July 31, 2008

Thanks for nothing, Todd Staples

Well, we have yet another issue where Todd Staples, our ertswhile Agriculture Commissioner has dropped the ball. In the Statesman today, the 'tomato' salmonella outbreak has been traced back to growers in Mexico that supplied (you had to see it coming) Texas companies with peppers that carried the disease.

The CDC and USDA are catching hell for it, but so far nothing has penetrated through to the Texas Dept. Of Agriculture which must share some of the blame. It's not like they didn't know about questionable irrigation and growing practices in Mexico... in 2006, Hank Gilbert, then Democratic candidate for Ag Commissioner talked about JUST THIS THING.

Of course, Staples was distracted with finally doing the part of his job with regard to gas pumps. After being in the office for 18 months. Maybe he'll do something about tainted, diseased produce sometime in 2010.

Way to fail Texans, Todd.

Posted by mcblogger at 01:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Oh, Gardner... this is just...

insipid.

Oh, and Bob... we'll miss you deciphering the ramblings of that deranged lunatic. Honestly, your boss is a massive fuckup on the scale of Little Big Horn. You've done an admirable job defending the indefensible. We wish you well.

Posted by mcblogger at 11:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Loving 101X

I got up kinda late Saturday morning. OK, REALLY late. I was at a church thing the night before. Or having drinks with some great friends. You pick which one you believe/would rather believe.

So, Saturday I was awakened by my trusty alarm and heard some intern talking about this great song that she loves.

That intern has some good taste. Thank you, doll, for getting me up without Silverchair. Or Ghostland Observatory.

Posted by mcblogger at 08:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 30, 2008

You're looking a little desperate...

The EIA report came out this morning and had some interesting numbers. So far, the traders see it as bullish. So do the talking heads on Bloomberg, save one who picked up on the seasonal adjustment as refiners begin the shift to fall and winter formulations.

But there's another issue as well... people aren't using as much. Margins on gas are tight. Therefore, refiners have been producing less which is why the dramatic drawdown in inventories. Refiners, simply put, are putting more emphasis on higher margin products like distillates. Now, want me to give you some back up numbers? How about this...

Crude oil supplies declined 81,000 barrels to 295.2 million barrels last week, the report showed. A 1.3 million barrel drop was forecast in the Bloomberg News survey.

Distillate Supplies

Inventories of distillate fuel rose 2.4 million barrels to 130.5 million barrels last week, the report showed. A gain of 2.05 million was forecast, according to the median of 12 analyst estimates.

So, Oil inventories dropped much less than expected (bearish for oil prices) and distillate inventories rose far more than expected. Everything fits... still, Goldman and the traders are focusing on gasoline inventories and bidding up oil. Goldman, for it's part, has dropped it's $200/bbl by the end of the year projection and replaced it with $149/bbl.

Lehman is going in the opposite direction. Honestly, seeing the evidence and not really being prejudiced one way or the other, I'm going with Lehman.

Posted by mcblogger at 02:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

I really gotta stop reading Salon

I, like many of you, am feeling let down by Democrats in Congress and by our own candidate. From FISA to faith based initiatives, the Democrats seems as willing to trash the Constitution as the Republicans. Greenwald thinks it's all because of the Blue Dogs... stop them and you regain a progressive agenda. Basically, we have to target the Blue Dogs or even, God forbid, allow Republicans to win these races to make a point with the leadership and the caucus that taking voters for granted is a super bad idea.

There is another theory that I like better... simply, we need to put a super majority of Democrats into Congress to completely marginalize the Blue Dogs.

What are your thoughts? I know where I'm falling on this... and the polling should be showing the Democrats that playing the same old games, instead of actually taking a stand and leading, is their ticket to a loss in November.

Obama offered his own horse-race assessment ...

... while attending a fundraiser in Arlington, Va., Monday night. Talking to about 40 supporters, he opined that when he began his White House quest, "there weren’t too many people who thought we were going to pull this off."

Now, he said, “We are ... in a position where the odds of us winning are very good. But it’s still going to be difficult.... We’re not going to see a huge gap develop between now and Nov. 4 [in the polls]. This is going to be a close election. I’m new on the national scene. People sort of like what they see, but they’re not sure.”

Uhm, Senator, the fact that in this environment you're having problems beating a guy who is so close to Bush they smell the same is a pretty clear indication that your strategy isn't working. Seriously, rethink your excuses. You're close because you caved on things that Democrats, Republicans, Independents and even Libertarians can agree on. So, that leaves us all wondering why the hell we should vote for you.

If you lose this, Senator Obama, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Posted by mcblogger at 12:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Goodbye, shitty Irish-style pub

Bennigan's has filed for bankruptcy. Chapter 7 BK, to be exact, which means they are selling everything from the tables and chairs to the taps and the microwaves that actually cooked the food.

I wish I could say I was nostalgic, but I'm just not. I haven't been to one of these places in years, mostly because of the proliferation of restaurants that were, frankly, far superior in terms of food. And in terms of staff who didn't judge my beverage choices.


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

Tom Coburn in a box

Well, it would be a good start. Provided that you then buried the box and built a parking lot on top of it.

Coburn is being boxed in by Senator Reid... well, Harry and the D's and more than a few R's were trying to force him to actually vote FOR something instead of taking the cowards way out and putting a hold on it. Good luck there, Harry. Why not just go ahead and do what you did to Sen. Dodd when he put a hold on the Telecom Bill... just ignore it.

A product of Democratic frustration with the tactics of Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and physician who has become the Dr. No of the Senate, the Tomnibus is a $10 billion collection of Coburn-blocked measures assembled by the Senate leadership in an effort to break his solitary grip on the legislative process.

Engineered by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, the bill includes 35 of the most irresistible-sounding measures stuck on the docket, including the Mothers Act and the Protect Our Children Act.

There are items to commemorate “The Star-Spangled Banner” and to try to curb pornography, cut drug use and help victims of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Officially known as the Advancing America’s Priorities Act, the catchall legislation includes a measure to improve life for victims of paralysis, which Mr. Reid calls the Superman bill in tribute to the late Christopher Reeve.

The obvious intent is to apply a little legislative Kryptonite and embarrass Mr. Coburn into dropping his procedural objections to the measures while highlighting his willingness to put roadblocks in front of bills that have support from all corners — a textbook case of what Democrats view as extreme Republican obstructionism.

Well, as they say, good luck with that.

“I am not a go-along, get-along guy if I think it is the wrong way to go,” Mr. Coburn said, not stating anything his peers did not already know. “I am O.K. taking the consternation of my colleagues. I take my oath seriously.”

Yes, Tom Coburn (R - OK) is trying to cast himself as a defending of the budget. FDL has the details on what a laughable effort he has, so far, mounted. He's fine with deficit spending to pay for tax cuts for the rich and war spending, but spend $1bn on teaching kids? By God, you've just gone too far.

The Tomnibus Bill, of course, failed. Which means we've got a bunch more Republicans to get rid of. Including Junior John Cornyn who apparently thought protecting children was less important than standing with his simpleton friend who is similarly ideologically bankrupt.

Which makes me wonder about those of you, however few they may be, who are still thinking of voting or Republicans this year... I'd just like to ask, REALLY? You're living in their paradise with half TRILLION deficits, a collapsing dollar, double digit inflation and non-existent wage growth. In other words, Cornyn FAILED. Not a little, but a LOT. Quit embracing the Republican Culture of Failure.

Posted by mcblogger at 09:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 29, 2008

Are You A Treasonous, Hate-Filled Sack Of Pus Or Do You Just Have A Brain Tumor?

It's wrong, of course, to find pleasure in the suffering of others, but who among us can completely hold back the schadenfreude at the news that menace to society Bob Novak has a brain tumor.?

After all, Novakula is the sort of character who makes one hope not only that Hell is a real place, but that Dante's imagination only scratched the surface.

I can't help but thinking of something the English novelist Evelyn Waugh wrote when he heard that Randolph Churchill had had surgery to remove a benign tumor: "A typical triumph of modern science to find the only part of Randolph that was not malignant and remove it."

There's nothing benign about Bob Novak, and it's certain that the world would be just a little bit more pleasant without him in it. Too bad justice will be cheated and he won't end up in the same electric chair they used on the Rosenbergs.

Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 07:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Tubes reveal indictments

Sen. Ted Stevens (R - The Tubes) has been indicted. Which came as a huge surprise to those of us at McBlogger. Of course, we were all shocked (SHOCKED, I TELL YOU!) when Tom DeLay was indicted and everyone apparently knew about that like a week before.

Of course, we were having one of our famous month long party's at the time. And if you weren't invited there probably was a reason. And yes, we realize this will probably cause your anxieties to escalate and you'll want to cut yourself. We really don't care.

Posted by mcblogger at 12:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Right. And Wrong.

The NYT Ed team spent Sunday congratulating Democrats for stopping retarded R efforts to drill in ANWR and the OCS. Then they congratulated the R's for keeping the Demo's from enacting legislation to restrict speculation in commodities.

While speculation is not the only thing driving oil prices, it IS a substantial component. Failure to acknowledge that fails to acknowledge the nature of markets and momentum players in them. For another, oil has steadily trended higher on rumor and, wait for it, speculation about events around the world. Why, for instance, Nigeria and production problems there have been the reason for fully $10 of the rise in oil at a minimum. Which would be understandable if Nigeria WASN'T PRODUCING ANY OIL.

Like all commodities, demand is an issue. However, the primary talking point regarding the case for no speculative bubble has been (mostly from people in NYC) that gas demand hasn't fallen despite the historic high price. Of course, what's left unsaid is that refiners haven't been able to pass THAT price, NYMEX spot, onto consumers. And that demand destruction is, in fact occurring.

The Ed Board at the Times apparently thinks that speculation is only someone trying corner the market. It's not. It's money chasing money regardless of fundamentals. While I wasn't a big fan of the D plan (I'd have rather seen short term cap gains taxes, realized in less than a year, drilled up to 70%) it would have at least done something. Of course, as the Times points out, it would have hurt hedging operations for airlines.

I guess the bright folks up there don't realize that there are other ways to hedge. And that absent speculation, there isn't as much of a need TO hedge.

Posted by mcblogger at 11:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

McCaul gets pwn'd

A couple of boys are attending a school that a US Congressman doesn't like and labels a 'jihadist seminary' without knowing anything about it. He then makes sure, through some hitherto unknown mechanism available to members of Congress, that they are removed from the school.

Who would dare to violate the religious and intellectual freedom of Americans? None other than our own Republican Congressman, Mikey McCaul (R - ClearChannel). Regardless of how pro- or anti-American this school is, their FATHER sent them there. Why did McCaul feel a need to violate the wishes of a parent? Will he be stepping in to assist other children who don't like the schools they are attending? Maybe even beat up on parents for sending their kids to bad summer camps?

Finally, these kids were from ATLANTA, GEORGIA. Not Texas. It's great that Mikey can spend so much time working on violating the wishes of a parent who isn't even his constituent, but we'd love it if he'd start doing what WE, his actual constituents, would like him to do.

Mean Rachel has more and some video.

Oh, and it would be nice if you'd help us get rid of Mikey by throwing some support to Larry Joe!

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

July 28, 2008

Oh, Paul... notes on the Housing Bill...

Usually, I find myself agreeing with Krugman 90% of the time. This piece is absolutely spot on. As he astutely points out, financial regulations and statutes from the 1930's need to be updated for a 21st century global financial reality that includes 30 to 1 leverage and derivatives with notational values in the trillions.

Basically, one firm going belly up can freeze the entire system. Thus, the need for the Fed and Treasury to step in because private firms went a little too wild and larded on too much risk. So much, in fact, that it stands to effect the 300 million of us who aren't investors in these firms. With that kind of reach, it's absolutely necessary that there be enhanced regulation. And Phil Gramm can go fuck himself.

HOWEVER, I'm sick of the talking point, when referring the housing crisis, that this was all the fault of brokers.

Mortgage originators didn’t worry about the solvency of borrowers, because they quickly sold off the loans they made, generally to investors who had no idea what they were buying.

Uhm, Paul, originators can't originate a loan for which there aren't guidelines and a sales channel. In other words, for a loan to be originated there has to be someone willing to buy it and they set the rules. The people who bought and securitized these loans (like Bear Stearns and Lehman) knew exactly what they were getting.

Think I'm wrong? Call an originator in the phone book, any originator, and ask for a 95% NoDoc loan with no MI for the purchase of a non-owner occupied property. They'll calmly explain that the product doesn't exist.

Because the people who wanted them are either dead, dying or on life support. And that's not the fault of the originator. It's the fault of the moron bankers in the mortgage practice who thought these were such awesome credits that they should receive a premium price.


Posted by mcblogger at 03:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why is CapMet hating on ACL?

Once a year everyone thanks Cap Met for doing a good job for running the shuttle service during Austin City Limits. Especially people like me who can't avoid downtown (we like to drink) and really want to be able to catch our standard parking spaces. Without that shuttle, central would become a zoo of trashed out beaters parked two and three deep, a wonderland for the tow trucks but a nightmare for us. While I avoid ACL because I'm allergic to smelly people and hot environments without waitstaff, I'm a HOOOGE fan of that shuttle.

Now Cap Met's Republican leadership and counsel are saying they can no longer provide this needed service because of Federal rules. But, transportation authorities in other cities say Cap Met can provide the service. Cities like Chicago and Boston.

Now we are hearing from people affiliated with Austin City Limits that transit authorities in these other cities are indeed correct, that this sort of service is allowed under the guides and Cap Met's extreme view of the Federal regulations is more in line with that of hard right Republicans than reality.

For years Cap Met has received applause and thanks for providing the shuttle service to move over 200,000 people in and out of the Zilker Park area. The staff has been welcoming and a helpful addition to the event. Plus, Capital Sports and Entertainment, the organizers of Austin City Limits, even pay a premium rate for the service. Of course, making money has never been the strong suit of the Republican leadership at Cap Met.

