Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Political Activism With Social Media

Social Media Engagement Will Decide Election 2012

Social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs have forever changed how people communicate and how they organize for social and political change.

21st century political candidates and community organizers have swapped yard signs for social media. With Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other new media tools, the traditional relationship between political authority, the main stream news media and "we the people" has been upended, making it easier for "we the people" to collaborate, coordinate, and have a voice in the politics that affect the life of ourselves and our families.

To hear more about how social media engagement has become a critically important strategy for political candidates and community organizing come to the Social Media Day cosponsored by the Texas Democratic Women of Collin County and the Democratic Blog for News.

The Social Media Day will be at the Plano Centre on Saturday September 10th from 9:00am to 12:00pm in the Hillhaven Room. (map)

Suggested Donation of $5 to the TDWCC – pay at the door.

RSVP to events@tdwcc.org

Event sponsors:

Texas Democratic Women of Collin County

Democratic Blog of Collin County

More:

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The Mobile Election 2012

What's Next for Mobile?Campaigns and Elections: Apps and video will move mobile forward for campaigns in 2012. For campaigns looking to make their mark with mobile in 2012, it’s no longer just about text.

Many online strategists expect SMS to actually take a backseat next year as the presidential cycle ushers in a new world of mobile apps and an expanded use of video.

The reason is simple: Smartphone use has grown exponentially over the past two years, making this coming election cycle the one in which mobile use by campaigns should explode.

In December of 2008, just 14 percent of wireless customers in the U.S. were using smartphones. Now, according to the latest numbers from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, more than a third of all Americans are using smartphones.

“Research has shown that by the end of 2011, smartphone usage will reach 50 percent,” says Cami Longstreet Zimmer, president of Campaign Touch Mobile Solutions. “Mobile doubles every six months, so having a mobile strategy for your campaign is a must.”

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Monday, August 29, 2011

65% Of Online Adults Use Social Networking Sites

Who uses social networking sites? Pew Research Center: The pace with which users have flocked to social networking sites has been staggering; in a first survey about social networking sites in February 2005, just 8% of internet users -- or 5% of all adults -- said they used them.

Now, a new survey by Pew internet & American Life Project finds that 65% say they use a social networking site like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn, up from 61% one year ago. Only email and search engines are used more frequently than social networking tools.

That's more than double the percentage that reported social networking site usage in 2008 (29%). And for the first time in Pew Internet surveys, it means that more than half of all adults (51%) use social networking sites.

Among internet users, social networking sites are most popular with women, young adults under age 30, and parents.

Young adult women ages 18-29 are the power users of social networking; fully 89% of those who are online use the sites overall and 69% do so on an average day.

As of May 2011, there are no significant differences in use of social networking sites based on race and ethnicity, household income, education level, or whether the internet user lives in an urban, suburban, or rural environment.

See the full report for a more detailed analysis of how Americans use social networking sites at pewinternet.org.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Billions Meant for Struggling Homeowners Diverted By House Republicans

A new report by the investigative website Pro Publica publicizes that Congress diverted $30 billion in bailout money allocated to help struggling homeowners prevent foreclosure in order to pay down the national debt instead.

There were more than 1 million foreclosure filings in the first half of 2011 alone, yet only a fraction of the government aid that was supposed to reach homeowners has been spent:

Instead, Congress has mandated that the leftover money be used to pay down the debt.

Of the $45.6 billion in Trouble Asset Relief Program funds meant to aid homeowners, the most recent numbers available show that only about $2 billion has actually gone out the door.

The low number reflects how little the government’s home loan modification and other programs have actually helped homeowners deal with the foreclosure crisis.

Read the full report @ Pro Publica.

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Sen. Sanders Introduces Bill To Lift Social Security Payroll Tax Cap

On Thursday, Sanders announced that he will introduce legislation that would fully fund Social Security to the end of this century without cutting benefits to any of its beneficiaries. Sanders’ legislation would eliminate the income cap that currently exists in the payroll tax that does not tax income above $106,800:

To keep Social Security strong for another 75 years, Sanders’ legislation would apply the same payroll tax already paid by more than nine out of 10 Americans to those with incomes over $250,000 a year. [...] Under Sanders’ legislation, Social Security benefits would be untouched. The system would be fully funded by making the wealthiest Americans pay the same payroll tax already assessed on those with incomes up to $106,800 a year.

Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was a featured speaker at the United Steel Workers 2011 conference in Las Vegas.


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Sanders focused much of his speech on the Social Security system, blasting suggestions by Democrats and Republicans alike that, for example, we should adjust the cost of living adjustment to cut Social Security payments to working class Americans or raise the retirement age. “When [Social Security] was developed, 50 percent of seniors lived in poverty.

Today, poverty among seniors is too high, but that number is ten percent. Social Security has done exactly what it was designed to do!”

Sanders points out that President Obama himself endorsed this idea on the campaign trail in 2008. “What we need to do is to raise the cap on the payroll tax so that wealthy individuals are paying a little bit more into the system. Right now, somebody like Warren Buffet pays a fraction of 1 percent of his income in payroll tax, whereas the majority…pays payroll tax on 100 percent of their income. I’ve said that was not fair,” said Obama during the campaign.

The Social Security system is currently fully funded until 2037. Lifting the payroll tax cap would virtually eliminate funding shortfalls the program would experience over the next 75 years.

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Hurricane Irene A Dangerous Storm For The Eastern Seaboard

The expected arrival of the nearly 600-mile-wide Hurricane Irene this weekend means that states of emergency have been declared along the length of the eastern seaboard. Dangerous Irene is an usually wet and large hurricane in its overall size with tropical storm force winds extending out nearly 300 miles from the center. Climate scientists studying hurricanes have documented a 35-year warming trend of 1 degree Fahrenheit in ocean surface temperature. That 1 degree rise in surface temperature increases atmospheric water vapor available to feed hurricanes, increasing the area of tropical storm force winds and total rainfall amounts.

Depending on numerous factors, it could take New York City “weeks or months” to return to normal if the densely-populated city suffers a direct hit from Hurricane Irene. Apart from the potential loss of life in the most densely populated part of the America, history suggests that the economic damage could run into the tens of billions of dollars, depending on the severity of the storm and how close it comes to the City of New York. Unlikely but theoretically plausible scenarios could have the damage entering the realm of the costliest natural disasters of all time, and perhaps being large enough to have a materially negative effect on the nation’s gross domestic product.

