Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Quick Observations On Bailout Bill Failure

The House of Representatives has voted no on the Wall Street Bailout bill. Here are some quick observations I have on the subject.

I support this legislation.

1. If this nation ran on a parliamentary system, the government would collapse. 

2. While I am ideologue in many respects, this vote is being held hostage to ideologies of both the right and the left.

3. After the failures and lies of Iraq and this possible failure of our financial system, how can average people trust anything they are told?

4. Average people–the Main Street we keep hearing about—have some fault here. Many sought to live beyond their obvious means.

5. The flawed initial proposal from the White House, John McCain’s seemingly pointless suspend the campaign stunt, and the rabid free-market ideology of many House Republicans, show that Republicans are simply not competent to govern.

6. The idea that any speech by Nancy Pelosi killed the bill is silly. If House members felt this bill was good the country, why would a speech change people’s minds?

7. I understand that this bill came from the White House and that House Republicans are often very far to the right, but Democrats have a majority in the House. They have the obligation to make this work in the House.

8. Members of Congress had the right to vote as they saw fit. Even in crisis we have to keep our faith in democracy and move ahead to the next solution.

September 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

This Is Sarah Palin

This recent Associated Press story details abuses of power and favor taking Sarah Palin took part in as Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.

From the story—-

Though Sarah Palin depicts herself as a pit bull fighting good-old-boy politics, in her years as mayor she and her friends received special benefits more typical of small-town politics as usual…When Palin needed to sell her house during her last year as Wasilla mayor, she got the city to sign off on a special zoning exception — and did so without keeping a promise to remove a potential fire hazard… She gladly accepted gifts from merchants: A free “awesome facial” she raved about in a thank-you note to a spa. The “absolutely gorgeous flowers” she received from a welding supply store. Even fresh salmon … Some of her first actions after being elected mayor in 1996 raised possible ethical red flags: She cast the tie-breaking vote to propose a tax exemption on aircraft when her father-in-law owned one, and backed the city’s repeal of all taxes a year later on planes, snow machines and other personal property. She also asked the council to consider looser rules for snow machine races. Palin and her husband, Todd, a champion racer, co-owned a snow machine store at the time…James Svara, professor of public affairs at Arizona State University and author of “The Ethics Primer for Public Administrators in Government and Nonprofit Organizations,” suggested such behavior is part of small-town politics…”Small towns are first-person politics, and if people are close, it’s hard to separate one’s own personal interest and one’s own personal property from the work of the city,” Svara said. The key questions from an ethics standpoint include whether the politician makes a potential conflict of interest known and removes himself or herself from actions related to it, he added.

Most people who read Texas Liberal don’t like Sarah Palin no matter what. But there are also many who come to this blog via Google or other search engines. 

You’re reading here what kind of person John McCain picked to be Vice President. This is someone who one year from today could be President.

Here is a view from right-wing columnist Kathleen Parker saying Governor Palin should be dumped from the ticket for the good of the nation.

This column discusses how women had to pay for rape kits while Governor Palin was Mayor of Wasilla.

These are the facts about Sarah Palin. No amount of hiding her from the press is going to change these facts.

September 29, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Obama-McCain Debate Summary With Peter Fonda Picture

The first debate between Barack Obama and John McCain is over. It won’t surprise you that I feel Senator Obama won the debate. I’m going to spare you my thoughts because there is no way I would have said Senator Obama had lost the debate even if he had appeared on stage carrying a bottle of whiskey while singing Danny Boy.

Such is my summary of the debate. You can take it or leave it. By Monday we’ll be on to other issues and people will barely recall the debate took place.

(Above is a car buried in the sand on Bolivar Peninsula, part of Galveston County, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. For the purposes of this blog, the car represents how Barack Obama buried Senator McCain’s postions with the truth. The photo is from the Houston Chronicle.) 

