Tuesday, October 25, 2005

the true value of Lubbock DFA

My blog is worth $2,258.16.
How much is your blog worth?

I'm a bit surprised. I kind of wish I knew how that was calculated. Try looking up your favorite blogs.

Iraq 2000

We have reached a very unfortunate milestone. Let us now turn back, and abandon this road to destruction.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Big Box Mart

You'll probably enjoy this.

This stops now.

I just finished reading this: http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/10/13/17128/734#comment_top

Really, I think the Democrat’s "win" on Social Security was much more important than people realize. Not only have we protected the system from thieves until at least 2009, the president really made himself look terrible on domestic policy. It was a very solid win for our side, and I'll always remember writing letters to the editor and visiting with Neugebauer's staff to make our opinions known. In a way, I feel that at least a little piece of the victory is mine, because I wanted it and I worked for it.

But I think, it was more than a self-contained victory. We really drew "first blood" on the issue on this second Bush term. It was really the first time we spoke truth to power in complete unison. It worked. And after that, the president knew he couldn't just roll us over anymore. He's a much weaker president now.

Sure, we've lost some battles, significant ones (the bankruptcy bill stands out), but I think we've "won" more often in the few months of this second term than we did in the entire first term.

I put win in quotations because an opposition party can't really pass it's agenda, it can only stop the agenda of the other side.

I'll take stopping the president. The way things are now, the loyal opposition is cruising toward a crushing victory in 06. We just might get W. to veto something.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Are you kidding me?

A while back, I held-off on blogging about the racial fall-out of Hurrican Katrina because I thought the horrible reality of it all was much worse than any spin could ever make it.

NBC/WSJ has a new poll out. The president's approval is at 39%, no surprises there. There was a bombshell hidden in the analysis:

Washington - Support for the majority Republican party in the United States is sagging as President George W. Bush's popularity continues to slide, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

A plurality of Americans, 48%, said they would prefer the Democrats to control Congress compared to 39% who want the Republicans in power, said the poll commissioned by United States television channel NBC and the Wall Street Journal.

The gap between the two parties was the largest recorded since the NBC/Journal poll started asking the question 11 years ago.

The Republicans hold a majority in both houses of Congress and face mid-term elections next year amid growing public concern over the war in Iraq and high energy prices.

The poll showed Bush's approval ratings dropping to 39%, the lowest of his presidency in the NBC/Journal surveys. Other polls have shown a similar decline with Bush's ratings falling below the 40% threshold in recent weeks.

Anxious about Bush's plunging poll numbers, Republicans in Congress have begun to break ranks and defied the White House on important issues.

The poll also revealed overwhelming opposition to Bush among African-Americans. Only two percent said they approved of his performance as president, the lowest level ever recorded in that category, NBC television reported.

According to the survey, US voters are anxious about rising gas and energy costs, with a majority saying they expected prices to increase further.

Investigations of prominent Republican lawmakers also appear to pose a threat for Bush's party.

Sixty-five percent said charges against Bush ally and former majority leader of the House of Representatives, Tom DeLay, suggested potential illegal activity.

A majority of 57% said an investigation into possible insider trading by the majority leader in the Senate, Bill Frist, indicated possible wrongdoing.

The poll, based on interviews with 807 adults, was conducted between October 8 and October 10 and had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

2 percent? Two? I'll go on record right now and say that if this poll is not an outlier, we will win a crushing victory in 2006. Ken Mehlman can sing and dance all he wants, they can continue to believe that somehow having Condi around proves they will do more for blacks than Democrats. After Katrina, 98% (jeez, that's an insane number) of African-Americans know better.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

What farmers are thinking, USDA web link

It's not that often we get to hear what's on the mind of the agricultural community when they are trying to speak truth to power. The transcript of Sec. of Agriculture Mike Johann's recent "listening session" in Lubbock should be a treasure-trove when it is posted at www.usda.gov/farmbill. If it's like the others posted from previous sessions elsewhere, the speakers' names and hometowns and affiliations with producer and marketing associations with be given. Watch for the transcript to be posted at www.usda.gov/farmbill.

Here are the questions Johann is asking at these "listening sessions" - the issues as framed by irresponsible taxcutting multi national corporate minions. Watch for straw men arguments - ha ha.

Question 1: The challenges facing new farmers and ranchers as they enter agriculture.

