Monday, June 28, 2010

Conservatives: U.S. Constitution Does Not Explicitly Enumerate Rights of Privacy and Civil Equality

Updated June 28, 2010 @ 5:41 p.m.
Today's opening comments from conservative Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for Elena Kagan's Supreme Court confirmation hearings shaped up to be a trial in absentia of Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall, the court's iconic civil rights Justice of the twentieth century. GOP members of the committee invoked Marshall's name 35 times today.

Republicans, led by Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, sought to discredit Kagan by denouncing Marshall, for whom Kagan clerked, and Marshall's support of equal rights, as emblematic of reckless judicial activism. [Newsweek]

Marshall is revered for his role as the lead lawyer in the landmark "separate but equal" Brown v. Board of Education case, which desegregated the nation’s schools. Marshall expressed the “living constitution” theory of jurisprudence—and if there is an unassailable monument to that theory, it is the Brown decision. As Sen. Sessions put it, Marshall was one of those justices who “don’t deny activism."

Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah) commented to Salt Lake Tribune's Thomas Burr after the hearings that he wasn't sure he would have voted to confirm Marshall, the first African-American to ever serve on the Supreme Court. (Marshall was an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991.)

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) reminded Senate Republicans exactly who and what they were labeling as an example of judicial activism:
"The results which Justice Marshall dedicated his life to broke down barriers of racial discrimination that had haunted America for generations. . . . And I might also add that his most famous case, Brown v. Board of Education—if that is an activist mind at work, we should be grateful as a nation that he argued before the Supreme Court, based on discrimination in this society and changed America for the better."
Even as conservatives denounce activist judges, the Roberts Court, which has four of the five most conservative Supreme Court Justices of the last 50 years currently sitting at the bench, is considered a conservative activist court.

GOP members of the committee
invoking Marshall's name

Senator Franken's opening statement
Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) gave this opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan:

"...Last year, I used my time during the [Sotomayor confirmation] hearings to highlight what I think is one of the most serious threats to our Constitution and to the rights it guarantees the American people: the activism of the Roberts Court.

I noted that for years, conservatives running for the Senate have made it almost an article of faith that they won't vote for activist judges who make law from the bench. And when asked to name a model justice, they would often cite Justice Thomas, who I noted has voted to overturn more federal laws than Justices Stevens and Breyer combined. In recent cycles, they would name Chief Justice Roberts.

Well, I think we established very convincingly during the Sotomayor hearings that there is such a thing as judicial activism. There is such a thing as legislating from the bench. And it is practiced repeatedly by the Roberts Court, where it has cut in only one direction: in favor of powerful corporate interests, and against the rights of individual Americans. In the next few days, I want to continue this conversation. Because I think things have only gotten worse..."

Originally Posted May 11, 2010 @ 1:11 p.m.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele released a statement criticizing President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan for her support of Justice Thurgood Marshall's speech in which he said that the Constitution as originally conceived and drafted was "defective."

Had Mr. Steele taken the time to look into the context of Justice Marshall's statements he might have found that Marshall was referring to the Three-Fifths compromise in Article 1 Section 2, which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person. I don't know about Chairman Steele, but that seems to be a serious "defect" in the Constitution as originally conceived and drafted.

Justice Marshall also said the it took several constitutional amendments and a Civil War to right this wrong. Again, had Chairman Steele taken the time to look at the copy of the Constitution he carries in his pocket he could have read the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to find out Marshall was correct.

The RNC then doubled down on Chairman Steel's statement when Doug Heye posted this at
"In the same law review article, Kagan endorses the view that the Court's primary role is to "show special solicitude" for people a judge has empathy for.

In the article about her former boss, Justice Thurgood Marshall, Kagan wrote:

For in Justice Marshall's view, constitutional interpretation demanded, above all else, one thing from the courts: it demanded that the courts show a special solicitude for the despised and disadvantaged. It was the role of the courts, in interpreting the Constitution, to protect the people who went unprotected by every other organ of government -- to safeguard the interests of people who had no other champion.

The majority of Americans want a justice who understands that the Founders intended the Court to serve as a neutral arbiter of disputes. The question for Kagan is whether she believes in a 'modern Constitution' shaped by activist judges pursuing personal political agendas or whether she believes in basing judicial decisions based on the Constitution and the rule of law."
The GOP is on the record as opposing the finding by Supreme Court judges that the language of the constitution defines principles that American citizens have a general right of civil equality and right of privacy to be left alone without government intrusion into their personal or family decisions and lifestyle. Conservatives label judges who find such rights in the constitution as "activist judges." Yet, the activist conservative judges on the Roberts Court have ruled that corporations have the same rights as "We The People" individuals even though the Constitution includes no specific language granting such rights to corporate entities.

Conservatives continue to press their so called strict constructionist constitutional argument, that Americans have no right that is not explicitly enumerated (written) in the Constitution. The right of privacy and right of equality are not explicitly enumerated (written) in the Constitution.
By arguing against the Supreme Court's right to privacy and right of equality findings, conservatives argue against the court's so called "activist" decisions on a broad range of rights that include child rearing, procreation, marriage, contraception, private and home schooling rights and civil rights of equality.
One of the most memorable moments from Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee was the aggressive line of questioning from Sen. (R-S.C.) Lindsey Graham. The South Carolina Republican demanded to know if President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court had a "temperament problem" and even told Sotomayor that she had a reputation as a bully. At another point, the senator asked Sotomayor about her now infamous "wise Latina" comment and her tenure on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, a legal arm for the Hispanic community, with the inference she is a Latina racist. It was all reflective of the line of questioning that Republicans on the Judiciary Committee pushed all day.

Finally, Senator Graham turned to another line of questioning by asking Judge Sotomayor, "Would you be considered a “strict constructionist” in your own mind?
... I'm asking ... Does the Constitution, as written, prohibit a legislative body at state or federal level from defining life or relating the rights of the unborn? ... Is there anything in the [Constitutional] document written about [a woman's right to choose] abortion?" Judge Sotomayor finally answered, "The word "abortion" is not used in the Constitution, but the Constitution does have a broad provision concerning a liberty provision under the due process..." Cutting Judge Sotomayor off mid-answer Sen. Graham observed, "That's my concern. ...a lot of us feel that the best way to change society is to go to the ballot box, elect someone, and if they are not doing it right, get rid of them through the electoral process. And a lot of us are concerned ... that unelected judges are very quick to change society in a way that's disturbing."

[The full exchange between Judge Sotomayor and Sen. Graham can be found in the transcript here.]
Senator Graham's "strict constructionist" line of questioning exemplifies the GOP's indefensible positions on American's right to privacy and civil right of equality regardless of race, sex or religion. Because the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is based on the courts constitutional "right of privacy" finding in its Griswold v. Connecticut ruling, that overturned laws banning the purchase and use of contraceptives, conservatives always reference Roe to rally support to their "strict constructionist" constitutional argument that Americans have no right of privacy. This right of privacy issue is little more than a stalking horse that strict social conservatives use to attack the Supreme Court's so called liberal "activist" decisions on a broad range rights issues, including the right to purchase and use contraceptive products.

