Monday, March 30, 2009

Obama fires GM's Wagoner

On the heels of the news yesterday that the White House is requiring the CEO of General Motors, Rick Wagoner, to step down as part of any restructuring needing federal funds, there's this news this morning:

The White House says neither GM nor Chrysler submitted acceptable plans to receive more bailout money, setting the stage for a crisis in Detroit and putting in motion what could be the final two months of two American auto giants.

US President Barack Obama and his top advisers have determined that neither company is viable and that taxpayers will not spend untold billions more to keep the pair of automakers open forever.

In a last-ditch effort, the administration gave each company a brief deadline to try one last time to convince Washington it is worth saving, said senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to more bluntly discuss the decision.

Obama was set to make the announcement on Monday in the White House's foyer.

This bothers me, but not in some kind of conservative capitalist let-the-market-work kind of way. Bailing out AIG and the Citi and B of A while they pay everybody bonuses is "OK", but bailing out companies that manufacture a product isn't?

The auto manufacturers and their suppliers employ millions of Americans in living-wage jobs with good benefits. The afore-mentioned money managers employ millions of Americans with about 90% of those jobs being low-wage clerks and customer service personnel, and 10% white-collar executives who expect executive compensation tied to performance no matter how badly they perform.

One of these things is just not like the other.

On the other hand, if Obama fires a couple of bank presidents in April, I might feel a little better about it.

Update (4/5): Heh.

The government may require new faces in executive suites at banks requiring “exceptional assistance” in the future, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Sunday.

Critics of the Obama administration’s move last weekend to force out the chairman of General Motors Corp., Rick Wagoner, as a condition for possible additional federal loans say that strong government intervention contrasts with measures placed on the financial industry in return for billions in infusions.

Geithner denied there was a double standard and put banks on notice that they may need to change leadership teams in exchange for accepting more money in the future.

The Weekly Final Four Wrangle

North Carolina, UConn, Villanova and Michigan State -- with the home court advantage -- will play next weekend for college basketball's national championship. Major league baseball's teams break spring training in Florida and Arizona as they prepare to open the season. And there's still lots of large, fresh crawfish to be eaten.

Spring is a beautiful thing (besides the flowers and the green leaves everywhere). Here's your round-up from the Texas Progressive Alliance's member blogs from the past week.

Phillip Martin of Burnt Orange Report is feeling proud to have a Democrat in the Oval Office in his post, President Barack Obama: How He Won & Early Successes.

McBlogger's Harry Balczak has some great news about a new movie coming out.

Off the Kuff examines the economic claims made by the gambling industry, and also prints a response from the racetracks.

BossKitty at TruthHugger recognizes the pattern of disaster cycles; why is everyone surprised when their world is turned upside down? America must pull its pants up and be ready for the unexpected, because it should be expected ... So Many Red Rivers - What Have We Learned. Speaking about learning, What Else Can We Cut Besides Cost ...

The GOP declares doomsday if Obama's budget is enacted. Let's hope they don't pre-emptively invade the White House to try to stop it, as if a Democratic federal budget were equivalent to Saddam's WMD. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reminds us that the Republicans tend to hyperventilate when they exaggerate.

Neil at Texas Liberal writes about Houston City Council candidate Noel Freeman and is hopeful that Mr. Freeman will address some questions about how the Democratic Party regards some of its most loyal voters.

At Texas Kaos, Libby Shaw keeps an eye on the best government that political contributions can buy -- TRCC edition, in Fat Cat The Business Owner Sticks It to Joe the Consumer.

nytexan at BlueBloggin is not surprised by the GOP's latest stunt; The Party of NO: GOP Budget Has No Numbers And No Plan. The GOP leadership offered “The Republican Road To Recovery,” a 19-page joke which took them 27 days to write. It actually sounds like a book title for Alcoholics Anonymous. The best part of the GOP budget is there are “no” numbers in it. Page numbers don’t count.

Justin at AAA-Fund Blog urges readers to call state representative Angie Chen Button to condemn state representative Leo Berman's Leo Berman.

The Texas Cloverleaf explains why it is going into hibernation.

Also on Burnt Orange Report, Todd Hill had an interview with Tom Schieffer, potential Democratic candidate for governor, about his vision for Texas, his friendship with George W. Bush, and why he thinks he can win in the general election.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on President Obama’s first budget - a primer.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is glad that the cowboy Bush administration is no longer in charge of diplomacy.

Bills to abolish Bob Perry's Builder Commssion will be heard on Tuesday, March 31 in a Business and Industry Subcommittee meeting of the Texas Legislature at 10:00 a.m., according to John Coby at Bay Area Houston.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Health insurers blacklist millions with common ailments

Trying to buy health insurance on your own and have gallstones? You'll automatically be denied coverage. Rheumatoid arthritis? Automatic denial. Severe acne? Probably denied. Do you take metformin, a popular drug for diabetes? Denied. Use the anti-clotting drug Plavix or Seroquel, prescribed for anti-psychotic or sleep problems? Forget about it.

What's more, you can discover that if you lie to an insurer about your medical history and drug use, you will be rejected because data-mining companies sell information to insurers about your health, including detailed usage of prescription drugs.

These issues are moving to the forefront as the Obama administration and Congress gear up for discussions about how to reform the healthcare system so that Americans won't be rejected for insurance.


Sunday Funnies (Beware Bad Dogma edition)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

When banks rob people

This time the banks are zeroing in on Geithner's cash giveaway bonanza, the "Public Private Investment Partnership" (PPIP). As expected, Bank of America and Citigroup have angled their way to the front of the herd, thrusting their snouts into the public trough and extracting whatever morsels they can find amid a din of gurgling and sucking sounds. Here's the story from the New York Post:

"As Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner orchestrated a plan to help the nation's largest banks purge themselves of toxic mortgage assets, Citigroup and Bank of America have been aggressively scooping up those same securities in the secondary market, sources told The Post...

But the banks' purchase of so-called AAA-rated mortgage-backed securities, including some that use alt-A and option ARM as collateral, is raising eyebrows among even the most seasoned traders. Alt-A and option ARM loans have widely been seen as the next mortgage type to see increases in defaults.

One Wall Street trader told The Post that what's been most puzzling about the purchases is how aggressive both banks have been in their buying, sometimes paying higher prices than competing bidders are willing to pay.

