Annals of Global Warming: Polar vortex, explained in two minutes

January 10, 2014

As captioned in the Boston Globe:   Reuters  Frozen breath formed ice around the face of a Minneapolis resident on Wednesday.

As captioned in the Boston Globe: Reuters photo.  Frozen breath formed ice around the face of a Minneapolis resident on Wednesday.

2013 will probably rank as one of the top 10 hottest years in human history, and 2014 is on track to join 2013.

You wouldn’t know that from the denialists and those in thrall to them, who claim freak snow storms and historic cold show warming has stopped — though the snow and cold are caused by a breakdown in the jetstream and a slipping of the polar vortex, probably caused by global warming.

A two-minute explanation, from White House Science Advisor John Holdren:

White House description:

Published on Jan 8, 2014

President Obama’s Science and Technology Advisor, Dr. John Holdren, explains the polar vortex in 2 minutes—and why climate change makes extreme weather more likely going forward. Learn more at January 8, 2014.


Texas State Sen. Kirk Watson warns state not to make ObamaCare navigators’ jobs tougher

January 6, 2014

After a convicted felon produced an edited video that appeared to show National Urban League “navigators” agreeing to allow the felon might file inaccurate information to get covered for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, Republicans in Texas called for greater regulation of the navigators.

Such is the topsy-turvy world of GOP gotcha politics in Texas.

After committees of the U.S. House of Representatives held press conferences* damning the Affordable Care Act, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) is holding hearings across Texas to develop regulations to restrict actions of those people who act as navigators to enroll people into federal health insurance programs or private insurance through ACA.

In short, the Texas government is working to screw up federal law and deprive Texans of health care insurance (yes, that’s probably a felony, but who could prosecute it under the current political climate?).

Burnt Orange Report described the situation:

On January 6th the Texas Department of Insurance will hold its last public hearing regarding the state’s regulation of health care navigators. The navigators are responsible for helping individuals get enrolled through the new exchange, but in Texas Governor Rick Perry has been working to add unnecessary red tape in order to impede the success of the law. Reputable non-profit organizations in Texas like United Way received $11 million in federal grant money to help enroll individuals in local communities across the state.

In September just days before the health insurance exchange website went live Perry ordered TDI to craft new rules that included additional training and background checks for individuals who serve as navigators. Apparently even Senator Kirk Watson the author of the bill (that authorized navigators in Texas) was unaware that TDI had sent a letter to federal Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, or the plan to implement rules that, “appear to both conflict with federal law and be inconsistent with SB 1795.”

In other words, TDI’s actions, on orders from Gov. Rick Perry, may violate Texas law as well.

State Sen. Kirk Watson provided this testimony at the TDI hearings today:

Texas State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Fort Worth, wrote the law that enables Affordable Care Act Navigators to work in Texas, and testified that further state regulation would be expensive, confounding bureaucracy.  Star-Telegram photo by Ron Ennis

Texas State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Fort Worth, wrote the law that enables Affordable Care Act Navigators to work in Texas, and testified that further state regulation would be expensive, confounding bureaucracy. Star-Telegram photo by Ron Ennis.

Posted on January 6, 2014 at 10:12 am.

State Senator Kirk Watson issued the following statement Monday regarding the Texas Department of Insurance’s hearing on proposed rules for healthcare navigators:

Texans have made themselves heard, and it’s clear what they want: fair rules that truly protect consumers without making it harder for them to find health insurance.

The vast majority of healthcare navigators are honest folks who are working hard, and in good faith, to connect their fellow Texans with health insurance. The Department of Insurance should create regulations that protect the state from bad actors without making it harder for navigators to do their jobs.

Texans support common-sense requirements such as criminal background checks for navigators. The bill I passed in the legislative session allowing for navigator regulations prohibits convicted felons from providing these services. Of course the state should enforce that provision and protect consumers. We shouldn’t have electioneering; my bill prevents that too. And we need to be sure we protect privacy.

But some other proposed rules appear designed only to make it harder for navigators to do their jobs.

