November 30, 2007

No. Not him either.

Recently we wrote about the Republicans being talked about as possible Goob candidates in 2010. They're all a mostly worthless bunch. Now comes word from Kuff that Lance Armstrong is also being talked about as a candidate.

If we're going to start pulling in athletes, I'd like to ask Mary Lou Retton to move to Texas and run. At least she won a gold medal. And she could give the State of the State speech while walking a balance beam. That would be more than 39% has done in his over 6 years as Governor.

Posted by mcblogger at 02:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cheap bastards

A new group, made up of a bunch of total assholes who claim to speak for Texas businesses, has started up a campaign to overturn the new business tax which replaced the useless franchise tax. The same business tax that the state hasn't even started to collect.

Radio ads in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston draw on tidal waves and scary movies to make a point about something they paint as just as frightening: Texas' new business tax.

"It's the difference between a tiny drop and a tidal wave. Because of the new Texas Margins Tax, small-business owners may see a slight drop in property taxes, but their business tax will increase up to 1,000 percent," says the script for one of the ads by the National Federation of Independent Business.

Well, holy fucking shit! Consider this... most companies get abatements and don't own property. They lease it. Most of those don't even pay franchise tax. Which means they functionally pay DICKALL to help support the state. Oh, they'll use the free roads and hire people educated in our schools and demand the police and fire dept. protect them. But pay for those services? Fuck no. That's for us regular schmucks.

Architects of the new tax, which won't be collected until May, say they need to see how it works before making more changes. Lawmakers aren't due back in regular session until January 2009, so Gov. Rick Perry — a champion of the tax package — would have to call a special session for them to consider changing the law before then.

The new business tax, which replaced the franchise tax, is based on gross receipts — either 1 percent or half a percent, depending on the type of business — with deductions for cost of goods sold or employee benefits.

Backers say the new tax is fairer, bringing businesses into the system that weren't paying. They say companies that will owe higher business taxes must also look at whether that's offset by lower local school tax rates. They cite adjustments made this year meant to benefit smaller businesses.

"The goal ... is to keep Texas business-friendly," said Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. "We certainly in the Legislature strove to protect small business."

Keffer bristles at the ads, contending that NFIB/Texas "did not come and really try to work with us on any of this. Pretty much they were against the whole process."

You fucking people have no political power and all you're doing is whining about paying ANY taxes. Fuck y'all. Be happy no one's asking you to pay what you SHOULD be paying. Just wait until citizens start boycotting ANY business that participates in this retarded campaign.

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Britney's got smells

No. No, I can't leave the bitch alone, mostly because she keeps doing dumb shit like making music and babies. And now, in cooperation with someone clearly crazy at Elizabeth Arden, perfume.

$10 says that one or both of these scents smells like her nasty cooter. After Kevin's... well, you get the idea.

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Draining the life out of us

Two posts caught my eye and both are interrelated. One was from BlueBloggin' detailing the rise in oil prices as a function of commodities traders. Most of you know already that there is a substantial amount of the price of oil that has been increased by speculation. The author is right in that there there is no theoretical limit to how high oil can go with speculators in control.

There's only one problem... speculators NEVER remain permanently in control. They will always lose eventually and the trade will go in the opposite direction. The only question is whether or not the economy and the middle class can endure until that breakdown occurs. Which is where this post from Eye on Williamson comes in. The middle class in the US has been under attack for 30 years, coincidental with the rise of the Republican 'conservative' movement that is anything but. Though the author of the piece doesn't talk about it, the middle class is itself in part to blame. They've kept electing these people cycle after cycle even though the economics work better for the rich than they do for the middle class.

The sad reality is that the Democratic party and it's image consultants over the last 30 years are also to blame because for a time they abdicated the mantle of protectors of the middle class to the Republicans by allowing them to paint themselves as better on economic issues. That's starting to change which is why the polls look sooo bad for Republicans.

It's about time people finally realized their economic well being and security is more important than whether or not the gays and lesbians can marry. And the price of oil is the most obvious indicator.

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November 29, 2007

Iowa and New Hampshire toss up

According to McClatchy News (via Jobsanger), there isn't a clear choice among either the Democrats or the Republicans. What will be really funny is watching the effect the imported celebrities will have.

Speaking for myself, I'd only be interested if they fought in some kind of a cage match. And my money would totally be on Oprah.

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DNA and racism, the new frontier...

Some scientists have noticed that certain genetic markers for intelligence seem to be more frequent in people of European and Asian descent. So, a blogger in NY used that to softpeddle racism...

Nonscientists are already beginning to stitch together highly speculative conclusions about the historically charged subject of race and intelligence from the new biological data. Last month, a blogger in Manhattan described a recently published study that linked several snippets of DNA to high I.Q. An online genetic database used by medical researchers, he told readers, showed that two of the snippets were found more often in Europeans and Asians than in Africans.

No matter that the link between I.Q. and those particular bits of DNA was unconfirmed, or that other high I.Q. snippets are more common in Africans, or that hundreds or thousands of others may also affect intelligence, or that their combined influence might be dwarfed by environmental factors. Just the existence of such genetic differences between races, proclaimed the author of the Half Sigma blog, a 40-year-old software developer, means “the egalitarian theory,” that all races are equal, “is proven false.”

Of course, the blogger conveintiently failed to mention that other genetic markers for high intelligence are found more frequently in those of African descent than this those of Asian and European descent.

The reality is that not all races and not all people are gifted equally. However, it does not mean that all races and people should not be treated equally. At the end of the day, you can do a lot with poor genetics. Just look at how well Connecticut native George W. Bush has done.

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Striving for relevance, or, What Karl's Doing These Days

It's just sad as hell when you see a puppy run over on the side of the road. It's almost as heartbreaking as seeing a buttertroll working so hard to get the attention and admiration of others. Tuesday, Karl was in Tyler talking to some folks about issues like immigration, immigration and immigration. Specifically, he talked about the OTM's. What are they? Why they are the people crossing the border OTHER THAN MEXICANS. Get it? Karl's a master at creating stupid acronyms. He's also a master at calling everyone from a country south of the US border a Mexican. I wonder what Guatemalans think about all that?

No, y'all, I wasn't in the room. But I had a bunch of friends there. That's how I know y'all on the other side are having some fundraising problems.

Karl's also busy with his new gig at Newsweek where he took time to talk about how to beat Hillary. In it, he tells a story about some mirror in his office that he 'inherited' from Hillary Clinton. I wonder if the shine off his forehead ever blinded him when he looked into it to see his ever expanding gut. The story's mundane as hell and nothing more than him blaming Hillary for his own vanity (dude... we remember the way Hillary looked in the 90's. It was DAMN obvious she didn't have access to a mirror). His advice for beating Hillary is call her brittle. I think that will only make her hit back harder. Karl's got a pudgy belly which makes me think it will hurt. Of course, I'll laugh (so will you) when he's doubled over in pain.

Finally, there was his recent appearance on Charlie Rose during which he blamed Congress for Iraq. No, it wasn't part of some elaborate joke. Just more creative story telling from a master. The folks at HuffPo, via PRoS, have more on the bald lie that Karl told.

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Celebrity station wagon

Years ago (1999) I had this insane idea for a television show called Chevrolet Celebrity Station Wagon. It was a show about a Chevrolet Celebrity station wagon that would be driven from NYC to LA one week and then vice versa. The car would be driven by 5 VERY B list celeb's, for example Rosanne Barr, Judd Hirsch, Kathy Griffen, Patrick Duffy and Mandy Patinkin. If Mandy was unavailable, we'd substitute the corpse of Telly Savalas. The celebrities would be forced to basically live in the car (they could take showers every two days at truck stops). The next week, there'd be a new group of celebrilosers who would drive the car back to NYC.

The show would be sponsored by Chrysler.

Flash forward to last year when I told a friend who was doing some work on a television show about the idea. We were drinking and talking about stupid things (like television shows filmed in a station wagon). Last night I ran into him and he told me that three producers are working on similar shows.

I guarantee none of them will do it right. No way Hollywood bitches will understand the comedic genius of show in a station wagon. With a dead body in it.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

THIS station wagon.

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Sign, sign, everywhere a sign...

You know it's primary season when you start to see the political signs being put out all around town. Especially around Randall's where smart people go to early vote. And buy cigarettes.

I know it's just around the corner and frankly, I'm ready. I love candidate signs, even ones like Red Tag Betty's and those stupid, skinny Gammage signs. What I don't love is seeing them too early. One candidate, Carlos Barerra , already has some of his signs up. Only problem is, TXDOT says you can't do that. Not until December 4th.

Remind me...aren't judges supposed to, and please correct me if I'm reaching here, know the law?

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The end of the strike...

No, not that one...

Striking Broadway Stagehands and Theater Producers Reach a Tentative Settlement

The 19-day strike by stagehands that had closed most Broadway
theaters ended late tonight as a tentative agreement was
struck.

An announcement came at about 10:30p.m. The negotiations
between the League of American Theaters and Producers and
Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage
Employees had begun at 10 a.m., the third marathon session of
the week.

Via the NYT

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November 28, 2007

Seriously...WTF!?

I have one question...what is the point of a public university system that costs more to attend than Harvard?

You think I'm joking? Under the proposed tuition hikes, it will cost more for a non-resident to attend UT Law than Harvard. Here are the numbers:

Harvard Law Tuition................$38,490 per year.
Yale Law Tuition.....................$40,900 per year.

Recommended UT Tuition

Non-resident Law '08-'09........$39,130 per year.
Non-resident Law '09-'10........$44,214 per year.

Now, here is what you get for your money.

Harvard
Average first year class size - 80.
Student to faculty ratio - 10.5 to 1.

Yale
Average first year class size - 62.
Student to faculty ratio - 7.3 to 1.

UT Austin
Average first year class size - 112.
Student to faculty ratio -14 to 1.

Considering these factors, UT should cost 55% less, since the class sizes are 55% bigger than Yale.

Therefore, the max tuition should be $40,900*.55= $22,495!!!

I could go on and on, but I guess this really is a society lacking equality. Maybe the idea of having balanced power is driving those in power to stifle the education of pretty much anyone not filthy rich.

Education should be available to anyone who wants it, and our states' failure to make education universally available clearly demonstrates a critically confused value system. "Republicans are the value party," my Ass!

OK, I'm stopping or else this will quickly deteriorate into an ugly rant.

So like I said, Seriously - WHAT THE FUCK!?

"For the people my ass!"
-Closet Purist

Posted by Closet Purist at 11:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another look at reality in Iraq

While the Republicans crow about success (because they're mooks and they think THEY are the ones actually fighting), there's another take on the decreasing violence. Part of it is how many members of the warring factions have been killed off as part of a civil war. The other, as NTL reveals, is how much we're spending to bribe them.

Fun, isn't it? And don't forget, our troops are still in the middle of this crap.

Posted by mcblogger at 04:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Q : "How do you know when you're done killing something?"

A : "When yo man pick you up at the clinic and take you drinkin' at the club."

via Drawn Together

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New group formed to fuck up mass transit

As if Cap Metro didn't have enough problems...

CAMPO has decided to involve itself in mass transit by creating a new 'working group' composed of mostly retards so full of themselves and their stupid ideas that it's pretty clear no one takes the issue of moving Central Texans around seriously. Honestly, out of the names announced in Wear's article, only Wynn stands out as someone who could get things done, though we've recently been kind of shocked by his capitulation to The Evil. Honestly, if you wanted to do something to accelerate the development of mass transit in Austin metro, these are not the fuckos you'd task with the job:

  • Senator Kirk Watson - Oh, hell. He's too busy voting for toll roads that won't relieve congestion, lobbying the city for development lulu's and writing those asinine emails detailing the activities of his family. No joke, Kirk, I think it's gross as hell and frankly no one cares. Most people don't care about their own families and trust me, yours is even less important to them.

    Other than that, Kirk's not a bad guy. He just shouldn't be doing this. He should be working with Democrats in the House to get a good transportation funding bill ready for the 2009 Session.

  • Austin Councilmember Brewster 'Release the' McCracken - Every committee needs a weak sister and in Austin, Brewster is normally it. My only concern is that something of this scale and scope will obviously require a lot of face time in front of cameras and many working lunches with reporters. I only hope Brewster is up to the challenge. Personally, I think he is since what Brewster does best is promote Brewster (his second best talent is running from Toby). Of course, he'll forget about promoting mass transit development, but that's to be expected. Brewster is, after all, running for Mayor and he needs to remind people why they need him. You know, since many of his think he's more hindrance than help.
  • Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketTravis County Pct. 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty - Fuckall. This 'tard hates public transport more than he hates the 'goddamn commies' who he thinks we're still fighting. He's another political dead man walking... Daugherty wouldn't be missed if he lost his re-election next year which he probably will as part of a project to beautify the Commissioner's Court by removing him from it. Gerry, why don't you follow Mikey's lead and retire. God knows, it'll cause some tears. OF JOY.





  • Retiring State Representative Mike Krusee - OH. COME. ON. He's throwing in the towel and taking some time off from all the hard work he's done to privatize infrastructure in this state to benefit private corporations at the expense of Texas taxpayers. Why would he want to get into this? He's no more an advocate for public transportation than Gerry The Ogre. In fact, Krusee and Daugherty on this thing makes me think CAMPO isn't, in any way, serious about mass transportation.
  • Seriously, you people never thought about tasking Capital Metro with developing it's own working group from stakeholders and letting them develop a plan that addresses the needs of the citizens of Central Texas? If funding is the issue, then why the hell was everyone so excited about all the new funding that would come into Cap Metro from CAMPO's new toll roads?

    At a recent Keep Austin Blue meeting on transportation issues, someone brought up just this very thing. It's obvious that all the stakeholders need to come together and get something done. Cap Metro, given it's task of operating mass transit systems (including rail) should lead that effort. Not people like Brewster and Gerry The Ogre.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Frustrated douche to leave Bush Administration

    Al Hubbard, director of President George W. Bush's National Economic Council for almost three years, will step down by the end of the year and be replaced with Hubbard's top aide, Keith Hennessey.

    ``Al came to the White House after spending nearly 30 years as a successful entrepreneur and business leader,'' Bush said in a statement. ``He brought to the White House his capacity for hard work and creative thinking, and fostered an open, cooperative working environment.''

    Wait. This guy has been present for the creation of the problems currently leading us into recession? WOW. Sounds like getting rid of him isn't such a bad thing. 30 years as a successful entrepreneur? The guy ran a chemical company in Indiana. Other than that, it appears that damn near every one of his jobs has been related to politics. Which gives him a similar career track to the massively incompetent Dick Cheney. He also went to Harvard with W. What the hell? Was it just an extraordinarily bad year?

    Hubbard informed Bush of his plans this morning, press secretary Dana Perino told reporters at the White House. Hennessey, the current deputy director of the National Economic Council, is ``as prepared for the challenge of this job as anyone could possibly be,'' Perino said.

    '... As prepared for the challenge...' Well, that inspires a great deal of confidence. I'm sure Mr. Hennessey will be as much of a loser as Mr. Hubbard. He'll likely spend hours staring at charts trying to figure out how their brill economic strategies forced the country off the rails. They'll blame the Democratic controlled Congress who, though in power for less than a year, have clearly 'fucked everything up'. Except for the economy and, well, everything else.

    So why is Hubbard leaving? Apparently, he doesn't like not be able to get his way anymore...

    Hubbard expressed ``huge frustration'' with the Democrat- controlled Congress last month, saying lawmakers were resisting Bush initiatives that would help the economy. `I came out of the private sector, I'll go back to the private sector, and my orientation is getting things done and Washington is really gridlocked,'' he said in a Nov. 13 interview.

    Hubbard also said ``there would be a lot more cooperation with the Democratic Congress and unfortunately, the Democrats -- who control Congress -- have not been oriented towards getting things done.''

    Democrats were resisting Bush's stupid plans? Holy shit! You mean they are DOING WHAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HIRED THEM TO DO??!?!?? Why, that's unheard of! During Hubbard's time in government, the American economy saw massive stratification and little real growth. Wages stagnated and inflation is once again a top concern of Americans. Great job there, pal.

    On last thing caught my eye...

    Before coming to the White House in 2002, Hennessey was a top budget aide to Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi and also was an aide on the Senate Budget Committee, Perino said.

    He worked for Lott? And Lott is also retiring? Interesting... maybe they were both involved in the same scandal. Or maybe they were LOVERS?!?!?!?!

    I know, sometimes I gross even myself out.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    All Around the TPA 2

    It's time for another Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round Up, once again compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

    Dealing with recalled toys that contain lead is putting a damper on charities' holiday toy drive efforts. Muse discovers some charities are not accepting toys or are throwing donations away.

    Despite the Dallas Morning News article claiming the Texas Railroad Commission is stepping up Barnett Shale inspections, an injection well in N. TX remains seriously out of compliance. TXsharon has pictures, history and solutions at Bluedaze.

    Who wont be President in 2009? John Coby at Bay Area Houston compiles an obvious list of Who wont be President in 2009 Any Republican candidate. The Republican party must have worked overtime to find this bunch of losers for President. White. Old. Dull.

