June 17, 2010
Smoky Joe Barton attempts to go down on Tony Hayward
During a hearing Thursday regarding BP's disaster in the Gulf, Representative Joe Barton (R - TXI) said that 'he was embarrassed that a private company was subjected to a shakedown' in reference to the deal cut on Wednesday between BP and the Obama Administration which will see the company put $20 billion into a fund to be managed by a third party to alleviate the costs associated with the disaster. The move was meant to assure those effected by the spill that BP would make good on it's promise to pay for their disaster.
This is really quite funny because even in the Greatest Group of Whores Ever Assembled (also known as the House Republican Caucus), Barton is a standout. He's long been on his knees for Texas Industries and willing to do anything for anyone who needs to dump their waste into the air, water or soil on which his constituents depend. Just ask anyone in management at XTO.
Yeah, Joe Barton is sleazy and borderline corrupt. The most shocking thing about Barton is that he makes Tom Daschle look like a decent public servant in comparison. It might help to think me less mean in my criticism if you knew that Barton's largest corporate donor base was Anadarko Petroleum which was a 25% partner in Deepwater Horizon, the rig drilling the gusher now flowing as much as 120k barrels of oil a day into the Gulf. Since 1989, more than $146,000 has come from Anadarko personnel and PACs.
Just so we're crystal, let's all take a moment and realize that BP went out of it's way to cut corners on this well. The decision to only partially line the well with concrete is just one of many that led not only to the disaster but to it's severity. Add in that BP has consistently lied about the size of the field (it's MASSIVE) and about the flow rate (it's ALWAYS been higher... Matt Simmons and other we're putting it in the 100k bbl/day range more than a month ago) and then combine all that with BP's abysmal safety record and you have a pretty clear indication of just how much BP cares about doing business the right way.
That $20 bn was letting them off cheap, despite the President's bullshit about an operational BP being better than a dead BP. Frankly, I think the government should nationalize all of BP's assets in the US and in accessible areas of the world and liquidate over time. This was absolutely willful negligence and Rep. Barton would like us to pay for it.
Fuck you, Joe. Right to hell.
March 17, 2010
It's All Over Now Baby Blue
The One True Democrat Dennis Kucinich shocked his fans this AM, announcing that he will vote FOR the fatally flawed Health Care Reform bill now in Congress. The Ohio congressman followed his press conference with lunch at Wendy's, where he had a Baconator Triple Combo.
December 03, 2009
I may not like Bernanke but I like the R's even less
I'm watching the super fun Senate confirmation hearing for Fed Chair Ben Bernanke. Aside from the par payouts on the CDS (Credit Default Swaps) written by AIG (many of which were lottery tickets), he's done a decent job or, at least, as decent a job as anyone could have done. The reality is that many of the problems we faced were created by Congress, not the Fed and certainly not Bernanke. That's not to say he didn't screw up or that mistakes weren't made. However, all things being equal, we aren't in the middle of a depression and that's what we were looking at a little over a year ago.
Watching Senators Bunning and Bennett (R-UT) pontificate makes me actually like Bernanke. First off, there's Bennett whining about inflation and 'Carter's inflation' in the 1970's that finally ended thanks to Paul Volcker and President Reagan. Of course, Sen. Bennett's kind of a moron. He didn't realize that it was actually President Nixon, through his control of then Fed Chair Arthur Burns who kept expansionary monetary policy in place despite pressures that were clearly building in the economy. And it was Carter's appointee to the Chair, Paul Volcker, who broke inflation, not President Reagan. Reagan's policies had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Then there's Senator Bunning. Bunning was pissed about the par payouts on the CDS contracts without even understand the terms of those contracts which really is the far bigger issue. As for the payout, Bernanke's hands actually were tied... the only way to renegotiate the payout on the contracts would have been for AIG to go into bankruptcy. Given the aftershocks of Lehman (a total freeze of the credit markets and the complete breakdown of structure finance, eliminating more than $5 trillion from the US banking system), that was wholly undesirable. If the contracts hadn't been paid at par, the creditors would have forced AIG into bankruptcy and the result would have been disaster.
That ain't the whole story, though. These contracts weren't just insurance policies (that's basically what CDS is... it's an insurance policy against risk of economic loss or to cover event risk), they were also lottery tickets. For example, with most types of insurance, the policy is for the full value of the property covered (either cash or replacement cost) or limited by a set coverage amount. That's the maximum the company will pay in the event of a full loss. However, insurers only actually pay (in property settlements) ACTUAL loss. With CDS, especially some of the crap contracts written by AIG, they were set to pay off the entire contract value, not just the actual loss. So, if Goldman Sachs had a swap contract in effect with AIG covering a Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) the payout trigger might be a default rate of 15% on the CDO. But, the swap didn't pay off to cover the 15% loss, it paid out the full PAR value of the CDO, even though it was worth significantly less than par.
It's equivalent to me insuring my house for $280,000. Then, if there's a minor fire in the kitchen, instead of paying to repair the damage, they just cut me a check for $280,000 and then they own the house which, watch out, was only worth $100k.
THAT'S what Bunning should have been pissed about, the fact that those contracts were honored at all even though they were clearly fraudulent since I'm sure the valuations were based on representations and warranties made by the insured. If they'd been attacked that way, the court could have issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the counterparties (Goldman Sachs, for example) from collecting or forcing any payment. Then we could have broken it all apart.
So, yeah, instead of focusing on bullshit, how about looking at the really bad stuff, Senators?
October 01, 2009
This makes me laugh...
A bill targeting ACORN may hit an unintended target, defense contractors. The bill is designed to cut off federal funds from contractors who commit fraud. Which would, coincidentally, effect many private companies from defense contractors like Lockheed Martin to small Katrina cleanup companies.
August 24, 2009
Why do we even care about Joe Lieberman?
Sen. Lieberman is once again fulfilling his role as douchbag of the Congress.
Joe Lieberman's love of spending hundreds of billions on freedom through explosions knows no bounds. There are no limits to how much Lieberman would ask the American tax-payer over generations to pay for his beloved wars. If Obama, for some reason, called Joe up some evening and asked him to vote for $100 billion so as to bomb Tehran he'd have the supportive Op-Ed in Fred Hiatt's hands by the next morning.
But when it comes to providing policies that actually benefit Americans, in America of all places, like health care; no matter how small the relative price, it is too much for Senator "He's with us on everything except the War" (thanks Harry Reid).
We still care about this jackass because Sen Reid, our inestimably valueless Majority Leader, decided to leave him with his power intact. Despite the fact that he campaigned against the nominee of the party with which he caucuses.
Even after the country vomited President Bush out of DC and back to Texas, we still have to deal with his enablers? No. Not so much.
August 19, 2009
AWESOME! If only every Congressman could be Barney Frank!
This is exactly what should have been happening from go. These morons and their little teabagger movement never should have been allowed to build any traction. They should have been slapped down as soon as their irrational crap turned to Nazi.
And more good news...
Given hardening Republican opposition to Congressional health care proposals, Democrats now say they see little chance of the minority’s cooperation in approving any overhaul, and are increasingly focused on drawing support for a final plan from within their own ranks.
Top Democrats said Tuesday that their go-it-alone view was being shaped by what they saw as Republicans’ purposely strident tone against health care legislation during this month’s Congressional recess, as well as remarks by leading Republicans that current proposals were flawed beyond repair.
Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said the heated opposition was evidence that Republicans had made a political calculation to draw a line against any health care changes, the latest in a string of major administration proposals that Republicans have opposed.
“The Republican leadership,” Mr. Emanuel said, “has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama’s health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day.”
Will this resurrect the public option? We can but hope. Still, this is a good sign that Democrats are not going to be held up by Republicans who care more about politics than their country and it's citizens.
July 14, 2009
Thank you, Senator Whitehouse
During the Sotomayor confirmation hearing, Sen. Whitehouse had his fill of the talk of activist judges coming from legal luminaries like Sen. Cornyn...
The "umpire" analogy is belied by Chief Justice Roberts, though he cast himself as an "umpire" during his confirmation hearings. Jeffrey Toobin, a well-respected legal commentator, has recently reported that "[i]n every major case since he became the nation's seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff." Some umpire. And is it a coincidence that this pattern, to continue Toobin's quote, "has served the interests, and reflected the values of the contemporary Republican party"? Some coincidence.
For all the talk of "modesty" and "restraint," the right wing Justices of the Court have a striking record of ignoring precedent, overturning congressional statutes, limiting constitutional protections, and discovering new constitutional rights: the infamous Ledbetter decision, for instance; the Louisville and Seattle integration cases; the first limitation on Roe v. Wade that outright disregards the woman's health and safety; and the DC Heller decision, discovering a constitutional right to own guns that the Court had not previously noticed in 220 years. Some "balls and strikes." Over and over, news reporting discusses "fundamental changes in the law" wrought by the Roberts Court's right wing flank. The Roberts Court has not kept the promises of modesty or humility made when President Bush nominated Justices Roberts and Alito.
So, Judge Sotomayor, I'd like to avoid codewords, and look for a simple pledge from you during these hearings: that you will respect the role of Congress as representatives of the American people.
It sure would be AWESOME for some of the Dems who voted to confirm Justice Alito and CJ Roberts to finally admit they made a mistake *cough*Joe Lieberman*cough*.
June 29, 2009
Thank you, Barney Frank!
The long overdue first shot in the battle to end the War on Drugs has been fired...
Barney Frank's bill may not be the solution. It may even create a whole raft load of new and different problems. Even so, isn't it time that we admit that the pointless, never-ending War on Drugs © just isn't doing what we've convinced ourselves it is? Why is it that we rail against wasteful government spending...and yet never address the moral and financial black hole that is the War on Drugs ©? If any other public policy initiative had been show to be such an abject faiilure, the demands for it to be ended would be legion. Yet the War on Drugs © continues apace, unimpeded by expectations of success. The mere fact of the existence of the War on Drugs © seems to be sufficient, because politicians have come to see it as the third rail of public policy: touch it at your own substantial risk.
I'll begin to think that we're serious about address drug use in this country when we finally begin to address the reality of our national alcohol problem. Until and unless our elected leaders take off their collective blinders, we'll no doubt continue flushing billions more tax dollars down the drain. And nothing will change.
June 25, 2009
But, no, Senator Graham. They just want the coverage you get
Apparently, Sen. Lindsey Graham thinks a true universal coverage plan would be a disaster...
"The reason you are not going to have a government-run health care pass the Senate is because it will be devastating for this country," he said. "The last thing in the world I think that Democrats and Republicans will do at the end of the day is create a government-run health care system."
Now, this WAS on Stephanopolous so no one pressed Sweetness to back up his claim. Afterall, the government runs Medicare quite well with little waste and overhead. In fact, it runs far better than ANY private health insurance company. VA runs pretty well as well despite the fact that it's facilities need to be updated which was a funding failure on the part of the Republicans when they were in charge that the Democrats are now rectifying.
Graham himself also gets really extraordinary health insurance coverage as a member of Congress. Does he really view his coverage as a disaster? If so, would he be willing to forego it and pay for coverage through a private entity? I might have a little more respect for his position then. Right now he just looks like yet another hypocrite.
Why is it such a disaster to give all Americans access to the same health care that Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. John Cornyn enjoy? We WASTE enough in the private system to cover everyone. So why aren't we doing that? Why are the Republicans and a few Democrats playing with lives of Americans?
June 22, 2009
Sen. Coburn brings the dumb
Sen. Coburn presents to you QUESTIONABLE STIMULUS PROJECTS. Now, considering that the projects funded by stimulus don't matter, one has to wonder why the Senator is wasting taxpayers time to generate this list.
Seriously, in a deep recession, all that matters is that the government spends money to make up the gap left by retrenching consumers and businesses. As long as they money goes into the domestic economy, you can spend it planting flowers.
June 17, 2009
Health insurance : Oh, let's just do single payer
I have to admit, I've not been following the various plans regarding health insurance and how to insure all Americans. EOW has been doing some great work on the subject. I also found this article regarding the 'horrible' Canadian health insurance system. Honestly, there are a few issues I have with this...
1) Delays in treatment... there is no reason in the world for someone to wait 14 months for a hip replacement. I can see a month or two since it's not a critical surgery but 14 months? That's insane.
2) Delays in radiation therapy for cancer patients... REALLY? That's intolerable.
However, these are issues that can be cured if we do this right. For one thing, we already spend so much that just cutting out the insurance companies, we'd still save money with no restrictions on care and full enrollment the program at birth. And that, my friends, is the bottom line... we don't spend too much on health care in this country, we spend too much on overhead and that's gotta stop.
And the doctors need to get the hell out of the way, something that Congressional D's have been trying to get across to them. Isn't it nice to have some Democrats with balls in Congress?
June 02, 2009
Really Barney Frank?
Rep. Frank says not so much to a single financial services regulator...
"The suggestion that we're going to get to a unilateral bank regulator \something equivalent to the Financial ServicesAuthority is simply wrong," Frank told CNBC on Thursday, referring to the FSA regulator in the United Kingdom.
Industry sources said that the administration is looking at a way to consolidate the disparate banking regulators, among other sweeping changes to financial laws that the administration will likely propose in the next two weeks.
The plans remain in flux, and most if not all proposals under discussion would require congressional action before they were to take effect. Frank's committee is scheduled to hold hearings on financial restructuring the second and third weeks in June.
Other changes under discussion are the creation of a "systemic risk regulator" at the Federal Reserve to oversee large institutions that could threaten the economy; a consolidation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); and a new commission to oversee financial products, sources said. "It's not just the structure of the regulatory authorities but the content of the regulation that is relevant," Frank said. Frank said that he preferred a "dual-track regulation" that combined existing banking regulators and the creation of a new systemic risk regulator.
OK, I'm with Rep. Frank on the fact that the regs themselves need to be tighter. Where we disagree is the regulators. The current crisis was created in large part not by lack of or lax regulation (like when the Bush SEC allowed the investment banks to leverage up to 30 to 1), though that played a huge part, but by regulator shopping that allowed AIG, a massive global insurer, to buy an S&L and move themselves to OTC regulation which allowed them to set up the Financial Products Group whose activities effectively, through what normal people call 'insurance fraud', bankrupted the company.
Would a systemic risk regulator have known about it? No and it still won't if Treasury's plan for derivative regulation is enacted. What we need is a single regulator that can't have it's purse strings cut by the Executive Branch and is overseen by Congress.
And it needs to have the ability to shut down bad actors in the market without nasty calls from Congress or the White House.
April 20, 2009
Color me surprised
In case you were wondering how this could happen, the program installed equipment at access points across the country. Read the details here. They weren't, you know, tapping specific phones. They were tapping the entire internet, sifting through all the traffic (in effect, reading your emails and keeping track of which porn sites you like) and we're supposed to believe them that they were only looking at the stuff that was terrorism related.
Needless to say, our Representatives and Senators were really stupid to think this COULD be limited, let alone would be limited.
April 07, 2009
The old bastard is still corrupt
So, it would appear that Sen. Ted 'Tubes' Stevens is going to have his conviction vacated because of prosecutorial misconduct. Which means the bubba's Bush had in place at Justice went a bit overboard.
It does not, however, make him innocent which he is very much far from. OF COURSE, that hasn't stopped the not-so-bright folks in the AK Republican Party from demanding a new election to try and reclaim his seat.
For them, I'd just like to make one small point : The voters of Alaska are, on balance, stupid. They elected that idiot Governor Palin, which alone speaks volumes. 10 years ago, FORMER Senator Stevens could have been video'd eating a baby and he still would have been reelected. Even if he'd taken the extra step of sending a copy of the DVD to every voter in the state.
This election wasn't about his conviction. They already knew he was crooked and let him get away with it for a while. But they'd had enough.
April 06, 2009
What a bunch of damn bullshit...Part 2
"The American public understands something must be askew if every single Republican votes against something."
-- Minority Whip Eric Cantor, when asked by reporters why Republicans have said "no" to nearly everything the Democrats have proposed.
This is a post about the deficit and the irrational thinking of Senators Nelson and Bayh. I included this quote from that twerp Cantor because the Republicans aren't principled when they talk about deficits. To a man and woman, they helped Bush turn a surplus into ever expanding deficits. Their sudden conversion to fiscal responsibility is craven and opportunistic. It's also EXACTLY the wrong thing, and the American people know it. This isn't about them, though. The Republicans in Congress are a lost cause and our only way through as a nation will involve removing them from office, cycle by cycle.
This is about two Democrats who are thoroughly out of their minds if they think their path is the right one. We have seen, in stark relief, that we will be needing a lot more in terms of stimulus. And in terms of making desperately needed improvements and upgrades to our education, transportation and public safety infrastructure. Making these improvements gives us greater room for faster economic growth with low inflation which in turn helps cut the debt we build up now by running deficits.
Real unemployment in this country is 12.5%-19%, depending on whose estimate is used off the BLS numbers. That makes this the worst economic downturn since the Depression. In an environment like this, your focus should be on alleviating pain and suffering while pushing every lever possible to build into a recovery. Which you can do with debt. It's this that has Bayh so worried:
"[U]nder this budget, our national debt skyrockets from $11.1 trillion today to an estimated $17 trillion in 2014. As a percentage of our gross domestic product, it reaches a precarious 66.5 percent. The deficit remains larger than our projected economic growth, an unsustainable state of affairs. This budget will increase our borrowing from and dependence upon foreign nations. I cannot support such results. We can do better, and for the sake of our nation and our children’s future, we must."
What is so stunning about this statement from Senator Bayh is just how utterly clueless it shows him to be. Whether willful or genuine ignorance is the reason, it's shocking coming from someone in a position of power. The projections to which Bayh refers are based on low or no growth over the next few years. They do not take into account resurgent economic growth or the effects of improved infrastructure on economic efficiency (which, by the way, allows the economy to grow at a rapid click with real wage growth and low inflation, kind of a Goldilocks economy we should be so lucky to enjoy).
This is not the time to use scare tactics or play politics in a vain attempt to make yourself appear more important than your colleagues. It would be great if Bayh and Nelson would pick something else to stand out on.
March 31, 2009
...and introducing Sen. Bayh and the Ballbusters
Witness a new coalition of 16 moderate Democratic senators headed by Indiana Senator Evan Bayh. This group threatens to undo the progressive budget supported by Barack Obama’s administration as well as the Americans who support Obama in his efforts to put America back on the track to economic recovery (64% last time I looked). ... If so, these conservative Democrats need to take measure of themselves and their positions, and ask whether they want to go down in history as the ones who drove their country over the economic brink. The ones who are responsible for millions of Americans being put out of work with no health insurance. The ones who condemn another generation of children to a life without hope of attaining a college education.
March 26, 2009
Crazy as a shithouse rat
Finally, someone has the footage of the financial services committee hearing in which Michelle Bachmann made an ass out of herself... by not understanding Constitutional authority.
Watching it again, I'm irritated with my own empathy for making me wince with embarrassment at her stupidity. THIS is the modern Republican party... too stupid to even realize how foolish they look. To wit...
With friends like these...
Some Senate Democrats are working hard to derail President Obama's budget, claiming that it's too expensive and the additional debt will be too large. Which is silly considering that we're in the middle of a recession and have a lot of problems we have to put behind us before we can get back on our feet.
It's a bit like worrying about the cost of putting out the fire WHILE the house is burning. Just in case you miss the point, it's FUCKING STUPID. But, this really shouldn't come as a surprise since we're talking about Sen. Bayh.
March 20, 2009
I would not only have sex with Barney Frank...
...I would ENJOY it.
Here's Rep. Frank's response to Republicans that say he's the one responsible for the credit crisis. You know, because he totally controls them and all.
Fortunately, we have tools to aid memory -- pencil and paper, word processing, transcripts, newspapers, and the Congressional record. And as described in the most reputable published sources, in 2005 I in fact worked together with my Republican colleague Michael Oxley, then Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, to write a bill to increase regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We passed the bill out of committee with an overwhelming majority -- every Democrat voted in favor of the legislation. However, on the House floor the Republican leadership added a poison pill amendment, which would have prevented non-profit institutions with religious affiliations from receiving funds. I voted against the legislation in protest, though I continued to work with Mr. Oxley to encourage the Senate to pass a good bill. But these efforts were defeated because President Bush blocked further consideration of the legislation. In the words of Mr. Oxley, no flaming liberal, the Bush administration gave his efforts 'the one-finger salute.'
The Republicans can claim some supposed successes despite my awesome power. In 1999 they passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which overturned a Depression-era law preventing commercial banks from acting like investment banks. In 2000, they passed another bill which loosened regulation of derivative markets. I voted against these bills -- but to no avail.
February 18, 2009
Nationalization and Sen. Graham
Sen. Graham thinks that nationalizing the banks shouldn't be taken off the table. Of course, some of his fellow Republicans think he's crazy...
“That's going above and beyond being a maverick,” said Glenn McCall, York County GOP chairman and a Bank of America executive. “That's saying that socialism in our country would work better than letting folks use their God-given talent to create and foster economic growth.”
Rep. Sue Myrick of Charlotte called nationalization “absolutely a no-no.”
“I can't even believe that Lindsey would say that,” she said. “I mean the government running the banks? Talk about a disaster.”
Bank of America Chairman Ken Lewis last week called the notion of nationalization “absurd.”
“I've never had anybody even hint at it,” he told CNBC.
It's the comment from Rep. Myrick that really made me laugh since the banks have done such a bangup job of running things on their own. That aside, this is not such a good idea. On the surface, I'll concede the market cap point to Graham...
Graham said the government has already poured billions into banks with little to show for the economy. Bank of America, which has received $45 billion in bailout money, is currently worth $27 billion in market capitalization.
“The truth is we've put more money into the Bank of America than it's worth,” Graham said. “That's not nationalization. That's just stupid.”
Well, maybe... maybe not. See, if you BUY BofA, you get the whole thing. And you get to fix it. What the government is doing now is buying preferred shares and loaning them money, basically parking some bad assets until the securitization market (which, just FYI, is way bigger than the banks) recovers. Then we get our money back. If we nationalize, we get the whole thing, write downs and all, uncertain management and when we go to spin all this back to the public, who's going to want to buy it now that they know nationalization isn't out of the realm of possibility? Not and FDIC takeover but a real banana republic style nationalization?
If you want to get pissed about something, get pissed about this. And get even more upset about Treasury's spin on it...
The Treasury Department said lending likely would have fallen further without the roughly $200 billion that has been provided to banks so far, given the sharp downturn in the economy.
"Loan activity was resilient in the face of the worst economic downturn in decades," the department said.
Uhm. That's the banks lending their own money. That's been largely fixed. What hasn't is securitization, the shadow banking system. They don't need cash and there is now way to nationalize them because they aren't broke. The only thing you can do is print money and put it to work. Eventually, when the shadows realize that by sitting on the sidelines they are losing money to inflation, they'll get back in. Of course, we'll all get to suffer from inflation which is neat.
OR, we could start refinancing these assets and get the system working again.
Until we fill the almost $10 trillion hole in the economy, it's going to get worse.
February 17, 2009
Housing : A bunch of damn idiots
Here's an infuriating little article over at Business Week talking about mortgage mod's (the few that have been done) and the poor homeowners.
Let me just say, my sympathy is wearing a little goddamn thin. For everyone from the stupid homebuyers, to the retarded reporters trying to get a handle on this, to the corrupt politicos all the way up to the morons at far loftier levels than the one I occupy in the banking industry who were too stupid to realize that they'd built their houses on foundations of sand.
First off, giving BK courts cramdown authority IS going to have a negative impact on the pricing of loans in the US. Pure and simple. Think about it this way... I'm an investor in US denominated debt securities, usually MBS. Suddenly, some of the mortgages that make up the securities I've paid 102 for are being reduced by judicial fiat to 60, which drops the overall value of my securities to 90. Do you REALLY think I'm going to buy more of this crap that just gets arbitrarily written down? Hell no... I'll go invest in fixed income securities in the EU or Asia where the rule of law and the sanctity of contract still means something. Which means MY money is no longer helping to prop up the US economy. And suddenly, there's a flood of dollars, inflation goes through the roof and interest rates start going up and up. But McBlogger, we can just borrow the money from banks? Sure. At far higher interest rates. What no one out there really gets is that securitization save consumers money by making loans cheaper. Fuck that up and we're back to 20% down, 60 days to close and high interest rates.
The most irritating thing about cramdowns is that they aren't needed though lots of stupid people will tell you differently. Take the folks from the BW article...
vConsider the case of Ocbaselassie Kelete, a 41-year-old immigrant from Eritrea who called Hope Now last fall. Kelete, a naturalized U.S. citizen, bought a $540,000 townhouse in Hayward, Calif., in November 2006 with no down payment and 100% financing from First Franklin Financial, a subprime unit of Merrill Lynch. At the time, he and his wife earned $108,000 a year from his two jobs, with a pharmacy and an office-cleaning service, and hers as a janitor. Kelete says First Franklin and his realtor convinced him that he could afford a pair of mortgages, one with a 7.5% initial rate that would rise after three years, and a second with a fixed 12% rate. His monthly payment would total $3,600.
Now we don't know what he's currently making... however, based off his old total income, 40% of his gross earnings were going into the damn house. 40%! Now, I've seen people spend like that and be fine... so, why not this guy? This asshole's goddamn mortgage hasn't even reset and he's whining? AND I'M SUPPOSED TO FEEL BAD FOR HIM??!?!?!!? No, ma'am. What this guy needs is a lesson in managing his finances. Fortunately for him and the millions like him, we don't have that kind of time. So, what to do?
Easy... refinance him using FHA. Limit to no more than $1mn per loan nationally, no appraisal and you can't exceed more than 106% of the original loan balance which will allow them to put in costs, arreage and past due taxes. Pass a law that breaks the prepayment penalty on the loans but allows the servicer to charge the loss against future earnings (since they'll be on the hook for it to the end investor). The loan pays off at par, the investor takes a minor hit, the servicer takes a hit and the homeowner gets a mortgage they can afford but at the full amount they agreed to pay. The government, for it's part, insures the loan against default, takes a nice premium for doing it and the market stabilizes because the new securities have a government backing.
With this in place, you will rapidly see bank balance sheets restored because the securities they are holding will be steadily bought out under the new program when the existing loans are refinanced. Honestly, this is the easiest way to do it and most effective because it helps everyone. The best part is that the government can effectively borrow money at 3%, then loan it back out at 5%. You could use the differential to strengthen entitlements and give a huge boost to upgrading infrastructure. The only problem is that the Centrists in Congress would never let it pass because they are too stupid to understand the complexities of the situation we're in.
Second, on the issue of modification, go read this. More specifically, the section on modifying the mortgages that make up the securities. Needless to say, it's pretty much impossible.
There is another option... the government could buy up the MBS, break it apart and mod the underlying loans or mitigate the losses on the homes that are foreclosed. That would end up leaving tax payers on the hook for around $3 trillion. This is probably what will end up happening if the government proceeds with the public-private plan, or worse, nationalization. PPP requires the government have partners with money. There are plenty of vultures out there right now, but few are willing to pay what the banks think the paper is worth. Pimco has been willing to buy MBS at 60 cents on the dollar, but that would mean the banks lose the upside... and it would neatly put a giant hole in their balance sheets. Best case, the government could make an equity investment in the banks, restoring balance sheets and wiping out the existing shareholders. Then they have to clean up management and reprivatize the banks. All this will do is make a lot of already rich people very rich. It may sound good, but in the end this doesn't do a damn thing to fix the loans.
They've got to be modified via refinance. Congress has to free HUD to do it. The only way that will happen is if the President and the Democrats brow beat the Republicans. Of course, they also have to realize it's the right thing to do.
Finally, the idea this is going to go away or that we can end this crisis without dealing with the underlying problems is ridiculous. Putting people into emergency loans is one thing but we have to fix regulatory enforcement. Then we have to fix the accounting regs that forced mark to market accounting when the market was broken. I wrote about this more than a year ago. I also wrote this. Go read it then come back and reread the section on this public-private bullshit.
While it's viscerally satisfying to nationalize and wipe the banks clean, it also leaves tax payers on the hook.
Oh and let's actually fix this and THEN move on to Social Security, Mr. President.
February 13, 2009
Junio John Speaks
The stimulus bill is not going to work, mostly because of the tax cuts/rebates, which Junior John now says don't work. Which is kinda funny since part of the reason he's voting against it is because it's not 100% tax cuts.
He also conveniently ignores the fact that the overweight toward tax cuts in the bill are the result of compromises to Republicans. Then he mentions a CBO study that says this bill will eventually crowd out private investment. Which is hilarious since this bill isn't even a tenth of the size of the US economy.
Finally, Sen. Cornyn flat out lies about the efficacy of tax cuts vs. spending saying that spending is about half as effective.
It's never been more clear than now that we need a real Democrat in the Senate representing Texas. I don't know that either Sharp or White are that guy. I have no idea what they think about fiscal stimulus in a deflationary environment. I can tell you this, listening to Cornyn makes it clear that we can not afford to elect another ideologue more committed to politics than actually governing.
Which means, Sharp and White camps, you better get some goddamn good people to tell you what to say or I'm going to rain shit all over you both.
February 01, 2009
In other news...
"Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it," Conyers said. "After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk."
Robert D. Luskin, an attorney for Rove, said his client will "abide by a final decision from the courts." Luskin noted that Bush, in a letter to Rove, recently reasserted executive privilege.
"It's generally agreed that former presidents retain executive privilege as to matters occurring during their term," Luskin said. "We'll solicit the views of the new White House counsel and, if there is a disagreement, assume that the matter will be resolved among the courts, the president and the former president."
For my money, I think Bush's biggest fuckup was not giving a full pardon to Karl Rove. Now, the son of a bitch is toast. Well, he is as long as the President decides to uphold the rule of law instead of executive privilege.
December 05, 2008
Digby has Limbaugh's take on the Big Three's trip to Washington. Limbaugh is, of course, blaming the Democrats.
I have some questions. You know, Pelosi, Reid, that crowd, they sent the auto execs home yesterday and they said, "You come back with a plan. We don't have the votes and you're not going to make us look bad. It sends a bad signal to the American people. We don't have the votes. So you come back with a plan. You tell us what you want for the $25 billion." Okay, I have some questions for the people like Pelosi and Reid and these other liberal hacks, just tough questions for you to ponder. With gasoline prices now under two bucks in most places and dropping, and the price of oil (I checked it right before the program) below $50 now ($49 a barrel it was earlier today.) So with the gas price under two bucks and oil plummeting, what would you say, Pelosi and Reid, if the car companies could become profitable by selling SUVs or go broke by turning out the green cars that you're going to demand they make? What would you say, Pelosi and Reid, if the best auto executive in the world could come in and fix the Detroit problem but he demands a hundred million dollars a year in income? Would you insist that they hire somebody who has no clue what they're doing and earns less than $400,000?
Lookit, Limbaugh and his ilk have always found it easier to carp than offer real solutions. They have none which is par for the course with the unimaginative who refuse to think. Instead, they offer criticism and angry commentary that, frankly, is nigh unto incoherent. The problem with the auto industry has never been that they were making what Washington demanded, the problem was their planning and long term strategy was wrong. As oil prices increased, they never shifted gears. As the market transitioned to a recession, they never altered to more affordable cars or sought out cheap long term debt to bolster their capital structure. Now the problem is very dramatic as wages are cut, incomes drop and fewer people are buying cars.
Their failure was a failure of management. For 30 years, they underfunded their pension plans. For thirty years they've been losing business to competitors who are just as large but far better at designing, building and selling what the market wants. Their failure is not the failure of liberal ideology, it's the failure of their leaders to adequately build for the future. They can blame CAFE, unions and anyone else they want but the failure is theirs.
Despite having some of the best paid managers and CEO's in history. So, no, I would say that managerial talent is not worth $100mn per year. I'd put it at about $500k. Limbaugh is clearly a very poor businessman if he'd overpay THAT dramatically. But then again, people like Limbaugh often do things like that when it's not their money.
There's one ally Democrats in Congress have on CEO pay and that's the millions of small investors like myself (those with net worth less than $1mn) who wholeheartedly agree with caps on CEO pay. In fact, we'd like to see caps on ALL executive and managerial pay. Unions and low level employees aren't bleeding us, as owners, dry. It's the management that is always to blame.
And I'm all for creating problems for those parasites like Carly Fiorina who is best known for making Hewlett-Packard shareholders poor.
Limbaugh's rant blaming the Democrats is not unlike the one being circulated by some in the media regarding the cause of the mortgage crisis. From the WSJ to the WaPo, there has been a lot written about the CRA being to blame which isn't even remotely true.
While the issues are complex and ongoing, the bottom line is that a lack of regulation allowed people to create securities which hid the underlying risk. Subprime credits were packaged and credit enhanced to turn them into A credits. Investors looked the other way because whether it was A paper or subprime, they thought they were safe as houses since people always pay their mortgages. Well, they do as long as they have a wage. When all the equity they had accumulated has been used to offset the fact that borrowers wages hadn't really grown, they stopped paying their bills.
The CRA requirements, for the last damn time, CAN NOT be satisfied with subprime loans. This isn't a point of disagreement I have with the WSJ, this is me saying they are completely wrong.
November 24, 2008
Pissed off about Lieberman?
If you're angry that Joe Lieberman basically got to fuck the Democratic Party and get away with it, do more than bitch. Click here and DO SOMETHING.
October 01, 2008
Laboring under the delusion that everyone is as smart as you
With all the crazy cow crap flying about as if in a West Texas windstorm, you'd think the recapitalization plan would already be DOA. That WAS the goal of the Laborers' International Union. Until someone figured out that they could lose their jobs if the banking system collapses.
A touch of earthy fatalism from the Laborers' President Terry O’Sullivan: "We probably will have to hold our nose, grab the barf bags and do this because unfortunately we've got ourselves stuck on the same ship as those who caused this crisis and if they sink, working people sink too. But a bailout cannot just be another no-strings Bush raid on taxpayers. We need real protections to keep this from happening again and a stimulus package that creates jobs by building America."
Couldn't agree more! What kind of stimulus package did you have in mind?
The 500,000-member construction union, which endorsed Obama, wants $100 billion to go for a massive infrastructure program instead.
"Investing in America has an immediate impact on our economy. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 47,500 good jobs can be created for every $1 billion investment building America," a spokesman wrote in a statement.
For one thing, unlike many of you mouthbreathers (on the right and left), these folks really understand the real world impact of scuttling this. They lose their jobs. Just like many of us will.
And where they are WAY OUT in front of many of you (again, on the right and left) is that we NEED infrastructure. These folks, with this one little thing, just became the smartest people I've read about in weeks.
September 26, 2008
As part of the 'Ike Tours Texas' fallout, refiners on the Gulf are still shut down which is causing spot shortages in Atlanta (which sucks anyway) and in Tennessee. And, apparently, Dallas. Here's what caught my eye (and keep in mind the effected refiners account for 20% of US capacity)
U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 11.5 million barrels per day during the week ending September 19, down more than 1.7 million barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 66.7 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production fell last week, averaging about 8.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging nearly 3.3 million barrels per day. (EIA)
So, refineries effected by Ike account for 20% of US refining capacity and we're down to 66%??!?! That seems strange at a time where wholesale gasoline recently spiked to $5/gal.