The Department of Insurance has proposed requiring 40 hours of navigator training on top of the 20-30 hours that’s already mandated by law. That kind of training requires real time and costs real money. Where did the additional 40 hour requirement come from exactly? Who is it truly meant to help? How will Texans benefit if navigators are spending as much as 200 percent more time in class? So far, TDI has failed to provide any explanation although repeatedly requested to do. If the Commissioner waits until the final rules are out, she robs Texans of a transparent, accountable process and avoids a fair debate on this issue.

It’s also patently unfair to assess fees on navigators who, by law, aren’t allowed to charge Texans for their services. The fiscal note on my original bill said the Department of Insurance could implement these rules using existing resources. Why is it now proposing these costly, burdensome fees?

I thank Commissioner Rathgeber for scheduling this second public hearing in response to my request for it. And I urge her to listen to the Texans she’s heard from in this process.

It’s wrong to impose heavy-handed, politically motivated rules that primarily serve to make life harder for hard-working Texans who are simply trying to help their friends and neighbors find affordable health insurance. Common-sense regulations should strike a balance that actually protect Texans, both by protecting their privacy and by protecting their ability to find good, reliable, affordable health insurance.

Sen. Watson also contributed more detailed suggestions in writing:

Posted on January 6, 2014 at 12:16 pm.

Jan. 6th, 2014

Good morning, Commissioner Rathgeber and Assistant General Counsel, John Carter. Thank you for scheduling this second public hearing in response to my request for it. There remain a number of questions which TDI has yet to answer and the people deserve another opportunity to be heard on this important issue.

First, I want to be very clear about avoiding the political straw men in this this conversation.

Texans support common-sense requirements such as criminal background checks for navigators. The bill I authored in the legislative session allowing for navigator regulations prohibits convicted felons from providing these services. Of course the state should enforce that provision and protect consumers. We shouldn’t have electioneering; my bill prevents that too. And we need to be sure we protect privacy.

We are all in agreement that these requirements are paramount to protecting consumers – that’s why we put them in the bill.


But my bill authorizes TDI to create regulations that protect the state from bad actors without making it harder for navigators to do their jobs.  Remember the purpose clause of SB 1795:  the purpose of this chapter is to provide a state solution to ensure that Texans are able to find and apply for affordable health coverage under any federally run health benefit exchange, while helping consumers in this state.

Your goal is to help ensure that Texans are able to find and apply for affordable coverage under the federally run exchange.  Remember, those in control of the capital have chosen not to have a Texas exchange, creating the need for SB 1795.


The vast majority of healthcare navigators, as you can see and have seen from the testimony you received on September 30, 2013 and most recently on December 20, are honest folks who are working hard, and in good faith, to connect their fellow Texans with health insurance.

TDI has yet to provide justification for why it has gone as far as it has with these rules.


On December 20, I and several other senators submitted a letter to you in which we requested explanations to very specific questions. The people of Texas deserve answers to these questions. They deserve to know why some of these proposed rules are so far-reaching.

What’s very troubling to me is that my office asked when we might expect answers to these questions. We were told that an email you sent on December 23 was a reply.  But that so-called reply reads as an acknowledgement of receiving the letter – not as a response to it. In fact, you seem to suggest you will answer these questions in the final rule order.  With all due respect, Commissioner, that’s inappropriate.  As I stressed in my September 30 testimony to you, because this issue has been so politicized, people have reason—even an obligation to be skeptical.  So process matters here.

Your process – your refusal to answer critical questions prior to the final rule order – leaves no opportunity to discuss fallacies or poor decisions before the proposed rules are final. More importantly, it robs Texans of a transparent, accountable process and avoids a fair debate on the issue.


So, what are the questions that haven’t been answered?

