is in sole possession of "the truth".

The christians won this electoral round, so the muslims decided they had to demonstrate. This evolved into rioting by both sides. So far, over three hundred muslim bodies have been recovered. There has not been a death toll of christians released, but it is expected to also be in the hundreds. I'm sure both sides are proud of the fine job of killing they've done for their god.

Don't get to thinking we're any better than anyone else regarding religious prejudice and violence. There are millions in America who would love to force others to accept their beliefs, even to the point of violence. In fact, large segments of the population of nearly every country on every continent would do the same.

I'd love to say we're making progress on this, but I don't believe we are.

A Bigger Grinch


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

Tweety For Senate ?

Is Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC's Hardline, considering a run for the United States Senate in Pennsylvania in 2010? He has been making noises like he might run, and now 538.com and The Huffington Post are reporting that he is hiring staffers for the race. They say he has approached some of Obama's campaign staff about possibly working for his campaign.

Of course, Matthews has denied the report. But that doesn't mean he's not considering the run -- only that he hasn't hired any staffers. Personally, I think he'd love to run for senate in 2010.

The seat he would be trying to win currently belongs to Senator Arlen Specter. Specter would be 80 years old in 2010, and has a history of fighting against cancer. It might be a golden opportunity for a Democrat to win the seat.

An early poll regarding the 2010 senate race shows Specter with a 12 point lead if he decides to run again (45% - 33%). He leads among Republicans and Independents, while Matthews leads among Democrats. Specter has the better name recognition in Pennsylvania, and is pretty popular in the state.

Actually, I don't see a lot of difference between the two, other than age. Specter is a moderate Republican and Matthews is a conservative Democrat. I think their views would probably be very similar.

Time To Go


Political Cartoon is by Jerry Holbert in The Boston Herald.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Violation Of Privacy Rights


The Arizona Court of Appeals has reinstated a lawsuit filed by the Havasupai Indian Tribe against Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. A lower court had tossed out the case, but I have to agree with the appeals court. The case at least deserves a hearing.

The Havasupai Tribe allowed researchers to take blood samples from 200 tribe members to do research on diabetes. Diabetes is a serious disease in their tribe and in our country, and they were happy to be of help. But then the university researchers broke their word.

After completing the diabetes study, there was blood left over. They used that blood "for research into schizophrenia, inbreeding and ancient population migration." But they did this without asking permission of the Havasupai. The tribe says this was an invasion of their privacy, and now some members of the tribe are afraid to go to a doctor because they can't trust that their privacy will be respected.

I know if I give some bodily fluids to someone to be used for an agreed upon purpose, then I fully expect that is the ONLY purpose it will be used for. If there is some left over and someone would like to use it for another purpose, they'd better ask my permission. If they don't ask, then they'd better dispose of it properly, because they do not have my permission to do anything else.

There is nothing more personal or more private than our own bodies. When we allow access to our bodies, we must be able to trust those to whom we are giving access. The denial of the right to privacy regarding our own bodies could have serious consequences for our society. And if they can deny that right to the Havasupai, they can do it to anyone else.

The researchers said the blood was voluntarily donated and there was a legitimate public interest in data that advances disease research. They are wrong. If they wanted to use the blood for other purposes, they should have asked. By not asking, they broke their word and violated the privacy rights of the Havasupai.

Here Comes Santa


Political Cartoon is by Bob Englehart in The Hartford Courant.

A "Black Friday" Death


As a liberal, I generally believe that most people are good and really want to help their fellow man. But every now and then something so profane is done by human beings, that I have to wonder if I'm foolish and the human race is not really worth saving. One of those things happened yesterday -- on the very appropriately named "Black Friday".

It's insane enough that 2,000 people were lined up at the doors of a Long Island Wal-Mart at five o'clock in the morning, but what happened next is truly perverse. As 34 year-old Jdimytai Damour was unlocking the doors to let the people in the store, the crowd surged forward, breaking down the doors, and trampling Damour to death.

Some of Damour's co-workers tried to get to him and help, but they were also trampled. Fortunately, they only received minor injuries. But no one in the crowd offered any help. They were far too busy trampling the poor man so they could get into the store and save a few dollars on some cheap merchandise made in China. Damour's life was not worth the few dollars they hoped to save.

After calling for emergency help and learning of the death, the store asked people to leave because they were closing for a while as requested by authorities. Did the people cooperate? Were they sorry for trampling a fellow human to death? Of course not!

The people were angry because the store was closing and they had to leave. After all, they had bargains to buy and later brag about to their friends and family. One witness to the scene said the shoppers were acting like "savages". She said, "When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been on line since yesterday morning'. They kept shopping."

I realize we in a very bad economy, but is saving a few dollars or standing in line a few hours really more important than that young man's life? Sadly, these people don't even seem to be the least bit ashamed of their actions.

Well, I am. I'm ashamed that these people are fellow humans and fellow Americans.

