Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obama's first SCOTUS appointment *update*

NPR has learned that Supreme Court Justice David Souter is planning to retire at the end of the court's current term.

The court has completed hearing oral arguments for the year and will be issuing rulings and opinions until the end of June.

Souter is expected to remain on the bench until a successor has been chosen and confirmed, which may or may not be accomplished before the court reconvenes in October.

At 69, Souter is nowhere near the oldest member of the court, but he has made clear to friends for some time now that he wanted to leave Washington, a city he has never liked, and to return to his native New Hampshire.

Now, according to reliable sources he has decided to take the plunge and has informed the White House of his decision.

Souter's retirement would give President Obama his first appointment to the high court, and most observers expect that he will appoint a woman.

Greg had some interesting speculation some time ago using the Salon list. Who do you think the president will tap? I think it could easily be Hillary Clinton (and she may get first right of refusal).

Update: Sam Stein at HuffPo also has five likely picks.

Update II: And more here, including photographs of the several potentials. The buzz I am hearing the most surrounds two names: Sotomayor and Sunstein.

Virginia Foxx challenges for "Douchebag" lead

Not content to let Michele Bachmann walk away with this week's title, Rep Virginia Foxx (R-NC) calls the murder of Matthew Shepherd a "hoax":

"I also would like to point out that there was a bill -- the hate crimes bill that's called the Matthew Shepard bill is named after a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. This -- the bill was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but it's really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills," said Foxx.

A Foxx spokesman didn't immediately return a call. The Matthew Shepard "hoax" notion is a popular meme on right-wing blogs.

Congratulations on reaching a new and shameful low, Madam Foxx.

Michele Bachmann submits "DotW" entry: "Swine flu happens when Dems are president"

It would be an insult to insane people to continue to call this stupid bitch insane:

"I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter," said Bachmann. "And I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence."

As the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages points out, Bachmann has the 1970s flu outbreak all wrong. It happened in 1976 when Gerald Ford was in office.

This also shows just how shallow Bachmann's historical understanding is. She could have easily also referred back to the infamous 1918 Spanish flu pandemic -- Woodrow Wilson was president at that time, don't you know!

Fact-check your brain once in a while, you miserable piece of shit.

Swine flu in Houston

At the hopsitals:

Swine flu arrived in Houston Wednesday as a Fort Bend County teenage girl became the first local resident confirmed to have the disease and a 2-year-old Mexico City boy who fell ill in Brownsville and was taken to Texas Children’s Hospital became the disease’s first U.S. death.

At schools:

The Houston Independent School District has two “probable” but unconfirmed cases of swine flu, one involving a 9-year-old girl from Harvard Elementary and the other a 14-year-old girl at Hamilton Middle School, a district official said late Wednesday.

The schools will be closed until further notice from the health department, according to district spokesman Norm Uhl, who said the district will hold a news conference this morning on the situation.

And at the office:

As news was quickly swirling about the growing swine flu epidemic, Andy Bogle assembled his 15 employees Monday morning and gave them a refresher about frequent hand washing, liberal use of hand sanitizers and staying home if they have flu-like symptoms.

“We don’t want any heros,” said Bogle, whose company rents and sells surveying and positioning equipment for offshore oil and gas exploration and production. ...

Similar meetings, memos and e-mail reminders have popped up all over Houston and beyond in the past few days, reminding employees how to avoid the flu and what do if they get sick.

At the same time, companies are reviewing their disaster emergency plans in case a massive number of employees must stay at home.


It’s the same provisions put in place during the big spike in gasoline prices last summer, she said. “We want to remind employees that it is available.”

The firm is also suggesting that client-company employees should consider rescheduling their travel if have to go Mexico which seems to be source of the new strain of flu, she said.

Companies need to focus on how to handle wide-spread employee absences, said Christopher Falkenberg, president of Insite Security in New York.

He estimated as many as 40 percent of employees could either call in sick, not be able to come into the office or travel in the event of any quarantines.

Companies should think about how they’ll keep going if a pandemic develops, said Falkenberg, a former special agent for the U.S. Secret Service. One thing they shouldn’t do is install a lot of computer hardware, he said. The key is to identify how the business will operate.

If the company depends on traveling sales associates, perhaps product samples can be shipped instead of hand-carried and demonstrations done through video equipment. Or maybe a company can do three-dimensional, online modeling or hire local sales representatives for face-to-face meetings.

Fulbright & Jaworski had a dry-run three years ago when it made elaborate preparations during the Avian bird flu scare. Those plans were fine-tuned by a succession of natural disasters.

The hurricanes have been useful for planning, said Jane Williams, chief human resources officer, who put together an ad hoc child care center after Hurricane Ike so parents could get back to work. The older teenagers were even pressed into duty: the law firm hired them to help the professional child care workers entertain the younger children.

So the hurricane last summer and even the flooding last week were trial runs for a flu outbreak.

I've been suffering from severe vertigo for over a week and have been in to the office twice in ten days, and now to try and struggle in only to be greeted with a nice case of this ...

Update: Here's some CDC linkage. Get your updates straight from the source.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter of defeat

Not exactly a profile in courage:

Veteran Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania switched parties Tuesday with a suddenness that seemed to stun the Senate, a moderate's defection that pushed Democrats to within a vote of the 60 needed to overcome filibusters and enact President Barack Obama's top legislative priorities.

Specter, 79 and seeking a sixth term in 2010, conceded bluntly that his chances of winning a Pennsylvania Republican primary next year were bleak in a party grown increasingly conservative. But he cast his decision as one of principle, rather than fueled by political ambition as spurned GOP leaders alleged.

"I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party," he said at a news conference. He added, "I am not prepared to have my 29 year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate."

The GOP tried to put on a brave face, but their own fear was apparent...

Not long after Specter met privately with Republican senators to explain his decision, the party's leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, said the switch posed a "threat to the country." The issue, he said, "really relates to ... whether or not in the United States of America our people want the majority party to have whatever it wants, without restraint, without a check or balance."

I'm just not that into another Joe Lieberman lobbing rotten tomatoes from inside the tent instead of outside, especially one considered a 'friend of labor' who is is still refusing to reconsider his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act.

Let's primary Specter with a real Democrat and see what happens.

And this turd-stirring by Burka is laughable. We don't want any Kay Bailey over here either.

Rush Limbaugh blamed for swine flu outbreak

My caption: "I'm so effing high right now ..."

Update: Digby has a more professional rejoinder ...

