Monday, August 31, 2009

What? No Whole Lotta Whinin’ Goin’ On In Sugar Land?

I must say that I am disappointed in my tea bagging sore loser neighbors. I was soooo looking forward to attending the TEA party that I was expecting them to throw in Sugar Land this Saturday.

You see, sore loser teabaggers are all done with their whinin’ and complainin’ about how their country isn’t theirs anymore.

Not theirs anymore because, apparently the President is a Democrat.

And he is Black.

Teabaggers are all done because the town halls of August are all done, for the most part. Federal legislators will be back in DC after Labor Day.

So, yes, their country isn’t being led by fluffy white people anymore, and that makes them sad. But teabaggers do have one last hurrah this September 5th.

Just not in Sugar Land.

And I am downcast and sad. Last time we had a nation-wide TEA party megafest Sugar Land was front and center and every crazy rightwing neoconservative Republican, not to mention all 4 Libertarians, in Fort Bend County were there to send a message, and a trunkful of tea bags, along with Pete “Just Say No” Olson, back to congress.

Those were the heady days.

But this Saturday, the only people wandering around Sugar Land’s Town Square will be the occasional shopper, and the occasional Ben and Jerry’s ice cream fanatic.

Because the other venue is drawing the big crowds. Sugar Land’s teabaggers are being diverted to Austin according to this mention in FortBendNow. Others who might have wanted to save gas and go to the Houston gathering will have to do the same as their Sugar Land brethren according to the Houston Klavern.

Dare we hope for a cry for Texas to secede from the Union this weekend? The Austin organizers hope not, according to their caveat on their website, to wit: We Do Not Support Secession!”

But will the secessionists turn out anyway? Can we be that lucky?

Yes we can.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pete Olson Continues His Healthcare Lies

My congressional district, TX CD 22, Tom Delay’s old district, is a right sprawling thing that extends from the western boundary of Fort Bend County to Galveston Bay, with a little arm that goes down I 45 to Galveston Island.

It is Tom Delay’s gift to his former constituents.

So while we got to see Congressman Pete Olson (R TX-22) in a Sugar Land town hall the weekend before this, he held another one in La Marque, clear on the other side of the district one evening last week.

John Coby was there with some others, and videoed a part of Olson’s program that I didn’t want to video because it was such a sickening abuse of an innocent child’s plight that it turned my stomach.

You see, Olson had, in his presentation, the photograph of a little boy who was born with a congenital heart defect. It was detected while he was still in the uterus, and the mother was told he would either be still-born or would die soon after birth.

The story goes that the mother found a doctor in Detroit that took care of things, and the boy lived. The story also goes that the mother believes that had she been covered under “The Public Option” the boy surely would have been left to die.

No rhyme, no reason for that conclusion.

But the audience ate it up in Sugar Land. What made it worse is that Pete Olson then presented the little boy, in person, alive and well. He picked him up and displayed the boy to a wildly cheering audience.

I often wonder what the boy must think about all of this.

Having the boy on display back on that Saturday in Sugar Land was like grasping an amulet against public discourse. That evening in La Marque, Olson did not have the boy to hold before the audience as a shield, as he did in Sugar Land.

This made for an entirely different state of affairs and allowed for confrontation.

Many in the audience objected to Olson's leap of logic.

“The insurance company turned her down, not the government,” said one.

Someone, an Olson supporter, retorted that “the government set up a board to turn her down.”

Truly clueless. That nitwit was citing the death panels that radical rightwing Republicans falsely claim “ObamaCare” would set up, in the future. This particular event, however, occurred 7 years ago.

Yeah, Bush was president then.

But there you have it. Olson stood there with his microphone letting his words beget complete mind-foggery in his audience. So much so that it was even too much for the congressman, who immediately shut down the meeting.

Video here and below.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kennedy: Not the End of the Dynasty?

The shrill rightwing fanatics are kicking up their heels today in anticipation that there will not be another Kennedy to dominate politics ever again.

Ted Kennedy, they think, is the last of their kind.

I wonder about that.