Passing On The Burden


Political Cartoon is by Patrick Chappatte in the International Herald Tribune.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Lamest Duck

Our current president, George Bush, still has over 50 days left in office, but it looks like America has already moved on. Bush seems now to be little more than an afterthought. His approval with the American people has been at record lows for several months now, while Obama's latest ratings show him to be very popular.

It seems to be the same with the major media outlets. Obama is getting massive coverage no matter what the issue, while Bush is relegated to the back pages. Even though Obama has said we only have one president, it seems like he is already being viewed as that president.

In fact, it seems that the American public is not only ready to leave Bush in the past, but the entire Republican Party also. As the economic news gets worse, the popularity of Bush and the Republicans also gets worse. A new poll by Rasmussen (who are normally very kind to Republicans) shows that the gulf between those who think the Democrats are better for the economy than the Republicans has grown significantly.

On November 1, 51% thought Democrats would be better for the economy while 42% thought the Republicans would be best. Today, 50% think the Democrats are better for the economy while only 35% favor the Republicans. The Democrats also show a large lead in healthcare, education and social security. Democrats have smaller but leading percentage margins on the war in Iraq, taxes and immigration.

With a Democratic Congress and his huge unpopularity with the American people, there is little that Bush can do except mark the days until he leaves office. Meanwhile, Obama's power seems to be growing each day, even though he has yet to be sworn in to office.

Joe Klein summed it up well in his Time magazine article, when he says, "That we have slightly more than one President for the moment is mostly a consequence of the extraordinary economic times. Even if George Washington were the incumbent, the markets would want to know what John Adams was planning to do after his Inauguration. And yet this final humiliation seems particularly appropriate for George W. Bush. At the end of a presidency of stupefying ineptitude, he has become the lamest of all possible ducks."

Passing The Torch


Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Denver Post.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Heterosexual Questionaire

I found this questionaire over at The Rag Blog. It turns the tables and shows just how unfair past and present questionaires are to gays. Instead of an effort to gain useful information, many times they are just a way to pass blame or make accusations. This "heterosexual questionaire" was composed in 1972, but it is valid today as a way to point out the unfairness of how gays are usually treated. Read it, then pass it along.

1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?

2. When and where did you decide you were a heterosexual?

3. Is it possible this is just a phase and you will out grow it?

4. Is it possible that your sexual orientation has stemmed from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?

5. Do your parents know you are straight? Do your friends know- how did they react?

6. If you have never slept with a person of the same sex, is it just possible that all you need is a good gay lover?

7. Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality... can’t you just be who you are and keep it quiet?

8. Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?

9. Why do heterosexuals try to recruit others into this lifestyle?

10. A disproportionate majority of child molesters are heterosexual... Do you consider it safe to expose children to heterosexual teachers?

11. Just what do men and women do in bed together? How can they truly know how to please each other, being so anatomically different?

12. With all the societal support marriage receives, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?

13. How can you become a whole person if you limit yourself to compulsive, exclusive heterosexuality?

14. Considering the menace of overpopulation how could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual?

15. Could you trust a heterosexual therapist to be objective? Don't you feel that he or she might be inclined to influence you in the direction of his orher leanings?

16. There seem to very few happy heterosexuals. Techniques have been developed that might enable you to change if you really want to.

17. Have you considered trying aversion therapy?

Martin Rochlin, Ph.D., 1972

On This Thanksgiving


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

Gates Should Be Replaced Immediately

I have to admit I don't like the sound of this. Sources within the Obama transition team are saying that Obama will keep Bush appointee, Robert Gates, as his Secretary of Defense -- probably for at least a year. They say this will allow for a smoother transition in a time of war.

It also would fulfill a campaign promise by Obama to include a Republican in his cabinet, and allow Obama to concentrate more fully on the economy. Personally, I think that's a ridiculous idea.

If Obama wants a Republican in his administration (and I am not opposed to that), there are plenty of other jobs to fill and other Republicans to consider. But Gates is a bad choice. He is a friend of the Bush family and has been running this very unpopular war for the last two years. Keeping him on as Secretary of Defense just sends the wrong message.

One of the major reasons Obama was able to overcome the formidible candidacy of Hillary Clinton was his opposition to the war from the very beginning. Leaving Gates in place makes it look like he is now willing to continue Bush's war, rather than end it as the American people want.

Neither the Iraqis nor the American people want the occupation of Iraq to continue. Instead of allowing the war to continue, Obama needs to show the American people he is going to end it. And he needs to do that NOW -- not in 2011. Gates' replacement would signal that change is coming. Allowing him to stay just looks like more of the same, and more useless American deaths.

Obama needs to keep his campaign promise. He needs to replace Gates and end the war.