Some observers note that while farm policy has served agriculture and the country well in the past, there are "unintended consequences" that should be addressed, such as the capitalization of program benefits into land prices. These higher land prices are cited as a barrier to entry into agriculture for new farmers; a factor in reduced profit for existing farmers; and a cause of weakened competitive position on the part of U.S. farmers compared with farmers in countries with lower-priced land.

How should farm policy address any unintended consequences and ensure that such consequences do not discourage new farmers and the next generation of farmers from entering production agriculture?

Question 2: The competitiveness of U.S. agriculture in global and domestic markets.

As bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade negotiations continue to result in reduced barriers to international trade, exports and imports of agricultural products are expected to become increasingly important factors in U.S. and global agriculture. Obtaining ever-greater access to growing foreign markets and being increasingly competitive in these and in domestic markets is essential for farm economic growth. One key factor in our ability to be competitive depends on the types of products demanded around the world in the next 10 to 20 years and our ability to produce products that meet this world demand.

How should farm policy be designed to maximize U.S. competitiveness and our country's ability to effectively compete in global markets?

Question 3: The appropriateness and effectiveness of the distribution of farm program benefits.

A longstanding goal of farm policy has been to enhance and stabilize farm prices and incomes. Current farm programs, including crop insurance, distribute assistance based on past and current production levels. Some argue that the current farm support system encourages increases in farm size and results in the disproportionate distribution of program benefits to large farms. It has also been suggested that program incentives lead to increased production and lower market prices.

How should farm policy be designed to effectively and fairly distribute assistance to producers?

Question 4: The achievement of conservation and environmental goals.
While producing food and fiber are essential functions, agriculture also plays a major role in natural resource stewardship. Some have suggested that future farm policy might be anchored around the provision of tangible benefits such as cleaner water and air. Such an approach may be consistent with future World Trade Organization obligations on domestic support to agriculture, while also expanding farm programs to extend more broadly across agriculture, including private forest lands.

How can farm policy best achieve conservation and environmental goals?

Question 5: The enhancement of rural economic growth.

Farming and rural America once were almost synonymous. Over the years, the demographic and economic characteristics of rural areas have changed, as has farming's role in the rural economy. This raises the issue of whether more Government attention should be focused on investing in the infrastructure in rural America (for example, investing in new technologies).
How can Federal rural and farm programs provide effective assistance in rural areas?

Question 6: The opportunities to expand agricultural products, markets, and research.

Changes in farm and market structure over past decades have led to suggestions that farm policy could be more flexible by enabling greater support for a broader range of activities helpful to agriculture market expansion. Examples are: attention to product quality and new attributes; organic and specialty crops; value-added products, including renewable energy and bioproducts and new uses for farm products generally; expanded basic and applied research; domestic and foreign market development; and similar activities.

How should agricultural product development, marketing and research-related issues be addressed in the next farm bill?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

John Cornyn - he's for torture

A amendment to a defense bill that would "bar cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody" has passed with 90 YES votes. 9 Senators boldly staked out a moral high ground, voting NO and in effect, endorsing the pro-torture policy that the Bush administration has relied on for the last few years.

They no-brain nine are:

Wayne Allard - Colorado
Kit Bond - Missouri
Tom Coburn - Oklahoma
Thad Cochran - Mississippi
John Cornyn - Texas
James Inhofe - Oklahoma
Pat Roberts - Kansas
Jeff Sessions - Alabama
Ted Stevens - Alaska

John Cornyn, our Senator, has voted NO. John Cornyn, he's for torture.

You can call his office at (DC) 202-224-2934 or(LBK) 806-472-7533
You can email him at this website.

Ask his staff to explain why Sen. Cornyn voted NO on a bill that would "bar cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody." He will need a better excuse than the one he gave for being pro-lynching.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Federal Election Fund

What is it with Republicans and suppression of public opinions?

Our representative, Randy Neugebauer has proposed eliminating the Federal Election Fund. This is the $3 question on a typical IRS form, all citizens have the option of selecting "NO" on their tax form, in fact "NO" is the default answer. I have never paid into the fund myself, but I think it is ridiculous that average Americans would be denied the right to have a mechanism that forces presidential candidates to at least rely in part on non-corporate moneys. Just to spite Randy, I'll probably check "YES" next time on my IRS forms.

Randy is trying to make it seem as though the tax is some great injustice; but in fact, it is completely voluntary. I might feel much greater injustice if I felt my purposefully earmarked dollars was instead going to pay the contract of a Halliburton-Katrina project.

If he was really serious about cutting spending to pay for Katrina relief, he might be inclined to target the large pork giveaways to massive Agribusiness interests who day by day make small-scale and family farming unprofitable.

But what can you really expect with Randy? He's nothing special, just a tool of Tom DeLay, soon to be a tool without a user. He's a small man with a small solution to a Big Problem. At best, his proposal could "offset" some 500 million dollars, for short of the 200+ BILLION dollar Katrina problem.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I can't believe it's Miers

As you are probably aware by now, the president selected Harriet Miers to be his nominee for Supreme Court. It is a pick that is ridiculously good for Democrats, and I will explain why.

-Among all the candidates that were on the president's short list, there is every indication that Miers is the most moderate. She does not rabidly hate gays, nor is it likely that she wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. She does not find international law to be anathema. Of course, there is much we still need to learn about her. She is very smart, but it seems not as brilliant as John Roberts so clearly was. Expect her to have a more difficult time in her hearings.

-Miers was apparently "selected" by none other than Harry Reid, our leader in the Senate. I am confident in giving him the benefit of the doubt.

-Miers is a close friend of President Bush. This means we get to club them over the head repeatedly with the "cronyism" meme that has been working so well for us ever since Mike Brown really messed up as the head of FEMA. The president values loyalty over competence and we get to say that every time this comes up in the news.

-Miers used to run the troubled Texas Lottery Commission. This will let use club Republicans with the "corruption" meme that is working so well. We have Tom Delay and the bloated Republican Machine in Texas to thank for this one.

-Miers was the president's legal counsel, the same job that Alberto Gonzales once held. Miers was in part responsible for crafting the "legal" maneuvering into the war in Iraq. Last time I checked, that war was not very popular. Yes, we will club them over the head with this meme. Furthermore, how close to our war policy was Miers? Was she in any way responsible for our pro-torture stance? With the second batch of torture photos and videos recently ordered released by a federal judge, this could end up being a very explosive question.

-The Miers pick has really, really upset the crazy conservatives. They really wanted this pick to be their moment in the sun. They wanted Scalito, or Janice R. Brown, or Luttig, or someone with a proven pedigree of radical conservative philosophy. They wanted a fight and they expected to win. The president has just proven what we've known all along. The Republican Party (and Bush in particular) uses social conservatives to win elections, but it has no intention of ever rewarding them with their prize. They will not get to see Roe overturned. In many ways, this was the sweetest plum of all.

-How likely is it that those same conservatives will turn out to vote in 06? In 08? This will certainly put a damper on their spirits. Time will tell if it has a lasting effect. In the short term, the Miers pick will probably mean that Bush's poll numbers drop; he'll lose support with his base.

-Ultimately the president will not be able to use Miers to turn away all the bad news cycles that have been damaging and weakening his position. It is very, very easy to fit Miers into the "Iraq" argument, or the "Cronyism" argument, or the "Corrupt" argument. The list goes on.

-Will Miers be filibustered from the right? Not likely, but it is very bemusing to see how quickly the crazies have called for their Senators to filibuster their own president's pick. It proves just how silly that "up-or-down-vote" rhetoric is. The filibuster IS part of an up-or-down-vote, we govern by consensus, not majority.

-With the president so clearly weakened, maybe more Democrats will feel emboldened and excited. Perhaps those wishy-washy leaders we all bemoan just might grow a spine. Imagine the entire Democratic Party as an army of tough-talking, hard-fighting Howard Deans. Yes, that is what I want.

Of course, Miers just might turn out to be a Scalia in sheep’s clothing. I'll be plenty upset with Reid and myself if that turns out to be the case. I don't think that is likely.

In the short term though (and this extends all the way to the 06 elections) I believe that this has been a big political win for Democrats.

Booyaka! Tom Delay indicted by Grand Jury

You can read the still developing story here.

You might also want to send a few bucks to the soon-to-be U.S. Representative from Texas district 22.

UPDATE: Dopey me. It was Chris Bell who first brought an ethics complaint against Tom Delay. He deserves some credit for today as well.

BIG UPDATE: Tom DeLay has been served a second indictment. This time for money laundering. People might have been confused about the conspiracy charge. The charge of money laundering is crystal clear. Tom DeLay is a criminal and so are many of his friends.