    McBlogger takes a brief look at the concerns of a Republican Bexar County Commissioner who doesn't realize the Republican Party of Texas is already known as the Tolling Party of Texas.

    North Texas Liberal reports on President Bush's loss of an ally in staunch conservative PM John Howard of Australia, whose Liberal Party lost handily to the Labor opposition in Saturday's elections.

    The Texas Cloverleaf visited Capitol Annex for Thanksgiving with a guest blog about Turkey, Football, and JFK. Oh my!

    Off the Kuff looks at mass transit versus highways for dealing with traffic congestion.

    Vince at Capitol Annex reprises his holiday tradition begun last year by reprising his Laws of Thanksgiving--with a 2007 update.

    In "Giving Thanks for the Corporations", PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has a few choice words from David Van Os, Jeff Cohen, and John Edwards.

    WCNews at Eye On Williamson notices the conspicuous absence of Rep. Mike Krusee since a rumor surfaced that he may be retiring in Where's Krusee?

    CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme notes Lyndon Johnson was right, but demographics are having the last laugh.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Shut up, Will

    You know, normally I'd find this funny. Then I realized he's just being a titty baby. In the end, he didn't solve the problem and instead just wasted time acting like an asshole. Get back in your car, Will. Endure shitty traffic like the rest of us.

    Especially since you are one of the people pushing for (and benifitting from) all the construction that's causing our current traffic problems.

    (h/t to Pink Dome)

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 27, 2007

    Don’t come to my window, Melissa

    No, not that one. The one in question is Melissa Goodwin, who Governor 39% appointed as judge of the newly created 427th District Court in Travis County, and sacrificial lamb in next’s year election.

    Actually, we should thank Perry because she will get whipped like she did in last year’s JP race when Susan Steeg humiliated her. Why did she lose? Largely, Steeg was smarter, more experienced, better organized, and has great ideas on conducting court business. Goodwin’s part in defeat – well, she thinks she’s special.

    Last Saturday, the Statesman’s fluff piece about her reminds you of a Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce press release to the Austin Business Journal, or at least an affirmation piece in the Hyde Park Baptist Sunday bulletin. Seriously, is the Statesman hiring grads from Liberty or Regent?

    Goodwin says, “I don’t like to ask for help.” Her mother talks about her daughter’s independence coming from her European immigrant grandparents. Whatever.

    That 39% lifted her from the political garbage heap speaks volume about her “independence”. What do you expect from conservatives? The same old baloney – Everybody has to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, except them because there is always some special circumstance.

    Enjoy the sweetness, Melissa. By this time next year, you’ll be back on the heap.

    Posted by Captain Kroc at 05:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    How do you file a complaint against the ethics commission?

    That dipshit John Davis, who was all the time using campaign contributions for personal expenses, was fined by the ethics commission. The fine amounts to a slap on the wrist.

    State Representative John Davis (HD 129) was slapped on the wrist again for spending approximately $13,000 of his donors money for personal use. In a sworn complaint posted on the Texas Ethics Commission website, Davis was fined only $500.

    After KHOU highlighted $100,000 in expenditures paid simply to American Express, and his reimbursement to himself from his campaign funds, he had to itemize every purchase exposing his gasoline purchases, eating habits, and his use of his donors money for personal use.

    Mad props to Bay Area Houston

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Changes at the TTC and in WillCo

    I've long thought that anyone who'd commit the State of Texas by signing one of those awful toll privatization agreements, selling out our infrastructure, was either stupid or criminal. And that, plus Mike Krusee's poor chances at re-election, are driving his decision to retire while fueling speculation about a possible move to a State transportation post once the shit hits the fan for one or more members of the TTC. At least, that's the rumor floating around... no one's making specific accusations, only repeating 'what they've been told' about wrongdoing involving certain interested parties who are all about tolling our roads. Don't read too much into it as it may just be the typical Austin bullshit that floats into Lake Lady Bird every now and then.

    Of course, it may not.

    It's no secret these toll roads deals aren't a good deal for the citizens of Texas. The people of Texas have realized it, which is why the word TOLL was not used once to sell those bonds to the voters of Texas at beginning of November. What people didn't know, because the DMN, Star T and Houston Chronicle didn't tell them, is that those bonds can be paid back in a number of ways. One of those ways is with tolls on public, taxpayer funded roads.

    The cool thing about all this is that the R's will try to replace Krusee with Round Rock Mayor Nyle Maxwell, who is about as popular in the district as a child molester at one of John Walsh's parties. So who does that leave? Well, frankly, no one. Which makes things really nice for a certain Democrat named Maldonado who is running to represent the people of southern WillCo.

    Whatever happens, two things are sure... tolling as the SOLE way of financing infrastructure in Texas is dead as Britney's career and Mikey won't be in the House. We at McBlogger would like to wish him only the best. As long as his next job has nothing to do with public service or lobbying.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Juxtaposing

    I have very rarely watched the Sundance channel. In the past, I've caught movies like 'Dogville' but I've never been a real fan. However, when the first season of Iconoclasts came on, I made it a point to tune in and check it out. It wasn't long before I gave up. It took a near-Herculean level of endurance for the tedious and
    mundane. Oh, and at one point, Michael Stipe. I just did not have it in me. I have not attempted it since. In fact, when I was channel surfing with McBlogger last weekend, he queried about it. I told him that it is a show about someone you don't care about meeting with someone you care about even less.

    However, like Baby's father in 'Dirty Dancing', when I am wrong, I say I'm wrong. On further investigation, it appears that they have had some fairly interesting people and pairings. They are currently wrapping up Season 3. Frankly, I have no idea what Madeleine Albright has to say to Ashley Judd, but I fully intend to find out. What the hell!

    Posted by barfly at 12:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Verizon to allow 'any old thing' on network in '08

    Verizon, in an attempt to draw third party developers to make crap for it's subscribers, will allow almost anything on it's network that conforms to certain 'standards'.

    Oh... and just a smidge of exhaustive testing.

    In early 2008, the company will publish the technical standards the development community will need to design products to interface with the Verizon Wireless network. Any device that meets the minimum technical standard will be activated on the network. Devices will be tested and approved in a $20 million state-of-the-art testing lab which received an additional investment this year to gear up for the anticipated new demand. Any application the customer chooses will be allowed on these devices.

    So, no, the DIY rotary cell phone you painstakingly put together a year ago will not work on the network. Your friends were right. You were a total nerd for making that thing.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    The new logo

    mcblogger-bumper.jpg

    Yeah, it's just a rehash... just wanted to see what y'all thought.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    November 26, 2007

    BP broke law at Texas City plant, lawyers say

    Remember that Texas City refinery that BP owns and operates? You know, the one that blew up in March, 2005 killing 15 workers and injuring hundreds? Apparently, it shouldn't have even been operating...

    BP Plc violated Texas's ``revolving door'' law in 2003 by hiring a state environmental engineer to work on the same air pollution permit he'd supervised as a regulator, lawyers suing the company claim.

    The permit, which governs BP's Texas City, Texas, refinery, allowed the company to operate its largest refinery without replacing outdated emissions controls, such as the one that exploded in March 2005, killing 15 workers. Texas law requires applications be rejected when the people involved worked on both sides of the permitting process.

    The engineer ``changed sides and worked on the other side of this same thing for BP, representing BP against the state?'' a lawyer for some of the injured workers asked Watson Dupont, a safety manager at the Texas City plant in a Nov. 15 deposition, portions of which were made public in court filings Nov. 23.

    ``He worked for BP in 2003 on the third draft of the flex permit, yeah,'' Dupont replied, referring to BP Senior Air Engineer Rueben Herrera, a former permitting engineer at Texas Council for Environmental Quality. The group regulates industrial emissions.

    Here's the best part...

    Mark Lanier, in a Nov. 23 filing in Houston federal court, singles out Herrera's involvement on both sides of BP's air- quality permit for the Texas City refinery as proof that BP ``flagrantly violated a variety of regulatory and ethical guidelines to ensure its criminal acts could proceed apace.''

    ``Herrera did secure the necessary permits despite the fact that such action was itself a crime,'' Lanier said in his objections to BP's plea. Lanier said the plea doesn't punish BP's ``breathtaking acts of criminality.''
    ...
    In hearings since September 2006, BP's lawyers have repeatedly told State District Judge Susan Criss, who is overseeing the civil case, that the company didn't break any laws regarding its Texas air-quality permits. Last year, Criss ruled she would allow jurors to consider evidence that BP may have falsified documents to fraudulently obtain its permits against the company for punitive damages purposes.

    ``Herrera testified many months ago, and it was incredible what we heard,'' Criss told civil lawyers during a Nov. 12 pretrial hearing, referencing Herrera's prior testimony on the permits. ``He indicated it was a criminal act for him to have left that agency and gone to work for BP,'' Criss said.

    Gotta love that this is before Judge Criss instead of one of those Republican gas bags who'll vote with industry 84% of the time...

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    How secure are Pakistan's nukes?

    The NYT has a good time with this...

    If General Musharraf is overthrown, no one is quite sure what will happen to the team he has entrusted to safeguard the arsenal. There is some hope that the military as an institution could reliably keep things under control no matter who is in charge, but that is just a hope.

    “It’s a very professional military,” said a senior American official who is trying to manage the crisis and insisted on anonymity because the White House has said this problem will not be discussed in public. “But the truth is, we don’t know how many of the safeguards are institutionalized, and how many are dependent on Musharraf’s guys.”

    Even if it never comes to a loss of control over weapons or their components, the crisis carries another level of danger. Administration officials say privately that if the chaos in the streets worsens, or Al Qaeda exploits the moment, Pakistan’s government could become distracted from monitoring scientists, engineers and others who, out of religious zeal or plain old greed, might see a moment to sell their knowledge and technology.

    Sleep well, y'all!

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Lott to retire

    Now, both of Mississippi's Senate seats are in play...

    Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi plans to resign from Congress by the end of the year, a person close to Lott said.

    The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Lott, 66, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, had stayed in office to help his state recover from Hurricane Katrina and now believes the work has progressed enough that he can leave office. Lott won a fourth term last year with 64 percent of the vote.

    Lott scheduled two news conferences in his home state today to discuss his plans.

    ``This is no time for me or any of us to think about quitting,'' Lott said in January 2006. ``I want you to know that as long as Mississippi is hurting and needs help, I'll be there for this state.''

    The lawmaker had fed speculation that he might retire by telling a local newspaper in 2005 that he needed ``a little more income'' after the hurricane destroyed his home in Pascagoula.

    Lott sued his insurer, State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., to force it to pay for rebuilding after the company said Lott's policy didn't cover the damages. Lott in 2005 told the Biloxi, Mississippi, Sun Herald that the waterfront home was his ``nest egg.''

    Yes, yes... I know this is Mississippi and the likelihood of those morons electing a Democrat is pretty low. Still, it would be nice if these dumb hicks would pull head out of ass and realize that they're getting screwed by the people they are electing.

    Oh, and that last bit about Lott suing State Farm is quite the funny, no? After voting to cut insurance companies slack, you get caught in their trap. Nice.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    R's already push polling in Iowa

    Oh, I'm sure this won't backfire at all...

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 25, 2007

    Republicans are dropping themselves in the grease?

    Larson expressed a concern that the Republican Party in Texas will become known as 'the tolling party,' and that image will damage the party's ability to win future elections. He says the vast majority of Texans disapprove of the aggressive toll road building policy promoted by Governor Perry and Texas Department of Transportation Chairman Ric Williamson.

    Too late, Commissioner. Y'all are already the Tolling Party of Texas.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    All over this land

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 08:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 24, 2007

    Way to miss the point, Cal...

    Cal Thomas seems to think that the President has pulled off some kind of miracle in Iraq. At least, he seems to in his column this week talking about how good the news is from Iraq and how it's all great for the GOP.

    What Cal doesn't remember is that the Democrats and the American people FORCED the President to change strategy to something that might finally make things better. They also forced the Iraqi government to finally step up to the plate and get in gear. If Democrats hadn't started holding their ground on troop withdrawal in the face of patriotism-baiting attacks from the White House and Republicans, the Iraqi's would have no need to do anything other than occasionally telling Bush not to worry and asking for still more money.

    Of course, the reality of the situation in Iraq is far easier to understand when you actually look at Iraq for what it's been, not what Cal and Bush want it to be. We won the initial invasion, then screwed up the pacification (we're still screwing that up). In the meantime, a civil war started which our President refused to acknowledge and decided to keep our troops in the middle of. That war is beginning to wind down since in many cases, one side or another has been victorious. Just look at Anbar... fighting has stopped there because one side killed the other. That's the kind of success Cal calls a homerun. Only problem is, we didn't need to be there for it.

    Let's not even talk about the re-Baathification of the government in which we effectively bought off the remaining members of Saddam's regime with posts in the new government. Let's never forget that it was Bush's appointee Bremer who famously de-Baathified the Iraqi government and created the initial insurgency, which would later become what Bush and others have called al Qaida in Iraq. Bush, time and time again, creates his own problems while folks like Cal Thomas cheer lead from the pages of papers across the country.

    Nah, the reality here at home is that people like Cal have been so wrong, so many times, that they just can't sit still when it appears that things are going their way, even though their designs had absolutely nothing to do with it. In all honesty, we could have had this result in late 2004. Instead we had 3 wasted years of our soldier's lives and our country's treasure.

    As for the notion that the Democrats are all about defeat, WE HAVEN'T BEEN DEFEATED. We never were. Our troops toppled the dictator we were told was soon to have WMD's capable of reaching the US. Every thing since has been a waste of our time.

    That's what Democrats are sick of, Cal. Wasting lives, money and time on a situation which the locals have to make better for themselves. They appear to finally be doing that, if for no other reason than that the majority of people in this country finally demanded a clock be put on this thing.

    And we'll not forget your part in all this, Cal. Don't ask us to take you seriously since it's frankly just not possible for us to suffer fools gladly. Especially not those dumb enough to fooled by a charlatan of a leader who happens to be our President.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 23, 2007

    A campaign planted questions? Say it isn't so...

    I'm not a terribly big fan of Hillary but is this really surprising to anyone? Not to be rude, but campaigns DO this kind of thing all the time. The Republicans are just better at it and use it more frequently.

    Really, it's not that big a deal.

    However, this is really fucking shitty. She can't leave her own damn tips?

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    There aren't enough doctors? Whatdya mean?

    Kuff, channeling the Observer, has more on the continued shortage of doctors in rural areas. Supposedly, that was to be cured by tort reform. The story was that rural doctors were being sued out of existence by the evil trial lawyers. As the author of the article astutely notes, that wasn't exactly true... and tort reform hasn't done a thing to bring doctors to under served rural communities.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 22, 2007

    "You'll eat it and you'll like it..."

    Yep, the first threat of the day has been leveled! We're all having a brill Thanksgiving. How about you?

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 21, 2007

    And we're outta here!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    Posted by mcblogger at 06:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Hyde Park Baptists eyes do not see the Glory

    Speaking inclusiveness to intolerance, the 23rd Annual Austin Area Interreligious Ministries’ Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration went off spectacularly at Congregation Beth Israel. Leaders of the temple had offered the group a safe haven after Hyde Park Baptist reneged on a promise to AAIM for use of the church property named the Quarries because the gathering included Muslims. Yeah, you heard right.

    First, major props to the Jewish community who stepped up by offering their temple in quick fashion to save what has evolved into one of Austin’s most significant religious events.

    Though Hyde Park Baptist caused the upheaval, their decision to ban the ceremony on their property and subsequent publicity caused attendance to swell to 3 to 4 times the normal size. Over 1000 people packed the standing-room-only temple, foyers, hallways, and side rooms to pay respect to a ceremony that brings a message of peace and harmony to all persuasions.

    The most enduring moment came at sundown when Muslims prayed the Maghrib in the synagogue.

    After 9/11, many Muslims living in this country retreated into obscurity. As happened in many neighborhoods, Muslim families moved from mine, and I rarely encountered others in the past six years. So it was encouraging to see so many gathered in fellowship with other religions.

    Sentiment from some people who attended the event sympathized for the vast majority of the church’s members who were probably embarrassed by the decision of a few. Some wondered why the evangelical church would open itself to such negative publicity.

    A good number of Democratic office-holders and candidates were present. I asked Dan Grant, who is a Dem candidate for Congress, Texas District 10, for his thoughts about the celebration. He said the ceremony reminded him of the time he was in Afghanistan, and a village leader on hearing that American soldiers were looking for a place to celebrate Christmas offered up the local mosque.


    Here’s my unsolicited advice to the church – if you really want to evangelize in Christ’s name, purge your leadership and replace with rational people who make decisions by wisdom and not some warped ideology. It would come as no surprise to find that the decision to withdraw their support at the last minute was hatched long ago as a deliberate and without remorse statement from a far right-wing faction within the church who have moronic misinterpretations and fantasies about caliphates and the “war on terror.” Even though a small core will coalesce around the current decision-makers and declare a stronger faith, their reputation has been wrecked and their influence will wane because of the perceived bigotry of the entire congregation.

