A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Monday, April 30, 2012

Wall Street Willie's Plan


GOP Holds Student Loans Hostage to Attack Women's Health

Evidently there is no bottom to how low the congressional Republicans will go to keep the corporations and their rich friends from having to pay their fair share in taxes. They had already decided they would allow the interest rates on college students to double, because the Democrats wanted to pay for keeping the interest rate low by closing a loophole that allowed some corporations to avoid paying Social Security taxes (something no small business is exempt from).

Keeping the interest on student loans low would not cost a great deal -- only about $8 billion (a small sum when you consider the Bush tax cuts for the rich are costing the government about $400 billion a year). But the Republicans absolutely refuse to make corporations pay a single penny more in taxes. They would rather punish students than make corporations pay anything.

But their soon-to-be presidential nominee, Willard Mitt Romney (aka Wall Street Willie), threw them a curve. Sensing a political disaster if he opposed keep student interest rates low, he publicly came out in favor of it. This left congressional Republicans with a dilemma. They couldn't work against their own candidate right before an election, but they also couldn't give in to the Democrats and close a corporate tax loophole. What could they do?

Well, it didn't take them long to come up with an answer. They decided to cut money from a government health care fund that was meant to provide preventive health care for women and children. To them, it's better for women and children to do without preventative health care than for corporations to have to pay the same taxes that citizens and small businesses must pay.

It comes as no surprise that the House has now passed this bill to keep student interest rates low on the backs of women and children -- continuing their mean-spirited and hard-hearted tradition of protecting corporations at the expense of American citizens. And they now say that is the only way they will vote to keep student interest rates low. In other words, they are holding student interest rates hostage to further attack women (only this time they are throwing children under the same bus as women).

Fortunately this ridiculously mean bill has little chance of getting through the Senate -- and if it somehow does, the president has threatened to veto it. I think the congressional Republicans think they can place the blame for higher interest rates on the president and the Democrats. I think they're wrong. The American people know which party is the party of obstruction and of corporate welfare, and they're getting tired of it. The only thing the Republicans are likely to accomplish is to get young people enthused about voting them out of office.

The president and the Democrats need to stand firm on this issue, because the Republicans have once again maneuvered themselves into a losing position -- with no way out except to back down.

College Loan Debt

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at davegranlund.com.

Are Texans Getting Tired Of Rick Perry ?

There no real doubt that Rick Perry still has a burning desire to be president. He as much as admitted that a couple of weeks ago in an interview in Dallas -- saying he was already considering running again in 2016, but would enter the race much earlier next time. He seems to have deluded himself into thinking the reason he lost this year was that he entered the race too late. But then he's always had a capacity for self-delusion and no understanding of real-world solutions.

And his desire to be president is why I believe he'll run for another term as governor -- because that will keep him in the public eye until 2016. But he may not find getting re-elected as easy as it has been in the past for him. A new Public Policy Polling survey shows that Texans may well be getting tired of Rick Perry.  Here's what the poll showed:

DO YOU THINK PERRY SHOULD RUN FOR GOVERNOR AGAIN IN 2014?
Yes...............29%
No...............64%
Unsure...............8%

Those are not good numbers, but they don't necessarily mean he couldn't get re-elected. About 49% of Republicans thought it would be OK for him to run for governor again -- and whoever wins the GOP primary has the advantage in the general election. However, it does show that the Republicans would find it easier to retain the governorship if they chose a different candidate. With 73% of Independents opposed to his running, Perry would definitely have his work cut out for him.

And the numbers are even worse for another run for the presidency (where 57% of Texas Republicans think he shouldn't run, and 77% of Independents). Here are the numbers for the general public:

DO YOU THINK PERRY SHOULD RUN FOR PRESIDENT IN 2016?
Yes...............19%
No...............73%
Unsure...............8%

It looks like Texans of all political persuasions were embarrassed by Perry's last run, and they really don't want to see a repeat. It's one thing to elect a moron as governor, but ir's quite another thing when he exposes himself as a moron to the entire nation.

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

By the way, the same poll showed that Texans think their best Texas president was a Democrat. Here's what the poll showed:

WHO DO YOU THINK IS THE GREATEST PRESIDENT EVER FROM TEXAS?
Lyndon B. Johnson...............39%
George W. Bush...............22%
George H.W. Bush...............19%
Unsure...............21%

Secret Service

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

The Drone Attacks Should Be Stopped

There was a headline and story at msnbc.com World News today that bothered me quite a bit, and I'm convinced that more Americans should be bothered about it. It's not that it was an unusual event. In fact, it's far too common -- so common that most Americans will accept it without even thinking much about it. Here is the headline:

DRONE ATTACK KILLS SIX SUSPECTED MILITANTS IN PAKISTAN SCHOOL

It seems that either the military or the CIA decided that "suspected militants" were using part of a girl's high school in Miramshah (North Waziristan, Pakistan), so they fired missiles from a United States drone to kill them. There are several aspects to this that bother me a lot:

* Should we be firing missiles from a drone at any school? We know that missiles are not specific weapons and most of the time innocent civilians are killed -- and this time it is very likely that the "collateral damage" will be children. How many young high school age girls will never live to be adults because of this strike?