Conservatives argue that the framer's "original intent" can be found only in the exact words written in the constitution rather than an understanding and application of the principles that framers were attempting to define. Conservatives maintain that judges who make decisions based on "constitutional principles" carried in the words, rather than application of the exact words, written in the constitution are liberal activist judges who legislate from the bench.

Of course, the Constitution, as written, does not specifically prohibit a legislative body at the state or federal level from segregating schools as separate but equal "white only" and "black only" institutions, but the Supreme Court did find such laws unconstitutional in the court's 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision. In Brown the court found that the language of the constitution defines principles that segregation deprives segregated citizens of their equal protection under the "due process of law" as granted in the 14th Amendment.
Even the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who held "constructionist" views on constitutional interpretations, opposed Brown v. Board of Education as an unconstitutional decision when he was a Supreme Court clerk. Rehnquist also urged Barry Goldwater to argue that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional.
Nor does the Constitution, as written, specifically prohibit a legislative body at the state or federal level from segregating drinking fountains as "white only" and "black only," from restricting marriage between people of different races, from making the use of birth control pills and condoms a criminal offense, from requiring parents to send their children to public rather than private schools or even from restricting access to the ballot box on election day through poll taxes, literacy tests and other "Jim Crow" related laws.
These and other such rights are not enumerated by specific wording in the U.S. Constitution, but they are rights that most Americans today believe are specifically guaranteed by the Constitution. Even so, Americans were denied these rights by many state and federal laws, particularly among southern states like Texas, until the 1950's and 1960's.
Conservatives continue to maintain that it is wrong to appoint "activist" Supreme Court Judges who believe the constitution grants rights of privacy and civil equality not explicitly enumerated in word.

Conservatives, in fact, want conservative activist Supreme Court Judges
who will overturn more than a hundred years of legal precedent to grant "corporations the rights of individual citizens" as the Roberts Court did this year when it greatly expanded the parameters of Citizens United v. FEC to make its pro-corporate ruling. The constitution does not explicitly enumerated that "corporations shall have rights identical to individual citizens," but Chief Justice Roberts and the other activist conservative Supreme Court Justices, none the less, ruled the constitution guarantees such rights to corporations over laws passed by congress.

Conservatives, in fact, want conservative activist Supreme Court Judges
who will look for opportunities to turn the constitutional clock back to 1950; A time before Brown v. Board of Education and Griswold v. Connecticut.

Texas Democratic Women Candidate's Forum

Candidate's Forum

Dallas Morning News, Frisco – Democratic political rallies are a rare occurrence in Collin County, where Republicans dominate virtually every level of government.
Yet on Monday evening here in the heart of GOP territory, a slate of Democratic candidates rallied in the hopes of breaking the Republican stranglehold on Dallas' northern suburbs.

"We have a tough row to hoe here in Collin County," said Rafael De La Garza, who is running for Collin County district attorney against Republican Greg Willis.
--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia Dead

The longest-serving member of the U.S. Congress, Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, has died at the age of 92 after serving almost sixty years in public office.

Byrd was sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives on January 3, 1953 and was elected to the U.S Senate six years later in 1958. In November, he broke the record for congressional service that had been set by Democrat Carl Hayden of Arizona, who served in the House and Senate from 1912 to 1969. Byrd was reelected to serve a ninth term in the Senate in 2006.

Byrd was in frail health and had used a wheelchair in recent months to go to the Senate floor to cast crucial votes, including final passage of health-care legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama.

Byrd went to the hospital late last week suffering from what was believed to be heat exhaustion and severe dehydration as a result of the hot temperatures in Washington. Over the weekend Byrd's condition was reported as "seriously ill." Spokesman Jesse Jacobs said Byrd died peacefully overnight at about 3:00 a.m. in Inova Fairfax Hospital in suburban Washington.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, will appoint Byrd's successor on an interim basis pending a special election.

West Virginia State election law states that, if a Senate vacancy occurs more than 2 1/2 years before the term is up, that a special election be held to fill the seat. However, that statute includes language stating the special election shall only occur after a candidate "has been nominated at the primary election next following such timely filing and has thereafter been elected." West Virginia held its 2010 primary almost two months ago, so the statute can be interpreted as the "next" primary in 2012, before the general election in November, 2012. The wording of the statute could open a legal challenge to force a special election this November. Had Byrd lived another 6 days, the wording of the statute would not be an issue, because his passing would then have been less than 2 1/2 years until the end of his term. Democrats currently hold a nominal 59-seat majority in the U.S. Senate, including two Independents who caucus with Democrats.

A good biography on Byrd appears in today's edition of the The Washington Post.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Times of London Retracts It's "Global Warming Is A Trick" Climategate Story

The Times of London retracts its "Global warming is a trick" climategate story the paper printed in late 2009 after a large batch of e-mails and documents were stolen from servers of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, in England, and put up anonymously on the web.

The Times of London took isolated and out of context snippets of those emails and spun it into a claim of scientific malfeasance.

The result has been a field day for those intent on discrediting the idea of man-made climate change.

Climategate - part 1

Climategate - part 2
The spin that climate change deniers put out from the story, trumpeted by news organizations around the world, was that the stolen emails reveal what they always claimed, an evil global liberal conspiracy. See The Economist "Climate Change Mail-Strom" and the AP "Science not faked, but not pretty, "Climategate" Exposed]

Read fully and in context the stolen emails do not support claims that the science of global warming is faked. The stolen emails, read in their entirety, reveal only that climate scientists have discussed issues related to protecting their research from false distortion by climate change deniers and how to effectively and convincingly present their conclusive climate change data. (see News Week story, Why climate change is “even worse than we feared.”)

The Times of London and other newspapers are now retracting their ‘Climategate’ claims, but the damage is done with public opinion turning against the scientific proof of climate change.

News Week, June 2010: A lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on, as Mark Twain said, and nowhere has that been more true than in "climategate."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tea Partiers Have More In Common With Progressives Than Conservaties, Regardless of What The Conservative Media Says

One of the organizing principles of the conservative-led tea party movement is an “aversion to big government,” with tea party organizers turning their ire on comprehensive health insurance reform, clean energy legislation, and even mandatory trash collection. Yet another new poll finds that, despite their anti-government rhetoric, a majority of tea partiers favor the government enacting policies to protect manufacturing jobs and placing tariffs on goods from countries with weak environmental standards:
A new poll contradicts the widely held belief that the the tea party movement is opposed to government action to help the economy.It shows that self-described Tea Party supporters are very much in favor of government action to revitalize America’s manufacturing base.