The storm is poised to hit New York at a time when high tides reach their highest levels, which could amplify flooding in the city built around bays and rivers. Some experts predict a storm surge of five feet or more. Lower Manhattan could see streets under a few feet of water.

"In many ways, a Category 2 or stronger storm hitting New York is a lot of people's nightmare, for a number of reasons," said Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina.

Even if the winds aren't strong enough to damage buildings made largely of brick, concrete and steel, a lot of New York's subway system and power lines are underground. The city's airports are close to the water, too, and could be inundated, as could densely packed neighborhoods. Hospitals were told to make sure generators were ready.

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Fox News: ‘Facts Are Certainly’ On The Side Of Global Warming, But ‘It Doesn’t Matter’

On Fox & Friends Sunday, anchor Clayton Morris admitted that Fox News factcheckers have confirmed that man-made global warming is “certainly” real, but argued that it “doesn’t matter” because climate denial is popular among Fox News-watching conservatives. Morris contrasted Jon Huntsman’s defense of the National Academy of Sciences with Rick Perry’s claims that scientists have “manipulated data” to concoct manmade global warming:

MORRIS: If you dive into the weeds a little bit on this global warming thing, you see that it seems that facts are certainly on Huntsman’s side on all of this and fact checkers have come out, we’re actually having our own brain room look look at this right now that any of Perry’s comments don’t seem to hold a lot of water. It doesn’t matter. What’s resonating right now in South Carolina is helping Governor Perry tremendously and he fired back at Huntsman on global warming and gaining traction, facts or not.


Fox & Friends Sunday with anchor Clayton Morris

Americans care deeply about energy, weather disasters, food prices, clean air, and a safe future for their children.

Maybe if Clayton Morris and his Fox News colleagues decided that facts should matter, they’d be able to rally Americans to fight global warming pollution before it’s too late.

Skepticism and outright denial of climate changing global warming are among the articles of faith of the Tea Party movement across the country. To a large extent, of course, those articles of faith were intentionally fostered by the constant bombardment of anti-science propaganda from Fox News and other right-wing media.

For some, the denial of scientific facts are a matter of religious conviction; for others, it is driven by distrust of those they call the elites. And for others still, efforts to address climate change are seen as a conspiracy to impose world government and a sweeping redistribution of wealth.

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) trades that fear and distrust of scientists in his proclamation that climate science is a "contrived phony mess" based on “so-called science” in a “secular carbon cult.”

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Global Warming’s Heavy Cost

As Irene takes aim on the Eastern Seaboard toward New York City, the mainstream news media should ask: what’s a “tropical” storm doing heading for the snow belt? Category 3 Storms have rarely hit Long Island since the 1800s; one was the great unnamed storm of 1938, which sent 15-foot storm waters surging through what are now multimillion-dollar seaside homes.

Normally, says Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, it’s “difficult for a major Category 3 or stronger hurricane crossing north of North Carolina to maintain that intensity, because wind shear rapidly increases and ocean temperatures plunge below the 26°C (79°F) level that can support a hurricane.” The high-altitude wind shear may help knock the storm down a little this year, but the ocean temperatures won’t. They’re bizarrely high—only last year did we ever record hotter water.

“Sea surface temperatures 1° to 3°F warmer than average extend along the East Coast from North Carolina to New York. Waters of at least 26°C extend all the way to southern New Jersey, which will make it easier for Irene to maintain its strength much farther to the north than a hurricane usually can,” says Masters. “These warm ocean temperatures will also make Irene a much wetter hurricane than is typical, since much more water vapor can evaporate into the air from record-warm ocean surfaces. The latest precipitation forecast from NOAA's Hydrological prediction center shows that Irene could dump over eight inches of rain over coastal New England.”

Remember—this year has already seen more billion-dollar weather-related disasters than any year in U.S. history. Last year was the warmest ever recorded on planet Earth. Arctic sea ice is near all-time record lows. Record floods from Pakistan to Queensland to the Mississippi basin; record drought from the steppes of Russia to the plains of Texas. Just about the only trauma we haven’t had are hurricanes plowing into the U.S., but that’s just luck—last year was a big storm year, but they all veered out to sea. This year we’re already on letter I—which in a normal year we don’t get to until well into October. Every kind of natural system is amped up, holding more power—about ¾ of a watt extra energy per square meter of the Earth’s surface, thanks to the carbon we’ve poured into the atmosphere. This is what climate change looks like in its early stages.

But you’d never guess that anything was amiss if you asked the Obama administration. In one of those ironies of timing, Friday saw the release of the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the most contested energy project in many years, the so-called Keystone Pipeline that would connect the tar sands of northern Alberta with the Gulf of Mexico. Those tar sands are the second-biggest pool of carbon on the continent; if we tap into them in a big way, says the federal government’s premier climate scientist James Hansen, it’s “essentially game over for the climate.”

Read the full story @ The Daily Beast

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Widespread Dissatisfaction With National Conditions And GOP

Pew Research Center: The public is profoundly discontented with conditions in the country, its government, political leadership and several of its major institutions. Fully 79% are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country. Even more (86%) say they are frustrated or angry with the federal government. Favorable ratings for both political parties are in negative territory and have declined since the beginning of the year.

Just 22% approve of the job performance of Republican congressional leaders, down from 36% in February. Ratings for Democratic leaders are only somewhat better (29% approve). More generally, the Republican Party's favorable rating has declined from 43% in early February to 34% currently. At 43%, the Democratic Party is viewed more favorably than the GOP, but it too was rated a bit better earlier in the year (47% in February).

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Aug. 17-21 among 1,509 adults, finds that Barack Obama's job approval rating has declined markedly since the killing of Osama bin Laden in early May.

For the first time in his presidency, significantly more disapprove than approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president (49% vs. 43%), and the margin of strong disapproval over strong approval has widened; currently, 38% strongly disapprove of Obama's job performance while 26% strongly approve.

Fewer Democrats and independents now view Obama as a strong leader than did so in May (down 10 points, eight points, respectively).

Democrats also want Obama to get tougher in his dealings with congressional Republicans. Currently, 57% of Democrats say Obama should challenge the Republicans more often, while 32% say he is handling relations with the GOP about right. In early April, just 39% of Democrats said Obama should do more to challenge Republicans and 47% said he was handling things about right.

