Tuesday, April 29, 2008

duke it out

Are you sick and tired of the never-ending battle for the Democratic nomination?

Ever wanted to see a real battle to the finish? Now you can duke it out old school.

The New York Post has created an online video game in which you can choose your favorite candidate, and then knock the living daylights out of the opponent. Have fun!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Texas Blog Roundup: April 28, 2008

It's time to round up the week's best in the Texas progressive blogosphere!

North Texas Liberal analyzed the arguments from Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound, and Newt Gingrich in favor of the flat tax. See our conclusions here.

The Commissioner of the General Land Office of Texas is a monumental ass. PDiddie of Brains and Eggs has the dirty details in "Discussted".

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News informed his readers about the local elections and other events taking place in a Local Early Voting Edition.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson has This Week's Transportation Wrap-Up.

WhosPlayin resumes his watch on GOP Congressman Michael Burgess, and joins North Texas Liberal in rejecting his "flat tax" proposal as a tax increase on the middle class.

Hal at Half Empty wonders why Texas' junior senator, John Cornyn, doesn't support our troops.

Over at McBlogger, Captain Kroc has a real problem with some of the concessions the City made to a certain developer looking to build condos on Lake Lady Bird.

The Texas Cloverleaf promotes a story about more shenanigans in the Texas Youth Commission, this time forcing a Denton County superintendent to quit before she is fired.

Last week, KUHT (PBS Channel 8) in Houston ran a special on immigration and public attitudes towards it called Houston Have Your Say, which included public officials, activists, ordinary citizens, and a couple of bloggers. Off the Kuff was one of those bloggers, and he wrote about his impressions here.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that the Texas Association of Business is calling for education reform and wonders if anyone else sees the hypocrisy in that situation.

BossKitty at BlueBloggin looks at yet another VA screw up and continues to ignore the welfare of our troops in the VA Caught In Suicide Coverup.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

the tide is turning

Hillary has now pulled ahead in the popular vote.

double digits

Hillary won Pennsylvania by ten points.

Here's a message to the media and the other nay-sayers: don't ever count out Hillary Clinton!

Make a contribution to her historic campaign today!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Burgess Argues for Flat Tax

The News Connection ran an article in this week's paper that has been circulating by Newt Gingrich and Rep. Michael Burgess in favor of the flat tax.

The complexity of today's tax code is a consequence of countless deductions and exemptions aimed at promoting a variety of congressionally determined policy agendas. The result is federal law loaded with opportunities for avoiding taxes and exploiting loopholes at the expense of fellow Americans. Behind every loophole there is a lobbyist.

Very well said, but we'll come back to this.

No argument for GOP policy is complete, of course, unless it invokes the memory of the mythical one.
When President Reagan cut taxes in 1981, several good things happened. The economy grew, revenues increased, and jobs were created. It's hard to think of better medicine for our ailing economy than replicating successful reform of the tax code on an even greater scale. How do we do it? Flatten tax rates; simplify the code; and, shift the burden away from our families and small businesses.
This argument is a little hard to follow. Is the congressman implying that a tax cut is tax reform? If so, we have just experienced the most sweeping tax "reforms" in recent history. President Bush's tax cuts for the rich, which Burgess wholeheartedly supported, have been roundly condemned, adding trillions to our staggering national debt. We simply can't afford any more reforms like this.

The optional flat tax that Gingrich and Burgess propose would establish a deduction somewhere above the poverty level to exempt poor families, and eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax. So far, so good. Remember that first paragraph? Now consider this statement.
And if a person had twice as much income as another, he or she would be taxed twice as much. Furthermore, a single rate tax structure would eliminate taxes on savings, capital gains and dividends.
The flat tax targets income, but the rich don't make their money through salaries, they make it through investments. There's the loophole. The crisis in the subprime mortgage sector left thousands on the brink of foreclosure, but one hedge fund manager made over three billion dollars shorting the housing market. Under Burgess' flat tax proposal, he would not pay one cent of taxes on that money. According to Robert Reich, Clinton's former Secretary of Labor:
The 25 highest-paid hedge-fund managers are earning more than the CEOs of the largest 500 companies in the Standard and Poor's 500 combined. While CEO pay is outrageous, hedge-fund and private-equity pay is way beyond outrageous. Several of these fund managers are taking home more than a billion dollars a year.
Under the current tax code these fund managers pay a reduced tax rate of 15 percent. Burgess and Gingrich think that's too much. Burgess' entire tenure on capitol hill has been one huge valentine to the ruling class, but at least he is consistent. Gingrich is hoping no one will remember that when he was running for president he criticized fellow candidate Steve Forbes, who made the flat tax the central theme of his campaign. Consider the following quote from 1996.