Recently, securities rated AAA have changed hands for roughly 30 cents on the dollar, and most of the buyers have been hedge funds acting opportunistically on a bet that prices will rise over time. However, sources said Citi and BofA have trumped those bids."("Double Dippers; Citi and B of A buy laundered loans at lower rates", Mark DeCambre, New York Post)

Thus begins the next taxpayer-subsidized feeding frenzy, featuring all the usual suspects. The race is on to vacuum up as much toxic mortgage paper as possible so it can be dumped on Uncle Sam at a hefty profit. These are the same miscreants the Obama administration is so dead-set on rescuing. Better to let them sink from their own bad bets.

More here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Harris County's plan for voter registration

I like the sound of this, so let's keep an eye out for how effectively it is implemented:

County Tax Assessor-Collector Leo Vasquez has put together a coalition of private organizations and large employers to make sure that residents who move within or to the county get an on-the-spot chance to fill out fresh voter registration applications.

Moving into an apartment or buying a dwelling involves signing lots of papers. Now the Houston Apartment Association and the Texas Land Title Association will make sure the papers include voter registration forms, Vasquez said Wednesday.

Continental Airlines and the Houston Independent School District are the first employers to join the coalition by ensuring that registration forms go to workers who update their personnel records with new addresses.

“Let’s hit people when they are trying to make one of those moves,” said Vasquez, who was appointed in December to succeed fellow Republican Paul Bettencourt, who resigned from his elected post.

Some poor word choices there, Leo, but the effort seems to be well-directed:

Vasquez said he created the voter registration coalition without regard to such controversies. He also said he does not plan to play a partisan role.

Registered voters who move without updating their registrations can, in most cases, vote on Election Day at the polling place for the precinct where they formerly lived. With the rise of early voting participation, where voters live within the county matters less because they can vote at any early voting station.

Having to return to an old neighborhood to vote sometimes discourages voters from casting ballots, Vasquez pointed out, so updated registrations make participation easier.

Vasquez also hopes the program will make the volume of voter registrations more consistent through the year. Typically, address changes and other registrations peak a few weeks before each election. These spikes lead to last-minute errors by those who fill out the cards and a processing backlog at the voter registrars’ office, according to Vasquez.

Fair enough. Let's see how it goes.

John Hope Franklin 1915 - 2009

As an author, his book ''From Slavery to Freedom'' was a landmark integration of black history into American history that remains relevant more than 60 years after being published. As a scholar, his research helped Thurgood Marshall and his team at the NAACP win Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 case that barred the doctrine of ''separate but equal'' in the nation's public schools.

''It was evident how much the lawyers appreciated what the historians could offer,'' Franklin later wrote. ''For me, and I suspect the same was true for the others, it was exhilarating.''

Franklin himself broke numerous color barriers. He was the first black department chair at a predominantly white institution, Brooklyn College; the first black professor to hold an endowed chair at Duke; and the first black president of the American Historical Association.

He often regarded his country like an exasperated relative, frustrated by racism's stubborn power, yet refusing to give up. ''I want to be out there on the firing line, helping, directing or doing something to try to make this a better world, a better place to live,'' Franklin told The Associated Press in 2005.

In November, after Barack Obama broke the ultimate racial barrier in American politics, Franklin called his ascension to the White House ''one of the most historic moments, if not the most historic moment, in the history of this country.''

''Because of the life John Hope Franklin lived, the public service he rendered, and the scholarship that was the mark of his distinguished career, we all have a richer understanding of who we are as Americans and our journey as a people,'' Obama said in a statement. ''Dr. Franklin will be deeply missed, but his legacy is one that will surely endure.''

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More bad newspaper news

-- The Houston Chronicle canned 12% of its staff yesterday (and today), including Clay Robison in the Austin bureau and Richard Stewart, whose East Texas columns I've read for thirty years, going back to when he wrote them in the Beaumont Enterprise-Journal. Hair Balls and Banjo Jones have more.

It looks like Steve Swartz is really determined to earn a bonus in his first year.

-- There is no longer a newspaper in Ann Arbor and three other small Michigan cities.

-- Gannett is furloughing employees and cutting pay rather than go through another round of layoffs -- for the time being:

The pall looming over U.S. newspapers grew even darker Monday as Gannett Co. informed most of its employees that they will have to take another week of unpaid leave this spring, while a Michigan daily unveiled plans to close its print edition after 174 years.

And The Plain Dealer, Ohio's largest newspaper, also ordered pay cuts and 10-day furloughs for nonunion employees Monday to cut costs as advertising revenue drops.

The moves were just the latest sign of the distress afflicting newspapers across the country as they try to cope with a dramatic shift in advertising that is forcing publishers to figure out how to survive with substantially less revenue.

Signaling it doesn't see an upturn anytime soon, Gannett wants virtually all of its U.S. employees to stay at home and forgo at least one week's pay before July. About 6,600 workers outside the United States won't be affected by the furloughs.

Executives and many workers making more than $90,000 annually will sacrifice two weeks pay in hopes that Gannett _ the owner of USA Today and more than 80 daily newspapers _ will be able to avoid more layoffs after jettisoning 4,000 jobs last year.

This will mark Gannett's second round of furloughs this year. The company, which employs about 41,500 people, saved about $20 million by imposing one-week furloughs during the first three months of this year.

No end in sight.

Update: The NYT and the WaPo as well ...

Two of the most respected U.S. newspaper publishers, The Washington Post Co and The New York Times Co, are embarking on new cost cuts in the face of dramatic declines in advertising revenue.

The Times said it laid off 100 workers and is cutting non-union salaries. It is also asking unionized employees to accept similar concessions to avoid layoffs in the newsroom.

The Post is offering a new round of buyouts to newsroom, production and circulation employees, and said it could not rule out laying off staff.

"This was a very difficult decision to make," said a memo signed by Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Chief Executive Janet Robinson. "The environment we are in is the toughest we have seen in our years in business."

The moves come as a host of other U.S. newspaper publishers have reduced staff, declared bankruptcy or shuttered once-vaunted newspapers, as readers seek news online and elsewhere and as the recession crimps advertising spending.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

GOP predicts "doomsday" if Obama budget passed

They really did use the word "doomsday".

Well, actually they said 'this country will go bankrupt' and 'fast road to ruin'; our liberal media translated that as "doomsday".

Where were Judd Gregg and Richard Shelby when Bush was spending $4 trillion on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? In the Senate heartily voting 'aye', of course.

Anyway, this is a repeat of 1993, and does anyone remember what kind of economy we got after the Republicans finished whining and the United States finally got a budget?

Then I don't suppose anyone can recall that Clinton's '93 budget, which raised taxes, reduced the federal deficit significantly either.