Then I saw this and start to think maybe there is something going on.
SO, we have a massive crude and gasoline supply disruption as a result of a hurricane. Combine that with newfound regulatory zeal from governments around the world, all of whom are looking to strangle speculation and suddenly refiners have decided to artificially (for 'repairs') reduce the gasoline available in the market?
Methinks this is a pretty clear cut case of supply manipulation. They can't play with the price since the speculators (those still left in the business now that LEH is gone and MS and GS are under scrutiny) have had to cut back. So they energy companies themselves have decided to create an artificial supply constraint by shutting in capacity unaffected by Ike.
Ain't it nice that the oil companies care so much about their customers?
September 25, 2008
Doubling down (craving crow with seconds)
So this morning I wake up to this story.
Really? Why, I never. How dare the Bush administration demand concessions it can probably get from this Congress...for reasons COMPLETELY INEXFUCKINGPLICABLE considering the mood of the electorate.
Go ahead, bitches. I dare you. Sack up and take on the 19% bogeyman or else go suck on Karl Rove's subpoena and stop sending me fundraising letters.
Crow is best served as a two-course meal. Damn I'm craving some.
September 24, 2008
Notes while drinking (or, In Which I'm Correct)
1) Everyone talks about the 'worthless' and 'toxic' securities being spun to the government. Once more, the overall picture is FAR from grim. Here's how this works...
2.75% of mortgages in the US are now in foreclosure. Even if that goes to 6%, it's still within past historical peaks and completely manageable. A good price for a CDO that represented this pool at face would be 94 cents on the dollar. Treasury should be able to pick up these assets for 30-60 cents on the dollar which will keep banks stable.
Merrill Lynch recently sold $30 bn in face value subprime CDO's to Lone Star Funds of Dallas. For around $6 bn. Even if 50% of the portfolio is not paying, they've just made an instant profit of 28 cents on the dollar.
And then there is loss mitigation. By the time they sell off the houses representing the other 50%, they will recoup half again. Bringing the final total to 75%. Why the hell shouldn't the government get a deal like that, especially when the free market is too stupid to get the value proposition. Of course, that's just recovery of principle. They'll still be earning interest on the 50% that pays. Now you know why debt collectors make so much money.
2) Even Barron's, not known as a bastion of intelligent thought, thinks this is a good idea. Stirling Newberry does not. That's because Stirling thinks this is all about the oil economy and oil for paper and it's all a house of cards and we should all start rationing now and wait patiently for the world to become like the nightmare depicted in Mad Max. Needless to say, I'm not going to worry about this.
4) McCain suspends his campaign in some kind of ridiculous publicity stunt. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd can't figure out why since over the last five days they have pretty much got the details ironed out and are ready to roll on a plan that will succeed. And they did it all without McCain. Meanwhile, now they have to put up with the stupid old man who doesn't get the economy and Bush. Tomorrow morning when they could be working.
5) Thankfully, Obama is pressing ahead. And this poll shows him way ahead of McCain.
Maybe the assholes deserve a Depression. This one certainly does. Don't get me wrong, I know you all want to lash out and just let the whole thing go down the drain. What you don't realize is that the third world AIN'T a real comfortable place to live.
May you live in interesting times...
This financial crisis is finally waning. They always end when buyers finally realize that the firesale won't last forever and they dip back into the market to buy deeply discounted assets. We got a big boost of this yesterday.
Until now, Mr. Buffett, who has navigated the stock market with legendary prowess, has largely refrained from investing in the stricken financial industry, saying repeatedly that things could get worse.
Thousands of people on and off Wall Street follow Mr. Buffett’s moves, so his decision to invest in Goldman immediately heartened investors. After falling nearly 1.5 percent during the day, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index erased half its loss in after-hours trading Tuesday evening on news of the investment.
“Buffett is saying he’s confident,” said Brad Hintz, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company.
Mr. Buffett’s conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, unveiled the move only days after Goldman, long the premier investment house on Wall Street, embarked on a radical plan to transform itself into a traditional bank to ensure its survival. Goldman, which examined various options over the last week as its shares tumbled and some clients abandoned the firm, also said Tuesday it would sell at least $2.5 billion of common stock to the public.
The difference between Buffett and others is that HE can afford to hold something for decades until BRK makes a profit on it. Even if he dies, there is management at BRK that thinks exactly like him. And his success has not been the result of luck, it's research and thorough analysis. It's making the right decision.
Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.
Last night and this morning I posted a couple of emails to Carl Whitmarsh in Houston regarding something he'd sent out on his massive email list. The first article was this from George Will. Now, George has never been a big fan of McCain. However, that's not the meat of the article. It's the craptastic analysis of the US falling into socialism. Here's what I sent to Carl:
It's funny to me that McCain would attack Cox for not regulating the very securities that McCain voted to keep unregulated.
I LOVE the way conservatives have decided that this is socialism, as if the entire
capital market is now under the absolute control of the Treasury and Fed. Their
plan, buying assets that the free market has assigned zero value to, is absolutely
sound. Why? Because occasionally the market goes crazy and won't buy something
that's worth a dollar even if it's discounted to 10 cents. The market, in short, is
not always right.
The Fed was CREATED to avoid panic and provide liquidity in times of market
dislocations. Which is exactly what we have now.
That being said, Paulson's plan, as presented on Sunday, is a thoroughgoing mess.
There will have to be oversight. There will have to be caps on CEO compensation.
However, the basic idea to add liquidity to our deflated economy is a good one.
The second comment was related to a piece Harvey Kronberg ran from Royal Masset
I love Royal but he's wrong on what's happening in the financial industry. This is a panic, pure and simple, and it should wake people up to the reality that markets are far from perfect.
Markets are nothing more than buyers and sellers. Period. They are dependent on
humans and their imperfect decision making. The idea that markets self regulate with
minimal impacts is ALWAYS wrong. They do self regulate and in the process create
what can charitably be called distress.
Regulation and enforcement, while imperfect and sometimes overreaching, is a hell of
a lot better than mass unemployment and starvation.
That's the lesson most of the 'free market' Republican's have never learned.
Of course, there are number of others who have problems with buying assets. They see another solution, lend directly to the banks.
Here's why you can't just lend money to banks, allow them to take the losses in selling these assets, and then repay the debt over time. For one thing, these losses are going to (in many cases) wipe out all the equity in banks, rendering many insolvent. You can't replace that equity with debt owed to the government. Debt is Debt. For another, the market is so freaked out and dislocated (not to mention fearful) that no one wants these securities at any price. It's not that these securities aren't worth something. After all, the vast majority are A paper mortgage credits. It's that investors can't see the value and won't take ANY risk.
What is needed is a prime mover to get these assets moving, worked out and restore the market. That prime mover is the only entity capable of operating for the long haul, the Federal Government.
The issue is that these assets, when marked to market, have no value because the market is buying and selling NOTHING. However, the loans underneath are STILL performing. On a cashflow basis, many are performing exactly as predicted. We may now need to look at discounted cash flow as a value model to fall back on when MtoM fails. Which it is prone to do when the market seizes up. Which it, of course, does from time to time despite what the Republicans say.
We have to stabilize home prices which means we need people with jobs who can buy homes with mortgages. Unfortunately, as this crisis deepens, it begins to effect employment AND the ability of people to secure financing for homes. Without a market, the value of homes continues to drop. In the end, we fall into a Depression. THAT'S the end result of doing nothing.
Finally, there are some lesson we all need to take from this experience...
1) Regulation and enforcement are not obstacles to the success of the market. They are ESSENTIAL to the success of the market.
2) Capitalism has not failed. What failed was our obligation to oversee it and make it work for the majority.
3) Just because something is valued at nothing right now, it doesn't mean it's worthless.
One last point... one that everyone needs to understand unequivocally, if we don't do this the whole damn country fails. THAT'S the reality and all the whining about taxpayers footing the bill (which is a load of crap) isn't going to change it.
Methinks they doth protest well enough (and that's what has me worried)
So if we're to believe our eyes and ears, the Administration's bailout proposal sure has everyone on the Hill all frothing at the mouth.
I don't know about you folks, but it makes me real nervous-like when the Democratic congressional leadership rails this loudly about a Bush proposal this feculent. Because all too often, the squallin' and wall-eyed fits give way to The Big Cave-In [see, e.g., FISA, reauthorization of Iraq War funding, domestic spending levels, etc.].
At times, it seems as if this sort of rending of garments and gnashing of teeth is almost a kind of obligatory theatrical foreshadowing of a preordained tragic climax wherein vile douchebaggery and bitchassedness prevail over courage and righteousness. For you English majors out there not yet done with the metaphor, I suppose the denoument would be the part where said players engage in post hoc bitching about how the executive branch has usurped all the power and singlehandedly ruined the country and that's why only our side can provide the bold, gallant leadership the nation needs, bleh bleh bleh.
(And I type this while aiming Ye Olde Stinkeye in your direction, Nancy, Steny and Harry.)
Hopefully, things will be different this time. Maybe Democrats on the Hill will say, in one, big, loud unified voice, "I'm Rick James, bitch!" and imprint the Will of the People upon the forehead of Connecticut-native George W. Bush with the almighty knucklebling of Article One power. Maybe instead of handing a blank government check to the Gamma Beta House and hoping they'll notice the phrase "public service project" written on the memo line, Congress will pass some completely pinstriped-ass-whuppin' legislation and rock the nation with a new number one hit single, "Smells Like CEO Comeuppance."
Lord, I hope that happens. But I know better than to emotionally invest in that prospect. Kind of like how I learned, as a kid, to tense up any time I saw Charlie Brown on television hauling ass toward Lucy holding a football.
You know, a big heaping plate of pungent raw crow sure would taste good right about now.
September 22, 2008
First off, for a moment, take a look at this again. Specifically point one. Think about that every time you read something from one of the chicken little's on the right (or left) who are bleating on about toxic securities.
One more time, there is no such thing as a toxic security. There is only a toxic price. In other words, be rational about the prices you pay for assets and you'll be happy. The market for credits got very frothy and people overpaid either because they were dumb or they didn't really understand the securities they were buying. Now people have gone the opposite way and are unwilling to buy these assets at any price.
As the old saying goes, be greedy when others are fearful. Be fearful when others are greedy.
Unfortunately, it looks like many investors are going to take a pass on these assets. Which leaves the Fed's and the few willing and smart enough to jump into the fray (like JPM). First off, I'm pleased as punch about the government getting involved since the 'free' market has completely gone off the rails. However, Paulson's plan is still the wrong way to go.
We're also mostly on the same page (though I, unlike Stirling, don't subscribe to conspiracy theory) except for a few highlights...
1) Cramdowns - Basically, this is a modification for mortgages in markets with declining values. It's also useless. What about the homeowner who is making their payments EVEN though their home is worth less than they paid? There's really no need for this unless you're talking about doing a workout on someone who really can't afford the mortgage and the value has declined dramatically. However, I don't like the government getting a piece of the inevitable increase in value down the road through some kind of hitherto unknown lien position. If you're going to help people, help people.
My advice : Don't do this with anyone who has had a greater than 50% decline in value. That's what you'll get on a foreclosure. Anyone more underwater needs to just walk away with a wipeout on the mortgage history so they don't have an adverse hit on the credit report.
Last thing... change the tax laws to benefit workouts rather than foreclosures. It's easy... if a company does a workout that results in the loss of loan balance (say, from $200k to $150k) then they can take that as a loss against ordinary income immediately. If they foreclose, they have to take the loss on that against income over THREE years. Either way, you have to alter the law to keep these companies from 1099ing the people effected for the difference.
2) Not so much with a national emergency and rationing. Let's look at changing tax policy to increase wages for ordinary people. That'll take care of commodities inflation and our negative savings rate. And that whole petroleum thing can be easily fixed with biofuels. Actually, it WILL be fixed fast as long as oil is over $50/bbl.
I'm fine with expanding FDIC and LOVE what Obama is hitting on. Plus, as many of you know, I've always hated excessive levels of executive compensation. I say go for it, Congressional Democrats! Take this time to make this a real solution, instead of another Paulson bandaid.
Now, onto what's happening today. Obvs, the market loved the Paulson/Bush/McCain plan as much as we did. The Dow is down around 3% and oil has shot back up to $120/bbl as investors pull out of equities and dump speculative money into oil.
Needless to say, we ALL apparently want something other than another silly gimmick. Except for Michelle Malkin who has turned this into yet another attempt to divorce herself and her Party from responsibility for this problem.
Robert Novak called attention to Paulson’s Democrat DNA last October. It’s worth reminding you of Paulson’s instincts and the liberal allies he has installed at the Treasury Department
No, no, Bitch. Paulson's one of yours. And quit quoting that sad, old alcoholic. As for him bringing in 'libruls', the problem is that all your financial guys suck balls. They all end up going broke.
September 21, 2008
A special invitation to the Secretary of the Treasury
Seriously, THIS is what you came up with? A massive expansion of the Executive Branch, no help for homeowners and absolute power with a blank check?
It's clear to me now that Paulson has got to go and we need Bob Rubin back at Treasury. Larry Summers is wrong for the job (honestly, he's a dumbass anyway) and Rubin is the only one with the kind influence in financial and political circles to get something done. He's also far smarter than Paulson which should help.
We need to re-regulate commodities and derivative trading (fuck you, Phil Gramm, you dirt leg moron) and begin requiring a lot more capital be held by companies wishing to operate in the securities industry. No more of this 30 to 1 leverage bullshit. But I don't see that it this little 'plan'. I also don't see anything to help expand efforts already proceeding to pull borrowers out of bad mortgages. No, I'm not talking about a cram down and share the wealth plan (seriously, why even bother, Ian? You gonna give everyone who's upside down on a car note a bail out, too? Just get them outta the bad loan and regular appreciation will work out the gap), just a reworking of underwriting guidelines and insuring to allow people to get into affordable mortgages.
We needed real solutions and an indication of some sort of contrition. Instead, we get a brazen attempt to steal still more power for an out of control President.
Congress should act. The Democrats should write one hell of a bill and tell the President to sign it or we'll let everything go down the tubes.
Enough bullshit and politics. And Chairman Frank should immediately demand Paulson's resignation.
September 17, 2008
THIS is good...
My wonderful friends, the adults are back in town...
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered a broad, swift investigation of Wall Street and will demand testimony from Bush administration officials and captains of finance, congressional officials said.
House Democrats plan to aggressively look at the administration’s role in the meltdown over the weekend and to explore further regulation and government structures that would be taken up under the new president.
Republican aides accused Democrats of trying to shift blame with a series of “show trials,” but acknowledged that key officials will wind up cooperating.
The hearings will take place over the next few weeks, the officials said. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who regularly appears on Capitol Hill, will be called to testify as part of the investigation.
As the main event, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House oversight committee, wrote to Richard Fuld, chief executive of the imploded Lehman Brothers, to ask him to appear on Capitol Hill on Sept. 25.
“The hearing will examine the regulatory mistakes and financial excesses that led to yesterday's bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers,” Waxman wrote. “The committee will also explore the impacts of the Lehman bankruptcy on financial markets and the United States economy.”
This, just so you know, is all about regulation or rather the lack thereof. For the last 28 years, Republicans have fought tooth and nail to deregulate everything in sight. Now, we're all living with the consequences. It's not that private enterprise is bad or inherently harmful... it's that humans make mistakes and let greed override good decision making. The result is that the Fed has to step in and lend private enterprise $80 billion... and shareholders take it on the chin. All because regulation was bad.
I wonder how many AIG shareholders would agree with that tonight? The money quote goes to Rep. Barney Frank"
Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke had not requested any new legislative authority for the bailout at Tuesday night’s meeting. “The secretary and the chairman of the Fed, two Bush appointees, came down here and said, ‘We’re from the government, we’re here to help them,’ ” Mr. Frank said. “I mean this is one more affirmation that the lack of regulation has caused serious problems. That the private market screwed itself up and they need the government to come help them unscrew it.”
Couldn't have said it better, Mr. Chairman.
Last thing... for those of you morons out there still fighting re-regulation and throwing around terms like moral hazard, there's this. The reality is that it was absolutely insane for a company like AIG or any market player to enhance credits with relatively small one time payments. At some point, the three sigma event you kept thinking would never happen, will happen. And then you're left staring into the abyss.
For some more, I'd like to point you here. What the Dem's in Congress are doing is absolutely perfect from a policy AND political standpoint. It's about time these folks went toe to toe with the Republicans and started hitting them in the face.
August 26, 2008
Blaming the Democrats...
I LOVE BLAME! I love it when one of my subordinates, whom I've asked to perform a task, blames someone else in the office (usually a peer) for failing to complete it. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that the job I expected to get done, wasn't done. Well, nothing except knowing who to blame for the failure.
Oh, I'm just kidding... I usually berate the dick who didn't perform the task. Over the phone since my office is far, far from me.
Bush, on the other hand, likes to berate his peers. For high gas prices...
"This Congress has been one of the most unproductive on record. They've failed to address the challenge of high gas prices," the president said. "They need to send me a bill next month that I can sign so we can bring relief to drivers, small business owners, farmers and ranchers and every American affected by high prices at the pump."
You should never believe a liar, which is what makes this AP story sooo intriguing. It's also interesting because there are no counterquotes from the Democrats. Nothing except some lame thing from Pelosi about allowing some limited offshore drilling. Which Bush says isn't enough. And we should take his word on that because he's been right all along. He was:
1) Right about deficits not mattering.
2) Right about WMD's
3) Right about that whole Axis of Evil thing
4) Right about Vladimir Putin's soul
5) Right about how tax cuts would trickle down
6) Right about how the economy wasn't having problems
7) Right about how energy price increases (which have gone on every day since he entered office) were temporary.
The funny thing is that Bush says all this without a hint of irony since HIS party was in charge during most of the run up in gas prices. In fact, when refiners continued to gouge retailers and consumers, Bush and the Republicans did nothing. As Exxon's profits soared and Americans started to buckle under the pressure, Bush and the Republicans did nothing. Except blame Democrats who weren't in power.
The funny thing about this is that none of it is the fault of the Democrats. However, because of how retarded their leadership is in the Congress, it'll come across that way and in the end they'll fall over themselves to give the Republicans what they want.
They'll whine about how the polling data was too strong and how the R's had talking points that were engineered to win over an audience. I know this because I've heard it for two years. The reality is that none of you are really smart enough to get how to control message and win a debate in real time.
So, just save us all the time and trouble... and give in. God knows none of you know how to browbeat and intimidate the other side into caving in to you. Democrats don't do that. Well, they don't anymore.
August 20, 2008
We (heart) Hector Nieto (and Jesmer's a tool)
No, Hector, not in THAT way. So you don't have to feel nervous around us...we love you for saying this...
"Instead of resurrecting a non-issue like Fred Baron, why doesn't John Cornyn explain to the people of Texas why he voted six times against bipartisan legislation to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program? Every time a child goes to the emergency room because a parent couldn't afford quality healthcare, that parent can thank John Cornyn."
Yesterday, dippy little Rob Jesmer of the Re-Elect A Worthless Douchebag campaign (AKA, Cornyn for Senate) sent out an email about Fred Baron (who?) giving money to Rick Noriega and the Texas Democratic Party and Girl and Boy Scouts of America. While he mostly left Noriega and the TDP alone, Rob went hog wild on the poor little scouts.
"No, we don't want any more of your Fred Barron cookies. We don't want anymore of your trial lawyer sing alongs or massive settlement knots. We certainly don't want to see any more of your tort pine car derby's..." Jesmer went on to discuss the Freemason's, threatening to teleport laughing reporters into the sun (with his MIND) and the Illuminati/Rothschild/Bilderberg grand unified conspiracy theory.
He did not comment on when Cornyn will be giving up the MILLIONS in oil and energy company money he's taken while those same companies have raped Texans on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, the Noriega campaign was taking a nap.
August 15, 2008
(Not so) Great Ideas
Mixing bourbon, vodka and gin with root beer (in my defense, I was 12)
SUPER Bad Decision
Seriously, I'm not going to go on some asinine rant about how Chet's not liberal enough. Or progressive enough. Or attractive enough. Or interesting enough. He's not enough of any of those things, but at the end of the day, he's perfect for Waco and it's environs. He's conservative, he's moderately attractive, boring as a motherfucker and basically a perfect fit to represent people who voted for Bush. Four times.
And I'm certainly not going to beat up on a Democrat who can get re-elected, cycle after cycle, in the red territory most us only know as the asshole on the 35 between Austin and Dallas. Seriously, voting for the bankruptcy bill was THE right thing to do, mostly because those yokels are too stupid to realize he worked to restrict their Constitutional right to wipe the slate clean and get a fresh start in their lives. They're not too bright, much like their asshat Congressman.
However, while all this not great, it's not the end of the world. Chet votes his district. However, there is one issue which makes Chettie boy as goddamn unacceptable as John McCain. On several occasions he's voted for actions and laws that were unconstitutional. He's voted to give up our rights, freedoms and disregarded his duties as a member of the United States House of Representatives. Needless to say, having a man so willing to surrender what makes us Americans a heartbeat away from the Presidency shouldn't make anyone excited.
Of course, having the endlessly spineless Pelosi pulling strings for him also makes him pretty unacceptable. Let's face it... when the American people put the Democrats in the majority they expected the Executive Branch to be held accountable. They expected a restoration of the Constitutional power of Congress. They expected Democrats to stand up and say that prosecuting the War on Terror does not mean we have to abandon what makes the US the land of the free. I'm one of millions not willing to give up my privacy so Democrats in Congress can act tough and I'm certainly not one of these crazies who thinks an imperial Executive is a good thing. I was one of the millions who helped put Democrats into office in 2006 and we expected to see accountability in Washington.
What we got, instead, were Democrats like Chet Edwards caving on issues large and small, joining with the minority Republicans to form a majority and pass bad legislation. Maybe that's why the approval rating for Congress is so low.
I refuse to stand up and endorse a man who thinks compromising his Oath of Office is good politics. I won't do it for McCain and I certainly won't cut the Bastard Of The Brazos any slack for being a Democrat. If anything, he gets double black marks for voting give up what makes this country great to add perceived safety and security.
And we all know what Benjamin Franklin had to say about those people.
As for me, I'll just call him worthless... well, except for his work for Veterans. However, given his district, is it any wonder that someone looking to get re-elected would be a big believer in giving Veterans a voice? However, maybe that is the one thing he does purely because it's the right thing to do.
Oh, and let's remember that the DMN has been Chet's biggest booster in Texas. You should keep in mind that in 2000 and 2004 the bright Ed Board at the DMN decided to endorse Bush over the Democratic nominee. The same people who see in Edwards the same things, apparently, that they saw in Bush.
Don't say you weren't warned.
August 08, 2008
Pelosi ASSRAPES Culberson
I guess we need to talk a little bit about politics. Apparently, there's some douche named Culberson from Houston (it's a state?) who is a Congress. He and the other Republicans are using something called twatter to communicate with other twats (people who also use twatter). They were having this big old thing about gas prices in the Capitol building and Nancy Pelosi who is the leader of the Democrats and runs the place shut off the lights because they were talking about dumbass shit that wouldn't do anything to cut prices.
How's that for fucking cool? Shut off the lights on people bitching to give more of our money to oil companies. Take that, fuckballs!
July 30, 2008
I really gotta stop reading Salon
I, like many of you, am feeling let down by Democrats in Congress and by our own candidate. From FISA to faith based initiatives, the Democrats seems as willing to trash the Constitution as the Republicans. Greenwald thinks it's all because of the Blue Dogs... stop them and you regain a progressive agenda. Basically, we have to target the Blue Dogs or even, God forbid, allow Republicans to win these races to make a point with the leadership and the caucus that taking voters for granted is a super bad idea.
There is another theory that I like better... simply, we need to put a super majority of Democrats into Congress to completely marginalize the Blue Dogs.
What are your thoughts? I know where I'm falling on this... and the polling should be showing the Democrats that playing the same old games, instead of actually taking a stand and leading, is their ticket to a loss in November.
Obama offered his own horse-race assessment ...
... while attending a fundraiser in Arlington, Va., Monday night. Talking to about 40 supporters, he opined that when he began his White House quest, "there weren’t too many people who thought we were going to pull this off."
Now, he said, “We are ... in a position where the odds of us winning are very good. But it’s still going to be difficult.... We’re not going to see a huge gap develop between now and Nov. 4 [in the polls]. This is going to be a close election. I’m new on the national scene. People sort of like what they see, but they’re not sure.”
Uhm, Senator, the fact that in this environment you're having problems beating a guy who is so close to Bush they smell the same is a pretty clear indication that your strategy isn't working. Seriously, rethink your excuses. You're close because you caved on things that Democrats, Republicans, Independents and even Libertarians can agree on. So, that leaves us all wondering why the hell we should vote for you.
If you lose this, Senator Obama, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Tom Coburn in a box
Well, it would be a good start. Provided that you then buried the box and built a parking lot on top of it.
Coburn is being boxed in by Senator Reid... well, Harry and the D's and more than a few R's were trying to force him to actually vote FOR something instead of taking the cowards way out and putting a hold on it. Good luck there, Harry. Why not just go ahead and do what you did to Sen. Dodd when he put a hold on the Telecom Bill... just ignore it.
A product of Democratic frustration with the tactics of Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and physician who has become the Dr. No of the Senate, the Tomnibus is a $10 billion collection of Coburn-blocked measures assembled by the Senate leadership in an effort to break his solitary grip on the legislative process.
Engineered by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, the bill includes 35 of the most irresistible-sounding measures stuck on the docket, including the Mothers Act and the Protect Our Children Act.
There are items to commemorate “The Star-Spangled Banner” and to try to curb pornography, cut drug use and help victims of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Officially known as the Advancing America’s Priorities Act, the catchall legislation includes a measure to improve life for victims of paralysis, which Mr. Reid calls the Superman bill in tribute to the late Christopher Reeve.
The obvious intent is to apply a little legislative Kryptonite and embarrass Mr. Coburn into dropping his procedural objections to the measures while highlighting his willingness to put roadblocks in front of bills that have support from all corners — a textbook case of what Democrats view as extreme Republican obstructionism.
Well, as they say, good luck with that.
“I am not a go-along, get-along guy if I think it is the wrong way to go,” Mr. Coburn said, not stating anything his peers did not already know. “I am O.K. taking the consternation of my colleagues. I take my oath seriously.”
Yes, Tom Coburn (R - OK) is trying to cast himself as a defending of the budget. FDL has the details on what a laughable effort he has, so far, mounted. He's fine with deficit spending to pay for tax cuts for the rich and war spending, but spend $1bn on teaching kids? By God, you've just gone too far.
The Tomnibus Bill, of course, failed. Which means we've got a bunch more Republicans to get rid of. Including Junior John Cornyn who apparently thought protecting children was less important than standing with his simpleton friend who is similarly ideologically bankrupt.
Which makes me wonder about those of you, however few they may be, who are still thinking of voting or Republicans this year... I'd just like to ask, REALLY? You're living in their paradise with half TRILLION deficits, a collapsing dollar, double digit inflation and non-existent wage growth. In other words, Cornyn FAILED. Not a little, but a LOT. Quit embracing the Republican Culture of Failure.
July 29, 2008
McCaul gets pwn'd
A couple of boys are attending a school that a US Congressman doesn't like and labels a 'jihadist seminary' without knowing anything about it. He then makes sure, through some hitherto unknown mechanism available to members of Congress, that they are removed from the school.
Who would dare to violate the religious and intellectual freedom of Americans? None other than our own Republican Congressman, Mikey McCaul (R - ClearChannel). Regardless of how pro- or anti-American this school is, their FATHER sent them there. Why did McCaul feel a need to violate the wishes of a parent? Will he be stepping in to assist other children who don't like the schools they are attending? Maybe even beat up on parents for sending their kids to bad summer camps?
Finally, these kids were from ATLANTA, GEORGIA. Not Texas. It's great that Mikey can spend so much time working on violating the wishes of a parent who isn't even his constituent, but we'd love it if he'd start doing what WE, his actual constituents, would like him to do.
Mean Rachel has more and some video.
Oh, and it would be nice if you'd help us get rid of Mikey by throwing some support to Larry Joe!
July 21, 2008
McHenry, Bunning think the world is standing on its head
The Statesman has a good piece about the cross party support for the aid package to Fannie and Freddie. Which makes sense when you consider that doing nothing will collapse foreign investment in the US, send oil above $250/bbl and drive us into a nice, deep depression. However, some people didn't get the memo.
Paulson, mused Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is "getting more cooperation here, and more constructive discussion (from Democrats), than he's getting with the Republicans."
The irony is particularly galling to GOP conservatives who have long railed against Fannie and Freddie, saying the government needed to rein in and even dismantle them.
"Strange things are occurring. ...There has been a massive shift in the Bush administration policy," said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C. "I don't see rank-and-file Republicans following the dictates of the Bush administration on this."
When he saw Treasury's plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., grumbled, "I thought I woke up in France. But no, it turned out it was socialism here in the United States of America."
Bunning had his brain replaced with components from a Curtis Mathis VCR made in 1981 which may help explain why he doesn't realize which country he's in. Or know the difference between socialism and capitalism. He also forgets to wear pants.
The corpulent little twerp, Mr. McHenry of North Carolina (what IS it with you people? This assweevil AND Brad Miller? Quit inflicting these morons on us!) is also worried about socialism. Or is it priapism? As for 'rank and file' Republicans, Patty shouldn't be so worried. There will be precious few of them next January.
July 10, 2008
FISA and the dumb things people do
Well, to start Digby has a good recap and some information on the folks who voted against cloture in the Senate. Obama's not one of them so don't freak out. He lost his balls in a tragic polling accident (well, tragic because he didn't have the huevos to stand up to a President with a 28% approval rating). The NYT ran a great op/ed about this but, sadly, the Republicans in the Senate decided to ignore it. As well as a minority of the Democrats.
A few thoughts...
This bill allows for a dragnet, broad access to telecom infrastructure in the US, in an effort to capture terrorists communicating. So, let me tell you how this'll go... One terrorist decides to have some fun. He makes calls to 200 people, at random, in the US, using IP phones. He uses a voice activated computer program and peppers the conversation with bits and pieces of code, code the government is looking for. The next thing you know, there are thousands of federal agents combing the US picking up these people and asking them questions. If you're one of them it's going to suck.
And it's going to waste resources we don't have, looking for a threat that's not there, and doing nothing to stop real threats. Sleep well, kids
The ACLU has already pledged to take this to court. Throw them some money and support, the same money and support you were going to throw to Obama. He'll win anyway but we can't afford not to stand up for our rights. Since it's clear he won't.
July 05, 2008
Take action on FISA
Well, as individual citizens who are not members of the US Senate, there's very little we can do to stop the freight train of telecom immunity and the ultimate effect of it, to protect Bush from ever having to answer for his illegal actions.
July 04, 2008
Jesse Helms dies
Really, feigning sadness over this would just be disingenuous. He didn't like gays, blacks, hispanics... well, he didn't like most Americans. And well, we didn't like him.
To his family, we're sorry for your loss.
However, we're thrilled to see this son of a bitch go on to his great reward, whatever that may be. Seriously, I'm doing cartwheels. I hated this fucker and I'm glad his malevolent life has finally come to an end.
June 29, 2008
There's Reality... and then there's what Cornyn thinks
It's been an exciting week for Jr. John... let's just jump right in, shall we?
So, just out of curiosity, you may be wondering what Cornyn has planned. Well, it's basically allowing his friends in the oil and gas industry (to whom he's been VERY generous with our tax dollars) to drill. Which is interesting as hell since they are already can and are. Of course, it's understandable that a US Senator and his idiot staff wouldn't know this and bloggers would.
Of course, acknowledging that would require Jr. John to admit that there is not, in fact, enough traditional petroleum to get us off foreign sources. Not to mention there's not enough to drop prices. Which makes Cornyn a LIAR.
None of this is especially surprising when you consider the disorganization and chaos within The 28 Gauge Senator's campaign...
What's going to be really funny is watching all the other R's get tagged on tort reform which was supposed to make health care cheaper, lower insurance costs and increase the number of doctors. It's failed on every count, except increasing the number of doctors, slightly, which was going to happen anyway. We keep churning them outta medical school.
June 25, 2008
Oh. God. No.
Right up there with the news that Kinky wants to run as a Democrat in 2010 at the top of a list of 'Things That Will Make Me Vomit', is the news that Congressman Chet Edwards is being seriously considered as a VP nom. For Obama, not McCain.
Seriously, Pelosi is out of touch. This is the same guy who turned tail on his own Oath of Office, sided with the Republicans and PASSED A BILL TO LET THE GOVERNMENT INDISCRIMINATELY SPY ON ITS OWN CITIZENS. But, of course, so did Pelosi.
Lookit, boys and girls, this IS a big issue. This isn't gays and lesbians getting married and any one of a thousand other issues we give these assholes passes on because 'they're in a tough district full of mouth breathers'. In other words, This is the foundation of our country. The basis of our laws. The Republicans disregarded it and we've seen the results. Do you have any idea how crushing it is to watch DEMOCRATS now taking their turn shitting on the document that created the nation our ancestors fought desperately to establish?
Today is the vote in the Senate. Feingold is nervous.
Holding up his BlackBerry, Feingold warned, “Every time you e-mail my daughter or text message her in England, anybody contacts their son or daughter in Iraq, anybody has kids [spending] junior year abroad, anybody that has a business associate anywhere around the world, all of that is now sucked up into a database over which there is essentially no control for the first time in American history. All of this has happened to you, and your communications, in a way that you never would have thought was possible in this country.... We're going to fall over on this.”
SPECTER: OK. So what the administration, executive branch of the president, did was not illegal.
COMEY: I'm not saying -- again, that's why I kept avoiding using that term. I had not reached a conclusion that it was.
The only conclusion I reached is that I could not, after a whole lot of hard work, find an adequate legal basis for the program.
Well, now I understand why you didn't say it was illegal. What I don't understand is why you now won't say it was legal.
COMEY: Well, I suppose there's an argument -- as I said, I'm not a presidential scholar -- that because the head of the executive branch determined that it was appropriate to do, that that meant for purposes of those in the executive branch it was legal.
I disagreed with that conclusion. Our legal analysis was that we couldn't find an adequate legal basis for aspects of this matter. And for that reason, I couldn't certify it to its legality.
And don't kid yourself, this isn't about terrorists. It never has been. And it certainly doesn't give me a lot of faith in our nominee, who is apparently as big a booster for this bill as his opponent. And President Bush.
June 21, 2008
If you stand for nothing, you'll fall
And now, we know there are some members of the Democratic Congress who will sell us out swiftly. Like Hoyer and Rahm Emmanuel. For those of you who remember my previous defense of Rahm, I'd like to point out this is the Constitution, not some stupid minor issue. There was NO ACCEPTABLE compromise on this.
First, the showdown now moves to the Senate where Feingold and Leahy are already saying they'll stop it. Will Reid let them or ignore him as he's done previously?