Seventy-four percent of self-described Tea Party Supporters would support a “national manufacturing strategy to make sure that economic, tax, labor, and trade policies in this country work together to help support manufacturing in the United States,” according to the poll, put out by the Mellman Group and the Alliance for American Manufacturing. Likewise, 56 percent of self-described Tea Party Supporters “favor a tariff on products imported from other countries that are cheaper because they came from a country that does not have to comply with any climate change regulations in the country where the products were made.”
It remains to be seen if the corporate-funded astro-turf groups like FreedomWorks and other Republican operatives, who have promoted the tea party movement, will be willing to champion these pro-worker and pro-environmental views movement members appear to have.

2008-12-22-Zogby_HuffPo_CenterLeft_v1.jpgThe thing that is so truly ironic about most of the people who have been pulled into the tea party movement is that issue by issue, they have more in common with with progressives than the deep pocket conservative FreedomWorks and other Republican operatives who have been funding the tea party marketing initiatives over the last year and half.

In late 2008 the Norman Lear Center and Zogby International - asked a scientific sample of adults to look at 21 pairs of statements. Each pair dug down to core political values. Each pair had a red (or conservative) answer and a blue (or liberal) answer. Fifty-two percent were blue, and 48% were red - a finding that's significant beyond the poll's +/- 1.8% margin of error. The country leans to the left, not the right.

2008-12-22-Zogby_HuffPo_PoorMorality_v4.jpg On some issues, the country has a lopsidedly blue point of view. For example, 77% of our respondents agreed that "it is our duty to help the less fortunate"; 76% said that "government is too involved in regulating morality"; 76% believe that "corporations generally act without society's best interests in mind."

(If you'd like to see all 21 pairs of political values questions, and how people answered, data that drives a final stake into the center-right talking-point. here's where to find that.)

2008-12-22-Zogby_HuffPo_Clusters_v1.jpgA surprisingly small number of the 3,167 people in the survey gave answers that were all blue or all red. Instead, almost all the adults polled offered mixtures of red and blue answers.

And when we analyzed those mixtures, we found that they formed three statistically significant clusters, which we called red (41% of the sample), blue (34%), and purple (24%). (The poll's findings omit the country's 5% of self-identified libertarians, who are all over the map on the issues.)

2008-12-22-Zogby_HuffPo_PurpleLanding_v1.jpgPurples - the nation's center - leaned to the red end of the spectrum on eight issues, and they leaned to the blue end of the spectrum on 12 issues. (They were split 50/50 on one issue: whether religion should be left out of public life.)

Over all, 56% of the purples identified with blue answers, and 44% of the purples identified with red answers. In other words, the center of the country leans to the left, not the right.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bill White Speaks At The Texas Democratic Party State Convention in Corpus Christi

Bill White, the Democratic candidate for governor, left the delegates chanting "We want Bill! We want Bill! We want Bill!!" as he concluded his address formally accepting the party's nomination at the 2010 Texas Democratic Party State Convention in Corpus Christi on Friday evening.

Below is White's prepared text distributed to the press along with video of his address. White's actual remarks differed slightly from his prepared text:

We come from the endless horizons of the high plains to the shaded forests of East Texas, from the bustling morning traffic of our great cities to the calm sunsets along our coasts. Texas is home to proud people. We come from all backgrounds, but we share so much:

Elena White introduces her
father, Bill White, to the Convention

Bill White's Address
to the Convention
We all believe that Texans need more jobs, with real futures.

We all understand that Texans work hard to create a better life for our children.

And we all know that Texans are ready for a new governor!

We gather in Corpus today because we share common values:

We believe in freedom and diversity, but we understand that real leadership unites us.

We take pride in our state's heritage, but we understand that we have come a long way in breaking down barriers and our greatest days can be ahead of us.

I am honored by your support, and especially by the love and fighting spirit of my family. I am inspired by the friendship of so many present today.

We gather with a sense of excitement, preparing for this great test of Texas' future.

In Rick Perry's Texas it is "every man for himself." You see, Rick Perry and his friends put special interests above the public interest.

And in promotion of self-interest, it is fair to say Rick Perry leads by example.

So we find that Perry this year has drawn a full state salary but scheduled only seven hours per week for state work. How can you explain this to state teachers, troopers and so many others are asked to do more with less? Simple: part-time Perry is in it for himself.

We learn that Perry charges taxpayers for a $10,000 a month rented mansion, larger than anything used by prior governors, with chefs and a subscription to Food & Wine magazine. How can you explain this to taxpayers when our state faces an $18 billion budget crisis because it is living beyond its means? Simple: part-time Perry is in it for himself.

We know that Rick Perry accepted more federal stimulus dollars than any Governor except those in California and New York. In fact, federal dollars have been the fastest growing source of state funding since he has been governor. Yet now we hear that he is writing a book on state's rights, called "Fed Up." How does he have time to write a book when he hasn't even written a state budget that adds up? Simple: part-time Perry is in it for himself.

Many may remember that Rick Perry was the statewide chairman for Al Gore's first presidential race, then immediately switched parties when he saw an opening to move up. Now it appears that he spots another opening--national leader of the far right wing. The opening was created when Ms. Palin cashed in. Are we surprised? No: Part time Perry is in it for himself.

Look, I may not have all the practice and polish of a career politician. Perry's been on the public payroll so long that his state pension is higher than the salaries of most Texans. But I can assure you of one thing: Though Rick Perry is in it for Rick Perry, I will always be in it for Texas.

I learned the value of service from my parents, life-long educators. My dad held down two jobs for most of the time I was growing up. My brother and I learned hard work, faith, and the value of education. En San Antonio creemos que todos merecen respecto . We were taught that life is about what you give, not what you take; it's about preparing for the future-- leaving our community, our state, our nation, better than we found it.

I used this background to build great businesses, to create jobs, to balance budgets and meet payrolls.

These values and skills served me well as mayor of our largest city. We cut crime rates, expanded parks and health clinics, cleaned the air, brought dropouts back to school, and improved services for veterans. We did so while building surpluses and cutting property tax rates for five straight years.

Because I'm in it for Texas we'll do the hard work Rick Perry has never done: we'll prepare Texas for a better future. That means moving forward--not standing still--on education and job training.

First, we will expand pre-K programs that work.

Second, we will work with school districts, community colleges, and employers to improve career and technical education.

Third, we will cut drop out rates, by treating it as an emergency when students do not return to school.

Fourth, we will let educators teach writing, reasoning, and problem-solving skills rather than teaching how to make a minimum score on an annual high-stakes multiple choice test.

Fifth, we will make college education more affordable for more Texans.

Moving forward in education and job training will produce a better long run economy, more jobs. After all, people with more skills earn more, spend more, invest more, and that helps the whole economy.

Of course this campaign won't be easy. They will try to scare rather than to inspire. And Rick Perry is a career professional, who will say anything to hold on to power.

Perry will take credit for all that has always been good in Texas, though that attitude alone is proof he has been in office too long.

He will make false attacks, including attacks on our state's largest city. No wonder his handlers don't want him to debate.

Rick Perry will claim he represents Texas values. But Perry's Texas is different than our Texas.