If you are a conservative you can't believe that something like an epidemic or a pandemic could even exist or you would have to grant that the necessity for public health is a government function. Indeed, you even have to grant that a pandemic requires that people are going to be forced to behave in ways that explicitly define their own personal survival with the common good.

Rush is right to be a little bit nervous about this, though. Public health crises tend to focus the public on the usefulness of things like science, international cooperation, government coordination. You know, the sort of thing that liberals think are necessary. Something like that simply doesn't fit into the conservative worldview. They see all problems and challenges in schoolyard terms of good guys and bad guys. This kind of challenge (like global warming) falls outside the paradigm by which they organize their world. Pandemics, like hurricanes, can't be dealt with by using tough talk and threats.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Two noteworthy hearings in the Lege today

The first is "Killer" Keller's impeachment inquiry. From Trailblazers via Grits:

Sharon Keller, the chief justice of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, could soon face impeachment proceedings - there's a resolution under review by the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee to consider impeachment for "gross negligence of duty ... with willful disregard for human life." Keller's court hears appeals in capitol murder cases, and she refused to keep her office open past 5 p.m. to accept an appeals filing hours before an execution in 2007. The committee hearing begins upon final adjournment of the House.

The second is our blogger bill. Vince has the details:

On Monday, the Texas House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee will hold a public hearing on a bill which will give Texas bloggers and citizen journalists some much-needed protections under Texas law.

The committee will take public testimony on House Bill 4237 by State Rep. Aaron Pena (D-Edinburg).

This bill gives bloggers and citizen journalists the same protections that the mainstream media has when it comes to covering matters of "public concern," such as legislative proceedings, school board meetings, and the actions of state officials.

Under current law, commonly known as the "Privileged Matters Clause" of the Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code (Sec. 73.002), coverage by the mainstream media of matters of "public concern" such as those listed above cannot be used as grounds for a libel action.

Texas bloggers and citizen journalists, however, do not have similar protections. In theory, if a politician or officeholder wanted to cause a blog a great deal of problems, he or she could file a libel or slander lawsuit over writings discussing a matter of "public concern." It would then be up to the court system--after, no doubt, significant expense for the blogger or citizen journalist--to determine whether or not the "Privileged Matters Clause" applies to bloggers.

Texas bloggers have been fortunate in that no one has been forced to be a test case for this yet. Rep. Pena's bill ensures that no Texas blogger or citizen journalist ever will. It gives us the same protections as the mainstream media in this regard.

Texas bloggers and citizen journalists have pushed for "Privileged Matters" protection since 2006.

The fight for "Privileged Matters" protection was triggered after State Rep. Vicki Truitt (R-Keller) filed HB 129 in late 2006. Truitt's bill was a broadly-worded bill which would have essentially subjected every blog and citizen journalist in Texas to frivolous lawsuits.

Truitt said the bill was designed to allow people legal recourse if someone knowingly publishes information about them online that could lead to identity theft.

However, her bill was poorly drafted and opened bloggers and citizen journalists to frivolous lawsuits.

Truitt ultimately pulled the bill after Republican and Democratic bloggers (as well as party-neutral bloggers) raised outcry significant enough for the mainstream media to notice.

After Truitt announced she had screwed up on the bill, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorialized that bloggers and citizen journalists needed "Privileged Matters" protections, which I first wrote about a couple of days after Truitt's bill was filed:

The law specifically protects "a newspaper or other periodical" 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.

The protection also extends to "reasonable and fair comment on or criticism of an official act of a public official or other matter of public concern for general information."

One way to look at it is that the Star-Telegram is specifically protected by state law when it criticizes Truitt for her official acts, but Internet bloggers are not. That's not good.

We're both doing the same thing, and we both deserve the same protection for fair reporting and comment.

During the days before the 2007 session, with the controversy over the election for House Speaker and other concerns, it was difficult to find legislators willing to introduce legislation to give bloggers and citizen journalists "Privileged Matters" protections, and the issue was ultimately laid to rest after Truitt pulled her bill with the intent of trying again for the legislation this session.

This session, State Rep. Aaron Pena (D-Edinburg) was asked to carry the legislation and agreed to do so. Pena is himself a blogger and understands the technology and the legal issues at play for bloggers.

If you are in Austin today, make your voice heard.

: Muse has a Twitter feed posted.

The Weekly Wrangle

Another Monday, and time for the Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly blog round up.

The Senate this past week passed a bill to reform the state's unemployment insurance laws in a way that would allow us to accept up to $600 million in stimulus funds, despite Governor Perry's resistance. Off the Kuff has the details.

YaGottaLoveIt of South Texas Chisme says a voter ID bill is needed to eliminate ghost voting in the Texas House of Representatives. Why don't the Republicans try it out there first?

Neil at Texas Liberal offers up information on swine flu and provides tips on proper handwashing.

AAA-Fund Blog has audio from the recent national call with Ramey Ko and Hubert Vo about voting rights in Texas and around the nation.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson has the latest on transportation issues in the lege: This week's transportation action in the legislature.

This week McBlogger took some time out his busy schedule to do something unusual -- criticize someone. Specifically Karl Rove who thinks teabaggin' is just awesome and the beginning of the Republican Party's return to electoral relevance. McBlogger, as you can imagine, has a different opinion.

John Culberson nosed out Joe Barton for the first "Douchebag of the Week" award presented by Brains and Eggs. It was a close contest with Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, and the Texas House Republicans all competing fiercely for the coveted prize. Better luck next week, jerks.

BossKitty at TruthHugger sees big problems addressing the pandemic hysteria because workers cannot risk staying home sick. Because health insurance has become such an exclusive club any medical emergency, like a contagious outbreak, can become a pandemic crisis. FLU PANDEMIC - Stay Home or Go To Work Sick?

Todd Hill at Burnt Orange Report writes about how John Cornyn admits that the KBH seat is winnable for Democrats. This revelation from Big Bad John comes after we learn that Bill White and John Sharp had the largest 1Q fundraising totals for any non-incumbent Senate candidate in the country.

Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw gathers the shameful record of Republican buffoonery into a sad and funny report he calls " Texas Republican Jackasses Continue to Bring Shame to Texas ". You don't want to miss this one. With videos!

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that Congressman Joe Barton (R-Ennis) got dissed by Al Gore on global warming.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Culberson edges Barton for "Douchebag of the Week"

By virtue of continuing the secessionist crazy talk, my very own Congressbum John Culberson is awarded the inaugural "Douchebag of the Week".