And lets not forget that more than half the Democrats in the House DID vote against this capitulation... Folks like Conyers and Barbara Lee. They deserve some of your love.
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) pointed to a constitutional concern.
"The grant of retro-active immunity is inconsistent with our basic principles. We are breaking with a very proud tradition and intervening in a pending court decision in an effort to reach a preordained legal outcome. This is a bad precedent," he said.
Republicans without exception spoke in favor of the bill, often citing the dangers of terrorism.
Greenwald and others are raising money to take on Hoyer and some of the other weak sisters who think selling out is standing up.
Obama issued his statement on FISA (take one and take two) and, to say the least, it's weak. Not much of a surprise to those of us who never really bought the new kind of politics bullshit, one hell of a shock to those of you who actually thought fucko was something different.
Gadfly has more on the Texans who caved in. Edwards and Lampson are standouts, but not surprises... you had to know their names would be there. Reyes is seriously too senile (and frankly stupid) to fully grasp what he's done. The rest of them, like Al Green, were just following orders. Like the Nazi's. As a side note, for those of you in 22, is Lampson really as much of a bitch as he appears? Seriously, the guy is pathetic... does he have ANY backbone?
Doggett, of course, voted against it. EVERY Republican voted for it which is to be expected since all of them look at being a Representative not as a sacred public trust but as an opportunity to line their pockets. Seriously, while Lampson may be a jellyfish, the Republicans here in Texas really believe that we should give up essential liberty for temporary safety and security. As Benjamin Franklin put it, they deserve neither.
Some Texans y'all turned out to be. Scared to death of the terrorists. Cowards. You're pathetic even for Republicans.
At this time, I'd like to urge you to do what just about everyone I know has already done. Stop all contributions to the DCCC, DSCC and DNC. Focus on candidates and organizations that do not support this abortion of our Constitutional rights. It's time for certain members of the Democratic leadership to understand that the tail does not wag the dog. While they're some good people at these organizations, the leadership is thoroughly corrupt. Until we find a way to marginalize folks like Steny Hoyer, Rahm and Pelosi, they'll just keep pulling the same shit on us. And we'll all end up losing people... voters are repulsed by gutlessness. And that's what these traitors displayed.
I'll be completely honest... I grew up Republican. I grew up thinking Democrats were weak, didn't have any real feelings or values. I learned yesterday I was partially right (I've known for a while Republicans were pandering idiots without an intellectual core). I moved over to the Democratic Party based on economic issues and social issues and I've been proud of that decision. But, I have to admit, we've seen little of substance out of this Democratic Congress. There's no balanced budget. There's no sound energy policy. There's no expansion of social justice. There's a definitive effort to destroy our civil liberties. There's no real oversight of the executive branch.
There are a number of Democrats that join with Republicans on such a consistent basis that they may as well take a trip up to Minneapolis this August instead of coming to Denver. It's those folks that deserve absolutely no support. Let them seek support from the people they really care about. It certainly isn't us.
Why, after all this time, are Democrats caving in to Republicans? Why aren't we forcing half of their caucus to fold? Because, while they may be wrong, they've got the strength of will that many of our folks in Congress find irresistible. Go on, Steny, give Blount a hummer... we know you're dying to.
Finally, there's this from Dan Froomkin at the WaPo
What kind of a country is it where, when the head of state asks you to do something that may well be illegal, but assures you that he considers it legal, you can't be held accountable for doing it?
Welcome to the new U.S. of A.
Under the surveillance "compromise" that the House of Representatives approved today, telecommunications companies that participated in the government's warrantless surveillance program would get immunity from civil lawsuits as long as they showed that they were told that the program was authorized by President Bush and was determined by his legal team to be lawful.
With Congress having largely abandoned its oversight obligations on this issue, and with little chance of Bush's Justice Department investigating itself, these lawsuits were really the only remaining avenue of accountability -- at least until the next administration.
But the new law would prohibit federal judges from addressing the merits of these suits. Instead, since the government did provide assurances about legality that the companies can easily document, judges would be required to dismiss them.
In a system of laws, a permission slip from the president isn't supposed to supercede duly enacted legislation -- and the Constitution.
So how did Bush get his way with Congress -- again? It was just four months ago that House Democrats defiantly rejected what they called Bush's fear mongering and refused to vote on a surveillance proposal that included telecom immunity. It appeared that Bush's iron hold over Congress on national security had finally been broken.
But, on some issues at least, Congress is apparently still willing to cave to The Man.
And this from Digby... and just let me say, I don't want to hear you bitch until you've made a donation to a one of those people who stood up for the Constitution of the United States of America.
June 20, 2008
I have but one question...
Here's how this going to go... You candidates all write constantly asking for support. For you, I have only one question: Will support our current corrupt leadership or will you support leadership changes that will return this country to the rule of law?
How about it, Larry Joe? What are YOU going to do Michael Skelly? Rick Noriega? If you're going to support the absurd leadership of Pelosi and Reid, then there is really no point in electing you.
WHERE DO YOU STAND?
Carbon and Energy...There's dumb and then there's DUMB
Here's a nice op/ed piece on global efforts to reduce carbon and switch to green technologies. The bottom line is it's going to cost us about $1trillion/year over 40 years. GLOBALLY. In the US, it'll be around $7 trillion which is really nothing over 40 years. Especially when you consider this will create jobs. And save us money on OIL. In fact, if oil keeps increasing the way it already has, spending this money will actually be cheaper than maintaining the status quo. And I'm not even worrying about the other negative effects of global warming.
It is not, admittedly, a trifling sum. The International Energy Agency reckons it will cost US$45 trillion to develop and deploy the technologies needed to halve carbon emissions from the energy sector (including transport) by the middle of the century.
That is about what would be required to stabilize the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million...
It ought to be enough to keep the rise in average global temperatures below 2.4C and is the target the leaders of the Group of Eight leading industrial powers agreed last year they would seriously consider.
While $45 trillion is a lot of money, it has to be put in perspective.
It would be spread over more than 40 years and across the whole world economy. It would equate to just over 1 per cent of global gross domestic product over that period, the IEA estimates.
And it would be offset by the cost of the fossil-fuel use avoided, which could be of a similar order, the IEA says. As it acknowledges, however, in a world where the oil price can jump $11 in a single day, any estimates of that are "debatable".
Obvs, Cornyn and the idiots who love him, don't get any of this. Of course, I wouldn't take any of them seriously, after all they think oil is completely fungible and that a barrel pumped out of VZ is the same as one pumped out of the North Sea. I guess no one ever explained assays and that some refineries can only take certain types of oil. It's certain no one ever explained to them that the cheap oil is gone.
Seriously, what is IT with you Republicans and thinking that we can drill our way out of high prices? Even 39% has jumped into the debate...
With Texas one of the few states that allows offshore pumping, Perry disagreed with Obama: "One of the fastest ways to bring down prices is good old supply and demand."
WOW. Just WOW. I couldn't agree more. However, where you've gone off the rails is in thinking that you can drill for the additional supply. All of you Republicans seem to think there's more than enough oil in the ground for infinity. There isn't. Sure, there's a lot of oil all over the place. The problem is, it's not economically recoverable. Which means it's SO MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE THAN ALTERNATIVES THAT THERE'S NO WAY ANYONE WILL EVER BOTHER WITH IT.
Two years ago, one of our long departed authors posted this...
America and the world face a real problem... the end of cheap, portable energy. Note I'm not writing about the end of oil because that's just stupid. We will NEVER pump the last bit of crude from the ground. For one, fossil fuels ARE a replenishing resource, they just happen to be created over thousands, sometimes millions of years. The second reason we'll never extract the last drop of oil is that it will simply be too expensive. By the time you get to that point, oil would be at $100,000/barrel in 2006 dollars. At that level, it's probably cheaper to power your car off some kind of nuclear power source.
Take off the ideological blinders for a second and realize that this is real and that failing to take action will result in TRILLIONS of dollars per year in losses just in our economy.
One last thing, there seems to be a central objection about 'freeloaders', namely India and China who'll not comply with the treaty. The objection goes that since they aren't going to do it, why should we.
The answer, for all you supposed conservatives, is that it will be cheaper. For one thing, biofuels are already cheaper than traditional petroleum based fuels. And they take carbon out of the air. Carbon put into the air by India and China. As we convert more and more to biofuels, we'll leave them behind... and get their carbon emissions for free.
June 19, 2008
Winning the stupid olympics
There is NOT some giant, trillion barrel reserve under the Rockies. Or ANWR. Or the Gulf. Oh sure, there's a ton of oil down there but it's expensive to bring up. Too expensive by far to help us out. So quit lying to people, Joe Barton. And lose some weight because you're getting hella fat. Assweavil.
Hey MSM... ask Kay Granger what the per barrel cost will be to produce oil out of ANWR and how much it could realistically produce in a year. Watch the steam come out of her ears. Yes, Reporters, things really are that goddamn simple. Ask any analyst. Better yet, since you won't believe my blogging ass, ask Matt Simmons.
WP has more including information on Burgess' little Energy Expo which just sounds precious. If you like pandering bullshit and lies. Someone go and tell us if he actually says prices will fall immediately.
June 17, 2008
More good polling out of CD10
Matt over at BOR has some details. When polling head to head with issues, LJD is beating McCaul. Which is some really good news.
Culberson steps in poop
This is a not-so-brill article about members of Congress and their staffers using BlackBerry's, basically saying that they are addicts (full disclosure : SO AM I AND MILLIONS LIKE ME) in constant contact with lobbyists, etc. Which is bullshit, but someone in the comments called that out.
And they make Rep. Culberson (R-Asshat) a hero. For using Twitter. When I read it I thought, "Surely it's not that asinine thing that Pink Lady got me wrapped up in that's currently showing me playing with my balls while sitting in a Starbucks. Which is what I'm most definitely NOT doing". But, alas, it was. Which means Rep. Culberson is wasting untold amounts of time detailing the minutiae of his daily actions.
The comments are truly enlightening for a thoroughgoing indictment of Culberson. And leaves us with only one question... Why is Culberson afraid of Michael Skelly? Well, that and WHY THE HELL DO POLITICOS GET ON BLOGS?!?!?!
June 13, 2008
Transportation Funding : You're doing it wrong!
First off, the good news. Congress is looking at a 5 year, $1.5 trn transportation funding package. That should just about be enough to make the improvements we've needed for a long time. How much of that will come to Texas? That will depend on whether or not there is a change in our Congressional delegation. Specifically, the number of Republicans in it. More and we get less money. Fewer and we have Democrats there who, unlike the Republicans, will actually fight to bring more money back home. And then TXDOT will stop poor mouthing.
However, that may not be enough as it appears that Rep. Johnson has caught a bad case of the stupid.
Toll roads and privatization are at least part of the answer, said Johnson, who's been working with a handful of members of Congress from Texas since last year to come up with a bipartisan list of recommendations.
"We cannot see how it can be done with just tax dollars," she said.
Don't do that, EBJ. Don't think for a minute that this is a good idea. It's ALWAYS the most expensive and least financially efficient way to go (see here, here, here and here). Either way, we're going to be paying a higher cost per mile. ALL roads are going to have tolls if the privatizers have their way. And that will dramatically increase the costs to all of us, from less than 1 cent per mile to more than 15 cents per mile.
I had this conversation with Rain Minns, the very sharp woman running against Sen. Carona. Her problem was that she thought increasing the gas tax would disproportionately hurt the poor. What Rain didn't realize is that, on average, the poor drive more fuel efficient cars (or don't drive at all). Well, that and the simple fact that TOLLS ARE GOING TO EVERYWHERE AND WILL BE MOSTLY UNAVOIDABLE. In other words, poor and rich will get hit with them.
We've had this ongoing conversation with Mike Dahmus here in Austin. He's ALWAYS wrong, but it doesn't stop him from carrying on about how tolls are great because they make rich suburbanites pay for their transportation directly. Aside from the obvious seflishness, the reality is that rich people don't live out in the burbs. Sure, there are some nice homes out there but there is a reason the vast majority of the people in the burbs are there... it's all they could afford.
You could also forget the fact that expansions to existing roads are going to be tolled. We told you they would a long time ago. Now, they're actually building it. This would be a lot easier if y'all would just LISTEN to me... when I tell you this will effect everyone, I'm not making it up. Since that's the case, wouldn't be better off with a solution that increases costs less than 2 cents per mile than one that costs, on average about 44 cents per mile? And where does that extra money go? To a private company. Not to improve your roads.
Yes, TXDOT lied.
As for how to pay for this, it's simple. We've been running deficits annually of $300 bn or more. While our financing costs have recently increased (you may have noticed that interest rates are up) and we've been able to sell the paper despite the fact that this is all related to structural issues and a lack of desire on the part of Republicans to actually pay their own way. The first solution is to stop that by increasing taxes. You don't even have to do it to 2000 levels, just take up cap gains and the taxes on the top tax rate from 35-40%. You're still on the good side of the Laffer Curve and the government will finally have enough money to operate. Cut Iraq funding dramatically and all the sudden you're in surplus.
Then, you sell off transportation infrastructure bonds (call them Series Methuselah... sorry, inside finance nerd joke) with maturities of 50 years. If we're running surpluses, they'll sell out quickly. Then you use THAT money to finance infrastructure improvements and construction, including roads and mass transit. That does create a long term liability for the Federal Government, on which interest must be paid (usually every sixth months to the holders). Depending on how large the surpluses are, and they will grow, we can cover that cost easily just with the surpluses.
However, we won't need to. Why? Oh, read this. When the state governments pay for infrastructure, that money goes to materials and labor. Sales of materials generate a profit which means it will be taxed. Labor will be paid a wage, which like all wages, will be taxed. Therefore a large percentage of that money is going to find it's way back to the Federal Government, possibley enough to offset our liability on the bonds effectively making this is a self financing project. Of course, we'll have to pay to maintain all this (and the underlying debt) and that's where a gas tax, indexed to inflation, helps put us on the right track now and into the future. So we don't keep having to deal with this every 30 years.
The best part? We get the roads and transit facilities we need. Which decreases waste in our economy (gas and personal time) and increases productivity which acts as a drag on inflation. It'll also drive up employment, making the jobs market tighter and driving wages up for the average worker at the bottom of the totem pole.
If you couple this with an investment in true alternative energy, we get rid of the almost $1 trn we are sending out of the country every year for oil and natgas. That money stays in OUR economy which will, again, boost productivity, create employment, etc. And it's also pretty cheap... $100 bn annually vs almost a TRILLION. Get it? Here's one way to do it. Not the best, but it'll work.
Here's the bad thing... in my district, I've got (at the Federal level) Michael McCaul who is basically a pawn of big oil and the road privatization interests. He has never met a publicly financed transportation bill he likes. But he has met a lot of privatization and toll bills that send him into the kind of orgasmic bliss usually enjoyed by porn stars. And old men on Viagra.
Needless to say, job number one is getting rid of his stupid ass and putting Larry Joe Doherty in Congress. To do that, you need to give him some money. NOW.
The other obstacle is, much like McCaul, really in love with privatization at the expense of the taxpayer. It's Jr. John Cornyn, our favorite Senator who loves him some hunting with a ladies shotgun. However, we can easily replace him with Lt. Col. Noriega. All he needs is some of your hard earned money to beat that fossil and replace him in Washington.
This, my friends, is coming one way or another. Many of you reading this are fairly affluent so you will probably be able to afford the new roads. Some of you will not. At the end of the day, regardless of your financial situation, these roads are a good deal for NO ONE other than the companies who stand to gain from squeezing us for the next 50 years. That, truly, is why I am so adamantly opposed to privatization and tolls. It's not conservative and it's certainly not progressive. It's wasteful and is a diversion of public resources to private greed.
You have a chance to stop it, but you have to act.
June 05, 2008
Shhhh... don't anyone tell Sen. Cornyn how much Rob Jesmer sucks
Rob Jesmer works for Sen. Cornyn. He's not the sharpest tool in the shed, but then again neither is Sen. Cornyn (the man with a hardon for ladies' firearms) which may explain why Cornyn hired him to send out inane emails like this one. Even the old, standard "let's beat up on the Democrat by calling him a librul" is just so goddamn tired I want to fall down right now and sleep.
Really, Rob? This is the best you fucko's can come up with?
You know, it's pointless talking about how many jobs will be created by this bill. Or how well Texas will do because of it. It's not even worth discussing the benefits to us all of arresting, then reversing, the carbon load in the atmosphere. Why bother even considering that this will help free us from dependence on foreign energy sources, saving us close to $1 TRILLION PER YEAR (and, coincidentally, defunding terrorism).
Let's forget about all that because it's really a point by point refutation. Let's just look at one simple fact...
CORNYN IS A LIAR
This is, after all, one of the people who told us the Iraq Invasion would pay for itself. The same guy who has claimed that tax cuts pay for themselves. It's also the same idiot who has let the utility companies bleed Texans dry.
Needless to say, as a real Texan would put it, your credibility (and that of your boss) is shot all to shit. I'd sooner believe Ralph Nader than John Cornyn, any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
While you're good and irritated, go throw Rick a few bucks.
May 25, 2008
Energy and Reality (Or, What to do about high gas prices)
With gas prices approaching or exceeding $4.00 all over the country, it's pretty obvious we're all in for some rough times. I know I've had to make sacrifices (moving from Grand Marnier to Cointreau) and I'm sure you've had to make adjustments as well. Like getting the kids to like cat food instead of Cheerios.
Politically, it's the Democrats year as long as gas stays above $3.00/gal. Actually, I think the pain threshold is probably around $2.50/gal. That being said, this isn't a post about high gas prices and hurray for Democrats in November. This is about what the hell we're going to do.
This is going to be a little different from my usual posts. This is policy and not terribly exciting. I'm going to break things down into two areas of focus... what to do in the short term and long term fixes. Obvs, this issue touches on a hundred issues and disciplines, so please bear with me. While it may not be readily apparent where I'm heading, I promise it'll all come together.
The Short Term Solution
People are hurting now and something has to be done. Sure, it's great to focus on CAFE standards and expanding public transportation. Both of those things have to be done, but before they'll start affecting things, gas will be $9.00/gal. Both of these take years to cycle through the economy.
What? You doubt me? Think about hybrids and diesels. Both are available now and have been for about 4-5 years. Still, they haven't made a dent in demand. Because people are pretty strapped right now and spending money on a car is, for many, impossible. That being said, what do we do?
Remember that thing about disparate ideas coming together? Here it is. Basically, in the energy markets right now there is a tremendous amount of money sloshing around due to lax policy from the Fed. That's creating inflationary pressures in various classes of investments which is especially evident in commodities. Low capital gains taxes are making it extremely easy for people to trade the market and constantly make profits. Who wouldn't like to be able to invest $1 mn and come away in 6 months or less with $10 mn? Oh, and pay practically nothing in tax?
Low capital gains and lax monetary policy are driving speculation in the energy markets. The only way to stop it is to tax the hell out of it and starve out the short term traders. That will deflate the bubble and take us down to around $95/bbl.
The second part, balancing the federal budget, will help to stabilize the dollar and lead to it's reappreciation. That should strip about $20-35 out of the price of oil, taking us down to a far more manageable $60-75/bbl. YES, it will mean raising taxes. Get used to it. We've been paying in the minimum for years and as a result our infrastructure is crumbling, our schools are deteriorating and our currency is in functional freefall. It's about time liberals AND conservatives come together and realize we need to make some investments in the future.
The next part is a little more tricky...
The Long Term Solution
We've now got oil down to more affordable levels and we didn't even have to go begging the Saudi's. So why isn't it back down in the $20's? Simple. There's still instability in many areas of the world where we get oil and demand is still high. That's the dirty little secret... we've apparently reached global peak and new discoveries aren't offsetting declines in major fields. In other words, while we're not running out of oil, we're running out of cheap, plentiful easily marketed oil. Which means we have to do something now before we go through something analogous to the worst of the 70's dystopia movies.
We could start drilling in ANWR. It contains about as much oil as we use in 18 months and the costs to produce it full out could top $75/bbl. Not exactly a bargain and it's not a long term solution, despite what the R's may have told you. And everyone else.
What about shale oil in the Rockies? Sure. There's a ton of oil trapped in shales, but the cost to produce will easily top $90/bbl. Why do you think none of the major integrated oils are clamoring over the prospect? Oh, yeah, and it also tears up the mountains. And pollutes the hell out of the environment BEFORE you've even had a chance to refine the first gallon of gas.
Oh, but the Athabasca oil sands (not to mention those in Venezuela's Orinoco Belt) are our savior, right? Sure, the oil there's being produced for around $30-40/bbl. Which is fantastic until you realize the environmental damage that's done to get at that oil. That, and it's not exactly the yummy West Texas Intermediate Equivalent that we've all come to know and love. Nah, this a dead end with escalating costs and nasty environmental effects.
All of the 'solutions' mentioned above do nothing but exacerbate the increase in atmospheric carbon. Even in the case of Athabasca, where they are using nuclear power, just pulling the oil up releases carbon. Before you even refine a gallon of gas, you're already increasing the carbon load.
The only solid long term solution is biofuels. Forget soya diesel and corn ethanol, two biofuels that are about as useless as tits on a boar. The future is cellulosic ethanol made from miscanthus and biodiesel made from cassava. The best solution is algae and cyanobacteria. However, there's a lot of land that should be converted from corn and cotton production (hello West Texas) to biofuels. And you can do it in a way that will lessen water requirements and make farming more dependable and profitable. Still, the biofuel panacea is going to be either cyanobacteria or algae held in suspension and contained in mile after mile of snaking tubes.
The best part? While it's making the transportation fuel, it's also scrubbing the atmosphere of CO2. You could even sequester CO2 from utility plants to juice growth. All around, it's THE solution, at least until we have practical fusion, solar panels with 70% efficiency that are commercially produced and ultra high density capacitors and batteries. While this doesn't do a lot to get rid of the carbon already floating around, it does put a stop to emissions growth. At that point, the environment will take care of the rest.
Now that we have the blue sky solution, how the hell do we implement it. Therein lies the rub... it's not easy and it'll take the kind of political acumen that few in Washington have. On our side. The Republicans are absolutely hopeless, bleating on as they are about offshore drilling, ANWR and shale.
For one thing, increasing the capital gains rate is going to make the investment banks and hedge funds very angry. Short term gains are their bread and butter, they're rich and they love donating money. And spending some of it on lobbyists. Still, our long term prosperity depends on shifting from a focus on short term to long term gains. In all honesty, if we allow them to buy into what's going to be the next big growth industry, they'll fall into line. And that's the key... the horse trading on this is going to be an absolute nightmare and the reality is that it's going to require getting everyone to buy in. Most of the integrated oils will, but Exxon will be unhappy with any solution.
That's where the power of government comes into play. Until now, it's been used to hold back advances in public policy that will benefit the country. This time, we can use to play hardball with those companies that are uncooperative. Don't like our solution? Forget about patent protection, for example.
The market is eventually going to go with this solution. However, it'll take them 20-30 years. That's why we need the government to step in and force the market's hand. This is going to require some monstrously intelligent people. The good news is, we have them. The bad news is that most of them are narrowly focused on one solution, not to mention that the vast majority of them have extraordinarily shallow knowledge bases. They're going to have to stop listening exclusively to the echo chamber composed of their fellow classmates from grad school.
Finally, what's all this going to cost? My estimates are upwards of $2 trillion after you hand out all the lulu's and get everyone happy with the outcome. You can do it now, but that kind of borrowing in addition to current fiscal insanity would promptly drive interest rates up to 12% or more. That would put consumer rates in the 17-20% range which would effectively kill commerce in the US. And employment. That's where that whole fiscal responsibility thing comes from and the certain knowledge that this will have to gradual so as not to cause a sudden shock to an already shaky financial system.
Of course, there's something else that makes the cost palatable. Biofuels keep our existing infrastructure mostly in place which reduces the cost to build out the production facilities. It also creates jobs which we desperately need, it lowers the cost of transportation fuel AND strengthens the dollar just from the simple fact that we'll not have to send as many of them out of the country to buy energy.
There will be moaning and whining about this from all sides. We'll have to ignore it, especially when it comes from the National Review, The Washington Times and R candidates. Eventually though, it'll become evident that this is a good solution that will readily benefit everyone.
May 22, 2008
Dear Kevin McLaughlin
Hey Kev (or, is it is Kevster, Kevina or Kevaroonie?)!
We've never really talked and frankly, this is hella awkward. Obvs, no one is giving you the advice you need to be a good Republican spokespuppy in this day and age. You really need to sit down and have some drinks with Scotty McClellan... if he's not still curled up in the fetal position rocking back and forth.
If I may be so bold, you might find more gainful employment in another area. You kinda suck at the whole 'defending your boss' thing. Now, of course, we're willing to acknowledge that your boss is a waste of skin. And hair. And teeth. And air. But honestly, you don't have to make it EASY for us to tear him down by calling Sen. Webb and Lt. Col. Noriega members of the 'Anti-War Crowd'. These two guys served in war. Your boss didn't. You've just allowed everyone and their dog to make that contrast over and over again in the context of rebutting your retarded remarks. The opponent of your boss actually SERVED in Afghanistan. Meanwhile your boss was out hunting with a ladies shotgun.
Then, of course, there is Cornyn's lack of support for the 21st Century GI Bill which would help our troops returning from war. Your boss is saying he doesn't like it because it spends too much money. Which is funny because he wasn't worried about that when we voted to cut the hell out of capital gains taxes which benefited the wealthy and turned the focus of our equity and commodity markets from investment to speculation. Guess which will cost taxpayers more?
On second thought, you REALLY shouldn't go there because I'll shred the amateurish talking points you've diligently memorized from Heritage and the AEI.
Here's the thing... Cornyn is going to lose and you'll be out of a job. If you go down with the ship (or, in this case, the walking dead) you could be out of work for a while. And welfare isn't what it used to be so you'll be pretty much broke (ask former AG Gonzales). Best idea is to get out while you can. Before you flub up even worse.
May 21, 2008
We're done with you
Is 2008 a transformative year? It's hard to say but I'm thinking that in 20 years we'll look back and see that this was the year where things started to change. No, it's not about Obama or Clinton or the lackluster Democratic Congress constantly stymied by incompetent and petty Republicans and a childish President completely out of touch with the country he leads.
It's about people waking up and realizing that the 'conservative' agenda of the radical right over the last 28 years was a massive, unadulterated failure, as much if not more than the Great Society which did much but ultimately failed to achieve the goals set for it.
Reality is a bitch as many are learning on a daily basis when they go to fill up the gas tank or when they try desperately to figure out how they will be able to feed their family. In the harsh light of that reality, two men getting married thousands of miles away is pretty irrelevant. Worry about abortions, the number of which was always grossly exaggerated, is a distant second to how to buy the $7 box of Cheerios. The realization that constant tax cuts lead to deficits and higher interest rates, not to mention a massive failure to invest in our future through new infrastructure, has certainly hit many like a bag of hammers. Every month when the credit card bills come.
Burka on Sunday posted a memo from some R Congressman who understands just a small fraction of what's happening. Even Rove is apparently getting it. Their solution? Pound on the Democrats about gas prices by pointing out that they don't support drilling in ANWR (with a projected production cost of $50-60/bbl and not enough of it to affect prices) and destruction of the Rocky Mountains to get at oil shale (at a cost of more than $90/bbl and, even when combined with ANWR, not enough to affect prices).
See how I did that? I'm one blogger, I don't work in the energy sector and even I know how ridiculous the Republicans (especially Cornyn and Hutchison) are on energy policy and what needs to happen to fix the constantly accelerating consumer costs. This isn't hard to understand unless you're incapable of looking at things through anything other than a partisan, ideologically tinted, glass.
On the economy and tax cuts, the Republicans are decimated by Democrats. On National Security, they poll better but still heavily damaged. Just wait until Americans learn just how much of Afghanistan we really control. The R Congressman Burka posted about wants to talk about FISA, especially if there's another terrorist attack (a prospect he views with glee as he's of the opinion it will help Republican chances in November). For the FISA debate, feel free to bring it up. It's not like we aren't ready. By the time that debate is over, the American people will be looking for convictions of those in the Administration who aided and abetted the illegal wiretapping.
There is a baseline from which things will stabilize for the Republicans. We've yet to reach it. You'll see the crescendo this year when angry people confront Republican candidates loudly and unyieldingly. Once one voice is heard, others will chime in and soon it will become a chorus. Many of you are incredibly weak people who have never faced a really angry crowd. You're going to get to this year and, frankly, you deserve every bit of the verbal and written abuse coming to you.
May 16, 2008
Barney Frank doesn't suck
Barney Frank has been earning some high praise from some of the asshats in the White House who call him (no joke) 'SCARY SMART'.
Uhm. Fellas. It's not that he's all THAT smart, it's that you're really ALL THAT DUMB.
A veteran of parliamentary battles, Mr. Frank is a master of procedural weaponry. When a tactic by Republicans backfired and stripped out provisions that they had wanted, Mr. Frank initially refused to let them fix it.
“If you want to look at this as one big circus, today is the day that the gentleman from Alabama gets to clean up after the elephants,” he said, referring to Representative Spencer Bachus, the ranking Republican on his committee. “And I mean elephants.”
During debate on the bill, a measure to provide debt relief to impoverished countries, he won praise from Republicans.
“Barney has been very fair,” said Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California and one of the most conservative members of the House. “I think that I have been treated more fairly, and a number of my Republican colleagues have been treated more fairly, since the Democrats have become the majority than I was treated by my own leadership.”
Mr. Frank politely interjected, “I know the gentleman joins me in looking forward to continued years of such treatment.”
Then there's this...
Other times, though, Mr. Frank’s impatience and sharp tongue take over.
When Representative Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, criticized a component of the housing bill that would give money to local governments to buy and repair foreclosed properties, saying it would not protect homeowners from foreclosure, Mr. Frank fired back that preventing foreclosures was the goal of a different bill.
“The notion that this bill doesn’t keep people out of foreclosure is true,” he said. “It doesn’t combat global warming. It doesn’t get troops out of Iraq. It won’t help me lose weight. There are a lot of things this bill won’t do that I very much want to do. None of them are a reason to vote against a bill that doesn’t do what it doesn’t say it’s going to do but does what it does. What it does is go to the aid of cities that have been victimized.”
While I'm still pissed about some of his dumbass attempts to drop mortgage brokers in the grease, I am impressed that he's at least trying to make something happen. It's a far cry from the underwhelming attempts by the White House to alleviate the problems we face as a nation.
Bless Junior John's Heart!
Poor, stupid, pathetic idiot...
Recent polls have claimed Senator Cornyn is in a much tighter race than many of you may have thought possible.
We don’t put much validity in either poll, but Democrats certainly are. Liberal bloggers and Democrat partisans alike have pounced on the results, claiming they spell doom for Senator Cornyn this fall.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, lead by liberal New York Senator Chuck Schumer, proclaimed in an email that the polls show “John Cornyn in serious trouble…”
Ultra-liberal blogger Daily Kos, who commissioned and paid for the second poll, called the results “nothing short of remarkable,” and claimed they “hint that this may be a top-tier race before long…”
No one can deny that our opponent and his allies are in desperate need of anything to help them raise resources and give national Democrats reason to invest untold millions into the race, and we must stop them.
Please contribute $10, $25 or $50 to help debunk the myths our opponent and his liberal allies are trying to tell about Senator Cornyn.
The facts are clear, the extreme left is energized and unscrupulous, and our opponent is shamelessly aligned with them and will say and do anything it takes to gain much needed relevance and resources.
Your contribution of $10, $25 or $50 will go a long way towards setting the record straight. It will also send a loud and clear message to national Democrats that Texans won’t fall for their dirty tricks, deceit and deviousness.
Please give what you can to make sure we re-elect John Cornyn and ensure our true Texas values are represented in Washington!
This is funny as hell since Junior John already has a significant funding advantage over Noriega. Even with that money, we have two solid polls that make it clear this election is about getting rid of old caca. And of course Junior John is scared. Just watch this video which makes it pretty clear they ARE taking the polls seriously.
Thursday's California court ruling striking down that state's ban on gay marriage will spark a fresh push to add a nationwide ban to the U.S. Constitution, Texas Sen. John Cornyn said shortly after the ruling was announced.
"It's certainly surprising. Many of us thought that the efforts to overturn the tradition marriage laws would be confined just to Massachusetts," said Mr. Cornyn, a chief backer of a push to enact a constitutional ban, which failed in 2004.
The California Supreme Court issued a 4-3 ruling Thursday that overturned a voter-approved ban on gay marriage, finding that domestic partnerships laws are an inadequate substitute for allowing same-sex couples to enter into formal marriages.(DMN via Texas Blue)
Here's the thing... I don't think, if the election were held today, that an anti-gay marriage amendment would pass in Texas again. Oh sure, folks in East and West Texas are just as homophobic as they always were (don't get mad at them, they don't know gay people and it's all strange and foreign to them). The difference is, THEY'RE ALL SICK OF PANDERING AND NONSENSE ISSUES. With gas near $4.00 a gallon, people know there are more important things to worry about. They also know that they can't afford six more years of fancy John Cornyn taking care of himself while he lets important business slide by.
Hava Goodun! Junior John sure as hell won't!
March 20, 2008
Noriega : A Progressive Patriot
Sen. Feingold (who has an 'order' (more like a suggestion, really) saying that Sister Ruth must stay more than 100 feet away from him at all times) needs to know that Rick Noriega IS a Progressive Patriot. Go tell him here.
March 17, 2008
THEY said it would pay for itself...
...and Tom Tomorrow has his take on the Iraq War.
March 14, 2008
Thank you, House D's! Telecom Immunity goes down in the House like a dirty ho
The House version of the FISA bill passed without telecom immunity! THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO VOTED FOR IT!
March 13, 2008
Things aren't all that rosy in Iraq... nor are they completely dire
The NYT released their Iraq scorecard which can best be summarized with the following...
It is far too soon to predict that Iraq is headed for stability or sectarian reconciliation. But it is also clear that those who assert that its politics are totally broken have not kept up with the news.
This is all with a lot of stuff in the backdrop, namely the election season. Which is kind of interesting since the Republicans are solidly failing to land hits or adequately defend their position to keep troops in Iraq for the next 100 years. Here's the problem, which the Times glosses over... are our troops worsening or helping the political situation in Iraq? The Iraqi's seem to be pretty clear that it's the former.
Now the Senate wants to know what happened to all the money the Iraqi's have made on oil sales.
Despite the dire need for better health care, more electricity and clean water, a functioning sewage system and other services, the accountability office has previously estimated that Iraq spent only 22 percent of the oil money set aside for reconstruction in 2006. And in January, the office, which is charged with overseeing the Iraqi government’s finances, reported that Iraq had spent a meager 4.4 percent of its 2007 reconstruction budget by August of that year, the most recent figures available at the time.
As a result, the letter from the Armed Services Committee says, “we believe that it has been overwhelmingly U.S. taxpayer money that has funded Iraq reconstruction over the last five years, despite Iraq earning billions of dollars in oil revenue over that time period that have ended up in non-Iraqi banks.”
