Nielson/Net Ratings, the Internet data arm of the A.C. Nielson Company said that there were 5.6 billion net searches conducted in January 2006. That is up more than 1.5 billion searches over January 2005. Google accounted for 48% of the searches, Yahoo 22% and MSN 11%.
The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are reporting this weekend that San Antonio based AT&T is preparing to announce the acquisition of Atlanta based Bell South for $65 billion. If correct the price would represent a 25 - 30% premium over Bell South's current price range. Bell South serves nine Southestern US states. The combined companies would have 70 million local lines and 11 million broadband customers. The two companies are the join owners of Cingular Wireless. If Federal regulators approve the deal, AT&T will have substantial reassembled itself after US courts forced its breakup 22 years ago.
The Financial Times has a front page story this weekend about how Bill Clinton's close ties to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, the prospective owner of some US port operations, is hurting his wife Hilllary's political prospects. Hillary Clinton has been a leading opponent of the UAE takeover of U.S. port operations in the Senate while her husband privately has been advising Dubai leaders "on how to handle the growing dispute", according to the Financial Times. The story goes on to mention that Bill Clinton "earned $450,000 giving speeches in Dubai in 2002." It also notes that officials from that country "donated between $500,000 and $1 million to fund Mr. Clinton's presidential library in Arkansas." The story concludes that the former President's ties to the UAE are a "classic Clinton dilemma" which "has complicated her political stance on the deal."
A new Gallup poll found President Bush's approval rating has dropped to 38%. The poll also revealed that two-thirds of the American public want U.S. troops to start coming home from Iraq while 55% believe that the decision to go to war in Iraq was a mistake. The President's handling of the war drew the support of only 35% of the public while 64% disapproved of the Administration's conduct of the war. An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the Dubai ports deal. With elections looming in November, control of Congress could be at risk for the Republicans as 53% of likely voters picked Democrats while only 39% supported Republicans.
A Rasmussen poll, also released today, puts the Bush approval rating at 40%. The President's handling of Iraq was pegged at only 34% versus 43% who think he is doing a poor job.
Art Brender, a lawyer and self-avowed Clinton Democrat, has led the Democratic Party in Tarrant County for a decade. It has been hard slogging as Tarrant County is probably the most Republican urban county in America. Yet, this year he faces a hard-charging challenger in Doreen Geiger a retired social services worker who says that Brender has been a do nothing content to let the Republican tide wash over him. The race is getting mean.
The incumbent Brender says the challenger Geiger is really a Republican. Geiger admits she voted in a Republican primary in 2000 but states that the only way to get rid of an incumbent Republican Sheriff was to defeat him in the primary.
Geiger notes that George W Bush managed to achieve a margin of 140,000 votes, the highest of any county in the nation. She claims that empty precinct chairmanship has increased and the number of Democratic candidates has declined. She also accuses Bender of ignoring the county’s African-American community.
Brender counters that he has raised over $2 million during his 10-year tenure and in a thoroughly Republican county he considers that no small achievement. He has also managed to increase the party’s base vote by some 30,000 over its 2000 showing.
There doesn’t appear to be any left vs. right division but the race has become remarkably heated for the chairmanship of a party that has been down and out since George Bush first ran for governor of Texas.
Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams announced Friday that early voting turnout for the March 7th primary election is on par with the levels seen during the 2002 primaries. Based largely on this trend, Secretary Williams projects an overall turnout of 13% of the registered voters in Texas.
Secretary of State Williams examined a variety of factors when projecting this year’s turnout, including prior levels of voter turnout, voter registration numbers and early voting trends to date. Throughout early voting, the Secretary of State’s office tracks turnout from the state’s 15 most populous counties. These 15 counties account for approximately 60 percent of all registered voters in Texas and, therefore, can serve as an indicator of overall turnout patterns across the state.
Early voting concludes today, March 3 and Election Day is Tuesday, March 7th.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed a complaint in the U.S. Supreme Court, charging the federal government has violated the Constitution by requiring direct payments to the federal government to fund the new Medicare prescription drug program. The suite was on behalf of Texas, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri and New Jersey. Arizona, joined by nine other states, filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Abbott's claim. These include Alaska, Connecticut, Kansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Vermont.
Part D of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 applies to coverage of outpatient prescription drugs for Medicare recipients through private health plans. The drug benefit program also covers Medicaid-eligible pateints in Texas and will affect 323,000 Texans.
The Part D drug benefit program as it is currently being implemented can seriously harm Texas taxpayers over time. Promoted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as saving the states money over the long-term, the practical application of the program is projected to result in net losses to Texas of approximately $100 million from 2006-2009.
Congressman Sam Johnson is being challenged by another Johnson in the Republican primary for Congressional District 3.