He edged out his butthole buddy Joe Barton, who took a peculiar and smug satisfaction in asking Energy Secretary David Chu -- a Nobel laureate -- "where the oil in Alaska came from", apparently to make a completely obtuse point about global warming.

Yes, it was a very close contest, but Cumbersome earned the victory solely on the basis of having home field advantage.

That "five states" business is hypothesized in detail by Nate Silver of Here's his map:

Now I see El Norte electing two Democratic Senators, as well as one each from Gulfland and New Texas, a scenario that would leave the same 60-40 split that currently exists provide a net gain of two more Republicans in the US Senate. That must be the "six rock-ribbed conservatives" he refers to.

But I'm trying to apply some rationale to an ultraconservative fantasy, which is surely a fool's errand. So I will stop that.

Congratulations, Mr. Culberson. Can you make it two championships in row, like the Green Bay Packers?

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Vice President Cheney is a man who frightens easily."

A dozen other spot-on observations from Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret.), who was Colin Powell's chief of staff.

Eugene Robinson (the recent Pulitzer winner) also observed that there are just three questions regarding this sad chapter of American history: is torture moral, is it effective, and is it legal. And a fourth I would add: what are we going to do about it if the answer to the first three are 'no'.

Probably the saddest observation of Wilkerson's was that "there is neither the political will nor the skill" in the current administration to follow through on that last.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Enhanced Prevarication Techniques

I'll have something to say about l'affaire torture soon, but this will do for now...

More on GOP revolution

Or is that devolution. It's certainly a resistance to evolution. Whatever we call their mental illness, they're looking for something to cling to besides their religion and their guns, and secession may be it:

Gov. Rick Perry’s highly energized appearance at Tea Parties around the State of Texas (last week) has dramatically improved his visibility across Texas and the nation. Coupled with an aggressive courting of conservatives which included the endorsement of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Perry has quite simply been tearing it up.

All this has the possibility to leave Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison behind in the dust in the one area where she can easily claim credentials as conservative as Perry: fiscal responsibility.

The polls have shown Hutchison running strong. But Perry’s got a head of steam and has seized the limelight. And he’s just staked his claim to a mad-as-hell constituency – just the kind that he needs for the primary to pull off the win.

The author of that opinion is a former KBH campaign operative, and I agree completely with his premise: that the Texas GOP primary voters are the most extreme of the right-wing to be found anywhere, they don't like Kay Bailey a lot, and they will likely boost Governor MoFo to victory in next spring's gubernatorial elections.

Which sort of defeats the premise for avoiding running against Kay Bailey for governor, doesn't it? I'm looking at you, Mr. Sharp and Mr. White. Let me not digress, though ...

The result is that Perry has seized the momentum and is on fire with a large section of the Republican Party base, not just in Texas, but nationally. And it will be the wing of the party most important in the primary.

That would of course be the Sarah Palin/Alaska Indendence Party wing of the party nationally. The secessionist, creationist, tea-baggin', anti-immigrant, anti-pretty much everything you can think of wing. Except for guns and Bibles.

So a few questions:

-- Despite the quite obvious impossibility of secession, how would the GOP ever win another presidential election if Texas actually did secede?

-- When are the Texas Republicans going to turn in their American flag pins? And summon home their sons and daughters serving in the armed forces? And stop singing along with Lee Greenwood? And chanting "USA, USA" at sporting events?

-- What should national GOP "moderates" -- like Arlen Specter, Kay Bailey, and Joe Lieberman -- do? Form a Neo-Whig Party, perhaps?

To be fair to our ignorant next-door neighbors, though, it's not just Texas that wants out of the Union. It's just Texas that has the worst, most extreme leaders in charge who want to. Or pretend to want to, in order to tap into the latest faux outrage and get re-elected.

You know, once upon a time the Republican Party stood firm against secession. A Republican president led a civil war against secessionist states to maintain the sovereignty and integrity of the Union.

And that war was won, at the cost of thousands of lives.

Be a damn shame if we have to fight that out all over again. I suspect the South would lose once more.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Texas GOP takes "Douchebag" lead

"Douchebag of the Week" honors for the day go to the Republicans in the state House:

After Gov. Rick Perry's recent comments about some Texans talking secession from the union made national news, legislators are considering issuing a "cease and desist" order to the federal government.

"This state prefers, to the greatest extent possible, to control our own destiny," said Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, one of several members co-sponsoring the measure. "We prefer that federal government limit the amount of federal mandates it forces upon the people of Texas."

House Concurrent Resolution 50, which claims sovereignty for Texas under the U.S. Constitution's 10th Amendment, was one of several proposals to go before the House State Affairs Committee late Tuesday.

Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, filed the bill, saying that more than a dozen states have proposed similar efforts amid concern that the federal government may be overstepping its boundaries.

"From restrictions on gun and ammunition sales, to freedom-of-choice issues, to the Real ID Act, the federal government is passing laws that limit a state's ability to govern itself," Creighton has said. "Texas simply wants to send the message that we want to govern ourselves and decide for ourselves how our money is to be spent."

Under this resolution, the 81st Legislature "hereby claim[s] sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

"This serve[s] as notice and demand to the federal government ... to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers."

Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Fort Worth, also signed on as a co-sponsor.

"Texans should have the right for their representatives in Austin to decide what is best for Texas," Shelton said.

This nonsense would be utterly unbelievable, if it weren't for the lunacy already demonstrated by Governor Suckseed.

Let's be clear what this "cease and desist" nonsense is all about: it's neo-secessionism.

They aren't outright calling for Texas to secede. Rather, they are claiming that state governments have the right to nullify the laws of the U.S. government.

These 'neo-secessionists' know that accepting the principle of nullification as a right held by all states would destroy the entire Union. It's not that hard to understand -- if you allow individual states to pick and choose which laws to follow and ignore, you have effectively destroyed the union binding them together.

So while they may claim to oppose secession, by supporting nullification, they are effectively supporting the dissolution of the United States of America, not just the secession of one state. And that's an even more extreme position.

God, deliver us from these fools. And hurry the hell up.

Happy Earth Day

39%: "most likely to secede"

I hope he takes all of these people with him:

Behind a hotel ballroom’s closed doors Thursday, some of Texas’ most conservative Christian ministers will have exclusive access to Gov. Rick Perry and other top elected Republican officials so pastors can “engage our leaders on behalf of Texas families and our God.”

The Texas Pastor Council event follows closely on the heels of Perry’s rallying with anti-tax activists to foment states’ rights and to openly talk about the danger of the union dissolving.