In my home we’ve already turned off the post-debate coverage–the debate ended maybe half an hour ago–because it is tedious. We have on an infomercial featuring Peter Fonda discussing a Time-Life collection of music of the 1960’s. The ad says I’ll get extra benefits if I order within the next few minutes. Below is Mr. Fonda, the biker, with Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider.

As Senator Obama moves towards victory, there are a few things I would like my readers to please note—

Well-known political analyst Charlie Cook says Democrats have at least some chance of winning 60 Senate seats.

Sarah Palin still won’t explain why women had to pay for rape kits while she was Mayor of Wasilla.

And for those of you looking for the longer view, Hugh Brogan’s The Penguin History of the United States is the best one-volume history of the U.S. I have read.

September 27, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

McCain Debate Delay Is A Stunt

Below is an example of a stunt–

 

And here is another example of a stunt—

As a final example of a stunt, below you see John McCain who wants to suspend his campaign and delay this Friday’s debate because of the financial crisis.

John McCain

If Mr. McCain were President and we had a financial crisis at the same time as a foreign crisis, would he suspend work on one of the issues to deal with the other? Is he just hoping two big things won’t happen at the same time?  

Maybe the real crisis Senator McCain is facing is that he is falling behind in the polls.

September 24, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , | 4 Comments

People Who Should Know Better Who Won’t Vote For Obama Because He Is Black

There have been some recent articles and polls suggesting that some union members and some Democrats are hesitant to vote for Barack Obama because he is black.

Though here is a contrasting view.

If some unknown number of union members and Democrats don’t want to vote for Barack Obama because he is black—Well, that is a decision that people are going to have to make. I just know that I’d rather lose the election than not have nominated a black candidate because of his race. 

I’m not talking here about consistent Republican voters. I’m talking about people who most often pull the correct lever on Election Day.

If after 40 years of voting for George Wallace, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and the Bushes, some blue collar voters still don’t get the idea that these people are not helpful for average working folks, then good luck to them in finding a future for themselves and their kids.

If cultural issues such as guns and gays are the most important things to these voters, that is a call they are free to make. I know the issue here is not God because Barack Obama is a fully believing Christian.

Every election of my adult life–I’m 41– has been about the same stuff. And our national life just seems to get worse and worse.   

I’m hopeful good sense and optimism will prevail and that Senator Obama will win this election.  But win or lose, maybe we need to look at some new options to make our lives better. 

How about a liberal only open-enrollment health plan? Or a liberals only credit union for car loans and college loans? There are millions of us. Enough to make grand plans work. We could work it out so that our organizations donate some amount of fees and dues to liberal causes. Discounts could be offered if you could show proof of a donation to liberal candidates or reliable voting in Democratic primaries.

I’ve wasted enough of my life waiting for people who should know better to come around. I’m not giving up on people. But this is one of those times when we are really going to see what is in some people’s hearts.

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Personal Bankruptcy More Difficult—Giant Bailouts Of Banks And Big Firms Okay

I’m not going to pretend I understand all the ins and outs of this most recent financial meltdown.

(Below is Three Mile Island where a meltdown was also avoided.)

I don’t need to know all the details to get the drift of who gets bailed out and who does not.

In 2005, a bill was passed and signed by the President that made it more difficult for Americans to declare personal bankruptcy. Click the link to see how Joe Biden and Harry Reid voted the wrong way.

( Below is the King’s Bench Prison which was used as a debtor’s prison in 19th century London.) 

Here is more on Senator Biden’s support for the bankruptcy bill and on the kind of person who is left with no option but to file for bankruptcy. Some good news is that Barack Obama has at least mentioned that bankruptcy laws need to be changed for the better. John McCain has offered no relief for average people. 

We are told that the institutions being bailed out are “to big to fail.” I guess that means everybody else is not big enough to matter.  

I’m not suggesting these most recent bailouts are the wrong idea. It seems we were just a few days from a real panic. Nancy Pelosi’s insistence that their be more regulation of Wall Street as part of any bailout seems prudent.

