Friday, March 11


As I said here and again in this post, Texas House Bill 3 would benefit our richest citizens and increase the tax burden of our poorest. The Republican attitude: "let them eat cake." Oops! As long as they can afford the new 3% snack tax!

Only Texans in households making more than $100,000 would receive a net tax cut under the tax overhaul bill that the House is considering, according to a nonpartisan legislative analysis.

Under the bill, the poorest 1.7 million households – those earning less than $23,000 – would see their tax burden rise more than 5 percent, as lawmakers would add a penny to the sales tax rate and sharply boost taxes on snacks and cigarettes.

The richest 840,000 households – those with annual incomes of more than $140,000 – would have their taxes cut nearly 3 percent, according to the Legislative Budget Board, a research agency run by a group of legislative leaders who track the budget.
"The net effect is raising taxes to the tune of $1.1 billion on all Texans making under $100,000 a year," he said, citing the estimate for how much more would be collected from 6.7 million households in fiscal 2007. The wealthiest 20 percent of households would pay $437 million less.

"Do you think that that is fair and real tax relief?" Mr. Dunnam said to Rep. Kent Grusendorf, R-Arlington, a leading architect of the House's proposed school finance and tax swap package.
Some tax experts said the House bill would make Texas' tax system even more regressive – meaning that the poor pay a larger percentage of income than the rich – than it is now.
Mr. Sullivan said the payroll tax would eliminate jobs filled by unskilled, poorly educated Texans. Under the bill, the existing business franchise tax would be repealed and all businesses would have to pay 1.15 percent of each employee's salary, up to $90,000 per worker annually.


The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new and virulent strain of sexualy transmitted disease.

This disease, which is contracted through dangerous and high-risk behavior, is called Gonorrhea Lectim (pronounced "gonna re-elect him"). Many victims have contracted it after having been screwed for the past four years, in spite of having taken measures to protect themselves from this especially troublesome disease.

Cognitive symptoms of individuals infected with Gonorrhea Lectim include, but are not limited to: anti-social personality disorder traits; delusions of grandeur with a distinct messianic flavor; chronic mangling of the English language; extreme cognitive dissonance; inability to incorporate new information; pronounced xenophobia; inability to accept responsibility for actions; exceptional cowardice masked by acts of misplaced bravado; uncontrolled facial smirking; ignorance of geography and history; tendencies toward creating evangelical theocracies; anad a strong propensity for categorical, all-or-nothing behavior.

The disease is sweeping Washington.

Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed and baffled that this malignant disease originated only a few years ago in a Texas Bush.

Source unknown, but thanks to Sally.

Thursday, March 10


Article here.

Wednesday, March 9


Mad Kane is a blogger after my own heart (and a darn good versifier too!).

Dubya's Democracy Occupation
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Democracy cannot succeed,
Said Dubya with a glower.
In countries that are occupied
By mean old foreign powers.

I brightened when Bush said those words.
What wondrous revelation!
It surely meant that Bush would end
His Baghdad occupation.

But Syria and Lebanon
Alas, were Dubya's topic.
Cause when it comes to U.S. acts,
Dub's stubbornly myopic.


Snark, snark from Eugene Oregon:

Has everyone in this country intentionally forgotten that we went to war in Iraq over non-existent WMDs? How can it be that Bush is now being proven "right" regarding the very war he started based on now universally recognized errors?

If Nixon had been able to spin his failures in this way, we'd all be talking about Watergate as if it were some bold effort to reform the nation's campaign finance and hotel security laws.

UPDATE: Good Professor Cole weighs in on the "give Bush credit" meme:

The Lebanese have been having often lively parliamentary election campaigns for decades. The idea that the urbane and sophisticated Beirutis had anything to learn from the Jan. 30 process in Iraq is absurd on the face of it. Elections were already scheduled in Lebanon for later this spring.

Moreover, the anti-Syrian protests were not a signal that the Lebanese wanted to be like American-occupied Iraq. They were a signal that the Druze, Maronites and a section of the Sunnis had agreed to try to push Syria out. It was the US who had invited Syria into Lebanon in 1976. And it was a sign that Lebanon is still deeply divided, since the Shiite plurality largely supports Syria. Given the pro-Syrian sentiment in some Sunni cities like Tripoli, it may well be that a majority of Lebanese want Syria to remain in some capacity. If that were true, what would it do to Mr. Bush's master narrative of the march of democracy?


So an ex-Marine who participated in the capture of Saddam Hussein now tells us that they found Saddam in a "modest house," not hiding in a hole as was previously claimed, and that during "fierce resistance," he himself fired on the Marines before being persuaded it was futile. Is there ANYTHING about this godforsaken war that hasn't been fabricated or "enhanced for our viewing pleasure"? Jessica Lynch, take note.

Via Atrios.

"Holy cow, we don't want anyone to know the old guy tried to go down fighting. Okay, let's put him in the well. He'll get dirty and make a better visual when we pull him out. And better put a stash of cash down there with him as well. This way he'll look like a mercenary coward and ruin his preferred image as the new 'Saladin.' It'll all play so much better in the press."


Sung to the tune of "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" from Pirates of Penzance:

He is the very model of a government executive
His language it is doublespeak, his better half is decorative
He claims to be immaculate, his record stands for all to see
And shining through it all is his incredible mendacity
As to administration, why, his cabinet’s impeccable
And human progress, not for profit, gleefully deemed wreckable
Ambition is his only creed, his means are reprehensible
His policies will ruin us and are clearly indefensible.

His policies will ruin us and are clearly indefensible.

To right his wrongs may prove to be a sheer impossibility
Especially when he claims to bear no share of culpability
He’s clearly on the road to making miseries subsecutive
In practice he has been a very awful chief executive.

He’s clearly on the road to making miseries subsecutive
In practice he has been a very awful chief executive.

He’s very good at stoking fears and chumming with the media
His public lies are legion, they could fill encyclopedias
He’d like to see the end of what we call the social safety net
And finance his adventures with a generation’s unpaid debt
He’s not above accepting an anointment of divinity
While strutting off to further demonstrate his masculinity
By bullying and threatening, two tactics quite indicative
Of George’s nature, which is clearly cruel and vindicative.

Republicans, now heed me well, you bear responsibility
And Democrats who traffic with him will reap our hostility
Protect our nation now and please defend our Constitution
Or America will be facing its own final resolution

UPDATE: By request, I'm bumping this up. This is what's got me in a stew.


Susie has the names of the Democrats who voted for the bankruptcy bill that had me so angry yesterday:

Biden (D-DE), Yea
Byrd (D-WV), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lieberman (D-CT), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea

Remember them. They need to pay for this outrage.


Giuliana Sgrena's own thoughts about her abduction in Iraq and the shooting that occurred after she was freed.


Riverbend reveals another uncovered-by-the-media story from Iraq:

The event of the week occurred last Wednesday and I was surprised it wasn’t covered by Western press. It’s not that big a deal, but it enraged people in Baghdad and it can also give a better picture of what has been going on with our *heroic* National Guard. There was an explosion on Wednesday in Baghdad and the wounded were all taken to Yarmuk Hospital, one of the larger hospitals in Baghdad. The number of wounded were around 30- most of them National Guard. In the hospital, it was chaos- patients wounded in this latest explosion, patients from other explosions and various patients from gunshot wounds, etc. The doctors were running around everywhere, trying to be in four different places at once.

Apparently, there weren’t enough beds. Many of the wounded were in the hallways and outside of the rooms. The stories vary. One doctor told me that some of the National Guard began screaming at the doctors, telling them to ignore the civilians and tend to the wounds of the Guard. A nurse said that the National Guard who weren’t wounded began pulling civilians out of the beds and replacing them with wounded National Guard. The gist of it is generally the same; the doctors refused the idea of not treating civilians and preferring the National Guard over them and suddenly a fight broke out. The doctors threatened a strike if the National Guard began pulling the civilians out of beds.

The National Guard decided the solution to the crisis would be the following- they’d gather up some of the doctors and nurses and beat them in front of the patients. So several doctors were rounded up and attacked by several National Guard (someone said there was liberal use of electric batons and the butts of some Klashnikovs).

The doctors decided to go on strike.

It’s difficult to consider National Guardsmen as heroes with the image of them beating doctors in white gowns in ones head. It’s difficult to see them as anything other than expendable Iraqis with their main mission being securing areas and cities for Americans.


James Zogby was quietly effective on Hardball tonight, articulately opposing David Ignatius' and Ken Adelman's attempts to credit Bush policies with "democracy on the march" "victories" in the Middle East. As Zogby pointed out, Lebanon is a fractured society and recent anti-Syria demonstrations were countered today with a massive Hezbollah-organized counter-demonstration. As he said, the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri was at the heart of those anti-Syria demonstrations, not the actions of Bush in Iraq. And Arafat's death, and the ascension of Mahmoud Abbas, is responsible for the recent hopeful signs among Palestinians, again not Bush's Middle East adventurism.

The crowing of Bushies about "positive signs" in the Middle East are unseemly and ridiculous in the extreme. The region has never been more unstable, global terrorism has increased since the "war on terra," and any moves towards "democracy" are just as liable to produce more Islamic extremism and anti-Americanism than the current regimes foster as they are to lead to any kind of enhanced security for Americans.


I despise the rantings of Michael Savage of The Savage Nation. Nevertheless, on rare occasions I'm forced to note that he seems to have more of a populist and independent spirit than his fellow arch-conservatives cohorts such as the Bush-pandering Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and others of that ilk. Today I happened upon his radio show on a very long commute home where he was holding forth on the need to raise the minimum wage. He hit all the right points, passionately making the case against the "it'll ruin the economy" argument by pointing out Congress's recent vote to raise their own salaries, CEO's skyrocketing compensation, etc.

Dallas conservative radio hosts Darrell Ankarlo and Greg Knapp of KLIF have taken up the cause of defeating Texas House Bill 3, which I have already railed against. Their reasons are, as would be expected, simply because they are anti-tax of any kind, but nonetheless, I welcome their support. Knapp even today pointed out that the proposed additional $1-per-pack increase on tobacco is unfair since smokers already pay an inordinate share of our taxes (a point rarely made, especially by my fellow liberals), a nearly-libertarian view that taxing "behaviors" is another attempt by government to regulate personal choice, or at least a cynical attempt to appear to do so -- when, in fact, government has no intention of trying to do so, since it depends on that continued "behavior" to raise revenue. Greg's real opposition is to the 3% "snack tax" on soft drinks, potato chips, doughnuts, etc. All these additional taxes, such as the "fax tax" included in Texas House Bill 3 fall most heavily, of course, on lower-wage citizens, who are proportionately more likely to smoke and snack. And that is exactly the intention of this bill, to divert the tax burden from wealthier property owners. Whatever happened to all that wonderful lottery money, which was supposed to support our education system in Texas? Just yesterday a study was publicized that says 36% of Texas youth drop out of high school before graduation? 36%????? Could any state possibly have a higher dropout rate?

Incidentally, Ankarlo swears he has evidence that Speaker Craddick is intimidating Republican legislators into voting his way, threatening to cut them off from lobbying money and promising he'll make sure they lose their seats in the next election if they don't vote in favor of House Bill 3.

Greg Knapp had Alan Colmes on as a guest today. Alan once again did a creditable job of shutting Greg down on a variety of subjects and talked through Greg's rants as much as Greg talked through his speeches. Why can't he hold his own with Hannity as well as he does his fellow Dallas KLIF hosts?

Tuesday, March 8


My oldest daughter forwarded this to me just now. Seems it's making the e-mail rounds. Read the whole thing; it's by Thom Hartmann:

Reflecting on that time, The American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983) left us this definition of the form of government the German democracy had become through Hitler's close alliance with the largest German corporations and his policy of using religion and war as tools to keep power: "fas-cism (fâsh'iz'em) n. A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

Today, as we face financial and political crises, it's useful to remember that the ravages of the Great Depression hit Germany and the United States alike. Through the 1930s, however, Hitler and Roosevelt chose very different courses to bring their nations back to power and prosperity.

Germany's response was to use government to empower corporations and reward the society's richest individuals, privatize much of the commons, stifle dissent, strip people of constitutional rights, bust up unions, and create an illusion of prosperity through government debt and continual and ever-expanding war spending.

America passed minimum wage laws to raise the middle class, enforced anti-trust laws to diminish the power of corporations, increased taxes on corporations and the wealthiest individuals, created Social Security, and became the employer of last resort through programs to build national infrastructure, promote the arts, and replant forests.

To the extent that our Constitution is still intact, the choice is again ours.


We're not alleging, we're downright screaming it out as fact. Report by House Democrats Alleges GOP Abuse of Power:

"Over the past two years, the Republican leadership ignored House Rules and the basic standards of legislative fairness and decency with an impunity that is unprecedented in the history of the House of Representatives," she said in a statement.
The report calls for Republicans to "open up the process by allowing debate and votes on more serious amendments" and give members at least three days to read reports from conference committees.

Doesn't seem like much to ask, but this administration and Republican congress are too incivil and totalitarian in nature to accede.


Is US losing moral authority on human rights?
Experts say prisoner abuses, war in Iraq undermine effectiveness of State Department human rights report.

Duh. Not to mention the sweet little practice of rendition

Monday, March 7


This is so completely sickening, I don't have enough outrage to express my outrage. If this doesn't cause pastors from coast to coast to rise up in protest at the likening of George W. Bush to Jesus Christ, their supposed Lord and Savior, they'll have to answer for the blasphemy to a power higher than the White House.

Thanks to No More Mister Nice Blog via Mahablog.

"A History of the Bush Administration in One Sentence"

It's here.


In their usual dishonest fashion, Texas Republicans are trying to sneak new taxes past the voters:

Texas would have the highest state sales tax in the country, businesses would pay a payroll tax and smokers would pay a dollar more for cigarettes in exchange for a cut in school property taxes under a bill approved Wednesday by a House committee.

The measure, which also includes new taxes on bottled water, auto repair services and car washes, would raise nearly $11 billion over the next two years, all of which would pay for lowering school property taxes by about one-third.
Although many Texans, particularly low-income people, live in rental housing, Keffer said the bill included no requirement that landlords pass through their property tax relief in the form of lower rents.

"The market will prevail," he said.

So who benefits? Big residential and business property owners, who will pay less in school property taxes. Some businesses, such as chemical companies, large manufacturers and electric utilities. And any business that was subject to the franchise tax.

Who loses? Small businesses looking to expand and hire new people. Companies such as retailers that employ large numbers of low-wage workers. Middle- and low-income workers who will pay the highest sales taxes in the nation. Renters. Smokers.

Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick is pushing passage of this bill quickly before voters have a chance to see and understand for themselves how they will be affected by it. The House Ways and Means Committee voted only minutes after seeing the bill, and Craddick would like to ensure passage before the word gets out.

Any legislation that has to be snuck past the people is usually bad for them. But this is a cynical attempt to finance public education by heaping more of the burden on those least able to afford it.


Dr. Teresa Whitehurst warns us what to expect from BushCo re the Sgrena shooting:

To save everyone the time and trouble (not to mention the emotional ups and downs) of following this saga from its tragic beginning to its predictable end, allow me to fast-forward the events of the coming days, weeks, and months.

Damage Control: UIP to the Rescue

Here's what I've determined, from observing the same scenario numerous times, to be an "Unfortunate Incident Protocol" (UIP) , used by both the U.S. and Israeli governments whenever news of our own evildoing gets out:
So for all who fear that this checkpoint killing could have negative fallout for Mr. Bush or Mr. Berlusconi, allow me to assure you that the 10-step system above is rather foolproof. It's worked so many times for Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair, Mr. Sharon, and of course Mr. Berlusconi that there's no reason to believe it won't work now.


"Italians want an explanation that's a little bit more serious than the kind of joke we've got that these people were speeding. In that car were some of the most experienced officers in Iraq who know how to deal with a roadblock."

More here.