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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

News Roundup, 3/21/08: Reaching for New Lows

Yesterday we learned that President Bush's approval rating is at an all time low, that oil prices dropped to surprising levels, and that the first fine was issued by the Texas Ethics Commission in the Rent To Own scandal.

The Rent To Own thing broke early in the afternoon, with the news from the Texas Values in Action Coalition that the Texas Ethics Commission had ruled against former State Representative Toby Goodman in a complaint about rent payments by him to his spouse on property she owned. The fine was $10,000, and the implications are that 1) this sort of thing was never a good idea, and 2) there is likely going to be some followup fallout for others that have admittedly had similar arrangements, such as State Senator Kim Brimer.

Bush's approval rating has reached new lows. Many people have jumped to the conclusion that this dip in his approval rating has something to do with the war anniversary, but I simply cannot accept that, because people are not paying attention to the war these days. I think he earned this rating without some associative event weighing him down.

Speaking of our ongoing wars and the fact that no one pays attention to them, our guest on this week's episode of Who's Blue is Brandon Friedman, editor of, a community blog and resource for veterans. I recommend both listening to the interview and visiting his website.

Tom Reynolds, Republican Congressman from New York, announced his retirement from the House, becoming the 22nd Republican representative to do so. It is fitting that the same day saw the launch of Change Congress, a joint project by Joe Trippi and Lawrence Lessig, which aims to reduce the influence of money in Congressional campaigns.

Oh, by the way, oil dropped below $100 a barrel yesterday. You're free to speculate as to why, but the analysts are attributing it to a decrease in demand.

If you still hunger for tracking ongoing messes that are difficult to understand, you could turn your attention to John McCain and his decision yesterday to do a little early season flip-flopping on his statements on Iran, Iraq, and al-Qaeda. Editorial intern Curtis Rochelle referred to it as backpedaling on his backpedal, and that is quite a capable description.

Lastly, the Michigan state legislature took off for a two-week Easter break yesterday without an agreement for a Michigan re-vote, so now it looks like both Florida and Michigan aren't going to happen. Of course, it seems like every time anyone has reported that the plans were over and dead for good, some last ditch effort has popped up to keep hope alive. I think that, as usual, we find ourselves in yet another situation where we do not know what is going to happen with any reasonable degree of certainty. On that note, stay with us today for a couple of big ticket news items and then have a good Easter weekend.

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