( Below is a crowd that assembled outside the New York Stock Exchange after the 1929 Crash. I guess today we might just text each other.) 

Yet I’ll also say that a lot of well-educated, well-paid folks who made bad business decisions, engaged in predatory lending practices, and bought into a lousy system of finance must be getting bailed out. At the same time, more average folks and poor folks are getting nothing but trouble.

It is stuff like this why people are so unwilling to trust government, even when it is government that is the most likely source of possible solutions to big social and economic problems.

September 21, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Last Post Before Hurricane Ike Arrives In Houston/Galveston Area

This will be my last post before Hurricane Ike reaches the Houston/Galveston area. My wife and I live in Houston. The storm is expected to arrive in just a few hours. It’s unclear what conditions will be like after the hurricane. I don’t live in a flood area and I’m likely to be fine. Strong winds in the city of Houston are a cause for thought. But we will come out of it okay. 

As it stands currently , this storm is a very severe matter. Because of its erratic course, and because Houston has not had the recent experience New Orleans had of Hurricane Katrina, the national attention on Ike is coming only now.

It’s possible the path of the storm may change in the next few hours in a way that would minimize damage to the most populated portions of the Houston/Galveston area. Though I would not bet much on this prospect. The best scenario, that the storm shrink and weaken, is a hope we can also retain to the last moment. Yet again, the course and force of the storm appears largely set.   

Above is a picture of Galveston, Texas. You see how low-lying it is. A very strong storm surge is expected and the island may be fully undewater by this evening. I’ve visited Galveston at least every couple of months for the ten years I’ve lived in Houston. Galveston is a fifty mile drive to the south. I view Galveston as a home away from home. I hope that the city and the island are able to recover as quickly as possible. Here is some history of Galveston.

We have the things we need for an extended power outage. I think having no power for one or two weeks is our greatest concern. That this is what worries me most shows that we are fortunate. Many people living closer to the coast are going to lose their homes. Some people will be hurt and I suppose some will die. 

Let me take this chance to express my complete contempt for the idiocy of the ongoing Presidential campaign. Maybe the one advantage of not having power for a few days is that I’ll not have to hear about the campaign. You get a clear sense of how awful and dumb the campaign is when something as potentially bad as this hurricane is at your doorstep. A leading reason it is so bad is the constant lying by John McCain and his campaign. Stuff like allegations that Senator Obama supporting sex ed for small kids. We have more important concerns to discuss than deflecting these lies.

Just as a hurricane can be a life and death matter, so is politics in many respects. Issues of greater access to health insurance and climate change need to be addressed now. 

During the hurricane and in the days after, I’ll be reading What Hath God Wrought—The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe. This book is the most recent Pulitzer Prize winner for history.

Good luck to everybody impacted by Hurricane Ike. I’ll post again after the storm has passed, and depending on when power is back up and running.

Thanks for reading Texas Liberal.

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Galveston, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

As Slavery, Civil War & Jim Crow Followed One Another, So Could Bush, McCain & Palin

Some fear, as they should, the idea of George W. Bush, John McCain, and Sarah Palin serving successively in the White House.

As unbelievably bad as this would be, history teaches nothing is so horrible that it can’t occur. For example—

Over 200 years of American slavery,

 

Was followed by a brutal Civil War

And then 100 more years of Jim Crow

The good news is that we can still work to elect Barack Obama and defeat John McCain. We don’t have to accept one lousy thing and then another and then another.

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

John McCain—Pack Mule For The Far Right

John McCain says he is a maverick.

Yet instead of picking Joe Lieberman of Connecticut as his running mate, as he had wanted to do, he chose a candidate to satisfy the far right.

Mr. McCain lacked the political courage to be his own man.

Instead of a maverick, Senator McCain is a pack mule for the far right. You see him there above–Carrying the load… Waiting for the next command.

Mr. McCain is not even “stubborn as a mule.” He just allows the right to strap that gay-baiting, book-banning, no sex ed, everybody for themselves load right on his back.