* The missiles fired at the school were meant to kill "suspected" militants. Should we really have the right to kill people because someone in our government "suspects" them of being an enemy? Isn't that a lot like carrying out the death penalty on someone because the police "suspects" them of criminal activity? In this country we require a jury to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of a person's guilt before any penalty is assessed or carried out. Why should it be any different before we kill people in another country, especially a country we are not at war with?

* Pakistan is supposed to be our friend, and they have asked us not to carry out drone attacks in their country. We wouldn't do this to most of our other friends, so why is it OK to kill "suspects" in Pakistan? Can you imagine the furor that would be caused if we did this in England, Germany, or Israel (or even Russia or China)? Aren't we just doing it to Pakistan because we know we can get away with it?

Sadly, I doubt if most Americans really care about this -- after all, they're just foreigners, and with our ethnocentric attitude no foreigner is very important. But we should care. This kind of thing is destroying this country's reputation around the world -- and it's killing innocent people. Do we really want to be thought of as a brutal and uncaring nation? That is the reputation we are creating.

The drone attacks should never be done outside of a war zone, and even then we need to be extra careful to make sure only enemy combatants are killed. "Collateral damage" is unacceptable.

Stupid

Political Cartoon is by Tim Eagan at caglecartoons.com.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Read It


Senate Republican Men Say Violence Against Women Is OK

The Republican Party claims it is not waging a war on America's women. They claim this is just a false accusation that was made up by Democrats to embarrass them. But that is hard to believe considering the Republican record recently. They oppose the right of a woman to control her own body. They oppose giving women equal pay in the workplace. They oppose free and easy access to contraception for women. They oppose healthcare reform (Obamacare) which outlaws higher insurance premiums for women. They want to defund Planned Parenthood (which provided needed health care for poor women). And they want to slash social programs (where the majority of participants are single women with children).

That would be enough to convince any sane person that the Republicans are truly waging war on women. They consider them to be second-class citizens -- undeserving of equality with white men. And just to drive that point home, 31 Republican senators (all white men) have voted against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This move was so far over the line that all five Republican women in the Senate abandoned their own party and voted with the Democrats (even though they have voted with their party and against women on most other Senate votes).

How could these 31 white male Republican senators possibly justify such a dastardly vote? Two reasons. First, they really don't believe women are worthy of the same rights and protections that men have (they are misogynists). Second, the Democrats had the audacity to widen VAMA to include more abused people -- including immigrants (even undocumented immigrants), same-sex couples, and Native Americans abused by non-Native Americans.

For these white male Republicans, that is just going too far. They think it should be obvious that it is OK to abuse and attack these people. And to prove their point, they voted to allow domestic violence against all women. It's just one more example showing us that Republicans (especially the white males) value their right-wing ideology more than they care about American citizens.

How can any woman (or any man that cares for the women in his life) vote Republican?

The GOP Offer

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

GOP Candidate Is A Convicted Felon

The person pictured above is Fabian Tankesly, the lone Republican candidate for the Precinct 2 Potter County Commission seat in east Amarillo (the only seat on the County Commission generally considered to be a safe seat for Democrats). While Republicans were initially happy to have a candidate in the race, it now looks like Tankesly will not be on the November ballot.

That's because state law bars convicted felons from running for public office (unless they have been officially pardoned) -- and Tankesly is a convicted felon. And not just once -- he has been convicted of felonies four times, with the last being in 2002 (and at least two of those convictions were for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle). The Republican county chair said he is investigating the matter, and will remove Tankesly from the ballot if he is a convicted felon who has not been pardoned.

Tankesly admits he is a convicted felon and has not received a pardon, but says he will continue to run for the seat until told by the county party he is ineligible. He says he was not trying to hide his past, although he submitted the necessary paperwork with his signature below the paragraph saying he was not a convicted and unpardoned felon.

He said he had turned in the paperwork on a form printed in Spanish (a language he is not fluent in) and didn't realize what the paragraph had said. That seems a little suspect, since the forms are readily available in both English and Spanish.

