Rick Noriega could be number 60

Posted in Commentary, Congress, Election 2008, Good Stuff, Had Enough Yet?, Take Action, US Senate Race at 5:12 pm by dembones

With news of Sen. Ted Stevens’ felony convictions on all seven counts, the odds of Democrats reaching 59 seats in the United States Senate have improved substantially. The following Senate races now look like probable pickup opportunities for the Democrats:

  • Virginia (Warner)
  • New Mexico (T. Udall)
  • Colorado (M. Udall)
  • New Hampshire (Shaheen)
  • Oregon (Merkley)
  • North Carolina (Hagan)
  • Minnesota (Franken)
  • Alaska (Begich)

Assuming Democratic leads in these races hold, Democrats will hold 57 seats. Including the two Independents (Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords) that caucus with Democrats, the Senate is potentially one vote away from a filibuster-proof majority.

Under Senate rules, forty-one Senators can prevent a cloture motion, the parliamentary procedure that shuts off debate and allows a floor vote. As long as Republicans control 41 seats, they have the potential of blocking any measure for which they unite in opposition. Republicans in the Senate employed this tactic a record 84 times in the last two years to prevent large numbers of mainstream bills from passing.

With Barack Obama leading in the polls, getting that 60th vote is perhaps the biggest question remaining in federal races this election. Where will the Democrats get that 60th seat?

There’s four races that are within striking distance. All four are in the South:

  • Texas (Rick Noriega)
  • Mississippi (Musgrove)
  • Georgia (Martin)
  • Kentucky (Lunsford)

The last poll taken in Texas (Rasmussen 10/21) put Sen. John Cornyn up by ten points, 54 to 44, over Rick Noriega. Overcoming that deficit is a tall order, but with Sen. Stevens demise, we could see an influx of late cash helping push Noriega over the top.

You can be a part of that late push. Donate time or money to help Lt. Col. Noriega become the 60th seat that opens the door to rapidly fixing the damage done to the nation by George W. Bush and “trickle-down economics”.


John Carter (R-ExxonMobil) begs for more giveaways to Big Oil

Posted in Around The Nation, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, Congress, District 31, Election 2008, Had Enough Yet?, The Economy at 11:40 am by dembones

The reality of the economic crisis has finally hit Rep. John Carter. After voting twice against taking government action to stave off a looming financial calamity, offering no counterproposal of his own, the plunging stock market has finally hit Carter where it hurts.

Facing a 25-percent drop in the value of his ExxonMobil holdings in the past two weeks, Carter has now renewed a call for the passage of a gift basket of giveaways to Big Oil known as the American Energy Act (HR 6566). (Click here for a Congressional Research Service report comparing five proposals, including HR 6566, before Congress to expand leasing in the Outer Continental Shelf.)

In the two weeks since EyeOnWilliamson.org reported the value of Carter’s ExxonMobil holdings at $2.0 to $3.4 million, that asset has fallen in value between $508K and $848K. Losing between a half million and a million dollars in two weeks is certainly a cold splash of water to the face. Nevermind the lack of benefit to anyone holding non-petroleum stock, according to Carter, we need to “Drill! baby, Drill!” our way to stabilize his portfolio.

Now that the financial crisis has grabbed Carter’s attention, perhaps he’ll consider reacting to government intervention without reflexively recoiling in horror. Financial historians place the blame of the Great Depression on government inaction. Those wondering how government could stand aside and do nothing while the nation and world slid into depression, Carter’s foot-stomping during the debate over the $700 billion bailout proposal should offer a clue.

Carter has nudged from his obstinate position of doing absolutely nothing, to doing something that directly benefits him financially. We have wondered for years what it might be like to have a representative in Congress who actually represents the voters in District 31. Our chance to make a change is coming in 26 days.

The full text of Carter’s letter is below the fold. Read the rest of this entry �


John Carter’s ExxonMobil holdings valued at $2.0 to $3.4 million

Posted in Commentary, Congress, Corruption, District 31, Election 2008, Had Enough Yet?, Right Wing Lies at 11:05 am by dembones

The ban on offshore drilling will expire next week:

Democrats have decided to allow a quarter-century ban on drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to expire next week, conceding defeat in an month-long battle with the White House and Republicans set off by $4 a gallon gasoline prices this summer.

Republican Rep. John Carter spent the August recess in Washington DC, participating in a protest by Republicans who saw political profit in highlighting Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to adjourn. Carter said, “We will not give up this fight until Speaker Pelosi allows an up-or-down vote on a comprehensive energy bill….” After those long difficult weeks in the Capitol with few reporters present, Carter was upset when Congress returned. “Democrats returned from their five-week summer vacation this week. I was hoping they would listen to the cry of the American people and take up the American Energy Act,” Carter said.

Out of touch Carter is once again overcome by events. Name one of your neighbors who has the slightest clue what the American Energy Act (AEA) is. The only outcry we heard was from the lobbyists from the American Petroleum Institute (API), you know, the folks who wrote the AEA. It looks like Wall Street’s lobbyists trump API’s. Since returning to Washington to find a meltdown in the financial industry, Congress has set the AEA aside, perhaps to be revisited when a new Congress, one with an even bigger Democratic majority, convenes in January.

Carter’s protest may not have produced the desired result, but that won’t stop him from declaring Mission Accomplished anyway. Carter is now thrilled about Congress’ inaction, issuing this statement yesterday in which he takes credit:

Make no mistake, without the intense pressure put on their leadership by Republicans in Congress and the White House, they would have continued their strong stance to ban any new energy exploration off America’s coastline.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a John Carter press release without the requisite factual inaccuracy. Two years ago, Congress opened up 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico. Given that Texas is one of five U. S. states with coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, one would think John Carter would have been able to avoid that error. Perhaps Carter forgot about Lease 181.

So Congress never voted on the bill he spent his summer protesting their inaction, and conveniently missed his chance to visit with constituents to find out what they really think. The bill he was pushing didn’t really need to pass in order for his Exxon buddies to profit. It turns out all Congress had to do was nothing. Something John Carter excels at.

Carter is pleased with the impact this inaction will have on his estimated $2.0 to $3.4 million stake in ExxonMobil. According to his personal financial disclosure, Carter sold some Exxon stock during calendar year 2007, but continues to hold between $1 and $5 million.

Congressional personal financial disclosures provide broad ranges of valuations as a means of avoiding transparency and hiding potential conflicts of interest. However, EyeOnWilliamson.org has been following the story of John Carter’s sizeable inheritance for more than two years. The fluctuations in the price of XOM allow us to narrow down the ranges somewhat.

We can place the ranges of Carter’s 2007 stock sale at between 1,224 and 3,230 shares. That would leave his holdings as of December 31, 2007, at between 25,391 and 42,380 shares. The stock is currently trading at roughly $80 per share, bringing the valuation of this asset to somewhere between $2.0 and $3.4 million.

With the national average price of gasoline running $3.70, and Exxon’s monthly net income running at about $4 billion, it is clear to see why the oil companies were lobbying heavily to expand their domestic drilling operations. Exxon is literally in John Carter’s pocket, which provides some explanation for his continued subservience to their demands.

The next time you’re filling up, think about how much of that is going directly to John Carter. It may not be much, but it sure helps put Carter’s allegiances in stark contrast with that of the constituents who he is supposed to be serving in Texas’ 31st Congressional district.

It is time to rid Congress of an Exxon millionaire and replace him with someone who really understands what families are facing here in District 31. Let’s kick the oil man out and send Brian Ruiz in his place.


Ruiz blasts Carter siding with Big Oil

Posted in Around The Nation, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, Congress, Corruption, Election 2008, Had Enough Yet?, Right Wing Lies, The Environment at 10:41 am by wcnews

Rep. John Cater (R-Exxon Mobil) and his Republican colleagues had been crowing since August about how they wanted a vote on an energy bill that included more offshore drilling. They even used a political ploy, staged sham sessions while Congress was on its summer recess, to plead their case.

“This fight will not go away until Speaker Pelosi allows an up-or-down vote on energy legislation that relieves the back-breaking burden on our citizens,” Carter said.

Well when Summer recess was over the majority came back and had a debate about energy, which included more offshore drilling, and the GOP got their vote. Only Rep. Carter and the vast majority of his GOP cohorts voted against it. Not enough tax breaks for oil corporations we can assume.

Here’s Brian Ruiz, Carter’s Democratic Opponents take on it, Who is My Opponent Representing? Here’s an excerpt:

In the last few months our Republican incumbent has been crying about not having an opportunity to vote for oil drilling and help the average American by lowering gas prices. Well, last night he had an opportunity to do just that, help the average American by lowering gas prices, and instead decided, again, to side with his Grand Oil Party and voted against HR 6899 (FYI, our Republican incumbent has taken thousands of dollars from Oil Company Lobbyists and owns millions of dollars of Exxon Mobil stock).

There’s much more including what Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Waco) had to say about the new bill.

The bill will release 10% of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), or 70 million barrels of oil. In 1991 when former President Bush released just 17 million barrels of oil from the SPR, oil prices dropped by 33.4% in just one day. In 2000, when President Clinton release oil from the SPR, oil prices dropped by 18.7%.