Seriously though, let's allay their deficit concerns and raise taxes on the wealthiest 5% NOW, instead of 2011.

"Heavens to Murgatroyd! That would be Socialism!"

Continuing to provide a forum -- some would say, 'outlet' -- for the bleatings of the naysayers isn't quite as stupid as ascribing drops in the Dow to the president speaking -- indeed, lying about it --or writing an article about the Employee Free Choice Act without ever seeking a comment from a representative of labor.

If we're going to play 'point/counterpoint or 'tit-for-tat' then it needs to be a two-way-street all the time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Weekly Sweet Sixteen Wrangle

With the arrival of spring, a legislative session in Austin, municipal campaigns revving up around the state and Texas' primaries less than a year away, the blogs of the Texas Progressive Alliance continue to bring you insights from our members around the state. Here's a roundup of what we've been reporting:

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is now saying that the economic downturn has landed full force in Texas. Spared from the worst job losses during the first 6 months of the current recession, Texas is shedding jobs at an alarming pace. Wcnews at Eye On Williamson looks at the trends and offers a sobering assessment of the hard-line-let-'em-crash mentality of Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas GOP.

Off the Kuff points to a bill by state Rep. Dwayne Bohac to demonstrate that the push for voter ID really is about vote suppression.

If Republicans really cared about election integrity, then why do we still have non-auditable electronic voting machines? CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know.

at TruthHugger sees an opportunity to get a degree in the dark arts in If Texas HB-2800 Passes, I Want A Masters Degree In VooDoo.

In a post that took some work and came out well, Neil at Texas Liberal wrote about what Google searches miss. Also, Neil read the bird sermon of St. Francis to a dancing duck chicken.

John Coby
at Bay Area Houston writes about Why Ethics Reform is Needed in Texas.

The Texas Cloverleaf
looks at a few local Twits in the GOP. Twittering Republicans, that is.

Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw tells us that in Hutchinson's world, "It's All About Me". So she is going to run for governor, keep her Senate seat and give the people of Texas absentee representation. Whatever makes her happy. Heaven forbid she should put her constituents first.

examined HB 4441, an attempt by Rep. Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles to solve some problems related to pipelines.

at BlueBloggin is stunned that Obama Taps CitiGroup Economist For Treasury Spot. So, how does Washington's logic work? They offer a job, at the Treasury Department, to Lewis Alexander of CitiGroup. The Global Marketing Division that Alexander heads up was just fined $2 million by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for trade-reporting violations, including publishing flawed quotations. Let me know how that works out for you!

at Three Wise Men has some thoughts on the goals of American foreign policy, and is wondering if the war in Afghanistan is winnable, at least as we appear to be defining victory.

Molly Ivins warned us years ago about AIG, "too big to fail", and Phil Gramm. So says PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

McBlogger takes a look at the valuations being placed on the evil CDO's. Lots of laughs, of course, follow.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mudbug, brewdogs, and college basketball

The order of the day. In alternating importance. Appropriate self-indulgence should include a dash of schadenfreude at the plight of the Right these days, though:

-- The conservative hypocrisy reaches dizzying new heights with each passing week. If it's not Rush Limbaugh then it's Glenn Beck or Jim Cramer; if it isn't John Cornyn then it's Eric Cantor. This week, it's Sarah Palin following on the heels of Rick Perry, Mark Sanford, and Piyush Jindal in rejecting large portions of the federal stimulus funds apportioned for their respective states. From the Anchrage Daily News (emphasis is mine):

The biggest single chunk of money that Palin is turning down is about $170 million for education, including money that would go for programs to help economically disadvantaged and special needs students. Anchorage School Superintendent Carol Comeau said she is "shocked and very disappointed" that Palin would reject the schools money. She said it could be used for job preservation, teacher training, and helping kids who need it. ...

Sarah Palin, you may recall, has a special needs child of her own. And during the presidential campaign last year, she pointedly claimed that special-needs children would have an advocate in the White House.

But snce she didn't make it to Washington, I suppose that doesn't apply any more.

Acting Anchorage Mayor Matt Claman said he's disappointed Palin chose to turn down funding that would create jobs and maintain services. "Her rationale is like turning down a gift card because it expires in two years," Claman said in a written statement.

Palin is turning down money for weatherization, energy efficiency grants, immunizations, air quality grants, emergency food assistance, homeless grants, senior meals, child care development grants, nutrition programs, homeless grants, arts, unemployment services, air quality, justice assistance grants and other programs.

No surprise that Palin -- along with Governors Sanford and Jindal -- are whispered as aspirants for the Republican 2012 prez nom:

It's probably not a coincidence that each of the Republican governors who have showboated taken public stands on not accepting federal stimulus money are thought to be contenders for a future GOP presidential run. It's also true that the state legislatures in each of the states are able to overturn the governors decision.

Which, of course, would be the best of all worlds for these governors. They would get the Rush LImbaugh butt-kissing bonus points for claiming they will refuse the funds and later be able to claim the state legislatures overruled them. And everything worked out happily ever after.

Remind me again ...what was one of the conservative poutrages this week? Oh yeah, Obama said "Special Olympics" on Leno.

-- AIG bonuses ruled the airwaves all week long, but the GOP got confused over which direction they were supposed to scream about them. 87 of 172 House Republicans voted to tax the bonuses at 90%, but senators on the Right plan to slow-walk the legislation until the furor dies down. Very conflicting decision for the welfare-only-for-corporations representatives in the Congress.

-- Norm Coleman's lawyer says "I'm done":

According to a transcript of a radio appearance this week by former Senator Norm Coleman's attorney, Joe Friedberg, the Republican will most likely lose his election contest against Al Franken for the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota.

Hotline's Jennifer Skalka quotes Friedberg as conceding that Coleman will "probably" lose when the 3-judge panel currently deliberating the case, which both sides rested last week, announce their verdict.

"I think it's probably correct that Franken will still be ahead and probably by a little bit more," Friedberg admitted, after announcing that he was "done" with the case.

Senator Al Franken will be seated as soon as the court issues its ruling. Suck on that, John Cornyn.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Molly Ivins warned us about AIG

More specifically, about Phil Gramm:

October 26, 1999

AUSTIN, Texas — I feel vaguely like Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady," announcing with gleefully inhumane relish: "She'll regret it, she'll regret it! Ha!"

"I can see her now, Mrs. Freddy Eynsford-Hill, in a wretched little flat above the store!

"I can see her now, not a penny in the till, and the bill collectors knocking at the door!"