The gathering also is reminiscent of Restoration Project convocations of ministers in 2005 that allowed Perry to speak privately to pastors as a prelude to his run for re-election the following year.

“We just historically — in order to keep the climate comfortable and relaxed, have a good dialogue and interaction — decided not to have that extra pressure of having the press there,” said Dave Welch, executive director of the U.S. Pastor Council and an organizer of the event. He added the group has “nothing to hide.”

The meeting is being promoted to ministers as a day of special access to the governor in which state leaders “are convening behind the city walls” to engage in discussion for families and God, according to pamphlets.

“These pastor policy briefings behind closed doors only seem to pop up when Governor Perry is running in a contested election for governor,” said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, which advocates separation of church and state.

I'm sure they will all pray for guidance in the coming election season, turn out the faithful, and sweep him to victory once more. Just hope it's as the president of a rogue nation-state (a "whole 'nother country" as the promotional ads once proclaimed) and not any part of the USA in which I live.

Along with Perry, the group also will hear from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Attorney General Greg Abbott, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Texas Supreme Court Justice Dale Wainwright.

Representatives for Perry, Dewhurst and Abbott said the elected officials were honored to be invited, and it was up to the Pastor Council as to whether the meeting was open to observers. ...

The featured luncheon speaker for the meeting is Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, who has been critical of Hutchison.

Vision America also has put out a pamphlet praising Perry as being against abortion while likening Hutchison’s position to that of President Barack Obama. Hutchison has an anti-abortion voting record but supports the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

You may recall Pastor Scarborough's informative seminars on the "War on Christians" he was 'moderating' way back in 2006. Or his teaching that you can spot an evil homosexual just by the look on their face, and that the 1992 RNC convention in Houston was plagued by violent, rioting faggots.

Yeah, I sure had forgotten about all that. Then again, we were living in Florida in 1992 (which also carried for Herbert Walker). But before this digresssion spins out, let's return to the subject of the Texas Republicans, their hard-right-with-God events, and its prospects for their future -- as in 2010.

Are there still enough of these freaks to keep it all-GOP in Texas next year? Unfortunately, probably so. Why else would Bill White and John Sharp be ducking a fall challenge to Rick Perry? Because it's Kay Bailey they are actually terrified of, you say?

They'd rather compete with each other in an open primary scrum that also pits them against Dewhurst and Abbott and Roger and Michael Williams for the chance to lose to one of those in a run-off?

And is that why Tom Schieffer is running for governor -- because Texas Democrats need a candidate to the right of Sharp and White?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cheney surges ahead in "Douchebag" competition

All this plaintive whining from the guy who claimed that he had the fourth branch power to unilaterally declassify information. And there he was, sitting on all that proof of the effectiveness of their program all that time! What a humble guy!

He's also directly at odds with all his former neo-con pals, like Michael Hayden who has gone to great lengths to tell the world that any release of this information will surely result in all of us being murdered in our beds. I guess they're not sharing talking points any more.

Who's up to bat tomorrow?

Gingrich takes early lead in "Douchebag of the Week"

More on this constant, incessant, processed conservative poutrage from jobsanger.

Monday, April 20, 2009

"Can they top last week for crazy" Wrangle

No, really. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and even Michele Bachmann were overshadowed in insanity by our very own Governor AMF, who got so lathered at a teabagging party that he threatened to secede from the union. Pirates are making headlines. What century are we in? Need a 21st-century update? Here's this week's Texas Progressive Alliance blog round-up.

BossKitty at TruthHugger finds Texas Agencies 'undersight' totally unacceptable. Texas Agencies that toss 'seemingly viable' programs to the wind and provide no follow up to insure integrity are the fault of Texas legislators. Consolidation of some Agencies, specifically Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (TDMHMR), eliminated follow up after merging with Department of Aging and Disability Services. Follow the bread crumbs: Texas To Students With Disabilities, Educate Yourself or Become Slave Labor.

The House passed its budget! Somewhat surprisingly, as Off the Kuff notes, it doesn't suck.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes that the Obama administration is doing the hard work to solve problems at our border. The right wingers, on the other hand, see only brown and white.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson points to the most recent nonsense from our member of Congress in TX-31, John Carter and right-wing extremists.

Justin at AAA-Fund Blog explores the possible Rice ­-Baylor College of Medicine merger.

Mayor McSleaze took issue with Governor 39%'s assertion that Texas could secede from the United States. Well, not so much 'took issue with' as 'completely showed to be false'. Check it out at McBlogger.

WhosPlayin attended local "TEA Party" gathering in Lewisville and brought back some videos.

It's "secede", not "suckseed", you morons. What is PDiddie at Brains and Eggs referring to?

Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw explains how Governor 39% got confused with a small rodent that decided to tangle with an electric current, and what has happened since. Check it out at Rick Perry, Gerbils and Electric Wires

Neil at Texas Liberal writes a comprehensive overview of the elections in India.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Extra Sunday Funnies (Tea Bag Spelling Bee Edition)

Yankee Stadium is at once both the best and worst of America

Indicative of either the finest demonstration of American capitalism (at an especially difficult time for American capitalism) ... or the most recent demonstration of the excesses of American capitalism. You decide:


Let’s start with the popcorn. It is unfair to call it a tub of popcorn, as they do at the new Yankee Stadium. Perhaps a trough of popcorn, or a tank of popcorn, and, at 2,473 calories, definitely a gutbuster of popcorn. All around the newest theater of excess are such indulgences, culinary and otherwise, this particular caloric dirty bomb available for $12.

That’s the thing about the new Yankee Stadium: Not only is it the biggest, the newest, the most expensive and the self-described best – the homage to everything that was America – it gets away with it, charm intact, for one simple reason.

The New York Yankees are unapologetic in their embrace of that culture. They are the canyon of popcorn and the 1,410-calorie plate of nachos and the 1,360-calorie bag of peanuts and the 1,341-calorie cup of cheese fries, and their fans are still begging for a heart attack.

Which made the official christening of the $1.5 billion stadium Thursday afternoon an event laden with grins and excitement (and arterial plaque buildup), even as the Cleveland Indians stomped the Yankees, 10-2. More than halfway through April, the Yankees finally had their home opener, and any of the 48,271 present can attest that the team’s new dwelling lived up to its billing, good and bad.

It’s unclear whether Yankee Stadium wants to be a ballpark with killer amenities or a mall with a baseball field in the middle. The inside of the stadium is freakishly loyal to its predecessor, like twins who look identical but are actually fraternal. The differences are ornamental, and because of its classic look, the initial thought is: Really, $1.5 billion? And you didn’t reinvent the baseball stadium like Camden Yards in 1993? The toilet seats are definitely gold-plated, right?