Student Debt

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

Cowboys Get 5 Players On Draft's Final Day

Any player drafted in the first round is expected to immediately contribute to his new team, and should be a starter right away. In the second and third rounds the players might not be expected to be immediate starters, but if correctly picked, they should make the team and work their way into a starting position. The same cannot be said of players picked in the fourth through seventh rounds. They might turn out to be great players, or they might not even be on the team on opening day. We simply won't know until they get to training camp and compete for a position on the team.

But on the draft's third day, all teams are excited about the players they were able to pick in the final four rounds -- and the Cowboys are no exception. They drafted five players on day three, and hope that those players will turn out to be wise choices and real contributors to the team. Here are the five players chosen by the Cowboys in rounds four through seven:

Fourth Round, 18th pick (113th overall pick)
Kyle Wilber (6'4", 250), outside linebacker, Wake Forest

Fourth Round, 40th pick (135th overall pick)
Matt Johnson (6'1", 212), safety, Eastern Washington

Fifth Round, 17th pick (152nd overall pick)
Danny Coale (6'0", 200), wide receiver, Virginia Tech

Sixth Round, 16th pick (186th overall pick)
James Hannah (6'3", 245), tight end, Oklahoma

Seventh Round, 15th pick (222nd overall pick)
Caleb McSurdy (6'1", 245), inside linebacker, Montana

Now that the draft is over, the Cowboys can get busy trying to sign some undrafted free agents. Most of them will just be fodder for training camp, but the Cowboys have been as good as any team in finding some real players among the undrafted -- remember, Romo and Austin were both undrafted free agents.

A Dumb Idea

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

No Cooperation Possible

(The cartoon above is by R.J. Matson in Roll Call.)

Conservatives and liberals have always had a different vision of what was the best path for the country to take. But in the past, the politicians on both sides of the aisle have been able to see past their ideology and compromise to reach a solution that was good for the country. That is no longer true. While President Obama (and most Democrats have offered to compromise, they have been rebuffed by the Republicans -- who have moved so far to the right that they can't even see the center anymore. They currently put their ultra-right-wing ideology above what is good for the country and its people.

Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein have written a very good article for the Washington Post (which I urge you to read) on this troubling issue. Here is a small part of what they have to say:

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.


The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.


When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.


“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.


It is clear that the center of gravity in the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right. Its once-legendary moderate and center-right legislators in the House and the Senate — think Bob Michel, Mickey Edwards, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel — are virtually extinct.



The post-McGovern Democratic Party, by contrast, while losing the bulk of its conservative Dixiecrat contingent in the decades after the civil rights revolution, has retained a more diverse base. Since the Clinton presidency, it has hewed to the center-left on issues from welfare reform to fiscal policy. While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Republicans vs. Women



Public Disagrees With GOP On Energy Policy

The above graphic was composed from the results of a new Yale University Project on Climate Change Communication survey. The survey shows that on most issues concerning energy and the environment the Republican Party is out of step with what the American public supports.

About 79% of Americans would like to see more funding for research on renewable energy, 76% would like to see tax rebates for efficient cars & solar panels, 75% want CO2 regulated as a pollutant, 63% would require utilities to produce 20% clean energy, 65% want the U.S. to sign an international treaty to cut emissions, and 58% are against building more nuclear plants. Those positions are all in opposition to Republican energy policy.

The survey also showed that only 17% of the public has bought into the Republican lie that protecting the environment hurts economic growth and causes unemployment. A full 58% of the public knows that protecting the environment actually improves economic growth and creates new jobs. The Republicans may not want corporate polluters to clean up their act, but the American people do.

But the survey also showed there are a couple of areas where the Republican propaganda seems to be working. One is in expanding drilling in the Gulf of Mexico -- which 62% of the public would support. Too many people believe that the high price of gasoline is connected to the amount of drilling done in the Gulf -- which is not true at all. More education is needed to convince the public of the truth -- that the high gas prices are due to Wall Street oil speculators and Big Oil companies reducing the amount of gas refined.

The Big Oil companies (especially BP) have also been very successful in covering up the serious and continuing environmental damage to the Gulf by drilling and oil spills (eyeless shrimp, fish with numerous large lesions, etc.). The sad part is that the environmental damage will most likely stretch far into the future.

The second area where the public seems to be misguided is on the huge subsidies given to the oil companies by the government. About 54% of the public says they are against eliminating all energy subsidies. Considering the giant oil and gas companies and energy producers are making record profits, those subsidies are no longer needed (especially when federal deficits are so large).

Perhaps the following facts can change some impressions about the "poor" oil companies. Chevron made about $6.5 billion in profits in just the first three months of 2012 (that's $71 million in profit every single day -- after all expenses have been subtracted). ExxonMobil did even better by posting a first quarter profit of $9.45 billion (about $104 million in profit for every single day). Here are some other facts about these companies:

EXXONMOBIL

13 percent: The tax rate Exxon paid last year, lower than the average American family.