Which is to say, the new banking bill is a thoroughly lousy idea, and the party most likely to regret it is us.

The 1999 Gramm-Leach Act is about to replace the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, with the result that bankers, brokers and insurance companies can all get into one another's business. It's a done deal except for the final vote on the conference-committee agreement. The inevitable result will be a wave of mergers creating gigantic financial entities.

"Too Big to Fail" will be the new order of the day. And guess who gets left holding the bag when they're too big to fail? One of these monsters goes down, and it will cost as much as the whole S&L debacle.

And Molly also warned us about Gramm's Commodity Futures Trading Act, a 262-page amendment which he slipped into an omnibus appropriations bill moving toward passage as Congress was preparing to head home for the Christmas recess in 2000.

December 24, 2000

Just before it left town last week, Congress passed a little horror called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, brought to us courtesy of heavy lobbying by Wall Street banks and investment brokers.

Frank Portnoy, writing in The New York Times, describes the bill thusly: "First, it lifts a long-standing ban on futures trading in individual stocks, thus allowing investors to buy shares through brokers with very little money down. Second, it protects a lucrative business for bankers — the private financial contracts known as swaps — from being regulated. ... Investors are affected by swaps because they are ... used by many mutual funds and publicly traded companies."

*heavy sigh*

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Third Appeals insists 'funds' aren't checks

This has to do with Tom Delay protectorates David Puryear and Alan Waldrop, whose sordid tales of corruption have been detailed previously. Harvey Kronberg, his emphasis:

In a 3-2 ruling (yesterday), Republican Justices Pemberton, Puryear and Waldrop prevailed over Democratic Justices Patterson and Henson.

At issue was whether or not to have the full Court of Appeals rehear a controversial decision late last year that ruled, among other things, that the Texas money laundering statute was unconstitutionally vague. Their argument was the statute used the term "funds" rather than "check"

Defendants John Colyandro and Jim Ellis have been in the soup because of their role in an alleged money laundering scheme in former Majority Tom DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority. They were accused of sending unusable corporate contributions (illegal in Texas) to the Republican National Committee in DC and having identical amounts routed back as sanitized dollars.

After ignoring prosecutors request for an expedited review and sitting on the case for nearly three years, a three judge panel last year broke along party lines and raised questions about the legitimacy of the indictment.

In a scathing dissent, Democrat Justice Patterson pointed to last minute changes in court procedure and expressed amazement that the court resolved issues not before it -- like the vagueness of the money laundering statute.

Capitol Annex links to Patterson's dissent, and adds:

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Court’s opinion is that it --until overruled -- sets a precedent under which the state district courts in the 24-county region that makes up the Third Court of Appeals District could throw out all money laundering convictions involving checks prior to the 2005 law change since the court has construed the meaning of “funds” not to include checks for the purpose of Texas’ money laundering statute prior to 2005.

That's worth repeating: corporate political contributions made by check -- laundered specifically to evade the law in Texas -- don't meet the definition of the word "funds", as defined by the three GOP judges on the Third Court of Appeals.

Presumably this case will now go to the Texas Supreme Court -- where Republicans have a 9-0 "majority".

Stanford Financial and Ben Barnes -- and the big picture

Truly remarkable how he is connected to all these scandals:

From the Sharpstown banking fraud that ended his political career to the current financial collapse of his lobby client Stanford Financial Group, former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes has played a constant character on the stage of state and national scandals. ...

Most recently, Barnes surfaced when the Securities and Exchange Commission last month filed a fraud lawsuit against his client Stanford Financial Group and its founder R. Allen Stanford. When Stanford was missing, Barnes was the person who confirmed that he had been served with the lawsuit.

Barnes’ lobby firm earned $1.8 million representing Stanford Financial between 2002 and 2008, working issues ranging from federal regulation of offshore banks to tax codes for the U.S. Virgin Islands. Barnes was surprised by the company’s collapse.

“It’s hard to believe. Our firm wasn’t hired to look at the books or do anything with the business,” Barnes said.

Over the years, Barnes has been associated with the 1971 Sharpstown scandal, the collapse of his real estate business with former Gov. John Connally, the GTECH lobbying controversy at the Texas lottery, and (Dan) Rather’s 60 Minutes report in 2004 on President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard.

Did you know that Barnes was once labeled the "51st senator" by Tom Daschle? I didn't:

Barnes is one of the top money-raisers for Democratic U.S. senators. He and his wife, Melanie, personally gave more than $600,000 to federal Democratic candidates and committees since 2004. Barnes last month donated $1 million to the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

When the U.S. Senate was evenly divided early in this decade, then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle called Barnes the “51st senator.”

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer at a New York luncheon for 250 committee donors last year singled out only two fund-raisers with exceptional praise. Barnes was one.

The clients Barnes has represented before Congress have paid his firm $24 million since 1999. They include:

• Texas top trial lawyers John Eddie Williams of Houston, Wayne Reaud of Beaumont and Harold Nix of Daingerfield.

• Ruth Parasol, an Internet gambling entrepreneur from California who first made a fortune off of Internet pornography, earning her the nickname of “Princess of Porn” in the British press.

• GloFish, an Austin company that markets genetically altered tropical fish that glow in the dark.

• The Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah for which Barnes says he obtained a $100 million appropriation for cancer research.

• Moynihan Station Developer LLC, a company renovating New York’s Penn Station, tearing down Madison Square Gardens and renovating 16 blocks of Manhattan.

Financial corruption -- or at least his nearly constant association with those who are financially corrupt -- has been a hallmark of Ben Barnes' life.

If the Democratic party wants to avoid traveling down the same path as the Republicans, it needs to end its association with Barnes and his ilk.

(Yes, I hear the peals of laughter.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Separating fact fom blarney

No, this is not a post about the latest conservative hypocrisy. Today I am Perry Hussein O'Reilly:

Up until the mid-nineteenth century, most Irish immigrants in America were members of the Protestant middle class. When the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland in 1845, close to a million poor, uneducated, Catholic Irish began to pour into America to escape starvation. Despised for their religious beliefs and funny accents by the American Protestant majority, the immigrants had trouble finding even menial jobs. When Irish Americans in the country's cities took to the streets on St. Patrick's Day to celebrate their heritage, newspapers portrayed them in cartoons as drunk, violent monkeys.

