A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Great Day

Found at the great blog What Would Jack Do?

A Victory For Pregnant Women

A little over two weeks ago I wrote a post about drug company greed. It concerned the drug Makena, made by KV Pharmaceuticals. The FDA gave that company the exclusive right to make the drug for the next seven years, even though compounding pharmacies have been compounding the drug in their stores for a while now (calling it 17p). These pharmacies have been selling the drug, which is taken intravenously once a week during pregnancy to prevent premature births, for about $10-$20 a dose.

Once they got the exclusive right to make the drug, KV Pharmaceuticals raised the price to $1500 a dose. Then they sent a letter to the compounding pharmacies demanding that they stop making the drug. It was an incredible display of greed by a drug company. They did not invent the drug -- just made the first company-produced and pre-compounded dosage, so they had no research costs to recoup. And the pharmacies that had been compounding the drug were making a profit by selling it at $10-$20 a shot.

Now a small jump in price, to cover the cost of production and shipping, could be understood. But a jump in price from $10 to $1500 a dose was absurd and could only be accounted for by corporate greed. They were going to take advantage of having the only FDA-approved source of the drug to gouge the public (that is, anyone who pays taxes or buys heal insurance). This is the kind of thing that drives insurance costs up -- whether its Medicaid or private insurance. And they could get their outrageous price because they were basically holding hostage the pregnant women in danger of having a premature birth.

But the drug company didn't count on one thing -- public outrage. A few news agencies and some blogs like this one joined with doctors in publicizing the price gouging. And it worked. The FDA has now said that the pharmacies that had been compounding the drug could continue to do so -- as long as the product they produce is safe. And they can continue to sell it at the old price.

The FDA now says it will not take any action against any pharmacies that compound the drug (as the drug company letter had threatened they would). This is the proper decision. This is not an example of a drug company inventing a drug and pharmacies trying to copy it. The pharmacies were already making the drug before the drug company put out its version.

The company, KV Pharmaceuticals, is also saying they will provide assistance for women who meet certain guidelines and are "exploring additional ways to help provide affordable access for all patients who are prescribed Makena." I have a suggestion for them. Just lower your stinking price to a reasonable level!

Thank goodness the good guys finally won one.

It Took Both Didn't It ?

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

Hillary Is Popular - Teabaggers Are Not

There was a time a few years ago when vicious attacks from the right-wing had seriously eroded the popularity of Hillary Clinton. Listening to those attacks could have people believing Hillary was the anti-christ, and her favorability numbers showed it. In 1996, only about 43% of Americans had a favorable opinion of her.

But those days are long gone, and today Hillary Clinton is probably the most popular politician in this country. A recent Gallup Poll taken March 25th through 27th of 1,027 adults shows Clinton with a favorability rating now of 66%, with an unfavorability rating of only 31%. That gives her a +35 rating -- very nice!

Those are even better numbers than President Obama has, and his aren't bad. Obama has a favorability rating of 54%/43% (+11). In fact 45% of those who give Obama's job performance an unfavorable rating give Hillary a favorable rating.

Of course numbers this good has some people thinking Hillary should make another run for the presidency. She has already said she wouldn't run against the president in 2012, and that's a wise decision since such a run could only hurt the party (and being a good Democrat, Hillary would never do that). But 2016 is wide open and she would have to be the Democratic Party favorite -- at least for now.

The only fly-in-the-ointment is the fact that sitting Secretary's of State don't historically do well when they run for president. The last one to win was James Buchanan in 1856. Maybe that's why she's said she doesn't want another term as Secretary of State, and if Obama's re-elected he'll have to find someone else to do the job. That's kind of a shame since I think she's done a very good job in the position. But if it gives her the time to position herself for a presidential run in 2016, then it's a good thing.

I did not support Hillary Clinton in 2008. I jumped on the Obama bandwagon fairly early. But I like Hillary a lot, and if she decides to run in 2016 she will most likely have my support.

But while Hillary's popularity has been rising, the popularity of the teabagger "movement" has not. I wrote recently about the teabaggers throwing a convention in Florida where only 300 people showed up instead of the thousands that were expected. Now a CNN/Opinion Research poll (taken March 11th through 13th of 1,023 adults) shows that the group's popularity has dropped significantly.

The poll shows that the favorability rating for the teabaggers has dropped a full 5 points just since December. It now stands at 32%. Meanwhile the people who have an unfavorable view of the teabaggers has climbed sharply, and currently stands at 47% (giving them a rating of -15). That's up 4 points since December, and up about 21 points since January 2010. It's the highest negative rating they've had, and it rivals the unfavorable ratings of both political parties now (but the political parties have much higher favorability ratings). Here are the numbers:

TEABAGGERS
favorable...............32%
unfavorable...............47%

REPUBLICANS
favorable...............44%
unfavorable...............48%

DEMOCRATS
favorable...............46%
unfavorable...............48%

The rise in the teabaggers unfavorable rating seems to be most pronounced among the half of Americans that make less than $50,000 a year. The unfavorability number has risen about 15 points among this group just since October. It has risen only 5% among those making over $50,000 a year.

It looks like the draconian cuts the teabagger politicians are trying to make is starting to worry the under $50,000 group. The general idea of cutting the budget sounded good in the general election campaign, but now the reality of just what the teabagger Republicans want to cut is starting to scare them -- and it should. The teabagger Republicans want to make all their cuts in programs that mostly affect those making less money in this society, while giving the rich tax cuts and giant corporations massive subsidies. The unfairness of this is becoming more apparent with each passing day.

I think most Americans want the budget cut, but they want it done fairly with the rich and the corporations taking their fair share of the pain. If the Republicans continue to follow the teabagger policies (which were initiated by the rich corporate donors -- and was always a top-down "movement") they could find themselves out in the cold on election day in 2012.

The Real Birther Controversy

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

Feingold Speaks Out On Immelt/GE Fiasco

You have probably heard that the General Electric Corporation made about $14.2 billion in profits last year, and that didn't pay a single penny in taxes on that huge profit. Even worse, they actually got the government to give them $3.2 billion. That's not just wrong, it's absolutely obscene!

And GE's absurdity doesn't stop there. They have doubled the already enormous salary of their CEO, Jeffrey Immelt. Now a reasonable person might think that a company with a profit of $14.2 billion and no tax bill would not only reward their management but also all of their workers. But that would be wrong. The company is now planning to ask their employees to take cuts in pay and benefits. This has to be the very definition of greed gone out-of-control.

But what really defies belief is that President Obama has now appointed GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to be the chairman of the White House Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. That's right. The CEO of a company that made $14.2 billion in profit and still wants to cut wages and benefits for its workers is going to be giving jobs advice to the president. That's like asking the fox how to build a safe and secure chicken coop!

Well, Russ Feingold doesn't think this makes much sense either. Here's what he has to say about this fiasco:

It's everything that's wrong with corporate power today:


News broke last week that General Electric, America's largest corporation, made $14,200,000,000 in profits last year and paid $0 in taxes -- that's right, zero dollars in taxes. At the same time, C.E.O. Jeffrey Immelt saw his compensation double. Now I hear that GE is expected to ask 15,000 of their unionized workers to make major concessions in wages and benefits.


But what really adds insult to injury is the prestigious and influential position Jeffrey Immelt holds as chair of President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.


That's wrong. Someone like Immelt, who has helped his company evade taxes on its huge profits -- and is now looking to workers to take major pay cuts after his compensation was doubled -- should not lead the administration's effort to create jobs.


We cannot stand by and watch while we are led down this road. Mr. Immelt must step down from the president's jobs panel -- and if he won't, President Obama needs to ask for his resignation.


How can someone like Immelt be given the responsibility of heading a jobs creation task force when his company has been creating more jobs overseas while reducing its American workforce? And under Immelt's direction, GE spends hundreds of millions of dollars hiring lawyers and lobbyists to evade taxes.


All of this at a time when Fox News and the right wing are demonizing public workers, like teachers, as the cause of our economic problems.


It's time for policymakers to stop coddling corporate interests, and get to work creating jobs and wealth for Main Street. We shouldn't reward wealthy CEOs and Wall Street for behavior that undermines the nation's economy.


President Obama has been talking about how we must "win the future," and I agree with him in that goal. Jeffrey Immelt is not the person for that job.


Russ Feingold
Founder
Progressives United


Feingold is asking people to sign an electronic petition demanding Immelt's removal from the president's council. I've signed it and I urge all of you to sign it too. You can do so right here.

Equal Time

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just A Reminder

Republicans love to spread the lie that Democrats are big spenders who don't care about the deficit. But the truth is that Democrats have been much more fiscally responsible than Republicans. This chart reminds us that it's Republican presidents who love to spend and run up huge deficits. Of course some of you will want to point out the huge debt currently faced by the nation, but when you do please be honest enough to admit that most of it is due to policies initiated by George Bush -- policies that current Republicans will not let the president do away with.

Popularity Dropping For Top GOP Candidates

I 've posted recently about how there is still no favorite among the potential Republican candidates for president in 2012. The top candidates are still hanging around 20% -- a long way from being a real favorite. The nomination is still wide open.

But it turns out that it's even worse than that. Not only are none of the candidates really exciting Republicans, but the top four candidates are actually dropping in favorability among the general population. And that's not good for Republican hopes of upsetting President Obama next year.

Public Policy polling, one of the more respected polling organizations did a recent survey and that survey shows that the top four candidates have actually dropped in favorability since April of 2009. Here is how they stack up.

MITT ROMNEY
April 2009 -- favorable 40%/unfavorable 35% (+5)
March 2011 -- favorable 32%/unfavorable 44% (-12)
A drop of 17 points in the last two years
Dropped 18 points with Republicans & 9 points with Independents

MIKE HUCKABEE
April 2009 -- favorable 42%/unfavorable 34% (+8)
March 2011 -- favorable 35%/unfavorable 42% (-7)
A drop of 15 points in the last two years
Dropped 7 points with Republicans & 19 points with Independents

SARAH PALIN
April 2009 -- favorable 42%/unfavorable 49% (-7)
March 2011 -- favorable 35%/unfavorable 57% (-22)
A drop of 15 points in the last two years
Dropped 18 points with Republicans & 19 points with Independents

NEWT GINGRICH
April 2009 -- favorable 36%/unfavorable 44% (-8)
March 2011 -- favorable 26%/unfavorable 57% (-31)
A drop of 23 points in the last two years
Dropped 25 points with Republicans & 33 points with Independents

The fact that the top four candidates are all dropping in popularity, both with Republicans and Independents, shows that not only is the race still wide open but there is room for new candidates to enter the fray. It looks like the voters are still waiting for someone that really excites them.

The problem so far is that none of the others so far can even equal these four. Candidates like Pawlenty, Santorum, Huntsman and Cain are not recognizable to most voters and have been unable to get more than 2-3% support. It looks like Michele Bachmann is going to toss her hat in the ring, but that doesn't excite anyone but the teabaggers (since it is unlikely she could get much support from the general population).

There's still a few months before things really get serious in the presidential contest, but a candidate would need to start raising money soon to be ready for the primary campaign. And so far, there's no real excitement for the current options (especially outside the Republican Party -- and if you can't bring in Independents, you can't win).

Defense Of Marriage

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in The Scranton Times.

Those Incredible Republicans

Republicans can be pretty amazing in the things they try to convince Americans are for the best. They can put forth the most outrageous ideas and justifications, and do it with a straight face. They're either the best liars in the country, or they're completely devoid of any common sense or shame. Just look at some of the things they want us to believe now:

Let's start with a Texas Republican -- Rep. Ron Paul. This nut has decided that the Constitution is applicable only when he and other Republicans want it to be. Paul told a crowd of home-schoolers a few days ago that it is not only legal, but also constitutional for states to nullify federal laws they don't like. He said, "The chances of us getting things changed around soon through the legislative process is not all the good. And that is why I am a strong endorser of the nullification movement, that states like this should just nullify these laws. And in principle, nullification is proper and moral and constitutional, which I believe it is. . ."

Either Paul was just telling the right-wing crowd what they wanted to hear (a distinct possibility since Republicans don't seem to mind lying at all) or he has never actually read the Constitution. Or maybe he thinks only parts of it actually apply when he can't get what he wants. Article VI of the United States Constitution clearly states that ". . .the Laws of the United States. . .shall be the supreme Law of the Land." This is not ambiguous. It has been settled law for a very long time that federal law trumps state law -- even federal laws that Republicans don't like.

Then we have Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, both of whom want to be the Republican presidential nominee. Their bright idea is to give the filthy rich corporations a "tax holiday". It's not bad enough that these same corporations hide tons of money out of the country to avoid paying the taxes they owe on it, but now these Republicans want to allow these tax-dodgers to bring the money back home without paying any taxes on it. They are trying to claim the corporate bigwigs will use the money to create new jobs. What a ridiculous assertion!

I say that because this has already been tried once. George Bush fell for this con back in 2004 and gave the corporations their tax holiday. They brought millions back, without paying any taxes on it, and stuck it in the bank accounts of management and owners -- without creating a single job. Then they started shipping their new profits overseas to avoid paying taxes on it (sure in the knowledge that they could bring it back tax-free in the future with another tax holiday). Now they want to pull the same con again, and Republicans are all for it (because they know some of it will wind up in their campaign funds).

Next, we have Republican Rep. Sean Duffy (Wisconsin) who seems to be running for "whiner of the year". When one of his constituents asked what his salary was and if he was willing to take a 5% pay cut, Duffy responded that he only made $174,000 and drove a "used minivan". When the man pointed out that was three times the salary his family had to live on (and also three times the national average for workers), Duffy whined that "I have more debt than you. . .I don't live high off the hog."

Now it is no one's fault that Duffy ran up a lot of debt except his own, and if he wants to drive a used minivan that is also his concern. Most Americans would be thrilled to earn what Duffy does (especially with the government benefits it comes with). Duffy's protestations are absurd, and with all the cuts the Republicans want regular Americans to endure, he should be happy to take a piddly 5% pay cut.

And it's not just the national Republican politicians trying to put something over on the public. In the recent Wisconsin mess the Republicans kept telling Wisconsin residents that ending collective bargaining for state employees was necessary to balance the state budget. It was just an effort to save money in this time of recession. That was a lie.

And State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican, let the cat out of the bag in a fundraising letter he sent to Republican voters. I guess he didn't think any of those voters would let the truth out. In the letter he said admitted (even bragged) that the real reason was to "break the power of unions like WEAC and AFSCME once and for all." That's no surprise to workers. They knew that was all the Republicans wanted. It balancing the budget was important then they wouldn't have given their rich corporate buddies a tax break at the same time.

And then there are greed-mongers like former Texas State Rep. David Swinford of Amarillo. This Republican abruptly resigned his seat last August so he could spend some quality time with his family. At least that's what he said at the time. But now we know the real reason he resigned before his term was complete -- he needed the time to line up some clients before the new legislative session opened. That "quality time" with his family is now being spend back in Austin working as a lobbyist for several companies. It is expected he will make from $200,000 to $300,000 this year from his lobbying efforts, trading on his ties with other legislators.

It should be illegal for lawmakers to immediately become lobbyists and turn their public service into a moneymaking venture. There should be a waiting period before they can become lobbyists. A bill to create such a waiting period has been introduced, but it has no chance of passage in the Republican-dominated legislature. Those Republicans don't want to kill their own chances of getting rich off their public service in the future.

We must always remember that with Republican politicians it's always about the money, and they don't mind lying to you or telling you what you want to hear to finally cash in. That's why they favor the rich and the corporations over ordinary Americans -- because that's where the money is (and they will always protect their own path to that money). It's just the way they are.

Bachmann Does Iowa

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

WWJD

This may be the perfect answer to the tired old WWJD question. Found at the blog of The Friendly Atheist.

Right-Wing Goes Looney Over Libya

There used to be a time in this country when the right-wing conservatives actually stood for something. This was especially true when it was led by men like William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater. I seldom agreed with them, but at least they knew what they believed in and knew how to expound those beliefs -- and those beliefs didn't change, no matter who was president or who agreed or disagreed with them.

That is no longer true. Since the election of our African-American president, Barack Obama, the right-wing in America seems to have completely lost its mind (and many of its beliefs). It seems that they no longer stand for anything. Now they are too caught up in standing against things -- that is, anything that President Obama says or does.

When a person or group actually stands for something, they can be dealt with -- and compromise can be found. The compromise may not make everyone ecstatic, but they can be satisfied that a solution was found that would be good for the country. But a person or group that is only against things, like the current teabagging right-wing, cannot compromise because they don't really have a base position to act from. Whatever their opponents (especially the president) propose, they must be against -- no matter how reasonable the proposal is.

A good example of this is the current situation in Libya and our government's reaction to it. When the conflict first started, the right-wing was aghast that the president didn't jump right in to help the poor people in Libya who were fighting for their freedom. They viewed his slow and measured response as failing the wonderful "freedom fighters", and really as being anti-freedom in general. They were quick to criticize the inaction.

But now the president, through the United Nations, has acted to defend the Libyan rebels from certain annihilation by Kaddafi's forces, and it is working. The rebels have, with U.N. help turned a bad situation into an advantageous one. In short, they are once again winning -- and it looks like Kaddafi may actually be shoved from power.

Now one might think this would make those on the right very happy. After all, the president has done what they were asking him to do. And that would be the case -- if they had really had firm beliefs to begin with. But they didn't. They wanted the president to intervene only because he wasn't intervening. In other words, they were simply taking a position opposed to the president (and could care less about the Libyans).

Once the president finally acted the right-wing did a full flip-flop. All of a sudden they were against any intervention in Libya. Now this made them look a little silly, since they had taken the opposite position just the week before -- but what could they do? They had to oppose the president (since their only and fundamental belief is the president is wrong -- no matter what he does). Even worse for them, it looks like the president's action might actually be working.

This meant they needed some reason for them to justify opposing the president, so they pulled the old boogeyman out of the closet -- al-Queda. They have suddenly discovered that the rebels aren't freedom fighters at all, but al-Queda operatives who want to take over Libya and use it as a base of operations for their nefarious purposes. Listen to what some of these fringe right-wing nuts are now saying:


– On Facebook, former Speaker Newt Gingrich asked “Does President Obama acknowledge the danger of Al Qaeda allies among the anti-Qaddafi forces and pledge to work for a moderate replacement government without extremist factions?” [03/28/11]

– Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN): “I have been very reluctant to see the United States to go into Libya. For one thing, we haven’t identified yet who the opposition even is to Qaddafi. We don’t know if this is led by Hamas, Hezbollah, or possibly al Qaeda of North Africa. Are we really better off, are United States, our interests better off, if let’s say Al-Qaeda of North Africa now runs Libya?” [03/24/11]

– AFA’s Bryan Fischer: “Al Qaeda is behind the rebellion in Libya. So this no-fly zone is in fact helping the Muslims who killed 3000 Americans on 9/11. But helping our sworn enemies, especially if they are Muslims, does not seem to be a bother to Obama.” [03/22/11]

– Hateblogger Pam Geller, writing at Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment: “And now [President Obama] is essentially backing Al-Qaeda in Libya. Al-Qaeda has already established an Islamic emirate in eastern Libya, and is playing a leading role in the revolt against Gaddafi. The Libyan Islamist Fighting Group is also involved.” [03/21/11]


There's only one problem with these new charges from the right-wingers. They aren't true. U.S. intelligence has not been able to find any connection between the Libyan rebels and al-Queda (or "islamofascists" of any kind for that matter). They have simply pulled this ridiculous charge out of their (tinfoil?) hats, because they had to have some reason to oppose President Obama.

What's even crazier is that their new position puts them in the uncomfortable position of supporting the Kaddafi government -- the same government they were applauding Ronald Reagan for bombing (since Kaddafi was the force behind the Lockerbie airliner bombing). How's that for fickle?

While I seldom agreed with them, I miss the old-style conservatives. At least they had some real beliefs.

Situational Beliefs

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

Approaching Government Shutdown (Again)

Well, it's that time again. Some of you may have thought we had avoided a government shutdown, but that was just temporary. Congress passed a couple of continuing resolutions that did nothing but put off the big budget showdown. And on April 8th the second of those continuing resolutions will run out. The Congress must pass a budget for the remainder of this year or the government will cease to operate (unless they delay it once again with another silly continuing resolution).

The problem is that the right-wing Republican teabaggers in Congress (especially in the House of Representatives) want to make up for their $400 billion tax giveaway to the rich by cutting nearly every program that affects ordinary Americans. But the congressional Democrats (and the president) cannot allow that to happen without abandoning every principal the party says they believe in.

Their have been some ongoing negotiations, but so far the two sides are still very far apart -- about $40 billion apart. The Democrats have come up with about $20 billion in budget cuts, but say that is their limit without affecting necessary programs -- programs that would hurt ordinary Americans if cut. The Republicans are demanding at least $61 billion in cuts (which pales in comparison to their $400 billion giveaway to the rich) and they couldn't care less how it affects ordinary Americans.

The whole thing is approaching the point of absurdity. There is only about five months left in this fiscal year and Congress still has not passed a budget (when in reality they should already be planning and debating next year's budget). Have we reached the point where it is impossible to pass a yearly budget? Are we to be funded for the next couple of years with a series of two or three week continuing resolutions -- with the threat of a government shutdown forever hanging over our heads?

Unless an agreement can be reached by the end of this week, there might be a shutdown this time, and right now it looks like the Congress is not going to make that deadline. The Democrats have cut all they can without abandoning their constituency. It is now up to the Republicans. Do they really want to shutdown the government? They have said they would do it, and they've not shown even an inkling of being willing to compromise.

In poll after poll the American people has said they do not want a government shutdown. They want both parties in Congress to compromise and get a reasonable budget completed. I think that's the only thing that has prevented the shutdown from happening so far. But crunch time is coming fast, and decisions must be made. It's up to the Republicans. If they really want to shutdown the government, they can. They have the power.

Another continuing resolution would just put off the inevitable. The Republicans must make a decision -- either shut down the government or compromise. What will they do? I'm still betting on a shutdown. They've not shown either the ability or the desire to compromise for the good of the country.

Making matters even worse is the fact that we're only about a month away from reaching the current debt ceiling, and these same Republicans have said they will not raise it. There is a good chance that not only will the government be shut down but they'll force the government to default on its debt by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, and the financial reverberations of that will be felt around the world.

But then this is the kind of financial mess that's created when Republicans get in power. Americans have no one to blame but themselves, because they allowed the Republicans to get enough power to do this. Maybe it's true that we get the government we deserve.

Higher Ground ?

Political Cartoon is by Jeff Parker in Florida Today.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Abstinence

More brilliant hilarity from the website of Jesus and Mo.

Bachmann Wows Iowa Republicans

The other day Democratic pundit James Carville predicted that Mitt Romney would win the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Until very recently I had tended to agree with that assessment. I thought that surely they would nominate one of their rabid right-wing fringe candidates (although I would love to see that). Surely they wouldn't want to position their party that far to the right going into a national election (because that could have an effect all the way down the ballot, especially in close swing states).

But lately I've been reassessing that position. I think I (and a lot of Democrats) may well be underestimating the extent to which the teabaggers have taken over the Republican Party. While both parties used to have a lot of moderates (Democrats call their's "blue dogs"), the moderates in the Republican Party are disappearing fast. The few moderate Republican office-holders are being targeted for elimination (and even supposed moderate Romney is running hard to position himself on the far right). Meanwhile, rank-and-file Republican moderates are leaving the party and are now calling themselves Independents.

There is a much better than average chance that the next Republican convention will be controlled by teabaggers, and if no candidate arrives at the convention with a majority of the delegates there is a good chance that a teabagger nut-job could wind up with the nomination.

This idea was given some credence a couple of days ago in Iowa. There was a get-together there of two to three hundred state party activists. They had three of the possible candidates for the presidential nomination speak to them. Newt Gingrich and Haley Barbour, both rabid right-wingers, received a friendly and polite response from the crowd after speaking. But the best and most rousing response was received by teabagger nut-job Michele Bachmann (who is so far to the right that she would embarrass most right-wingers).

Those Iowa Republicans seem ready to pass up any real chance of winning the election to elect someone like a Bachmann or Palin, and the same seems to be true in many other states. I don't really have a problem with that because I think they would be shooting themselves in the foot to do that -- Americans don't seem to like candidates on either extreme. I'm just kind of surprised that it might really be a possibility.

Could this really be true? Could the Republicans really be ready to give the election to the Democrats by default (by not nominating a viable candidate)? This whole thing is starting to get very interesting.

Reagan Fired Them

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

Conservatives Lose Ground In Germany

It looks like the conservative party of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Christian Democrats, may be on their way to losing their grip on power in that country. The Green Party, spurred on by fears of nuclear power, has vastly increased it's vote total in a couple of important German states. This means that their vote combined with their allies, the Social Democrats, gives those parties the majority in two important states. It will also give the Greens a part in a new government.

In the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, the Greens increased their share of the vote to 15.4% (triple their share in the last state election). The Social Democrats finished with 35.7% of the vote and the Christian Democrats had 35.2%. That puts the Social Democrats in control of that state, but they will need to share power with the Greens.

But the biggest upset was in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The Christian Democrats had ruled that state since 1953 (nearly 60 years), but they will now have to give up power there. The Christian Democrats got 39% of the vote and their natural allies, the Free Democrats, got about 5.3% -- giving them a combined total of 44.3%. Meanwhile the Greens set a new record with 24.2% of the vote, while their natural allies, the Social Democrats got about 23.1% of the vote.

It is likely the Greens will form a coalition government with the Social Democrats (marking the first time the Greens will form a state government in Germany -- even though it is a coalition government and power will be shared with the Social Dems).

The real importance of this election is the Christian Democrats losing control of a state they had controlled for over half a century -- a state they counted on as a power base. This could mean that the Christian Democrats might be in trouble in the next national election.

Why Not Food ?

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

Intervention In Libya Seems To Be Working

There has been a lot of discussion over the United Nations intervention in Libya in the last few days. Some want to paint it as a new war by the United States (even though most actual air flights have been flown by French and British troops, while the United States mainly used cruise missiles to knock out radar installations and command& control sites). Others counter that we should have struck sooner and unilaterally. Frankly, I think both sides are wrong.

It would have been a serious mistake for the United States to unilaterally intervene in Libya. It needed to be a United Nations effort with the bulk of the fighting shared among several nations (including at least some Arab nations), and that is exactly what has happened. Although the U.S. took the initial lead in the operation, control will now be handed off to NATO in a couple of days.

If intervention had occurred any sooner, the rebel uprising (which truly is a Libyan uprising) could have easily blamed on Western nations. If it had happened any later, it is doubtful that the rebels could have survived the vicious attack by the Libyan military (which was pounding them with air strikes, tanks, and artillery). It looks like the United Nations intervened at exactly the right time.

Once the French started destroying Libyan army tanks and artillery, and the rest of the coalition made sure the Libyan air force was out of the fight, the odds were evened and the rebels began to once again seize the advantage. They were able to save Benghazi and retake Ajdabiya. Now they have moved west and also retaken Ras Lanuf and Brega. This gives the rebels control over most of Libya's oil fields -- a situation that Kaddafi cannot allow to exist if he is to remain in power for long.

But the fighting is far from over. The rebels are pushing west while the Libyan army retreats (leaving their armor and artillery behind, smoking and destroyed). But the rebel hold on Misrata is still tenuous, and the rebels must take Sirte (Kaddafi's home town) before they can help out with Misrata. And it is expected the fighting in Sirte could be very bloody.

Even if Sirte is taken and Misrata saved, the fighting would not be over. The endgame is surely to be played out in Tripoli -- Libya's capital and largest city. And it's anybody's guess as to what will happen there. The population of that city could rise up and throw Kaddafi out, or they could settle in for a long and protracted and very bloody battle. Only time will tell.

But for now, the intervention of the United Nations is working. The rebels have the initiave once again. It looks like Kaddafi's days may be numbered. But the U.N. is doing all it can or should do. Now it's up to the rebels. And we'll just have to wait and see if they can finish what they started.

Mind-Numbing Deficit

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

Peace Loving Americans ?

Americans love to picture themselves as the good guys -- the ones protecting the whole world for freedom and justice. They'll tell you in a heartbeat that the United States is a peace-loving country. It's all those other countries that force us to fight and kill people -- thousands of people (whether they've done anything to us or not -- it's called collateral damage). But the truth is that this has always been a violent country and still is. And it likely always will be, since we don't seem to learn from our past experiences.

The excellent blogger, Badtux the Snarky Penguin, says it very well. And this quote from him was just too good (and too true) not to pass it on:


"Americans per capita kill more of each other than any other nation on the planet. That is truth, easily verifiable by looking at murder statistics. Americans in the history of the planet have killed more of other peoples than any other people, indeed, glorifies it with several movies every year celebrating Americans killing unseemly uncivilized brown people. Every inch of America used to belong to other people and was seized at gunpoint or fraud from the previous owners.
In short, Americans are the most violent people on the planet -- and proud of it."

No Fly Zone

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

The Wish

One of the funniest (and most perceptive) bloggers in the Lone Star State is the inimitable Juanita Jean (owner of the world's most dangerous beauty salon, inc.). She is always worth reading, but every now and then she comes up with a gem that's just too good not to pass on. This little joke is one of those:


I met a fairy today, who said she would grant me one wish.
“I want to live forever,” I said.
“Sorry,” said the fairy, “I’m not allowed to grant wishes like that.”
“Fine,” I said, “then I want to die after the Texas Legislature gets their heads out of their butts.”
“Oh, you crafty witch,” said the fairy.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Valid Question

I think leftwingconspiracy.com asks a valid question here. After all, don't actions speak much louder than denials?

Palin Dropping In The Polls

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about how Sarah Palin had a legitimate shot of actually becoming the Republican presidential nominee for the 2012 general election. It depended on her being popular enough with Republican voters to finish either second or third in enough states to arrive at the convention, which will probably be dominated by teabaggers, as one of the leaders in the delegate count. At the time her popularity seemed to be holding at only a couple of points behind the leaders (Huckabee and Romney).

Frankly I considered that to be a good thing. I think Palin would pose the weakest candidate the Republicans could offer in 2012 (unless the crazy-woman from Minnesota, Michele Bachmann, could somehow get the nomination). Sadly, it's starting to look like even that outside chance is fading from possibility. If recent polls are correct, Republicans may be coming to their senses and turning their backs on Palin.

Recent polls by NBC News and the Pew Research Center showed that Palin's support had dropped several points and now rested in the low double digits (Pew had her at 13%). Now two new polls show that the drop seems to be real. The Gallup Poll has Palin's popularity currently at 12%. This is a 4% drop from the Gallup Poll of just one month ago.

The CNN/Opinion Research Poll showed an even bigger drop. They had been showing her support at about 19%, but their most recent poll shows that number has now shrunk to 12% -- a 7% drop. If only one or two polls said something, the possibility would exist that somehow that poll was wrong. But when four respected polls show the same thing, then it is likely to be real. It looks like Sarah Palin's support among Republicans is dropping.

There was a time when she was the darling of the teabagger crowd. But while she has continued to make a fool of herself publicly, other Republicans have been moving to the right-wing fringe to appeal to the teabaggers (who seem to be taking over the Republican Party). Now the teabaggers no longer have to depend on Palin to carry their water for them. They have a whole range of candidates who could appeal to them -- Gingrich, Pawlenty, Santorum, Bachmann, Ron/Rand Paul, Huckabee, Cain. This seems to have taken a bit of the luster off the Palin candidacy.

Unless Palin can improve those numbers before the campaign really starts, it no longer looks like she could arrive at the convention with one of the top two or three delegate counts. This is really too bad. Her candidacy would have been relished by Democrats.

Patriot Hormones (Again)

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

Another Reason To End The Death Penalty

I have believed for many years that the death penalty just doesn't make sense. There are many reasons for this -- it's cruel & unusual punishment, it lowers the state to the criminal's level, killing is wrong for any reason (except self-defense), it doesn't deter future violent crimes, and far too many innocent people are sent to prison (and possibly death row).

But none of these reasons have seemed to appeal to a majority of people -- especially in states like Texas where the right-wing Republicans rule the government. These right-wingers want their pound of flesh. To them, revenge is the same as justice.

But there now may be a reason to do away with the death penalty that will appeal to right-wingers -- saving money (and therefore preventing tax increases). It seems that greed is just as powerful as revenge for some right-wingers. Take for example, Judge Donald McCartin of California (who has earned the nickname of "the hanging judge" because of the large number of death penalties he has issued). McCartin is a self-professed right-wing Republican, but he wrote an editorial a couple of days ago for the Los Angeles Times calling for ending the death penalty. Here is some of what he said:


I watch today as Gov. Brown wrestles with the massive debt that is suffocating our state and hear him say he doesn’t want to “play games.” But I cringe when I learn that not playing games amounts to cuts to kindergarten, cuts to universities, cuts to people with special needs — and I hear no mention of the simple cut that would save hundreds of millions of dollars, countless man-hours, unimaginable court time and years of emotional torture for victim’s family members waiting for that magical sense of “closure” they’ve been falsely promised with death sentences that will never be carried out. . .It’s time to stop playing the killing game. Let’s use the hundreds of millions of dollars we’ll save to protect some of those essential services now threatened with death.


I'll take whatever reason a person wants to give, even saving money, as a reason to end the death penalty. I personally think some other reasons (like possibly executing an innocent person) are more important, but if saving money works then that's Ok with me.

Here in Texas we have as big a budget problem as California does (and we execute a lot more people). This state is looking at a huge budget shortfall (about $27 billion) for the next biennium. And the Republicans in charge of state government have promised to balance the budget for the next biennium without raising taxes or using the "rainy day fund" ( a few billion dollars the government has been saving for an emergency).

It would make sense that Texas politicians would also consider doing away with the death penalty. Texas would probably save more money than any other state by doing this. But I doubt it will even be considered. Our Republican-dominated state government takes pride in killing more people than any other state in the union (nobody else even comes close). They would rather destroy education, deny children medical care, kick the elderly of out nursing homes, cut money for the homeless (even veterans), deny treatment for the mentally ill, and cut nearly everything that helps ordinary Texans. But they don't mind wasting money (that we don't have) to kill people in the name of the state.

Now I don't feel sorry for people that commit heinous crimes. They need to be separated from society -- sometimes for the rest of their miserable lives. But life in prison with no possibility of parole is a better option than killing them (and it's reversible if we find later that they were innocent).

Texas needs to stop killing people and calling it justice. If the immorality and irreversibility of it is not a good enough reason, then how about because it'll save the state many hundreds of millions of dollars? Is killing people more important in Texas to right-wingers that budget-cutting?

General Electric's Latest Invention

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

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wise Words

From the great website called Republican Dirty Tricks.

Exposing 10 Republican Economic Lies

Since the heyday of the Reagan administration the Republican Party has been making the rules for the American economy -- and it has been a disaster. By deregulating the financial industry, giving corporations huge subsidies, and giving the rich (and corporations) massive tax cuts, they have created a huge wealth and income imbalance in the country. Currently about 84% of the country's wealth belongs to the top 20%, and about half of that is controlled by the top 1-2%. The bottom 80% are left with crumbs -- about 16% of the country's wealth.

Of course this vastly unequal distribution of wealth and income set the country up for an economic disaster, and Wall Street greed served as the trigger to ignite that disaster. The result is that millions of jobs were lost and the country was plunged into a serious and lasting recession. Now the Republicans want to return to power, but they still are pushing the same "trickle-down" policies that caused the recession. That means they can't tell the truth -- or no one would ever vote for them again.

So they tell lies, and repeat those lies over and over again in the hopes that they can once again pull the wool over the eyes of the American public. It doesn't matter that these lies, if enacted, would be even more disastrous for most Americans. They don't care as long as they and their rich buddies can keep fattening their bank accounts at the expense of most Americans. But it's time to examine some of these lies and expose them:

LIE -- The government won't work right (and to the benefit of all citizens) until the national debt is eliminated and a balanced budget is imposed.

TRUTH -- I'm not sure how they would know this because the United States government has never been out of debt in the entire history of this country. When the very first Congress adjourned they had left the country with a national debt of $75 million. The debt was close to being eliminated in 1835 (when the country owed just $34,000), but a recession the next year (which caused a 33% decline in business and lasted for two years) took care of that. Since then the debt has climbed. Although the debt has set a new "record high" since the 1950's in absolute terms, a better measure is to compare the debt to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This peaked in World War II at about 120% of GDP, but it has not been close to that figure since then.

LIE -- The current national debt is largely a result of the policies of President Obama.

TRUTH -- Most of the national debt can be traced directly to Republican policies and actions. A big hunk of the debt is due to the massive tax cuts for the rich -- a little more than $400 billion each year. The two unnecessary Bush wars also added (and continue to add) to the debt at a rate of about $2 billion each week. Most economists believe that without these two things the national debt would be about two-thirds lower than it currently is. The millions of jobs lost in the Republican recession also took away millions of taxpayers which could have been paying into the government tax revenues.

LIE -- The government is broke.

TRUTH -- The definition of being "broke" is the inability to pay your bills. The United States has no problem paying its bills, even though they must sell bonds to do it. And they have no trouble selling those bonds (which still have the highest rating of AAA). Also, in a worst case scenario, the government always has the ability to print money. If the government had to it could pay the debt off in a very short period of time by printing more money. But that would be inflationary and as long as the bonds will sell there is no need (and there is no reason to believe they won't sell far into the future).

LIE -- Our government debt is held mostly by China and other foreign countries.

TRUTH -- Some United States debt is held by foreign investors, but not that much -- and certainly nowhere near a majority of it. China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. bonds, only has about 9.5% of the U.S. debt. The biggest group of U.S. debt-holders are individual Americans, who have about 42.1% (in the form of U.S. Treasury bills). Another third of the U.S. debt is held is held by the government itself (about 18% of Treasury bills are held by the Social Security Administration -- gathering interest for that agency).

LIE -- Republicans are better fiscal managers of American government than the "tax and spend" Democrats.

TRUTH -- The Democrats have actually been more conservative in government spending. Both Carter and Clinton had smaller deficits than Reagan, Bush I, or Bush II. Consider the following:
* Reagan inherited a $930 million debt and increased it to $2.7 billion -- a compounded annual increase of 13.71% (and he never balanced a budget).
* Bush I increased the debt from $2.7 trillion to $4 trillion -- a 10.32% compounded annual increase (and he never balanced a budget).
* Clinton increased the debt from $4 trillion to $5.6 trillion -- a compounded annual increase of 4.2% (and he balanced his last three budgets).
* Bush II increased the debt from $5.6 trillion to $10 trillion -- a compounded annual increase of 9.8% (and he never balanced a budget).
* Obama has had a compounded annual increase of slightly less than Bush II (with much of it forced on him by the Republican tax cuts for the rich and Bush's two wars).

LIE -- Social Security is going broke because of the influx of the "baby boomers" and soon won't be able to meet its obligations, and future generations will not have any Social Security at all.

TRUTH -- Social Security is not in any immediate danger. The program has the funds to pay full benefits to all its recipients through 2037, and even after that date it could pay 75-80% far into the future -- and that is if nothing is done. One small tweak, raising the cap on income on which the FICA tax is paid, would make the program able to pay full benefits to all recipients for many, many more decades. There is NO REASON to cut benefits or raise the retirement age.

LIE -- The U.S. tax rate is too high, and is one of the largest tax rates in the developed world.

TRUTH -- Out of the 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development the United States ranks 26th in the total tax burden (the share of the economy given to government). In fact, the U.S. taxes are 9% lower than the average taxes of that group of wealthy nations.  And the Republicans have created so many subsidies and tax loopholes for corporations that many of them pay little or no taxes. Exxon, Bank of America, General Electric, and News Corp. (the parent company of Fox News) are just a few of the corporations that make billions in profit but pay no American taxes.

LIE -- Cutting taxes results in more tax revenue.

TRUTH -- This has been disproven by many studies in the past. The Reagan tax cuts did nothing but balloon the deficit and the debt. And even Bush II's economic advisor's now admit that his tax cuts did the same. But this is not rocket science anyway. Elementary school math will show that cutting taxes will just result in less money coming to the government in tax revenue.

LIE -- Cutting taxes will create jobs.

TRUTH -- This is the basis of the Republican "trickle-down" theory -- that if taxes are cut for the rich and the corporations they will create new jobs to share that new wealth. This has never worked and never will, because it violates one of the fundamental rules of capitalism. That rule is that costs must be minimized so profits can be maximized. This includes the cost of labor. No business person in his/her right mind would hire more employees than are necessary to make or deliver their product or service, no matter what the tax rate is. To do so would be wasteful and cut into profits. Tax cuts have no effect on job creation.

LIE -- The budget can be balanced by cutting programs that help ordinary Americans (like Head Start, Planned Parenthood, Medicaid, Food Stamps, the EPA, unemployment insurance, etc.).

TRUTH -- All of these programs could be abolished and the budget would still not be balanced. But the budget could be balanced by stopping both unnecessary wars, cutting the Defense Department budget, eliminating corporate subsidies, and making the rich and the corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

The Republicans have to tell these lies because, as I said, no one would ever vote for them if they told the truth. But we as citizens do not have to believe those lies. Their misguided and wrong-headed policies have caused the worst economic disaster this country has experienced since the Great Depression (which was also caused by the same Republican policies).

It is time to stand up and tell them no more, and a good time to do that will be at the ballot box in 2012. We must boot them from power, and then put pressure of the far too-timid Democrats to do the right thing. Then we must hope our grandchildren don't fall for the same lies in another 70-80 years.

It's A Joke

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

Canadian Government Falls

Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister (pictured), has lost a vote of confidence in the Canadian parliament. The House of Commons voted 156-145 against the current Conservative minority government. Since the Conservatives hold 145 seats in the 308 member House, that means every single member of every other party voted against the prime minister.

This means that Harper will have to call for a new national election. It will be the third national election in the last seven years for the country, and will probably take place in early May of this year (the Canadians don't waste time with really long elections like we do here).

Harper has said he believes the country will again vote for a Conservative government, and just hopes they can eke out a majority this time (he's had two minority governments). He said, "Our priority will remain to ensure stability and security for Canadians, in what remain extremely challenging global circumstances."

The Liberal Party leader, Michael Ignatieff, is hoping the new election will finally bring an end to the Conservative government. He said, "We want to form an alternative to the Harper government that respects democracy, that respects our institutions, that respects Canadian citizens."

The no-confidence vote came after Harper was demanded after a parliamentary committee had found Harper to be in contempt of parliament by failing to disclose the full costs of government spending on anti-crime programs, corporate tax cuts, and the purchase of new stealth fighter jets.

Will the Conservatives retain power after the new election, or will the Liberals be brought back to power? I think it could go either way. It is likely though that whichever of the two parties wins the most seats will probably not have a majority. That means they will have to form a government with either (or both) of the minor parties -- the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois.

NOTE -- Even if the Conservatives retain power, the single-payer Canadian health system is in no danger. Canadian conservatives are not as crazy as right-wingers in this country. They know a good thing when they see it, and have no desire at all to trade their excellent health care system for our flawed and broken system.

Containment Vessel

Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Denver Post.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Free Will ?

From the hilarious blog of Atheist Cartoons.

Death Claims Another American Hero

Another one of my heroes has died. Attorney Leonard Weinglass, 77, died on Wednesday in New York City. He was a victim of pancreatic cancer.

A lot of attorneys, probably most, get into that profession for money and prestige. Weinglass (pictured) was not one of those. As an ardent leftist and a true believer in justice and free speech, Weinglass spent his life defending those that the government was trying to punish and silence because of their political views.

Michael Krinsky, a partner at the law firm where Weinglass worked, said, "I always considered Lenny the modern-day Clarence Darrow. He was a lawyer who devoted himself to defending people, usually for political reasons. I think one of the reasons he was so effective with juries is they saw his decency and sincerity."

Among his more famous clients were Black Panthers (including Mumia Abu-Jamal), the Chicago 7 (Rennie Davis, Tom Hayden, Lee Weiner, Abbie Hoffman, David Dellinger, Jerry Rubin, John Froines), Angela Davis, Kathy Boudin of Weather Underground, Anthony Russo and Daniel Ellsberg (charged with leaking the Pentagon Papers), and more recently the Cuban Five (charged with spying for Cuba).

Ellsberg said of Weinglass, "He wasn't drawn to making money. He was drawn to defending justice. He felt in many cases he was representing  one person standing against the state. He was on the side of the underdog. He was also very shrewd in his judgement of juries."

Hayden said, "Len was the best trial attorney I ever met. . .He exemplified the best qualities of a Jewish upbringing; he questioned everything. He was a funny man, a man of wisdom and passion who would throw himself into deeply unpopular causes because he believed in human rights."

I doubt that most people in America even know who Leonard Weinglass is or have ever heard of him. He cared much more about his clients that trying to make himself famous. But like Clarence Darrow, he was never afraid to stand alone in challenging the powers that be -- regardless of the consequences. He spent his life trying to make the world a better place for everyone.

America could use a whole lot more people with the brilliance, eloquence, and courage of Leonard Weinglass.

Crippled

Political Cartoon is by Randy Bish in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Poll Shows Obama In Good Shape For 2012

There are those who think the 2010 election shows that President Obama's chances of being re-elected in 2012 are in jeopardy. But if history is to be believed, the president is actually in very good shape for the election. A new Pew Research Center poll (of 1,525 adults from March 8th through March 14) shows that the president is positioned as well as George Bush was in 2003, and much better than Bill Clinton was in 1995.

The president's chances are also helped by a better than 50% job approval rating and an even higher favorability rating, a slightly favorable rating for the Democratic Party, a falling favorability for the Republican Party, and a wife who remains very popular in spite of right-wing efforts to defame her. Here are the numbers from the poll:

BILL CLINTON (1995)
re-elect Clinton...............29%
elect a Republican...............33%
elect Independent...............20%
don't know...............18%

GEORGE BUSH (2003)
re-elect Bush...............48%
elect a Democrat...............35%
don't know...............18%

BARACK OBAMA (2011)
re-elect Obama...............47%
elect a Republican...............37%
don't know...............16%

OBAMA JOB PERFORMANCE
approve...............51%
disapprove...............39%

BARACK OBAMA FAVORABILITY
favorable...............58%
unfavorable...............39%

DEMOCRATIC PARTY FAVORABILITY
favorable...............48%
unfavorable...............45%

REPUBLICAN PARTY FAVORABILITY
favorable...............42%
unfavorable...............51%

MICHELLE OBAMA FAVORABILITY
favorable...............69%
unfavorable...............21%

When it is broken down demographically, Obama leads in all age groups, leads among both men and women, and leads among most income groups. The Republican candidate is favored by only White people and rich people. Here are the demographic numbers (where O=Obama,  R=Republican and DK=don't know):

MEN...............O-42%, R-39%, DK-18%
WOMEN...............O-51%, R-35%, DK-14%

WHITE...............O-36%, R-47%, DK-17%
BLACK...............O-92%, R-1%, DK-8%
HISPANIC...............O-66%, R-16%, DK-18%

18-29...............O-53%, R-34%, DK-13%
30-49...............O-45%, R-39%, DK-17%
50-64...............O-47%, R-35%, DK-18%
over 65...............O-45%, R-39%, DK-18%

under $30,000...............O-54%, R-29%, DK-17%
$30k-$74,999...............O-46%, R-39%, DK-15%
over $75,000................O-41%, R-46%, DK-14%

INDEPENDENTS...............O-40%, R-34%, 26%
DEMOCRATS...............O-84%, R-7%, DK-10%
REPUBLICANS...............O-6%, R-84%, DK-10%

Meanwhile the Republicans still don't show any candidate approaching a favorite status. The leaders are Mitt Romney (21%), Mike Huckabee (20%), Sarah Palin (13%), Newt Gingrich (11%), and Ron Paul (8%). No other candidate garnered more than 3%. Now with Michele Bachmann and Rand Paul making it known they are considering a run for the nomination, the picture should get even muddier. 

Mission Creep

Political Cartoon is by Steve Kelley in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Sheriff Arpaio - Still A Buffoon !

Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio is at it again -- proving that he is far more interested in publicity and posing than in any kind of justice. He just spent tens of thousands of dollars to serve a search warrant on a suspected criminal. And since this suspected criminal had a record, Arpaio pulled out all the stops. He brought a SWAT team in several armored vehicles. One of those vehicles was a tank (with actor Steven Seagal sitting on top of it dressed in army fatigues).

The vehicles rolled onto the suspected criminal's property and the tank ran through a wall of a building on the property -- crushing the building and everything inside it. What was inside it? Was it terrorist weapons of mass destruction? Not quite. It was 115 chickens, and the building was their home. But those chickens will never threaten the peace and safety of Arizona again, because they're now dead!

It turns out that the man they were after, Jesus Llovera, was suspected of engaging in cockfighting. And that record he had was for a single misdemeanor count of attending a cockfight. In addition, he did not have a history of owning any weapons or engaging in any violent behavior (and in fact, no weapons were found -- just chickens).

This was a ridiculous raid that did not need all the manpower and armored vehicles the Sheriff used. But then he didn't use them because they were needed. He used them because they looked good for the cameras. He was helping Seagal out by letting him go along on a raid, which would be filmed and featured on Seagal's "reality" series. I wonder how they're going to edit this to keep Seagal and Arpaio from looking like the fools that they obviously are.

If the sheriff needed armored vehicles and a tank to apprehend a person suspected of engaging in cockfighting, I have to wonder what he would need to apprehend a real violent criminal. But then maybe that's why he goes after cockfighters and undocumented immigrants -- because real criminals are just too dangerous.

When is Arizona going to realize just how silly Arpaio makes the state look and get rid of the buffoon?

The Arab Position

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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Union Thug

This is what corporate-owned Republicans like Sarah Palin and Scott Walker think a "union thug" looks like. That may well be the epitome of stupid rhetoric. From the great website called Pavlovian Obeisance.