In Rick Perry's Texas insurance and utility rates rise faster than in other states. In our Texas wages will go up faster because we invest in people.

In Rick Perry's Texas we import nurses and welders and other skilled workers from abroad. In our Texas we will train more Texans to do those jobs.

In Rick Perry's Texas the State Board of Education injects political ideology into classrooms. In our Texas we'll put more computers in our classrooms.

In Rick Perry's Texas state boards and agencies are pressured from the top to serve those who help the Governor's re-election. In our Texas government will be the servant, not the master, and our customers will be ordinary Texans.

In Rick Perry's Texas the governor threatens to leave the world's greatest country. He is content allow our state to compete with Mississippi for lack of social progress. In our Texas other states will follow Texas because we will be the leader.

In Rick Perry's Texas citizens are stuck in traffic in big cities because the Texas Department of Transportation was doing the bidding of a foreign company promoting the land grab known as the Trans-Texas Corridor. In our Texas we will work across party lines for a new mobility plan, assisting commuters to get from home to work and all communities to get their goods to market.

In Rick Perry's Texas the best days may be behind us. In our Texas our best days are ahead of us.

Let us go from this convention, staffing phone banks, knocking on doors, and sending emails. Lift up all who share our values, from the courthouse to the statehouse to the double-wide trailer Andrea and I will live in while the Mansion is rebuilt. Describe to friends and neighbors, from both parties, the simple choice we face in the governor's race.

Rick Perry is in it for Rick Perry. By the grace of God and with your help, I'm in it for Texas, for you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Fierce Campaign To Stop Clean Energy Development

DemRapidResponse June 21, 2010
"How Republicans Would Govern"

AmericansUnited June 22, 2010
" The Republicans' Choice for America?"

Republican have waged a fierce campaign for more than 30 years to confuse the public on the issues of climate change. An effort that poll results indicate have had a negative impact on public understanding of climate change and recognition of the urgent need to address it.

Reams of data and papers have been published in the best scientific journals documenting and supporting the consensus view that humans have altered the climate in potentially catastrophic ways.

In contrast, evidence to support the views of contrarian skeptics remains mostly unrecognized and unpublished in scientific journals. That is not an indication that the peer-review process is somehow corrupt, as talk radio and TV personalities contend, but rather a clear sign that those who claim there is no evidence of climate change have failed to present any credible scientific evidence to support their contrary opinions.

A study by Stanford University researchers, that was published in the highly-regarded journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examining the credibility of climate skeptics found a clear lack of credibility among skeptics who doubt man-made climate change. The small number of scientists who claim to be unconvinced that human beings have contributed significantly to climate change have far less expertise and prominence in climate research compared with scientists who are convinced, according to a study led by Stanford researchers. [Science Daily]

Scientific American: Climate change and the breakthrough of clean energy technologies are linked, since climate change is a major factor spurring clean energy development and [adoption] growth. Energy titans who do not want to lose their business or their income try to keep clean energy [competitors] from growing is through continual attempts to undermine the scientific findings of some of the world’s greatest [climatology] scientists. Well, it is no surprise to find out that one of the climate skeptics’ leading scientists makes quite a bit of money working for energy companies.

PBS: Many of the researchers expressing doubts about the science of global warming have financial ties to the oil, auto, electricity and coal industries.
These experts appear regularly at Congressional hearings, on television, radio and in print, and at events in order to spread their message. That message varies somewhat from skeptic to skeptic but generally sows doubt about climate change, challenging the consensus of mainstream scientists. They ask whether global warming is really occurring, whether human activity is truly to blame and whether rising temperatures are such a bad thing.
In contrast to those expressing doubts about climate change Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, announced at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 that the last decade ranks as the hottest since temperature records began in the 1850s. Jarraud reported that 2009 ranked in the top 10 warmest years since 1850 and that since 1980 every decade has been warmer than the previous one. He also stressed that greenhouse concentrations were highest now than at any time over the last 800,000 years.

While President Obama has pledged to craft policy based on the best science available and to consult with the most credible experts, conservative biased cable TV and talked outlets continue to sow doubt about the scientific consensus on climate change. That dangerous distraction is delaying action on climate change and fostering continued dependence on dirty energy sources.

While conservative Republican lawmakers continue to roadblock congressional action on climate change by fostering private sector clean energy technology development, military planners in the Pentagon have concluded that “global warming is now officially considered a threat to U.S. national security.” In its 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, Pentagon planners report that climate change could result in food and water scarcity, pandemics, population displacement, and other destabilizing events that could create conflict.
“The American people expect the military to plan for the worst,” says retired Vice Adm. Lee Gunn, a 35-year Navy veteran now serving as president of the American Security Project. “It’s that sort of mindset, I think, that has convinced, in my view, the vast majority of military leaders that climate change is a real threat and that the military plays an important role in confronting it.”
If you have any doubt that fossil-based energy companies want to kill clean energy technologies, California is headed for a high-stakes battle over clean energy after an oil industry-backed measure to suspend the state's aggressive clean energy law qualified for the November ballot. Texas oil giants Valero Energy Inc. and Tesoro Corp. got enough signatures on a petition to force an anti clean energy proposition on ballot:
LA Times: Under California's law, known as AB 32, the state sets limits on greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, oil refineries and other industries, and will probably increase the state's electricity generation from renewable sources to 33% by 2020, up from about 15% today. Supporters of the law say it has spurred a large market for solar, wind and other clean energy sources, and more fuel-efficient cars.

Big oil backers of the ballot effort called their petition drive, "the California Jobs Initiative" to paint California's clean energy legislation as "an energy tax." Their initiative would halt enforcement of the law.

The fight will pit the state's powerful environmental organizations and a rapidly growing number of clean-tech businesses against the oil and manufacturing industries. It also arrays many conservative political leaders, including the GOP nominee for governor, Meg Whitman, against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a fellow Republican who regards the clean energy law as a key part of his legacy.

Schwarzenegger lashed back Tuesday, saying, "This initiative sponsored by greedy Texas oil companies would cripple California's fastest-growing economic sector, reverse our renewable energy policy and decimate our environmental progress for the benefit of these oil companies' profit margins." He added, "I will not allow this to happen on my watch."

Americans Are Optimistic, But Less So Than A Decade Ago

While Americans are largely optimistic about the future, according to a poll from the Pew Research Center For The People and The Press, they are much less optimistic than just a decade ago.

The poll also shows a sharp dip in overall optimism from 1999, when 81 per cent said they were optimistic about life for themselves and their families. At the same time, the proportion optimistic about the nation’s future slipped from 70 percent in 1999 to 61 percent now, and those expecting a stronger economy fell from 64 percent to 56 percent.

Americans are also braced for a major energy crisis and a warming planet, according to the survey. More than half, or 58 per cent, fear another world war in the next 40 years and 53 per cent expect a terrorist attack against the United States using a nuclear weapon.