However, the Irish soon began to realize that their great numbers endowed them with a political power that had yet to be exploited. They started to organize, and their voting block, known as the "green machine," became an important swing vote for political hopefuls. Suddenly, annual St. Patrick's Day parades became a show of strength for Irish Americans, as well as a must-attend event for a slew of political candidates. In 1948, President Truman attended New York City 's St. Patrick's Day parade, a proud moment for the many Irish whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and racial prejudice to find acceptance in America.

Watch "Gangs of New York" for another primer on the persecution of my people.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Weekly Wrangle

Here's your Monday-morning-warming-back-up-to-spring roundup from participating Texas Progressive Alliance blogs.

Mayor McSleaze McBlogger returns from his holiday to post his thoughts on developments in the Wall Street infotainment industry.

Vince of Capitol Annex took a new look at the latest creationist attack on science in Texas classrooms in Bill Would Make "Strengths and Weaknesses" Teaching Of Evolution State Law.

State representative Wayne Christian has filed a bill that would scare Texas citizens from filing ethics complaints against elected officials, notes JohnCoby at Bay Area Houston.

Off the Kuff takes a look at who would be affected by the voter ID legislation that is being pushed in the Lege by Republicans.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the turmoil facing some inside Texas GOP regarding Gov. Perry's decision to turn down $555 million dollars of unemployment insurance from the stimulus money, in UI debate must be maddening for the GOP supporters of Hutchison.

Neil at Texas Liberal reads Malcolm X in a cemetery and says that Rick Perry has found his schoolhouse door to stand in and block.

The Texas Cloverleaf expands upon Capitol Annex's look at Garnet Coleman's proposed repeal of the anti-gay marriage amendment in Texas.

BossKitty at TruthHugger truly believes there is profit for everyone when wasteful and costly opposition to medical marijuana is brought in to the economy instead of keeping it out. The War on "Illegal Activities" should focus on smuggling heroin and human trafficking. Can Marijuana Rescue The Economy In 2010 Like Booze Did In 1933?

At Texas Kaos, Lightseeker highlights the Texas Shakedown for those who make the mistake of driving in Tenaha, Texas while not white.

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme notes thuggery isn't the first choice for governing Democrats addressing drug cartel violence. Analysis and coordinated effort is.

nytexan at BlueBloggin is disgusted, but not surprised, by the new Republican strategy: as tent cities pop up in Sacramento, unemployment is at 10% in many states and the Wall Street continues a downward slide; the GOP response is to attempt to lower approval numbers for Pelosi and House Democrats.

WhosPlayin is focused on local races for mayor and city council in Lewisville. This week he interviewed Shelley Kaehr and David Thornhill, who are running for Place 2.

Xanthippas at Three Wise Men takes down the right-wing handwringing and disingenuous criticism over Obama's stem cell decision.

Easter Lemming finds that Pasadena has its first fantasy action candidate for city council. At least by the unauthorized t-shirts and caps of some supporters.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cramer vs. Stewart

Here's the assembled coverage:

Sometimes listening to Jon Stewart is like what you'd imagine it would be like to listen to a great journalism professor... except you're laughing so hard you've fallen out of your chair.

In tonight's interview, Stewart makes the case for what CNBC should have been doing over the past few years: actual business reporting, instead of acting like they were an entertainment channel for the stock market.

Here's part 3 of the unedited and uncensored interview (warning: there's an F-bomb or two). You can also view part 1 and part 2 of the interview on DKTV. Here's the full episode.

Here's some analysis from David Bauder of the AP:

The feud between Jon Stewart and CNBC's Jim Cramer has been good for laughs — and ratings — but has also raised the serious question of whether the experts at TV's No. 1 financial news network should have seen the meltdown coming and warned the public.

Over the past two weeks, Stewart's "Daily Show" on Comedy Central has ridiculed CNBC personalities, including Cramer, the manic host of "Mad Money," by airing video clips of them making exuberantly bullish statements about the market and various investment banks shortly before they collapsed.

Stewart has charged that people at CNBC knew what was going on behind the scenes on Wall Street but didn't tell the public. He has accused CNBC anchors and pundits of abandoning their journalistic duties and acting like cheerleaders for the market.

"In a tremendous boom period, they covered the boom and people wanted to believe in the boom," said Andrew Leckey, a former CNBC anchor and now president of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University. "They didn't uncover the lies that were told to them. Nobody did. But they should be held to a higher responsibility."

And though MediaBistro's TVNewser indicated MSNBC's evening political commentators would ignore the mash-up, Keith Olbermann refuted that contention, and Rachel Maddow reported on the affair, noting both the resignation of Cramer's website CEO as well as the ratings bonanza recorded by that episode of the Daily Show: the second-most watched this year and also in the top ten most-viewed shows.

Harmonic blogosphere convergence

Yesterday, a disturbance in the Force compelled the Texas Progressive Alliance to join armies with the ... whatever the conservative blogs in Texas call themselves. I'll let Ted tell it:

Yesterday Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) introduced SB1950, which would have subjected political bloggers to some severe disclosure requirements under the Texas Election Code. The new bill could have seriously hurt a lot of political bloggers, especially those who sell ads on their blogs.

The Texas Progressive Alliance, an association of about 50 Texas left-wing political blogs, decided the bill must not pass, and geared up to oppose it in a unified effort. A couple of phone calls were made, and by 11:00am they were joined by at least 30 right-wing Texas blogs and a promise that more could be activated if necessary.

Then Harold Cook, a political consultant for Senate Democrats, approached Senator Zaffirini with the concerns of the bloggers. The senator withdrew the bill, saying she didn't realize the impact it would have on Texas bloggers and citizen journalists. The bill was dead because bloggers from both ends of the political spectrum had stood stood together.

There's more from Vince, who spear-headed the mobilization:

“Senator Zaffirini was very understanding, and had no intention to harm bloggers with this bill. She had a very bad experience in her last campaign with a website -- I won’t even give it the credibility of calling it a ‘blog’ -- that went pretty low in the gutter, and I think this bill was a way to address that. As soon as she heard that this bill would harm mainstream bloggers and citizen journalists, which are so important to the flow of information in modern politics, she immediately offered to pull (it)."

And lastly, more on Aaron Pena's HB-4237:

Citizen journalists and bloggers in Texas would have the same protection to write about politics and other matters of public concern as do members of the “mainstream” press under a bill filed today in the Texas House of Representatives.

House Bill 4237, from Aaron Pena (D-Edinburg), would allow bloggers and citizen journalists to be protected by what is known as the “Privileged Matters Clause” in the Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code. Under the clause, newspapers and other periodicals are protected from being sued for libel when reporting on things that happen in a court of law, the proceedings of a government body, or meetings dealing with public issues.