    The church has the right to their decision, but when they ask the community to be tolerant and understanding of their beliefs, then that is when they need to be called out. There is no reason to be tolerant of intolerance and bigotry. If you dig a little deeper, you might find sexism, homophobia, and racism.

    Posted by Captain Kroc at 02:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Anatomy of failure

    Q. What happens when you combine:

    1) The unrealistic expectations of the National Reconnaissance Office in setting requirements for a new spy satellite system.
    2) Competitive bidding
    3) No oversight over the winning bidder, in fact, you let them write reports telling you how things are going
    4) Congress sets a budget without adequately determining what the new system would realistically cost
    5) Few or no people with advanced systems engineering experience?

    A. You get the disaster known as the Future Imagery Architecture .

    Oh, and there's blame to go around for this one... Democrats and Republicans.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Oh, you want it ... you want it dirty and nasty, don't you?

    Apparently, another week started while we were out drinking (happens all the time). What that means for you is another week at work. For us, it's time for the pre-Thanksgiving edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's Weekly Blog Round-Up. This week's round-up is compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

    The Texas Cloverleaf examines the ongoing feud between TxDOT and NTTA -- this time the funding for the Hwy 161 project Dallas County may face its wrath. To toll or not to toll? That is TxDOT's question.

    Hal at Half Empty wants to ask John Cornyn just one question: "When are you going to stop flip flopping on a border wall?"

    XicanoPwr reports on the noose found hanging from a scaffolding on separate occasions over at the Exxon Mobil facility in Baytown, TX.

    NYTexan at Bluebloggin discovers that some things will just never go away. Tom DeLay Will Launch Activist Group. Two stellar citizens, Tom DeLay and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell have teamed up to promote the Coalition for a Conservative Majority (CCM).

    Kay Granger pretends to care about the environment by sponsoring an Energy Expo but TXsharon at Bluedaze points to her ZERO score on environmentally friendly votes and begs to differ.

    Harris County election officials adjusted the vote at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, after Tuesday's final election results had been released to the media. The Democratic Party's observer, a long-time voting rights activist, was stunned to watch it happen. What does this mean for the integrity of electronic voting in all of Texas? PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has questions without answers.

    John Coby at Bay Area Houston reminds us that Texas is #1 in sucking with tuition for Texas University up by 63% since deregulation in 2003. The high cost of college tuition deregulation. Tuition increases again.

    CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme complains that Texas keeps money meant for hospitals in 'state funds'. You can hear the Republicans yammering for another tax cut.

    Muse wonders why Tom DeLay can't seem to stay away from Fort Bend County when he is supposed to be a Virginia resident. His new Coalition for a Conservative Majority kicks off there and has Ken Blackwell as its chair. Yeah, that Ken Blackwell. SOS in Ohio during the 2004 elections.

    Mayor McSleaze at McBlogger asks What part of "interfaith" was not clear? in his post detailing the actions of Hyde Park Baptist Church.

    Why can't Rudy Giuliani talk about baseball any more without pandering? Off the Kuff takes a look at his latest shenanigans.

    Vince at Capitol Annex explores Texas Congressman Ron Paul's "surge" in the polls and in online contributions and wonders why his Republican supporters haven't bothered to examine his terrible record on behalf of the middle class in Texas.

    WhosPlayin brings back the Texas Dim Bulb Award for Cracker-Barrell Craddick.

    On The TexasBlue, David Gurney explores the total absence of integrity displayed by the Religious Right's endorsements of Giuliani and Thompson.

    Easter Lemming watched the Pasadena mayor's race candidate forum in some amazement: How often do you hear a Texas candidate say: "He's just told me the position pays $102,000. I had no idea. If I had known that, I would have put out more yard signs." And Easter Lemming gets the candidate reply in the comments.

    Texas Toad of North Texas Liberal explains why the Chicken Pickens of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth owes Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a sum of $1 million.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 20, 2007

    Why we can't impeach...

    I was told recently by an attorney I trust that impeachment and removal from office absolves a President for crimes committed. I can't think of a better reason to wait until January 22, 2009 to bring Bush and his minions to justice.

    Posted by mcblogger at 06:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Having some fun with Brownback

    Greg caught a little something interesting from Sen. Brownback regarding his belief that 'conservatives' just need better messaging. No shit, he honestly thinks voters will once again be deluded into thinking they are

    1) Conservative
    2) Christian
    3) Compassionate

    Yeah, that mask has already been torn from your face, Sam. But thanks so much for trying!

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    CD 10 : Fundraising going strong

    Both Dan Grant and Larry Doherty had great fundraising reports for the 3rd quarter. Doherty announced $53,765.00
    and Grant announced $45,247.00. Cash on hand, less debt, left both in a VERY good position relative to the incumbent, Mike McCaul (R - Clear Channel) who enters Q4 in the red by $45,982.98. Both Democrats show more than $70,000 in the black with Grant ahead of Doherty by a little over $1,000.

    Yeah, yeah... I know I'm a little behind. However, I did notice that some endorsements are out. Radnofsky gave her coveted endorsement to Doherty. You may recall that Hank Gilbert endorsed Grant in September.

    Obvs, you know which one I think is more important.


    Posted by mcblogger at 09:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 19, 2007

    I hate fetish rap

    You know, I'm Christian. And I'm embarrassed for this guy.

    (Much hate to the PL for digging up this POS)

    Posted by mcblogger at 06:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    American honored in Russia...

    ... for delivering atomic secrets to the Soviets during and after World War 2.

    On Nov. 2, the Kremlin startled Western scholars by announcing that President Vladimir V. Putin had posthumously given the highest Russian award to a Soviet agent who penetrated the Manhattan Project to build the atom bomb.

    The announcement hailed Dr. Koval as “the only Soviet intelligence officer” to infiltrate the project’s secret plants, saying his work “helped speed up considerably the time it took for the Soviet Union to develop an atomic bomb of its own.”

    How about a resolution in Congress condemning him? You know, if we're going to waste time condemning Turkey for something it did during a time of war, let's take a moment and condemn one of our own for giving us 50 years of the Cold War.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Level 3 assets and the SIV backup fund

    Two weeks ago we talked a little about the next part of the meltdown in the credit markets, what will soon be the furor over level three assets. Now comes word that the nations big banks and investment houses have structured a fund that might actually help alleviate the problem. By creating a buyer of last resort in an illiquid market...

    Officials from Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase reached agreement late Friday, settling on a more simplified structure than had been proposed, said this person, granted anonymity because he was not authorized to talk for the group.

    Bank participants, money market investors and even some managers of the troubled investment vehicles that would benefit most had considered previous versions of the fund to be infeasible, casting doubt over a final plan. Discussions had been taking place since early fall, when the Treasury Department convened a meeting.

    Now, the proposed fund could begin operating by the end of December, this person said. The banks could begin asking roughly 60 financial institutions to contribute to the fund by Friday or early next week.

    Of course, this is kind of a backdoor way for the banks to take some pressure off their balance sheets from all the level 3 assets they've been forced to salt away. Look at it this way... you have a bunch of assets you can't sell because no one wants them. So, you create a company that will buy certain of those assets, creating a market value for them. It's self dealing, analogous to what our good friends at Enron did. However, unlike Enron, this is real capital the banks are having to cough up out of their equity. Frankly, it has to work or many of our largest banks are going to have to access their lender of last resort, the Federal Reserve, to remain solvent.

    Which is a nice way of saying US taxpayers.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    HR 3915 passes and other mortgage news

    Yes, HR 3915 has passed the House and is off to what one can only hope will be a rocky reception in either the Senate or with, God forbid, President Bush.

    Seriously, we need reform. The market needs regulation and consumers have to be protected. This doesn't do that AND it cripples the marketplace. Do you have any idea how depressing it is not only to see your party fuck up brilliantly but to be forced into agreement with douchebag's like Kenny Marchant and Patrick McHenry? I hate those guys.

    Still, they were right on this one. I guess it had to happen. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    In other mortgage related news, FHA Modernization was stalled out in the Senate by Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma (doesn't that make him a double retard?)

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Tolls : Fiesta v. TXDOT

    The expansion of the Katy Freeway in Houston is causing some problems for a Fiesta that is set to lose much of it's parking lot to the expanding freeway. The State wants to give them $3mm but Fiesta says it wants $16mm. As in all eminent domain takings, the State will of course have the freeway completed before Fiesta's case even reaches a judge.

    Eminent domain is a real pain in the ass.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 18, 2007

    Why do you people even bother?

    Austin's malevolent City Manager, Toby Futrell, has survived another attempt by some members of the City Council to usurp some of her power.

    The issue was an obscure one but with obvious repercussions. Should city council members have the authority to hire the city’s attorney, who is currently appointed by… you guess it, the city manager? Lee Leffingwell and Mike Martinez said yes and suggested letting voters decide for ourselves next May. Even Jennifer Kim eventually signed on.

    Back in the pre-Futrell era, voters had rejected a similar proposal. But proponents were betting that Austin has had quite enough of Toby’s tyranny and that taking control over the city attorney who gives the city manager legal cover would be a good thing. You know, accountability, separation of powers, all that stuff.

    But don’t count on it. Sheryl Cole sprang to life long enough to lobby for keeping things as cozy as they are. Lame ducks Will Wynn and Betty Dunkerley were in her corner. Brewster McCracken’s vote gave them the majority, and the proposal died a quiet death.

    The issue was decided in a cage match that featured He Who Stands Up To Toby, fighting for his life along with the other strong council members while the weak ones (Brewster, Cole, Wynn and Red Tag Betty) caved in and were whimpering in the corner. Once the fighting was over, Brewster proudly removed one of his kidneys to present as a treat to Toby.

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Wingnut emails and the lies they tell...

    I got this from my father who just loves to antagonize Barfly and I...

    Just when you thought you might have some money in your 401(k)- Read the last paragraph even if you skip the rest ~ this woman is a nut case! You aren't going to believe this. Madam speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to put a Windfall Tax on all stock market profits (including Retirement fund, 401Ks and Mutual Funds! Alas, it is true - all to help the 12 Million Illegal Immigrants and other unemployed Minorities! Boy, are we in trouble... This woman is frightening. Take special note of the last paragraph. Is she really this whacked out? Nancy Pelosi condemned the new record highs of the stock market as "just another example of Bush policies helping the rich get richer". "First Bush cut taxes for the rich and the economy has rebounded with new record low unemployment rates, which only means wealthy employers are getting even wealthier at the expense of the underpaid working class". She went on to say "Despite the billions of dollars being spent in Iraq our economy is still strong and government tax revenues are at all time highs. What this really means is that business is exploiting the war effort and working Americans, just to put money in their own pockets". When questioned about recent stock market highs she responded "Only the rich benefit from these record highs. Working Americans, welfare recipients, the unemployed and minorities are not sharing in these obscene record highs". There is no question these windfall profits and income created by the Bush administration need to be taxed at 100% rate and those dollars redistributed to the poor and working class". Profits from the stock market do not reward the hard work of our working class who, by their hard work, are responsible for generating these corporate profits that create stock market profits for the rich. We in congress will need to address this issue to either tax these profits or to control the stock market to prevent this unearned income to flow to the rich." When asked about the fact that over 80% of all Americans have investments in mutual funds, retirement funds, 401Ks, and the stock market she replied "That may be true, but probably only 5% account for 90% of all these investment dollars. That's just more "trickle down" economics claiming that if a corporation is successful that everyone from the CEO to the floor sweeper benefit from higher wages and job security which is ridiculous". "How much of this 'trickle down' ever gets to the unemployed and minorities in our county? None, and that's the tragedy of these stock market highs." "We democrats are going to address this issue after the election when we take control of the congress. We will return to the 60% to 80% tax rates on the rich and we will be able to take at least 30% of all current lower income tax payers off the rolls and increase government income substantially." We need to work toward the goal of equalizing income in our country and at the same time limiting the amount the rich can invest." When asked how these new tax dollars would be spent, she replied : "We need to raise the standard of living of our poor, unemployed and minorities. For example, we have an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in our country who need our help along with millions of unemployed minorities. Stock market windfall profits taxes could go a long ways to guarantee these people the standard of living they would like to have as 'Americans'." Send it on to your friends. I just did!!

    Ah, yes... please send it on. It's all a lie and when the people you send it to discover that, you lose credibility with them on political issues.

    Actually, for those of us who value stability and steady growth in the public markets, a massive tax on short term capital gains would be a good thing. It would certainly deflate $100/bbl oil and who out there will tell me that's a bad thing?

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 17, 2007

    In Solidarity

    With the Religion and Labor Network of Austin. This is what the true believers do to spread the true meaning of Christianity. Their latest call to action.


    Friends Who Love Justice,

    We need your help to gather a LARGE crowd of people for a candlelight prayer vigil Monday evening, November 19th when we put our faith into action and make a tangible difference in the lives of workers in our community.

    We will gather at 6:00 p.m. at the Salvation Army at 1101 Cumberland Rd. on the corner of S. 5th St. and then carpool 15 minutes south to the home of Gerald Narvaez, an employer who builds luxury homes in Austin. These workers are seeking payment of THOUSANDS of dollars in wages stolen from them for work they completed in July of LAST YEAR!

    RLNA has been working with these day laborers from Workers Defense Project to support them in reclaiming what is rightfully theirs, but now we MUST HAVE YOUR HELP to stand in solidarity with and win justice for these workers.

    The Texas Workforce Commission has ruled that Mr. Gerald Narvaez does owe the workers, but he has refused to pay them all. He has rejected phone calls, certified letters, and personal visits from clergy and workers to his home. We performed one vigil at his home earlier this fall with 22 people in attendance. He still refused to work with us.

    This second vigil must be much larger in scale to impress upon Mr. Narvaez that as a man of faith he must do the right things and that the workers have the committed support of Austin's faith community and we will not go away.

    Please feel free to pass this information along to others who may share our value for worker justice in Austin. Standing together, we can make a difference not only for the workers, but for those trapped by their own unjust actions. We can create a culture in Austin where employers know the faith community will not tolerate injustice and that we will require them to deal honestly and fairly with their employees.

    Recently, when dealing with another wage claim case, an employer stated, "I'll work with you, just please don't come do another vigil at my house!". That is the kind of power faith has to bring about change. Please join us, and bring everyone you can for the blessing of doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our common God.

    Peace be with you,
    Minister Dr. Carla Cheatham
    Executive Director, RLNA

    Posted by Captain Kroc at 06:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Speaking of polls

    New numbers for Texas are in and they make for some interesting reading over on BOR. The Clinton juggernaut continues its relentless progress, with Hillary for the first time winning the support of over half---51%---of voters with a history of participating in the Democratic primary. The Barack boomlet seems to be history, with Obama trailing badly at 17 percent. And John Edwards' eleven percent just barely lets him hang on to third place, beating Bill Richardson by less than the margin of error.

    One of the fascinating things about this is that Edwards, in spite of his slide toward the political event horizon is the preferred candidate of many state Democratic activists as well of much of the self-styled progressive blogosphere. How is it that our community of "opinion leaders" is so out of touch with our actual base? A couple of explanations come up frequently. "People really aren't paying attention, they're still undecided," and "The average person really isn't very well-informed." Well, since March the Undecideds have shrunk from twenty percent to eight today, so it sure looks like someone has been paying attention and making decisions. Most of those choices have accrued to Hillary's column. And the votes of the Great Uninformed count just as much as those of the smugocracy with all their superior knowledge.

    Of course, it's still November. No real votes have been cast, and the public's perception may change once there are some real results to digest. But for the moment, if the Anybody But Hillary crowd is serious about stopping Clinton, maybe they should look around for a more credible candidate.

    Anyone know what Gene Kelly is up to these days?

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 02:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Edwards tops in Iowa Independent rankings

    The news is starting to get better for Team Edwards...

    John Edwards — Edwards started about a year ago with the best organization in Iowa, and most of the foundation he built here is still in place. Although concerns persist that his sharpening rhetoric may be alienating a few of his earliest supporters, his solid performance at the Jefferson Jackson dinner, his endorsement from Caucus 4 Priorities (and the potential 10,000 caucus-goers it could bring him), and his ongoing commitment to retail politicking keep him in the top spot — for now.

    I did have one little rant I wanted to throw in here regarding public financing... why they hell are people beating up Edwards for using it, then bitching about how money is corrosive to politics? Why aren't we all beating the shit out of the rest of the field, R and D, to start taking public money?

    We all bitch about wanting change, but when it comes we act like it's the bastard at a family reunion.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    What part of "interfaith" was not clear?

    It's not exactly breaking news that Hyde Park Baptist Church is full of uptight whitebread bigots, but in light of this News 8 story, do they have to work so freakin' hard to remind us?

    Organizers of an Austin interfaith Thanksgiving celebration scrambled to find a new location for the annual event after an evangelical Baptist megachurch objected to Muslims worshipping on its property.

    Hyde Park Baptist Church notified Austin Area Interreligious Ministries this week that it would not allow the event scheduled for Sunday at Hyde Park's sports complex, known as the Quarries.

    The Thanksgiving event is in its 23rd year and invites Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Baha'is and others to worship together.

    Hyde Park Baptist at first agreed to the service, but then changed their minds, claiming the service was not "Christian oriented."