The poll might have found surprising results when it asked what amount of immigration would be needed to keep the country’s economy strong: Some 34 percent said less, but 36 percent thought the current level of immigration was fine and 26 percent called for more new arrivals. The question did specify legal immigration.

But, Americans see quite a lot to look forward to when asked about the next 40 years. By mid century, 71 per cent believe cancer will be cured, 66 per cent say artificial limbs will work better than real ones, 81 per cent believe computers will be able to converse like humans and more than 40 per cent believe Jesus Christ will return to Earth by 2050, according to a poll.

Here are some other findings of the poll:
  • 71 per cent believe cancer will be cured by 2050.
  • 81 per cent believe computers will be able to converse like humans.
  • 68 per cent of those under 30 predict a world war by 2050.
  • 53 per cent say ordinary people will travel in space
  • Nearly three-quarters, or 74 per cent, of those polled believe it likely that "most of our energy will come from sources other than coal, oil, and gas".
  • Yet 72 per cent believe the world is likely to experience a major worldwide energy crisis by 2050.
  • 66 per cent say the Earth will definitely or probably get warmer but it breaks down strongly along political lines, with just 48 per cent of Republicans saying so and 83 per cent of Democrats.
  • 42 per cent say it is likely that scientists will be able to tell what people are thinking by scanning their brains but 55 say this will definitely or probably not happen.
  • 89 per cent believe a woman will be elected US president by 2050.
  • 86 per cent say it is at least probable that most Americans will have to work into their 70s before retiring.
  • 41 per cent say Jesus Christ will return within the next 40 years while 46 per cent say this will definitely or probably not happen.
  • 63 per cent anticipate the demise of paper money
  • 61 per cent say almost no one will send letters by 2050.
  • 31 per cent expect the planet will be struck by an asteroid
  • Just half expect health care to be more affordable, and
  • 49 percent anticipate improvement in public schools
The poll was conducted by telephone, with 1,546 adults polled from April 21-26. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, according to Pew.

RNC Chair Steele Says American Workers Better Off Under Republican Rule

RNC Chair Steele on CNBC
Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele appeared on CNBC yesterday morning bashing President Obama's efforts at job creation. He told the interviewer that we need to return to the policies of George Bush because, "George Bush created a lot of jobs." That was an outrageous lie.

In the last month of Bush's administration, the Wall Street Journal (certainly no liberal media source) printed a story saying the Bush administration had created only only 1 million jobs during his two terms in office. That is pitiful when compared to the last two Democrats in office. Carter created 10.5 million jobs in only one term in office, and Clinton created a whopping 23 million jobs during his years in office.

Making Bush look even worse is the fact that President Obama is on-target to produce more than 1 million jobs just in 2010. Add this to the fact that the Bush policies contributed to the largest recession since the Great Depression, and you have the perfect picture of absolute incompetence in economic affairs. Just in his last four months in office George Bush lost more than 2 million jobs for this country (see chart).

Looking at these numbers, it is amazing to me that anyone (especially someone as high up as the chair of the RNC) could suggest a return to the policies of the Bush administration would be anything other than disastrous. It is ludicrous that Republicans hold themselves up as better guardians of the economy than Democrats.

Democratic policies may not be the best for the rich bankers of Wall Street, but they produce a whole lot more jobs for the people on Main Street -- and that's what the country needs right now.

The Bush legacy should be remembered as a grand and failed experiment of what happens when conservatives are in complete control of the government. Conservative ideology rails against government, argues that government is the problem, not the solution. So when a government run by conservatives so utterly fails to promote and protect the common good for all citizens, is it any wonder?

And now the same folks that brought us the worst decade for the U.S. economy in modern times by a wide range of data, with zero net job growth and the slowest rise in economic output since the 1930s are saying they want voters to trust them as they cast their votes this coming November.

Many who stayed employed were hurt too, with middle-income families making less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999 — the first decade since the 1960s that median incomes have fallen. On balance, American families were worse off:
And the net worth of American households — the value of their houses, retirement funds and other assets minus debts — has also declined when adjusted for inflation, compared with sharp gains in every previous decade since data were initially collected in the 1950s. “This was the first business cycle where a working-age household ended up worse at the end of it than the beginning, and this in spite of substantial growth in productivity, which should have been able to improve everyone’s well-being,” said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank.
As IHS Global Insight Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh told the Washington Post, “The problem is that the conservatives controlling the government during the last decade mismanaged the macroeconomy, and that got us in big trouble.” America and Texas has learned what life is like under a true conservative government. Controlling all branches of government during much of the last decade gave Republicans near absolute power to construct a conservative government agenda with little compromise or input from progressives.

In a position of virtually unchecked power during most of the last decade conservatives failed utterly at the most basic responsibilities of governing, leaving our nation weaker and our people less prosperous, less safe and less free. The Bush years may have been years of political and legislative victories for conservatives, but those years of political and legislative victories have resulted in disastrous conservative governance and a tremendous increase in the national debt!

The nation moved from an annual budget surplus of $300 billion, as Pres. Clinton left office to an annual budget deficit of $1 trillion, as Pres. Bush left office. Republican representatives in Washington fully supported and voted for Pres. Bush's tax cuts and increasing deficit spending without complaint.

Reagan's "supply-side" mythology that "tax cut stimulus works best" is alive and well and still promoted by conservatives today. If tax cuts are the most stimulative approach to creating jobs in the economy, as RNC Chair Steele claimed during his CNBC appearance, then the economy should already be racing, given the trillions of dollars in tax cuts President Bush and Republicans gave the nation between 2001 and 2008. Right? Wrong! Pres.
The U.S. Department of Commerce data shows that as Pres. Bush was preparing to leave office in the fourth quarter of 2008 the economy shrank at its fastest pace in nearly 27 years, sinking deeper into recession as consumers and business cut spending.

The government report shows a broad-based contraction across nearly every business sector with the gross domestic product, which measures total goods and services output within U.S. borders, in a near free fall 3.8 percent annual rate of contraction in the fourth quarter. That is the biggest drop since the first quarter of 1982, when output contracted 6.4 percent.

The Commerce Department report said that late 2008 consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, fell 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter, after declining 3.8 percent in the third quarter, and Q4 spending on durable goods, like cars and furniture, plunged 22.4 percent, the steepest decline since Q4 of 1987. Investment by business also sharply declined at 19.1 percent, for the sharpest pull-back since the first quarter of 1975, and residential investment plummeted 23.6 percent too. Exports of goods and services plunged as well at a the rate of 19.7 percent, the biggest drop since the third quarter of 1974.

Added to the 0.5 percent contraction in GDP in the third quarter of 2008, the fourth quarter contraction rate of 3.8 percent yields the first consecutive quarterly declines in GDP since the fourth quarter of 1990 and the first three months of 1991.

