A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Change

Another thought-provoking graphic from the website of BartCop.

Wall Street Willie Ekes Out Michigan Win

Wall Street Willie (Willard Mitt Romney) was all smiles last night. He won the Arizona primary handily, which surprised no one. He had the support of John McCain and Governor Brewer, and a fairly large population of mormons, so he was expected to win there. Michigan was different.

He was only able to beat Rick Santorum by about three percentage points in Michigan. He carried the urban areas, especially the Detroit area, but like in some other states he lost all of the rural counties. In fact, while Romney got more total votes in the state, Santorum actually carried a greater number of counties. That will probably result in Santorum winning a healthy number of delegates in the state.

Back in 2008, Romney beat McCain (who finished second in the state) by slightly more than 9 points in Michigan and took 24 of the 30 delegates. This year, he was able to beat Santorum by only 3 points and will probably not get 24 delegates. It may be a symbolic one, but that has to be considered a victory by Santorum -- considering that Michigan was where Romney was born and raised. Romney is still having trouble winning over the Republican base -- with nearly 60% of the Republican voters in his home state opting for someone else.

Here are the results from both states:

MICHIGAN (98% reporting)
Mitt Romney...............402,530  (41.08%)
Rick Santorum...............371,071  (37.87%)
Ron Paul...............113,838  (11.62%)
Newt Gingrich...............63,960  (6.53%)
Uncommitted...............18,453  (1.88%)
Others...............10,085  (1.03%)
TOTAL VOTES...............979,937

ARIZONA (86% reporting)
Mitt Romney...............214,846  (47.34%)
Rick Santorum...............120,385  (26.53%)
Newt Gingrich...............73,383  (16.17%)
Ron Paul...............38,384  (8.46%)
Others...............6,818  (1.50%)
TOTAL VOTES...............453,816

Now it's on to the Washington caucuses on Saturday (March 3rd), and then the primaries and caucuses of 10 states on Super Tuesday (March 6th). The question now is will the wins last night help Wall Street Willie in those 11 states. I don't think they will. If anything, the story going forward will be that Romney was barely able to win his home state.

Currently Romney is trailing in Washington and all the Super Tuesday states where polls have been done. Santorum is leading in Ohio, Oklahoma, Washington, and Tennessee. Gingrich is leading in his home state of Georgia. The latest poll released in one for Georgia. Here are the numbers:

SURVEY USA POLL (Georgia)
Newt Gingrich...............39%
Rick Santorum...............24%
Mitt Romney...............23%
Ron Paul...............9%
Undecided...............5%

Eternal Flake

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

Is A Romney/Paul Ticket A Possibility ?

There's a feeling among many political pundits that Ron Paul is not a real player for the Republican presidential nomination. He's considered to be kind of a joke -- a candidate outside the mainstream of political thought (for any political party) who keeps running for president but has no chance of ever even coming close to actually becoming president -- or ever getting the Republican nomination.

And at least part of that is true. I don't think Paul could ever win the Republican presidential nomination. But that's not the only path to the White House. There have been multiple times in our history where a vice-president assumed the office -- and many times those vice-presidents were men who probably could not have won their party's nominations before becoming president. Do any of us really believe that Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, or Gerald Ford could have been nominated to be their party's presidential candidate without first assuming the office due to being vice-president?

Now some of you may be thinking right now that there's no way Willard Mitt Romney (aka Wall Street Willie) would pick Ron Paul to be his running mate. A few weeks ago, I would have agreed with you. But now I'm beginning to think that as crazy as a Romney/Paul ticket sounds, it may be a real possibility. Before you dismiss this, examine the following facts:

* Wall Street Willie is not doing so great with his presidential campaign. There is a real possibility that he could arrive at the Republican National Convention with the most delegates, but not a majority of delegates. That would mean he'd need to make some kind of deal to get enough delegates to put him over the top.

* Ron Paul doesn't have a chance of winning a majority of delegates, but there's a really good chance that he'll win between 10% and 15% of the available delegates. What would Paul want in exchange for those delegates. I think it would be more than just an opportunity to speak at the convention. Offering his delegates for the vice-presidential slot on the ticket is something I can see him doing (and his delegates might be just enough to give Romney the nomination).

* The New York Times has recently reported that Romney has "worked to cultivate" a friendship with Ron Paul. The two frequently talk on the phone, and Romney offered to loan his private jet to take Paul back to Texas (after Paul's campaign jet had broken down). He also offered to let the Paul family stay at his Lake home. Is Romney trying to lay the groundwork for a future deal with Paul?

* In the many Republican debates, Paul has made it a trademark of his to attack his fellow candidates -- all except Romney. Think Progress went back and looked at all the debates. They found that Paul had attacked other Republican candidates 39 times -- Santorum 22 times, Gingrich 8 times, Perry 4 times, Cain 4 times, and Bachmann 1 time. But he never made an explicit attack on Romney. Why is this (since he obviously disagrees with Romney on nearly everything)? Is Paul trying to preserve the possibility of a deal with Romney?

* Rick Santorum has recently accused Romney and Paul of working together. He says "their commercials look a lot alike, and so do their attacks". Could he be right? Are they working together?

* Ron Paul appeals to many Libertarians. Romney knows he'll need every vote he can get to have a chance of beating the president. He may think he can woo a lot of voters away from the Libertarian Party by choosing Paul as his running mate.

Personally, this is a scary thought -- that Ron Paul could be a heartbeat away from becoming president. But it wouldn't be the first time the Republicans ran a totally unqualified candidate for vice-president. All we have to do is look back to 2008, when McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate. Romney might well do something similar, and choose Ron Paul to get enough delegates to win the nomination. I think there's enough evidence to consider it a real possibility.

The only saving grace in all of this is that I don't think Romney (or any of his opponents) can beat President Obama in November -- regardless of who they choose to be their running mate.

Feeding The GOP Base

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at msnbc.com.

Bernie Blames Wall Street For Gas Prices

(This image of Senator Bernie Sanders is from the website Unreported.)

The congressional Republicans are very busy trying to blame President Obama for the rising gasoline prices. This is not surprising. They blame the president for everything -- from bad weather to the late arrival of a delivery pizza. The reason is obvious. Their economic and social agenda has been exposed as abject failures, so they are left with nothing but to lie about the president.

But the truth is that President Obama has nothing to do with the rising price of gasoline. That blame must be laid at the feet of Wall Street. Senator Bernie Sanders, who has never been afraid to tell the unvarnished truth, has this to say about rising gas prices in an article for CNN -- and he is right on target:

 Gas prices approaching $4 a gallon on average are causing severe economic pain for millions of Americans. Pump prices spiked 5% in the past month alone. Crude oil prices stood at $108 on Friday, up from only double digits at the beginning of the month.


What's the cause? Forget what you may have read about the laws of supply and demand. Oil and gas prices have almost nothing to do with economic fundamentals. According to the Energy Information Administration, the supply of oil and gasoline is higher today than it was three years ago, when the national average for a gallon of gasoline was just $1.90. Meanwhile, the demand for oil in the U.S. is at its lowest level since April of 1997.


Is Big Oil to blame? Sure. Partly. Big oil companies have been gouging consumers for years. They have made almost $1 trillion in profits over the past decade, in part thanks to ridiculous federal subsidies and tax loopholes. I have proposed legislation to end those pointless giveaways to some of the biggest and most profitable corporations in the history of the world.


But there's another reason for the wild rise in gas prices. The culprit is Wall Street. Speculators are raking in profits by gambling in the loosely regulated commodity markets for gas and oil.


A decade ago, speculators controlled only about 30% of the oil futures market. Today, Wall Street speculators control nearly 80% of this market. Many of those people buying and selling oil in the commodity markets will never use a drop of this oil. They are not airlines or trucking companies who will use the fuel in the future. The only function of the speculators in this process is to make as much money as they can, as quickly as they can.


I've seen the raw documents that prove the role of speculators. Commodity Futures Trading Commission records showed that in the summer of 2008, when gas prices spiked to more than $4 a gallon, speculators overwhelmingly controlled the crude oil futures market. The commission, which supposedly represents the interests of the American people, had kept the information hidden from the public for nearly three years. That alone is an outrage. The American people had a right to know exactly who caused gas prices to skyrocket in 2008 and who is causing them to spike today.


Even those inside the oil industry have admitted that speculation is driving up the price of gasoline. The CEO of Exxon-Mobil, Rex Tillerson, told a Senate hearing last year that speculation was driving up the price of a barrel of oil by as much as 40%. The general counsel of Delta Airlines, Ben Hirst, and the experts at Goldman Sachs also said excessive speculation is causing oil prices to spike by up to 40%. Even Saudi Arabia, the largest exporter of oil in the world, told the Bush administration back in 2008, during the last major spike in oil prices, that speculation was responsible for about $40 of a barrel of oil.


Just last week, Commissioner Bart Chilton, one of the only Commodity Futures Trading Commission members looking out for consumers, calculated how much extra drivers are being charged as a result of Wall Street speculation. If you drive a relatively fuel-efficient vehicle such as a Honda Civic, you pay an extra $7.30 every time you fill your tank. For larger vehicles, such as a Ford F150, drivers pay an extra $14.56 for each fill-up. That works out to more than $750 a year going directly from your wallet or pocketbook to the Wall Street speculators.


So as speculators gamble, millions of Americans are paying what amounts to a "speculators tax" to feed Wall Street's greed. People who live in rural areas like my home state of Vermont are hit harder than most because they buy gas to drive long distances to their jobs.


It doesn't have to work this way. The current spike in oil and gasoline prices was avoidable. Under the Wall Street reform act that Congress passed in 2010, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission was ordered to impose strict limits on the amount of oil that Wall Street speculators could trade in the energy futures market. The regulators dragged their feet.


Finally, after months and months of law-breaking delays, the commission in October adopted a rule. It was a weak version of a proposal that might have put meaningful limits on the number of futures and swaps contracts a single trader could hold. Even the watered-down regulation adopted by the industry-friendly commission was challenged in court. The Financial Markets Association and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association wanted free rein to continue unregulated gambling in the oil markets.


So today, Wall Street once again is laughing all the way to the bank. Once again, federal regulators should move aggressively to end excessive oil speculation. We must do everything we can to lower gas prices so that they reflect the fundamentals of supply and demand and bring needed relief to the American people.


The time for real action is now.

No Difference

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in The Houston Chronicle.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Throwing Down The Gauntlet

Amen to this! Found at the blog of the beautiful, intelligent, and very independent Yellowdog Granny.

It's Primary Day For Arizona And Michigan

(The above caricatures of the GOP candidates are by the inimitable DonkeyHotey.)

The waiting is over for the Republicans in Arizona and Michigan. Today is the day they must finally make up their minds and choose who they want to represent their party in the November general election. There's not a lot of mystery about what will happen in Arizona. All of the polls, including a couple just released, show Wall Street Willie (Willard Mitt Romney) is leading there -- and it would be a real shock if he did not win Arizona.

Michigan is a much different story. This state should have been an easy win for Wall Street Willie, since he was born and raised there and his father was a respected governor of that state. But the voters seem to be ignoring that bit of history. A couple of weeks ago he lost the lead in Michigan to Santorum. Since then he has made a comeback, but the outcome of the Michigan primary is still in doubt.

A good example of this is the results from the five latest polls on Michigan. Three of them give Romney the lead and the other two say Santorum is leading. However, all five polls show Santorum and Romney are within the margin of error. That means either candidate could squeak out a win there, but it would not be a win worthy of any bragging rights (and could be virtually a tie like Iowa and Maine).

Even if Wall Street Willie does win both Arizona and Michigan, it looks like he will be in trouble going forward. The latest poll out of Washington (which has its caucus on March 3rd) shows Santorum has the advantage there. The on Super Tuesday (March 6th), polls show Santorum with a significant advantage in Tennessee and Oklahoma, and Gingrich holding the lead in Georgia (where Romney is in third place). A new poll out of Ohio shows Santorum will probably win that state also.

It looks like this is shaping up to be a long primary campaign for the Republicans. It could still be undecided when Texas finally gets to vote (around late May or early June). Here are the numbers from the latest polls:

WE ASK AMERICA POLL (Arizona)
Mitt Romney...............42.66%
Rick Santorum...............26.54%
Newt Gingrich...............20.65%
Ron Paul...............10.15%

PUBLIC POLICY POLLING (Arizona)
Mitt Romney...............43%
Rick Santorum...............26%
Newt Gingrich...............18%
Ron Paul...............11%

WE ASK AMERICA POLL (Michigan)
Mitt Romney...............36.85%
Rick Santorum...............32.53%
Ron Paul...............18.08%
Newt Gingrich...............12.53%

AMERICAN RESEARCH GROUP POLL (Michigan)
Rick Santorum...............36%
Mitt Romney...............35%
Ron Paul...............15%
Newt Gingrich...............8%
Undecided...............6%

PUBLIC POLICY POLLING (Michigan)
Mitt Romney...............39%
Rick Santorum...............37%
Ron Paul...............13%
Newt Gingrich...............9%

MITCHELL/ROSETTA STONE POLL (Michigan)
Rick Santorum...............37%
Mitt Romney...............35%
Newt Gingrich...............9%
Ron Paul...............8%

RASMUSSEN POLL (Michigan)
Mitt Romney...............38%
Rick Santorum...............36%
Ron Paul...............11%
Newt Gingrich...............10%
Other/Undecided...............6%

QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY POLL (Ohio)
Rick Santorum...............36%
Mitt Romney...............29%
Newt Gingrich...............17%
Ron Paul...............11%
Undecided...............6%

A Win For Plutocracy

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

Rush Limbaugh Is America's Least Favorite "News" Personality

(Above illustration is from the website of Vanity Fair.)

The right-wing has a number of pseudo-newscasters who slant the news and sometimes outright lie to push their political agenda. They are disgusting. But I believe there is one right-wing purveyor of hate and intolerance that is much worse than any of the others. Rush Limbaugh has resided in the bigotry gutter so long it should carry his name forever. And it looks like I am not alone in that opinion.

The Harris Poll did a survey to find out who the most and least respected news personalities were in the United States. Rush Limbaugh won the crown for least respected hands down -- no one else was even close. This was so in 2008 (when 42% named him least respected) and is still true in 2012 when an even higher percentage (46%) labeled him that way. The poll was done between January 16th and 23rd of 2,016 people nationwide. Here are the numbers of the top three, both for least and most respected:

LEAST RESPECTED

General Public
Rush Limbaugh..........46%
Bill O'Reilly..........31%
Nancy Grace..........23%

Republicans
Nancy Grace..........25%
Rush Limbaugh..........24%
Chris Matthews..........18%

Democrats
Rush Limbaugh..........66%
Bill O'Reilly..........45%
Sean Hannity..........23%

Independents
Rush Limbaugh..........49%
Bill O'Reilly..........31%
Nancy Grace..........25%

MOST RESPECTED

General Public
Diane Sawyer..........23%
Anderson Cooper..........19%
Brian Williams..........19%

Republicans
Bill O'Reilly..........29%
Sean Hannity..........25%
Rush Limbaugh..........22%

Democrats
Diane Sawyer..........28%
Anderson Cooper..........24%
Brian Williams..........24%

Independents
Diane Sawyer..........25%
Anderson Cooper..........21%
Brian Williams...........20%

This somewhat restores my faith in the general public. I also found it interesting that more Republicans had Limbaugh on the least respected list (24%) than had him on the most respected list (22%).

The news personality I have the most respect for is Rachel Maddow. About 16% of Democrats agree with me, and 7% of the general public.

Killing Democracy

Political Cartoon is by Ben Sargent in the Austin American-Statesman.

This Young Man Has My Respect

The gentleman in the picture above is Joseph Williams. He is a junior at the University of Virginia. He is also a scholarship football player for that school. He plays cornerback and will play his senior season this coming Fall. Now, this time of year most college football players are eating well, doing some physical training, and preparing themselves for spring football practice. Williams is not doing that.

Williams has joined several other University of Virginia students in a hunger strike. These young people are striking to get their university to pay it's employees (especially service employees like cafeteria workers and groundskeepers) a livable decent wage -- a wage that would allow them to pay their rent and provide the necessities for their families. All of these young people are putting their health on the line for their fellow human beings -- and I can do nothing but respect that.

Williams says he has generally been supported by his teammates and coaches, but a few have wondered why he would risk his health (and therefore his football future) in this way. Here is what he has to say about it:

I am a third year studying Political and Social Thought, and a student-athlete at the University of Virginia.  Last Friday, 12 University students began a hunger strike to protest the economic and social injustices perpetrated by the UVa administration against the vast majority of the University’s service-sector employees. I joined two days later; since then, 5 more students have joined the hunger strike, which is now closing in on in its 7th day. 


Although the University of Virginia - Thomas Jefferson’s brainchild and the only US university designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site - has the prestige and high moral traditions of other top institutions, levels of inequality exist here today that are reminiscent of Jefferson’s days as a slave-master and plantation owner - with one anonymous employee even referring to the University’s Grounds as “the plantation”.

Our University seeks to distinguish itself as a caring community and prides itself on traditions of honor and student self-governance. However, in our “caring community,” hundreds of contract employees may make as little as $7.25/hour while six out of the top ten highest paid state employees in Virginia hold administrative positions at the University. Many employees, mostly women and African Americans, do not receive enough pay for their basic necessities to exist in Charlottesville, where the cost of living is nearly 10% higher than the national average. 



This extreme inequality has disturbed and disillusioned students for decades, many of whom have tried to grapple with issues of race, class, and poverty in and out of the classroom. We have taken every conventional route towards this goal, garnered wide student, faculty and community support - yet our pleas have been consistently ignored and workers are still paid unjust wages.

On a personal level, this cause is one that hits very close to home. As one of four children supported by a single mother, I have experienced many periods of economic hardship in my life. Growing up, I moved over 30 times – including various stays in homeless shelters, the homes of family friends, and church basements. As a result of these experiences, I know firsthand what the economic struggle is like for many of these underpaid workers. 



One UVa employee anonymously shared that though she works full time for the University, over 40 hours a week, her family was still forced to go without electricity for nearly 3 months, unable to pay for the rent, electric bill and other basic necessities on the meager wages she is paid by the University. Such stories are the reason that I  and countless other Living Wage supporters have chosen to take up this cause and give a voice to the many University employees who often cannot speak up for fear of retaliation from the administration.
 
We members of the Living Wage Campaign are sometimes met by opponents who have lauded the virtue of the Free Market Economy and praised it as the founding economic institution of our nation. Furthermore, they are "dismayed" at the thought of paying University employees "more than they are worth on the free market." Despite our countless attempts at negotiating with the administration, we have been encouraged by detractors of our cause to “follow the rules” and “work within the political system”. This type of rhetoric, that of “following rules” and the "virtue of the Free Market Economy", only serves to strengthen the resolve of myself and my fellow Living Wage campaigners. 



Though we are currently abstaining from food, this discriminatory language provides the sustenance from which we derive our strength. I know I speak for all members of the Living Wage Campaign and, hopefully, for all decent human beings in saying that I will forever refuse to "follow the rules" of any institution which places a monetary value on human life. I refuse to comply with rules, regulations, or restrictions that reinforce the discrimination, persecution, and exploitation of human beings.

In failing to implement a living wage for its lowest paid employees, the University of Virginia has also failed to uphold the moral standards to which it holds its students. We are engaging in this hunger strike to call attention to the administration’s moral hypocrisy and to finally produce results in the form of a Living Wage. Although I am exhausted, hungry, dry-mouthed, and emotionally taxed, I believe it is my responsibility as a member of the University community, and even more as a member of the human race, to stand up and speak for those whose voices have been silenced and whose livelihoods are marginalized by the policies of the current University administration. 



Thus, it disheartens me and my fellow campaigners that while these workers are being systematically discriminated against and exploited, there are plans to spend millions of dollars on superfluous additions such as a domed practice field for the football team, hundreds and thousands of flowers around Grounds, and countless other trivialities.


In short, we, as hunger strikers of the Living Wage Campaign, students of the University of Virginia, members of the Charlottesville community, and fierce believers in the human race, refuse to lie down any longer and watch the exploitation and marginalization of University employees and, more importantly, our fellow members of the human race. So until this cause is heard and the University administration pays the wages that its employees have long deserved - we will be striking.

Committee To Re-Elect

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in The Houston Chronicle.

Corporations Are Not Overtaxed

The Republicans in Congress would like for Americans to believe that corporations in this country are having trouble competing on the world stage because they are overtaxed. They want to cut corporate taxes (and some even want to eliminate corporate taxes altogether). The problem with their argument is that it simply isn't true. It's just another Republican lie told so they can satisfy the greed of their corporate buddies.

Warren Buffett (pictured above), one of the richest and most successful men in the United States, has a different point of view. Here is what he has to say:

The interesting thing about the corporate rate is that corporate profits, as a percentage of GDP last year were the highest or just about the highest in the last 50 years. They were ten and a fraction percent of GDP. That’s higher than we’ve seen in 50 years. The corporate taxes as a percentage of GDP were 1.2 percent, $180 billion. That’s just about the lowest we’ve seen. So our corporate tax rate last year, effectively, in terms of taxes paid for the United States, was around 12 percent, which is well below those existing in most of the industrialized countries around the world. So it is a myth that American corporations are paying 35 percent or anything like itCorporate taxes are not strangling American competitiveness.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Welfare Queens

BartCop reminds us who the real "welfare queens" are in the United States.

Democrats Leading Electoral Vote Battle

Back in November, msnbc.com had the battle for electoral votes nearly evenly split -- with 196 for Democrats and 195 for the Republicans. But that was when the political pundits thought Romney was the "inevitable" nominee for the Republican Party and before he was hurt by the knowledge of his tiny tax rate (less than the middle class pays), his hiding of money in the Cayman Islands to avoid taxes, and his job-destroying efforts at Bain Capital. It was also before the ongoing war of words and ads between the Republican hopefuls -- and the disastrous Republican opposition to the payroll tax cut last December.

All of those things, combined with a slight improvement in the economy, has acted to move more states into the Democratic column. The news site now has the Democrats leading 227 to 197. That would leave the Democrats just 43 votes short of victory in the presidential race (while the Republicans would need 73 more electoral votes). Of course anything could still happen between now and November, but the Democrats have to feel good about the way public opinion is moving -- especially since the Republicans seem intent on committing political suicide by forwarding ridiculous policies like their current "war on women".

After perusing the states msnbc.com puts into each category, I don't have much argument with them (although I think some of the toss-ups may be slightly leaning toward the Democrats right now). You may disagree. Here is how they see things right now:

SOLID DEMOCRAT
District of Columbia (3)
Delaware (3)
Hawaii (4)
Maine (3)
Maryland (10)
Massachusetts (11)
New York (29)
Rhode Island (4)
Vermont (3)
TOTAL -- 70 votes


LIKELY DEMOCRAT
California (55)
Connecticut (7)
Illinois (20)
Washington (12)
TOTAL -- 94 votes


LEAN DEMOCRAT
Maine (1)
Minnesota (10)
New Jersey (14)
New Mexico (5) 
Oregon (7)
Michigan (16)
Wisconsin (10)
TOTAL -- 63 votes

SOLID REPUBLICAN
Alaska (3)
Idaho (4)
Kansas (6)
Kentucky (8)
Nebraska (4)
Oklahoma (7)
Tennessee (11)
Utah (6)
West Virginia (5)
Wyoming (3)
TOTAL -- 57 votes


LIKELY REPUBLICAN
Alabama (9)
Arkansas (6)
Indiana (11)
Louisiana (8)
Mississippi (6)
Montana (3)
Nebraska (1)
North Dakota (3)
South Carolina (9)
South Dakota (3)
Texas (38)
TOTAL -- 97 votes 


LEAN REPUBLICAN
Arizona (11)
Georgia (16)
Iowa (6)
Missouri (10)
TOTAL -- 43 votes

TOSS-UP STATES
Colorado (9)
Florida (29)
Nevada (6)
North Carolina (15)
Ohio (18)
Pennsylvania (20)
Virginia (13)
New Hampshire (4)
TOTAL -- 114 votes

Austerity - Road To Nowhere

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

Michigan Democrats For Santorum ?

(The above illustrations are by DonkeyHotey at Flickriver.)

I thought Wall Street Willie (Willard Mitt Romney) already had as much trouble as he could handle these days. After all, as we've witnessed in the last couple of days he has trouble trying to draw a crowd in the state where he was born and raised. His handlers got the use of the stadium where the Detroit Lions play, and when Romney showed up to speak the stadium looked like a ghost twon. They had to bus in some school children just to make it look like anyone wanted to hear what he had to say.

Now there is a movement, being pushed by Markos over at Daily Kos, to have Democrats vote in the Michigan primary for Wall Street Willie's opponent -- Rick Santorum. This is possible because Michigan is one of those states with an open primary. Anyone (Republican, Independent, Democrat) can vote in the Republican primary on February 28th. And there would be no punishment from the Democratic Party for any of their members voting in that primary. Even Democrats who vote in the Republican primary can still attend the coming Democratic caucuses (and even become delegates to the state or national conventions).

Now no one believes there will be a massive turnout of Democrats to vote in the Republican primary. Even the organizers of the movement think there will only be a couple of thousand Democrats able to hold their noses shut long enough to vote for the odious Santorum. But that might be enough to make a difference. Polls in the last few days in Michigan have been split, with some favoring Romney and others favoring Santorum. But all of them show the lead to be within the margin of error -- meaning it is a very close race. It is not out of the realm of possibility that a couple of thousand Democrats voting as a bloc could tip the scales in Santorum's favor.

Personally, I think the whole thing is unnecessary. Evidently Markos and others still believe Romney might be a more formidable candidate against President Obama than any of the other three Republican hopefuls. I believed that also about 6 to 8 months ago. Now I don't think so. Romney has been damaged beyond repair in this campaign, and I doubt he could do any better against Obama than John McCain did in 2008. And I think the Republicans are starting to think the same thing. Republican strategist Ed Rollins said recently:

"Six months before this thing got going, every Republican I know was saying, 'We're gonna win, we're gonna beat Obama.' Now even those who've endorsed Romney say, "My God, what [an effing] mess."'

And even if Romney is able to squeak out a win in Michigan and Arizona next Tuesday, he has bigger problems facing him on Super Tuesday a week later. We have already seen polls that show Wall Street Willie is trailing badly in Ohio, Georgia, and Oklahoma. Now the first Tennessee poll has been released, and it shows Romney in trouble in that state as well. Unless something significant happens in the next 10 days, Romney could be facing an unmitigated disaster on Super Tuesday. Here are the Tennessee numbers:

VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY POLL (Tennessee)
Rick Santorum...............33%
Mitt Romney...............17%
Ron Paul...............13%
Newt Gingrich...............10%
Other/Undecided...............27%

Red Meat For The Base

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

Only A Partial Solution

(Cartoon above is done by Michael Ramirez in the Investor's Business Daily.)

Don't get me wrong. I'm not opposed to electric cars. I think they're probably a good idea whose time has come. If we put enough of them on the road, we probably can reduce our dependence somewhat on crude oil. But we need to stop thinking that electric cars are the way to end pollution in the United States.

I'm not saying that the use of electric cars will make no difference in pollution levels -- only that the difference they would make is much smaller than most people think. The truth is that the electric cars have a carbon footprint also, and currently that carbon footprint is not a whole lot smaller than that of a gasoline-powered auto.

How can that be? Two reasons. First, gasoline-powered autos are much cleaner than they used to be (and at least the newer ones don't pollute nearly as much as autos used to do). Second, the electric cars must get their electric power from somewhere, and that is usually from a dirty coal-powered energy plant.

If a proliferation of electric cars simply results in the building of more dirty coal-powered energy plants (and there is no such thing as a "clean" coal-powered plant), then little or nothing would have been accomplished toward cleaning up air pollution. The EPA has already told us that nearly 70% of the pollution produced in this country now comes from energy plants -- and the worst violators are the coal-fired plants.

Electric cars are a start, but they are only a small part of the solution we need to combat pollution. Far more important is cleaning up energy-producing plants -- and that must be done by finding new clean and renewable sources for energy production. Coal producers like to brag that they have hundreds of years of supply and their product is cheap. That might be true. But isn't planetary survival more important than a cheap dirty fuel? Can we really afford to continue building coal-powered plants? I think not.

Double Trouble

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

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oppression

Found at the excellent blog called The Immoral Minority.

GOP Is Lying About Domestic Oil Production

The Republicans picked lame-duck Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas to provide the response to the president's weekly address. I guess they thought picking someone from an oil-rich state like Texas would lend some credence to their attacks on President Obama's energy policies. They were wrong. A lie is still a lie -- even when it comes from the lips of an oil-state senator.

And all Senator Hutchison did was to tell the same old lies the Republicans have been telling us for a while now. They want us to believe that the current high prices for gasoline are President Obama's fault. Here is some of what Hutchison had to say:


Last February, the average cost of a gallon of unleaded was $3.17 per gallon – the highest February price ever. But this February’s average is $3.57 per gallon – and all forecasts are for prices to rocket above $4.00 per gallon during the summer driving season. Families and businesses will be devastated. . .

We can’t slow down global demand for oil and gas, but we can do a lot more here at home to assure that we have the energy we need and to halt skyrocketing costs.

But, President Obama’s policy has resulted in an unprecedented slowdown in new exploration and production of oil and gas.


Offshore drilling permits are being issued at less than half the rate of the previous administration. The average number of leases issued on public lands is less than half that during President Clinton’s term.


Offshore drilling permits are being issued at less than half the rate of the previous administration. The average number of leases issued on public lands is less than half that during President Clinton’s term.

Not only will the slowdown in domestic production drive up fuel prices, it also takes away jobs from tens of thousands of oil industry workers.

The same is true for the Keystone pipeline. It would produce thousands of good-paying construction jobs and tens of thousands more at U.S. refineries and suppliers.

The same is true for the Keystone pipeline. It would produce thousands of good-paying construction jobs and tens of thousands more at U.S. refineries and suppliers.


Read more here: http://blogs.star-telegram.com/politex/2012/02/kbh-gives-gop-response-to-obama-free-up-energy.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://blogs.star-telegram.com/politex/2012/02/kbh-gives-gop-response-to-obama-free-up-energy.html#storylink=cpy



There are so many lies there that it's hard to know where to start. First, nothing President Obama has done has affected the price of gasoline at the pump. That price has risen because of the unbridled greed of both the oil speculators and the Big Oil companies. The speculators have driven up the cost of crude oil and the Big Oil companies have cut back on gasoline production to create an artificial shortage to raise gas prices. And both have done this in spite of already having record profits. Their greed has no limit (and has nothing to do with President Obama).

Second, there has been no cut in domestic production of either oil or natural gas. As my fellow Texas blogger over at Brains and Eggs points out, there is actually an enormous glut in the production of natural gas. So much is currently being produced that it is actually driving down the price that producers can get for it. As for oil production, as the chart above shows, it has been higher in every month under President Obama than any month under George W. Bush.

It is an outrageous lie to say production has been cut. And since there has been no cut or slowdown in the domestic production of oil, that cannot be the reason for the rise in the price of gasoline. There has been a loss of jobs for refinery workers, but this is not due to any drop in production of oil (since there hasn't been a drop). It is due to the Big Oil companies closing refineries to reduce the amount of gasoline available -- so they can claim a shortage and raise prices.

Hutchison has also inflated drastically the job-creation that would occur from building the Keystone XL pipeline. There would be a couple of thousand construction jobs temporarily created to build it, but realistic estimates show the new pipeline would only create a couple of hundred permanent jobs. The Republicans are trying to hide another giveaway to Big Oil as job creation -- another lie.

As for the threat of the oil going to China, it has always been destined to go there. It is only a question of whether China gets gets the crude oil (if the pipeline is not built) or whether they get the refined product (if it is built). None of it will stay in the U.S. in either case (but the Big Oil companies want the pipeline so they can make money by refining the oil for China). Touting the pipeline as a way to reduce the price of gasoline in this country is just another Republican lie.

Why are the Republicans repeatedly telling these obvious lies? Two reasons. First they want to hurt the president, and they think blaming him for gas prices will do that. Second, telling the truth would expose them as being in the pocket of the Big Oil corporations -- which they are.

Here are a few other facts about how the president "is moving us toward energy independence and saving American consumers at the pump":





  • 640,000: Increase in the average number of barrels of crude oil produced per day since 2008 
  • 4 X: Factor by which the number of oil rigs operating in the United States has gone up under President Obama's administration 
  • 1.5 million: Decrease in the average number of barrels of crude oil imported per day since 2008 
  • 16: Number of years since the United States’ dependence on foreign oil was as low as it was last year 
  • 54.5 mpg: Performance equivalent that will be required for model year 2017-2025 cars and light trucks—nearly doubling the standards that were in place when President Obama took office 
  • More than $8,000: Savings at the pump per vehicle by 2025 thanks to steps the Obama administration has taken to increase efficiency 
  • More than $1.7 trillion: Total amount consumers will have saved at the pump by 2025 thanks to President Obama’s fuel efficiency program
  • Exorcist

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

    Wall Street Willie Can't Draw A Crowd

    Willard Mitt Romney (aka Wall Street Willie) and his deluded handlers just knew that massive amounts of people would flock to see him give his big speech on the economy. They decided they had to get a huge stadium to hold all of those people. But as it started to become apparent that they could never fill the stadium, they revised their plans. They decided they would put the people at one end of the stadium (from the 30 yard line around to the other 30 yard line), and with cameras placed behind Wall Street Willie it would give the appearance of a full stadium.

    But even that vastly scaled-down plan proved to be nothing more than wishful thinking. Only maybe 1200 people bothered to show up to hear him, and seating that pitiful turnout in the stands would make them look like even less than that. They would up concentrating them all together on the stadium floor. But the news media shot the entire stadium anyway. That had to be embarrassing for Wall Street Willie -- that he couldn't even draw a decent crowd in the state where he was born and grew up (Michigan).

    That doesn't necessarily mean he can't win the Michigan Republican primary. He might. Several recent polls have shown him neck-and-neck with Rick Santorum in that state and either one could conceivably come out on top -- depending on who turns out to vote. But his inability to draw a crowd probably does show he would have a lot of trouble competing with President Obama in Michigan (assuming he can win the Republican nomination -- which is still in doubt).

    And here are a couple of new polls to worry Wall Street Willie even more. One shows the race in Arizona tightening, and the other shows him far behind in Georgia:

    AMERICAN RESEARCH GROUP POLL (Arizona)
    Mitt Romney...............39%
    Rick Santorum...............35%
    Newt Gingrich...............11%
    Ron Paul...............9%
    Other/Undecided...............6%

    LANDMARK/ROSETTA STONE POLL (Georgia)
    Newt Gingrich...............38%
    Rick Santorum...............25%
    Mitt Romney...............19%
    Ron Paul...............4%
    Undecided...............13%

    Limited Government

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

    Dumping Business Costs On Taxpayers

    (The above graphic is from the website GroAction.com)

    A lot of Americans, especially teabaggers and other Republicans, think the problem of poverty in America would be solved if the poor would just go to work (at whatever job is available). The problem with that delusion is that many, if not most, of the poor are already working -- and many are working full-time. But working full-time at a minimum wage job will not pull a family out of poverty. In fact, it may force them to appeal to the government for help, since their full-time employer doesn't provide enough pay or benefits to provide for the needs of a family (or even an individual).

    Too many businesses these days refuse to provide their employees with livable compensation. You may think this is just some small businesses struggling to survive, but that is not true. A prime example of this is the giant corporation know as Wal-Mart. Over at the blog Under The Mountain Bunker, there are some very interesting figures. It seems that this huge corporation is dumping nearly $1.6 billion of what they should be providing (through decent pay and benefits) on to the American taxpayers. Consider the following:



    • The Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce estimates that one 200-person Wal-Mart store may result in a cost to federal taxpayers of $420,750 per year – about $2,103 per employee. Specifically, the low wages result in the following additional public costs being passed along to taxpayers:
      • $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
      • $42,000 a year for Section 8 housing assistance, assuming 3 percent of the store employees qualify for such assistance, at $6,700 per family.
      • $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, assuming 50 employees are heads of household with a child and 50 are married with two children.
      • $100,000 a year for the additional Title I expenses, assuming 50 Wal-Mart families qualify with an average of 2 children.
      • $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children’s health insurance programs (S-CHIP), assuming 30 employees with an average of two children qualify.
      • $9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.”
    • The total figure is based on the average $420,750 per-store figure, multiplied by 3700 (the approximate number of stores currently in the United States).
    • Source: Rep. George Miller / Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, “Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart”, February 16, 2004.

    Opposed

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

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

    You Are A Republican If. . .


    Another State Legalizes Equality

    (The above graphic was found at the website Little Candles: Education and Touch.)

    Equality under the law is something that is guaranteed by the United States Constitution. But it is also something that has never fully been realized in this country. Even though decent Americans have been trying to achieve the dream of equality for many decades now, there is still a segment of the population that feels they are superior to other groups in the country.

    These bigots commonly use religion as a shield to hide their bigotry and maintain their superiority over their fellow citizens. They claim their "religious freedom" allows them to deny equal rights to others. They used this ludicrous argument to defend slavery and racial separation, and they used it to deny women (and minorities) the right to vote. Now they use the same weak argument to deny basic equal rights to gays and lesbians.

    But bit by little bit, this country still marches forward toward true equality -- in spite of the racists and bigots. Soon, another state will join the growing list of places that allow gays and lesbians the right to marry the person they love, and to enjoy the privileges and legal ramifications that marriage offers. Currently eight places guarantee this right to homosexuals -- New York, Iowa, Washington, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. Maryland will soon be the ninth.

    A couple of days ago the Maryland Senate passed a bill giving gays and lesbians the right to marry. The bill, which has already been approved in the House of Delegates, now goes to Governor Martin O'Malley. O'Malley has already said he would sign it into law. The law is set to take effect next January.

    Religious bigots in Maryland have already said they will try to prevent that by gathering enough signatures to put a referendum on the next electoral ballot. Now we must hope that the decent people in Maryland outnumber the religious bigots -- if that referendum gets on the ballot.

    I harbor that same hope for the state of Maine -- that on election day the decent people will be able to out-vote the religious bigots. In Maine, those hoping to legalize marriage rights for homosexuals have gotten the required number of signatures to get a referendum on the November ballot.

    State lawmakers could just go ahead and approve same-sex marriage in the state, but it is far more likely they will just put it on theNovember ballot and let the people decide. This same kind of referendum was on the ballot in 2009 and lost by 53% to 47%. Hopefully, it will pass this time, and Maine will become the tenth place in America to legalize equality.

    Religious Sacrifice

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