The Pentagon is releasing a detailed and thorough analysis of Iraq's connections to terrorism prior to the invasion. The conclusion? It's the same one you've heard before... there were no ties to terrorism. Period. Bush, Condi, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz made it all up. Which makes them liars.
Unfortunately, none of them can be prosecuted. Well, at least not the ones that didn't testify before Congress.
At the end, it's time to acknowledge we've done all we can do. We're more a crutch than a real help at this point and it's time for our men and women to come home from Bush's attempt to create a friedmanite paradise. We owe it to them.
FISA Update - Conyers is kicking ass
In stark contrast to what happened in the Senate Intelligence Committee when the FISA modernization act was brought up, the House Judiciary Committee, in a VERY nasty way, shut the door on immunity for the telecos.
As a result of our review of classified as well as unclassified materials concerning the Administration’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, we have concluded that blanket retroactive immunity for phone companies is not justified.
And this is why we would gladly go down on Rep. Conyers. Well, we would if he wanted it.
March 12, 2008
FISA - We were right
Well, it appears more is happening in the House on the FISA front and it's not going the White House's way. I know, I'm really sad about that, too. It's always disheartening to me when I hear about something bad happening to someone I really don't like.
As it turns out, the victory of Bill Foster in Illinois was due, in part, to his stand for the rights of Americans against the telecom companies. Foster was against granting telecom companies immunity for their illegal actions in complying with President Bush's illegal wiretap order. So much for the scare tactics of the Republicans and beating the national security drum. If you people couldn't win on this in Hastert's district, you aren't going to win with it. Anywhere. In fact, people may actually boo your candidates. That, you definitely don't want. We did warn you about all this, Republicans. You really should have known better.
One side note, as DKOS points out, is that Mark Klein (the AT&T employee who blew the whistle on NSA eavesdropping) has not been called to testify. If anyone would know about this dragnet intelligence gathering technique, and the laws the telcos broke, it's him.
Meanwhile, back to the debate at hand... Leahy and Conyers are joining forces to take down Sen. Lawn Chair (he's always folding up) and the Administration. Help them push back on Bush by clicking here. The sad part is that it's not just the Republicans pushing to protect the telecoms and the President from well deserved prosecution, it's also a group of 21 blue dogs. Jane Hamsher is thinking it's time to take them down. In case you were wondering, none of them are from Texas. Which makes me hella proud.
Long story short, you need to get involved. This is real, this is totalitarian and we have to stop it. We've got some people in Washington who are refusing to compromise and we have to get their backs.
March 08, 2008
Bush thought it was wakeboarding
1) Congress voted, in a bipartisan bill, to ban our assets from utilizing the torture method known as waterboarding as part of an interrogation.
2) Waterboarding, even according to the military, provides often useless information from people so desperate to avoid future 'simulated drownings' that they'll say anything.
3) Bush decided to break a tenuous peace with Democrats and moderate Republicans in Congress by vetoing this bill.
Go for the override, Madam Speaker.
February 29, 2008
UPDATE - CD10 : Endorsement Fun
Dan Grant has been rolling on with the endorsements. He picked up the Tejano Democrats in Harris County and he picked up the Austin American Statesman. This is, of course, in addition to the plethora he's already received. He also picked up, earlier this week, the Houston Chronicle endorsement.
U.S. Congress, District 10, Democrat Dan Grant - A graduate of the London School of Economics and Georgetown University, Grant has deep foreign policy experience earned as a U.S. Agency for International Development official in Afghanistan and Iraq. He favors an immediate pullout of the bulk of American troops from Iraq. Closer to home, Grant says his domestic priorities will be supporting policies geared to economic recovery and health care reform.
Finally, I just heard that Dan had received the endorsement of long time Travis County DA, Ronnie Earle.
Hillary says "not so much" to corporate welfare
Senator Clinton (who ROCKS, by the way) is cosponsoring legislation in the Senate to ban the use of private military contractors in Iraq. Some call it the privatization/mercenarization of our armed forces. We call it corporate welfare since prior to Uncle Sam's large checks, Blackwater was a little organization providing corporate security and training to police officers. Full text in the supersize.
In other Hillary news, the campaign announced it raised $35 million. In February. Mostly from small donors. So much for the accusation that Hillary's only raising money from rich lobbyists.
Washington, DC – Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton announced today that she has cosponsored legislation to ban the use of Blackwater and other private mercenary firms in Iraq. "From this war's very beginning, this administration has permitted thousands of heavily-armed military contractors to march through Iraq without any law or court to rein them in or hold them accountable. These private security contractors have been reckless and have compromised our mission in Iraq. The time to show these contractors the door is long past due. We need to stop filling the coffers of contractors in Iraq, and make sure that armed personnel in Iraq are fully accountable to the U.S. government and follow the chain of command," said Senator Clinton. The legislation requires that all personnel at any U.S. diplomatic or consular mission in Iraq be provided security services only by Federal Government Personnel. It also includes a whistleblower clause to protect contract personnel who uncover contract violations, criminal actions, or human rights abuses.
Cornyn fights back (with a 28 gauge)
Sorry, just couldn't resist another dig at an adult who claims to be a MAN and a TEXAN who hunts with a goddamn 28 gauge shotgun. What's the problem, princess? You afraid your shoulder will get sore? Of course, he's worried about more than that. He has to fight someone for re-election. Someone who's already making him his bitch. Which is why his dippy little campaign manager sent out an email talking about Rick going 'over the line'. See, Rick criticized his lame attempt to swiftboat him. He also thought Cornyn was pretty weak for voting against armor for our troops. Cornyn's not happy with that... he doesn't refute the fact that he voted against the armor, he just thinks Rick's mean for bringing it up. He'll of course claim this is patently untrue. Media Matters looked into it and concluded it was true. So did Vote Vets. None of that matters to Cornyn's campaign manager who thinks it's all really mean.
Hon, this is Texas. EVERYTHING is over the line. Maybe you'd be more comfortable running a race in North Dakota.
Lookit, R's. With every email you piss us and EVERY TEXAN off. You wanna play this as politics as usual, go ahead. However you're just going to come away beaten down like a baby seal. We're meaner than you and we know damn well this country and this state can't afford more of your mistakes. Our troops can't afford another WMD goose chase. Our people can't afford higher interest rates because you refuse to tax your buddies. Our economy can't handle your singular focus on high oil prices to help your friends in the energy industry.
We're going to elect Rick. Period. We're going to bloody you while we do it. We're going to be ugly, nasty and downright mean. And the brill part is that all we have to do is tell the truth. We'll call out every lie and we'll make sure the rest of this state knows just what kind of a coward you are for voting to protect telcos and the President over the rights of your constituents.
We'll never let them forget about their fancy Senator who hunts with a 28 gauge shotgun.
February 27, 2008
Bush and his lies about FISA
Don't cave in, D's (and a few) R's in the House. We're watching you and while this issue may not be foremost on people's minds, imagine how front and center it can become. In an election year. You don't want that so why not do the right thing AND CYA! Drop Bush in the grease on this and stand with Pelosi!
El Presidente is all about telecom immunity because he knows it's the only thing that will save him from an eventual stretch in the federal pen. See, Bush ordered all this. He brow beat the companies into submission. Now he can't deliver the immunity they so desperately need. And he's sounding more and more desperate by the day...
``The House's refusal to act is undermining our ability to get cooperation from private companies, and that undermines our effort to protect us from terrorist attacks,'' Bush said in his weekly radio address, the second week in a row he has discussed the issue.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives has balked at passing a Bush-backed bill that would give telecommunications companies such as AT&T Inc. protection from privacy lawsuits for helping the administration conduct wiretapping without warrants.
The bill, approved by the Senate, would extend the spying authority for six years. The prior law expired Feb. 16 after Bush said he wouldn't sign a brief extension while the House debated the issue.
Democrats argued the law's expiration wouldn't hobble surveillance of foreign-based terrorists or other enemies, since orders issued to telephone companies under the law remain in effect for a year.
Bush, in his radio address, said lawmakers who oppose the legislation are favoring trial lawyers over national security. ``Terrorists are planning the next attack on America,'' Bush said. ``To protect America from such attacks, we must protect our telecommunications companies from abusive lawsuits.''
Terrorism is all about instilling fear in a target. Bush is working hard to instill fear in the American people to, yet again, expand the powers of the Presidency. Doesn't that, by definition, make Bush a terrorist? Ponder that for a second...
As for the first quote, these companies, like all entities in the US, can be compelled to cooperate with a court order, usually in the form of a warrant. That's what the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution is all about. These companies did what Bush wanted, they did something illegal based on his assurances, which he never should have given. Now, they're in trouble. However, so is he. It's pretty obvious that this ISN'T about these companies... it's about Bush keeping himself out a scenic vacation to a lovely spot in Kansas.
Sign the petition now. Ask The House to uphold the rule of law in the United States and let's restore accountability to the executive branch.
February 26, 2008
Heather Wilson (R-New Mexico) and magical wiretap (that's not illegal)
Last night, Rep. Heather Wilson was on CSPAN bleating on about how we're "less safe and less secure" because the D's in the House won't pass retroactive immunity. What she's leaving unsaid? That it was illegal. What Bush did and what the companies aided and abetted, was ILLEGAL.
So, who is Heather Wilson? A former topless dancer, Heather has fear-mongered her way into the US House despite her horrendous haircut and criminal sense of style. Mostly by making the people of Albuquerque so scared they've actually become incontinent.
Later, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Georgia) came on to lie about the telecom companies by saying that they were REQUIRED by the Patriot Act to comply with the wiretaps. Which is why they now need retroactive immunity for doing something illegal. Phil, seriously, does your brain actually control your speech or are you simply a robot controlled by the White House?
Finally, toward the end of the Republican's pantomime, was Michael McCaul, my Congressman, who's scared of them terrawrists. He called this all a 'dangerous game of politics'. He's right... the future of our country is at stake. Will we cave in to fear and allow Republicans like Michael McCaul to take our rights and make us slaves or will we turn them out and drive them from office?
The bottom line, Republicans, is that the American people will NEVER forgive immunity. NEVER. The only thing you can do is pass a liability cap. However, we're going to find out just how far up it went.
(Oh, and Mike... I feel shame when it says 10th Congressional District of Texas under your name. That was Jake Pickle's seat. Before that, it was Lyndon Johnson's. Those were real Texans, brave men who did what was best for their nation. You are a scared little politician. And Dan Grant is going to beat you like a drum.)
February 25, 2008
More good news for Skelly
We wrote up Michael Skelly a while back. Tuesday came some more good news for him in terms of polling vs. Culberson and fundraising. Needless to say, it looks like a Democrat has a great chance to take over CD 7.
And the people of Houston could really use the help.
DHS and the plan to gut civil service
Apparently, DHS has given up on that brill idea to gut civil service laws and hire non-union folks.
The Department of Homeland Security, in a court filing Friday, said it will not pursue rules to curb union rights and will abide by regular civil service labor-management procedures.
Shortly afterward, a federal court issued an order closing the case, and the union that fought the rules declared victory.
Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, yesterday called the result "a welcome end to a battle well worth fighting."
The battle began in the summer of 2002, when the Bush administration signaled that it wanted to create a separate personnel system for Homeland Security, changing how employees would be paid, promoted and disciplined.
Bush officials contended that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks required changes that would give more discretion to managers and permit quicker deployment of workers without notifying their union representatives.
The plan outraged federal union leaders and a number of Democrats in Congress. When the department and the Office of Personnel Management issued rules for a new personnel system in February 2005, the NTEU and other employee groups sued. The union also began lobbying campaigns to stop the rules on Capitol Hill.
The proposed rules would have allowed the Department of Homeland Security to override any provision in a union contract by issuing a department-wide directive. The rules also would have made it difficult, if not impossible, for unions to negotiate over arrangements for staffing, deployments, technology and other workplace matters.
In August 2005, U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer blocked the department's plan, saying it did not ensure collective-bargaining rights for Homeland Security employees. A year later, a federal appeals court ruled against the department.
Just curious, but how much taxpayer money was wasted on advancing a stupid idea dreamed up by retarded Republicans on a purely ideological crusade?
February 19, 2008
CD10 : NAIS on the brain
Well, for one thing, the information WAS up on Doherty's website. For another, KUT did pull it down after being asked by the Doherty campaign. The campaign itself has not, to my knowledge, distanced itself from the comment.
February 18, 2008
FISA... where lies and exaggeration come to live
Unlike the rubber stamps in the Senate, the House Democrats handed a HUGE victory to citizens in this country when they decided to put off consideration of the Senate FISA bill until they were damn well ready. Which means the temporary law passed in August will expire this weekend.
Bush is already claiming that it leaves us open to terrorist attack. Which is bullshit because the taps already in place have a year to run and new ones can be obtained, instantly, with a 72 hour window in which the government can then seek a warrant from the FISA Court. That's the old law. It gives the government 72 hours to obtain a warrant AFTER a tap has been initiated. Needless to say, Bush's argument is pretty weak that this is about 'protecting 'merucans'. The reality is that this is all about protecting the corporations that cooperated illegally with the government on the illegal wiretaps Bush authorized between 2001 and 2005. See, without immunity, these companies are going to be sued. And during discovery, the people of the US will find out just how it goes up the executive branch. That could leave Bush himself open to prosecution AFTER leaving office.
The funny thing about this? These companies claim they were just doing their patriotic duty which is crap. They knew they were doing something illegal and, in the case of Qwest, some refused because the government wouldn't give the companies a letter from the AG saying this was all legal. THAT'S what they need to be immune from prosecution and lay this all off on the executive branch. They didn't get it because the program wasn't legal which means the boards of these companies should fire and sue the executives and legal advisers who allowed the taps to happen.
Yes, this is all about protecting the illegal actions of telecom companies and the President. Not protecting Americans. Even Cornyn got in on the action...
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told Cybercast News Service the expiration of the law does in fact present a clear and present danger. "It is a fact that 3,000 people died on September 11. It is a fact we have been able to use this [FISA] capability to stop further terrorist attacks. Now I know it's a little hard to prove something that didn't happen, but the testimony from highly placed officials within the intelligence community, the director of national intelligence, and others say this is an essential activity that will save lives."
Oh, but Senator Cornyn, DNI McConnell directly contradicts you on this. He says this will have no effect on intelligence gathering, other than making the Administration do things legally. Which means, Junior John, that your gutless defense of an illegal program is making you look weak as hell. What kind of a Texan are you, Senator? One of the cowardly ones?
For that matter, what kind of Texans is Hans Klinger of the Texas GOP? Friday afternoon he issued a press release going after Lampson, Rodriguez and Edwards for leaving along with the rest of Congress when it was clear there was an impasse. I guess no one told Hans that the nation IS still protected by wiretapping laws and that the real issue is an immunity deal for companies and President Bush. Wait... just reread the first part.
Hans, bubie, let me clue you in on something since you're evidently smart enough to write but not to keep your mouth closed when you breathe. Lampson is the only one you've got a prayer of beating and considering that only a nutter will get through the R primary in FBC, you're probably screwed there. Rodriguez is in a strong position and Chet Edwards... well, Chet's going to beat down whoever you run against him like Ali did Frazier in Manilla.
Texans know these Congressman did the right thing. It's the President and Congressional Republicans who are off the reservation. And we all know it.
February 14, 2008
FISA (now with Telecom Immunity) passes the Senate
While everyone is focused on the primaries today, the United States Senate has, as expected, passed the FISA 'reform' bill which gives legal cover to the President's illegal warrantless wiretapping as well protecting telecom companies for their cooperation with the program.
To say I'm profoundly disappointed in both Democrats AND Republicans would be an understatement. You can see them here (the YEA's are the ones who betrayed their Oath of Office... Cornyn and Hutchison are in there, the traitorous cowards that they are). This country is going down a path to imperialism and dictatorship that many democracies have tread. We, the voters, have a chance... and it's simple. EXCHANGE ALL OF THEM. EVERYONE THAT VOTES YEA FOR THIS BILL SHOULD BE DEFEATED IN THEIR NEXT ELECTION, REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRAT ALIKE.
I do not recognize a Democrat who would sell out my rights for 'security' anymore than I would a Republican. These men and women have EARNED the animosity coming to them. Even Sen.'s Webb and McCain, two men whose military service and intelligence should have made them immune to the clamor to abandon the Constitution.
Sen.'s Dodd and Feingold once again stood solid.
“Unfortunately, those who are advocating this notion that you have to give up liberties to be more secure are apparently prevailing,” Mr. Dodd said. “They’re convincing people that we’re at risk either politically, or at risk as a nation.”
The fight now moves to the House of Representatives where it will hopefully be won or at least stalemated.
The House has already rejected the idea of immunity for the phone companies, and Democratic leaders reacted angrily to the Senate vote. But Congressional officials said it appeared that the House would ultimately be forced to accept some sort of legal protection for the phone carriers in negotiations between the two chambers this week.
If your concern was for the companies and those they employ, Congress could easily have established a liability cap. However, they instead decided to cripple the rights of those who sought restitution for the illegal wiretapping. In short, the victim has been victimized once again.
To put this simply, there is NO debate, there is no compromise, there is no bipartisanship when it comes to the Constitution. You either protect and defend it, or you are actively fighting to dismantle it as the legal basis for this country and the document that guarantees our rights.
February 12, 2008
FISA ... this is just sad
Final passage of the bill is still hours away, but all the amendments to the bill to strip away telecom immunity (basically, giving the telecom companies a pass for their past illegal actions) and restore the rule of law failed overwhelmingly. With help from the Democrats.
In case you were wondering, our own Senator's John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison voted to keep OFF the amendments protecting the Constitution from the bill. None of this is particularly surprising since Cornyn and Hutchison are well known as nothing more than rubber stamps for President Bush. They've abdicated their responsibility to Texans (and violated their Oath of Office) by voting against these amendments. It's good to see that AT&T's money buys folks that stay bought. You're a real asset to the people of Texas, Senators. Way to sell out your constituents.
Oh, but it was about protecting 'Mericans, right? Not really. The only reason this bill was needed was to strip the requirement that you actually have to obtain a warrant to tap communications so that you can eavesdrop on a US citizen. Now the President can do that at will. The other reason was to protect telecom companies (like SATX based AT&T) from being sued by people whose rights were violated by the company.
Finally, at the end of the day, Cornyn may have actually believed that this was the right thing to do protect us from terrorists. Which makes him a coward. As Franklin said more than 200 years ago, he that would give up essential liberty for temporary safety deserves neither.
Just FYI... exclusivity, the provision within the bill establishing that this bill IS the law and that the Executive must obey it, was stripped. The original FISA had exclusivity which is why Bush and the telco's were afraid of prosecution for their illegal actions. The Senate has now given them a pass on prosecution AND the ability to ignore the provisions of the new law when they feel like it.
PLEASE take a 20 seconds out of your day and sign the petition. If you want to restore the rule of law in the United States, it's one thing you can. Aside from electing BETTER DEMOCRATS and, as it turns out, BETTER REPUBLICANS.
Larry Joe Doherty supports NAIS?
According to the candidate profile over at KUT...
Doherty supports the National Animal Identification System. Opponents of the program claim it is designed to benefit major agricultural software campaign donors. His opponent, Mr. Grant, is fighting against it.
This is interesting because CD10 is composed of a lot of rural area and a large number of farmers and ranchers, none of whom support NAIS. Not to mention that one of the main reasons people in the rural areas are interested in supporting a Democrat in the general is that McCaul (R - Clear Channel Communications) loves him some NAIS. The fact that it will cause small farmers and ranchers to go out of business and drive up the cost of food at the store is irrelevant to a millionaire like McCaul. Apparently, it is to Mr. Doherty as well.
FISA ALERT - Telecom Immunity back from the dead
The FISA bill with Telecom Immunity is coming back to the floor of the Senate tomorrow. Click here to send them a message...no immunity for the illegal actions of telecom companies. Tell Bush and the Republicans that it's time for the reckoning.
February 08, 2008
May I see your papers?
Customs and Border agents are being a little intrusive in their searches. Two issues here:
1) An electronic device should be as secure as a briefcase. You may be able to look inside the briefcase, but you can't look AT the contents. A computer is the same thing, but easier. You should only be able to xray the damn thing. It's not like anyone has managed to digitize a bomb and put it in a Word document. Unless you count a conference call agenda.
"It's one thing to say it's reasonable for government agents to open your luggage," said David D. Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University. "It's another thing to say it's reasonable for them to read your mind and everything you have thought over the last year. What a laptop records is as personal as a diary but much more extensive. It records every Web site you have searched. Every e-mail you have sent. It's as if you're crossing the border with your home in your suitcase."
2) WTF? Profiling?
Customs sometimes singles out passengers for extensive questioning and searches based on "information from various systems and specific techniques for selecting passengers," including the Interagency Border Inspection System, according to a statement on the CBP Web site. "CBP officers may, unfortunately, inconvenience law-abiding citizens in order to detect those involved in illicit activities," the statement said. But the factors agents use to single out passengers are not transparent, and travelers generally have little access to the data to see whether there are errors.
Although Customs said it does not profile by race or ethnicity, an officers' training guide states that "it is permissible and indeed advisable to consider an individual's connections to countries that are associated with significant terrorist activity."
"What's the difference between that and targeting people because they are Arab or Muslim?" Cole said, noting that the countries the government focuses on are generally predominantly Arab or Muslim.
What's next? Allowing the fuckers at TSA to do shit like this? Congress needs to act to restrict this kind 'security'.
(h/t to BlueBloggin')
Thank you, Senate Democrats (and FU Sen. Gregg)
By a wide margin, the stimulus package has passed both the House and Senate. It's now on it's way to Bush who has been waiting for it, crayon in hand (make your mark here, Mr. President!).
Senate Republicans blocked a measure Wednesday that would have expanded aid to the elderly and disabled vets. It would have also given subsidies for heating oil and coal to people desperately pinched by the increase in oil prices and would have extended unemployment benefits to those whose benefits had already expired. Senate Republicans didn't like helping out the poor and elderly. Especially our own Senator John Cornyn who was congratulated on the vote by the tone deaf folks over at Lone Star Times (read the comments if you want to see some true 'compassionate' conservatism). Let's hope the senior citizens of Texas don't forget that while they've been going broke on a fixed income paying for gasoline, Sen. Cornyn's more concerned with keeping oil company tax cuts in place than helping them out 'the little people'.
What IS it with you Republicans? You're OK with corporate welfare but extend a helping hand to your fellow citizens and you throw a fit? Damn. And here I thought only Cheney was heartless. You people are so full of hate you'll drive the whole damn country into a depression just to make your damn point. To wit, this from Senator Gregg
"We have to remember that every dollar being spent on the stimulus package is being borrowed from our children. And our children's children," said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who voted against the bill.
Gee, Senator, I don't remember you voting against any of those tax cuts that gave us massive deficits and dramatically increased federal debt. Methinks your 'conversion' to fiscal conservatism is a little late in coming.
The good news? Sen. Reid in his first decent act of the new year has decided to bring the extended benefits up over and over again. Good on you, Harry. Now drop this telecom immunity BS and let's get this country working again!
You ROCK, Lloyd Doggett
For no other reason than trying to help more families get help to afford college. Thank you from all of us at McBlogger.
February 04, 2008
Earmarks in perspective
Recently, we made reference to Bush's complaints about 'earmarks'. We stated that he was complaining about 1% of the Federal Budget.
We were wrong. It's actually less than that. It's .55% of the Federal Budget that Bush wants Congress to pass. $3.1 trillion and they are complaining about not having enough money to public education and infrastructure projects?
Granger has an opponent
Tracey Smith (D-Fort Worth), a former TV and newspaper report in the DF/W Metroplex has stepped up to challenge former Fort Worth Mayor Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth) in her bid for another term as the district’s Congresswoman.
Mr. Smith, we hope the people of Fort Worth send you Congress. It'll be a huge improvement over Kay and her hair.
January 28, 2008
FISA Telecom Amnesty goes down in flames
Good work, Democrats. Thank you for standing up for the Constitution.
FISA SHOWDOWN ALERT
The FISA bill is headed for a cloture vote in about 40 minutes in the Senate. Greenwald has a story up about it and FDL is going to be liveblogging it. We won't because we have day jobs. However, we will be making calls to Senators about it from our personal phones. You should as well!
January 26, 2008
AFL-CIO endorses Grant
Matt at BOR has the post up...very good news for Dan!
In other Grant related news, it appears that Dan did have a role in the Kerry campaign in 2004. Which puts a lie to the rumors circulating around to the contrary.
January 25, 2008
Telecom immunity again?
That's right, kids! Much like that horrible casserole your mother LOVED making as a child, telecom immunity is back. This time, the shriveled little troll Harry Reid has joined with Cracker McConnell to shove this through...Greenwald has the text of their convo on the floor yesterday...
We have to finish FISA this week. Everyone should be aware of that point. We have to finish it this week. I know there are important trips people want to take. We have the very important economic conference in Davos that Democrats and Republicans alike would like to go to.
I say, unless we finish the bill Thursday -- and we will not be able to get to it until tomorrow night-- unless we finish the bill on Thursday, then we are going to have to continue working this week until we finish this bill. We have to finish this bill. It is not fair to the House to jam them so that they have 1 day to act on this legislation.
If we finish it this week, I have spoken to the Speaker today and they will work to complete this matter next week. It would be to everyone's advantage if we had more time to do this.
I respect what the Republican leader has said, but everyone here should understand all weekend activities have to be put on hold until we finish this bill. Now, it is possible we could finish it fairly quickly. We are going to work from the Intelligence bill, and if amendments are offered that people don't like, I would suggest they move to table those amendments. Because if people think they are going to talk this to death, we are going to be in here all night. This is not something we are going to have a silent filibuster on. If someone wants to filibuster this bill, they are going to do it in the openness of the Senate.
No, no... that wasn't McConnell. That was OUR Majority Leader, Harry Reid. Makes you feel good to have a Democrat in the Senate who's working so hard to make the President's life easy. Who else but Harry Reid would take
We at McBlogger would like to take a moment to thank Senators Dodd, Feingold and Kennedy for standing up to the little old man from Nevada.
January 24, 2008
New sense of bipartisanship in DC dies
The WaPo has an article up about the rush to get a stimulus package through and the partisan 'cease-fire' that is even now beginning to break. The money quote on the economy comes from some minor R douche...
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) fired back, blaming the nation's economic ills on the Democratic-controlled Congress. "One year into a liberal Democrat majority in Congress, surprise, surprise, the economy is struggling," he said. "You don't need to apply liberal principles and policies on an economic slowdown that is being driven by liberal policies on Capitol Hill."
Uhm, Mike... the D's haven't been able to pass large parts of the economic plan that might have saved the citizens of this country because Bush keeps vetoing the legislation they've worked so hard on and you keep voting to sustain those vetoes. The economy HAS been struggling for years because the foolish ideologically driven policies of you and your party. If I were you, Mike, I would remember a piece of sage advice we've all heard from time to time : Better to be silent and thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.
According to several sources, the 'stimulus' package has the support it needs to go to the President. However, it's all smoke and mirrors. It'll be June before a taxpayer sees a check and those business tax cuts will be used for dividends, not job creation. The only difference between now and what the Republicans did in 2001 and 2003 is that the Democrats were intimately involved this time. Nice work, boys and girls. You all fail Econ101.
January 22, 2008
Oh Really, TinaFish? You're this dumb?
The TXGOP sent out an email yesterday asserting that Rick Noriega 'accused Teachers of being in the cheap seats'. Seriously. What TinaFish didn't pick up on is that Lt. Col. Noriega was talking specifically about Ray McMurrey who has spent an inordinate amount of time in his campaign, and in his speech to the AFL-CIO convo on Saturday, basically trying (unsuccessfully) to tear down Noriega. Here's the quote which TinaFish included in VERY small print:
"It's easy to talk from the cheap seats when you haven't been in the trenches for a long time fighting for Texas families," Noriega said. (Kelly Shannon, “Noriega, McMurrey make cases to labor activists,” AP, January 19, 2008)
Go read the article and Vince's summary on Noriega's speech (which received a standing ovation, natch). The reality is that while Ray's been doing an admirable job teaching kids in his school, he hasn't been fighting some of the battles that Noriega's fought in the Texas House against Republicans like TinaFish. Battles to increase Teacher pay, for example.
All this brings to mind, though, just how bad Republicans like Noriega's eventual opponent Senator John Cornyn have been for Texas teachers. Here's one and here's another. Then there was this about Republicans trying to destroy the pensions that Teachers have been promised. Here's something about keeping Teachers from Social Security income they deserve. If memory serves, Senator John Cornyn actually voted for this along with the other Republicans in Congress from Texas.
I'd link more (there are eight pages of them over the last two years) but I think you understand as well as I do that the real people who want to keep Texas Teacher's in the 'cheap seats' are the Republicans. They've certainly been doing a good job of it so far.
January 18, 2008
Transportation funding in the spotlight...
Raising the gax tax is the answer to the transportation funding crisis? Color me surprised...From the DMN
A federal commission created by Congress called for big increases to the federal gas tax on Tuesday as part of a sweeping overhaul of how America builds and pays for its highways, bridges and transit systems.
The proposal for a 40-cent increase over five years touched off a stormy debate in Washington that is expected to last until at least 2009, when legislation governing scores of transportation programs expires and must be rewritten.
Gee whiz! Who would have thought that increasing the gas tax was a better idea than tolling? Oh, that's right. We've been through this, haven't we?
39% is VERY upset about all this, as is Empower Texas, which is little more than a poor man's Cato Institute. Here's 39%'s take...
“Raising taxes is seldom the right answer and sending more of Texans’ money to Washington, D.C. only to have it earmarked, redistributed to other states or locked into outmoded bureaucratic programs will do very little if anything to relieve congestion on Texas roads,” said Gov. Perry.
Uhm... Governor... for YEARS the Republicans from Texas in Congress let Texas get shortchanged on federal funding for roads. This is what is particularly sad about 39%. He's so stuck on his ideological bent and his need to funnel taxpayer money to his campaign contributors that even when a MOSTLY REPUBLICAN body thinks raising the gas tax is a good idea, he just can't accept it. Yeah, the group that issued the report was appointed by the Republican Congress in 2005 and was heavy with them...
Congress in 2005 created the — deep breath — National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Commission to help it understand what to do about the increasing financial starvation of the nation’s transportation system.
Congress in 2005, you’ll remember, was still controlled by Republicans, so the commission was hardly a nest of fuzzy-headed Demotaxers, right? Well, the commission put out its long-awaited study Tuesday. Its solution for the money shortage: raise more money. The board recommended basically a tripling of the 18.4 cents-a-gallon federal gas tax over the next five years, and suggested that states consider raising their gas taxes as well
One of the members of the commission, one of the ones who agreed that raising the gas tax was the best idea, was Paul Weyrich. He's one of the founders of the Heritage Foundation and has much better conservative credentials than 39%. At least Weyrich doesn't believe in crony capitalism.
Let's not forget that Perry's brill idea was to build massive tollways in the middle of nowhere, spending hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, rather that using our existing right of way. Nice work, 39%. Just a like a good Republican, you've managed to find the most expensive, least effective solution and you've done it in such a way that your cronies can benefit. Marvelous.
So now we have a Federal commission, chock full of conservative Republicans AND a bunch of Aggies at the TTI telling us raising the gas tax is the best way to fund transportation? What more do you want, 39%? For Jesus himself to come tell you that raising the damn tax is the right thing to do?
January 15, 2008
LJD and The Case Of The Very Nasty Push Poll
You know, I'm a HUGE fan of push polls, especially when Democrats employ them against Republicans. Though I'm not much of a fan when used in a primary, I also realize they are sometimes a necessity. Only problem is, you better not get caught because the damn things backfire painfully. Let's hope they do for Larry Joe Doherty.
Many of us have been subjected in recent days to a telephone push poll paid for by Doherty in which he spreads personal smears about his primary opponent, Austin's own Dan Grant. This sleazy tactic is straight out of Karl Rove's playbook for negative campaigns. It's also sloppy as hell and everyone who knows Dan realizes it's about as far from the truth as one can get. In fact, much of it is the same crap that a certain former member of the SDEC has been spreading all over Austin. We've all heard it and we all know it's not true.
As far as I'm concerned, the push poll disqualifies Larry Joe for serious consideration as our representative in Congress, mostly because a real push poll would have been about real issues. Not, for example, a bunch of patently false information. That ain't the kind of strategy that's going to be beat the Congressman from Clear Channel.
This transgression is just the latest from the Houston lawyer and former TV judge. Earlier this month, Doherty’s dalliance with rightwing Congressman Lamar Smith was uncovered in a bizarre fundraiser for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Larry Joe’s own finance chairman, Jim ‘Mattress Mac” McIngvale, co-sponsored the fundraiser.
But it doesn’t end even there. Last fall, Austin Political Report uncovered a clip from the late Anna Nicole Smith’s reality show in which Larry Joe, the host of his own (cancelled) show on Fox, invites the troubled socialite to be a judge. Enough said about his judgment.
Serious times call for serious candidates. Larry Joe Doherty isn’t serious.
Check out Dan Grant’s plan for addressing the economic woes that McCaul and his allies in the White House are inflicting on low-income and middle-class families. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Congressman who wants to do something other than campaign. Badly?
January 10, 2008
Jay Coxlie is yo mama
(Word to the wise... be careful with the Cornyn links... not all of them go where you think they go)
Apparently, someone tried to social engineer a schedule out of Sen. Cornyn's office and told them they were with McBlogger. Not so much, but to be honest I would have called to get a copy of it if someone had just asked. I'm as curious as the next guy about who Cornyn is sucking
off up to for political donations.
Yes, Senator Cornyn, we know fundraising has been tough. CradDICK is having the same problem. Really sorry about all that. It kills us. Really. Now, about that schedule, you can email that bad boy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All this makes me wonder if Selby's out of the loop on the R side or just not interested in doing stories that aren't fed to him. On a plate with a side of pork fat. The really interesting thing is that Sen. Cornyn's fundraising has been pretty lousy. We'll see it on paper soon enough. Maybe Gardner's waiting for that. He sure isn't interested in getting a URL right.
Lucky for Gardner that my server autocreates subdomains on the fly. Like this...
Cool, no? Personally. I thought the whole thing was kind of a joke, much like Junior John's tenure in office. The sad thing is how the Cornyn people handled it... the boring nerds called Gardner. Had it been me, I would have sent a fake schedule. That would have been funny. Instead, the not-so-clever folks at Senator Cornyn's office decided to report it to Selby. Morons.
ANYWAY, in other Cornyn related news, our Senator has agreed to debate that whacko Kilgore. Of course, they've yet to set a date and I'd be willing to bet $100 that one just won't come up prior to the primary. Because he'll have to be in Washington or something. Though, I have to admit... I'd love to see them out pander each other on their 'Christian' values. Especially since both of them are about as Christian as the Romans who crucified Jesus.
Finally, we're going to have another episode of Cornyn The Author. In this edition, our very earnest but truly unfortunate Senator is talking about pecans which we're thinking he pronounces Pea-CANS. Because he's damn near a yankee (you did catch that he uses a 28 gauge shotgun, right?) and can't pronounce the word correctly anymore.
