A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Not Enough Of A Bad Thing

Exposing Republican "logic" at What Now? Toons.

Repubs Should Stop Sabotaging Economy


There's only two more months until the 2010 elections and the Republicans are still holding fast to their campaign strategy -- sabotage the economy and try to blame it on President Obama and the Democrats. They are convinced that if the recession is going strong and the economy is still in bad shape on election day, then Americans will vote against the party in power (regardless of who caused the recession and is voting to continue it).

This negative Republican strategy is most obvious in the Senate, where Republicans have blocked a bill aimed at helping small businesses. The bill would provide an extra $30 billion in low-interest loans for small businesses and also provide them with more than $12 billion in tax cuts. If there was a Republican in the White House Republicans would love this bill -- since it not only helps small businesses but also would not add to the deficit.

The Republicans have always claimed to be the champions of small business and have recently been whining about the deficit. That means they should be supporting this bill, especially since national business organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business all support the bill. In fact, some Republicans even helped to write the bill.

There is only one reason for Republicans to block this bill. They are afraid that a bill that helps small businesses will also improve the economy and create jobs (since small businesses create the bulk of jobs in America). And they are right about that. But they don't want any improvement in the economy before election day, and they are willing to throw small businesses and the unemployed under the bus to achieve their own political aims.

But President Obama is having none of this nonsense from the "party of no". He also knows the best path to quick job creation is to make small businesses healthier and more productive. The president is asking Congress to make passing the small business aid bill its first order of business when it returns. He said, "I ask Senate Republicans to drop the blockade." This is exactly what the president should be doing -- both in getting the bill passed and pointing out to the American people that it is the Republicans who oppose helping small businesses and creating jobs.

The president went on to say, "My economic team is hard at work identifying additional measures that could make a difference in promoting growth and hiring in the short term and increasing our economy's competitiveness in the long term. Every single day, I'm pushing this economy forward repairing the damage that's been done to the middle class over the past decade and promoting the growth we need to get our people back to work."

President Obama also mentioned some other things he wants to do to improve the economy and create new jobs (and save current jobs). He wants to:

* Extend the current tax cuts for those making less than $250,000.
* Improve the infrastructure by building and repairing more roads and highways.
* Up this country's investment in clean energy.
* Give businesses tax cuts to keep jobs in this country.

These are all good initiatives and would help the economy. But don't expect the Republicans to support any of them. They decided long ago that opposing President Obama was more important than helping Americans. The only idea they have had in the last couple of years is to vote "no" on everything -- regardless of who would be helped by the legislation.

American voters need to remember this when they go to the polls in November.

Scary Housing Market

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

Introducing Deb Shafto

If you've read this blog for long then you know that I don't vote for Republicans. Just like my father and grandfather, I have never voted for a Republican in my life and I expect when my life is over that could still be said about me. I certainly wouldn't mar that record by voting for a right-wing nut like Rick Perry.

But that doesn't mean I have to vote for whatever candidate the Democrats put up. I have seen some Democrats that are just not worth voting for. They are normally called "blue dog" Democrats -- politicians who run as Democrats but vote like Republicans. After seeing what these blue dog Democrats did to oppose and weaken the health care bill and the Wall Street re-regulation bill this year, there is simply no way I could vote for one of them -- not even for dogcatcher.

This has presented me with a bit of a dilemma in this year's governor's race because the Democrats have nominated one of those blue dogs to run for governor -- Bill White, a multi-millionaire, an energy company (oil) executive and admitted conservative. Some of my Democratic friends have told me that I should vote for him because "he's better than Rick Perry." Frankly, a wet dishrag is better than Rick Perry but that doesn't mean it would make a good governor.

While Blue Dog Bill White may not mouth the silly right-wing platitudes of Rick Perry, I have a hard time believing his conservative views will let him run the state any better. The ordinary citizens of Texas are going to be out of luck no matter which of those two men gets elected. This has left me searching for a candidate with truly progressive views -- a candidate who would govern for the good of all Texans and not just the rich corporate interests.

Fortunately, there is such a candidate on this year's ballot -- the Green Party candidate. Her name is Deb Shafto (pictured), and today I declare that she has my endorsement and my vote (although I will be supporting and voting for Democrats in all the down-ballot positions). Ms. Shafto is a true progressive who believes in peace, economic justice, equality, and fairness in our legal system.

Now I know there will be those who tell me that Deb Shafto doesn't have a chance to be elected governor, and that may well be true. It really doesn't matter. In giving my vote and support to Ms. Shafto, I am trying to accomplish two things. The first is to help insure the Green Party is assured of a place on the Texas ballot in 2012 without having to resort to another petition campaign. The second is to be able to leave the voting booth with a clear conscience about the people I voted for.

In following days, I will be posting about Ms. Shafto's views and the issues she feels are important. But today, I just wanted to introduce you to her. I can think of no better way to tell you just who Deb Shafto is than by letting her tell you in her own words. She says:

"I was born in New Hampshire, raised in Brattleboro, Vt, graduated high school in Ashburnham, Mass. and moved to New York City. I worked for Blue Cross, got married, sold insurance, had my son, worked as a waitress, worked for a moving and storage company, got divorced.


I bought and ran my own company for 10 years. I worked for a treatment facility for disturbed adolescents, operated a group home for them then moved to Texas. I worked as a union organizer, married again, went to college, got involved with a local HISD school, went back to college for a Masters of Education and taught school. I retired last year.


So, I understand how it is to be a single parent, how it is to put children through college, how it is to run a small business and put in 12 to 15 hours a day. I know what it is like to do hard physical labor and how you feel at the end of a hard day. I know how it is to deal with difficult people and what sometimes terrible difficulties they face. I know what it is like to be a cog in a large machine, and I know what it is like to have the buck stop at your desk, to be the one responsible for what happens next. I also know that teaching is demanding, rewarding, critically important, grossly underpaid and over regulated by those whose knowledge is limited to their own experiences when they went to school.


I have two great families, mine and my husband’s. We have 4 children, 7 grand children. We have a new dog, 3 inside cats, 4 outside cats and innumerable birds who seem to like our cat food even more than the cats do. We have a pond in the back yard which we regularly stock with goldfish. The neighborhood raccoons seem to be grateful."

Helping The Enemy

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

Monday, August 30, 2010

Recipe For Making A Teabagger

Found at the blog Unreasonable Faith.

Emmy Awards Makes Some Good Choices


Normally after an Emmy Awards show I am kind of disgusted and left wondering just what the hell were the voters thinking. Surprisingly, I find myself in complete agreement with many of this year's winners. It's got me kind of worried. Is the world coming to an end? [:-)]

Seriously, I was ecstatic to learn that Kyra Sedgewick (pictured) had won the award for Best Actress In A Drama Series for her portrayal of a Deputy Police Chief in charge of the major crimes squad in The Closer. The series is fun to watch and Ms. Sedgewick's performances each week have created a flawed, but brilliant and believable character.

It was also gratifying to see that Al Pacino and Claire Danes won for Best Actor And Actress In A Movie/Miniseries. Both played interesting real-life people and did it brilliantly. Pacino won for his portrayal of Jack Kervorkian in You Don't Know Jack, and Danes won for her portrayal of Temple Grandin in Temple Grandin.

And my favorite comedy and drama series both won awards. Jim Parsons won the award for Best Actor In A Comedy Series. He plays a nutty but brilliant nerd in The Big Bang Theory. Steve Shill won the award for Best Directing In A Drama Series for his work on Dexter.

Two other awards also made me very happy. Jon Stewart's The Daily Show won again for Best Variety Music Or Comedy Series, and the marvelously entertaining Top Chef won for Best Reality Series.

I congratulate all of last night's winners -- but especially those mentioned above, because they've provided me with many hours of pleasurable TV viewing.

If Lincoln Could Respond

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in The Scranton Times.

Beckapalooza

Glenn Beck and the right-wingers that funded his little teabagger get-together tried real hard to keep some of the stupid out of the gathering and make it look like a huge gathering of normal Americans. They knew they couldn't let their teabagger crowd bring signs or the racism and ignorance would be quickly exposed (because all teabagger gatherings are marked by the racist and misspelled signs).

But when you combine the nutty Beck with thousands of teabaggers the stupid just can't be avoided. Although a few signs showed up anyway, the majority of the crowd was content to let their T-shirts act as their signs. And amazingly, even some of them were misspelled -- and racist (see above picture).

Beck later told an interviewer (from Fox News, of course) that the purpose of the gathering had been to "reclaim the U.S. civil rights movement from politics." Anyone but a Fox News talking head would have been rolling on the floor in laughter at such an absurd statement. Neither Beck nor his teabagger audience has any credibility at all regarding civil rights -- unless you're talking about the right of white christians to force their views on everyone else (which is the very antithesis of civil rights).

And the dishonesty didn't stop there. Beck (and the silly pundits at Fox News) estimated the crowd at upwards of half a million people. He wanted to compare his crowd to the one that gathered to hear Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech which numbered over 250,000 people. Any comparison of Glen Beck and his teabaggers to Dr. King and the crowd who gathered to celebrate a true vision of equal rights is heresy anyway, but the crowd at Beck's gathering was not nearly as large.

CBS News hired a firm to gauge the size of the crowd using aerial photography. They determined the actual size of the crowd was around 87,000. While that's nowhere near the number of people Beck wanted to be there or claimed to be there, I will admit that it was kind of scary to see that many crazy people gathered in one place.

Bed Bugs

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blasphemous Or On Target ?




These are new over-the-top anti-religious posters actually being put up in New Zealand. Looks like they're based on the "garbage-pail kids" craze of a few years ago. I'm an atheist, but I don't know about this ad campaign. I doubt it's going to win any converts, but then atheists aren't trying to win converts. They just don't want religion forced on them or their children. As angry as christians (and others) got over the much more innocuous bus signs, I doubt these will cause any more of an uproar. And they are kind of funny. Found at the website Ads of the World.

Arson At Mosque Site In Tennessee


The silly (and unconstitutional) opposition to the building of a muslim community center in New York City has been hogging the headlines for the last couple of weeks. But it is far from the only religious intolerance happening in the United States. It seems that right-wing "christians" have decided that an American citizen cannot be a good patriotic American unless he/she is a christian.

Of course, this is a stupid and un-American idea. Religious freedom and tolerance are as old as this country and are even included in the Constitution. But even though right-wingers claim to believe in the Constitution, it is obvious that they only believe in parts of it. Other parts, like religious freedom and birthright citizenship and equal rights, are not too popular with the teabagging right.

One of the many places that is upfront about their intolerance and religious hatred is Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I'm sure there must be many good people in that city, but the racists and religious bigots have been getting all the headlines there. They are upset because the muslim community in Murfreesboro wants to build a new mosque in the city.

Now these muslims are not new to the city, and in fact, have had a mosque in the city for over 30 years now. But the muslim community has outgrown the old mosque and want to build a bigger mosque. But Tennessee right-wingers are acting like they have been suddenly invaded by a muslim army. One anti-mosque citizen said, "They are not a religion. They are a political, militaristic group." Sadly, he doesn't see that he is acting in more of a political and militaristic way than any of the Tennessee muslims.

Saleh Sbenaty, a member of the muslim building committee (and engineering professor at Middle Tennessee State University), said, "We unfortunately did not experience hostilities for the 30 years we've been here and have only seen the hostility since approval of the site plan for the new center." Well, the hostility may be new but it has been vicious. There have been demonstrations, graffiti and vandalism.

Now it has gotten even worse. It has graduated to arson. A couple of nights ago a person (or persons) went to the site of the new mosque and set some of the construction equipment on fire. The fire was noticed and reported by a passer-by.

Rutherford County Sheriff Ben Goodwin confirmed that the fire has been ruled as arson. The right-wing haters will probably disavow having anything to do with the fire. I don't believe it. Anyone with half a brain can see this is a direct result of the right-wing hatred for muslim Americans that has been so vocal in the past few weeks.

I don't doubt that the people who did this consider themselves to be patriotic christian heroes. I think they're racist trash, and I hope they are caught and severely punished. Arson is a serious crime.

Has al-Queda won? Have they caused us to be as sick and vicious as they are? It is time for decent folks of all religions (and those with no religion) to step up and reclaim this country. We can't let the racists and haters take over and turn this country into a theocratic police state or a lawless place governed by mob-rule.

The New John McCain

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

Education Dept. Refuses To Break The Law For Texas


Another school year has started and school districts across the state are still wondering whether they will have to lay off teachers to meet their budgets in this recession economy. There's $830 million sitting in Washington (D.C.) that has been appropriated to help Texas schools and save the jobs of at least 14,500 Texas teachers, but that money can't be released unless and until Texas complies with the rules Congress attached to the money.

But Rick Perry has an election coming up and he hasn't finished playing politics over the release of this money. He's still trying to play to his teabagger base, and obviously thinks his own re-election is more important than the education of Texas children or the jobs of Texas teachers. He's trying to look tough by refusing to comply with the rules laid down by the United States Congress.

This all goes back to federal funds given to the states for education last year. The money was supposed to supplement the money the states had already proposed for education. The money, in addition to state education money, would have insured that schools were adequately funded and didn't have to lay of needed teachers. But Governor Perry and the Texas legislature ignored the intent of Congress and cut state education funding by an amount equal to the federal funds -- leaving Texas schools without the job-saving extra money.

When the U.S. Congress again voted to provide supplemental job-saving funds for schools this year, they knew that the idiot governor of Texas would probably pull the same stunt again and deny Texas schools the extra funds by cutting the state funding. So they wrote a rule into the law this year that would prevent Texas from misusing the appropriation. This rule said Texas would not get the $830 million supplemental appropriation until they promised to not cut state funding to schools.

Governor Perry (pictured) was embarrassed at being caught misusing last year's supplemental appropriation, and has been whining and complaining about the new rules that won't let him do it again this year. He loudly proclaimed that the rules violate the U.S. Constitution, but that was a ridiculous argument. The Congress has the right to assure the funds it appropriates are used as they meant for them to be used.

Now he's claiming the rules violate the Texas Constitution. That's also a bogus claim, since the Texas Constitution does not mandate that Texas cut state education funding when provided with federal supplemental funding (and certainly doesn't authorize the governor to ignore United States law).

Last week, Governor Perry sent Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott, along with Perry aide Mike Morrissey, to Washington to plead for the release of the funds. But they were sent without the assurance that Texas would abide by the law in using the funds. They were there to ask the Department of Education to break the law and release the $830 million to Texas without the required assurances. The U.S. Department of Education rightly refused to do that and the Texans were sent home empty-handed.

This is exactly what Governor Perry wanted. He's still playing politics with the education money and is trying to convince Texas voters that the U.S. government is being mean to Texas schools. It's just not true. The money is there as soon as Texas is willing to obey the law and fully fund Texas schools.

But while Perry plays politics, the teachers and students of the state's schools are the ones who have to suffer. I would say Perry should be ashamed, but it is now clear that the man has no shame. He's just another career politician who cares about nothing but being re-elected.

Even Statues Are Aghast

Political Cartoon is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Remember The Victims

From the hilarious pages of Atheist Cartoons.

Right-Wing Groups Pledge $400 Million


The mainstream media is still talking about the Republican Party making significant gains in the 2010 elections -- maybe even enough to take over one of the houses of Congress. That may or may not be true, but if it is true, it will not be for the reason being touted by the media.

The media still, for some reason, believes the teabaggers will be a significant force in determining how the November election comes out. I believe that is wrong. The teabaggers are Republicans -- angry Republicans, but still Republicans. They voted Republican in 2008 and had little effect on that election. There is no reason to believe they will have an effect on the 2010 election. They would have to have a significant membership of people who either didn't vote in 2008 or who voted Democrat in 2008, and I don't believe that is the case. Their membership is predominately Republicans upset over their loss in 2008.

But there is another factor which could help to push Republicans over the top in the upcoming election -- money. The Republican Party will not be able to outspend the Democratic Party. The Democrats have more money than Republicans do and are raising enough to keep the parties at least equal (if not give Democrats a slight edge) -- and this is true of the national party committee and both the House and Senate campaign committees.

But the Republicans may not have to outspend Democrats because there are many right-wing and conservative groups who will do their own spending to support Republicans. And these groups, thanks to the misguided Citizens United Supreme Court decision, are planning to spend a massive amount of money to push the right-wing agenda. There are at least 22 right-wing organizations who have pledged to spend about $400 million in the 2010 campaign. Here are the groups and the amount they have pledged to spend to support the right-wing agenda:

Chamber of Commerce has pledged to spend $75 million
American Crossroads has pledged to spend $52 million
Americans for Prosperity has pledged to spend $45 million
Republican State Leadership Committee has pledged to spend $40 million
American Action Network has pledged to spend $25 million
American Future Fund has pledged to spend up to $25 million
Club for Growth has pledged to spend at least $24 million
National Republican Trust PAC has pledged to spend at least $20 million
– An unnamed health insurance industry coalition has pledged to spend $20 million
National Rifle Association has pledged to spend $20 million
Faith and Freedom Coalition has pledged to spend $11 million
FreedomWorks has pledged to spend $10 million
Americans for Job Security has pledged to spend $10 million
Susan B. Anthony List has pledged to spend $6 million
Our Country Deserves Better (Tea Party Express) has already spent $5 million
Tax Relief Coalition has already spent $4 million
Republican Majority Campaign has pledged to spend $3 million
Campaign for Working Families has pledged to spend $2 million
Heritage Action for America has pledged to spend $1 million
Financial Services Roundtable has already spent $0.5 million
Family Research Council has raised $0.5 million
Citizens United Political Victory Fund has pledged to spend $0.2 million

Can this huge amount of spending by right-wing groups convince Americans to vote against their own interests? It's very possible. You know they won't be telling the economic truth. They'll be pushing the same old "trickle down" theories that got America into this recession in the first place. Americans were fooled once into believing that if rich people are given more and more money they'll eventually share some of it with the rest of us. It's not true, but people who were fooled once can be fooled again.

Frankly, this massive spending by rich right-wingers through conservative organizations is a little scary. They want to buy a government that will allow then to continue to fleece ordinary Americans. And it is unlikely that liberal or progressive organizations will be able to match this right-wing campaign spending to tell the truth.

The Republicans could make significant gains in this election, but it won't be because of the teabaggers. It will be because $400 million can finance the telling of a lot of lies.

Laying A Big Egg

Political Cartoon is by Bill Day at United Feature Syndicate.

Pot Legalization Leads In California Poll


As we have discussed before on this blog, there is a proposition (#19) on the California ballot this November that would legalize marijuana and allow it to be taxed and regulated. If passed it would make California the first state in the union to legalize marijuana, and could well spur some other states to do the same. Now that the question has finally made it to the ballot the question is "Does it have a chance to be passed?"

Right now, it looks like the answer to that question is YES. Survey USA took a poll of 602 likely voters in California between August 9th and August 11th. The poll has a margin of error of 4.1%. Here's how the poll came out for all voters:

Certain to vote YES..........50%
Certain to vote NO..........40%
Not certain..........10%

Right now the YES votes are in the lead and it is by more than the margin of error. There is still 10% undecided, but the YES camp would only need a small fraction of them to push the measure over the top. Equally interesting to me was how the YES/NO forces broke down demographically. Here are those numbers:

MEN
Yes..........55%
No..........38%
Undecided..........7%

WOMEN
Yes..........45%
No..........43%
Undecided..........12%

UNDER 50
Yes..........55%
No..........38%
Undecided..........7%

50 AND OVER
Yes..........45%
No..........43%
Undecided..........12%

REPUBLICAN
Yes..........36%
No..........57%
Undecided..........7%

DEMOCRAT
Yes..........60%
No..........30%
Undecided..........10%

INDEPENDENT
Yes..........53%
No..........33%
Undecided..........14%

COLLEGE GRAD
Yes..........49%
No..........41%
Undecided..........9%

NOT COLLEGE GRAD
Yes..........51%
No..........38%
Undecided..........11%

MAKES UNDER $40,000
Yes..........54%
No..........35%
Undecided..........11%

MAKES $40,000 to $80,000
Yes..........44%
No..........48%
Undecided..........8%

MAKES OVER $80,000
Yes..........57%
No..........35%
Undecided..........8%

Of course while the numbers look good right now, the real outcome will be determined by who shows up at the polls in November. The numbers in every poll have shown that a majority of Californians are in favor of legalizing marijuana, but that won't mean much if these people don't show up to vote this Fall. Until then, we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed.

Signs

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

Lessons From Katrina


It's been about five years since the devastation of New Orleans and the surrounding area by Hurricane Katrina -- a disaster made even worse by the incredibly slow reaction to it by the Bush administration. The city of New Orleans is still trying to recover from that storm and its aftermath.

As we mark the fifth anniversary of the hurricane, it seems appropriate to ask if we are better prepared for another storm like this. Have we learned any lessons from Katrina? Over at Where's The Outrage, Errington C. Thompson has listed five lessons that Americans (and the American government) should have learned from Katrina. I like his list and think he's absolutely right. I hope these lessons have indeed been learned and we never have to witness that kind of massive incompetence again.

Here are the lessons that should have been learned:

* There should be no political considerations when doling out aid.
* Experts are experts for a reason. They should be in charge of planning and resource management.
* We as Americans do a bad job of planning for future problems. Money was consistently diverted from the levees into projects that would give politicians "more to run on".
* There is no excuse for not getting help to everyone within 48 hours -- no excuse.
* This could happen again.

Misplaced Worry

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Oops !

Looks like someone at CNN needs a new job. From the site of Pundit Kitchen.

Americans Want Troops Out Of Iraq


A couple of weeks ago the United States withdrew what it said were the last "combat troops" from Iraq. But there are still 50,000 troops in Iraq and it's hard to believe they are all there for "training" purposes. President Obama has said these 50,000 will all leave Iraq by the end of 2011, but both the American military and the Iraqi military don't see that timetable as an achievable goal. They believe more time will be needed before American troops are needed.

But they may not have any more time. A recent Gallup poll shows a majority of the American people (55%) think the Iraqi war was a mistake (see chart above), and a majority (53%) believe history will judge the Iraq war as a failure for the United States. An even larger majority (63%) would oppose American troops once again taking part in combat operations there, and a majority (53%) want the U.S. to stick to the current timetable -- even if it turns out the Iraqi troops can't handle the job they've been handed (and 61% believe they won't be able to handle the job).

To be frank, the American people no longer believe we are accomplishing anything in Iraq and are not willing to continue the war past 2011. They want the war over, whether it is won or not, and all the troops to come home. They know that Bush involved this country in a no-win situation in Iraq and Obama has not been able to do any better.

Personally, I don't know why we must spend more than another year in that country. Another year is not going to accomplish anything. The troops should be brought home immediately, and the Iraqis should be left alone to solve their own problems.

Some Dreams Are Better Than Others

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

New Deep-Fried Treats For State Fair


The Texas State Fair will be cranking up again very soon. It is scheduled to run from September 24th through October 17th this year. That means it's time to see what new deep-fried treats will be available for Fair-goers. The Fair proclaims itself to be "the fried food capital of Texas for 24 days" and each year it offers prizes for Best Tasting New Item and for Most Creative New Item.

The prize winners won't be declared until September 6th but the eight finalists have already been named (out of 62 entries), and there's some pretty weird stuff being fried up this year. In fact, two of the new offerings will require the purchaser to show some ID before they can buy them -- deep-fried beer and deep-fried frozen margaritas. State Fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding said, "When you bite into it, the beer really does pour out."

Here are the eight finalists for this year's prizes (which will be judged by members of the media):
* deep-fried beer
* deep-fried frozen margarita
* deep-fried smores pop-tart
* deep-fried club salad (spinach wrapped around diced ham and chicken, carrots, lettuce, cheese and bacon)
* deep-fried "caviar" (made of black-eyed peas)
* deep-fried lemonade
* deep-fried Frito chili pie
* deep-fried chocolate (a white chocolate candy bar wrapped in a brownie and dipped in chocolate cake batter)

Gooding said she didn't know how many calories the individual items had. I would venture to guess though that none of the items would be appropriate for inclusion in a diet plan.

-------------------------

UPDATE (2/7/10) -- The winners have been announced:

Best Taste Award -- deep-fried Frito chili pie

Most Creative Award -- deep-fried beer

Leaving The Facts Behind

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

Another Republican Out Of The Closet


It's simply amazing how many rabidly anti-homosexual Republicans have either come out of the closet or have been exposed as being gay. I guess it just goes to show that Shakespeare knew what he was talking about when he said "The lady doth protest too much, methinks" (and the quote applies to both sexes). Those who protest the loudest are usually guilty of what they are protesting against.

The latest Republican to come out of the closet is former Republican National Committee chairman (and campaign chief for Bush's 2004 presidential campaign) Ken Mehlman. Mehlman has admitted to his family, friends and associates that he has been gay for many years. A couple of days ago, he admitted it also to a reporter. He told the reporter that he is fixing to participate in a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (a group that fought against Prop 8 in California) and he knew there would be questions about his participation.

Mehlman said, "It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life. Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I've told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they've been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that's made me a happier and better person. It's something I wish I had done years ago."

I wish he had done it years ago too. I'm glad he's done it now and I'm glad he happier, but doesn't he realize the unhappiness and heartache he caused multitudes of his fellow homosexuals for far too many years now? He's out now and wants to work for the ability of gays/lesbians to get married, but he's got a whole lot to make up for and participating in a fundraiser or two is not going to do it.

Interestingly enough, while all news outlets have done at least some stories on Mehlman coming out of the closet, Fox News has not said a word about it. It's amazing how they can ignore any story that might cast a bad light on the right-wing "values". Then again, maybe they just don't know what to think about a right-winger who has decided to be honest.

I'm just wondering now who will be the next Republican or right-winger to come out of the closet.

Intolerant (And Unreasonable)

Political Cartoon is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why Atheists Are Evil

Found at the blog of Yellowdog Granny.

NFL Owners Want 18 Game Schedule


The National Football League owners met in Atlanta yesterday, and they are unified in wanting one thing -- an 18 game schedule for the league. If adopted, this would mean they would reduce the number of pre-season games to two, then have a bye-week for all teams, and then start the 18-game regular season schedule (with an additional bye-week happening for each team sometimes during the season -- as is currently done).

I think I like the idea. For most people, there is nothing more boring than pre-season games (where the real players aren't even on the field most of the time). It's only us "homers" who like to see the guys play who are trying to make the team, but two games are enough to see what these guys can contribute.

With the owners unified in seeking the 18-game schedule there's only one thing that can stop it from happening -- the player's union. The players are going to have to feel they will benefit as much as the owners from the expanded schedule (which would start in 2012). It's anybody's guess as to whether the players will approve it nor not.

Cowboy's owner Jerry Jones is positive about the possibility though. He said, "I think it is good for everyone concerned, our fans, our players. It is a way to grow the pie. It produces a better product, if you will, on the field. It has a chance to grow the pie, and the players get the largest percentage when the pie grows, so it's a good deal for the players." At least he's honest -- it is all about money.

One positive thing for the fans is that a loss or two will probably mean a little less in the big picture, and more teams will stay in possible play-off contention for longer. If I had to guess right now, I'd say the 18-game season is probably going to happen.

-------------------------

For the fourth consecutive year, the Dallas Cowboys are the NFL's most valuable franchise (as rated by Forbes Magazine). According to the magazine the Cowboys franchise climbed 9% in value to now be worth $1.81 billion. It's hard for me to believe, even as much as I love the Cowboys, that any sports team can be worth that much money.

Stalled

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

Recession Is Still Alive And Well


"Businesses are ordering fewer goods. Home sales are the slowest in decades. Jobs are scarce, and unemployment claims are rising. Perhaps most worrisome, manufacturing activity, which had been one of the economy's few bright spots, is faltering.

"The odds of a double-dip are rising and uncomfortably high," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, referring to the possibility that the nation will tip back into recession. "Nothing else can go wrong. There is no cushion left."