Did you see Teddy Kennedy’s funeral today? I think the Kennedy clan have been keeping a secret weapon under wraps.

Watch Ted Kennedy, Jr. as he spoke today at his father’s funeral.

This guy is a Kennedy at his core. Well-spoken, hilarious, sincere.

Sometimes Rocks Fall

The forces of nature conspire to make rocks fall, it seems.

First you have the forces that Earth’s mantle exerts as it shoves cold oceanic plates underneath the lighter less dense continental rocks.

Then you have the nuclear forces that heat up the cold descending slabs, making them buoyant and they rise and emplace and inject themselves, renewed as they cool to igneous rocks in the cool continental crust.

Then the forces in Earth’s continental crust cause deformation of the crust, uplifting the granitic rocks that are then exposed to the air by subsequent erosion of the overburden.

Then the forces of gigantic ice sheets form and shape these hulking rocky tors into smooth U-shaped valleys with steep, nearly vertical walls.

And sometimes, yes, vertical walls.

Then the weakest force in the universe, gravity, carries the rocks down, calamitously, into the valley below – taking out a few Mercedes Benzes along the way.

So in Yosemite Valley yesterday, part of the Royal Arches, which overlooks the posh Ahwahnee Hotel fell into the valet parking lot at the hotel.

Unleashing another force of nature known as the auto insurance industry.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Perry and Hutchison Vie for Hispanic Scraps

Perhaps the only issue that ultra right conservative Texas Governor Rick Perry and moderate conservative soon-to-be ex Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison seem to have exchanged sides on is the issue of a border fence at the Texas-Mexico border.

Perry scoffs at the idea of building a border fence along the entire border, citing the use of technology to secure the border. Kay Bailey, on the other hand, “has supported a border fence every time it has come up for a vote in the Senate, claims Perry.

This was pointed out despite the fact that the so-called “Hutchison Amendment” Senate Amendment 2466 released the Homeland Security Department from any requirement to build a fence, or anything else for that matter. It reads in part:

“… nothing in this paragraph shall require the Secretary of Homeland Security to install fencing, physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors in a particular location along an international border of the United States, if the Secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control over the international border at such location..”

But all of the bluster of Perry is all for naught. Because who is the audience here?


Hispanics who have been running away from the Republican Party in droves over just this issue: a single-minded attempt at excoriating Hispanics, painting them all with the same broad brush as illegal aliens.

My advice to Perry and Hutchison is to keep up the good work. Keep on engaging the Hispanics, use up precious time an treasure to woo their vote.

Because they just aren’t listening to them anymore.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Barack Obama On Teddy Kennedy

I received a really nice email message from the President – one of about 13 million sent out I hear – that just about matches my feelings on the passage of such a great man. Yes, the wingnuts are dancing in the streets but the rest of us, we of the left, center, and center right, know what we have lost.

A true friend. A hero. He made America better than it was.

Here is President Obama’s message:

Hal --

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For nearly five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives -- in seniors who know new dignity; in families that know new opportunity; in children who know education's promise; and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including me.

In the
United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He battled passionately on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintained warm friendships across party lines. And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

I personally valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've benefited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

His fight gave us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you and goodbye. The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives.

America, he was a defender of a dream. For his family, he was a guardian. Our hearts and prayers go out to them today -- to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.

Today, our country mourns. We say goodbye to a friend and a true leader who challenged us all to live out our noblest values. And we give thanks for his memory, which inspires us still.


President Barack Obama

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Olson Pleads for “Cash For Clunkers” Paperwork Extension

Oh holy hypocrisy.

The last thing I thought I would see is an article in FortBendNow describing a letter that my congressman, Pete Olson (R - Redneck) sent to Department of Transportation Ray LaHood pleading with him to extend the deadline for submission of paperwork for the wildly successful “Cash for Clunkers” program.

From FortBendNow here is the text of his letter:

“I write to express my concern regarding the application deadline for automobile dealers with regard to the cash for clunkers program. I respectfully request that the deadline to submit reimbursement applications be extended to August 31, 2009 while keeping intact today’s deadline for consummating vehicle transactions.