One trip around the concourse, and suddenly the cost makes more sense. It is a sea of goods, the free market through a Yankee kaleidoscope, a study in old-fashioned gluttony. It is a cheesesteak line 50 people deep, and a beer garden serving 14 sudsy favorites, and pink foam fingers next to pink hats with flowers alongside pink hats with glitter-covered NY logos.

Next to the hat wall, where more than 100 styles are available, stood Kelley Rutkowski, a 23-year-old from New Jersey. She already had wrecked her diet for the day with the nachos and was inclined to do similar damage with her credit card, because her seat happened to be in the shade, and she was chilly. She found a hooded sweatshirt adorned with rhinestones. She looked at the price tag: $125. Rutkowski quickly summoned David Sidibe, a young salesman.

“Those are diamonds, right?” she said.

Sidibe’s eyes apologized.

“I literally can’t afford to keep warm at this game,” Rutkowski said. “Can I just tell you, David, this is a sin. I’m freaking freezing, and there’s no way I’m spending $125 on a freaking sweatshirt, because that’s how this country got into this mess.”

Never have $125 hoodies been mentioned alongside credit-default swaps and subprime mortgages. Indeed, a day of firsts, from that to Johnny Damon slicing the first hit into center field and Jorge Posada mashing the first home run into the new Monument Park in center.

“I knew that when I came here,” Rutkowski said, “I was going to spend a bunch of money I don’t have.”

Rutkowski didn’t give in to the hoodie’s 74 rhinestones, principle preventing her from brandishing her MasterCard. Others did, and the Yankees reaped untold millions in merchandise and concession sales. Forget the competitive advantage given them by location and television rights; the Yankees’ revenues from the vendors and the tickets that range up to $2,625 for the front row will do plenty to cover a $200 million payroll.

All because people buy into what the Yankees sell. It’s a lifestyle based around winning, and how doing so demands the biggest, newest and best. Depending on the perspective, either the Yankees are profiteers and the fans suckers, or both are willing participants in a time-honored waltz: pure commercialism.

Otherwise, the Yankees would still be at the old stadium, American sports’ truest cauldron of history. It remains standing next door and over the next few years will be picked apart by the atom and sold. And if the Yankees could split those atoms and peddle each for double, surely they would.

Now, instead of the filth and funk of an 85-year-old stadium, the Yankees offer pears. Three kinds. And three varieties of apples, too. And tangerines and oranges and bananas, all for sale at the farmer’s market, which is near the Legends Suite Club, with its folded napkins, polished silverware and vases housing flowers. And, for Ruth and Mickey and Joe D’s sake, the Lobel’s stand that sells hunks of uncooked meat. In a stadium. Four ribeyes for $120.

It’s one thing to push an island of popcorn. But beef? Raw beef? Deep down, beneath the Yankees’ money-making behemoth, could there exist the slightest sliver of guilt for something as disturbing as seeing dry-aged beef on display in a ballpark?

Nope. Not an iota. And it’s edifying, in a way, that the Yankees stayed true to themselves and their believers, responsibility be damned. It’s the American way, after all.

“This is going to stand the test of time,” Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon said. “The economy will one day get right. So in time, people will look at this and say it’s definitely worth it.”

They’ll look at the Great Hall, ultimately the stadium showpiece, a meeting place festooned with vertical banners of Yankees greats. It’s a long corridor walled with impossibly large pieces of limestone and granite, the sort that recall an opulent style abandoned long ago. Few are willing to spend the necessary money for such quality.

Why do the Yankees? It’s who they are. Another stop in the gift shop spells it out explicitly. A different hooded sweatshirt, one without rhinestones, is available for $70. On the front it reads YANKEES UNIVERSE, a friendly reminder for those who may have forgotten.

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Not with either one of them in office, we can't

Can Texas "succeed"? Dewhurst says there's no serious thought about it. Rick Perry thinks it's still an open question. Gardner Selby and the Statesman have the evidence:

And here I thought I was already as embarrassed as I could possibly be of our Republican representatives.

Rick Perry Removed from Office (Depot)

By the legislature, by God:

The Texas House Friday voted to drain most of GOP Gov. Rick Perry’s office budget and instead spend the money on community mental health crisis services and veterans’ services.

The move, which came during House debate on a $178.4 billion proposal for the two-year period starting Sept. 1, immediately drew a reference to Perry’s recent comments about Texas’ ability to secede from the union. The comments have drawn national attention and some lawmakers’ ire.

“Two days after the governor threatens secession, the House zeroes out his budget,” said Rep. Richard Raymond, D-Laredo, House Appropriations Committee vice chairman.

Molly Ivins just did a few spins.

The House action came a day after the Senate rebuffed Perry’s wishes on another matter, by voting for legislation that would allow Texas to take more than half a billion dollars in economic stimulus funds for unemployment benefits. Perry opposes program changes that Texas would have to make to get the money.

In the House, the Houston lawmakers who initiated the near-emptying of Perry’s budget said it wasn’t a slap at him. They said they just wanted to fund crucial programs.

“I need the money. I don’t care where I get it,” said Rep. John Davis, R-Houston, who offered the proposal to take $18.5 million from Perry’s office and spend it on mental health services that divert people from jails and emergency rooms. “These people need help.”

John Davis said that?

And here I was wondering what the Republicans were going to do to top the freak week just passed.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

39% is not enough to go anywhere

Except to hell.

Christ, even original Republican nutjob Tom Delay just told Chris Matthews a moment ago that Texas cannot secede.

Governor MoFo has just sailed into The Top Five Conservative Idiots of the Week. He's at least number three (behind Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck) with a bullet.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Kinky gets ready to run

And he's getting some significant progressive assistance this time:

Humorist and author Kinky Friedman is forming a political committee to begin raising money for a possible second run for Texas governor.

Friedman said today he will travel the state for several months talking to Texans about whether to enter the Democratic primary in 2010. He ran unsuccessfully as an independent in 2006, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry was re-elected a second time.

San Antonio attorney and Friedman adviser Abel Dominguez will serve as treasurer of the campaign committee, called “Texans for Kinky.”

Dominguez orchestrated Victor Morales’ victory in the 1996 Democratic U.S. Senate primary. Former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower also is helping Friedman.

TPA blog brethren Charles, Vince, Matt, and K-T quickly weighed in, negatively.

