Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Disney Vault

I joined the Disney Movie Club a while back hoping to build up my collection of Disney animated movies. I already had a modest collection on VHS tape including:
Snow White
101 Dalmations
Mary Poppins
The Emperor's New Groove
Toy Story 1 & 2
and A Bug's Life

But I had very few on DVD at that point:
Lion King
Monster's Inc.
Finding Nemo
The Incredibles
Lilo and Stitch
Treasure Planet
Home on the Range

By joining the club I was able to pick up
Robin Hood
The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
The Aristocats
The Rescuers and
Alice in Wonderland

Then with the first of my three required purchases I picked up Cinderella which was just released from the Disney video vault and put on DVD for the first time ever. Next month I plan to make Lady and the Tramp my second selection and in the fall I understand they will finally be releasing The Little Mermaid on DVD.

I cannot find a schedule that shows when Disney will be releasing other films from its pantheon onto DVD, but I have at the top of my wish list Pinochio, Jungle Book and Peter Pan.
And that is not even getting into the live-action Disney movies that I wouldn't mind having.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Campaign for the National Popular Vote

I fully support this group’s efforts.

A coalition of former congressmen is launching a campaign to change how Americans select their president by reforming the Electoral College system, saying campaigns for the White House should be reliant on the nationwide popular vote rather than simply the outcome in a handful of swing states....

Previous attempts to change the Electoral College by amending the Constitution have failed in Congress, so proponents of reform are seeking to change laws through individual state legislatures. The initiative, called the Campaign for the National Popular Vote, does not seek to abolish the Electoral College, but rather award the electors from each state to the candidate who wins the country's popular vote.

Supporters of the plan say the last two elections illustrate the need - for Republicans and Democrats alike - to change the system of electing the president.

In 2000, Gore won the popular vote by about 500,000 ballots, but lost the election in the Electoral College after George W. Bush narrowly won the popular vote in Florida and all 25 of its electoral votes. In 2004, President Bush won the popular vote by 3 million ballots, but would have lost his re-election bid if Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., had simply carried Ohio.

The Bush Boom

Here’s more evidence of the booming economy under President Bush and the Republicans.

The average income of American families, after adjusting for inflation, declined by 2.3 percent in 2004 compared to 2001 while their net worth rose but at a slower pace....
The median, or midpoint for net worth rose by 1.5 percent to $93,100 from 2001 to 2004. That growth was far below the 10.3 percent gain in median net worth from 1998 to 2001...

Just to be clear, that’s a 1.5 percent increase in median net worth during the Bush years, compared to a 10.3 percent increase during the Clinton years.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Clueless George strikes again

I find it quite amazing that President Bush, who has staked his presidential legacy on the notion that he is keeping America safe from any future terrorist attacks, would be left out of the loop by his administration on a deal giving the United Arab Emirates control of six major U.S. ports.

President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday.

It makes me wonder what things his handlers feel that he can be kept in the loop on. I thought this was supposed to be the new post-9/11 world, where average Americans are forced to live with all kinds of new and invasive restrictions on their personal freedoms.
And yet, allowing the UAE to step in and take control of our ports doesn’t even get the requisite investigation before it is approved without the knowledge of the President or the Congress.

Now, some people are making a reasonable case that this is really no big deal.
Kevin Drum raises the following points in defense of the decision:

• This isn't a matter of outsourcing a government operation to a private company. P&O has been operating ports in the United States (and the rest of the world) for a long time, and they do it under contract with the port authorities, not the federal government. What's more, there are plenty of port operators in the United States besides P&O that are foreign owned too.

• P&O doesn't "own" the ports, they just manage one or more terminals at each of their ports and try to make money by attracting shipping companies to their terminals.

• P&O was on the auction block no matter what. If Dubai Ports hadn't purchased them, PSA International of Singapore would have acquired them instead.

• Port workers would mostly (all?) be American union members regardless of who owns the management company. Security will continue to be provided by the Coast Guard and U.S. Customs.

Those are all good points, and it may be true that this will turn out to be much ado about nothing. But just because the UAE won’t be physically operating the ports doesn’t mean we can breathe easy. As the owners of the management company, they will have access to all the intelligence that would let anyone with half a brain skirt the system and enter the U.S. without detection. Do you suppose there are any members of the UAE who might have sympathies for al-Queada and might be tempted to leak that information to certain groups?
Is it really such a good thing in this post-9/11 world to be outsourcing the management of our ports in the first place?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Down the memory hole

I found this story to be particularly disturbing today.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 — In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.

Bush’s comittment to renewable energy

This is really funny.
President Bush, sitting on a 39 percent approval rating, is still traveling the country trying to promote initiatives from his long-forgotten State of the Union speech when his handlers decided to send him to a renewable energy lab in Colorado to highlight his new-found interest in promoting renewable energy sources.
It turns out that lab just got hit with massive budget cuts recently thanks to Bush’s inept mishandling of the economy and 32 people, including 8 researchers, had to be laid off just two weeks ago.
So Karl Rove got on the phone to Energy Secretary Sam Bodman and had him funnel $5 million to the lab so that the jobs could be restored - at least temporarily - so as not to spoil Bush’s photo opportunity.
What a bunch of incompetent clowns we have running our government.

Party purge

Nacho Guarache is an excellent political cartoon by local artist Leo Garza. San Antonio readers of the E-N are fortunate to have it. But sometimes Garza can be such a Republican hack (some would call him a wanker) that it starts to detract from the quality of his stuff.

This past week, for example, he once again went after his favorite whipping boy, the local Democratic Party by lampooning them as being hardline party disciplinarians.

And while there may be a sliver of truth in his criticism (obviously geared toward to backlash against Rep. Henry Cuellar for playing kissy-face with President Bush prior to the SOTU speech), Garza completely overlooks the log in his own party’s eye in the form of multi-millionaire James Leininger who is financing an effort to purge the Texas Republican Party of so-called “liberals.”

A political action committee gave nearly $700,000 last month to the Republican primary opponents of five state House members who fought school voucher proposals during last year's legislative session.
James Leininger, a prominent supporter of school vouchers, was the only contributor during the latest reporting period to the Texas Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, according to reports to the Texas Ethics Commission....

Leininger, a San Antonio businessman, gave the political action committee $500,000 and pledged $250,000 more, The Dallas Morning News reported in its Wednesday editions. Leininger also made direct donations to some of the challengers.
The political action committee made in-kind contributions of advertising and mailings to primary opponents of Reps. Carter Casteel, R-New Braunfels; Tommy Merritt, R-Longview; Roy Blake Jr., R-Nacogdoches; Delwin Jones, R-Lubbock; and Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth....

Bill Crocker of Austin, one of the state's two members of the Republican National Committee, said he founded the Texas Republican Legislative Campaign Committee in October to go after "liberal Republicans" in the Legislature.

So while Democrats are having a widely publicized cat fight in two local primary races this year - Cuellar vs. Rodriguez for a congressional seat and Madla vs. Uribe for a state senate seat - for which they are getting lampooned in the paper, Republicans have their own ideological cleansing program underway which is both larger in scale while also recieving less attention.

The lost post

That was odd. This post inexplicably vanished over the weekend, yet can still be found in my archives. Very strange. I guess it was a Blogger quirk.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cuellar and E-N editors think alike

The Express-News is throwing its editorial support behind Henry Cuellar in the 28th District primary race.
This is not a surprise if you look at their editorial board's recent history. Cuellar is clearly their kind of "Democrat."
Cuellar supported Bush/Cheney for President in 2000 and 2004, just like the E-N.
Cuellar supported launching the invasion of Iraq over the bogus threat of WMDs, just like the E-N. And he continues to make excuses and apologize for that initial blunder, just like the E-N.
Cuellar supported CAFTA to the detriment of U.S. labor, just like the E-N.
And Cuellar promises to continue playing kissy-face with the Bush administration for as long as he is in office, just like the E-N.

Fortunately, there is a real Democrat in this race - former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez who has a good shot and regaining his seat. Let's just hope that Democratic voters can see through these faux endorsements by Republican groups like the Club for Growth and the E-N Editorial Board.