If Pena’s bill passes, citizen journalists and bloggers would be placed on level footing with the mainstream press when it comes to covering matters of public concern. In addition to protecting bloggers and citizen journalists, the bill also adds “privileged matters” protections to bloggers who use technology such as webcasting and podcasting.

I give Pena a lot of grief often enough for his past support of Tom Craddick, for showing up in preferred seating at an Obama rally when he was still a declared Clinton supporter, and some other weaseley things. But he has his own blog, has attended our statewide functions, believes in us and supports our cause.

He done me proud with this legislation.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gov. AMF continues GOP assault on poor Texans

Fresh on the heels of efforts to deny millions of Texans their vote, the worst of the Rabid Right -- led by their feckless leader in the governor's mansion $10,000 monthly taxpayer-funded rental house -- traveled to a luxury hardware store in Houston and rejected stimulus funds extending unemployment benefits for out-of-work Texans:

Gov. Rick Perry set up a possible battle with the Legislature today by rejecting about $555 million from the federal government for expanded aid to unemployed Texans on grounds that the money would come attached with too many costly obligations.

Perry announced his refusal of the funds in Houston at a Bering’s Hardware store near the Galleria, where a store official said accepting that share of the nation’s so-called stimulus package might mean having to pay an additional $12,000 a year in unemployment insurance.

"Employers who have to pay more taxes have less money to make their payroll" and would have to raise prices on their products, the governor said. "The calls to take the (stimulus) money and sort out the consequences later are quite troubling to me."

Discombobulated as he is, perhaps he just shouldn't be making any important decisions.

The stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama allows for state legislatures to bypass the type of rejection Perry made today. Around the time of the Republican governor’s announcement, Republican Jim Pitts of Waxahachie, chairman of the Texas House Appropriations Committee, voted to accept the half billion dollars in unemployment aid.

He was joined by four Democratic state representatives at an Austin meeting of a legislative committee studying the stimulus aid. Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton voted no.

Waco-based economist Ray Perryman today told the committee, headed by Democrat Jim Dunnam of Waco, that "we’re probably better off taking the money."

Without the funds, Perryman said the state’s unemployment fund is projected to run dry this year, possibly triggering higher unemployment insurance levies on employers even without the state’s acceptance of federal funds.

With an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent, rising but well below the rate of other big states, Texas reported a record loss of 77,800 jobs in January. The controversy is far from getting a full airing in the Republican-controlled state House and Senate, which would have to change several laws to fit stimulus package rules.

But Dunnam said it was time for lawmakers to take over from Perry.

"His statement is nothing more than grandstanding," he said. "This was really never the governor’s call."

This is nothing but kow-towing to the reactionaries in the Texas Republican Party who think Kay Bailey is a RINO, reflecting the spectacular ridiculousness of Texas Republicans in a world lately overrun with conservatives gone mad. It's just amazing to see how low these state officials will stoop in their quest to drive this state to the bottom.

(h/t to Phillip at BOR for the graphic)

Update: Harvey K at QR adds ...

Reps. Jim Dunnam (D-Waco) and Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) predicted today that Gov. Perry’s decision to reject $555 million in enhanced unemployment insurance aid would not play well in conservative circles once people realize that the state’s employers would have to make up that money through higher unemployment taxes.

“We’re talking doubling the tax on small employers,” Dunnam said while meeting with members of the Capitol press corps this morning. He said the facts in favor of accepting the aid would make it difficult for Perry to maintain his position.

He pointed to statements made by Bill Allaway of Texas Taxpayers and Research Association (TTARA) and the economist Ray Perryman yesterday in favor of taking the UI money. Perryman, who testified Thursday before Dunnam’s select committee on the federal stimulus package said that accepting the enhanced aid would have an immediate impact on the economy and would create $2.66 of economic impact for every $1 in aid. That’s due to the effect of the aid money flowing from unemployed workers into local businesses and through the rest of the economy.

And while Perry rests much of his argument against the aid as the long-term costs of expanding the unemployment insurance system outweighing the short-term gain of federal money, Perryman testified that it would take 10 years for the costs associated with expanding unemployment benefits to outstrip what the state would be receiving from the feds.

Voter ID rubberstamped by Republicans

No surprise ...

Exhausted after an all-night debate but assured of victory, Republicans (yesterday) rammed a bill requiring Texas voters to present identification papers through the first Senate vote on the bitterly partisan issue.

After emotional pleas to stop the bill, and expert and public testimony that begin Tuesday and didn’t end until shortly before 9, the so-called “Voter ID” bill passed a special Senate panel 20-12.

The “committee of the whole” includes all 31 senators and Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. While the bill must still get a final Senate vote, today’s action all but assures it will pass and be sent to the House as early as Monday.

The bill is being driven by Senate Republicans over fierce opposition from Democrats, who promised a legal challenge if the bill ultimately passes.

They don't want poor people or the elderly to vote, to say noyhing of all those people with extra pigmentation, because they lose when that happens. So, like redistricting, it's going to the courts. But not before the Texas House gets a crack at it:

Now that hotly contested legislation to require Texans to produce more identification to vote has won tentative approval in the state Senate, the battle will soon shift to the House, where prospects are less certain.

Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, who will play a lead role in shaping a voter ID bill in the Legislature, says he will oppose attempts to duplicate a strict photo-ID law now on the books in Indiana and will fight vigorously for safeguards against voter discrimination.

"I don’t think there is any chance we’ll be proposing the Indiana law on the House floor," Smith, chairman of the House Elections Committee, said Wednesday after the Senate advanced its version of a voter-ID bill after an all-night hearing.

The Indiana statute, considered the strictest law of its kind in the country, requires voters to present a photo identification before voting. The Senate measure also calls for photo identification but would allow voters without a photo ID to present two forms of alternate identification, such as a birth certificate, library card and hunting or fishing licenses. It also allows provisional ballots for registered voters without the required identification.

The SCOTUS, the above article notes, upheld the Indiana law on appeal. So eventually -- unless legal action delays its implementation -- the GOP will get its voter suppression, and Texas gets a few more years of one-party rule.

Update: Eye on Williamson, linking to Burka, leads me to believe that Voter ID will go through the DOJ, rather than the court system, due to (what else?) Texas' long sordid history of disenfranchising minority voters.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Voter ID: solving a non-existent problem *update*

Floor Pass:

The main argument put forth will be that the only problem Republicans are solving by requiring photo identification in order to vote is the problem of citizens casting legitimate votes for Democrats. The people least likely to have photo identification—such as the elderly, the disabled and the poor—all belong to groups that vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

“The burden should be on the state to prove that there’s a real problem, that there’s no other way to deal with this problem, and that the state will not be precluding people from voting before it enacts this sort of legislation,” said Sen. Kirk Watson.