Declared “the only tree nuts native to North America,” pecans appear early in the recorded history of Texas. Soon after landing on the Texas coast in 1528, explorer Cabeza de Vaca met the Mariame Indians—Native Americans who came to the lower Guadalupe River each fall “when the ripe nuts began to drop like manna,” according to historian Paul Schneider.
Newly arriving Texas pioneers would later discover pecans to be a steadfast friend, creating enjoyment when other food was scarce.
Early Texas publisher William A. Trenckmann remembered a childhood holiday season during the Civil War when the family Christmas tree was a “young wild peach tree.” Its ornaments included nuts and Christmas cookies created despite wartime shortages of wheat flour. “The baking was accomplished with corn meal and honey,” and “scalded peach kernels and shelled pecans were used for decorations.”
The rest of the thing rambles on for a while about pecans in Texas history. Something about Governor Hogg wanting one at the head of his grave. Texas grows a lot of pecans (along with Georgia). Pecans are good for you (master of the obvious, this guy). Pecans are an important part of our history.
See, I got that out in one paragraph. It took Senator John Cornyn paragraph after mind numbingly bad paragraph. My condensed version is way better. You'll die of boredom before you finish reading his tome.
January 09, 2008
Dodd : Two issues, one right and one wrong
Sen. Dodd has two items coming up this year, one is a reform of the horrendous 2005 Bankruptcy Act that made it extremely easy for lenders to foreclose on the homes of ordinary people, not to mention the millions with medical collections who would be forced to give up their homes should they be forced to file bankruptcy.
Let me put it this way... when a banker tells you that a bill which makes it hard for a person to declare bankruptcy is bad, then it's pretty damn bad. This was a Republican kiss to the credit card companies and collection agencies, two groups that aren't exactly beloved in the US (from McClatchy via Somervell County Salon)
In 2005, Congress passed a new law aimed at making it harder for people to file for bankruptcy and walk away from their debts.
With the tougher requirements, the number of bankruptcies declined in 2006 but surged by nearly 40 percent in 2007, according to statistics released Thursday. And experts predict the numbers will go higher this year.
The issue is gaining plenty of attention on Capitol Hill, where leading Democrats are proposing to roll back the landmark bankruptcy law. As the number of foreclosures rise, backers of an overhaul say it's needed to prevent more Americans from losing their homes.
"You ought to never lose your home in a bankruptcy proceeding," Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd said during a presidential debate in Iowa last month.
Here's a little illustration. Let's say you're married and your spouse catches something bad, but curable. They go in for very expensive treatment and are cured. Of course, you're left with massive medical bills, even if you have insurance. Normally, you'd declare bankruptcy if you're unable to work out a payment plan. Under the Republican law, the bankruptcy judge has very little leeway and can force you to liquidate your assets, including your home. See how much fun this is? Maybe you decide not to file BK but instead just ignore the bills. The collection company then decides to take you to court and they get a lien against your home, effectively giving them ownership. Needless to say, Dodd reworking this legislation is nothing but a good thing.
Unfortunately, we can't say the same for his version of the Home Ownership Protection and Preservation Act styled as S.2452. This legislation will, in effect, remove the majority of the originators from the market. Those that remain will either work for mega banks like BofA, JP Morgan Chase and Citibank OR they'll fold into mortgage banking companies. The fun part will be that what is transparent today, Yield Spread Premium, will be hidden forever since banks don't have to disclose what they make. This will, of course, make it more expensive for consumers AND remove capacity from the market at the precise time the market needs it. Click the link and see what I wrote about this mistake of a bill back in November. What I said then stands today and this thing, in it's current form, should be put in a drawer and forgotten.
Trust me, there are a few bad brokers and they are slowly but surely being removed from the marketplace. This bill won't accomplish the goal of cleaning up the origination market. All it will do is hide more from the consumer and increase their costs to buy a home. For those of you who think I'm self dealing (I'm a wholesale banker) more than half of my clients are banks. I'll just shift the rest over so this bill will have no impact on my business. It will be shitty deal for consumers.
And who's pushing this? Why none other than Wells Fargo, Bank of America and the other large banks who are tired of competing against the Third Party Originator (broker) market. Many of these banks have recently terminated their wholesale lending divisions in an effort to squeeze brokers and force consumers to their retail divisions. Further, they've been lobbying through community reinvestment groups for the elimination of brokers en masse. And the Democrats are actually falling for it.
Take a second, contact Senator Dodd today and let him know we love the Bankruptcy reform but hate the mortgage reform.
January 07, 2008
FISA coming back...
The Republicans and the Administration (along with, unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) are still pushing for FISA reform to take away your rights and gut the Constitution they've all sworn to uphold.
With a lot of help, Senator Dodd beat them back late last year. Now they're coming back. Just for shits and grins, I thought we'd recap something I found while doing some research last week. What the government wants to do is wiretap at least tens of millions of Americans. What they are doing, because they have credible intelligence, is wiretapping about 100.
What, of course, has never been explained is why they want to violate the privacy of millions. At the end of the day, they are hoping all of us will be more skeered of the terrarists than our government in the hands of the same people who brought you Gitmo! The Holiday Hotspot!. Actually, we're not scared of terrorists or the government.
December 28, 2007
Looks like hard work to me...
The Republicans have wasted a lot of time and oxygen complaining about 'how little the Democrats in Congress have done'. ELLN posted a brief list of exactly what they've been up to and what the Republicans have fought so hard against.
We're not fooled by the rhetoric. Neither is the rest of the country. You Republicans want to know why hating you has become so fashionable? It's the bullshit.
December 27, 2007
A joke welcomes another joke to the primary
Ray McMurrey is running for the Democratic nomination to be our candidate against Junior John Cornyn. McMurrey's a teacher and we hope he's good at that because he's a lousy candidate focused more on criticizing Rep. Rick Noriega than on actually campaigning for the nom. He's also an idiot for sending out a press release welcoming GENE 'THE SA SHITHEAD' KELLY to the race.
I guess no one told Ray that Gene is a recurring spoiler and last year caused a runoff with Barbara Radnofsky that required her to spend $1mln to beat him in a runoff. The man's death will be celebrated by hundreds of thousands of Democrats around Texas. Including Charles Soechting, who's making sense again, who writes in a letter to William Pate who runs McMurrey's campaign (via Carl Whitmarsh's list)...
Let me see if I get this right. A candidate for the Senate welcomes to the Democratic Primary someone who communicates with the press via messages in a potted plant (yes, that's right, a potted plant), someone who files and then does nothing to secure the nomination but causes other candidates to spend money to counteract the name ID associated with a famous dead dancer. Mr. Pate, anybody can run but the time to get serious about what is happening in this country is long past. Welcoming someone who has caused more problems than any four legged rodent could ever hope to is not the answer. The Democratic Party is inclusive, but inclusion in my book stops when the person doesn't want to be in the race for any reason---and that's where Gene Kelly fits in. As for Rick, he is tried and tested in many ways that of us have not. He is a good, decent and honest man and someone who could step right into the job that our current Senator has failed at.
For someone who calls himself 'the heart and soul of the Democratic Party', you'd think Ray would know all that. You'd also think he'd know that it's grassroots, not institutional, support that brought Noriega into the race. Every time you criticize him, you're stabbing the very people you claim to want on your side. In the eye.
As soon as you decide to really talk about issues and run a serious campaign, come on and talk to us Ray. Until then, take us off your retarded mailing list.
December 24, 2007
Profiles in Dumb : Cornyn The Author (part 1 in a series)
It's no secret that we at McBlogger don't have a lot of love for Junior John Cornyn. However, what may surprise you are the reasons we don't love him. Frankly, we think he's pretty lame. Sure, we could spend hours writing about how he hates the kids by voting against SCHIP, refuses to acknowledge the reality of illegal immigration and has basically spent his entire term in Congress not fighting FOR the people of Texas but instead actively working against them by being little more than a rubber stamp for President Bush.
We could do that but we're not. In point of fact, we've already gone through most of that (just google 'Cornyn' on the sidebar). What really gets us is just how embarrassingly lame he is. Like that time we took him to a drinks party being thrown by some great friends of mine. He spent the entire party drinking Natty Light (he brought his own) and asking people to pull his finger. Frankly, I'm surprised my friends even talk to me.
Let's not even get into that time I fixed him up with his scorching hot chick I knew from work. She still won't return my calls.
Of course, this is all just a bunch of buffoonish behavior from someone who is seriously socially retarded. It's kind of excusable. However, his lame ass, feel good editorials are another matter entirely. The first one I noticed was this one about Blue Bell Ice Cream. Like all Texans, I love me some ice cream. I also have a lot of respect for the folks in Brenham who have turned what was a small, regional brand into a nationally known and respected ice cream. My only bone of contention with them is that they never make enough lemon. Seriously, it would kill you to make some more for the Randall's on Mesa here in Austin?
Cornyn doesn't have a problem with having enough ice cream because he likes the omnipresent Pecan Pralines and Cream. At this point you're probably wondering, "Who gives a fuck what kind of ice cream Junior John likes?". If so, you're not alone. Basically, our esteemed Senator, who some of you elected to work for us in Washington on serious issues, is taking time to write about Blue Bell Ice Cream. If that doesn't piss you off, maybe this will. Texas, even though we've had a Congressional delegation in the majority for most of the last 10+ years, is always getting shortchanged on federal highway funds. We send more to Washington than we get back.
Things are so bad that TXDOT is even reneging on their bloody agreement with CAMPO (Congrats, Kirk!) because they may not even have the funds to build toll roads. So, in short, we'll have no roads built and the bottlenecks we have now all over the state won't be fixed. Because federal highway dollars are drying up. And we have Junior John to thank for that.
While Cornyn writes about how great Blue Bell is, our infrastructure is getting older and far less capable of accommodating the ever growing numbers of Texans that he supposedly serves. But that doesn't bother Cornyn.
Maybe the next time you're stuck in traffic getting more annoyed with each passing minute at the endless field of lit brake lights in front you, you can think about how much Cornyn likes Blue Bell. In fact, think also about replacing him next November with Rick Noriega. He's the kind of Texan that actually gets things done.
Cornyn's too busy eating yet another bowl of Pralines and Cream to get anything accomplished. Other than writing about how much loves the little creamery in Brenham.
December 21, 2007
Dodd for Majority Leader?
"I like Harry Reid enough, but it's clear that we live in a climate in which the type of leadership we need is better provided by Chris Dodd," Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos told the Huffington Post. "Republicans have been laughing at us all term, refusing to compromise because they know the inevitable capitulation on any given issue is always just a couple of days away. Those Republicans need to be re-taught how to negotiate, and step one is to have a Democratic caucus that will tighten the screws when necessary. Yesterday, that person wasn't our leader, it was Chris Dodd."
December 20, 2007
Sign Wexler's impeachment petition
Rep. Wexler has been working hard to give some traction to the move to impeach Cheney. As of last night, his petition was over 100k signatures. Go here to add your name to it. Let the Speaker know unequivocally that it's time to hold the hearings and see where things take us.
Ed. Note - I originally posted that there were 100m signatures which means ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND. The Mayor informed me that some of you were, in fact, too dumb to understand that. So, in the best traditions of the broadcast media, I'm dumbing things down to the lowest common denominator by changing it to K. To me, that means 'kilometer' but he informs that most stupid people read that as thousand. Retards.
December 18, 2007
Dodd wins but we need to get him some help!
Reid pulled Telecom Immunity off the floor by removing the retard SIC version of the FISA Bill, finally caving into the demands of the majority of Americans and Sen. Dodd. Dodd, along with Sen. Kennedy and others, managed to stare this thing down and helped turn the tide to restore the rule of law to the United States of America.
Honestly, watching Dodd yesterday made me proud to be an American and a member of the Democratic Party. The only black mark on the day was the fact that Reid even attempted this garbage. That and of course, Junior John embarassing himself and all Texans by whining about being 'afraid of the terrarists'. Cornyn is a coward, afraid of terrorists when he should be standing tall like a real Texan and defending the Constitution.
Which is what impressed me most about Rick Noriega's statement on the bill.
"On Christmas morning 2004, outside of Kabul, Afghanistan, my buddies and I drove to our base camp to use the computers. We wanted to be with our kids when they woke up that Christmas. To get there we drove through a near ambush--anytime we drove on the Jalalabad Road, it was risky, and we had an incident on our way.
That Christmas morning, I suspect the government listened to our conversations. They occurred between two countries; Afghanistan and the US. They probably didn't realize the difference in tone in my voice as I spoke to my wife and children that morning as my heart raced still from our encounter on the road. My wife did.
I fought to defend our country and our constitution in Afghanistan. I fought for the right to privacy for every Texan. Mr. Cornyn must now stand up for the privacy of every Texan and American too. We as a nation cannot grant anyone sweeping amnesty if they violated the law.
Americans understand the need for safety and the need for intelligence gathering. What they will not accept is an abuse of power, of crossing the line on American's privacy.
I would join Sen. Dodd in opposition to any retroactive provisions that allow a "get out of jail card" for violating the Constitution. If Mr. Cornyn had ever had the opportunity to have his Christmas conversation listened to by the government, on a day that he feared for his life in a convoy on Jalalabad Road, he would do the same."
Go help Rick!
December 17, 2007
Just when we need you, you're no where to be found
Oh, man... Clinton and Obama are MIA when Dodd and EVERY AMERICAN needs them in Washington.
Here's something fun for your to do... urge Reid to support Dodd's filibuster!
"Bush is willing to let Americans die for telecom immunity"
That's a direct quote from Sen. Kennedy who just rained shit all over Feinstein's rationalization of telecom immunity. Bush has said he would veto the FISA bill if it doesn't include telecom immunity. In the same breath, he said that Congress had to revise FISA to protect American lives.
Dodd is saying this is about the Constitution, not fighting terrorists or some kind of partisan fight. Amen, Senator.
FDL and KOS are keeping up with this. Clinton, Obama and Biden were all nonvoting in bringing this to the floor and right now I'm not sure they are even in Washington. If they aren't, then damn them all to hell.
Here's the bottom line from my perspective... these companies acted illegally and have no affirmative defense under the law. What they did was break the laws that protect the citizens of the United States of America. I can't think of ANYTHING more deeply unpatriotic.
There is no good faith escape clause since you would have needed a warrant, EVEN IF the AG or the President said it was OK (and the AG, by the way, didn't do that). Any attorney would have known that and these companies have hundreds of them. Are you seriously telling me that my 2 semesters of business law provided me with more knowledge than attorneys billing out at $2000/hr?
On impeaching Cheney
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Rep. Wexler...
A CASE FOR HEARINGS
By Representatives and Members of the Judiciary Committee:
Robert Wexler (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
On November 7, the House of Representatives voted to send a resolution of impeachment of Vice President Cheney to the Judiciary Committee. As Members of the House Judiciary Committee, we strongly believe these important hearings should begin.
The issues at hand are too serious to ignore, including credible allegations of abuse of power that if proven may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under our constitution. The charges against Vice President Cheney relate to his deceptive actions leading up to the Iraq war, the revelation of the identity of a covert agent for political retaliation, and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens.
Now that former White House press secretary Scott McClellan has indicated that the Vice President and his staff purposefully gave him false information about the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson as a covert agent to report to the American people, it is even more important for Congress to investigate what may have been an intentional obstruction of justice. Congress should call Mr. McClellan to testify about what he described as being asked to “unknowingly [pass] along false information.” In addition, recent revelations have shown that the Administration including Vice President Cheney may have again manipulated and exaggerated evidence about weapons of mass destruction -- this time about Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
Some of us were in Congress during the impeachment hearings of President Clinton. We spent a year and a half listening to testimony about President Clinton’s personal relations. This must not be the model for impeachment inquires. A Democratic Congress can show that it takes its constitutional authority seriously and hold a sober investigation, which will stand in stark contrast to the kangaroo court convened by Republicans for President Clinton. In fact, the worst legacy of the Clinton impeachment – where the GOP pursued trumped up and insignificant allegations - would be that it discourages future Congresses from examining credible and significant allegations of a constitutional nature when they arise.
The charges against Vice President Cheney are not personal. They go to the core of the actions of this Administration, and deserve consideration in a way the Clinton scandal never did. The American people understand this, and a majority support hearings according to a November 13 poll by the American Research Group. In fact, 70% of voters say that Vice President Cheney has abused his powers and 43% say that he should be removed from office right now. The American people understand the magnitude of what has been done and what is at stake if we fail to act. It is time for Congress to catch up.
Some people argue that the Judiciary Committee can not proceed with impeachment hearings because it would distract Congress from passing important legislative initiatives. We disagree. First, hearings need not tie up Congress for a year and shut down the nation. Second, hearings will not prevent Congress from completing its other business. These hearings involve the possible impeachment of the Vice President – not our commander in chief – and the resulting impact on the nation’s business and attention would be significantly less than the Clinton Presidential impeachment hearings. Also, despite the fact that President Bush has thwarted moderate Democratic policies that are supported by a vast majority of Americans -- including children’s health care, stem cell research, and bringing our troops home from Iraq -- the Democratic Congress has already managed to deliver a minimum wage hike, an energy bill to address the climate crisis and bring us closer to energy independence, assistance for college tuition, and other legislative successes. We can continue to deliver on more of our agenda in the coming year while simultaneously fulfilling our constitutional duty by investigating and publicly revealing whether or not Vice President Cheney has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.
Holding hearings would put the evidence on the table, and the evidence – not politics – should determine the outcome. Even if the hearings do not lead to removal from office, putting these grievous abuses on the record is important for the sake of history. For an Administration that has consistently skirted the constitution and asserted that it is above the law, it is imperative for Congress to make clear that we do not accept this dangerous precedent. Our Founding Fathers provided Congress the power of impeachment for just this reason, and we must now at least consider using it.
December 16, 2007
Lieberman endorses McCain
Not that it'll matter much, but McCain was endorsed by Lieberman. Which is pretty funny considering that Obama WANTED him to be his mentor (and still refers to him as such... what a dipshit) and Hillary tried to help him despite talking big about Lamont.
D's and D consultants in Washington are a truly a bunch of lightweights. Losers.
This is just weak
The meat is about 1:25 into the video regarding the FISA bill. Let's all keep our fingers crossed and hope that Reid's weakness doesn't run to all the Democrats in the Senate. Let's hope the SIC version of the bill dies and the SJC version gets passed. Greenwald has more
Today, they provide but the latest iteration of the answer as to why there is so much dissatisfaction and anger towards them, including from those who fully recognize the pragmatic constraints involved. This isn't a case where they are trying to oppose Bush's demands on telecom amnesty and warrantless surveillance powers but are sadly thwarted by a lack of votes. Rather, Harry Reid is doing everything he can to thwart those who are attempting to impede Bush's demands and thus doing everything he can to ensure that the White House is liberated from the prospect of accountability for past lawbreaking and vested with vast, new eavesdropping powers with as little oversight as possible -- just as Mitch McConnell would be doing if he were Majority Leader (though even McConnell might lack the audacity to simply run roughshod over Dodd's hold, as Reid is apparently doing -- while treating Tom Coburn's holds as sacred).
Put another way, the issue isn't that they're failing to impose limits on the President. It's not even that they're failing to do everything they can to do so. The issue is that they are devoting their efforts and energies -- again -- to ensuring that the White House wins, its radicalism enabled and bolstered, and the people who support them thwarted in what they believe.
Damnit, y'all! We need and expect more from you. DO SOMETHING!
December 14, 2007
Telecom Immunity again?!
I know, it's a bit like having the same meal over and over again. Senate Majority Leader Reid is once again bringing the FISA bill up with telecom immunity. Come on, Harry... give it a rest. No one wants it. Except Republicans and what they want has never really been best for the country.
Maybe our problem isn't so much our party as it is our weak, incompetent leadership. For those of you out there with the cocktail flu, this is what I'm talking about.
December 07, 2007
Sadun endorses Grant
Dan Grant gained the endorsement of Lorenzo Sadun on Wednesday. Sadun ran as a write-in for CD 10 in 2004.
I am happy to endorse Dan Grant for Congress in the 10th District of Texas. Dan's experience makes him supremely qualified to be a Congressman in a time of war, and his temperament will make him a tremendous Representative in peacetime.
The biggest challenge we face is the war in Iraq. Dan's 18 months under fire in Iraq, helping the Iraqis manage their elections, give him a unique perspective on what can and can't be done. For the last 3 years, Michael McCaul has blindly supported every blunder that the Bush administration has made in Iraq. Dan Grant can see through the lies, and he isn't afraid to speak the truth. In an election with the Iraq war as the central issue, there is no stronger candidate than Dan Grant.
Serving in Congress means more than just voting against the war. A true Representative listens to his district, does his homework, and acts to help his constituents. Unlike Michael McCaul, whose constituent service is nonexistent, Dan Grant learned constituent service as an aide to the master, Jake Pickle. He is humble enough to learn what he doesn't already know, and he is committed to using his position to help real people with real problems.
Any Democrat would be a huge improvement on Michael McCaul, but Dan Grant isn't just "any Democrat". His Texas roots and Texas-sized heart, coupled with a world of experience, make him uniquely qualified.
(former) Democrat for Congress, TX-10
(always) Democrat for Texas
This is the third endorsement for Grant that has impressed me. First Hank, then
Ted and now Lorenzo. Excellent work, Team Grant!
CORRECTION 12/10/2007 - I just rec'd word from a reader that 2006 CD 10 Candidate Ted Ankrum has not endorsed in this race and I apologize for the error?
And Matthew Shepard dies again...
According to the AP, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act which was part of the Iraq War Funding bill, has been cut off and left to die.
Who could have done this, you ask? The Talipublicans? Not so much, as it turns out. They weren't going to vote for it anyway, which would have given us a beautiful attack line against them next fall. Apparently, anti-war D's who won't vote for any war funding bill, even if something that could help protect millions of Americans is attached, killed it by refusing to vote for it.
So, the hate crimes legislation was stripped off and now the war funding bill will be passed with full Republican and some Democratic support.
It's hard for me to come down too hard on these folks. Personally, I never liked the fact that this legislation was attached to war funding. Still, the pragmatic part of me realizes this is not a victory. To the Democrats and line- crossing Republicans who voted for it, you have my thanks. To those Democrats who chose to take a stand on principle, I respect you. I may not agree with your decision, but I can respect your reasons for it. Doesn't change the fact that I'm pissed you threw gays and lesbians under the bus to make your point.
And thank you, Speaker Pelosi, for trying to make this happen and for not giving up on this bill.
December 06, 2007
Speaking of Christmas...
Kuff has this brill video posted from the College D's.
I don't so much care about debt forgiveness, mostly because I think todays youth would greatly benefit from the cash management and social engineering experience one gains trying to dodge the loan servicing people and stay in a state of perpetual deferment.
The rest of it pisses me off.
While we're on the subject of Christmas, some of you (read: 1) have written to ask what I'd like for Christmas. Actually, I don't want anything other than for you to give some money to a few of the Democratic candidates in your neck of the woods. And some money to Rick Noriega.
Go on, your family can afford to do without one fruitcake from the Collin St. Bakery. You know y'all just pick that nasty fruit shit out of them anyway.
December 02, 2007
Everyone Hates Rahm
We at McBlogger have long thought the strategy of Democrats moving to the right on issues was a stupid one. The reasoning is that if the difference is between an R and a D who both think the same way on key issues, people go with the stronger, more believable candidate who is usually (but not always) an R. It's not that the D is a bad person, it's that you can usually tell they don't really believe what they are saying when they advocate strident right wing positions.
Dos Centavos agrees and calls bullshit on Rahm Emmanuel's strategy of playing to the right on immigration.
November 26, 2007
Lott to retire
Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi plans to resign from Congress by the end of the year, a person close to Lott said.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Lott, 66, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, had stayed in office to help his state recover from Hurricane Katrina and now believes the work has progressed enough that he can leave office. Lott won a fourth term last year with 64 percent of the vote.
Lott scheduled two news conferences in his home state today to discuss his plans.
``This is no time for me or any of us to think about quitting,'' Lott said in January 2006. ``I want you to know that as long as Mississippi is hurting and needs help, I'll be there for this state.''
The lawmaker had fed speculation that he might retire by telling a local newspaper in 2005 that he needed ``a little more income'' after the hurricane destroyed his home in Pascagoula.
Lott sued his insurer, State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., to force it to pay for rebuilding after the company said Lott's policy didn't cover the damages. Lott in 2005 told the Biloxi, Mississippi, Sun Herald that the waterfront home was his ``nest egg.''
Yes, yes... I know this is Mississippi and the likelihood of those morons electing a Democrat is pretty low. Still, it would be nice if these dumb hicks would pull head out of ass and realize that they're getting screwed by the people they are electing.
Oh, and that last bit about Lott suing State Farm is quite the funny, no? After voting to cut insurance companies slack, you get caught in their trap. Nice.
November 20, 2007
CD 10 : Fundraising going strong
Both Dan Grant and Larry Doherty had great fundraising reports for the 3rd quarter. Doherty announced $53,765.00
and Grant announced $45,247.00. Cash on hand, less debt, left both in a VERY good position relative to the incumbent, Mike McCaul (R - Clear Channel) who enters Q4 in the red by $45,982.98. Both Democrats show more than $70,000 in the black with Grant ahead of Doherty by a little over $1,000.
Yeah, yeah... I know I'm a little behind. However, I did notice that some endorsements are out. Radnofsky gave her coveted endorsement to Doherty. You may recall that Hank Gilbert endorsed Grant in September.
Obvs, you know which one I think is more important.
November 19, 2007
HR 3915 passes and other mortgage news
Seriously, we need reform. The market needs regulation and consumers have to be protected. This doesn't do that AND it cripples the marketplace. Do you have any idea how depressing it is not only to see your party fuck up brilliantly but to be forced into agreement with douchebag's like Kenny Marchant and Patrick McHenry? I hate those guys.
Still, they were right on this one. I guess it had to happen. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
In other mortgage related news, FHA Modernization was stalled out in the Senate by Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma (doesn't that make him a double retard?)
November 16, 2007
I can totally see how you'd make that mistake
Apparently, Sen. John Cornyn is mistaking a levee for a wall. Or is it a wall for a levee? I'm not really clear. Go read Hal at Half Empty and find out.
While we're on the subject of Junior John, Phillip over at BOR found a piece on him written for Texas Monthly by Paul Burka. It's a well done puff piece and not all that revealing save one tidbit I found interesting...
Cornyn had brought a 28-gauge shotgun, which is the kind Dick Cheney uses, and the joshing started.
What many of you don't know is that I hunt. I don't care much for deer hunting because it's boring as hell and I was never that good with a bow. I do love duck hunting and occassionally, dove hunting. I've never, even as a child, hunted with anything less than a 20 gauge (ask me sometime about the time I shot Daddy's 10 gauge when I was six). Today, I hunt with a 12 gauge. Just about everyone I know does.
My father likes to take people hunting on our ranch in East Texas. He sometimes takes friends of friends or business associates hunting with him. I can remember when I was young, Daddy let some people come with us who were dressed in neatly pressed fatigues and had 28 gauge shotguns. My father, never one to criticize, called them 'fancy'.
I talked to him today and told him about Junior John's shotgun of choice. He grunted on the other end of the line, sighed and said, "Tell me about the other guy again."
Oh, and while you're at it, go give Rick some money!
FISA and Telecom Immunity update
Now the bill goes to the floor where amendments will be added, including one from Sen. Specter
When the full Senate takes up the bill, Specter is likely to offer a compromise that would shield the companies from financial ruin but allow lawsuits to go forward by having the federal government stand in for the companies at trial.
I appreciate what Sen. Specter is doing and it will help us finally find out just how far the Administration went, but these companies have to be held accountable. The only way it'll happen is if they bear the brunt of all this.
The really great news is that the Democrats in the House passed their version of the bill tonight, without telecom immunity. And our own Lamar Smith, ever the douchebag, is still cheerleading to let them off the hook. Just so you know, one of his constituents is AT&T.
"These companies deserve our thanks, not a flurry of harassing litigation," said Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the Judiciary Committee's top Republican.
The bill, though not perfect, is still better than what we had which was that horrible bill that allowed the President to do whatever he wanted. It didn't stop the White House from saying something stupid...
In a statement after the vote, the White House said, "This evening House Democrats passed legislation that would dangerously weaken our ability to protect the nation from foreign threats." It reiterated Bush's intention to veto the legislation in its current form.
Oh, hell. Show me an instance where you've been able to do something with this intelligence, something good enough to over ride the impact on our Constitution, then maybe we can talk. Otherwise, shut up you ineffectual douche. In case you hadn't realized it, the Democrats in Congress are finally showing some spine... and they're working hard to protect us from you and your insane desires.
November 15, 2007
Republicans want to hide the cost of THEIR war
The Republicans in Congress are bleating on about how 'inappropriate' it is to disclose the cost of the war or terra.
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Rep. H. James Saxton (R-N.J.) attacked the report on "hidden costs" of the wars, calling its methodology flawed and asserting factual errors. The report, issued yesterday, said the war has cost nearly double the $804 billion in appropriations and requests for war funding thus far.
Brownback, who is developmentally retarded, can be excused for not, you know, getting it. Saxton on the other hand is being deliberately obtuse. Even he knows that just adding up the supplemental appropriations will not give you the accurate number. You have to count health care costs for the soldiers over the next 70 years. YES 70.
Quit being dumbasses. This thing is going to cost taxpayers more than $1.5 TRILLION and that's if we stop and cut all funding today. We could rebuilt our educational system, our infrastructure and expanded health insurance to every American for that money. Well, we COULD have. Instead, we wasted it on Cheney's effort to compensate for his inability to maintain an erection.
Which makes Republicans the biggest wasteful spenders in the history of the United States of America.
Shut up, Sam. I'll be paying off your this debt you rang up LONG after you're dead and buried. I'd appreciate it if you'd shut the fuck up and retire from the Senate. You've done enough damage to this country.
HR 3915 : A solution that creates bigger problems
Reality is never an easy thing to acknowledge, especially when it becomes clear that our intention to help people will, instead, fail them. That's the case with Representative Brad Miller's bill, HR 3915. It's also hard for me, as a Democrat, to believe that a member of my party, serving his constituents, would propose this horrendously bad, consumer harmful legislation. Last night I finally realized that he didn't do this to help out big banks, the special interest that will most benefit from the passage of HR 3915.
It's my belief that Rep. Miller had nothing but good, even noble, intentions. He wanted to protect consumers from being taken to the cleaners by unscrupulous mortgage brokers. Fortunately for Rep. Miller of North Carolina, his bill does exactly that, by killing the entire mortgage brokerage industry. Unfortunately, it still leaves consumers vulnerable to unscrupulous mortgage bankers and builder/Realtor controlled mortgage companies.
It also removes 25% of Americans from even the possibility of owning a home because they will not able to obtain financing.
This entire meltdown in the credit market is really nothing more than bad press and stupidity. For one thing, more than 80% of even the riskiest sub-prime mortgages are performing. That means that 80% of the people who obtained financing for a home outside of conventional (good credit, easy to document income and assets - the overwhelming majority of mortgage loans in US) guidelines still own their homes and will continue to. The reason the market has slowed down to a crawl (and why subprime has already disappeared) is that the loans packaged as securities and sold to investors were priced as if they bore no credit risk. In short, investors got panicked when they realized that the B/C credits they paid A prices for actually performed like, well, B/C credits.
The market has already corrected the underwriting criteria available to brokers and frozen out subprime options. This has effectively removed 25% of Americans from the marketplace for mortgage financing. Rep. Miller's bill won't change that. What it will do is make sure that these people will never buy a home by making it illegal to underwrite loans to lenient, high risk, characteristics. They may be able to refinance into FHA, some may even clean their credit to the point where they will be able to see and buy a home. However, that basket will go away and many people with poor credit will never be able to achieve the American Dream.
Of course, some of these people will able to obtain FHA or conventional financing with larger than usual down payments. However, at the very least, 15% of Americans will never own a home if Rep. Miller's bill passes.
The saddest thing about this that Rep. Miller is trying to do through legislation what should more properly be done through regulation. Mortgage brokers think national licensing, standards and regulation is a great idea. However, it has to be funded. Rep. Miller's bill tasks the same old people with implementing the new rules. As we've all seen from the anecdotal cases of broker-initiated mortgage fraud in the US, those agencies just aren't up to the task of enforcing the rules we have now.
The reality that Rep. Miller doesn't want to acknowledge is that more than 98% of brokers are good, decent professionals, a fact which no one has sought to question because more than 60% of the loans originated in the US are originated by brokers. These people who have close relationships with their borrowers. In many case, they have replaced the community banker and basically become the George Bailey's of the 21st century.
What's needed is a better bill that creates a level mortgage loan origination playing field between banks and brokers, creating an even more vibrant and competitive market. A bill that ends the ability of builders and Realtors to own mortgage companies or profit from them. A bill that protects consumers without crushing them or destroying their options.
What's needed is a do-over. We ask every Democrat in the House to vote against this horrible piece of legislation. And start over again on something that will actually do something to strengthen the market, not kill it.
November 14, 2007
This. This is the right move
Now this is some good news...
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, announced today that the Senate will not approve war funding this calender year unless it is a $50 billion measure that calls for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The supplemental proposal put forward by Reid - which will likely be introduced as legislation within a matter of weeks, maybe sooner - will mimic a version crafted by Democrats in the House of Representatives, an official with Reid's office confirmed. The cohesion between the chambers, said one Democratic aide, will help reinforce that the war is President Bush's responsibility, not Congress'.
"This keeps the pressure on the president," the source said. "This is something the American people want done. This is representative democracy."
Our insane President, Connecticut native George W. Bush, has already threatened to veto the bill, just like the one he vetoed Tuesday. Honestly, that's fine because it puts pressure on vulnerable Republicans and Democrats to cave in and support the override of the veto. It's a fight they, and he, can't win.
Oh, sure, some will see this as replay of Congress vs. The President, 1996. Those folks are wrong. Bill Clinton wasn't insane. George Bush is and the American people know it. Republicans better be ready to cave fast on these votes or there will be hell to pay at the ballot box. Just in case you were wondering, his reason was 'fiscal responsiblity'. The budget sent by Congress was about 1.6% off what the President proposed, or about $10 billion. Bush, the fiscal conservative, increased DoD's NON-WAR budget by almost 10% and still wants almost $200 bn more for the war in Iraq.
His next veto? He's saying it will be the tax bill that passed the House last week. It's the one that saves middle class taxpayers from the AMT and increases taxes on fund managers and Wall Street folks. That'll play well in the heartland.
You Republicans really don't need to make things easy for us. We'll step on you like cockroaches, anyway.
November 13, 2007
3915 : A market in the balance
So how did all this happen? The story I've heard from several sources involves a lobbying effort led by banks and consumer advocacy groups who thought this bill would actually do something good for consumers. There is an effort being rolled out to touch these consumer groups and help the to understand just how much power they are handing over to banks and how much competition will be lost with the shutdown of the TPO industry.
Democratic voter backlash?
Voters unsatisfied with Democratic efforts to remove us from Iraq are really pissed and threatening not to vote or voting for primary challengers. Duh.