“Many automobile dealers across my district have made a good faith effort to follow the guidelines of the program and have run into problems with website accessibility or rashes of customers in the final days of the program. Even with a clearly defined “wind down strategy,” dealers are still finding it difficult to submit the required paperwork.

“Given today’s challenges facing the automobile industry we cannot let bureaucratic obstacles prevent dealers from receiving their promised reimbursements.”

Smelling a rat, because I have a pretty good memory, but went back and checked anyway, I checked Olson’s voting record on the “Cash for Clunkers” program.

On HR 3435, a bill to extend the program with an additional $2 billion in appropriations, Pete Olson voted No.

To be fair, for the original $1 billion in appropriations, Olson voted Yes, but that is because it was a very small part (Entitlement XIII) of a supplemental appropriations bill that had in it many things nearer and dearer to the cold, cold heart of Pete Olson.

Hey Pete: So you were against the “Cash for Clunkers” program before you were for it?


Where Were You When . . .

The loss of Teddy Kennedy early this morning will have massive repercussions, I think, in the tone that will be set in the Senate. This is the loss of a man, not of virtue mind you, but of vision. You want virtue? Go and talk to a plant.

The rightwing is going to be hopping with glee over the death of a man who did more to improve their lives than any 10 Republican senators, but go figure. If you doubt my words, I cite a portion of the lyrics of a You Tube video link that was sent to me today:


Single payer system

Let’s do it for Uncle Ted,

Pretty soon he’s dead

It’s time to

Get . . . it . . . done.”

Get my point?

And I just now have learned that the wingnuts are sending email to each other signed with the number 14,648. This is, I am told, the number of days that Ted Kennedy was alive. What a sick, sick tribe.

So these things set me off a little this afternoon, and it is nowhere near what I wanted to write about today about the loss of the last Kennedy brother.

“Where were you when you heard that Kennedy was assassinated?”

That is a common question that those of us who were alive (and aware) during the 60’s. That is because the losses of Jack and Bobby Kennedy were so sudden and shocking.

When I first heard that Jack Kennedy was shot I was in a 5th grade classroom doing arithmetic. When I heard that he was dead I was in a room with all 5th grade classes as our teachers took turns at the television.

I was coloring.

Then they dismissed school early. I walked home and when I walked through the door my father was there painting the family room. He asked me why I was home so early.

My father worked for Kennedy during the ’60 campaign. My parents threw an Inauguration Day party – the first one I ever experienced.

He didn’t know what had happened. He was painting. It was my sad task to tell this man that Jack Kennedy was dead.

I was awoken from a deep sleep by my sister early on June 7th 1968 when she gave me the shocking news that Bobby Kennedy, the man who was going to end the Vietnam War, had been gunned down in LA.

Both events were shocking and both events have etched themselves deeply in my memory.

I wonder whether the passing of Teddy Kennedy will etch as deeply. We were all steeled to the inevitability of his passing so the shock factor is not there. The effect, however, is just as calamitous had he been President or a very promising presidential candidate. To me, he represented a voice of reason among the eerily shrill.

Where was I when I heard that Teddy Kennedy had passed?

Looking for a pair of socks to wear.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Maverick Returns

Well now. I was wondering in the recent general election where John “Maverick” McCain had gone off to. Known to break ranks with his fellow Republicans over issues of conscience like opposition to torturing prisoners, McCain well-deserved the moniker “Maverick” (with apologies to Tom Cruise).

During the fall campaign, it seemed that John McCain made a violent swing to the right, as evidenced by his bombast that became the rallying cry of the rightwing of his party. A necessary thing to differentiate himself from Barack Obama whose center left positions remained nearly unchanged from the very beginning.

But now, the Maverick is back.

In a recent town hall meeting, McCain fielded questions from his rightwing audience, teabaggers who flock to any and all such meetings bringing their passions with.

And he got booed.

That’s right. The party that McCain once led 9 months ago has left him behind. Or maybe, as I have come to suspect, they have moved in opposite directions with the party base accelerating to the right and McCain slowly making his way back to center-right.