The only type of voter fraud that Voter ID prevents is voter impersonation. The Democrats will point out, as they did today, that one is more likely to be struck by lightning or see a UFO than they are to come across an act of voter impersonation.

Campaign Legal Center executive director Gerald Hebert said, “There is no widespread, organized, or even significant voter impersonation in Texas. Not a single case has been prosecuted in over 20 years. And I know, because I brought a lawsuit against [Texas Attorney General] Greg Abbott to prove that fact and he acknowledged that it was so.”

Greg Abbott sent agents from the OAG to peek in a little old lady's bathroom window, and he STILL couldn't find any evidence of voter fraud.

Many, many more Texans will be denied their vote because a volunteer poll worker would have the unquestioned authority to decide whether or not someone looks "correct". Think this an exaggeration? Well, it used to be the case during both the Jm Crow period, as well as the time prior to the suffrage movement in the US:

In Texas this week, debate opens on a proposal that places extraordinary identification requirements on citizens who wish to vote. The proposed law's ambiguous language appears to grant part-time, amateur polling place officials the absolute power to accept or reject a would-be voter based solely on that citizen's appearance or other subjective judgments. For the first time since women and blacks were granted the vote, appearance alone may disqualify a would-be voter.

But since this is the greatest single issue facing Texas today, the Republicans are going to make certain it passes.


"This hearing is a sham, just like your redistricting hearings were a sham," (civil rights attorney Gerald) Hebert said.

Hebert said the voter identification legislation is the "latest in a long series of attacks on minority voters in this state" and is part of a "long dark history of keeping people on the reservation through voting."

Hebert, who works out of the nation's capital, said there is no widespread "or even occasional" cases of voter impersonation in Texas.

He called the bill "raw partisan politics" by Republicans "to harm voters in their own state." Hebert said the bill will cost taxpayers millions of dollars to implement.

Follow the live action here and here. And more summary assembled at Off the Kuff. Still more play-by-play from Patricia Kilday Hart at Burkablog.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Weekly Wrangle

In the wake of Texas Independence Day (March 2) and the anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo (March 6), with the pending fight over voter identification legislation set to open tomorrow in the Texas Senate, take a moment to click on the links below that feature past discussions of the skirmish.

Following is the round-up of some of those posts, along with the rest of the best from the Texas left last week.

jobsanger knows that more money needs to be raised to pay for needed improvements and repairs to America's infrastructure, but he remains convinced that the Mileage Tax Is A Terrible Idea.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson gets readers ready for the upcoming Voter ID debate, or as the the Texas GOP calls it The single most important issue facing Texas today.

The new video at Texas Liberal is called Reading About The Panic Of 1873 In Front Of The Enron Building.

Over at McBlogger, Captain Kroc posts an interesting piece about seemingly unrelated issues, Rush Limbaugh and Child Molestation.

The Texas Cloverleaf gives a brief on Equality Texas Lobby Day this past Monday.

Off the Kuff looks at the case against voter ID, also known as the single most important issue facing Texas today, as advanced by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

Dos Centavos posts about the latest on the Voter ID. Can national Latino political and economic muscle be flexed effectively, as it was for Obama?

Obama sent the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to see what our military can do to stop drug cartel activities. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme thinks John Cornyn is shopping border violence as a theme for his 2012 presidential run.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is frustrated at the regression, into childhood, of those who claim to be Republicans. They are NOT Republicans. They are the Neo-Republicans who have hi-jacked the party name to deceive ordinary conservative Americans. They have stolen the GOP cloak to hide their real agenda. Read more in Neo-Republicans Are Not The Grand Old Party, scatological analogies.

Xanthippas at Three Wise Men rounds up opinion on the newly released OLC memos. We knew they'd be bad... but still.

John at Bay Area Houston says the Harris County GOP's "Give a Mexican a Bike" program is probably against federal law and smothered with hypocrisy.

As the head of gets visited by the Secret Service, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs finds several pre-post-mortems on the GOP.

TXsharon joined other blogs in areas effected by unconventional natural gas drilling in asking readers to TAKE ACTION and let The View know they were irresponsible to give T. Boone Pickens free advertising for his plan without investigating the full implications. The same drilling practices Pickens promotes recently contaminated water wells in the Marcellus Shale causing one to explode: Manhattan borough president called for drilling moratorium.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Lord of the Freepers gets visit from Secret Service

Let's allow Mr. Robinson to explain:

Unfortunately, we are saddled with a communist sympathizer in the White House. I don't know whether or not he's an actual card carrying commie, but he's definitely an America-hating, anti-capitalist Marxist leftist who thinks communism is the way to go. Now I remember when America used to fight against communism. It wasn't that long ago. Many of us on FR are veterans of wars against communism and some of us believe that American citizens who are communists are the enemy within, ie, the domestic enemy we've sworn to defend against. American citizen? hmmmm... that may be a loophole for Obama.

At any rate, the oath is to defend our constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. I can imagine that this places an enormous strain on our Secret Service agents. It's obvious to anyone with a brain that Obama is an enemy of the constitution. So should the SS defend the constitution or defend the anti-constitution commie?

So now comes the problem. If you feel it's your duty to call Obama a traitor and use salty language in your proposed resolution, ie, suggest the commie be keelhauled, walked off the plank, run up the yardarm, tarred and feathered and run out of Dodge, etc, etc, etc, you may be facing a visit from your friendly Secret Service. And even though your visiting agent may agree politically, and may take his oath to the constitution seriously, he's still sworn to protect the officeholder and it's his duty to take all threats seriously. And that may include serving me with a subpoena to turn over your IP address. Now I'm duty bound to protect your privacy to the best of my ability, but I cannot defend against stupidity.

Best advice I can give is to keep it to yourself. Don't post anything that may embarrass you later, or end you up in the slammer.

Without an ability to understand the distinction between an Iraq war protest and a Tea Party; unable to discern the difference between "Bush is a moron" and "Obama ain't gettin' my guns without a fight"; without the common sense to comprehend why one cannot threaten the life of the President of the United States as casually as one flicks a booger, the rightest of the Right are in for a long and difficult eight years.

