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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

Wednesday Roundup: Retirements and Meteors

Republican Fred Hill, who emerged as an anti-Craddick Republican in the last session and had asserted he would be a candidate for Tom Craddick's job the next time around, has announced he won't run again for his state house seat in Richardson. Hill was co-chair of the Dallas delegation and presents an unforeseen liability for the GOP: the district is quite Republican, but an open seat should make the GOP nervous, especially in Dallas County.

Whoo! The Fed cut short-term rates by a half point! Don't get too excited by stock market bumps, though: the desired effect was achieved, but what does it mean long term? The stock market and interest rates are things that I have a passing acquaintance with, but they exist in an area where I lack the proper knowledge to make any sort of predictions. I can tell you what the New York Times tells us — that these rates can affect consumer credit like mortgages and the loans you get when buying a car, but since everyone is so nervous about credit (and the quality of credit) these days, it may not necessarily lead to a wholesale shift in availability. The market did go up a bunch, however, the biggest single day jump since 2003.

Speaking of money, if you're like me you remember when Republicans in Congress caused a government shutdown twelve or so years ago during a budget battle with President Clinton. Seeing that another battle over spending is coming, this time between a Democratic Congress and a Republican White House, Republicans say they are pushing legislation that prevents a shutdown from happening again. Senator Dick Durbin lets us know what's really afoot:

“[Amendment author and Republican South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint] has argued that this amendment is needed so that Congress should not feel the pressure to finish appropriations bills on time,” Durbin said. “He is plain wrong. If there is anything we need, it is the pressure to finish on time. If we are under that pressure, it is more likely we will respond to it.”

The budget battle is likely to get pretty hairy as time goes by.

The national GOP organizations would really, really like it if their presidential candidates stopped doing everything wrong:

Key Republican leaders are encouraging the party's presidential candidates to rethink their decision to skip presidential debates focusing on issues important to minorities, fearing a backlash that could further erode the party's standing with black and Latino voters.

This is one of those times where the activity being reacted to (Republican candidates avoiding forums and discussion on minority issues) doesn't surprise me at all, but the reaction to that activity (surprise? mounting horror?) comes as a total shock. I am honestly puzzled as to what the party organization expected out of their guys. It certainly seems like the brand of New Dumb they all display, as they are often more selective about debates they attend and issues they discuss than they are selective about signs they are willing to be photographed holding, but I think it is all by design. An honest possibility here is that the Republican candidates aren't being dumb, or making what they view are mistakes; rather, they aren't going to minority forums and they will hold stupid signs because this is their campaign for the mythical Conservative Base they think will win them the nomination. So don't be fooled.

Lastly today, how about an oddity? A meteor fell to Earth in Peru and is now causing a "mysterious illness" in those that have approached the crater. Whenever I joke about something that isn't likely to happen at all, I say "That's about as likely as you getting hit by a meteor." I should revise my probability estimates, I guess.

Mystery Illness

Reading some other accounts leads me to believe one of the following is likely:

1. The impact opened a sub-surface radon gas deposit (much like the radon detectors in people's basements are designed to catch).

2. The impact stirred up some dust that was either toxic or radioactive, from the meteorite, the ground, or both; uranium, cobalt, and/or any number of heavy metals come to mind immediately.

3. The impact brought two (or more) materials together in such a way they are now reacting, and the reaction is producing a toxic gas (eg. chlorine, sulfur dioxide) in sufficient quantities to sicken observers.

And yes, dangerous meteors are more common than you think.... If anyone is really interested, you can check out THIS site from Armagh Observatory in the UK. Fortunately, there are some LDP MPs in the UK who are a lot more forward-thinking on the issue than many of our own Congresscritters (on both sides of the aisle).

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