Don’t believe me?

Politico has a video on their site that proves the point.

Not only was McCain booed, he was roundly booed, several times, when all he sought to do was explain to the audience that Barack Obama “respects the Constitution,” and [McCain] “believe[s] that there is a fundamental difference in philosophy and the role of government.” [Audience boos]. And later: “I am convinced that the President is absolutely sincere in his beliefs. " [Audience boos] "Wait! Wait a minute…”

The proof is in the pudding.

We Democrats may be having trouble all living under our big tent, but this encounter by McCain is dead solid proof that the Republican Party has pulled up its tent stakes and moved a few more kilometers to the right than where they were 9 months ago.

And that’s still good news.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Letter From Uncle Pete on Healthcare Reform

I continue to receive forwarded email messages from an Independent who is sick to dealt of all of the vitriol being heaped on a genuine effort to bring meaningful healthcare reform to our country.

This one is from Texas Congressman Pete Sessions (R – Running Dog) who walks the walk and talks the talk of the right wingnuts out there.

I love his use of the term “healthcare debate” when there is no debate at Democratic town halls, just shouting by racist Obama haters, and there is no debate at Republican town halls, just a filtering of questions and control of the microphone.

Oh, and notice how he pulls good old #57 out of the Republican playbook: “family” and “children.” Yeah, Democrats don’t have families, and they don’t have children, rather they bud from one another like other lower forms of life.

Sessions’ email message follows. Warning, sensitive Democrats may want to hold their noses.

Dear Supporter,

As the healthcare debate continues in town hall meetings, on editorial pages, through talk radio and cable news, we're asking you to sign the NRCC's Healthcare Petition.

The NRCC is committed to electing a Members of Congress who oppose government-run healthcare. While Nancy Pelosi and her ultra-liberal allies are barreling through a plan to overhaul healthcare, your Republican Representatives are standing up for you and your family.

Republicans will not support a plan that drives our country deeper into debt and places your healthcare choices in the hands of government bureaucrats. But we need to know that you stand with us in our opposition to government-run healthcare.

Will you follow this link today to sign the NRCC's Healthcare Petition telling Pelosi and her puppets you oppose the Democrats plan to take over your healthcare choices?

Your immediate action is needed to send a message that Americans are not in favor of a government healthcare takeover.

Pelosi and her puppets just can't be trusted. Their trillion dollar stimulus bill has failed to create jobs and left you the and your children with a hefty bill. Government-run healthcare is not the "change" Americans want.

We won't swallow the Democrats' bitter healthcare pill. Follow this link to sign the petition telling Obama, Pelosi and their friends on the far-left that you oppose government-run healthcare.

After signing the petition, I hope you'll not only send this message to a friend, but make a generous contribution of any amount to help the NRCC's efforts to elect conservatives who oppose government-run healthcare. Thank you for your support - keep it up!


Pete Sessions
NRCC - Chairman

Attorney General Holder Names CIA Special Prosecutor

Apparently deeply disturbed over some of the things he read in the recently released and redacted 2004 report on interrogations, Attorney General Eric Holder has finally decided to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate 12 cases of torture of prisoners of war.

Reports of mock executions where prisoners were housed in interrogation rooms and were led to believe that the gunshot they just heard in the next room was from an interrogator’s gun, reports of the threats to drill through the skulls of detainees with a power drill, reports like these were just too much, apparently, for Holder to ignore.

So today he announced the appointment of Connecticut federal prosecutor John Durham to head up the investigation, a good choice because he is already involved in many aspects of alleged CIA (or their contractors) prisoner abuse.

Now the idea here is not to go after the people who were taking their orders in good faith that they were legal (although some from the Nazi Wehrmacht might grumble about that one), but to go after the decision makers. Those who gave the go-ahead.

Those who were clearly politically motivated to issue orders that were in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions. You know, like Heinrich Himmler. Those type of guys.

I think it is probably pretty useless to go after the small potatoes, the ones who poured the water. I think it would be punishment enough to blackball them from any future government contracts.