Ted is enthused

As previously posted, I'm going to watch how this plays out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Vasquez staff members offer misleading testimony

Let's start with Alan Bernstein:

Any honeymoon between (Texas) Democrats and the new Harris County voter registrar ended suddenly today.

Democratic state Reps. Garnet Coleman and Ana Hernandez of Houston said Leo Vasquez, who is tax assessor-collector and voter registration chief, is responsible for staffers who allegedly misled state legislators considering whether to require voters to offer more proof of identification before casting ballots.

“It is up to (Vasquez) to clean up his office,” Coleman and Hernandez said in a news media handout. “Otherwise, Leo needs to go.”

What's the issue here?

The Democrats today zeroed in on Hammerlein’s legislative testimony, several hours into hearing that ran past midnight, that thousands of Harris County residents who registered to vote on time were not eligible to participate in early voting two weeks later because they applied relatively late.

Hammerlein acknowledged today that his statement was wrong and said it was due to the strange hour rather than any attempt to mislead the Legislature.

Interesting. Vasquez apparently got reactionary and overly defensive about it:

(Vasquez) said today that testimony in Austin last week on the “voter ID” bill by ... Hammerlein and Ed Johnson was no partisan move. The pair, called to testify by Republican lawmakers, took no position on the bill and provided facts as requested, Vasquez said.

Coleman and Hernandez never have taken their concerns to him, Vasquez said, and they owe his staffers an apology for making baseless allegations.

More interesting. A catfight of sorts has erupted. Google searches for more reporting about this story seem a little thin at the moment. I'd like to know more, and if you do, post a link in the comments.

: Courtesy Kuffner, here's the full statement outlining the complaint from Coleman and Hernandez. And Vince has some video of the testimony in question.

Four passings in MLB to open the season

It feels so out of place here, in this sport that begins each new season with hope and promise and dreams as fresh as the return of spring.

And yet, just one week into the 2009 season, a death rattle has drowned out the joyous sound of “play ball.”

Last Thursday it was Nick Adenhart, the 22-year-old Los Angeles Angels pitcher killed in a car accident that also claimed the lives of two friends. Three days earlier -- on opening day -- it was Brian Powers, a 27-year-old Angels fan, found bleeding and unconscious in an Angels Stadium stairwell after a fatal altercation with other spectators.

Monday came the news that Harry Kalas, the legendary broadcaster of the Philadelphia Phillies since 1971, was found dead at age 73 in a broadcast booth in Washington, preparing for an afternoon game against the Nationals.

And then just hours later, one more shock: Mark “the Bird” Fidrych, one of the game’s purest characters, was found under his 10-wheel truck on his Massachusetts farm, dead of an apparent accident at age 54.

A promising player. A hometown fan. An unforgettable voice. A baseball original. All gone in the season’s first week.

Moments of silence, like the one they held for Kalas here Monday night, where the New York Mets were opening their new ballpark, Citi Field, have become as commonplace this misbegotten spring as the seventh-inning stretch.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gingrich, Beck, FOX all bet against US vs. pirates

Before it goes down the memory hole:

Back to reality:

(M)embers of the Navy Seals were flown in by fixed-wing aircraft. They parachuted into the sea with inflatable boats and were picked up by the Bainbridge. On Sunday, the pirates, their fuel gone, were drifting toward the Somali coast. They agreed to accept a tow from the Bainbridge, the senior officials said. At first, the towline was 200 feet long, but as darkness gathered and seas became rough, the towline was shortened to 100 feet, the officials said. It was unclear if this was done with the pirates’ knowledge.

At dusk, a single tracer bullet was seen fired from the lifeboat. The intent was unclear, but it ratcheted up the tension and Seal snipers at the stern rail of the Bainbridge fixed night-vision scopes to their high-powered rifles, getting ready for action.

What they saw was the head and shoulders of two of the pirates emerging from the rear hatch of the lifeboat. Through the window of the front hatch they saw the third pirate, pointing his AK-47 at the back of Captain Phillips, who was seen to be tied up.

That was it: the provocation that fulfilled the president’s order to act only if the captain’s life was in imminent danger, and the opportunity of having clear shots at each captor. The order was given. Senior defense officials, themselves marveling at the skill of the snipers, said each took a target and fired one shot.

The Wrangle for Tax Day (and Teabaggin' Week)

AKA the Texas Progressive Alliance's Weekly Round-Up.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme noticed Fort Bend County was slapped by the DOJ for actual election integrity problems. Voters were illegally denied provisional ballots and Spanish speakers were not accommodated. Betty Brown probably wishes those voters would make life easier for English-speaking poll workers.

BossKitty at TruthHugger cannot accept that tax laws, tax jegislation and lawmakers are ignorant to the fact that keeping the taxpayer clueless brings in more revenue. Intentional vagueness and contradiction guarantee more tax dollars collected. This country has brainwashed its taxpayers; it is easier to waste their money on sleazy preparers and tax software than to learn what taxes are all about. Taxpayers are complicit in their own misery, even though the government really tries to make the facts available. We've been convinced that taxes are just a necessary evil ... "Death and Taxes". But today, Can You Trust Your Tax Software When It Can't Keep Up.

Neil at Texas Liberal posted a video using Franklin Roosevelt and George W. Bush dolls to illustrate the recent liberal ascendancy in the United States.

We all had some fun at Rep. Betty Brown's expense last week, but Off the Kuff noted that there was a bill pending before Rep. Brown's Elections Committee that would actually help alleviate some of the problems that prevent eligible citizens from casting their ballots.

At Texas Kaos, it's been a bemusing week of watching Glenn Beck prepare to storm the Alamo City with Tea Bags. But nothing could have prepared us for Rick Perry linking his fortunes with Beck after his gasoline-drenched performance Apparently a primary threat in the Texas Republican Party means you double down on the batshit crazy lies. Who knew?

Kim Jong Il wasn't the only person to fire a missile this week. McBlogger went ballistic over that dapper Senator Watson.

The Employee Free Choice Act met the Democratic Senator from the Great State of Wal-Mart and is headed down to defeat as a result. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has more on the Senate's caving in once again to the corporations.

Asian American Action Fund Blog has extensive coverage of Betty Brown's ridiculous questioning of Ramey Ko, from our first report to Brown's apology and Ko's description of their conversation. In addition, there are link roundups of most coverage of the incident from April 9th and 10th. And don't miss law professor Frank Wu's exploration of the matter.