Gingrich was particularly dismissive of the part of the Forbes plan that exempts interest and other unearned income from taxation while taxing wages and salaries at 17 percent. "That's nonsense," Gingrich said. "That's not going to happen."
Gingrich suffered from a failure of imagination. He couldn't conceive that a policy so flagrantly biased toward the wealthy would ever be seriously considered in the public discourse. What a difference a decade makes.

Bill Clinton once said of the 80's:
“The Reagan-Bush years,” he declared, “have exalted private gain over public obligation, special interests over the common good, wealth and fame over work and family. The 1980s ushered in a Gilded Age of greed and selfishness, of irresponsibility and excess, and of neglect.”
That was just a test drive. The current occupier of the oval office no longer even tries to hide the GOP's agenda. With loyal servants like Burgess to do his bidding, why bother?

The last sop in the Gingrich-Burgess proposal is for the business world. Their proposal "dramatically" reduces the corporate income tax rate. Now ask yourselves, if the poorest people, the richest people and corporations are all paying less taxes, who makes up the difference? Logically, the flat tax may mean a larger tax bill for the middle class, or additional debt due to reduced revenues. The authors were hoping you'd be so dazzled by that reference to the Gipper that you wouldn't notice.

Update: Whosplayin insists this proposal is a tax hike for the middle class. Click here for more.

Texas Blog Roundup: April 21, 2008

It's Monday, and once again time for another Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up. This week's round-up is compiled by The Texas Cloverleaf.

In honor of Income Tax day, Lightseeker at TexasKaos examines the Republican's tax cut claim here in Texas and discover that what it really amounts to is "tax shifting" and we are the ones getting shafted. Tax Shifting With Bohac's Assessment Cap as Our Example.

WhosPlayin notes that John McCain has proposed suspending the federal gasoline tax, and points out that McCain would do just as well to try to suspend the law of gravity.

The Texas Cloverleaf is helping to save the earth on Earth Day weekend with helpful tips for saving energy and your wallet, as well as picking up trash with Stonewall Democrats. Don't mess with Texas!

CouldBeTrue from South Texas Chisme wonders if all Republicans are Tom Craddicks in training. Listen to Nueces County Republican chair Mike Bertuzzi ignore all the 'Point of Order' calls at the county convention. Sound familiar?

John Coby of Bay Area Houston has the real press release from Rick Perry about his run for Governor in 2010.

Here are local activist Jose Orta's Impressions Of T. Don Hutto, Williamson County's immigrant detention facility, that were posted at Eye On Williamson after his recent visit.

At McBlogger, barfly analyses what's really important to the American voter in this hour of cultural brouhaha.

Off the Kuff takes an early look at the race for District Attorney in Harris County, which is sure to be one of the hottest local races this year.

Today is San Jacinto Day and PDiddie of Brains and Eggs will be at the commemorative ceremonies taking place at the battlefield near Houston.

BossKitty at BlueBloggin points out that Your $300 - $1,200 Economic Stimulus Payment Cost $767 Million

Hal at Half Empty questions whether one person running for President is actually temperamentally fit to be in that office.

Vince at Capitol Annex thinks it is terrible that Texas teacher salaries are so low that that more than a quarter of all teachers must work a second job to make ends meet.

North Texas Liberal reports on a homophobic journalist's question to White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, and the smackdown she gave in response.

George Nassar at The Texas Blue takes some time out of Friday's morning news roundup to point out that were the Bush administration to use a logical metric, it would be clear to them that the surge has failed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

perino shoots down homophobic aids question

At this afternoon's daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino shot down a homophobic question about gays in the military and the AIDS crisis.

Perino, who spoke primarily about this week's papal visit, began to answer a question about AIDS from the infamous reporter Lester Kinsolving, referring him to the National Institute of Health's information on vaccinations.

Kinsolving followed up with a question about demands that gays be allowed to serve in the military. The reporter never explicitly mentioned homosexuals or homosexuality, but implicitly referred to gays as "the largest spreaders of AIDS," and asked for assurance that President Bush opposed gays serving in the military.

Perino quickly rebuked Kinsolving. "I'm not going to dignify that with an answer," she said.