One has to wonder if this is some kind of Republican reprisal for Capital Sports and Entertainment's strong support of Obama? One also has to wonder why the hell these incompetents are working at Cap Met. These are the same folks who think that the increase in ridership is not due to the increase in gas prices. Smart folks, these.

And who are these people? The ones that come straight out of the offices of DeLay, Phil Graham, Dick Shelby and Ed Kuempel and view the City's needs through the lenses of cranky, conservative, people?

Cap Met needs to immediately reverse its decision on providing shuttle service to Austin City Limits and its Board needs to consider removing the current management.

Cap Met needs the good public relations of getting 200,000 new riders, not bad press making 200,000 fight over parking spaces, walk for miles and potentially destroy the future of Austin City Limits. Not to mention the hell they'll catch from the Downtown Business Alliance when my spending drops to zero that weekend.

Don't laugh... I AM keeping several bars and restaurants afloat. And for those of you thinking this is all a bunch of partisan crap, keep in mind Democrats aren't running Cap Met. The Republicans ARE. It's high time competence, rather than ideological bullshit, made a comeback.

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

Rush IS Right

From the NYT Mag cover story on Limbaugh

Limbaugh told me he is no longer concerned about the opinions of his colleagues and rivals, and he makes no effort to disguise his contempt for most of them. Michael Savage, ranked No. 3 among talk-radio hosts by Talkers magazine? “He’s not even in my rearview mirror.” Garrison Keillor? “I don’t even know where to find NPR on the dial.”

At dinner the night before, Bill O’Reilly’s name came up, and Limbaugh expressed his opinion of the Fox cable king. He hadn’t been sure at the time that he wanted it on the record. But on second thought, “somebody’s got to say it,” he told me. “The man is Ted Baxter.”

Limbaugh does have his favorites. He admires Ann Coulter’s ability to outrage liberals. He is a fan of the columnists Camille Paglia and Thomas Sowell, both of whom he considers honest thinkers. And he is especially impressed by the essays of Christopher Hitchens. “He’s misguided sometimes, but when you read him, you finish the whole article.”

Limbaugh has a deeply conflicted attitude toward Sean Hannity, his one-time stand in and now perpetual No. 2 on the Talkers list. He speaks of the younger man with the same condescending affection that Muhammad Ali once showed Jimmy Ellis, a former sparring partner turned challenger. But he wanted me to remember who is the Greatest. “I have no competitors,” he said. “Hannity isn’t even close to me.”

Rush, you're spot on about O'Reilly. As for the rest, you're actually closer to them than you'd like to think. You, much like Coulter, Hannity and Hitchens, are trapped in a failing ideology that most closing resembles, in it's long, slow death, traditional liberalism.

With that in mind, would you just go ahead and die already? Go ahead and go back on your favorite, the hillbilly heroin, and have a good time on your way to the grave.

Posted by mcblogger at 12:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dating advice for the straight boys

So, she finally said yes and now you're excited you'll have a chance to show her what you're all about.

Why not wear something other than The Beater?

Photobucket

Yes, yes... I know it's 'basketball jersey'. I'm sure you paid as much as $50 for it. However, it's still basically a wifebeater, no matter what it says. And yes, you do have old man arms in it.

Seriously, guys, if you want to get laid would you at least TRY???!?!?

Posted by mcblogger at 11:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

McCain Channels Nixon

Playing to white, working-class resentment in classic form.

read more | digg story

Posted by mcblogger at 09:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 27, 2008

Bring the Noise

Some people (and here) are deciding to take matters in their own hands and not waiting for Democratic leadership. Isn’t there talk about Karl Rove scheduled to attend fundraisers in Texas? Got to get up to get down.

There is also the potential for ugliness between the backers of Obama and McCain. Not confrontational? Understandable. However, for a few, there is the preemptive strike. The site, after you “dance with death”, will link to the Houston Chronic. Reading the comments to this article in the Chronic will remind you that the quaint notion you had of reaching out to the wing nuts is a total waste of time. When Obama wins, these people will go absolute bat shit crazy, so prepare.

Posted by Captain Kroc at 10:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 26, 2008

Shelly was IN TOWN?!?!?!?!

As part of their continuing effort to remain relevant, conservabloggers had themselves a little convention, at the Renaissance in the Arboretum. Wonder if they had fun partying down at Friday's and Tangerine? No, wait... I really don't care.

Speakers included Bob Novak (when ARE they going to finally let him die?) and Grover Norquist, the guy who says government is the root of all evil and that unfettered, unregulated commerce is always perfect. Grover can say things like that because he's only worked in government and government related services. He's uniquely UNQUALIFIED to offer anything of substance, which is probably why the ConRoots were able to get him to come talk to them.

PhotobucketHowever, they also had... SHELLY! And what, you might be wondering, is Shelly on about today? Wachovia... apparently, their loss has nothing to do with poor underwriting. It has everything to do with management being concentrated currying favor with La Raza. No, I'm really not making this up.

Posted by mcblogger at 12:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 25, 2008

Really, Bill Poole?

Nothing would make me happier than never seeing another ideological simpleton from the Friedmanite school of disaster capitalists ever having another job in government or private industry. Why? Because they have ideological blinders on that keep them from accurately assessing a situation and determining a proper course of action.

Case in point, former St. Louis Fed President Bill Poole. Though he now likes to go by William, many of us know and remember him as Bill, Chairman Greeenspan's favorite echo chamber. Poole is all bullshit, all the time. His solution to this current crisis? Let's privatize Fannie and Freddie.

One shouldn't bother Bill with details and facts. For one thing, he doesn't want to hear that taxpayers aren't going to pay a dime for any of this. These companies will, as the government is only providing liquidity for currently illiquid securities, guaranteeing that the system will continue to function and loss mitigation procedures can run their course. But Poole's a Friedmanite and they love them some shock to get things moving. Unfortunately for him, the Democrats in Congress aren't prepared to hand over Fannie and Freddie to private interests (screwing existing shareholders) for pennies on the dollar.

What Bill doesn't want to acknowledge (here again, that pesky ideology) is that THE MARKET BROKE DOWN. The only thing anyone wants to own are credits backed by the government. And THAT'S the free market reality.

Absent the GSE's and their implicit government guarantee, the mortgage market would have ground to a halt, interest rates would be 3% higher (at a minimum) and home sales would have dropped to zilch. In turn, the loss mitigation and clearing of home inventory would have collapsed leading to a downward spiral that would have made the 30's look like the 50's.

Humans are imperfect. Humans in a market, whether for equities, commodities or debts, can act irrationally. They can bid up prices far beyond real value... and sell prices far below book value. That's why we need stop gaps. If you can't see that or think it would be just wonderful to return the pre-Fed, gold standard world, you're ignorant of the past and wholly unready to face the future.

Posted by mcblogger at 03:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Buttertroll, CradDICK and John Davis walk into a bar...

The more things change... John Davis is in trouble. Sherrie Matula is kicking his ass for being as useless as tits on a boar. She's outraising him and now little Johnny is starting to freak out. So bad, in fact, that he's requested none other than the electorally toxic CradDICK and Karl "Buttertroll" Rove to come to his aid. While they aren't good for votes, they're great for money.

So, we need to make sure Sherrie keeps in the advantage. Give what you can, even if it's a dollar, and let's help the folks in HD 129 get rid of this worthless bastard. Remember, change in one seat in the Lege may be the advantage we need to get rid of CradDICK and start rebuilding our State.

Posted by mcblogger at 01:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Attention Austin Police!

I spent more than 20 minutes Wednesday evening going from the Lamar bridge to the South First bridge on Cesar Chavez. Of course, there is a ton of construction going on CC. However, that wasn't the problem. The jam up was caused by idiot joggers running around Lake Lady Bird who just decided to ignore the GIANT SIGNS THAT CAN BE SEEN FROM SPACE telling them not to cross South First at Cesar Chavez.

Austin Police... I LURVE you guys and only ask that you'd do me a favor. Wait on either side of the intersection and ticket the people who cross for jaywalking. PLEASE. It's obvs that people trying to hit them isn't going to deter them from jamming up traffic. That endorphin rush must be powerful and these people are JUNKIES. If they try to run away from you, taser them. Several times. For me, K?

And to the jackass in the red shorts I was gunning for... it's a damn good thing you're fast, though I probably would have stopped before I hit you. Probably. I wish for you only two things:

1) That you learn to read.
2) That the cartilage in your knees and hips disintegrates.

Jackass.

Posted by mcblogger at 09:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 24, 2008

Were you wondering what was up at the NCSL?

If you're curious about what's happening at the National Conference of State Legislators, the crew at KXAN has you covered.

And no, I don't know what it's all about.

Posted by mcblogger at 11:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The most dangerous place in the world...

... is in semicelebrity alcoholic Bob Novak's way.

Journalist Robert Novak plowed into a pedestrian on K Street this morning. Novak said he didn't realize he'd hit the 60-year-old man, but an eyewitness told ABC News that the victim was "splayed on the windshield" of Novak's black corvette and that there was no way that Novak could have failed to realize he'd struck the man. A bicyclist caught up with Novak about a block away from the crash and informed him that he'd just hit someone.

Watch the video. Novak was cited for failure to yield the right of way. I hope they gave him a breathalyser test. He's slurring his words pretty badly, two hours after the accident. Novak starts talking about 55 seconds into the clip, below. At about 1:22, Novak becomes almost unintelligible when the reporters ask him how his victim is doing.

The most dangerous place in AUSTIN is in my way. You'll see more on that later today.

Posted by mcblogger at 09:52 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

We miss you, Garry Brown

Hope you're OK and that you'll be back soon! One thing... 39% needs this to be a bigger emergency than it is so he can prove that his leadership is superior, even though we all know that he's a leader in the style of another great Republican, Herbert Hoover.

Could you at least TRY and make your situation sound a little more dire? That way 39% won't look like an idiot for asking Washington for a preemptive disaster declaration.

Posted by mcblogger at 09:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 23, 2008

Britney Spears To Undergo Sex Change, Enter Politics

...and what dropped into your spam folder today?

Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 07:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Cracking down on the Lege...

Let's face it, certain members of the Lege suck. Most of them are Republicans, though there are a few Democrats (Hey there, Sly!) and frankly their lives while in Austin are too goddamn easy.

It's time we natives start treating these people like the bitches they are. We're going to start a new feature here at McB, where we let our friends and neighbors know the faces and names of the assholes in our midst. They're all the time taking advantage of us, cutting line, getting the best parking, getting out of speeding tix, cutting funding to programs we need and being mean to our electeds in the Lege.

Now, I'd never tell you to be physically abusive or gross. If you're a server and find yourself waiting on Linda Harper-Brown while she consumes THE MENU, it's your call whether or not you want to spit in her food. I'm not trying to tell you to do anything specifically. What I'm thinking of is just an overwhelming amount of negativity. Say you run into one of these douchebags at 7-11 on 15th. Rather than say "Hello, Mr. Speaker" or, if you're trying to get around them, "Pardon me, Rep. Chisum", you might try "Would you MOVE, shitbox?"

I'd also like to ask our Constables, Sheriff's Deputies and Police to start ticketing these people for EVERYTHING (and don't give me that... my Dad was an officer. You can ticket folks for ANYTHING). Or, let me put it this way... if you see an SO tag, you pull them over. Period. NYC has the dicks from the UN to deal with and we here in Austin have our own little cross to bear which manifests itself in the many Republicans who come here from suburban Houston and Dallas, not to mention the rural hinterlands.

Seriously, Austinites, I know it's not in your nature to be mean. But it's time we shame these people into acting right. By making them as uncomfortable as they can possibly be. Up first, TOM CRADDICK.

CradDICK, as we at McB have come to know him, was recently caught cutting a TSA security line at Bergstrom. Because he and Nadine had to get back to Midland. Hey, Tom, it's not our fault you live in Midland and there's only one flight a day. Get to the airport on time like the rest of us. There's no love lost between myself and TSA. However, it's not nearly as bad as it used to be and one of the nice folks at Love even told me we can now take cigarette lighters on flights which takes care of about 75% of my problems with them. Simply put, this was an abuse of power... and it's time we pay it back in kind.

You're elected to serve, not be served. If you can't live with that then it's time you move on down the road, Tom.

Posted by mcblogger at 01:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Taking a moment to say thanks

It's not often that we take time out of our busy lives to thank those who've done so much to us. In my case, I realized today just what a CLUSTERFUCK AT&T WIRELESS IS. In that vein, I offer the following:

You take me offline, constantly
Always desiring an EDGE connection, you leave me trapped on GPRS
The way you dropped my calls SIX times yesterday was AWESOME
And thank you for selectively making signal unavailable everywhere, but only when I need to make a call or send an email.

Without AT&T in my life, things would so rock!

Posted by mcblogger at 12:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No. Really. Let's belabor the point.

You know, what's irritating about all the information coming out about 'Our Current Financial Crisis' is that a lot of it is really good and some of it is just a bunch of damn bullshit. The vast majority is a combination of both. This piece from the Agonist, itself an expansion on an article by Gretchen Morgenson in the NYT, falls into the majority... some great work and some really specious arguments.

The central argument is that banks, through their unrealistic demands for ever greater growth, brought this on themselves by leveraging themselves, disregarding risk and recognizing the profits to be made over years or decades instantly. Some of this is very valid criticism. Underwriting guidelines went off the rails and led to, for example, the stated income loan for wage earners (we called these Liar Loans). Further, demand in the market for securitizations and the perceived safety of those securities (they were backed by mortgages... people ALWAYS pay their mortgage) led to pricing substantially below risk. This was classic irrationality, paying far too much for assets worth much less. Now, everyone is so nervous that they don't want to own any but the safest credits, those insured by the government (directly or in the case of Fannie/Freddie, indirectly). 18 months have passed since the markets began to seize up and we're still stuck. Will they come back?

Of course. However, underwriting is going to be a serious concern going forward and pricing is going to go way up. Many companies, for example, are still doing jumbo loans. However, they are being priced as if they are going to remain on the books forever, never to be sold.