Vince at Capitol Annex takes a look at the 20 Republicans in the Texas House who voted against education benefits for veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Teabagging Parties, sponsored by FOX

The Right's latest grassroots gaffe, coming to a conservative media show near you this week, demonstrates once more that astroturf has no root system. Steve Benen:

Media Matters' Karl Frisch notes Glenn Beck's role in this week's Tea-bagging events. It points to a larger truth that often goes overlooked.

Beck isn't just helping with turnout. Discussing his participation in the upcoming protest at the Alamo in San Antonio on his syndicated radio program, Beck announced, "I'm going to do a fundraiser for them" to help defray costs. "So you can come and you can have lunch with me. ... I don't know any of the details, but I've heard it's like $500 a plate or something like that."

How much to throw up on Glenn Beck's shoes? What do you say to buying Colbert and Stewart a couple of seats at the head table?

While the notion of someone paying $500 to have lunch near Glenn Beck is itself amusing, I think Oliver Willis captures the broader significance: "When people were protesting the Iraq war, they didn't have $500-a-plate fundraisers. Then again, they didn't have sponsorship from Fox News, the backing of corporate lobbyists and the attendance of prominent conspiracy theorists like Alan Keyes."

Right. Even after all the teaching moments of the last decade or so, it seems the right still doesn't quite get the meaning of the word "grassroots." Conservatives still seem wedded to a top-down model.

We've seen this play out several times of late. Remember "Freedom's Watch"? Conservatives decided they needed their own version of, so some loyal Bushies went to a right-wing billionaire for seed money, and the top-down game was in motion. The result, despite considerable hype, was a bust, and the far-right group has already folded.

There's some evidence to suggest the Tea Parties are following a similar trajectory. These right-wing events aren't just coming together naturally; they're the product of Fox News and corporate lobbyists. This is practically a textbook example of "astroturf." That Glenn Beck is charging $500 a plate to have lunch with him to help subsidize the effort only helps reinforce the larger dynamic.

Conservatives too often think, "We'll get some money together, deliver a right-wing message, and the grassroots will come together. It'll be awesome." Except it never is.

This isn't to say turnout will necessarily be low on Wednesday; I wouldn't be surprised if far-right voters turned out in substantial numbers. The point is, corporate-sponsored events thrown together with no clear purpose or specific aims are not the foundation for a political movement or effective activism.

Any group who protests lower taxes on themselves and a 3% higher marginal tax increase on the wealthy deserves all of the respect they get.

But you know what these people really need? A community organizer. ;^)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A gathering of expensive douchebags

At a committee meeting in Austin -- where else:

Or as Susan Peterson of the Texas Observer more delicately phrased it, "a million dollars in billable hours".

Easter Bunny Calls on Congress to Rethink Afghanistan

As the White House conducts its traditional Easter egg roll, Brave New Foundation's Rethink Afghanistan campaign will have several Easter Bunnies distributing and hiding more than 6,000 Easter eggs in New York City and Washington DC. The eggs will be stuffed with toy soldiers serving as a reminder of the troops currently stationed in Afghanistan along with a series of poignant questions that have yet to be raised about the war on Afghanistan.

Thousands of soldiers serving in Afghanistan will be away from their families this Easter. These soldiers will soon be joined by an additional 21,000 troops. Congress has yet to call substantial oversight hearings on whether the troop escalation makes sense.

"Easter is a time for renewal. As American Christian families celebrate this holiday, we must renew our commitment to one of Jesus Christ's most important commitments: peace. We must to re-engage our country in a national debate and ask the questions that have yet to be raised about the Afghanistan war."

In a recent trip to Kabul, Hollywood director and activist Robert Greenwald interviewed local Afghans who consistently expressed a desire for the US to end its seven-year occupation in Afghanistan. Many of them cited the American occupation as fueling pro-Taliban sentiment in Afghanistan.

"Congress needs to assert its role in critical oversight as we continue to add troops and money to a war that has already cost billions of dollars. The American people deserves answers to important questions such as: are we really helping in Afghanistan if human rights are getting worse."

View the 'Rethink Afghanistan' documentary here.

Count me in opposition to another of President Obama's recent policies: escalation in Ahghanistan.

On October 2, 2002, Barack Obama -- then an Illinois state senator -- gave a speech opposing going to war in Iraq. That speech, at that time, would prove crucial to his election, first as a US Senator two years later, and then as President, four years after that. Democrats who equivocated were a dime a dozen. Obama stood out, because he stood up when others did not, and said, “This is wrong.”

He did not oppose all wars. He cited the Civil War and World War II as specific examples of necessary ones. But, he said, “I’m opposed to dumb wars.” Yet on January 23, his third full day as President, Obama ordered two separate air strikes in Pakistan, killing 14 civilians, along with four suspected terrorists. One strike killed six civilians along with four suspected terrorists staying in their home, the other simply hit the wrong target, the home of a pro-government tribal elder, Malik Deen Faraz in the Gangikhel area of South Waziristan, killing him, his three sons and a grandson, along with three others.

Now President Obama has made it official: in addition to another 17,000 troops promised early, he made an additional pledge of 4,000 more on Friday, March 27. It was reportedly a ‘carefully calibrated’ decision, these would be trainers not combat troops, we were told. But Ray McGovern, a 27-year CIA veteran, whose career included long stretches preparing security briefs for Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr., was not impressed with such fine distinctions.

“I was wrong,” McGovern wrote about his belief that Obama’s campaign rhetoric regarding escalation in Afghanistan would not be followed through. “I kept thinking to myself that when he got briefed on the history of Afghanistan and the oft-proven ability of Afghan ‘militants’ to drive out foreign invaders - from Alexander the Great, to the Persians, the Mongolians, Indians, British, Russians - he would be sure to understand why they call mountainous Afghanistan the ‘graveyard of empires.’”

Perhaps Obama got that briefing, perhaps he didn’t. But one thing is certain, McGovern went on to explain: he did not get the kind of intelligence briefing that used to be standard before the Bush regime consigned them to irrelevancy. Traditionally, the national intelligence estimate (NIE) had been the core intelligence product used to summarize the collective advice of the intelligence community, but as USA Today reported on September 11, 2002 (”Iraq Course Set From Tight White House Circle”), no NIE had been prepared on the topic of invading Iraq.

“An intelligence official says that’s because the White House doesn’t want to detail the uncertainties that persist about Iraq’s arsenal and Saddam’s intentions. A senior administration official says such an assessment simply wasn’t seen as helpful,” USA Today reported, adding, “Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, calls that ’stunning.’

‘If we are about to make a decision that could risk American lives, we need full and accurate information on which to base that decision,’ he says in a letter sent Tuesday to leaders of the committee and CIA Director George Tenet.”