Here's the transcript:

Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions. The New York Times reports that in 1984, federal health officials predicted that there would be an effective AIDS vaccine "within three years, but no one yet knows whether a vaccine to prevent the disease will ever be possible." And my first question: Does the White House disagree with the Times on this statement and believe that AIDS is anywhere near to be conquered?

MS. PERINO: I'll refer you to the officials at NIH for their assessment as to when a vaccine may or may not be available. What the President is focused on is making sure that we lessen the suffering, especially by people around the world, through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. And that's going fairly well, and we are on track to double our commitment by 2010.*

Q There have been demands that our Armed Forces be forced to accept what the Centers for Disease Control still report is the largest spreaders of AIDS. And my question: The President not only opposes this for our Armed Forces, but hopes his successor will, as well, doesn't he?

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to dignify that with an answer.

Q You won't dignify it with an answer?

Perino then moved on to another question.

After the briefing, Kinsolving approached Perino to press the issue. He could be heard saying that he was just doing his job and that it was his right to ask the question.

"And it's my right not to answer," Perino said as she walked away.

Monday, April 14, 2008

woman arrested for dancing on jefferson memorial

A D.C. woman was arrested Saturday for dancing on the Jefferson Memorial.

Brooke Oberwetter was participating in a peaceful gathering to celebrate the birthday of Thomas Jefferson. Participants danced quietly while listening to their iPods.

The Agitator points to the supreme irony of the situation:

Of course, the real irony here is that all of this happened at the Jefferson Memorial, in observance of Jefferson’s birthday. Go out to celebrate the birth of the most hardcore, anti-authoritarian of the Founding Fathers, get hauled off in handcuffs. The photo’s almost poetry, isn’t it? One of history’s most articulate critics of abuse of state authority looks on as a park police cop uses his elbow to push a female arrestee into one of said critic’s memorial pillars.

The woman was released a few hours following her arrest.

DCist has more on the incident.

Texas Blog Roundup: April 14, 2008

It's Monday, and that means it is time once again for the Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up.

It would seem that the Republican Party of Texas (Republicans first, Texans last!) is looking for a few sweet young thangs! McBlogger at McBlogger has the story on the RPT's efforts to secure a few good young people.

Bradley at North Texas Liberal takes a look into the possible political aspirations of Condoleezza Rice... and tells us why she may be the Democrats' worst nightmare.

The Texas Cloverleaf asks if you're ready to strike over gas prices? Some truck drivers are. They aren't defenders of the Alamo, and are few and far between, but will their message resonate with the rest of America? Some of them say no.

With the resounding defeat of Shelley Sekula Gibbs last Tuesday in the GOP CD 22 runoff, this spells the end of her short-lived political career. Hal at Half Empty has created a video to commemorate the Shelster's last hurrah.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme suspects U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez will be looking for a new job. Soon. Seems that Carlos spoke the truth about that d*mn fence!

Lightseeker over at Texas Kaos marks the upcoming annual income tax deadline by bringing up a sadly evergreen topic Tax Lies That Republicans Tell. After all, if the didn't find someone to put money in to the treasury, where would the money to pay for their crony politics come from?

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal Newsis not catching up on sleep this time but reveals the predictions for four years his brother made the day after Bush was reelected. His brother gets the Cassandra Award and the media pundits don't have to worry about their jobs.

Doing My Part For The Left warns that voter suppression is not just a Texas problem.

Off the Kuff makes the case for investing in transit in Houston.

IVR polled the Skelly-Culberson CD-07 race, as well as Noriega-Cornyn, and came up with some interesting results. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs blogged it.

nytexan at BlueBloggin points out that most Americans are scrapping to get by, however, some federal employees are having tons of fun with government credit cards. Your Tax Dollars Purchased iPods, Internet Dating, Women’s Lingerie…

Sunday, April 13, 2008

flight schedules back to normal, says american

After a week of cancellations, Dallas-based air carrier American Airlines has announced that their flight schedules will return to normal.

The airline was forced to comply with FAA inspections of its MD-80 fleet, leaving over 3,000 flights grounded.

The airline's chief executive has taken full responsibility for the groundings and will hire a consultant to help it comply with Federal Aviation Authority safety rules in future.

He said that the groundings will cost the airline tens of millions of dollars.