On Wednesday, the government offered the latest dose of grim news about the economic recovery: Companies cut back last month on their investments in equipment and machines. And Americans bought new homes at the weakest pace in nearly half a century.

Earlier this week came news that sales of previously occupied homes fell last month to the lowest level in 15 years.

Unemployment remains near double digits because job growth in the private sector has slowed."

The above quote is from an Associated Press article on the economy at the msnbc.com site. It shows just how bad our economy still is. Economic pundits have been trying to tell us that the recession is over -- we just had a jobless recovery. I call that a truckload of horse manure!

To be honest, there is no such thing as a "jobless recovery". Until this country replaces a large part of the 12-15 million jobs lost in this recession, the recession will not be over (regardless of any ridiculous numbers touted by the government and economic pundits). A real recovery requires Americans to again become consumers to spur a lasting economic growth, and they will not (cannot) do that until they have jobs.

It is not enough that rich people are once again willing to gamble in the stock market, or that corporations are showing big profits (usually by laying off more workers). Those are not indicators of a rebounding economy. They indicate only that the rich are taking advantage of the recession to suck even more wealth from the rest of us (and that won't last long because there's not much left to take).

Let's cut through all the BS here. There is only one indicator that will signal an end to this massive recession (which may actually be called a depression in years to come). That indicator is strong and continuing job creation. And don't expect that to happen real quick. It's going to take a while to replace enough of the 12-15 million lost jobs to climb back to a healthy economy.

This November is going to be a big indicator of how fast we can end this recession. If the Republicans win enough seats to return to power, or even enough to block job stimulus efforts by the Democrats, the country will remain mired in the recession. Don't forget, it was the Republican policy of deregulation and make the rich even richer (at the expense of everyone else) that caused this recession in the first place. And they have not changed those policies.

Sadly, the recession is alive and well. And the Republicans seem to like it that way.

Makes No Sense

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

Mainstream Media Still Doesn't Understand


I saw this headline yesterday in the Los Angeles Times:

ELECTION SURPRISES SHOW 'TEA PARTY' STRENGTH

I think that headline is more than a little bit misleading. It makes it sound like the teabagger movement is going to be a big player in the November elections, and that has yet to be proven. The media seems to still be buying into the right-wing lie that the teabaggers are a movement that crosses party lines and includes Republicans, Independents and Democrats.

If that was true then they really could be a force in the November elections, but it's not. The truth is that the teabaggers are not a broad-based movement. They are nothing more than an angry and disgruntled arm of the Republican Party. They are people who voted Republican in 2008 (and probably for many years before that) and will vote Republican again in 2010 and in 2012.

A truer headline would have said the teabaggers are showing a lot of strength "in the Republican Party". They have yet to show that their wing-nut beliefs (such as opposition to universal health care, desire to privatize social security, tax cuts for the rich, opposition to job stimulus funds, opposition to 14th amendment, etc.) will strike a chord with the general public. I suspect that they won't.

One fact that is hard for true believers on the right and on the left (like myself) to accept is that the United States is not a country that likes the extremes -- either way. This is a middle-of-the-road country, and while it will accept changes, it wants those changes to be done slowly and carefully. I don't think the huge lurch to the right wanted by teabagger candidates like Paul, Angle (pictured), Rubio, Miller and others is going to be accepted by the majority of Americans.

While some of them may get elected because they are running in Republican-dominated states, I don't think this will be a good thing for the Republican Party. If these teabaggers get to Washington, they will be in the spotlight and it will just show Americans how out-of-step they really are, and it will brand the Republican Party as too far right-wing to be trusted. It could easily be a hinderance to a Republican return to power.

The teabaggers are showing strength, but only in the Republican Party.

Inconsistent

Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Denver Post.

Obama Still Has Sense Of Humor

This picture taken during President Obama's trip to Austin a couple of weeks ago (by White House photographer Pete Souza) clearly shows the president hasn't lost his sense of humor. The White House Trip Director, Marvin Nicholson, decided to weigh himself as the group went through the University of Texas volleyball locker room. He didn't see the president's toe on the scales and must have been shocked at how much weight he had "gained".