The fact is that releasing oil from the SPR is a proven way to drive down oil prices quickly. By dramatically increasing the supply of oil on the market, we will drive down the price of oil… Now I can see why oil speculators don’t like the idea of lower prices. I can see why Exxon Mobil doesn’t like the idea of oil lower prices. I can’t see quite see why my Republican House colleagues have voted against releasing oil from this SPR earlier this year and none of their bills include this idea. It makes one wonder just whose side are they on now? (Empahsis added).

It sure would be nice to have a member of Congress from District 31 that cared about regular people like us as Edwards does. If you feel the same way help elect on of us, help out Brian Ruiz.

By Bush’s benchmarks, Doggett finds “surge” failed

Posted in Around The Nation, Bad Government Republicans, Congress, Had Enough Yet?, The Budget, The War at 8:51 am by dembones

As Americans, we appreciate the declines in American fatalities in Iraq over the past year. Sen. John McCain and Pres. George W. Bush insist this is evidence that the troop “surge” worked. However, in 2007, Bush established a set of 18 benchmarks to measure our success in Iraq. The U. S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) examined those benchmarks, one by one in August 2007 and found that only three had been accomplished.

Yesterday, GAO International Affairs and Trade Director Joseph A. Christoff testified before the House Budget Committee about Iraq’s Budget Surplus. During questioning, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) got Christoff to admit that as of August 2008, one year later, in spite of the “surge”, Iraq has only accomplished one of the remaining 15 benchmarks.

(hat tip, Vince at Capitol Annex)


John Carter Votes To Cut Medicaid To The Least Among Us

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Congress, District 31, Had Enough Yet?, Health Care, Uncategorized at 2:52 pm by wcnews

Yesterday HR 5613, the Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act of 2008, passed the US House with only 62 (all Republican) dissenting votes. One of them was Rep. John Carter. Of course this is one of those bills that only the most “right-wing” Republicans in safe districts vote against. See what you get voters in TX-31, when there’s not accountability. Even Texas Gov. Rick Perry thinks this is a bad idea (read his letter here [.PDF]), calling it a “significant cost shifting to the states”. From the CPPP, A Central Pillar of Texas Health Care is at Risk: Federal Medicaid Rules Would Cost Texas $3.4 Billion:

Texas Medicaid is the predominant health safety net for 2.8 million seniors, Texans with disabilities, and low-income children. Medicaid provides over $13 billion in federal funds for health and long-term care to the poorest and most seriously disabled Texans in 2008. Medicaid’s contributions are critical, because they also support the safety net that must care for another 5.7 million Texans who remain uninsured—care funded largely through local health care spending that is not matched with Medicaid’s federal funds. Federal Medicaid officials are trying to impose a number of rules that, if implemented, would make program cuts that would threaten our most vulnerable citizens, limit our ability to serve more low-income children in CHIP, and shortchange taxpayers at the same time. Texas Medicaid officials estimate that these rules would cost Texas Medicaid $3.4 billion in lost federal support over five years. The cuts would force Texas to cut services for children with disabilities and frail seniors as well as support for safety net hospitals, or else raise taxes to make up the lost federal funds. Governor Rick Perry, the National Governors Association, and the National Association of State Medicaid directors all have urged Congress to stop the rules from taking effect, and Congress is now debating bills that would delay the rules for at least a year. In every case, these rules attempt to impose harsher policies than underlying federal law, and in many cases policies that have been specifically rejected by Congress.

Carter has a clear pattern of voting against health care coverage for those that need it the most. Let’s hope there’s a veto-proof majority in the Senate as well so this will no longer be an issue. More on this from the kaisernetwork.org.


AAS Blasts Carter For His Vote Against Energy Bill

Posted in Congress, District 31, Had Enough Yet?, The Environment, Williamson County at 2:41 pm by wcnews

With his vote against the energy bill Congressman John Carter (R-Exxon-Mobil) has again shown he will choose his own personal gain over the environment . The AAS does a good job of pointing that out, U.S. acts on energy; Carter says ‘no’. Though they never mention his stake in big oil.

Congress and President Bush have finally passed long overdue energy legislation, a breakthrough made much easier for a number of Texas lawmakers once a provision eliminating $13.5 billion in tax breaks on the oil and gas industry was removed. But it still wasn’t enough for one Central Texas congressman, John Carter, R-Round Rock.

In a statement, Carter said he voted against the bill because it “does nothing to alleviate the price at the pump. While this bill does include (higher auto mileage) standards and starts down the path to alternative fuels, it still doesn’t address the reality that hard-working families are facing high heating and gasoline costs today.” Elaborating, Carter’s chief of staff, Richard Hudson, said his boss voted against the bill because it does nothing to increase production of natural gas and oil domestically by opening up certain areas to drilling.

Frankly, Carter’s vote doesn’t make much sense, except perhaps as a symbolic stamp of the foot.

Two other Central Texas Republicans, Michael McCaul of Austin and Lamar Smith of San Antonio, voted for the bill, as did Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin. So did Texas’ two Republican senators, John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison.

He’s out there on the far-right plank on this one with the likes of Tancredo, Granger, Burgess and all of the other’s that are in the pocket of big oil. One always has to wonder why God-fearing Congressman like Carter and all these other’s continually vote against God’ creation.

In fact, the bill will increase energy supply, not by punching more holes in the earth, but by forcing the American economy to get more work out of the energy it develops domestically and buys from overseas. We need to get more efficient, because billions of Chinese, Indians and others are working hard to buy and drive their own cars. Gasoline prices might rise and dip from month to month, but the long-range trend is clear: up.

The headline feature of the bill is a requirement that auto manufacturers raise the average mileage of their new cars and small trucks to 35 mpg, while giving them some flexibility on how to achieve that by the 2020 deadline. Small trucks and sport-utility vehicles, for example, need not be quite as fuel efficient as a midsize car, as long as the fleet average is 35 mpg.

An estimate by the Union of Concerned Scientists projected that the higher mileage standard will save 1.1 million barrels of oil a day and consumers $700 to $1,000 a year in fuel costs. And greater mileage will mean fewer carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming, than simply producing more oil and burning it. There are provisions in the bill for boosting the use of renewable energy; making new household appliances and government buildings more

Makes me think about camel’s and eye of needles. Anyway It seems like Carter thinks his descendants will be better off with piles of Exxon-Mobil cash instead of a healthy environment.


A Personal Message from District 31 Congressional Candidate Brian P. Ruiz

Posted in 2008 Primary, Congress, District 31, Good Stuff, Take Action, Williamson County at 10:23 pm by bpruiz

There are so many issues that I feel need to be addressed but I would like to concentrate on what I feel are key issues, the ones that affect all of us. It is my job as your representative to be the voice of the majority and to speak up on your behalf regarding the things that we as a District not only want but need to have happen. This is not a job for one person, it is our responsibility to begin bringing about the changes that need to happen, I intend to be your voice, and I believe that together we can.

A major catalyst for change, in my opinion, is reigning in the current practice of fiscal irresponsibility that is affecting everyone. Spend today borrow from tomorrow is a practice that I will not support, this does nothing but further damage the already unstable economy and will only work to harm the generations to come. I do not intend to allow our children to suffer due to the current irresponsibility to be blamed directly on the misguided decisions of today. It is my intention to work with Congress to implement a much more pragmatic form of spending, for example the Pay As You Go philosophy. Through the implementation of this philosophy I want to show the people that our economy can once again be a promising one, one that will allow for long term positive affects for not only our generation but for the young people who will soon stand in our shoes.

On Tuesday I will make my run for the Congressional Seat in District 31 official by announcing my candidacy at a press conference to be held at the Texas Democratic Party Headquarters. The announcement will take place at 11:30 AM December 11th at 505 W. 12th Street Austin, TX. I look forward to seeing many supportive faces there to kick off my “Together We Can” Campaign.


John Carter, Comedian?

Posted in Commentary, Congress, District 31, Had Enough Yet?, The Budget, The War, Williamson County at 10:51 am by wcnews

As Rep. John Carter (R-Exxon-Mobil) comes to the district later this week to hold seminars, this Friday (12/7) and Saturday (12/8), on the disastrous Republican Medicare Part D plan, his writer also had time to pen this hilarious blog post to The Hill’s Congress Blog. John Carter talking about putting partisanship aside for the good of the country is taking us from the ridiculous to the sublime.

A congressman who owes Tom DeLay for the success he’s achieved in the ultra-right wing of the GOP, has absolutely no credibility when it comes to pointing the partisanship finger, and should not be throwing stones. He is the face of partisanship, and the statements attached to his name in the above blog post make it obvious that he cynically thinks he can say anything, no matter what he reality is, and enough of his constituents will believe it.


John Carter Is Not A Friend Of The Middle Class

Posted in Around The State, Congress, District 31, Election 2008, Had Enough Yet?, Williamson County at 11:11 pm by wcnews

Capitol Annex point us to a new site, themiddleclass.org, that shows how our elected representatives on issue most important to the middle class.  Our own John Carter scores a whopping 13%. Voting against such things as making college more affordable, making it easier for workers to organize, clean energy, raising the minimum wage, and of course children’s health care. He’s not alone in his party with several Texas Republicans scoring 0%. See the ratings for the full Texas delegation here.

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