Now . . . about Blackwater. Can that be next on the list of things to do or is it true that since the crimes were committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are copacetic?

Wouldn’t it be appropriate, then, to hand these alleged murderers over to the local governments, and have them render justice?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Texas High School Dropouts Cost Us Dear

In a recently issued report coming out of a study group a the Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service the economic reality of having a so many high school students dropping out of school is examined.

And the facts are a little chilling.

Because as these former students progress through life they earn less than their high school graduate counterparts.

So they pay less taxes.

And Texas is the big loser.

Not only do they pay less in taxes, they are more likely to enter a life of crime and then become inmates in state prisons, draining the state coffers as they displace air sitting in their cellblocks.

How do you fix this? Apparently the playbook that Republican-led legislature doesn’t hav that page. According to State Senator Florence Shapiro (R – Eternal Testing), there is “no magic bullet.”

Leave it to a Texas state senator to bring up ammo.

Said Shapiro, as paraphrased here, “lawmakers are well aware of the dropout problem and are always looking for programs that work to reduce the number of dropouts, such as expanding career and technology education to make school more relevant.

What? We can’t fix this by coming up with more and more standardized tests with which to torture these kids?

What? Not all high school students are college bound so we need to rethink shop class? Everything old is new again.

The problem is acute, but not as acute as suggested by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison who recently claimed that Texas had the highest dropout rate in the nation. Apparently Hutchison mis-spoke and Texas trails 15 other states in their dropout rate. It actually dropped a point last year from 4.3% to 3.2%.

But that is still far too many and the A&M study correctly reveals why this is bad by going after the bottom line. It’s too expensive to house the under-educated in this state.

All of this is very timely as schools open their doors to accept the flow of eager young minds for another 180 or so days.

And I hate to admit it, but I agree with Shapiro on this. We need to get off our duffs and make school relevant to these kids. Because without relevance these kids become bored and start manipulating all of their electronic devices that society makes available to them.

Because you don’t need any kind of diploma to play the latest and hottest online game on your iPhone.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pete Olson Takes Some Heat in Sugar Land

A few Democrats actually attended Congressman Pete Olson’s Town Hall meeting this afternoon. Held in the cafeteria of a Sugar Land middle school, the room was nearly filled to capacity. It was hot outside, and as time wore on the heat increased inside as well.

Figuratively and literally.

Now the meeting didn’t get totally out of hand as you are seeing on TV and You Tube as teabaggers attempt to disrupt the Town Hall meetings of Democratic legislators, This was mainly due to Olson’s attempt to maintain order by suppressing questions and keeping the microphone for his own use only.

Audience questions to Olson were entered on 5 x 7 cards that Olson’s aides collected and then filtered. They literally handed them to him one at a time. So Olson’s questions were largely tailored to Olson much like his ridiculous “polls.”

For example, here is one “poll” question right off of one of his recent glossy mailers: “Do you support or oppose limiting access to health care by placing a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor?”

Things started out pretty calm, as a result. The heat was turned up a little after Olson read the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. Someone asked him to read the Preamble to the Constitution, and Olson complied. I began wondering about this as Olson began with the words “We the people…” until he got to that part that I mentioned in a previous posting: “promote the general welfare.” At that point several people in the room broke out into vigorous and loud applause. [Note to self: can these be my 6 readers?]

Olson paused and looked genuinely surprised, realized at that point that he had been punked, but then continued reading.

It was then that I noticed three young people standing at the back of the room holding up handmade posters. The photo I took was very dark and I brightened it as much as I could. Here they are.

And then one of Olson’s aides handed him a card that had a very innocuous question, and his answer ignited, shall we say, vigorous disagreement.

Now the audience, by my estimation, was mostly of Olson’s party. You could tell by the enthusiasm of his dittoheads. So this mini-rebellion was finally put down by a strong rant on the part of Olson.A rant that included imagery of President Obama “just jumping around.” A rant that clearly signaled the dittoheads in the audience to agree with enthusiasm.