When the Democratic Party called up recently to ask Myrna Burgess for a campaign contribution, she answered with an emphatic ``no.''
``Nothing has been done as far as the war is concerned,'' said Burgess, 72, an Amtrak worker from Levittown, Pennsylvania.
More than a year after anti-war voters like Burgess helped give Democrats control of Congress, there are more troops in Iraq, lawmakers have approved almost $100 billion in new war spending and congressional approval ratings are at record lows.
Democrats now worry that their inability to make good on campaign promises to end or slow the war in Iraq will have consequences. The disaffection has already fueled at least four anti-war primary challenges to party incumbents, raising fears among some lawmakers of an intra-party fight that could drain momentum before next year's elections.
``They want someone to be held accountable,'' said Representative Lynn Woolsey of California, a leading anti-war Democrat in the House.
Actually, it's not just Iraq, it's also AG Mukasey, restoration of Habeas Corpus, telecom immunity and the other issues on which the Democrats have decided to compromise with the Administration. Which is a nice way of saying 'Democrats let Bush have what he wanted because they were afraid of soft-on-terror campaign ads'. The political reality, which no one in Washington on the D side seems to get, is that it's better to pass bills you know Bush will veto so you can hold them up and say, 'Look. Look at what Republicans are doing to the country!'
Part of the reason D's are in the majority now is to act as a roadblock to Bush and the Republicans until 2008 when we can replace the rest of them, if needed. Sure, originally (early in the year) we thought there might be some things the chastened Republicans would go for. They did and some good legislation got passed. However, we're now at the big ticket items and you don't compromise on those. You BEAT the Republicans to death with them and let voters know that if they want real, substantive progress we need a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President.
If you can't get them to help pass good legislation, you stop them (and Bush) cold. Sometimes the biggest part job of a Member of Congress is just stopping bad things from happening. Apparently Schumer and Feinstein forgot that.
Last note... keep Pelosi away from the press...
Democratic leaders acknowledge that these stalemates may be eroding their support with the party's anti-war wing, and say they are aware of the potential for a voter backlash.
``We haven't been effective in ending the war in Iraq,'' Pelosi told reporters Nov. 1. ``If you asked me in a phone call, as ardent a Democrat as I am, I would disapprove of Congress as well.''
Madam Speaker, it would have killed you to blame this all on the Republicans??!?!? Maybe take 5 seconds to explain that they are blocking good legislation by backing up Bush's vetos? Nancy, quit accepting blame for something you didn't do. It doesn't make you look humble, it makes you look stupid and meek.
Dregs : Some things you missed
Oh, there's more...
Have a goodun!
November 11, 2007
A massive week for Rick Noriega!
While Cornyn was planning his fundraiser with Connecticut native George W. Bush, Rick Noriega was busy lining up endorsements from
Democracy for America
Gen. Wesley Clark
VoteVets and Clark really caught my eye. It's important to note that military voters have, over the last two cycles, begun shifting to the Democrats. Good to see Noriega is continuing that trend.
November 09, 2007
House moves one step closer to contempt charges
The White House is still stonewalling the House Judiciary Committee and it looks like the next step is contempt of Congress.
The House Judiciary Committee sent a final warning to the White House yesterday to provide Democrats with access to disputed documents and testimony, pushing the House closer to a vote on contempt citations for two administration officials.
In a letter to White House counsel Fred F. Fielding, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), gave the Bush administration until Friday to work out a deal on documents and testimony relating to last year's controversial removal of nine U.S. attorneys. If Fielding refuses the latest request, the House could vote as early as next week on the contempt charges, Democratic aides said.
The committee also filed a formal, 102-page contempt report with the House clerk that lays out its request for testimony from former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers and for documents controlled by White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten.
November 07, 2007
You're a imPeach, Congressman!
You know, I wasn't all that thrilled with Steny Hoyer as Majority Leader in the House but I gotta tell you, after yesterday's performance he's earned some major respect. Blue Bloggin has the deets on Kucinich bringing his inane Cheney impeachment bill to the floor. There were enough votes to table, until the rat brain R's (led by the colossally inept Boehner) flipped and decided it was time for a debate on the issue. Johnny on the spot Hoyer immediately made a motion to send the bill to Conyer's Judiciary Committee and the House promptly voted to do so. Where there will be hearings. Endless hearings that will embarrass the Vice President.
Here's the thing... Boehner wanted the debate.
Republicans gleefully said they wanted the debate to show the public how many Democrats would actually support impeaching Cheney, which they consider a move supported only by a fringe element of anti-war activists.
Uhm... 54% of this country is not an 'anti-war' fringe. It's the majority. The fringe are the people who don't want Cheney impeached. That being said, Hoyer, Pelosi and Conyers are right. There are better things for Congress to do. But once those things are done, they should move forward with impeachment.
Not to be cynical, but politically it's a great move. We all intensely dislike Cheney. Even Gerald Ford thought he was a douche. People in Vermont would like to set him on fire. Needless to say, this isn't an issue a Republican looking to get re-elected should be looking to take on. Got that, Boehner?
November 06, 2007
Why is Barney Frank pimping for big banks?
This morning, HR 3915 goes to markup in the Financial Services Committee. I know this sounds about as thrilling as clipping your toe nails, but the reality is that this bill will effect your life in a number of ways, especially if you want to buy or refinance a home. If this bill becomes law the mortgage industry, already suffering under a difficult credit cycle, will cease to exist as we know it.
In it's place will return the bad old days of mortgage lending, when it was impossible to buy a home with less than 10% down and when big banks set the interest rate, not the market. This isn't a return to local lending, something that already exists with the millions of mortgage brokers that provide financing to Americans today. This is a return to big corporate banking and unless your credit is perfect, get ready to rent for a long, long time. The only question is, why would Barney Frank do this?
Here's the skinny on what's so wrong...
There has, admittedly, been tons of bad coverage about mortgages going bad in the US. Basically, an entire industry is being dragged down by a few bad actors, less than 2% of the brokers in the US. The real problem is with builders like DR Horton who own their own mortgage companies and steer home buyers to them by offering incentives... but only if the buyers use THEIR mortgage company.
In reality, this bill will do little to stop bad lending practices. The only thing it will do is make sure that there isn't anyone to keep the banks honest. Without mortgage brokers keeping the market competitive, there's no one to help you. Further, the laws and regulations we have now are enough but, like the EPA, the money to enforce them is lacking. Why isn't Frank concentrating on that? He can propose an appropriations bill as easily as any other member of Congress.
November 04, 2007
Schumer and Feinstein cave
Political reality is not something that Chuckie Schumer is comfortable with. Neither is Diane Feinstein who has functionally become the Western Joe Lieberman. Torture, on the other hand, is A-OK with the Senators who are now falling over themselves to support AG candidate Mukasey whose prevarication on torture is a real cause for concern.
Not to mention that politically it's a loser because it hands a victory to what should be a wholly irrelevant President. Some have said 'Bush is attacking them for doing nothing on Mukasey! They had to do something!'. Those people are idiots... SHOW me the polling that says Bush's hits are landing. Show me a poll that says anything other than 'Disregard the President'. You wanna know why Congressional approval numbers, even for D's, are in the toilet? WEAKNESS.
Needless to say, if you want to know why a solid Democratic agenda is not moving forward and why Bush seems able now, at will, to slap Congress around, you have only to look at Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein.
So, I'd like to ask your help... it's not so much but it'll at least help me feel like I'm doing something. Hopefully you'll feel the same way. Cut support for the DCCC and DSCC. Support individual candidates in elections. Ask them, point blank, how they feel about compromise for the sake of compromise? Ask them if they know how to fight when something is important. It's obvious Schumer and Feinstein don't. Let's not forget that marginalizing the DCCC and DSCC won't have much of an impact... it's not like their brill strategies won 2006. It was people being fed up that won 2006. Don't ever make the mistake of confusing luck with skill. There is precious little of the latter at either organization.
So, there is always, the why. Well, Mukasey was Schumer's compromise candidate. Problem is, like most things Chuck Schumer does, he did a piss poor job vetting this guy and now has to stick with him lest he lose face. Seriously, you think bloggers and activists are petty? Try a member of Congress, especially a Senator like Chuckie who wants to think of himself as the intellectual heir to Daniel Patrick Moynihan (he's the only who thinks that, by the way). As for Feinstein, she's just senile. Seriously, someone ask that old woman to retire. She needs to be in assisted living, not Congress. But I digress... what was the issue on this? Was there another reason for being 'terrified of this debate'? Terrorism and the Democratic fear of that debate. Wimps.
Many Republicans, however, are happy to have the Mukasey debate turn into a high-profile showdown over the treatment of terrorism suspects and contended that this is profitable terrain for the party. "Democrats are demonstrating their weaknesses on security matters, which will work to their disadvantage," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.).
Norman Ornstein, a scholar on Congress at the American Enterprise Institute, agreed that Republicans would "much rather be dealing with who's tougher on terrorists." But he also noted that Mukasey, who has no political ties to Bush, could turn into an independent force within the administration. Bush has won, Ornstein said, without being able to know precisely what he will get.
Y'all, we gotta get Cornyn out of Washington. He's just too old and too scared of terrorists. He'll give up anything, any right, for the illusion of protection from terrorism. He's the very definition of cowardice. And while we're on the subject of cowardice, what the hell is hte Washington Post doing referring to ANYONE who works at the American Enterprise Institute as a scholar? Heres how the first sentence of the second graf should have read...
"Norman Ornstein, a spokesperson on Congress for the right wing American Enterprise Institute, agreed that Republicans would "much rather be dealing with who's tougher on terrorists." "
Soooo not hard. But, again, I'm off topic.
Until the Democrats in Congress learn to speak with one voice and understand that compromise, while not a dirty word, is only acceptable after you beat the holy shit out of your opponent, we're going to keep being marginalized. While the Republicans are uniformly cowards, willing to hand over freedom for the illusion of security, there are a few Democrats who are weak and unable to really fight for what's important. Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein are two of those people. Support candidate who will pledge to marginalize these two, seniority be damned.
And quit being scared to have the terrorism debate. Whether you believe it or not, more than 50% of the voters in this country get it and we're tired of watching you cave in for assumed political expediency. Make the Republicans eat their cowardice and fear.
We're done being scared. You should be too, Chuck.
October 30, 2007
There are smart people in Longview
And one of them is named Sarah White...
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, was one of the members of Congress who voted against SCHIP reauthorization this month — despite recent polls showing about 80 percent of Americans support it nationwide.
Gohmert declares, "Low-income children should not be left without health care ..." But he excuses his no vote by criticizing "earmarks" in the bill and claiming that it "included a dramatic expansion of the program to many children who are not from poor families ..."
I guess it all depends on what you mean by "poor." A single parent with one child who makes $13,690 per year qualifies as poor
in America. That child would actually qualify for Medicaid. But CHIP was designed for children from families whose incomes are just above that level — it subsidizes private coverage for low-income working families so that kids can go to a primary-care physician, not just the ER. Earmarks, unfortunately are routinely added to all kinds of bills for such pork-barrel projects as Alaska's infamous "Bridge to Nowhere." Congress could and should end the practice of earmarks altogether — as one of several necessary steps to make itself accountable to voters again. But they make a lame excuse for voting against SCHIP.
Gohmert and others seem to be trying to scare us Americans into just accepting the status quo — expensive and inequitable private health insurance policies (if you can get one). Yet you don't hear them propose abolishing the generous government plan for their health care — a plan most Americans would feel fortunate to have.
Remember when the insurance industry first rolled out HMOs in the 80s? They promised that we would enjoy lower health care costs — and it would be easier to get in to see the doctor.
Instead, costs have soared and today's health insurance industry has become a gargantuan gatekeeper — fighting to keep our health care claims from storming the castle and raiding its treasure.
Gohmert claims that the Democrats "have taken the SCHIP program designed for poor children and used it to expand Hillary-care to unbelievable proportions." This 'ad feminem' attack seems to refer to his objection that states could enroll children of families who earn up to three times the poverty level. That's still only a total of $41,070 for a single parent and child to live on — and it may take a fourth of that to pay for private health insurance.
If recent history is any guide, the cost of private insurance will keep going up — and more working and middle class people will be unable to buy it. Yet anything that could cut into profits for the financial sector will usually get labeled "socialistic, communistic" or downright left-handed by some detractors.
Despite the mudslinging against so-called "Washington-controlled" health care, there's nothing really so scary about a government-supported health care program. Since the 1960s Medicare has helped secure health care for America's seniors. Our children deserve the same kind of concern.
Won't someone, ANYONE, run against the absurdly stupid Gohmert?
October 29, 2007
More on the US Attorney scandal
Congress is continuing it's hearings and a Republican former AG dropped Bush and his minions in the grease...
Richard L. Thornburgh, who served as attorney general under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, accused the Justice Department yesterday of prosecuting a prominent Pennsylvania Democrat for political reasons, one of a series of cases singled out by House Democrats as examples of alleged GOP meddling at the Justice Department.
Thornburgh, who served as attorney general from 1988 to 1991 and whose law firm represents Cyril Wecht, a nationally known coroner from Pittsburgh, testified yesterday that Wecht had been indicted for mail fraud and a "hodgepodge" of other charges by overzealous prosecutors keen on pleasing political appointees in Washington.
"He has always been a contentious, outspoken, highly critical and highly visible Democratic figure in western Pennsylvania," Thornburgh told the House Judiciary Committee. "In other words, he would qualify as an ideal target for a Republican U.S. attorney trying to curry favor with a department which demonstrated that if you play by its rules, you will advance."
October 26, 2007
Oversight... Waxman at work
For those of you who, like me, have been disapointed in the Democratic Congress not taking on the Administration directly, the WaPo reminds us that investigations are ongoing. Lot's of them. And we have Henry Waxman to thank for finally forcing Congress to do it's job by checking Presidential power...
Waxman has become the Bush administration's worst nightmare: a Democrat in the majority with subpoena power and the inclination to overturn rocks. But in Waxman the White House also faces an indefatigable capital veteran -- with a staff renowned for its depth and experience -- who has been waiting for this for 14 years.
These days, the 16-term congressman is always ready with a hearing, a fresh crop of internal administration e-mails or a new explosive report. And he has more than two dozen investigations underway, on such issues as the politicization of the entire federal government, formaldehyde in Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers, global warming, and safety concerns about the diabetes drug Avandia.
"We have to let people know they have someone watching them after six years with no oversight at all," said Waxman, 68. "And we've got a lot of low-hanging fruit to pick."
Republicans have their share of complaints. They say that Waxman's staff cuts corners, plays "gotcha" with witnesses and committee Republicans, bypasses GOP staff members by interviewing witnesses rather than depositioning them, and would rather investigate than legislate. But even some of them speak with grudging admiration.
"For the administration, and for a lot of others, people need to be careful now," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (Va.), the ranking Republican on the committee. "Someone is looking over their shoulder."
Republicans and Democrats say that Waxman has marshaled three ingredients from his staff -- tenacity, experience and loyalty -- to make it one of the brightest spots on the new Congress's otherwise mixed record. The number of Democratic staff members has doubled, to about 75, since the party took control. About 25 investigators make up the core of Waxman's team.
We all have to remember that oversight is a painstaking process and the American people are lucky to have someone like Henry Waxman taking on the task. When the final chapter is written in the book on the history of Republican incompetence during this era, it'll be Waxman who comes out the hero. Not just for saving taxpayers billions, but by taking those responsible to task for their illegal actions.
Democrats roll out S-CHIP, Part 2
With some slight modifications to make Connecticut native George W. Bush and his Republican killjoy's happy, the Democrats are advancing S-CHIP v. 2.1
Just one week after failing to override President Bush's veto, House Democrats will put a new version of their $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program to a vote today, hoping that minor changes will win enough Republicans to beat Bush this round.
The new version will underscore that illegal immigrants will not have access to the expanded program. It will ease adults off the program in one year, rather than the two in the vetoed version. And it establishes a firmer eligibility cap at 300 percent of the federal poverty line, just more than $60,000 for a family of four.
The move took Republican leaders by surprise. Bush administration officials yesterday voiced conciliation, suggesting the president could accept legislation that would expand the program by about $20 billion over five years, far bigger than the $5 billion expansion that Bush initially proposed. At the same time, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt has been meeting with House and Senate Republicans, urging them to hold the line against an even larger bill. And Bush continues to oppose the tobacco tax increase that Democrats want to fund the measure.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) has been meeting all week with some of the 45 House Republicans who voted for the first bill, looking for ways to win the dozen or so votes that supporters needed to override another veto. But Democratic leaders have yet to reach out to the Republicans who voted against the measure.
"When they need my vote, they don't even have the courage to ask me for it," complained Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.), who has suffered through a barrage of advertisements from Democratic allies accusing him of forsaking children.
Oh, Congressman Keller... you have no idea how bad it can get. Think those ads are bad? Just wait for the ones that'll roll next summer. Real tear jerkers.
EOW wants to know how fatass John Carter is going to vote (oh, don't look at me that way... bitchboy is starting to look like a bleached out version of Rerun from What's Happening!) and I want to know how Mike McCaul (R-ClearChannel Communications) will be voting. Will Mike vote for the health of children AND lower property tax bills for his constituents, or will he vote to make some idiot from Connecticut happy?
People are watching...
October 25, 2007
Rangel's tax bill : EXCELLENT WORK
FINALLY, the Democrats roll out a great tax bill that fixes the AMT, closes corporate loopholes (while dropping corporate rates a little to keep job growth good) and fairly distributes the tax burden by cutting taxes on the middle class and raising them on the rich and super rich.
Under the plan unveiled today, tax burdens would be altered through an array of changes affecting ordinary households and businesses. Some of the highlights:
* Eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax. This proposal is intended to prevent the AMT from hitting 23 million households this year. The AMT was imposed in the late 1960s to make sure that the wealthiest Americans paid at least some tax, but it has applied to a growing number of households because it is not indexed for inflation. Given the difficulty of passing his overall plan, Rangel plans to move forward with a short-term bill to defuse the AMT for this year.
* Impose a surcharge on higher-income people. The most affluent taxpayers, earning at least $200,000 for couples filing joint returns, would face a new surcharge of 4%, moving up to 4.6% for those earning over $500,000.
* Reduce the corporate income tax. The top rate for the corporate income tax would fall from 35% to 30.5%, a move supported by the Bush administration to enhance U.S. competitiveness. At the same time, the plan would seek to end a range of provisions that Rangel views as loopholes.
* Ease burdens for working families. To accomplish this, the plan would increase the standard deduction, make the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor more generous, and increase the amount of the refundable child tax credit.
* Increase taxes for managers of private-equity funds, the investment pools that often buy publicly traded companies and take them private. Executives of these funds have claimed earnings at a 15% capital gains tax rate, rather than the 35% they might otherwise pay for ordinary income. Rangel said today that such favorable treatment was not justified.
Stick with this plan, Democrats. Across the board. No one listens to the Republicans tax policies. Why? Because they are all geared toward income stratification (concentrating money with the richest Americans). Further, we have got to start paying the debt and reining in future deficits which are about to balloon back up because of the Bush tax cuts. It's the only way to secure the long term future of the United States.
Now we'll be able to talk about infrastructure improvements and securing entitlement programs, two things that'll help the economy and business more than a tax cut.
Fantastic job, Congressman Rangel!
Obama and Hillary stick with Dodd
October 23, 2007
Yes, Kay Granger SHOULD know better...
...than to vote to sustain Bush's veto on S-CHIP.
Of course, she should also know better than to give people a recipe for liquid ass.
Per the release...
"For the last five months I have been exploring a race for the United States Senate because I believe that our junior senator, John Cornyn, has let Texas down and is more concerned with his cronies and friends in Washington than with what's best for Texas.
"After spending the last several months putting everything into this
campaign, I have seen the toll this effort has taken on my young children.
For these reasons, my wife and I have made the decision that I will not be
seeking the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate in 2008. I
was brought up to believe that public service is a noble endeavor and I will
continue to be involved at some level in the future. However, I realize that
my time now should be devoted to serving my children so they may grow up in
a healthy environment with both parents at home to meet their needs.
"The reasons for creating my exploratory committee still exist. As I have
criss-crossed the state and met and talked with tens of thousands of good
Texans, it is evident how much the people of Texas want and need a Senator
who will fight every day for their interests and not the special interests.
We need to elect a new Senator in Texas and I will personally do everything
possible to support the Democratic nominee.
"It is hard to express the gratitude I feel for all the support my family
and I have received as we have pursued this effort. I know that our vision
for the future of Texas is one that all of our friends and supporters share.
It's been one of the greatest blessings of my life for their faith in me,
and for all of their hard work over the past months. While the decision not
to seek the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate has been a
difficult one, I know that it is the right one for my family at this time."
I gotta tell you, running for office is a pain in the ass, especially statewide. It is unbelievably hard on families and I can completely understand this, especially since he has younger children. While I didn't like him as a candidate for Senate against Cornyn, I do have a tremendous amount of respect for the man and what he's accomplished in this life.
Thank you, Mikal, for exiting as gracefully as you entered and for helping to bring attention to this race.
October 19, 2007
Bush discovers fiscal responsibility?
Reid and Pelosi need to eat this son of a bitch alive...CT Native Bush is threatening to veto the budget bills and he's still lying through his teeth about tax revenues since his tax cuts took effect, further proving that he understands the Laffer Curve as well as I understand the vagina.
Not to mention the fact that his new found 'fiscal responsibility' is all BS.
Stanley Collender, managing director of Qorvis Communications and a federal budget specialist, said the debate is disconnected from the improving deficit numbers. "It's purely a power play by the White House," he said. "If these spending bills were coming from a Republican-controlled Congress, the president would be signing them and applauding the House and Senate for their fiscal responsibility."
Democrats are just as eager to fight over spending proposals, particularly the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Bush, who did not veto a single appropriations bill while Republicans controlled Congress, rejected a bipartisan proposal to more than double spending on SCHIP over the next five years. Polls show Bush on the wrong side of public opinion, and many congressional Republicans have opposed him on the issue, although not enough to override the veto.
"What happened to compassionate conservatism?" Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean asked in a statement Monday. "President Bush and his Republican friends are willing to spend billions of dollars on their failed Iraq strategy, but they have no problem denying our children the health care they need and deserve. That's just plain wrong."
White House aides recognize that the SCHIP fight is, in many ways, a political loser, but they hope to portray it as part of a broader struggle over spending and taxes.
We need roads. We need schools. We need police. All these things will grow the economy and the tax base. THESE projects are reasons to run a deficit and Congress should get to it. You don't run a deficit to send money overseas so you can invade a country and fail at rebuilding it.
Let him veto... then beat the hell out of the Republicans until they override. Don't let yesterday be the end.
Now they're concerned about bin Laden?
But after an afternoon of partisan sniping, Democratic leaders put off that vote because of a competing measure from Republicans that . . . declared that nothing in the broader bill should be construed as prohibiting intelligence officials from conducting the surveillance needed to prevent Mr. bin Laden or Al Qaeda “from attacking the United States.” Had it passed, it threatened to derail the Democratic measure altogether.
Democrats denounced the Republicans’ poison pill on Mr. bin Laden as a cynical political ploy and “a cheap shot.” But Democratic leaders realized that they were at risk of losing the votes of a contingent of more moderate Democrats who did not want to be left vulnerable for voting against a resolution to stop Al Qaeda, officials said. So the leaders pulled the measure, promising to take it up again next week once they could solidify support.
Let's see... the Republicans had year after interminable year to find bin Laden and they failed. Bush even joked about it. FAILED. Even still, some of the D's in the House got all flustered like a bunch of kids...instead of beating the Republicans down. Girls and boys, let me tell you a little secret : Bullies will keep needling you until you throw a punch. They are losing the PR debate. No one listens to or believes them any more. They have to do this. You have to fight back. It's that simple.
In the Senate, Leahy sniped at the W. Va. Lawnchair and Dumbass Feinstein bleated on about how wonderful bipartisanship is, even when it tramples over the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans...
At the second day of confirmation hearings for President Bush’s Attorney General-nominee Michael Mukasey, Leahy warned that “the Intelligence Committee is about to cave on this,” citing pressure from the White House and press reports suggesting the administration had gotten its way.
“[Administration officials] know that it was illegal conduct and that there is no saving grace for the president to say, ‘Well, I was acting with authority,’ ” said Leahy. “Otherwise there wouldn't be so much pressure on us to immunize illegal conduct by either people acting within our government or within the private industry.”
Leahy’s remarks signal that a bipartisan accord to overhaul the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), reached Wednesday by the Intelligence panel’s leaders and the White House, could divide Democrats and hit a roadblock on his panel as well. The Intelligence Committee marks up the bill Thursday afternoon, after which it will be referred to Judiciary, where more Democrats have openly opposed retroactive immunity language.
His comments also come as House Democratic efforts to overhaul the law are falling into disarray, after House Republicans used parliamentary maneuvers to force leaders to pull the Democrats’ FISA rewrite from the floor late Wednesday.
Attempting to resolve a central point of contention, Senate Intelligence panel Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) reportedly reached a deal Wednesday with Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell to give full retroactive immunity to telephone companies if they can demonstrate they were cooperating lawfully with the secret wiretapping program when suits were levied against them.
Not all Democrats on the Judiciary Committee appeared to share Leahy’s concerns. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sits on both the Judiciary and Intelligence panels, signaled she was likely to support the bipartisan approach.
“At this stage, it is a bipartisan bill,” Feinstein said. “I’m absolutely convinced that the only way we can legislate on this is on a bipartisan basis. This bill so far is bipartisan — that’s good news.”
So, bipartisanship for the sake of being bipartisan? Yeah, just because you guys caved into the demands of the Republicans doesn't mean it's 'bipartisan'. You might want to check with your constituents in CA, Diane.
The bottom line on this is that even AG Ashcroft wouldn't sign a letter releasing the telco's from liability. They had no 'get out of jail free' card. FISA even gave the Administration 48 hours to obtain a warrant, AFTER the tap had been initiated. Under current law, there is no reason for the Administration to have done anything illegal. Further, there is no reason for a private company to have cooperated with the illegal activity.
Sen. Dodd's hold may not be enough if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has his way(CQ)...
Tim Starks of Congressional Quarterly reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to bring the Senate’s surveillance bill up for floor debate in mid-November. That’s despite the hold that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) plans to place on the measure — something first reported by Election Central’s Greg Sargent.
The Senate intelligence committee is still marking up the bill behind closed doors, according to staffers. A joint statement from committee leaders Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kit Bond (R-MO) will follow when the mark-up concludes, but that may not occur today.
Click here to support Senator Dodd. This bill needs to die and the Democrats in Congress need to run the debate.
October 18, 2007
Chris Dodd with the save!
Chris Dodd is putting a hold on the wiretapping bill because of the telco immunity. More to come...
Expansion of FISA...
I'm pretty pissed after reading this so let me summarize what's going on with FISA expansion.
Rockefeller, Chair of the Senate Intel Committee, supports a compromise version that includes immunity for companies that cooperated with Bush's illegal wiretapping. The bill still has to get through Senate Judiciary and Leahy and Specter have both said they want more information. We can only hope they don't fold up like the West Virginia Lawnchair. The House version of the bill isn't that bad and does provide some protections. It was pulled from the floor yesterday because of Republican shenanigans. The Senate compromise version hasn't been seen yet. However, we do not it includes immunity for telcos that cooperated with Bush's illegal wiretaps.
I'm as pragmatic as the next guy but Constitutional protections are something you don't play politics with, especially when you have such broad support on the issue. So why would the D's cave? Fear...
But conservative Democrats worried about Republicans' charges that the Democratic bill extended too many rights to suspected terrorists. "There is absolutely no reason our intelligence officials should have to consult government lawyers before listening in to terrorist communications with the likes of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and other foreign terror groups," said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).
The measure "extends our Constitution beyond American soil to our enemies who want to cut the heads off Americans," said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.).
If you people are going to be intimidated by Gohmert then what kind of Democrats are you? This is a guy who speaks in nothing but hyperbole. It's so bad that his own constituents laugh at him. In East Texas. You wanna get him to shut up? Shout. His. Ass. Down.
As for Boehner, why is it so important for Republicans to protect companies that engaged in illegal activity and didn't obey the law? What do YOU get out of it, John? Campaign contributions? What IS your payoff, Rep. Boehner? We already know that there are Republicans who can be bought. The only question is if you're one of them. If you're not then why the hell support giving these folks immunity?
Why is it so important for you to not protect the citizens of this country, John? Wiretap restrictions aren't hurting our troops. Why is it necessary for you to hamper the Fourth Amendment Rights of the citizens of this nation?
These companies broke the law. I don't care what they thought they had by way of protection from the Federal Government. Don't give them immunity under any circumstances. Unless they produce, as law proscribes, a neat letter from AG Ashcroft.
What? They didn't get that? Then they don't get immunity.
The 'Weak' Nancy Pelosi
It's been difficult to criticize Speaker Pelosi, mostly because I realize she's in a tough spot as far as policy. However, both she and Reid have done an abysmal job of controlling the debate and messaging. On that, I don't think there is any disagreement.
Darin Murphy has a great piece up on Pelosi's performance on the View. It's obvious, she's not tough enough.
If there was any doubt before, which there wasn't, it's gone now. Watching Nancy Pelosi on The View yesterday morning provided the final proof that the backbone of the House is only as strong as its speaker. Her body language said it all. There she sat in the center of the table, sandwiched between Elizabeth Hasselbeck and the "Is the world flat? I don't know" lady, looking anxious and devoid of stately confidence. She could barely look in the eyes of America's Favorite True Believer on her left, who immediately smelled fear and pounced on her prey. "If the violence in Iraq had gone up," she started in (I'm paraphrasing), "you would be insisting that the surge was a failure. Now that the reports say it's gone down drastically, aren't you willing to admit that the surge is a success?" So what does Pelosi do? Does she make like Bill Clinton versus Chris Wallace, lean into her face and retort "young lady, don't try that little conservative hit job on me. You obviously don't know fudged numbers when you see them"? No. Instead she looks somewhere in Hasselbeck's general direction and squeaks meekly, "But that's still a lot of deaths." (I'm not paraphrasing). She then quickly changes the subject as she spends the rest of the interview leaning away from Hasselbeck and focusing on the three women on her right, wishing to God they had sat her down beside Whoopi.
Come on, Nancy! Stick it to them and start rolling bill after bill to the floor. Let Bush veto and keep bringing them back. It's time to take a stand and bury these losers. Have some fun with the S-CHIP override and make. them. cave.
I know you got it, Madame Speaker. I know you can do it. But please, for the love of God, don't let an idiot like Elizabeth Hasselbeck fluster you. Even if you come across as mean, put the bitch in her place.
ENDA and pragmatism...
I'm changing my opinion... it doesn't happen often but it's happening now. I think Congress should pass ENDA any way it can, even if it means dropping out protections for the transgendered.
The WaPo has a great article up on this. I'm not thrilled about the fact that so many members of even my own party won't vote to protect the transgendered, in fact I'm hugely dismayed. However, I'm loathe to attack people who are at least willing to support ENDA without the TG protections because the alternative (the REALISTIC one) features a large number of people that would like to see myself and every other LGBT person incinerated.
While not a perfect bill, it does go a long way to protecting gay and lesbian people who are, every day, fired from jobs without any cause other than being gay or lesbian. At the end of the day, you have to think about them. Is it fair to ignore them when we know that including TG protections will kill the bill outright?
Advancing Civil rights has always been a halting march toward more freedom. What we are seeing is that sexuality is no different than race. There is no reason for us to give up the fight and I know Democrats in Congress will continue to fight for TG protections.
October 17, 2007
Signing Statements and the Democrats
You know how Bush has been adding signing statements to almost every piece of legislation he's signed? My question is when are the Democrats going to pass a law overriding all those signing statements, retroactively? That's one piece of legislation that even the current crop of Republicans will be hard pressed not to vote for.
The statements are, after all, unconstitutional.
Bush is playing Congress like a fiddle
He's on right now beating them up on the slow pace of bills, not having the budget ready, S-CHIP, etc. Says the S-CHIP override vote won't succeed and he's right... problem is, politically, it's going to kill Republicans in 2008. The rest of it, like the Armenian genocide vote, is spot the fuck on. Congress is failing like a motherfucker, mostly because of the Republicans.
The budget is a punch that lands. Congress has to get off it's ass and that starts with the leadership. This press conference is a broadside attack. Congress needs to answer it forcefully and with no mercy for any of the Republicans. It's their fault nothing is being done.
And kill his candidate for AG. In fact, don't act on ANY of the nominees from the Executive Branch.
October 13, 2007
A tax proposal that makes sense...
Steve over at Who's Playin' has the deets on an upcoming Democratic proposal for a new surcharge to pay for the Iraq Occupation and the ongoing War on Terror.
If this war is important enough to fight, then it ought to be important enough to pay for.
We know that this proposal is going to be controversial – I don’t expect to get the support of our leadership or the support of our caucus at this point – but by putting together this bill we hope people will stop ignoring what this war is costing American taxpayers and call the President’s bluff on fiscal responsibility.
And please realize, that if such a proposal is not passed, and the war continues, one of two things will happen. We will either run up insurmountable debts, or we will drain the treasury dry of funds that are essential to making the domestic investments in education, health, medical research, science, law enforcement, that our crucial to creating a stronger country and more prosperous families.
It is time for the President and the Congress to face up to some really hard choices. It is time for all of us to face up to the consequences of the President’s actions.
I'm all for it. The Republicans have financed everything on a credit card and the result is declining economic prospects in the US and a substantially weakened dollar. It's up to the Demcorats to fix it. And woe be to any Republican who dares to call them tax and spend liberals. At least we don't pass our debts to our kids.
October 11, 2007
Draw your own conclusions...
Naomi Klein has written a thoroughgoing indictment of Milton Friedman and his Chicago School of economic theory which is functionally supply-side with a penchant for what Friedman called 'economic shock treatment'. Basically, you create the conditions that allow the economy to get sooo bad that the people will accept a change, any change, that promises to fix the problems. In theory, it should expand services and create wealth across every economic level. In practice, it creates massive stratification and does little to fix or create critical services. It also makes everyone not already wealthy destitute...
Klein argues that Friedmanian free market rules do exactly what they were designed to do: they don’t create a perfectly harmonious economy, complete with the much-lauded “trickle-down” effect, but rather, turn the already wealthy into the super-rich and the organized working class into the disposable poor. Further, she describes these orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, like war, as exciting marketing opportunities or “disaster capitalism.”
So, why even mention this? Simple. This is about to happen to us and you might as well be prepared for it. Since the supply-side revolution Reagan ushered in more than 26 years ago, we've seen economic stratification climb to alarming levels not seen since the Gilded Age. Despite the fact that it doesn't really help anyone other than those already rich.
Which brings us to the tax issue we mentioned yesterday. The supply siders will tell you that cutting taxes will increase economic growth and create surplus revenues. That's actually not true since it's dependent on the Laffer Curve and even it is subject to the law of diminishing returns. What's needed is a balance in marginal tax rates and efficient use of the money by the government, not endless deficits, mounting debt and low taxes for the already rich. That and the fact that tax policy has less of an impact on business conditions than interest rates.