    Maybe the Hydists should put plans for another parking garage on hold while they build a prayer shield to keep those Muslim prayers from getting to Heaven and cluttering up God's inbox.


    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 07:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    November 16, 2007

    Are you ready to rumble?

    The high point of last night's Democratic debate had to be the moment in Sudden Death Overtime when Dennis Kucinich smacked John Edwards on the head with a folding chair while referee Wolf Blitzer was distracted by Chris Dodd's recitation of a limerick about a young lass from Nantucket...

    Yeah, like McBlogger and most other Americans, I didn't actually watch the debate. I watched real television instead. Which was clearly running on fumes even before the writers' strike pulled the plug on new shows. Is it just me, or does 30 Rock, which was brilliant last year, stink like week-old fish this season? If Tina Fey had a Hungarian accent, it would be indistinguishable from Green Acres.

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 07:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    The Democratic Presidential Debates

    No, I didn't watch them. Recaps are here and here. Enjoy.

    Can we be done with these now?

    Posted by mcblogger at 07:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    I can totally see how you'd make that mistake

    Apparently, Sen. John Cornyn is mistaking a levee for a wall. Or is it a wall for a levee? I'm not really clear. Go read Hal at Half Empty and find out.

    While we're on the subject of Junior John, Phillip over at BOR found a piece on him written for Texas Monthly by Paul Burka. It's a well done puff piece and not all that revealing save one tidbit I found interesting...

    Cornyn had brought a 28-gauge shotgun, which is the kind Dick Cheney uses, and the joshing started.

    What many of you don't know is that I hunt. I don't care much for deer hunting because it's boring as hell and I was never that good with a bow. I do love duck hunting and occassionally, dove hunting. I've never, even as a child, hunted with anything less than a 20 gauge (ask me sometime about the time I shot Daddy's 10 gauge when I was six). Today, I hunt with a 12 gauge. Just about everyone I know does.

    My father likes to take people hunting on our ranch in East Texas. He sometimes takes friends of friends or business associates hunting with him. I can remember when I was young, Daddy let some people come with us who were dressed in neatly pressed fatigues and had 28 gauge shotguns. My father, never one to criticize, called them 'fancy'.

    I talked to him today and told him about Junior John's shotgun of choice. He grunted on the other end of the line, sighed and said, "Tell me about the other guy again."

    Oh, and while you're at it, go give Rick some money!

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Censure the old woman

    First there was her support of telecom immunity. Then her vote to confirm Mukasey as AG. Now she's elevated a racist, homophobic judge from Mississippi to the Federal Appeals Court in NOLA. Oh, and after changing her mind on telecom immunity, she's back to saying it's a good idea.

    Now CA Dems are trying to get the State party to censure her. It won't have a practical effect, but it's good to know folks in CA hate her as much as we do.

    The move comes as Feinstein again finds herself under fire for saying Thursday that she now supports granting legal immunity to telecom companies that shared customer email and phone messages with the federal government as part of the warrantless surveillance program.

    "Dianne Feinstein does not listen to the people of California," said Rick Jacobs, president of the Courage Campaign, a progressive organization in California. "She supports George Bush's agenda time after time."

    It's a real shame they let the senile hold office.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    FISA and Telecom Immunity update

    Feinstein's still being a mad old cow about telecom immunity but the bill was reported out of the Judiciary Committee today, without telecom immunity.

    Now the bill goes to the floor where amendments will be added, including one from Sen. Specter

    When the full Senate takes up the bill, Specter is likely to offer a compromise that would shield the companies from financial ruin but allow lawsuits to go forward by having the federal government stand in for the companies at trial.

    I appreciate what Sen. Specter is doing and it will help us finally find out just how far the Administration went, but these companies have to be held accountable. The only way it'll happen is if they bear the brunt of all this.

    The really great news is that the Democrats in the House passed their version of the bill tonight, without telecom immunity. And our own Lamar Smith, ever the douchebag, is still cheerleading to let them off the hook. Just so you know, one of his constituents is AT&T.

    "These companies deserve our thanks, not a flurry of harassing litigation," said Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the Judiciary Committee's top Republican.

    The bill, though not perfect, is still better than what we had which was that horrible bill that allowed the President to do whatever he wanted. It didn't stop the White House from saying something stupid...

    In a statement after the vote, the White House said, "This evening House Democrats passed legislation that would dangerously weaken our ability to protect the nation from foreign threats." It reiterated Bush's intention to veto the legislation in its current form.

    Oh, hell. Show me an instance where you've been able to do something with this intelligence, something good enough to over ride the impact on our Constitution, then maybe we can talk. Otherwise, shut up you ineffectual douche. In case you hadn't realized it, the Democrats in Congress are finally showing some spine... and they're working hard to protect us from you and your insane desires.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 15, 2007

    Why Edwards and Huckabee are doing well in Iowa

    It's the populism, stupid.

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Having a little fun...

    I saw Ingrid Newkirk on TV earlier. I don't like her. Here's a picture.

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    This is a GIANT steak. I love these. Will be having one manana. I hope it looks like this.

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    There's really no point to this. Other than to post a picture of a steak with one of Ingrid Newkirk.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Iraq War Cost equates to a 5 time increase in taxes!

    Building on McBlogger's post, let's take a little bit of a closer look at these numbers. First of all, Bush has continuously referred to the War in Iraq as the War on Terror. Yes there are terrorists in Iraq, but they have come into Iraq because America invaded their regional neighbor, in defense of Islam. There were no WMD, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Afghanistan, which by the way has been all but written off by the Bush Regime, only accounts for approximately 25% of the spending in this report. And we wonder why we have been unable to catch Osama. Limited Resources = Limited Possibility of Capture.

    So what is the deal with the current War Spending? For Iraq alone, the cost for the average family over the last six years comes out to $15,900. When broken down by year, and compared to the average tax burden for a family of four making the median income ($43,200), this equates to about 3 1/2 times the federal income tax for a family of four making the median income (I calculated this the other night, but haven't been able to recreate the number, with subsequent calculations being much lower. What this means is that if the right credits are applied, the tax burden can come out to zero, producing an infinitely higher cost per family for the war). When compared to the total cost, including Afghanistan, that multiplier becomes 5!

    Enough of the dry numbers (and I am no statistician, so I make no claim of exactitude). What really gets me is that the Republicans continuously preach that the Democrats are all about taxing. Well, if we were to invest as much in Health Care, Education and every other desperately deficient area in America, many more American's would be able to live long, healthy and happy lives. But, God forbid an increase in health care coverage for children. It is simply more important to pay for 8 days of the Iraq war, at least in the twisted mind of the Bush Regime, than to significantly increase S-CHIP coverage for a whole year!!!

    I am Closet Purist. Expect me to say all the pointed, in your face, honest truths here. I would love to say them minus the anonymity, but politics is politics, and purists are laughed at. I hope you will all enjoy my venting in the days, months and years to come.

    CP

    Posted by Closet Purist at 12:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Republicans want to hide the cost of THEIR war

    The Republicans in Congress are bleating on about how 'inappropriate' it is to disclose the cost of the war or terra.

    Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Rep. H. James Saxton (R-N.J.) attacked the report on "hidden costs" of the wars, calling its methodology flawed and asserting factual errors. The report, issued yesterday, said the war has cost nearly double the $804 billion in appropriations and requests for war funding thus far.

    Brownback, who is developmentally retarded, can be excused for not, you know, getting it. Saxton on the other hand is being deliberately obtuse. Even he knows that just adding up the supplemental appropriations will not give you the accurate number. You have to count health care costs for the soldiers over the next 70 years. YES 70.

    Quit being dumbasses. This thing is going to cost taxpayers more than $1.5 TRILLION and that's if we stop and cut all funding today. We could rebuilt our educational system, our infrastructure and expanded health insurance to every American for that money. Well, we COULD have. Instead, we wasted it on Cheney's effort to compensate for his inability to maintain an erection.

    Which makes Republicans the biggest wasteful spenders in the history of the United States of America.

    Shut up, Sam. I'll be paying off your this debt you rang up LONG after you're dead and buried. I'd appreciate it if you'd shut the fuck up and retire from the Senate. You've done enough damage to this country.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    HR 3915 : A solution that creates bigger problems

    Reality is never an easy thing to acknowledge, especially when it becomes clear that our intention to help people will, instead, fail them. That's the case with Representative Brad Miller's bill, HR 3915. It's also hard for me, as a Democrat, to believe that a member of my party, serving his constituents, would propose this horrendously bad, consumer harmful legislation. Last night I finally realized that he didn't do this to help out big banks, the special interest that will most benefit from the passage of HR 3915.

    It's my belief that Rep. Miller had nothing but good, even noble, intentions. He wanted to protect consumers from being taken to the cleaners by unscrupulous mortgage brokers. Fortunately for Rep. Miller of North Carolina, his bill does exactly that, by killing the entire mortgage brokerage industry. Unfortunately, it still leaves consumers vulnerable to unscrupulous mortgage bankers and builder/Realtor controlled mortgage companies.

    It also removes 25% of Americans from even the possibility of owning a home because they will not able to obtain financing.

    This entire meltdown in the credit market is really nothing more than bad press and stupidity. For one thing, more than 80% of even the riskiest sub-prime mortgages are performing. That means that 80% of the people who obtained financing for a home outside of conventional (good credit, easy to document income and assets - the overwhelming majority of mortgage loans in US) guidelines still own their homes and will continue to. The reason the market has slowed down to a crawl (and why subprime has already disappeared) is that the loans packaged as securities and sold to investors were priced as if they bore no credit risk. In short, investors got panicked when they realized that the B/C credits they paid A prices for actually performed like, well, B/C credits.

    The market has already corrected the underwriting criteria available to brokers and frozen out subprime options. This has effectively removed 25% of Americans from the marketplace for mortgage financing. Rep. Miller's bill won't change that. What it will do is make sure that these people will never buy a home by making it illegal to underwrite loans to lenient, high risk, characteristics. They may be able to refinance into FHA, some may even clean their credit to the point where they will be able to see and buy a home. However, that basket will go away and many people with poor credit will never be able to achieve the American Dream.

    Of course, some of these people will able to obtain FHA or conventional financing with larger than usual down payments. However, at the very least, 15% of Americans will never own a home if Rep. Miller's bill passes.

    The saddest thing about this that Rep. Miller is trying to do through legislation what should more properly be done through regulation. Mortgage brokers think national licensing, standards and regulation is a great idea. However, it has to be funded. Rep. Miller's bill tasks the same old people with implementing the new rules. As we've all seen from the anecdotal cases of broker-initiated mortgage fraud in the US, those agencies just aren't up to the task of enforcing the rules we have now.

    The reality that Rep. Miller doesn't want to acknowledge is that more than 98% of brokers are good, decent professionals, a fact which no one has sought to question because more than 60% of the loans originated in the US are originated by brokers. These people who have close relationships with their borrowers. In many case, they have replaced the community banker and basically become the George Bailey's of the 21st century.

    What's needed is a better bill that creates a level mortgage loan origination playing field between banks and brokers, creating an even more vibrant and competitive market. A bill that ends the ability of builders and Realtors to own mortgage companies or profit from them. A bill that protects consumers without crushing them or destroying their options.

    What's needed is a do-over. We ask every Democrat in the House to vote against this horrible piece of legislation. And start over again on something that will actually do something to strengthen the market, not kill it.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 14, 2007

    Welcoming a new player to the 'sphere

    We at McBlogger would love to take a moment and welcome Reflections on East Austin Conversations to the Texas Blogosphere!

    Posted by mcblogger at 07:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Scum vs. Scum

    I honestly don't know who I want to win this... the only thing that makes me happy is that maybe they'll devastate one another. And Rudy in the process.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Ari's been busy...

    Ari Fleischer, the PR shill who used to work for the Bush Administration, is now running a group called Freedom's Watch which is made up of talentless Republicans sycophants who can't make a living doing ad work in the real world and instead chose to live off the donor's teat. We did a thing about this back in August when the scummy Fleischer decided to use wounded vets and the families of the fallen as props to browbeat Democrats in television ads. The ploy didn't work.

    So, they started running ads in newspapers.

    After two relatively quiet months, Freedom's Watch is back. The ads running today target Speaker Nancy Pelosi and seven freshman House Democrats, and mirror a $15 million television ad campaign launched this past summer.

    They are timed, a Freedom's Watch spokesman said, to pressure the House members to vote against upcoming legislation that would set a goal for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

    "Freedom's Watch believes members in these districts need to be held accountable for their upcoming vote on funding our troops," said spokesman Matt David in an e-mail to the Huffington Post. "Constituents in these districts deserve more than partisan politics when it comes to funding our troops. It is time for Congress to show resolve, to put aside politics and to unite behind victory."

    Like earlier Freedom's Watch TV commercials, the print ads feature a dour Marine Sgt. Andrew Robinson, who is a paraplegic after falling victim to a June 2006 improvised explosive device attack in Iraq.

    Wow. It takes some kind of guts to stand up for what you believe and I salute you for it, Freedom's Watch. It takes balls to hide behind a wounded vet and use him to make a political point.

    Unite behind victory? WE WON IN 2003. What we fucked up is the peace and there is no solid evidence that things are now suddenly going well. Things are QUIET and most of the ethnic cleansing is over because one side killed the other. And our troops are still in the middle of a civil war, no matter how quiet it's become.

    Sgt. Robinson, I appreciate your service. However, I disagree with you absolutely on this and think it's reprehensible you'd allow yourself to be used by a guy like Ari Fleischer. He was one of the people who LIED about WMD's. Don't forget, for a second, that the people you are now helping are the same ones who like to make fun of wounded vets.

    And yes, when it's politically expedient, they'll turn on you too.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    This. This is the right move

    Now this is some good news...

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, announced today that the Senate will not approve war funding this calender year unless it is a $50 billion measure that calls for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The supplemental proposal put forward by Reid - which will likely be introduced as legislation within a matter of weeks, maybe sooner - will mimic a version crafted by Democrats in the House of Representatives, an official with Reid's office confirmed. The cohesion between the chambers, said one Democratic aide, will help reinforce that the war is President Bush's responsibility, not Congress'.

    "This keeps the pressure on the president," the source said. "This is something the American people want done. This is representative democracy."

    Our insane President, Connecticut native George W. Bush, has already threatened to veto the bill, just like the one he vetoed Tuesday. Honestly, that's fine because it puts pressure on vulnerable Republicans and Democrats to cave in and support the override of the veto. It's a fight they, and he, can't win.

    Oh, sure, some will see this as replay of Congress vs. The President, 1996. Those folks are wrong. Bill Clinton wasn't insane. George Bush is and the American people know it. Republicans better be ready to cave fast on these votes or there will be hell to pay at the ballot box. Just in case you were wondering, his reason was 'fiscal responsiblity'. The budget sent by Congress was about 1.6% off what the President proposed, or about $10 billion. Bush, the fiscal conservative, increased DoD's NON-WAR budget by almost 10% and still wants almost $200 bn more for the war in Iraq.

    His next veto? He's saying it will be the tax bill that passed the House last week. It's the one that saves middle class taxpayers from the AMT and increases taxes on fund managers and Wall Street folks. That'll play well in the heartland.

    You Republicans really don't need to make things easy for us. We'll step on you like cockroaches, anyway.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Oh. God. Why do this to us?

    Right now, there are people walking around, talking and taking in oxygen that thought this was a good idea.

    Posted by barfly at 08:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Warren Buffett testifies today!

    First off, there was this in the WSJ suggesting Buffett may be the savior of the collateralized debt obligation market...

    In recent weeks, every major bond insurer has reached out to Berkshire -- owner of a range of companies including reinsurer General Re Corp. and auto insurer Geico -- as a source of capital relief while their financial strength comes under scrutiny by ratings firms and investors, according to these people. In the process of pleading their cases with Berkshire, these companies provide Mr. Buffett with opportunities to size up their businesses.

    "Fear has moved away from hurricanes and is now moving into the financial markets," said Glenn Tongue, a partner at T2 Partners LLC, a New York hedge fund that owns Berkshire Hathaway shares. "Warren Buffett can make a lot of money from fear," he said.

    And then there was this...

    Warren Buffett has said it before and he's likely to say it again to Congress on Wednesday: He thinks the heirs of the wealthy should be taxed on their inheritance.

    Buffett, one of the world's richest men and now its biggest philanthropist, has been an outspoken critic of efforts to repeal the estate tax and is scheduled to testify at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on how current law affects estate tax planning.

    The man is richer and smarter than every Republican in the Senate. It would be nice if they'd actually listen to someone who was successful instead of people who made their money off shareholders.

    "Without the estate tax, you in effect will have an aristocracy of wealth, which means you pass down the ability to command the resources of the nation based on heredity rather than merit," Buffett told the New York Times in 2001. "[Repeal would be like] choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics."

    Exactly.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 13, 2007

    Calling Bullshit : TSA to make travel even worse

    Just when you thought air travel in the US couldn't be any shittier, TSA is planning to implement some ridiculous program called 'secure flight' to restrict Americans from traveling with the permission of our government. First 100,000 on flight restrictions, now some douchebag asking me for my 'travel authorization'?