What we are seeing is the spasms and convulsions of a political party's sudden yet inevitable demise. The end could have been avoided to no greater success than the dinosaurs or the newspapers. But don't take my word for it; ask David Frum:

On the one side, the president of the United States: soft-spoken and conciliatory, never angry, always invoking the recession and its victims. This president invokes the language of "responsibility," and in his own life seems to epitomize that ideal: He is physically honed and disciplined, his worst vice an occasional cigarette. He is at the same time an apparently devoted husband and father. Unsurprisingly, women voters trust and admire him.

And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as "losers." With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence -- exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we're cooperating! Those images of crowds of CPACers cheering Rush's every rancorous word -- we'll be seeing them rebroadcast for a long time.

It's not just about Limbaugh though, as everyone except most people still voting Republican already know:

Even before the November 2008 defeat—even before the financial crisis and the congressional elections of November 2006—it was already apparent that the Republican Party and the conservative movement were in deep trouble. And not just because of Iraq, either (although Iraq obviously did not help).

At the peak of the Bush boom in 2007, the typical American worker was earning barely more after inflation than the typical American worker had earned in 2000. Out of those flat earnings, that worker was paying more for food, energy and out-of-pocket costs of health care. Political parties that do not deliver economic improvement for the typical person do not get reelected. We Republicans and conservatives were not delivering. The reasons for our failure are complex and controversial, but the consequences are not.

We lost the presidency in 2008. In 2006 and 2008, together, we lost 51 seats in the House and 14 in the Senate. Even in 2004, President Bush won reelection by the narrowest margin of any reelected president in American history.

The trends below those vote totals were even more alarming. Republicans have never done well among the poor and the nonwhite—and as the country's Hispanic population grows, so, too, do those groups. More ominously, Republicans are losing their appeal to voters with whom they've historically done well.

In 1988 George H.W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis among college graduates by 25 points. Nothing unusual there: Republicans have owned the college-graduate vote. But in 1992 Ross Perot led an exodus of the college-educated out of the GOP, and they never fully returned. In 2008 Obama beat John McCain among college graduates by 8 points, the first Democratic win among B.A. holders since exit polling began.

And did you remember that Republicans won California in every presidential election from 1952 through 1988 -- except for LBJ in 1964? Thirty-six years, or two consecutive political generations. Democrats have owned California in the five consecutive ones since 1988. Florida was lost in 2008 (and in 2000, but who's counting any longer?) and Texas is slowly slipping away. Too slowly, but the trend is irreversible, especially as the GOP continues to demonize Latinos. A voter ID bill to be considered next week in the Texas Legislature only slows the trend a few more years. More from Frum on the current problem for conservatives:

Every day, Rush Limbaugh reassures millions of core Republican voters that no change is needed: if people don't appreciate what we are saying, then say it louder. Isn't that what happened in 1994? Certainly this is a good approach for Rush himself. He claims 20 million listeners per week, and that suffices to make him a very wealthy man. And if another 100 million people cannot stand him, what does he care? What can they do to him other than … not listen? It's not as if they can vote against him.

But they can vote against Republican candidates for Congress. They can vote against Republican nominees for president. And if we allow ourselves to be overidentified with somebody who earns his fortune by giving offense, they will vote against us. Two months into 2009, President Obama and the Democratic Congress have already enacted into law the most ambitious liberal program since the mid-1960s. More, much more is to come. Through this burst of activism, the Republican Party has been flat on its back.

He's got some ideas about how his party can make a comeback at the link. I just don't think anyone over there is capable of making the necessary changes in time to save themselves.

And that's not a bad thing. If the GOP splinters into opposing factions of social conservatives, economic conservatives and Libertarians, then that would perhaps open the Democratic Party up to a little more balancing of the intra-party lefts and rights. Hopefully.

Have to hope that happens no matter what the Republicks manage.

The Rock Obama defenestrates Kay Bailey

Suffer through the 30-second ad for last night's SNL parody (hat tip to Poli-Tex):

Sunday Funnies (Not-Getting-It Edition)

Friday, March 06, 2009

Failure is not an option *update*

For the Republicans, it has become a requirement.

And the absurdity just gets more comical by the day. David Sirota:

On the same day a new Wall Street Journal poll reveals that Americans trust in President Obama and congressional Democrats on economic issues is skyrocketing (and in the same month Fox’s own polls show the same), I debated Bill Kristol in a Fox News debate that the network’s moderator prefaced by asking why Obama’s economic actions were “forcing Americans to lose trust in the administration?” Watch it here - I kid you not (notice the graphic underneath asserting unequivocally that “Confidence In Obama’s Economic Team [Is] Lost” and that “Disappointment Grows Over Obama’s Economic Team”).

As you’ll see, Kristol has exactly one talking point: He says that the Dow Jones has lost 15 percent, or 1,355 points, since Obama took office, and he then effectively claims that Wall Street speculators’ day-to-day gyrations mean the vast majority of Americans do not trust Obama, irrespective of polls showing exactly the opposite.

Of course, Obama has been in office for 44 days - so just for a comparison, let’s remember that in the 44-day period between 8/28/08 and 10/11/08, the Dow Jones lost 27 percent, or 3,264 points. But Kristol doesn’t mention that little detail, because Republicans were controlling economic policy then (and you’ll notice Fox promptly ends the segment when I start bringing this up).

The point, of course, is to say that judging economic policy by 44-day periods in the market is absurd, and it is especially absurd to blame a 44-day-old presidency on market forces that three decades of conservative policies (that Kristol aggressively advocated) created. But that’s the extent of the GOP’s talking points today.

Earlier this week Jon Stewart tore into CNBC's Rick Santelli and Jiim Cramer, the elite's latest Goliaths of the class war, for the rants they have been spouting and the Tea Parties they have spawned. Watch it:

None of this revisionist, delusional, own-facts-entitlement BS is going to fly any more. Progressives have their own infrastructure to push it back, and besides, the voters understand who's spinning the lies.

-- Update:

Despite the tumbling economy, Barack Obama continues to enjoy a honeymoon with the American public in the face of the most trying crisis any newly inaugurated president has encountered since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The GOP, meanwhile, is viewed by a majority of Americans as the party of "no," without a plan of its own to fix the economy, and even rank-and-file Republicans are concerned about the party's direction, according to the first NEWSWEEK Poll taken since Obama assumed office.

"People give Obama credit for reaching out to Republicans, but they don't see Republicans reciprocating," says pollster Larry Hugick, whose firm conducted the survey. "A surprising number said bipartisanship is more important than getting things done."