Everyone, from banks to borrowers to investors, is to blame for this crisis. However, the reality is that this was, in part, driven by nonexistent wage growth and lack of regulatory compliance. In other words, while the crash was inevitable, it would have been a lot less costly and damaging because the consumer and banks would have been better able to weather the storm. Government, as it turns out, really IS a necessary evil. It's funny how many people who invested in IndyMac are now bitching and moaning because OTS didn't do it's job.

This is a failure of conservative, Reaganite ideology. And now, rationality is making a comeback. Which is why this won't be nearly as bad as everyone seems to think. And for another take on Morgenson, there's this.

Posted by mcblogger at 09:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 22, 2008

Staples discovers what Gilbert already knew

During the 2006 campaign for Ag Commissioner, Hank Gilbert talked about the need to immediately begin inspecting gasoline and diesel pumps at stations all over Texas since many hadn't been touched in more than 8 years. He was pointing out that then Ag Commissioner Susan Combs (R-Bitch) had failed miserably on the job. Hank assured folks if he was elected he'd start the process the day he took office.

Instead, Todd Staples won that election. And he's only now paying attention to the fact that some fuel retailers are cheating Texans. Way to be on the stick, Staples. You're a MOTO who distinguishes himself through irredeemable laziness. Take a bow.

(VIA STC)

Posted by mcblogger at 02:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Roundin' up the TPA

It is time for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly round-up.

This week's round-up is compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

The Texas Cloverleaf asks if John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison want more HIV in the global pandemic? Our TX Senators were 2 of the 16 votes against the latest HIV/AIDS bill in the Senate this week that passed overwhelmingly.


WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on Diana Maldonado's great fundraising numbers in Diana Maldonado Has Almost 4 to 1 COH Advantage In HD-52.


WhosPlayin at WhosPlayin steped outside of his comfort zone a bit and commented on the Fannie and Freddie situation.

jobsanger blasts Republican attempts to allow offshore and ANWR drilling in Drilling Won't Make Us Energy Independent and in Bush Playing Politics With Oil.

The bar may be open, says TXSharon at Texas Kaos in Fire Water: With Compliments from EnCana, but if Encana's serving up the cocktails, it might be better to abstain.

McBlogger's own
Harry Balczak has a new recurring feature, href="http://www.mcblogger.com/archives/2008/07/harry_balczacs.html">Harry Balczak's Reminder To You People. In this edition, he'd like to remind Those Of You Who Just Couldn't Vote For Kerry that your decision was, well, pretty stupid. He is nice about it, though.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that poultry kingpin Bo Pilgrim paid to jet around Texas Governor Rick Perry's staff to promote the ethanol waver he bought and paid for with a $100,000 contribution to the Republican Governor's Association.

Mean Rachel contemplates whether Fannie and Freddie have anything to do with being raised in 78704, but living through young-adulthood in 78749 in Crashes.

The final word, for now, on the Webb County Sheriff's race says Martin Cuellar wins by 41 votes. Since the various 'official' totals for Cuellar have been +37, -133, +39 and finally +41, CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders what the h*ll happened!

Off the Kuff looks at the Harris County campaign finance reports and finds good news and not-so-good news for Democratic campaigns.


The Texas Observer's Melissa Del Bosque had an observation about one
of the panels at Netroots Nation this past weekend, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs had some observations about what she observed.

BossKitty at BlueBloggin shows us smuggling humans into the US is no problem at all; From Africa to Mexico to US, Any Way They Can Immigrate.

BossKitty as TruthHugger points out the continued struggle by our soldiers suffering from PTSD and the inadequate response by the incapable VA, in But, When They Come Home ….

Posted by mcblogger at 12:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2008

An Irishman and shark are playing golf when…

To some, the British Open, or the Open Championship when in the presence of proper company, is not only the finest golf tournament, but also the year’s greatest sporting event.

This year we tip one to Irishman Padraig Harrington, whose intellect played a big part in winning his second in a row. Sentimental favorite, 53 year old Greg Norman, who was accompanied by his new bride, tennis legend, and still middle-aged America’s sweetheart Chris Evert, found his daring and dashing style coming up a tad short. In his storied career, the Shark was never known to run and hide. Unfortunately, this aggressive style found him taking it on the chin a number of times, and, and developing a reputation, from those who need their heroes perfect, of someone who failed to uphold many fan’s thirst for someone to dominate every major tournament. Even so, his popularity has led many to say that Norman was Tiger Woods before there was a Tiger Woods.

The features that make this golf outing so special are the unique conditions combined with the refined tradition found among this hosting country and its inhabitants.

The weather is usually windy, cold, and if we are lucky, misting or drizzling.

The links golf courses, often very old (some are centuries ago) and set among coastal areas, blend into the natural environment with uneven terrain, high natural seaside grasses, and numerous sand bunkers that resemble foxholes. The landscape rarely has trees and the fairways rarely watered.

Those golfers who keep their composure and wit are usually victorious because the demanding environment of course, climate and pressure has a maddening way of deflating the ambitions of the greatest golfers in the world.
All things being equal, the players who have developed great course management skills have a leg up on the competition. In other words, the tournament puts the humanity back into the game.

Professional golf tournaments on this side of the pond have become mechanical and boring. The golf courses mirror the typical American professional – over-manicured, watered down, and devoid of personality. The television ratings when Woods is not playing are abysmal. The evolution of professional golf in the United States has gone from a creative entrepreneurial spirit to corporate blandness. When commercials on golf broadcasts once touted working class brands Chevy and Timex, the current batch dulls our senses with elitist Hummer and Rolex.

Posted by Captain Kroc at 10:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What matters most

Last week there was this in the WaPo regarding the criticism of a bailout by the Fed's of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. At the end of the day, the question is not whether IT is right or wrong; The question is whether or not it will do the trick.


As for Fannie and Freddie, nobody would be particularly happy if it became necessary for the Treasury to inject some fresh capital into the mortgage giants, in exchange, say, for newly issued preferred stock that could be sold back at a profit when the mortgage market recovers. But even the editorialists at the Wall Street Journal acknowledged yesterday that this wee bit of socialism might be the most effective and least costly way to keep the mortgage market functioning and prevent a meltdown in global credit markets.

A financial crisis is not a morality play. What matters most isn't the precedents that are set, the amount of taxpayer money that's implicated or whether people are made to suffer fully for their financial misjudgments. In the end, what matters most is that we get through it as quickly as possible with an economy and a financial system intact.

Friday I had the opportunity to sit through the Subprime Lending panel at Netroots Nation. Honestly, I expected much more mostly because I have a tremendous amount of respect for the people on the panel. Even Rep. Miller who seems, though well intentioned, very unwilling to understand the impact of what he wants to do.

For one thing, Rep. Miller has a real problem with mortgage brokers. ALL MORTGAGE BROKERS. Working in the industry I can tell you from first hand experience that there are far more great brokers than mediocre or even bad ones. Rep. Miller makes no distinction between the two groups. In fact, he really doesn't understand the difference, apparently, between brokers and bankers. Nor does he seem to realize that the end effect of his legislative agenda will not be to kill an industry or to stop abusive lending practices. It will be to convert brokers to bankers.

Both Miller and Mark Griffith really seemed to come alive at the notion of new regulations and laws restricting what they considered to be unfair lending products. They are operating from the mistaken assumption that some of these products were engineered to create default or, worse, continual refinancing. I say mistaken because neither of them are apparently aware of the fact that loans that pay off early end up costing investors money and banks hate foreclosures, mostly because they end up costing more than a loan that just pays off. But I digress... the point was new laws and regulations. Which aren't really needed because the ones that are ON the books now would have gone a long way to preventing the current crisis. However, they weren't enforced. Griffith and Miller live in that fantasy world where people always follow the law and there's no need to fund the people who look over their shoulders. I guess neither of them have ever driven on a freeway.

Hale Stewart made some excellent points and, having worked in the securitization side of the industry, had a great command of the subject matter. He made a comment that 20% of Countrywide's non-prime portfolio (made up of deep subprime and Alt A credits) was delinquent. That's true, but the actual default rates are the key and they aren't near 20%. Countrywide hasn't disclosed them, but industry estimates put the number at close to 5%. While Cwide didn't price these credits for the underlying risk (they booking these loans at far too low a coupon), the default estimates are inline with what you would expect for loans of this type.

There was one minor point that made regarding Hale about securitization and elimination of risk. Some investors, the same ones who are panicked right now, never understood that home loans can go bad. Even the ones with really high credit score borrowers and big down payments. Securitization was a way of balancing risk and creating fungible product that could be traded like a bond. Hale was spot on in that investors panicked when they discovered that securitization didn't mean complete and total safety.

The panel, on the whole, presented about half and half in terms of correct information vs. incorrect information. It was the stuff that was bad that got me since it wasn't just wrong, it was REALLY wrong. For instance, Griffith claimed there aren't subprime borrowers, only subprime loans. While this may fit an progressive ideological frame, it does not fit reality. The reality is that some people have credit that is significantly worse than others, people who have shown a history of paying slow or not at all on even the most minor debts. Should these people receive the same terms and interest rates that people with fantastic credit get? If so, how exactly do you plan to compensate lenders for the substantially higher risk of default you're asking them to assume? That thought apparently had not occurred to Griffith.

Griffith also discussed the right wing talking point that CRA REQUIRED subprime lending. He's right and wrong in saying that's not true. While CRA did not require 2/28 ARMs and Pick A Pay, it did lead to the creation of subclasses on the prime side represented by products like Freddie Mac's Home Possible and Fannie Mae's My Community. Both of these products required minimal or no down payment (a high risk factor), had income limitations (usually no more than 100% of area median income unless the property to be used as collateral was in a designated census tract for renewal), were aggressively priced and the mortgage insurance on them was far lower than the coverage on comparable prime products. To add to the risk on the loan, these products were extended down to credit classes that would ordinarily have been unacceptable on the prime side. The end result is that the loans having the most problems on the prime side are these, vintage 2006 and 2007 when the guidelines were loosened so dramatically that damn near anyone could get a loan as long as they could prove income.


The panelists were unclear as to what to do to fix the problem of abusive originators. So, I'd like to offer a few suggestions that will actually work... these are geared toward cleaning up and standardizing origination. The larger problem in the industry right now, liquidity in the market and solvency of the firms, is being addressed and should be considered a separate issue. You'll note that I'm using originator exclusively in this... these rules should apply to EVERYONE in the market, whether banker or broker.

1) National licensing for all originators. The state by state foolishness has to stop and there needs to be a national program in place to regulate.

2) Eliminate prepayment penalties. My peers will hate me for this, but the reality is that these penalties end up not producing stability in a portfolio which is why they were put in place. Period. Therefore, it makes sense to scrap them altogether and price loans appropriately for a payoff in 4 years or less.

3) End bait and switch... this happens infrequently but often enough that it's a problem. The best way to do it is to eliminate all advertising which bears an interest rate. These are teasers and only available to those with superb credit and 20% or more to put down. Needless to say, that doesn't remotely represent the majority of the borrowers in the market. Further, eliminate all disclosure of rate at initial application. Most of the time, when a borrower first applies for a loan, they don't even have a house selected yet. No underwriter has seen the file to determine if the borrower meets credit guidelines. In that condition, there is no way for an originator to disclose rate and they shouldn't be doing it. Rate should not be disclosed until the loan has been through initial underwriting and a house has been selected. At that time an originator should fully disclose a locked rate and the money they are making on the end sale of that loan.

What no one on the outside realizes is that an interest rate must be locked prior to closing a loan. Every one that 'falls out' (doesn't close) ends up costing money. No one comes after the borrower for this. However, we expect originators to commit to an interest rate BEFORE knowing the risk on the loan which is absolutely insane.

4) There need to be definitive metrics for originator performance. Offering 'the best rate' is not enough since not everyone is entitled to the same rate or terms. What these metrics might be are fairly simple. For example, if a borrower wants to refinance their home without cashout, does the new loan meet a net tangible benefit to the borrower in saving them money? If so, then the originator has fulfilled their obligation to the borrower. Does the borrower have the wherewithal to make payments on the house in the event of a job loss or other financially damaging event? If no, the originator should have the responsibility to terminate the transaction.

There also need to be some easy to understand disclosures to the borrower that if they change properties they'll lose their rate lock. If they decide to materially change the terms, the rate may change. Borrowers have to understand that their decisions and delays in providing necessary documentation can put their loan in jeopardy.

5) Absolute ban on all payments by originators to Realtors under any circumstances and a complete ban on any Realtor having an ownership interest of any kind in an originator. While we're at it, lets just go ahead and ban cross ownership by people or businesses in the industry. Realtors shouldn't own appraisers or title companies. Originators shouldn't own credit companies, etc. Every piece must be independent from the others to maintain the integrity of the system. And throw in the builders as well. They don't need to subsidize their primary business with mortgage lending because it has a real impact on the true value of the collateral.

6) Restrict, either through legislation or Fed regulatory guidance, the use of limited or no doc products. These are FANTASTIC products... for a self employed borrower with 10% or more to put down, fantastic credit and who can prove low payment shock (i.e., not jumping from $800 per month in rent to $3500 per month in mortgage). These are not loans for W2 wage earners who are trying to buy more home than they can realistically afford. The panel on Friday addressed this and they were SPOT on. However, there seemed to be agreement among them that these products were de facto bad and it's simply not the case. The problem is that they were handed out like candy to people who frankly didn't require them. Not to mention the fact that, again, they weren't priced appropriately for the underlying risk of default which was substantially higher than a full doc Fannie/Freddie loan.

7) Eliminate all option ARM and Pick A Pay loans. Really, do I need to go into this? A home loan with credit card-like repayment terms is just a bad idea and a prescription for default.

8) SEVERELY restrict home equity lending. It frankly should not be so easy to pull equity out of your home. Further, you should not be able to pull out more than it's worth. This is not only to protect homeowners but banks as well. Texas has some very restrictive home equity laws that could serve as a good starting point.

9) Mandate disclosure of YSP/SRP at time of rate lock. This disclosure should explain to the borrower that the low out of pocket costs for their mortgage are being covered by this fee paid by the lender to the originator and that the money represents the profit to be made off servicing that loan until it pays off. Brokers are already required to do this. Banks will throw a fit. However, if you want to level the playing field and make things transparent, then this is the way to go.