A Worthy Bank


Political Cartoon is by Joe Heller in The Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Acid Attackers Are Arrested


Two weeks ago in the Afghan city of Kandahar, some vile and vicious crimes were committed. Some men on a motorcycle attacked fourteen people by splashing them with acid. The victims were ten schoolgirls and four of their teachers. What had these young girls done to warrant such an attack? They went to school.

Last week the Afghan government arrested ten men involved in the attacks. Yesterday, they announced the arrests, and said several of the men had confessed. The men had been paid a bounty for each person they successfully attacked for a total of about $2000. The attacks were arranged and paid for by the Taliban, who are so opposed to schooling for girls that they are willing to kill or disfigure the youngsters.

After this vicious crime against innocent school children, there can be little doubt of the evil intent of the Taliban militants. No religious or political belief is so important that it justifies attacking innocent children with acid.

President Karzai has condemned the crime and called for the execution of the perpetrators. I am normally opposed to the death penalty, but if it is handed down to these criminals you won't hear any whining or complaining from this blog. The Afghan government must establish in no uncertain terms that this kind of action will not be tolerated.

The Taliban had hoped to scare Afghani girls so badly they would never try to attend school again. They failed. The schools were closed for a few days, but they are now open again and the young girls have returned. I have to admire their courage and persistence.

Way Too Early


Political Cartoon is by John Cole in The Scranton Times.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Carbon Dioxide At A Dangerous Level

It's a good thing that the Republicans have been booted from power. For years, they have been denying the reality of global climate change due to the burning of fossil fuels, in an effort to protect the profits of their corporate masters. According to a team of international scientists, this inaction has already pushed carbon dioxide levels to a dangerous level.

Scientists had previously believed that the danger level would be reached later in the century, but the team of ten scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom and France have published an article in the Open Atmosphere Science Journal that says their revaluation of data shows we have already reached a dangerous level. The team is headed by Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The carbon dioxide in our planet's atmosphere has reached a level of 385 parts per million, and is currently rising at a rate of 2 ppm per year. This is a high enough level to cause serious climactic changes that could expand desertification, increase food shortages, increase the intensity of storms, destroy coral reefs, and cause the disappearance of mountain glaciers that hundreds of millions of people depend on as their source of water.

How long is it before we reach a point of no return? That's impossible to know. As Dr. Hansen says, "It's like the economy, it's a non-linear problem. You knew, given the continued input of big deficit spending that things would go to pot, but nobody could predict the time of collapse with any confidence. We had better start reducing emissions soon and get back below 350 ppm within several decades -- otherwise I doubt that the ice sheets can stand such a long strong pressure."

One thing the scientists are sure of is that it's no longer enough just to stop the increase in carbon dioxide levels. The levels are already at a level that will cause serious climactic disruption. We must start immediately to act to reduce the carbon dioxide to below 350 ppm.

They are recommending that all coal-fired power plants be phased out by 2030 (only 22 years from now). This obviously means it would be foolhardy to build any new coal-fired plants (as is currently planned in Texas and many other parts of this country). They also think a substantial reforestation program must immediately be initiated.

Thank goodness the Republicans can no longer delay a response to the dangerous levels of carbon dioxide. I know that President Obama and the Democrats will now take action. I just hope that action is substantial enough to cure the problem, rather than insufficient cosmetic changes.

Further delay, or a moderate response, are no longer viable options.

Just Trying To Survive


Cartoon is by Henry Payne in The Detroit News.

The Mystery Piano


This is an odd, but interesting mystery. A woman was walking on a footpath through the woods near Cape Cod, and came upon a piano -- a Baldwin Acrosonic #897. It was complete with a bench and seemed set up for someone to play it. It was undamaged and even in tune.

The lady called the police in nearby Harwich, Massachusetts, and they were also surprised by the discovery. They don't know whether it was a theft, a prank, or something else. They have sent inquiries to all the other police departments in the area, but so far they have not had any replies.

It took several policemen to move the piano to a storage facility, so they think it must also have taken more than one person to put the piano in the woods.

In a bit of fun, when police released the above picture to media, they titled it "Liberace".

Wall Building


Political Cartoon is by Jeff Parker in Florida Today.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Millions More To Lose Jobs


For the last eight years, the Bush administration has in economic policies that hurt American workers. They have fought unionization, allowed corporations to ship millions of jobs overseas and until recently successfully blocked a minimum wage hike (which had the effect of keeping all wages depressed). As the cost of living has steadily risen, American workers have been put in a bind.

The corporations loved the policies of the Bush administration (at least until recently). It removed the regulations they thought were restricting them, and allowed them to only think short-term. As long as their stock went up nothing else mattered, because the only important thing was letting executives and major stockholders get rich quick. But these short-sighted policies have now come home to roost and the bottom has fallen out of the stock market.

But it won't be the rich who'll be hurt by the current economic troubles. They've already made their bundle, and if they have to give up their positions, it'll be cushioned with golden parachutes. No, the people hurt by our faltering economy will be the ordinary American workers.