Across all four quarters of 2008, GDP rose 1.3 percent, the slowest pace of growth since 2001, when the economy expanded 0.8 percent.
As Center for American Progress Senior Fellows Christian Weller and John Halpin noted in 2006, the outcome of the 2001 tax cuts was "the weakest employment growth in decades." The 2003 tax cuts didn't fare much better, resulting in job creation that was "well below historical averages."

When Bush's White House proposed the 2003 cuts, they promised that it would add 5.5 million new jobs between June 2003 and the end of 2004. But "by the end of 2004, there were only 2.6 million more jobs than in June 2003."

As Paul Krugman has pointed out, the belief that Bush's tax cuts successfully stimulated the economy is a form of mythology. CAP's Michael Ettlinger and John Irons wrote in September, "Economic growth as measured by real U.S. gross domestic product was stronger following the tax increases of 1993 than in the two supply-side eras" that followed Reagan's 1981 tax cuts and Bush's 2001 tax cuts.

Indeed, employment growth was much stronger post-1993 than post-2001. The average annual employment growth was 2.5 percent after 1993 and just 0.6 percent after 2001.

And, remember President Bush's $168 billion tax cut/rebate economic stimulus plan the United States Congress approved in February of 2008, to help stave off economic recession. That does not seem to have worked either. Martin Feldstein wrote in the Wall Street Journal that of course the tax cut stimulus didn't work:
Here are the facts. Tax rebates of $78 billion arrived in the second quarter of the year. The government's recent GDP figures show that the level of consumer outlays only rose by an extra $12 billion, or 15% of the lost revenue. The rest went into savings, including the pay down of debt. . .

. . .Although press stories emphasizing that the rebates induced additional consumer spending were technically correct, they missed the important point that the spending rise was very small in comparison to the size of the tax rebates. . .

The small rise in spending in response to these tax rebates is similar to what previous studies of one-time tax cuts found. It also corresponds to what both basic economic theory and common experience imply. Although someone who receives a permanent annual salary increase of $1,000 typically would increase his annual spending by an almost equally large amount, a $1,000 rise in wealth caused by a share price increase or a tax rebate would raise spending only gradually over a number of years.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bill White Is Running Neck And Neck With Republican Incumbent Rick Perry

According to a new poll on the 2010 Texas gubernatorial race released by Public Policy Polling, Democratic challenger Bill White is running neck and neck with incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Perry. They each have 43 percent of the expected vote.

This is notably different from a recent Rasmussen Reports poll, which put Perry ahead of White 48 to 40. [Both critics and defenders of Rasmussen Reports' polling have frequently cited Rasmussen's "likely voter" model to explain why their polls have tended to show substantially more favorable results for Republican candidates than the average of other surveys. - FiveThirtyEight]

Here's some analysis from PPP's blog post announcing the results:
Perry is an unusually weak incumbent, while White is an unusually strong challenger. Only 36% of voters in the state like the job Perry is doing while 49% disapprove. Among independents the numbers are particularly bad — just 27% give Perry good marks to 55% who think he's doing a poor job. White meanwhile is better known and better liked than most challengers running across the country this year. 37% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 25% with an unfavorable one and he posts positive numbers with independents at a 35/24 spread.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Texas Can’t Afford To Buy New Far-Right Textbooks

Think Progress: Texas normally replaces textbooks on a rotating basis every 10 years. With Texas facing a budget shortfall of more than $18 billion for the next two-year budget cycle, the money isn’t going to be there for new textbooks:
For the past year, far-right members of the Texas Board of Education have been overhauling the state’s textbook standards. The changes include “pushing for inclusion of Confederate glorification,” re-naming the Atlantic slave trade the “Atlantic Triangle Trade,” prioritizing “a suggestion that the anti-communist witch-hunt by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s may have been justified,” and raising doubt about climate change.

[Ending a year of fierce debate in March 2009 evolution should be taught in Texas public schools, the State Board of Education (SBOE) voted on and passed a final version of new science education standards that calls for teachers to have a "critical discussion" of the “weaknesses of scientific theories" on evolution with public school students to “examine all sides of scientific evidence and scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking,” that includes intelligent design, (i.e.God created the earth in 7 days about 6,000 years) as a valid scientific theory. See Science Takes A Hit In Texas.]

However, the Texas Observer now reports that the state can’t afford to buy the new books:

The state normally replaces textbooks on a rotating basis every 10 years. With Texas facing a budget shortfall of at least $18 billion in 2011, the money isn’t going to be there. Textbooks covering the new [evolution is wrong] science standards would have cost $400 million, and the Legislature is already expecting a bill of $888 million for textbooks already ordered.

To ensure that students can still be exposed to “proof, supposedly, of evolution’s fallibility,” the Board is trying to secure funding for special “supplements for science classes from fifth grade through high school.” Social studies textbooks aren’t up for replacement until 2013 — by then, Texas might have enough money to teach their students about Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority.

The lack of textbook funding underscores Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) constant compulsion to oppose federal funding that could help his state. At the beginning of June, he refused to let Texas compete for Race to the Top funding for education reform because he falsely claimed the program would weaken the state’s school standards. That allegation was even refuted by a fellow Republican governor, Sonny Perdue of Georgia.

A Houston Chronicle editorial from earlier this week lamented Perry’s stubborn “grandstanding” while noting why Texas needs additional, federal education funding:

“Of the 50 states, we’re No. 49 in the percentage of adults who’ve completed high school; and it’s estimated that a third of our Texas high school freshmen don’t make it to graduation.”

Texas faces a daunting $18 billion shortfall for the next two-year budget cycle, amounting to 20 percent of the total budget, but Perry misguidedly insists he can find enough spending cuts to create balance, and he is even blustering about rejecting supplementary Medicaid funding from Congress that would greatly help address the state’s fiscal woes.

Last year, he [Perry] tried to reject the stimulus money that proved key to balancing Texas’ budget, [when the Texas legislature approved the stimulus money over Perry's objections. Perry rejected the federal money] insisting, “We can take care of ourselves,” before the legislature intervened and secured the relief [money to balance the budget shortfall.]

Perry’s serial rejections, both actual and attempted, evoke his flirtation with secession; of course, with more federal aid, he might be able to afford teaching Texan youth about “the ‘significant contributions‘ of pro-slavery Confederate leaders during the civil war.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

Stalwart Republicans Deserting Perry To Support Bill White

Texas Kaos: It looks like even some hardcore Republican loyalists are as fed up with Governor Perry as we are. According to reporter Joe Holley of the Houston Chronicle, stalwart Republicans say they support Bill White:
When his candidate for governor, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, fell to Gov. Rick Perry, he switched his support to Democrat Bill White.

Madden is one of a number of former Hutchison supporters who have crossed parties to support the former Houston mayor, including Houstonians Matt Simmons, CEO of Simmons & Co. International, and James Flores, CEO of Plains Exploration & Production Co.

One thing that Texas Republicans and Democrats do have in common where Rick Perry is concerned a recognition of his blind loyalty to his biggest contributors.
"I realized he (Perry) supports his campaign contributors and not the people of Texas," said Mitchell, who voted for Perry in his previous campaigns. "You know how he said that oil spill was an act of God? He would rather blame God than his campaign contributors."
  • Star Telegram - Perry repeatedly suggested that the [Gulf of Mexico oil] spill was “an act of God”


BP has agreed to escrow $20 billion for damages to residents and business owners of the gulf coast caused by their massive oil spill and Republicans don't like it one bit.

The impact of the BP oil spill can be felt all over the Gulf. But it's perhaps felt most by those who make their livings from the water now contaminated with gobs of thick crude.

One small example of the impact the oil spill is having on gulf coast residents is the community of Grand Isle, La., where two-thirds of the residents get their income from fishing the area waters. Many have done so for generations, but none can continue because of contamination caused by the BP oil spill.

To this town of 1,600 not being able to live off the Gulf is not just about economics and generations-old businesses closing forever, it is about loosing their history, culture and community. They stand to lose everything if BP does not immediately and fully compensate them for taking away their livelihoods!

But, Republicans apparently don't think BP has a responsibility to those whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by the oil spill caused by the company's Deep Water Horizon drilling operation that blew out due to a reckless and negligent management trying to save a buck by short cutting safe drilling practices.

Video of Joe Barton apologizing,
& other Republicans defending BP
During opening testimony of the House Energy and Commerce Committee with BP's CEO Tony Hayward the committee's ranking Republican member from Texas, Rep. Joe Barton, told Hayward sitting at the witness table, "I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House" on Wednesday. Barton said the $20 billion fund that President Obama directed BP to establish to provide relief to the victims of the oil disaster was a "shakedown" and a "tragedy in the first proportion." Barton was referring to the agreement that President Barack Obama announced with BP for establishment of a $20 billion relief fund.

Rep. Barton called the $20 billion escrow fund BP agreed to set up to pay for oil spill damages a “slush fund” resulting from a “shakedown” by the White House.

Barton's comments are indicative of the mindset of many conservative Republicans that the government should not mandate that BP take responsibility, financially and otherwise, for their mess. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said that he shares Barton's concerns:
"I think it's good that there's going to be some money there, I don't know whether it's going to be enough money to pay all the claims. They should pay the legitimate claims. But the part that Representative Barton is expressing some concern about, that I share the concern, is this has really become a political issue for the President and he's trying to deal with it by showing how tough he's being against BP. The problem is BP's the only one who really is in control of shutting down this well, and he's trying to mitigate, I think, his own political problems."
A new survey from Public Policy Polling finds that Barton’s and Cornyn's fellow Texans are overwhelmingly siding with the President:
Texans think that Barack Obama’s right and Joe Barton’s wrong when it comes to BP’s responsibility for cleaning up the oil spill, and a plurality of voters in the state think Barton should lose his leadership post on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Only 18% of voters think that BP deserved the apology Barton sent its way last week to 65% who think it did not. Barton doesn’t even get much support from Republican voters on that front – only 23% of them say it was right to apologize to BP. With Democrats and independents the numbers are even lower at 17% and 12% respectively.
The poll also found that the “episode is having a negative impact on how Texas voters perceive Barton overall. Only 21% have a favorable opinion of him while 28% see him negatively.” Meanwhile, 64% of Texans think Obama was right to ask BP to compensate victims of the oil spill with only 27% opposed to that move.

Rand Paul saying it is un-American
for Obama to criticize BP

BP's Safety Record?
Rand Paul, the newly nominated Republican candidate for Senate from Kentucky and Tea Party favorite agrees with Barton. Paul has said, “What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP. I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I’ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it’s part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.” While Paul has heard nothing about BP not paying claims, in fact, BP has paid less than 12 percent of claims submitted by people and businesses harmed by the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Paul's Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, replied, “Rand Paul apparently has a deeply held conviction that corporations should be allowed to do what they see fit without oversight or accountability.”

Echoing Rand Paul's position that sometimes accidents just happen, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has said the oil spill was an act of God.

Gov. Rick Perry defends BP saying the company has a stellar safety record.
Perry ignores that BP's drilling operation blew out because recklessly and negligently management was trying to saving a buck by short cutting safe drilling practices, and it's not the first time.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) vigorously attacked the $20 billion for Gulf Spill oil damages fund: "The president just called for creating a fund that would be administered by outsiders, which would be more of a redistribution-of-wealth fund," Bachmann said on Tuesday, also adding that BP should say, "We're not going to be chumps, and we're not going to be fleeced."

The Republican Study Committee, a group of 114 conservative Republican House members, released a statement Wednesday bashing the fund -- and seeming to criticize BP for accepting it. The group's chairman, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), said in a statement that while BP should be held responsible for damages, "BP's reported willingness to go along with the White House's new fund suggests that the Obama Administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics. These actions are emblematic of a politicization of our economy that has been borne out of this Administration's drive for greater power and control."

Rush Limbaugh said that the escrow fund would be a "slush fund," and wondered where the money would end up going: "Who's gonna get this money? Union activists? ACORN people? Who's gonna get this money. Let's keep a sharp eye on who Feinberg gives this money to. Because I'm telling you, this is just another bailout fund, called something else, and we'll see who gets it." Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon well blowout, Rush Limbaugh unleashed a conspiracy theory suggesting that liberal environmentalists intentionally blew up the rig in order to “head off more oil drilling.”

Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) has also voiced criticism -- saying that forcing BP to pay the money now would cut into their profits, thus making it more difficult to pay more down the line. "If BP is the responsible party under the law, they're to pay for everything. I do worry that this idea of making them make a huge escrow fund is going to make it less likely that they'll pay for everything. They need their capital to drill wells. They need their capital to produce income. ... But this escrow bothers me that it's going to make them less able to pay us what they owe us. And that concerns me."

Also on Fox News, Stuart Varney and Sean Hannity speculated that the account would be used as a "political slush fund."

GOP Rep Trent Franks, is quoted in a Politico piece, apparently saying that Obama was "arrogant" in demanding the $20 billion escrow fund from BP:
"It's my opinion that Mr. Barton and Mr. Price's comments were more of a reaction to the arrogance in President Obama's speech, where he said he was going to 'inform' BP that they would set aside this separate compensation fund to be controlled by a third party," said Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.). "Under our laws and Constitution, the president does not possess the power or authority to make such an arrogant command to a private company."
Bill Randall, who’s running to be the GOP nominee for a congressional race in North Carolina and identifies with the Tea Party movement, echoing a common conservative talk radio meme, is saying that the federal government and BP worked together to intentionally blowout the oil well and leak oil. Randall said at a media conference on Tuesday. “Someone needs to be digging into that situation. Personally, and this is purely speculative on my part and not based on any fact, but personally I feel there is a possibility that there was some sort of collusion. I don’t know how or why, but in that situation, if you have someone from a company violating a safety process and the government signing off on it, excuse me, maybe they wanted it to leak.

More from conservative talking heads :
  • PAT BUCHANAN: “Barton made a very courageous statement in my judgment. … To have anyone stand up and even indirectly defend [BP] and say that they were a victim of a shakedown shows some political courage. ”
  • INGRAHAM: “I think Joe Barton, before he apologized, had a legitimate point.”
  • NAPOLITANO: “That is a classic shakedown. The threat to do something that you don’t have the authority to do. ”
  • KILMEADE: “One Congressman calling the BP compensation fund a ’shakedown,’ but does he have a point? ”
  • GINGRICH: “The president is directly engaged in extorting money from a company. ”

Vice President Joe Biden calls Congressman
Joe Barton's apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward
"incredibly insensitive" and "incredibly out of touch"

"Daily Show" - Jon Stewart on GOP Congressman
Joe Barton's apology to BP

"Daily Show" - Jon Stewart on the GOP's flip-flop
on Congressman Joe Barton's apology to BP

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rick Perry's Junket To The Middle East

Fort Worth's CBS 11 has uncovered the secrets behind an expensive trip Governor Rick Perry, his wife and four members of security detail took to the Middle East last August. The CBS 11 News story covers Perry's excessive personal spending during an $18 Billion Texas State budget shortfall, abuse of taxpayer dollars to cover security travel costs, insider business deals that imperil regulation and oversight, and cronyism with the special interests that put profits of the few above the good of all Texans.
This News Video from Fort Worth CBS 11 was posted on the BillWhiteForTexas YouTube website on June 15, 2010 with the following note: Rick Perry took a lavish trip funded by corporate contributions that were funneled into TexasOne, a secretive non-profit run out of the governor's office. Rick Perry needs to open the books on the secret charity that funds his extravagant lifestyle. - Read more:

Texas Republicans Adopted An Arizona-Style Get-Tough Policy On Immigration

Texas Republicans adopted an Arizona-style get-tough policy on immigration and bilingual education during the party's state convention last Saturday. The Texas Republican Party platform encourages state lawmakers to create a Class A misdemeanor criminal offense “for an illegal alien to intentionally or knowingly be within the State of Texas,” and to “oppose amnesty in any form leading to citizenship for illegal immigrants.” Texas Republicans also want to limit citizenship by birth to those born to a U.S. citizen “with no exceptions,” eliminate day-labor work centers and emphasize border security by encouraging “all means … (to) immediately prevent illegal aliens.”

The Texas Republican Party platform also calls to make American English the official language of Texas and the United States and to all end bilingual education. But, even as Texas Republicans seek to eliminate the Spanish language from Texas and the United States the party produced a Spanish language campaign video telling Hispanics that the party wants to, "establish bonds and express our common ideals with Texans whose language might be Spanish, and whose hearts and minds align with Republican principles,” according to Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri.

Within a dozen years, Latinos could be electing Democrats “because Democrats have the right message and Republicans have the wrong message,” longtime Republican advertising executive and political consultant Lionel Sosa said of his party's future, according to a Houston Chronicle news story. If it happens, then Texas will turn into a Democratic state and once Texas turns Democratic ... We'll never elect a Republican president again ... The figures are irrefutable. I am extremely concerned.”

Latinos make up a very large percentage of the population growth in Texas, and in direct contrast to the Spanish language campaign video released by the Texas Republican Party, articles in TexasKaos and Waco Tribune-Herald point out that many conservatives, who now control the Republican party, do not welcome Latinos, or indeed any minority, into the party fold.
According to an article in the Waco Tribune-Herald - Conservative Hispanic activists created the Hispanic Republican Club of McLennan County to reach out to Latino, African-American, and young voters. Part of the clubs stated mission would be to fill the vacancies in the 40 out of 92 precincts in county that lack precinct chairs. Many of the precincts that have vacancies are in predominately minority areas. However, the McLennan County Republican Party chairman M.A. Taylor does not consider it important to fill those vacancies, and apparently does not think that minorities hold conservative views.
Latinos represent 51% of population growth in the United States as a whole since 2000 and Texas has seen the highest percentage of Latino population growth. Latinos comprise 63% of the population growth in Texas since 2000 and are the single largest reason that the state is projected to gain four seats in the U.S. House — the greatest change, positive or negative, among any state in the nation — once the 2010 census is complete.

In Texas, the Latino share of the voter population grew between 2000 and 2008 to encompass over one-fifth of the electorate. Although Texas has had a large Latino population throughout its history, Latino voting registration and turnout jumped by approximately 30% from 2000 to 2008, and the Latino share of the overall electorate increased to over 20%. [From NDN]

Hispanics will make up 78 percent of Texas' population growth over the next 30 years, compared with only 4 percent for whites, according to demographic projections. Minority children already make up 66 percent of the state's 4.8 million public school enrollment — and Hispanics could surpass whites in the state's overall population by 2015, estimates show. (see Changing Voter Demographics In Collin County and The U.S. Census in Texas and Collin Co.)

Here are just a few of the Republicans put into their platform:
  • Want deep-water drilling to continue in the Gulf of Mexico and other places.
  • Want to abolish the Energy Department.
  • Wants to abolish the Education Department.
  • Wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and institute a national sales tax.
  • Want to withdraw this country from the United Nations.
  • Opposes the establishment of time-frames for withdrawal from Iraq or Afghanistan.
  • Supports the "democratically-elected" governments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Want to abolish Affirmative Action.
  • Wants to eliminate the Endangered Species Act.
  • Want to outlaw driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants.
  • Want to let religious organizations engage in politics without fear of losing their tax-exempt status and want to eliminate the separation of church and state.
  • Want to eliminate the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
  • Want to abolish Supreme Court jurisdiction in abortion, religious issues and the Bill of Rights.
  • Want to require a presidential candidate to submit a birth certificate before they can be placed on the state's ballot.
  • Want English adopted as the official language.
  • Want to abolish "no-fault divorce" laws.
  • Want to ensure marriage can only be between a "natural man and a natural woman".
  • Wants to re-institute sodomy laws and deny the Supreme Court the right to review the law.
  • Want to make it a felony crime to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple.
  • Want all human life respected from fertilization to natural death.
  • Supports the death penalty and want to extend it to rape cases.
  • Want to outlaw the sale and use of RU-486 and any other "morning-after pills."
  • Want to eliminate social security and the social security tax and transition to "private pensions."
  • Want to "defund, repeal and reject" the health care act passed by U.S. Congress and signed by President Obama.
  • Oppose government mandating the vaccination of children.
  • Oppose pre-school, kindergarten and any government programs dealing with early childhood development.
  • Support "open carry" laws and oppose "Gun Free Zones."
  • Supports the formation of an armed state militia.
  • Want the Minimum Wage Law to be repealed.
  • Opposes the Fourteenth Amendment which gives citizenship to anyone born in the U.S.
  • Opposes a Palestinian state being carved out of "historical Israel."
  • Calls to cut off money to the RNC and any group or candidate that does not fully support every plank of the the Texas GOP platform.