Sarah Palin does not support abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

Anything to win an election.

Here is information about mules from the British Mule Society.

September 3, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , | 2 Comments

As Ford Did Not Offer VP Spot To Reagan in ’76, Obama Had No Obligation To Any Defeated Candidate

Taken as a general matter, since the current primary-heavy process of selecting nominees began in 1972, victorious Presidential nominees have not selected their nearest rival in contested nomination fights as the Vice Presidential nominee. 

Only twice in contested nomination battles beginning with 1972 has the Vice Presidential nominee been the second place finisher in total primary votes. The Democratic ticket in 2004 and the Republican slate in 1980 are the two.

The 2008 Democratic race was the closest in vote totals, but the ideological fight for the Republican nomination in 1976 (Convention photo above) may have been the more intense struggle.  

In 2008, Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York each won just over 48% of the popular vote in the primaries with Mr. Obama winning a few more votes than Mrs. Clinton. For Republicans, John McCain of Arizona took around 45% of the total with Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas each in the low 20’s.  

In going with Joe Biden of Delaware, Senator Obama has made his call. Senator McCain will do the same next week.

Here is some history on this matter—

John Kerry of Massachusetts won 61% of Democratic primary voters in 2004. His closest competitor, John Edwards of North Carolina, won 19% of all such voters and got a spot on the ticket. 

In 2000 Al Gore of Tennessee (76% of Democratic primary voters) did not pick Bill Bradley of New Jersey (20%). Nor did George W. Bush of Texas (63% of Republican primary voters) select Mr. McCain (30%). 

In 1996, Bob Dole of Kansas (61%) left Pat Buchanan of Virginia (24%) off the ticket.

In 1992, Bill Clinton  of Arkansas (52%) selected neither Jerry Brown of California (20%) or Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts (18%).

In 1988, George H.W. Bush  of Texas (68%) did not make Mr. Dole (19%) his running mate. Mike Dukakis of Massachusetts (43%) did not offer the spot to Jesse Jackson of Illinois (29%).

The 1984 Democratic race was hard fought. Still Walter Mondale of Minnesota (38%) denied Gary Hart of Colorado (36%) a place on the ticket. This was a race almost as close as 2008.

In 1980, incumbent Vice President Mondale stayed on the slate after President Jimmy Carter of Georgia (51%) beat Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts (37%) for the nomination.

In the 1980 Republican race, the second place finisher did get the second spot. Ronald Reagan of California (61%) picked Mr. Bush (23%) as his number two.  

In 1976, Mr. Carter (39%) did not offer the job to Mr. Brown (15%), George Wallace of Alabama (12%) or Morris Udall of Arizona (10%),

In the fiercely fought Republican race in 1976 , President Gerald Ford of Michigan (53%) did not offer the Vice Presidency to Mr. Reagan (46%). Senator Dole was President Ford’s choice.

1972 was the last time the nominee was not the top vote getter in the primaries. Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota won 26% of the vote against 25% for George McGovern of South Dakota and 24% for George Wallace. The nominee, Mr. McGovern did not offer the VP spot to either gentleman.

( Governor George Wallace stands in the schoolhouse door blocking integration in Alabama. Neither George McGovern or Jimmy Carter thought it best to run with Mr. Wallace in a Presidential election.)

August 24, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Get Mad Over Campaign When Obama Does Not Fight Back Or Fight For Working People?

The Presidential campaign is not so much interesting to me as it is a source of frustration. The idea of 12 years of Bush-McCain when in my 40 years the only Democratic Presidents I have ever known are Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, is very frustrating.   

The campaign distorts my personality in some small measure. It makes me more angry than I normally am. It hardens me towards people I don’t want to be around. I was this way four years ago and I feel this way today. The campaign is an irritating background noise. A ringing in your ears you can’t shake.

Today I found myself wondering why I’m getting so mad when Barack Obama seemingly refuses to fight back against a series of smears from John McCain about Senator Obama’s patriotism.