And they complied as if on cue.

And yes, there is video.

Friday, August 21, 2009

No Public Option Option Is Not an Option

Politico has the story here that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has opined that “The Public Option” may have to go in order to get a health care reform bill passed.

Offering this opinion, mind you, a day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that a health bill will not be passed without “The Public Option.”

Now opinions are like navels in that we all have them, but in this case there is a correct opinion and an incorrect one. “The Public Option” must never be eliminated from the bill.


And so why?

The whole idea of going after health care reform at this particular point in our history is to help to get us out of our economic morass: as health care costs keep going up and up health care insurance premiums go likewise. Driving up health care costs. An endless spiral. The whole idea here, is to reduce the cost of health care premiums.

If you put the federal government in a position to sell health insurance to its citizens, health care insurance firms will have to reduce their premiums to compete.

Because the Feds aren’t going to be in it for a profit. As a matter of fact, they will be in it for a loss.

The end game, in my opinion, is Single Payer Universal Health Care and that is why opponents are so shrill. The end game will take down a multi-billion dollar industry.

And it’s about time.

But short of the end game, when we are engaged in simply driving down health care premium rates, it becomes clear why “The Public Option” should be preferred over “Health care co-ops.”

The Co-op Option is not an option.

Simply because it doesn’t get the job done. If the job is to drive down health care premiums having a bill with only health care co-ops won’t reduce premiums.

Don’t believe me? The GAO, at the request of former congressman Thomas Bliley of Virginia, issued this 2000 report on the effectiveness of health care co-ops. The study looked at five separate “Healthmarts” that were created to serve as clearinghouses for small businesses seeking to get health insurance for their employees.

Their conclusion? Scroll down to the bottom of page 6. Here is what it says:

“The experiences to date of small employer purchasing cooperatives typically have not resulted in a third advantage, which is available to large employers: leverage in negotiating lower premiums. Officials of the purchasing cooperatives and participating insurers as well as several recent studies reported that cooperatives typically offer plans at market prices for plans with similar benefits offered to small employers outside the cooperative. This similarity in premiums is also reflected by rate quotations we obtained from several insurers. The cooperatives’ potential to reduce overall premiums is limited because (1) they lack sufficient leverage as a result of their limited market share; (2) the cooperatives have not been able to produce administrative cost savings for insurers; or (3) their state laws and regulations already restrict to differing degrees the amount insurerscan vary the premiums charged different groups purchasing the same health plan.”

So the question is, why pass a bill that doesn’t do what it was intended to do, and that is drive down health insurance premiums.

The GAO report revealed that co-ops won’t work.

Yes they enable small businesses to get health insurance for their employees, but at no cost savings at all. Not on the scale of what big businesses can negotiate for their employees.

No, the “No Public Option” option is not an option.

Without “The Public Option,” this bill, and any one like it, should be killed.

Maybe President Melia Obama will have better luck.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What a Surprise: Tom DeLay’s a Birther

Tom DeLay, my former congressman, wants to see Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Apparently he has doubts over whether Obama was actually born where his Certificate of Live Birth and two 1961 announcements in Hawaiian newspapers say that he was.

Gee, what a surprise.

This from a guy whose opinion of what the constitutional residency requirement of a US Congressman was challenged and debunked in the case of Texas Democratic Party vs. Tina Benkiser et al.

And he was even dumb enough to bring that whole affair back to the light of day when he was interviewed yesterday by Chris Matthews on his MSNBC news program Hardball.

The question of whether the 2008 Republican candidate was a natural born citizen was settled when it was ruled that John McCain, who was born in the Canal Zone, then a US territory, was a natural born US citizen just as Barry Goldwater, who was born in Arizona when it was also a US territory.

What has never been settled, because it is now a moot point, is whether George W. Romney, who nearly pulled off getting the Republican nomination in 1968 was a natural born US citizen.

Because George Romney was born in Mexico.

The father of Mitt, former Michigan governor George Romney was born in a Mormon settlement in Mexico, but somehow the question never really came up as to whether he was eligible to run for president.

