Less than four months after 9/11 only 38% of all Americans in an ABC/Washington Poll found that Islam had more violent extremists than other religions. Today that same poll found that number had risen to 58%. After five years of watching Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and France Americans have a more unfavorable view of Islam now (48%) than shortly after 9/11 (39%). When asked “Do you think mainstream Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims, or is it a peaceful religion 33% Americans today answer “yes” versus only 14% five years ago (54% said “no”) Still, overall 59% of Americans say they a “good basic understanding of the teachings and beliefs of Islam.”
The Hudson Employment IndexSM climbed to 108.2 in February, up 5.6 points from January’s 102.6 reading. The rise is attributed to a major rise in the percentage of workers and managers who expect their employers to hire, and a rise in expectations regarding personal finances. The latest Index is among the strongest readings on record, and considerably higher than the 102 recorded in February 2005.
The Report found that 45 percent of managers in the private sector projected an increase in head-count, up from 38 percent in January, and that 34 percent in the number of managers forecasting hiring within their organization (Link: Hudson-Index.com)
“On the heels of a conservative start to the year, managers are feeling more comfortable putting their 2006 hiring plans in gear,” said Steve Wolfe, executive vice president, Hudson, North America. “This news along with a strong GDP, lower unemployment rates and the growing demand for skilled labor in certain sectors such as healthcare, financial services and IT are strong indications that the economy is growing steadily.”
Worker sentiment regarding their financial situations also improved in February. The number who rated their finances favorably (good or excellent) was at its highest level on record at 46 percent. At the same time, there was a one-point increase among employees who said their finances were improving to 43 percent, a level that has not been topped since last February.
Euless police pepper-sprayed and then shocked not once, not twice, but three times with a Taser a man going into diabetic shock, the Startlegram reports.
Some would say it's hard to restrain a person going into diabetic shock. Others would say Euless police showed all the restraint of Barry Bonds in a Mexican pharmacy. You decide.
This report, incidentally, comes one day after FW Weekly carried this story, noting the disturbing rise of Texas police using the Taser as a high-tech baton, instead of, as intended, an alternative to lethal force. The story notes that in many agencies in Texas, "...officers aren’t waiting for a possible life-or-death crisis before they unholster the Taser. Many law enforcement officers are using the yellow-and-black, pistol-gripped weapon as a first-choice persuader."
If you didn't read our coverage on the report by the Texas legislature about the Dallas Police Department and you read the coverage by the Dallas Morning News you got two different impressions. If you read DallasBlog's report last Friday, or followed our link to the report itself, you know this was scary serious stuff. If you read the Dallas News you would have stopped after a couple of paragraphs wondering why there was a story at all. To get a third view try Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer. Then again maybe you prefer a sound night's sleep.
Most of the media coverage has been focused on Political Action committees largely funded by Dr. James Leininger of San Antonio. Given that the San Antonio physician invested over $2 million to defeat five Republican members of the Texas House that opposed public school vouchers the coverage is understandable. But the Leininger dominated PACs were hardly the whole story on election night with several other PACs beginning to play a powerful role in Texas politics.
One is Texas Parent PAC and the other PET PAC. Parent PAC was created as a grass-roots organization composed of parents, educators and others to support candidates who wanted to see the state government pick up a larger share of education funding and generally support education initiatives. While its President Carolyn Boyle is relatively unknown the PAC sports such high-profile supporter as Republican Mike Moses, a former Dallas ISD Superintendent and George W. Bush appointee as Texas Commissioner of Education.
In some respects Parent PAC is the anti-Leininger. Leininger poured well over $2 million personal dollars into five races with mixed results. Three GOP Reps that were targeted by Leininger’s organizations (Geren of Fort Worth, Jones of Lubbock, and Merritt of Longview) won handily while one (Roy Blake of Nacogdoches) narrowly lost. It appears that a second target may have also lost but Carter Casteel of New Braunsfels trails by only 45 votes and may seek a recount.
But while the rich Leininger PAC’s were narrowly ousting two the tiny Parent PAC with only about $60,000 to contribute was the leader in bringing down House Education Committee Chairman and Speaker Tom Craddick’s education point man Rep. Kent Grusendorf of Arlington. The campaign to elect Dr. Diane Patrick was largely directed at the grass-roots level by Parent PAC.
But Parent PAC had other success stories. Incumbent Mesquite Republican Elvira Reyna was knocked off by a Parent PAC picked candidate Tom Latham. In San Angelo Republican Incumbent Scott Campbell ran second to a Parent PAC backed candidate Drew Darby. A Parent PAC candidate also remains in a Denton runoff. And Parent PAC played a key role in protecting the Leininger targeted five.
PET (People for Efficient Transportation) PAC is little known in North Texas but very well known in central Texas where it has taken the lead in opposing the conversion of existing highways to toll ways and to Gov. Rick Perry’s Trans Texas Corridor. If Rep. Carter Casteel is eventually defeated in may be as much because of her support for toll roads and the Corridor plan as her opposition to vouchers. While PET PAC’s number one enemy, Rep. Mike Kruse (R-Round Rock) handily won reelection the anti-toll road forces appear poised to make an impact this fall.
Parent PAC leadership believes that Dr. Leininger did them a favor by personally providing over 90% of the funding for his candidates and making himself the issue. Even those who may have had their problems with a decided moderate like Geren were put off by one man’s personal effort to oust incumbents that disagreed with him on primarily one issue: vouchers.
While a few primary races don’t tell a tale there are indications large amounts of money, whether from one-man one-issues PACs like Leininger’s groups, or provided by traditional money sources like the Texas Trial Lawyers or Texas Medical Association are losing their punch. In Houston Radio commentator Dan Patrick received nearly 70% over three long-time incumbents including two popular state reps (Joe Nixon and Peggy Hamrick) and a Houston City councilman (Mark Ellis). Patrick’s opponents received over $1 million in traditional PAC money while Patrick relied on his radio generated name ID and the issues of immigration and taxes.
Sure, our state rose far above any of the Lesser 49 in providing a safe haven for hundreds of thousands of Katrina refugees. Shouldn't that warm 'n fuzzy be reward enough? That's the suggestion from Missouri's Republican Senator, a grown man who actually goes by the name "Kit."
Senator Kit Bond told the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday, "I think it's time we get back to being a good neighbor and not a paid companion."
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison told Bond to sit on it. Politely.
The U.S. trade deficit widened to its highest monthly figure ever in January as the deficit soared to nearly $70 billion in the first month of 2006. This comes on the heels of a $726 billion trade deficit for 2005. As I have written previously on these pages, Congress cannot keep ignoring these huge trade deficits. We need a serious reform of our tax system which addresses the twin issues of our unsustainable trade deficits and the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs. Our current corporate income tax system has the perverse effect of discouraging savings and capital investment while providing incentives for U.S. companies to export jobs overseas.
To see a more detailed discussion of the trade deficit issue, you can go to my February 13th Viewpoint on the issue entitled "A Modest Suggestion for House Republicans". That article includes a link to David Hartman’s proposed solution to these problems – one which I believe makes abundant sense. Link here for article.