Friday, January 13, 2006

Mallard Fillmore is lying again

Two letters in today’s Express-News take the noxious comic strip Mallard Fillmore to task. The first writer scolds the strip’s author Bruce Tinsley for his “junior high cruelty” in taking cheap shots at Sen. Edward Kennedy relating to the Alito Hearings.
I’ve said before that Tinley, like Rush Limbaugh, relies on crude junior high level schoolyard bullying techniques for most of what presumably is supposed to be humorous in his strip.

But today’s strip is just flat-out false, lying propaganda of the worst kind. He throws out the following statement as it if was an accepted or demonstrable fact:

The “Bush tax cuts” have brought in more money to the treasury than ever before...

And then claims that the media is involved in some kind of conspiracy to hide or coverup this information.

First off, the sentence makes no sense as tax cuts by definition reduce the amount of money going to the treasury. What I’m sure he is trying to refer to is the one-time jump in corporate tax revenues that occurred last year which helped to temporarily reduce the size of the deficit. It was debatable then whether Bush’s tax cuts had anything to do with it, but none-the-less it is old news today as the deficit is now expected to shoot back up to record levels later this year.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 - The White House acknowledged on Thursday that the budget deficit would climb back above $400 billion this year, erasing the brief improvement last year and complicating President Bush's vow to cut the deficit in half by 2009....

The Times article explains the earlier bump in revenues this way:

Since President Bush took office in 2001, the federal budget has swung from a surplus of more than $100 billion to deficits as high as $412 billion in 2004. Last year, the deficit narrowed unexpectedly to $319 billion, mainly because of a surge in corporate tax revenues and taxes on stock-market gains.

Mr. Bush has attributed much if not most of the rising deficit to several unforeseen shocks: a recession in 2001, the collapse of the stock market bubble, huge new spending on domestic security after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the cost of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But budget analysts outside the administration have long argued that the government spending has been very high under Mr. Bush while tax cuts have chipped away at revenues.

As a percentage of gross domestic product, a measure that economists prefer over simple dollar amounts, government spending has climbed sharply, from 18.5 percent in 2001 to nearly 20 percent for each of the past three years.

By contrast, tax revenues plunged to as little as 16.3 percent of the nation's economy from 19.8 percent in 2001.

In other words, we are spending more while taking in less money - the height of fiscal irresponsibility. Bush wants to blame Hurricane Katrina, but he is not willing to suck it up and deal with the crisis today. No, instead he puts it all on the government’s credit card for our children and grandchildren to have to deal with one day, while continuing to press for ever more and deeper tax cuts for the rich.

And the sad fact is that far more people are likely to read the lies in this Mallard Fillmore cartoon than will read the truth in the NYTimes article.

What I would like to know is why do the newspapers allow Tinsley to get away with this? Whenever there has been anything even slightly questionable in a Doonesbury strip there is always a hue and cry from the far-right and the strip is pulled and replaced by editors all over the country. And yet they let Tinsley lie on a regular basis with no comment.

Interesting stats on the Baseball HoF

Counting Bruce Sutter, there are now 261 people in the Baseball Hall of Fame. That includes 195 players, 24 pioneers/executives, 16 managers, 8 umpires and 17 Negro League players.
Of the players, 103 have been selected by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) and 92 were selected by the Veteran’s Committee.
Is that too many? That comes out to less than two inductees per year since baseball began.
Recently, the Veterans Committee was reformatted to make it more difficult for them to put players in the HoF. I think that was a reaction to the group’s overenthusiasm for selecting folks during the 1990s. During that decade, the Veterans group selected 25 new members for the HoF, while the BBWAA chose just 15. During the 1980s, the group had been more restrained, picking just 17 players to the BBWAA’s 18.

How representative is the HoF today?
Currently there are 12 states that have never produced a Hall of Famer:
Oregon; Nevada; Montana; Utah; North Dakota; South Dakota; Wyoming; Colorado; Arizona; Maine; Hawaii; and Alaska.
Texas has produced 13 hall of famers including Rogers Hornsby, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson, Joe Morgan and Nolan Ryan.
There are just two teams that have never had any affiliation with a Hall of Famer playing for them or managing them at any time - Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.
There are nine teams, including the two above, who have yet to have a Hall of Famer choose their team’s logo to represent them in the HoF. The other seven are Anaheim Angels, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Florida Marlins and the Washington Nationals. The two oldest teams on the list - the Angels and the Astros - could have both been represented by Nolan Ryan, but he chose to wear the Texas Rangers’ cap instead.

Mickey's M-O-N-E-Y

This just blows me away:

Michael Eisner, former chief executive of The Walt Disney Co., received $10.1 million in compensation last year, including a $9.1 million cash bonus...

That's pretty good for a guy who nearly ran the company into the ground and then got canned half-way through the year. But that's not all he's got coming to him!

He will also continue to receive an annual bonus of $7.5 million through 2008, in accordance with the terms of his employment agreement...

He gets a $7.5 million bonus every year for the next three years! What a deal!!!
I'll bet the shareholders are loving that. What a great use of company resources. I wonder how many poor schleps working minimum wage jobs at the Disney theme parks are going to get laid off in the next three years?

Oh, and all of this is in addition to his $300,000 annual pension.

And don't forget that Disney had to hire a new CEO during this time and they are currently paying him $9.7 million. They had just better not fire him. I doubt they could afford it.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Eye on the prize

My friend Michael Gaffney (in comments) is anxious for the Democrats to filibuster Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Given the vaporous, non-responsive answers Alito gave the committee, I would say that a filibuster is in order, and if the Dems don't have the balls to stand up for the principles they claim are dear to America's political system, then the perception that today's Democratic political machine is spineless is, in fact, the truth! I know that the Republicans have threatened to overturn the rule that provides the filibuster to the weaker party, but I say get it on! It's time to fish or cut bait and quit this appeasement crap. When will a Dem back up his/her position with action? If not now, when? If not here, where? If not Schumer, who?

I’ve been reluctant to talk about the Alito hearings just because they are so damn depressing. But I’ll go ahead and say that my position on a filibuster is that if the Democrats want to do it then that’s great and I’m all for it. I think Alito is an appalling bad choice for the high court.
But at the same time, if they decide it is not worth it, I am not going to criticize them.
I believe the most important thing right now is the 2006 mid-term elections and the fight to regain the House and/or Senate. If filibustering Alito will not ultimately prevent him from reaching the Supreme Court, (Remeber that the Republicans aren’t exactly playing by the rules these days) and only serves to give Republicans and their media cheerleaders more ammunition (Bad Democrats! Look how they made Mrs. Alito cry!) then perhaps it is not worth it. After all, the ideological divide between O’Connor and Alito, while significant, isn’t going to mean the end of the world. And I believe that if the Republicans finally do succeed in rolling back Roe vs. Wade, there is going to be a backlash at the polls that will stick them back in the minority for years to come.
So my advice to the Democrats is to keep your eye on the prize and don’t go spinning off course in pursuit of meaningless short-term gains.

It looks like Matthew Yglesias and I are on the same wavelength with regard to the Alito confirmation.

Realistically, hopes of keeping Alito off the bench were lost in late fall 2004, when George W. Bush was re-elected and the GOP expanded its Senate majority.... the question facing the Alito nomination has always been whether Alito will be confirmed and the nuclear option implemented or whether Alito will be confirmed without the GOP needing to break a filibuster. But a congressional minority can't actually stop the Republicans from doing what they want to do.'s wrong to blame liberal interest groups, Democratic senators, progressive bloggers, or anyone else's insufficient savvy or zeal for the problem.... the only remedy is better performance on Election Day.

Where’s Alamo City Commando when we need him!

My friend Bill Crawford takes some time off from his All Things Conservative blog where he consistently highlights good news coming out of Iraq and look what happens!

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Americans overwhelmingly lack confidence that Iraq will have a stable government in place within the next year, and more than half say that the war has not been worth its cost, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Obviously, without Bill there to counter them, the liberal MSM has successfully dragged down U.S. public opinion with its non-stop focus on the negative aspects of the war.

Come back soon, Bill! We need you!

In all seriousness, though, I want to wish Bill Godspeed as he deals with some important personal and family matters.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Separated at birth

I was watching the old James Bond movie "Octopussy" the other night and was struck by the striking resemblance between the show's villian and a particular Texas Congressman
who has recently found himself in trouble with the law.

Hall of Fame 2006

I just can't drum up any enthusiasm about the dreadfully depressing Alito hearings, so I'm going to talk about baseball instead.

Congratulations to Bruce Sutter for getting the golden ticket to Cooperstown this year. They say he is only the fourth relief pitcher to make the Hall of Fame and the first to have never started a game during his career.
It was his 12th shot at being elected and you only get 15 tries before they kick you over to the Veteran's Committee (which hasn't elected anyone since 2000 and has been reformatted so as to make it almost impossible).

When it comes to the Hall of Fame, I'm a populist. I generally agree with this guy.

...the selection process needs to be changed. Writers should have a say, but so should fans and so should players (though the veterans committee's record hasn't exactly been spotless). The Hall belongs to the game, the fans and the players as well as the writers. It's our gift to future generations of fans, and it'd be a shame to leave it in the hands of a people who don't seem to appreciate that.

If it were up to me, there would be a whole lot more players in the Hall of Fame starting with this guy.
So I'm apalled when I read articles like this by people who want to make the Hall even more exclusive than it already is.
When I see situations like this where only one guy manages to squeak by with more than 75 percent of the vote, I know it is not because all the writers are just disbursing their votes randomly, but because about 25 percent of them have this same arrogant nobody-is-good-enough-for-me attitude and are turning their ballots in blank.
As it is, we are letting people into the Hall at a bare trickle, just one or two per year. (Next year is guaranteed to have at least two with Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn on the ballot for the first time.)

So while I'm happy for Sutter making the cut, I think there are quite a few more players who deserve admittance as well. As they point out over at Off the Kuff, Goose Gossage is arguably more deserving than Sutter so maybe that will work in his favor on future ballots.

Finally, I will just note with no little bitterness that this was technically the last year of eligibility for Pete Rose, the all-time Hits leader and one of the greatest ballplayers of all time. Unfortunately, the current baseball commissioner stubbornly refused to act on Rose's request for readmittance to baseball even after making his public apology and everything else that was demanded of him.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

And Justice For All...

Poor Jonathan Gurwitz.
The timing couldn’t have been worse for his opinion column in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only) yesterday.

Here is how the piece starts off:

Poor Ronnie Earle. For more than three years the Democratic district attorney from Travis County has waged a prosecutorial campaign to bring down Tom DeLay. After strong-arming three different grand juries in Austin last fall, Mr. Earle was finally able to obtain a rickety, three-count indictment of Mr. DeLay for violations of state campaign finance laws.
Judge Pat Priest has already dismissed one count against Mr. DeLay, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has yet to decide whether it will consider Mr. DeLay’s motion to dismiss the remaining charges, which in any case have yet to be presented to a jury in district court.

If only the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had dismissed the money laundering charges against DeLay, as Gurwitz was expecting. But instead, on the day that Gurwitz’ column appeared, the all-Republican court decided to allow the “rickety” case to move forward.

“Meager as it is,” Earle’s “political vendetta” against DeLay is apparently moving along at a steady pace, throwing a big monkey wrench into GOP plans to have The Hammer re-enshrined into his leadership post in time for the next Legislative session in Washington. Perhaps Earle has been “strong-arming” those Republican judges the same way he has those feeble-minded Texans who sit on grand juries.

But Gurwitz insists that Earle never had the goods on DeLay and that his downfall will be due entirely to the Abramoff scandal currently sending shockwaves through Washington, D.C.
In that way, he reminds me of the Al Pacino character in “And Justice For All...” where Pacino is a lawyer forced to defend a corrupt politician who he knows is guilty. In the climactic scene, Pacino gives an opening statement at the trial in which he taunts the district attorney saying he doesn’t have a case against his client:

The prosecution is not going to get that man today ... cause I'm gonna get him!
Pacino then turns on his client and viciously denounces him to the jury before being dragged away screaming You're out of order! He's out of order! This whole trial is out of order!

Likewise, after spending the first part of the column dismissing the money laundering charges as little more than a “money-shuffling technique” that was employed with equal finesse by Democrats, Gurwitz suddenly turns on DeLay and accuses him of “spectacularly violating a pact he and his Republican colleagues made with the American people when they assumed leadership in 1994.”

The problem here is that it is highly unlikely that DeLay would have confined his corruption to Washington, while always playing it straight back in Texas. The more likely case is that Earle got a hold of one piece of DeLay’s corrupt empire long before it was uncovered in Washington for all to see.

Monday, January 09, 2006

San Antonio blogging update

It’s been almost a year since my last San Antonio blogger update, and since then the local blogging community has expanded ten-fold.
One big change is that the San Antonio Express-News, to its credit, has embraced blogging and now lets its reporters set up blogs off of their main site. They also have a section on the side of the page where they link to “other area blogs” including mine. While this list is helpful, it is not all inclusive and includes a lot of blogs that are not from San Antonio.
So to obtain a comprehensive list of local bloggers I have sifted through lists on a number of local sites and checked each one for recent activity and some evidence of a San Antonio connection. I have also tried to group blogs based on their political ideology. Blogs that have not been updated in more than six months were left off. I also did not include a few blogs which seemed to be devoted entirely to personal and family matters.
I’m sure that I have left many blogs off. It is almost impossible to tell where a blog is based if the author doesn’t choose to include that small detail somewhere on the site and if they never address local issues or happenings.

Rhetoric & Rhythm - that’s my blog.
The Agonist by Sean-Paul Kelley, a progressive community weblog dedicated to international commentary, news and politics. Recently, Kelley has also been guest hosting a weekly radio program at AM550 KTSA.
B and B by P.M. Bryant focuses on science and environmental issues
The Jeffersonian is great for local politics and sports and is authored by the anonymous Cincinnatus.
NewsHog is a group news and commentary site which has at least one of its main contributors - Cernig - based here.
The Red State by Eddie Rodriguez is keyed into state politics.
Just Another Blog by Matt is another good place for local and state political news.
Then there are a few that I am not all that familiar with:
buddenblog (not updated since Oct. 2005)
saapacblog That’s the San Antonio Area Progressive Action Coalition which is news to me.
Larry For the Lege by some folks challenging Frank Corte Jr. for state representative in my district.
The Kendallian by some Democrats out in Boerne.

All Things Conservative by Bill Crawford (on hiatus) is an invaluable source for positive news coming out of Iraq and also a popular site for folks on the right and left to debate the issues.
The View From The Nest by the Ranten Raven
But That's Just My Opinion by Jimmy Kerr
Pete The Elder by Pete.
Roscoe’s Excuse by Roscoe Ellis
Raving Heretic by Rick
Dead Can’t Rant by Dave and Renee
Tex the Pontificator (shut down)
Surgical Steel
Dagney's Rant
Conservative Dialysis
The Daily Brief

The Price of Liberty (not updated since Oct. 2005)
San Antonio Politics
Alan Weinkrantz PR Web Log a local PR guru who is pioneering the use of blogging in the business world.
SAtechBlog also by Alan Weinkrantz
Real Live Preacher by Gordon Atkinson, pastor of Covenant Baptist Church in San Antonio.
The Main Point Blog by Michael Main (and one of Gordon’s parishoners).