Robert “Bob” Johnson, who is of no relation to the congressman, is criticizing the congressman’s record on a number of fronts, emphasizing foreign policy. In an interview with the Dallasblog, Bob Johnson claimed that he is running mainly because Congressman Sam Johnson’s reputation as an opponent of foreign intervention and big government spending has declined in recent years.
“He looked good on foreign policy until Bush, at which point he got enthusiastic about going into Iraq,” said Bob Johnson. “I don’t think we have any business going around micromanaging other nations.”
According to a press release from Congressman Sam Johnson, the war in Iraq is just and progress is being made. “While you wouldn’t know it from the mainstream media reports, we’re making huge progress in Iraq,” said Johnson. “I was just there and saw for myself that we’re building democracy is tyranny’s backyard. Saddam Hussein is gone and at least 46 of Hussein’s 55 most wanted regime members are either dead or incarcerated. We need to stay the course – not cut and run.”
While Bob Johnson’s views are not echoed by a majority of Republican voters, he hopes that his non-interventionist views on foreign policy might draw some libertarian leaning voters to pick him over the current congressman in March. He is considered to be a major underdog in the primary.
“There is this whole series of national security issues. When push comes to shove, he ends up becoming a lap dog for the globalists and the George W. Bush Administration,” said Bob Johnson. Bob Johnson said that he was pleased with Congressman Sam Johnson’s foreign policy record in the 1990s, citing the congressman’s opposition to the U.S. operation in Kosovo. However, he said that he was disappointed in the congressman’s legislative record since Bush has been the president.
Bob Johnson was also critical of what he thought was the effect of the congressman’s foreign policy votes on the district. “Sam Johnson has voted for Most-Favored-Nation Status for China since 1991,” said Bob Johnson. “Giving China Most Favored Nation status has hurt District 3, since District 3 is a high tech district.” Bob Johnson said that “pseudo-private” corporations in China don’t pay “paten money”, which hurts demand for American goods such as those produced within District 3.
Bob Johnson also blasted the congressman for his “Nuke Syria scandal” back in March of 2005, when Congressman Sam Johnson was speaking to a group of veterans. At the gathering, Congressman Johnson reportedly said that he believed Saddam’s WMD arsenal was located in Syria and that he could fly a nuclear-armed F-15 into Syria to solve the problem.
While the Congressman did make the comments, he long ago said that they were not to be taken seriously. There was also little press coverage of the comments, and most mainstream media outlets ultimately understood them to be mere “veteran talk”.
A new twist in the bitter race for the legislature in Arlington's district 94. According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram the incumbent, Rep. Kent Grusendorf announced today that he would resign if the Legislature failed to fix the state's education system in a special session expected later this Spring.
Dallas City Attorney Tom PerkinsThe General Investigating and Ethics and Criminal Jurisprudence Committees of the Texas House have just issued their reports on the City of Dallas’s public-nuisance abatement ordinance, and they draw blood.
The scathing report charges that Dallas officials abused the public-nuisance abatement ordinance to shake down businesses and intimidate those who appealed or opposed city policy. The report labeled it “ward-based politics run amok.” It says the city used the ordinance to blame businesses for being crime victims, intimidated witnesses, and "encouraged" business owners to hire off-duty police to work security under threat of prosecution and fine. (Pronounce it "protection money.")
The Dallas City Attorney's office was singled out for the witness intimidation. Specifically, the charge is that the City Attorney’s office initiated an internal affairs investigation against a police officer who wrote a letter in favor of a business accused of being a public nuisance. The state wants city attorneys turned over to the State Bar of Texas for disciplinary action.
DallasBlog spoke with City Attorney Tom Perkins about the report Friday afternoon.
"We disagree with the characterizations. Our position is our lawyers acted entirely appropriately and we're prepared to address that if referrals (to the State Bar of Texas) are made," Mr. Perkins said.
"I would point out in the five years prior, (the city) handled 2,000 cases and only 60 resulted in lawsuits. Of those the majority of the business owners reached an agreement to resolve the case and adjust the problem, or had a formal consent decree (in the city's favor,)" he said.
Regarding the charge that the city attorney's office initiated an internal affairs investigation against a police officer, Mr. Perkins had this to say.
"In that instance in the discovery process it was found that a police officer was living on the site (a hotel involved in a code compliance complaint) and we simply informed his superior officers," Mr. Perkins said.
And in what may be the biggest case of closing the barn door after the horses were out since, heck, examples are hard to come by, Mr. Perkins said that following the initiation of the state's investigation, the city commissioned a group of business leaders, city staff, Dallas Police, and city attorneys to audit and reform the process for code compliance and code enforcement.
Mayor Laura Miller's office said she will issue a statement on the committee's findings on Monday, after she has had time to review the 38-page report.
Deputy Chief David Brown, designated spokesman on the issue, could not be reached for comment.