As for YSP, it's time to note something. I have originators here in Austin that I work with who write mortgages at basically par rates. They provide no real customer service and they only accept applications with extremely good credit and at least 20% down. Obviously, this is a very narrow segment. I have others who charge more and price their loans at higher coupons. However, they deliver superior service to their borrowers. They also work with borrowers who the other originators wouldn't touch. Both groups are still, on average, cheaper than retail banks.

Banking is, at it's core, a service. No service is free and people should be compensated for the work they do. This has got to be understood. When I originated I had an extremely loyal client base. I still talk to most of them. Some of them could have found better rates somewhere else and they knew it. However, they came to me because I answered their questions, worked with them on their plans and gave them the options they had available. To them that was worth an additional 12.5 basis points (1/8th of a point on the interest rate).

For a more readily understandable example, I have been going to the same lady for haircuts for 7 years. I don't go to her because she's the cheapest. I go to her because she does a great job and she's a blast.

10) FUND REGULATORY AND INVESTIGATIVE BODIES. Rules and regulations are worthless without enforcement and I, among many, have been begging for it for years.

Most of these ideas would be supported by the industry wholeheartedly. Well, except for maybe banning prepayment penalties but that's just a cross they'll have to bear. As for the budding consumer advocates, you're never going to kill payments of YSP. PERIOD. All you're going to do is force brokers (who have to disclose YSP) to bankers who don't have to disclose. The solution is to make everyone disclose and make the disclosure easier to read so people can really compare apples to apples. As a side note, there is an element of stupidity in the let's ban YSP movement. In ANY market there are going to be some providers of a good or service who charge more than others. Be a savvy shopper and really think about the level of service you want and are willing to pay for. I don't shop at Neiman Marcus because it's the only place that has clothes, I shop there because I want my ass kissed when I go to spend money. That and my experiences buying clothes online have been something of a dismal failure.

In the final analysis, ideological blinders, whether Democratic or Republican, are absolutely worthless. Demonizing whole industries, especially when it's clear you don't understand them, is counterproductive and stands a good chance of digging us deeper into the hole. Make an effort, policymakers, to understand the industries you are trying to regulate and work with the people in them on rational solutions. Those of us in the industry would do well to make necessary changes now.

Posted by mcblogger at 01:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

McHenry, Bunning think the world is standing on its head

The Statesman has a good piece about the cross party support for the aid package to Fannie and Freddie. Which makes sense when you consider that doing nothing will collapse foreign investment in the US, send oil above $250/bbl and drive us into a nice, deep depression. However, some people didn't get the memo.

Paulson, mused Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is "getting more cooperation here, and more constructive discussion (from Democrats), than he's getting with the Republicans."

The irony is particularly galling to GOP conservatives who have long railed against Fannie and Freddie, saying the government needed to rein in and even dismantle them.

"Strange things are occurring. ...There has been a massive shift in the Bush administration policy," said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C. "I don't see rank-and-file Republicans following the dictates of the Bush administration on this."

When he saw Treasury's plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., grumbled, "I thought I woke up in France. But no, it turned out it was socialism here in the United States of America."

Bunning had his brain replaced with components from a Curtis Mathis VCR made in 1981 which may help explain why he doesn't realize which country he's in. Or know the difference between socialism and capitalism. He also forgets to wear pants.

The corpulent little twerp, Mr. McHenry of North Carolina (what IS it with you people? This assweevil AND Brad Miller? Quit inflicting these morons on us!) is also worried about socialism. Or is it priapism? As for 'rank and file' Republicans, Patty shouldn't be so worried. There will be precious few of them next January.

Posted by mcblogger at 09:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2008

We won't be hugging these trees

It's a free country. Spend your money where you want

Posted by Captain Kroc at 05:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Surprise!

Turns out that the surprise guest at the liberal Netroots Nation (formerly YearlyKos) convention was Al Gore.

Meanwhile, the conservative counter-convention being held across town, American Bloggers Saving America From Americans (formerly Little Green Goofballs) had to settle for a surprise appearance from ManBearPig. All went well until the creature, apparently frightened by flashes from the audience's cameras, mauled Jonah Goldberg.

Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 11:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ed Gillespie, The Retard's Retard

On Bloomberg Thursday evening, one of President Bush's many idiots, Ed Gillespie, told the simpleton interviewer that there was enough shale oil in the west to provide us with oil 'forever'. Ed also believes that there's BILLIONS OF BARRELS OF OIL on the continental shelf. Which there could be if a couple of things are true...

1) Oil is abiotically created
2) 90% of the 'VAST' supply of oil is on the 20% of the OCS where drilling is currently prohibited
3) There's some magical oil fairy that put it all there just minutes ago

On the topic of the shale oil, you'd have to flatten the Rocky Mountains. I bet some people in New Mexico, Wyoming and Colorado would kinda be irritated about that.

What makes Ed say such stupid things? Well, as it turns out, Ed's resume is a little light on energy. It's heavy on political jobs. In fact, they're damn near all he's ever had. That may explain why he thinks you can easily get oil out of rock. Well, that AND pump it out of where it's not.

Drill here? Drill now? Pay less? No. THERE'S.NOT.ENOUGH.THERE.

Morons.


Posted by mcblogger at 11:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 18, 2008

What math nerds grow up to smell like

In a few short minutes I shall bravely overcome cocktail flu, venture downtown and go to Netroots Nation where I will moderate a panel. On sunshine laws.

That's right, Netroots Nation is here and there are massive numbers of polinerds running around downtown like a tapeworms in someone's ... well, you get the idea. If you ever wondered what happened to that politically aware math nerd you knew in high school who was slightly malodorous, if you'll go hang out downtown you'll probably see him.

Or her.

Posted by mcblogger at 09:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Harry Balczac's Reminder To You People, Part 1

Even though it's 2008, I'm still good and stewed over that dumb, dumb thing You People did in 2004 - all 62 million plus of you. (I won't bring up 2000 or what a smaller subset of You People did in '98 and '94, because I'm magnanimous that way).

So just to make sure You People don't do something similarly stupid this year, I'm introducing a new recurring feature from now until Election Day: Harry Balczac's Reminder To You People. In this series, I will periodically chime in with some reminder of the ridiculous sales pitches that duped all You People just four short years ago.

Hopefully, being made to inhale your own brain farts in this manner will build up your resistance to future campaign sophistry (a more accurate term would be McThuselan Bullshit or GOP Projectile DooDooBomb, but again, my magnanimity...). So without further ado, I bring you Installment One: "The Commander In Chief....Of T-Ball!!"

Remember when all You People were scared that terrorists were under the bed, but you felt safe because His Deciderness wore a fighter pilot uniform, and said "Bring it on" to the "Terr'rists", and swaggered a lot, and had his surrogates slander the other candidate who actually went into combat instead of playing hookie from stateside duty, and all You People positively SWOONED over what a strong, manly, Alpha-male Commander In Chief we had, like old-timey women who got the vapors while entertaining gentlemen callers in the parlor?

Well, the war in Iraq is still on, Afghanistan is still a festering Stage IV decubitis ulcer on the ass of the Asian landmass, Pakistan is getting worse in a hurry, the military is more demoralized than ever, but our Commander in Chief, who YOU PEOPLE elected, can't be bothered right now...because he's got a T-Ball game to officiate. Dana Milbank of WaPo has the story here.

Nero played the violin while Rome burned. Our commander-in-chief plays T-ball with a chipmunk. You People think about that.

Posted by hbalczak at 08:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 17, 2008

Time to clean house at CapMetro

Yesterday, our transit agency announced the sudden departure of the Rail Director. This comes a week after a derailment of a rail car carrying Federal Transportation officials in town to sign off on the commuter train operation. No, I'm not joking. The damn thing went off the rails, which is the current destination of commuter and light rail in Austin if we don't remove all the losers at CapMetro and replace them with competent professionals.

This also comes shortly after the flight of the Chairman, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. None of which were particularly a great loss.

We need a good transit system now. I think everyone is screaming for it. And at a time that the city is demanding what Cap Met always said they could produce, they seem to be able to only screw up. Over and over and over again. Moreover, the remaining 'leadership' at CapMetro does anything but lead and seems uniquely incapable of doing anything right. They've lost the support of the rank and file personnel and now they should lose the support of the City and everyone else.

Commuter Rail is neither on time nor on budget. This isn't surprising since its builder didn't deliver his last project, ABIA, on time or on budget. Sure they opened it on time, but it went through five years of extreme change orders.

Who selected the same company who converted ABIA? Why none of there than the retarded senior level management at CapMetro. And where did they come from? Straight from federal and state Republican leadership. The same people who say we can drill for oil where there is none. The same folks who think you can keep kids from having sex by asking them not to, despite all evidence to the contrary. The same folks who brought us electricity deregulation, though thankfully that one didn't take hold here.

We want public transit that works for this city. These Republicans seem hell bent on building a operation to hire their pals, give out sweetheart contracts, fly all over the country and play with our tax dollars. Enough is enough... it's time they be employed where they belong... nowhere.

We need to immediately call for a replacement of the management of Cap Met. And we need to find a management that will take advantage of this demand from the city for good public transit that challenges us to change the way we think.

Posted by mcblogger at 08:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Every once in a while...

You need something a little different.


Couple Has Sex With Their Horse - Watch more free videos

You know, in hindsight I guess it wasn't different so much as it was FUCKALL CRAZY.

Posted by mcblogger at 12:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wendy Davis pwns Brimer

Wendy Davis responds to dipshit Brimer's pathetic attempts to keep her off ballot.

"He thinks this lawsuit will hide his 20 years of failed leadership," Davis said. "To the contrary, it has highlighted it."

"We ask you to stop hiding behind your lawyers and your political consultants and step forward to demand that this lawsuit is handled immediately so we can move on to address the issues important to Tarrant County families," Davis said.

Posted by mcblogger at 10:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 16, 2008

Dumb and dumberer

Attention Morons... know your limitations.

State Sen. Florence Shapiro of Plano on Tuesday unveiled a committee headed by Dallas Cowboys' great Roger Staubach to explore the possibility of seeking the U.S. Senate seat that Kay Bailey Hutchison might vacate to run for governor in 2010.

Meanwhile, another Republican hinted interest. Elizabeth Ames Jones, a member of the Texas Railroad Commission and former Texas House member from San Antonio, said there's no opening yet.

But Jones, who raised $1 million for her state campaign kitty in the past year, said: "I would certainly not want to be left out of anything that would benefit Texas. It's going to be a long campaign for ... that Senate seat."

While I LURVE the idea of these two idiot bitches beating the hell out of the one another, honestly I'd like a stronger Republican. It'll be more fun in the general. Campaigning against either of these halfwits would be like kicking a puppy.

Dumb bitch vs. REALLY dumb bitch who is a decorator. God, I can't wait. Hey, Liz... I'm still waiting on you to give me the geologicals for that massive oil field you're just certain is right.under.our.feet!

Posted by mcblogger at 07:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Roundin' up the TPA

South Texas Chisme got what they were asking for - a spotlight on the Webb County Sheriff's race. BlackBox Voting's Bev Harris has asked for relevant auditable materials. CouldBeTrue can hardly wait to find out what happened.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the "rail-rage" that's hitting Central Texas, Rail, Rail, Rail - Do It Right, Not Fast.

President Bush hasn't seen Russian President Medvedev since his 'election' to the Russian Presidency. Last week, he had his first opportunity to look into his eyes. Check out McBlogger to see what he saw.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos tells the chilling tale of Goodhair and the Fire at the Governor's Mansion. Governor Rick Perry didn't light the match, but decisions laid at his door certainly made things a lot easier for the arsonist who did.

The Texas Cloverleaf examines T. Boone Picken's Plan to save us from evil oil men and move forward with greener energy.

Texas Senators Cornfed and Bailey scored a perfect ten in synchronized flip-flopping on the Medicare bill last week, shortly after they and the rest of their Republicans exhibited mirror-image coordination on FISA. PDiddie at Brains and
Eggs
has the details.

BlueBloggin sees Maliki making the same mistakes as King George Iraq Hands Out Stimulus Money As Us Shifts Occupation.

BossKitty worries about the consequences of revaluing human life in AmericaDollar Value of American Life drops - Now What.

Vince at Capitol Annex notes that Senate Democrats have taken a strong stance on calling for reform of the Texas Department of Insurance, with one senator even calling for the Insurance Commissioner to be an elected official.

MeanRachel wonders when politics became unpatriotic on July 4th.

Off the Kuff had a guest post from Rep. Pete Gallego about the HDCC and its efforts to reclaim the State House for the Democrats.

WhosPlayin was impressed that Ken Leach, candidate for U.S. Congress in CD 26 got good coverage in the Gainesville Register, even though his totally honest quote didn't pass the "smell" test.

jobsangertook a look at the lies being told in a McCain campaign ad in this post.

Nat-Wu of Three Wise Men ponders whether long-suffering American Indians could Bay Area Houston details the record $52,000 fine by the Texas Ethics Commission against State Senator Craig Estes.

Posted by mcblogger at 07:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 15, 2008

GM screws up again...

Oh. Really? THIS is what GM came up with?

Posted by mcblogger at 05:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bush press conference

Bush is doing a press conference as we speak. He is defensive and combative. He said that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in good shape, but mentioned that it would be the "Democrat Congress's" fault if it wasn't. While he was at it, he mentioned that it was the Democrat Congress's fault that:
gas prices were skyrocheting;
taxes were raising, or at least would raise if they were in charge
the Outer Continental Shelf (or OCS, as he helpfully informed us it's called) is not flowing with oil;
the war in Iraq has been won but we don't know it;
we do not have a free trade agreement with Colombia;
the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, which it's not, that's just fearmongering, but if they were, it's the Ds' fault.

I could go on and on. He sounds delusional, completed wrapped up in his fantasy world.

The scariest part was that, three times during the press conference, felt compelled to remind the American people that their bank deposits were insured up to $100,000 by the FDIC. What's up with that?