    To travel overseas, American Citizens will have to be cleared by Homeland Security. Get it? You will need permission from the Government to leave the country or enter. Now in case you are younger than me, you may not have learned the history lesson taught when I was a child. It was the story of Germany in the 1930’s and that fatal day when the Nazis began controlling who left and entered Germany. It was the beginning of the “final solution” and that should be something you do know about.

    I am not saying that the US government has any such plans for a “solution” but the idea of having to have all my travel cleared by the Government makes me angry and sad at the same time. How could our lawmakers, the people we elected do this to us? Easy, they are easy dupes for this kind of thing. Wrap a bad law in a patriotic name and the Congress will vote for it rather than to have to explain to their constituents what it means.

    The reality is that this isn't leading us to totalitarian government. It's just STUPID and the Democrats in Congress should do everything they can to stop it. Oh, sure, the Republicans will stand with the President against the American people. But it's important that the Democrats take a stand on this. And then beat the Republicans to DEATH at the polls with it.

    Posted by mcblogger at 06:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    3915 : A market in the balance

    3915 left committee, albeit in a much changed form. According to the rumors flying around there are many more changes to come prior to the bills arrival on the floor.

    So how did all this happen? The story I've heard from several sources involves a lobbying effort led by banks and consumer advocacy groups who thought this bill would actually do something good for consumers. There is an effort being rolled out to touch these consumer groups and help the to understand just how much power they are handing over to banks and how much competition will be lost with the shutdown of the TPO industry.

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Democratic voter backlash?

    Voters unsatisfied with Democratic efforts to remove us from Iraq are really pissed and threatening not to vote or voting for primary challengers. Duh.

    When the Democratic Party called up recently to ask Myrna Burgess for a campaign contribution, she answered with an emphatic ``no.''

    ``Nothing has been done as far as the war is concerned,'' said Burgess, 72, an Amtrak worker from Levittown, Pennsylvania.

    More than a year after anti-war voters like Burgess helped give Democrats control of Congress, there are more troops in Iraq, lawmakers have approved almost $100 billion in new war spending and congressional approval ratings are at record lows.

    Democrats now worry that their inability to make good on campaign promises to end or slow the war in Iraq will have consequences. The disaffection has already fueled at least four anti-war primary challenges to party incumbents, raising fears among some lawmakers of an intra-party fight that could drain momentum before next year's elections.

    ``They want someone to be held accountable,'' said Representative Lynn Woolsey of California, a leading anti-war Democrat in the House.

    Actually, it's not just Iraq, it's also AG Mukasey, restoration of Habeas Corpus, telecom immunity and the other issues on which the Democrats have decided to compromise with the Administration. Which is a nice way of saying 'Democrats let Bush have what he wanted because they were afraid of soft-on-terror campaign ads'. The political reality, which no one in Washington on the D side seems to get, is that it's better to pass bills you know Bush will veto so you can hold them up and say, 'Look. Look at what Republicans are doing to the country!'

    Part of the reason D's are in the majority now is to act as a roadblock to Bush and the Republicans until 2008 when we can replace the rest of them, if needed. Sure, originally (early in the year) we thought there might be some things the chastened Republicans would go for. They did and some good legislation got passed. However, we're now at the big ticket items and you don't compromise on those. You BEAT the Republicans to death with them and let voters know that if they want real, substantive progress we need a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President.

    If you can't get them to help pass good legislation, you stop them (and Bush) cold. Sometimes the biggest part job of a Member of Congress is just stopping bad things from happening. Apparently Schumer and Feinstein forgot that.

    Last note... keep Pelosi away from the press...

    Democratic leaders acknowledge that these stalemates may be eroding their support with the party's anti-war wing, and say they are aware of the potential for a voter backlash.

    ``We haven't been effective in ending the war in Iraq,'' Pelosi told reporters Nov. 1. ``If you asked me in a phone call, as ardent a Democrat as I am, I would disapprove of Congress as well.''

    Madam Speaker, it would have killed you to blame this all on the Republicans??!?!? Maybe take 5 seconds to explain that they are blocking good legislation by backing up Bush's vetos? Nancy, quit accepting blame for something you didn't do. It doesn't make you look humble, it makes you look stupid and meek.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Dregs : Some things you missed

  • Bush refused to allow a Marine Corps lawyer to testify on waterboarding.
  • Speaking of waterboarding, the Senate voted to confirm 'Let's-Take-A-Bath' Mukasey as our new Attorney General! Frank Rich wrote a brill piece on why this was not such a good idea for our esteemed sellouts, Senators Schumer and Feinstein. Just as a reminder, give money to Senate candidates. Don't bother giving to the DSCC because Schumer will waste it on losers. Like himself and Feinstein.
  • Ahead of still more protests in Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto is once again under arrest. By order of our good friend and ally in the war on terror, General Musharraf (the same one Frank Rich also said some things about in the piece I linked above),
  • The really big winner from last Tuesday's election? No, it's not our good friends at Zachry Construction, it's none other than T. Boone Picken's who created his own water district so he could use tax payer subsidized funding to transfer water from the depleted panhandle wells to Dallas/Fort Worth. You're the suck, Boone.No, really, you are. I know suck and you, my friend, are defintely the SUCK.
  • ELLN has a good post up about the IEA's conversion to environmental concerns, not to mention their questions about the feasibility of making the investments necessary to continue running the world off fossil fuels. Their estimate? It'll cost $22 trillion, or far more than it'll cost to convert the planet to biofuels.
  • Texas Monthly calls for the impeachment of Sharon Keller
  • Oh, there's more...

  • Dungeon Diary has a post up about a whistleblower at AT&T who's coming clean about the Administration's illegal wiretapping.
  • Jenny Hoff over at KXAN is doing an interesting series on her trip to Afghanistan
  • Once again, Texas ranks #1 in the nation for the most expensive home owner's insurance. And that's after all the tort reform 'savings'. You can thank the Republicans for that. I suggest you do it when you go to vote next year.
  • Congrats to the D's in Congress who voted for the Tax Relief Act... to those who voted along with the Republicans, we're hating on y'all.
  • Have a goodun!

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    You're dumb. Enjoy the NASCAR

    Chris Bell NAILS it...

    There's a great scene in "Night at the Museum" when Ben Stiller is trying to get the North and South to stop fighting the Civil War every night. He goes ahead and tells the North that they win and, as for the South, "You all get the Allman Brothers and NASCAR."

    While clearly intended for laughs, the South's legacy really might be rather dismal, if we don't change our attitude toward education.

    The Atlanta-based Southern Education Foundation released a report last week that showed for the first time in more than 40 years, the majority of children in public schools in the South are poor. In Texas, 56 percent of the public school pupils come from low-income families.

    "The South has a crisis of the first order of magnitude," said Lynn Huntley, SEF president. "The region is in the throes of a self-perpetuating, vicious cycle where poverty and low incomes are begetting a lack of education and, in turn, the lack of education is perpetuating and creating poverty and inequality."

    Every study shows that kids from poorer families have a much more difficult time in school. According to the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores, lower income fourth- and eighth-graders lagged 20 to 30 points behind their peers on math and reading tests. High school graduation and college attendance is also greatly reduced among lower income individuals.

    An SEF coordinator says that whether the South has an educated population in the future depends on the educational process being improved for poor children. School officials are certainly aware of the problem and, all across the country, there is an effort to improve teaching methods for economically disadvantaged youngsters.

    However, much of the same attitude still exists that has dragged down education in the South for years. As a region, the South spends less per pupil on education than other parts of the country. Texas continually ranks in the bottom third in this category.

    Look at the disparity in the funds spent on education in the North and South. Then look at the disparity in academic performance between the two regions. Despite the obvious correlation, we still hear the same tired argument that it's not about the money. I just received a mailer from the group opposing the Houston Independent School District bond issue trying to make that same sad case.

    The unfortunate reality is that it is about the money. Whether you're talking about new programs aimed at helping economically disadvantaged kids, teacher salaries big enough to ensure quality individuals choosing and staying in the profession or comfortable surroundings in which to learn, there's a price tag attached. In the South, we've been trying to get by on the cheap for years, and the old adage that you get what you pay for has never been truer.

    If the South is going to flourish economically in the future, our public school product is going to have to improve. An uneducated work force simply won't cut it going forward and will take its toll on everyone.

    With the challenge becoming more difficult for public schools because of the low-income status of so many pupils, the time to invest and give them what they need is now.

    No offense to fans of the Allman Brothers and NASCAR, but I want the South to be remembered for much more in the future.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    What's going on in the Alliance...

    Once again it's time for the Texas Progressive Alliance's Texas Blog Round-Up. This week's round-up is brought to you by Vince from Capitol Annex.

    TXsharon at Bluedaze sounds an alert about an investigative report exposing The Most Toxic Substance on Earth and the Barnett Shale gas exploration.

    CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is disgusted with UT Southwestern Medical Center's policy of using state funds to give the 'elite' special treatment while the rest of us languish.

    McBlogger wants to know why Barney Frank is loving on big banks with his Kill The Mortgage Market bill, HR 3915.

    Xanthippas at Three Wise Men says be on the look out for how credit card and home mortgage lenders will screw you by making you pay debts you don't actually owe.

    Muse finds herself in the middle of a massive police presence and wonders if she has wandered into a manhunt. Nah, not an escaped convict, just W in town to get slobbered on by his lapdog, John Cornyn, at a fundraiser.

    At Half Empty, Hal questions whether Congressmen Lantos' and Smith's excoriation of Yahoo! chiefs for releasing information to the ChiComs, is just the pot calling the kettle black.

    Burnt Orange Report is all over the runoff for HD 97. Todd Hill gives an analysis of on the ground action and why Democrat Dan Barrett came in first place to secure a runoff spot in the HD 97 race this past week. Phillip Martin breaks down the numbers and price-per-vote, while also looking at some possibly illegal practices by the Republican in the runoff, Mark Shelton.

    John Coby at Bay Area Houston writes about Bay Area Houston State Representative John Davis being slapped by the Ethics Watchdog. Again.

    The Texas Cloverleaf's hide is chapped by the abolishment of the hide inspectors and calls for a new Texas Constitutional Convention.

    BossKitty at BlueBloggin points out how the Bush administration shows their support for veterans and the troops in US Tax Dollars NOT Spent on Homeless Veterans - Words Are Cheaper.

    Texas Toad at North Texas Liberal fills us in on Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson's announcement of the delay in the sale of the Christmas Mountains, as well as the reaction of Environment Texas.

    Lightseeker at Texas Kaos tells that gigantic slurping sound from a few acres of scrub in north Texas was just T. Boone Pickens stealing water rights..

    Vince at Capitol Annex has some reservations about the fact that the Bill White 2010 bandwagon is already rolling down the tracks.

    WhosPlayin takes a look at an aspiring new "non-partisan" political party - the GOOOH party.

    Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News had one of his (in)famous what I did election day posts.

    PDiddie is fed up with Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, and intends to support only members of the Democratic Party such as Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards. He clarifies the distinction in "The Democrat Party vs. the Democratic Party", at Brains and Eggs.

    WCNews at Eye on Williamson has video of the TCRP's Scott Medlock Discussing Williamson County, T. Don Hutto, & CCA.

    Off the Kuff does a little after action review by examining his Election Day predictions to see how they turned out.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 12, 2007

    Bill Gross sees the future

    PIMCO bond fund manager Bill Gross recently said that the Fed can not afford to let the housing industry go down the tubes...

    The Federal Reserve "cannot afford" to let U.S. housing prices fall sharply and will have to cut interest rates aggressively to prevent that from happening, said the manager of the world's biggest bond fund on Monday.

    "A Fed cannot afford to let homes go down by 10 to 15 percent like we saw in Japan," said Bill Gross, chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co. or Pimco, on CNBC Television.

    Already, the housing market is facing turmoil in so-called subprime loans made to borrowers with shaky credit. Delinquencies are rising on subprime mortgages and defaults are piling up at record rates as home prices sink, pressuring consumers' desire to spend.

    What does all this mean? The Fed will likely drop rates because a collapse in housing is the worst possible outcome. When that happens, the dollar will collapse still further making oil even more expensive and inflation a real concern. Which is why Gross is spending so much time buying assets denominated in anything other than the dollar.

    Gross manages more than half of a trillion dollars for PIMCO.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    They say if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail

    Man Hospitalized After Using Shotgun To Loosen Lug Nut

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 03:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Blackwater has it's own CIA

    What the hell is Prince doing over there, duplicating the national security apparatus of the United States?

    The operation, Total Intelligence Solutions, has assembled a roster of former spooks -- high-ranking figures from agencies such as the CIA and defense intelligence -- that mirrors the slate of former military officials who run Blackwater. Its chairman is Cofer Black, the former head of counterterrorism at CIA known for his leading role in many of the agency's more controversial programs, including the rendition and interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and the detention of some of them in secret prisons overseas.

    Its chief executive is Robert Richer, a former CIA associate deputy director of operations who was heavily involved in running the agency's role in the Iraq war.

    So Prince has the guy who gave us extraordinary rendition and the guy who brought us brilliant intel in Iraq. Is anyone actually contracting with this company?

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Ouch! It hurts! or Rising oil price impacts around the world

    The WaPo has a great piece up about the impact of $100/bbl oil around the globe. It's not really surprising that exporters are doing well and importers are doing badly. What caught my eye is what's happening in Brazil...

    In Brazil, the region's largest economy, high oil prices have had a different political effect. Last year, the country became a net oil exporter, thanks to major increases in domestic oil exploration and the country's broad use of sugar-based ethanol as a transport fuel.

    Actually, Brazil doesn't produce much oil, less than the US in fact. However, they do use sugar cane ethanol for just about all their transport fuel with the remainder coming from soya diesel. Brazil's economy is soaring thanks to their independence from petroleum.

    Anyone who tells you that we can't move to biofuels in the US is lying. The Brazilians did it with sugarcane and we're a decade ahead of them in refining capacity thanks to all our work to render inefficient corn into ethanol. There really aren't any excuses. This is something that's not just good for the environment, it's the right thing to do for the economy.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Rove returns to his adopted home

    We've withheld comment on Rove's return to Texas because frankly it makes us sick. With him in state, we become the third most attractive state. We were second. Him in Austin is just... well, it's weird. Like Crisco in pâté. Which reminds me...

    Seriously, we don't need more pasty, fat, talentless white people. And buttertrolls just look out of place in Austin. Try Houston, Karl.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 11, 2007

    You're running for Governor? Seriously?

    OK, other than KBH, let me take a moment to rain down shit all over the little parade the Republicans have going as to who will be their candidate in 2010...

    Dan Bartlett - BARRING an incident in which he saves a school bus full of elementary kids from a fiery death, no chance. ZILCH. He has as much chance of being Governor has he does being named Man of the Year by the Gitmo Prisoners Association.

    Karen Hughes - Oh. Come. On. Even her suburban soccer mom 'constituency' would just as soon run her down with their minivans as vote for her.

    Don Evans - Who? The guy who announces things on SNL? Or is he the dead guy who played opposite Tim Conway and Andy Griffith in some lame thing?

    Margaret Spellings - Sure. Right. Only if she starts doing her hair like PinkLady's boss who we aren't allowed to mention because we'll make fun of his hair.

    KBH is the only one in the bunch who won't get slapped around by the Democrat. Or Kinky.

    Posted by mcblogger at 05:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    A massive week for Rick Noriega!

    While Cornyn was planning his fundraiser with Connecticut native George W. Bush, Rick Noriega was busy lining up endorsements from

    John Kerry

    VoteVets.org

    Democracy for America

    Gen. Wesley Clark

    VoteVets and Clark really caught my eye. It's important to note that military voters have, over the last two cycles, begun shifting to the Democrats. Good to see Noriega is continuing that trend.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 10, 2007

    And now, it's our problem...

    The Zetas, the enforcement arm of Mexico's Gulf Cartel, isn't satisfied with just being able to kill, at will, in Mexico. They are developing that ability here as well, according to Grits.

    Those who consider violence by drug cartels a Mexican problem will want to read this Dallas News story ("American youths doing drug cartels dirty work," Nov. 10) describing how Los Zetas - a group of former US-trained Mexican military commandos who defected to join the Gulf Cartel as enforcers - hire and train youth as young as 13 to commit murders and perform cartel business on the Texas side of the border. Much of the public information about this shadowy network comes from the prosecution of Rosalio Reta, one of the teenage "Zetillas" prosecuted this summer for murders in Laredo on the US side.

    Clearly, law enforcement is doing it's level best here in the states to keep up with well funded and well armed thugs. However, as long as we continue this ridiculous war on drugs (which has, effectively, been a 30+ year failure) the best we can hope for is for law enforcement to keep them in check. The reality is that the only thing working for us is the greed of the cartel. If they were willing to make a real investment infrastructure and personnel, they'd be a VERY serious threat to the peace.

    Legalize. Cut them off at the knees and be done with it.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Stop Sharon Keller. No, really, STOP.

    Next Friday some folks are going to help deliver a complaint demanding the removal from the bench of Sharon Keller.

    I might go, I might not. That'll depend on my real job. However, don't let my absence make you think I'm not interested in getting this bitch out of the judiciary.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 09, 2007

    Surrender monkeys!

    The leadership of the Fort Bend County GOP, in an effort to emulate their fearless leader (Tom DeLay), has all quit. Coby has the details and some great quotes!

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Do we really need a massive condo development on Lake Austin Blvd?

    Jennifer Kim is asking people in Austin to come out to the UT Regents meeting where they will be deciding the fate of the Breckenridge tract which includes the massive block of land bounded by Enfield, Exposition and Lake Austin Blvd.

    Oh, it's by the Randall's and Maudie's off LAB. You know damn well where it is.

    Personally, I think UT is trying to sell at the top and from a financial standpoint they are wise to do so. The city should then rezone the tract because more dense development is not optimal there.


    Posted by mcblogger at 12:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    House moves one step closer to contempt charges

    The White House is still stonewalling the House Judiciary Committee and it looks like the next step is contempt of Congress.

    The House Judiciary Committee sent a final warning to the White House yesterday to provide Democrats with access to disputed documents and testimony, pushing the House closer to a vote on contempt citations for two administration officials.

    In a letter to White House counsel Fred F. Fielding, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), gave the Bush administration until Friday to work out a deal on documents and testimony relating to last year's controversial removal of nine U.S. attorneys. If Fielding refuses the latest request, the House could vote as early as next week on the contempt charges, Democratic aides said.

    The committee also filed a formal, 102-page contempt report with the House clerk that lays out its request for testimony from former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers and for documents controlled by White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    You'll have to excuse me for a second...

    I'm going to have to step away from the blog for just a minute as I've been overcome with a mixture of anger and frustration. I was already having issues due to the fact that I want to see No Country For Old Men this weekend and I don't live in NYC, Toronto or LA.

    And, just as that disappointment reached it's apex, I read this weeks Watson Wire. The sheer inanity has really unbalanced me and I'm going to need a break. I'll probably have a drink and a cigarette. Maybe listen to some relaxing music. You should, too.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Tolls : TXDoT to slow down 35 for Cintra-Zachry...

    Yeah, we kinda told you so...now the Statesman is all over it.

    The state's privatization contract for the 40-mile stretch of Texas 130, which will run parallel of I-35 to the east, includes the option for the state to earn credit, though not payment, for pushing traffic to the tollway. That includes by lowering I-35 speed limits.

    But a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation said the agency won't do that, even for financial gain.

    "We don't expect to be reducing speed limits on I-35," spokeswoman Gaby Garcia said. "They are set by traffic engineering studies and not by economic gain."

    The state signed the Texas 130 deal in March with a consortium made up of Cintra of Spain and Zachry Construction Corp. of San Antonio.

    Not to be rude, but who wrote this stupid story? For one thing, she did NOT say that they won't drop speeds on 35. She said 'they don't expect to' which is as good as 'we'll do it when no one is looking!'

    Oh, and it appears some R Legislators are really irritated about TXDoT's advertising plan. Wanna bet that goes nowhere?

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    It's OK, Hans. We know you're a tard.

    No one's ever accused Hans Klinger of being smart. Except maybe TinaFish who is, herself, quite the mongo.

    Hans, the spokeskitten for the Texas Republican Party, yesterday dropped what he thought would be THA BOMB on the Noriega Campaign. Unfortunately for dear, sweet, dumb as a post Hans, he hit only one of the fundraising links. You'll have to excuse Hans because in addition to having an IQ of 71, he really doesn't understand this 'online fundraising through the tubes' thing. Like many Republicans, he doesn't know that fundraising links usually aggregate as part of a coordinated effort (we did the same thing during the Q3 fundraiser) to one page. It's why Republicans suck at it, much like they do at governing and balancing budgets.

    Before Hans was set straight, he did get picked up by R. G. Ratcliffe over at the Chron blog. R. G. bought it hook, line and sinker and even kept defending the piece all afternoon. A word of advice... make sure you're right before you post something. You could have picked up that link at anytime. We all knew about it.

    Oh, and Hans, instead of trying to play GOTCHA! with people who are smarter than you, why not try defending your party's lame ass candidate?

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 08, 2007

    It's back to the OC...

    Well, season 3 of 'The Real Housewives Of The O.C.' premiered this week , and all seems well. It appears they followed basic logic, and gave little Josephine the boot. I wish I could say that I am sorry to see her go, but nope. And BONUS, her absence guarantees a Sladeless season, so yay us!

    Vicki is back and with her everything that is gross and wildly inappropriate. She is such a fucking emotional terrorist with her kids. This modern day Medea's weapon of choice is the pocketbook. She merrily handed the keys of a Mercedes to her daughter, Briana, for the small price of controlling every aspect of her life. Poor Briana. Heaven knows that girl is more normal than she has any right to be. It's not just that Vicki wants to live her life through her daughter. She wants to burrow up her asshole. And is it just me, or is Vicki jealous of Briana's boyfriend? She is so creepy with this shit that I felt my skin crawl during that awful/painful/sick lunch date. Yuck.

    Tammy is a far different enabler/mother. Her two girls have recently lost their father. They are obviously having difficulty with it which sucks. Bummer. What's really a crapper is, with no last will and testament, their dad's young Thai bride gets everything. It seems the mail order wench wasted no time in showing her beloved stepdaughters the door. Not a bummer, because, frankly, I find it somewhat amusing.

    Speaking of brides, Lauri is still headed down the aisle with dumb as a box of hair George. I've said it before, but what a fucking mark! She thinks someone was watching over her when she met George. I'm sure it was the divine Goddess of Mammoplasty. So basically, they are planning the wedding, and blending their two families. The girls are getting along great. No mention of Lauri's son, but my money is on contract killing. When Lauri speculates on her future marital happiness, she must see her son as the black stone rune in the divining bag.

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketNot that she is the only one with questionable kids. Jeana is back and breaking out of her shell. I must admit, she has kinda grown on me. However, her sons are still repulsive. It takes a mother to greet Shane's return with such enthusiasm. Most would find it akin to a herpes outbreak, but whatever. Poor Cara is the only saving grace. It seems both boys are complete assholes. Growing up with that shitty father must have been like attending a charm school but in reverse.

    The real event is the debut of the latest housewife, Tamra. She's turning 40, but still believes she is the hottest housewife in the O.C. Admittedly, she is pretty hot, be it in a 'ho for sho' kinda way. I find her somewhat yawn inducing. Oh, and what was with her 21 year old son running around with her underwear? Her response? "You punk." Huh?... Anyway, I am still optimistic. She looks like she might be luscious, so that's good. Looks like we are in for a great season! Cheers!

    Posted by barfly at 05:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Global warming and tasty lobster

    Lobster have been disappearing for years from the Long Island Sound. I thought the only thing that ever lived there was sewage from Manhattan and CT, but apparently there is marine life there. Or rather, there used to be until the temp went up a bit and all the lobster croaked.

    Just to provide a little fuel for the fire, the Arctic ice extent minimum, the point in the year where the arctic ice cap is smallest, went all the way to late September this year. Which very clearly points to, you guessed it, warmer climate.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Just a swingin'

    First, let me get this off my chest. We all have things about which we are ashamed. Something in our past that makes us sweat when it's brought up during an interview. Or a cocktail party. Mine is so dark, so horrible that I've only told McBlogger who has an even more embarrassing secret he shared with me. However, something I saw today caught my eye...and is making me come clean on my past.

    I was raised in Duncanville. There. I said it. I would say I feel better but really, I don't care what you think. And if you try to give me shit about it, I'll sue you.

    As for what made me admit this, well... I saw something funny regarding the elections. Duncanville decided to ban sex clubs in private residences. There is apparently a house in Duncanville not far from where I grew up known in swinger circles as "The Cherry Pit". It is reportedly used to host parties which attract up to 200 people at a time. Since the City Council decided to outlaw sex clubs at private residences in response to neighbor complaints, there is now a legal controversy. And no. I'm not defending these people. Just watch the video when you click the link.

    Would you get anywhere NEAR somebody with such an obvious, large scab on their forehead? You can't tell me this lifestyle doesn't have a repulsive element to it. And I think they'd bounce their retainer check.

    Anyway, what's really funny about this, other than a swinger house being located smack dab in suburbia 'Behind the Stained Glass Curtain', is that the high school show choir is officially named "The Swingers." And I'm a liberal hippy freak for leaving Duncanville and moving to Austin......whatever........

    Posted by hbalczak at 12:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Sending out an SOS

    The Austin City Council is voting on some changes to the SOS Ordinance to make it easier for developers to build mega structures in the watershed. You and I know it's a case of bad idea jeans but the City Council always likes to accommodate developers whenever possible. It's largely pointless because they'll always keep asking for more and environmental stalwarts like Red Tag Betty will continue to fold up at the first sign of confrontation, not unlike a bad poker player (I'm looking at you too, Brewster).

    So, make another pointless gesture and ask them to stop. Nicely.

    Oh, one other piece of advice from your friendly banker... if you're in the market to buy a condo, especially downtown, ask the Realtor or the sales agent if the project they are showing you is 1028 approved. If they look at you blankly, thank them for their time and remove yourself from the building post haste. If you're hell bent on buying the thing, email me and I'll refer you to a couple of LO's who actually know how to do these.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    If I gave Schumer $20 would he not tax me?

    Man, oh man... Chuck Schumer just can't stop dropping himself in the grease.

    In early June, as the Senate Finance Committee began examining how a new breed of Wall Street titan could be paying a special low tax rate on executives' salaries, one of the richest of them, hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors, cut the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee a check for $28,500.

    Just days later, with DSCC Chairman Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) equivocating on legislation to raise taxes on publicly traded equity firms, hedge fund giant James H. Simons, who earned $1.7 billion last year at his Renaissance Technologies LLC, donated another $28,500 to the DSCC.

    By late July, Schumer was off the fence -- and on the side of the hedge funds and private-equity firms in opposing the Democratic legislation.

    We talked about this a few months ago. At the time I imagined it was the pig headed supply side Republicans who were blocking things. Turns out, they are only part of the problem. Schumer is the other. Sounds familiar, right?

    Seriously, Chuck, these guys aren't going to cut the purse strings. They know this is coming and it's time to balance the books.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 07, 2007

    Hanging kids on a compromise

    The Chron (via Kuffner) had an article up recently (last week... I got busy and ignored it) regarding Kay Bailey Hutchison's flip-flop on S-CHIP.

    Hutchison, a longtime defender of the SCHIP program, said Wednesday that she cast her vote in protest of the Democrats' refusal to hash out a deal with the White House. She made it clear, though, that she will support the legislation when it comes to a final vote.

    "Regrettably, today's procedural vote in the Senate was on SCHIP legislation that was passed by the House without any collaboration with the president," she said. "Some in Congress have chosen to play politics with this issue, rather than sit down and negotiate a bipartisan compromise."

    Hutchison urged Democratic leaders to "abandon this political gamesmanship and work toward a bill the president will sign."

    But it was a Senate Republican leader, Trent Lott of Mississippi, who forced the bill to the floor even as Democrats were willing to allow more time for the bill's Democratic and Republican supporters to negotiate.

    Kay, doll, the President and every other Republican should be on their knees supporting this version of the bill. More than 70% of the country does. Sticking with the President on this issue is a bad move, especially since he's the one hell bent on playing games with the health of children.

    Yeah, this isn't an issue you want to oppose D's on, especially in light of the fact that R's don't have a very good record on voting to help the middle class.

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Telecom immunity on the skids...

    As part of the FISA expansion/ warrantless wiretapping bill, the Administration and some in Congress (mostly Republicans but a few Democrats as well) have advanced a proposal to hold telecom companies that cooperated with the illegal wiretaps (advanced by Bush) harmless with a retroactive immunity law.

    Say that five times fast, then spin around 10 times.

    Now it appears that the Judiciary Committee is going to put this proposal down for a dirt nap, despite the best intentions of Senator Lawnchair. But that hasn't stopped some from making some rather outlandish claims, like a certain overreaching asst. AG...

    Assistant Attorney General Kenneth L. Wainstein told the committee that immunity was a question of "fairness" for the carriers. He also said that proceeding with the cases risks the divulgence of classified information. The government has invoked a claim of state secrets to stop the litigation. "If we don't prevail with state secrets," Wainstein said, "then there's no guarantee that that information is not going to get out. In fact, even just the filing of lawsuits and the allegations made can actually end up . . . compromising sensitive sources and methods."

    "Oh, really?" Specter replied. "Allegations in a lawsuit from people who are plaintiffs who don't have any inside information?"

    "Yes," Wainstein said.

    Kenny, this is the most specious argument I've seen advanced from the Administration since Condosleaza's admonishment about 'mushroom clouds'. Your excuses, Kenny are pretty embarrassing. The reality is if the Administration had done things the right way this wouldn't be an issue. Instead, they acted like a bunch of retards at the Y and shit all in the pool.

    Yes. I totally ripped that from Drawn Together. Still, Kenny's argument is only marginally dumber than the one advanced by former AG Ashcroft who has recovered nicely from nearly having his heart ripped out by Card and Gonzales. Now he's working for the telecom companies. The same ones who are begging and pleading for the immunity...

    Those firms, he explains, were acting on "explicit assurances from the highest levels of government that the activities in question were authorized by the president and determined to be lawful."

    Uhm... on something like this, they would need a letter from the AG. You didn't give them one, did you John? No? Oh well, too bad so sad.

    By what principle of justice should anyone face potentially ruinous liability for cooperating with intelligence activities that are authorized by the president and whose legality has been reviewed and approved by our most senior legal officials?

    Here again, John, did you write them a get out of jail free letter? Oh, let me answer that for you... no. You didn't. Because YOU knew it was illegal. Now you're grubbing for money from the same people you put in this spot. Nice work, John. You'd make an excellent grifter. Wait... you already ARE.

    These cases have to advance and they have to reach a final conclusion. If that conclusion is a massive settlement, then so be it. If it ends up bankrupting the company, so much the better. For one thing, it'll force shareholders to take more of an interest in what management is doing. For another, it'll show that no company is above the law.

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Lying about the economy

    We talked about inflation last month, basically how the numbers were a load of crap and that any true measure of inflation must take into account food and energy prices. Now Bonddad has some more. And charts!

    I love me some charts!

    And for those of you who think inflation doesn't matter, the dollar has been hitting all time lows against foreign currencies, oil is hovering near $100/bbl and gold is $845/ounce. True, commodity inflation in terms of dollars has been extreme and is being caused by geopolitical issues and risks as well as inflationary monetary policy here in the US. However, the move is so extreme and so fast that it neatly points out exactly how wrong supply side theory in a low tax environment is.

    Finally, we haven't even hit round three of the credit crunch which will be closely tied to revaluations of level 3 assets and liabilities on corporate and bank balance sheets. Forbes has more on this here with a specific look at Citi. Here's the 10 cent explanation...

    On November 15th new FASB rule will alter the valuations than can be placed on level 3 assets and liabilities? What are level 3 A's and L's? Simply, they are assets and liabilities that do not trade in a liquid market environment, like a stock exchange. These are normally specialized assets tied to specific securities or risks that involve, in some cases, multiple counterparties one or more of whom may not be financially solvent. Which means that no one wants to buy the asset from you (they have no marketable value) and you may never collect from the counterparty should the trade turn your way.

    What's happening now is that CDO's (a group that included mortgage backed securities) are being moved from level 2 to level 3 assets since there is, in many cases, no liquid market for them. The cool thing about level 3 assets is that they are literally worth whatever you say they are worth. Oh sure, there are some complex financial models that tell you what they're supposedly worth. However, the models all depend on information. If there isn't any, then you're working off best guess and your financial model may as well be a coin you flip.

    Citi now says it has more than $140 bn in level 3 assets. Which, right now, effectively means that there is a $140 bn hole in Citi's balance sheet.

    When these assets get revalued it's going to suck conservatively $500 bn out of the US economy. Which will help stabilize the dollar at least. I just feel bad for the shareholders who are about to lose a lot of value because of more bad decision making by the management teams that run their companies.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    What... were y'all, DRUNK?!?!

    The results of the election on the Constitutional Amendments are here. I seriously don't get this...some of you need to stop huffing gold spray paint. I very clearly told you to vote against the Governor's 'Cancer Research' slush fund and TXDoT's 'Bend over, baby' bond issue. Some of you clearly got confused. Which makes you stupid.

    Pink Dome has an exhaustive list of other races around the state and the US. Phillip over at BOR has some great information on Dan Barrett's race in Fort Worth. He's in a runoff with some CradDICK Republican asshat.

    In other news that matters maybe not so much to you, Melissa Noriega made Roy Morales her bitch. Again. Roy, if you keep putting yourself in a position to get fucked I'm totally sending you a dildo so you can enjoy it all the time, not just election day! The Trinity Toll Road vote failed which means Dallas taxpayers really are as dumb as a box of rocks. By a margin of 53%-47%, voters decided that a tollway was OK with them in the middle of a park. And that they also liked Terri Hodge's brill pomise of 30,000+ jobs for Southern Dallas.

    Gromer Jeffers at the DMN calls out the winners and losers. While I like Gromer a lot, he's way off base on Hunt being a loser as a result of the vote. It was her vs. EVERYONE in a race that found her opponents with 8 times the money she raised. Even still, she came within 3.1% of victory? With everything working against her?

    Yeah, Gromer, the election may not have been decided the way she wanted but she just became the most powerful person in North Texas politics. Just watch this and tell me you don't see it.

    Hunt has something that's very rare in Dallas County... integrity and tenacity. If I were a member of the 'Dallas business elite' I'd be trying to get a meeting with her ASAP. Before she decides to pick on you individually.


    Posted by mcblogger at 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    You're a imPeach, Congressman!

    You know, I wasn't all that thrilled with Steny Hoyer as Majority Leader in the House but I gotta tell you, after yesterday's performance he's earned some major respect. Blue Bloggin has the deets on Kucinich bringing his inane Cheney impeachment bill to the floor. There were enough votes to table, until the rat brain R's (led by the colossally inept Boehner) flipped and decided it was time for a debate on the issue. Johnny on the spot Hoyer immediately made a motion to send the bill to Conyer's Judiciary Committee and the House promptly voted to do so. Where there will be hearings. Endless hearings that will embarrass the Vice President.

    Here's the thing... Boehner wanted the debate.

    Republicans gleefully said they wanted the debate to show the public how many Democrats would actually support impeaching Cheney, which they consider a move supported only by a fringe element of anti-war activists.

    Uhm... 54% of this country is not an 'anti-war' fringe. It's the majority. The fringe are the people who don't want Cheney impeached. That being said, Hoyer, Pelosi and Conyers are right. There are better things for Congress to do. But once those things are done, they should move forward with impeachment.

    Not to be cynical, but politically it's a great move. We all intensely dislike Cheney. Even Gerald Ford thought he was a douche. People in Vermont would like to set him on fire. Needless to say, this isn't an issue a Republican looking to get re-elected should be looking to take on. Got that, Boehner?

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 06, 2007

    The saddest news I heard all day...

    Foreclosure proceedings have begun against Michael Jackson by the lender holding the mortgage on Neverland Ranch.

    Barney Frank will be having a press conference on this tomorrow during which he will blame mortgage brokers, Pat Boone and the ghost of Scatman Caruthers.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Shitty Chinese Cars

    As if there weren't enough shitty products coming out of China (where we are banned anyway... fuck you, China!), now they are unleashing their crappy cars on the world. Luckily, Detroit still has enough power to block imports of these particular death traps. The Russians, unfortunately, don't have Detroit and it's lobbyists. Which is a real pity.

    Watch the video. It's a riot if you've ever though it would be funny to watch a car fold up like a tissue box.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Plastic electricity

    Gizmodo has the low down on dual layer plastic photovoltaics. While less efficient than semiconductor based PV systems, these plastic cells are very cheap to produce and drop price/efficiency ratios significantly.

    Nobel prize-winning scientist Alan Heeger and his buddies have figured out a way to print more-efficient plastic solar cells, boosting their efficiency to 6.5%, a world record for these photovoltaic polymers. Heeger and his colleagues perform this trick by using two layers of different types of plastic, and whenever one layer doesn't turn light into electricity, the other one picks up the slack. Now the scientists are getting cocky, saying they can improve the tech even further.

    Plus, you can make them out of plant or petroleum polymers. Granted this is all still in prototyping, but as we've seen in other systems, the pace of R&D has accelerated in recent years. It's not unlikely that you'll see plastic PV systems commercially deployed by the end of 2009. Shortly thereafter, Sears will be begin offering it as a siding option.

    Oh, and here's a graphic.

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


    Posted by mcblogger at 01:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Blogging 'round the state

    It is time once again for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's Texas Blog Round-Up. Before we get down to this week's edition, however, TPA members want to encourage all of our readers to vote for two TPA member blogs in the 2007 Weblog Awards: Three Wise Men and The Agonist. Vote for

    Three Wise Men here and The Agonist here.

    The Texas Cloverleaf looks at the final installment of Trinity Trickery and implores Dallas residents to Vote Yes on Prop 1 on November 6th!

    At Bluedaze we learn from TXsharon that the FWISD Participates in a Web of Deceit with Barnett Shale Producers and how the school district helps spread oil company propaganda at the expense of education.

    Hal and some friends attended Nick Lampson's (TX-22) NCLB Town Hall Meeting this past week and reports from Half Empty.

    Bill Howell of Stoutdemblog quotes from and links to the firestorm on the web over Barack Obama's knowing use of a homophobic hatespeaker as emcee of a campaign rally in I Love A Tirade.

    Upset about the enthusiasm of some in Congress for an AG
    that thinks torture is OK
    and views Constitutional check and balances as 'quaint'? So is McBlogger.

    Off the Kuff looks at the fate of the Astrodome now that the Texans and the Rodeo have come out against a plan to redevelop it as a hotel/convention center.

    North Texas Liberal's Texas Toad tells us a Halloween horror story about global warming deniers Fred Singer, Don Erler, and their ilk in Planet Purgatory Parts One and Two.


    Would you feel honored if a city named a street after you? What if the street was broken into non-continuous segments and wound its way through backwater sidestreets of town? What if no one even knew where the street was? Well, that's how Lubbock has "honored" Cesar Chavez, notes Blue 19th.

    Over at Texas Kaos, there's a report on Texans giving Darth Cheney a well deserved reception up in Dallas. Succinctly put, Don't Iraq Iran!

    David Van Os has an opposing viewpoint of several of the constitutional amendments on Tuesday's ballot, and shares it at Brains and Eggs.

    Over at Three Wise Men, Nat Wu analyzes the situation in Africa, particularly renewed talk of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, while Xanthippas takes on Scott Horton's view that being "grown-up" Democrat when it comes to foreign policy is giving Bush what he asks for.

    Vince at Capitol Annex notes that if screwing the middle class was a Congressional sex scandal, Texas' GOP Congressmen would be making serious headlines.

    NYTexan at BlueBloggin explores Bush's endless veto pen and his continued disregard for the Katrina victims.

    WCNews at Eye on Williamson asks why is every former Bush administration official from Texas always rumored to running for public office in Texas? In The Definition of Insanity.

    This week's episode of TheTexas Blue's Who's Blue interview series features former Texas Congressman and Attorney General Jim Mattox, who shares with us his observations on Texas campaigns throughout his career and how the national mood may affect the coming election cycle.

    Hope you enjoyed this weeks episode which was brought to you by Blackwater, our friends at Halliburton, the letter 'Q' and the number 1789667685.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Why is Barney Frank pimping for big banks?

    This morning, HR 3915 goes to markup in the Financial Services Committee. I know this sounds about as thrilling as clipping your toe nails, but the reality is that this bill will effect your life in a number of ways, especially if you want to buy or refinance a home. If this bill becomes law the mortgage industry, already suffering under a difficult credit cycle, will cease to exist as we know it.

    In it's place will return the bad old days of mortgage lending, when it was impossible to buy a home with less than 10% down and when big banks set the interest rate, not the market. This isn't a return to local lending, something that already exists with the millions of mortgage brokers that provide financing to Americans today. This is a return to big corporate banking and unless your credit is perfect, get ready to rent for a long, long time. The only question is, why would Barney Frank do this?

    Here's the skinny on what's so wrong...

  • 3915 will effectively eliminate the ability of 30-35% of Americans to buy a home. By legislating underwriting guidelines, Congress will end the ability of lenders to establish their own underwriting guidelines and risk tolerances. More than 30% of Americans have either hard to document income/assets OR have poor or no credit. Under 3915, there will be no way to lend these otherwise good borrowers the money they need to purchase a home.
  • 3915 will destroy the competitive origination market by effectively eliminating third party originators (TPO's, or Brokers). This will leave only consumer banks who have, in the past, taken advantage of borrowers. Competition in the mortgage market is essential to making sure that the vast majority of Americans can obtain the best financing for their particular situation.
  • Low or no down payment options other than FHA insured/VA guaranteed loans will disappear from the market as retail banks will not need to be competitive with brokers. Borrowers who can't pay their own closing costs will find it very difficult to obtain a loan since brokers will no longer be able to buy out the fee with YSP.
  • Eliminating the ability of TPO’s to receive Yield Spread Premium will create an unbalanced playing field since retail banks will be able to make YSP and not have to disclose to their borrowers that they are being paid. That's the reality of every mortgage... each and every one has YSP or it's kissing cousin Service Release Premium. Most brokers make YSP which is a combination of rate and released servicing.
  • The bill does nothing to address the abuses of builder controlled mortgage entities, including steering borrowers to their captive subsidiaries and/or ABA’s.
  • HR 3915 will have a deleterious effect on the thousands of minority owned and operated mortgage brokerages around the country. These are small businesses that are truly the backbone of our economy. If this bill becomes law, millions across this country will find themselves out of work.
  • HR 3915 does nothing to fund enforcement which has been desperately needed for years. It does set up licensing and registration requirements, which most brokers actually favor (usually because they are licensed by their state government.
  • There has, admittedly, been tons of bad coverage about mortgages going bad in the US. Basically, an entire industry is being dragged down by a few bad actors, less than 2% of the brokers in the US. The real problem is with builders like DR Horton who own their own mortgage companies and steer home buyers to them by offering incentives... but only if the buyers use THEIR mortgage company.

    In reality, this bill will do little to stop bad lending practices. The only thing it will do is make sure that there isn't anyone to keep the banks honest. Without mortgage brokers keeping the market competitive, there's no one to help you. Further, the laws and regulations we have now are enough but, like the EPA, the money to enforce them is lacking. Why isn't Frank concentrating on that? He can propose an appropriations bill as easily as any other member of Congress.

    Chairman Frank and the other co-sponsors may not realize the damage they are about to do. That's why it's important to LET them know.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 05, 2007

    Go Melissa! Two more years!

    Melissa Noriega, who won a spot on the Houston City Council earlier this year, is running for the full two year term and the election is tomorrow. So, if you're in Houston and haven't early voted, get thine ass in gear!

    Head over to Melissa's fabulous website if you have questions or need to know polling locations!

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Oversubscribed

    PetroChina shares went public today in Shanghai to Chinese domestic investors who have been unable to buy the stock which trade in NYC and HK. The offering was so massively oversubscribed that at one point the company had a valuation of more than $1 trillion, double that of Exxon.

    It was a record-setting day for PetroChina (PTR). With an $8.9 billion debut in Shanghai, the state-controlled oil-and-gas producer laid claim to raising the greatest amount of money of any new listing globally this year. By the end of the first day of Shanghai trading on Nov. 5, PetroChina's share price had more than doubled, to 59¢, up 163%.

    The Beijing-based company first went public in New York and Hong Kong in 2000, but until the Shanghai debut its stock was largely off-limits to China's huge pool of retail investors, who can't legally trade shares outside the mainland. Now PetroChina is no longer out of reach. The euphoria that greeted the Chinese debut left the company with a market capitalization of $1 trillion, leaving second-ranked Exxon Mobil (XOM), valued at a mere $488 billion at the Nov. 2 close, in its dust.

    However, on a normalized EPS multiple (13 for Exxon which has almost double the profit of PC which trades at a 55 multiple), the company is still substantially smaller than Exxon and the major global oil companies. In other words, the market cap is more a function of investor demand than corporate performance.

    But looking at PetroChina by market cap alone grossly overstates its relative size and importance in the global oil industry. The company's displacement of ExxonMobil is a reflection of just how overheated China's stock markets have become. PetroChina may have a market cap more than twice the size of ExxonMobil, for instance, but when measured in profits the Chinese company is still a pip-squeak compared to the U.S. giant: PetroChina saw earnings rise a mere 1.4% to $10.9 billion in the first half of this year, compared with Exxon Mobil's $19.54 billion.

    Regardless of the mechanics behind the valuation, on paper this is the first company in the world capitalized at more than $1 trillion. Pretty impressive for an economy that 30 years ago was widely viewed as just another third world basket case.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Channeling Mark Twain...

    Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were a Senator from Texas. But I repeat myself.

    Our two retard Senators have been busy talking to folks and the press. Senator Cornyn the Undead was in the Statesman, making about as much sense as two year old.

    Q. Update us on your thinking on the war in Iraq.
    A. I think he’s (President Bush) got it about right on the war, as painful as that is. The threat that we are experiencing today is complicated and I think people are confused. But, to me, the core of it is an ideology that justifies the killing of civilians to pursue its goals and it’s manifested in a number of places in a number of ways. … But whether it’s Hamas, al Qaeda, or Hezbollah or the Iranian state sponsors of terrorism, I think it’s a common threat.

    People are confused? The only one who doesn't get it is you, Senator. You're clearly living in the same fantasy land that your boyfriend is living in. Quit making it easy for Democrats... we WANT a challenge, you asshat. That way when we beat the shit out of you, you won't be able to say you pulled your punches.

    Then there was the irredeemably stupid Kay Bailey who has apparently been sniffing glue in Washington.

    “I am most troubled by the people in Washington ... who think it’s [the war] over there and not going to affect us here. These terrorists want to tear down our way of life. [If the soldiers left the Middle East], the consequences are a serious threat to America.”

    Yeah, Kay, we fucking get it. Unlike you, we're Texans. We don't scare like a bunch of little old ladies. Wait. Even little old ladies don't scare like our wimp of a Senator. Damn, Kay, sac the fuck up.

    Then she decided to move on to a topic she knows even less about than being courageous and brave, energy...

    Energy was another topic she expounded upon, noting that the country relies heavily on foreign sources.

    “Sixty percent of our foreign sources are not necessarily friends,” she said. “We cannot rely on others. We’ve got to explore and drill in our country.”

    She explained that America is in a better position to do that now because of the ability to drill deeper and more economically as well as alternative sources such as the procurement of ethanol from corn, grass and mesquite trees. She also touched on the possibility of utilizing wind power.

    Fuckall, Kay. What are you running for? Master Of The Obvious? Of course we can't rely on them... that's why we've been trying to get renewables up and running which you and your Republican friends have done dick about. Why? Because you're dumb enough to think you can drill the US out of energy dependency? THE OIL ISN'T THERE YOU STUPID OLD WOMAN.

    FUCK!

    What's the deal? Can you only hold office as a Republican if your IQ is less than 80?!?! You morons keep talking about drilling our way out of peak oil as if you've got a set of really phat geologicals showing a 2 trillion bbl pool someone in the continental US. AND I KNOW YOU DON'T HAVE THAT!


    Posted by mcblogger at 11:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    They're coming to America

    I don't think I've ever mentioned this before, but I really dislike Neil Diamond. However, I don't dislike him as much as I hate the people demagoguing the immigration issue. To luminaries like Tom Tancredo and John Cornyn, I'd only direct one question... is YOUR fat ass going to get out in a field and harvest food? More than your ridiculous chest thumping about all these illegals and Rudy 9/11's bullshit about abortion and immigration, that's the goddamn question I want answered. The reality is few if any Americans want to work seasonal ag jobs because it's seasonal which means that while it pays well, it's not consistent and you end up living a nomadic lifestyle. I'm certain that these three Republican douchebags are like the rest of us, not too keen on picking strawberries. Or lettuce.

    People that don't understand agriculture are the ones I hear first and foremost bitch about illegal immigrants who are nothing more, on balance, than folks looking for a better life. These people pay taxes, even federal taxes, despite the fact that they are not citizens of this country. They do not 'drain' our resources, nor do they depress wages...

    But Torrey says she offers good working conditions, and provides housing and a 401(k) plan for her workers. Workers start at $7.15 an hour, and the average wage on the farm is $10.95 to $11.95 per hour. "It doesn't matter if I raise wages," says Torrey. "We just don't have the population base. There's no one out there."

    But McBlogger... how COULD that pay federal taxes if they're illegal? Well, dumbass, it's because employers require an SSN. For illegals, it's usually fake. However, that doesn't stop withholding for FICA, Medicare and SS. This completely ignores the fact that local and state sale taxes are paid by everyone, including illegals.

    The real issue is whether you want to import food or labor. I'd rather import the labor.

    The only debate on immigration is the one being driven by really stupid people who don't get reality and have no sense of history (the rest of us 'get it'). This country has always grown and prospered on the work of immigrants who eventually become a part of us. With that said, if all you have is the same old bullshit we've been hearing, do us all a favor and STFU.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Calling Bullshit : Bush on Iran...

    Frank Rich's piece in the Times this AM is a nice starter for this, discussing the Democratic response to the ridiculous marketing campaign being advanced by The Nutmegger Cowboy to persuade Americans that Iran is a real danger.

    But what happens if President Bush does not bomb Iran? That is good news for the world, but potentially terrible news for the Democrats. If we do go to war in Iran, the election will indeed be a referendum on the results, which the Republican Party will own no matter whom it nominates for president. But if we don’t, the Democratic standard-bearer will have to take a clear stand on the defining issue of the race. As we saw once again at Tuesday night’s debate, the front-runner, Hillary Clinton, does not have one.