60 percent of its first quarter earnings, or $5.7 billion, on buying back stock. Became world’s largest dividend payer by increasing dividends 21 percent.
$1,091,000: Political contributions sent to federal politicians for the 2012 election cycle, making it the largest oil and gas spender.
91% of these contributions went to Republicans.
More than $52,000,000: Lobbying for the first three years of the Obama presidency, 50 percent more than in the Bush Administration.
$34.9 million: Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson’s salary for 2011, a 20 percent raise.
$52,300: Political contributions from Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson in the 2012 cycle, alone.



CHEVRON

Chevron paid a 19 percent effective federal tax rate in 2011, after making $26.9 billion profit.


Spent 19.2 percent of its Q1 profits buying back stocks ($1.25 billion), which enriches the largest shareholders.
Production dropped by nearly 5 percent, from 2.76 million barrels per day in Q1 FY 2011 to 2.63 million barrels in 2012.
Chevron CEO John Watson received $25 million compensation last year, a raise of 52 percent. Chevron’s Vice President received a 75 percent increase to $7.8 million.
Chevron is sitting on even more cash reserves, $18.9 billion, up from$15.9 billion in January.
Has spent more than $500,000 on federal political contributions in the 2012 election cycle. 87 percent of these contributions went to Republicans.
Has spent $3.24 million on lobbying in the first few months of 2012, after spending $9.51 million lobbying in 2011. Some of the Chevron PAC’s major recipients for 2012 include House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) ($5,000), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) ($5,000), Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) ($5,000), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) ($7,500), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) ($5,000).

Party Of No

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

Corporations Are Hiring - Just Not Here

The picture above may be funny to many of you, but I don't mean for it to be. The fact is that it's far too close to the truth to be funny. Unemployment is still over 8% in this country and the millions of jobs that disappeared in the Bush recession have still not been replaced. The Republicans, who have blocked repeated efforts by the Democrats to pass a job creation program of any kind, tell us that the only way to create jobs is to cut taxes for the giant corporations (and some of them would like to cut those taxes to zero).

This position by the GOP has seemed ridiculous to many of us who are paying attention the economy. The giant American corporations are making record-breaking profits, paying a smaller tax rate than most middle class workers, and currently sitting on record amounts of cash. If the Republicans are right, then where are the new jobs. Why haven't these corporations been creating new jobs with all that new wealth?

We now have the answer to that question. They have been creating jobs. It's just that the jobs they've been creating are not in this country. In fact, about 75% of all the jobs created by the large American companies have been in foreign countries. While they are only creating a pitifully small number of jobs in the United States, these corporations are outsourcing like madmen.

And these are the corporations the Republicans don't think should have to pay taxes. Frankly, I'm fed up with it. If these corporations can't create any jobs in America, then the least they could do is pay their fair share of taxes (without subsidies or other tax breaks, and without hiding profits in other countries to avoid paying taxes on them).

It's time to stop the outsourcing. If companies want to shift jobs to other countries, they should be severely punished. Any tax breaks offered should only be to companies that bring jobs back to this country. And that's not class warfare -- just common sense.

Not Interested ?

Political Cartoon is by Jeff Parker in Florida Today.

Cowboys Draft Boise State Defensive End


It was a long stretch between the Dallas Cowboys first and second draft picks -- about 75 places (because they had traded away their second round pick), and that made for a fairly boring second night of the draft. I'm not really complaining. I think it was well worth losing the second round pick to get Morris Claiborne, the LSU cornerback, in the first round -- a player who makes the defense much better (and probably will for a long time).

The Cowboys finally got to pick again in the third round, with the 81st pick of this year's draft. The player they picked was Tyrone Crawford, a 6'4", 275 pound defensive end who played for Boise State. The Cowboys needed a little more help on their defensive line, but from what I hear Crawford is a little raw. Hopefully, he is a fast learner and a hard worker and can contribute in the coming season. Here is what NFL.com had to say about him:

STRENGTHS

 Crawford is quick to get out of his stance off the snap and has the instincts to slant and hit a gap without being touched. He is consistently disrupting plays in the backfield and is a solid tackler. He is a strong player who shows an explosive arm jolt when keeping blockers at bay. Crawford shows good change of direction when stopping to pursue plays laterally. As a rusher, his motor is the key to his success. He never gives up on a play and can use a strong burst to get to the quarterback. He has a ton of upside, which undoubtedly increases his values to teams who are set at the position and willing to patient and work with him. Despite his size, he could even play special teams early on in his career because he has such a nasty demeanor.

WEAKNESSES

 Crawford is a raw prospect who only has one year of collegiate playing experience at the Football Bowl Subdivision level. He would be a project early on for the team that selects him, and he could have a tough time adapting right away. He has had trouble getting off double teams, which could be a technique issue, a likely possibility given his well-documented strength. Crawford will need extra coaching and attention to adjust to the NFL.

Today, the draft finishes up with rounds four through seven. The Cowboys have five picks -- two in round four, one in round five, one in round six, and one in round seven. Will there be any future Cowboy greats among those five picks? There's no way to know. In picks past the third round a team can strike gold or strike out. It will be interesting to see who they are though.

Jimmy Carter - Scaring The Teabaggers

Political Cartoon is by Rick McKee in The Augusta Chronicle.

Friday, April 27, 2012

GOP Voters

Found at the excellent blog called What Would Jack Do?.

Mean Policies Of The Congressional GOP

Some of you may think the picture and words above are more than a little bit harsh. After all, no one would really deny poor kids a nutritious lunch just to give rich people (who are already making record profits in this recession) bigger tax breaks, would they? The very idea of it is unthinkable. That is, unthinkable to anyone but congressional Republicans.

As mean-spirited and hard-hearted as it sounds, that is exactly what congressional Republicans are proposing. They want to keep all of the current tax breaks for the rich, and they want to give the rich (and corporations) massive new tax breaks -- and they want to do it on the backs of the poor and children (by taking food out of their mouths).

Just a few days ago, the Republican-dominated House Agriculture Committee approved a bill cutting billions of dollars from the SNAP Program. It includes an $11.5 billion cut that would kick 1.8 million low-income people off food stamp roles. It would also end free school meals for over 280,000 children in struggling families. And you can bet when this awful bill reaches the House floor, the Republican-dominated House will gleefully pass it.

The Republicans say these cuts are needed so they can add more money for the military to the budget (even though the Pentagon says that money is not needed), and to pay for new tax cuts for the wealthy. The really crazy part of all this is that these are the same politicians who brag publicly about what wonderful "christians" they are. It makes me wonder if they have ever read the words of the Jesus they claim to love and follow (since his teachings certainly don't favor the rich over the poor).

In 2010, they forced a tax cut for multi-million dollar estates that costs the federal budget about $11.5 billion a year -- a tax cut they would like to see extended (along with new tax cuts for the rich they are proposing). That money, which the rich could easily afford to pay, would fund food aid for that 1.8 million poor people and the 280,000 children's school lunches for the next 10 years.

This is just one more example that shows the Republicans don't care about anyone but the rich. For them, the hundreds of millions of other Americans should have been born rich if they wanted (or needed) any government help. How can any decent person vote for the Republican Party?  

Contender ?

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

Warmongers Of The Right-Wing Are Wrong

The graphic above sums up pretty well what the right-wing Republicans want. Fear is their best-selling product, and they want to convince our citizens that Iran has (or will soon have) an nuclear weapon -- which they would be crazy enough to use on Israel and other countries (including the United States).

The international nuclear inspectors, our own CIA, and even Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta have all tried to assure Americans that the Iranians do not currently have a nuclear bomb, and there is no indisputable evidence that they intend to build one. But they have been drowned out by the terrified screams of the right-wing warmongers. They see keeping the American people scared enough to accept perpetual war as the road to their own maintaining of power (and to fat corporate profits).

The right-wing wants a war with Iran. Some would like for Israel to start that war by bombing Iran. Others would like for the United States to do the initial bombing. And still others would like to see us invade Iran and engage in a bit of nation-building (like we've done so "successfully" in Iraq and Afghanistan).  These are all insane ideas. War should never be "preventative", but always a last resort (after every other possible alternative has been tried and failed).

Fortunately, at least so far, cooler heads are prevailing -- not only in this country, but also in Israel. Israel's chief military officer, Lt. General Benny Gantz, is one of those voices of reason. He doesn't think Iran has a nuclear bomb, and is not sure they even intend to develop one. Here is what he told the newspaper Haaretz:

"If Iran goes nuclear it will have negative dimensions for the world, for the region, for the freedom of action Iran will permit itself."


"But despair not. We are a temperate state. The State of Israel is the strongest in the region and will remain so. Decisions can and must be made carefully, out of historic responsibility but without hysteria."


"Iran is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn't yet decided whether to go the extra mile."


"The program is too vulnerable, in Iran's view. If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance it to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken. It will happen if Khamenei judges that he is invulnerable to a response. I believe he would be making an enormous mistake, and I don't think he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people."

It is time to back down from the violent rhetoric. Iran does not have a nuclear bomb, and we don't know whether they even want to build one (which they claim they don't want to build). And after the fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan (which we're still embroiled in), the last thing we need right now is another war, anywhere.

GOP's Titanic Metaphor

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

Cowboys Move Up & Draft LSU Cornerback

It's no secret that one of the biggest weaknesses of the Dallas Cowboys last year was in their secondary. They just gave up too many receptions last year, especially late in the game. The Cowboys had already addressed this problem in free agency -- by signing a top-notch cornerback (Brandon Carr) and a solid safety (Brodney Pool). Because of this, most people thought the Cowboys would use their pick (14th in the draft) to get a pass rusher (either a defensive lineman or an outside linebacker).

But Jerry Jones is nothing, if not unpredictable. In his 21 years of NFL drafts, he has traded his first round pick in all but six years. Usually that meant he traded down to get more overall picks. But this year he went the other way. Jones traded the Cowboys first and second round picks to the Los Angeles Rams for their first round pick (the 6th overall pick of the draft).

With that 6th pick of the draft, the Cowboys chose LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne -- who was generally regarded as not only the best cornerback in the draft, but also the best overall defensive player in the draft. With the addition of Claiborne ( a true "shutdown" corner) to Carr (considered one of the league's top corners), Orlando Scandrick (just signed to a new long-term contract), and Mike Jenkins (still recovering from an injury), the Cowboys have gone from a weak secondary to having possibly the best secondary in the league.

I think trading up to get Claiborne was a stroke of genius, and I can't believe it only cost them a second round pick. That's almost highway robbery. Even Stephen Jones said he was surprised they didn't have to give up more than just a second round pick to get Claiborne -- who the Cowboys said was the only player they would trade up to get. He was the second player on their draft board (behind quarterback Andrew Luck who was picked first in this draft).

Well done Jerry, Stephen, and Jason! I hope you can repeat this magic in your remaining draft choices.

No One Is Listening

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

Mysterious Ways

A little more humor from The Atheist Pig.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

About Wall Street Willie


Clinton Gets To The Heart Of America's Problem In Speech At West Texas A&M

On Tuesday night Bill Clinton made his second visit to the Texas Panhandle in the last four years (with his previous visit being to support his wife in the 2008 campaign). This time he spoke at West Texas A&M University as a guest of the school's Distinguished Lecture Series. And in his speech he made a point that makes a lot of sense -- one that every American should consider before voting in the next election.

The point was that there is a difference between political ideology and finding solutions to the problems that face this nation. Clinton said that debating politics does little to move the country forward, and compared political talk shows to "watching mud wrestling". He went on to say, "We can do lots of stuff to grow the economy, but if we spend most of our time making ideological arguments. . .we're not having the right debate. We're talking about whether to do something, instead of how to do it."

He is absolutely right. Instead of addressing our problems and how best to solve them, we have digressed into an argument over whether they should be solved at all. The Republicans have been especially bad at this. Instead of discussing how to design and initiate a job creation program to put millions of Americans back to work, they want to discuss whether it is ideologically-correct to have government help to create jobs (or help those who've lost their jobs).

Instead of debating how to ensure that all Americans (minorities, women, gays, etc.) can achieve equal rights, the Republicans want to argue over whether they should be equal at all. Instead of discussing how to provide decent medical care for all Americans, the Republicans want to argue about whether the poor and working classes even deserve to have decent medical care insured.

Instead of discussing how to make our tax system fair and equitable for all Americans, the Republicans want to insure that the rich and corporations won't have to pay their fair share of taxes. Instead of finding solutions to the problems Social Security and Medicare face (or will face in the future), the Republicans want to talk about whether they should exist at all.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. We have two political parties, but they are not both concerned with solving the country's problems. While Democrats are searching for solutions, the Republicans are concerned only with political ideology. This is probably because the Republicans have no solutions (or ideas on how to improve Democratic solutions). And the last refuge for any party without solutions is ideology (which like "mud wrestling" may be entertaining, but offers nothing substantial).

Think about this before you go to the polls in November -- and then vote for the party willing to search for solutions.

The Drone

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

Buying The Nomination

We have known for a while now that a candidate can't run for president in this country unless they are rich or have lots of rich friends willing to spend freely for them. That has never been more apparent than in the current race for the Republican presidential nomination. Willard Mitt Romney (aka Wall Street Willie) has virtually assured himself of the nomination (although it will still take a few more weeks to amass the required number of delegates), but it has taken a ton of money for him to do so.

And an argument can be made that he bought the nomination, because he had at his disposal a lot more money than was available to any of his opponents. When his campaign started to slow (as it often did), he had millions more that he could spend on campaign advertising than the other candidates did, and he was not shy about spending it to swing the election back his way.

CNN did a survey of campaign spending by the end of March, and it's pretty revealing. At that time, Romney had gotten 4.1 million votes and amassed 607 delegates. To get those votes and delegates, the Romney campaign had spent about $76.6 million -- and that doesn't count what the super-PACs spent on his behalf (adding super-PAC spending pushes the total up to about $122 million). Here is what each vote and delegate cost him:

Each vote cost him about $18.68.
Each delegate cost him about $126,194.

But that's only considering the campaign spending. When the super-PAC money is figured in, the totals go up to:

Each vote cost him $29.76.
Each delegate cost him $200,988.

Those are some pretty expensive votes and delegates. But Romney wasn't the only person to pay a lot for the votes and delegates they got. While the other candidates didn't have near as much money or spend near as much, they got less votes and delegates -- meaning that their cost per vote and delegate was also very high. Here are the totals for other candidates (with super-PAC spending included in the figures in parentheses):

RICK SANTORUM
Total spending $18.7 million ($26.7 million)
Each vote cost $6.45 ($9.21)
Each delegate cost $70,833 ($101,136)

NEWT GINGRICH
Total spending $21 million ($39 million)
Each vote cost $9.55 ($17.73)
Each delegate cost $148,936 ($276,595)

Super-PAC spending was insignificant for Ron Paul, but his campaign was the least cost-effective in buying votes and delegates.

RON PAUL
Total spending $35 million
Each vote cost $31.82
Each delegate cost $486,111

Fox Lies

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

Public Still Doesn't Like Wall Street Willie

There are a couple of new polls out that verify what other recent polls have shown -- that the president currently has a lead over Willard Mitt Romney (aka Wall Street Willie). The Gallup Poll shows the president leading 49% to 42%, and the Public Policy Polling survey shows the president leading by 49% to 44%. Gallup has the president with a 50% favorable rating, while PPP has it at 48%.

But more interesting than the electoral percentages (at least at this point of the campaign) is what the public thinks about Romney. To put it bluntly, most people don't like him very much. In almost every group surveyed by Public Policy Polling, Romney's viewed more unfavorably than favorably -- and for most groups the unfavorable rating is significantly higher. Here's the demographical breakdown of Romney's favorability (with the favorable rating given first and the unfavorable rating in parentheses):

General Public...............36% (51%)

Women...............32% (55%)
Men...............41% (46%)

Independents...............34% (52%)
Democrats...............10% (79%)
Republicans...............67% (17%)

Liberal...............12% (79%)
Moderate...............29% (61%)
Conservative...............56% (25%)

Whites...............43% (44%)
African-Americans...............7% (80%)
Asians...............15% (51%)
Hispanics...............23% (64%)
American Indian...............35% (51%)
Other...............22% (58%)

Union...............23% (63%)
Non-union...............39% (47%)

18 to 29...............37% (56%)
30 to 45...............27% (56%)
46 to 65...............38% (48%)
Over 65...............42% (44%)

Northeast...............30% (57%)
Midwest...............40% (49%)
South...............38% (48%)
West...............36% (46%)

Under $30,000...............30% (51%)
$30,000 to $50,000...............36% (52%)
$50,000 to $75,000...............34% (56%)
$75,000 to $100,000...............38% (47%)
Over $100,000...............41% (49%)

Those are some pretty bad numbers. The only two groups that give Romney a higher favorable than unfavorable number are Republicans and conservatives -- and even then, 17% of Republicans and 25% of conservatives view him unfavorably. Among all other groups in all parts of the country, Romney is just not liked very much. There's still a little over six months until election day, but it's not going to be easy for Romney to change this (especially considering the positions he has taken on the issues). Unless the economy slips even deeper into recession or unemployment climbs precipitously, it's looking like the president will get a second term.

A Step Too Far

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at msnbc.com.

Is Wall Street Willie More Dangerous Than George W. Bush ?

George W. Bush started two unnecessary wars (killing many thousands of soldiers and innocent civilians), ordered the torturing of foreign soldiers, passed a bill authorizing the spying on U.S. citizens without probable cause, gave the rich massive tax cuts, trashed the American economy, encouraged the outsourcing of American jobs, gave Wall Street a $700 billion bailout (after deregulating them), presided over the loss of 12-15 million American jobs, and turned a budget surplus into a huge deficit. There is little doubt that he was the worst president this country has had.

But here's a scary thought. Think Progress has come up with eight reasons why Willard Mitt Romney (aka Wall Street Willie) might be even worse than Bush if he became president. Here are the reasons they give for believing Romney is more right-wing (and therefore more dangerous) than Bush:

1. Bush passed a huge tax cut plan, mostly benefiting the wealthy. Romney’s tax cut plan is four times larger, more heavily weighted to benefit ultra wealthy.


2. Bush signed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. Romney supports repealing virtually all campaign finance laws.


3. Bush supported comprehesive immigration reform, a path to citizenship for 12 million undocumented immigrants and provisions of the DREAM Act. Romney opposes all of it.


4. Bush enacted a historic expansion of Medicare. Romney wants to end Medicare as we know it.


5. Bush signed a substantial increase to the minimum wage. Romney opposes increasing the minimum wage.


6. Bush created higher fuel efficiency standards. Romney says even current standards are too high.


7. Bush acknowledged global warming is caused by humans. Romney says “we don’t know.”


8. Bush lauched one of the biggest land conservation programs in U.S. history. Romney says the federal government owns too much land.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Because It Works


Texas Democrats Need A Leadership Change

The Texas Democratic Party is in a lot of trouble. Both houses of the state legislature have large majorities of Republican, and there hasn't been a Democrat elected to a statewide office for the last 18 years. It's not because members of the Republican Party vastly outnumber members of the Democratic Party in the state -- they don't. The parties have roughly equal membership.

The problem is a failure of leadership. There's an old saying in politics that no one's going to vote for you unless you ask them to, and the state party has not been asking most Texans. For years now, the state Democratic Party has virtually ignored large parts of the state (West Texas, East Texas, the Panhandle, etc.). They have put all of their efforts into the large urban areas and the Valley.

The excuse they have used is that it was the best use of their scant resources. Whether that's true or not, it has resulted in the marginalization of the party (because the Republicans are fighting for every vote in every part of the state). And until the state party returns to a 254-county strategy, fighting for every vote possible even in counties that currently vote Republican, they will remain a marginal party (able to elect Democrats only in small parts of the state).

Another failure of state leadership is in the candidates they encourage to run for office. These have largely been conservatives ("blue dogs" or "Republican-lites"), giving the voters of Texas no real choice (since both parties offer only conservatives). If the Democrats really want to return to power, they must field candidates that give the voters a real choice -- they need to field progressives to oppose the right-wing Republicans.

Fortunately, this year Texas Democrats have an opportunity to change the direction of their party. Party chairman Boyd Richie is stepping down, and a new party chairman must be elected at the state convention on June 9th. Of course the "good ole boys" have nominated their own candidate to replace Richie -- a candidate that will continue the current failed policies.

But there is another candidate -- Rachel Barrios-Van Os (pictured above). This lady is a true progressive who wants to give Texas voters a real choice. And she wants to fight for every vote in every Texas county. She represents something that is badly needed -- a change not only in leadership, but also in the direction of the state party.

As a delegate to the state convention in June, I will be supporting and voting for Rachel Barrios-Van Os -- and I urge you to do the same. Can she instantly solve all of the problems created by the current leadership? No, but she will put the party back on the path to relevance. If you would like to know more about this wonderful candidate, go to her newly-created website and check her out. I think you'll be as impressed as I am. And if you have a little extra money and would like to help fund the re-emergence of the Democratic Party in Texas, it wouldn't hurt to throw a few shekels her way.

Here is a bit of what she has to say to Texas Democrats:


Regarding the state of the party, I believe that something is very wrong when we have not won a single statewide office since 1994. Let's not wait another 18 years to start winning again, let's make it happen now. I'm ready to take on that challenge. I want a party of inclusion, I want a party that has its doors open to the public and to any citizen who wants to help fight for the good cause of democracy. I want a party that says, yes we can win and yes, we will win.

It's been 18 years since we've won a statewide election and it's just too darn long. We have to start fighting to win now! Part of the reason we haven’t been carrying the state is that we target only certain races, we create exclusion instead of inclusion and we give the public the impression that we don’t believe we can carry the state. We have to get back to coordinated campaigns for the whole democratic ticket and support every Democratic candidate. Our target should be the whole State of Texas and not just a hand full of specific races. When Democrats win, we all win. Bush and Perry along with all their greed, money and power have pushed us back for too long and it's time to fight. The time is now, the present, not the future, right here, right now!

I believe that anything is possible especially once you put your mind, heart and soul into the things that you believe in and care about. I care about people from all walks of life and I care from my heart about the ideals of a true Democracy for all the People.

If you believe as I do, please join me in helping to fight this battle. I need your vote and support to make this happen, I know that together we can do this.

I look forward to seeing you all at the 2012 State Convention. The convention runs from June 7, 2012 through June 9, 2012 and is being held in Houston, Texas. The convention starts its official business on Friday morning. On Saturday, June 9, 2012 the election of state party officers will take place, so make sure to be there so that your vote will count. I hope you'll join me on this day to help make it a new day for all Democrats and a new day, for a real democracy.