I wondered why I’m so mad when he refuses, so far, to fight hard for working people. Why isn’t Mr. Obama out on the trail advocating for universal health care and better wages? Why isn’t he telling the truth about the global economy means for American workers and about possible solutions to these new conditions.

The following is from a New York Times story about a new Times/CBS poll that has Mr. Obama three points ahead of Mr. McCain—    

Slim majorities said neither candidate had made clear what he would do as president, suggesting that both need to use their conventions to provide voters with a better sense of their plans for addressing the deteriorating economy, high energy prices, access to health care and national security. Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, is still closely associated with the deeply unpopular President Bush. Nearly half of those surveyed said that they expected him to continue the Bush administration’s policies if he were elected president.

Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, was trusted more by voters to handle their top concern, the economy. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said they were confident that Mr. Obama would make the right decisions on the economy, compared with 54 percent who expressed confidence that Mr. McCain would. When it came to foreign policy, the image was inverted: 66 percent expressed confidence in Mr. McCain to make the right decisions, and 55 percent in Mr. Obama.

But the economy — not national security — is shaping up as the far greater concern this year. Four in 10 voters called it their top concern; only 15 percent cited the Iraq war. Taken together, a series of pocketbook issues — including the economy, jobs, gas prices and energy policy — were the leading concerns of more than half of those surveyed. Terrorism and national security, along with the war, were cited as most important by just under a quarter.

Why isn’t Senator Obama known already as a fighter for working people on these economic issues?

I assume Mr. Obama has a plan for winning this campaign. I’m looking forward to this plan showing some progress in the days to come. I sure hope this is what happens.

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , | 4 Comments

I Support Any Energy Policy That Wins Votes For Obama

So-called Energy Independence has been a topic of political debate for many years.

( Wind power has a long history. Maybe Mr. Obama should push for wind power.)

The following is from the 1976 Republican National Convention platform—

“One fact should now be clear: We must reduce sharply our dependence on other nations and strive to achieve energy independence at the earliest possible date. We cannot allow the economic destiny and international policy of the United States to be dictated by the sovereign powers that control major portions of the world’s petroleum supplies.”

Sure.

Dick Cheney, who was Chief of Staff for the nominee of that convention, Gerald Ford, says conservation is a “personal virtue.” John McCain mocks the idea of energy conservation.

These people were not serious 30 years ago and they are not serious today.

( Mr. Obama could show respect for rural America by backing an energy plan that makes greater use of animals.)  

The following is from the 1976 Democratic National Convention platform—

The huge reserves of oil, gas, and coal on federal territory, including the outer continental shelf, belong to all the people. The Republicans have pursued leasing policies which give the public treasury the least benefit and that energy industry the most benefit from these public resources. Consistent with environmentally sound practices, new leasing procedures must be adopted to correct these policies….” 

This debate may well go on for years to come.

Given all these years of empty talk, I don’t believe either party will seriously address this problem until forced to do so by events. Despite high gas prices in recent years and the fact that oil profits have helped fund terrorists, the public is not ready yet to talk about solutions that will either cost money at the pump, or that will involve scaling back our lives.

Mr. McCain’s view that mocking Mr. Obama’s reasonable suggestion that correct tire pressure makes a difference in fuel efficiency is a good campaign tactic, suggests a public not looking for real progress on energy independence.  

And falling, for the moment at least, for the quick-fix false promise of offshore drilling, again shows a public not serious about the issue.

If Mr. Obama wants to talk about more domestic drilling—fine. If gas prices go down for a few months, the issue will recede. If gas prices stay high, he’d likely have to bend in any case if elected President. It’s not worth giving Senator McCain an issue.

What either Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain will do as President will be dictated by unforeseen events and the composition of Congress after the election. Just tell people what they want to hear on this one and maybe—against the odds—we can move on to an a issue where a more helpful discussion is possible.

Though don’t bet on that either.

