Saturday, July 31, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Fraser Failed to Disclose Perry Land Deal
July 29, 2010
State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, didn’t list his September 2000 acquisition of the waterfront lot on Lake Lyndon B. Johnson in the disclosure form he filed for that year. He also didn't note a year later the fact that Perry purchased the property from him in 2001, the documents show.
State law requires elected officials such as Fraser, a friend and political ally of the governor, to describe "any and all" interests they or their families have in real property. They also must disclose any proceeds they received when those interests are sold. Failure to file the forms on time can result in civil penalties levied by the commission, though Fraser will not face enforcement because the commission doesn't have the authority to levy fines for a 10-year-old violation.
Fraser, a wealthy investor, listed numerous stock holdings and other financial information on the 52-page filing but omitted the land deal. He was traveling out of the state on Wednesday and was unavailable for comment, said his chief of staff, Janice McCoy, who declined to discuss the issue.
Andy Wilson, a research associate for campaign finance issues at the watchdog group Public Citizen Texas, said the senator's failure to correctly file the forms is no small matter. "The public’s right to know on this is absolute," Wilson said. "Considering that, for most Texans, their homes are the most important thing that they own, I’m surprised that someone would forget to put this on a financial disclosure — especially waterfront property on Horseshoe Bay."
Perry’s investment in the resort property was the subject of a lengthy investigation published Sunday in The Dallas Morning News. The paper reported that the governor may have received an enhanced deal based on personal favors from wealthy friends and campaign contributors. Fraser was central to the deal. Perry’s office has denied any special treatment: The governor told the newspaper that each personal land deal he has made while in office "has been open and honest, and at arm's length." His staff has repeated those sentiments in other news accounts.
Perry’s Democratic opponent in the governor’s race, former Houston mayor Bill White, has pounced on the revelations about the land deal, calling Perry dishonest and the money he made on the property — nearly $500,000 when he sold in 2007 — "ill-gotten gains."
"The questions about why Rick Perry’s close friend hid the transactions are just one of many questions that needs to be addressed immediately," said White’s spokeswoman, Katy Bacon.
Perry's campaign defended the governor's handling of the land deal.
“This transaction was appropriate, conducted at arm’s length, and the governor’s office was fully transparent regarding the matter,” said spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. “It’s clear that Bill White will say anything to distract Texans.”
The News' appraisal concluded that Perry, who purchased the half-acre lot for $300,000, paid $150,000 below market value. When he sold the parcel in 2007 for $1.15 million, that price was $350,000 over market value, the appraiser concluded.
The paper's report also exposed that the land was sold and purchased by wealthy individuals with political connections — and that Perry hired a lawyer he appointed to the Texas Public Safety Board to help fight his property tax appraisal. The story noted conflicting and evolving accounts of the transaction’s details, raising questions among watchdogs.
"The man on the street on this would think that this is a series of deals that smell of special favors being created for elected officials to curry their favor," Ellen Miller, executive director of the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation in Washington, D.C., toldthe News.
Perry's campaign defended the governor's handling of the deal, taking a shot at White
The rule requiring timely filing of the forms — which are intended to "strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of this state in state government" — includes what amounts to a two-year statute of limitations, said Natalia Luna Ashley, the commission’s general counsel, who only discussed the requirements and not the specifics of Fraser’s reports.
In general, current law gives the commissioners power to sanction officials for omissions or incorrect filings on the financial forms in response to sworn complaints by members of the public or rival campaigns. They also can fine officials for filing reports late, which would include corrections after commission deadlines.
The law in 2000 and 2001, however, exempted officials from late-filing penalties associated with corrections if they swore they made the mistake or omission in good faith.
Fraser last summer corrected several years of reports that omitted property interests, according to the commission, which never fined him for late or incorrect filings. In the report for calendar year 2008, for example, Fraser neglected to note his own property at Horseshoe Bay.
"Start with taxes. In every other serious democracy, conservative political parties feel at least some obligation to match their tax policies with their spending plans. David Cameron, the new Conservative prime minister in Britain, is a leading example.
He recently offered a rather brutal budget that includes severe cutbacks. I have doubts about some of them, but at least Cameron cared enough about reducing his country's deficit that alongside the cuts he also proposed an increase in the value-added tax, from 17.5 percent to 20 percent. Imagine: a fiscal conservative who really is a fiscal conservative.
That could never happen here because the fairy tale of supply-side economics insists that taxes are always too high, especially on the rich.
This is why Democrats will be fools if they don't try to turn the Republicans' refusal to raise taxes on families earning more than $250,000 a year into an election issue. If Democrats go into a headlong retreat on this, they will have no standing to govern.
The simple truth is that the wealthy in the United States -- the people who have made almost all the income gains in recent years -- are undertaxed compared with everyone else."
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
Saturday, July 17, 2010
- From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.
Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry Dent and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn’t have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he's campaigned on since 1964 and that's fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.
Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."
The republican movement has used the poor and racial minorities as scapegoats for selling out to prosperous whites for more than 30 years. Add to that Reagan's personal war on union's and you can see how the rising middle class has stopped rising. There seems to be no effective advocate for the average working man or women. In the 1970's the unions and the democrats were advocates, and yes they went to far. I agree that in the extreme union's are corrupt and opportunistic, but they have also increased worker safety, health benefits and fairness in the workplace all over this country. That is, they helped improve social justice, a concept any self respecting republican spits on today. But you can see from the quotes of Kevin Phillips (Nixon's man) and Lee Atwater (Reagan and George H.W. Bush's man) that the tax cutting the republicans do for the limosine and country club crowd, that put us in our current and continuing economic decline, has long roots in the republican party. The Tea Bagger's are just the latest iteration of the class warfare started by Reagan.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
In a nut shell, a good GDP does not mean that average Americans are doing well financially.
"The number of unemployed Americans has more than doubled in the past two years. Unemployment is now worse than at any time since the Depression of the 1930s. Millions of people have lost their homes to foreclosure. And tens of millions more have lost their savings, their pensions, and their retirement security.
These statistics are grim, but they say nothing of the human toll, the families torn apart and the lives destroyed. The numbers give no indication of the pain, the rage, and the hopelessness that now permeate so many people's lives."
We are becoming a nation that doesn't care about working people, the poor or the disabled. The pure unadulterated meanness that the GOBP party shows toward the 18 million unemployed is breathtaking. These are people who want to work, but can't find a job but the R's tell us that their just lazy.
Paul Krugman, the Nobel Laureate in economics, wrote an opinion piece in Sunday's NYTimes entitled Punishing the Jobless in which he talks about the heartless political calculations of the R party in refusing to extend unemployment benefits.
"There was a time when everyone took it for granted that unemployment insurance, which normally terminates after 26 weeks, would be extended in times of persistent joblessness. It was, most people agreed, the decent thing to do.
But that was then. Today, American workers face the worst job market since the Great Depression, with five job seekers for every job opening, with the average spell of unemployment now at 35 weeks. Yet the Senate went home for the holiday weekend without extending benefits. How was that possible?
The answer is that we’re facing a coalition of the heartless, the clueless and the confused. Nothing can be done about the first group, and probably not much about the second. But maybe it’s possible to clear up some of the confusion.
By the heartless, I mean Republicans who have made the cynical calculation that blocking anything President Obama tries to do — including, or perhaps especially, anything that might alleviate the nation’s economic pain — improves their chances in the midterm elections. Don’t pretend to be shocked: you know they’re out there, and make up a large share of the G.O.P. caucus.
By the clueless I mean people like Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for senator from Nevada, who has repeatedly insisted that the unemployed are deliberately choosing to stay jobless, so that they can keep collecting benefits. A sample remark: “You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job but it doesn’t pay as much. We’ve put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry.”
Now, I don’t have the impression that unemployed Americans are spoiled; desperate seems more like it. One doubts, however, that any amount of evidence could change Ms. Angle’s view of the world — and there are, unfortunately, a lot of people in our political class just like her."
Representative Ralph Hall is one of these people. He voted against extending unemployment benefits AND against the Wall Street reform law. So I guess he is a lot more concerned about the lying, cheating moneygrubber's on Wall Street than he is with his own folks on main street. It is nothing short of a scandal to behave that way in the worst economic downturn since the great depression
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Imagine one of your parents coming down with a cancer that can be treated and perhaps put into remission. Now imagine that your mother, father or your husband decides to skip those vital treatments because they are too expensive. That is what approximately 2 million Americans decide to do every year according to the this study published in the medical journal Cancer. Here is an excerpt:
Even though it puts their long-term health and well-being at risk, "two million U.S. cancer survivors did not get one or more medical services because of financial concerns," says study author Dr. Kathryn Weaver of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. In general, she says, cancer survivors under the age of 65 were almost twice as likely to delay or forgo all types of care, compared with adults with no cancer history in the same age group.
Hispanic cancer survivors were most likely to skip treatment according to the study. Hispanic and African American cancer survivors were more likely than whites to leave prescriptions unfilled or to forgo needed dental care.
"It reflects differences in insurance coverage in our country," Weaver says. "The people over 65 are often covered by Medicare and have more consistent insurance coverage." But she says even people under 65 who had insurance coverage, would sometimes fail to seek treatment when they needed it.
Friday, July 2, 2010
That Thurgood Marshall's son has to defend his father against the likes of Senators Kyl, Sessions, Cornyn and Coburn shows just how low the GOBP has fallen. Thurgood Marshall will go down in history as one of the finest jurists of the twentieth century. In their combined attacks and insinuations Cornyn, Kyl, Sessions and Coburn only demonstrated their bigotry, their profound lack of ethics and their obsequiousness to the rabid right. It was basically hate speech, plain and simple.
Just like everything else in our society, the people who reveal the truth about what is actually happening in Afghanistan, in this case, what General McCrystal was saying about the President and his minions, are vilified and subject to retaliation. Lara Logan is cute and I think she has done some good reporting on the great job our troops are doing, but on this she is absolutely wrong. We need to know what is really happening over there and you damn sure can't count on the major network reporters. It was NOT the reporter's job to protect the General from his own words. With her vapid comments about Michael Hastings, the reporter from Rolling Stone, she revealed herself to be more of a marketing expert than a true journalist.
Some choice quotes from the article:
"True, the Pentagon does have perhaps the single largest public relations apparatus on earth – spending $4.7 billion on P.R. in 2009 alone and employing 27,000 people, a staff nearly as large as the 30,000-person State Department – but is that really enough to ensure positive coverage in a society armed with a constitutionally-guaranteed free press?
And true, most of the major TV outlets are completely in the bag for the Pentagon, with two of them (NBC/GE and Logan's own CBS, until recently owned by Westinghouse, one of the world's largest nuclear weapons manufacturers) having operated for years as leaders in both the broadcast media and weapons-making businesses.
But is that enough to guarantee a level playing field? Can a general really feel safe that Americans will get the right message when the only tools he has at his disposal are a $5 billion P.R. budget and the near-total acquiescence of all the major media companies, some of whom happen to be the Pentagon's biggest contractors?
Does the fact that the country is basically barred from seeing dead bodies on TV, or the fact that an embedded reporter in a war zone literally cannot take a shit without a military attaché at his side (I'm not joking: while embedded at Camp Liberty in Iraq, I had to be escorted from my bunk to the latrine) really provide the working general with the security and peace of mind he needs to do his job effectively?"