Think, for a second, about our crumbling infrastructure, our rising deficit, underfunded entitlement programs... it's all leading up to a situation in which things will spin violently out of the control. Of course, when that happens, then we'll be ready for shock treatment.
Think it can't happen here? Cause a massive economic disruption in the US and people will accept anything that will fix it.
They elected Reagan, didn't they? Think of that as a dry run.
One other note about investments and taxes... I'm a HUGE fan of massive capital gains taxes, especially on gains realized in less than two years. Why? Because I hate traders and speculators. I'm a long term investor...THAT more than anything done by private equity companies actually provides long term stability and growth in businesses. It also stabilizes the retirements of hundreds of millions of people.
Betrayus the Sycophant...
Oh, I can't want to see the Congressional Resolution condemning the American Conservative...
In common parlance, the phrase "political general" is an epithet, the inverse of the warrior or frontline soldier. In any serious war, with big issues at stake, to assign command to a political general is to court disaster--so at least most Americans believe. [...]
David Petraeus is a political general. Yet in presenting his recent assessment of the Iraq War and in describing the "way forward," Petraeus demonstrated that he is a political general of the worst kind -- one who indulges in the politics of accommodation that is Washington's bread and butter but has thereby deferred a far more urgent political imperative, namely, bringing our military policies into harmony with our political purposes.
October 09, 2007
Someone tell Harry Reid to get the dick out of his ass
According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, making private equity managers pay the same taxes the rest of us pay isn't even going to come up this year.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has told private-equity firms in recent weeks that a tax-hike proposal they have spent millions of dollars to defeat will not get through the Senate this year, according to executives and lobbyists.
Reid's assurance all but ends the year's highest-profile battle over a major tax increase. Democratic lawmakers, including some presidential candidates, had been pushing to more than double the tax rate on the massive earnings of private-equity managers, who the Democrats say have been chronically undertaxed.
Harry, a word of advice... GET A BILL ON THE FLOOR. RECORD THE VOTES. MAKE THE REPUBLICANS TAKE A STAND AGAINST ORDINARY AMERICANS. I know you're kind of sloppy at PR, but not even bringing the thing to battle is just stupid. This could be a wonderful campaign issue, but if you don't let it come up then we can't use it as effectively. Damn, I know you're smart as a whip so why the fuck can't you see this?
This is a debate we're ready for. This is one we can win and crush the Republicans on economic issues. Get something, ANYTHING, moving and let's take the fuckers head on.
On the lighter side, Senator Obama has come out, chiding the lobbyists who kept this legislation down and trumpeted his intention (if elected) to close the loopholes that let private equity managers get away with this. My question? Why not do something now since you are, you know, IN THE FUCKING SENATE.
October 05, 2007
ENDA not SPLENDA
The Employee Non-Discrimination Act is being held in Congress... by the people who want it for one simple reason : it doesn't include protections for the transgendered.
Even though gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things - many people who have changed gender are not gay - leading gay rights organizations refused to abandon transgender people even if it meant delaying passage of a landmark bill they have sought for more than a decade.
That's because discrimination against gays and lesbians often is based on their refusal to conform to gender norms, advocates said.
"A lot of the discrimination against people who are gay or lesbian is coming less from hostility to a specific sexual orientation as from the expectation of what it means to be a man or what it means to be a woman," said Christopher Anders, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union who has worked on the anti-discrimination bill for years.
"The more masculine a gay man is, or the more feminine a lesbian is, the less the likelihood of discrimination," Anders said.
October 04, 2007
Housing : Democrats go after Bush
Yesterday, the Democrats went on the offensive regarding the foreclosure increase in the housing industry...
The effort by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others is an attempt by Democrats to step up pressure on the White House to respond to the troubles in the housing market.
Democrats have been critical of the Bush administration's response to the mortgage market problems, which started among loans made to borrowers with weak credit and has spread to other loans.
At an 11:30 a.m. press conference, the lawmakers are expected to reiterate calls for more funding to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. To alleviate strain in the mortgage market, they will also ask the Bush administration to further increase the investment portfolio caps for home-loan finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The Bush Admin said that HUD Secretary Jackson was on top of it but we all know that's not true. To date, all the Administration has done is block Congressional initiatives, even those with bipartisan support. They've also rolled out FHA Secured. Which is a great program. Problem is, no one is offering it.
No, I'm completely serious. My company is one of many that has survived this mess and will NOT be purchasing these mortgages via our TPO relationships. Why? Because we can't find anyone to take them from us. Bush was hoping that the market would react well to FHA Secured. Instead, the market has said, 'No Thanks'. Connecticut native Bush needs to realize that sometimes there are problems created BY a free market that simply can't be fixed by the free market. Government must create additional incentive if they ask private business to take on astronomically more risk.
It would also be nice if he'd stop being such and asshole about Agency expansion and let Congress get to work...
September 28, 2007
Student Loan Goodness - The Democrats start kicking some ass!
After screwing up student loans when they controlled Congress, the Republicans finally gave in to a Democratic plan to slash subsidies for private loan servicers and drop the interest rates on Government loans... as well as providing more money for Pell Grants. What does all this do? It makes college more affordable to more people.
Bush is, of course, pissy about having to sign it.
Nicely done, Democrats! And here's some video to help illustrate how this will help you. If you're a student. Which I'm not.
Now that this is out of the way, what's up with redesigning FHA and the Agencies? Give us mortgage lenders some love so we can start bailing people out of crappy subprime loans!
S-CHIP passes, Bush to veto
The House and Senate have both passed S-CHIP, though not by a veto-proof majority in the House. Of course, Bush has already said he'd veto the legislation. Which is great. It made me think, what WOULD get the President to sign the bill?
How about we hand the program off to private insurers. We then double the premiums and instead of spending the extra $35 Bn the Democrats in Congress want to spend over the next 5 years, we spend $70 Bn and let the private insurers take the difference.
Would that work? Will insuring poor and middle class kids finally makes sense to Republicans if we provide some corporate welfare to private insurers who are so operationally inefficient that they can't turn a profit without help from Republicans in Government?
A notable no vote was from our own Senator Cornyn who is still voting in lock step with the President. Even Hairdo voted FOR affordable children's healthcare. We really want to know why the hell Cornytn would want to continue representing a deranged lunatic and NOT the people of Texas?
I want to get rid of this guy so bad... if you do to, help me. Send a buck or two to Rick and let's retire Junior John from the Senate.
September 26, 2007
SCHIP, or Why I'm proud to be a Democrat
More than month ago, we talked about changes to S-CHIP. The bill has continued to move forward and Bush has threatened to veto it. To veto health care for kids. You might be asking why he'd do such a thing. Simple:
1) He doesn't care about the health of kids. He cares about the profits of private insurers who stand to lose if people finally discover that a government run health care system is a hell of a lot cheaper and more effective than that of the private sector due to one simple thing... less managerial overhead.
2) He's always gone with the most expensive option, the one that soaks taxpayers the most. Vetoing S-CHIP just creates another hole that taxpayers will have to fill.
In 2000, I left the Republican Party. I was never going to vote for Bush who I thought was an idiot and only looked good because of the hard work of Democrats in the Lege. It took me 2 more years and the invasion of Iraq to finally switch parties completely. The ridiculous tax cuts in 2001 actually did the trick on economic policy, but the rest of it came over the next couple of years.
I'd love to say that the Republican Party left me... it did in some ways, especially when it comes to the religiosity that's come to define modern Republicanism. The reality though is that the crazies didn't take over, they were always there and I refused to see them. As for the stance on economic policy, I finally realized that the Friedmanite bullshit being spouted by Ranroids was deeply flawed. That awakening began in 1996. It did take a while to finally settle in. Sometimes it takes people a while to realize that what they bought into was a load of crap. It always helps when it's the partner at the fund where your working who clues you in.
It's really the economics... only true believers would think that it's cheaper to spend money on emergency care than preventative care. True believers who are as dumb as a box of rocks, but true believers none the less.
Don't get me wrong, the Democrats frustrate the hell out of me at times with their weak messaging and occasionally self-aggrandizing behavior. However, I'm proud to be a member of a party that actually, on balance, tries to do the right thing.
I'm also proud so many others see this as a fight that needs to be won. This is where the Democrats need to take a stand and force this down Bush's throat. Check out BOR, EOW and BlueBloggin for more.
September 21, 2007
Yesterday, the United States Senate voted for a resolution condemning an American political organization for exercising it's First Amendment right to free speech. A resolution put forward by a man who has so thoroughly abrogated his oath of office that he's called The President's Senator. A man who can't be bothered to send our troops to war properly equipped and armored. A man who won't even let them have a leave they desperately deserve before asking them to return to the middle of a civil war.
The Constitution either means something or it doesn't. You don't get to condemn people for exercising their rights, even if you disagree with what they have to say. The 72 men and women who voted to condemn the MoveOn.org ad violated their oath of office. Further, they rose in support of a liar, a man who has become a political operative of this Administration. They condemned an organization for telling the truth. Where is the integrity we expect from our leaders? Does it always dissolve when it becomes politically expedient?
This is shouldn't be a political issue. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, if you voted for this political stunt you deserve even less respect than the man who stood up and lied about Anbar. A man who is, himself, playing politics while betraying the men and women under his command. Worse, he's betraying his fellow Americans. People like you and me. I can separate my criticism of him from my feelings for the troops. The American people can as well. Why can't Congress?
And I will NEVER accept even a scintilla of criticism from someone like George W. Bush, a man who abuses our armed forces while hiding behind them for political gain. A man whose political party made fun of a wounded vet by wearing band-aids with purple hearts on them. A man who led his party in DEMONIZING a quadriplegic Vietnam Vet. Not from him. Not ever.
Support MoveOn.org here.
September 19, 2007
Call Cornyn NOW
I'm all the time saying we should stop bitching about the Democrats not doing their jobs and instead beat up the Republicans so they'll have to shift their votes.
This is one of those times. The Habeas Corpus Restoration Act was up for a cloture vote. Cornyn voted against. Time to get on the phones and tell him to back down...(202) 224-2934. Reid may bring this back to the floor today.
All you have to do is browbeat the poor kid into getting a message to the Senators. RESTORE THE BILL OF RIGHTS. Vote for cloture.
September 18, 2007
Gay Republican # 1,906,489 - Rep. Patrick McHenry
Yes, there is another one. This time he's involved in some kind of weirdo murder/escort service thing. Either that or his ex-lover is, we're not entirely sure.
Sources tell The North Carolina Conservative that Drake volunteered on several Republican campaigns in western North Carolina, and was an associate of Congressman Patrick McHenry. Gonzalez is also believed to have been associated with McHenry in the past. Since being elected, McHenry has attempted to insure that all elected officials in his district are his supporters and cronies. This has caused a very nasty political war of attrition in the 10th District. Sources say that Drake worked on these campaigns as a surrogate of McHenry.
We're only posting this because it's become kind of a running joke...
September 14, 2007
We left too many in place in 2006
Democrats in Congress are being forced to move toward the center to get any traction on a policy shift in Iraq war policy because of Republican intransigence and a Presidential Veto from Mr. Temper-Tantrum at 1600 Penn. Ave. The White House is, of course, counting on continued support from Congressional Republicans to sustain the veto...
House and Senate Democratic leaders are now working in tandem on legislative efforts, knowing that if Iraq legislation can make it through the Senate, GOP moderates in the House will be more likely to change sides, Van Hollen said.
"If the Senate starts actually passing legislation, that could really change things," agreed Rep. Michael N. Castle (Del.), a GOP moderate who has been working with Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) on a more bipartisan approach to Iraq.
Administration officials are equally aware that congressional Republicans will be the key to the legislative fight, said former White House policy aide Peter Wehner. But White House officials believe the president's hand was strengthened by two days of testimony by Petraeus and Crocker.
"What this is really about at its core is congressional votes about a war policy," Wehner said. "And that policy will go forward as long as Republicans hold -- and that was the first order of business. And they achieved it very well."
'Go forward'. Stay the same. Continue the disaster.
We are moving toward a time when people ARE marching in the streets. Not students, HOUSEWIVES and BANKERS, REALTORS and TRUCK DRIVERS. Do you get this, Republicans? Ordinary people who don't think a lot about this stuff are becoming angrier and angrier while you people play politics.
We left too many of them in place in 2006. It should be obvious by now that we have to take as many of them out as possible. This just goes to show you that there is no such thing as a moderate Republican and the only good Republican is one you don't elect.
Donate to a Democrat today.
September 13, 2007
Cornyn : Day 20,287 as a douchebag
From Senator Box-Turtle himself:
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, this morning called on the Democratic leadership in Congress to condemn the full-page advertisement that appeared this morning in the New York Times suggesting that General David Petraeus is a traitor.
“Every American, including a Washington special interest organization like MoveOn.org, has the right to voice their opinion on the Iraq war. But to suggest that the four-star General leading the fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq has ‘betrayed’ his country is abhorrent.
I'll tell you what's abhorrent... a General acting for political purposes and a Senator who doesn't represent his constituents, abdicates his Constitutional responsibilities and makes himself THE lapdog of a deranged and out of control President.
Texans will be well rid of you in January, 2009. AND THE AD WAS SPOT ON. THE MAN IS A LIAR.
September 12, 2007
Cornyn still pimping for Bush...
Cornyn had a busy day with General Betrayus, the man who went to Congress to lie about the success of the surge yesterday. Click the Betrayus link if you think I'm being a little mean. The man has lied time and time again to further the political agenda of the White House.
Oh, yeah... I'm totally going to trust him over Shinseki or any of the other Generals who have talked about what a disaster this invasion has been.
This has been an exciting time for everyone who thinks 9/11 changed everything. Brit Hume has been saying that al Qaida was in Iraq before our invasion (an outright lie) and in general conflating the war with 9/11. For those I offer only this... two posts about 9/11.
Throughout the entire nightmare, Cornyn has been talking about success in Iraq and how well the Administration has done. He's been little more than a sock puppet with Bush's hand up his ass. Texans deserve better... they deserve Rick Noriega's leadership in the US Senate. Here's what HE had to say about Cornyn's performance and the Petraeus Report.
It's time for a change and you can help make that happen by clicking here. Maybe then we'll be able to elect a leader who will actually help us bring the mastermind of 9/11 to justice.
August 12, 2007
MOTO : EJ Dionne just doesn't get it
(For those of you you listened to Meet the Bloggers today, here is the post to which I was referring. It wasn't until the broadcast that I realized I hadn't published it yet. I could blame work, but the reality is I forgot. Because I was out doing fun things with fun people)
In the WaPo, EJ Dionne reveals the inside story of Congress' capitulation on wiretapping. Proving to be a master of the obvious, Dionne points out that Bush and Congressional Republicans forced the Democrats to either vote for the measure or be accused of being weak on terror. Duh. We got that, EJ. Wasn't hard to figure out the rationale.
Only in Washington does this argument make sense. The reality is, everyone knows Bush's War on Terror is, as Newt Gingrich has pointed out, phony as hell and they aren't listening to him or the Republicans anymore. In fact, Bush's credibility on this is close to that of a child vehemently denying eating chocolate but whose hands are covered in the melted evidence.
Because of this... irrational fear... a few Democrats caved and joined with the wannabe fascists in the Republican party to pass this abortion of our rights. As Dionne points out...
But if legislation was needed, there were many ways to grant necessary authority while preserving real oversight. The Democrats got trapped, and they punted. The Republicans have never met a national security issue they're not willing to politicize. This is no way to run a superpower.
You're right, EJ. Until the Democrats realize that it's not going to be easy, that they are going to have to face down the disastrous Commander in Chief and beat him soundly in a PR war, it's going to stay that way. Because of weak men like Chet Edwards and Nick Lampson who are too afraid to tell their conservative constituents the truth.
Until the Democrats realize they will win, they won't even bother to fight. And that's sad as hell for those of us working our asses off to elect more of them.
August 07, 2007
Congress, on Friday, approved warrantless wiretapping. Which is great and all because that was one of the issues that Democrats used in 2006. An issue which created broad support for Democrats across the country, mostly because people don't like the government eavesdropping without probable cause and, you know, a warrant. Which Bush was doing illegally. Now, Congress has made it legal. Probably not Constitutional, but legal.
How DID this happen? Well, let's just say the Republicans continued to vote to make '1984' the real world and a few Democrats helped that along. Democrats like Chet Edwards and Nick Lampson who voted for the bill, ostensibly, because they are from conservative districts and their constituents demanded it. Demanded that the government be GIVEN unprecedented authority to tap your phones and listen into your conversations. Yeah, I'm totally buying that.
This is about Bush's ridiculous failure in the war on terror and a LOT of Republicans and a few Democrats too scared of negative advertising. Everyone already knows that Bush is a fuckup. Everyone knows that He's failed abysmally. What they didn't know was just how willing the Congress would be to cave in and surrender OUR rights to an out of control executive.
You were scared, Chet and Nick, and you got bad advice from staffers who are obviously just as out of touch with reality as the President. That makes you weak sisters. Here's to hoping you both have opponents in the primary that actually believe in the Constitution. You're not only bad Democrats, you're bad Americans. You've betrayed your constituents and the millions who've fought to protect and defend this country and it's Constitution. I would expect this from a Republican, but not from a Democrat.
August 01, 2007
Turns out, Americans are pissed at the R's in Congress
We've seen a number of polls saying the same thing... that Americans are pissed at Congress for not doing more to end the war and put a real check on the power of our out of control President. As we've noted here, it's not the Democrats, it's the Republicans who are the real problem. Apparently, they didn't get the message of the 2006 election which was that Americans are, by and large, tired of their horseshit.
It's now obvious that Americans on the whole see things exactly the way we do...
Do you approve or disapprove of the way (ITEM) are doing their job?
7/21/07 Summary Table
Approve Disapprove No opinion
a. the Republicans in Congress 34 64 2
b. the Democrats in Congress 46 51 2
If things keep going the way they are, and Bush doesn't cancel the 2008 election through some ridiculous mechanism, we'll see a very Democratic Congress in January, 2009. Maybe then we can get something done.
July 31, 2007
Yeah, it's time Congress took control
You've seen it over the last two weeks or so, just as I have. The news about various Executive Orders designed, ostensibly, to protect this country but in reality will do nothing more than rationalize the conversion of this country from a Constitutional Republic to a Dictatorship. Oh, it will be done for our safety and security. All under the guise of 'continuity of government' and 'protection of the homeland from enemies internal and external'.
It's also bullshit and, unlike 2001, we aren't ready to accept it. Not by a long shot.
The executive orders are also wholly illegal. The Constitution of the United States makes no provision for it's suspension. There is no 'hold' clause. The Rights guaranteed within are absolute and can not be waived. No signing statement can overcome that, and no act of Congress can undo it, save the Amendment process. And now, it would seem, we have our legal reason for impeaching the President, violation of his Oath of Office.
Don't waste time calling the Democrats in Congress... call the Republicans. The Democrats would love nothing more than to remove him from office. FIrst, there needs to be a limit on Presidential pardons that restricts them to specific illegal acts, not a blanket for all crimes committed in the United States. With that out of the way, begin the impeachment process and amend the UCMJ to make sure that the military knows that there ARE unequivocal limits on the power of their Commander in Chief.
We live in an inherently unsafe world. We always have, though we've insulated ourselves with fences, military spending and a belief that we are protected. The fact of the matter is that no one can stop someone hellbent on killing people from doing just that. Banning all guns will not make us anymore safe than a police state. It's time Americans remembered what it MEANS to be American. Our freedom and liberty is far more important than transitory security.
Congress must act. If ever there was an issue that deserved bipartisan support, this is it.
July 20, 2007
What the man on the street thinks...
So, I'm totally loving it when the AP or some other news organization decides to run a man on the street piece involving polling data. This time, the data relates to a drop in the approval rating of Congress...
Public satisfaction with the job lawmakers are doing has fallen 11 points since May, to 24 percent, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll. That's lower than for President Bush, who hasn't fared well lately, either.
Bush has been taking heat over the Iraq war, his decision to spare a former top vice presidential aide from going to prison and his desire for an overhaul of immigration laws that critics said would give a free pass to illegal immigrants. His job approval rating in the AP-Ipsos survey remained virtually unchanged at 33 percent.
OK, so there's the data... now let's find out what some of the respondents have to say... lucky for us, the AP managed to include a Democrat AND one of the few remaining self-identified Republicans
Poll respondents from both political parties say they're tired of the fighting between Congress and the White House and want the two branches of government to work together on such issues as education, health care and the Iraq war.
"They don't approve of anything he does," Theresa Holsten, 55, a Republican and unemployed resident of Lawton, Okla., said of Congress. "He can't do anything right, according to what some people say. It irritates the living daylights out of me."
Tammy Lambirth, 42, a data researcher from San Antonio, disapproves of "all the fighting that they do all the time."
The latest tussle involves Bush's refusal to hand over documents and let former White House aides answer questions from the Democratic-controlled Congress about the firing of U.S. attorneys. The dispute could end up in federal court.
"The Republicans are just stonewalling everything, and the Democrats are just not stepping up and making them do what they need to do, especially about Iraq," said Lambirth, a Democrat. "They need to make our troops get out of Iraq."
Basically... we're pissed off that the Democrats in Congress can't get anything done because of the Republicans. So, overall, we'll cut the marks for Congress. Either that, or we're tired of them Democrats always telling Bush he's wrong.
Ms. Holsten, sweetie, you're UNEM-FUCKING-PLOYED. What the fuck are you doing identifying yourself as a Republican? Oh, and they're right. Bush can't do a fucking thing right. In point of fact, Ms. Holsten, all he's proven is his ability to make a thoroughgoing mess of things.
July 16, 2007
Editorial Wrap Up : Get us OUT of Iraq, fuckers!
Two editorials stood out to me today, both had the same point: Congress needs to get us out of Iraq now since the President has continued to follow is own insane advice and refuses to acknowledge reality.
This is NOT a 'let's beat up on the Congressional Democrats' post. They've done all they can to date. It's been up to the President to change and adapt. That hasn't happened. So, the only choice we have left is to put a terrific amount of pressure on Republican Senators and Representatives to flip and override a Bush veto on a withdrawal. In short, it's time for Congress to fully emasculate the crazy man in the White House.
To that end, the Star-Trib in Minneapolis-St. Paul is calling on Senator Norm Coleman to flip and join Senate Democrats in this effort.
President Bush, having dispatched top officials to Capitol Hill to shore up support on Iraq, saw defections occurring instead and ended up in a high-stakes power showdown on Thursday. After lecturing Congress on its role (consultation, by his lights), he emphasized his power as chief decider. But it's way past time for all that. Members of Congress must counter his stance with a strong new, and newly bipartisan, effort to responsibly end this war. ... Since Bush is having his logic all ways and clearly is in denial about the state of affairs in Iraq, senior members of Congress -- despite Bush's implication that they are overstepping their authority -- must get beyond their party interests and/or 2008 campaign maneuvering and craft a firm, joint message to Bush. Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, who has shown at least a limited willingness to differ with the president on Iraq policy, is in the right position to be a player in such an effort. But it can't be Sen. Levin this and Sen. Warner that. Just as it took truly bipartisan cohesion to get out of Vietnam, it will take more than a determined majority and a few straggling Republicans to turn Bush around.
Then this from the Sac Bee, for those Democrats out there who still want to beat up on the Speaker...
Three significant events happened last week regarding U.S. policy in Iraq.
First, the president issued a preliminary report required by Congress on progress in Iraq. It offers unwarranted optimism and no adjustments to Bush's current strategy. It states that the "overall trajectory" has "begun to stabilize" compared to the "deteriorating trajectory" in 2006. But, the administration notes, none of 18 benchmarks has been reached. In eight, "satisfactory" progress has been made; in 10, only "unsatisfactory" or "mixed" progress.
Second was the 223-201 vote in the House in favor of a bill (HR 2956) to require U.S. combat forces to start leaving Iraq within 120 days. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will bring back similar bills "as often as necessary, hopefully with an increasing level of support from our Republican colleagues, until pressure from the American people causes the president to change his mind and change his policy."
Third, Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., have drafted legislation that admits reality: A "unified, pluralist, democratic government" is "not likely to be achieved in the near future" in Iraq, and the U.S. military cannot "interpose itself indefinitely between sectarian factions." It rejects a "poorly planned or precipitous" pullout, but requires Bush to come up with a plan by Oct. 16 to keep U.S. troops from "policing the civil strife or sectarian violence in Iraq" and focus instead on protecting Iraq's borders, targeting terrorists and defending U.S. assets. Implementation would begin by Dec. 31.
The President has already shut the door on the Republican proposal, proving once more than he has no intention of working with Congress or acknowledging reality. Now you can be mad the Speaker for not bringing up impeachment (personally, I'd love nothing more but the investigations have not yet uncovered enough evidence to prosecute, nor are there the essential Republican votes to impeach... we don't have THAT large a majority) but don't jump up her ass over this. Call Republican members of Congress. ANY Republican member of Congress. Bitch them out.
June 27, 2007
UAW tries (and fails) to shit on the environment
As it turns out, the Big Three US automakers (soon to be known as the Three Little Pigs) teamed up with the UAW to kill tougher fuel efficiency standards in the Senate. This is being spun as helping Nissan, but in reality it helps every automaker who produces high efficiency vehicles.
Unfortunately, that group doesn't include any of the Big Three.
The UAW tried spinning this as harming as many as 17,000 US jobs. What this bill does is put American automakers on notice that they better rethink their business plans and get on hybrids ASAP since that's the only way they'll meet the new standards. That means the automakers and their suppliers are going to have to invest a lot of money. Which means jobs and future prosperity. I guess no one filled in the UAW's leaders about that.
Which is why they are running a union into the ground.
Alan Reuther, the UAW's legislative director, wrote that the proposal "would pose a serious threat to American automotive jobs and to efforts to promote the use of alternative fuels."
Stevens, the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, strongly rejected the UAW's arguments.
"There isn't anybody that's harmed in the long run. They all benefit by what we've done," Stevens said.
I find myself agreeing with Ted Stevens of 'The Pipes' fame. For this, I shall always hate you, UAW.
American autoworkers have been too long ill-served by terrible management at the automakers and even more horrendous management at their union. The time for change has come from the Local level on up. If you need any help, just let The Mayor and I know. He's not so much for unions in foreign countries (i.e., The Third World), but he loves them here.
June 25, 2007
Chet goes for redemption...
"For weeks, the White House budget office threatened to veto this bill, because it was above their request," Edwards said in the Democrats' weekly radio address. "Fortunately, the president finally backed down on his threat to this historic veterans' bill, but only after it was clear that Congress would override a veto."
But it doesn't nearly make up for this. Speaking of, you ready to vote to restore habeas corpus? Chet?
June 20, 2007
Speaking of Cornyn...
Turns out the junior Senator from Texas is kinda, you know, disliked. At least he is according to the people at Survey USA who supposedly know about such things
A new Survey USA poll released today shows that more Texans now disapprove of the way Senator John Cornyn is handling his job than approve. Only 42% of Texans approve of the way Cornyn is handling his job, with 43% disapproving.
Cornyn’s approval rating hasn’t cracked 50% since 2005 and has slipped four points since last month. Cornyn continues to have the lowest job approval rating of any incumbent running for re-election in the country.
“John Cornyn is about as popular in Texas as three-dollar gas and wool sweaters in June,” DSCC spokesman Matthew Miller said. “Texans have gone from quietly tolerating Cornyn’s poor record and partisan antics to actively demanding a change, and next year they’re going to have an opportunity to vote for one.”
For more information and links to the actual data jump over to StopCornyn.
(Thanks to SS for the pic!)
June 08, 2007
Leahy and Specter want to restore Habeas Corpus
Many of you may recall the hasty passage of the Military Commissions Act in the weeks leading up to last year's election, a bill that set new rules for trying detainees, in particular those currently being held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
The passage of this bill was a profound mistake, and its elimination of habeas corpus review was its worst error. Righting this wrong is one of my top priorities, and on the first day of this Congress I joined with Senator Arlen Specter to introduce the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act (S. 185). This bipartisan bill already has 17 cosponsors, but it faces a crucial vote in the Judiciary Committee this Thursday so we need your help.
Please e-mail your home-state Senators today and urge them to protect our fundamental liberties by supporting the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act!
The Congress has a ton of work to do to restore the civil liberties we've lost under Connecticut native George W. Bush. It's good to see them taking the first steps!
May 31, 2007
The result is still the same...
Here's a great article demystifying what it really means to de-fund the war. It's also a bad article because, in yet another way, it calls the Democrats in Congress cowards.
It also ignores political reality which is that any bill to 'de-fund' the war will fail because Bush will veto it and there are not enough Republicans who will cross to override the veto.
Until Republicans in Congress start feeling real heat, they are going to keep enabling their out of control President, Connecticut native George W. Bush. That's reality, it sucks and blaming Democrats in Congress is going to change none of it.
May 25, 2007
Oppel's totally hard for Mike McCaul
Admit it, Rich. Your dick gets hard every time you think of CD 10's Congressman Mike McCaul. I understand. Not what it's like to get hard over The Congressman From Clear Channel, that frankly grosses me out. I understand what it's like to have the hots for someone. I think even Sister Ruth has gotten moist over a guy before. But even she's never been all worked up about a guy who, during his commercials in 2004, did nothing but say 'Conservative'. Her crushes normally know more than one word and can, on occasion, string them together into real sentences.
Yeah, I guess you kinda forgot about how dumb Mike was when you were writing your Commentary in the April 29th issue of the AAS. Love makes you do all kinds of weird things like forget that the object of your affection has been little more than a rubber stamp for President Bush since he was elected in 2004. Like that he's been an enthusiastic supporter of tax cuts for the rich that have taken this country to the brink of bankruptcy. Like ignore that he's as much an ideologue as Tom DeLay ever was. In fact, given their voting records, it's pretty damn tough to tell them apart.
Rich, you obviously weren't impressed with Ted Ankrum in 2006 which is understandable given that you generally ignore Democrats out of some kind of misplaced hatred for them. However, in a solidly Republican district, with very little money against what should have been the safest incumbent in Congress, Ted got around 42% of the vote. No name ID. No incumbency. 45% (when you add in the idiot Libertarians number) of the people in the district voted for someone other than Mike McCaul even though, odds are, they didn't know who the hell they were voting for.
Do you think his numbers have gone up or down since then, Rich? I know the answer and I'll give you a clue... I think, in about 20 months, you're going to get to spend a lot of time here in Austin with the man who would be your boyfriend.
Last point about the moderate who thinks Bush needs to get us out of Iraq... he voted to sustain Bush's veto of the bill that finally put a timeline on our departure from Iraq. Sounds like quite the moderate to me.
May 24, 2007
Congressional Democrats on the hot seat
I love Keith Olbermann's special comment. So much, in fact, that I'm going to post it.
You know, there is something to be said for being as obstinate as Bush and cutting off all funding from the DoD. It's brinksmanship and it's a game the Democrats will likely lose. I like Olbermann's commentary because it fully encapsulates all the anger and frustration I and many others feel. I don't like it because it misplaces that anger and frustration which should rightfully be directed at two places... Connecticut native George Bush who vetoed the bill that placed a deadline on our involvement in Iraq and the Congressional Republicans who let that veto stand.
It is to them that I say 'We're done'. The American people see past your pathetic and cynical attempt to hold the men and women of the US Armed Services hostage to your failed policies and misguided attempts to remake the world. While we would LOVE nothing more than for Congressional Democrats to throw a giant wrench in everything, we know that isn't possible as long as Congressional Republicans feel free to continue enabling the disastrous President Bush. Just as they've done since 2000.
Congressional Democrats have held the good of the country above all since they assumed control in January, a marked departure from the actions of the far more partisan Republicans. Maybe it's time to let them really take the bitches on. And crush them. It apparently is the only way we're going to end our involvement in a civil war and bring our troops home. Go ahead, Nancy. Make Boehner cry.
May 15, 2007
Damn, I love me some Barbara Boxer...on CNN's Late Edition Sunday, Barbara Boxer thoroughly bitchslapped Sen. Lindsey Graham who wins the dumbass of the year award for still not getting that his talking points and bullshit are going to be met with force.
BOXER: I don't know anyone who opposes this war that ever said our troops are losers. Our troopers are winners.
GRAHAM: Harry Reid did.
BOXER: Excuse me. He never said our troops are losers. Now, Lindsey, just be careful what you say. The bottom line here is, the losers are the ones who have, you know, engineered this war, made a huge mistake, Dick Cheney, we're in the last throes, the war will last six months, and all of you who have supported this escalation and have turned us away from fighting al Qaida into putting us in the middle of a civil war.
Now, the fact is I want to be very clear on this, Wolf. I've lost in California 21 percent of the dead troops. You understand that? Twenty-one percent either were born in California or were stationed in California.
I have their names listed in the front of my office. If you come and see my office, they are all on these charts. And you know what, Lindsey? I have to keep making the print on the charts smaller and smaller to fit all the names on four full charts.
BOXER: So don't say anyone calls them losers. They're winners. The loser is the commander in chief who has not led our country well
Crooks and Liars has the video up... it's worth a watch.
May 09, 2007
Corpsyn votes against capitalism?!?!?
Somervell County Salon has the deets on Corpsyn's vote against price negotiation for drugs. Why the hell wouldn't he want to give America's senior citizens the ability to get the best prices for the medications they need to stay alive?
For that matter, WTF is a REPUBLICAN doing telling folks they can't negotiate for the best price? Negotiation is one of the foundations of modern capitalism. Is Corpsyn really a COMMUNIST?
Now he's voting against drug importation? Come on! Does this guy even care about ordinary Texans or only his big pharma donors?
May 02, 2007
In which I say something nice about Joe Biden
Anticipating President Bush's veto of an Iraq-funding bill that would set a timeline for troops to be removed, Democrat Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware told a South Carolina voter that Congress should "shove it down his throat."
Biden, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, made the comment Friday at a South Carolina political event. The remark was captured by a C-SPAN television camera and first reported on The Politico Web site.
I know his staff, boneheaded fucks that they are, will try to walk this back. However, this is the first thing that shitheel Biden has said that I actually think shows some fucking guts. Reality is reality... the surge ISN'T fucking working any better than anything else because our troops are now in the middle of a civil war. There are no 'terrorists' to fight, there are only Iraqi's wanting to fight it out. At the end of the day, only they can solve their problems. Saddam is gone. Let's move the hell on out of this fucking mess.
And now, I shall go back to remembering Biden's vote on the Bankruptcy Bill... a vote I will never forgive.
April 20, 2007
Would someone turn off the Lampson?
"It sickens me to know that I am a part of this body that would rather play politics rather than come up with the right kind of solution that this country can go forward with," he said. "This isn't a game of gotcha. This is real war, with real people dying every day."
Don't worry, Congressman. You probably won't be part of the 'body' much longer.
The problem I have with the D and R electeds in both chambers who are throwing a fit about the timeline is that they are STILL not seeing reality. Bush will keep troops there and try to put more in unless some kind of restraint is put in place. The American people are demanding it. Lampson claims this timetable is motivated by politics and it's just not true. It's motivated by an out of control executive who got us into a war based on doctored intelligence, hyperbole and, in some cases, outright lies.
In doing this Lampson is alienating not only his Democratic base but any Republicans he could have pulled who know damn well it's time to get the hell out of Iraq. I gotta hand it to whomever is running strategy for the Cogressman, they've found that difficult spot on policy where NO ONE IS HAPPY WITH THE POSITION.
Kuff's post on this summed up things rather well...
Look, it's very simple. George Bush is not going to do anything different in Iraq. His plan is to keep the troops there until he's out of office. The one thing he will never do on his own is begin a withdrawal of any kind. The only way to make that happen is to pass a law mandating troops withdrawals. There is no compromise here because he isn't going to budge. The only option to a "showdown" is to acquiesce to what he wants. I can't think of any good reason to do that, and as every national poll indicates, neither can a solid majority of Americans.
Kuff's always more diplomatic that I am, however on this we are in lock step agreement. Nick is looking for a compromise that does not exist. Like many foolish people, he is willing to give up his control over a situation in a vain attempt to compromise with someone who is thoroughly out of touch with reality. It would be nice if Lampson would realize that and another fact 'o' the day... that the best way to help the troops is to bring them the hell home.
And this is guy some want to run for Senate? Fuck a bunch of that. It's not like Nick would have a chance in Texas anyway... even against Corpsyn. Those of you living in CD 22 better start working on a primary challenger now, just in case Lampson does decide to run again in 22. If you want to be represented by a Democrat, you've really no other choice.
(while we do disagree completely with Congressman Lampson on this issue, we do wish him a speedy recovery...)
The totally true misadventures of a really bad AG
AG Gonzales finally got to testify yesterday and blew the Senate Judiciary away, not with quick and truthful answers to questions but with his complete incompetence.
I'm not giving this guy through the weekend.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- White House insiders tell CNN that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales hurt himself during testimony before a Senate committee Thursday on the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.
The sources, involved in administration discussions about Gonzales, told White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux that two senior level White House aides who heard the testimony described Gonzales as "going down in flames," "not doing himself any favors," and "predictable."
"Everyone's putting their best public face on," one source said, "but everyone is discouraged. Everyone is disappointed."
Imagine how we feel, 'one source'. This guy is our Attorney General and he comes across with all the credibility of a sociopathic liar. That being said, is anyone calling for his resignation? Sure. And that's just on the Republican side.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, said Gonzales should resign.
"The communication was atrocious. It was inconsistent -- it's generous to say that there was misstatements; it's a generous statement. And I believe you ought to suffer the consequences that these others have suffered," Coburn said, adding, "I believe the best way to put this behind us is your resignation."
Sen. Schumer is rumored to have wanted to have the CIA 'extraordinarily render' Gonzales to Syria. So that they could have a talk with him. Go for it, Chuck!
PDiddie who is inexplicably blogging at Feet To Fire has a highlight reel of what the freepers are saying. All I'm going to say about that is that they seem to be coming out of the delusion and reality is setting in.
May I recommend you start with a 'training liquor' like vodka or rum, then move on to the really fun stuff? Trust us, it helps numb the pain.
April 13, 2007
Democrats want to help with the subprime mess
I hate the term 'bailout'... it reeks of the Resolution Trust Corporation and assets being sold for pennies on the dollar, while taxpayers bear the brunt. However, that is exactly what some Democrats in Congress are proposing. Some of this is good, some of it is bad. What I dislike is the blanket assumption that all these people were taken advantage of. It's bullshit. 95-98% of this is bad acts on the parts of mortgage brokers and banks. The rest is pure and simple greed and stupidity on the part of borrowers. So, what to do to minimize the damage, especially going forward. I've got some ideas:
McBlogger's Handy Tips for fixing the
1) Disclosure, Compliance and Regulations... Don't add, enforce what's there already. Trust me, I've worked throughout the lending industry and there are more rules and regulations than anyone realizes. The problem is, enforcement is LACKING. It's like Congress made the rules, patted themselves on the back and then zero'd out the funding to enforce them. Predictably, not everyone complies. The solution here is a massive funding increase to HUD and the state agencies that oversee brokers and banks.
2) No damn Bailout. Keep in mind, many of these people KNEW what they were getting into. They made the decision assuming that their homes would appreciate astronomically allowing them to sell, realize the gain and move on to a more affordable place.
3) Borrowers... don't buy more than you can afford. If you're spending more than 40% of your gross income on TOTAL housing expense (mortgage, taxes and insurance) then you're just setting yourself up for trouble. Make sure you have at least six months of the payment in the bank at a maximum or three months at a minimum. When you own a home, you're responsible for the air conditioner, the water heater, etc. Make sure you have the ability to pay for repairs that may become necessary.
4) Require that borrowers with scores below 600 being credit counseling as part of the mortgage, coupled with credit repair. How the hell some of these people expect to refinance without improving their credit is beyond me.
5) Expand and modernize the Federal Housing Administration. Drop the 3% down payment requirement, raise the MIP cost slightly to compensate on new originations and raise the loan limits to 75% of conforming. Finally, streamline the lender approval and annual audit process. Make it easy for the brokers to set up for FHA and they'll do that rather than send borrowers to subprime.
Keep in mind that the real estate market is always driven by speculation and that periodically, there is a spike. Couple that with some irrational lending and you have the problems we have today. To fix it, return stability to the market. Which brings me to my final suggestion... implement an immediate 75% capital gains tax on all profits made from the sale of a home that's been owned for less than 2 years.
If you want to drive out speculators, tax the hell out of their profits. Speculation always ends up hurting people and when the final chapter is written on this particular bubble, they will be the ones that bear the majority of the blame.
April 12, 2007
Did John Cornyn break into my house and assrape me last night?
Just wondering... 'cause I'm sore as hell and it really feels like I just got fucked by a Republican (too fast, too hard and not nearly enough lube).
An even bigger joke? Corpsyn received an award from some newspaper group (they're still around... we use them for kindling) for supporting open government. Which is a bit like honoring Phillip Morris for their efforts to stop people from smoking.
April 10, 2007
Fat bastard says what?
"We can keep the benchmarks part of the bill without saying that the troops must begin to come back within four months," Levin said. "If that doesn't work and the president vetoes because of that, and he will, then that part of it is removed, because we're going to fund the troops.
Carl, the President has y'all between a rock and a hard place. The reality is that the American people handed control of Congress to the Democrats to stop President Bush from needlessly prolonging this conflict. The only way you're going to do that is to put a timetable in and hold to it. The only mechanism Congress has to control the President is the power of the budget. So, you're going to have to suck it up and end this thing.
The hard to face truth, at least for some, is that we've taken this as far as it's going to go. The longer we stay in Iraq, the more likely it becomes that a real force will materialize and remove our troops. We are not an army of liberation, we are an army of occupation and that NEVER works out well. There is no mission left to accomplish... there is only pain and suffering for the troops and their families. The only way you are going to end that, Senator Levin, is to put the brakes on a maniacal, out of control President.
Cut the funding. Make him come to you.
April 05, 2007
Y'all take off the gloves now...
... cause it's pretty clear el Presidente's ready to throw down.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush named Republican fundraiser Sam Fox as U.S. ambassador to Belgium on Wednesday, using a maneuver that allowed him to bypass Congress where Democrats had derailed Fox's nomination.
Democrats had denounced Fox for his 2004 donation to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The group's TV ads, which claimed that Sen. John Kerry exaggerated his military record in Vietnam, were viewed as a major factor in the Massachusetts Democrat's losing the election.
Recognizing Fox did not have the votes to obtain Senate confirmation, Bush withdrew the nomination last month. On Wednesday, with Congress out of town for a spring break, the president used his power to make recess appointments to put Fox in the job without Senate confirmation.
This means Fox can remain ambassador until the end of the next session of Congress, effectively through the end of the Bush presidency.
I can't believe even a single Republican in Congress would let this happen without turning on Bush. In fact, I'd be surprised if more than a few didn't flip parties. Y'all better start thinking about it because it's sure as hell clear now that none of you can be trusted and bipartisanship is something only Democrats care about. In short, if you want to salvage your party, you better start toeing the Democratic line.
March 15, 2007
Corpsyn still acting like a douche
From the TDP...
Yesterday, U.S. Senator John Cornyn actually voted against protecting America from another deadly terrorist attack by opposing legislation to accept the recommendations of the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission. The bill (S.4), which passed the Senate with bipartisan support, will enhance homeland security, allow for more efficient emergency response and increase efforts to stop proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. [Roll Call vote #73, 3/13/07] A similar version was approved by the House of Representatives earlier this year.
"I can't imagine what John Cornyn could possibly have against policies that protect the American people from those who would do us harm," said Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Amber Moon. "After nearly three years of Republican foot-dragging, Congress has finally heeded the advice of the 9/11 panel and taken meaningful action to secure our homeland - despite John Cornyn's opposition."
John Cornyn has turned his back on Texas and refused to support a bill that:
* Tightens airline, port and rail security with more thorough cargo and baggage screening
* Equips first responders with tools that allow them to more effectively communicate with each other during emergency situations
* Increases the sharing of intelligence information between government agencies
* Strengthens our border with international collaboration on border and document security
* Allocates more funding to higher-risk areas
* Prevents terrorists from acquiring WMDs
The 9/11 Commission was created by Congress and approved by President Bush to evaluate America's response to the September 11th terrorist attacks. In 2004, the panel submitted 41 recommendations to improve homeland security and guard against future attacks on American soil.
However, John Cornyn and his Republican leaders in Congress refused to adopt many of these recommendations, while others were only partially implemented. It was not until Democrats took control of Congress this year that the Commission's report was fully adopted.
"Voters across Texas and the country have solidly rejected the failed agenda of Republicans like John Cornyn," added Moon. "I applaud Congressional Democrats from Texas, who are working to make America a safer place and unanimously supported the 9/11 Commission recommendations. In less than three months, Democrats in Congress accomplished what Republicans put off for nearly three years"
Well, I guess it's little wonder why Corpsyn isn't bleating on about how secure he's making us. What a partisan dickhead... he'd vote to make us more susceptible to terrorism just to spite the Democrats. Way to really give a shit about your constituents you assclown.
February 20, 2007
Flowers, specifically. Free trade in general
While giving testimony on trade issues last week, the following exchange occurred between US Trade Rep Susan C. Schwab and Rep. Pascrell.
"Imports do matter," Schwab assured him. "They matter to people who went out and bought roses today for their sweetheart, where they were able to buy inexpensive flowers at Safeway or Costco, where maybe a few years ago it would have been much more expensive to buy long-stemmed roses. That's trade."
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) took no comfort from Schwab's point. "Those very flowers come from countries that have child labor and forced labor, and that's why the prices are cheaper," he said. "And if we don't concern ourselves about that, then we are not the country we pretend to be."
Not to mention all the American flower growers (yeah, there are many of them) who have been put out of business by cheap imports. This is just one example of where free trade isn't exactly free. We need to really examine our trade commitments and what they will mean to people here in the US.
February 19, 2007
Time to sac up...
Jeez, Joe. Did you have to screw us?
Hat tip to Truth Serum
February 16, 2007
Gingrich back in the mix...
While I sit here at Discount Tire, reading Latina and Parenting (even though I'm neither) I thought y'all mightwant to know what the opposition is up to?
"A conservative back-bencher who fired up a lackluster gop and grabbed victory in 1994, Newt Gingrich is being tapped by the newly out-of-power group to help map a return trip," according to Washington Whispers.
Said one GOP insider: "Unlike anyone else in the party. Newt knows how to fight back."
Though he intially recommended a more conciliatory approach, he's now challenging his party "to bark loudly and often at Democrats and use parliamentary moves to thwart the opponents. His first order to conservative rabble-rousers: Take over the gop message. Next, he suggested tactics and rules to delay legislation and tricks to trap Democrats. Finally, drop a bomb the media will love."
If there's anyone to be focused on, it should be Newt. He should never, ever be ignored, kinda like a chronic illness.
Lamar Smith (R - Douche) files a bill
That's right, San Antonio's own Lamar Smith (who actually now resides somewhere on the east coast), has filed a bill in the new Congress to make sure that someone can read your online correspondence and IM's.
Who wouldn't want the ORIGINAL creepy old man to read their convos?
A bill introduced to the US House of Representatives would require ISPs to record all users' surfing activity, IM conversations and email traffic indefinitely.
The bill, dubbed the Safety Act by sponsor Lamar Smith, a republican congressman from Texas, would impose fines and a prison term of one year on ISPs which failed to keep full records.
"A crime is still a crime, whether it occurs on the street or on the internet," said Congressman Smith.
"In this age of increasing digital and technological sophistication, cyber-crimes and cyber-terrorism pose a serious threat to the US. Law enforcement and the private sector must be prepared to deal with these crimes."
The bill includes a separate clause that would force the owners of sexually explicit websites to include warning labels on their web pages, or face jail.
Also included is a 20-year "jail tariff" for anyone ordering child pornography that crosses state borders, with a $150,000 fine for the ISP that allowed the transaction to take place.
Yes, crime is a problem and people use all kinds of communication channels to plan their crimes. So, why exactly don't we go after them, Lamar? Why are you requiring that EVERYONES communications be recorded? That's like using a 200 ft wide net to catch a minnow which is funny since we've heard you're kind of like a minnow (it's the smell).
Josh Nelson has more at The Agonist on the impacts and contact list for those who want to reach and get this thing quashed.
This is a terrifying development and it must be stopped before it gains any significant momentum. Background, Action items and contact information below the fold.
Under the guise of reducing child pornography, the SAFETY (Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act) Act is currently the gravest threat to digital privacy rights on the Internet. Given the increasing tendency of people, especially young people, to use the Internet as a primary means of communications, this measure would effect nearly all Americans in ways we are only beginning to understand. Also, given the fact that the Act requires all Internet Service Providers to record the web surfing activity of all Internet users, this amounts to the warrantless wiretapping of the entire Internet.
There are two ways to make members of Congress listen to your concerns.
1. Inundate them with phone calls and emails.
2. Get negative media coverage of what they are trying to accomplish.
Please contact any or all of the people and organizations listed below. Let them know that the SAFETY ACT, as it is written, is not acceptable.
Rep. Lamar Smith, web form, 202-225-4236
Rep. Steve Chabot, (202) 225-2216
Rep. Tom Feeney, (202) 225-2706
Rep. J. Randy Forbes, (202) 225-6365
Rep. Trent Franks, (202) 225-4576
Rep. Elton Gallegly, (202) 225-5811
Rep. Dan Lungren, (202) 225-5716
Rep. Mike Pence, (202) 225-3021
House Judiciary Committee Chair:
Rep. John Conyers, (202) 225-5126
A few media contacts:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, CJ@MSNBC.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Dwycliff@tribune.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Editors@newsweek.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, GWashburn@tribune.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, James.Rainey@latimes.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, JPeres@tribune.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, JTrippi@MSNBC.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, KOlbermann@msnbc.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Letters@newsweek.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Lionel@LionelOnline.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, MMFlint@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, MPossley@tribune.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, NETAUDR@abc.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, NewsAlert@letters.washingtonpost.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Paula.Zahn2@cnn.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, WebEditors@newsweek.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, WestT@thirteen.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
I have taken the time to compile this information. If what you have read here disturbs you, please take action on this or do more research on your own.
February 14, 2007
Cornyn's still riding the short bus...
More over at TexasKaos on why Cornyn decided to vote against increasing the minimum wage. Why? Because he thinks it'll hurt small business. Of course, he's wrong on this since most small businesses will be unaffected by the increase. What he really means is that his corporate
sponsors donors will be hurt by this.
January 26, 2007
Video from the Senate Judiciary...
Did you miss the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week? I know I did. Sister Ruth of course saw the whole thing and said it was a laugh riot. Did I ever tell you that Sister Ruth's bizarre obsession with CSPAN creeps me the fuck out?
ANYWAY, Somervell County Salon has a link to the videos up on Can-O-Fun. Check it out when you have some free time and see Specter go off on Gonzales (I have to admit, it did make me smile a little).
January 16, 2007
Druggy Drug-Drug.Benefit. Blah.
The Congress is voting to allow HHS to negotiate drug prices for the Medicare Drug Benefit. The White House is threatening to veto the legislation which begs the question... is Bush drunk at the wheel?
To maximize the government's savings, it would make the most sense to compare the best Medicare Part D price for a drug with a benchmark price like the price paid by the Veterans Administration or the Canadian government, both of which already negotiate drug prices, he said. At the top of the list will be brand-name drugs that cost Medicare many times more than what other payers pay -- and those should be the priority for negotiation.
Wait. VA negotiates the drug prices?!?!?!? VA is a part of the US Government. So is Medicare. Why the hell can one part of the government negotiate while another is forced to pay whatever drug companies want to charge (the equivalent of being screwed without vasoline or kiss)?
The problem is what benchmark do you use to negotiate with the drug companies? If you benchmark against the VA, then the companies could just raise the prices charged to the VA during the next round of negotiations. Then there is the formulary...
"There are effective tools for bargaining even without a formulary," Ron Pollack, executive director of healthcare consumer group Families USA, told UPI.
One example would be tiered formularies, he said. Manufacturers that refused to lower their prices would see their drugs moved to tiers with high co-payments, thus substantially limiting their sales.
Here's an idea... cut their patent protection. That is the one huge club the government possesses in this fight and it's time some of these companies get used to the idea that they need to play ball. Let them go offshore. Without patent protections, there will be hundreds of generic manufacturers that rise up instantly and begin to offer generic versions of any drug produced by big pharma.
The White House sees no way to effectively negotiate the prices. The HHS Secretary was just on talking about how this 'would limit choice' and that 'he can't find his balls to save his life'.
Why is Connecticut native George W. Bush sooo afraid of pharma? For that matter, why are the Republicans in our Congressional delegation so afraid of pharma?
This came from our friends at the TDP who evidently saw this as well...
"Texas Congressional Republicans voted once again to put their special interest donors ahead of the middle-class Texas seniors they are supposed to be representing," said Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Amber Moon. "Republicans kicked seniors to the curb when they voted to continue part of the DeLay sham drug bill that barred the government from negotiating lower prices. Drug company profits have reached record levels while seniors have been held captive to the whims of big pharmaceutical companies."
Under the current law, which Tom DeLay rammed through the U.S. House in
2003, the Health & Human Services Secretary is prohibited from
negotiating competitive and fair prescription drug costs while allowing
the pharmaceutical companies to effectively set a price floor.
Currently, states, Fortune 500 companies, and large pharmacy chains all
use their bargaining clout to obtain lower drug prices for the patients
they represent, and HHS should have that same capability for Medicare
beneficiaries. This legislation, opposed by 18 out of 19 Texas
Republicans in the U.S. House, would give the HHS Secretary the ability
to use the purchasing power of Medicare's 43 million beneficiaries to
achieve the greatest price discounts.
"Despite record profits, Texas Republicans are still willing to use
their vote in Congress to further benefit special interest campaign
donors at the cost of everyday Texans," added Moon. "Congressional
Democrats are taking the steps to undo some of DeLay's legislative
damage and address the health care issues facing middle-class seniors,
not wealthy CEO's."
A Families USA study shows that, over a 6-month period, the median drug
price increase among Medicare drug plans for the top 20 drugs prescribed
for seniors was 3.7 percent - which translates into a 7.4 percent
increase over a year, more than twice the rate of overall inflation.
Meanwhile, Pfizer reported in October its third quarter earnings had
doubled from the previous year. [Families USA, Big Dollars, Little
Sense: Rising Medicare Prescription Drug Prices, 6/20/06]
January 15, 2007
When even your friends turn...
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.: "It's, first of all, in my opinion, morally wrong. It's tactically, strategically, militarily wrong. We will not win a war of attrition in the Middle East... Madam Secretary, we've been there almost four years, and there's a reason for that skepticism and pessimism, and that is based on the facts on the ground, the reality of the dynamics."
Yeah, Incompetentezza and Gates did not get a good reception from even the Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which isn't surprising given that the plan they were there to whore is bad. Monday night I referred to Bush's plan as being analogous to the plans of bad gamblers to double down in the face of mounting losses. Good to see that I'm not the only one who think the analogy is apt.
"The human species grew up in the same world in which all other species did -- which is to say a world of limited resources. Once we spend any of our precious hoarded capital -- time, money, emotion, acorns -- it galls us not to get something valuable in return. Somewhere in our primal wiring, we thus developed a defensive tendency to do precisely what we shouldn't do when faced with the risk of grave waste: press our bets."
The most interesting thing to happen to Connecticut native George W. Bush in the wake of his speech? He's even being shunned by the military...
Soldiers being soldiers, those who met the commander in chief Thursday saluted smartly and applauded politely. But it was hardly the boisterous, rock-star reception Bush typically gets at military bases. During his lunchtime speech, the soldiers were attentive but quiet. Not counting the introduction of dignitaries, Bush was interrupted by applause just three times in 30 minutes -- once when he talked about a previous Medal of Honor winner from Fort Benning, again when he pledged to win in Iraq and finally when he repeated his intention to expand the Army.
November 18, 2006
Obviously, Hastert loves him some puppies, but the holdover DeLay staff apparently does not. They were about to walk out the next morning during her coffee and danish reception.
October 17, 2006
Sessions caves, returns Foley money
Anna over at Annatopia sooo rocks... not only did she break the story, she actually pulled enough attention to him to get it to cave in. A few years ago, after Foley's activities were already known, Congressman Pete Sessions (R - Carnival Scum) took a $1,000 check from him.
And only gave it back when someone called bullshit. That's a Republican for you...
October 12, 2006
Chris Shays is a douche
From the McBlogger Dept. of WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING?!?!?
Representative Chris Shays excused Denny Hastert's coverup of the Foley Scandal by saying...
"I know the speaker didn't go over a bridge and leave a young person in the water, and then have a press conference the next day," the embattled Connecticut congressman told The Hartford Courant in remarks published Wednesday.
"Dennis Hastert didn't kill anybody," he added.
Shays' comments recalled the Chappaquiddick incident, when Kennedy's car ran off a Massachusetts bridge, killing his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy did not immediately report the tragedy, and he later pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident.
No, Chris he didn't have an accident in which someone died. He just covered up (for what, five, maybe six years) the fact that a known pedophile was preying on children in the Congressional Page program. That's what Denny did. No one night traffic accident, YEARS of letting a predator do what he wanted to do.
And people I know wonder why I have such little respect for Congressmen/women. WTF is going on in CT?
October 10, 2006
Perfuming The Pigs
The AAS continues it's love affair with all things fat and Republican (not to mention, Republican Fatties ... yeah, I'm looking at you, Congressman Carter) with a puff piece on what great guys Congressman Carter (R-CandyAss) and Congressman McCaul (R-ClearChannel) are and how much they've done for their districts. Which is interesting and all because they've done fuckall for their constituents.
Carter and McCaul are keen on ferreting out wasteful government spending. Carter's crop insurance bill came from his teaming up with Tarleton State University on a data-mining project that found "$250 million worth of cheating" on crop insurance claims, he said.
"I am a true believer there are trillions of dollars we can find," Carter said. "With the modern technology that's available — data mining — I think we have great possibilities," Carter said.
TRILLIONS? Come on, Carter... even you can't be that dumb. The total federal budget is only around 2.1 trillion dollars. Even if 25% of that is wasteful spending, that's only $500 billion, not a trillion let alone trillions. I find it interesting, also, that Carter chooses to focus on farmers and $200 million while BILLIONS of dollars are missing in the Iraqi reconstruction.
I guess those farmers didn't give enough to Carter's 2004 re-election campaign. While he's focused on someone who is lying a little on their insurance claims (something that's not even been proven) large companies are stealing billions in Iraq. Billions of taxpayer dollars. Of course the stenographer who wrote the article in the AAS failed to mention that. Check out Mary Beth Harrell, the incredible woman who's running to replace Carter in Congress.
As for McCaul, all they could say about him was that he was ambitious and that he likes to scapegoat brown people for raping white women. Now, where have I heard that before?
Yeah, you might want to help out Ted Ankrum. I know he'd appreciate it.
Foley makes into yet another cycle
As Nixon learned, it's not the issue or problem itself that keeps people on something. It's the coverup. As far back as 2000, Republican lawmakers knew of (and covered up) Congressman Foley's way too personal emails and IM's with congressional pages. Check out the full story at the WaPo.
And right now, we make it to yet another day as the immensely stupid and lardilicious Denny Hastert gives ANOTHER press conference during which he says
he'll dismiss anyone on his staff found to have covered up concerns about ex-Rep. Mark Foley"s approaches to former pages.
At the very least, someone should really tell him not to drop his staff in the grease, especially when he's the one with the ultimate responsibility.
October 09, 2006
George Allen finds a new way to fuck up
What is it with this guy? Can he do anything right? The NYT has an article up on stock options that Allen received while serving on corporate boards between his time as Governor and his election to the Senate. Apparently, dickhead didn't report that he rec'd the options AND didn't report certain events to the SEC as the law requires insiders to do (and you're pretty damn inside if you sit on the BoD). Allen's people, who have to be the biggest retards when it comes to damage control since... ah, shit, I can't think of anyone off hand who's worse, said only that
his staff sought to play down his corporate dealings, saying they were a good learning experience but did not lead to any large amounts of money, except for a $250,000 windfall from Com-Net Ericsson stock.
Granted, if I won 250k I wouldn't be quitting the job that pays my bills. Still, it IS a large amount of money. Trying to downplay this is really dumb since the amount of money is not at issue. What IS at issue is that Allen didn't follow ethics rules. He also didn't follow SEC regs and therein lies the rub... that may be what actually ends up ridding us of Senator Macaca.
October 04, 2006
Dramatization of the Foley IM convo's
Frist says we can't win the war on terror...
Well, Bill, we probably can't. At least not the way you losers are fighting it.
The LAT is reporting that Sen. Frist (R - Telemedicine) is playing Mr. Happy while visiting our troops in Afghanistan. You know, the place that was actually involved in the war on terror (as opposed to, I don't know, IRAQ).
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said Monday that the war against Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan could never be won militarily, and he urged support for efforts to bring "people who call themselves Taliban" into the government.
Frist said he learned from military briefings that Taliban fighters were too numerous and had too much popular support to be defeated on the battlefield.
WTF? Is he channeling Representative Murtha? Could it be at long last that the evil Herr Docktor Frist is finally learning that reality is, indeed, reality?
The sad thing about all this is that Afghanistan should be a model democracy at this point. It would have been, had Bush and Co. put the time and effort into transforming the country. Instead, they pretended everything was great and went on to invade Iraq.
October 03, 2006
No, you're not an alci... you're a pedophile.
Foley's announcement Monday surprised Sarah Chamberlain, executive director of the Republican Main Street Partnership. Foley emceed the group's annual dinner Wednesday.
"At the dinners, he was always working, so usually he didn't have anything to drink," she says.
This is an afront to all dysfunctional AND functional drunks and alcoholics. We all know that at some point in our lives, like a muslim making the Hajj, we must try to make the trip to The Betty. This asshole non-alcoholic is instead going to some unnamed off-brand 'clinic'. He can't even fake things well enough to be believable. Have fun at Schick-Shadel, loser.
What a joke. Speaking of, Rawhide over at Pink Dome has some great (read: fucking awful) Foley jokes up.
September 29, 2006
Caught not in bed, but a live boy nonetheless
Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., resigned from Congress on Friday, effective immediately, in the wake of questions about e-mails he wrote a former page.
"I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent," he said in a statement issued by his office.
Foley, 52, had been considered a shoo-in for re-election until the e-mails surfaced in recent days.
Campaign aides had previously acknowledged that the Republican congressman e-mailed the former Capitol page five times, but had said there was nothing inappropriate about the exchange. The page was 16 at the time of the e-mail correspondence.
Foley's election opponent, Democrat Tim Mahoney, has called for an investigation.
The page was a 16 year old boy. In one exchange the Congressman asked him to send a picture. The boy then forwarded the email to a colleague in another R Congressman's office and used the word 'sick' 13 times.
I'm left wondering why this couldn't have been a creepy Texas Congressman like Lamar Smith or Jeb Hensarling?
In the supersize I am posting all the Texas Delegation votes on the bill that seeks to gut the individual rights of Americans and destroy the Constitution of the United States of America. Make no mistake, that WAS what happened yesterday, 'detainee/torture bill' be damned. The Congress of the United States decided to unilaterally end the rule of law which has existed for 217 years in this country and opted to surrender an unprecedented amount of power (functionally, dictatorial power) to the Executive Branch and it's current occupant, George W. Bush.
Every Republican and Democrat who voted for this is a traitor who violated their oath of office, betrayed their constituents and are now active participants in the effort to destroy the United States from within. While we can not vote against the supposed servants this year, we must NEVER FORGET THEIR BETRAYAL. That means we must re-elect the Democrats this year and we must eliminate them in the Primary. We simply can not trust Republicans, so it's essential that we re-elect these men and women. However, we must get rid of them in the next primary (for the members of the House of Representatives, in 2008 and for members of the senate in 2012).
The Democrats who allowed this to happen are the scum of the earth. Instead of protecting the people of the United States they, out of fear, turned their backs on us and handed power to a madman.
Mr. Bush attacked Democrats for voting against the legislation even before the vote began, signaling Republicans’ intention to use it as a hammer in their efforts to portray themselves as the party of strength on national security.
We would have stood behind you. We would have shouted down ANY Republican with the guts to defend this bill. Now, if didn't need your miserable asses, we would abandon you en masse. Unfortunately, we need control of Congress restored to the people so we will support you against the Republicans. For now.
This can not be forgiven. Not by a long shot. No excuse is good enough. There is no salve that will heal the wound inflicted on the citizens of the United States. My only hope now rests with the Supreme Court. May they strike down this wicked law and restore Constitutional rights to the citizens of the United States.
In the House of Representatives of the United States of America:
NAY Votes(TRUE AMERICANS):
Lloyd Doggett, Charles Gonzalez, Al Green, Gene Green, Rubén Hinojosa, Eddie
Johnson, Solomon Ortiz, Ron Paul, Silvestre Reyes
YEA votes (TRAITORS):
Joe Barton, Henry Bonilla, Kevin Brady, Michael Burgess, John Carter,
Michael Conaway, Henry Cuellar, John Culberson, Chet Edwards, Louie Gohmert,
Kay Granger, Ralph Hall, Jeb Hensarling, Sam Johnson, Kenny Marchant,
Michael McCaul, Randy Neugebauer, Ted Poe, Pete Sessions, Lamar Smith, Mac
In the Senate of the United States of America, both Senator Cornyn and Senator Hutchison voted FOR torture, FOR rape, AGAINST the Constitution and AGAINST their constituents, the people of Texas by voting YEA on this bill.
There's nothing I hate more than political sloganeering, especially when it's boiled down so much it doesn't even make sense anymore. From a CNN headline today.
President Bush counterpunched at Democrats on Thursday, saying their criticism of the war in Iraq has turned their party into one of "cut-and-run" obstructionists.
Ok, that doesn't even make any sense. In order to obstruct something, you have to block it, keep it from moving, in short, you are very much staying still and not budging. On the other hand, to cut-and-run very much would give on the sense of movement, fleeing, or leaving the general vacinity of a situation.
So how then, pray tell, does one be a "cut-and-run" obstructionist? Do you block policy by stealing it and holding on to it for dear life while you scamper away with it? Um, bullshit- now the President's just making up words again like a drunken 4 year old.
And how does one 'counterpunch' a political party? Was it giving the Prez too much sass so he grabbed it by its frumpled trashy hair and whamed it good against the formica tabletop? Is that a counterpunch?
Of course, nevermind the fact that 2 inches over from that impossible configuration of the English language was a story headline calling out
Poll: Nearly two-thirds say Iraq in civil war
Better be careful Bush. So much of the country is cutting and running that it's obstructing the bowels of democracy. Or some shit like that.
July 28, 2006
The Chinese can be so naive
So recently the Flag Burning Amendment reared it's retarded head again. HRC even wrote a version of her own which makes her a douche royale. Still, it's always interesting to see what happens in other countries when the flag is desecrated... and hear what they think about us.
From Riding Sun
When a Chinese used a hunting rifle to shoot at birds on a university campus, he shot a hole in the Communist's red diaper cloth [the Chinese flag] by accident. As a result, he was sentenced to 20 years in jail. In America, "publicly" burning the American flag on the street is regarded an expression of thought and an exercise of freedom of speech, and is constitutionally protected.
The day that I can burn the Chinese national flag at Tiananmen Square will be the day when mainland China becomes an "America" with democracy and economic wealth — a beautiful, good and wealthy country.
June 08, 2006
The Paris Hilton Tax Cut Act has failed
The Estate Tax, long the bane of poor Republicans who labor under the delusion that they will one day be rich, has survived. The Senate rejected a bill to eliminate it entirely. Now they'll move simply to make it irrelevant and/or chip away at it. Biden will be too busy looking at himself in the mirror and Hillary will be too busy fucking an intern to do anything, so the Republicans will likely succeed.
I want to see a death match between Hillary and Frist. I would pay for it with my potential lottery winnings from tomorrow night. Seriously, I know my numbers are about to hit.
May 26, 2006
PANIC! PANIC ooooooh, never mind!
The Sam Rayburn congressional office building in Washington was under lockdown for a while today while a report of shots being fired was investigated. In the end, it turned out to be a false alarm... just a repair man banging in an elevator. At this point, it is still unclear just who he was banging.
Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 01:40 PM
April 22, 2006
Radnofsky already having an impact
Barbara Ann Radnofsky, the Texas Democratic Party's candidate for US Senate, has been waging a well fought PR campaign against Kay Bailey Hutchison, the current Republican Senator from Texas (best known for voting for a bankruptcy bill that made it easier for creditors to force a borrower to give up their homes and for supporting cuts to Veterans benefits), based on Hutchison's lack of support for Texas Veterans. Apparently it's having an impact as Hutchison has recently began supporting two measures that Radnofsky was already strongly supporting.
The first is $75 Mn in funding for UT Southwestern in Dallas to study 'Gulf War Syndrome'. Granted it's not much but it's a start and desperately needed by the 100,000 Texas Gulf War vets. The second item has been a MAJOR Democratic cause, keeping VA hospitals open, this one is in Big Spring. Still no word on South Texas but with BAR continuing to make it an issue, we can expect that sometime soon Hutchison will do the right thing.
April 21, 2006
It's like trusting a drunk to operate a liquor store...
Seriously, the Congress is about the pass lobbying reform. Well, it's not so much 'lobbying' as 'bribing'. As for 'reform', it's that if you classify putting a fresh spin on the same old way of doing business as 'reform'. And hold your nose.
The Sacramento Bee has a great editorial up about this POS and a suggestion... turn over enforcement to the FEC.
The one reform that would matter is missing: Handing oversight and enforcement to an independent agency. Both the House and Senate continue to rely on a failed self-regulation model in which members of Congress are supposed to police their colleagues. This "fox-guarding-the-henhouse" approach is what needs fixing most.