What a tool.

Posted by BigDrunk at 10:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Top Ten Awesomely Bad Moments Of The Perry Administratio

From the moment he called a reporter a "MoFo" to the pay-to-play culture of his administration, redistricting, and the Texas Youth Commission scandal, the administration of Texas Governor Rick Perry has been filled with awesomely bad moments. The 10 worst are chronicled here.

read more | digg story

Posted by mcblogger at 07:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If you can't say something nice...

...say something not so nice about Douglas Feith

People often testify alongside witnesses with whom they disagree, Nadler said as he opened the hearing, and "such concerns are no reason to decline to appear when you've said you will."

But Feith's lawyer, in his letter, said he'd been assured his client would testify "in an atmosphere free from the vitriol and ad hominem attacks that have regrettably dominated the debate." And this other witness was none other than Lawrence Wilkerson, who had been chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and had allegedly made "reckless, bigoted and defamatory remarks" about Feith.

Moustakas said that in 2006 Wilkerson accused Feith of being a "'card-carrying member of the Likud party' whose allegiance is to Israel rather than the United States." (Actually, according to writer George Packer's book "The Assassins' Gate," it was Powell who made that allegation to President Bush in the Oval Office in January 2005.)

What's more, Moustakas wrote, "Wilkerson said of Mr. Feith in 2005: 'Seldom have I met a dumber man.' " (Actually, Wilkerson was simply agreeing with Gen. Tommy Franks, who famously called Feith "the [expletive] stupidest guy on the face of the earth.")

"Mr. Feith believes he not only has never met [Wilkerson], but has never even been in the same room with him," Moustakas sniffed in the letter, and no "proper, substantive discussion" would be had if Feith testified "with the likes of Lawrence Wilkerson."

Wilkerson said yesterday that he believes he met and shook hands with Feith when both were in the White House situation room on a Saturday morning in January 2003 for a meeting chaired by then-deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley and attended by Ryan Crocker, then deputy assistant secretary of state.

"Doug was there and holding forth on ties" between al-Qaeda and Iraq, Wilkerson recalled. "The purpose was how we were going to 'market' the war." Wilkerson said he also met Feith at the Pentagon on several occasions.

What.A.Chickenshit.

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

July 14, 2008

Dusty Rhodes is bumped

This got ‘em in

This got ‘em enraged

Likely marketed to those people who believe in Big Foot, the chubacabra, and that W is the bestest president. Cohen didn’t even have to put “sponsored by Tyson Foods” underneath the $1 beer.

So what would upset those on the flip side? Not sure, maybe when the Netroots congregants gather at the opening keynote, you have Karl Rove and Ann Coulter walk on stage, tear off each other’s clothes, and attempt to kiss and grope each other. I did say attempt. Feel free to chime in.

Don’t worry, the Dusty Rhodes retrospective is still on tap

Posted by Captain Kroc at 11:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You Went The Wrong Way, Old King Louie

This is Bastille Day. I became aware of the French Revolution when my father first plunked Allan Sherman's latest record, My Son The Nut on the hifi one day in 1963. There followed, in the majesty of monaural sound, to the tune of La Marseillaise...

Louis the Sixteenth was the King of France
In 1789
He was worse than Louis the Fifteenth
He was worse than Louis the Fourteenth
He was worse than Louis the Thirteenth
He was the worst
Since Louis the First

My parents' somewhat evasive explanations about just what a guillotine was and just why it might have been employed to leave a king with "no place to wear your crown" didn't entirely satisfy my seven-year-old curiosity. And the rest is history. Or my love of history, anyway.

I suppose if instead I had been more taken with Sherman's witty deconstruction of suburbia Here's To The Crabgrass my shelves might groan under the weight of sociological tomes instead.

Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 04:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bush steps into the Fannie/Freddie mess

Oh, please don't do this...

WASHINGTON — Alarmed about the sharply eroding confidence in the nation’s two largest mortgage finance companies, the Bush administration will ask Congress to approve a rescue package that would give the government the authority to buy billions of dollars in stock in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and also lend to the companies to meet their short-term funding needs, people briefed about the plan said on Sunday.

Here's the thing, bubba. There's no need to BUY equity off the market. For one thing, that doesn't get new capital to Freddie and Fannie. It's not even the big problem since what has the equity holders panicked is the fear that Fannie and Freddie will have to raise equity capital and be diluted out of existence. If they don't have to do this, as Paulson and Bernanke have told them they by allowing them to use Treasury and the Fed as a counterparty for some of their illiquid assets, then the equity will reappreciate.


Posted by mcblogger at 06:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 13, 2008

I'm out...

Today is Sister Ruth's birthday. She's 23. We're all terribly happy for her. There's a big party for her tonight THAT I'M GOING TO MISS. Because I have to go to Dallas for work.

While I'm deeply saddened at missing her special day, I'm hella thrilled to be going to Dallas. I love me some Dallas. Especially Irving. It's neat.

Yeah, I've been drinking.

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

Alabama AG has rear entry

Which R elected said this...

"I often hear the argument that homosexuals who live together create a loving, caring family environment, perhaps an environment which is even superior to that which can be provided by a heterosexual couple. In this day of rampant decadence, many homosexuals would mislead society into believing that three men, an armadillo and a house plant create a functional family."

None other than the Attorney General of Alabama who was allegedly caught screwing around with one of his male aides. By his wife who has thrown him out of the house. Didn't that happen here as well? Wasn't Perry caught giving someone head? Did I just dream that?

Here's what the AG, Troy King looks like...

Photobucket

He's the one with the tie on. Average, no? Kinda destroys that whole notion that gays are hot guys. Of course, I guess I do that as well.

Shut up, bitches.

Posted by mcblogger at 02:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

When Life Imitates SNL

Doggie Downers no longer just a joke.

But WalMart still insists there's no such thing as a Bass-O-Matic.

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

July 12, 2008

At last! It all makes sense!

I'm not like most guys... I don't find cosmo's gross, I totally get spending a Saturday watching Texas Justice or Babycakes on LMN and I like shopping. Well, I like shopping for things I WANT, not necessarily the crap you're just dying to buy.

However, I am like most guys in that I find Oprah inscrutable. I need a translator for the show and have been longing for someone to step up, take one for the team and fill me in on what I'm missing. Finally, someone has done it. A Guys Guide To Oprah will help demystify the woman and her show in a way that could best be described as hysterical without being mean.

Thank you, Sensei, for creating something actually useful in the blogosphere!

Posted by mcblogger at 02:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tolls and polls

  • EOW has the deets on the Lyceum poll that asked about transportation funding. So does the Chron. The gist? We apparently know that we need roads. We apparently also know that we don't want to pay for them. EOW has some good suggestions on how to poll this issue to get an accurate assessment. Here's mine:

    Would you rather pay 15 CENTS PER MILE for your roads or 15 CENTS PER GALLON with the assumption that your car (or truck) gets at least 15 MILES PER GALLON? There are NO other options under Texas law.


    THAT'S the reality, boys and girls. We're going to pay one way or another and giving the poll respondents the option to basically say NO to both proposals is a cop out. There is no magic bullet and it's time the electorate realized that. Ben Wear has more over at the Statesman. Here's the deal, Lege, raise the gas tax and explain why. And then beat the shit out of anyone who doesn't fall into line.

  • Vince has more about TXDOT's continued efforts to privatize transportation infrastructure in the state, despite what the Legislature and Texans want. The best part? He managed to tie it in with John Cornyn's US funded highway... in Mexico. Yes, that's right. John Cornyn wants to spend your tax dollars to build roads in Mexico.

    This wouldn't be a big deal if WE WERE FLUSH WITH CASH AND DIDN'T BADLY NEED ROADS OURSELVES.

  • TURF has a nice piece about the Republican Party of Texas' move to override their delegates and put a heavily pro-toll and pro-privatization plank in their platform. The Democrats? We support a ban on tolling.

    Some of you Republicans and Independents need to realize that you're on the wrong damn side

  • Posted by mcblogger at 10:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    July 11, 2008

    I Guess We'd Better Do Something If We Want To Keep Our Phoney Baloney Jobs


    It seems that McBlogger has called me out for not posting lately. Well, to be honest, I've spent the week watching Space Week on the The Science Channel, reliving the Race to the Moon. For you youngsters, getting to the Moon before the godless commies did was a matter of life and death. Even Bob Dylan sang the consequences of failure would be "Wowee. Pretty scary". Ad frankly compared to all that the sordid political events of the last week on the old third rock from the Sun really hardly seem worth writing about... beyond wondering if any contemporary Democrat could say "We choose to do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard" with a straight face. Especially after totally surrendering the idea that we have Constitutional Rights in the FISA cave-in to the lamest of all lame duck presidents, a man whose approval ratings trail those of syphilis? I didn't think so either.

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 07:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Freddie, Fannie in suicide pact

    Let me just say, there comes a time where you'd like to stop the world. And get off it. This is one of those days.

    On Bloomberg, they are currently interviewing two morons who, aside from today's manufactured crisis, would never be listened to. But today, because they think FNMA and FHLMC (the Agencies... those are the acronyms that represent Fannie and Freddie, respectively) are in trouble, they are the toast of financial television.

    Here's the thing... it's all a bunch of bullshit. For one thing, the Agencies (or GSE's, if you prefer) are adequately capitalized according to their regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. Their projected losses were already telescoped and people knew about it. Further, those losses would have to increase by ten fold for them to be insolvent per OFHEO.

    The problem isn't that there ARE some non-performing assets. There have always been some non-performing assets because there will always be people who don't pay their mortgage. In point of fact, the OVERWHELMING majority of the credits (loans) that the Agencies have on their books are performing. However, that doesn't mean that they have value...and now we go down the rabbit hole of financial accounting.

    There are a number of ways to value assets. The prevailing way is to 'mark to market' which means, for simplicity, that you take a security you hold and price it according to the bid for that asset in the market, for instance the secondary market for mortgages and related securities. Unfortunately, the market can be irrational at times and this is one of those times.

    As I pointed out earlier, the PRICES paid for less than perfect credits were way too high. So the market corrected and stopped paying ANYTHING for them. Which meant, even though there securities were made up of paying loans, that according to accounting rules those securities are worthless. Those were the subprime and Alt A credits and now A credits, like the ones the Agencies have, are getting hit. The fear regarding the Agency's is that on a mark to market basis these companies are insolvent. It doesn't mean they have $5 trn in the hole, it means that they owe $5 trn but have assets worth less than $5 trn. Which means negative equity and insolvency.

    However, using that metric that means that 10 out of 20 major investment banks are now insolvent. It also means that Citibank is insolvent. And what's really going on is that the market has swung from one direction to the other... from valuing all mortgages too highly to not valuing them at all. Do they still have value? Of course. However, according to accounting rules it's tight.

    What's spooking the market today, in the equity of the two Agencies, is that shareholders may be diluted if the Agency's have to raise capital by issuing new equity. That devalues existing shareholders and so, you have a selloff of the stock. However, it doesn't mean the companies are going bankrupt.

    There's also former FOMC member Bill Poole telling anyone who'll listen that the Agencies are insolvent. For a little background on Poole, you gotta know he's NEVER been a big fan of the Agencies. He thinks their government charter (which they DO have) gives them an unfair advantage over depository and investment banks. He's right. However, that 'advantage' has been passed on to MILLIONS of homeowners in the United States.

    So, before you think this is all a huge bailout and taxpayers will be on the hook, keep in mind before mortgage securitization and the buildup of the Agencies, people had to put down 20% for a home. And pay a high interest rate.

    Oh, but McBlogger... you've been bitching about lax underwriting guidelines and mortgages with nothing down. Wouldn't it be better to go back to the old days of 20% down?

    Absolutely not. And my issue with lax underwriting and exotic, low down payment and low documentation mortgages is that the market never priced them adequately for the risk they represented, not to mention offering them to people who, frankly, didn't need them. I think it's ridiculous to price a no-doc loan made to a salaried borrower at a price comparable to the one you'd give a full income documentation loan. However, that doesn't mean the product itself was bad... the application and pricing of that product was bad. These loans were originally intended for borrowers with difficult to document income (usually self employed borrowers) and carried a high interest rate as well as 10% down payment in most cases. When these loans performed well, the market started to expand the eligible borrowers. And lessened the down payment requirements. And loosened the credit guidelines.

    And then people stopped paying. And that made everyone question all mortgages. Which left only Fannie and Freddie, not to mention FHA, to keep the market somewhat stable.

    THAT'S the problem no one is really pointing out right now... the private market that the supply-siders love so damn much froze up and stopped moving. The invisible hand just stopped all motion. It was the Agencies and FHA that have kept us afloat. And we need them to continue doing that.

    If they don't, then the repercussions are serious. Well, they're serious if you think an economic depression is serious.

    However, these companies will survive. So will the economy. And the smart money isn't sitting on the sidelines right now. It's quietly buying good assets at rock bottom prices.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Cornyn the Coward

    You know, I've never really been one to let things go. I get my way usually by being the more obstinate person. It's a trait I picked up from my parents, whose favorite word happens to be 'NO'.

    I'm not letting Telecom Immunity and the cave in on FISA go. Especially not when Junior John, the Cowardly Senator from Texas, has sent out a fundraising email attacking a real patriot and defending his own inexcusable cowardice.

    So, I'm going to make John a deal. Blogging about this isn't really enough, I'd like to see you to personally tell you what a cocksucker I think you are. Think I'm hiding behind the blog? Come see me and see just how nasty I can be to a public official who has failed his constituents and betrayed his oath of office. No threats of violence, I don't want to hit you. I just want to let you know how little I respect you and what I think of your appalling service to the people of Texas.

    I go to Mother Egan's just about every Sunday night. I won't be there this week because I'll be away on business. However, next week and just about every week thereafter, I'll be there having drinks on the patio. Feel free to stop by because I'd love to call you a coward to your face.

    What ever you do, don't EVER say anything nasty about a man who served in the armed forces. YOU didn't, so I'll be damned if I'll sit back while you impugn Lt. Col. Noriega's courage and commitment to defending this country.

    He's actually served in a combat zone. All you've done is weaken the Constitution you swore to uphold. You'd be better served attacking me, douchebag. Rick's way the hell out of your league.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Following Up McSuperstar

    So the lack of comments from "You People" is a little irritating. Afterall, we put a lot of work into keeping up with the news for ya'll and reporting it in a sarcastic and often belligerent way so hell yeah a little support now and then would be nice.

    However, I am inclined to let "You People" off the hook if you are just not taking the time to comment because you are too busy peeing your pants over the McBlogger shout out in the Chronicle this week.....So you're forgiven...a little!

    Posted by Lovelie99 at 01:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    You lazy, no commenting skanks...

    Seriously, all kinds of fun stuff posted up all week by your friends here at McBlogger and you people have nothing to say.

    Yeah, that's right. I called you YOU PEOPLE. Get over it.

    Of course I guess it would help if the 1086 people designated as authors on the site could, you know, occasionally post something.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Still not getting it on the credit markets

    There is one critical point that's been left out of all the housing/asset/credit bubble mess and that is that consistently no one is pointing out the real underlying problem. Sure, there was lax underwriting, abusive fees and in a few cases outright fraud. However, the underlying issue is that NONE OF THIS WAS PRICED APPROPRIATELY.

    The Fed is is going to extend it's lending to primary dealers, the investment banks who make markets in everything from debts to equities to commodities. This is kind of a mixed bag since, for all intents and purposes, the Fed is the US Government and it's become the lender of last resort to thinly regulated non-depository institutions. Needless to say, this opens them up for more regulation and opens us up for more liability. However, that's not what caught my eye in the article. This is...

    Mr. Bernanke said that the Fed would issue next week long-awaited rules to restrict new exotic mortgages and high-cost loans for people with weak credit. Such mortgages have been a central cause of the current market problems.

    No, these loans AREN'T the reason for the crisis... the PRICES paid by end investors caused the problem. For one thing, institutions and to a lesser extent individual investors were buying these loans at prices that competed with fully documented, low risk FNMA loans. Which is insane since they represented FAR riskier credits. Part of that was a perception that these were rock solid loans, the other was masking the true credit quality by means of structured finance.

    However, the underlying product was not a terrible one. A no-doc loan makes since for a self-employed borrower with difficult to document credit, an established housing history and an excellent credit profile. With the changes the Fed aims to put in place, these loans will no longer exist. And it will become extremely difficult for SE borrowers to get loans.

    There is, at the base, no such thing as a toxic financial product. There is only one that is priced too expensively. While these mortgages were NOT worth as much as a traditional A credit, they were worth something. The problem is, people were buying them as if they WERE A credits... and borrowing against them. That's how a house of cards collapses.

    Because eventually, no matter how you dress it up, a risky credit is going to perform like a risky credit. Investors were stupid and, in many cases, willfully misled. That's a problem. However, the underlying products were not necessarily bad. They just needed to be priced for their risk which would have put an automatic brake on the number of these being originated.

    And now, the Statesman chimes in. And it's clear as hell they know not of what they write. Hey guys, leave this to people who actually know something about it, K?

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

    July 10, 2008

    Attorney General Greg Abbott, arbiter of all things Constitutional

    Our AG, Greg Abbott, has unilaterally (and after a minor amount of half-assed research) determined that the bible classes being pushed by the Republican controlled SBOE are Constitutional.

    In other news, AG Abbott also determined that the Earth is flat, the Sun orbits the Earth and he has ruled that drownings and stonings are also Constitutional.

    Meanwhile, while the AG is working on meaningless puff that a federal court is going to knock down, the TEA's Inspector General has been effectively gutted by the very people they are supposed to be watching. Which makes one wonder what the Republican appointees to the TEA have to hide.

    An agency spokeswoman confirmed that at least two employees of its inspector general's office were placed on leave late last month, but she wouldn't say why. One of the employees said he was punished for complaining that he wasn't allowed to do his job.

    "Every time an issue of fraud presented itself, we were not authorized to look into it," James Catazaro said.

    For example, he said, top agency officials kept him and his colleagues from investigating allegations of possible kickbacks to a superintendent.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Thank you, Rick

    Ladies and Gentleman, our candidate for US Senate...

    “Many times throughout my lifetime I have sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. This isn’t a part-time Constitution. We as a nation cannot grant anyone sweeping amnesty if they break the rules. It's appalling that my opponent, John Cornyn, puts his special interest campaign contributors ahead of the Constitution. Texans have had enough.

    Americans will not accept an abuse of power, and they will not accept corporations getting away with breaking the law.

    We already have a law in place that balances national security concerns while adhering to the Constitution. This is not the time to compromise the privacy of the American people and not the time to disregard the Constitution of United States. I regret that the Senate has voted this way.”

    Spot on, sir.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Roundin' up the TPA

    It's time for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's Weekly Round-Up. The roundup is compiled each week based on submissions by TPA member bloggers. This week's round-up is compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

    According to PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, if Chris Bell -- in his current inclination toward making a run for the Texas Senate in District 17 -- were to stand next to Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa, it would appear to be at a 90-degree angle compared to him.

    It was a week for new contributors at WhosPlayin. Kit asks a million tough questions about America's interventionism and the illusion of national security, and txdemjen expresses the frustration a lot of us have with Obama's sudden right-ward bend.

    CouldBeTrue from South Texas Chisme is appalled that special prosecutor, Terry McDonald, gives former Sheriff, Michale Ratcliff, a sweet plea deal for the sexual assault of a minor supposedly under his protection.

    Bay Area Houston says Governor Perry is calling for an investigation into the insurance industry.


    Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News now sees his
    Pasadena neighbor Joe Horn saying he is no hero. Will he be subject to the same attacks those who have been saying that all along have experienced? Gary has been on vacation, mostly, but remains ticked off over the stupid.

    Lovelie99 at McBlogger takes some time out of her busy schedule to inform us about the plight of supermodels. Apparently, there is a shortage of H-1B work visas since far too many math nerds are being imported to, you know, make stuff and stuff and program computers and stuff. And make other stuff, such as cellphones, such as. Which means there are too few supermodels who are allowed to work in the US. Well, at least the kind who are emaciated, gaunt and angular. We at McBlogger wondered if possibly there are math nerds who could do double duty. Then we laughed and laughed and laughed.

    The Texas Cloverleaf wonders which is the better place to live...Collin County or New Jersey?. Forbes has the answer.

    WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts the latest toll scam we'll be paying for soon, Going "Cashless" Will Cost Us All.

    Off the Kuff notes a recent CNN Presidential poll and says it's not a dead heat if someone is leading.

    Last week was a great one for evolutionary biology, but sucked if you happen to be a Conservapedia believer. Over at Texas Kaos Boadicea shares the tale of Conservapedia Ignoramous Schooled by Evolutionary Biologist and then discovered a sequel in which Lenski Meets the Naked Scientists.

    refinish69 ponders the American Dream on the 4th of July at Doing My Part For The Left.

    North Texas Liberal reports on Kim Brimer's cowardly move to keep worthy opponent Wendy Davis off the ballot in Fort Worth's SD 10.

    Vince at Capitol Annex tells us about State Rep. Warren Chisum's announcement that he'll be trying again to pass legislation creating a two-year waiting period before couples can divorce.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    FISA and the dumb things people do

    Well, to start Digby has a good recap and some information on the folks who voted against cloture in the Senate. Obama's not one of them so don't freak out. He lost his balls in a tragic polling accident (well, tragic because he didn't have the huevos to stand up to a President with a 28% approval rating). The NYT ran a great op/ed about this but, sadly, the Republicans in the Senate decided to ignore it. As well as a minority of the Democrats.

    A few thoughts...

  • We don't need this bill to modernize FISA. Forget the fact that we have a FOURTH AMENDMENT protection against unreasonable searches and seizures without warrants. The reality is that the terrorist threat we face NOW is not that much different than the threat we face from drug cartels. Or the threat we faced from organized crime. We can fight it with the same tools we've always used... signal and human intelligence.

    This bill allows for a dragnet, broad access to telecom infrastructure in the US, in an effort to capture terrorists communicating. So, let me tell you how this'll go... One terrorist decides to have some fun. He makes calls to 200 people, at random, in the US, using IP phones. He uses a voice activated computer program and peppers the conversation with bits and pieces of code, code the government is looking for. The next thing you know, there are thousands of federal agents combing the US picking up these people and asking them questions. If you're one of them it's going to suck.

    And it's going to waste resources we don't have, looking for a threat that's not there, and doing nothing to stop real threats. Sleep well, kids

  • The political implications are enormous... Congress just caved into a crazed, weak President. Including our nominee. How DO you handle something like this? Easy. You pass the bill without immunity and with restrictions on unconstitutional wiretapping. Bush, true to form, vetoes it. Congress overrides the veto by beating the hell out of Republicans in a PR war. Like they did on Medicare which Junior John just caved on after Rick Noriega beat the hell out of him. THAT'S how you do things.
  • Let's all take a moment to remember that this shields the illegal actions of Bush and the telecom companies. It does so by creating a precedent... Let's call it the Nuremberg Precedent. The Nazi's at Nuremberg claimed they were not responsible for their actions because they were just following orders. Though not as severe as killing 6 million people, the telecoms DID violate the constitutional rights of millions. And their excuse was that they were doing it under the orders of Bush which they, reasonably, should have known were illegal. So, ANYONE can claim an 'acting under orders' defense.
  • The ACLU has already pledged to take this to court. Throw them some money and support, the same money and support you were going to throw to Obama. He'll win anyway but we can't afford not to stand up for our rights. Since it's clear he won't.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    July 09, 2008

    This. This is pretty dumb and worthless

    You know, rarely does something run in the Times that I think is really stupid. Almost always, it was written by Bill Krystol who is still, inexplicably, drawing a paycheck despite the fact that he's wrong. On everything.

    This one, though, took my breath away with it's sheer inanity. Go on read it. Here's an excerpt...

    This country is set apart from the rest of the world because of its unparalleled commitment to personal freedom and the dignity of the individual. It is a vision captured in the guarantee of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, due process of law, equal protection under the law and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure and cruel and unusual punishment.

    We do not always live up to these aspirations. Over time, we have embarrassed ourselves and tarnished our image as a country that is respectful of civil liberties. We have persecuted dissenters, interned the innocent, suspended habeas corpus, invaded reasonable expectations of privacy. We have even engaged in torture.

    What, then, can we do to see to it that we more reliably honor our core values? Here’s a start.

    Presidents have a wide range of official advisers. There is a secretary of defense, a secretary of labor, a national security adviser, to name just a few. The next president should create a new executive branch position: a civil liberties adviser. Within the highest councils of every administration there should be a respected public official whose charge it is to defend our civil liberties against all comers.

    Doesn't this kind of remind you of the Department of Peace? The author, apparently, doesn't realize that the only way to hold the President to account is to rid the government of those who have aided and abetted him. For that, Congress must act... after the fact, if necessary. What's really driving people crazy right now (aside from the economy) is that Waxman and Conyers are kind of out in the wilderness on their own while Bush continues on as before. Worse, Democrats are cooperating with Republicans, against the public interest, in the name of 'bi-partisanship'.

    It's called accountability. We've already got the watchdogs we need. The problem is, they won't act. That's what needs to be fixed.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Democratic candidate gets totally honest quote published

    Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in Texas' 26th district, Ken Leach, was interviewed about his campaign by the Gainesville Register, and they actually ran his quote, even though it didn't pass the "smell test".

    read more | digg story

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Sen. Hinojosa : Insurance Commissioner should be elected

    Here's the letter... in it, Sen. Hinojosa accurately points out that in states where the insurance commissioner (or equivalent) is elected, insurance rates are on average much lower than they are in Texas. Which has the highest homeowners insurance rates in the nation and the fifth highest health insurance rates.

    The big question now will be if his recommendation to his fellow Sunset Committee members prompts them to recommend the same thing.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    July 08, 2008

    Travis County needs your help...

    TCDP's Coordinated Campaign is a much larger, more robust, effort than we've ever mounted. The aim is not only to use our resources to turn Travis County completely blue but to help with some of the surrounding areas and other key races around Texas.

    As such, the funding needs are a lot higher than they ever have been. And they need you to step up and help out. Rep. Naishtat has graciously agreed to match your contributions, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $15k. We all know gas is expensive and money is tight. However, you have opportunity to turn $10 into $20 for the campaign.

    Click here to help the effort to make Travis County (and Texas) the place we all know it can be!

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Russian leader is "smart" says leading American retard

    You just know the reporter was drunk as a motherfucker when he wrote this.

    President George W. Bush looked into the eyes of Russia’s new president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, on Monday and saw, he said, “a smart guy.”

    The two presidents spent more than an hour together here in their first face-to-face meeting since Mr. Medvedev succeeded Vladimir V. Putin. Afterward, they said they had agreed on the need for Iran and North Korea to abandon their nuclear ambitions, but did not bridge their differences on Mr. Bush’s proposal to build a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

    “I found him to be a smart guy who understood the issues very well,” Mr. Bush said.

    "And in those deep, iridescent pools of blue, I saw my future and the strength that would also stand beside me. In that moment of crystal clarity, when time seemed to freeze like a Thanksgiving turkey bought in August, I knew this was the only man who I could truly call an equal. The one who would make me complete."

    Seriously, was I the only one thinking this read like a bad romance novel? Oh, but wait! There's more...

    The two had met before, when Mr. Medvedev was a top adviser to Mr. Putin. On Monday, they seemed somewhat familiar; Mr. Medvedev repeatedly referred to Mr. Bush, who celebrated his 62nd birthday here on Sunday, as George, as in: “I congratulated George on his birthday, which is also a very important thing, irrespective of summits out there — irrespective of our will, these dates occur in our life.”

    To which Mr. Bush succinctly replied: “Everybody has a birthday.”

    Guess which one doesn't speak English as his first language.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Russia says a-ok to preemption

    This is definitely great news... It's always nice to know when a nuclear power changes its military posture from defensive to offensive.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    July 07, 2008

    Really, Boone?, TOD problems, $1 Trillion Deficit and more

  • Boone Pickens, one of the financiers responsible for the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry in 2004, is going back on his word to pay $1 mn to anyone who can refute the attacks. Boone, it's a $1mn and an "I'm Sorry". Just do it already
  • The Lakeline TOD, planned as part of the commuter rail line in Austin, has his a snag... one parcel of land developers were going to use may be foreclosed.

    At least 141 acres of the planned 326-acre Lakeline Station project, near U.S. 183 and RM 620, have been posted for foreclosure after California-based developer Pacific Summit Partners failed to make at least one quarterly payment to William Savage, the previous owner of the property.

    Savage, who sold the land in 2006, could not be reached for comment Thursday. Messages left for his attorney, Rick Hightower, were not returned.

    Pacific Summit principal Steve Levenson said his partnership missed a payment because of problems arranging financing and asked for an extension; Levenson didn't say when the payment had been due.

  • Bill Gross, manager director of PIMCO, has a letter of advice for Obama that positively spot on and very surprising coming from a Republican. In it, he clearly delineates where we are heading fiscally and puts forth that President Obama may be the first to run a $1 Trillion Annual Deficit.

    While the Republicans will blame you for years and label you “Trillion Dollar Obama” in future campaigns, there is in fact not much that you or any other President can do. You’ve inherited an asset-based economy whose well has been pumped nearly dry with lower and lower interest rates and lender of last resort liquidity provisions that have managed to support Ponzi-style prosperity in recent years. Foreign lenders have cooperated by purchasing Treasuries at yields which when combined with dollar depreciation have resulted in negative returns on their money. Even if these charades continue (and they may not), their stimulative effects – their magical powers to transform a 110-pound weakling into a Charles Atlas/Arnold Schwarzenegger mensch of an economy – are gone. What you need now is fiscal spending and lots of it. No ordinary Starbucks will do, Mr. President, you need to step up for a six-pack of Red Bull.

    Gross is uncannily accurate and has been talking for years about the profligate spending (and lax taxation) of Bush and the Republicans. What he presents in his letter is real and not altogether unlikely. However, it'll also go a long way to insuring that the future is far brighter for all Americans.

  • It appears Obama got a discounted mortgage, much like many Republicans and Democrats in the Congress. And, possibly, then Governor George W. Bush. Here's a newsflash for all you people out there not in the mortgage business... Some banks will give you a discounted rate on your mortgage in exchange for other banking business. My own company has a friends and family loan that is discounted from our published rates. It's a perk for working here. Get over it.
  • Is Chris Bell going to run in SD 17? It appears so, though the announcement has, again, been put off. Come on, Chris. Just RUN.
  • Once more, Warren Chisum is speaking about his intention to file his insane, two years to get divorced, bill. The Statesman calls it a bad idea. I agree with them and will go one step further... Chisum, you're a dumbass.
  • The NYT has an awesome editorial up about banning nuclear weapons and the renewed effort to do just that. Apparently, the movement has some surprising bipartisan support. We couldn't agree more.

    Two decades later, a who’s who of the national security establishment — George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry and Sam Nunn — is calling on the United States to lead a global campaign to devalue and eventually rid the world of nuclear weapons.

    None of these men (two former secretaries of state, a former secretary of defense and a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee) are given to casual utopianism — or anything casual. They are trying to shock sensibilities.

    In two opinion articles in The Wall Street Journal, they described a frightening new world of ever-expanding nuclear appetites, in which traditional deterrence no longer works. They argued that the only way for the United States to rally the cooperation it needs to confront such dangers is with a clear commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

    They called for backing that up with policies that have also long been anathema to hawks: including banning all nuclear testing, taking American and Russian missiles off of hair-trigger alert and agreement on “further substantial reductions” in both countries’ arsenals.

    “I do not believe we can do this as a demand by countries that have nuclear weapons to countries that do not,” Mr. Kissinger says.

    It is hard to see their proposals as anything but a rejection of President Bush’s failed nuclear weapons policy. Mr. Bush’s aides have spent eight years ridiculing arms control agreements as “old think” and denying any relationship between what America does with its own nuclear weapons and its obvious inability to constrain others’ behavior.

  • Jobsanger has some information up on Sen. Brimer's renewed effort to keep Wendy Davis off the ballot because it's, frankly, the only hope he has of holding that seat. Come on, Kim, why not let the voters decide?
  • On drilling OCS and ANWR, Hal at Half Empty, GETS it. Why doesn't Cornyn?
  • TX10 is definitely in play
  • Dobson v Obama... guess who wins? You know, Dobson is old as hell... when IS he going to die?
  • Posted by mcblogger at 12:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    GREAT Condo Ideas (now with even more alliteration)

    So by now I guess we've all had a chance to drive by Barton Springs Road and survey the utter devastation wrought by the Condo Crowd on a whole grove of oak trees. Grand, old oak trees, folks. We're talking trees so old that some of them bear marks where a youngish John McCain might have once carved himself out a pair of underwear.

    I kid, of course (Duh! There warn't no underwear to be worn in his day! And that's the way it was and he LIKED it!) But seriously folks, even if you haven't observed the Botanical Bosnia on Barton Springs Road, you've still probably noticed that there seems to be a compulsion these days in some circles to build condos EVERYGAWDAMWHERE within a five mile radius of downtown.

    As the Annihilation Abutting AustinJava and other akin architectural atrocities so audaciously amplify, a vast supply of urban condominiums in the $300K-and-up range is now Austin's paramount civic value. What does that portend for our fair Waterloo's future? Here are my guesses:

  • Condo Springs (screw the salamander - do you KNOW what you could get a square foot if you drained that sucker? Use the on-site sedimentary rocks for travertine flooring and your profit margin on this bitch goes up even higher.)


  • Deep Condo (not the bar, the swimming pool...but the bar will be convenient for the neighboring condo dwellers)


  • Condo Lake ("Lady Bird Lake" always sounded silly anyway and floating condos would be AWESOME!)


  • Urban Condo Colony (what if you ran off all those flying rodents and built a whole mess of upside down condos under the bridge? That would be cool.)


  • Mount Condo (Bet you can't find one person who even knows who this Bonnell character was anyway)


  • Condo-two-Condo-two (Scenic road, schmenic road. I say cut the number of lanes in half and build some more condos on the leftover space!)


  • Treaty Condo (AMLI finishes what that one crazy guy with the tree poison started back in '89)


  • The Condo of Texas Tower (every time a new condo building is built, it turns orange)


  • Rotunda Studios/Texas Capitominiums (What? You wanna keep it the way it is? Have you SEEN the pile of feculent legislation in that place?!?!?! The whole joint's just "tippin' for a flippin'," as we say in the condo biz, uh-ha-ha-ha *wink-n-point*)


  • Condo-By-Condo-West (International festival attracting condo developers and potential buyers from all over the world; over 8,000 condo sales presentations made in a week's time here in the Live Condo Capitol of the World)


  • and of course, the Crown Jewel of Austin's condofication...

  • Stevie Ray Vaughn-dos at Auditorium Shores...88 stories of condos in a gargantuous structure replicating the original, displaced statue. ("oh yes, we just moved in and we love it...where in the building are we? kind of up by where his shoulder is, pretty close to the neck of his guitar...some friends of ours bought a corner unit in the hat and the view up there is just breathtaking!")
  • Posted by hbalczak at 09:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    July 06, 2008

    Includes real fake birds!

    Is this real, or a parody?

    Now I know what to get Sister Ruth for her birthday.

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 11:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Texas, 2025. Atlanta, today

    Wanna see what Republican leadership and planning will do? Check this out.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    July 05, 2008

    Take action on FISA

    Well, as individual citizens who are not members of the US Senate, there's very little we can do to stop the freight train of telecom immunity and the ultimate effect of it, to protect Bush from ever having to answer for his illegal actions.

    However, sometimes 'very little' is enough. Sign the petition here, donate a few bucks here and, if you're on Sen. Obama's campaign site, click here to ask him to join the filibuster.

    Posted by mcblogger at 05:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Whining? No, this is ANGER.

    I've heard from a brave few of you, and one of you posted, about my 'whining' about Obama's cave in on FISA. And Faith Based Initiatives. You're brave because you know I can be, to be perfectly honest, a little volcanic in response to criticism.

    First off, let me make one thing perfectly, crystal clear. IT'S NOT WHINING. IT'S ANGER.

    Let's make something else crystal clear, we live in a REPUBLIC. We elect officials to serve us. We do not need them to 'carry a banner', especially not on these issues. We need them to do the right thing and when they don't we express our displeasure in a number of ways. Finally, they are the ones we have placed in positions to effect change. If they don't do it, what the hell are we supposed to do?

    These are Constitutional issues. There is NO compromise on them. This isn't a litmus test issue, like gay marriage, abortion or any of the other issues that people vote on. THIS IS THE FOUNDATION OF ALL OUR LAWS AND OF OUR COUNTRY.

    My question to you is why the hell YOU aren't as mad as I am. Make no mistake, this isn't about a lingering primary that still festering. This is about OUR candidate for President blithely agreeing with, even extending, some of the most ridiculous programs of the Bush regime.

    I have been opposed to wiretapping since it was discovered in December, 2005. I have ALWAYS been opposed to faith based initiatives. I did not oppose these programs because they came from President Bush's rotten brain. I opposed them because they violated the Constitution of the United States (and, in the case of the wiretapping, because it was also a violation of federal law). I would have opposed them just as ardently had Bush been a Democrat. Integrity demands nothing less.

    Take me to task over my very solid criticism? Like hell. Why aren't YOU fighting alongside me?

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    McCain attacks Obama

    And this one wins the MOTO of the day award...

    McCain typically leaves the sharpened criticism to others, in the hope of being able to claim the high ground of conducting a "respectful" campaign. But the abrupt shift in tone among his paid staff members, volunteer surrogates and other Republican staples of the cable news circuit is unmistakable, and it resembles the unified message the GOP used to paint the 2004 Democratic candidate, Sen. John F. Kerry, as a flip-flopper.

    It also reflects a growing belief among McCain's strategists that the campaign for the White House will be won or lost based on voters' view of Obama's character. In a strategy memo released Thursday, McCain's top political adviser accused Obama of "self-serving partisanship."

    "In his time on the national stage, he has consistently put his party and his self-interest first," McCain strategist Steve Schmidt said in the memo. "We have seen Barack Obama forced to choose between principle and the interests of himself and his party. He has always chosen the latter."

    Schmidt said in an interview that the campaign intends to point out "every day" that Obama broke his promise to accept public financing for his campaign, and that he has not made good on his pledge to debate his Republican opponent anytime and anywhere.

    "It's a statement of fact that he discards people, and he discards positions when they become inconvenient for him," Schmidt said Friday. "When politicians say one thing and then do another, like Senator Obama has done, voters wonder about the steadfastness of the character of the person sitting in the Oval Office."

    Obama spokesman Bill Burton said he is not surprised by the sharp attacks from McCain's surrogates: "It's our view that's exactly the politics that the American people are sick and tired of. The only ideas they have to promote are the failed ones for the last eight years."

    Kinda a puts the Gen. Clark bullshit in perspective, no? So now it's all about flip flopping, eh? Well, he's in favor of faith based bullshit and that's nothing new. He's been talking about the smallness of our politics, as if that was our biggest problem, for a while as well.

    Exactly how has he flip flopped?

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

    July 04, 2008

    Happy Independence Day

    For what it’s worth

    So what does Brother Barack have to say about rights and liberty? Any bets on the FISA vote?

    Yes, progressives are again marginalized by a presidential candidate. What do you want for nothing – a rubber biscuit? For the purist

    Quit crying a river and do something, and stop depending on politicians to carry your banner. Also, don’t start carrying on about Clinton because her mad dash to the center would already have been complete.


    Posted by Captain Kroc at 02:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    An Independence Day Cherry Bomb For Y'all

    I have to admit that I haven't had much time for news this week, what with actually trying to get some things accomplished at work this week. Not an easy task, especially when, because July Fourth comes on a Friday this year half the country decided to take Thursday off as well. On top of that, the Canadian overlords of the company I work for were off on Tuesday because that's some kind of holiday up in the Great White North to celebrate their forefathers' decision to live under British tyranny. (Oh please, Your Majesty, won't you quarter some of your soldiers in my house? I have some comely daughters they can ravish. And are you sure I'm paying enough tax on tea?)

    But I have picked some chatter on the blogs about the Democrats cave-in on FISA, and it's maddening to see much of the discussion descend to the level "given that your Constitutional rights are being trashed, wouldn't you trust the Democrats to do the trashing rather than the Republicans?" To me, this seems like asking me if I'd prefer being hanged with a nylon rope or one of hemp.

    I still believe that this country was founded on ideals that are still worth fighting for, and if we sometimes fall short of those ideals, we owe it to ourselves to renew the fight to preserve and extend them, not to rationalize our failures and give up our heritage as something quaint and outmoded in this modern, dangerous world.

    Like some folks say at Christmastime, let's remember the reason for the season.

    In Congress, July 4, 1776

    The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

    When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

    He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

    He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

    He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

    He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

    He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

    He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

    He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

    He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

    He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

    He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

    He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

    He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

    For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

    For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

    For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

    For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

    For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

    For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

    For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

    For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

    He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

    He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

    He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

    He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

    In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

    Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

    We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 01:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Jesse Helms dies

    Really, feigning sadness over this would just be disingenuous. He didn't like gays, blacks, hispanics... well, he didn't like most Americans. And well, we didn't like him.

    To his family, we're sorry for your loss.

    However, we're thrilled to see this son of a bitch go on to his great reward, whatever that may be. Seriously, I'm doing cartwheels. I hated this fucker and I'm glad his malevolent life has finally come to an end.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    July 03, 2008

    Stop Surrogate Silliness

    Actually, we kind of agree with the WaPo on this one... bitching and moaning about what a surrogate says is kind of dumb. Unless that surrogate happens to hit on something accurately.

    Which Gen. Clark did. The WaPo, of course, doesn't like it. After all, he was pointing out that their beloved (and they've been loving McCain for two decades) didn't deserve a free pass into the White House because he was a POW. They also know, or should know, that this would be FAR nastier if McCain was a Democrat. You know damn well, there'd be people at the RNC with POW band-aids on, dishonoring those who have been wounded or died while serving the nation.

    I'll make you a deal, WaPo. You stop asking the Obama campaign what they think and start talking to General Clark about what he actually said. Don't editorialize and tell us he 'demeaned McCain's service'. We already know he didn't do that. Everyone knows that wasn't what he meant. Well, everyone that is except the narrow sliver of the electorate that is on or watches Fox.

    But no one gives a damn about them, anyway. They were handing out the Purple Heart band-aids in 2004.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Work Visa Anyone???

    Initially I was'nt sure whether to laugh or cry over this artice but considering the state of our nation, and our planet for that matter I decided to laugh...hysterically.

    "A new bill proposes more visas be allocated to fashion models."

    -The Economist

    Yes, that's right! Fashion Models and IT workers are in a "catfight" over a very specific H-1B Visa which are set aside specifically for temporary workers with specialised occupations. There are only 65,000 of these visas awarded anually and they are snatched up within days of becoming avilable capping the number of foreign models able to strut down American runways.

    I know, at this point you are feeling the tragedy of the situation but wait!

    (Enter Anthony Weiner, New York Congressman)

    Mr. Weiner also understands this tragic "glitch" and thankfully wants to help. He has proposed a bill that will reclassify models into their very own immigration category! Keep in mind that he is working so hard to amend the rules attached to these visas NOT because he is a bachelor known to date many of these models but rather for the good of New York's economy. As we all know New York is heavily involved in the fashion industry and keeping the models out hurts the eceonomy.

    And ya'll thought that the energy crisis was something to worry about...pshhhht...

    Posted by Lovelie99 at 09:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    The ongoing saga of the RepubliWhore

    The most amusing thing about this whole episode is Cornyn actually being interviewed and NOT ANSWERING THE QUESTION.

    What are you afraid of, Children's Shotgun? Yeah, we've had to change to Children's Shotgun because some of you ladies wrote in to tell us that even y'all don't hunt with 28 gauge shotguns.

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

    July 02, 2008

    Why is this Man Happy?

    20071015_MELONBOX16.jpg

    Watermelon, the new viagra.

    Posted by at 11:16 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    Disaranno on the cock?

    We've all seen that Disaranno commercial. The one where the assbag ad company tries to make amaretto the new 'it' drink. Which it is, for the over 60, "I'd like a cordial after dinner" set.

    This is the way it should have been.

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Work to stop fraud, get fired by DoD

    This is, I would assume, largely the fault of the political appointees at DoD, not the career military personnel. At least I hope so. If it's not, then we're in deep trouble.

    Mr. Smith, a career civilian employee, did his duty: He confronted KBR and warned that unless they supplied credible justification, he would levy penalties of 15 percent on future work payments while also, needless to say, blocking any performance bonuses for the company.

    Whoops. Mr. Smith was replaced suddenly by the brass in overseeing the contract and the Pentagon took the unusual step of second-guessing its own auditors by hiring an outside contractor to reconsider the claims from KBR. Such is the clout of the Texas-based company and largest Pentagon contractor in Iraq, once part of the Halliburton conglomerate so dear to the heart and wallet of Vice President Dick Cheney.

    Sure enough, KBR’s claims were soon unblocked. The contract Goliath got performance bonuses, too.

    It's going to take an act of Congress to put KBR and it's professional employees on the EPLS. Where they belong. So, what's holding you up, Pelosi?

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

    People are shocked when Russians act like, well, Russians

    So, BP is having problems with it's oligarch partners in it's oil venture, TNK - BP. How shocking... especially when you consider that the synonym for 'Russian Billionaire' is 'Gangster'.

    Lookit, Russia is not a politically stable country. Period. The only thing that's kept things from going off the rails there is an increase in natural resource prices (like oil) which has fattened the national treasury and, of course, Putin the Strongman, with whom Russians more readily identify. With a drop in oil prices, watch as things get bad. Real fast.

    These people have been lied to all their lives and they are STILL being lied to. For example, did you know that the Soviets were DECADES ahead of the US in high powered chemical lasers for defense applications? Neither did I. Because it's bullshit. However, it doesn't stop the Russian press from trying to build up the collective Russian ego.

    Now, Gazprom, the state-owned natural gas company, is projecting $250/bbl for oil. Their future depends on it. The sad part? It's not going to happen anytime soon. What happens when that doesn't materialize? A return to the chaos of the Yeltsin years?

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Good news on CEO pay

    Well, it is if you're a CEO. If you're a shareholder, it's pretty damn bad because, yet again, WE'RE GETTING ASSRAPED BY MANAGEMENT. Take GM, for example (no, really, TAKE GM OUT BACK AND SHOOT IT)...

    Rick Wagoner, chief executive of General Motors Corp., announced this month that the company had to close four plants that make trucks and sport-utility vehicles because of lagging demand as fuel prices soar.

    That followed the posting of a $39 billion loss in 2007, a year when its stock price fell about 19 percent, without adjusting for dividends.

    And Wagoner? His pay rose 64 percent, to $15.7 million.

    This is the SAME Rick Wagoner who kept making giant SUV's while gas prices went up. And up. AND UP. Meanwhile, Toyota was busy making Priuses which they are selling literally as fast as they can make them.

    Here's a resolution we can support as shareholders... no member of management should make more than 50x the salary of the lowest paid worker in a company.

    The problem with American capitalism is the management. If shareholders would join with labor, we could finally get things back in line.


    Posted by mcblogger at 08:35 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    July 01, 2008

    Hate Me If You Must

    But I have not yet begun to blog.

    A couple of days ago I wrote

    ...people aren't having his name tattooed on their foreheads. (Be sure to shoot me an email when that starts to happen, m'kay?)

    Since then, something has been brought to my attention, which awaits in the Supersize.

    WARNING: This is a graphic image which should not be viewed by children, puppies, or anyone with a soul.

    Oh. My. Godzilla.

    Photobucket

    The most dedicated delegate appears to be Sam Hohneke of Muscatine; he says the Obama logo tattooed on his hip is the real thing.

    Good news, ladies... he's single!

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 05:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Whistleblower slams Dems on FISA 'compromise'

    In so many words, he says: Thanks a lot, Dems, for advancing the police state.

    read more | digg story

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Will Americans Ever Catch On....?

    There is more than enough information out there on the depletion of our natural resources, as well as the toll our abuse has taken on the environment AND our planet, that's Earth for those of you out of the loop entirely. The reason for that type of information is to spread knowledge about the harm we are causing and ways to discontinue our ridiculous ways. It even comes in video form so ya'll don't have to read anything.....imagine...

    Here are two great examples.....Check it out...

    Posted by Lovelie99 at 12:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Things in our world...

  • Dingus wins an will face Craddick in November. BEAT.HIS.ASS, BILL!
  • The outing of Beckwith draws to a conclusion, and he has apparently not been fired since Cornyn LOVES incompetence. Truly, it's OK with us. David's a 'tard and will continue to help Cornyn make some really bad decisions. Kuff and Peggy Fikac have more.
  • Speaking of Cornyn, he was in Naconowhere yesterday winning some award for the spirit of enterprise. It's the award given out to the math nerd who builds the most faithful replica of the ORIGINAL Enterprise, not the one from that ass TV show with Will Wheaton. Way to go, Jr. John! You're truly a 28 gauge boy in a world that needs 12 gauge men.
  • After tax incomes increase... because of the stimulus checks. Absent those, inflation is high and wage growth is nonexistent. This article wins the MOTO award for today.
  • John Carter is taking some much deserved flack for his retarded little op/ed about China. Seriously, John, did NO ONE ever teach you about keeping your mouth shut and only being THOUGHT an idiot?
  • TexBlog PAC endorses Sherrie Matula! We love you Sherrrie!
  • Posted by mcblogger at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    That Wesley Clark is on to something...

    After a brief hiatus, I return.

    Lot's of drama for your mama (see clips below) on this Wes Clark quote:

    I don't think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.
    But is he wrong? Vets--especially those injured, tortured, or captured during combat--deserve respect. But do these things qualify them to be the most powerful person on earth by default? I would say no.

    Good test of character? You bet. Cajones of steel? No doubt. Qualified to be President based on that incident alone? Negative.

    Here's the infotainment fall out:

    Posted by Fry Kid at 11:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Eye of Newt (and John Sharp, too)

    This was forwarded to me Monday night...

    Although my Winning the Future message has always been directed at all Americans, whether they consider themselves Republicans, Democrats, or independents, today I am directing my message specifically to Democrats. And my message is this:

    The American people have spoken. Are your leaders listening?
    Over 1.1 Million Americans Call on Congress to "Drill Here, Drill Now"

    We really had no idea, just 35 days ago when we first posted the "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" petition here, that we would provide the spark that has ignited a fire among frustrated, struggling Americans.

    So, Newt, what you're saying is that .03% of the American public is as dumb as you are when it comes to energy supply and energy security (two very separate issues)? I'll buy that. Hell, it appears you've even managed to suck that assweevil John Sharp into your stupidity...

    Secondly, cut the capital gains tax from 15 percent to 7.5 percent for investments in new domestic energy. History has shown that capital gains cuts produce more revenue for government, not less. These two actions would unleash the economic power of America towards solving our energy crisis by allowing Americans to do what they do best ... produce. This country has never conserved its way to greatness, but many times we have produced our way to greatness.

    A couple of things here, John. First, cuts in cap gains ALWAYS normalize. See, it's called 'tax planning' and people do it all the time. Fund managers, for example, will sell badly performing equities leading up to the end of the year, only to repurchase them in January. Why? Because they get to book a loss on the stock, which are then used to offset gains on other sales. Then they get to rebuy at, if they're lucky, a slightly lower price than they got on the sale, covering their frictional costs. THE SAME THING APPLIES TO CAPITAL GAINS. If I'm sitting on a massive capital gain, and legislation changes the rate at a known date in the future to a lower rate than current, I'm going to put off selling that investment until the rate goes down. Then, I'm going to sell. That's why it looks like tax cuts pay for themselves. As long as you don't think too much about it, which John has evidently not done. Next he'll be telling us that deficits don't matter.

    Now, on to conservation... we actually did that. In the 1980's. Consumption went down dramatically as people started driving more energy efficient cars. That coupled with increased production led to oil at $10/bbl. However, the overwhelming factor was the drop in demand. That's in process right now.

    Look, I'm going to let y'all in on a little secret. Newt's playing politics and quite stupidly as just about everyone knows that it's a lie that there is enough oil on the continental shelf and in ANWR to satiate our demand for oil.

    The world’s energy needs are so great that it’s going to take an immediate production increase roughly equal to the output of Saudi Arabia, for there to be significant supply side downward pressure on oil prices. When thinking about U.S. based energy projects, the question offered is: “on aggregate are these projects capable of rivaling the present day output of the Saudis?” If the answer is no then we have to question those who claim that a particular energy project is going to make gas/oil cheaper. It’s probably better to view the projects as a possible way to reduce some of our energy dependence, as opposed to being a solution to the larger energy problem.

    The Saudi's produce 12 million bbl/d. ANWR can't fill that. OCS can't fill that. Shale can't fill that. Neither can oil sands. Combined they STILL aren't close and the oil sands, well, they have their own unique problem of natural gas AND there's a possible political consideration. Remember, we've been through this already. One last point for the 'Drill Everywhere' crowd... the capacity TO DRILL is too low to do anything for five years. Which puts most of the OCS output MORE than a decade away.

    So what about Sharp's brill idea about tax incentives for solar, wind, etc? Those are all great, but they can't run a car. Unless we have battery technology far in advance of what we have available now. It's coming, but it's a decade away barring some miracle. Plus, most of these renewables already get some pretty nice tax breaks. Tax breaks aren't the issue. Sharp's an idiot for thinking it is when gas fired power prices are approaching those of more advanced PV solar. Sharp's the perfect kind of old school Democrat, too stupid to know what the hell he's talking about and willing to give away the farm when it's completely unnecessary. I'd love to play no limit with you sometime, John. It'll be fun selling your house after I win it.

    Some of you budding candidates out there may be thinking about joining with John on this. Don't. Just keep your mouths shut or we'll excoriate you in the same manner. Let the Republicans be the ones who open their mouths and let the stupid spill out.

    Here's where all this is heading... within 5 years gasoline is going to be less than $1.50/ gal. It'll probably happen sooner, but I'll run it out 5 years because right now politics is overriding good decision making. I will throw John a bone by letting him know that the market WILL make the decision. See, I know something that John apparently doesn't : Humans don't like restrictions on their growth. When there is a restriction, we find a way around it. You could say we're large like that. We'll do it this time as well, because speculators have rather firmly planted the seeds for their own destruction.

    At $140 a barrel, there’s as much incentive as anyone needs to find new sources of oil (such as the tar sands, and even oil shale), and more importantly, substitutes. At $10 a barrel, no one’s going to take the time and trouble to find a way to make an electric car viable. At over $100 a barrel, it’s a Nobel prize winner.

    That's what'll create the solution. And no, it won't be shale oil. It'll probably be something like this. Or maybe something better. I know it'll happen because Malthus was wrong and his followers today are still wrong.

    One thing's for sure... it won't be drilling, no matter how much Newt and John may wish for it. If it was, you'd already see some new supply starting to hit. It's not there. Speculation has driven prices and as a result, we're now destroying demand as people change their lifestyles. However, it's only part of the problem since the increased price has not sparked additional supply. Which means we're producing at marginal max capacity.

    Of course,with Gwahar producing a 28% water cut, THAT data point should be obvious to anyone with a brain. And no, I don't include those 'Drill Everywhere' people in that group. They're hellbent on politics over substance. For them I have nothing but scorn.

    It would be nice, John, if rather than parrot R bullshit, you'd start focusing on some real issues. Better yet, just keep your mouth shut. We'll call you when we need you.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack