January 31, 2009
Our Spirits Are Down
Dammit. Now I need a drink after reading this news.
US Liquor Sales Come Up Short in 2008
DISCUS said U.S. revenue for spirits companies rose 2.8 percent to $18.7 billion in 2008, while sales by volume rose 1.6 percent to 184 million 9-liter cases.
That represents a slowing from 2007, when revenue rose 5.6 percent and volume rose 2.4 percent, and DISCUS's prior forecast, which called for revenue growth of 4 percent to 5 percent and volume growth of about 1.9 percent.
"Contrary to popular belief, the entire beverage alcohol sector is recession-resistant, not recession-proof," said DISCUS CEO Peter Cressy in a press release.
Transportation funding and the constrained budget
If the estimates from the Office of Fucked In The Head Tall Bitch are to be believed, Texas faces a strained budget that may have a negative impact on transportation funding. According to Ben Wear.
But for transportation advocates, having $9.1 billion less for the state's general fund carried extra sting: Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and then-House Speaker Tom Craddick (remember him?) had all but promised in a letter last summer to grab general fund dollars with both hands and use them on roads. Now, who knows?
See, considering that the Feds are about rain infrastructure money down all over the land, you'd think Texas would be OK. You'd be wrong. Texans bucked the national trend and STRENGTHENED the Republican Caucus in our House delegation and re-elected Junior John, The Huntress of the Skeet, who has spent the last couple of weeks pissing off Democrats in the Congress. And our new President.
Not to mention the fact that our stupid little Republican caucus from Texas voted against the stimulus. Even 'moderate' Michael McCaul voted along ideological lines against the best interests of his district. Cornyn's claim is that the plan won't work. He wants tax cuts but people WAY smarter than Cornyn say cuts won't work.
I'M ONE OF THEM.
Watch as Texas gets FUCKED on infrastructure stimulus thanks to a bunch of Republicans too stupid to understand that their ideology has failed, that tax cuts aren't a panacea and that sometimes the government has got to spend money.
January 30, 2009
Yeah, we kinda already knew that...
According to recent revelations, it's now confirmed that NSA has been listening to all our comm traffic. Apparently, it's not just limited to McBlogger Authors. It's all of you people, too.
Apparently, some of you kinda resemble terrorists, what with your beady eyes, alcoholism and poor reading habits.
Of course, the NSA has been denying this FOREVER even though folks got them pretty cold at MAE-West.
CBO doesn't love all of the stimulus package
The CBO report on the effects of the stimulus package is out and the verdict is not good for Republicans hankering for tax cuts. As it turns out, they don't do a whole lot. What does?
Infrastructure, direct Federal spending and aid to states to cover deficits and (you knew it was coming) INFRASTRUCTURE.
It's easier if you just start repeating over and over again, "McBlogger is always right!" And, for those of you worried needlessly about the speed with which this stimulus will hit, Krugman has you covered.
Finally, for all those worried about increase government borrowing costs, we're still the beloved of the world which means that in times of panic (now) everyone tries to buy US Treasuries increasing demand, driving up prices and driving down rates. We're effectively getting our money for free and, frankly, I wish the deficit hawks would just acknowledge this isn't business as usual so we could all move on down the road.
Cap'n Kroc, you ignorant slut.
Where to begin? I'm so pissed off that I feel compelled to use enumerated points...
1. First off, buddy, your storied franchise shares a bloodline with the Cardinals. Both teams have plenty of sad sack franchise history. (See, e.g. Steelers pre-1972 and most of the 80s) So come the hell down from your high horse.
2. ...Or should that be high zebra? Because let's be honest, if it weren't for the black and white bailing out the black and gold at every critical juncture, the Rooneys would be in the same boat as the Bidwills. The Immaculate Reception, the "tripping" call on Benny Barnes in Super Bowl XIII, Mike Renfro's unscored touchdown catch in the 1980 AFC Championship game, and the entirety of Super Bowl XL - you don't win ANY of these games without some pretty shameless and heavyhanded help from the refs. Forget Bradshaw, Swann, Greene, Lambert, Roethlisberger and Ward. The REAL heroes of the Steeler franchise are guys like Fred Swearingen and Bill Leavy. Can't wait to see what bullshit call your henchmen come up with THIS year to keep propping up the legend.
3. You forgot a few important names besides Conrad Dobler. Men like Jim Hart, Ottis Anderson, Terry Metcalf, Dan Dierdorf, Mel Gray, Roger Wehrli...I think you get my point.
4. Here's one more: Pat Tillman.
5. Pierogies, schmierogies - you know who has even BETTER pierogies than Pittsburgh? Chicago, that's who - ORIGINAL HOME OF THE CARDINALS, BABY. This is the year for Chicago's favorite sons: Obama and the Cardinals. I'll bet Gramma Balczak's pierogies on that and skip 6 through 10 so I can end on....
11. Larry Fitzgerald, bitches. Larry Fitzgerald.
Fuck you very much, Lance Armstrong
Now, for the vast majority of you who don't live in Austin it'll probably come as a shock that we don't like Lance Armstrong. Seriously, many of us will actively try to run his scrawny ass off the road.
Cyclist Lance Armstrong this afternoon called on the Legislature to make Texas the 25th state to pass a statewide smoking ban.
“This is something that is very, very personal for me,” said the seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor.
Armstrong, just back from the Tour Down Under cycling race in Australia, stood outside the Capitol surrounded by lawmakers who support a proposal that would ban smoking in all indoor workplaces in Texas, including restaurants and bars.
Hey, Fuckhead, you had BALL CANCER. You don't get that from second hand smoke.
Of course, Lance The Douche wasn't alone in his fight to make bars less fun...
“If Texans want to smoke … despite all the reasons they shouldn’t, they can do so,” said state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. “But the rest of us should have the freedom to breathe in oxygen without inhaling secondhand smoke.”
A poll released today shows that 68 percent of Texans favor such a ban. Baselice & Associates was hired by Smoke-Free Texas, a group supporting the smoking ban, to conduct the survey of 601 registered voters.
Smokers were less likely to support the ban than non-smokers. Seventy-eight percent of non-smokers favored the ban, compared to 60 percent of former smokers and 46 percent of smokers.
Hey, Jane, I'm worried about hair bleaching chemicals destroying drinkable water. I shouldn't have to suffer with bad water because you can't stand being natural. As for the validity of this 'poll', we already know how Baseslice works. What we ALSO know is that the smoking ban in Austin BARELY passed. IN AUSTIN.
The bill’s authors, Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton, and Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, tried unsuccessfully to pass a statewide ban in 2007. Ellis said it’ll be a tough fight against tobacco companies — even if they don’t publicly oppose the bill.
“Big Tobacco does not want this to pass, and they are a powerful force to go up against,” Ellis said.
Ok, Rodney, you just became my least favorite Democrat for being a fucktard and working with these intellectually inferior mommystaters.
Tell you assholes what... I'll quit smoking as soon as you DO YOUR GODDAMN JOBS TO FUND SCHOOLS AND TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE. Until then, if you don't like smokey bars, don't go to them and quit telling the rest of us what the hell to do. I pay my insurance, not the state, don't act like my choice is costing you money.
Finally, why not just put this on the ballot and let us, the stupid voters, decide?
January 29, 2009
The return of a non-native son
President Bush returned to Texas last week, receiving a hero's welcome in Midland. Because those people are fuckall crazy and most of them think he's a native.
I wish the son of a bitch, his mamma and his daddy would go the hell back to Connecticut. Coby has a bunch on just how well Bush did in office.
Laughs for a Thursday...
Really? No one over at Team White thought this might look, well, A LITTLE STRANGE?!?!
Rush Limbaugh should replace Kristol on the NYT editorial page. We need a heartland conservative who will shock the el ite's sensibilities. about 12 hours ago from TweetDeck
and then, TBogg steps up and nails him...
Because nothing says "heartland conservative" like a serial-divorcee sex tourist junkie who makes $38 million a year and lives in a $24 million mansion. Salt of the earth...the common clay.
I, for one, am glad that conservatives are grasping new technologies with both hands allowing them to get their thoughts into the mainstream at the speed of stupid.
And, to the person who did this, I salute you for not only having technical skill but a good sense of humor.
Of course, if she were helping to run the national party, Republicans would become an endangered species in DC. That might be worth it even though it would be sad to see the one lady in the universe who can make the TDP look good depart. Seriously, next to Tina Fish, Chairman Nabisco looks like General Marshall
Two takes on Inflation/Deflation
First, there's the 'OMG! There's too much money in the system! Inflation!' argument, followed by Mish's elegant and short takedown.
Honestly, Hamilton's argument is dependent upon ignoring the fact that credit and cash (M0) are both measures of liquidity (which Mish points out) and that velocity is a massive consideration in determining if there really is too much money in the system. In the end, the only thing that's clear from Hamilton is that he's blithely ignoring some very critical pieces in his analysis.
I will bite on one point, that we've seen a real shrinkage in supplies of goods and services... just on it's face, anyone who has been shopping in the last two months knows that's not true. There's a true deflationary case to be made in terms of oil because there has actually been real demand destruction. And it continues which sets up an aggressive case for a lack of inflationary pressure.
January 28, 2009
Did you ever see a 4-named Granny?
I finally saw The Wrestler this past weekend and it met some pretty high expectations. Mickey Rourke put his heart and soul into this movie (even if maybe he was just playing himself) and nekkid Marisa Tomei on the big screen just never gets old (to hell with the losers at Cheeques, I'd still buy a dance, Marisa!).
Today, as I pondered the ho-hum state of Austin's mayoral race, it hit me: The Wrestler's protagonist, Randy "The Ram" Robinson, is the perfect metaphor for Mayoral Candidate Carole Fournames Cougar Mellencamp Jingleheimerschmidt. For those of you who have seen the movie, consider the following:
The Ram made a name and a career out of being a good faker;
The Ram is 20 years past his prime but still mentally stuck in the Eighties;
The Ram is only happy when he's putting on a show for a crowd;
The Ram continues down the same path despite clear repeated signs it's time to quit;
and finally....wait for it.....
Randy "The Ram" Robinson's legal name is Robin Radzinski - THAT'S FIVE NAMES!
Come to think of it, maybe a free-for-all-rasslin' match is just what the mayoral race needs. I've got no use for Carole as a politician, but I'd pay good money and close attention to see her climb the cornerpost and treat Release the McCracken to a Jersey-style Ram Jam. Lee Leffingwell would probably be more interesting if he wore a Lucha Libre mask, too.
Gov. Perry's 'State of the State' 2010 Campaign Speech
by Peter Stern
Texans still have to endure the 'governator'
Perry is the cause of many problems in Texas.
For many thinking people, what remains most visible is that Gov. Rick Perry has been the instrumental force for most of our political, economic and social problems --- from deregulation of higher education tuition and electricity to lack of state financing of public education, while pushing for toll roads throughout the state.
Gov. Perry has created many of our problems and again provides "lip-service" to fixing them.
His stance on Eminent Domain also is benign since On November 25, 2005 Gov. Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 7 that protected Texans from takeover of private property for development. Then In 2007 Gov. Rick Perry vetoed House Bill 2006 offering additional compensation requiring eminent domain commissioners to consider “loss of access” when determining dollar amounts. The bill also provided for recovery of damages, e.g., changes to traffic patterns and visibility of remaining property from the road. Now Perry again is "foaming at the mouth" about Eminent Domain because he is gearing up for another reelection bid.
Texans still pay sky-high property taxes and doubled home insurance premiums that remain the highest anywhere in the nation.
Texans, those who can afford it, are paying astronomical health care premiums and associated medical costs after the governor helped push through legislation to eliminate "frivolous" medical malpractice lawsuits under the guise that doing so would lower medical premiums and associated medical costs --- which has not happened.
Texans also need to point the blame at legislators for "buying into" and supporting Perry's self-involved political whims and plans, who in doing so helped to push-through pro-special interest bills that have caused so many problems and issues throughout the state.
If Texans vote for Perry again it is the dumbest move they can make since voting-in former Pres. George Walker Bush for a 2nd term!
What everyone in Austin would like to know...
Can we have some rain for, I don't know, a few weeks? Please?
Please help Harry Balczak
What can you say about someone who is a fan of a team called the Cardinals? For crying out loud, did the hummingbirds and swallows miss the playoffs? And Arizona of all places. Don’t people go there to die?
I can only guess the amount of twittering about man crushes on their pretty boy quarterback Kurt Warner. The only legitimate player for that sad sack franchise was Conrad Dobler. Ok, so he looks like a back up for the Village People. It was the ‘70’s. That’s beside the point.
Hey Harry, real men play for the Steelers – as in Pittsburgh. Home of Iron City beer and the best damn pierogi in the U.S.A.
January 27, 2009
Governor Palin reportedly wants $11 mn for her new book, 'Pick Me! Pick Me!'. Will anyone be dumb enough to pay the tab, hire her a ghostwriter and actually put the thing out to a Barnes and Noble near you?
In other news...
“When it comes to many contentious subjects, our usual relationship to information is reversed: Ignorance increases.
[Proctor] has developed a word inspired by this trend: agnotology. Derived from the Greek root agnosis, it is “the study of culturally constructed ignorance.”
As Proctor argues, when society doesn’t know something, it’s often because special interests work hard to create confusion. Anti-Obama groups likely spent millions insisting he’s a Muslim; church groups have shelled out even more pushing creationism. The oil and auto industries carefully seed doubt about the causes of global warming. And when the dust settles, society knows less than it did before.
“People always assume that if someone doesn’t know something, it’s because they haven’t paid attention or haven’t yet figured it out,” Proctor says. “But ignorance also comes from people literally suppressing truth—or drowning it out—or trying to make it so confusing that people stop caring about what’s true and what’s not.”
The truth is most of the individual mistakes boil down to just one: a belief that markets are self-adjusting and that the role of government should be minimal. Looking back at that belief during hearings this fall on Capitol Hill, Alan Greenspan said out loud, “I have found a flaw.” Congressman Henry Waxman pushed him, responding, “In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right; it was not working.” “Absolutely, precisely,” Greenspan said. The embrace by America—and much of the rest of the world—of this flawed economic philosophy made it inevitable that we would eventually arrive at the place we are today.
Challenged by one Republican senator over the contents of the package, the new president, according to participants, replied: “I won.”
The statement was prompted by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona , who challenged the president and the Democratic leaders over the balance between the package’s spending and tax cuts, bringing up the traditional Republican notion that a tax credit for people who do not earn enough to pay income taxes is not a tax cut but a government check.
Obama noted that such workers pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, property taxes and sales taxes. The issue was widely debated during the presidential campaign, when Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, challenged Obama’s tax plan as “welfare.”
With those two words — “I won” — the Democratic president let the Republicans know that debate has been put to rest Nov. 4 .
Democratic and Republican aides confirmed the exchange. A White House spokesman said he wasn’t immediately aware of the exchange. The aides who heard the remarks stressed that it wasn’t as boldly partisan as it might sound.
I, of course, would have loved it had the president physically hit Senator Kyl for continuing to be blindly ideological. But that's just me... I have about as much respect for Senator Kyl as I do for other people who are really stupid. And loud.
More good news!
Much thanks to Somervell County Salon
Nationalization gets a second look
Only five days into the Obama presidency, members of the new administration and Democratic leaders in Congress are already dancing around one of the most politically delicate questions about the financial bailout: Is the president prepared to nationalize a huge swath of the nation’s banking system?
Privately, most members of the Obama economic team concede that the rapid deterioration of the country’s biggest banks, notably Bank of America and Citigroup, is bound to require far larger investments of taxpayer money, atop the more than $300 billion of taxpayer money already poured into those two financial institutions and hundreds of others.
But if hundreds of billions of dollars of new investment is needed to shore up those banks, and perhaps their competitors, what do taxpayers get in return? And how do the risks escalate as government’s role expands from a few bailouts to control over a vast portion of the financial sector of the world’s largest economy?
The Obama administration is making only glancing references to those questions. In an interview Sunday on “This Week” on ABC, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, alluded to internal debate when she was asked whether nationalization, or partial nationalization, of the largest banks was a good idea.
“Well, whatever you want to call it,” said Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California. “If we are strengthening them, then the American people should get some of the upside of that strengthening. Some people call that nationalization.
“I’m not talking about total ownership,” she quickly cautioned — stopping herself by posing a question: “Would we have ever thought we would see the day when we’d be using that terminology? ‘Nationalization of the banks?’ ”
I talked about this last week and I'm not exactly opposed to it, I'm not in favor of it either. For one thing, the issue isn't any longer recapitalizing the banks. The issue is restoring liquidity to consumers and businesses which is what the banks should have been doing. As for their continued write downs, this is kind of a shell game. For one thing, they've now got really nice tax writeoffs and they get to keep the written down assets. Which means when people start buying again, they're going to sell and realize some really nice gains.
That's the dirty little secret as to why the banks aren't selling. There are some bids coming back into the market but they're no where near what you'd get in a fully functioning market.
If nationalization of a bank is what's required to get things moving again, then may I suggest Bank of America. It's got a lot of money, a good business and lousy management that should be removed. Which makes this part of the article so damn funny...
Some of Mr. Obama’s advisers have asked who the government would get to run the banks. Many of the most experienced executives are tainted by the decisions they made during the age of excess. And how would the government attract the best talent if it demanded that they take minimal pay — a political reality in the current environment?
This REALLY makes me laugh considering that our universities are churning out B-school grads semester after semester that, frankly, are a lot cheaper than current management and probably far more competent. The best part? They don't need millions in salary and stock options. Hell, most of the folks who come out of this program make fractions of Ken Lewis's salary.
January 26, 2009
The man in black
What an asshole.
(photo from AAS)
39% and Grandmother Longlegs
Texas is abuzz about the latest in the R deathmatch which will be 39% vs. Sen. Hutchison. Kuff has his analysis here, David Mauro has some deets up on Hutchison's planning and supporter list and Gardner Selby has this up at the Statesman regarding the omnipresent abortion issue which will, of course, play a critical role in the R primary due to the fact that most R primary voters are more concerned about someone they don't know having an abortion than whether or not THEIR kids have good schools.
You really DO look great today!
I LOVE THIS SITE! And you really do look great today. I meant to tell you when we were in the elevator together but I thought you might mistake it for sexual interest and try to assrape me.
Which I didn't really feel like at the time.
January 25, 2009
Democrats do it better
January 24, 2009
Time to fight doubled home insurance premiums
We need to ask ourselves, "Why?" [does] Texas continue to have the highest home insurance premiums in the nation.
Five years ago with Gov. Rick Perry, then Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Commissioner Jose Montemayor, and legislators "looking the other way," lax insurance legislation permitted the industry to double overnight the premiums paid by Texas homeowners. Bear in mind that Gov. Perry will have a tough battle for reelection in 2010 from fellow Republican, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Texans now have some "clout" to demand the governor do something before the election.
At that time and during the previous several years, the insurance industry had been experiencing a hard market and was losing revenue; we were told it was due to excessive claims due to storms, winds, flooding, hail, and mold. The industry collectively had called upon the state informally to help with correcting the market, but few listened to its pleas.
As in many previous years of hard markets, the insurance industry elected to act independently on the problem without waiting any longer for government interaction on its behalf. Virtually overnight, it then over-corrected the market by doubling home insurance premiums.
In some instances, the industry decreased the coverage and still increased the premiums significantly.
The reaction of homeowners was disbelief and then anger. They contacted the offices of the governor, TDI, and various legislators. They were told publicly by Perry and Montemayor that by the next year, the insurance industry would refund up to 14 percent of the increased premiums. To date, that has never occurred. Homeowners must have forgotten the promises made by Perry, Montemayor and now Commissioner Mike Geeslin.
So, now it's been 5 years of insurance over-compensation and profiteering and premiums are still doubled!
The governor and state officials continue to permit the insurance industry in Texas to maintain the highest home insurance premiums anywhere else in the nation.
Currently, we are nearing the end of the 1st fiscal business quarter of year 2009 and are in a softer market. The industry has been reaping substantial profits for the past several years and is still content to keep premiums at this highest-ever level!
Despite high revenues, there is no sign of legislators providing more oversight and/or regulations on the insurance market, nor is the industry on its own considering lowering the premiums of home insurance to a more reasonable amount.
Periodically and when public opinion and discontent require it, Perry gives the issue some lip service and leaves it up to the Legislature to consider, but no one seriously acts on behalf of overburdened Texas homeowners. With ever-increasing property values via appraisals and escalating taxes, home insurance is a close second as the cause of the record number of foreclosure throughout the state.
Apparently, unless Texans pound on the gubernatorial and legislative doors, communicating via phone and letters that home insurance relief is needed now, no one will do anything about it and Texas homeowners will continue to pay the highest premium costs anywhere in the nation. We can NOT depend on the governor, legislators, current TDI Commissioner Mike Geeslin, or the insurance industry to offer homeowners relief. To them, the sweet smell of profits overrides the stench of decay from the American Dream becoming a nightmare for most of us.
We either can remain the docile sheep officials want us to be, or we can move on correcting this unacceptable series of insurance events.
DEMAND REDUCTIONS IN PREMIUM COSTS WITHOUT REDUCING COVERAGE!!!
Best WSJ Ed Summary Ever
The Original version which is so full of inaccuracies that I really don't have time to do a point by point. Especially the false assumption on the part of the WSJ Ed Board that the Bush tax cuts spurred economic growth (they didn't... it was interest rates) and wage growth (it didn't... we only got a little wage growth on the tail end, not enough to even offset the regression in the previous 6 years).
Paul Krugman did a nice little capsule summary...
Shorter WSJ I: Everything good that happened during the Bush years was due to Bush; everything bad was due to Alan Greenspan, who fostered the housing bubble whose existence we and our friends denied again and again.
Shorter WSJ II: The decline in the unemployment rate in the middle Bush years, after Bush cut taxes, proves that tax cuts work — and had nothing to do with the housing bubble. The much larger, much more sustained decline in unemployment through the whole Clinton administration, which followed a tax increase, proves that tax increases are a terrible thing. Honest!
Shorter WSJ III: Fannie and Freddie! And did we mention Alan Greenspan?
Shorter WSJ IV: Who you gonna believe, us or your lying eyes?
BRILLIANCE! Just in case you were wondering about the success of Republican Economic Plans, the Dow lost 25% during the Bush Presidency.
January 23, 2009
Gov. Perry's “Eminent Domain”
Gov. Rick Perry wants to stir-up old business in the new legislative session, "Eminent Domain".
In 2005 Federal Supreme Court voted to permit government to acquisition private property for development and many legislators began actions to protect constituents. On November 25, 2005 Gov. Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 7 that protected Texans from takeover of private property for development.
In 2007 Gov. Rick Perry vetoed House Bill 2006 offering additional compensation requiring eminent domain commissioners to consider “loss of access” when determining dollar amounts. The bill also provided for recovery of damages, e.g., changes to traffic patterns and visibility of remaining property from the road.
The reason Perry refused to sign HB2006, which was supported by Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, The Texas Farm Bureau, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association --- to name a few --- is that Perry was pressured by cities, counties and TxDOT to veto it because it increases cost of eminent domain for roads and highway construction. However, reality is if government forcibly takes someone’s property, it had better pay them at least fair-market value.
In conclusion, Gov. Perry is not attempting to provide more protection for Texas property owners, rather, he is "stacking the deck" for government to pay landowners as little as possible when taking private property.
SOMEONE at BOR wrote a nice piece about conventional wisdom and singled out Texas Monthly when, frankly, you could have tagged any number of pundits and journalists around the state. I figured I'd throw some more gas into the fire and give you a few points to consider...
1) The idiot Democrats of old are no mas. Those still around are definitely shaping up to fight more aggressively (Sharp).
2) The Democratic Party, at a statewide level, finally has it's act together and is moving forward.
3) There are a number of candidates who are going to run in 2010 who will win. Hank Gilbert will be one of them.
2008 was THE highwater mark for Texas Republicans. The economy here isn't that bad and there was a black man on top of the ticket, a sure way to drive R turnout. Even with that and resources to waste, Democrats edged into the 40's. In 2010, they'll pull pluralities and that's the ballgame. Even President Obama managed to get within 10 points of a Republican Presidential candidate. Who was white.
Do you folks REALLY not get how fucked Texas Republicans are?
According to long term price charts, it looks like we've reached the bottom on the stock market.
Endorsing Bowel Movement
Eugene Sepulveda has decided to endorse Bowel Movement (whom you all affectionately know as Release The McCracken) for Mayor.
I am suporting Brewster McCracken for mayor because he is a tireless worker with much vision and ambition. He's got the energy to work even longer hours than a man of his even relatively young age and he connects with voters in the progressive, business, youth, minority, LGBT and suburban communities. We don't always agree on all issues, but he explains his thoughts and his decision process always sounds fair. We especially need a hands on mayor as well as a visionary at this challenging time. For this and many other reasons, Brewster is the right man in the right place.
Goddamn! Only in Austin would a respected community activist endorse RECA's bitch for mayor. Oh, and Eugene, as a member of the LGBT community, I can tell you Brewster connects about as well with us as a club to our heads.
One last thing... if you really want to know what got me on this, it's
We don't always agree on all issues, but he explains his thoughts and his decision process always sounds fair.
You mean, when he explains his decision and the thought process that led to it, it sounds fair? Well, as long as it sounds fair. Because after all, appearance and attempt is far more important than actually, you know, doing something.
January 22, 2009
...makes Your "Taco" Do WHAT Now?
If there is any truth to the claim made in this commercial about Ortega taco shells, then Old El Paso had better get their act together quick.
Today's Letter is N for NATIONALIZATION
First thing that caught my attention was this on Wednesday, from the WaPo. Seems some business leaders in DC metro have some questions for President Obama (I'm still getting used to writing that)...
From E. Hunt Burke, president and chief operating officer of Burke & Herbert bank in Alexandria:
· "Is it fair that a strong, well-managed community bank that has consistently operated in full compliance under [Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.] regulations will now have to face a hefty increase in FDIC premiums in the near future to cover the cost of the losses from the mismanagement and poor lending decisions of other banks?"
· "With respect to bankruptcy judges having the authority to cram down first deeds of trust on residential mortgages, is there concern that it will create economic incentives for persons to file bankruptcy who would otherwise not seek to do so?"
· "Related to this, are you concerned that cramdowns on first trust mortgages will make mortgage loans less available to home buyers and more expensive because lenders will not want to incur the risk associated with making the loans and have the terms changes?"
· "Should the largest financial institutions (megabanks) be restricted from acquiring a larger percentage of the nation's deposits than they already possess?"
Cramdowns are going to be a problem. If, at any time and without penalty, a homeowner can get their debt readjusted then they will. Period. It violates the sanctity of contracts and renders the trillions we have outstanding worthless because the assets backing those loans are now subject to measures that can arbitrarily render the terms moot. Adjust unsecured consumer credit? Sure. Extend unemployment benefits? Absolutely. Provide relief to homeowners who need (financial assistance) it? Definitely. Cramdown the notes? No way. You'll see mortgage rates rise 2-3 points as demand for MBS drops precipitously.
As for the last point, it's essential that we do not allow any one bank to exceed the 10% statutory limit.
From Fred Malek, chairman and senior adviser at Thayer/Hidden Creek, a private-equity firm based in Washington:
· "You were one of the architects and supporters of a [bailout/rescue] bill that has not achieved intended results, and credit markets remain largely frozen. What do you intend to do to encourage the flow of credit to support sound investments and growth?"
· "What specific objectives do you have for the $825 billion stimulus package? Why do you think this is a better way to create jobs and reignite economic growth than providing incentives to business?"
· "Other than World War II, which was borne of necessity, can you name any other instance in the United States, or any country for that matter, where government spending and grants have revived an ailing economy?"
Here's the thing... credit markets aren't frozen because TARP failed. They are frozen because the banks are refusing to lend to damn near anyone. You have chickenshits like Jamie Dimon and Ken Lewis who are hoarding cash that the government has given them. Last week, Treasury and the Fed, surreptitiously, started telling the banks to lend. We'll know in the next few weeks if that's happened but in the meantime, they should be preparing to nationalize one or more of the banks.
Trust me, I'm not a fan of nationalization. Government does some things exceedingly well and running a private bank is not one of them. However, we are funding in mountains of cash to stabilize the banks, at attractive terms regarding shareholder dilution, and receiving nothing of benefit for the broader economy. Sure, taxpayers are getting equity and substantially devalued assets. But what we NEED right now is for the banks to start putting all the liquidity back into the system. We need restore confidence to the economy.
There are a ton of people advocating nationlization for various reasons. Krugman is among them, mostly because
he thinks management teams at the banks are just too stupid (I'm paraphrasing) and that the only way to fix is to nationalize. the British are also coming to that conclusion, but here's my thing with all the talking heads bitching and moaning about asset values and the capital infusions...
NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THESE ASSETS ARE WORTH.
Take, for example, RBS and the Brit banks...
If the Government is forced to nationalise RBS and perhaps Barclays with their vast exposure in dollars, euros, and yen, it risks being submerged. It is one thing for a sovereign state to let its national debt jump in a crisis -- or a war -- perhaps even to 100pc of GDP. It is another to take on foreign debts on such a scale with no reserves. Yes, the banks have foreign assets as well to match the debts. But how much are these assets really worth?
There it is, boys and girls... no one knows what the assets are worth because the market done broke down. Mark to Market is great when everything is liquid. Supposedly, the evaluation on pricing is based on the collateral and cashflows from the asset. However, the market sometimes over pays and when asset prices are increasing, money chases money. When everything is going down, everyone wants to sit on their hands and Voila! you get a zero bid for an asset that's worth at least 75 cents on the dollar. How do I know?
Because the CBO tells me so... that's the net of the subsidy on the TARP funds disbursed by 12/31/2008. However, even that doesn't tell the whole story because Treasury didn't pay par for these assets. Which means their value could be far higher when all is said and done.
Some are advocating nationalization as a cheaper panacea. I disagree. Nationalization should only be used as billy club to get the banks off their collective asses, not a broad based solution. For one, it opens the door to politicization of banking (bad), full socialization of all losses (even worse), wiping out broad swaths of pension assets which the government will then have to backstop (super awful and expensive) and finally, when you go to reprivatization, you end up giving sweetheart deals to political friends and allies.
In the end, we need a hybrid valuation model for fixed income assets combining M2M with cashflow modeling creating a valuation band that will keep people from having to write down an asset to zero that is still performing.
Austin Home Sales
Worse still in December but looking a lot better. Which means I'll be blogging a lot less because I'm going to be hella busy.
Different voices on Voter ID...
...all saying basically the same thing...
And kudo's to Dan Patrick for supporting a nasty, partisan bill that will NOT stop illegals from voting but will certainly disenfranchise hundreds of thousands.
January 21, 2009
Best Headline Ever?
Hitler's Grammy Drunk During Cop Stop, Says Mom
Release The McCracken drops the M bomb
That's right, kids! Austin FAVORITE twerpy freelance copyrighter is back this time shilling for Release The McCracken. Well, not really shilling so much as acting like a Concerned Citizen asking RTM some 'random' questions. On some radio show that broadcasts Sunday nights when most are out having drinks (show McBlogger raising his hand) and apparently likes to have on the most loathsome people in the universe.
Lisa Fritsch: Jason, welcome to KLBJ.
Jason Meeker: Thank you for having Brewster on tonight. That's great. I hope you have all the candidates on. I have a question for Brewster but it has something to do with something that Lee Leffingwell has put in his platform, and maybe he can illuminate us on this. Lee Leffingwell said something about he wanted to have a program where people could buy credits to offset their carbon emissions. Is this another thing that the politicians want to do to take more money out of our pockets? What is that?
Brewster McCracken: Yeah, I'm not really sure about what he's talking about on that, Jason. And also I saw that he's saying he wants to have a $500 million dollar bond election in 12 months.
Lisa Fritsch: Do you agree with that ?
Brewster McCracken: No I don't. You know, we are having to freeze hiring at the City of Austin. People's family budgets are hurting. I don't think trying to do a massive bond election in 12 months makes sense. And the idea that Jason brings up, I think this is the wrong time to be socking people's pocketbooks. We need to be all hands on deck trying to create jobs for the future.
Jason Meeker: Yeah, I think that's the way to go. I understand that there's a concern with green technologies and a green economy, but penalizing people or giving them this thing where they have to buy credits that obviously this credit is something to offset a cost somewhere else, I don't know, I think that needs some explanation, and I don't like it already.
Lisa Fritsch: I don't think people are ready to be going to buy like a gift card to say you're a good person for the environment. I just don't think we are there yet at all.
Jason Meeker: Thanks Brewster! Thanks for running for mayor!
Brewster McCracken: Thanks, Jason. You know another area where Lee Leffingwell and I are different is that Lee was in favor of prohibiting homeowners from selling their homes until they got a government-approved energy upgrade on their home they were selling. I did not think that was a good idea. You know, I think that we should be helping people sell their homes not prohibiting them from doing it.
Lisa Fritsch: Oh, the whole thing that you had to go through all these hoops to make sure your home was green enough in these areas. Wrong idea.
Brewster McCracken: Yeah, I think it was, too.
Is it just me or can you almost smell Brewster's cock on Jason's breath when reading this?
So, let's rip into this...
1) Brewster LOVED floating a bond to fund a light rail package nine months ago. What's changed his mind? Certainly not the economy, it must be that he's NOW RUNNING FOR MAYOR. I mean, come on... why worry about a project that's going to spur job growth and give Austin a much needed asset when you can score cheap political points talking about fiscal responsibility! Especially since the Fed's are about to shit money all over the country on projects JUST LIKE THIS. With leaders like Brewster it'll be no time at all until Round Rock is the most populous city in Austin metro.
2) The carbon credit was, you know, an idea to do something to help the environment VOLUNTARILY. Like when we contract with AE to buy electricity from renewable sources. It's called a market solution and most capitalists LOVE it. So, the question now becomes, WHY DOES BREWSTER HATE CAPITALISM?
3) As for the 'government-approved energy upgrade', that was what Brewster proposed when he co-sponsored the ACPP. It was Lee and others on Council who opposed that in favor of an energy audit to let homeowners know about energy deficiencies. Much like that time Lee and others supported taking some of Toby's power away and Brewster obsequiously gave in to the evil that is Toby.
In the end, the only thing that's clear is that Brewster doesn't like his own ideas when they become inconvenient AND he likes to lie about where his opponent stands. He also thinks that working with the worst politician in Austin will help him, which is understandable since they both have the ability to turn a room full of undecideds into haters.
(Tip o the hat to Karl-Thomas who was paying attention to the Statesman today)
January 20, 2009
The Presidency That Never Was
Well, I guess it's time for me to come clean and confess that it's all my fault that Hillary Clinton was not sworn in as the Forty-fourth President of the United States at noon today. The fact is, the only time the primary candidate I supported went on to win the Presidential nomination was in 1972, when as a high school student too young to vote I totally fell in love with George McGovern. (And we all know how that turned out.)
Since then, I've been a sucker for every long-shot left-wing guy who's come down the road. Fred Harris, Jesse Jackson, Howard Dean... all hopes raised and crushed and discarded like dixie cups at a ball game.
So for some reason when 2008 rolled around, I bit the bullet and stepped completely out of character. Time to put away childish things and childish infatuations. Sure, it would be easy to support this Obama guy, but I'm a grown up now. Bite your lip and accept the inevitability of President Hillary Clinton. How could the entire chattering class be wrong? Time to be on the winning side for once in my life.
And so the jinx was in.
Well, President Obama, make us proud. And Hillary, well, sorry about that.
This week in the Credit Crunch
It was foolishly easy credit that got us into this mess. A government-mandated return to such lending is not a viable solution.
Ordering the bankers to make loans is both simple and satisfying. But it will not fix the economy or the financial system.
Now, I've seen my share of stupid pap in the NYT. Even Krugman's been guilty from time to time. However, this is just pure bullshit. NO ONE is asking the banks to return to their old bad habits. All anyone is asking is for them to get back to work lending to good credits, WHICH THEY AREN'T DOING. For example, last Friday my company and several others were forced to increase fees on conventional loans related to 'elevated' risk. However, this is so broad based that it hits every credit class and loan to value ratio. This flies in the face of Treasuries intention to buy MBS in the open market to increase demand to the level that rates fall into the mid-4% range.
In other words, while rates might be falling, fees are increasing scrubbing out the net gain for the consumer.
In the late 1980's there was a joke going around in Texas about a company called North Carolina National Bank which had taken over several insolvent thrifts. The logo was NCNB which was jokingly said to be an acronym for No Cash (for) No Body. The successor bank to NCNB is Bank of America which is sitting on a ton of government money.
It is absolutely critical that credit be loosened for companies. It IS the only thing that will keep the recession from deepening. The bankers say they'll lend when the economy turns. What they don't seem to understand is that it can't turn without credit.
What irritates me most is the assumption that people are staying out of bank stocks because of possible nationalization. If that's such a damn concern, why aren't these bankers doing everything in their power to make sure that doesn't occur? Frankly, not to put too fine a point on it, we the people delegate to the government the responsibility to charter and regulate banks to create a financial system that will benefit us all. Banks are not operating in good faith and, frankly, stocks be damned, it would be a good idea to put some fear into them by nationalizing one of them.
Finally, while it's true you don't fix the sins of the past by continuing the bad behavior, you certainly don't go overboard and cut off the good behavior as well. The credit crunch, despite all the crap, is ongoing mostly because some chickenshit bankers are overreacting on the downside just as they did on the upside. In short, incompetent men and women like Ken Lewis at Bank of America are, in fact, making a bad situation a great deal worse.
First off, I love Roubini but I think this is really offbase. Let's take derivatives off the table since most of the contracts have been unwound. So, you're left with the bad loans... now, with a bad credit, you will still have an underlying asset. Usually, in liquidation, you will recover up to 80%. Let's say recovery is only 50%. That means Roubini thinks that up to $7.2 trillion, about a third of all loans outstanding, will go bad. Which could happen if the economy really went into a tailspin. Problem is, it isn't. Commodities prices are in freefall which is lowering the cost of living creating a net wage increase for all those still employed. Unemployment stands, right now, most likely around 10% and may decay another 1% but not much beyond that. We have a stimulus plan which, while not much, WILL drive a return to growth and when that happens you'll see more of the money pour into wages and paying debts which will stem losses.
Without those write downs, stability will return to the marketable assets and the balance sheets of the banks (that is, of course, if they start rebuilding their book of business by lending again) which effectively put a cap on further losses. To this point the banks have written down more than $1 trillion, mostly on paper losses unrealized due to market conditions. I think the losses will wind down this quarter and will cap at around $1.3 trillion.
“We are very pleased the Treasury Department determined our organization an attractive investment opportunity,” said Jeffrey Nash, president and CEO of Treaty Oak Bancorp and Treaty Oak Bank. “Our bank continues to grow requiring additional capital. We had not initially anticipated participating in the CPP Program but given our appetite for capital and the attractive terms of this issuance it was an easy decision for our board of directors when Treasury informed us they had selected our bank.”
Roundin' Up The TPA
While you're waiting for the nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue to end, please read the best postings from the Texas Progressive Alliance.
Easter Lemming Liberal News is pondering the future of newspapers with net marketing guru Seth Godin and the Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism.
The Texas Cloverleaf looks at an outgoing Denton County Commissioner becoming a TxDOT spokesperson.
CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme notes that while the house plays nice with Straus, the senate went all Craddick/DeLay/Rove batsh*t crazy. Many think that Republican bully partisanship will continue to bite them at the polls.
Neil at Texas Liberal contuines to wonder how Houston Democratic Councilman James Rodriguez, and others, can support a Republican for citywide office. This post also includes a happy picture of dancing from Singing In The Rain.
McBlogger gets some answers from Sen. Carona (well, from Steve Polunsky who was channeling Sen. Carona) about why Sen. Carona is still keeping CDA's on the table. It'll come as a HUGE shock that McBlogger is still not buying it.
jobsanger takes on a couple of the Panhandle's worst legislators. He notes that while the Panhandle is a natural for renewable wind energy, Sen. Kel Seliger is pushing coal energy in Has Seliger Flipped Out Or Sold Out? and points out that Rep. Warren Chisum is the Panhandle's Biggest Embarrassment.
As Kay Bailey Hutchison starts her semi-annual tease about running for Governor, Texas Kaos diarist Libby Shaw notes that Fat Cats (are) Emptying Pockets for Senator-Will-She-or-Wont-She. Some folks never learn. At least with this week's Quorum Report analysis about Henry Cisneros as a potential candidate there will be something else to talk about for 2010...
After Twittering his experiences in the Capitol on the first two days of the 81st Session of the Texas Legislature, Vince at Capitol Annex takes a look at why Lt. Governor David Dewhurst has adopted the personality of former House Speaker Tom Craddick.
refinish69 continues his harrowing journey through the homeless situation. Part 6 of the series leaves more questions than answers but gives some insight into his situation. While not having access to Doing My Part For The Left, he does appreciate Texas Kaos and other blogs for allowing him to post his story.
Burnt Orange Report compiles all the information from the first campaign finance reports for candidate seeking to join the Austin City Council or become the city's Mayor.
WCNews at Eye On Williamson takes a look at Diana Maldonado's first day in the Texas Legislature.
Big Oil is just exactly like Big Tobacco so even though the Texas Railroad Commission recommended legal action against Braden Exploration for illegally dumping drilling waste in Wise County, TXsharon won't be surprised if nothing much happens. We just keep trying over at Bluedaze: Drilling Reform for Texas (DRTX).
There was some contentiousness in the blogosphere last week, as a dinner with John Sharp and and a photograph of James Rodriguez created a little friction among kindred spirits and fellow travelers. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs rounded that up.
January 19, 2009
It's time to acknowledge reality...
If the economic package and this are any indication, PEBO is going to be pretty worthless. Which will set the Republicans up for a stellar 2010.
You heard it here first, folks.
Austin Needs Lee!
A few days ago I got an email from someone named Ted Siff asking me to support the effort to Draft Lee Leffingwell. Given how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE Release The McCracken, I thought to myself that maybe this is something I can get behind. But still, I hesitated... I was bound up by a feeling of dread not unlike the one you get immediately after placing an order at Taco Bell.
What if Lee stands us up? What if, at the end of the night, we end up having to catch a ride with RTM?
Oh, who the fuck am I kidding? I've always liked Lee better than Brewster and thank GOD he finally announced this past weekend! So now it's Brewster vs Lee with some other people playing supporting roles (Can't Let The Past Go, Fuckball and So Crazy I Eat My Own Dook). I've always liked just about every other human on the planet more than Brewster. Seriously, I think Brewster's campaign is less about a person who really wants to do something for Austin and more about one egomaniac and his desire to masturbate using an election.
Which we think is pretty gross and will likely require us to take a Silkwood shower. Click here to donate to Lee!
Reviewing Gov. Perry's claims of tax relief through Constitutional Amendments yields tax increases instead
Questioning Perry's Truthfulness
2005's Proposed Amendment 12: Revisited After 4 Years
Once a liar, always a liar!
Almost half a decade ago Texas Gov. Rick Perry put on his ten-gallon Stetson, saddled-up his tax-paid plane and rode all over the state lobbying to eliminate what he and his special interest health care industry called "frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits."
Texans were promised that if they voted for this proposal, they soon would see a reduction in the costs of health care and medical related services.
Well, just as in the most recent proposed amendment election where only 8 percent of all registered voters approved ALL 16 amendments, back in 2005 Perry and his good ol' boys got what they wanted. Proposition 12 was approved and Texans were duped.
Looking at it 4 years later you don't have to be an Einstein or brain surgeon to see that Perry was touting another pack of lies, just as he did this time re: Proposed Amendment 15, a.k.a., "the cure for cancer."
Also 4 years ago Perry lobbied to deregulate higher education tuition, promising Texans that doing so would decrease the cost of a college education while making institutions more competitive in associated learning costs. That proposition was approved also. After 4 successive tuition increases since the proposal was accepted, tuition costs are the highest ever in the state.
Texans already have seen what a load of buffalo chips their governor REALLY is regarding Prop. 15.
By the way, I just got another letter from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Texas telling me that they have to increase my family's premium again and another notice from the University of Texas stating it regrets having to increase my children's tuition!
Peter Stern of Driftwood, Texas, a former director of information services, university professor and public school administrator, is a political writer well-known and published frequently throughout the Texas community and nationwide. He is a disabled Vietnam veteran and holds three post-graduate degrees.
January 18, 2009
As usual, Clint Eastwood takes out the trash. Of course, the Man With No Name would have gotten a lot fewer perforations.
Here's a better idea...START DRINKING.
January 16, 2009
While I've been away...
...the Mayor's race and Council races have really gotten exciting. Well, exciting if you're a battery chicken. For the rest of us, it's pretty fucking boring.
I will be back tonight. Have a drink waiting for me.
BofA, Citi get bailout. I'm throwing up...
This is awesome and all but could, maybe, the government make the following happen when they do this...
1) FIRE KEN LEWIS.
2) Start requiring these fuckers to actually, you know, LEND MONEY?
January 15, 2009
Tollway traffic down in Centex
Oh, Jesus H. Christ, Ben. This is a short term blip based on a temporary recession. This was the funny part
Aside from any financial troubles existing roads might experience, does this tepid revenue mean that toll authorities in Austin might have trouble securing loans for the five other roads approved last year?
"I don't think so," said Michael Walton , who holds the Ernest H. Cockrell chair in engineering at the University of Texas and is a transportation consultant. "I don't believe it's a significant long-term problem because we're in the early stages of development on those roads. As they become more of the economic fabric, then utilization will continue to grow."
We ALL acknowledge we need roads and people are using the tollways. Granted not as much as the rosy projections may have led investors in the bonds to believe, but they are using them and that will increase over time. BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ONLY OPTION. The IB's LOVE these deals and they aren't going away any time soon, even if they have to be put on the backburner for a while due to the credit contraction. After all, where else can Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley get a government guaranteed high yield return? Certainly not in Treasuries.
What Ben missed, again, was the central issue : How do we pay for the infrastructure we need? The argument has ALWAYS been about funding our infrastructure. Do we want tolls that soak a relative few or gas taxes that are affordable by many and more evenly distribute the cost of infrastructure to ALL beneficiaries of improved infrastructure?
Some will tell you that it's unfair for the people in the central city to pay for infrastructure for rich suburbanites. You'll have to forgive them for not knowing that the average home sales prices in suburban counties are usually lower than those in the cities and that people live out there because it's what they can afford. Some of them, just FYI, don't even come into the city, while those in the city frequently drive out there (I'm one of them). Others will bitch and moan about congestion pricing as if it's some kind of panacea that will make traffic go away. Which it won't. It certainly hasn't improved the 405 in OC which, despite all the bullshit flying around in Austin, is still clogged like a fat guy's arteries.
Frankly, I'm sick of the fucking debate and ready to let you poor people sit in goddamn traffic while I enjoy the Lexus lane. It's clear to me you're too goddamn stupid to get that you're voting against your own self-interest. It's also obvious that a lot of Democrats are in love with public private partnerships that are really more about government backstopping the losses of private investors who, in effect, put nothing at risk. Some of you electeds are so dazzled by the bankers from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley that you're oblivious to the fact that these folks, though they did better than the people at Bear Stearns and Lehman, are only around because of the Government. They aren't wizards or geniuses. In fact, many of them were about two weeks from being bankrupt and unemployed.
January 14, 2009
Howard Dean. We salute you
Governor Howard DeanElection by election, state by state, precinct by precinct, door by door, vote by vote…we’re going to lift our Party up and take this country back for the people who built it.
Has Dean’s plan been validated? Yes. Will the 50 state strategy continue? Maybe
This release from the governor
Four years ago, I became chairman with a mandate for bottom-up reform -- grow the Democratic Party in your neighborhood and every other community in America.
We promised to compete in every state, for every level of office. And we demanded a party that would stand up for itself and fight for an agenda that reflects our values.
When the 447 members of the Democratic National Committee elected me, it wasn't because they thought I could accomplish these things.
They elected me because I knew that only you could.
I believed then -- and I believe now -- that every single one of us must take responsibility for building our party. It's not enough to simply vote for Democrats -- in order to win, every one of us must deliver our message and values into our own communities. We must organize.
Four years later, we have more Democratic state legislators and governors. We expanded the electoral map, regained a majority in both houses of Congress, and put a Democratic president in the White House.
We did it by rebuilding the party infrastructure from the ground up, creating a truly national voter database, and developing 21st century campaign tools that merged traditional organizing with new technology.
I said on my first day on the job that this wouldn't be my chairmanship -- it would be ours together. And you reshaped the political landscape over these four years.
Next week, I will step down after four years as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
I'd like to congratulate Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia, who will take my place as Chairman on January 21st. He will be an excellent leader in the years ahead.
I know a lot of people are wondering what to expect as we move forward. I can assure you that Governor Kaine will continue the grassroots approach that has made our party and Barack Obama's campaign so successful.
Governor Kaine knows first-hand what a commitment to fighting everywhere means -- Virginia is a prime example of what can happen when we refuse to concede any part of this country and build our organization everywhere.
In that spirit of grassroots engagement, Governor Kaine has offered to answer your questions personally in a video on Democrats.org.
Democrats have made great gains over the past four years, but we still have a lot of work to do to get this country back on course.
Governor Kaine knows that the strength of our party comes from the bottom up, and he will need your support as we take the next steps to grow our party and elect Democrats everywhere.
You've done a lot over the last six months, and over the last four years. You've donated money, talked to friends, knocked on doors. You've invested yourself in the political process. And it's tempting to take it easy after a big victory.
But these are not short-term investments. We will only create lasting change if that sense of obligation to one another and responsibility for the common good becomes a permanent part of our lives.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
We cannot be silent. We cannot leave it to others to see this through.
Thank you for everything you did for our cause in this election and over the last four years.
But we are not stopping here. And even though my term as chairman is ending, I will be with you -- and with our new chairman -- every step of the way.
Thank you again,
Karl Rove joins TP&W Foundation Board of Directors
One question for you, dough boy
When’s the last time you went deer hunting with Cheney?
Well, that’s too long. Go now, right now. Heaven forbid someone might think you’re feminine.
Forget the muzzleloaders though. Takes too long to load and the accuracy is suspect, and hang fire can make someone flinch.
While we’re talking about guns and the foundation, another new board member is Austin gun dealer Joe McBride, who last summer had this to say about the fear of an Obama presidency.
“This summer, sales at McBride’s Guns in Austin are 10 percent higher, compared with the same time last year. “Our regular client base is very concerned about anti-gun legislation if the wrong people get elected,” adding “what they see as the wrong people.”
We’re sure Ole Joe has nothing but the utmost respect for that colored boy.
Chase decides to fuck consumers and taxpayers
At a time when the US economy needs as much liquidity as possible, Chase has decided to freeze out 60% of the home lending market and take it over. The official announcement (PDF) discusses the WaMu purchase and details that they now have retail or consumer direct access to 70% of the US market.
Here's the thing. This is a strategic move by a firm which has received TAF and TARP funds to dramatically reduce consumer access to credit and reduce consumer transparency in the mortgage market because Chase retail doesn't have to disclose NEARLY as much to consumers as brokers do. And it reeks of desperation.
If you have money at Chase, this might be a good time to remove it.
January 13, 2009
Mi cena con John Sharp
First off, the restaurant... Sharp selected Sullivan's. Now, bullshit aside about the grassroots, progressives, etc., I like Sullivan's. I go to Eddie V's or Truluck's more often but Sullivan's is good despite it's recent fouling by CradDICK. I especially like it for dates since even if the date is awful, the food won't suck and the bars are around the block. This is obviously less fun when you have to pick up the tab for a date who 'forgot' his wallet. Regardless, it kind of reminded me of Hank Gilbert who could eat every meal at a steakhouse, if we allowed him to.
Sharp is a personable guy. This was my first time to meet him and he was friendly and unreserved. The dinner was really more of an open ended discussion and for that, I really must say thanks to Sharp. It's goddamn nice not to sit down with some self important candidate who'd like to hold forth on subjects about which he/she has a puddle deep comprehension level. Not that Sharp doesn't have his own weak spots, but he didn't come across as someone with a calcified mind.
There were two issues I went into the evening wanting to discuss. There ended up being a third which Matt brought up.
I was extremely upset when I wrote this and make no apologies for it. It is clear though, after talking to the man last night, that the piece I linked to was badly done. His proposal isn't to cut taxes on existing production sources and he wants a sunset on it of at most 10 years. His proposal includes everything from a new oil well to a wind turbine. His idea has some merit though he's still not completely sold me on the marginal ability of tax cuts to drive this production increase with so much volatility in the commodities markets. He is still interested in OCS drilling but acknowledges that ANWR is pretty worthless. Obvs, we disagree on OCS. While I think there is a lot of undiscovered oil down there, it's just not enough. He used, as an example, a gas field off the FL coast that has proven gas reserves that would cover one million homes for thirty years. As I pointed out, that's a drop in the well in North America. Where we are running out of gas. Further, we have 10-15 years to continue conversion to alternatives before we start hitting real supply constraints in terms of oil. We've got maybe 5 years in terms of natural gas.
The Economy and tax policy
We actually had a few points of agreement here. He made clear his anger that the banks weren't lending. He thought we were in for a much rougher time of it. I disagree... we're set up for a strong upward movement in terms of economic growth. Sharp's of the opinion that stopping home value declines will stop the bleeding in the economy. I think you have to address a far more fundamental issue, wage growth. You can stabilize home prices at whatever arbitrary level you'd like but if people can't afford the homes, they can't afford the homes. Period. While I love the idea of moving interest rates to 4.5%, Treasury is already doing that.
In the end, we're going to have to shift tax policy so that it stops concentrating wealth at the top. It's not clear he gets that. It's not clear there are many politicos who get that period, in Sharp's defense. Also to give him a little cover, most people don't really understand what's going on with stimulus or the economy. Many, like Sharp, make the fallacious assumption that the government is trying to recover $15 trillion in lost value. That's not what they are trying to do... they are simply trying to make up for lost velocity which is a hell of lot cheaper. Asset prices will recover on their own. To his credit, he did nail it when he said that he thought deflation was a much bigger concern than balanced budgets and inflation.
On the subject of taxes, we got interrupted when we were discussing actually explaining to people what's going to happen with their tax dollars so I never really knew if he understands that what's needed in a race like this is not just honesty on some issues and tax cuts all around. What's needed is one Democrat and one Republican and the D can't be afraid of calling the R a liar if they use that tired old supply side bullshit.
Matt brought up the margins tax and the perception that it gave Republicans political cover. I remember thinking the same thing at the time, however, I don't know think that cost Chris Bell the election and Sharp's response was really good: "How do you tell a kid whose school is going to have to be shut that maybe, after the next election, if there are more Democrats you'll open their school back up?". The Republicans have been excellent at just this kind of political brinkmanship and we've done a lousy job of shoving it back at them. I don't know if Sharp's got the meanness to do this.
Sharp made it clear he was running regardless of what Republicans and other Democrats do. I haven't decided who I'm going to support but I have a much better understanding of John Sharp and where he stands than I did. The rap on Sharp has often been that he's pro-business, which is an insult I've never really understood. The guy I saw last night is conservative, but not one of those bible-thumping freaks. He's an old school fiscal conservative Democrat who just doesn't want money wasted, more Harry Truman than John Connally. He's also someone concerned about the future, especially of entitlement programs. He is so concerned about them that I didn't really want to point out that it's a pretty easy actuarial and budgetary fix. Well, that's not actually true... he knows what needs to happen. What's he's concerned with are the politics. I can't disagree.
The other issue is a political tin ear. I've experienced it trying to get him to help out Hank in 2006. In his defense, Hank was an unknown that few at the top gave a shit about. Still, he needs a fire and I don't know if he has it or not.
For other budding candidates, seriously don't feel like you have to take myself or any other blogger out. Frankly, I make more than a lot of you and should really be buying y'all a meal. Sharp picked the place, I went because I wanted to hear what the man had to say. That, and I really like their creamed spinach.
Finally, for the record, I DID bet Sharp $50 that we'd seen the bottom in the market (meaning the DJIA). He did not accept the bet but I'm leaving the offer open nonetheless. Seriously, John, if I win I'll donate it back to your campaign. You can be among the few who've actually won money off me!
January 12, 2009
A la recherche du temps askew
So the word today is that Carole Strayhorn, who likes to be called "One Tough Grandma", wants to be mayor again. She held that office when I first came to Austin thirty years ago. I guess that would have made her One Tough Mutha back in those days, although most people I knew referred to her as Ms. Piggy. It's going to be very fashionable on the liberal blogs to trash her, but frankly, after eight years of Bush and six of Craddick, after Tom DeLay and redistricting and re-redistricting and re-re-redistricting, I'm afraid my inner pool of outrage and scorn is all dried up.
Honestly, I think a person would have to be insane to want to serve on the Austin City Council. Carole should know better.
Tolls : Senator Carona responds...
Well, we got an answer to our question from Steven Polunsky, Committee Director for the Texas Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security. It should be noted, Mr. Polunsky took time out of his Friday night to write this ( I got it while enjoying Andi Smith's FABULOUS show at Cap City). Needless to say, we're taking it seriously...
Senator Carona believes there is a great need for improved mobility to address congestion and the attendant air quality problems, traffic safety issues, and connectivity between cities. He is working on legislation, some of which he is starting to file, to support transit, passenger and freight rail, and alternative fuels. On roads, his first priority is to stop diversion of transportation revenues to non-transportation uses. Second, fix TxDOT. One piece of that involves moving some functions out of the agency such as vehicle title and registration, vehicle dealer regulation, automobile burglary and theft prevention, and possibly others, so that oversight of road finance, planning, design, and construction can be increased and focused. Third, issue the full amount of debt approved by the voters, and find an optimal use of bonds and debt. Fourth, make better use of existing revenue sources by indexing the motor fuels tax to nullify the effects of inflation and consider raising it.
Oh, Steven, you had us at hello. Everything in this paragraph is perfect. Indexing the gas tax will require Carona to reach deep down and it's gonna be hard to garner support. Mostly because there are very few in the House and Senate brave enough to do this, own it and go back to their constituents and tell them the truth, that increased transportation taxes are an investment in the future.
What is the potential for passage of all of these? Better than any session before, but still mixed. That being the case, Senator Carona believes it would be foolhardy to eliminate options for providing mobility, because we may find ourselves in June with existing revenues maxed out and no other options. That leaves the options that Senator Carona finds less desirable, tolls and public-private partnerships. The bill to extend the CDA sunset date keeps that option on the table, it's a January bill. The Legislature has a range of options available, from striking the ability to have CDAs altogether to improving the CDA law by addressing contractual provisions such as buyback clauses. Senator Carona believes you can't have that debate in a vacuum, it needs to happen in the context of passing legislation into law that makes the best options possible.
And here's where things go off the rails because it's clear that he's boxing himself in. First, let's differentiate between tolls and PPPs. They don't go hand in hand. While we may not like tolls, we're also not adamantly against them. Our problem with tolling is that so many roads are going to be tolled and the demographic sweep is so broad that it becomes a de facto mileage tax that will end up disproportionately effecting the poor. Further, while it may not have been TXDOT's primary motive, it seemed like they were looking for a permanent source of funding independent of elected officials. Finally, the tolls being designed won't go away. Most Texans have no problem with financing a road with tolls that will eventually disappear. What has been proposed so far doesn't fit that model.
Still, even with these drawbacks and addressing the issue of tolls that eventually go away, tolls can be a good solution in certain situations if they are run by the state.
What we are adamantly opposed to is privatization of infrastructure. There are a number of reasons...
1) Transportation infrastructure is a public trust. The roads we all pay for with our income, sales and gas taxes (not to mention tolls) are for the use of us all, in good condition and bad.
2) Our economy is dependent on low cost infrastructure. The idea that privatizing roads will somehow liberate more money is ridiculous since it only creates an additional burden on taxpayers by adding another tax, this one levied by a private corporation which may or may not have absolutely no economic risk in the transaction. There is absolutely no way, all things being equal, that a private company can run a road any cheaper than the state because the state doesn't need to make a profit.
3) Private tolling, legalized extortion. In many areas, where the proposed private toll road will be the only reasonable limited access road, the choice is either pay or sit at light after light for miles on end. That's not a choice.
4) The lease terms presently in effect and those that are proposed involve terms that make these functional transfer of ownership, especially in terms of renewals. That's just completely unreasonable.
5) Most of the PPP contracts carry loss provisions that serve as a loss backstop for the private investors creating a win-win situation for them and a loss for taxpayers. Basically, if actual traffic fails to meet projections, the state agrees to make up the difference to the private company who owns the concession. If private companies want the profit, they need to take the risk as well.
There's no such thing as a free lunch and Texans, better than any other folks in the nation, understand that. What hasn't been explained to them is that significant improvements need to be made or the traffic they're dealing with now is about to get a lot worse. Trust me, it won't be tough for them to understand.
In reality, indexing the gas tax will take care of the problem if we continue on the path we're on. Privatization is a rather pathetic attempt by elected officials to pass on the burden of raising money for transportation infrastructure. It's just not an option to that makes sense, no matter how bad traffic gets, because it ends up costing us far too much down the line.
Fun times with George and Pickles
KXAN's Leslie Rhode is interviewing President Bush and the First Lady. The thing's going to air tonight on the 5 and 6 so make sure you hop online and set your DVR to record them. After all, you'll be stuck in traffic like the rest of us.
In the event that you miss the broadcast, you can catch it here on KXAN's delicious website.
Yes. We know about Ms. Piggy
For those of you who have asked... YES, we are aware that Carol Strayhorn will run for Mayor. Honestly, she hasn't announced yet and frankly we haven't really had enough time to generate anything that appropriately derisive.
While you're waiting, we'd like to ask who you think is more attractive:
OR Ernest Borgnine
Answer in the comments, kids!
UPDATE - The folks at BOR have been working on this...
January 11, 2009
The O Store
Apparently, Glen Maxey has opened a store at 1111 E. 11th Street where he is selling
ALL THINGS OBAMA
If you're not in Austin, please feel free to shop online.
Yes, I know this has been open for two months. I've intended to post something about the store but I keep forgetting. And no, it's not because I'm getting old.
Shut up, bitches.
January 10, 2009
Real wage growth, or, What's needed now
There are a bunch of you who are probably tired of me talking about real wage growth. I've been doing it for a while so it's understandable. It's really good to see others talking about it...
I think the big thing I'd add to that is growth in median incomes. One way or another, there's really no way for the economy to grow strongly and consistently unless middle-class consumers spend more, and they can't spend more unless they make more. This was masked for a few years by the dotcom bubble, followed by the housing bubble, all propped on top of a continuing increase in consumer debt. None of those things are sustainable, though. The only sustainable source of consistent growth is rising median wages. The rich just don't spend enough all by themselves.
And there it is, trickle down failed much like my effort to quit smoking in March. And June. And again in November.
January 09, 2009
Sen. Carona votes TOLL?
It's funny how well we remember the halcyon days of the 2007 session when the Lege passed 792, the TTC/Toll moratorium that really wasn't a moratorium. We told people then it wasn't a moratorium. What we didn't know until later was that the Stall's of Corridor Watch and Linda Curtis of Independent Texans were the folks behind the scenes who sold so many out. And they're good friend? Sen. John Carona.
Now, we're still being nice (well, maybe not so much to the Stall's and Linda Curtis, three of the dumbest, most politically inept people in the universe) so we're going to give the Senator from North Dallas the benefit of the doubt on this.
Oh, what the hell? Why not just call Sen. Carona the next Ric Williamson. He and his buddy Deirdre have decided that time is getting short and the money spigot from the privatization companies is about to dry up.
What I can't, for the life of me, understand is why the FUCK you would extend these contracts if they're so harmful? I'm a smart guy, why not just explain it, Senator? I mean, the guys over at EOW are hella smart and THEY don't get it either.
So explain it. While we're still being nice. And no, John, the Stall's can't help you. Not anymore.
This is TOO awesome
"We're hearing from hundreds of TSOs that this is an issue," said Emily Ryan, a spokeswoman for the American Federation of Government Employees. Most of the complaints have been for skin rashes, but they have also included runny or bloody noses, lightheadeness, red eyes, and swollen and cracked lips, union officials say.
Kicking Paulson on the way out
Most of you are, in fact, really stupid. I mean, take this for example.
The Treasury secretary has made 174 purchases of banks’ preferred shares that include certificates to buy stock at a later date. He invested $10 billion in Goldman Sachs in October, twice as much as Buffett did the month before, yet gained warrants worth one-fourth as much as the billionaire, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Goldman Sachs terms were repeated in most of the other bank bailouts.
Paulson’s warrant deals may give U.S. taxpayers, who are funding the bailouts, less profit from any recovery in financial stocks than shareholders such as Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, owner of 4 percent of Citigroup Inc., said Simon Johnson, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund.
I bet, right about now, you're probably very goddamn upset that Paulson made this kind of deal. So is Joe Stiglitz ...
“If Paulson was still an employee of Goldman Sachs and he’d done this deal, he would have been fired,” he said.
And the irredeemably stupid Rep. Brad Miller...
“I halfway believed that the taxpayers would make money in September, but I really don’t believe it now,” Rep. Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat on the House Financial Services committee, said in a telephone interview last month.
“We have to have confidence in Treasury to run the program in a way that protects taxpayers, and there’s very little in the way they’ve run it that inspires confidence,” he said.
You're mad, aren't you? You think Hank Paulson has basically screwed taxpayers, right?
I told you, you're stupid.
Lookit, the goal of injecting capital into the financial system and the markets was always to stabilize them and, if possible, not leave taxpayers with a gaping wound. That didn't mean the government should go out and assrape these companies much like Buffett did with Goldman. Do you know why?
BECAUSE ONE WAY OR ANOTHER WE WERE GOING TO END UP ON THE HOOK FOR EVERYTHING, ANYWAY. This way, the entire system doesn't collapse, we don't have a depression (provided the President - elect pulls his head from his ass and gins up a real stimulus package) and taxpayers aren't left to pay for TRILLIONS.
Further, as the government, we have one BIG advantage Buffett never enjoys. We get taxes from the banks. Every quarter. And they pay for their own deposit insurance fund.
What I find most amusing about all this is that all the people who were bitching about TARP and saying we were never going to recover the money are now irritated because they think we won't be making enough profit. Idiots.
Finally, if you want to beat Hank Paulson up about anything, this ain't the thing. You SHOULD be up his ass about lending and restrictive underwriting at all the banks, not to mention the massive mound of money on which they are sitting like hens.
Doctor cleared from organ harvesting charges
This story kinda creeped me out. And yes, I'm an organ donor mostly because when they open me up to take something they are going to be hella disappointed.
Especially if they needed a liver.
January 08, 2009
Caption This Photo, Then Kill Yourself
Uncle O'Grimacey but rarely rises from his gin induced near-coma to do much blogging these days. But, when he does, you can bet it is going to be some masterful bullshit.
I bring ye nothing less today. It's a wee bit of a challenge. I want you to caption this photo. But before I show you the photo, I want to tell you about it. It's a photo of a Texas Congressman--Mike McCaul (who now fancies himself the Attorney General In Waiting)--and his lovely family waiting for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to show up and do a "ceremonial swearing-in." Which is one of the asshatty things they do when you get elected to Congress.
We warn you: we didn't doctor this photo one little bit. What you see could traumatize you for a hell of a long time. But here it is:
Caption that, motherfuckers! Here are some of my ideas:"One of Congressman Mike McCaul's youngest daughters about to vomit at the site of a Democratic congressman who happened to walk by as one of the older children looks away, and another young McCaul daughter runs to her father for comfort. The child was heard shouting, 'Daddy! There are too many socialists!' immediately before running to her father."
Or, try this one on for size:"The daughters of Congressman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) rebel just before a ceremonial swearing-in on Capitol Hill Monday. The children were evidently upset over the fact that they were the only young Republican girls at the event whose dresses had been purchased at a South Houston quinceanera dress store."
Or this:"A daughter of Texas Congressman Mike McCaul is possessed by a poltergeist shortly before a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill on Monday."
I look forward to your captions!
Shocking Toll Developments!
Bush increasing toll rates across the country as a final 'fuck you!' to working men and women. If nothing else, the son of a bitch is consistent.
Here's the thing... most of the public authorities aren't required to operate at 'fair market value' because they don't have to make a profit and fmv would include a profit for a private company and it's shareholders.
Lookit, privatizing roads makes no damn sense. The market works when there are choices and it's best with goods that are fungible to a certain extent. However, making consumers choose between sitting at traffic lights for 20 miles or paying $10 to travel a limited access roadway is not the ultimate freedom of the market. It's extortion of the public by a private entity (a de facto monopoly), fully sanctioned by the government.
Legislative Study Committee on Private Participation in Toll Projects is out and, yes, we missed it. Well, we missed it for a couple of days but we've really just been studying it. And frankly, this picture rather neatly sums up our opinion of the work done by our elected officials.
EOW has a nice and civil post up about this that's pretty detailed. Benny also did an article about it and hit on a couple of high points. Of course, the authors found that what the TTI concluded in it's report two years ago was incorrect. Without showing their math. Seriously, what more would you expect from people who all support or supported privatization?
Honestly, the dissents coming off this thing would make it a worthless document even if it didn't directly contradict far more competent work by far smarter people. Issues they missed...
1) The report of the TTI.
2) They performed no critical analysis regarding the actual transportation shortfall or the funding available to meet demands.
3) A naked assumption (that private is always better) is absolutely, empirically wrong. 130 is still not open on time. Work is still being done on 45/1. 130 is falling apart. These just a few of the local issues. I've driven on private and public toll roads all over the state. The public ones are better (and they collect tolls exactly the same way)
4) They completely failed to address forced buyback/taxpayer paid risk. There are clauses in some privatization contracts that call for taxpayers to pay the difference between actual and projected toll revenue should the private operator not make what it thought it would make. As a diehard capitalist, I make money by taking risk so it offends me when a private company negotiates a deal with the government in which they make money regardless.
5) Completely failed to address benefits of government financing vs. private financing (the private is more expensive)
Of course, among the laughable 'conclusions' were the necessity of non-compete clauses (No shit, right? You don't say that a private company will only be interested in a monopoly? How surprising!) and private roads are more likely to be on time (which completely disregards the fact that most reconstruction of an existing roadway is going on in, wait for it, A BUSY URBAN AREA and the projects are funded on a pay as you go basis. Meanwhile, the private roads are fully financed and funded upfront. So, the question smart people would ask is, "WHY NOT FUND PUBLIC ROADS THE SAME WAY?").
Needless to say, the report so eagerly awaited by so many is complete and total bullshit.
Texans for Public Justice has released an excellently written (and very well researched) report on bribes from toll developers to public officials. I'm sorry, did I say bribes? That's such an ugly word. I meant contributions but you can surely see the similarity.
If you're in the neighborhood
Around lunch Tuesday, I found myself in Southern WilCo after a meeting broke up. I was, of course, STARVING and completely despondent. Where in this desolate wasteland will I find food that agrees with me, I wondered. And then, I saw it. From 183A, it was like a beacon.
My hopes for a Chili Cheese Six were dashed though because the fucker is apparently not yet open. Still, it's there and soon something yummy will be in my stomach.
(FD... I own stock in Carl's Jr.)
January 07, 2009
Innovative Connections In Dookie
TXDOT has killed the TTC. No longer will the massive project building new roads and tolling existing roads be called TTC. It will now be known as Innovative Connectivity in Texas. I don't know about y'all but that sounds more like a seamless WiFi system than rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure but that's that they want to do. Call it ICT.
Which is just as easy an acronym to hate on because, in aggregate, what people hated about this was the privatization of infrastructure and the funding mechanism. And, of course, the abusive use of eminent domain.
Now the focus shifts over to the Lege. Everyone wants a piece of TXDOT and it's time, frankly, to divvy it up. Sen. Carona (lookit! We're being nice!) has also said that he's focused on indexing the gas tax. What's being left unsaid is the termination of the public private partnerships which have been used as a euphemism for road privatization. Now, the politicos won't admit it but the meltdown in the financial markets have really been a drag on issuing toll revenue bonds because
1) No one wants to buy anything right now, other than Treasuries.
2) Toll revenue bonds perform like subprime mortgage credits.
3) To reinforce point 2, IF YOU INVEST MONEY IN TOLL PRIVATIZATION BONDS, YOU WILL LOSE MONEY.
Of course, this is just for the privatized stuff. While I have a massive problem with the unfairness of tolling, my overriding issue has always been privatization with no risk being born by the free market and taxpayers left on the hook indefinitely. Regular tolling may not be fair for the working poor but neither is the sales tax. And, frankly, the vast majority of you deserve what you get. You either didn't vote or voted for Republicans. Just so you know my motives really are pure, I make a lot of money. I can afford to drive on these roads all day.
Regardless, I want the door completely closed on public private partnerships. They aren't innovative, they don't magically create money and they are basically only a way to take money from taxpayers and give them to friends of the Governor. What we need is fiscal responsibility and rational decision making. And no mas with the political hacks running transportation, right Deidre?
Oh, before I forget, in case you were wondering soon I will be posting about that Legislative Study Bullshit on Transportation Financing. Trust me, it won't be pretty.
Someone has to do it, so I’ll take ownership.
Unfortunately, Texas Democratic State Reps as a whole still have not grown a pair
With an opportunity to bring some serious noise, the Dems instead blew a chance to have one of their own become speaker. The notion that dems can not unite around one candidate was dispelled by the fact that they rallied around a Republican. Are you freaking kidding me?
Exactly who would’ve they alienated by making a bold stance by fighting to get a Dem as speaker of the Texas House? By showing the hundreds of thousands of voters who came out for the primary and stuck around for the general that Dems are willing to stand up for their values, we could have seen an avalanche of support by many of those who are still uncertain about what party to follow. That’s change in Texas we can believe. Instead we get the audacity of feigned pragmatism.
Incrementalism is all fine and dandy unless you have that rare monumental event that shakes foundations and creates an upheaval. Rather than taking advantage, Dems ran for cover. Also remember that gradual shifts can be halted by forces that have a vested interest in maintaining their territory, or can delay a movement for so long that momentum stops and people move on. Have we already forgotten that since 1980 many of these shifts were reversed because we had lost our fighting spirit?
Please don’t bring up the notion that Craddick had to go because there are too many important issues in this session. Every session has important issues. Yes, we must remember the CHIP children, but many groups are underrepresented and marginalized, and their hardships are no less under any Republican rule.
What is the big deal with bi-partisanship and “reaching across the aisle?” Why find compromise with a Republican Party, and conservative philosophy that for the last three decades have lead to the devastation of this country’s economy, values, and prestige.
By backing down from this fight, Dems have dishonored those long-time political warriors who have given their time, money, and effort to get this state to this point.
For all those who choose puppies, daisies, and pretty things over getting your nose blooded, you get what you deserve.
Campbell is helping Teh Gays?!?!?!
According to the American Family Association, Campbell is supporting The Gay Agenda by buying ads in The Advocate, a well known homosexual publication read by homosexuals. And apparently, the supposedly straight folks at the American Family Association.
It's not immediately clear what this means for NFL players who have appeared on Campbell's commercials for their Chunky soup.
And here I was just avoiding Campbell's Soup just because of the damn pound of MSG in every fucking can.
The AFA will next be targeting Subaru.
Four more seats
According to Greg, it looks like Texas will get four more congressional seats as a result of the 2010 census. What WILL we do with those seats? Is there no way we could give them all to Doggett? Or at least give Travis County another seat so I didn't have to be represented by that asshat McCaul?
Stimulus, post-partisanship and shitting blood
Even in 2007 during his irritating announcement, non-announcement phase I liked Obama. HOWEVER, I hated the retarded bullshit about 'the coarseness of our politics'. I hated, even more, the dimwitted fools who diligently tried to convince me that he was REALLY was just so awesome that Republicans would work with him and be his friend; that he would persuade them.
Oh, how much I agree with Barney Frank...I think he overestimates his ability to take people — particularly our colleagues on the Right — and sort of charm them into being nice. I know he talks about being post-partisan. But I’ve worked frankly with Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, and the current Republican leadership. … When he talks about being post partisan, having seen these people and knowing what they would do in that situation, I suffer from post partisan depression.
This is, of course, all about the stimulus package. Krugman has pointed out that the plan rolled out does too much on the tax cut side and too little on the actual, you know, infrastructure and job building side. Why on Earth would Obama do that? why to get the support of Republicans in the Senate like everyone's favorite obstructionist, Mitch McConnellLook, Republicans are not going to come on board. Make 40% of the package tax cuts, they’ll demand 100%. Then they’ll start the thing about how you can’t cut taxes on people who don’t pay taxes (with only income taxes counting, of course) and demand that the plan focus on the affluent. Then they’ll demand cuts in corporate taxes. And Mitch McConnell is already saying that state and local governments should get loans, not aid — which would undermine that part of the plan, too.
While it's true that infrastructure spending takes longer to hit the economy than tax cuts, the velocity of infrastructure spending is FAR higher. Further, it leaves behind hard assets that will be desperately needed for the next leg of economic growth. Just in case you think Pauli is wrong, take a look at this work (and here's something else for good measure).
Tax cuts are going to spur some spending but it's going to be on imports and the balance will be saved or used to pay down debt. This would be great if you were talking about $2000 or more per individual. However, we're talking about $500. And this is all to get the economy moving again while the little bit of infrastructure spending takes effect.
Which is, simply, CRAPTASTIC. Lookit, what's really dragging on the economy is all the money on the sidelines. The Fed's have done a great job of stop gapping it but at some point banks have got to get back to lending. What Obama needs to be talking about is, on the afternoon of January 20th, nationalizing Bank of America as a warning to every other bank in the US to quit acting like scared children and get back to work. With credit loosened, people will start to get comfortable and start spending. That spending will drive job creation and we won't have to give everyone a stupid tax cut that will amount to $40 per paycheck and do fuckall to stimulate real economic growth.
DDay has this take and it's spot on. Obama promised, Obama delivers stupidly. And, as an added bonus, it's all to chase after some insanely stupid bipartisan agenda he doesn't need.What's most dangerous about this is the effort to corral 75-80% support just for the sake of doing so. Not only is it unlikely, it will end up really eroding Obama's ability to draw on popular support to govern.
One last point... when Obama talked about cutting taxes on the middle class, I thought he was talking about increasing deductions, maybe lowering the rates. I never, in my wildest dreams, thought it would all be about giving me an extra $500 which I'll use to buy something from another country out of spite.
I absolutely can not believe this is what the team he assembled came up with. It's just too stupid. And then, you have the deficit hawks (like, again, McConnell) who are screaming about the debt burden "we're putting on our children" which is funny as hell because they were completely unconcerned with deficits and debt from 2001 until now. But still, let's look at this burden.
We are going to finance job creation and infrastructure improvement (which will hopefully be much more robust than currently envisioned) at historically low rates. That's right, folks, people are effective PAYING the Federal Government to take their money. Why? Because in a deflationary spiral, where everything loses value, your focus changes from making money to just preserving. And the way you do that is in government securities.
Sure, we'll have to pay this money back but we're paying for it at a rate of interest that's less than long term inflation. It's free money and we'd be stupid not to take it. The hawks, Democrats and Republicans both, ARE COMPLETELY IGNORANT OF MODERN FINANCE. Frankly, they're almost as stupid as the asshats bleating on about tax cuts as a panacea.
The bottom line is that what's being proposed here is like crushing up glass and putting it in a meal. Sure, it'll fill you up and you won't be hungry, but within an hour or so you're going to be shitting blood.
Dear Spelman Campaign
First, I'm THRILLED to death you guys are running for Council and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the invite to your New Year's Eve Pre-Party which was postmarked January 2nd. Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend because I can't travel back in time.
Please accept my regrets and I hope you all have a smashing time!
January 06, 2009
In other news...
Al Franken Wins! The money quote comes from Senator Reid who is really very weak but occasionally witty..."I believe that tomorrow the bipartisan state canvassing board will certify Al Franken the winner. After all, early on Senator Coleman criticized Al Franken for wanting a recount and wasting taxpayer money. I would hope now that it is clear he lost, that Senator Coleman follow his own advice and not subject the people of Minnesota to a costly legal battle." Classless Cocksucker Cornyn is acting like the ridiculous bitch he is...
Is Vicki Truitt lying?
It certainly looks that way, according to what John over at Bay Area Houston has uncovered. Apparently, Vicki is getting off with a slap on the wrist from the ethics commission for illegally using campaign funds for her personal benefit. What has me pretty skeptical of Vicki's honesty is the inability of her mortgage company to locate the documentation related to the financing of the condo her husband bought which she's been paying for with her campaign funds (in the past, you'd call this robbing Peter to pay Paul).
Here's the thing... it's REALLY easy to get a copy of a loan. My employer has everything on scanned in and we can pull it off a remote server. So, if one of my counterparties has a file that gets tagged for audit, I can print or email a copy of the complete loan to them. Even with the loans that closed long ago, it's pretty easy because the vast majority have a MERS number that will tell you where the original collateral package actually is as well as the loan details.
Perhaps if the Ethics Comm would ask Vicki for that they might be able to get an accurate picture. I certainly doubt Vicki's excuse that the documents were lost, especially on a loan of this type.
January 05, 2009
McCracken me up...
Release the McCracken really is a tragicomic figure in Austin politics. No one really likes him. He has no base. Even his supporters dread him and usually are supporting him because they think he'll do nice things for them like get them zoning variances and not bother them too much about affordable housing in the CBD.
We talked a bit about the Mayoral race a few months ago, mostly focusing on Levy and Carole Strayhorn OldCow. We did mention Brewster and used a picture of Gerald Daugherty instead of Brewster. It was an honest mistake... my picture db is set up by keyword. I typed in 'loathesome, austin' and that's what popped up. I'm ALL the time forgetting that McCracken is filed under 'shameless bottomfeeder, cocksucker, poliwhore, austin'.
I should also mention that Brewster is a spineless cunt, among a class of men I like to call 'spineless cunts'. We'll never forget his ability to fall over himself to satisfy the completely unreasonable demands of The Demon Toby. And we'll also fondly remember Brewster's appointment to that CAMPO working group on mass transit which, coincidentally, did dickall to give us a real public transportation plan. The sad thing is, so many dipshits were on this 'working group' it's little wonder nothing got done. I can see Kirk actually trying to do something while Gerald picked lint out of his navel and Brewster and Krusee groomed one another like apes.
For those of you who really thought Brewster couldn't sink any lower, prepare to be surprised. Now, as an attorney, one would think Brewster would understand the law. Oh, hell. Let's cut the bullshit... Brewster thinks he's got Lee hemmed in with this little stunt because he thinks the City Attorney will issue an opinion that agrees with his thinking. If that doesn't happen Brewster will look craven and cowardly. Actually, now that I think about it, that's what will happen regardless. And then Sarah Coppola HAD to get a quote from Levy the Lunatic.Former Texas Monthly publisher Mike Levy, who is considering a mayoral run, said Sunday: "If Lee wants to run, it really shouldn't matter if he announces a year or a day before the filing deadline. What I think should be important is whether or not candidates are talking about the issues, especially at a critical time like this for Austin city government."
Run or don't run, Mike. Until you get off the fence, just say 'no comment' when asked for your opinion. It makes you sound like less than a dumbass. What's important is talking about the issues at a critical time like this? Why not just own your ignorance and tell the reporter you really don't understand the issue and can't comment intelligently. Retard.
Kedron Touvell has his take on this at BOR. I should point out that Kedron ran against Brewster in 2006 and lost, mostly because he was unknown and underfunded. If only we'd known better.
The Drillin' Mud Salesman
Well, it appears CradDICK is toast. We would have covered this live last night but for the fact that we were out drinking. And having dinner. Then drinking some more. It's SUNDAY, bitch. What do you want from us, minute by minute updates?
All of us at McBlogger would like to wish CradDICK nothing but the best, far from us. And of course, GIANT WAX COCK will always look back fondly on the good times.
Rep. Hartnett seems to think that R's will rally around Smithee which won't happen. I think he and Dave Carney are developing a strategy that won't work but which, nonetheless, will lead to open ended warfare on the R side of the aisle. Actually, I think that will happen regardless.
Phillip has a piece up about why Strauss isn't bad for Democrats.Vince has one up about Strauss being horrible for Democrats in 2010. The reality isn't in between. Philip, though dry, is right and there's a lot more I'm sure he'd say if we hadn't just entered a new era of Good Feelings (now with Bipartisanship!).
I'll leave you only with this for those panicked about the impact a Strauss speakership will have on D's in 2010... when the long knives come out, it won't be on the D side.
January 03, 2009
Just to let y'all know...part 1
I've decided that I'm over Beyonce. Seriously, fuck that bitch. I like Rihanna better.
Go back to whatever you were doing, like enjoying your Saturday. I'm going to shop for a lamp.
January 02, 2009
The candidate of the ABC Republicans is Rep. Strauss from SA. I know next to nothing about him. Elise thinks he's kinda cute which makes me think I need take her to see my optometrist.
5-6 and pick 'em that CradDICK gets re-elected.
TPA - Texan Of The Year
The Texas Progressive Alliance Tuesday announced that the Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign had been named its “Texan of the Year” for 2008.
Also earning honors from the Alliance were Texans for Obama, TexBlog PAC, and the late Jim Mattox, who were each named “Gold Star Texans” for 2008.
Winning 27 of 34 countywide races in Texas’ most populous county didn’t happen overnight, and the Harris County Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaign managed not only to win seats with quality candidates, but to increase Democratic voter turnout and revive the Democratic Party in Harris County.
“The Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign is a shining example of what is possible with the help and support of thousands of grassroots Democrats and a well-run party infrastructure,” said Texas Progressive Alliance Chair Vince Leibowitz. “Every person who knocked on doors, made phone calls, and volunteered in Harris County should be very proud of what they accomplished in 2008,” he continued.
The Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign is the Alliance’s fourth recipient of its “Texan of the Year Award.” The campaign joins former State Rep. Carter Casteel of New Braunfels, who won the award in 2005; Carolyn Boyle of Texas Parent PAC, who took home the honor in 2006; and the trio of State Reps. Garnet Coleman, Jim Dunnam, and Pete Gallego who shared the honor in 2007.
Also honored this year were the organizations Texans for Obama and TexBlog PAC along with the late Jim Mattox, the former Texas Attorney General who passed away on November 20.
The Texan of the Year Award is voted on annually by the members of the Texas Progressive Alliance, the largest state-level organization of bloggers, blogs, and Netroots activists in the United States.
ABOUT THE HONOREES
TEXAN OF THE YEAR: Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign
The Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign faced a daunting task in 2008: Take Texas' largest county, which hadn't elected a Democrat to any countywide office in over a decade and which went for George Bush by ten points in 2004, and turn it blue. And they had to do it amid the high expectations that followed Dallas' fabled blue sweep in 2006, with the Harris County GOP knowing they were being targeted. And they had to start from scratch, since there hadn't been any kind of effort like it in anyone's memory. Oh, and in the middle of it all they had to abandon their headquarters and move to a new location thanks to the damage that Hurricane Ike wrought.
But they had a plan. And a budget. And buy-in from all the candidates. And strong leadership, starting with the vision of people like Dave Mathieeson and Gerry Birnberg, the operational know-how of Bill Kelly and Jamaal Smith, and the dedication and hard work of many, many people. They opened branch offices all around the county and drew on the energy of Democrats new and old. They knocked on doors, made calls, sent mail, and spread the message of Democratic change everywhere.
And in the end, they succeeded, with Democrats winning 27 of 34 countywide races. They boosted turnout in the traditional Democratic areas, and improved performance all across the county. They relentlessly pushed an early-vote message, which translated into leads of 50,000 votes or more for most candidates going into Election Day. They stressed the importance of voting Democratic all the way down the ballot, which minimized undervoting in the lower-profile races. They brought in new voters and brought back those who had given up hope, and got them all on the same page.
Add it all up, and the new year will bring new Democratic judges, a new Sheriff, a new County Attorney, a new District Clerk, and two new County Department of Education trustees. For that, and for the promise that 2010 will bring even more success and help pave the way towards turning all of Texas blue, the Texas Progressive Alliance is proud to name the Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign its Texan of the Year for 2008.
GOLD STAR TEXAN: Texans For Obama
Texans for Obama highlights what a group of activists and politicos can do when they work together. Texans for Obama never was formally part of the Obama campaign, but its size and influence made it a force in Texas politics. In 2007, before Senator Barack Obama had even announced he was running for office, Texans for Obama organized the largest rally in Texas political history with over 20,000 in attendance. Its leadership and numbers grew from Auditorium Shores. Once Senator Obama announced his candidacy, Texans for Obama became the Texas campaign. In a bizarre twist, they become the most interesting campaign in the nation after Super Tuesday and leading into the March 5 Democratic primary. With little early help from a national infrastructure, Texans for Obama talked to hundreds of thousands of Democrats in Texas and beyond. It educated Texas primary voters about the “Texas Two Step” or primacaucus system and even sparked a debate on the future of how the Democratic primary system will proceed. Novice political activists turned into seasoned political consultants overnight and a new generation of Democrats were born. This grassroots campaign’s impact is still its infancy, but its potential is limited only by the imagination of everyday Texans.
GOLD STAR TEXAN: TexBlog PAC
TexBlog PAC is a group of seven members of the Texas Progressive Alliance that worked to help Democrats win back the Texas House in 2008. TexBlog PAC raised over $65,000 this year for Texas Democrats. Four of five endorsed PAC candidates went on to win their election, with each candidate receiving support in the online community as well as at least $6,000 each in contributions. The PAC also worked on a GOTV program in Travis County. Run entirely through volunteer efforts, TexBlog PAC made a simple yet strong contribution to Texas politics in 2008, and will only grow as the power of the netroots is realized across the state of Texas.
GOLD STAR TEXAN: Jim Mattox
Jim Mattox rose from a working class neighborhood in Dallas to the top of Texas politics, leaving an indelible mark on an entire era in state government and creating a legacy that continues to touch the lives of ordinary Texans every day. A luminary and a fighter, Jim Mattox was hailed in death as a man who, as “The People’s Lawyer,” helped shape Texas Government in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The son of a sheetmetal worker and waitress, Mattox rose through the electoral ranks from the state legislature to Congress to the Attorney General’s office, a post from which Mattox doggedly fought for the little guy. From taking on the airlines to the insurance industry on behalf of Texas consumers, his heart, always, was with the people. After unsuccessful runs for Texas Governor in 1990 and an attempt to regain the AG’s post in the late 1990s, Mattox retired to a more private life, but continued to work for his party. Most recently, Mattox fought to change the complex and time consuming “primacaucus” system that plagued the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary in Texas, calling the system an embarrassment to the party. He spoke out on the issue about a week before his death in what would be his last public appearance. From taking on insurance companies to bringing a truckload of furniture to the Travis County Democratic Party Headquarters this summer after hearing the office was in need, Mattox was always helping the underdog.
January 01, 2009
Feeling The Pinch, Justice Roberts Goes Moonlighting
If you're jonesin' for late night fast food in Silver Spring, Maryland, be prepared to do a doubletake at the drivethru window. You might recognize the employee handing you your Baconator and Frosty from his day job: Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts.
Finding it increasingly difficult to scrape by on his meager $217,400 salary, Roberts took a part-time night shift at a Wendy's in the DC-area suburb to help make ends meet. Attorney Jane Sullivan Roberts, his wife, is also pitching in to help the family's finances by running a dog-walking service for neighbors and colleagues.
Justice Roberts praised his 27-year old supervisor, Lennie "The Man" Mandrake, for arranging a flexible schedule that allows him to keep up with his busy schedule of hearing cases and writing opinions.
"I could go to Congress and simply ask them for more money," Roberts said. "But in these difficult economic times it's important that those of us at the highest levels of government show that we can solve our own problems, not expect Uncle Sam to solve them for us."
Legal scholars report that while unusual, Roberts' action is not without precedence, citing Nineteenth Century Chief Justice Taney's weekend job in a livery stable. And while there is always the chance of a conflict of interest arising when a justice has outside financial interests, most precedent-setting decisions concerning the fast food industry were handed down decades ago by the Burger Court.
Roundin' Up The TPA - 2008 Year End
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind...and, if you remember the rest of the song, you're doing one better than we are. At any rate, it is the last Monday of the year and that means it is time for the Texas Progressive Alliance's End-Of-Year Round-Up For 2008.
2008 was a heck of a year for Texas Progressives. The Presidential Primary came to Texas (for real), we caucused, conventioned, challenged, credentialed, voted, elected, counted, re-counted, brought Netroots Nation to Texas, watched Tom Craddick fight for his life, said farewell to legends, got a head start to on the race to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison and more. A lot more.
It is in that spirit that we bring you the final round-up of 2008. Enjoy.
jobsanger has posted on a variety of subjects, including the popularity of George Bush in 11% Of Americans Are IDIOTS, the Ku Klux Klan in The Klan Is Still Stupid, a plan to steal water from the Panhandle in The Coming Rape Of The Ogallala Aquifer, the fall of a county sheriff in Potter County Sheriff Indicted On Felony Charges and Potter County Sheriff Convicted, and the 2010 governor's race in Who's The Dem In 2010 Governor Race?
John Coby at Bay Area Houston has blogged on a number of issues concerning Bob Perry's home building industry, the Texas Ethics Commission, insurance deregulation, electricity deregulation, and including some humorous posts. One of his favorites series is Spending Campaign Cash which has resulted in a number of stories in the news and contributed to a bill to be filed by State Representative Senfronia Thompson.
South Texas Chisme covered such entertaining South Texas stories from the original
DA Hissy Fit to his poor imitation, various ethics problems including a
few felonies to helping Republicans recover and Democrats to prosper. And, we
never forget about that Republican monument to racism and fear otherwise known as that d*mn fence!
As he approaches his seventh anniversary as a blogger, Off the Kuff decided to look forward rather than back on the year. My thanks to my TPA colleagues for all they do, and my best wishes to all for a great 2009.
The Texas Cloverleaf looks back on 2008, as it's first full year on the blog scene comes to a close. The DNC kicked off the year by picking the Jewish named donkey over the black one for it's mascot, in what would become the ultimate irony of the political season. Adding to ironies, cash strapped TxDOT gave away $20 million for a Dallas park. We were introduced to GOP family values: 16 US Senators, including our own from Texas, voted against funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, leading to more deaths, and the Palin clan popped out more replacements as part of God's will. Don't forget to carve the backwards B on your face for posterity. 2008 was a whirlwind and couldn't have been more dramatic. Here is to a 2009 with the same kind of flair!
Neil at Texas Liberal wishes everyone good luck in the New Year. Here is my post on controversy regarding what may or may not be the world's largest potato. Please visit Texas Liberal in 2009. I work hard to make the blog worth reading.
As 2008 comes to a close, circumstances have limited Refinish69's access to his own blog, Doing My Part For the Left. He's nonetheless written a compelling series hosted on various national and local blogs that shares what it is to be homeless in Austin. Homeless in Austin-An Insider's View is a four part series so far and Refinish69 wants to thank all those who've helped him get this story more attention. Part 1 at Momocrats. Parts 2, 3, and 4 at Texas Kaos.
Texas Kaos frontpagers have covered a wide variety of issues both national and Texan. Krazypuppy wrote a cautionary tale of how far Republican hubris can go inAll Southerner's Should Know Don Siegalman's False Imprisonment Story" Refinish69 shared one man's story of unexpected impact of the historic Democratic extended primary in A Trip to the Gas Station: No it's not a Curious George book Lightseeker reported on the convention for SD 15 and the contrast between previous years. He also gave great pointers on political discourse with the neighbors. SCCS did a series on the congressional races all over Texas, and was our correspondent in the Big Tent at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Txsharon's contributions keeping us abreast of what Big Dirty Oil and Gas are up to are so valuable it's hard to pick only a few, but proving that a picture is worth a thousand words, Barnett Shale Sludge Pond Pictures is a must see (and read).
At Eye On Williamson this year the election took up much of our time on the blog. From candidate filings, to the massive turnout for the Williamson County Democratic Party primary and convention, all the way through to electing the first Democratic state representative in Williamson County since 1992 - Diana Maldonado. There were still the same local issues popping up like road projects that are bad deals for the taxpayers, the county landfill, and the T. Don Hutto family prison in Taylor.
It's been a year of excitement at McBlogger. We've looked deeply at medical tourism and James Dobson's fear of homos. We've also, occasionally, talked about the meltdown in the financial sector. And Mr. The Plumber.
WhosPlayin shared his experience working the Democratic Primary and then the Denton County Democratic Convention back in March. In May, the Earth
opened up and swallowed part of Daisetta, TX. In September, WhosPlayin suggested how a financial industry bailout could work and be transparent. Over the Christmas holiday, WhosPlayin rolled out a new Congressional Campaign Finance research website.
Over at Capitol Annex, Vince Leibowitz had a difficult time trying to select his favorites out of 2,470 posts published (so far) during 2008, but finally settled on a few. After a long PrimaCaucus season and hair-raising state convention, he posted some Random Thoughts on the 2008 TDP Convention. As the election cycle went on, he pondered why anyone would want to re-elect State Rep. John Davis (R-Clear Lake), and told the world about a racist mailer that had been sent out against State Rep. Allen Vaught. After the election season, he memorialized "The People's Lawyer," Jim Mattox, and noted that Tom DeLay's wife was trying to quash a subpoena in a civil lawsuit related to the now-defunct Americans for a Republican Majority.
Mean Rachel started off 2008 with An Open Letter to Whom She Was in 2007, and proceeded to write open letters to just about everyone, including Mark Strama and Elliot Elliott Naishtat. She met Barack Obama, got Obama license plates, and subsequently had her tires slashed because of them. She also wrote for the Texas Observer in Denver and daydreamed about Republican pornography. Finally, in June, Mean Rachel asked for serenity now, and wondered if Americans would ever have the wisdom to change. By November, she had her answer.