The current rate of employment has already jumped to about 6.5%. That's the good news. The bad news is that economists expect the unemployment rate to at least get to 8%. That translates into about 2.3 million more unemployed workers, and that's a minimum figure. That will happen even if our incoming president does all the right things.

That's not as bad as things got during the Great Depression when 1 out of every four workers was without a job. But we have to remember that the 6.5% doesn't count many unemployed people who's benefits have run out, or who have given up. It also doesn't count those working part-time because they can't find a full-time job. Add these people in, and we're already over 8% and heading for 10%.

Then we have the problem of the Big Three American automakers. If even one of them goes out of business, the economic effect will reverberate throughout our society and affect far more jobs than just in the auto industry. We may not be at the Great Depression level yet, but the possibility exists that we could get there.

Thanks Republicans, for buying into Reagan's ridiculous "trickle down" theory! Bush I was right when he called it "voodoo economics", and the sacrificial goats are the American workers.

A Few More While Leaving


Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Denver Post.

Texas Progressive Alliance Review


It's Monday, and that means it is time for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's Weekly Blog Round-Up. This is your pre-Thanksgiving edition, so enjoy it while you bake your pumpkin pies, stuff your turkey, or whatever your holiday traditions are.

jobsanger notes that some racists seem to think this election gives them permission to once again publicly display their sick beliefs in Racist Reaction To The Election.

The Texas Cloverleaf discusses the upcoming study that may result in a mileage based user fee rather than a gas tax for drivers in the US.

John Coby at reports the Texas Ethics Commission Fines State Representative Carl Isett $25,000

BossKitty at TruthHugger watches, with the rest of the world, America: A Spectator Sport or Soap Opera

Off the Kuff analyzes the precinct data for Harris County and declares the coordinated effort to get out the Democratic vote there a success, and that the Democratic base was everywhere you looked.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme claims the religious right exposes its dark underbelly with opposition to Prop 8.

McBlogger takes a moment to talk about the deficit, the economy and bailing us out. Because it's, you know, important.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson post on the issues the Texas GOP is grappling with post election in, The GOP brand is tarnished in Texas.

Barnett Shale Radioactive Waste is Bone-Seeking Carcinogen When Airborne and Has 1622 Year Half-Life TXsharon at Bluedaze.

Environment and education have been greatly on the mind of the Texas Kaos community this week. Front pager TxSharon gave us a heads up on Brett Shipp's expose of the Texas Railroad Commission on Bill Moyers Journal Friday, and diarist liberaltexan kept an eye on a Faith Based Initiative: Fundamentalist Religious Attack on Science in Texas.

Neil at Texas Liberal says that Galveston was a disaster before as well as after Hurricane Ike.

Vince at Capitol Annex poses a couple of questions about Tom Craddick's Secret Police and asks exactly why former State Rep. and ex-deputy parliamentarian Ron Wilson is running around the capitol with Parliamentarian Terry Keel and serving as a media escort/hatchet man for the Speaker.

The Texas Blue looks at how Tom DeLay's gerrymandering of the state has actually made Texas weaker on the national level than a fair apportionment would have.

The passing of Jim Mattox prompted a few reminiscences from Texas bloggers and corporate media. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs assembled a few, ahead of Monday's memorial service.

Bloody Some Noses


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

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Don't Worry - Change Is Coming


Although he hasn't officially announced most of his staff and cabinet, We're starting to get a pretty good idea of what the Obama administration will look like. It will be peopled with experienced and very competent people, and that has some pundits asking "Where's the change?". As of this moment, it looks like the following people will be chosen:

Secretary of State -- Hillary Clinton

Chief of Staff -- Rahm Emmanuel

Secretary of Health & Human Services -- Tom Daschle

Secretary of Commerce -- Bill Richardson

Secretary of Treasury -- Timothy Geithner

Secretary of Homeland Security -- Janet Napolitano

Attorney General -- Eric Holder

Frankly, that sounds like an all-star team to me. But it has some saying this doesn't really represent change. Except for Napolitano (and possibly Geithner), these are all people very familiar with Washington. Many even worked in and with the administration of President Bill Clinton.

Actually, that's a good thing. One mistake made by both the Carter and Clinton administrations was to bring in too many people who didn't understand how Washington worked. By the time they figured it out, much time and many opportunities had been lost. Obama is not repeating that mistake. His people will be able to hit the ground running on the first day.

So where is the change? The change is pictured above. The change is Barack Obama. If you watched Obama at all during the last couple of years, then you know he is a smart and capable leader who runs his own show. The people he picks will not be striking out on their own. They will be implementing Obama's policies and wishes, and they are experienced enough to get the job done.

Don't worry, the change is coming. President Obama will see to that.

Superman


Political Cartoon is by Eric Allie at CNSNews.com.