Easter Sunday Funnies

Friday, April 10, 2009

Betty Brown converts entire wardrobe to wash-and-wear over lack of "American" dry cleaners

No one could have predicted that she would be able to find enough stretch polyester in Terrell and Athens and even the vintage clothing stores in Austin to have five different outfits to wear each week for the rest of the legislative session. But she did. Former representative Ron Wilson has graciously donated a couple of his old jogging suits for her to wear around the house -- not the House, of course.

I understand some of her frustration; I have a stain on one of my nice white shirts that nobody can seem to get out.

-- Which begs the question: what's Betty going to wear to her Teabaggin' Party next week? Thank you, MOMocrats, for writing the post (and linking to the Urban Dic), including the video from Rachel Maddow last night. This is truly going to be a national movement, all right. Hilarity factor already red-lining.

Does it occur to anyone else that Sen. Larry Craig could have explained it to all of them -- if they had not sent him back into exile in Idaho, that is?

A few other archive-clearing items to revisit ...

-- Andrew Sullivan brought us the sad story of another dead stoner.

-- My sister Sharon made the MSM.

-- This says that the economy, using corporate bond markets as the indicator, has almost 8 million additional jobs to shed (on top of the 5 million already lost). You just have to hope that's not accurate. On top of the news that the Fed pumped over a trillion dollars into the monetary system because of deflation paranoia, and the stress-test for banks that nobody is talking about publicly, there appears to be great fear behind the curtains about where we are going to bottom out.

-- Old dogs are the best dogs? I don't know about that yet, but my two three-year-olds are pretty much the shiznet.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Brown: Asians need names "easier for Americans to deal with"

Frustrated that Asians insist on naming their children after the sounds made when throwing pots and pans against a wall, Rep. Betty Brown lashed out at a representative of the community by demanding that his people name all future children after her ancestors ...

Myrtle, Gertrude, Hortense,and Genevieve:

A North Texas legislator during House testimony on voter identification legislation said Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.”

The comments caused the Texas Democratic Party on Wednesday to demand an apology from state Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell. But a spokesman for Brown said her comments were only an attempt to overcome problems with identifying Asian names for voting purposes.

The exchange occurred late Tuesday as the House Elections Committee heard testimony from Ramey Ko, a representative of the Organization of Chinese Americans.

Ko told the committee that people of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent often have problems voting and other forms of identification because they may have a legal transliterated name and then a common English name that is used on their driver’s license on school registrations.

Brown suggested that Asian-Americans should find a way to make their names more accessible.

“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown said.

Brown later told Ko: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

Can't you see that you are a nasty bigoted ass, Representative Brown?

No, of course you can't.

Off you go to the Leo Berman Hall of Shame.

Update: My Betty Brown-Approved Name is Roy "Golden Corral" Brown. Find yours.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D - Wal-Mart)

The gentlelady from Arkansas has announced she cannot vote for the Employee Free Choice Act:

"I cannot support that bill," Lincoln said, according to Arkansas Business. "Cannot support that bill in its current form. Cannot support and will not support moving it forward in its current form."

Labor forces can ill-afford to lose any Democrats in this legislative battle, given the partisan lines of the EFCA vote in 2007. Already, Sen. Arlen Specter, the lone Senate Republican to vote for cloture on the Employee Free Choice Act back then, has indicated he will oppose cloture if the bill were to be brought up in this Congress.

Lincoln, long considered a crucial Democratic vote on EFCA, was the focus of intense political pressure. Union groups were courting her support while the business community had made her a primary target for defection. Indeed, Wal-Mart hired her former chief of staff for the precise purpose of lobbying on EFCA. Lincoln is up for re-election in 2010.

Count also endangered Republican Arlen Specter, Dianne Feinstein, and a wavering Mark Warner of Virginia as declaring themselves in favor of Big Bidness over the little guy. Expect more of the god-damned Senate Blue Dogs to slink out from under the porch and lie down in the lap of their corporate masters.

This is bullshit. This action defies the attempts of the middle class to resurrect itself in the face of the worst economic times in three generations.

And it makes me feel like sharpening my pitchfork.

Don't forget those Tea Bagger Parties next week!

Click on the toon to read it larger. Be sure and stock up on extra guns and ammo for the celebration, too (if you can find any, that is).

Obama joins Bush in "states secrets" club

In the matter of extraordinary rendition as well as warrantless wiretapping:

In the Mohamed v. Jeppesen extraordinary rendition case, the Obama administration reiterated the Bush administration argument that the case should be dismissed to preserve "states secrets." Likewise, in the Al-Haramain wiretapping case, Obama's DOJ used the arguments of the Bush administration to argue, again, that state secrets should prevent the Al-Haramain case -- in which the only secret isn't a secret because it was inadvertently shared with plaintiff's attorneys -- from moving forward.

Late Friday, the Obama DOJ actually went the Bush administration one argument further, in a third case. In Jewel v. NSA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is "suing the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies on behalf of AT&T customers to stop the illegal, unconstitutional, and ongoing dragnet surveillance of their communications and communications records." The Obama administration filed its first response [pdf] to the suit Friday, demanding dismissal of the entire suit.

Just a reminder, as pointed out by Glenn; one of the rationales provided by all of those Senators who supported the FISAAA that granted immunity to the telcos was the the avenue of suing the government was still open. Jello Jay wrote: "If administration officials abused their power or improperly violated the privacy of innocent people, they must be held accountable. That is exactly why we rejected the White House's year-long push for blanket immunity covering government officials."

Needless for me to say, what's good for the goose (Bush) is NOT good for the gander (Obama). I expected more and much better from a Democratic president than this, and expect now that either a Democratic Congress or the Supreme Court will limit these illegal powers claimed by the most recent head of the executive branch.

Stop laughing. Back to mcjoan:

It's difficult to read the administration's brief in any other way than a reinforcement -- even an inflation of -- the unitary executive, or to attribute it to Bush holdovers. This is first of the cases in which the DOJ attorneys aren't carrying over arguments from the previous administration -- they are initiating this case. And it appears that the promises of last summer and fall when FISAAA was being argued were pretty damned empty. As EFF points out:

"President Obama promised the American people a new era of transparency, accountability, and respect for civil liberties," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "But with the Obama Justice Department continuing the Bush administration's cover-up of the National Security Agency's dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans, and insisting that the much-publicized warrantless wiretapping program is still a 'secret' that cannot be reviewed by the courts, it feels like deja vu all over again."