A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Career Counseling

By David Hayward at nakedpastor.

Is Santorum The New "Teabagger Hope" ?

It's only three more days until the primary season is kicked off with the Iowa caucuses, and the polls are now coming fast and furious trying to predict what will happen in those caucuses. Those polls are, even in the best of times, only an educated guess as to what the voters will do when it comes time to vote. But this GOP race is so fluid (with over 40% of voters saying they could still change their minds), that we should probably take the word "educated" out of the equation and just call them a "guess".

There are a couple of new polls out, and both of them show Mitt Romney back in the lead in Iowa. This has some pundits predicting a Romney win in Iowa (and ready to anoint him as the eventual nominee). But note that Romney is not in the lead because he has increased his percentage of the vote. He is still only scoring in the low twenties in support, about the same as he's been doing for months now. This means he is still not getting any significant support from the teabagger/evangelicals, who make up the bulk of the Republican Party base.

If Romney wins in Iowa, and he could do that, it will not be because he is the popular choice of most Republicans. It will be because the teabagger/evangelical vote is split among several of the other candidates. I hear many of the pundits saying this is just what Romney wants, and gives him the advantage -- but for me, the math just doesn't work out. Let's assume that Romney is able to win a bunch of states with about 30% of the vote (which is about the best he could do without teabagger/evangelical support). That means 70% of the delegates are going to other candidates.

Now some of those candidates will fall along the way and drop out of the race (I doubt that Bachmann gets much farther than the first two or three states). Will Romney get any of their delegates? Probably not. The teabagger delegates will move to another of the ultra right-wing candidates -- because the teabaggers simply don't trust Romney. He is a newcomer to their point-of-view, and they expect he will go back to his "liberal" views once he gets the nomination.

Calendar

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

Good News For Progressives

This graphic is from a poll done by the Pew Research Center earlier this month, and I have to say it sort of surprises me a bit. The poll was to find whether the public had a positive or negative perception of different political terms.

It comes as no surprise that the term "socialism" is still viewed negatively by most Americans -- the word has been demonized for decades in this country even as we institute more and more socialist programs (such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, food stamps, Pell grants, public education, etc.). Americans don't seem to mind socialist programs -- as long as we don't call them socialist.

It's also no surprise that the term "conservative" is viewed positively by most Americans. Since the Reagan administration, it has been very popular for most Americans to describe themselves as conservatives (even though they may support many liberal and even socialist policies).

The real surprises come with the terms "liberal" and "progressive". The Republicans have done their best to demonize the term liberal in the last few years (and continue to do so). But only 39% of the population have bought into that demonization, while half of the population (50%) views the term positively. I imagine this comes as a surprise to many liberals, since many of them were so convinced the word had been demonized that most, including myself, are now calling themselves progressives.

But the biggest surprise of all (and a very pleasant surprise) is that the term "progressive" (which is defined in the Oxford American Dictionary as "favoring or implementing rapid progress or social reform") is viewed positively by 67% of all Americans -- that's five percentage points better than "conservative". And this positive view of "progressive" crosses all political lines, including 55% of Republicans, 68% of Independents, and 76% of Democrats.

It's starting to look like most Americans are ready for progress and social change. Maybe that shouldn't surprise us considering the continuing recession, joblessness, wealth & income inequality, and growing corporate power.

Auld Lang Syne (Paul-Style)

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

Those Who Left Us In 2011

For the last few years, I have posted about the people (at least those well-known) who died during the year. It is once again time for that unpleasant task. Here, without further comment, is the list of well-know people who left us in 2011 (age in parentheses):

JANUARY
2 -- Major Richard Winters (92), whose leadership in World War II was made into the TV miniseries "Band of Brothers".
9 -- Peter Yates (81), British filmmaker (made the movie "Bullitt").
10 -- Margaret Whiting (86), singer (very popular in the 40s and 50s).
11 -- David Nelson (74), introduced to Americans on his parents' TV show ("Ozzie and Harriet").
15 -- Susannah York (72), British actress.
17 -- Don Kirshner (76), music promoter.
18 -- Sargent Shriver (95), first Peace Corp director (and in-law to President Kennedy).
23 -- Jack LaLanne (96), fitness guru.

FEBRUARY
3 -- Maria Schneider (58), French actress (best known for "Last Tango in Paris").
11 -- Christian J. Lambertson (93), scientist who invented the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (known as SCUBA).
14 -- George Shearing (91), jazz pianist who wrote "Lullaby of Birdland".
25 -- Suze Rotolo (67), artist (also girlfriend and muse of Bob Dylan in the 60s).
27 -- Duke Snider (84), baseball player.
28 -- Jane Russell (89), Hollywood actress.

MARCH
5 -- Alberto Granado (88), accompanied "Che" Guevara on a trip through South America, later immortalized as "The Motorcycle Diaries".
12 -- Owsley Stanley (76), counterculture hero and prolific producer of LSD.
12 -- Joe Morello (82), jazz drummer (played with Dave Brubeck).
17 -- Ferlin Husky (85), country music singer.
20 -- Farley Granger (85), actor.
21 -- Pinetop Perkins (97), Grammy-winning bluesman.
23 -- Elizabeth Taylor (79), actress.
25 -- Warren Christopher (85), Secretary of State in Clinton administration.
26 -- Geraldine Ferraro (75), first woman to run for vice-president on a major party ticket.
26 -- Harry Wesley Coover Jr. (94), inventor of Super Glue.

A Travesty

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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Radical Is Not A Bad Thing


Four Days To Go And Iowa Is Still A Very Fluid Situation

There are only four more days until the state of Iowa holds its political caucuses. There is no doubt that the Democrats will easily give the president all of the state's delegates. But on the Republican side, there is nothing but doubt as to the outcome of next Tuesday's caucuses. The situation seems to change daily, and about 43% of Republican voters say they still might change their minds about who to support (and it's looking like some won't finally make up their mind until they actually arrive at the caucus).

I don't think anyone really knows what's going to happen next Tuesday. The situation is as fluid and unpredictable as in any year I can remember. Romney seems to think he's gaining the upper hand, and is now planning to stay in Iowa for a victory party Tuesday night (before leaving for New Hampshire after a press conference on Wednesday morning). If he does win, it will be because several other candidates are splitting the teabagger/evangelical vote (a group that Romney still has been unable to effectively appeal to).

I still give Ron Paul as good a chance of winning as anyone, if for no other reason than he has the best organizational structure of any of the candidates (and he's even importing hundreds of young people to encourage his people to get to the caucuses). His supporters are also the most sure about who they are supporting.

But there really could be at least six candidates that come out of Iowa with some delegates. Both Perry and Bachmann seem to be improving their support somewhat (at the expense of Gingrich, who has fallen out of the lead), and even the mostly cellar-dwelling Santorum now seems to be somewhat surging (and is in double-digits for the first time). About the only candidate who stands no chance at all in Iowa is Jon Huntsman (who has done almost no campaigning there and is pinning his hopes on a good showing in New Hampshire).

There are three new polls out on the GOP race in Iowa. Here they are:

INSIDER ADVANTAGE POLL
(December 28)
Ron Paul...............17.3%
Mitt Romney...............17.2%
Newt Gingrich...............16.7%
Rick Santorum...............13.4%
Michele Bachmann...............11.8%
Rick Perry...............10.5%
Jon Huntsman...............2.8%
Someone else...............3.0%
No Opinion...............7.3%

AMERICAN RESEARCH GROUP POLL
(December 26-28)
Mitt Romney...............22%
Newt Gingrich...............17%
Ron Paul...............16%
Rick Santorum...............11%
Rick Perry...............9%
Michele Bachmann...............8%
Jon Huntsman...............6%
Buddy Roemer...............1%
Other...............1%
Undecided...............9%

CNN/TIME/ORC POLL
(December 21-27)
Mitt Romney...............25%
Ron Paul...............22%
Rick Santorum...............16%
Newt Gingrich...............14%
Rick Perry...............11%
Michele Bachmann...............9%
Jon Huntsman...............1%
No opinion...............2%

CNN/TIME/ORC POLL also surveyed voters in New Hampshire. Their survey showed Mitt Romney with a substantial lead in that state, but even there at least 45% of Republican voters say they still might change their mind before primary day. Here is how their New Hampshire poll came out:

Mitt Romney...............44%
Ron Paul...............17%
Newt Gingrich...............16%
Jon Huntsman...............9%
Rick Santorum...............4%
Michele Bachmann...............3%
Rick Perry...............2%
None...............1%
No opinion...............4%

While winning the New Hampshire primary would be a big moral victory for Romney, it's not going to get him many delegates. The state will only be able to send 12 delegates to the national convention in 2012 (so even a big victory there would only get Romney 5 or 6 delegates).

Overreaching

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

More Hypocrisy From The U.S. Government

Politicians from both American political parties like to brag about the United States being the bulwark of freedom and human rights, and a nation that exports those ideas to the rest of the world. We are even told that the U.S. government actively works to oppose human rights abuses and institute democratic reforms around the world. I wish that was true, but if it ever was, it no longer is (and hasn't been for a long time).

The truth, whether we want to admit it or not, is that there is something much more important to our government and the politicians that run it than freedom, democracy, or human rights. That something is corporate profits. There are countless instances of our government supporting brutal dictatorships (or monarchies) when there was money to be made by the giant corporations. And there are an equally large number of instances where our government helped to overthrow democratically-elected governments because they were viewed as a threat to corporate profits.

It is common knowledge, although many Americans prefer not to believe it, that the United States government was an active participant in the overthrow of democratic-elected governments in Iran and Chile. The reason was that these governments were socialist-inclined, and were likely to seize their own natural resources (oil in Iran and copper in Chile) and use them for the betterment of their own people rather than the enrichment of American corporations. And these two examples are far from the only times the U.S. government has interfered in the affairs of foreign countries for corporate benefit.

Nonsense

Political Cartoon is by Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Krugman Is Right Again

Enough said. Found at the blog of Yellowdog Granny.

GOP Is Striking Out With Hispanics

According to the 2010 census, the population breakdown of the United States by race or ethnicity is as follows:

Whites (non-Hispanic)...............63.7
Hispanics...............16.3%
African-Americans...............12.2%
Asians...............4.7%
Mixed race...............1.9%

This population breakdown makes it unlikely that a political party could expect to win the White House with a fairly significant portion of the non-white vote. To win with only white votes would require a party to get an abnormally high percentage of that white vote -- and that is unlikely to be possible for either party (although with their anti-immigrant and anti-minority policies, that seems to be what the Republicans are trying to do).

It is probably impossible for the Republicans to get more than 7-8% of the African-American vote (in fact, I think that number might be too high). A lot of whites may not be able to see the anti-minority policies and simmering racism inherent in the Republican Party, but it is clear to almost all African-Americans. It would be futile for the Republicans to go fishing for votes in this demographic group.

The only real possibility to get significant votes outside of the white demographic would be among Hispanics. The last time the Republicans elected a president was in 2004. That year George Bush got 40% of the Hispanic vote, and squeaked by in a close election. In 2008, John McCain got only 31% of the Hispanic vote and was soundly defeated. The question for the 2012 election is can the Republicans top the 31% Hispanic vote of John McCain, and get close to the 40% Hispanic vote of George Bush?

Welcoming The New

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

Must Perry Keep Talking And Proving His Idiocy ?

There's an old saying that goes something like this -- it is better to keep silent and have the world think you're an idiot than to speak and remove any doubt. If there was ever a politician who proved the point of that saying, it has to be Rick Perry of Texas. Perry may think he's a viable candidate for the Republican presidential nominee, but the more he talks the more he just shows he is totally unqualified and a complete embarrassment to the people of his home state.

His latest gaffe regards the importation of oil into the United States. Perry thinks that is a bad thing, and says the importation of oil from foreign countries is "not good policy, it's not good politics and frankly it's un-American." But he has a solution to the problem of importing oil from other countries. He told a crowd of teabaggers in Iowa, "Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don't have to buy from a foreign source."

And he got a huge ovation from that crowd for making that statement. Apparently it has never occurred to Perry or that crowd of teabaggers that Canada is not a state or a territory of the United States. They are a FOREIGN COUNTRY. And furthermore, I think they like not being a part of the United States -- probably like it a whole lot! Maybe before he gives another speech, someone should tell him that Canada (and other English-speaking countries like Australia and the United Kingdom) are actually foreign countries.

Once again I am left to wonder if Perry's supposed candidacy is just a cover for an effort to rehabilitate the image of George W. Bush. Because compared to Rick Perry, George W. Bush looks almost intelligent (and that's a hard thing to accomplish).

Photo ID

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

Law Enforcement Deaths Rise In 2011

Images like the one above happened far too often in the United States in 2011. According to figures released yesterday by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the number of police officers killed while performing their duty in 2011 rose by 13%. A total of 173 officers were killed on duty -- 68 died in shootings, 64 died in traffic accidents, and the rest from "a variety of things including stabbings, falls and job-related illnesses".

2011 marked the first time in 14 years that the number of shooting deaths was larger than the number of deaths from traffic-related incidents. The 68 officers who died in shootings represents a 15% rise over shooting deaths in 2010. Shooting deaths had been declining in recent decades, and reached a low in 2008 with 40 deaths. However, since then the numbers have been rising and the 2011 figure represents a 70% increase over the 2008 figures.

We all know these brave men and women put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us every time they go on duty. Even one on-duty death of a police officer is too many, but 173 is far too many. And the fact that this number is an increase rather than a decrease is plainly unacceptable.

I have spoken against the misuse of authority by a few police, and the use of police by authorities to deny free speech rights of Americans (and I will again when necessary). But don't misunderstand that. I support the police officers in this country, and I know that the vast majority are good decent people trying to do a very difficult job to the best of their ability -- and they do it for love of their community and a desire to serve (and it certainly is not for money since they are definitely underpaid).

I really hope 2012 is a better year. And if there must be deaths of on-duty police officers at all, I hope it is a far smaller number than it was in 2011. And the next time you see an officer in your town, give him or her a smile -- and a thank you, if the situation is appropriate for it. They deserve our support and good will.

Candidacy Or Book Tour ?

Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Washington Examiner.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stupid Objections To OWS Movement

From the hilarious pages of Ampersand.

It's Still Too early To Declare Romney The GOP Winner

In the last week or so, I've read several articles and blog posts that are now declaring Mitt Romney to be the eventual winner of the Republican presidential nomination process. They are deciding this must be true because of some recent events -- Gingrich's fall in the polls, Paul's wacky foreign policy and racial views, and the unviability of any of the other candidates (Perry, Bachmann, Santorum, Huntsman, and Roemer).

I'm not saying Romney won't be the winner after the primary season is over -- he might be. But I'm not ready to anoint him as the GOP nominee just yet. He is still polling in the low twenties nationwide and has yet to show he can get above that. In other words, he has yet to show he can convince enough of the party's teabagger base that he would make the best candidate. Until he can do that, he is only one of several candidates.

A lot of people, including myself, had thought the Gingrich slide in the polls would probably continue until he was out of contention in the race. If that had happened (and he was not replaced by another anti-Romney candidate), then Romney would be the odds-on favorite. But it now is starting to look like the Gingrich slide may be slowing, or even stopping (probably because the teabaggers still consider Romney to be a liberal flip-flopper and Gingrich is all they have right now).

The newest Gallup Poll numbers (a five-day rolling average done between December 20th and 26th) show Gingrich is still in the lead nationwide. It is only a 1 point lead, meaning Gingrich and Romney are now virtually tied, but it is a lead nonetheless. It also shows that the Gingrich "slide" now seems to have flattened out. Here are the current nationwide Gallup numbers:

Nibbling At Newt

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

Clinton & Obama Are Most Admired People

The Gallup Poll has released it's yearly survey of the most admired people (man and woman). And for the fourth year in a row, the winners are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Here's how the survey for both women and men came out:



Clinton's win is particularly impressive, since it is the 10th year in a row for her to be designated most admired woman. She also has the most number of wins of any woman since Gallup has been doing the yearly survey (starting in 1948). Hillary Clinton has been named the most admired woman a total of 16 times. The only other woman even close to that was Eleanor Roosevelt, who won the designation 13 times. Margaret Thatcher won the designation 6 times and Jackie Kennedy won it 5 times.

While I admire President Obama and am glad he won this designation for a fourth time, the win is not quite as impressive as Hillary's. That's because for the last 31 years the men's most admired designation has gone to the sitting (or just elected) president. Just being the president seems to give a person a big advantage. Dwight D. Eisenhower is the man who has won the most times. He was designated the most admired man a total of 12 times. Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan share second place, with both of them winning the designation 8 times.

Delivery

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

Young Evangelicals Abandoning Their Churches

For many years now the Republican Party has depended on the evangelical vote to stay in power. They count on working and middle class evangelicals voting their religious beliefs instead of in their own best economic interests. That's why the Republicans push such issues as gay marriage, prayer in schools, creationism, and abortion. As long as the GOP can get these people focusing on these issues instead of the party's favoritism for the rich, they can keep getting re-elected (especially in the Bible Belt).

But those days may be coming to an end. It seems that far too many young people (between the ages of 18 and 29) are abandoning their evangelical roots. They disagree with their church's teachings on many issues, and don't see them as relevant to their own lives anymore. Here's how Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Laura Sessions Stepp puts it in an article for CNN (and I urge you to read the whole thing):

Republican conservatives should be worried. Evangelical churches that frequently support conservative candidates are finally admitting something the rest of us have known for some time: Their young adult members are abandoning church in significant numbers and taking their voting power with them.


David Kinnaman, the 38-year-old president of the Barna Group, an evangelical research firm, is the latest to sound the alarm. In his new book, "You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith," he says that 18- to 29-year-olds have fallen down a "black hole" of church attendance. There is a 43% drop in Christian church attendance between the teen and early adult years, he says.


I'm not surprised. These young dropouts value the sense of community their churches provide but are tired of being told how they should live their lives. They don't appreciate being condemned for living with a partner, straight or gay, outside of marriage or opting for abortion to terminate an unplanned pregnancy. . . 


Consider the following facts about millennials in general:


• Seven in 10 millennials say sex between an unmarried man and woman is morally acceptable (PDF). (According to Kinnaman, young Christians are as sexually active as non-Christians.)


• Most women in their early 20s who give birth are unmarried.


• More than six in 10 millennials (including 49% of Republican millennials) support same-sex marriages.


• Six in 10 millennials say abortion should be legal (PDF), a higher proportion than found in the general population. A higher percentage say abortion services should be available in local communities.


Millennials also part ways with conservative orthodoxy on wealth distribution and caring for the environment. According to a report in The Christian Science Monitor, three out of four say that wealthy corporations and financiers have too much power and that taxes should be raised on the very wealthy, and two out of three say financial institutions should be regulated more closely. In addition, most say that creationists' view on evolution is outdated.


Of course, every generation rethinks its beliefs and values during young adulthood. Even the most liberal tend to moderate their views once they marry, have children and start paying a mortgage. Some of them return to church, if only for the structured support of a congregation and the moral instruction their sons and daughters can receive.


But here's the thing: This particular generation is marrying later than prior generations, if they marry at all. They're having children -- and assuming a mortgage -- later. The longer they stay away from church, the less likely they are to come back.


"What used to be two or three years of dropping out is a decade or more," author Kinnaman said. . .


In a very tight race, votes cast by this generation -- which has grown in number by 4 million since the last election -- might make the difference. Their votes will be significant for sure by the end of this decade because by then, millennials will make up a third of the U.S. adult population.

The Effect Of Christmas

Political Cartoon is by Bill Day at caglecartoons.com.

Spending Rises In Iowa Race

It's only one more week to go before the primary season begins in earnest with the Iowa caucuses, and the campaign pocketbooks are being opened wide. Here is the latest totals for political advertising spending in that state:

Perry campaign...............$4.4 million

Romney super-PAC...............$2.8 million
(Restore Our Future)

Paul campaign...............$2.3 million

Perry super-PAC...............$1.6 million
(Make Us Great Again)

Romney campaign...............$1.1 million

Gingrich campaign...............$475,000

Romney super-PAC...............$461,000
(Citizens for a Working America)

Santorum super-PAC...............$329,000
(Red White and Blue Fund)

Gingrich super-PAC...............$196,000
(Citizens United)

Bachmann campaign...............$166,000

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Biggest Tax Cutter - Obama Or Bush ?

The teabaggers will never believe this, because they prefer to believe in the lies of their Republican masters -- but it is true. However, the time for tax cutting is over. Now we need to get more money pumped into the economy -- in the hands of those who will spend it (ordinary Americans). The Bush tax cuts for the rich must be allowed to expire, and a surtax on millionaires would be a good idea too.

Too Pooped To Post

Like Santa, I'm just too tired after the holiday extravaganza to think about posting today. I'll be back tomorrow with some new posts (and they might even accidentally be interesting). See you then!

Tech Support

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

Monday, December 26, 2011

More Young people Have Insurance

The Republicans are still whining about health care reform and want to repeal it. They are ignoring the fact that more than 2.5 million people now have insurance than before the law was passed. Do they want to take that insurance away from them? That's what would happen if the law was repealed -- not to mention that millions more would be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. The law was far from perfect, but it was a definite improvement over what came before. And that improvement was due to President Obama and the Democratic Party, because the Republicans tried to kill these improvements every step of the way. I still hope more improvements can be made to our health care system, but I am thankful the Republicans didn't get their way.

Would A Trump Candidacy Really Hurt The Republicans ?

It was not too long ago that Donald Trump considered himself to be a mover and shaker within the Republican Party -- someone who could decide the nominee by giving his blessing. Trump has always had a larger than normal ego, and a lot of the "birther" teabaggers made that ego even larger by putting him at the top of the possible candidates list earlier this year. And that ego got inflated further when several candidates actually in the race made to pilgrimage to New York City to get his support.

All of that gave Trump the idea that he could have the defining debate, in which he would moderate and ask the "important" questions (which he said he could do better than any journalist). I think he thought his brilliant questioning would show lessor important Americans who they should vote for. He was riding high, filled with his own self-importance.

But even the nut-jobs running for the Republican nomination knew that would be a fiasco which would reduce participants in the debate to the status of bad actors in a reality TV show. Only two of them said they would attend Trump's debate -- Gingrich, who will whore himself out to anyone at any time and any place, and Santorum, who was just desperate for someone to notice he's in the race. The other candidates ran for the hills.

Trump was forced to abandon his debate. While that would shock a lesser ego back into reality, it just angered Trump. How dare they not recognize his position as "kingmaker" and pay homage to his importance! He would have to show them how wrong they were.

This past week Trump changed his voter registration -- from Republican to Independent. His spokesman said it was to preserve his ability to run for president himself if the party didn't nominate the right candidate (although he didn't say who that candidate would be). Personally, I think it was just his way of throwing a tantrum. After all, he could run an independent campaign for the presidency regardless of what party he was registered in. He was just soothing his ego.

But it does bring up the point of whether he would actually make a run for the presidency as an Independent. Just the thought of that scares a lot of Republicans and makes a lot of Democrats joyous, since Trump could probably pull a lot of teabaggers away from the Republican Party -- especially if Romney was the party's nominee. I see it a little differently, and I think Trump running as an Independent could actually help the Republicans.

That's because I don't think any of the current Republican candidates can beat President Obama. And if the nominee is Romney, a whole lot of discouraged teabaggers could just sit the election out -- and that would seriously damage the Republicans down-ballot. Trump running as an Independent wouldn't help the Republican presidential nominee, but it could get those anti-Romney teabaggers back into the election booth -- and voting down-ballot for other Republicans running for office.

And that's where I think the real election is going to be in 2012 -- in the down-ballot races. After the president gets re-elected, will he have a Democratic Congress to help him accomplish something, or will he have a Republican Congress to obstruct everything he tries to do? A Trump candidacy could get disenchanted teabaggers back to the polls and help the Republicans hang on to the House of Representatives.

Trump is not going to be elected president. They idea of that is ludicrous. But no Republican is going to be elected president either in 2012. I hope Trump doesn't run (and I doubt he will, because he's too stingy to part with the many millions that would require), because I don't want him helping Republicans down-ballot. Let the anti-Romney teabaggers stay home in 2012.

Just Like A Congressman

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Perry Socks It To Texas Taxpayers

When it comes to spending money to help the people of Texas, Rick Perry is very stingy. His cuts to social programs, education, and any other service to help ordinary Texas have been enormous and hurtful. But Perry doesn't seem to have that same attitude when it comes to spending taxpayer money on himself. While the governor's mansion is being remodeled, the taxpayers are footing a bill of $10,000 a month to rent Perry a mansion to live in.

But even that is small potatoes when it comes to what the governor's security is costing the taxpayers. While those costs weren't too bad when he was in Texas, those costs have skyrocketed since he became a presidential candidate -- at least $400,000 a month. And he is the only Republican candidate with government paid security. Here's how the Texas Tribune puts it:


Available records show that spending on out-of-state travel has skyrocketed since Perry began crisscrossing the nation in pursuit of the Republican nomination.

Online reports from Comptroller Susan Combs show that the public safety department has spent more on out-of-state trips from September to mid-December of this year — more than $1.4 million — than it did in the entire 2011 fiscal year, when it spent $1.1 million.
The public safety department said last week that the governor’s security for out-of-state trips cost $486,904 in fiscal year 2011. A department spreadsheet shows that the agency spent more than $397,000 to protect the governor on trips in a single month, between Sept. 5 and Sept. 28this year.
That included $161,786 for airfare, $8,140 for baggage fees, $50,648.84 for food, $6,442.24 for fuel, $112,111.81 for lodging, $54,356.65 for rentals, $2,990.26 for parking and $1,238.57 in an unspecified “other” category.
There is no category or amount listed in the spreadsheet for overtime pay, which generally increase during out-of-state road trips.

Perry has tried to justify the skyrocketing expense of his taxpayer-paid security by saying he is representing the people of Texas when he travels out of state. But frankly, I don't think he's doing a very good job of representing Texas. He's been more of an embarrassment than anything else. As State Rep. Jessica Farrar of Houston says, "If he's promoting Texas, he's been an embarrassment. He could have paid for this out of campaign funds, especially given that he's asked the Texas taxpayers to tighten their belts."

I guess this shouldn't surprise any of us though. After all, this is a man who has made himself a millionaire even though he's never held a real job in his adult life, other than as an elected official. He's always been willing to use his elected offices to enrich himself, and soaking the taxpayer is just another facet of that.

(Thanks Marc, for tipping me to this story.)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Have A Happy Solstice Season !

I would like to wish all of my readers and fellow progressive bloggers a very happy holiday season -- regardless of what your religious beliefs may or may not be. I hope you all have a safe holiday with lots of food and fun shared with friends and family.

GOP Clown Car Crashes In Virginia

Many times during this campaign the GOP race for the presidential nomination has resembled a clown car crash in the middle of a B-rated one-ring circus -- and that was never more so than this last week in Virginia. I'm starting to wonder if any of the Republican candidates are serious about getting the Republican nomination -- except, that is, for "Wall Street" Romney (who the party's base hates) and "Crazy old Coot" Paul (who scares even the right-wing nuts).

Thanks to a multi-candidate comedy of errors, the only candidates who will be on the March 6th Virginia primary ballot are Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. That means those two will be splitting up the Virginia delegates, and all the other candidates will be out in the cold.

To get on the Virginia ballot a candidate needed to get at least 10,000 voter signatures (with at least 400 signatures in each of the 11 congressional districts), and those signatures had to be submitted by 5pm last Thursday. Romney turned in 16,026 signatures on Tuesday, and Paul beat the deadline on Thursday with 14,361.

Perry and Gingrich also turned in signatures by the deadline -- with Perry submitting 11,911 and Gingrich submitting 11,050. But evidently either too many were not registered voters or they didn't meet the 400 level for every congressional district, because the state Republican Party said they had both failed to qualify for the ballot.

The Perry campaign hasn't said much, but Newt Gingrich blew a gasket. He called the Virginia requirement "a failed system" and said he would be working hard to get write-in votes. That was obviously just another example of him talking without knowing what he's talking about, because the rules prohibit any write-in votes in Virginia's primary.

But as ridiculous as the Perry and Gingrich campaigns look after this fiasco, there are four other Republican presidential campaigns that look even worse. The campaigns of Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Buddy Roemer didn't even bother to submit any signatures at all. That's pretty pathetic. Out of a population of more than 8 million people, they couldn't even scrape up a paltry 10,000 signatures? How is anyone in that state (and elsewhere) supposed to take their candidacies seriously?

What a mess!

(The above picture is from Meme Center.)

Old-Fashioned Kind Of Guy

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

Some Quotes To Ponder On This Holiday

This special holiday, which is supposed to represent peace and good will toward all men, is a good time to ponder the economic injustice that we have allowed to be created in this country. Somehow we have allowed the rich and the corporations to fool us into believing that capital is much more important than labor, and that labor exists simply to be exploited by the rich to make themselves even richer.

This illogical line of thinking, commonly called "capitalism" or "free enterprise", is an abomination when left unregulated. We are told that it is the basis of freedom and justice, but what it inevitably leads to is tyranny by the rich (plutocracy) and a devastating economic injustice.

My friend Jack Jodell, at his excellent blog The Saturday Afternoon Post, has compiled a list of quotes for us to ponder on this holiday. I urge you to go to his site and read them all, but here are a few of my favorites:

“Of  course I believe in free enterprise, but in my system of free enterprise, the democratic principle is that there never was, never has been, never will be, room for the ruthless exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few.”- Harry S Truman –


“The law does not pretend to punish everything that is dishonest. That would seriously interfere with business.”- Clarence Darrow –


“We have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant work ethic of hard work and sacrifices. Capitalism was built on the exploitation of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor, both black and white, both here and abroad.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – 



“Those who produce should have, but we know that those who produce the most – that is, those who work hardest, and at the most difficult and most menial tasks, have the least.”
_ Eugene V. Debs –



“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate. “
- Bertrand Russell –



“The forces of a capitalist society, if left unchecked, tend to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.”
- Jawaharlal Nehru –



“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. ..”
- Abraham Lincoln –



“True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of what dictatorships are made.”
- Franklin D. Roosevelt –



“The basic law of capitalism is you or I, not both you and I.”
- Karl Liebknecht -

An (Un)Merry Newt-mas

Political Cartoon is by Jim Morin in The Miami Herald.

Real Meaning Of X-mas ?

This hilarious photo is from the great Dr. Zaius at Zaius Nation.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays

This bit of wisdom was found at the blog The Immoral Minority.

Why Won't Mitt Release His Tax Returns ?

It's no secret that Mitt Romney is the richest man in either political party to be running for president in 2012. He has both more wealth and more income than any other candidate. He doesn't just make a few million each year -- he makes tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

That brings up a good question. Since people already know he is filthy rich and he's joined at the hip to Wall Street, why won't he release his tax returns? The answer is not that he's trying to hide his income, although he'd probably do that if he thought he could. He's trying to hide the fact that most, if not all, of his income is investment income (largely from his connection with Bain Capital). And that kind of income gets ridiculous tax breaks.

Even though Romney's income easily falls in the highest income tax bracket (about 35%), since it is investment income (and not money he actually had to work to earn), it is taxed at only a 15% rate -- less than half of what he would have to pay if it was classified as earned income. In other words, Romney pays a smaller tax rate than someone who is making the median income in American (in the vicinity of $50,000).

Romney knows that if he released his tax returns and the American people learned what a small tax rate he is paying, much smaller than middle class Americans pay, they will be incensed -- and they would have a right to be angry. There is no justification for the rich to pay a smaller tax rate than other Americans -- just because the rich didn't have to work for their income. That just ain't right.

The Democrats have created a new website where you can see how much less tax you would have to pay if you could pay the same rate as Mitt Romney. Go check it out, and if it doesn't upset you then you are either filthy rich yourself or brain-dead.

Wall Street already controls much of Congress. Electing Mitt Romney would put them in charge of the White House as well. Can we really afford that?

Tide Is Turning

Political Cartoon is by Jack Ohman in The Oregonian.

Iowa GOP Race Still A Fluid Mess

The situation in Iowa remains very fluid. At least 9% of all men and 16% of all women Republican caucus voters still haven't made up their minds who to support on January 3rd, and a large number of those who have indicated a preference say they could still change their minds.

Another new poll has been released. The American Research Group Poll questioned 600 Republican caucus-goers between December 19th and 22nd (470 Republicans and 130 Independents). The margin of error is 4 points. Here is how the race stacks up in that poll:

Ron Paul...............21%
Mitt Romney...............20%
Newt Gingrich...............19%
Rick Perry...............9%
Michele Bachmann...............8%
Jon Huntsman...............6%
Rick Santorum...............4%
Buddy Roemer...............1%
Undecided...............12%

It's looking more and more like there will not be a real winner in Iowa. Instead, there will be several candidates emerge from Iowa with delegates (even Perry and Bachmann could get some delegates if things go right for them on caucus night). But things get really interesting when the poll is broken down by different groups. Here are the poll leaders by group:

MEN
Paul...............29%
Gingrich...............21%
Romney...............18%

WOMEN
Romney...............23%
Gingrich...............17%
Paul...............12%
Perry...............11%

INDEPENDENTS
Paul...............33%
Romney...............17%
Gingrich...............17%

REPUBLICANS
Romney...............21%
Gingrich...............20%
Paul...............17%
Bachmann...............10%

TEABAGGERS
Gingrich...............29%
Paul...............17%
Romney...............16%
Bachmann...............11%
Perry...............11%

NON-TEABAGGERS
Paul...............22%
Romney...............22%
Gingrich...............15%

Since the different groups are supporting candidates in differing numbers, it's all going to come down to who shows up for the caucuses. Are there going to be an abnormally large portion of Independents (which would be good for Paul)? Are the teabaggers going to show up in larger numbers than establishment Republicans (which would favor Gingrich)? Are women going to be as large a group as men (which would help Romney)?

January 3rd is shaping up to be a very interesting night for us political junkies. As Terrell Owens once said -- get your popcorn ready.

Higgs Boson

Political Cartoon is by Bob Englehart in The Hartford Courant.

2011's Ten Dumbest Economic Ideas

Since the advent of Republican "trickle-down" economics, this country has been on a downhill slide economically -- and it resulted in our current recession and massive job loss. Unfortunately, these ideas have also infected other developed nations, most notably in Europe, and they have followed us down that economic hill.

One would think with the serious consequences of the recession, these people would have learned their lesson and returned to a more sensible economic policy. Sadly, that has not happened. They keep proposing the same old failed policies, and assuring us that someday they will work. All we have to do is just look at the really dumb economic ideas currently being proposed and pursued.

Jeff Madrick, over at the blog New Deal 2.0, has compiled a list of what he considers the ten worst economic ideas proposed and pursued in 2011. It's hard to argue with his list, because these are some incredibly stupid ideas. Unfortunately, too many people are still buying into them. Here is his list:

Scary

Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe at caglecartoons.com.

Advice From The Buddha

As regular readers of this blog will know, I am an atheist. But that does not mean I don't have the ability to recognize good advice when I see it -- even if it comes from a religious icon. The following advice, found at the blog The Immoral Minority, is said to have come from the Buddha. We would all be better off to follow it. (NOTE -- the above picture of the Buddha was painted by mexican artist Octavio Ocampo.)




  • Do not believe anything on mere hearsay. 
  • Do not believe in traditions merely because they are old and have been handed down for many generations and in many places. 
  • Do not believe anything on account of rumors or because people talk a a great deal about it. 
  • Do not believe anything because you are shown the written testimony of some ancient sage. 
  • Do not believe in what you have fancied, thinking that, because it is extraordinary, it must have been inspired by a god or other wonderful being. 
  • Do not believe anything merely because presumption is in its favor, or because the custom of many years inclines you to take it as true. 
  • Do not believe anything merely on the authority of your teachers and priests. But, whatever, after thorough investigation and reflection, you find to agree with reason and experience, as conducive to the good and benefit of one and all and of the world at large, accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it. 
  • Do not accept any doctrine from reverence, but first try it as gold is tried by fire.