Hundreds of thousands of would-be passengers were affected by the canceled flights. We're glad to see that things are finally resolved.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

why condi could be the dems' worst nightmare

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has suggested that she doesn't have political aspirations after the Bush administration comes to a close. Rice has said that she will "happily go back to Stanford" University where she is a tenured professor and former provost.

"It's not in my genes," Rice says of elected politics, adding that she didn't even run for high school president.

That's fair, but Republican strategist Dan Senor has said that Rice is running a behind-the-scenes campaign to be tapped as John McCain's vice presidential nominee.

And now, a Marist College poll says that a McCain-Rice ticket would win in November.

No matter who was at top, if Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama shared the Democratic ticket, they would still lose to McCain and Rice in... wait for it... New York.

Rice and State Department spokespeople have attempted to put the rumors to rest, insisting that Rice is not engaging in this behind-the-scenes business. But even if she isn't seeking the number two spot, perhaps after these polls... she will be sought.

So, let's discuss... will she or won't she?

guess who's coming to town?

Well, it's official. Laura announced today that they're definitely coming back to Dallas after George finishes his second term.

"I guess I can announce this in front of the press,” Mrs. Bush said at a National Parks Foundation event at Williams Preparatory school in Dallas.

“President Bush and I will be moving back to Dallas, which is where we lived," she said. "After 14 years away, we’re excited about having the chance to live here.”

I guess we'll be seeing them around soon enough. Any thoughts as to what they'll do with their days?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

farewell, pinkdome

A longtime favorite among Texas bloggers, PinkDome's Charlie Ray, is retiring from the blogosphere.

Thanks for what you've done for all of us... you'll be missed.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

runoff election results

Burnt Orange Report has projected the following races in today's primary runoff election:
Railroad Commissioner: Mark Thompson
32nd Congressional District: Eric Roberson

22nd Congressional District: Pete Olson
That's right, the Republicans rejected Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, who only received around 31% of the votes in her party's primary. The Republicans will now send Pete Olson to face off against the incumbent, Democrat Nick Lampson.

In a surprising turn of events, Mark Thompson defeated Dale Henry in the Democratic runoff race for railroad commissioner. In the run-up to the election, Henry's campaign revealed that Thompson had not voted between Nov. 1996 and the March 2008 primary in which he was a candidate.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Texas Blog Roundup: April 7, 2008

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It's Monday and that means it is time for another Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up. The weekly round up is compiled from submissions submitted by member bloggers. All the members remind everyone to vote Tuesday in the runnoff elections.

Matt Glazer of Burnt Orange Report writes about how the TexBlog PAC shattered expectations to raise $3782.09 from 106 donors over the past week, putting the PAC in position to make a $5,000 donation to a House candidate before the end of summer.

Refinish69 of Doing My Part For The Left gets election fever and decides to through his hat in the ring in Elections 2008- Yet Another One.

Off the Kuff takes a look at where the early vote came from in the GOP runoff and hazarded a guess about what it might mean for the candidates.

The civil rights movement effected us all, and continues to do so today. Over at Texas Kaos they're remembering the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King-in ways both large and small.

Corn? Soy beans? Those are for eatin'! The Texas Cloverleaf looks at the next best Texas biodiesel crop-- algae!

XicanoPwr reports on Texas' Child Protective Services (CPS) removal of 183 young women, girls and boy, ages 6 months to 17 years, from the Fundamentalist LDS Church's compound near Eldorado, TX.

Pete Olson, a Texas CD 22 candidate has elevated Hal's blog to that of a "prominent local Democrat blogger" In That's MISTER Half Empty, Bub, we get Hal's take on that.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson has the latest on a new GOP's scheme to finance toll roads around the state in Sen. Ogden Wants To Gamble With Your Money.

John Coby of Bay Area Houston comments on the High Cost of being a Republican McBlogger this week takes a look at a certain court case involving some SoftSoap and a naughty child.

Stace Medellin of DosCentavos writes about Senate Leader Harry Reid's statement on Cesar Chavez's Birthday. Reid gave the strongest response among Democrats and pointed to GOP obstructionist tactics regarding various issues affecting Latino Americans.

The Seventh Congressional District of Texas draws national attention and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has the linkage in Skelly Goes National.

Vince at Capitol Annex tells us that the recent uproar involving a criminal complaint filed over a blog is a wake-up call for bloggers' rights.

CouldBeTrue over at South Texas Chisme wants to beshocked that Chertoff decided to bypass all laws to build that d*mn fence! Republican arrogance and incompetence knows no bounds!