    The reason so many Democrats believe war with Iran is inevitable, of course, is that the administration is so flagrantly rerunning the sales campaign that gave us Iraq. The same old scare tactic — a Middle East Hitler plotting a nuclear holocaust — has been recycled with a fresh arsenal of hyped, loosey-goosey intelligence and outright falsehoods that are sometimes regurgitated without corroboration by the press.

    Currently, after YEARS of this relentless assault, a BARE majority of Americans support action against Iran specifically to stop them from getting nuclear weapons. How do you overcome that? By not accepting the premise. For one, the Iranians are YEARS away from nukes, if ever. Further, no one in the region wants them to have them. However, they're more than prepared to sit back and let Bush turn us, yet again, into fools for political gain.

    So what's a Democrat to do? Call the lie a lie and do it loudly. Challenge the liar for real, actionable intel. Theory isn't enough. Then explain that even if they were able to dig up something, Bush isn't the one to act because, much like his work in Afghanistan and Iraq, he'd just mess it up. Republicans can't be trusted with military force because they simply do not know how to apply it in an overwhelming way. This is where D's need to go on offense... and be BRUTAL.

    The numbers in Alabama, a solidly Republican state, are the most interesting... 59% say it should be the UN that takes this on. Slightly less think that Bush is handling things well. Two years ago, this number would have been 80+% in this W04 stronghold. Now, it's less than 60%. This presents a unique opportunity for Democrats to step up and beat the Republicans down so badly they'll never again think winning is everything.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 04, 2007

    Schumer and Feinstein cave

    Political reality is not something that Chuckie Schumer is comfortable with. Neither is Diane Feinstein who has functionally become the Western Joe Lieberman. Torture, on the other hand, is A-OK with the Senators who are now falling over themselves to support AG candidate Mukasey whose prevarication on torture is a real cause for concern.

    Not to mention that politically it's a loser because it hands a victory to what should be a wholly irrelevant President. Some have said 'Bush is attacking them for doing nothing on Mukasey! They had to do something!'. Those people are idiots... SHOW me the polling that says Bush's hits are landing. Show me a poll that says anything other than 'Disregard the President'. You wanna know why Congressional approval numbers, even for D's, are in the toilet? WEAKNESS.

    Needless to say, if you want to know why a solid Democratic agenda is not moving forward and why Bush seems able now, at will, to slap Congress around, you have only to look at Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein.

    So, I'd like to ask your help... it's not so much but it'll at least help me feel like I'm doing something. Hopefully you'll feel the same way. Cut support for the DCCC and DSCC. Support individual candidates in elections. Ask them, point blank, how they feel about compromise for the sake of compromise? Ask them if they know how to fight when something is important. It's obvious Schumer and Feinstein don't. Let's not forget that marginalizing the DCCC and DSCC won't have much of an impact... it's not like their brill strategies won 2006. It was people being fed up that won 2006. Don't ever make the mistake of confusing luck with skill. There is precious little of the latter at either organization.

    So, there is always, the why. Well, Mukasey was Schumer's compromise candidate. Problem is, like most things Chuck Schumer does, he did a piss poor job vetting this guy and now has to stick with him lest he lose face. Seriously, you think bloggers and activists are petty? Try a member of Congress, especially a Senator like Chuckie who wants to think of himself as the intellectual heir to Daniel Patrick Moynihan (he's the only who thinks that, by the way). As for Feinstein, she's just senile. Seriously, someone ask that old woman to retire. She needs to be in assisted living, not Congress. But I digress... what was the issue on this? Was there another reason for being 'terrified of this debate'? Terrorism and the Democratic fear of that debate. Wimps.

    Many Republicans, however, are happy to have the Mukasey debate turn into a high-profile showdown over the treatment of terrorism suspects and contended that this is profitable terrain for the party. "Democrats are demonstrating their weaknesses on security matters, which will work to their disadvantage," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.).

    Norman Ornstein, a scholar on Congress at the American Enterprise Institute, agreed that Republicans would "much rather be dealing with who's tougher on terrorists." But he also noted that Mukasey, who has no political ties to Bush, could turn into an independent force within the administration. Bush has won, Ornstein said, without being able to know precisely what he will get.

    Y'all, we gotta get Cornyn out of Washington. He's just too old and too scared of terrorists. He'll give up anything, any right, for the illusion of protection from terrorism. He's the very definition of cowardice. And while we're on the subject of cowardice, what the hell is hte Washington Post doing referring to ANYONE who works at the American Enterprise Institute as a scholar? Heres how the first sentence of the second graf should have read...

    "Norman Ornstein, a spokesperson on Congress for the right wing American Enterprise Institute, agreed that Republicans would "much rather be dealing with who's tougher on terrorists." "

    Soooo not hard. But, again, I'm off topic.

    Until the Democrats in Congress learn to speak with one voice and understand that compromise, while not a dirty word, is only acceptable after you beat the holy shit out of your opponent, we're going to keep being marginalized. While the Republicans are uniformly cowards, willing to hand over freedom for the illusion of security, there are a few Democrats who are weak and unable to really fight for what's important. Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein are two of those people. Support candidate who will pledge to marginalize these two, seniority be damned.

    And quit being scared to have the terrorism debate. Whether you believe it or not, more than 50% of the voters in this country get it and we're tired of watching you cave in for assumed political expediency. Make the Republicans eat their cowardice and fear.

    We're done being scared. You should be too, Chuck.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 03, 2007

    Iraqi's don't like being shot?

    You go, Iraqi cabinent! You hold Blackwater accountable because it's sure as hell obvious the US won't.

    The Iraqi cabinet approved draft legislation Tuesday that would repeal a law granting immunity to foreign security firms working in Iraq.

    The draft, which still requires the approval of parliament, is part of the Iraqi government's response to a shooting last month involving guards from Blackwater Worldwide, a North Carolina-based private security firm, that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead and 27 wounded.

    Ali al-Dabbagh, a government spokesman, said the cabinet unanimously approved the draft. Several important pieces of legislation have been stalled in parliament for months, but Dabbagh said he was certain legislators would approve a tough law on foreign security guards.

    "There has been a lot of anger because of this Blackwater incident," he said. "There was a bit of a sense of urgency."

    The measure would repeal a law known as Order 17 that was issued by L. Paul Bremer, who led the U.S. occupation in Iraq until June 2004. The move by the Iraqi cabinet follows reports this week that Blackwater guards were granted partial immunity during a State Department investigation into the Sept. 16 incident.

    Dabbagh said in an interview that the new law would not apply retroactively, meaning that private security guards could not be prosecuted for crimes committed before the legislation is passed.

    Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also gained a political victory Tuesday when he succeeded in filling cabinet posts that had been left empty after some of the major political blocs departed the government this year.

    The appointments of Salih al-Hasnawi as health minister and Ali al-Bahadli as agriculture minister were approved by parliament. Dabbagh said the vote was legal, despite reports from some opposition parties that there was not a sufficient quorum to confirm the appointments.

    The political developments came as bloodshed continued to convulse Iraq. At least 32 people were killed in attacks across the country, according to an Interior Ministry official.

    Wait. I thought the violence was going away... that the surge worked! Are you telling me that all the additional troops and money did was drop the absolute number of killings and attacks per day? McWOW! Put our troops in harms way, spend billions we don't have all to drop the # of killings from 40 per day to 32 per day?!?!?!?!

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Another dumb quiz

    Oh, just go here to find out which candidate shares most of your beliefs.

    I'm a 93% match on issues with Kucinich. Yes, I am thinking about killing myself. Of course, the quiz didn't ask me about how I feel about aliens and what I think of obnoxious troll people. I'm 83% with Edwards. I'm sticking there.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    November 02, 2007

    The Bacheloser!

    The AusChron is asking people to vote for the least eligible bachelor in Austin.

    I love me some mean! And I totally voted for Rick (sorry, Rick... partially because he's almost a bloodsucking attorney. I would have voted for Harry but he's already married) mostly because of the plastic bag thing.

    What? Oh, come on! You know damn well you're not going to carry canvas and you'll be all the time bitching if his little plastic bag ban actually gets passed. Paper bags are for LIQUOR and nothing else. Because they suck.

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Toyota has a new hybrid

    And Toyota continues to lead the way on electric/hybrid vehicles, this time with a plug-in hybrid.

    According to Jalopnik, 'Toyota will officially be asking for permission from Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport "for the testing of a prototype plug-in Prius on public roads."' Pricing and availability have not yet been announced.

    "After completing the road tests, Toyota will then be able to begin the process of bringing them to market by leasing them to public municipalities and governmental offices. Asahi is also saying Toyota is testing a lithium-ion battery pack in the plug-in."

    Wouldn't it be cool if GM, Ford or Chrysler could get off dead center and do something in this direction?

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Google enters wireless

    via Gizmodo

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThough there's no official talk of a Google Phone just yet, the superpower has decided to ante up $4.6 billion to bid on wireless spectrum. Google did say it would only do this on one condition, however.

    That whoever won the spectrum would be bound by law to offer at least some access to it at a wholesale price to competitors. As you might have guessed, this has pissed off some of the existing wireless carriers, who claim that sharing spectrum would lessen the spectrum's value. I'm sure both sides have nice charts and graphs to prove their legitimate points, but for now I'm going to side with the Goog.

    Google stock today hit $710 proving that there is literally a sucker born every minute.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Melissa Francis (hearts) Buttertroll

    Yeah, I'm pretty much done with CNBC. Why? UT Permian Basin had Rove as a speaker last night and guess who flew all the way from New Jersey to interview him? None other than CNBC bobblehead Melissa Francis. Given that Francis redefines weak as a reporter, the 'interview' was really nothing more than an open ended dissertation from Rove that...

    1) Democrats will raise your taxes
    2) Raising taxes on the rich will be a disaster (they said the same thing in 86 and 93... wasn't right either time. Of course, Rove lies so openly and earnestly that it's not really surprising)
    3) Hillary will cost you an additional $2300 per year

    And Francis, being the weak school girl reporter she's always been (why do they employ her? No brains and only mediocre looks... she must be very cost efficient. Or maybe she's blowing someone in management at CNBC), doesn't call him on any of it or offer counterpoints. Rove could not have produced a better propaganda piece.

    Melissa, sweets, let me clue you in on something... Rove is so thoroughly discredited that it's even offensive for you to interview him.

    Oh, and CNBC. Your loss is Bloomberg's gain. Have a goodun!

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 01, 2007

    Predictions : You'll lose every challenge, CradDICK

    Some people never cease to amaze me... via EOW comes information about CradDICK's plan to challenge those who challenged him. The Statesman, being The Statesman, thinks it's serious. Mostly because here in Austin CradDICK is feared much like the now inane Karl Rove. People in the rest of the state would just as soon throw a punch into his face as shake his hand and say Hi.

    Think I'm lying? Check out the polling on this douchebag. He's the political equivalent of telling people you'll be storing radioactive waste in their backyards... while you're fucking their pets. All anyone has to do is get the word out that CradDICK is trying to beat them up and any challenger dumb enough to file will be crushed. Probably under one of those road repair rollers.

    Paper tigers are a pain in the ass, but not much more. Just ask Tommy Merritt who is about to OWN his 2006 CradDICK sponsored challenger.


    Posted by mcblogger at 08:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Calling Bullshit : 100,000 people on flight restrictions?

    Oh, this is just a load of crap.

    The freedom to travel of more than 100,000 Americans placed on "watch" and "no fly" lists is being restricted by the Bush-Cheney regime.

    Citizens who have done no more than criticize the president are being banned from airline flights, harassed at airports, strip searched, roughed up and even imprisoned, feminist author and political activist Naomi Wolf reports in her new book, "The End of America."(Chelsea Green Publishing)

    "Making it more difficult for people out of favor with the state to travel back and forth across borders is a classic part of the fascist playbook," Wolf says. She noticed starting in 2002 that "almost every time I sought to board a domestic airline flight, I was called aside by the Transportation Security Administration(TSA) and given a more thorough search."

    During one preboarding search, a TSA agent told her "You're on the list" and Wolf learned it is not a list of suspected terrorists but of journalists, academics, activists, and politicians "who have criticized the White House."

    OK, Congress... here's a reason for impeachment.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    HR 3915 and how it might get harder to buy a house

    I'm kinda having a warm fuzzy when it comes to the Dem's in the US House... until I read about HR 3915 which is currently in the Financial Services Committee. I keep thinking someone is going to shut this piece of crap down but it hasn't happened yet. So, I'm taking time out of my life (no, it's more than OK... I wasn't doing anything anyway) to let you know what's about to happen.

    This horrible bill is one of these geared toward addressing the sub-prime credit crunch. It's well intentioned and it'll do absolutely nothing to fix the problem.

    Here's the breakdown...

    Title 1 will create a federal duty of care and outlaw steering. The anti-steering language will outlaw incentive compensation and YSP that varies with the terms of a loan. The section will allow indirect compensation if disclosed early in the process. This section also creates a minimum licensing standard for all originators and net worth or bond requirements of $100,000.

    Sounds reasonable, right? Not so much... YSP is what brokers get paid for delivering loans at set interest rates. They vary from lender to lender and even with YSP built into the rate, brokers are still cheaper than traditional banks. YSP is ALWAYS disclosed on the Reg Z Good Faith Estimate. This law will ban it outright and have the perverse effect of INCREASING the cost of financing. FYI - whether you go to a bank or or a broker, someone is getting paid YSP.

    The national licensing and bonding is fine by me... just make sure there is a good migration path over the next few years so as not to create any shocks in the system. Further, and this is essential, REGULATION must be funded. Without that, all the laws in the world are useless. Finally, let's apply this to ALL originators in the market, even those that work at banks, credit unions, etc.

    Title 2 creates an ability to repay standard and hardwires underwriting guidelines. Underwriting will include a verified ability to repay and take into account amortizing payments. Guidelines will also include taxes and insurance payments when calculating ratios. For refinancing, the act will define and require a net tangible benefit. For prime loans, there is a safe harbor. However, for subprime there is assignee liability and expanded rescission rights. Standards will also create a defense to foreclosure. Severe restrictions will be placed upon first-time homebuyer mortgages with negative amortization features.

    Here's the meat of the stupid... putting underwriting guidelines into law and removing any flexibility on the part of the lender. This is potentially the most devastating thing as it will effectively remove 30-35% of Americans from even being able to own a home. I'm fine with additional disclosures and notices to the borrower. However, don't kill the product as it will just make it hard for people to buy homes. Don't make it so that we can't make common sense exceptions which are a lot more common than predatory lending.

    Title 3 will expand the existing Section 32 of TILA by reducing the points and fees triggers and expand lender liability. Prohibitions include no balloon loans, no lending without regard to ability to repay, prohibit a pattern or practice of making such loans, restrict late fees, and prohibit the financing of any points/fees. Taken together, the expansive liability and prohibited terms and conditions will make Section 32 lending practically impossible.

    I'm OK with national guides regarding section 32. However, reducing point and fee triggers is largely pointless since the vast majority of loans already conform to section 32 limits (more than 95%). The remainder are usually the way they are because of particular issues related to the borrower. Removing that removes that buyer from the marketplace.

    As for balloons, no or limited documentation loans, etc. making changes here is a unsettling. For some people it IS the best way to finance a home. A better way to making sure that brokers don't try to steer people in one direction or another is to rework the disclosures to make it crystal clear to the borrower that they are taking out what has historically been high risk financing.

    If you really want to protect us, make originator licensing and regulation effective for all parties. Forbid Realtors and Builders from owning mortgage companies and or having affiliated business arrangements/agreements with mortgage companies and fully fund regulation. It's easier and it will actually fix the problem, Barney.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Best.Pharma.Ad.Ever

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    (via TechEBlog)

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    I don't care about the Fed...

    Yes, I know the Fed cut the funds and the discount rate. Yes, this cut was already factored in and for the most part bonds have been moving in the opposite direction. No, I don't care about it other than to tell you unequivocally that when oil goes above $100/bbl, you'll know who to thank.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Maureen Dowd's joke becomes news in Iran

    Oh, this is too funny...

    Liberals are accusing the Bush-Cheney folks of trying to foment World War III or IV with all that reckless saber-rattling about Iranian nukes.

    But it seems New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd brought us closer to the brink with a Sunday column in which she purported to interview Vice President Cheney. This is how it played on Press TV, the first international Iran-based news network to broadcast 24-7 in English.

    "Cheney: Iran has WMDs, just like Iraq," said the headline on the online edition, posted Sunday.

    "The US Vice President, Dick Cheney, has accused the Islamic Republic of having weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), 'just like Saddam,' " the story read.

    "While the negotiations are underway between Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog, the hawkish US official said the White House considers Iran's nuclear dossier in 'the final stages of diplomacy,' " the report said.

    " 'We are not going to get hung up on democracy this time,' Dick Cheney said in an interview with the New York Times on Sunday. 'It's time for squash. Not to mention mushrooms, clouds of them,' said the Vice President, when asked how close Washington was to launching military strikes on Iran.

    "When asked if he would wait for the new round of sanctions against Iran, he said Washington has waited enough, adding that 'the sanctions were announced Thursday. It's now Sunday.' "

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack