Easter Lemming Liberal News

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Obama: naive, neophyte, needs seasoning


I am impressed and inspired by Barack Obama. Being impressed and inspired does not mean I support him as the best choice for Democrats.

On health care reform, on foreign policy, on being tough enough to negotiate with corporate America and the GOP, the past two months have shown his weakness and inexperience.

This is a good practice run to prepare him for next time, if he shows some leadership in the next few years.

SusanUnPC shares my concerns and calls him out over his lobbyist "misstatements." Taylor Marsh has" also called him out on his false health care robocalls. More comprehensive Taylor Marsh on Obama.

lambert on Corrente:Income Inequality Rising.
Obama wants to “reach out,” but that strategy has already been tried. Obama says he wants to “reach out” to Republicans. But Reid and Pelosi “reached out” to Republicans, and that strategy was a miserable failure.

Real wages have been flat for a generation; unions have been disempowered; the powers of corporations greatly increased; government has become an agent for the corporations, rather than a protector of the people; the safety net has been shredded; and so on and on and on.

The picture tells the story. The Conservative Movement succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the billionaires who invested in it. Despite the remarkable gains that we have made in productivity, they creamed most of it off.
More from Kevin Drum on Inequality.

Joe Conason, Salon.org: Obama's European Problem.

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Republicans Raise Child Tax Again


3.4 Trillion dollars since 2001.

What? You haven't heard of the child tax?

That is when the Republicans spend our money without taxes to pay for the spending.

Just like Bush and the Republicans did with the Iraq War. Just like they just did with the Alternative Minimum Tax one year fix. They refused to let Democrats pay for the fix with a tax. Just like they have done with every Bush budget since he has been elected.

Bush came into office with an annual budget surplus. He spent it all the first year.

They refuse to tax to pay for any thing and say,. "Put it on the bill, we'll be dead before our children and grandchildren have to pay for it.

"And then when the Democrats raise taxes to pay the bill we can run against them for raising taxes."

Borrow and spend Republicans hate kids, don't believe in the future.

Their supporters must be really stupid to fall for that every time.

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Steven Gilliard Jr. - The Invisible Blogger


New York Times Ahem, a bit of a correction from Steve's group blog:
Gently, I think it important to correct a few mistakes in Matt Bai's article.

Many of the bloggers and other friends of Steve who came to Gilly's funeral were non-white. Many of them had in fact, been above 96th Street into Harlem before.

There was (and is) a semi-regular (when the mood and weather is fine) group of fairly prominent and up-and-coming New York bloggers who meet for barbecue and beer -- The Liberal Barbecue Conspiracy. Gilly named them. He saw who they were, and they saw him. Who he was, how he lived, what he was about. Some of the photographs in Gilly's funeral program came from a rainy afternoon the Barbecue Conspiracy all spent at the Bohemian Beer Hall hanging out, chilling. These people were pals.

For Matt Bai to hang the article's hook on how Gilly was a lonely black man who only could make it with white bloggers on-line who didn't know the real Gilly at all is, quite simply, bullshit. Markos isn't white. And neither were a number of other folks who came to the funeral. Matt Bai has that part of the story wrong.

Matt Bai was also wrong about Steve's life. Gilly didn't lead a lonely life. It was rich and filled day to day with his work, family, friends and sports. From his niece and nephew, his mother and father, to his co-publisher Jen, and the bloggers and friends he hung out with on a regular basis in person and on-line, this was a man who had a full, rich life. I've got an email from a national blogger who just read the Times story and wrote me saying, "Honestly, the man knew where in my kitchen I kept my knives." (She'd also been to Harlem before the funeral.) She was Gilly's friend, and he was a friend to her and to many others.

Gilly was a good friend, an amazing writer, and a mentor to more people than he knew.
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Friday, December 28, 2007

Informed Comment: Top Ten Myths about Iraq 2007

What myths are the conservatives and the media falling for? Here is a sample.
8. Myth: The US troop surge stopped the civil war that had been raging between Sunni Arabs and Shiites in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

3. Myth: The Iraqi north is relatively quiet and a site of economic growth.

2. Myth: Iraq has been "calm" in fall of 2007 and the Iraqi public, despite some grumbling, is not eager for the US to depart. Fact: in the past 6 weeks, there have been an average of 600 attacks a month, or 20 a day, which has held steady since the beginning of November. About 600 civilians are being killed in direct political violence per month, but that number excludes deaths of soldiers and police. Across the board, Iraqis believe that their conflicts are mainly caused by the US military presence and they are eager for it to end.

1. Myth: The reduction in violence in Iraq is mostly because of the escalation in the number of US troops, or "surge."
Basra has had the largest reduction in violence and the British pulled out its troops.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Houston DA's Love Notes Sealed With A Kiss

Our silver-haired death-dealing DA has had his love notes to his executive assistant sealed-up again after they were briefly exposed in a court case. District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal admits to a former affair with his secretary but claimed it was over. Those were pretty revealing SWAK emails to his $75,000 a year assistant, who may be violating county policy by getting a county car to drive.

Will voters have noticed this brief Christmas exposure? Already some Republicans are suggesting Rosenthal do the honorable thing and resign. As some other Houston bloggers have noticed this is a bit ickey and smacks of special treatment.



The Car in America's future

Gee, It also seems out of America's past.



Houston's Bob Perry Places His Bet


Bob Perry of Perry Homes is financing anti-Huckabee ads in Iowa.

It is interesting watching the money wing of the GOP tear down it's majority base's candidate from the religious wing. It took them forever to chose but chosen they have. The AP has the story:
The Club for Growth is spending $175,000 to continue running ads in Iowa that highlight tax increases adopted in Arkansas when Huckabee was governor. During the past three weeks, the group has spent $550,000 to criticize Huckabee's economic policies.

According to Federal Election Commission records, ClubForGrowth.net received $200,000 this month from Bob Perry, a Houston homebuilder who in 2004 pumped nearly $4.5 million into the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth to pay for unsubstantiated ads that questioned Kerry's Vietnam service.

Perry contributed $2,300, the maximum allowed, to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is Huckabee's top rival in Iowa. Romney has been running his own ads against Huckabee, criticizing his record on immigration and taxes.
Just from conversations Huckabee looks like he is becoming the Texas favorite. Perry and the other millionaires must figure they have to kneecap him now before he gets too unstoppable.






Losing Pakistan

Last Photo.
AP - Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide bombing that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally, a party aide and a military official said.
There has been a sucession of news stories this year from Pakistan that has reminded me of nothing so much as the fall of Iran to the mullahs.

We have spent $10 billion dollars, often delivered in cash, to secure a military dictator who is unpopular with his people and not loyal to either democracy or America. Why? The same stupid games we played in Iran and that have worked about as well.

The difference is that when Pakistan falls to anti-American religious extremists in large part because of our actions Pakistan already has their nuclear bombs.

A sad day of Pakistan. It should be a day of reflection over our foreign policy. What type of foreign policy do you want?




Why progressives should forget the middle ground. - Paul Krugman

Krugman is urging progressives to forget bipartisanship and pursue a real progressive agenda with majority support.



Time's New Cover Up?

Rory O'Conner catches Time magazine covering-up in its transcript of their interview with it's Man of the Year the fact they didn't know his birthday. You can find that basic information in about 3 seconds on Google. They were so embarrassed they edited their faux pas out of the supposedly "full and complete transcript" they posted.

Some other Timely points.

1. Time has always been a propaganda organ, they just seem more incompetent lately.

2. Putin was a worthy "news maker of the year" narrowly beating out Al Gore and General Petraeus. But when will Time ever change the title from "man of the year" which, despite their disavowals each year, still has the connotation of approval?

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Glenn Greenwald - This has been a terrible year

The year in memorable quotes.

ADDED - Think Progress adds their top 10 most popular stories of the year. Ann Coulter makes number one with an Edward's smear. Similar words have gotten people permanently banned from TV networks but there is another standard for Ann.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

R.O. Blechman: Season's Greetings, Animated

Also on Huffington Post a conservative TV host with a mere 11,000 square feet "Georgetown Greek revival-Federal four-story town house, which had a dozen fireplaces, a basement swimming pool and a separate eat-in kitchen for the live-in help" throws stones at Elizabeth Edwards mansion in the country. Maybe he got jealous. Tucker is now looking for a bigger house.

Tucker hosts a prime-time show on the "liberal alternative" to Fox News.




On the Edwards Christmas Campaign Trail

Molly Ivors catches a reporter confessing that Edward's campaign is boring because he never makes mistakes. "Come on John – relax. Step in an Iowa cow pie and let me do my job." Iowa bloggers don't think much of this type of reporter.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

District 22 Race


John Manlove finally officially announces he is running for Congressional District 22 on December 18. Funny, he resigned months ago because he was running for that seat. Maybe he didn't want to alarm the other many candidates with the size of his war chest.

Shelly Sekula Gibbs, no slouch at fundraising herself, started her radio campaign. It is pure Shelly. "Modern science is proving everyday that we Christians were right about everything."

The big issue on the Republican side, "my roots are longer and deeper than yours". No they're not talking about their hair. Pretty soon it will break out into the Sugar people vs. the Stinkerdenas. All eight candidates, the other one who lived with his parents and had a purple people eater Corvette just dropped out, have moved so far to the right and the "God told me to run" side of the field they are searching for something to distinguish themselves. Maybe someone should announce their support for Ron Paul. He has been pretty popular down there and is raising a ton of money.

Nick Lampson is campaigning on being against crime, for children, supporting veterans and lowering taxes. His political ads House updates every month seem to have covered only those issues. I hear he plans to introduce resolutions in support of motherhood, God and Apple Pie next year. That might make the district forget that he is a Democrat. Some of us Democrats wonder if he has forgotten he is a Democrat. Democrats will come back though, all eight of his opponents are so much worse.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

History - Red Scare Part 1


Read this about Truman and the Red Scare to whet your appetite for what is coming on this blog in the new year.



Executive Power Takeover


If I have any political philosophy it is balance of powers. The founding fathers recognized how power corrupts and that the only cure for that was to create a check and balance system of government.

Bush and Cheney have been tearing that principle, and the Constitution, to shreds. Part of this is a revival of the Nixon doctrine that the president is above the law. That is the anti-thesis of what the Constitution, and America, means.

The Boston Globe asked how all the presidential candidates view executive powers.
Those that did not answer the questions may keep or expand upon the Bush and Cheney power grab. Even some of the Republicans that did respond, like Romney, generally supported the Bush/Cheney new executive powers.

Worst candidates

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani - did not answer, greatly expanded New York mayor's powers.
The Giuliani campaign instead provided a general statement by its top legal adviser, former Bush administration solicitor general Ted Olson. He said that a president "must be free to defend the nation," but provided no specific details about what limits, if any, Giuliani believes he would have to obey as president - in national security or otherwise.
Mitt Romney -
Of the nine candidates who answered, Romney expressed the most positive view of Bush's approach to presidential power.

"The Bush administration has kept the American people safe since 9/11," Romney said. "The administration's strong view on executive power may well have contributed to that fact."
Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee, did not answer and based on their campaigns so far might be considered supportive of strong executive power. Huckabee probably less so.

Edwards, Clinton and Obama gave limited support for some controversial elements of executive power.

Ron Paul is a strict constitutionalist and opposes what he sees as an over reach. McCain opposes some or most of the Bush/Cheney doctrine.
McCain and Paul suggested that it would be unconstitutional for Congress to "micromanage" wars by capping the number of troops that the president may deploy to a particular nation, but most Democrats said Congress has the authority to do so.

Among the Democrats, only former North Carolina senator John Edwards refused to say that he would be bound to obey a law limiting troop deployments, instead saying, "I do not envision this scenario arising when I am president."

The troop deployment question was just one of several in which both Edwards and Romney declined to define the limits of presidential power. Edwards criticized Bush's "abuses," but did not categorically rule out invoking the same expansive theories of executive power in other circumstances.

But the other two leading Democrats - Clinton, a New York senator, and Obama - were both more definitive. Along with Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, and Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, Clinton and Obama endorsed a more restrained approach to executive power than Bush.
I find Romney and Giuliani totally unacceptable, Thompson leaning that way, Huckabee unknown, McCain and the leading Democrats acceptable, and Ron Paul and the minor Democratic candidates ideal.

Charlie Savage
, the reporter for this article, is the one who brought Bush's use of executive signing statements to the attention of the rest of the main stream media. He has become an expert on the reinterpretations of executive power going on and has a new book. The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy.

Daily Kos has a book review.
These twin pressures of overreaching executive claims and the seeding of the federal government agencies with ideologues and right-wing loyalists are going to present a challenge to the next president. The purifying of the professional civil service establishment is going to be difficult to achieve without cries of "political retribution" ringing far and wide; even more improbable to imagine is a president willing to shuck the strengthened powers Bush has seized for the office.

Savage’s book is important in this regard: becoming familiar with the details of how aberrant this administration has become is surely the first step in rectifying the unconstitutional overreach. It also serves as a superb introduction for citizens only vaguely aware of what’s at stake in the executive privilege realm and what that means for the permanent loss of our liberties. As the author notes, it’s all about precedent, and that’s what we need to fight the most.

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Christmas Mo Mo Mo


Edwards, Obama, and Huckabee have the big mo going into the final stretch at Christmas.

Ron Paul says that Mike Huckabee's ad reminds him of Sinclair Lewis's quote about how when fascism arrives, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. I don't think now was the best time to bring that up. I should say until that comment, true but untimely, he also had the big mo going.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Huckabee, Oh Huckabee


Arianna writes about the unsightly mess the Republican elite is exposing when their base finally finds the candidate they are looking for.
Will Huckabee win the nomination? No one knows. But win or lose, I can't see this genie going back in the bottle. One danger for the Huckabee haters is that right wing social positions aren't the only thing they've been nurturing for 30 years -- there's also this sense of aggrieved, martyred hatred of "the elites." Of course, it's usually completely manufactured. But this time, there really is a group looking down its nose at the evangelicals -- and it's not godless liberals. It's the supporters of Romney, McCain, Thompson and Giuliani. So what's going to happen when evangelicals realize this and tap into the hatred of "the elites" the GOP establishment has been whipping up in them for three decades?

Mark Kleiman points out that Huckabee is the only non-millionaire among the serious GOP contenders, and the only one who doesn't court what Kevin Drum calls the "money-cons" -- those Republicans for whom globalization is the only true religion.

Republicans have been running on a faux populist/religiously conservative platform ever since Richard Nixon. It was refined and heightened by Lee Atwater and again by Karl Rove. And now that they have a rising candidate who truly represents that platform, the movers and shakers of the party are doing all they can to kneecap him.
Huckabee realizes this is happening and knows the history of the GOP establishment that depends on the Evangelicals for votes and then laughs about them behind closed doors.

Huckabee himself on CBN with video:
There is a level of elitism that has existed, the chattering class if you will who lives in that corridor between Washington and Wall Street and they sort of live in their protected world, and frankly for a number of years many of them thought of people like me - whether it was because we were evangelicals or because maybe we were out from the middle of America. They were polite to us. They were more than happy for us to come to the rallies and stand in lines for hours to cheer on the candidates, appreciated us putting up the yard signs, going out and putting out the cards on peoples doors and making phone calls to the phone banks and - really appreciated all of our votes. But when they got elected, behind closed doors, they would laugh at us and speak with scorn and derision that we were, as one article I think once said "the easily led." So there's been almost this sort of, it's okay if you guys get a seat on the bus, but don't ever think about telling us where the bus is going to go.
Kevin Drum has more:
Say what you will about Huckabee, but he's got their number on this. Liberals, at least, just honestly disagree with evangelical social fervor. Republican elites, by contrast, are willing to pander endlessly for evangelical votes, evangelical money, and evangelical organizing zeal, but once the elections are won they think of them, in Peggy Noonan's recent words, as "the idiot vote."
More from David Corn.

Did Huckabee have gastric bypass surgery? He claims in his book it was all willpower. That isn't likely. Caution, from a new anti-Huckabee blog but the research and photos are compelling.



AlterNet: Tom Hanks in Great Movie with One Big Lie

Melissa Roddy:
So, if Massoud was not receiving the $3.5 billion that Congress was sending, who was? There were seven factions based in Pakistan who were the recipients of American largesse, but about 40 percent of it went to a blood-thirsty, fundamentalist, loudly anti-American bastard named Gulbaddin Hekmatyar.

However, instead of using the resources the United States sent him to fight the Soviets, he frequently used them to fight his mujahiddin allies. It was Gulbaddin Hekmatyar who turned Kabul to rubble -- not the Soviets and not the Taliban. Gulbaddin Hekmatyar regularly rocketed his own capitol during his term of office as prime minister. Hekmatyar is renowned for having killed more Afghans than Soviets. He so habitually attacked his mujahiddin allies that many people suspected he was actually a Soviet agent.

Not only is Hekmatyar anti-American, but he and another anti-American fundamentalist, Abdul Rasul Sayaf, received lots of support during the 1980s from the Saudis. That support included cash and thousands of Arab volunteers, including a wealthy young engineer named Osama bin Laden. It was Hekmatyar and Sayaf who, with bin Laden, established terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why after 9/11, Wilson went on Fox News and said, "This was as much my fault as anybody's."


Our screwed-up sexual culture


Courtney E. Martin is the author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body. You can read more about her work at www.courtneyemartin.com.

From Virgin or Slut, Pick One:
On the one hand we have a hypersexualized and pornified pop culture -- thongs marketed to tweens, Victoria's Secret ads with models who don't look a day over 13, and reality shows like A Shot at Love on MTV, where both men and women will do anything -- including jump in vats of chocolate and discuss their sexual histories on national television -- all for instantaneous love with a petite model. The message to young women is loud and clear: Your body is your power. Flaunt it. Use it. Get attention. The message to young men is also unmistakable: Your gaze is your power. Your role is to judge and comment on women's bodies. As a man, you are inevitably obsessed -- sometimes stupidly so -- with the female form.

On the other hand, we have a federally funded (over $1 billion thus far) abstinence-only sex education program in this country. According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly half (46 percent) of all 15- to 19-year-olds in the United States have had sex at least once. According to the government's most comprehensive survey of American sexual practices to date, more than half of all teenagers have engaged in oral sex -- including nearly a quarter of those who have never had intercourse. Regardless of this reality, health teachers from Nacogdoches, Texas, to Newark, N.J., are taught to emotionlessly repeat -- as if pull dolls of the Bush administration -- "The only guaranteed way to avoid pregnancy and STDs is abstinence. The only guaranteed way to avoid pregnancy and STDs is abstinence. The only guaranteed way to avoid pregnancy and STDs is abstinence."

Here, the message to young women is also resolute: Your body is dangerous. Control it. Ignore it. Don't ask any questions. Teen girls are cast as asexual princesses happily trapped in towers, guarded by their Bible verse-spouting fathers. The message to young men is more subtle. In this fairy tale written, produced and directed by abstinence-only advocates, teenage guys are both potential villains -- the oversexed, hormone-crazed young men who must be refused continuously by good girls -- or potential knights in shining armor -- saving enough money from their summer jobs to buy sparkling rings that will save their sweeties from the hell of slutdom.

In between pornified culture and purity balls, in between the slut and the virgin, the stupid, lascivious dude and the knight in shining armor, in between the messages directed at young women -- your body is your power vs. your body is dangerous -- and young men -- your gaze is your power vs. your gaze is dangerous -- are real young people trying to develop authentic identities and sexual practices.



Retail worker woes


IRS orders FedEx to pay $319 million in illegal independent contractor scam. There are many businesses that were wrongly advised to save money by classifying their employees as independent contractors. This was just another way of cutting pay and benefits. Especially if you do it to employees who are truly not independent contractors this can come back to bite the business in the ass.

Another way to screw employees to benefit the bottom line was followed by Circuit City. They fired over 10% of their retail sales clerks because they figured they were paying them too much. They were making about $14-$15 an hour. They hired new people at $9 an hour. Guess what happened?

Circuit City is now losing money and the stock price is down 75%. The only reason to go to Circuit City was for the knowledgeable salespeople it fired. How is management being rewarded for this mess? Because their stock options are worthless executives are getting "retention bonuses" to keep the team that was responsible for this together. For executive VP's these bonuses are $1 million dollars. Ho, Ho, Ho, for those top 0.2%. This is clearly a company to avoid - investing in, working for, or shopping in.

At times I am glad I no longer work in retail. I loved it but employees are repeated screwed by the financial dealings loosely referred to as Wall Street.



The CIA's 4th Grade Level Lies

Keven Drum catches the CIA playing Simon Says.



Latest from the Dave Barry for President Campaign

Ignored by the mainstream media, Dave Barry munches on.
Q. Dave, It's a travesty!
Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and Washington, D.C. continue to be taxed without elected officials in Congress. What do you propose to do about it?
Tea Party King, Boston Harbor, MA 12/04/07

A. I propose to add Italy, France, Brazil, Germany and Japan to that list.
Dave Barry 12/20/07

Friday, December 21, 2007

How to get money for graduation

Start a blog at 13, become highly influential for tips on secretive Apple, get sued by the multi-billion dollar behemoth, and settle out of court for an untold sum to shut down the blog.



How successful was this Congress?

On the one hand, Bush and the Republicans stopped all forward movement on withdrawal from Iraq and the other major bills the Democrats wanted.

On the other hand, the specific legislation Democrats promised in their New Direction Agenda were all passed but one. Another one on stem cell research was vetoed. This is in sharp contrast to Newt's Contract with America's agenda in 1995.

They did end up with weaker versions of the bills on the agenda then they were hoping for.

They also were not willing to fight as hard and dirty as the GOP yet. Even Rep. John Conyers, who has been keeping the pressure on the White House and the administration, admitted he is more afraid of what the main stream media thinks then pleasing his constituents.

And impeachment is still off the table, despite the majority of American's wishes.:
AMY GOODMAN: These numbers, Congressman Conyers, quickly, American Research Group, 45% of Americans would back impeachment proceedings against Bush, 54%—that’s more than half the American people—would back the same against Cheney. Your response?

REP. JOHN CONYERS: Well, I respect whoever they are, but I’ve got to produce the votes inside the Congress, and that’s where our first battle is going to be. I had Ray McGovern in my first Downing Street memos hearings in the basement a few years back, in which we revealed that the war in Iraq was more preemptive than anything else. But marching into history, I’ve got to put together a winning program and not step on our message. We’ve got a lot of legislation to accomplish. The minority party in the House has been—and the Senate, too—have been very effective in preventing us from moving forward.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Literally and figuratively


My Dad walked on the Moon with Neil Armstrong and this is where I get my strong support for space exploration.

What, you are questioning this?

Why is this not mentioned in the history books?

Well, like Romney talking about his father's marching with Martin Luther King, I was speaking figuratively.

I am also able to bench press 400 pounds after running a four minute mile before satisfying three women during my afternoon siesta.

Perhaps only figuratively.



Three quickies


Clear Lake blogger John Coby gets on 11 News.

What happens if you get picked up by Matt Drudge? (~ snark besides getting eggs and lice?) You get a deluge of "rage-filled and anti-Semitic" emails from Drudge's classy readers.
...dismissing anybody living within 100 miles of Hollywood as "pinheads," "stoopid liberals" or "anti-American friends of the terrorists" isn't particularly original or, for that matter, accurate. Although I might be a godless sodomite that hates America, I'm confident not everybody west of Nevada is, despite what Bill O'Reilly says.

Also, you don't have to be a condescending elitist ensconced in Manhattan lofts or Beverly Hills mansions to embrace the First Amendment.
Don't tell that to the people of Pasadena, Texas, which just banned demonstrations aimed at people near their residences.

Johnny Isbell cites safety; Ralph Riggs cites city revenue as Pasadena election issues.

This is the first time Johnny Isbell has actually mentioned an issue and it turns out its international terrorism! Way to go Johnny, are you sure you didn't file in the wrong race? It's easy to get Congress and Pasadena confused.

Ralph Riggs has picked up all of the defeated candidates endorsements except the guy who came in fourth who is peevishly not endorsing anyone.



Humor in Politics


The Twenty funniest political videos of the year.

Dan Kurtzman also has a very funny book: How To Win A Fight With A Conservative which would make a good holiday gift!

A GOP debate in 32 seconds.



The Daily Show's Greatest Hits.

Matt Drudge, now with gay porn! This goes with his egg fetish and pubic lice. The most watched blog by the Christian Right and the East Coast "So-Called-Liberal-Media" just loves his eggs.

Bush's Press Secretary didn't know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was!

Wait a minute. Are these last two really funny? Have I've been a blogger too long and see everything through snark eyes?
"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true."
Oh well, Jib Jab - 2007 In Review.



Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Democrat Wins Texas House Seat in Upset

One of the districts drawn to elect Republicans just put a Democrat in office. District 97 went 34% to Gore in '00 and 36% to Kerry in '04.

I have an email in to Amber Moon asking her to reconsider running for 144. She has reportedly changed her mind and will not run for the seat that has only a nominal GOP advantage and normally very low turnout.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Worst Backfiring Political Ad Ever

Romney decided to run a TV ad against Huckabee because his campaign is getting desperate. Go negative and knock Huckabee down and perhaps regain the lead.* They decided to focus on Huckabee being soft on crime.

The ad contrasts Huckabee's record of many pardons with Romney's record of no pardons while governor. That is about the entire ad.

It tries to show that as a conservative Republican Huckabee is too compassionate and follows the Christian forgiveness doctrine a bit too much so he is not as tough on crime. No pardons is equated with being tough on crime.

Instead this ad shows that Huckabee is Christian, does believe in compassion and judgment and forgiveness and repentance. It shows that Romney is hard-hearted and is not a Christian who believes in forgiveness or pardons.

How many Christian Republicans want to elect someone who doesn't believe in pardons or repentance? Doesn't it draw attention to the fact that Romney is not a Christian while he is already losing Christian support?

The ad might work against a Democrat who was perceived as being soft on crime but there is nothing in Huckabee's record indicating that. He is just more generous with pardons because of his Christian beliefs. It draws a contrast with Romney's lack of Christian beliefs.

Huckabee's campaign wants Romney to run more of these ads.

* They did this despite knowing the history of Iowa turning against candidates who run negative ads.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Another Hero Today - Sen. Chris Dodd

The weakling today- Senate Majority Leader Reid.

The hero refused to back down and was prepared to filibuster over giving phone companies retroactive immunity for wiretapping without court orders. The weakling did not honor the hold that Sen. Dodd had placed on the bill and forced the first actual, as opposed to symbolic, filibuster in a long time. After hours of Dodd being on the floor it was apparent he would really filibuster and drag Senate business to a halt.

Reid and Bush and the Republicans and the phone companies lost and the bill is delayed until next year.

See also Political Animal as well as Greenwald.

Allow me to highlight that this wiretapping program started before 9/11 - just after Bush took office. It wasn't aimed at terrorists which weren't even on this administration's radar screen.

Who knows what it was aimed after - people seem to have forgotten Nixon's wiretapping and IRS shenanigans. Same type of programs all with promises it was all for national security and they wouldn't abuse the power. This arguments works with some Republicans, like Kim du Toit who argues that Americans are the only ones moral enough to torture, but not with anyone with a lick of sense.



Voting News


Are arguments breaking out between Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) advocates and the Range Voting (CRV) groups?

Either is better than our present system. The National Popular Vote movement, also called Fair Vote, is still gathering momentum with the New Jersey legislature signing on. They are also supporting IRV. It is easy for both liberals and conservatives to support IRV as a cost saving measure, no need for a runoff elections.

The facts seem to support the charge that Range Voting advocates make that IRV promotes both dishonest ranking and a two-party system. Interesting election in Peru where the candidate who would have beaten either of the other top two candidates in the runoff came in third and so did not get in the runoff.

Colorado decertifies most evoting machines.

Ohio GOP blog denounces bipartisan study of flawed voting machines as "left-wing activists."

The truth - the study did not go far enough and did not study why on election night Ohio switched to RNC servers to count their votes.
We filed a civil rights lawsuit. We won. The federal election law says the ballots were supposed—had to be protected, under federal law. We got an overlapping decision from a federal judge to preserve, for our civil rights suit, the preservation of these ballots. Fifty-six of eighty-eight counties in Ohio destroyed their election ballots, destroyed all their election records, or most of them, making a pure recount impossible. This is in direct violation of a federal court injunction and standing federal law. So far, nobody has been prosecuted. What kind of country are we living in?

Now, the Secretary of State comes out with a $1.9 million report and says that all the electronic methods of counting the votes that were used in Ohio in 2004 were easily—“easily,” that was her word—flipped. Anybody with a simple electronic machine could have gone in there and turned the election, and we know it was done, because the Republican Secretary of State was also co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign. How do you top that?

....But the 2004 election was stolen. There is absolutely no doubt about it. A 6.7% shift in exit polls [in Ohio] does not happen by chance.


Huckabees New Campaign Director Covered Up Millions in Illegal Contributions

It has come out that Ed Rollins, the new chairman of Mike Huckabee's Republican presidential campaign, helped cover-up the transfer of millions from Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos to the Reagan campaign. One source of the allegations - Rollins himself confessed in his autobiography.
Rollins, who ran Reagan’s reelection campaign, mentioned the admission in his 1996 book, Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms, recounting how the Filipino casually asserted over drinks that he had carried the money in a suitcase to a Republican lobbyist who was representing the Reagan campaign.

"I was the guy who gave the ten million from Marcos to your campaign," the Filipino told Rollins. "I was the guy who made the arrangements and delivered the cash personally. ...It was a personal gift from Marcos to Reagan."

...In the years since, some witnesses have claimed that Marcos put up money to support a covert Republican operation to contact Iranian authorities behind Carter’s back and to bribe them into delaying release of the hostages until after the November 1980 election.

Documentary evidence of a Marcos-to-Reagan payoff in 1980 first surfaced after Marcos was ousted by a popular revolution in March 1986.

As Marcos's fall neared, Reagan arranged for the dictator to be flown to safety in Hawaii. After Marcos left, his opponents ransacked government files and found a Feb. 17, 1986, letter signed by a senior Marcos aide, Victor Nituda.

In the letter, Nituda told Marcos that Reagan's emissary, Sen. Paul Laxalt, R-Nevada, was demanding that sensitive files, including ones listing the 1980 transactions, be turned over before Marcos could go to Hawaii.

Nituda's letter specifically cited accounts set up for Reagan and his 1980 campaign manager William J. Casey, who became Reagan’s CIA director in 1981. Laxalt had served as Reagan’s campaign chairman in 1980.

Laxalt "expects all documents checklisted during his last visit or the deal [for a Hawaiian exile] is off," Nituda wrote. The first two documents listed were "1980-SEC-014: Funds to Casey" and "1980-SEC-015: Reagan Funds Not Used."
More from Robert Perry at Consortium News.



Sexual Harassment Common at KBR


Another woman working at Halliburton, Kellogg, Brown and Root in Iraq supports the claims of rape and harassment there. Houston Channel 11 News:
"If you wanted to get a promotion you didn't necessarily have to have the qualifications,” remembered Lindsey, a former KBR contractor. “You just needed to be sleeping with the person who was doing the hiring.”

Though she did not know Jamie Leigh Jones, the young KBR contractor who says she was drugged and gang raped by colleagues, Lindsey said Jones’ allegations are not surprising.

“Where I was at and when I was there it was very, very upsetting,” Lindsey recalled.

In a sworn affidavit for the Jones case, Lindsey said: “I saw rampant sexual harassment and discrimination."

“Well, first of all, a boss saying that he hired a woman because she told him that she puts out," she added.

Her affidavit also said: "When anyone would report an incident of abuse or harassment, they would be threatened with a transfer to a more dangerous location."

Lindsey said complaints made it back to KBR's Houston headquarters, but the people causing problems in Iraq were never removed.

Jamie Leigh Jones and a North Carolina woman, who also said she was assaulted by a KBR contractor, will both testify before Congress Wednesday.
KBR has also been sued by 4 other women alleging sexual harassment and rape while working for KBR in Iraq. This is in addition to the other fraud and abuse cases in the court system over aspects of KBR's Iraq adventure.



Real Hero of the Day - Keith Olbermann

Keith says he almost quit MSNBC when they wanted Mike "the blowhard" Savage to do commentary on his show.
“90 percent of the people on the Nobel Committee are into child pornography and molestation.” — Michael Savage [12/12/2007]

“Of all of the dictators in the past, you know the one Al Gore strikes me as [being] closest [to] is Mussolini.” — Michael Savage [7/9/2007]

“Notice what this double-talking slut just did, this mind-slut Barbara Walters. And I stick by those words. She’s an empty mind-slut.” — Michael Savage [3/16/2007]
In July 2003, MSNBC fired Savage after he referred to a caller as a “sodomite” and said he should “get AIDS and die.”
What the right claims as one of their fairness and accuracy of the media sites defends Mike Savage and attacks Olbermann.

I think Think Progress should be high on moderate and liberal's read daily blog list.



Newsweek: Sleeper - Edwards can still win Iowa

Newsweek does a cover story on the Edward's campaign for Iowa. (I have never seen any other cover story as hard to find on their website.)

I mentioned this for my Iowa predictions and preceded the Newsweek story which elaborates on the role of second choice candidates and the rural vote. Those crowded urban precincts don't get more delegates than the family that shows up in the lonely prairies.

Here is a more in-depth look at the Democratic caucus system, it is marred by a bad Richardson example. Richardson supporters after being told they are one short of a delegate would redistribute to other candidates. Having another candidate's caucus director realize they are one short and moving a supporter over to give Richardson a delegate to take it away from another candidate is a risky scenario given that they may be denying themselves that delegate after redistribution.



Andrew Endorses Ron Paul

Let's be clear: we have lost this war. We have lost because the initial, central goals of the invasion have all failed: we have not secured WMDS from terrorists because those WMDs did not exist. We have not stymied Islamist terror - at best we have finally stymied some of the terror we helped create. We have not constructed a democratic model for the Middle East - we have instead destroyed a totalitarian government and a phony country, only to create a permanently unstable, fractious, chaotic failed state, where the mere avoidance of genocide is a cause for celebration. We have, moreover, helped solder a new truth in the Arab mind: that democracy means chaos, anarchy, mass-murder, national disintegration and sectarian warfare. And we have also empowered the Iranian regime and made a wider Sunni-Shiite regional war more likely than it was in 2003. Apart from that, Mr Bush, how did you enjoy your presidency?

McCain, for all his many virtues, still doesn't get this. Paul does.
On the Democratic side he thinks Obama is transformative. Andrew seems to be flailing around for someone to believe in.
The paradox is that Hillary makes far more sense if you believe that times are actually pretty good. If you believe that America’s current crisis is not a deep one, if you think that pragmatism alone will be enough to navigate a world on the verge of even more religious warfare, if you believe that today’s ideological polarization is not dangerous, and that what appears dark today is an illusion fostered by the lingering trauma of the Bush presidency, then the argument for Obama is not that strong. Clinton will do. And a Clinton-Giuliani race could be as invigorating as it is utterly predictable.

But if you sense, as I do, that greater danger lies ahead, and that our divisions and recent history have combined to make the American polity and constitutional order increasingly vulnerable, then the calculus of risk changes. Sometimes, when the world is changing rapidly, the greater risk is caution. Close-up in this election campaign, Obama is unlikely. From a distance, he is necessary. At a time when America’s estrangement from the world risks tipping into dangerous imbalance, when a country at war with lethal enemies is also increasingly at war with itself, when humankind’s spiritual yearnings veer between an excess of certainty and an inability to believe anything at all, and when sectarian and racial divides seem as intractable as ever, a man who is a bridge between these worlds may be indispensable.

We may in fact have finally found that bridge to the 21st century that Bill Clinton told us about. Its name is Obama.



More Joe Horn


The Texas gun owner's symbol of the right to shoot robbers in your neighborhood in the back gets even more news.

Front page Sunday Houston Chronicle: The Man behind the Gun.

His lawyer permitted Joe to answer questions that showed Joe Horn was a nice guy. Shouldn't the right bloggers be all over this defense trial lawyer?

What the sociologists say - empowerment drives shooting in the back advocates.

That Lisa Falkenberg column that tossed gas on the local flames: "it's a bad thing to kill other people when we don't have to." Her three columns on Joe Horn are getting letters and thousands of comments, majority unfavorable.

Texas has always been known for its support of lynch mobs.

Today: An actual self-defense, home invasion shooting.

What do the false macho, gun-loving, thumb-sucking bunch think? Right now they are freaking out over the Chron for showing what Colombians are saying.

Joe's lawyer:
Lambright insists Horn feared for his life. After the 911 dispatcher asked for more information on the burglars, Horn left his house to see what was happening and to possibly get a glimpse of the burglars' car or license plate, Lambright said.

"He went outside and all of a sudden there they were," Lambright said. "And Horn tells them 'move and you're dead.' The suspects have a shotgun aimed at them and their response was to run at Joe and he panicked."
He panicked? I thought Joe was the hero? Oh, that's right. Joe's lawyer is trying to get him out of a double homicide charge. When they have you on tape saying you are going out to kill them.... change the story. Joe was going to check the license plate! He was afraid when they charged him! Ignore the premeditation on tape, ignore the shooting diagram (not online but in the print Chronicle) and ignore the shootings in the back! That's the ticket.



Texas Round-Up 23


It's beginning to look a lot like Monday, every where you go. Take a look at the blogs and posts glistening once again with threads and comments aglow. It's beginning to look a lot like Monday, Round-ups on ev'ry blog, but the prettiest sight to see is the post that will be from your own favorite blog....enjoy this week's Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

Fred Thompson couldn't make the ballot in Delaware because of FIVE HUNDRED SIGNATURES. Mayor McSleaze at McBlogger thinks that's pretty pathetic. You will as well.

Eddie at Burnt Orange Report writes about a precedent-setting case in the Sixth District Court of Appeals which gives helps a Paris, Texas blogger preserve his or her anonymity.

How I became a "far-left-radical with a socialist agenda" etc. On Bluedaze by TXsharon.

While Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News had a sick mouse the world moved on.

Choo choo!! That is the sound of cleaner air at The Texas Cloverleaf. 98 new more environmentally friendly trains are running in Texas. But did taxpayers really have to front the money?

Bay Area Houston Wonders why NASA Contractors are limiting their employees constitutional rights while receiving billions of dollars of government funding.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that AG Greg Abbott has handed Speaker Tom Craddick an early Christmas present in the form of an opinion that hands him cart blanche to do whatever he wants--and even emasculates impeachment.

Muse discovers a list of 300+ women political bloggers! Female bloggers are playing a powerful role in this presidential election cycle – and are increasingly recognized for this. Texas bloggers are on the list. Check it out!

In his piece titled John Cornyn Files for Senate, Hal at Half Empty entertains the notion that the junior senator is really looking for an elusive seat on the US Supreme Court.

Stace at DosCentavos tells us about the newest Pew Center poll! It's no wonder many Citizen-Latinos (and especially undocumented folks) are feeling like people without a country.

Eye on Williamson, posts on Brian Ruiz, Rep. John Carter's opponent in TX-31, and two of Carter's recent votes in Brian Ruiz And Rep. John Carter's (R-Exxon Mobil) Circle .

An activist action plan for the FISA-with-telecom immunity bill, coming up on Monday in the Senate, is posted by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

And, last but not least, don't forget about Dan Barrett in House District 97, who has been endorsed by the Texas Progressive Alliance in his special election runoff. Matt at Burnt Orange Report has a great post about the race here.



Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tragic Tale of Religion That Knows No Love


The more I read of Matthew Murray's home life and his dealings with his mega-church the more I understand why he decided he needed to blew the church away.

Matthew Murray was the "deranged gunman" who killed four and wounded others at young Evangelical Christian missionary locations connected to a Denver suburb mega-church. New Life Church is one of the largest and most influential in the country. It was also home to Rev. Ted Haggard until he was removed for drugs and homosexuality with a gay prostitute. It has been the leader in the largely sucessful effort to Christian radicalize the Air Force. It leads in promoting deprogramming gayness.

Matt became mentally ill but his whole life revolved around the church and being home-schooled. The church and his parents decided he had become possessed by evil demons and made his life even more of a living Hell and kept destroying his video games and music. How much of that is due to his coming out as bi-sexual is unclear.

I don't sympathize or condone what he did but it becomes understandable.

In the years before his death after an exchange of fire with an armed security guard at New Life Church in Colorado Springs he had posted many of his thoughts in online discussion groups.
His rage explodes in a posting that appeared to have been made between the shootings in Arvada and Colorado Springs on Sunday, saying, "You christians brought this on yourselves ... I'm coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth and I WILL shoot to kill. .... God, I can't wait till I can kill you people."

Murray, who police said shot and killed two people at the missionary center and two people at the megachurch, copied from the manifesto of Columbine High School shooter Eric Harris in his post on a site for ex-Pentecostals.
I don't think it is a surprise that Denver suburbs have become the home of young male killers seeking revenge through mass blood shed. This Evangelical Christian, Republican, gun-loving culture has no place or sympathy for misfits.

Many more Matt's posts. True crime has more.

Four young people died as well as Matthew Murray as he went after his revenge with guns. My sympathy is with their friends and families.

Rightwing Sparkle is on the case:
I'm not making a judgement here on Matthew or his family. I'll let God do that. But for the websites that I surfed through that seem to want to blame the Church, or homophobia[I corrected spelling], or his parents, or hypocrisy for what Matthew did, I don't buy it.

I have known people who went through these kinds of things, as horrible as they are, and come out of it as wonderful human beings. Matthew never understood that God wasn't the New Life Church or his parents. He was being forced to find answers there. And then he looked for more answers in all the wrong places.

There is no doubt in my heart and mind that the struggle between good and evil surrounds each of us every day. Matthew had more of a struggle than most of us, but he could not overcome. He was devoured.

May God have mercy on his soul.

I Peter 5:8
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
I liked her post a lot better before the reference to the devil devouring him. A lot of Matt's problems were due to the beliefs he was forced fed that the devil and the demons would devour him.

I think these are the lessons to learn:
Don't force feed your children your religious beliefs.
If your church lacks love and practices hypocrisy get another.
Watch out for guns in the hands of the mentally unbalanced.

I should thank the Houston Chronicle and Rightwing Sparkle for making me more aware of this case.



Ron and the Giant Blimp

Ron Paul may be the top GOP money-raiser this quarter. Flush with cash the notoriously frugal Ron is using charter private jets to get around. A group of independent supporters have also just launched the Ron Paul blimp powered by hot air and revolution.

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Huckabee Will Shoot Up In the Polls


Huckabee gets vetted by the Council of Foreign Relations, part of the all powerful Illuminati you know, and criticizes Bush's military and foreign policies.
"American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out," Huckabee said. "The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad. My administration will recognize that the United States' main fight today does not pit us against the world but pits the world against the terrorists."

In one specific criticism, Huckabee said Bush did not send enough troops to invade Iraq. And he accused the president of marginalizing Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, who said at the outset of the war that it might take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to control Iraq after the invasion. "I would have met with Shinseki privately and carefully weighed his advice," Huckabee said.
Having another GOP candidate besides Ron Paul acknowledge the arrogance and disaster of Bush/Cheney is a nice development. I often find Republicans privately conceding this and I suspect most conservatives want a leading candidate saying this. There is little loyalty to Bush among the base.

Pass the popcorn.

Drudge is headlining this, probably thinking this is a Huckabee mistake. He has been recently running a smear campaign against Huckabee.

Wow, Huckabee is tearing the conservative bloggers apart. They are using language against their religious base liberal bloggers like me wouldn't use. I think it is the populism that gets them. They want conservatives who also support the big corporate agenda. Kevin agrees - Huckabee is the real deal for the base of the GOP and the bloggers and the leaders don't want the real deal. See some of Huckabee's problems.



Under Bush The Rich Get Richer, Much Richer

The New York Times makes a business headline article over the report Krugman cited in his blog. My earlier take here.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Do Nothing Congress?


Here is a list of 60 bills either vetoed by Bush or being blocked by threats of vetos.

If you want a "Do Something Congress" impeach Bush and Cheney.

Seven vetoes including Energy & Water appropriations, Labor/HHS/Education appropriations, and two SCHIP vetoes.

Threats against 53 additional bills:
Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act - H.R. 4, and the Medicare Fair Prescription Drug Price Act - S. 3
Employee Free Choice Act - H.R. 800
Improving America's Security Act - S. 4
Water Quality Financing Act - H.R. 720
Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007 - H.R. 985
Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007 - H.R. 1255
United States Policy in Iraq Resolution - S.J.Res. 9
U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act - H.R. 1591, S. 965, H.R. 2206
D.C. Voting Rights Act – H.R. 1433, S. 1257
Rail and Public Transportation Security Act - H.R. 1401
Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act - S. 5
Intelligence Authorization Act - S. 372, H.R. 2082
Food and Drug Administration Revitalization Act - S. 1082
Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act – H.R. 1592
Redeployment of United States Armed Forces and defense contractors from Iraq - H.R. 2237
Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act - H.R. 1684
Agricultural Disaster Assistance and Western States Emergency Unfinished Business Appropriations Act - H.R. 2207
National Defense Authorization Act - H.R. 1585, S. 1547
No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act - H.R. 2264
Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act – H.R. 1252
Human Cloning Prohibition Act - H.R. 2560
Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act - H.R. 2638, S. 1644
Creating Long-term Energy Alternatives for the Nation (CLEAN) Act/Energy Independence and Security Act - H.R. 6
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act - H.R. 2764
Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act - H.R. 2643
Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act - H.R. 2829
College Cost Reduction Act - H.R. 2669
Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act - H.R. 2956
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act - H.R. 3074, S. 1789
Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act - H.R. 3093, S. 1745
Farm, Nutrition and Bioengery Act/Food and Energy Security Act - H.R. 2419
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act - H.R. 2831
Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act(SCHIP)- S. 1893, H.R. 3162, H.R. 976, H.R. 3963
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act - H.R. 3161
Ensuring Military Readiness Through Stability and Predictability Deployment Policy Act - H.R. 3159
Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act - H.R. 2776
New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act - H.R. 3221
Terrorism Risk Insurance Revision and Extension Act - H.R. 2761
FAA Reauthorization Act - H.R. 2881
Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act - H.R. 3121
Improving Government Accountability Act - H.R. 928
Regional Economic and Infrastructure Development Act - H.R. 3246
National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act - H.R. 2895
Tax Collection Responsibility Act - H.R. 3056
Free Flow of Information Act - H.R. 2102
Responsible Electronic Surveillance that is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective (RESTORE) Act - H.R. 3773
Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act - H.R. 505
Employment Non-Discrimination Act - H.R. 3685
Trade and Globalization Assistance Act - H.R. 3920
Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act - H.R. 2262
Homeowner's Defense Act - H.R. 3355
Temporary Tax Relief Act (AMT) - H.R. 3996
Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act - H.R. 4156


How will the Real GOP Counter Huckabee's surge?


The surge in the polls of Gov. Huckabee of Arkansas has the real leaders of the GOP, conservative billionaires, unlimbering their heavy guns.

They seem to have decided their candidate must be Mitt Romney - photogenic, sucessful conservative businessman, pragmatic, a flip-flopper untouched by any major scandals.

Romney even has his own secret weapon. His venture capital firm announced it is buying Clear Channel Radio. Expect all of the talk radio clowns to begin smearing Huckabee as often as Matt Drudge has recently. You will see more Romney endorsements like the National Review just gave him.

I had previously said, I see I didn't write it down on this blog, that Romney was the likely nominee. The Christian Right only thinks they control the party. Many Republicans will think it is time for the most Republican religion in America to be rewarded with a presidential nominee.

It'll be interesting to watch this intra-party war play out over the next few weeks.



Clinton losing support in Iowa



An effective video from the Obama camp.

Edwards is very happy and may be surging in Iowa.



How polls will be wrong in Iowa.

My Iowa prediction - Edwards and Huckabee due to rural strength in the caucus system.



Pasadena Texas Makes The New York Times
The operator told him not to go out with a gun because officers would be arriving.

“O.K.,” Mr. Horn said. “But I have a right to protect myself too, sir,” adding, “The laws have been changed in this country since September the first, and you know it.”

The operator said, “You’re going to get yourself shot.” But Mr. Horn replied, “You want to make a bet? I’m going to kill them.”

Moments later he said, “Well here it goes, buddy. You hear the shotgun clicking and I’m going.”

Then he said: “Move, you’re dead.”

There were two quick explosions, then a third, and the 911 call ended.

“I had no choice,” Mr. Horn said when he called 911 back. “They came in the front yard with me, man.”

Captain Corbett said that a plainclothes officer had pulled up just in time to see Mr. Horn pointing his shotgun at both men across his front yard, that Mr. Ortiz had at one point started to run in a way that took him closer to Mr. Horn, and that both men “received gunfire from the rear.”
Includes MP3s of portions of the 911 calls. More recordings of the 911 call.

Lots of comments from all over the world.

Pasadena's reaction to this shooting? This coming Tuesday it will ban protests in neighborhoods. Houston Chronicle story here.

No mention of the amount of money they will have to pay attorneys to defend this frontal assault on the first amendment. No mention in the Pasadena Citizen story that the Supreme Court ruled against neighborhood bans on protests. The Houston Chronicle got that in their article. The permitted restrictions have to be very narrowly tailored to pass muster. No mention that the police could have dispersed the protests that occurred under existing ordinances.

If I have time I will review the ordinance and try to determine if it appears legally sound. Based on how badly it is written I will decide if I want to protest in front of the mayor's house and be the test case.

I had really liked living in Pasadena. I guess the KKK, which Pasadena was known for in the 60's, legacy still lives on. I had written before that I used to go over to feed my ex-wife's cats. Now that would be putting my life in danger. Whoever blew me away might be the next Pasadena hero.



Krugman fuels my economic rants


Why do people feel the economy isn't growing under Bush despite everyone on TV saying times are great? Because for 80% of us it is slow growth.
Here’s what the numbers say about percentage gains in after-tax income from 2003 to 2005:

Bottom quintile: 2%
Next quintile: 2.4%
Middle quintile: 3.9%
Fourth quintile: 3.7%
Top quintile: 16%
Top 10%: 20.9%
Top 5%: 27.7%
Top 1%: 43.5%
It was a boom, all right — but only for a few people.
Krugman's column today is on why the addition of mountains of cash to desperate banks isn't working well. There is a huge looming negative equity crisis in America's housing market so banks really are in deep trouble. These gifts of money to banks, many billions lent at rates guaranteed to be profitable for banks, won't restore confidence but are needed to cover huge losses.

An example of how the tax-payer funded bailouts work. BofA puts out its hand for reserve bank money, receives $10 billion at say 3%, This money is immediately placed in government paper paying 5% while they look for profitable loans to make at 10% to 18%. BofA also expands its consumer credit offers (intro rates 10% - 20%) but raises poor credit interest penalties (24% - 36%) and conditions that trigger them. Indirectly the taxpayer funds the money lent at lower rates then the government pays for 100% secure investments.

These huge piles of money gifts to banks were extensively used in the Savings and Loan debacle. Like last time, perhaps only institutions who were truly horrendous at money managing and concentrated on the bad loans will go under while the large players profit from the taxpayer funded bailouts.

There is a huge amount of fraud in these bad mortgages, similar to the worst of the savings and loans in the prior crisis. I have a relative suffering some harm from this. Despite being a financial expert she has bad credit and needing a new house took a subprime loan. She made sure that the the rate adjustments were very limited each year and had a maximum total adjustment. She was lied to and didn't catch it on how long the prepayment penalty would last. It ended up being 3 years - $12,000. If Congress was really interested in solving a lot of sub-prime problems it would eliminate these prepayment penalties which reward the lenders for putting people in bad loans.

Here is the paper Krugman references which shows that unless you are in the top 5% bracket in household incomes Democratic presidents are better for your pocketbook.

Brother Jim emailed me the first link.



Who won the last Dem debate?


Edwards Debate Performance Wows CNN And Fox Focus Groups

Still interested in the two front runners, although Iowa is a three-way tie, the media paid only a little attention that John Edwards most impressed the voters who were assembled by CNN and Fox News to gauge reaction.

Reminds me somewhat of 2004 in the college informed voter study. Poly Sci professors assembled 700 nationally representative voters and for weeks of the early primary season had them watch videos and read about all the candidates and discuss it among themselves.
Over the next five weeks, as Mr. Kerry built up momentum among both real-life primary voters and the control group in the experiment, Senator John Edwards enjoyed the biggest surge in the well-informed test group, which was won over by his personal traits as well as by his policies, notably his protectionism on trade. Besides appealing to the Democrats in the test group, Mr. Edwards did better among the group's independents and Republicans, and he emerged as the strongest candidate against Mr. Bush.

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