"Butt Bandit" Is Finally Caught


The city of Valentine, located near the state line with South Dakota, is not the kind of place where you would expect to find a serial criminal. But that is just what this Nebraska metropolis (population 2650) has had for the last couple of years. The locals dubbed him the "Butt Bandit".

This dastardly criminal has been plaguing the citizens of Valentine since the Spring of 2007. That was when the businesses, churches and community buildings of the city began to find "butt prints" on their windows. The criminal would smear vaseline or lotion on his behind (and sometimes his groin), and then press it against the window. On one particularly busy night, he "printed" nearly all the windows on a local hotel.

Over the past two summers (he stopped during the Winter of 2007-08), he has struck at window after window. When he "printed" the school police got a picture of him, but it was not good enough to identify him.

But the master criminal's luck ran out early last Wednesday morning. About 3:30am, the Valentine police caught him in the act. He will now have to pay for his crimes (and suffer a "buttload" of embarrassment, I suspect).

The culprit turned out to be a local 35 year-old man. I had expected it was someone younger, but I guess it just shows that age has little to do with maturity.

Request Authorization


Political Cartoon is by Patrick Chappatte, in the International Herald Tribune.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Makes Perfect Sense ?


From the excellent blog of Yellowdog Granny.

I Learned Something New & I Don't Like It

I learned something new today, and I'm not at all sure I like it. Did you know that not all of the sales tax we pay goes to the state or local government? Businesses are allowed to keep a portion of the tax to reimburse them for the "expense" of collecting the tax and sending it to the state.

Now this may have made some sense at one time. Here in Texas, the sales tax was imposed many years ago, and it probably did entail some expense to track and transfer the tax. Many businesses probably had to hire a bookkeeper to do it. But today we exist in the age of computer cash registers and direct transfers. The tracking and transfer of the taxes is almost an automatic thing and no longer represents a big expense to a business.

As an example, Wal-Mart gets to keep $7.5 million of the sales tax it collects in Texas each year. Do you think it costs them even a tiny fraction of that to collect, track and transfer that tax money? Of course not! This is simply pure profit to the company, on top of the profit they earn from selling their merchandise. In the 26 states that have this sort of compensation program, the company gets to keep about $60 million.

As the above chart shows, Texas loses about $90 million dollars a year in sales tax money through this unnecessary program. This is more than enough money to completely fund the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Now I realize that a small business may need this program. But for the retailing giants like Wal-Mart, the program is just a way to collect windfall profits far above the actual expense of collecting the tax.

Our legislators need to re-think this program. At the very least, a cap should be put on the amount a retailer can keep. I have no problem with a retailer being reimbursed for actual expenses, but I have a big problem with my tax money creating millions of dollars of profit for the retail giants. It also gives these giants an unfair advantage over small retailers who's profit comes only from the merchandise they sell.

Something should be done about this, but I doubt it will be. Our Republican-controlled state government sold out to the large corporations long ago.

The Gravy Train


Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Washington Examiner.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dems Should Get Rid Of Reid

After the events of the last few days, I've become convinced that the Democrats in the Senate need some strong leadership. The problem is that I don't think Harry Reid is capable of providing that leadership. Just look at what's happened under his guidance the past couple of years.

In 2006, voters gave the Democrats a very slim majority in the United States Senate. They did this because they wanted to change the direction George Bush was taking our country, especially in Iraq. This slim majority made Reid the Majority Leader of the Senate.

But under Reid's leadership, the Senate did nothing but continually knuckle under and let Bush have everything he wanted. Now I realize he didn't have the votes to force Bush to do things the way the Democrats wanted, but he did have the votes to stop Bush from having things his own way. He had the votes to force a compromise, and possibly even force Bush to agree to a timetable, but he didn't. He just gave in to Bush over and over.

But the Republicans had screwed up so bad, in 2008, the American people gave Reid and the Democrats a workable majority in the Senate (and the House). Surely Reid would step forward and show some party leadership now! After the repeated betrayal of the Democratic Party by Joe Lieberman, surely Reid would take action. After all, he said no one was more angry than him at Lieberman's rancid behavior.

So what did Reid do? Nothing! He led the movement to allow Lieberman to keep his committee chairmanship and stay in the Democratic Caucus. What's a little betrayal among friends?

Now we come to the possible bailout of the Big Three American automakers. I know they don't deserve it, but the fact is if we let them go down it could cost millions of jobs and throw the country into an even bigger economic tailspin -- not seen since the Great Depression. Not only can Reid not get the majority he needed to get something done, he even backed down from having any vote at all. The very least he could have done was make the Republicans publicly vote against saving our economy.

Frankly, Reid doesn't have the courage or the foresight to lead Democrats in the Senate. If a new Majority leader was ever needed, now is the time. Reid is not tough enough for the job, and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

Stooges Change Allegiance


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

A Couple Of Good Cabinet Picks

Nobody seems to know what's going on with the pick for Secretary of State in the Obama administration. There are those who say Hillary Clinton is a lock for the position, others who say serious vetting is going on and it's up in the air, and still others who say the pick will not be Clinton because of her husband. It looks like we're going to have to wait to see how that comes out.

But according to sources within the Obama group, it looks like two choices have already been made. The first is former senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota (pictured). He has been chosen to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. This is a very good pick.

In some departments (like State or Treasury), it might make sense to pick a moderate. But the Department of Health and Human Services needs a strong progressive voice. This is the department designated to help the poor and underprivileged, and with a strong recession (and maybe even a depression) coming on fast, we need someone willing to help these people instead of ignoring them like the last administration did.

This is also the department that will have a key role in fixing our broken healthcare system. In fact, Daschle is probably going to be a major force in designing a universal healthcare proposal. Fortunately, Daschle is a man with a proven progressive track record. I think he's the right man for the job.

The other pick is Eric Holder to be the Attorney General. He has the right experience, having served as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration, and he is ready to step up to the top position. Maybe now we can put civil rights and voting rights back on the agenda at the Justice Department. The Bush administration has ignored both areas.

I hope all of Barack Obama's cabinet picks are as good as these two.

The Evolution Of Big Biz


Political Cartoon is by Walt Handelsman in Newsday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Progress In Iraq ?


Conservatives would like for all of us to believe that victory is right around the corner in Iraq, but the killing just keeps happening day after day. In addition to the many thousands of Iraqis that have been killed, there have now been 4,201 American soldiers killed. Just in this year, 294 American soldiers have died in Iraq. That's an average of about 28 soldiers a month.

It's not as many as last year, but it's still far too many. But even Bush knows there's no victory just around the corner. That's why he's trying to get the Iraqis to agree to let American troops stay another three years -- until the end of 2011. He wants this so bad, he's willing to agree to withdraw the troops from Iraqi cities by the middle of next year, withdraw the right of American troops to enter an Iraqi home without an Iraqi warrant, and subject American soldiers to Iraqi courts for certain crimes.

Bush may even get what he wants. Maliki has agreed to the new deal, and it's looking like a majority of the parliament may also agree. There's only one fly in the ointment -- Moqtada al-Sadr. Moqtada al-Sadr wants the American soldiers out now, and he's threatening to rearm his militia and turn them loose once again if the new agreement is approved.

That would make things a lot more dangerous for American soldiers. The reduction in American deaths had a lot more to do with al-Sadr declaring a truce, than the "surge" of American troops. If he puts his militia back in the field, there will be a sharp rise in American deaths.

None of this makes any sense for Americans. They not only can't do what they need to do by withdrawing from the cities and giving up the right to search Iraqi homes, but staying beyond this year will give them even more enemies to fight. It is ridiculous to stay another three years under these conditions.

Let's bring our soldiers home and let the Iraqis settle their own problems. The agreement is not only a bad one, it is unnecessary.

Impossible Challenge


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

Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced In Texas

This is interesting, especially for a backward thinking state like Texas. A medical marijuana bill has been introduced in the Texas House for consideration in the upcoming legislative session. Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) has filed HB 164 which would legalize the use of marijuana by a medical patient with a doctor's prescription. It would also protect the doctor that wrote that prescription.

Sadly, I doubt if there's much chance of the bill being enacted into law, since our state government is mostly controlled by Republicans. If the bill did actually make it to Governor Perry's desk, I'm sure he would veto it. After all, his base is made up of fundies and right-wing whackos and he has little or no political courage.

But still, it's nice to see someone in state government has some common sense. Thank you Rep. Naishtat! The text of the bill is reprinted below:



A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT
relating to the medical use of marihuana.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:


SECTION 1. Section 481.121, Health and Safety Code, is amended by adding Subsections (c) and (d) to read as follows: (c) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (a) that the person possessed the marihuana as a patient of a physician licensed to practice medicine in this state pursuant to the recommendation of that physician for the amelioration of the symptoms or effects of a bona fide medical condition. (d) An agency, including a law enforcement agency, of this state or a political subdivision of this state may not initiate an administrative, civil, or criminal investigation into a physician licensed to practice medicine in this state on the ground that the physician discussed marihuana as a treatment option with a patient of the physician or made a written or oral statement that, in the physician's opinion, the potential benefits of marihuana would likely outweigh the health risks for a particular patient.


SECTION 2. Subchapter B, Chapter 164, Occupations Code, is amended by adding Section 164.0525 to read as follows: Sec. 164.0525. MEDICAL USE OF MARIHUANA. A physician may

not be denied any right or privilege or be subject to any disciplinary action solely for making a written or oral statement that, in the physician's professional opinion, the potential
benefits of marihuana would likely outweigh the health risks for a particular patient.

SECTION 3. The change in law made by this Act applies only to an offense committed on or after the effective date of this Act. An offense committed before the effective date of this Act is

covered by the law in effect when the offense was committed, and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose. For purposes of this section, an offense was committed before the effective date of this Act if any element of the offense was committed before that date.

SECTION 4. This Act takes effect September 1, 2009.

Surveying The Baggage


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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Been Tagged By Hill

I've been tagged by Hill, and since I absolutely love her blog Hill's Country I'm going to complete my task. The task is to name my seven favorite albums, and then tag seven new people to do the same. Here are the rules:

1. Post your list of the seven best albums, the seven bloggers you will tag, a copy of these rules, and a link back to this page.
2. Each person tagged will put a URL to their Blogger Album Project post along with a list of the seven best albums in the comment section HERE at Jobsanger.
3. Feel free to post the “I Contributed to the Blogger Album Project” Award Graphic on your sidebar (even though I couldn't find it), along with a link back to this page.
4. Post a link back to the blogger who tagged you.

My seven albums are (in no particular order):

Bob Dylan -- Highway 61 Revisited

Big Brother & the Holding Company -- Cheap Thrills

The Band -- Music from Big Pink

John Lee Hooker -- Endless Boogie

Long John Baldry -- King of Rock and Roll

Frank Zappa -- Overnight Sensation

Willie Nelson -- Shotgun Willie

And now for my honorees (or victims if you prefer):

CC McGoon at Mark of the Beast

Pico at Wild Chihuahuas

Abdul Alhazred at Panhandle Truth Squad

DP at There...Already

Liberality

KeyRose at La Sanbe

Granny Geek

I Agree With Bush (OMG, Did I Say That !)

The Big Three American automakers (GM, Chrysler, Ford) have made bad decisions one after another for the last few years, and now they find themselves in financial trouble. It's not as if they were doing their best and just got caught by a bad economy. While foreign carmakers looked at the future and began to alter the cars they were offering to fit that future, the American automakers cast their lot with ever bigger gas-guzzlers as though the supply of cheap oil was endless.

Now that they are in trouble, they want the American government and people to bail them out with billions of dollars. They don't deserve it because they created the mess they're now in, but sadly if we allow them to go under as they deserve, it would affect many thousands of workers and suppliers. These workers and suppliers are not responsible for the mess and shouldn't have to suffer. In addition, if the workers lose their jobs and the suppliers go out of business, our fragile economy will be seriously damaged.

Something must be done -- but what? Congressional Democrats want to create an additional $25 billion to give to the car companies, possibly out of the already approved $700 billion bailout package for saving our financial institutions. Bush is opposed to this. He points to a previously approved $25 billion to help automakers create more fuel-efficient and alternative fuel cars, and wants to loosen the rules on that money and let the car companies use it to save themselves.

Frankly, though it gags me to say it, I have to agree with Bush on this matter. Why create an additional $25 billion debt for taxpayers, when the first $25 billion is still waiting to be used. I know that money was to help them transition to autos that use less or no gasoline. But they are going to have to do that anyway if they are to survive, and if they don't survive why waste an additional $25 billion on them?

As for tapping into the $700 billion bailout, we are going to need every penny of that to try to fix the credit crises (and it might not be enough anyway). It would be a bad precedent to start handing this money out to failing companies having nothing to do with the credit crises.

It bothers me to be agreeing with The Worst President Ever, but I guess even a broken clock is right a couple of times a day.

Bailout


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

Are Senate Dems Still Spineless ?


For the last couple of years, Congressional Democrats have been a huge disappointment. The public elected them in 2006 to stop the war and change the direction our country was taking, but they did very little. In fact, they wound up knuckling under to Bush time after time, even knowing that he was extremely unpopular with the public. They showed less spine than a jellyfish.

But the Republicans were so bad, that the American public gave Democrats another chance. They put a Democrat in the White House, and substantial majorities in both houses of Congress. With those scary Republicans out of the way, it was my fervent hope that Democrats could now stand up straight and show that they have finally grown a spine and some balls.

If this story is true, then that hope may have been in vain. CNN is reporting that Senate Democrats are not only going to wuss out and let Joe Lieberman stay in the Senate Democratic Caucus, but they are also going to let him keep his chairmanship of the powerful Homeland Security Committee. The only punishment he will receive is to lose the chairmanship of a minor sub-committee.

Please tell me that's NOT TRUE!! This creep runs against the Democratic candidate for Senate in his home state. He supports the unpopular Republican president on the war and many other things for the last couple of years. He snubs a whole range of Democrats to support a Republican in the primaries. He speaks at the Republican National Convention and badmouths the Democratic nominee (breaking his word to fellow Democrats). Then he travels with the Republican nominee and campaigns for him, even after he begins to slander Obama with a multitude of lies.

Just what the hell does it take for Senate Democrats to show some respect for themselves, their constituents and their party and GROW A SPINE! This slimy toad Lieberman is not even a Democrat. He was elected as an Independent, and given the honor of caucusing with the Democrats. But that should be a two-way street. He wants the Democrats to give him Democratic privileges, but he is unwilling to show the party and its candidates any respect.

