Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The Hydra

Texas provides, if nothing else, outstanding theatre:

Eleven of 12 Democratic state senators abruptly left the state Capitol this afternoon and headed for Albuquerque after learning that Gov. Rick Perry was about to call a second special session on congressional redistricting.

In case you’ve forgotten the chronology, here it is:

  • The Texas legistlature was unable to agree upon U.S. Congressional districts.
  • A panel of three federal judges (2 Ds and 1 R; the R chaired the panel) drew maps.
  • A year passed.
  • With control of the Texas legislature and governor’s office, DeLay got the clever idea to gerrymander an additional 3-6 Republican seats.
  • Texas House members took off to Ardmore, Oklahoma, thereby blocking attainment of a quorum and killing the redistricting effort, in the regular session.
  • Two months pass.
  • Governor Rick Perry calls a special session of the Texas Legislature, specifically to consider redistricting.
  • Oklahoma apparently was not an option in the summer, so the measure passes the Texas House.
  • In the Texas Senate, Democrats hold the line and are joined by one Republican, leaving redistricting supporters in the Texas Sentate with less than the 2/3 majority vote they traditionally need to start debating a bill.
  • Ah, but apparently it’s “tradition”, not “law”. So while Lt. Gov Dewhurst said he wouldn’t circumvent the 2/3 convention in the first special session, he never said he would not do so in the second special session.
  • The first special session ended, and Gov. Perry immediately called another one, solely to again address redistricting (hasn’t someone been telling me to “get over it” since 12/2000? Who was that?)
  • In the 45 minutes between the expiration of the first special session and the convening of the second, 11 Democrats head for Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The nice thing about Albuquerque is that it’s quite scenic with lots of nature-related activities, so the Democrats should, barring pressing family or work (most Texas Legislators have day jobs) needs, enjoy staying there for a while if necessary. So far, neither the House nor the Senate has a quorum, and it looks like the Texas Democrats have adopted a “by any means necessary” mindset–but so have the Republicans. Republicans are at least 5 years into that mindset (dating back to Lewinsky/Impeachment, if not sooner). This is the first real sign of life from Democrats–and, as is to be expected, it’s Democrats from the “Remember the Alamo” state.


P.S. I suppose the judicial filibusters by U.S. Senate Democrats also count as a sign of life, but while extremely important, those are probably less noticed by the public.

UPDATE: Needless to say, Off the Kuff will be your best source for up to date information on this.

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Recall them All

California is not the only state with budget trouble, which is apparently now grounds for recall. Based on this story, deficits and spending cuts are widespread. California’s is by far the largest in magnitude, but I don’t know whether it is largest on either a per capita basis or as a percentage of state income.

Here’s the sequence of events: Bush becomes president; a recession hits; Bush lowers taxes once, in a way that makes taxes less progressive; many states had already cut taxes or now follow suit; there is an alleged recovery (the “jobless recovery” in which GDP growth is positive but unemployment growth is negative); Bush lowers taxes again, again moving the tax code towards regressivity; states go into a budget crisis:

The cuts in state spending are just starting to be felt, with the impact landing disproportionately on the poor. “We have been shifting a lot of spending for social services from the feds to the states,” said Robert M. Solow, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Nobel laureate. “And that means the cuts that are taking place are hurting people at the bottom of the income distribution.”

Moreover, state taxes are generally regressive (fees and consumption taxes make up a large part of states’ revenue). So the net effect of all of this is that the people who will spend any additional dollar they get are (1) getting less dollars, in the form of decreased social services spending (and rising unemployment); (2) about to pay more taxes, due to impending increases in state taxes; and (3) in the process, federal tax cuts reduce the overall tax burden on the well-to-do. As a rough guess, the top 20% are better off, tax-wise; the bottom 25% are worse off. For the middle 55%, cuts in federal taxes are likely to be roughly offset by increases in state and local taxes. Given all of this, there’s not a lot of stimulus in the Bush Tax Cuts, just large deficits. These tax cuts are unlikely to shorten the recession in a Keynesian fashion.


P.S. Just don’t recall the Republican Governor of Alabama.

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Rice Watch Day 7

Making the rounds today on the AP wire today is a story titled “9-11 Report Questions Rice’s Statements” :

The congressional report on pre-Sept. 11 intelligence calls into question answers that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice gave the public last year about the White House’s knowledge of terrorism threats.

It’s a fresh credibility issue for the adviser whose remarks about prewar Iraq information also have been questioned by members of Congress…

[snip]…At the same May 2002 press briefing, Rice also said that “I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.”

But the congressional report states that “from at least 1994, and continuing into the summer of 2001, the Intelligence Community received information indicating that terrorists were contemplating, among other means of attack, the use of aircraft as weapons.”


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Rice Watch Day 6

Remember, you first heard it here at Angry Bear. Now you can hear it in the mainstream media, U.S. News and Word Report:

As White House officials try to control the latest fallout over President Bush’s flawed suggestion in the State of the Union address that Iraq was buying nuclear bomb materials, there’s growing talk by insiders that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice may take the blame and resign.

The same article mentions Brent Scowcroft, Paul Bremer, and some guy I don’t know anything about (Sean O’Keefe) as possible replacements. I view Scowcroft as a great replacement, and therefore the least likely (I don’t think he’s on board with the neocon agenda).

Also see today’s Washington Post for another damaging article, Iraq Flap Shakes Rice’s Image:

“If Condi didn’t know the exact state of intel on Saddam’s nuclear programs . . . she wasn’t doing her job,” said Brookings Institution foreign policy specialist Michael E. O’Hanlon. “This was foreign policy priority number one for the administration last summer, so the claim that someone else should have done her homework for her is unconvincing.

But was her true mistake intelligence-related, or political?

When the controversy intensified earlier this month with a White House admission of error, Rice was the first administration official to place responsibility on CIA Director Tenet for the inclusion in Bush’s State of the Union address of the Africa uranium charge. The White House now concedes that pinning responsibility on Tenet was a costly mistake. CIA officials have since made clear to the White House and to Congress that intelligence agencies had repeatedly tried to wave the White House off the allegation.

It’s a damning article that, in conjunction with the inexorable pressure from Angry Bear, should turn up the heat on the Rice-cooker. (I’ve knew the time would come for a rice, rice-cooker, watched pot never boils type of line–it took six days but there it is).


UPDATE: For more, see The Likely Story and Josh Marshall.


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The Blue Dress

Scarlet Pimpernel sends me this photo that she took on I-5, which runs through California and Washington:

But what does it mean? The message could be that we’re all being screwed by the president, but which president? The current one? Or is the ClenisTM to blame?

On a related note, could “wearing the blue dress” become an official part of the lexicon, joining such great phrases as “screwing the pooch,” “keeping your nose to the grindstone,” and being “wet behind the ears”? The next time I screw something up, or perhaps after landing in a difficult situation, I’ll say “boy, I was really wearing the blue dress on that one” or “damn, you’ve really got me in a blue dress on this one” and try to gauge the reaction.


UPDATE: Another suggested usage: Condi Rice is in the blue dress now.

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Domain Registration

How does one go about registering a parody site with a URL ending in “.gov”? Because this is clearly a parody site, right? Maybe you won’t realize that it’s a parody site just by going to the front page, but what else can explain this ? It leads with this line:

Good afternoon, or, as John Kerry might say: “Bonjour!”

Now, that’s actually funny even though it’s wildly innacurate (Kerry served in Vietnam with distinction; Tom DeLay alleges that he wanted to sign up but minorities–and apparently Democrats as well–took all the spots). What do you think, real or a parody? (Thanks to commenter sreg for the link).


Also, Tom DeLay’s redistricting plan for Texas has failed. See the details here.

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Go Mary Beth! Go Jesse! And Go Drinking Guys!


UPDATE: It’s now 4:45 a.m. Eastern, Not Geniuses are still blogging strong, even if they’ve only reached their sixth beer. Jesse’s still going, and finding really weird stuff. And Mary Beth’s still going strong too; she thinks the site I talk about in the post above is not a parody (though she admits it took her ten minutes to reach that conclusion–with sleep, she could have figured it out sooner).

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Edward Kennedy Wants Money

And I might have given it to him, until I read this in the solicitation: “Recently, Democrats led the successful charge to slash President Bush’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy.”


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On a Roll

Is it just me, or is Dwight Meredith on a roll lately? I can explain the deficit in a clear and perhaps even convincing fashion, if you can stay awake throughout the entire post. Dwight makes it fun to read.

And, while I’m plugging, the non-evil Roger Ailes has a novel idea.

And, via TBogg, see this cartoon.

And, in case you haven’t heard about the blogathon, it starts tomorrow: 24 hours of non-stop posting. Pandagon is blogging for Amnesty International (blogging for Cure Autism Now (reports that “I’ve just been offered a challenge grant from a friend’s business – If I reach the $1000 goal, he’ll add another $500! So pull out your penny jars.” That’s right, by donating even a small amount, you could effectively be donating over $500!


UPDATE: Getting very close now:


Cure Autism Now

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Sponsor this site

That leaves, as of 11:30 Eastern, “0 days, 9 hours, 3 minutes until Blogathon 2003”.

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