A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Monday, May 31, 2010

Global Warming Is A Fact

I think this graph says it all. From the pages of the Huffington Post.

In Memory


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

]
John McCrae


(The picture above is of the coffins of American soldiers who died in Iraq. The insanity of unnecessary war continues to this very day.)

The Real Debt Owed

Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Washington Examiner.

Most Of Deficit Caused By Bush - Not Obama


Unless you have been living in a cave for the last year with no contact with the outside world, then you have to have heard the most popular Republican lie. The lie they want everyone to believe is that President Obama is responsible for the huge deficit our country now faces. They're hoping to ride that lie back to being a majority party next November.

The Republican Party seems to think if they repeat this charge loud enough and long enough then the voters will believe it, and they're probably right about people like the teabaggers who are looking for anything they can use against Obama -- whether it's true or not. But as the chart above shows, most of the deficit can be traced directly back to George W. Bush's failed policies.

The chart, which appeared in The Economist and was composed using figures from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, shows that although some Obama actions have added to the deficit (such as the stimulus), these pale in comparison to three other causes. These are the recession (caused by Republican deregulation of Wall Street and financial institutions), the unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the massive Bush tax cuts for the rich. Of these three, the tax cuts for the rich are the most to blame (although the other two aren't far behind).

The sad fact is that George Bush would have created a massive deficit even if the recession had not happened. That's because he decreased the amount of taxes collected and at the same time increased government spending -- a sure recipe for creating a deficit. I know some Republicans are still trying to float the myth that a tax cut will produce an increase in tax revenue, but that has never been true -- you don't need any more than an elementary school level of math to know that.

I know there are many Republicans who think the way out of the deficit is to make draconian cuts of government services. I disagree. This would just cost more jobs that we can't afford to lose and extend the recession. Instead of massive cuts, there are three things that should be done quickly to help get the deficit back under control:

1. Stop the wars. We have already spent over a trillion dollars on these two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) and accomplished nothing except to prop up corrupt puppet governments and create new enemies through the killing of innocent civilians.
2. Raise taxes on the richest people. While the middle and working classes have been devastated by the recession, the rich are making more money than ever (and none of it is "trickling down"). And their taxes are lower than at any time since World War II (including during the Reagan administration). They are not paying their fair share and that needs to be corrected.
3. Job creation should be a priority, even if more money must be spent to get this done. The more people that are put back to work, the more tax money that will be collected and the sooner we can work our way out of the deficit.

Adam Cohen over at Zero Energy Construction puts it well when he says, "America's deficit problems are mostly the result of American wars abroad and the Bush era tax cuts -- things the current administration didn't implement. . .You don't have to agree with everything the current administration does, but democracy isn't an effective form of government when voters are blind to the real cause behind the effects they criticize."

He's right. The Republicans will be repeating the lie of the "Obama-caused deficit" many times between now and November. Don't believe them. It's just not true.

Red And Blue States ?

Political Cartoon is by Jeff Koterba in the Omaha World Herald.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Well, It Is The Truth

Another gem from the blog of Yellowdog Granny.

An Entertainment Giant Has Died


This is a sad day for me because an entertainment giant has passed away. Actor, director, photographer and artist Dennis Hopper died Saturday in his home of complications from prostate cancer. He was 74 years old.

The versatile actor broke into Hollywood in 1955 with a role in Rebel Without A Cause, but he was probably most remembered for his role a few years later in Easy Rider. He made over 115 movies, including such good movies as Blue Velvet, Cool Hand Luke, Hoosiers, Apocalypse Now, River's Edge, True Grit, Speed, Giant, True Romance and Hang'em High.

Fortunately Hopper lived long enough to see a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame unveiled in his honor last March (an honor that was long overdue). The picture above is of Hopper talking with Jack Nicholson at the ceremony.

Rest in peace Dennis. You have earned it, and many future generations will be able to enjoy your brilliant work.

Republican Tea

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

EPA Should Take Over Duties Of The TCEQ


The state agency that is supposed to assure that pollution does not endanger the citizens of Texas is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). But they have not been doing an adequate job of protecting Texans for many years now. Instead of protecting the air quality (and water quality), these Republican appointees seem instead to exist solely to allow the giant oil, gas, and chemical industries to operate without having to obey federal and state pollution laws.

Just look at how they recently covered up the existence of dangerous toxic substances released from recent gas drilling in the Fort Worth and surrounding areas. Because of charges by environmental groups, the TCEQ recently conducted tests of the air quality in Fort Worth. In January of this year, they gave the city a report showing the air quality in that area was completely safe. The problem was that report was wrong, and the TCEQ knew that very soon after releasing the report.

After releasing the report, the TCEQ realized that the measuring equipment they used was not nearly sensitive enough to detect low levels of poisons generated by the drilling. Worse yet, these low-level toxic emissions were very dangerous if persons were exposed to them over an extended period of time. So while the Forth Worth air quality was probably safe for short-term visitors, the citizens living there were slowly being poisoned by the toxic emissions.

Now one might think that this important fact would immediately be made known to the people of the Fort Worth area by the TCEQ, since they are mandated to protect the air quality for citizen safety. Wrong! The city was not told for several months, and then only because a congressman had asked for the information (and even an agency dedicated to protecting corporate interests can get in serious trouble for lying to a congressman).

The fact is that the state Republican leadership (including those on the TCEQ) were long ago bought and paid for by corporate interests, especially the oil, gas, and chemical industries. The TCEQ knew that a ton of money was being made by gas drilling in the Fort Worth area. They also knew that publicizing the dangers imposed by that drilling could could impede that drilling and hurt the corporate profits. The TCEQ chose to endanger citizens and protect corporate profits.

But that is only a small part of the criminal actions of the TCEQ. The fact is that their negligence has allowed Texas to become and continue to be a major polluter. Texas is by far the largest air polluter in the United States -- producing far more pollution than other large states like California, New York, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio and Illinois. In fact if Texas was a country, they would be the seventh largest air polluter in the entire world.

And the TCEQ doesn't seem to be interested in controlling this pollution. They claim that stricter pollution controls would endanger thousands of Texas jobs. Obviously, they seem to be ignorant of the fact that their mandate is to control pollution -- not create or protect jobs.

The truth is that while stopping corporate pollution might slightly reduce the corporation's massive profits, it would not cost any jobs. The corporations will continue to produce their products and will still need the workers to produce those products, and moving to another state will not reduce the need to obey pollution laws. The clean-up effort will probably actually create new jobs.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally getting tired of Texas' refusal to come into compliance with the standards of the Clean Air Act, as other states have done. Regional Director of the EPA, Al Armendariz, is now threatening that the EPA may take over the duties of the TCEQ and force Texas to comply with federal environmental law.

The impetus for this threatened action is the practice by the TCEQ of giving corporations flexible permits instead of permits with hard rules on how much pollution they can produce, as other states do. According to the EPA, the flexible permits issued by Texas allow corporations to produce double the amount of pollution allowed by the Clean Air Act.

The EPA is under a court order to make a decision about the flexible permits by June 30th, and it is expected they will outlaw them. Then if the TCEQ doesn't cooperate, the EPA will take over the duties of the TCEQ. The EPA is already hiring extra workers to do that job.

Of course this has thrown Texas Governor Rick Perry into a tizzy. He is claiming this is a state's rights issue. He sees nothing wrong with Texas polluting the atmosphere of the state, the other states, and indeed the world, as long as massive corporate profits are maintained. With hat in hand, Perry is now begging President Obama to stop the EPA from making Texas comply with federal law like every other state.

Personally, I think it is about time that the EPA take over insuring pollution standards in Texas. It has become more than obvious the the state Republican leadership and the TCEQ will not rein in the corporate misbehavior. Someone must do this, and since the TCEQ won't then the EPA must.

Texas simply does not have the right to endanger the people of Texas, of the United States, and of the rest of the world.

A Silly Idea

Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies in The Record (New Jersey).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Whose Will ?

From the brilliant blog nakedpastor.

U.S. House Passes Repeal Of DADT


The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday night to pass the Murphy amendment to the emergency Military Appropriations Bill. This is the amendment that will repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy that has been enforced by the United States Military for years. The new policy is to let gays and lesbians serve openly in the military without having to keep their sexual preference a secret. The amendment passed on a 234 to 194 vote, and will take effect after the military completes its study on how to implement the new policy (probably about the end of the year).

The Republican leadership had been bragging that all House Republicans would vote against the amendment. That didn't happen. Five Republicans joined 229 Democrats in voting to approve the amendment. The five Republicans who defied their party and voted for equality are:

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Florida)
Rep. Ron Paul (Texas)
Rep. Joseph Cao (Louisiana)
Rep. Judy Biggert (Illinois)
Rep. Charles Djou (Hawaii)

Normally I don't have many good things to say about Republicans, and I'm sure I will disagree with these five Republicans many times in the future. But I respect the courageous stand they took for equality on Thursday night. There are many right-wingers and fundamentalists in their party who will not be pleased with their vote. It wouldn't hurt to write or call these representatives and tell them how much you appreciate their vote.

I think it is also appropriate that this vote took place just a few days before Memorial Day -- the day when we honor all of our current military and veterans, both gay and straight. It just seems right that this small step toward a more equal military should come at this important holiday.

Now it is up to the U.S. Senate to do their part and also pass this measure. That will probably also require at least some Republican support, since some in that party are threatening to filibuster the appropriations bill if it contains a repeal of DADT.

The Disturbing Aftermath

Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Denver Post.

More Rand Paul Nonsense


In the last post I wrote about Rand Paul, the teabagger Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky, I said I didn't know how Paul could go any lower than he has already done but I was sure he'd find a way to do it. I was right. After years of defending a strict constructionist view of the Constitution, Paul's newest desire is to ignore parts of the Constitution that don't agree with his new teabagger views.

You may notice that I no longer call Paul a Libertarian. That's because his new teabagger philosophy has required him to abandon a belief in the constitutional freedoms that Libertarians cherish (and form the basis of their philosophy) -- things like the right of women to control their own bodies, the absolute right to religious freedom (and the right to be free from religion), the right to possess and use drugs, and a belief that America should not use it's military power to engage in nation-building or intervene in the affairs of another country.

Now Paul has decided that the United States government should have the right to ignore certain parts of the Constitution, especially the parts pertaining to citizenship. Due to his extremely poor performance in several press interviews recently, Paul has been avoiding more interviews with the American press (including canceling an appearance on Meet The Press).

However, I guess Paul decided it wouldn't hurt him to do an interview with a Russian television station. He was wrong. In that interview, he told the Russian television audience that not all people born in the United States should have the right to citizenship (especially if they were born to a mother who was not a citizen).

Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution says, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." This section is not only in plain English, but its meaning is very clear. In addition, at least two Supreme Court cases (U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark and Plyer v. Doe) have clearly established that all persons born in the United States are citizens. This is settled law.

What makes Paul's position even worse is that other stances he has taken, including his view that businesses should have the right to discriminate against minorities and the disabled, is (according to him) because the Constitution doesn't give the government the right to prohibit it. He has also claimed that every law passed by Congress should quote the part of the Constitution that allows Congress to pass the law.

How can he now suggest that part of that Constitution be ignored? Frankly, it just lends credence to the view that Paul is a racist, and cares very little about the Constitution unless he thinks it can support his racist views (which it doesn't). Is there any doubt that the babies whose citizenship he wants to disqualify are brown babies from Mexico, and not white babies from Canada?

There are still several months until the election. How many more political blunders can Rand Paul commit in that time? I have a feeling they could be virtually endless.

Is There A Good Reason ?

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

Friday, May 28, 2010

Corporate Whining Through History

From the humorous pages of Ampersand.

Trillion Dollars Wasted - How Much More ?


In October of 2001, President Bush invaded Afghanistan. About a year and a half later (March 2003), he did the same in Iraq. Now it is nearly nine years later, and the occupation of both countries continues. Sadly, nothing has been accomplished. Both wars were entered into on the promise that they would provide more security for America, but they have not done that. The same terrorist dangers that existed in 2001, continue to exist today. In fact, it may be worse because with each killing of innocent civilians we create more enemies.

Both wars quickly morphed from an attack on terrorists to an attempt at nation-building. We should have learned from Vietnam that democracy cannot be imposed by military power (especially when it involves installing and protecting corrupt regimes), but that evidently is a lesson we still have not learned. Our leaders still seem to think that we can force other countries to not only be like us, but to also be our friends.

In the 2008 election, the American people voted for change, and one of the changes they wanted was to extract America from these unnecessary and failed nation-building attempts. During the campaign, President Obama promised to end these wars and bring our troops home (which is what a majority of the population wants to see). But upon taking the oath of office, he seems to have forgotten his promises. All he has done is continue the tragically-failed Bush/Cheney policies in both countries.

According to the president, at the minimum we must continue both wars for at least another year and a half (until the end of 2011). And both wars could go much longer than that unless certain amorphous goals are met. In other words, we could be looking at a perpetual war presence in both countries, and that seems to be OK with both of our political parties.

On May 30th (just a few days away), the United States will have wasted over a trillion dollars on these two wars. While the Republicans (and far too many Democrats) whine over not having the money to help our own citizens in this terrible economy, there seems to be no end to the spending of money to continue the nation-building and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congress is currently considering another emergency Defense Appropriation Bill to spend tens of billions more on these two unending wars. Will this new expenditure of tens of billions of dollars (which will be followed by spending even more billions) actually accomplish anything? Probably not, especially since I'm not at all sure the government (or anyone else) knows what we are trying to accomplish or whether these shifting goals are possible to accomplish.

Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) tried to inject some sanity into this continuing tragi-comedy. He offered an amendment to the new war appropriations bill which would have required President Obama to provide a flexible timetable for the withdrawal of troops -- a more than reasonable request.

Feingold said, "In light of our deficit and domestic needs and in light of rising casualty rates in Afghanistan and in light of the growing al-Queda threat around the world, an expensive troop-intensive nation-building campaign just doesn't add up for me. . .Frankly I am disappointed that we are about to pass a bill providing tens of billions of dollars to keep this war going with so little public debate about whether this approach makes any sense."

But the Feingold amendment failed on an 18 to 80 vote. The majority of both Republicans and Democrats seem happy to continue throwing huge amounts of money down the bottomless well of unending war, without knowing what we are trying to accomplish or whether anything at all can even be accomplished. And they don't seem to care how much longer they will have to do this.

One of the saddest things is that while Bush was president there was an active anti-war element in this country, but since the election of President Obama the anti-war element has virtually disappeared (even though he is continuing the same failed policy in both countries). Americans have turned their attention from the wars to the economy, the recession and the need for millions of new jobs. They don't seem to realize that if it were not for these wars, billions of dollars of money would be available to tackle these economic problems.

Even if these two wars were necessary and morally justifiable (which they are not), we simply cannot afford them any longer -- not in terms of the enormous amounts of money, the lost American lives, or the slaughter of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is long past the time when these tragic wars should have been stopped.

We must re-ignite the anti-war fervor and get these two wars stopped. It is not just morally right -- it's the only course of action that makes sense.

Reason For Inadequate Reform

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

No New Oil Wells In The Gulf !


Finally someone has taken some action to stop the insanity of off-shore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Yesterday an environmental group, the Center for Biological Diversity, filed suit in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans requesting a stop to any new off-shore drilling. In light of the current ecological disaster caused by BP and Transocean (and Halliburton), that makes imminent sense.

There is a federal law (the National Environmental Policy Act) that requires a full environmental analysis before any drilling can proceed. However, the federal government's Mineral Management Service (MMS) has routinely been exempting drilling companies from fulfilling the requirements of this law. In fact, BP was given an exemption by the MMS for their disastrous well that is still pouring thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf every day.

It gets worse. In the past 60 days, the MMS has granted another 49 exemptions from the environmental law to companies for new off-shore wells (many of them granted since the BP disaster). It is only right that President Obama has fired the head of the MMS (who had to be brain-dead to keep giving out the exemptions). It is these newest drilling permits that the Center for Biological Diversity is trying to stop in court.

Maybe the president is finally coming to his senses. He had approved a large amount of new off-shore wells, but now admits he was wrong. He said he had thought the oil companies had the appropriate safety precautions and knew what to do in case of an emergency like the BP disaster.

It has since become clear to everyone that the oil companies don't have the remotest clue about how to handle an off-shore disaster. And it's not just BP -- it's all of the companies. If any of them knew what to do, you can bet they would have given that knowledge to BP by now. They know that the public's bad feelings about the drilling and any new laws and drilling regulations will affect every single oil company.

It is time to stop the off-shore drilling (at least stop giving new drilling permits). Saving a few pennies at the gas pump is not worth the destruction of our environment, and the drilling ban should not just be in the Gulf of Mexico, but in all coastal areas.

The picture above was taken from the blog called Walled-In Pond. It shows a map of the 6,357 oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico (each one of them a potential disaster in the making).

Rising Economic Tide ?

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

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Acting

From the great blog LeftWingConspiracy.com.

Scalia Defends Elena Kagan


As you must know by now, President Obama has nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the upcoming vacancy on the United States Supreme Court. Even though the Republicans probably cannot stop Kagan's confirmation, many of them are playing to their right-wing base and opposing the nomination. The problem is that Kagan has not left an extensive paper trail so they are having trouble finding grounds for their opposition.

One of the main themes they have developed for their opposition is her lack of experience as a judge. They did not seem to mind that Bush nominee Harriet Miers had no judicial experience, but for some reason they think this should disqualify Ms. Kagan.

But Kagan now has an unlikely defender on the Supreme Court -- right-wing Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia not only thinks Kagan's lack of judicial experience shouldn't disqualify her, but he actually thinks it is probably a good thing. Here's what Scalia had to say:

“When I first came to the Supreme Court, three of my colleagues had never been a federal judge. William Rehnquist came to the Bench from the Office of Legal Counsel. Byron White was Deputy Attorney General. And Lewis Powell who was a private lawyer in Richmond and had been president of the American Bar Association.”

“Currently, there is nobody on the Court who has not served as a judge --indeed, as a federal judge -- all nine of us,” he continued. “. . . I am happy to see that this latest nominee is not a federal judge – and not a judge at all.”

Tea Is Unpalatable

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

Libertarians To Desert Paul ?


A couple of weeks ago, it looked like Rand Paul had the inside track to becoming a United States senator. He rode the teabaggers' endorsement to the Kentucky Republican Party nomination for Jim Bunning's old seat, and most believed he would win again in November. But it took him less than a week to throw a monkey wrench into his own campaign machinery.

After appearing on nationwide television and saying he didn't support (and wouldn't have voted for) the 1964 Civil Rights Act because businesses should have the right to "discriminate" against anyone they want to (including both minority and disabled persons). This created a furor, and even many Republicans began to back away from his candidacy.

He has also created doubts among Libertarians (which he has always claimed to be). Several Libertarian scholars have publicly disassociated themselves from Paul's racist views. They said they supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it was the only way to break up the Jim Crow segregation in the Deep South. But that is not the only thing Libertarians are unhappy with Paul about.

They claim he has abandoned his Libertarian beliefs and accepted the policies of Republican teabaggers. Among these are his opposition to abortion, his opposition to same-sex marriage, and his unwillingness to call for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq -- all of which are Libertarian policies.

In fact, Kentucky Libertarians are so unhappy with Paul's new policies that they are now considering running a Libertarian candidate against him in November. They are currently looking for a candidate, and have until August 10th to find one and get him/her on the ballot in Kentucky.

The Libertarian Party is not very powerful in Kentucky and any candidate they ran would not be a threat to win the election. However, Paul's recent misadventures could have made this a much closer election than expected, and in a close election, a Libertarian candidate could draw votes that might have been expected to go to Paul.

Meanwhile, Paul has replaced his campaign manager with one of his father's old handlers -- Jesse Benton. I hope Paul is not trying to blame his handlers for his recent campaign screwups, because the only way they could have prevented that would have been to place duct tape over his mouth and refuse to let him out in public.

Trustworthy ?

Political Cartoon is by Monte Wolverton at caglecartoons.com.

U.S. Names World Cup Soccer Team


World Cup futbol (soccer to us Americans) is almost here again. The United States will play it's first-round games in group C (starting in about two weeks), along with England, Slovenia and Algeria. Two of those four teams will make it to the final round, and right now, most people think those two will be England and the United States. But Slovenia and Algeria are not weak teams and the United States will have to play some good soccer to advance. Here is the United States schedule for the first round:

6/12..........England
6/18..........Slovenia
6/23..........Algeria

Yesterday, U.S. Coach Bob Bradley named the 23 players he has chosen to be on the World Cup team traveling to South Africa. Now all we can do is hope he made the right choices, and these 23 can take the U.S. far into the finals. Here are the players he has chosen:

GOALKEEPERS
Tim Howard
Marcus Hahnemann
Brad Guzan

DEFENDERS
Steve Cherundolo
Oguchi Onyewu
Jay DeMerit
Carlos Bocanegra
Jonathan Bornstein
Clarence Goodson
Jonathan Spector

MIDFIELDERS
Michael Bradley
Ricardo Clark
Clint Dempsey
Landon Donovan
DaMarcus Beasley
Maurice Edu
Benny Feilhaber
Stuart Holden
Jose Francisco Torres

FORWARDS
Jozy Altidore
Edson Buddle
Herculez Gomez
Robbie Findley

Not The Briar Patch !

Political Cartoon is by R.J. Matson in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A History Of Obstructionism

From the brilliant blog of Yellowdog Granny.

Time For Fairness And Equality In The Military


For years now, the United States military has had a policy of "don't ask, don't tell" when it comes to homosexuality in the armed services. That means that any gay or lesbian soldier or sailor must keep his/her sexuality a secret or be unceremoniously kicked out of the military. This is not only unequal and morally wrong, but it has cost the military branches thousands of capable men and women who were doing an extraordinary job for their country.

This ridiculous and unfair policy should have been ended years ago, but it looks like there may be a chance to finally get it done this year. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pennsylvania), who served in both Bosnia and Iraq and was awarded the Bronze Star, says he will submit an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that is currently being considered in Congress. President Obama has agreed to support the amendment, which will not take effect until after the military completes its study of how to implement the change (about December 1st).

It looks like the amendment has a very good chance of being approved in the House, where Democrats have a substantial majority. It's in the Senate that the bill may have some problems. Most Republicans oppose the measure, and the Family Research Council is lobbying heavily to defeat the measure. They say it will hurt the military's effectiveness, because soldiers and sailors will not want to serve with gays and lesbians (although there have always been homosexuals in the military).

Murphy believes that is a silly argument. He says, "Straight men and women in our armed forces, this argument asserts, aren't professional enough to serve with gay troops while doing their jobs. As a former Army officer, that is an insult to me and, more important, to my fellow soldiers still serving -- gay and straight alike." He is right. Those opposed to equality in the Armed Services are just trying to impose their own homophobia onto our courageous and professional soldiers and sailors.

This is not the time for homophobia and fear. We are talking about nothing less than the equality and decent treatment of young men and women who are willing to lay down their lives to defend our country and Constitution. It is only right that we treat them with dignity and fairness. Anything less is unthinkable.

It is time to do away with the very flawed policy of "don't ask, don't tell". Now. No more delay.

Translation

Political Cartoon is by John Trever in The Albuquerque Journal.

Poll Shows Perry With Substantial Lead


A little over a week ago, the Rasmussen Poll showed incumbent Rick Perry with a double-digit lead over his Democratic opponent, Bill White (ex-mayor of Houston). Their poll showed Perry with 51% and White with 38% (with a 4.5 point margin of error). The Rasmussen Poll usually has a Republican bias, so I figured the lead was actually only 9 or 10 points (still a large lead though).

Now a new home state poll has been released. The University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll was taken between May 14th and 20th. They surveyed 800 registered voters, and the poll has a margin of error of 3.46 points. This poll also showed Perry with a substantial lead (9 points). It also shows that Bill White has no "coattails" to help other statewide Democratic candidates, since all of them are substantially behind their Republican opponents.

This is not totally unexpected since the Democratic candidate offers no real change from the current governor. Both are corporate-owned conservatives. It looks like the voters have decided that if they are going to wind up with a corporate-owned conservative, they might as well go with the one they know rather than the one they don't know. Personally, I don't think the Democrats will be able to wrest back control of the state until they find a smart, exciting and progressive candidate who offers a real change from the Republican policies (and that's certainly not Bill White).

Of course, there are still five months until election day and anything could still happen. But this same poll taken last February showed a very similar result. That means White (who really had no substantial opponent in his primary) has not made up any ground on Perry in the last three months. He's going to have to do better than that.

Maybe the campaign is exciting in other areas of Texas, but here in the Panhandle you wouldn't even know an election is coming. At least part of the reason for that is the lack of any interest in this area by the candidates. Not a single statewide Democratic candidate has come anywhere near here since the primaries. This is a rather Republican area of Texas, but Democrats need to remember the old adage that you can't expect someone to vote for you until you ask them for their vote.

There are those who might say this poll shows a Republican resurgence since 2008. I don't believe that is true. Texas has been a Republican state for a while, and the state went for John McCain in 2008. Daron Shaw, a UT government professor, agrees. He said, "This looks pretty much like a statewide election in Texas looks. It doesn't look like some huge Republican tide, but it doesn't look like a Democratic renaissance, either."

Here are the poll numbers for the major statewide races:

GOVERNOR
Rick Perry (R)...............44%
Bill White (D)...............35%
Other Candidate...............7%
Undecided...............15%

LT. GOVERNOR
David Dewhurst (R)...............44%
Linda Chavez-Thompson (D)...............30%
Other Candidate...............6%
Undecided...............20%

ATTORNEY GENERAL
Greg Abbott (R)...............47%
Barbara Radnofsky (D)...............28%
Other Candidate...............6%
Undecided...............20%

LAND COMMISSIONER
Jerry Patterson (R)...............39%
Hector Uribe (D)...............27%
Other Candidate...............7%
Undecided...............26%

AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER
Todd Staples (R)...............39%
Hank Gilbert (D)...............28%
Other Candidate...............6%
Undecided...............26%

RAILROAD COMMISSIONER
David Porter (R)...............39%
Jeff Weems (D)...............27%
Other Candidate...............6%
Undecided...............29%

Meanwhile, it looks like there will be at least two other parties on the November ballot -- the Libertarian Party and the Green Party. Last Monday, the Green Party turned in petitions with about 90,000 signatures on them (they needed only 43,991 signatures to get on the ballot).

The Whirlpool

Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Denver Post.

Revealing The Left-Wing Census Conspiracy


The blogger over at Zero Energy Construction has (with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek) revealed the ultra-secret left-wing conspiracy involving the 2010 U.S. census. I know all you liberal, socialist, pinko, progressive, commie, leftist, bleeding-heart, gay and minority-loving, tree huggers will find it hard to believe that our secret has now been exposed to the blinding light of day, but it is true. As proof (and with my own tongue planted in my own cheek), I am hereby reprinting the treacherous post below. Enjoy!


Dear Tea Party Friends,

I have a confession to make, a confession that may shock and alarm you. I am a liberal Democrat, and at the last strategy session/homosexual blood orgy, I became aware of a dastardly plot being perpetrated by my fellow socialists. As many of you in the Tea Party have correctly guessed, the census is a trap. Let me repeat that for the search engines: the 2010 census is a trap. Porn, porn, porn.

Whatever you do, do not fill out and return the census survey. Yes, it’s only 10 questions, and it only takes 10 minutes, but that’s not counting the years you will spend in forced labor camps once Nancy Pelosi rounds up everyone who bought Going Rogue and puts them to work in the medical marijuana fields. Think of your children, who will be confiscated by liberal shock troops (black liberal shock troops) and used to feed the giant underground blast furnaces that President Obama has installed beneath the White House to power his…

Okay, I’m still working on that part.

Some people, even a few in your own party, will try to tell you that the census is just a benign headcount that collects demographic information about the country. Some may even say that the census is an important way to make sure you are fully represented in Congress, and that if you don’t fill it out, your party might lose seats when the congressional district lines are redrawn.

It is very important that you hit these people with sticks.

The 2010 census is an unprecedented conspiracy of epic proportions, way worse than the 2000 Census or the 1990 Census. It’s a complicated plot, with layers upon layers of deception and misdirection, but let me see if I can explain it as simply as possible. The census process is composed of three steps:

Distributing the census survey to every home in America.
Encouraging all Americans to complete and mail back the survey.
Race war.
This is the truth they don’t want you to know. Whether you’re a Republican, a Tea Partier, an NRA member, a Texan, or you just plain hate the Jews, it is very important that you do not, under any circumstances, complete the 2010 census.

Army of bat robots. That’s what the underground blast furnaces power. The ones Obama is going to feed your children to. For real.

I’m just asking questions here, people!

Time To Change The Music

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at msnbc.com.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Right To Bear Arms

Found at the excellent blog What Would Jack Do?

More Palin Lies


Once again we find that Sarah Palin has been playing fast and loose with the truth. She has always been bad about finding a tiny kernel of truth and turning it into a big fat lie. This time she is accusing President Obama of being paid off by the oil companies ( a strange assertion coming from one of the boldest of the oil company apologists, who says she still believes in "Drill, Baby, Drill").

Palin said, "I don't know why the question isn't asked by the mainstream media and by others if there's any connection with the contributions made to President Obama and his administration and the support by the oil companies to the administration." She went on to wonder if that oil company support had anything to do with "President Obama taking so doggone long to. . .grasp the complexity and potential tragedy that we are seeing here in the Gulf of Mexico."

She inferred that the oil companies had given President Obama more money than other candidates. That is just not true. As expected, the bulk of the oil company political contributions went to Republican candidates. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics revealed the following contribution statistics:

- In 2008, 77% of the $35.6 million in oil company contributions went to Republicans.

- During the 2008 presidential campaign, President Obama received $898,000 from the oil and gas industry, while McCain received $2.4 million from them.

- In 2010, 71% of the $12.8 million the oil and gas industry has donated has gone to Republican candidates.

Looks like Palin has got the story backwards, but that is no surprise. Perhaps she would like to explain if all the oil and gas money contributed to her various campaigns has anything to do with her ridiculous "Drill, Baby, Drill" campaign.

Winners And Losers

Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Another Republican Sex Scandal


For all their pious holier-than-thou family values preaching, Republicans sure seem to like indulging in adulterous sexcapades. It's only been about a week since a Republican congressman admitted to an affair with one of his aides and resigned his seat. Now there are rumors of another adulterous affair, and the accusations don't come from the left, but from a Republican consultant and blogger named Will Folks.

Making matters even worse, the scandal is breaking in South Carolina and involves the leading Republican candidate to replace Gov. Mark Sanford (who had his own sex scandal when it was learned he had an Argentinian mistress). South Carolina voters were hoping to put this kind of problem behind them by electing a new governor. They certainly didn't need a new scandal to break out regarding the leading candidate to be the new governor.

This new scandal involves Rep. Nikki Haley (pictured above with her family). She had recently catapulted into the lead for the Republican nomination, with the support of Sarah Palin and Gov. Sanford's ex-wife Jenny. Haley is the teabagger candidate in the race, and has campaigned on fundamentalist values and ultra right-wing political beliefs.

Folks, who used to work for Haley, said he had an "inappropriate physical relationship" with her a few years ago. He said he's revealing the relationship because it has been leaked to the news media.

He went on to say, "It is what it is, and aside from the Haley family -- Michael, Nikki, Rena and Nalin -- I feel no need to apologize or explain myself to anyone. People are human. We make mistakes. And as I have learned from experience, the key to life isn't the mistakes we make, it's how we choose to handle them."

For her part, Haley denies the improper relationship. She said, "I have been 100% faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage. This claim against me is categorically and totally false." Denial is probably her best approach right now (unless Folks has some kind of proof of the relationship), because South Carolina is pretty tired of scandal in the governor's office. The problem she has is that the accusation comes from a fellow Republican who supports her candidacy.

Now I don't mean to imply that sexual improprieties are strictly a Republican thing. As you may remember, Democratic governors in both New York and New Jersey have resigned over adulterous affairs in the last few years. What makes the Republicans different is their sanctiminious and hypocritical campaigning on a "family values" platform. They can have their sexual adventures if they must, but they should then avoid the hypocrisy of posing as a "family values" candidate.

Will this sexual accusation hurt Haley's chances of becoming governor? We don't know that yet, but it certainly won't help.

Much Ado About Nothing

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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Back To The Stone Age

Found at the hilarious site of BartCop. Meanwhile, the GOP tried to pass off Rand Paul's racist statements as a "rookie mistake". Senator Lamar Alexander compared it to baseball saying, "Even a very good baseball player sometimes has a hard time going from Triple-A to the Major Leagues." I tend to agree. Paul made the mistake of actually telling people what he really believed (and it was scary indeed). An experienced Republican politician never tells the truth -- they tell people what they want to hear.

What's The Point Of The Metal Detectors ?


The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) recently did something that makes imminent sense. They installed metal detectors at the entrances to the Texas State Capitol Building (where both houses of the Texas legislature meets). This is long overdue, as county courthouses in the state have had the metal detectors for years now. After all, politics and courts can easily inflame the passions of citizens -- not all of whom have good sense.

Governor Perry tried to stop the metal detectors from being installed, but he was overruled by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus (both of whom must work in the building). They pointed to an incident that happened just last January, when a visitor to the Capitol was able to fire several shots before being disarmed by DPS officers.

But I have to wonder just how much good the new metal detectors will do. That's because the DPS has created three separate lines for people entering the Capitol Building (pictured). The first is for the general public, and that's the line where people must go through the metal detector. The other two lines get to go around the detector. One of those lines is for state legislators and their employees, and the other is for anyone who has a concealed-carry permit.

That's right! Anyone person who has a state permit to carry a concealed handgun does not have to go through the metal detector, and they can enter carrying a concealed handgun (all they have to do is show the permit to the DPS officer at the door).

Now some of you may be thinking that it must be difficult to get a concealed-carry permit. Not true! In the state of Texas, anyone who can legally buy a gun can get a permit to carry a concealed handgun (all you need is a clean criminal record). You just have to pay a few dollars, take a class on gun laws for a few evenings and show minimal shooting profiency. Anyone who is still breathing would have little trouble getting a permit.

Want to shoot up the State Capitol or shoot a legislator that you think has done you wrong (or is not voting the way you want)? Just get a concealed-carry permit and you can walk your gun right through security (and not even have to wait in the long line for the general public). To me, this makes no sense at all.

I fully understand the right to own and carry a gun that many Texans treasure. I have lived with it for many years and have not complained. But there are some places where it is just not appropriate to carry a firearm, such as places that sell alcohol, county courthouses, and any other government buildings (just try to enter a county courthouse or federal government building with a handgun and you'll be in deep trouble). It should be the same for our state capitol building.

I'm wondering why the state government wasted the money to install the metal detectors, when anyone with a concealed-carry permit can enter legally with a firearm (and don't even try to tell me that all of those people are sensible and would never do anything wrong). These new rules are just a gilded invitation to a future tragedy.

It would not be a violation of anyone's right to own and carry a firearm to ban weapons from the Capitol Building. It would just be common sense.

Texas Textbooks

Political Cartoon is by Mikhaela Reid at boilingpointcartoon.com.

The Lies Keep On Coming From Republicans


Ever since President Obama took the oath of office, the Republicans have been telling lies about his administration to anyone who will listen. They have called him a "socialist" who promotes a government takeover of our lives, said he wants to outlaw gun ownership, and even accused him of trying to institute a ban on sport fishing. Of course, none of these things are even close to being true, but facts don't seem to mean much to Republicans these days.

One of the most popular lies is that the Obama administration is in cahoots with illegal immigrants and he doesn't want to do anything to protect our borders and stop undocumented workers from entering the country -- or take any action to deport those who are already here. This bit of propaganda is especially popular with that portion of the Republican base known as teabaggers. Republican apologist and Fox News pundit Bill Kristol recently repeated the lie again.

Kristol recently said on Fox News, "The Obama administration is full of people who are at best actually reluctant to enforce the laws on the book -- using the excuse that we can't enforce anything until we have comprehensive immigration reform." Kristol is in a position to know the truth, but the truth would defeat the purpose of the propaganda he is trying to spread.

All one has to do to know this is a blatant lie is look at the DHS's immigration statistics (see the above chart). These statistics show that the Obama administration has and is currently deporting more illegal immigrants than Republican George Bush's administration did in any of his eight years in office. And the current number of deportations is twice the number of the Bush administration in any of his first four years in office.

It's not that hard to expose the Republican lies, such as this one about immigration. But they tell so many lies so quickly, that it is hard to keep up with all of them.

Reality For Graduates

Political Cartoon is by Larry Wright in The Detroit News.

Alternatives To Current Texas SBOE Members

As you probably already know, the fundamentalist right-wingers on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) has been busy re-writing American history. Last friday, they took their final vote and approved the propaganda they injected into the textbooks through their curriculum adjustments. This is not just a problem for Texas though, as these changes could well show up in textbooks across the nation. That's because Texas buys such a large number of textbooks that the books are written to comply with Texas curriculum standards, and then sold nationwide.

But all hope for real history being taught in Texas schools is not lost. There are a couple of candidates running for election to the SBOE in the November elections, and if they are elected, they will combine with the Democrats and Moderate Republicans on the Board to make a majority. That means the propaganda injected into the history curriculum can than be overturned, and sanity can be returned to the Board.

These two candidates are Rebecca Bell-Metereau (pictured) in Board District 5, and Judy Jennings in Board District 10. Both of these excellent candidates have a diary on the website Daily Kos. I thought you might like to know what these two candidates have to say, so I have reprinted their latest diary entries below for your edification. Here is what they have to say:

Rebecca Bell-Metereau

The May meeting provided a good blueprint of what is wrong with the current board. At the outset of the public testimony, Chair Gail Lowe stated that with 205 signed up to speak, it would take ten hours for all the participants to deliver their three-minute statements. Ha! By mid-afternoon, they had only made their way through about seventeen speakers. Instead of simply sticking to their stated rules and allowing all of those signed up a chance to say their piece, board members indulged themselves in the opportunity to speak and air their own views at every possible occasion. Meanwhile, people who had driven 800 miles from El Paso and other far corners of the state fretted over whether they would have a chance to speak at all.

The board demonstrated the same lack of discipline in their own editing process. At times people were mired in minutiae of language or "grammarical changes," as Terri Leo put it. On other occasions extremist board members soared with their intoxication over big ideas. Terri Leo struggled to keep John Calvin in the Enlightenment, completely failing to understand what the Enlightenment was all about.

After hearing again and again that they should delay their final vote and send the mangled curriculum back to the review committees to clean up the mess board members had made, the board trudged through hundreds of tiny revisions, with no method and no plan. Instead of grouping revisions into some reasonable categories, say, and voting on "grammarical" and non-substantive changes in large blocks, the extremists on the board worry over every item with mind-numbing thoroughness. They are not thorough, however, in checking what really counts, such as plagiarized passages in their own suggested revisions.

This board has exactly the same problems I recognize in my students: poor critical thinking, research, language, and problem-solving skills. They mix up big concepts with specific examples. Their method for making the curriculum "fair" is simply to throw in a name from "their side" every place they recognize someone from the "other side," thus muddying such concepts as the Enlightenment or reform and muckracker movements by trying to add in totally unrelated figures who represented completely different schools of thought.

One story from the day seems to sum up both the current board’s attitude and its incompetence: it appears that this board left a plagiarized section in the current version, but they did change the UCLA website’s phrase (http://gseis.ucla.edu/courses/ed253a/american-exceptionalism.htm) from "democratic" republic to "constitutional" republic.

May the board learn what plagiarism is and stop doing it.

So what are we going to do? Stop dithering, like the current SBOE, and put our time, donations, and energy into electing good people in November.

Please visit www.VoteRebecca.com and sign up for e-mail about the campaign. And pleasecontributenow to my campaign so that we can ensure that the extremists are not able to write the final chapter.


Judy Jennings

The SBOE voted Friday to adopt Texas social studies standards that include their extremist agenda. The next two years provide additional opportunities for the State Board to make decisions based on ideology or on sound educational practice: science textbooks are scheduled for approval and adoption in 2011, social studies textbooks in 2012, and Career and Technology standards as well as Technology Applications standards will be approved in 2011. With your support, I plan to win the election this November to add one more voice of reason to the Board on behalf of the 4.7 million school children of Texas.

When I am elected to the Board I will insist on accuracy in the science and social studies textbooks that will be approved. I will also work to rescind the standards approved Friday. That will delay the implementation of the new curriculum and textbooks for a year while we go back to the standards originally proposed by the curriculum teams, and hold new public hearings. The current standards have been in place for ten years, and while I hate to delay one more year, I cannot let the students of Texas be subjected to personal ideology in the place of real history. When Career and Technology and Technology Applications standards are written and approved in 2011, I will ensure that they are up to date and accurate, providing our students with the technology skills of the 21st, not the 19th, century.

My election depends on the support of thousands of people like you. My opponent spent over two hundred thousand dollars of her own money to win her primary election and showed her willingness to pander to the far right. We have the momentum, we have the advantage, the district is winnable, and the voters want change, but we have to keep building. Please make a contribution today. Your support will enable me to communicate with the more than 400,000 voters who are expected to cast a vote in the SBOE District 10 election this year. Thank you for your support!

Bitter Tea

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at msnbc.com.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Conservatives

Another gem from the blog Republican Dirty Tricks.

Even Libertarians Think Paul Is Wrong


By now you've probably heard about the furor caused by the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky -- Rand Paul. After winning that nomination, Paul let it be known that he believes the 1964 Civil Rights Act was wrong when it mandated that businesses could not discriminate on the basis of race. He said businesses should be able to discriminate against anyone they wanted to, and if they wanted to discriminate on the basis of race then they should be able to do that.

After seeing that he had kicked a hornet's nest with that pronouncement, Paul has tried to back-pedal. He claims he is not a racist (even though he holds racist views) and says he would not try to overturn the law preventing discrimination. A few others, including disreputable former newsman John Stossel, have tried to defend Paul. They say this is just a basic belief in the importance of property rights and is shared by all Libertarians.

Unfortunately for Paul, that is just not true. AOL News decided to see if all Libertarians believed businesses should have the right to discriminate, so they asked that question of several Libertarian scholars, and the three who responded to their inquiry all disagreed with Rand Paul. They did not disagree with the law, and in fact, felt it was necessary to break the iron grip of Jim Crow in America (especially in the South). Here is what they said:

Brink Lindsey (Cato Institute)
"Rand Paul is appealing to the general principle of freedom of association, and that general principle is a good one. But it has exceptions. In particular, after three-plus centuries of slavery and another century of institutionalized, state-sponsored racism (which included state toleration of private racist violence), the exclusion of blacks from public accommodations wasn't just a series of uncoordinated private decisions by individuals exercising their freedom of association. It was part and parcel of an overall social system of racial oppression."

Richard Epstein (University of Chicago)
"To be against Title II in 1964 would be to be brain-dead to the underlying realities of how this world works. In 1964, every major public accommodation that operated a nationwide business was in favor of being forced to admit minorities."

David Bernstein (George Mason Law School)
"If segregation and discrimination in the Jim Crow South was simply a matter of law, federal legislation that would have overturned Jim Crow laws would have sufficed. But, in fact, it involved the equivalent of a white supremacist cartel, enforced not just by overt government regulation like segregation laws, but also by the implicit threat of private violence and harassment of anyone who challenged the racist status quo. Therefore, to break the Jim Crow cartel, there were only two options: (1) a federal law invalidating Jim Crow laws, along with a massive federal takeover of local government by the federal government to prevent violence and extralegal harassment of those who chose to integrate; or (2) a federal law banning discrimination by private parties, so that violence and harassment would generally be pointless. If, like me, you believe that it was morally essential to break the Jim Crow cartel, option 2 was the lesser of two evils. I therefore would have voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act."

The fact is that Paul does not hold this racist view because he is Libertarian, but because he is a teabagger, and it is the teabaggers he has been trying to appeal to -- a group much more prone to accepting racist views than Libertarians. He evidently thinks this racist viewpoint will appeal to the voters in Kentucky. I sincerely hope he is wrong.

It is one thing to win a Republican primary with racist views -- a party that has been taken over by teabaggers in several states. But it may be a lot different to try and win a general election with that viewpoint. He's going to need a lot of independents to win the general election, and they could easily be offended by his racist views.

Although this country still has racial problems, a lot of progress has been made (and much of it was due to the 1964 Civil Rights Act). I don't think most people are going to want to re-open this can of worms and replay the bad old days of segregation.

Paul Clings To The "Old Ways"

Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies in The Record (New Jersey).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Truth In Advertising

This is not an official Rand Paul political ad, but it probably should be. Found at the excellent blog Reconstitution 2.0.