He really doesn't deserve to be allowed to caucus with the Democrats, and he certainly doesn't deserve to retain ANY committee chairmanships. Those should be reserved for supporters of the party. Senate Democrats need to take a stand and kick this slimeball out of the caucus.

Allowing Joe Lieberman to remain in the Senate Democratic Caucus and keep his committee chairmanship is tantamount to asking Tom DeLay and Dick Cheney to become honorary members of the caucus. It's unthinkable!

Pink Slips


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

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Message


Picture is from the excellent site of Yellowdog Granny.

Texas Progressive Alliance Weekly Review


It's Monday, and that means it is time for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly blog round-up.

Barfly at McBlogger takes a moment to remind all of us that we better not fu*k with Barbie.

Ruth Jones McClendon gets the Speaker's race dangerously wrong says CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme.

Vince at Capitol Annex takes a look at the race for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and provides answers to two important questions: is a secret ballot legal and will a secret ballot doom Tom Craddick?

A Mugging & A Hit And Run


Political Cartoon is by Dana Summers in The Orlando Sentinel.

Bush -- The World's Biggest Joke


Everyone in America knows that Bush has been a disaster as president. Polls have shown for months that he is the most unpopular president since polling began, and his unpopularity just seems to grow with every week he stays in office. But it's not just in the United States that he's regarded as a spectacular failure.

Consider this story told by French President Sarkozy's chief diplomatic advisor, Jean-David Levitte. Levitte went to Moscow with Sarkozy last August, as Sarkozy was trying to arrange a cease-fire in the Georgian conflict. According to Levitte:

With Russian tanks only 30 miles from Tbilisi on August 12, Mr Sarkozy told Mr Putin that the world would not accept the overthrow of Georgia’s Government. According to Mr Levitte, the Russian seemed unconcerned by international reaction. “I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,” Mr Putin declared.

Mr Sarkozy thought he had misheard. “Hang him?” — he asked. “Why not?” Mr Putin replied. “The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.”

Mr Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: “Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?” Mr Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: “Ah — you have scored a point there.”

As we know, the Russians stopped their advance. Was it because Putin didn't want to be viewed by the world as a fool like George Bush? Very possibly. At the very least, the story shows us just how little regard European leaders have for Bush.

Is it any wonder that even his own political party is trying to get as far from him as possible?

(Hat tip to Kel at The Osterly Times for catching this story.)

Dinosaurs


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

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Racist Reaction To The Election

Twelve days ago an amazing thing happened. America elected its first African-American president. A nation with a long history of slavery, segregation, lynchings and other racist activities actually overcame its history and elected an African-American as its president. It was mind-boggling.

Many of us thought a seminal moment in American history had happened. That the country had made a statement, because this didn't just happen with the minority vote. At least 40% of whites in America also marked their ballots for Obama. It looked like the decent folk of all races had stepped forward and declared the old ways of dealing with each other had to change, and that change would start now.

But there is a certain segment of our society that is not ready for that change. They cling to the old hate, and since the election there have been hundreds of incidents of blatant racism and racist threats. It is as though the election of Barack Obama has ripped the thin veneer off and exposed the remaining racism in America. Some examples of this kind of behavior are:

  • Four North Carolina State University students admitted writing anti-Obama comments in a tunnel designated for free speech expression, including one that said: "Let's shoot that (N-word) in the head."
  • Second- and third-grade students on a school bus in Rexburg, Idaho, chanted "assassinate Obama," a district official said.
  • University of Alabama professor Marsha L. Houston said a poster of the Obama family was ripped off her office door. A replacement poster was defaced with a death threat and a racial slur. "It seems the election brought the racist rats out of the woodwork," Houston said.
  • Black figures were hanged by nooses from trees on Mount Desert Island, Maine, the Bangor Daily News reported. The president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas said a rope found hanging from a campus tree was apparently an abandoned swing and not a noose.
  • Crosses were burned in yards of Obama supporters in Hardwick, N.J., and Apolacan Township, Pa.
  • A black teenager in New York City said he was attacked with a bat on election night by four white men who shouted 'Obama.'
  • In the Pittsburgh suburb of Forest Hills, a black man said he found a note with a racial slur on his car windshield, saying "now that you voted for Obama, just watch out for your house."
These are just a few of the hundreds of incidents that have happened. The racists seem to think the election gives them permission to act this way, and that their fellow citizens approve of it. Well, I have news for them. The huge majority of your fellow citizens do NOT approve of this kind of vicious and cowardly behavior.

Barack Obama is the new president-elect, and on January 20th he will become the president. If you don't like it, you'd better learn to deal with it -- in a decent and non-violent way. This is not pre-1960 America, and the behavior listed above will not be tolerated. The racist jokes are not funny and the behavior is criminal.

Stop it now, or suffer the consequences.