(How about solar power satellite arrays serviced by fleets of yet to be built spaceships? If Mr. Obama can sell this idea I would be in agreement.)

August 20, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

McCain Shows Obama With Blonde White Women

A new TV ad by John McCain flashes images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears and suggests Senator Obama is a celebrity and little more.

But that’s not really the story.

The story here is about linking a black man to blonde white women. This is just what Tennessee Republicans did with black U.S. Senate nominee Harold Ford in 2006.

The people who make these ads know what they are doing.

Senator McCain has already said Senator Obama would lose a war in order to win an election. Mr. McCain will say and do anything.

Senator McCain voted against the Martin Luther King holiday. He now says he is sorry. 

The McCain campaign could only find two blonde white women to put in that ad?

July 31, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Oldest Presidential Nominees

Who have been the oldest candidates for President? 

Senator John McCain will be 72 on Election Day 2008. This makes him the second oldest first-time major party nominee in Presidential election history. Here are first-time major party Presidential nominees nominated at age 65 or older. Listed after the name is the candidate’s age on Election Day and the year of the election. At the end of each listing is the lifespan of the candidate.    

( Please click here for a list of the youngest Presidents)

Bob Dole

1. Bob Dole 73,1996–Senator Dole finally got his turn as Republican nominee. Lost to Bill Clinton. ( 1923- )

2. John McCain, 72, 2008—Republican running against man who would be one of our youngest Presidents. (1936-)

3. Ronald Reagan,  69, 1980—Oldest man to win a Presidential election. Renominated at age 73. This Republican beat Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Walter Mondale in 1984. (1911-2004)

Staute of William Henry Harrison in Downtown Cincinnati

4. William Henry Harrison, 67, 1840–Harrison ran as regional nominee of Whigs as part of a failed plan to defeat Martin Van Buren in 1836. In 1840 Harrison was nominee of entire party. He was elected but died one month into his term. Beat Mr. Van Buren. (1773-1841)

Lewis Cass

5. Lewis Cass, 66, 1848—Democrat was longtime territorial Governor of Michigan and a Secretary of War to Andrew Jackson. Lost to Whig Zachary Taylor. (1782-1866)

6. James Buchanan, 65, 1856—A Democrat who would have been a lousy President at any age. Watched helplessly as Union fell apart.  Defeated Republican John Fremont.  (1791-1868)

Others have reached age 65 in the years between a first nomination and a subsequent nomination.

These men are—

George H.W. Bush—68 when renominated in 1992. Lost to then Governor Clinton  ( 1924- )

Henry Clay—67 at time of final failed attempt in 1844. Lost to James Polk. (1777-1852)

Dwight Eisenhower 66 when winning second term in 1956 . Beat Adlai Stevenson. (1890-1969)

Andrew Jackson—65 for second term win in 1832. Beat Henry Clay. ( 1767-1845)

John Adams—65 in failed 1800 reelection bid. Lost to Thomas Jefferson. (1735-1826)

(Please click here for a list of the best popular vote totals in a Presidential election.)

July 28, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

America—Not As Black As People Think

A new New York Times survey has Barack Obama leading John McCain by 45% to 39%.

Okay—No surprise.

Reading the polling data, one question did stand out. People were asked what percentage of the country was black.

The Census Bureau reports that in 2006, 12.8% of the American public was black. That number added up to about 38.3 million people.

In the Times survey, 32% of all people said America was between 20% and 30% black. An additional 32% said the number was between 30% and 40%. And 9% of respondents said America was a majority black nation.

Both a majority of black and white folks in the survey got the question wrong.

I guess I should stop being surprised at what people don’t know, but I really don’t see how people can figure the nation is 30% or more black. 

Do whites get it wrong out of a fear of being overrun? Are blacks looking for strength in numbers?

In any case, I don’t get what people are thinking sometimes. Don’t folks have any sense of the world around them?

Here is BlackDemograhics.com with information on blacks in the United States.

July 16, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , | 7 Comments