  1. TDI has yet to explain how it arrived at the arbitrary 40 hour training requirement, in addition to the 20-30 federally required training hours.
  2. Nor has TDI explained how it arrived at the 13-13-14 hours of training in the areas of Texas Medicaid, privacy and ethics, respectively.
  3. TDI has not explained why navigators will have to pay registration fees as well as significant costs associated with additional training in light of a) the fact that navigators cannot charge a fee for their service, and b) the fiscal note for SB 1795, based on information provided by TDI, assumes any cost associated with implementation of the bill would be absorbed with existing staff and resources.
  4. TDI has yet to explain how it arrived at the proposed options for proving financial responsibility, which include surety bonds.
  5. TDI has yet to provide a detailed timeline showing each step that a navigator organization and individual navigators must accomplish to come into compliance with the proposed rule. We also haven’t seen a timeframe for which each step can reasonably be completed — an essential question for honest, hard-working Texans who are working right now to connect folks with health insurance.
  6. TDI has not explained how extending the registration requirements to almost anyone providing enrollment assistance protects Texas consumers, or how restricting the use of the term navigator outside of the federally operated insurance exchange protects Texas consumers.


Under your proposed rules, navigators must comply with many of the rules’ requirements by March 1, 2014. Assuming this rule becomes effective in early February, navigators and navigator organizations will have only about a month to come into compliance.

Given that the open enrollment period for people seeking coverage in 2014 ends on March 31, I fear that many navigator entities will face significant problems in meeting your proposed rules without compromising their ability to help Texans secure health care. I respectfully request that you postpone the compliance deadline until after the open enrollment period ends.

And although the training requirements for TDI-certified courses are not applicable until May 1, 2014, I question how many companies will be able to set up the training and examination requirements precisely as you’ve laid out in the proposed rules. An open and transparent process shouldn’t result in a product that only a certain business or type of business can provide.

People have a right to question whether the timing, combined with the extremely expanded training requirement that doesn’t seem capable of justification other than because the Governor suggested it, might be to benefit a private provider of training.  Perhaps one that already has a contract with the state.  This would put public money that should be going to help people get health coverage in a private enterprise’s hands.  Again, with no justification.

I respectfully request that you delay the implementation of the state training requirements until the universe of potential providers can be better assessed.

We still have time to do this right. You still have the opportunity to strike the appropriate balance between two equally important responsibilities: protecting consumers, and ensuring Texans have access to the health insurance that’s right for them.

I urge you to provide answers to the questions raised by members of the Senate on December 20 and to do so before you finalize this rule.

In Texas, the Republicans will consort with convicted felons to hoax up stories about people trained to help enroll Texans for health insurance, and make completely unsubstantiated claims that the helpful people are felons, and Texans should worry about it.

If the GOP will take the word of felons to impugn the Affordable Care Act, why are they worried about the honesty of others who are not known to be felons, on the other side?

If it doesn’t make your head hurt, you’re not paying attention.


January 5 is Fair Deal Day; thanks to Harry Truman

January 5, 2014

Front page of the New York Times on January 6, 1949, with news of President Truman's State of the Union message.  Oddly, via Conservapedia

Front page of the New York Times on January 6, 1949, with news of President Truman’s State of the Union message. Oddly, via Conservapedia

President Harry Truman delivered his State of the Union address to Congress on January 5, 1949, the first after he’d won election to the presidency in his own right (he succeeded to the presidency on the death of Franklin Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, remember).

Campaign button from the 1948 presidential campaign; on January 5, 1949, Truman presented a more detailed program backing the slogan, in his State of the Union Address

Campaign button from the 1948 presidential campaign; on January 5, 1949, Truman presented a more detailed program backing the slogan, in his State of the Union Address

Not a barn-burner of a speech, but an important one.  He appealed to history and the Square Deal of Teddy Roosevelt and the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt; he appealed to Americans’ innate patriotism, and he appealed to a nation grateful to the soldiers who had defended freedom and democracy in World War II.  Truman called for a Fair Deal for all Americans, because they’d earned it, and it was the American thing to do.

This was barely eight weeks since Truman pulled out a stunning re-election win against the “do-nothing Congress.”  In many, many ways, the problems of 1949 look stunningly familiar to us today.  He spoke of the successes of the country in World War II, and the successes in business and finance since the war, and he said:

Reinforced by these policies, our private enterprise system has reached new heights of production. Since the boom year of 1929, while our population has increased by only 20 percent, our agricultural production has increased by 45 percent, and our industrial production has increased by 75 percent. We are turning out far more goods and more wealth per worker than we have ever done before.

This progress has confounded the gloomy prophets–at home and abroad who predicted the downfall of American capitalism. The people of the United States, going their own way, confident in their own powers, have achieved the greatest prosperity the world has even seen.

But, great as our progress has been, we still have a long way to go.

As we look around the country, many of our shortcomings stand out in bold relief.

We are suffering from excessively high prices.

Our production is still not large enough to satisfy our demands.

Our minimum wages are far too low.

Small business is losing ground to growing monopoly.

Our farmers still face an uncertain future. And too many of them lack the benefits of our modern civilization.

Some of our natural resources are still being wasted.

We are acutely short of electric power, although the means for developing such power are abundant.

Five million families are still living in slums and firetraps. Three million families share their homes with others.

Our health is far behind the progress of medical science. Proper medical care is so expensive that it is out of the reach of the great majority of our citizens.

Our schools, in many localities, are utterly inadequate.

Our democratic ideals are often thwarted by prejudice and intolerance.

Each of these shortcomings is also an opportunity-an opportunity for the Congress and the President to work for the good of the people.

Hello, boy howdy!  Prices aren’t so stifling as they were considered to be, then, and inflation is far from the plate of problems we face.

But the rest?

Perhaps we should look back to see what Congress, and the nation, did in 1949, as instructive to us in 2014.  Did Americans get a Fair Deal then?  Do they deserve one now?

From “Today in History” at American Memory, the Library of Congress:

On January 5, 1949, President Harry Truman used his State of the Union address to recommend measures including national health insurance, raising the minimum wage, strengthening the position of organized labor, and guaranteeing the civil rights of all Americans. Referencing the popular “New Deal” programs of his predecessor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Truman styled his reform package the “Fair Deal.”

A few months earlier the president’s career seemed over.  Political pundits of the time agreed that Truman needed a miracle to win his 1948 bid for reelection against the popular Republican governor from New York, Thomas E. Dewey. Adding to the incumbent’s troubles, a revived Progressive Party attempted to attract left-leaning Democrats, while segregationist “Dixiecrats” broke with the Democrats to run South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond for president. Responding to the competition, Truman embarked on a campaign tour by train, delivering “whistle-stop” speeches to thousands of voters in small communities throughout the United States. This tactic proved effective, and President Truman was reelected by a slim margin. Still, the Chicago Daily Tribune was so confident of the president’s defeat it went to press with the November 3, 1948 headline “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.”

Truman had begun to push for Fair Deal-type legislation following the end of World War II in 1945. However, Congress resisted his plans for the extension of federal social and economic programs. Concerned about the transition from a wartime to a peacetime economy, lawmakers ultimately accepted the role of government in maintaining full employment and stabilizing the economy, but rejected Truman’s proposals for national health insurance, educational aid, and federally-supported housing programs. Even after Truman’s successful 1948 campaign, the mandate for expanded social programs remained weak. The minimum wage rose and social security coverage broadened, but few Fair Deal programs were enacted.

On July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman issued two executive orders. One instituted fair employment practices in the civilian agencies of the federal government; the other provided for “equality of treatment and opportunity in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.”

Gib Crockett cartoon on Truman's Fair Deal, 1949.  May still be under copyright

Gib Crockett cartoon on Truman’s Fair Deal, 1949. May still be under copyright


Insta-Millard: GOP lied? Not 5 million losing insurance to cancellations, but 10 thousand.

January 2, 2014

Hey, the numbers are off only by a factor of 500.

Gotta give credit to the GOP propaganda machine to have gotten so many Americans so soundly disinformed and het up about such a small number, smaller than anyone expected.

Should this qualify as a hoax?  If Obama had screwed up a number by 500, what would the headlines be?

Parody of James Montgomery Flagg's World War I recruiting poster, suggesting that Uncle Same wants people to have access to health care, affordably.  New reports suggest it's going to happen, and that reports of massive health insurance cancellations are inaccurate.

Parody of James Montgomery Flagg’s World War I recruiting poster, suggesting that Uncle Same wants people to have access to health care, affordably. New reports suggest it’s going to happen, and that reports of massive health insurance cancellations are inaccurate.


Clay Bennett: The Flat

November 2, 2013

Brilliant cartoon by Clay Bennett at the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.  It’s a perfect summary of GOP policies on everything, and why those policies won’t work.

“The Flat.”

Clay Bennett cartoon in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, September 12, 2013

Clay Bennett cartoon in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, September 12, 2013

I love Bennett’s clean lines, and acid commentary.


How can you tell the disturbed staff from the Members of Congress?

October 18, 2013

You can’t, Charlie Pierce says.

Logo for Charles P. Pierce's coverage of the shutdown, at Esquire's site.

Logo for Charles P. Pierce’s coverage of the shutdown, at Esquire’s site.

In fact, he makes a great case that some of the stuff Members of Congress say is crazier than what appears to be rantings of a disturbed staff person.

At his blog at Esquire.

You see, my dear young people, impromptu outbursts of the crazy cannot be allowed. If you insist on loudly making the crazy talk, you have to be elected by the citizens of Texas, and you have to be invited to speak at events like the Values Voters Summit, where well-dressed and well-organized insanity is encouraged. For example:

“The media wants America to give up and allow this country to keep sliding off the edge of the cliff.”    “This is an administration that seems bound and determine to violate every single one of our bill of rights. I don’t know that they have yet violated the Third Amendment, but I expect them to start quartering soldiers in peoples’ homes soon.”

“How scared is the President? What a statement of fear, what a statement of fear. Oh, they don’t want the truth to be heard. They definitely don’t want the truth to be heard.”

Read more: House Stenographer Snapped – Reign Of The Morons: The Elements Of Crazy – Esquire
Follow us: @Esquiremag on Twitter | Esquire on Facebook
Visit us at

Go visit.  The rest of it is well worth the minute it will take you to read it.

No, it’s not really required that you be insane to be a Congressman from Texas — Texas sent Barbara Jordan and Jim Wright and THE Charlie Wilson there, after all.

But these days, who can tell?

Sorry, America: GOP has suspended democracy and the republic; no film at 11:00

October 14, 2013

You know those guys running around screaming about Obama establishing tyranny?

I think they’re providing cover for the real tyrants.

Rules of the House of Representatives; available at for $104, but worth much less to the GOP.

Rules of the House of Representatives; available at for $104, but worth much less to the GOP.

This video is pretty amazing: Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) in the Speaker’s chair, announcing that the GOP sneaked through a rule change so that no Democrat, no Republican, can bring up any issue of the American people in the House of Representatives, if Emperor Boehner does not approve and do it himself.

Quick, call the Ladies at Mt. Vernon. This is the sort of tyranny that is liable to bring George Washington out of his tomb. Is the bell ringing?

Here’s an exchange from the floor of the House, on September 30, 2013:

Late in the evening on September 30, 2013, the House Rules Committee Republicans changed the Rules of the House so that the ONLY Member allowed to call up the Senate’s clean CR for a vote was Majority Leader Eric Cantor or his designee — all but guaranteeing the government would shut down a few hours later and would stay shut down. Previously, any Member would have had the right to bring the CR up for a vote. Democracy has been suspended in the House of Representatives.

(Oddly enough, via Mia Farrow)

It’s a lot of inside baseball, but not so much that you can’t understand it.

Unlike the Senate, where the rules say anyone can propose just about anything at any time, the House has too many  members to allow for such free-for-alls on legislation.  Under House rules, most bills come to the floor with a special rule about how it will be discussed, whether it can can be amended, how it can be amended, and by whom.  These rules get created by the House Committee on Rules.  There should be a specific rule on every bill.  When the bill is brought up, the rules on how that bill can be discussed are proposed, and usually accepted by the majority without much fuss.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland,  found some difficulties in the rule on the CR, and the way the GOP leadership interprets it to mean that no other Member of the House of Representatives counts for anything.  Unfortunately for U.S., Jason Chaffetz for the GOP confirmed that House is cut out of key parts of process for funding government — probably contrary to Constitution, but who could enforce the Constitution on the GOP?

Weird. Troubling. Not productive.


Ronald Reagan’s message to the Tea Party on the debt ceiling: Fail to raise it “an outrage”

October 11, 2013

Ronald Reagan, by Lawrence Lind

Ronald Reagan, by Lawrence Lind

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) summoned Ronald Reagan’s ghost to visit the Tea Party:

McCaskill said:

Published on Sep 27, 2013

Former President Ronald Reagan explaining the importance to American jobs and businesses of Congress living up to its financial obligations and paying the country’s bills.

(Hey, are Congress people getting the hang of internet video, finally?  Could teachers be far behind?)


October 9 – St. Denis’s Day, patron saint for those who have lost their head (Tea Party? House GOP?)

October 9, 2013

October 9 is the Feast Day of St. Denis.

Who?  He’s the patron saint of Paris (and France, by some accounts), and possessed people.   Take a look at this statue, from the “left door” of the Cathedral of Notre Dame  in Paris (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris: portail de gauche).  He was martyred by beheading, in about 250 C.E.

English: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris: porta...

St. Denis greets vistors to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris: portail de gauche)

Our trusty friend Wikipedia explains:

According to the Golden Legend, after his head was chopped off, Denis picked it up and walked two miles, preaching a sermon the entire way.[6] The site where he stopped preaching and actually died was made into a small shrine that developed into the Saint Denis Basilica, which became the burial place for the kings of France. Another account has his corpse being thrown in the Seine, but recovered and buried later that night by his converts.[2]

Clearly, he is the guy to pray to about Michelle Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Todd Akin, Paul Ryan, intelligent design, and the Texas State Board of Education, no?  In 2013, you can add Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Louis Gohmert, the entire Tea Party, and the entire GOP crew of the House of Representatives.  You catch my drift.

Perhaps you can use this factoid to some advantage, enlightenment, and perhaps humor.  In Catholic lore, St. Denis is one of the “14 Holy Helpers,” and his aid is sought to help people with headaches, or who have been possessed.

Crazy GOP members who I suspect of having been possessed give me and America a headache.  St. Denis seems to be our man.

Who else do you know of in this modern, vexatious time, who keeps talking after losing his/her head?

As Rod Stewart sang, just “let your imagination run wild.”  Maybe St. Denis is listening.


Statue to St. Denis, in Cluny

Another portrayal, in sculpture, of St. Denis. Notice how this one’s face doesn’t really look like the one above? Ouvre du Musée de Cluny, Wikipedia photo by Guillaume Blanchard (Aoineko), June 2001, FinePix 1400Z.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. I had hoped to have to retire this post someday.  I still hope.  Perhaps this will be the last year we’ll have so many wackaloons running loose. Pray to St. Denis.

Obama already negotiated; GOP taking hallucinogens? (Again?)

October 8, 2013

Oh, Speaker Boehner forgot to mention that.

Wendy Davis’s first ad: A positive vision for Texas (but too long for most TV)

October 8, 2013

In stark contrast to Greg Abbott‘s “Texas is for white people with guns” advertisement (addressed here yesterday), Wendy Davis‘s get-to-know-me ad paints a vision of a better Texas to be had, even if in a too-long four-and-a-half minutes:

The ad was released yesterday at Davis’s campaign website, “Are you with Wendy?”

I imagine the GOP will jump on the ad, complaining that it doesn’t show enough guns (are there any?).  But it does several things the next Texas governor needs to do:

  1. It paints a picture of a Texas government that works to help people succeed in Texas.
  2. Davis’s ad shows Texas’s diversity, and suggests both that the diversity is a virtue for Texas’s future, and that Texas government shouldn’t be barring the door (or voting booth) to any Texan (especially white Texas women, many of whom may get a shock when they try to vote this November).
  3. Davis urges policies to help Texas cattlemen, who have been hammered hard under GOP rule (50% of Texas beef ranches closed in the past two years).
  4. Davis urges policies to help Texas farmers (cotton is still big in about a hundred counties).
  5. Aerospace and aviation get specific attention — you saw the American Airlines jet? Davis was City Councilwoman in Fort Worth, American’s hometown and headquarters. Already Davis turned around Greg Abbott on that issue when she called for a Texas government that supported American Airlines and its few tens of thousands of jobs in Texas.  Abbott announced last week that he has dropped his suit to prevent American’s merger with USAir, a suit that threatened Texas jobs directly.
  6. The ad ties Davis’s success in business, and life, to public institutions that help all Texans, institutions Davis used to climb the success ladder.
  7. Pro-business. Business in Davis’s ad is aerospace, ranching, farming, oil, and main street retail, among others.  Abbott’s ad shows only one ramshackle BBQ shack.
  8. It demonstrates an area where Greg Abbott should have been active in fighting crime, processing rape backlogged rape kits from Texas assaults — but where it too Davis in the legislature to get action to solve the crimes.
  9. Oh, yeah:  Education is in there.  It’s solidly in there.
  10. Overall, it’s a positive, “once more into the breach” sort of story.  At the end of Abbott’s ad, one can say he seems a physically capable guy; at the end of Davis’s ad, one may want to get up and go start a business, or run for office.

Davis’s ad does a lot of things a pitch for Texas’s next governor needs to do, on issues that we hope the next governor is way ahead of the rest of us on — but which are wholly missing from Abbott’s first non-negative ad effort.

What do you think?


Davis at a rally following her most recent history-making filibuster.  KUT photo by Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

Davis at a rally following her most recent history-making filibuster. KUT photo by Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

Suicide bombers in the Capitol?

October 7, 2013

Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press:

“Ayn Rand akbar!” Clay Bennett cartoon in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press

I was thinking this cartoon shades a great deal toward the too brutal side; but then I pondered just what Cruz proposes, which is to finish the work Osama bin Laden couldn’t finish himself.

English: Chattanooga Times Free Press editoria...

Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial cartoonist Clay Bennett, self-caricature – Wikipedia image

Then someone referred this article to me today; one might wonder if Sen. Cruz’s idea is, indeed, to bring down our nation, or at least, to plunder the government and those Cruz considers “beneath” him.

What do you think?  Too brutal, or too close to the truth?


Greg Abbott’s campaign stumbles — except for white people with guns

October 7, 2013

For three days after Fort Worth State Sen. Wendy Davis announced her candidacy for the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor, the Republican front-runner, Greg Abbott, seemed off-balance, first going to negative campaigning about Davis.

Some Texans wondered whether Abbott had a good idea about what the role of governor is, which could form a basis for his candidacy.  Why does Abbott want to be governor, and what would he do?

Today Abbott released an almost-90-second advertisement.  The ad reveals Abbott doesn’t have a vision for Texas in the future, and the ad suggests Abbott will rely heavily on trying to scare white Texans to outvote everybody else.

Here are my observations about Abbott’s ad as it came to me on Facebook, and the ad, below.

Greg Abbott first went negative when State Sen. Wendy Davis announced her campaign for governor last week.

He’s having difficulty finding a reason to run for governor, demonstrated by his video, below.

The video is impressive:

  1. Not a single Hispanic shown out of several dozen people. In fact, there appears to be only one, lonely woman of color in the entire thing. Texas is for white people, Abbott appears to be saying.
  2. Those white people in Texas need guns. It’s not like Texas has any shortage of guns, nor has the Obama administration done anything to restrict gun ownership or use, nor is it even an issue in Texas — but watch the video, you understand that the Texas white people shown in it, need guns. (Why? you may ask?)
  3. Abbott is all for low-wage, service industry jobs. When he talks about jobs in Texas, the ad shows a rickety, ramshackle BBQ joint. You may like BBQ more than Greg Abbott, but if you’re an aerospace worker, or you work for American Airlines, you would do well to question why Abbott worked so hard to kill American Airlines before Sen. Davis made it a campaign issue. (Abbott belatedly dropped his suit challenging the American/USAir merger, last week. Less than a week in the campaign and Wendy Davis is already improving Texas government . . .)
    Faced with a pro-business Democrat with a proven record of making things work for business and Texas, Abbott is adrift. These appear to be issues he hasn’t pondered much, other than to reduce regulations on businesses that injure people.
  4. Not a word about education. Where will all those gun-wielding white people send their kids to school?
  5. When he mentions water policy, something that comes far behind guns, BBQ, and the Tea Party in Greg Abbott’s Texas, he shows footage of Interstate 35 in Austin. One of Texas’s greatest problems (on the ballot in November with a Constitutional Amendment), but to Abbot it’s an afterthought. Maybe he thinks he can shotgun a few clouds to resolve the issues?
  6. Not a word about farming, nor ranching. Texas’s lack of a water policy, and inadequate work to mitigate global warming, pushed about 50% of Texas’s cattle and beef operations out of business on the GOP watch, just in the last four years. In Greg Abbott’s Texas, land is for shooting quail for rich folk, all you hamburger eaters can take a hike.
  7. Not a word about oil or gas, nor fracking, nor the abuse of eminent domain to ram a pipeline through Texas ranches and farms, killing the ranches and farms.
    You’d think after two decades in state office, Mr. Abbott would have a better idea about Texas and Texas problems, and would run a campaign on how to improve things for Texans, not just out of state pipeline companies.
  8. Abbott is running against Barack Obama, and he hates California. No good reason, but those are probably the only applause lines in his bereft-of-Texas stump speech.

You’d think some of those Million-Dollar-A-Year consultants would have worried a bit about Texas in setting up these ads. They must think their only chance is to scare their supporters out to the polls. They may be right.

Abbott’s campaign said:

Preserve Texas as the land of liberty. Watch my video below, and donate here:

What do you think, America?  See any reason for anyone other than a paranoid white guy to vote for Abbott?

Conflict of interest note:  Abbott is a Duncanville boy, a favorite of most residents of Duncanville we know. 


Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott appears bef...

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott appears before a controversial tablet displaying the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol (behind the capitol building) in Austin, Texas, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reminder: How wealth inequality crowds out America’s success

October 7, 2013

Upworthy reposted this little movie today, which reminded me that nothing good has changed since last March. Looks like there’s not much chance of saving America soon, either, with the way things are going in the Capitol.

Is it time to really write the obituaries for America?  I hope not.

Watch it again:

What happens when a lot of money — I mean, a lot of money — is concentrated in a few hands?

The nation runs the risk of economic failure.

This short video says that more money is concentrated in fewer hands than we think.

Description from the maker, Politizane:

Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.

This is just one facet of the figures necessary for having rational discussions about tax reform, federal budget and deficit cutting, tax policy, and economic and monetary policy.

But it’s an ugly portrait, isn’t it?  How much does it differ from the France of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette?  How much does it differ from the going-to-hell-in-an-accelerating-handbasket U.S. of 1929?  Wealth’s concentration in the hands of a tiny few literally crowds out hundreds of millions of Americans from the ability to successfully accumulate modest nest eggs.

What do you think?

I wish the film’s creator had provided citations.

Have things improved since 2007?  Look at this chart based on Institute for Policy Studies figures:

Maldistribution of U.S. wealth, 2007; Inst for Policy Studies

Source: Institute for Policy Studies, via BusinessInsider


More, since the original posting:

Update March 9, 2013:  This is funny, to me:  Some people think just talking about this stuff is “class warfare.”  How are they so familiar with class warfare, you wonder?  That’s a self-answering question, isn’t it?


Sen. McCaskill gets Tweets

October 4, 2013

Sen. Claire McCaskill gets Tweets on the government shutdown, sometimes from people who appear unfamiliar with major concepts of civilized life.

[Here's the text, in case Twitter isn't displaying properly for you:  (quote)Some of today's hate: "shut the f* up you baby killing, veteran disrespecting, butt ugly sack of shit bitch.” His profile says he's a Christian. (end quote)]

The old hymn says,

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Worse, or better if the Tweeter tries to live up to it, is verse three:

We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.


English: Claire McCaskill, member of the Unite...

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, speaking during a committee hearing. Wikipedia image



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