That he was born to American parents, I am thinking, was the explanation that was provided. A child born to US citizens in any foreign country automatically has US citizenship.

So now I have to ask, why do Republicans take such umbrage over this issue? They do not deny that Obama’s mother was a US citizen and as such passes on her citizenship to her son.

Even if Obama was born in Kenya, actually then a British colony, his mother’s citizenship entitles Obama to claim US citizenship. Obama is “a natural born citizen” as opposed to a “naturalized citizen.” There is no third choice.

So all of these arguments are for naught. If George Romney qualified as a US citizen, so does Barack Obama wherever he was born.

So why do Republicans (and now Tom DeLay) keep up the noise over this issue? I suppose it is for the same reason that male dogs lick their scrotums.

Because they can.

And because they are running dog racists.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Richard Morrison Needs Your Voice

I noted on Fort Bend County Commissioner Richard Morrison’s website, As The Court Turns that he has a new project.

To widen a road.

Morrison, a Democrat, was elected on the coattails of public opposition to extending The Grand Parkway through unspoiled prairie as a toll road. His opponent, Greg Ordineaux, it will be remembered, had a sign bearing the words“Toll Road” riveted to his forehead.

Neighborhoods that would be affected by the toll road came out in droves to make sure Ordineaux was turned away at the polls.

Now, according to Morrison, these very same neighborhoods are all set to be negatively impacted when a new Lamar Consolidated ISD high school is built.

But not by the high school itself. They need the high school.

But by the increase traffic that will most certainly accompany the occasion of the opening of the school in the fall of 2010.

Located along FM 762 in Rosenberg, Texas, George Ranch High School, the name given LCISD’s latest erection, the school is out there in the country surrounded by fields. Making this campus a commuter campus. But the problem is FM 762, as are nearly all Farm to Market roads, is a two-lane road. A two-lane road that crosses Crabb River Road which is being widened from 2 to 4 lanes.

Can you spell Bottleneck?

Obviously, according to Morrison, the FM needs to be widened also.

Now where to get the money to widen a road? Well, you can get the money from property taxes being paid by new businesses that are moving into the county, bringing the families that make building new high schools necessary.

But the reason businesses are moving into the county is because they were all granted tax abatements.

With these abatements the county is strapped for cash and can’t build the infrastructure that this artificial growth needs to get from A to B efficiently.

So Morrison has hatched a plan to get money from the feds. From what is called a TIGER grant. But here’s the hitch: Fort Bend County’s grant application will be in competition with literally thousands of others from throughout the country.

So Morrison arranged local cities, organizations as well as TxDOT, to kick in 20% of the road widening project’s total cost of between $70 and $80 million, making this application more attractive to the feds who make their grant decisions based on local commitment and support.

So he has the cash problem taken care of. What he now needs is the support of the local citizenry by submitting letters of support to the federal Department of Transportation, which runs the TIGER Grant:

“One of the requirements of the TIGER Grant application is to submit as many resolutions and letters of support from local and state governments, as well as non-profits, community organizations and individuals as possible. I have received the support of the local state offices of TxDOT, as well as the City of Sugar Land and the City of Thompsons. I am requesting your support. This item will be placed on the August 25, 2009 Agenda of Commissioner’s Court. Please show up at the Travis Building (301 Jackson St., 7th Floor, Richmond, Texas) at 12:45 pm to sign up and speak on its behalf or call Judge Hebert’s Office at 281-341-8634 and let him know you support this project.”

That shouldn’t be too hard, should it?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Email Obfuscation from Health Insurance Lobbyists

Because I think that the healthcare lobbyists have a pretty good database and email address list, I don’t receive any of those crazy or misleading emails from them.

Not anymore anyway.

But someone I know still does. An Independent who voted for Obama last year.

I asked her if she would forward these things to me and she agreed.

This is what she received the other day from these desperate, desperate people:









All caps emphasis is theirs, not mine.