Green Eggs And Ham

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Republicans Are Biggest Spenders

Found at the blog What Would Jack Do? (Click chart to make it larger)

White Not Gaining Ground In Texas


A new Rasmussen Reports poll has been issued for the governor's race in Texas, and it doesn't really have any good news in it for the Democratic candidate. It shows him with an 8% deficit, but even worse it shows there has been no real movement among voters in the last month. Here are the numbers for the last two months:

AUGUST
Rick Perry (R)..........49%
Bill White (D)..........41%
Another candidate..........3%
Undecided..........7%

JULY
Rick Perry (R)..........50%
Bill White (D)..........41%
Another candidate..........2%
Undecided..........7%

Democrats will be quick to point out that the poll has a margin of error of 4.5% and Rasmussen has been known to have a slight Republican bias. Both of these are true. But in the solidly conservative state of Texas, Rasmussen has been very accurate in the recent past. Here are some of their predictions compared to actual election day percentages:

2008 - TEXAS ELECTION

Rasmussen predicted for president
John McCain (R)..........54%
Barack Obama (D)..........44%

Actual Voting %
John McCain (R)..........55%
Barack Obama (D)..........44%

Rasmussen predicted for senate
John Cornyn (R)..........55%
Rick Noriega (D)..........40%

Actual Voting %
John Cornyn (R)..........55%
Rick Noriega (D)..........43%

2006 TEXAS ELECTION

Rasmussen predicted for senate
Kay Hutchison (R)..........60%
Barbara Radnofsky (D)..........34%

Actual Voting %
Kay Hutchison (R)..........62%
Barbara Radnofsky (D)..........36%

Rasmussen predicted for governor
Rick Perry (R)..........36%
Chris Bell (D)..........25%

Actual Voting %
Rick Perry (R)..........39%
Chris Bell (D)..........30%

In addition, there are a couple of other poll numbers that break in Rick Perry's favor. Around 55% of voters say they are happy with the job the Republican governor is doing, and when a majority of voters approve of the job the incumbent is doing he is usually re-elected. Perry is also doing much better among independents than White. Here are those numbers:

INDEPENDENTS
Rick Perry (R)..........59%
Bill White (D)..........33%

It looks like Blue Dog Bill White has a lot of work to do in the next couple of months if he wants to win the governorship of Texas. Right now he's looking like a loser.

Who Knew ?

Political Cartoon is by Lee Judge in The Kansas City Star.

It Costs To Be Racist


A few weeks ago the small Nebraska city of Fremont (25,000 residents) decided that undocumented immigrants were a problem and they were going to deal with it. They passed a voter-approved ordinance which banned not only employment, but housing for undocumented immigrants. I'm sure they were proud of themselves for passing their racist ordinance, but now the time has come to pay the piper.

Almost from the time the ordinance was approved it was in court. Those opposing the ordinance say it is discriminitory and have taken it to court. This same kind of city ordinance has been ruled unconstitutional in other cities like Farmers Branch, Texas. Now the city is stuck with mounting legal fees to defend their silly ordinance in federal court.

At the end of this month the city council will vote on increasing the property tax rate by a whopping 18% (about an extra $116 on a $200,000 home). They need the higher tax to pay for defending the new law. And they shouldn't expect it to be cheap either. Farmers Branch, which lost in court and is still appealing, has racked up over $4,000,000 in legal costs.

It's not cheap being a racist these days. But it's their choice. Pay up (and most likely lose in court) or rescind the law and avoid higher taxes.

Scary Stories ?

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

The Secular 10 Commandments


I found this over at Common Sense Atheism and thought I would share it with my readers. It was written in 1951 by the writer and philosopher Bertrand Russell for New York Times Magazine. Russell called it the "Liberal Decalogue". Whatever you call it, it contains some thoughtful advice.

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
2. Do not think it worthwhile to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband (wife) or your children, endeavour to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool's paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Through The Roof (The Wrong Way)

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

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why Did Reagan Hate America?

Using right-wing logic (if there is such a thing), Ronald Reagan must have hated America since he loved the Taliban. Found at the blog The Immoral Minority.

Ron Paul Actually Makes Sense (This Time)


It's not very often that I agree with anything that Rep. Ron Paul says, but this is one of those times. He has come out and scolded neoconservatives and other right-wingers for making the proposed muslim community center in New York City an issue. He says they "never miss a chance to use hatred toward muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventive wars." He goes on to say:

"Many fellow conservatives say they understand the property rights and 1st Amendment issues and don’t want a legal ban on building the mosque.They just want everybody to be “sensitive” and force, through public pressure, cancellation of the mosque construction.

This sentiment seems to confirm that Islam itself is to be made the issue, and radical religious Islamic views were the only reasons for 9/11. If it became known that 9/11 resulted in part from a desire to retaliate against what many Muslims saw as American aggression and occupation, the need to demonize Islam would be difficult if not impossible. [...]

It is repeatedly said that 64% of the people, after listening to the political demagogues, don’t want the mosque to be built. What would we do if 75% of the people insist that no more Catholic churches be built in New York City?The point being is that majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as well as individual dictators. Statistics of support is irrelevant when it comes to the purpose of government in a free society—protecting liberty. [...]

This is all about hate and Islamaphobia."


I agree. Personally, I think this is just a trumped up issue to take Americans minds off the wars the Republicans started and the recession they caused.