The better news for Obama is that he continues to be seen by majorities as someone who stands up for what he believes in (71%), as caring (63%) and trustworthy (59%). Moreover, his 43% job approval rating, while much lower than his rating just a few months ago, is relatively strong given the widespread dissatisfaction with national conditions, increasingly negative views of the economy, and broad distrust of government. And Obama’s approval rating continues to be much higher than those for congressional leaders of both parties.

Obama continues to run even in a 2012 match up against a generic Republican presidential candidate. Currently, 43% of registered voters say they would like to see Obama reelected while 40% would prefer a Republican. That is little changed from a month ago (41% Obama, 40% Republican), but in May Obama held an 11-point lead in the generic ballot.

Voters remain unimpressed by the GOP field. As was the case in late May, prior to the Ames straw poll and Rick Perry’s entry into the presidential race, only about a quarter of voters (26%) say they have an excellent or good impression of the possible GOP candidates. Most (64%) say as a group the candidates are only fair or poor.

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Troubled Economy Top Story For Public And Media

Pew Research Center August 23, 2011: Americans focused most closely last week on news about the nation’s troubled economy amid concerns about the stalled recovery and fears of a possible new recession.

About four-in-ten (42%) say they followed reports about the condition of the U.S. economy more closely than any other news. That is three times the number saying their top story was news about the candidates for the 2012 presidential election (14%), according to the latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted Aug. 18-21 among 1,007 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Economic news topped coverage as well, accounting for a quarter of the newshole (25%), according to a separate analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ). News about the 2012 elections made up 13% of all news coverage.

Melding Economic and Political News

Economic story lines top the public’s news interest. At the same time, the debate over what the federal government can or should do to help the economy has become a key issue in the 2012 race for the White House.

More than four-in-ten (44%) say they followed news about the economy very closely last week, approaching the year’s high of 49%, while 42% say this was the news they followed most closely. Another 12% say they very closely followed news about the debate among European leaders over how to address the region’s debt crisis. This was the top story for 4% and accounted for 3% of coverage.

More than a quarter (27%) say they very closely followed news about candidates for the 2012 presidential elections, up from 19% the previous week and a high point for the year so far. With Texas Gov. Rick Perry stepping up his campaign for the GOP nomination and President Obama making a campaign-style bus trip, election news made up 13% of coverage, which was little changed from 15% the previous week, when Michele Bachmann won the Republican straw poll in Iowa and Perry officially entered the race.

Coverage and interest have both increased since early August. And, as the economic news has worsened, the GOP contenders have focused their criticism on Obama’s efforts to improve the situation. Perry made news last week with blunt criticism of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.

There are no partisan differences in attention to news about the economy with 48% of Republicans, 45% of Democrats and 47% of independents saying they followed economic news very closely. Republicans and Democrats also express similar interest in news about the 2012 elections: 36% of Republicans and 30% of Democrats followed this news very closely. Just more than two-in-ten independents (22%) say the same.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ThinkProgress: The Mess In Texas — Debunking Rick Perry’s ‘Texas Miracle’


ThinkProgress video
Having only entered the race last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has already jumped to the top of the GOP presidential field.

Fueling his momentum is the so-called “Texas miracle” — the myth that Perry’s governorship has led Texas to weather the recession better than other states, maintaining a healthy economy and brisk job creation.

According a the video produced by Think Progress, these claims are often built on incomplete analysis, or by cherry picking statistics while overlooking other relevant factors that fill in the full picture, which is a much more mixed and middling economic performance than he and his supporters would like you to believe.

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National Science Foundation: No Evidence Supporting 'Climategate' Allegations

Making unsubstantiated allegations against thousands of climate scientists, many in his own state of Texas, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) claims that climate science is a contrived phony mess based on “so-called science” in a “secular carbon cult.” Speaking at a Politics and Eggs breakfast in Bedford, New Hampshire Wednesday August 17, 2012 Gov. Perry further said, “There are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data..."

In contrast to Perry's unsubstantiated allegations, three major UK investigations previously exonerated the so called "Climate-Gate" scientists of any wrongdoing. Pennsylvania State University also conducted its own investigation of "Climate-Gate" allegations against its own climatologist Michael Mann and dismissed them lacking any substance of fact.

Now, this week, the National Science Foundation has closed its investigation into Penn State climatologist Michael Mann after finding no evidence of scientific misconduct related to his research.

No direct evidence has been presented that indicates the subject fabricated the raw data he used for his research or falsified his results.

National Science Foundation
Inspector General report

Climate Daily: It is the latest in a string of investigations to exonerate scientists involved in the so-called "Climategate" email scandal.

Mann was a central figure in the fracas, where a sampling of correspondence from climate scientists purloined from a computer server at the University of East Anglia in Britain supposedly showed climate scientists colluding to fabricate data and smear critics.

But a successive series of investigations and inquiries since the emails were released in 2009 have exonerated the scientists. The final conclusion from the NSF's Office of Inspector General is no different [PDF; enter Case No. A09120086].

"No direct evidence has been presented that indicates the subject fabricated the raw data he used for his research or falsified his results," the report concludes.

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Gov. Perry Struggles To Defend Abstinence-Only Sex Ed

After spending more federal abstinence-only education money than any other state in the country over the last decade, Gov. Rick Perry's Texas is left with the highest teen birth rate and fourth-highest teen pregnancy rate in the country.


Listen to Gretch Sanders of KUT News report on Texas teen pregnancy

Texas accounts for 8 percent of the U.S. population, but its teen pregnancies accounted for 11 percent ($1.2 billion) of the $10.9 billion cost to U.S. taxpayers in 2008. Of those 2008 costs federal funds paid 57 percent and state and local taxes the remaining 43 percent through Medicaid and other support programs. After the Republican controlled Texas legislature cut Texas Department of State Health Services and Medicaid funding in the 2011-13 state budget, teen mothers and their babies now have few support options.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Texas received almost $18 million in federal "abstinence-only" funding in 2007, matched by $3 million in state funds in that year. But, by the summer of 2010, Texas was choosing to pass on $4.4 million in federal funds aimed at comprehensive abstinence-plus with fact-based safe-sex education for adolescents in the state, The Texas Tribune reported. The Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Tom Suehs consulted with Gov. Perry's office before deciding to pass on the federal sex education funds.


Last October, The Tribune's Evan Smith asked Texas Gov. Rick Perry why almost all Texas school districts focus on abstinence-only education when it doesn't to produce results. The only answer Gov. Perry would give is, "Abstinence works... it is the best form to teach our children."

According to the Texas Freedom Network, over 96 percent of Texas school districts taught abstinence-only in sex education classes in 2008.

When George W. Bush became president in 2001, he was a vocal proponent of abstinence-only sex education programs.

Bush increased federal spending on abstinence-only education in U.S. schools, with the hope that it would reach $320 million a year. Federal abstinence-only education funding reached a maximum level of approximately $214 million per year before Bush left office in 2009. (graph)

Pres. Obama's 2010 budget cut federal abstinence-only sex education funding and called for $164 million in funding for a new fact-based teen sex education and pregnancy prevention initiative. The switch from "abstinence-only" to fact-base "abstinence-plus" programs included competitive grants for evidence-based programs, research and evaluation, and an authorization for $50 million in new mandatory teen pregnancy prevention grants to states, tribes, and territories. The budget eliminated funding for Community-Based Abstinence Education and the mandatory Title V Abstinence Education program.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Texas Teachers Blame Rick Perry For Increased Class Sizes

HuffPo: Texas students and teachers went back to school Monday, 10 days after the man they cite as the cause of their schools' funding-related woes announced he was running for president.

According to algebra and physics teacher Patrick Frasier, Gov. Rick Perry's (R) school budget cuts led to massive back-to-school confusion. In fact, until recently, Frasier wasn't even sure he could return to class this school year.

"All first-year teachers in my district were cut no matter what," he said. The bulk of them were hired back, but not before they polished their resumes. "We had no idea until the very end what was really going to happen," Frasier said.

Frasier said he switched from majoring in engineering to teaching at the University of Texas because he felt education was important work. He now teaches in San Antonio's Northside Independent School District.

He went back to class Monday and immediately noticed changes. Overall, he had 30 more students spread between his six classes than he had the year before.

"There's been a lot of talk about how this is the new normal," he said, referring to Perry's statements on school funding. "We're told we should get used to constant budget cuts."

Education observers worry that the massive funding cuts coming out of the most recent legislative session leave Texas schools at the top of a steep precipice. Under Perry's veto threat, the legislature chose not to pay for student enrollment growth, instead underfunding education by $5.5 billion -- despite access to the $9.4 billion in the state's reserve fund.

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HOT HOT HOT! Austin Breaks Heat Record

Today Austin’s temps will soar back into the 100′s for our 69th day this year of over 100 degrees.

This will break a record that has stood since 1925 for the most days over 100 degrees, as we begin another round of heat advisories lasting through the weekend of 100+ degree weather. Since we’re going to not just be breaking the record, but adding several more days onto it (to a total of at least 73 or 74- assuming this is the last hot pattern we have in the next month), we may want to ask ourselves what is going on?

Drought map as of Aug 16, 2012

Well, we are faced with a La Nina weather pattern, bringing hot, dry weather to the Lonestar state. La Ninas have happened before and they’ll happen again- as evidence by the 86 year old record of 68 days of 100+ heat. For it to be hot in Texas in the summer is normal, but it’s not normal for it to be this hot for this many days.

Which brings us to climate change. Scientists theorizing about climate change decades ago predicted exactly what we are seeing now: slight upticks in temperature giving us more slightly hotter days. So, a day that would normally be 98 or 99 is now 101 or 102 due to the radiative blanket of the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

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The Liberals’ Tea Party

Democracy for America has joined with Van Jones' new American Dream organization to promote nationwide community organizing activities -- at town halls, at their district offices, everywhere -- starting with a "Contract for the American Dream." As Netroots Nation 2011 keynote speaker last June Jones delivered fiery speech where he said of the politics of the hard right, “I’ve had all I can stand! I can't stands no more!” - invoking the old “Popeye” cartoons .


Listen to NPR's All Things Considered segment on former Obama Adviser Van Jones "Brews A Different Tea Party"
Jones envisions the new American Dream movement as a left-wing alternative to the Tea Party. Launched at a July 23 event in New York City, the American Dream Movement aims to restore the fight for economic justice to the center of progressive politics.

On Aug. 9, the movement put out its crowd-sourced “Contract for the American Dream,” a 10-point economic manifesto that called for new investments in education and infrastructure; higher taxes for corporations, Wall Street and the wealthy; and curbs on lobbyists. The contract was created by over 120,000 grassroots progressives working together at house parties nationwide in July and it includes ten featured goals to rebuild America:

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Perry Fed Up With His Book "Fed Up?"

Texas Governor-turned-Presidential candidate Rick Perry is already fed up with his controversial political book "Fed Up " published just last November. Fed Up is a 240-page argument for ten amendment states' rights, which argues that everything from child labor laws to the Clean Air Act to Medicare violates the Constitution and states' rights. As it turns out, the many outlandish ideas Perry argues in his book are unpopular with a large portion of voters — so Perry’s campaign is trying to say Perry doesn't really believe the augments he wrote in his book.

MySanAntonio.com: Few phenomena are more depressing than watching the national media ramp up to speed on a subject with which you are somewhat familiar. The shotgun vetting of Texas Gov. Rick Perry fits that bill.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

For Rick Perry, It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Stupidity

The newest meteor to streak through the Republican primary skies is, of course, Texas Gov. Rick Perry.


But for Perry, it could be a pretty fast fall back to Earth. Fully feeling the heat of the national media spotlight for the first time, Perry has quickly shown his supporters that the thing that they should worry about most is not the heat — but his stupidity.

Even many of his fellow Republicans denounced his statements about Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s quantitative-easing possibly being an act of “treason.” Among others, Bruce Bartlett, a former Treasury Secretary under Republican President George H. W. Bush, called Perry an “idiot.”

An 11-year-old boy who appeared to actually know the answer asked Perry about the age of the Earth. Perry said he didn’t know. I believe him. Perry then seemed to disavow evolution and give some credence to the theory that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. Come on, I have ties older than that. And Mr. Perry had the bad timing to do this the same week that scientists announced that they believe they discovered fossilized, single-cell organisms in Western Australia that could be about 3.4 billion years old.

Perry’s disavowal of evolution, geology, biology, and all that point-headed science mumbo-jumbo will probably not sit very well with GOP moderates, independents, swing voters or those who have ever been to school, read a book, or watched a show on the History Channel.

Perry also had the singular misfortune to be ranting about how climate change is a scam the same week as stories were published about how farmers in Texas have suffered more than $5 billion in crop and livestock losses associated with a record drought and record high temperatures.

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Low Taxes On The Rich Create Jobs: ‘That’s So Baloney’ Says H&R Block Co-founder

In an interview with the Kansas City Fox 4 News station, multimillionaire Henry Bloch — co-founder and chairman emeritus of the tax preparation company H&R Block and a registered Republican — said that “the wealthy have a debt to this country. They can afford to pay it and they should.” He added that the Republican push to protect tax breaks for millionaires in order to promote job creation is “baloney“:

“That’s so baloney,” Bloch said. “Rich people don’t create jobs. Companies create jobs.”…”You probably pay a higher rate than I do… and yet my income is probably many times what yours is,” Bloch said to FOX 4 Reporter Rob Low.

America’s current tax system forces people making $50,000 a year to pay a higher rate than hedge fund managers making $2.4 million an hour. Warren Buffett penned a New York Times op-ed, declaring that America’s super-rich have been “coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress.”

Lamenting the numerous tax loopholes and special breaks afforded to billionaire investors, Buffett noted that in his entire career, even when capital gains rates were as high as 39.9 percent, he never saw anyone “shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.”

“While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks,” Buffett wrote. “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

Several Republicans have scoffed at Buffet’s proposal, including the multimillionaire Mitt Romney and billionaires Charles and David Koch.

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Senior Obama Adviser David Axelrod Dismisses Question Of Disenchanted Liberal Base

Appearing on ABC’s This Week on Sunday Aug. 21, 2011 senior Obama adviser David Axelrod rejected Michael Moore’s assertion that the president loses votes when he “moves to the right.”

“Are you aware of how profoundly disappointed so many of the president’s supporters are?” ABC’s Jake Tapper asked on behalf of Moore. “Do you realize that each time the president moves to the right, he picks up no votes and loses many? Or do you cynically believe that because these people have nowhere else to go, they’ll end up voting for Obama?”



From ABC’s This Week, broadcast Sunday Aug. 21, 2011



“Well, first of all, no one is cynically moving one way or the other,” Axelrod replied. “The president is not moving left or right; he’s interested in moving the country forward.”

“And all of these things are part and parcel of a strategy that is completely opposed by the other side, who want to go back to the same trickle-down, deregulation. You know, the same mantra we heard in the last decade that led up to this problem we’re hearing again. I think that this is such a profound choice that the president’s supporters and independent voters and people across this country will rally, because the future will be determined by this debate and the path we take.”

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why Perry Hates Those Regulators: They're Bad For (His) Business

Like so many Republican officials of the Tea Party persuasion, Rick Perry despises the Environmental Protection Agency.

A feeling he has expressed repeatedly in speeches, lawsuits, legislation and even a book titled Fed Up! Perhaps that is only natural for the governor of Texas, a “dirty energy” state where the protection of air, water, and human health rank well below the defense of oil company profits for most politicians.

But Perry has at least one other reason for smacking down those bureaucrats so eagerly. When environmental regulators do their job properly, that can mean serious trouble for Perry’s largest political donors.

The outstanding example is Harold Simmons, a Dallas mega-billionaire industrialist who has donated well over a million dollars to Perry’s campaign committees recently. With Perry’s eager assistance – and despite warnings from Texas environmental officials -- Simmons has gotten approval to build an enormous radioactive waste dump over a crucial underground water supply.

Read the rest of the story @ The National Memo

NYT: Rick Perry’s Donors Reap Benefits From Texas State Aid:

Two years ago, John McHale, an entrepreneur from Austin, Tex., who has given millions of dollars to Democratic candidates and causes, did something very unusual for him: he wrote a $50,000 check to a Republican candidate, Rick Perry, then seeking a third full term as governor of Texas. In September 2010, he did it again, catapulting himself into the top ranks of Mr. Perry’s donors.

Mr. McHale, a Perry spokesman said after the initial donation, “understands Governor Perry’s leadership has made Texas a good place to do business.”

Including, it turned out, for Mr. McHale’s business interests and partners. In May 2010 an economic development fund administered by the governor’s office handed $3 million to G-Con, a pharmaceutical start-up that Mr. McHale helped get off the ground. At least two other executives with connections to the firm had also given Mr. Perry tens of thousands of dollars.

Read the full story @ NYT

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Obama: Low Rating Reflect Unhappiness With Congress


Anthony Mason's one-on-one interview with President Obama during his 3-day bus tour of the American heartland last week.
Pres. Obama tells CBS in an interview broadcast Sunday that he's "impacted," just like Congress, when people aren't happy with Washington.

Job approval opinion polls last week showed Pres. Obama's job approval rating at or below 40 percent, the lowest of his presidency.

Pres. Obama taped the CBS' `Sunday Morning" interview last Wednesday in Illinois at the end of a Midwest bus tour focused on the economy.


There is broad public consensus that the budget negotiations of recent months can be summed up in words such as ridiculous, disgusting, stupid, and frustrating. Nationwide, 72% describe the recent negotiations in negative terms such as these; while very few offer a positive (2%), or even neutral (11%), assessment. Other frequently used terms include terrible, disappointing, childish, and joke.

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post found that these critical views cross partisan and ideological lines, with 75% of Republicans, 72% of Democrats and 72% of independents all volunteering similarly negative assessments. Impressions are particularly negative among Republicans and Republican-leaners who agree with the Tea Party (83% negative).

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Students Will Feel Effects Of State Funding Cuts When School Starts 

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram: How budget reductions affect students varies by district, but many educators worry that this year is just the beginning of deeper cuts, because a one-time infusion of federal money temporarily saved hundreds of jobs countywide.

"The start of a school year should be exciting for students and teachers," said Steven Poole, who represents area school employees through the United Educators Association. "But not this year when in the back of your mind you're always thinking you might lose your job. It's hard. We already know we're going to have to prepare for another round of cuts."

Fewer teachers, bigger classes

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

New Media Competition To Define Rick Perry's Record

Long before Rick Perry made his presidential aspirations official, the Texas governor was using Twitter and other Internet new media channels to create his "Texas Miracle" mythology. It seems to be working as the Main Stream Media uncritically memes Perry's "Texas miracle" economic claims," even as it's clear that everything from how Texas is doing to whether or not Perry should be associated with that performance are highly debatable claims.

Now, though, progressive activists in Texas are starting to use new media strategies to counter Perry's "Texas Miracle" mythology. PerryForPresidentFML.com is a website that prompts visitors to tweet from a list of 50 less-than-flattering facts about the current Texas governor's record to their Twitter followers. The message on the website reads, in part:

"Now that conservative TX Gov Rick Perry has officially launched his Presidential campaign, it is important to remember the lasting legacy he will leave for Texas. After 25 years in public office and 10 years as the Governor, Perry has dramatically changed what Texas looks like for future generations."
Click below to go to the website to see the tweets:

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Origins Of The 'Texas Miracle'


The cliché: A "Texas Miracle" is on the move. A phrase that once existed only between quotation marks is now migrating outside of them to become generally accepted vernacular. Back in 2008, Texas experienced muted effects during the recession, and during the recovery, faster job creation [- from one limited statistical perspective.]

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Seven Ways Rick Perry Wants To Change The Constitution

Rick Perry has many ideas about how to change the American government's founding document. From ending lifetime tenure for federal judges to completely scrapping two whole amendments, the Constitution would see a major overhaul if the Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate had his druthers.

Perry laid out these proposed innovations to the founding document in his book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington. He has occasionally mentioned them on the campaign trail. Several of his ideas fall within the realm of mainstream conservative thinking today, but, as you will see, there are also a few surprises.

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Texas Unemployment Rate Hits Its Highest Mark Since 1987

As Gov. Rick Perry touts job creation and limited government on the campaign trail, the Texas’ unemployment rate tied a 1987 record in July and the Austin-area took the brunt of the state’s job losses in the public sector, according to the Texas Workforce Commission's latest workforce statistics report.

The Texas Workforce Commission on Friday termed the employment results “mixed” because the state added 29,300 jobs but the seasonally adjusted jobless rate increased from 8.2 percent in June to 8.4 percent last month.

Having the state tie a 24-year high for unemployment rate could be coming at just the wrong time for Perry. Perry has long called Texas a national jobs-creation leader in a country besieged by unemployment. He traveled through Iowa this week on a bus with “get America working again” painted on the side.

The latest unemployment numbers could weaken that message. The rate hasn’t been this high since the mid-1980s oil bust. And even though Texas has received numerous accolades for creating more jobs in recent years than any other state, 26 states had a lower unemployment rate in July.

The Texas rate is still lower than the country’s, which was 9.1 percent in July. But that gap is closing.

Texas vs US comparison
Sources: St. Louis Fed (U.S. jobs/U.S. unemployed).
Texas Workforce Commission (employed and unemployed)
graph from dailykos.com

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Economic Myths: Separating Fact From Fiction

Americans are hearing a cacophony of arguments about the wobbly economy. The federal stimulus package passed in 2009 was either a deficit-busting failure full of wasteful projects or an unparalleled rescue that would have been more successful if it had only been bigger.

Taxes are either stifling or the lowest they've ever been.

America needs to invest in infrastructure, or "infrastructure" is merely a euphemism for more government spending.

ProPublica published a guide to the most prevalent economic myths.

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Rick Perry's "The Response" A Lesson In Political Community Organizing

The American Family Association, one of the co-sponsors of Rick Perry's "The Response" prayer event, sent an email message to the 30,000 event attendees as the next step of community organizing to register and mobilize 5 million conservative Christians for the 2012 election.

One of the key motivations for holding community organizing event is to collect contact information from the people who attend the event so that a regular line of communication can be opened to further organize and mobilize them.

About 30,000 people attended "The Response" prayer event at Reliant Stadium in Houston in early August 2011. The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis, which Gov. Rick Perry promoted and which looked a lot like charismatic, evangelical church service, was a well planned and well executed community organizing event that collected a lot email addresses and no doubt a lot of cell phone numbers to text.

These days, there are myriad problems that affect, and sometimes frighten us. As individuals we often feel powerless to address the things that affect our our lives and our families. We often feel powerless to make changes, feeling stuck and often hopeless. We don’t think that we have the power to make a difference. Community organizing is a process that empowers people to recognize and honor their individual and collective voices by working together to transform their communities.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Former State Department Official Matthew Hoh Talks About Afghanistan

Former State Department Official Matthew HohBy LINDA MAGID Published: August 18, 2011 @ 3:18pm

Matthew Hoh, who in 2009 famously quit his State Department post in Afghanistan to protest U.S. strategy there, spoke on August 11th as part of the Dallas Peace Center’s dinner lecture series, and he didn’t mince words about how he thinks the war in Afghanistan is going.

“Afghanistan is a disaster.”

Hoh is a former Marine Corps captain who served six years in Iraq and worked as a civilian for the Department of Defense in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, he is a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy and the Director of the Afghanistan Study Group. “I agree with (U.S.) objectives. The problem is our policy will not achieve those objectives,” Hoh said.

To an audience of about 50 people, Hoh shared the “cold, hard facts” about Afghanistan and proved in simple terms that the Middle Eastern nation continues to be a graveyard of empires.

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Background On Rick Perry's Claim "The Earth Is Cooling"

It would be nice if the myth of global cooling was a fringe theory among even a few legitimate climate scientists. Unfortunately, it's not!

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Democracy Now! Headlines For August 18, 2011

DemocracyNow.org - This is a summary of news headlines from the United States and around the world as reported by Democracy Now! on Thursday, August 18, 2011.

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NYT OpEd: Crashing the Tea Party

Professors David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam wrote an OpEd in the New York Times detailing that the Tea Party movement is made up largely of ultra-religious conservatives who insist America is a “Christian nation:

Tea Partiers ... seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates.

...The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government. This inclination among the Tea Party faithful to mix religion and politics explains their support for Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas.

...It is precisely this infusion of religion into politics that most Americans increasingly oppose. While over the last five years Americans have become slightly more conservative economically, they have swung even further in opposition to mingling religion and politics.

Now that America is catching on to this fact, the Tea Party people are much less popular than other groups who largely seek to mind their own business:

Polls show that disapproval of the Tea Party is climbing. In April 2010, a New York Times/CBS News survey found that 18 percent of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of it, 21 percent had a favorable opinion and 46 percent had not heard enough. Now, 14 months later, Tea Party supporters have slipped to 20 percent, while their opponents have more than doubled, to 40 percent.

Of course, politicians of all stripes are not faring well among the public these days. But in data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.

So, the Tea Party "movement" is now officially less popular among Americans than Muslims.






Ultra-right social conservatives often accuse "liberals" of undermining the Christian nation values.

But leading conservative strategist Karl Rove called the notion that the U.S. is a Christian nation “offensive” during a Fox News interview. “We are based on the Judeo-Christian ethic, we derive a lot from it, but if you say we’re a Christian nation, what about the Jews, what about the Muslims, what about the non-believers? I mean, one of the great things about our country is that the first amendment gives you right to believe or not believe as you choose."

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's All About the Messaging

From our friend John Aravosis over at AmericaBlog:

Ezra Klein has an interesting piece up, from yesterday, arguing that the White House should take a page from the GOP playbook in pushing for actions on jobs. And Ezra is right, to a degree. The Republicans are ruthless and the President has been somewhat spineless. I think Ezra is incorrect, however, in arguing that Boehner wouldn't have resorted to a PR campaign to get his way.

That's exactly what Republicans do. They grab a message, and beat it to death, again and again and again, until you're sick of it, but suddenly, one day the entire country is parroting the same message.

Democrats, on the other hand, think that issuing a single press release [or sending a single email to an aging email address list] "is" a PR campaign.

So, yes, the GOP does take hostages, and it does all the other high-stakes things needed to pass legislation in this town, but they don't forgo PR as some kind of unnecessary politesse. It's key to their campaign, and always has been (e.g., death panels, Obamacare, the stimulus didn't create any jobs, if the deficit isn't addressed today we're all going to die, etc.) The GOP is great at PR. Our leaders in power need to learn their game.

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Democracy Now Discussion On Gov. Perry With Bob Moser


Amy Goodman discusses Rick Perry's recent comments with Bob Moser, executive editor of the American Prospect and former editor of the Texas Observer
Democracy Now: Since announcing his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination over the weekend, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has already raised eyebrows over a number of heated comments.

On Monday Perry accused Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke of treason and suggested he would face physical harm in Texas. His comments were widely criticized, from the White House to Republican key strategist Karl Rove.

Perry has also drawn criticism for calling Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare "a Ponzi scheme."

Perry’s record in Texas is also beginning to face increased scrutiny. He claims responsibility for the an "economic miracle" in Texas, but many have questioned the success of his economic policies.

We look at Perry’s recent comments and his past with Bob Moser, executive editor of the American Prospect. Moser is the former editor of the Texas Observer, where he spent the last three years covering Perry.

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Texas Ranks Last In Job Creation, Among Many Lasts

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), since he launched his presidential campaign on Saturday, has paraded around the stat that “since June of 2009, Texas is responsible for more than 40 percent of all of the new jobs created in America.” Gov. Perry says he wants conservative governance to do for America what it has done for Texas. All of the Republican presidential candidates tout no taxes and no government as good for America. So, what has conservative governance given Texas?

Stellar job growth?


Think Progress: In claiming that Texas has create 40% of all new jobs in America Gov. Perry references the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas' jobs number. However, the reserve bank “acknowledges that the number comes out different depending on whether one compares Texas to all states or just to states that are adding jobs.”

Between 2008 and 2010, jobs actually grew at a faster pace in Massachusetts than in Texas.

In fact, “Texas has done worse than the rest of the country since the peak of national unemployment in October 2009.”

The unemployment rate in Texas has been steadily increasing throughout the recession, and went from 7.7 to 8.2 percent while the state was supposedly creating 40 percent of all the new jobs in the U.S.

How is this possible, since Texas has created over 126,000 jobs since the depths of the recession in February 2009? The fact of the matter is that looking purely at job creation misses a key point, namely that Texas has also experienced population and labor force growth [unequaled in other states. A series of factors also come into play, including that Texas weathered the housing bubble reasonably well due to strict state of Texas mortgage lending "government regulations."] When this is taken into account, Texas’ job creation looks decidedly less impressive:

As Paul Krugman put it, “several factors underlie [Texas'] rapid population growth: a high birth rate, immigration from Mexico, and inward migration of Americans from other states," and more...

A Report from the Texas Legislative Study Group On the State of Our State released in February 2011, at the start of the 82nd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, assesses Texas' ranking in a number of categories. According to the Study Group's report Texas ranks last in almost every category:

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No End in Sight for Texas Drought

The Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex heat wave returned with vigor this week.

The all-time record highest minimum temperature, set just last month, was tied again on the morning of Tuesday, August 16, 2011 when a low of 86 degrees was recorded.

The overnight lows have been exceptionally warm during the past few weeks. The old record high minimum of 85 from 1939 was first exceeded on July 26th was a DFW low of 86.

Overnight lows since July 26, 2011 have tied the new record 4 times, and the average low so far in August is 82.4 degrees, more than 6 degrees above the average.

The pattern ahead suggests very hot temperatures to persist with daily highs 104 to 110 and lows 80 to 85 through next week.

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) argues that climate science is a contrived phony mess based on “so-called science” in a “secular carbon cult.” Speaking at a Politics and Eggs breakfast in Bedford, New Hampshire Wednesday August 17, 2012 Gov. Perry said,

“There are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects,” the Texas governor told a group of supporters at the “Politics and Eggs” Breakfast in Bedford, New Hampshire.

“I think we are seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man made global warming is what is causing the climate to change,” Perry added. “Yes, our climate has changed. They been changing for ever since the Earth was formed.”

“But I do not buy into a group of scientists, who have been, in some cases, found to be manipulating this information. And the cost to the country and to the world of implementing these anti-carbon programs is in the billions if not trillions of dollars at the end of the day. And I don’t think, from my perspective, that I want America to be engaged in spending that much money on still a scientific theory that has not been proven, and from my perspective, is more and more being put into question.” (C-Span video)

See "Global Warming Is A Trick" Climategate claims proven untrue - Times of London Retracts its story. Also see Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. behind Climategate? And see The global cooling myth.

Gov. Perry, who failed to stop the drought with his prayer proclamation, yesterday dismissed any worries about the Texas drought while speaking at the Iowa State Fair. Perry said, we’ll be fine. As my dad says, it’ll rain. It always does.

Perry believes that the climate is still normal, unaffected by the 30 billion metric tons of carbon gas human civilization pumps in the biosphere every year, a level expected to increase to 33.8 billion metric tons annually by 2020 and grow to 42.4 billion metric tons annually by 2035.

Texas has grown hotter and drier, with stronger wildfires and torrential storms as climate changing greenhouse gases build in the atmosphere. Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Texas Tech University Climate Science Center, has said

...this summer is very similar to what is projected under a [climate changing] +2°C global mean temperature increase. We typically average 9 days per year > 100°F in Lubbock; this year we are at 43 and counting.

As of August 2011, 99 percent of Texas was in drought, with a staggering 78 percent in exceptional drought. The state’s farmers and ranchers are expected to lose about $10 billion this year to the killer climate, the worst in history.

The driest 10-month period from late 2010 to August 2011, yet a fresh record for Texas, has devastated the state and its farmers and ranchers. But, there is more to come... The National Weather Service warned Monday:

"THERE IS LITTLE TO SUGGEST ANY END TO THE DROUGHT"

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center said that the La Nina weather phenomenon blamed for the crippling lack of rain over the last 10 months might immediately restart, just two months after the this La Nina cycle ends. If that happens, the drought would almost certainly extend into 2012.

The lack of rain has been made worse by stretch of triple-digit temperatures that started in June. The drought and extreme heat has caused reservoirs to evaporate, crops to wither and animals and fish to die off by the tens of thousands.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

TFN: Rick Perry - Politics, Faith And The Culture Wars

The culture wars will feature prominently in Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Over the past decade Gov. Perry has turned his office into a command post for "culture warriors" on the far right. The Texas Freedom Network has put together a primer on Gov. Perry’s record in the culture wars at www.tfn.org/rickperry.

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The Texas Miracle That Wasn't

Paul Krugman asked in his recent NYT OpEd,

"so where does the notion of a Texas "job growth" miracle come from?" And, he answered, "Mainly from widespread misunderstanding of the economic effects of population growth … Texas tends, in good years and bad, to have higher job growth than the rest of America. But it needs lots of new jobs just to keep up with its rising population — and as those unemployment comparisons show, recent employment growth has fallen well short of what’s needed."

Felix Salmon: How does employment in Texas compare to employment in the rest of the country.

Nick Rizzo collated the data for this chart, taking employment figures from Google’s Public Data Explorer, and filling it out with population data from the Census Bureau and — for the 2011 population of Texas — the Texas Department of State Health Services. Here’s the result:

The employment-to-population ratio in this chart is lower than the employment-to-population ratio we normally see, because it includes everyone, from infants to convicted felons.

According to the figures we have for 2011, 44.7% of the total US population has a job, compared to 43.5% of the Texas population.

Perry inherited a ratio of more than 47% in Texas from George W Bush, and has presided over a steady decline ever since — including every year of the Bush presidency bar 2005.

Krugman: A Short Course in Miracles

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Jailing Undocumented Immigrants Is Big Business

HuffPo: Over the past three years, immigration politics has seen more restrictive legislation at the state level and the unprecedented enforcement of current laws by the Obama administration.

Together, the laws and the stepped up enforcement have the potential to bring tens of thousands of individuals into for-profit jails.

The Department of Homeland Security pays between $50 to $200 per day per person to local, county and state prisons to house apprehended aliens.

Thanks to a concerted lobbying push from the corrections industry, growing numbers of undocumented immigrants could end up in private detention facilities.

Over the past three years, immigration politics has seen more restrictive legislation at the state level and the unprecedented enforcement of current laws by the Obama administration.

Together, the laws and the stepped up enforcement have the potential to bring tens of thousands of individuals into for-profit jails.


"Immigrants for Sale" by the activist group Cuéntame

The recent animated video "Immigrants for Sale" by the activist group Cuéntame illustrates some facts behind the connection between the ongoing crackdown on illegal immigration and the for-profit corrections industry.

The video follows the trail of money and political power behind this piece of the national immigration debate.


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A Dominionist Movement For Theocratic Government?

By Michelle Goldberg - Of the three most plausible candidates for the Republican nomination, two are deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism. If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, understanding Dominionism isn’t optional.

Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Originating among some of America’s most radical theocrats, it’s long had an influence on religious-right education and political organizing. But because it seems so outré, getting ordinary people to take it seriously can be difficult.

We [now] have the most theocratic Republican field [of Presidential candidates] in American history, and suddenly, the concept of Dominionism is reaching mainstream audiences. Writing about Bachmann in The New Yorker this month, Ryan Lizza spent several paragraphs explaining how the premise fit into the Minnesota congresswoman’s intellectual and theological development.

A recent Texas Observer cover story on Rick Perry by Forrest Wilder examined his relationship with the New Apostolic Reformation, a Dominionist variant of Pentecostalism that coalesced about a decade ago. In many ways, Dominionism is more a political phenomenon than a theological one. [Pastors in the movement believe themselves to be modern day prophets or apostles, directly linked to God.

Their aim, explained the article author Forrest Wilder, is "to infiltrate government, and Rick Perry might be their man."]

“What makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government,” wrote Forrest Wilder. Its members “believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take ‘dominion’ over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the ‘Seven Mountains’ of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world.”

The "New Apostles" believe they're intended to lord over it all. As a first step, they’re leading an 'army of God' to commandeer civilian government.

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Rep. Schakowsky Announces Bill to Create 2.2 Million Jobs

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a member of President Obama’s 18-member Fiscal Commission, announced she will introduce the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act, a cost-effective plan to put over 2 million people to work for two years.


Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)

The time has come for Congress to focus like a laser on the most pressing crisis facing our country – the jobs crisis.

With extended unemployment benefits scheduled to expire at the end of this year, 13.9 million people remain out of work.

The average worker who is unemployed has been searching for a job for more than nine months and recent reports reveal that private sector employers largely refuse to hire those currently jobless.

An additional 8.4 million are working part time because they cannot find a full-time job. In June 2007, 63 percent of adults were employed, now the percentage is 58.2 percent. Despite reports of a Congress immobilized and unable to address the jobs crisis– Congress can and must do something today.

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Gallup Poll Has Good News For Democrats, Bad News For Republicans

Following a not some good batch of polling news for congressional Republicans, a new USA Today/Gallup poll finds that Democrats have taken the lead on the first generic congressional ballot poll of the 2012 campaign season.

The poll found that Democrats now have a 51 percent to 44 percent lead over Republicans among registered voters when asked which party's candidate they would vote for if elections for Congress were being held today.

The 7-percentage-point lead on the new poll isn't as strong as the Gallup polls that led up to the major Democratic swing elections in 2006 and 2008 (Gallup says Democrats averaged 11-point and 10-point leads in polls before those elections), but it was much better than most Gallup polls leading up to the 2010 Republican victory, which showed near-ties or Republican leads among registered voters.

Generic Congressional Ballot -- August 2005-August 2011

Tea Party Endorsements Could Do More Harm Than Good

Gallup also asked registered voters how a Tea Party endorsement would affect their likelihood of voting for a congressional candidate. The effect is nearly 2-to-1 negative, with 42% saying they would be less likely to vote for such a candidate versus 23% saying they would be more likely.

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