Now to be clear, this claim, that Members of Congress and Barack Obama are “exempt” from the Kennedy plan is utter obfuscation. Nothing of the kind appears in the bill. What does appear (on page 113 and 114 of the bill found here) is a list of the groups who are not allowed to participate in the program. Not allowed because they are already covered in other federal health care plans. This includes Members of Congress if they are enrolled in the “Federal employees health benefits program under chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code.”

And all of the hundreds of thousands of other federal employees who are enrolled in that program.

Others who cannot participate in the Kennedy plan are those enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid.

And those enrolled in Tricare – the plan that covers our soldiers and their families.

Or those who already have employer-sponsored health coverage.

But you see, the email fails to mention any of that. It serves only to confuse and enrage the witless of us out there.

The email also fails to mention the reason for the Kennedy bill in the first place. It fails to mention the “Sense” section found at the bottom of page 39 of the bill:

(b) SENSE OF THE SENATE.—It is the sense of the Senate that Congress should establish a means for all Americans to enjoy affordable choices in health benefit plans, in the same manner that Members of Congress have such choices through the Federal employees health benefits program.

Now the email address that the White House set up for us to forward these emails to them has been taken down. Instead they direct you to go to their Reality Check website. There you can scroll down and leave a message on what myths you think they should address in the future.

From personal experience acquired today, it’s pretty easy to do, as it turns out.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hut RI Ke-64

Anyone who has spent a summer in Indonesia knows what the title of this blog entry means.

Sort of.

64 stands for the number of years that the Republic of Indonesia has been independent – from Japan. RI is simply Republik Indonesia.

Hut is an acronym, and stands for the equivalent of Happy Birthday.

I think.

Ke is short for Kemerdekaan which is short for Proklamasi Kemerdekaan. Which means Independence Day.

I think.

I find it interesting that Indonesia and the United States have a similar tradition in counting their respective years of independence.

We number our years of independence from 1776 when we issued the Declaration of Independence on July 4th of that year. So we have 232 years of independence from the world’s largest colonial power at the time, Great Britain.

Even though Britain hotly contested this claim for another 5 years, and occupied many parts of the warring colonies for that period of time.

Indonesians number their years of independence from a week after the Japanese announced that they were surrendering on August 10th, giving Indonesian patriots a week to hear the news, react and declare their independence.

Their former owners, The Netherlands contested this claim and moved to take back their possession for 2 years. The Netherlands, however, were sapped of any strength, having themselves been occupied by Nazi Germany for nearly 6 years.

So they dropped their claim. A non-issue in Indonesia because, like Americans in the 18th century, independence existed from the day of declaration, and not the actual day of victory.

The Public Option – By the Numbers

Yesterday I wrote a piece about how the public option may be a dead issue because we couldn’t get enough votes in congress to pass a health care reform bill that includes the public option.

I need to corrected that, because I painted congress with too broad of a brush.


Because of Senate rules a super majority of 60 votes is needed to pass a health care bill. And while we now have 60 Democratic senators we have those red state Democratic senators who are balking. So it’s the Senate, really, that is giving us all of the problems.

In the House of Representatives we have the opposite problem.

In the House all they need is 218 votes to pass anything. And there are 256 Democratic congressmen currently seated there, far more than are needed to pass health care. But here is the kicker: today I learned that 64 of these Democrats have signed a pledge to vote against any health care reform bill that does not contain a public option.

So by the numbers, if the bill ever comes up for a vote in the House,, and it does NOT have a public option within its pages, votes to pass will number 193. So as it currently stands if the Senate passes its version without a public option, it will fail in the House.

Conversely, if the House passes its version and it contains provisions for a public option, it will most certainly fail in the Senate.

Leaving us all empty-handed to the glee of the Republican Party which just wants this whole thing to go away and let their health insurance company cronies continue to rake in inflated premiums, continue to refuse to cover pre-existing conditions, continue to simple release its customers when they become too expensive, continue NOT to have another 36 to 40 million customers.

So the whole thing has become a blinking contest between the House and Senate.

A blinking contest whose winners and losers will not be decided by who blinks first. No way. The winners and losers will be decided at the mid-term elections next year.