March 31, 2009

Oh yes! Let's see what systemic risk looks like!

This little column in Time makes a retarded case for letting AIG go down the tubes. Considering how WELL that went with Lehman, I say let's just call this fucker an idiot and move on down the road.

Posted by mcblogger at 02:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

...and introducing Sen. Bayh and the Ballbusters

Hal NAILS it

Witness a new coalition of 16 moderate Democratic senators headed by Indiana Senator Evan Bayh. This group threatens to undo the progressive budget supported by Barack Obama’s administration as well as the Americans who support Obama in his efforts to put America back on the track to economic recovery (64% last time I looked). ... If so, these conservative Democrats need to take measure of themselves and their positions, and ask whether they want to go down in history as the ones who drove their country over the economic brink. The ones who are responsible for millions of Americans being put out of work with no health insurance. The ones who condemn another generation of children to a life without hope of attaining a college education.

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

Fun! Fun! Fun!

  • Tuesday, TexBlogPac, CCYD and University Democrats will be having a drinks party and fundraiser at Cuba Libre. Yes, it does sound like fun and if I didn't already have plans, I would be going, too. Instead, you should go and have drinks.
  • In the tight Place 1 race, we're going for (endorsement spoiler alert) Perla Cavazos. We liked her positions better and her openness to ideas that weren't derived from perceived conventional wisdom. She consistently displays a willingness to think through issues, rather than just repeating what 'everyone already knows'.

    Plus, and this is no minor thing, she's way hotter than her opponent. Go throw her some love in the form of dollar bills!

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

    March 30, 2009

    I LOVE Paul Volcker

    As for China’s criticism of the U.S., Volcker was unsympathetic. “I think the Chinese are a little disingenuous to say, ‘Now isn’t it so bad that we hold all these dollars.’ They hold all these dollars because they chose to buy the dollars, and they didn’t want to sell the dollars because they didn’t want to appreciate their currency. It was a very simple calculation on their part, so they shouldn’t come around blaming it all on us.”

    Click the link for more.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    But, Mr. President...

    ... I don't smoke pot and I think it should be legalized. Oh, and I thought this was kinda dumb.

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

    Frontline does the meltdown

    Honestly, it's a good piece and you should take about an hour to watch it.

    As part of the piece, this interview stuck out for just how mind numbingly clueless almost everyone was regarding the collapse of Lehman. It was the decision by Paulson to let Lehman collapse that almost brought down Goldman Sachs, Merrill and Morgan Stanley. It directly caused the problems at AIG.

    Here's an excellent article on the collapse of Bear Stearns. While Bear had problems they, like Lehman 6 months later, were undone in much the same manner... a crisis of confidence. It was, simply, a run on the bank but instead of depositors storming the lobby, removing the deposits that commercial banks depend on, it was the creditors that floated them the billions they needed daily to operate.

    Once it was clear that the government actually would let the investment banks fail, all the creditors of every other investment bank (and I'm including some of the larger integrated commercial banks since they were using the repo markets for cheap short term funding) ran for the door. That caused the system to seize up completely as no one wanted to accept any bank as a counterparty.

    So, brass tacks... how does this affect you. If you use credit cards, buy cars, buy a home...if you buy anything on credit, you're part of the structured finance market. When that froze up, it effectively removed 50% of the capital the US needs on a daily basis and the reverberations were global.

    So, yeah, this stuff effects even you.

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

    March 28, 2009

    Endorsements on a Saturday

    As of early January, I am now a member of CAD. Which is great, except for one thing... the city council endorsement meeting is today. At 10. In the morning.

    I will never understand why humanity just doesn't make a deal with itself to not have meetings before noon on Saturdays.


    Posted by mcblogger at 08:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    March 27, 2009

    And you thought your 2008 was good

    For those of you who blithely coasted through 2008 with nary an economic scratch, it probably seemed like a pretty good year. However, compared to these guys, you're a piker.

    I know this because you're reading McBlogger and our average income across all demographic groups is just south of $300mn per year. We hear Barron's calls us the poor man's II.


    Posted by mcblogger at 02:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Introducing Tom Schieffer

    Todd Hill over at BOR has a nice two part introduction to Tom Schieffer. First up the interview. The first section that caught my eye was the one on his electability...

    PhotobucketOk, I'm a student, a hard working Texan, and activist in the Democratic Party, give me three reasons why Todd Hill should vote for Tom Schieffer in a Democratic Primary?

    I can win. And winning the governor's office is a game changer in Texas politics. I think that my politics and my profile can bring people back to the Democratic Party that hasn't voted there in a while. I think I can raise money in places that other Democrats can't. When you look at the last election and you analyze where Obama lost and won, he carried four out of the five largest urban areas, but he didn't carry Tarrant County. Well I'm from Tarrant County, and the neighborhood education that I got and my brother got make us hometown boys made good. I think it gives me credibility to get votes here in Tarrant County that no other Democrat can get. In the next five largest counties - which are suburban counties compared to the big five - Obama did substantially better than Kerry did in the last election. He particularly did well with higher-educated, higher income voters in those suburban areas. I think that is a natural constituency for the kind of emphasis on education and general policies that I'm advocating. In the thirty counties that had a Hispanic majority Obama beat McCain 2 to1. I think I can do that well or better. In the last 214 counties he lost badly and while he won the Hispanic counties 2 to 1, he lost the rural counties 3 and 4 to 1. I think I can do substantially better than that.

    You think you can do well in rural counties? Where a Democrat hasn't performed well in many cycles?

    I can, and...

    You intend to run a more suburban, rural strategy versus strictly urban?

    Yes. Mark White has told me that, Pete Laney has told me that. These are guys that used to run quite well in rural counties. I think I can do that. I also think I can put together a winning combination that Democrats haven't had in a while.

    The section on transportation is also good though I am a little disturbed by the lack of outright distance from public private partnerships, especially in light of the fact that they are never a good deal for taxpayers. Seriously, if someone, ANYONE, could just show me one instance where (without juicing the issue with credit enhancement) a private company raising money for roads can obtain financing cheaper than a state, you'd have a case. But there isn't because of one simple fact... states have the ability to tax, private companies do not. Still, he has the same outlook on tolling that many of us have, if it's the best way then lets do it and let's put an irrevocable clock on the tolls.

    What really struck me was his very astute analysis of polarized politics in Texas, especially how Republicans are governing for their primary voters instead of doing what's best for the state. It's clear the man loves Texas and that's what makes him lightyears ahead of both 39% and Sen. Hutchison. Todd also posted a followup with his personal thoughts on Schieffer that's worth the read.

    Mean Rachel also has her take and it's a pretty good indicator of the kind of fight Schieffer is going to have to get the nomination should another contender step to the plate (sorry about the baseball pun, just couldn't resist).

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Crusading with Bay Area Houston

    I love me some John Coby... He's been hard on the worthless TRCC and urging it be ripped to shreds by a pack of rabid boars. This is his latest installment, Fun Facts about the TRCC.However, you really need to spend 20 minutes and read through the most recent posts. Absolutely eye opening regarding just how corrupt the TRCC actually is.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Chickenshit Keller

    Sharon Keller, the judge who decided to close up shop at 5 because hearing a death sentence appeal would have kept her from seeing American Idol, has posted a response to the charges of misconduct she faces.

    No joke, she blames everyone other than herself. Way to really own it, Sharon. Good to see your 'tough on crime' bullshit only extends to the stuff you don't get called on the carpet about. Kuffner has more.

    Posted by hbalczak at 09:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 26, 2009

    Ah, Florida

    What would we do without them?

    BITHLO, Fla. – Authorities said a man threw a Molotov cocktail at his neighbor's trailer, but the wind shifted and set fire to two cars, a pickup and a travel trailer in the man's own yard. The Florida Highway Patrol reported that a 51-year-old man got into a fight with his neighbor on Tuesday night and threw the makeshift gasoline bomb.

    Authorities believe alcohol was involved.

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

    Crazy as a shithouse rat

    PhotobucketFinally, someone has the footage of the financial services committee hearing in which Michelle Bachmann made an ass out of herself... by not understanding Constitutional authority.

    Watching it again, I'm irritated with my own empathy for making me wince with embarrassment at her stupidity. THIS is the modern Republican party... too stupid to even realize how foolish they look. To wit...

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    NYT calls bullshit on 39%

    OK, so the NYT beat us to the punch by a few days.

    Or if that’s not enough, they should look at what other sensible governors — both Democrat and Republican — are doing throughout the rest of the country: accepting the aid as a lifeline for pulling their states and the country out of desperation.

    The unemployment portion of the federal stimulus package offers generous support to the states. To accept it, these states must make two reasonable changes in their unemployment insurance law. They must expand eligibility requirements that bar too many low-income workers from receiving compensation. And they must choose from a menu of options that include extending benefits to part-time workers and those who leave jobs because of family emergencies.

    The claim by some governors that the unemployment aid would lead directly to tax increases has also been discredited. New taxes are triggered automatically when unemployment trust funds fall below specified levels. In many cases, filling their coffers with stimulus aid would actually postpone tax increases. When the stimulus money is spent, states would also be free to revert to the old unemployment insurance laws.

    In Texas, Governor Perry’s decision to reject the money has sown considerable anger in the State Legislature. A House committee urged the full Legislature to overturn the governor’s decision. Lawmakers acted after seeing projections that the state unemployment fund was on track to run out of money in the fall, which would drive up taxes.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Woop-Woop-Woop and a Nyuk-Nyuk-Nyuk!!

    Under "Most Awesomest News I've Heard All Week," file this: The Farrelly Brothers are making a Three Stooges movie.

    So why shouldn't we be highly skeptical? Who, after all, would even presume to attempt a recap of Larry, Moe and Curly's comic genius? Your skepticism is understandable, but misplaced. Here's why: The casting is about done, and it proves they're not just dicking around here.

    As Larry, Sean Penn - a perfect physical match and well-suited to the role's nuances. Only a thespian of Mr. Penn's caliber could do justice to Larry Fine's complex neither-Moe-nor-Curly subtlety. Some lucky costume designer is totally going to win an Oscar for Sean's tearaway wig.

    As Moe, they're talking Benicio del Toro. Not immediately obvious as a choice, but think on it a bit and you can kind of see it. We know Benicio can do menacing and temperamental. Word on the street is he's also capable of delivering lines like "Come here, Porcupine" with the necessary comic timing.

    Finally, as Curly, the Farrelly Brothers have tapped one of their favorites: Jim Carrey. Again, one must respect their choice as going beyond the obvious (Drew Carey, perhaps?). Here, the Farrelly Brothers have held out for a less than obvious physical match in order to get a true talent match. Jim Carey is no Anthony Hopkins, but where physical comedy is concerned, is there really a better choice for a role like this? Sure, Philip Seymour Hoffman is a closer physical match, and his awesomeness would allow him to turn in a convincing performance, but only Carrey can truly capture the essence of Curly's imbecilic zeal.

    With advance reports like this one, it's hard not to be optimistic. I just hope the writers and editors use that classic bit where the 3 Stooges are handymen at a fancy rich lady's house and end up as party guests and then Curly pulls out an electric razor at the dinner table and gives the socialite next to him a buzz and then a food fight breaks out. That shit cracks me up every time.

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

    With friends like these...

    Some Senate Democrats are working hard to derail President Obama's budget, claiming that it's too expensive and the additional debt will be too large. Which is silly considering that we're in the middle of a recession and have a lot of problems we have to put behind us before we can get back on our feet.

    It's a bit like worrying about the cost of putting out the fire WHILE the house is burning. Just in case you miss the point, it's FUCKING STUPID. But, this really shouldn't come as a surprise since we're talking about Sen. Bayh.

    Posted by hbalczak at 09:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Cowardly Kay

    PhotobucketPhillip has a nice piece up over at BOR regarding Sen. Hutchison's half-assed attempt to rub 39%'s nose in shit regarding the stimulus money. But that's just the top... the bigger issue is why Cowardly Kay is intending to run for Governor of Texas from DC. Is she really that scared of 39%?

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 25, 2009

    Children of cougars are smarter than you

    PhotobucketApparently the children of cougars and menbos are smarter than those of old men and bimbos. That's what Muse says and I accept everything she says as absolute truth.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Really, this is it?

    Yeah, I watched some of the hearings yesterday. I wasn't terribly impressed and didn't even find it very funny, except for Michelle Bachmann quizzing Geithner and Bernanke on the constitutionality of their actions (I guess she was absent the day they discussed the commerce clause in law school). But other than that, I'm pretty much at a loss.

    First off, this is Paulson's original TARP plan, but doing now doesn't make as much sense to me. For one thing, the Fed has the ability through already created mechanisms to help industry digest these assets. For another, the gap between what the market is offering on these assets and what the banks need them to be worth to maintain solvency is VERY large. Given that, why wouldn't the banks temporarily offload some of their assets to the Fed in intermediate term repo's and then use the money to grow fully marketable assets, shaving off a few points per transaction until the holes in the balance sheets can be filled?

    The funniest thing about this is the defense of it and how it's fair. Austan Goolsbee, who is about half an economist at best, takes on Krugman regarding his criticism of the plan. To say it's an epic fail for Goolsbee you have to ignore his takedown by Tanta a few years ago. In the scheme of things, this is really just another foot-in-mouth fuckup for him, kinda like the one Larry Summers had, also with Krugman.

    What positives are out there seem to be of the 'well, it's what we've got' variety. I think that's bullshit since, in the end, it probably will work. And yes, some already rich folks will get a lot richer. What I'm curious about is what happens to the institutions that are forced to sell some of these assets below their carry value? When those big holes in their balance sheets become realized losses, what happens then? Do we buy still more stock in those companies to shore them up or do we go ahead and, you know, nationalize and wipe out the equity holders?

    I said earlier that this was basically Paulson's original idea for TARP. What bound him up was the inability to value the assets which are currently worth far more than the market will pay because of irrational fear and some quite legitimate uncertainty. Pay too much and it's crony capitalism and a waste of taxpayer funds, too little and you leave the problem unfixed. Geithner's plan gets around these issues neatly by subsidizing (and that's what this IS, boys and girls) private investors to perform price discovery (with government money) and to create a market where the assets can trade (made liquid with government money).

    It also busts, like a pinata hit with a stick, the idea that the market has money, it's just nervous. The fact is these investors are somewhat cautiously in the market now, picking up things on the cheap. They're willing to pay more than they are now IF they get cheap government money that doesn't need to be repaid if they default.

    Which leads me to believe this plan is bullshit, the price discovery will be in a vacuum and in the end you'll end up nationalizing the banks anyway. What we need is a solid valuation model and then government can buy the assets to hold. My way saves taxpayers money... Geithner's way makes a lot of rich people, richer, with our money and we risk losing a lot.

    Oh, both plans will work. My way just socializes the risk and the reward. Geithner's socializes the risk completely and only partially socializes the reward.


    Posted by mcblogger at 01:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Roundin' Up The TPA

    With the arrival of Spring, a legislative session in Austin, municipal campaigns revving up around the state and Texas' primaries less than a year away, the blogs of the Texas Progressive Alliance continue to bring you insights from our members around the state. Here's a roundup of what we've been reporting.

    The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is now saying that the recession has landed full-force in Texas. Spared from the worst job losses during the first six months of the current recession, Texas is now shedding jobs at an alarming pace. Wcnews at Eye On Williamson looks at the trends, and offers a sobering assessment of the hard line, let 'em crash, mentality of Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas GOP.

    Off the Kuff points to a bill by State Rep. Dwayne Bohac to demonstrate that the push for voter ID really is about vote suppression.

    If Republicans really cared about election integrity, then why do we still have non-auditable electronic voting machines? CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know.

    BossKitty at TruthHugger sees an opportunity to get a degree in the dark arts If Texas HB2800 Passes, I Want A Masters Degree In VooDoo

    In a post that took some work and came out well, Neil at Texas Liberal wrote about what Google searches miss. Also, Neil read the bird sermon of St. Francis to a dancing duck chicken.

    John Coby at Bay Area Houston says Why Ethics Reform is Needed in Texas.

    The Texas Cloverleaf looks at a few local Twits in the GOP. Twittering Republicans, that is.

    Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw tells us that in Hutchinson's world "It's All About Me". So she is going to run for governor, keep her Senate seat and give the people of Texas absentee represenation. Whatever makes her happy, heaven forbid she should put her constituents first.

    WhosPlayin examined HB 4441, an attempt by Rep. Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles to solve some problems related to pipelines.

    Nytexan at BlueBloggin is stunned that Obama Taps CitiGroup Economist For Treasury Spot. So, how does Washington's logic work? They offer a job, at the Treasury Department, to Lewis Alexander of CitiGroup. The Global Marketing Division, that Alexander heads up, was just fined $2 million by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra) for trade-reporting violations, including publishing flawed quotations. Let me know how that works out for you!

    Xanthippas at Three Wise Men has some thoughts on the goals of American foreign policy, and is wondering if the war in Afghanistan is winnable, at least as we appear to be defining victory.

    Molly Ivins warned us years ago about AIG, "too big to fail", and Phil Gramm. So says PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

    McBlogger takes a look at the valuations being placed on the evil CDO's. Lots of laughs, of course, follow.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Galbraith tags Geithner's plan

    Honestly, it's not a bad piece for Galbraith. A little heavy, but he's got a good point... the best way to get valuations on the so-called toxic assets is to break them apart and look at the performance of the underlying credits. Either that or use a discounted cashflow model based on the income in aggregate which would be a lot faster but not nearly as thorough.

    Still, either way works better than the Fed's loaning money (non-recourse) to hedgies so they can pay whatever they want.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 24, 2009

    Angry (but funny) joke

    From Ritholtz

    When a fireman sees a house on fire, he sounds an alarm, dons his turnout gear, bravely rescues the occupants and puts out the fire.

    When an investment banker sees a house on fire, he quietly sells the burning house short, uses the proceeds to buy a larger house for himself and, when someone suggests that his taxes be raised to help the homeless, he rails against the dangers of socialism.

    In case you were wondering, it was 'he rails against the dangers of socialism' that got me.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    So Dodd was telling the truth...

    ... and the Administration and Republicans have been lying?

    EW's spot on... these contracts would have been busted by a BK judge had Treasury and the Fed not stepped in to pull AIG back from the brink. Abrogate the bonus contracts and let's move on.

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

    Texas Lawmakers Maintaining "Do-Nothing" Agenda


    NEWS FLASH!

    Of the 5,149 bills and resolutions filed, during the past month Texas lawmakers approved ZERO!

    With all the urgent issues we throughout the state it is nothing less than irresponsible and unprofessional that our lawmakers waste so much time and tax dollars on a "do nothing" agenda. Texans, remember this during the next several elections.

    Seems like it may be time taxpayers vote in quality legislators, not quantity, and vote-out incumbents. Time to vote-in some new blood who may actually do something positive for Texans and their families.

    Remember this lackluster effort the next time you vote.

    by Peter Stern

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

    Sucking at math...

    Not that I'm Carl Jacobi, but I'm least better at math than certain Republicans. First up, we have history professor and former ethically challenged Speaker of the US House Rep. Newt Gingrich. Apparently, Newtie thinks that cap and trade will be all expense, no benefit which is about like saying when I go to Neiman's and spend money I don't get anything in return. Maybe this one isn't so much a math error for Newt as it is an accounting error... You know, when you spend money on something and you receive an asset in return.

    Nah, it's a math error because he can't even correctly determine the cost to the average family in the US.

    While Newt's a dumbass, the real winner of this weeks STOOOPIDFUCK contest is Rick Perry who shunned more than $500mn in the stimulus plan (because it would cost Texas businesses $15mn a year in 10 years) and replaced it with a tax that will cost Texas businesses more than $800mn. This year.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 23, 2009

    Another Chemistry match

    fail owned pwned pictures
    see more pwn and owned pictures

    Hawt. Would someone kill me now?

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Shorter Ben Wear : Nichols column

    Sen. Nichols supported tolling before he was elected. He still supports tolling now. Sen. Nichols likes to dress fancy and he likes to privatize roads. He's written some new legislation that will make privatization less of a gang rape of Texas taxpayers and more of a date rape. With rohypnol.

    Seriously, Ben, did it ever occur to you to ask Nichols why he has such a laser like focus on making a shitty deal smell just less shitty, rather than admitting the error and killing the shitty deal? Is it a built in ideological bias or just stupidity?

    Oh, and just FYI for all you financial geniuses on the R side (and a few pro-PPP D's)... the State can sell bonds more cheaply than your good friends at Macquarie and Cintra. Which means their cost of capital is higher than ours. Now, given that indisputable fact, where exactly is the cost efficiency that the private partners will realize to offset their higher capital costs?

    This really is retarded. PPP is a waste of time searching for a transportation magic bullet. Y'all need to sac up and fix the problem rather than trying to make a bad situation slightly better.

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

    No, Matt Taibbi... you DON'T know what you're talking about

    Over at Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi has a really frustrating piece of journalism about the credit crisis, underlying causes and what's happening now to fix it. It's the last part where Matt goes off the goddamn rails and proves just how hard this stuff is to understand.

    Grayson pressed on, demanding to know on what terms the Fed was lending the money. Presumably it was buying assets and making loans, but no one knew how it was pricing those assets — in other words, no one knew what kind of deal it was striking on behalf of taxpayers. So when Grayson asked if the purchased assets were "marked to market" — a methodology that assigns a concrete value to assets, based on the market rate on the day they are traded — Kohn answered, mysteriously, "The ones that have market values are marked to market." The implication was that the Fed was purchasing derivatives like credit swaps or other instruments that were basically impossible to value objectively — paying real money for God knows what.

    "Well, how much of them don't have market values?" asked Grayson. "How much of them are worthless?"

    "None are worthless," Kohn snapped.

    "Then why don't you mark them to market?" Grayson demanded.

    "Well," Kohn sighed, "we are marking the ones to market that have market values."

    In essence, the Fed was telling Congress to lay off and let the experts handle things. "It's like buying a car in a used-car lot without opening the hood, and saying, 'I think it's fine,'" says Dan Fuss, an analyst with the investment firm Loomis Sayles. "The salesman says, 'Don't worry about it. Trust me.' It'll probably get us out of the lot, but how much farther? None of us knows."

    Here's the thing... just because something doesn't have a mtm price doesn't mean it's worthless (and Rep. Grayson's a fucktard). There's discounted cashflow and other valuation methods, for example, so despite what the loser from Loomis Sayles (where the not too bright go to die) says, it's not about trust. It's about hard data and the Fed EXISTS for just this type of market breakdown. Meanwhile, to Matt, it looks like the goddamn crooks are out to steal from us again, which was, not coincidentally, exactly what he was trying to pound into the reader for graff after tedious graff.

    Don't get me wrong, he nailed the stuff about deregulation and the fact that the largest banks are growing far too large at the expense of smaller competitors who don't enjoy the use of taxpayer capital. And the portrait of AIG's Cassano was brilliant.

    But the breathless, they're-stealing-everything tone was far better suited to Rush Limbaugh... or Michelle Malkin.


    Posted by mcblogger at 09:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 22, 2009

    IQ Test in Austin

    "De javu" again

    So once again legislators fall short of finding a real fix for school financing

    In 2005 bill HB 2 was a farce and the creation of Rep. Kent Grusendorf, who was kicked out in a reelection bid and as the Chair of the Committee on Public Education. Instead of promoting real cures for school ills, the proposed bill, backed politely by the governor, recommended obtuse measures to “improve” the quality of education without locating reality-based sources of significant financing.

    Despite a court order to remedy the school-finance problem, many legislators and the public are viewed firsthand the continuing ineptitude shown by legislative leaders in dealing with the issues.

    The problems inherent remain in public education and fixing the decade-long problems really is not that difficult. However, it has become much more complicated due to the ongoing inability of lawmakers to arrive at expedient and rational solutions to obvious and prolonged issues.

    Isn’t there anyone at the capitol with sufficient intelligence and comprehension of the real issues facing public education and of locating the sources needed to finance it?


    by Peter Stern


    Posted by pstern at 10:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 21, 2009

    If you're going ...

    ... to this, would mind throwing up on her for me? Out of all the repulsive b-list celebs that SXSW brings to town, Hot Dog Salad is very much a new low.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 20, 2009

    Not the mouth, moron

    Apparently, drinking can lead to stupid behavior

    Alexander Kirilov, 44, was on a drunken weekend with pals when he leapt on the terrified – but toothy – fur ball.

    “When I saw the raccoon I thought I’d have some fun,” he told stunned casualty surgeons in Moscow.

    Now Russian plastic surgeons are trying to restore his mangled manhood.

    “He’s been told they can get things working again but they can’t sew back on what the raccoon bit off," said a pal.

    “That’s gone forever so there isn’t going to be much for them to work with."

    Nothing more is available regarding Comrade Loverboy's balls which are presumably (and unfortunately) still able to produce sperm and pass on his faulty genetics.

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Layoffs hit even bartenders

    It's a sad, sad day when a bartender gets laid off.

    Eddie Doyle was the guy who really did know everybody’s name, at least when he started working at the tavern that inspired the television show “Cheers.”

    To the tens of thousands of tourists that later passed through, Doyle remained behind the bar to offer a smile, a beer and tips about where to find the Boston that wasn’t shown on TV.

    Now Doyle is out of a job, laid off from “Cheers” after 35 years.

    The bar’s owner has said a tough economy and sagging business forced the move, which was one of several layoffs.

    Doyle said he’s not bitter about being laid off, just surprised and a little sad.

    “This bar, for me ... it was not just another job,” Doyle said. “It was the perfect job.”

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

    My latest Chemistry match

    fail owned pwned pictures
    see more pwn and owned pictures

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    I would not only have sex with Barney Frank...

    ...I would ENJOY it.

    Here's Rep. Frank's response to Republicans that say he's the one responsible for the credit crisis. You know, because he totally controls them and all.

    PhotobucketFortunately, we have tools to aid memory -- pencil and paper, word processing, transcripts, newspapers, and the Congressional record. And as described in the most reputable published sources, in 2005 I in fact worked together with my Republican colleague Michael Oxley, then Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, to write a bill to increase regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We passed the bill out of committee with an overwhelming majority -- every Democrat voted in favor of the legislation. However, on the House floor the Republican leadership added a poison pill amendment, which would have prevented non-profit institutions with religious affiliations from receiving funds. I voted against the legislation in protest, though I continued to work with Mr. Oxley to encourage the Senate to pass a good bill. But these efforts were defeated because President Bush blocked further consideration of the legislation. In the words of Mr. Oxley, no flaming liberal, the Bush administration gave his efforts 'the one-finger salute.'

    The Republicans can claim some supposed successes despite my awesome power. In 1999 they passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which overturned a Depression-era law preventing commercial banks from acting like investment banks. In 2000, they passed another bill which loosened regulation of derivative markets. I voted against these bills -- but to no avail.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 19, 2009

    Santelli wrong again

    CNBC Personality and CME Trader Rick Santelli thinks it's silly for us to be focused on the bonuses at AIG.

    “Now think about it this way – maybe I’m missing something, but the outrage seems to be about ‘M’s – millions of dollars, right? Hundred and sixty five dollars, OK?” Santelli said, as he drew a large capital “M” on a sheet of paper. “I would think that it should be looked at as a pretty big positive because when you go from the ‘M,’ maybe you should try to go to the ‘B’s – which is the billions of dollars. And maybe that’s going to even enlighten for the ‘T’ – trillions of dollars.”

    “Squawk Box” co-host Becky Quick suggested the outrage wasn’t over the $165 million amount, but the “rewarding of bad behavior.” Yet, Santelli thought the bonus issue was being used to resonate with the average American, instead of attempting to examine the much larger pools of money.

    This may mark the first time that Quick actually seemed to semi-understand the issue. Santelli, of course, thoroughly misses the point which is that we are rewarding the same people who created, you know, THE PROBLEM. He's also telling us that getting rid of these folks will cost billions. Which is absolute bullshit, but that's nothing new from Santelli.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    And those AIG guys think THEY'VE got it rough...

    Up to 1,000 detained in Gambia witch hunt

    Witch doctors and security forces in Gambia have detained up to 1,000 people on suspicion of being witches, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. Police in the African country dismissed the reports as lies.

    Victims have been held in secret detention camps for up to five days and forced to drink hallucinogenic substances which have killed at least two people through kidney failure, the London-based human rights organisation said in a statement.

    IHT

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 12:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Karl Rove talks the walk

    In response to: Obama Gives the GOP an Opening by Karl Rove


    Mr. Rove,

    Don't you think you are "jumping the gun" re: Obama since the man has been President for a mere 2 months?

    Considering that the GOP wants Obama to fail as President and from day 1 has erected a stone wall regarding communications with the President and his administration, isn't it a bit unrealistic to proclaim that Obama has gone against his campaign pledge to bridge the partisan gap and work with Republicans? It does take 2 to tango, does it not?

    In reality, should Republicans and Democrats work and play well together for the next 4 years isn't that a death certificate for the GOP's chances to seize power in the 2012 Presidential Election? Isn't that really what you and the party are hoping to avoid? Could it be that this is the reason for all the tension and animosity on Capitol Hill? It takes more than one man in power to generate open communication across battle lines.

    As for spending more tax dollars and increasing the national debt, is it not the very reason for doing so a direct cause of the Bush administration's lack of good management skills, special interest pandering and lust for profiteering? After all, did not the Bush administration give corporate America everything it wanted, including significant deregulation, easy credit and unprecedented revenues? And still our economy failed?

    Finally, we all know about the Bush years. They are documented historically. In a strong economy that administration set the pace for a trillion dollar deficit, a breeding ground for corruptive influences and the significant means for a crumbling decay of our economy. The final days of Bush were focused on bailing out Wall Street and financial markets due to 8 years of robbing the poor to give to the rich.

    Blaming Obama for our current ills is NOT going to change the last 8 years of American history.

    Your article is an obvious attempt to undermine the current administration's efforts to slow the economic downtrend and bring back financial markets, uplift the economy and spur on employment. In addition, your not so veiled intent to persuade Americans to reject the new President's vision, promises and actions highlights the attempt by the GOP to maneuver itself into a hill-top position to seize-back control in 2012.

    Nice try, but I believe most Americans won't buy it.

    ---

    Feel free to send Karl Rove your own response:

    karl@rove.com

    .

    Posted by pstern at 10:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    That won't address the problem, Mikey

    Dell is releasing a new premium laptop line called RAMADA. Or maybe it's ADAMO. Yeah, actually that last one sounds like Admiral Adama from Battlestar Galactica which I'm certain is what the nerds in Round Rock were aiming for.

    It's premium because it costs far more than the normal Dell fare and has design features that supposedly will make it compete with Macs and HP's new VoodooEnvy line. Which is bullshit because deep down it'll still be the same shitty Dell you haven't been buying for years.

    You know what the problem is at that goddamn company? Their computers suck, their customer service is for shit and they managed to fuck up the only thing they did well... putting together a decent box at an affordable price. What the hell was so wrong with just sticking to what you do well?

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Preparing For A Second Career, or, What President Bush Is Doing Right Now

    Seriously, jokes about the economy?

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:51 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 18, 2009

    For Sister Ruth

    fail owned pwned pictures
    see more pwn and owned pictures

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Roundin' Up The TPA

    It's the first of another week, so that must mean it's time to take a look at some of the best posts from last week by members of the Texas Progressive Alliance. Here are the submissions:

    Vince of Capitol Annex took a new look at the latest creationist attack on science in Texas classrooms in Bill Would Make "Strengths and Weaknesses" Teaching Of Evolution State Law.

    Bay Area Houston says State Representative Wayne Christian has filed a bill that would scare Texas citizens from filing ethics complaints against elected officials.

    Off the Kuff takes a look at who would be affected by the voter ID legislation that is being pushed in the Lege by Republicans.

    WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the turmoil facing some inside Texas GOP regarding Gov. Perry's decision to turn down$555 million dollars of unemployment insurance from the stimulus money, UI debate must be maddening for the GOP supporters of Hutchison.

    Neil at Texas Liberal reads Malcolm X in a cemetery and says that Rick Perry has found his schoolhouse door to stand in and block.

    The Texas Cloverleaf expands upon Capitol Annex's look at Garnet Coleman's proposed repeal of the anti-gay marriage amendment in Texas.

    BossKitty at TruthHugger truly believes there is profit for everyone when wasteful and costly opposition to Medical Marijuana is brought in to the economy instead of keeping it out. The War on "Illegal Activities" should focus on smuggling Heroin and Human Trafficking. Can Marijuana Rescue The Economy In 2010 Like Booze Did In 1933

    At Texas Kaos, Lightseeker highlights the Texas Shakedown for those who make the mistake of driving in Tenaha, Texas while not white.

    CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme notes thuggery isn't the first choice for governing Democrats addressing drug cartel violence. Analysis and coordinated effort is.

    Governor "Good Hair, Bad Policy" Perry starts his primary campaign against Hutchinson by piling on the unemployed. Libby Shaw over at TexasKaos has the details and the outrage.Pendejos Perry Says YES to Roads, NO to the Jobless

    Mayor McSleaze of McBlogger returns from his holiday to post his thoughts on developments in the Wall Street infotainment industry.

    nytexan at BlueBloggin is disgusted, but not surprised, by the new Republican strategy; >GOP: Divide and Conquer The Democrats, Then Do Nothing For The Country. As tent cities pop up in Sacramento, unemployment is at 10% in may states and the Wall Street continues a downward slide; the GOP response, to the past 8 year Bush disaster, is to lower approval numbers for Pelosi and House Democrats.

    WhosPlayin is focused on local races for Mayor and City Council in Lewisville. This week he interviewed Shelley Kaehr and David Thornhill, who are running for Place 2.

    There was harmonic convergence in the left and right Texblogosphere last week. See PDiddie's Brains and Eggs for what happened.

    Xanthippas at Three Wise Men takes down the right-wing handwringing and disingenuous criticism over Obama's stem cell decision.

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

    Calling Bullshit : AIG

    Over the last few days I've talked a lot about AIG (here, here and here). Today is the day when Liddy comes to Congress and tries to pull his ass out of the crack.

    I don't think he can do it because he's wrong. Paying these bonuses is not legally necessary (second opinions here and here) and I've always found the excuses that 'we need these 'experts' to unwind these books' lacking because these contracts are not impossible to figure out. In many cases they aren't even difficult... and we're not talking about trillions in losses.

    Basically, everything you've heard about the necessity of keeping these people happy is bullshit. Forget about sanctity of contract (which is, IMHO, the best argument had these guys not brought down the company, thereby creating cause for termination) the larger issue we've heard about for days is that without these people it may cost hundreds of billions or even trillions to unwind AIG's derivative book.

    Which is funny as hell to me since they were saying the same thing about Lehman when it unwound it's D book. First there was LEH's $9 trillion in rate swaps which unwound less than a month after the bankruptcy for $6 BILLION. Less than 1% of the notational velue. But that wasn't the big issue... it's was the $400 bn in default swaps written on Lehman that were set to settle... and it cost a little over $5 billion.

    The settlement follows an auction of Lehman’s debt earlier this month after the investment firm sought bankruptcy protection on Sept. 15. The debt was priced at a little above 8 cents on the dollar, leaving companies and funds that insured these debts against default responsible for the remainder.

    Many companies and funds held positions on both sides of the trades in Lehman’s credit default swaps, and in most cases those positions appeared to cancel themselves out.

    Wall Street had been concerned that sellers of credit-default swaps on Lehman’s debt could be exposed to hundreds of billions of dollars in losses.

    In other words, unwinding a comparable book and derivatives on the failure of a large firm resulted, combined, in less than $12 billion in losses. On more than NINE TRILLION in notational value. If the AIG guys bail, why not call the former Lehman traders who unwound their book?

    These arguments are thoroughly bullshit. These instruments, while somewhat esoteric, are not impossible to figure out. At the end of the day, they're insurance policies, nothing more. And the guys who wrote and traded them should be less worried about a bonus than they should be about jail.

    I don't want to hear anything else from Summers. Or Liddy. Or Geithner. Or President Obama about how, though distasteful, this has to be done. It doesn't and these men are lying when they otherwise.

    Congress needs to man up and tear this motherfucker down. While Lehman's BK was a disaster, it wasn't because of their derivatives book. And AIG's won't kill us either.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    There's tennis

    ... and then there's the game of real men, ping pong. Just FYI, the money shot is at the end and VERY worth it.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 17, 2009

    Oh. Yeah. I just remembered about that...

    Well, at least now we know why we weren't on the Statesman's blog A-List...

    BOR is currently the number one with an hour to go. And we like K-T and Matt so it's all good in the 'hood. We're just glad it wasn't Eugene Sepulveda, who consistently manages to defy enjoyment, much like chutney.

    Oh, and to the peeps who sent in write in ballots, love ya lots!

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

    Things I won't be doing...

    As it turns out, I can't buy a ticket to the Deadmau5 show tomorrow until the night of which means I have to cab down there, wait while all the badges and wristbands go in, then maybe (possibly) I will get to go.

    So, I'm probably going to the show in SA instead. Oh, and to the little monkey working for Black who told me it would be OK if I didn't get in (because there were a bunch of other shows going on and I could go see one of them), I ONLY WANTED TO SEE DEADMAU5, not the other shitty bands.

    I leave you with this, my 2006 rant about SXSW. It's just as good today as it was then.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Speaker Strauss faces problems (but not from D's)

    Rumors have been floating around for days that there is a movement afoot to oust Speaker Strauss. The ringleaders were said to be Democrats which Rep. Martinez-Fisher and Rep. Dunnam put to bed this morning. Which leaves only the source (Texas Insider - a hard-right Republican blog) thinking there is a movement.

    Speculation now turns to Republicans who may be plotting to unseat the Speaker now that the Democrats have been conclusively ruled out. Rep.'s Bohac, Berman and Brown are just a few of the names I've heard. Pink Dome is reporting that there is a list but that there are only 18 names on it.

    If there IS a move to remove the Speaker, it ain't coming from the Democrats.

    (About damn time you came back, PD)

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Union Bar offers hugs, kisses

    Apparently, the management of the bar has made up with the LGBT community in Houston that their door staff managed to piss off.

    In the end, I'm left with the impression that this venue was too small. The place has a firecode capacity of 117 and even small invasions here in Austin have 50-75 people that show up. I can only imagine what happens in Houston. This really looks like a communication error on the part of the bar... and a major logistics fuckup by the organizers.


    Posted by mcblogger at 11:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Tell Rep. Frank not so much with money for AIG

    Are you upset about AIG's bonus fun? Tell someone...

    Bottom line, we're giving bonuses to the very same people who cratered AIG. What did these people do? They wrote insurance policies without any money to pay losses and without even collecting enough in premiums. In a normal insurance company, that would be called fraud and these people who would be in jail. And we're talking about giving them bonuses because we're 'legally bound'? Yeah. Sure. What-the-fuck-ever.

    Enough is enough.

    Update - Originally I wrote this last night but this AM I saw this out of DealBook. And got pissed all over again.

    As much as we might want to void those A.I.G. pay contracts, Pearl Meyer, a compensation consultant at Steven Hall & Partners, says it would put American business on a worse slippery slope than it already is. Business agreements of other companies that have taken taxpayer money might fall into question. Even companies that have not turned to Washington might seize the opportunity to break inconvenient contracts.

    If government officials were to break the contracts, they would be “breaking a bond,” Ms. Meyer says. “They are raising a whole new question about the trust and commitment organizations have to their employees.” (The auto industry unions are facing a similar issue — but the big difference is that there is a negotiation; no one is unilaterally tearing up contracts.)

    Ross, it's not like this folks are good, salt of the earth, rank and file. These guys collapsed the largest insurance company in the world. The guy who broke Barings went to jail. And we're talking about honoring the bonus contracts for a bunch of people who functionally committed fraud? REALLY?

    The best excuse is this one...

    But what about the commitment to taxpayers? Here is the second, perhaps more sobering thought: A.I.G. built this bomb, and it may be the only outfit that really knows how to defuse it.

    A.I.G. employees concocted complex derivatives that then wormed their way through the global financial system. If they leave — the buzz on Wall Street is that some have, and more are ready to — they might simply turn around and trade against A.I.G.’s book. Why not? They know how bad it is. They built it.

    So as unpalatable as it seems, taxpayers need to keep some of these brainiacs in their seats, if only to prevent them from turning against the company. In the end, we may actually be better off if they can figure out how to unwind these tricky investments.

    How about this... most of that would be covered under work product laws. It would be really hard to do that and not be accused of violating an NDA in effect prior to bonuses (with initial employment contracts). It would be super easy to get an injunction that would all but make these folks unemployable. As for them being recruited, it's highly unlikely considering that in the blink of an eye their accumulated profits have been wiped out and replaced with a massive loss.

    There are more than 100,000 people, the vast majority of whom are now out of work, who could unwind these contracts. Are you really telling me we couldn't find someone cheaper? Who could then protect the book from a rogue?

    Yeah, these excuses are worthless. And I'm sick of the ridiculous bullshit out of the Obama Administration... if this were McCain or Bush we'd all be just as goddamn angry.

    Finally, if the UAW has to take a hit for something they didn't even do, then these fucko's surely have to take one for the shit they did.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    I get to go to court

    About six weeks ago, I got a ticket for running a stop sign. My 'case' is set for an appearance docket tomorrow at which I will try to negotiate a settlement. And no, I'm not going to pay it... I didn't run the damn sign.

    So, if you're around Muni court tomorrow around 9:30, stop in and say hello.

    And Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 16, 2009

    Excuses are like shit...

    ...they're plentiful and they all stink. Take, for example, AIG's position on WHY bonuses have to paid to the morons who wrote insurance without adequate capital reserves or even premiums.

    I take this to mean that if a bunch of AIGFP managers quit because they didn't receive bonuses promised in their contracts, then France could, if it wanted, to appoint its own designee. And if that happened, then it would equate to a default and those contracts would kick in, at a cost to AIG the US government of at least tens of billions.

    In other words, I take this to be a threat: "if you don't give us our bonuses, we'll trigger a default event that will cost AIG the US government tens of billions of dollars." It's just a polite way of saying, "Pay us the $100 million ransom
    or we start exploding the suicide bomber vests we're wearing."

    Here's the catch... the counterparties are functionally at the mercy of the Feds at this point. We've played nice until now, paying off claims in full to prevent a further collapse of the financial system. But now it's time to play some hardball. This is NOT a default event and any CP that tries to claim it is should have their contract wiped clean. None of them will try it if they all know what they face which is loss of the protection they needed. Especially since the 'event' is an internal change that doesn't effect AIG's ability to pay out.

    What's so funny about this is that the excuse itself is proof of the incompetence of the 'geniuses' who wrote the business and the stupidity of the people who employed them.


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

    And I thought Mets fans were surly

    Police say an Iraqi soccer player has been shot dead just as he was about to kick what could have been the tying goal in a weekend game south of Baghdad.

    Police Maj. Muthanna Khalid says a striker from the Buhairat amateur team was facing only the goalie during a Sunday match in Hillah when a supporter of the rival Sinjar club shot him in the head in the final minute of play.


    More

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 01:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    What ARE the CDO's worth?

    Well, here's one take...

    But now, at long last, one shard of reality has just emerged to piece this gloom. In recent weeks, bankers at places such as JPMorgan Chase and Wachovia have been quietly sifting data trying to ascertain what has happened to those swathes of troubled CDO of ABS.

    The conclusions are stunning. From late 2005 to the middle of 2007, around $450bn of CDO of ABS were issued, of which about one third were created from risky mortgage-backed bonds (known as mezzanine CDO of ABS) and much of the rest from safer tranches (high grade CDO of ABS.)

    Out of that pile, around $305bn of the CDOs are now in a formal state of default, with the CDOs underwritten by Merrill Lynch accounting for the biggest pile of defaulted assets, followed by UBS and Citi.

    The real shocker, though, is what has happened after those defaults. JPMorgan estimates that $102bn of CDOs has already been liquidated. The average recovery rate for super-senior tranches of debt – or the stuff that was supposed to be so ultra safe that it always carried a triple A tag – has been 32 per cent for the high grade CDOs. With mezzanine CDO’s, though, recovery rates on those AAA assets have been a mere 5 per cent.

    Now, there are trillions of dollars of this stuff floating around. My problem with this is that it's a limited sample. And frankly, I don't know what they are considering a recovery. What I want to see is the percentage on the face that's being recovered. In extreme cases, I can see a loss on the subprime credits of 60-70% in an environment that has seen 50% value declines. But 95%?

    Something stinks on that number. I don't buy it for a second.

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

    Chuck Norris, Carpetbagger

    As it turns out, Chuck Norris isn't even a damn Texan.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 15, 2009

    The huevos on some people

    AIG last week said it was paying out some phat bonuses to the very people who put AIG (and taxpayers) in the position it's in today. Treasury said not so much. AIG CEO Liddy said he was doing it anyway...

    A.I.G., nearly 80 percent of which is now owned by the government, defended its bonuses, arguing that they were promised last year before the crisis and cannot be legally canceled. In a letter to Mr. Geithner, Edward M. Liddy, the government-appointed chairman of A.I.G., said at least some bonuses were needed to keep the most skilled executives.

    “We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” he wrote Mr. Geithner on Saturday.

    Still, Mr. Liddy seemed stung by his talk with Mr. Geithner, calling their conversation last Wednesday “a difficult one for me” and noting that he receives no bonus himself. “Needless to say, in the current circumstances,” Mr. Liddy wrote, “I do not like these arrangements and find it distasteful and difficult to recommend to you that we must proceed with them.”

    First off, while AIG is nominally an ongoing concern, it would be bankrupt were it not for taxpayers. That alone would have wiped out the bonuses because a BK judge would never have approved them. ESPECIALLY since 'the best and brightest' were the very folks who put the company in the position it's in now. And what did the best and brightest do? They wrote insurance policies on financial assets (CDS) at bargain basement prices and without adequate reserves against losses. That's it, boys and girls... that's what the best and brightest were up to.

    These bonuses were based on illusory profits on fundamentally unprofitable business.

    It's time to finish the wipeout of AIG and for the government to begin liquidating it totally. It's clear that current management is willing to be 'legally bound' to a contract that no one in their right mind would pay out. The company, on the whole, simply needs to be scrubbed out and the taxpayers need to be made whole. Enough with the half measures and bullshit.

    Seriously, there are 100,000 people in the world who can do the unwind on the derivatives that these fucks are being paid to do. As an added bonus (no pun intended), most of them are now unemployed and would be willing to work for far less.

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

    March 14, 2009

    Fuck a whole bunch of that

    Apparently, Houston now has a Guerrilla Queer Bar group. I've been going occasionally to the one in Austin since 2002. Part of the reason I don't go that often is that we overwhelm the bar... No one drinks like more than 100 gays and lesbians. The bars LOVE it because it usually gives them the best night of their entire year.

    Apparently, the inaugural invasion in Houston didn't, you know, go so well...

    Nearly 100 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people were refused entry to Union Bar and Lounge in Midtown Friday while others were welcomed.

    Patrons started lining up at about 9:40 p.m. and were told to wait in line and not allowed inside, even as straight-appearing people were waved through. As the line grew and patrons waited in the rain, employees at the door told those who were that they were maintaining a "ratio." Later, the bar employees simply indicated they had the right to refuse anyone.

    "I was shocked to be a victim of that kind of discrimination in a city like Houston in 2009," said Neal Falgoust, a Houston law student. "I have never experienced anything like that before in my life."

    I don't know who is dumber... the morons managing the bar or the mo's waiting IN THE RAIN to get in. Go spend your money somewhere else.

    Posted by mcblogger at 04:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    CNBC to cancel "Mad Money"?

    Word on the street is that, following Jon Stewart's recent shamwowing of Jim Cramer (jeez, he's really let himself go since Seinfeld), CNBC is considering dumping their tarnished star's infotainment show, Mad Money.

    What's in the works to replace it? Going Galt, which would be the financial network's first foray into the reality show genre. According to insiders, Going Galt would feature two dozen of the smartest, most productive individuals plucked down on an island and freed to build their perfect society based on Ayn Rand's philosophy of unrestrained self-interest. WARNING: May not be suitable for viewers who are squeamish about cannibalism.

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 07:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 13, 2009

    Let's buy a hooker for Paul Volcker!

    Photobucket This guy is Paul Volcker. He's well known in business circles as one of the few things that President Carter did right. He's also the guy who ended up making Reagan look good. President Obama has now tapped him to head up a team on fixing the economy. Needless to say, he's hella busy with a ton of stressful business.

    Wouldn't it be nice if WE could do something for him? Like get him a REALLY good hooker?

    Seriously, is it just me or are you also thinking that would be a hell of a lot nicer than a thank you card?

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Things that act like Hedge Funds (but shouldn't)

    I've been trying to really get a grip on a few things. First, there was this article in Vanity Fair about the disastrous decision by Iceland to turn itself into a hedge fund in 2003.

    Just after October 6, 2008, when Iceland effectively went bust, I spoke to a man at the International Monetary Fund who had been flown in to Reykjavík to determine if money might responsibly be lent to such a spectacularly bankrupt nation. He’d never been to Iceland, knew nothing about the place, and said he needed a map to find it. He has spent his life dealing with famously distressed countries, usually in Africa, perpetually in one kind of financial trouble or another. Iceland was entirely new to his experience: a nation of extremely well-to-do (No. 1 in the United Nations’ 2008 Human Development Index), well-educated, historically rational human beings who had organized themselves to commit one of the single greatest acts of madness in financial history. “You have to understand,” he told me, “Iceland is no longer a country. It is a hedge fund.”

    Now, what on earth could have caused a nation of rational (Bjork aside), well educated people to have made such a bad decision? Easy. Mr. Deregulation himself, Milton Friedman, whose teachings were very popular... especially with poets who found themselves running a country.

    Then came Bernanke's admission the AIG was functionally a hedge fund attached to an insurance company. With even dumber management insuring far too much risk for far too little money.

    In Iceland's case, as in America, the culprit was a belief that greed would override stupid decision making, in effect, faith in people to make rational, well informed decisions. In Iceland, the entire economy was changed overnight from safe and steady to 'how much risk can I lard on?'. In the case of the US, over the last thirty years we have dismantled the regulatory framework it took a generation to put into place after the last major financial calamity, the Great Depression.

    We did this to ourselves and now it's time we suck it up and realize that the market CAN'T self regulate. Actually, most of us already knew that but we're throwing our lot in with you folks who are just now coming to the conclusion that Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman really were full of shit.

    Finally, I'm forced to agree with Stevie Forbes. Of all goddamn people. Which makes me want to vomit blood.

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

    Not exactly LIVE blogging

    Not that there's much reason for you to notice, but Austin360.com, the "entertainment" component of the Slag's cyber empire is running one of those internet polls on best Austin Blogger. A few things that I have noticed:

    For some reason they've managed to miss Austin's Angriest Blogger

    All the Blogs of Color are at the back of the list for some curious reason

    One of those blogs has been dead for almost a year

    Photobucket

    Now, don't get me wrong. I loved Pink Dome. It was one of the few blogs I actually read just about every day. But PD got a real job last spring and since then his blog has drifted abandoned, a Marie Celeste in HTML. You'd really think that a hip and happening crew like the Statesman's A-List people might have picked up on that by now.

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

    March 12, 2009

    Take THAT, South Carolina!

    Texas is stili the National Laboratory for Bad Government and Rick Perry is still a fuckwit.

    Gov. Rick Perry will announce today that he is blocking the state from accepting $550 million for expanded unemployment benefits as part of the federal stimulus package.

    With an upscale Houston hardware store as his backdrop, he will paint the expansion as a burden on small business. (AAS)

    After all, people who have lost their jobs would just fritter the money away on stuff like food.

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 03:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    On growing up... and how much it fucking sucks.

    Last year I missed Ultra because of the County Convention. As you may recall, I was pretty resentful. At least, I was until I heard from some of my friends who went and, well, it just wasn't as much fun as it had been in the past. I thought they were just trying to make me feel better... but as it turns out when you get older SRO events aren't so much fun. Especially when they're outdoors.

    Stacy, one of my friends in OC who was once a 'STAR' with me at a lender that shall remain nameless, was one of the people who went last year. I sent her an email about a week ago just to see how things were going and if she wanted to go this year...this is the response I got back today:

    "As for UMF, If we were 22 again, it might be fun. But listening to Erin bitch and whine last year was more than I could take. I actually agreed with most of her complaints, it really wasn't just her being a pain. We only made one ap because we were actually tired. And the RBV didn't come close to helping.

    I'm going to pass. I never liked Miami much anyway."

    It's funny, but I get this. I feel like I want to go. But do I seriously want to spend $1000 for a weekend which will necessitate a week off from work when I return to recover? Getting old sucks balls. So, for one of the first times ever, I'm going to try to go see something DURING SXSW.

    Anyone else want to go see Deadmau5 at La Zona Rosa next Wednesday?

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:45 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Probably the only time I will link to Andrew Sullivan...

    Really, spot on...

    Just to recap: the last president believed that he had the inherent power to suspend both the First and the Fourth amendments, he had the power to seize anyone in the US or world, disappear and torture them, and ordered his legal goons to come up with patently absurd legal rationales for all of it. And much of official Washington carried on as normal - and those of us who actually stood up and opposed this were regarded as "hysterics".

    Something is rotten in a country where this can happen with such impunity - and when, even now, highly regarded and respected journalists and commentators simply move on or roll their eyes or sigh world-weary sighs.

    One thing... read this and think about Tom Scheiffer's inability to acknowledge that voting for Bush was kind of a bad idea. I'm not saying it's a deal killer for me, just that it would be nice to find a mind at work that can actually see just how far down the rabbit hole we went.

    Also, I'm big on admitting mistakes.

    PDiddy has more on our recently ended Presidential Dictatorship.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Dregs : Voter ID; Norris and Powertool Sex Injuries

  • Republicans shove through voter suppression in the Senate. Abbott remains silent on evidence.

    My thinking? This has always been a bullshit issue and Texas Republicans have proven that they are peerless at wasting time and money.

  • Chuck Norris apparently thinks that Texas is just aching for secession. You know, since it worked out so well last time. Would someone please put this old bastard to sleep?
  • Mayor McSleaze, who is currently enjoying a richly deserved break, wanted you to see this.
    Maryland State Police airlifted the 27-year-old woman to Prince George's County Hospital Center early Sunday morning after she was injured in an incident involving a sex toy attached to a saber saw blade, TheBayNet.com first reported.

    McSleaze also wanted you to know that there is no gravity. We're held to the ground by how much Chuck Norris sucks.

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

    March 11, 2009

    Teh Baby Jesus Weeps Because Of The Stupid

    I'm used to Republicans being dumb. What I'm not used to are Democrats being dumb. But first, the Republicans...

    Boehner said Americans want government to practice the same financial restraint they have been forced to exercise: “It’s time for government to tighten their belts and show the American people that we ‘get’ it.”(CBS)

    Uhm, actually, Americans want an expansionist fiscal and monetary policy. What Boehner is saying is "Let's fill the whole in the economy, by creating an even bigger one by cutting government spending!" Honestly, this would make sense if there was too much demand and the government was soaking up capital that could be better used by private companies. But that's not the case right now and we need government spending MUCH, MUCH MORE. As we've noted before though, Boehner is a stupid, ignorant little man whose brain is calcified by the ideological equivalent of shit. I can excuse him (even if I do think CBS is retarded for airing anything the moron had to say) because he comes by his stupidity naturally.

    Sen. Bayh, on the other hand, really should know better than to paraphrase the House minority leader...

    “The American people and businesses are tightening their belts,” Bayh added. “I think we need to show that the government can economize as well.”

    A couple of things...

    1) The Democratic Party IS the goddamn moderate party. The damn thing is made up of centrists. The entire party. The Greens are to our left and the Republicans are too the far right. WE'RE THE MIDDLE. So we don't need Senators from flyover states (and VA... we noticed you,Horse Face) to act as if they are the center of the party. Collectively, you represent fewer people than Sen. Boxer.

    2) 'Belt tightening' isn't going to get us out of the economic hole. The Depression finally evaporated when WWII came and kicked off the largest public spending project in history. The US debt went to 140% of GDP. Right now, we're at 65%. We have a long way to go if needed. It will be nice to know that we'll have you chickenshits wringing your hands all the way up.


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

    Max Capacity

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    Posted by mcblogger at 09:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Just what we need, Part 2...

    Oh, damn. NO.

    “I’m the only (prospective candidate) since Ann Richards who can excite the grass roots,” Friedman said. “If we run a generic Democrat, we’re going to get beat again.” Richards was governor from 1991 to 1995.

    NO

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 10, 2009

    "Bail-out"


    "Bail-out"


    Soon American dictionaries may have a new definition for this word, perhaps something like:

    "...a process by which a Federal Government relieves the financial disarray, monetary chaos and general overburdening of banks, CEO's who fly around the globe in their luxury jets, delusional [auto] manufacturers, the elite corporate sector, private individuals, homeowners who during the past decade have paid too much in ever-increasing taxes, those who have been bludgeoned by astronomical daily living expenses, corrupt agencies and officials, passive legislators, dimwitted buyers and investors, con-men out to make a buck illegally, and anyone who does not want to be held accountable for their extravagant credit over-using lifestyles and personal ongoing expenditures, a.k.a., people with their hands ever-outward and upward."

    Ever hear of the saying, "Those who live by the sword, die by the sword." ? Generally, it's true.

    The current economic situation did NOT happen overnight. Few spoke out about the financial travesties occurring throughout our nation. Our Congress, during this period, looked the other way and permitted a hands-off, deregulated form of imperialistic capitalism to take place in our nation and around the globe.

    The so-called financial specialists surely observed what was occurring, yet they did NOT speak up. We heard nothing until 1 year ago when finally the economic travesties that were for years hitting the lower and middle classes finally started to tear apart Wall Street, wealthy corporate and industrial sectors.

    Why did this economic tirade continue so long? Simple. It was the long, salivating tongue of greed that licked itself into every corner and orifice in American life. The almighty dollar.

    A poem I had read in college, 'American Primitive' comes to mind in which the author William Jay Smith states:

    "Look at him there in his
    stovepipe hat,
    His high-top shoes, and his
    handsome collar;
    Only my Daddy could look like that,
    And I love my Daddy like he
    loves his Dollar."

    Perhaps, more than other considerations, this poetic stanza embellishes what transpired during the past decade in our American society and what the focus was for so many from the top to the bottom of our societal strata. Too many people looking to get something for nothing or for doing little. Too many corrupt and/or unethical government and business folks stepping on too many others to attain huge profits without the presence of accountability or oversight.

    No doubt it could all have been avoided.

    It is an American Tragedy and it is not yet over. It is a sad time for all Americans.

    After the dust lands from all the economic disasters and "Bail-outs" the real question is "Will we finally learn the lesson?"



    Posted by pstern at 07:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Things you may have missed : Pay raises, Cornyn and more

  • Apparently, the state has been pretty generous with it's employees. Well, the management level people. The ordinary folks didn't get much of anything.
  • Cornyn just keeps fucking up... first there is this over at Greg's Opinion followed up by Musings which asks if Bunning might be willing to throw things to give Democrats that magical 60th seat.
  • A new blog has launched to keep track of Rep. John Carter. Check it out here
  • Apparently, a bill has been filed to eliminate the Texas Residential Construction Commission. Which is a good thing since the TRCC is a pointless waste of taxpayers funds. How else would you describe an industry controlled regulatory body?
  • There's talk about expanding gambling in Texas which will probably cause folks in Waco to run amok with anger. While I'm all for gambling, I have to agree with EOW on their assessment that it's less a revenue panacea for the state and more of a way to kicking the funding problem 'can' down the proverbial road.
  • Finally, there's VOTER ID. We've posted about this so often that it's really irritating and I want to see a fistfight over this in the Senate. I'd put $100 on Whitmire to beat down Dan Patrick. The only way the R's are going to stop is if they get their own way or make things to nasty for them that they never bring it up again.

    Obvs, I'm for the latter. People like Dan Patrick are like dogs and children. They have to be trained to be nice and play well with others.

    BOR is liveblogging the bullshit.

  • Posted by mcblogger at 11:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Just what we need...

    Austin businessman Jack McDonald has decided he wants to run for CD10, because everyone knows being a Congressman is a cool gig. I think it's a mistake because I don't really think he brings anything to the table that isn't already being provided. By Rep. McCaul.

    No, I still think McCaul's a walking, talking douche. However, you aren't to beat him by being the 'businessman' candidate.

    But the 45-year-old lawyer-business, who’s ceo of Austin-based Perficient, said he and his wife, Carla, have been encouraged by Democrats, independents and Republicans who’d like to see someone with business experience in Congress at a time the national and international economy need attention.

    McDonald, who’s been involved in luring companies to Central Texas in roles with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and other civic ventures, said: “I’m in this race because I think we can do better than what we’ve got today. We need people in Washington that understand the way the real world works—-people who have created jobs, who have run a business… I don’t think we have that kind of leadership in Congress today.”

    While he wasn’t laying out an entire platform in our conversation, McDonald said he’d focus on setting politicies out of Washington promoting job creation by small businesses. He mentioned Small Business Administration loans, reduced capital gains taxes and steps that would promote capital and venture capital formation.

    GREAT. ANOTHER Chamber asshat who is in love with privatizing roads. Which is great because polling from last year shows the district is about 80% anti-toll. And talk about politically inept... the GACC is hated by almost exactly the same group of people he'll need to get through the primary.*

    Then there's that last paragraph. I'm all for enhanced SBA loans... I think it would be a great idea to open them up to conform to the needs to small business owners from microlending all the way to large scale expansion loans. Problem is, SBA lending is frozen like the rest of the economy. I'd love his ideas on how to unfreeze that lending.

    The real meat is his EARTH SHATTERING, GIMPTASTIC IDEA to cut capital gains taxes. Which really doesn't spur long term investment, it spurs short term speculation. Having just come out of a speculative bubble caused, in no small part, by reductions in capital gains taxation, it would be nice to hear something from someone running for office about how to avoid them. Not how to start the next one.

    No, Jack, Washington doesn't need your special brand of business savvy. And welcome to the Democratic Primary. I can't wait to meet you at endorsement meetings. This was just an A1 EXCELLENT way to enter the fray.

    This district ain't going to elect a blue dog, Jack. It'll either elect a Democrat or a Republican. Pick one and be that.

    *Just as a side note, I don't hate the Chamber when it's in the background. But when we disagree on something, they should REALLY just take my position. It's the right one, usually.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 09, 2009

    Going Galt

    You know who's talking about 'going Galt'? All those poor, stupid Republicans who, frankly, we'd be better off without.

    Real rich people know what 'marginal tax rates' really mean. And, just FYI, they aren't afraid of it.

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

    Governor, TxDOT, Legislators still pushing toll roads

    What's up with that?


    While it's bad enough that this runaway Texas agency is still pushing toll roads against the wishes of most Texans, why is it being permitted to use a majority of the federal "stimulus" package being provided to TxDOT mostly for toll roads?

    Even as TxDOT still is being investigated for illegal and fraudulent activities, the agency is taking money to put into its toll road agendas.

    Lawmakers are skirting their responsibility to Texans when they permit TxDOT to pursue toll roads instead of searching for alternatives that are more cost-effective and environmentally friendly to the community at-large.

    Why aren't lawmakers doing the job they were hired to do in our best interests?

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

    We're all imperfect...

    ... some just happen to be less perfect than others. Take the Statesman Ed Board, for example. Recently they took Councilmember Leffingwell to task for shit that he didn't do. So, he wrote a response. K-T has more.

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

    Thank you, Hank Gilbert

    FINALLY, someone says it...

    Burka has more here (it's item 2) including a letter from Sen. Hegar admonishing Houghton for calling Hank and TURF idiots.

    A couple of things...

    1) Hank's opposition to the stimulus is based on the fact that not enough of it actually goes into transportation which we desperately need, especially in Texas.
    2) Houghton's point about foreign ownership is silly. For one thing, there is almost EIGHT TRILLION DOLLARS sitting on the side lines in the US, some of which will no doubt finance the deficit this year. Those bonds more than likely won't get snapped up by the Chinese who are spending money on their own stimulus package. Regardless, these bonds don't represent ownership or even a leasehold-they are based on the creditworthiness of the United States. TXDOT's private partnerships with Cintra, Macquarie and others represent effective ownership of an asset (the existing roads converted to toll and the new ones built as toll roads).
    3) The areas where TXDOT wants to build these roads can not bear the economic cost. The toll tax will be too high, on balance. These roads are for the TTC and to support goods shipped from Mexico. I'm fine with that, but why not use the money to just build non-tolled roads?

    Hank nailed it on several points. First, these are effectively tax dollars being spent. Which means we'll pay for these toll roads three times. Second, TXDOT has been claiming for years that toll are necessary but when confronted with money to build roads, they make them toll roads. Hank's right... this is more about a non-Legislative funding source for TXDOT than it is about infrastructure.

    It's time for some changes at TXDOT.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 08, 2009

    Is this place in Cleveland?

    fail owned pwned pictures
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    Posted by mcblogger at 12:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 07, 2009

    Rush Limbaugh and child molestation

    Comrade Rahm will soon release a communiqué of glorious inspirations from Dear Leader Barack. The latest in the continuing series of public pronouncements of utmost importance clarifies the Glorious One’s position on Rush Limbaugh, and warns of the evil of child molestation. The release of both edicts at the same time are just coincidental and in no way related to each other.

    In other news, concern is mounting about John Cornyn’s ability to intercept telepathic transmissions of citizens through his tin foil hat.

    Posted by Captain Kroc at 09:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Old Lady Is Missing Alert

    Last night I was on 183 heading home and noticed the Amber Alert signs where flashing... about MISSING ELDERLY IN GARLAND. Which is not at all unusual since 95% of the time the signs are going off because someone let their grandma out of the home and she's loose on LBJ. Or the 30 heading toward central Dallas.

    Seriously, when was the last time YOU saw the signs going off for a missing or abducted child?


    Posted by mcblogger at 10:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 06, 2009

    Some folks ya just can't reach

    The Eleventh Circuit came out with a notable opinion this week on one Robert Shaw. The part with all the legalese talk about a bunch of law stuff is hella-boring; dare I say, even icky as it pertains to criminal matters (Everyone knows suing people for money is what makes The Law so damn sexy. Aw ye-uh).

    But the good news is that the cool part of this opinion comes at the VERY BEGINNING, so you don't have to read all that "possession of a firearm this" "post-Miranda that" "Fourth Amendment bla-dee-bla-so-on" stuff. Check this out:

    "When Robert Shaw was thirteen years old he hurled a rock through a car windshield, sending shards of glass into his victim's face. Fifteen years later Shaw was speeding through Miami, with a cocked and loaded pistol and ski masks, on his way to burglarize a "drug hole." His rap sheet during the intervening years is long enough to require extra postage. It shows 27 arrests involving 62 counts, and sentences totaling at least 105 months in spite of receiving one break after another from the system. Indeed, from Shaw's criminal record it seems as though he is determined to serve a life sentence, albeit on the installment plan. The question this appeal presents is whether the current installment is a reasonable one."

    Ooh, Burn!!! Having spent a portion of my own legal career dealing with the most incorrigible criminal element, I can totally empathize with this particular geyser-like venting of Ye Olde Judicial Spleen. Not to comment on any particular public debate at the moment, but it is important to remember that every single day of a criminal court judge's career, he or she confronts utterly unreachable sociopaths whose brains consist entirely of that one reptilian lobe and nothing more. After awhile, that can understandably tax any decent human being's sense of mercy and patience.

    Posted by hbalczak at 07:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Ripping CNBC

    Y'all may remember a while back I got the shits of the ass reporting on CNBC and switched to Bloomberg. It's a video like this that reminds me just how spot on that decision was...

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    REALLY, Sen. McConnell?

    Healthcare... public vs. private? Y'all know I love me some capitalism and I think that there are many things private enterprises can do far more effectively than government. I also think that government is far cheaper and more efficient than private enterprise in certain other areas.

    Healthcare, just FYI, happens to be one of them. Apparently, Sen. McConnell agrees.

    McConnell suggested there were areas in which Republicans won't compromise, particularly the creation of a new public insurance program to compete with private insurers.

    "Forcing free market plans to compete with these government-run programs would create an unlevel playing field and inevitably doom true competition," the letter stated. (souce)

    There is one thing that can kill capitalism... it's unrestrained greed. We've seen it in banking with predictable results (well, predictable to EVERYONE on my side who thought Milton Friedman was mostly full of shit and Ayn Rand was a dysfunctional emotional cripple with all the warmth and human emotion of a bar of soap). We've also seen it in healthcare as health insurers treat customers and health care providers like crap, only to reap outsize profits year after year while providing less quality to consumers.

    It's not that health insurance companies can't do it better than government, it's that in their current state, with their current management teams (or, what we investors like to call 'bloated overhead'), there is no way they can compete with a lean government operation. Private enterprise didn't fail... government failed to make sure the industry was truly competitive and coverage was portable. As a result, health insurance has grown fat, bloated and sclerotic. And the only way to fix it is change the regs and give them a big, efficient new competitor.

    And, as a capitalist, I couldn't be happier.


    Posted by mcblogger at 12:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    FIRE

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    Posted by mcblogger at 09:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 05, 2009

    Kotok on AIG

    AIG: What It Means? March 2, 2009

    The news on AIG of additional federal funds and a change in the structure of the preferred stock and its implications have rattled the securities markets. We are scheduled to discuss this tonight on National Public Radio (NPR), “All Things Considered” and on CNBC in the 8:10 p.m. segment and, subsequently, in the 8:45 p.m. segment.

    It appears that the change in terms of the federal support for AIG were triggered by requirements that the “AAA” rating be maintained on AIG’s counterparty risk-based instruments. The policy behind this federal support seems clearly focused on avoiding a second Lehman-type failure and, subsequent, market meltdown. The devastation caused by Lehman’s failure was in the counterparty risk arena. This is the complex structure in which opposing parties of derivative instruments are dependent upon the credit worthiness of each other. If the instrument requires a “AAA” credit rating, loss of the credit rating can become an element of default.

    Whether we like it or not, America’s federal policy is now driven by the need to avoid another “Lehman.” Thus, we see increasing federal monies applied to support AIG. And, we see this elsewhere as my colleague, Bob Eisenbeis, noted about Citi in his comments today.

    We can spend hours debating whether or not this is a good or bad policy. We can spend more time arguing about whether or not Countrywide should have been permitted to fail rather than to be saved via a merger. We could examine the decisions about Bear Stearns or Fannie Mae or others. Those are the exercises that will occupy historians and academics for the next several decades. But those are not the relevant questions for portfolio managers today.

    The decisions made today and tomorrow come down to a very fundamental question. Will, (1) massive federal intervention like preferreds and equity ownership, (2) huge expansion of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, (3) trillions of federal contingent guarantees combine to avoid a deflationary prolonged depression?

    History says the answer is yes. There are no limits to the amount of federal credit that can be extended in support of this new policy. The Federal government is now committed to do whatever it takes, in whatever amount is necessary and with whatever tools are needed. If you believe as I do, that the economy will find some bottoming in 2009 or early 2010, then one has to view the future risk several years from now as inflation, not deflation.

    For today, inflation is not the risk, deflation is the threat and enormous new federal credit is the weapon used to confront it. That’s what the AIG bailout is all about.

    Courtesy BP.

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

    One of my matches on Chemistry

    OMG... what LOSERS...

    Hey XXXXXX here I am a 30 year old gay male who is seeking a partner.

    NFS, douchie... you're a dude looking for other dudes to suck off. It's pretty clear you're gay.

    I love to travel as much as I can. Love to go on cruises, Vegas, or anything fun.

    WOW. This guy and I are PERFECT for one another. I LOVE to do fun things and think unfun things are, well, kind of a drag. I wonder if he feels the same way?!?!?

    I am drug and disease free and plan on staying that way.

    Here come the 12 stepper, word!

    Family and friends are very important to me.

    The helped me clean up in rehab.

    And here is where the motherfucker goes right off the rails...

    I am only out to my close friend, however I am sure that my family knows. I know that my family will probably not mind that I am gay, however our close friend to the family I am sure will mind, but hey if she really cares about me and wants me to be happy she will accept me for who I am and can not, nor do I want to change.

    REALMENTE?!?!?! THIS is what I paid money for? I just wanted, you know, a date with someone outside of my usual sphere. And the rejects on this thing make me kinda, you know, sick. I also have to question if this computer match criteria bullshit is worth a fuck since it matched me up with dipshit closet case here. Who, it just so happens, is THIRTY.

    What really pisses me off is that I have to dismiss the match and give them a reason. This angers me because 'dumbass' isn't an option.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:50 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Shorter Ben Wear

    The train was really pretty. And very red. And really fast. And a bunch of people will probably ride it.

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

    March 04, 2009

    Mortgage Writedowns... I'm THRILLED

    ... Jane is pissed as hell, mostly because she doesn't get the long term impact. Nor does she understand THAT THE HOMEOWNERS BEAR JUST AS MUCH RESPONSIBILITY AS THE BANKS.

    I'm TIRED of the 'the-banks-screwed-everyone, now-let's-screw-them' bullshit. Not only because it's based on a patently false assumption (that banks engineered loans for foreclosure), but also the fact that it fails to acknowledge the long term impact to the financial infrastructure of the US that will be caused by the judiciary being given arbitrary authority to write down debt on hard assets.

    People need help. I have no problem helping them. But fucking over banks in the process fucks us all, more slowly and over a longer period of time.

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

    Where were our Leaders?

    Where were our Leaders?

    Came across a commentary I wrote in February 2008 about how Americans were being lied to re: the economy by most our leaders and media. Interesting how all the denial during that time enabled many wealthy individuals and corporations to reap profits even when too many Americans were "feeling the heat" re: financial problems with mortgages and daily living expenses. It makes you realize how slow our leaders react to urgent issues at the national, state and local levels.

    Anyway, thought it was interesting that I have been writing about urgent issues and the economy for the past decade and so few wanted to hear it. Many even were critical of what I was writing and pooh-poohed what I was saying. Hopefully, the new administration will lead us to a better place in time.

    P

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008
    By Peter Stern

    Too Many American Leaders & Media In Denial Of Our Economic Plight

    Where the heck are we going?

    Where are these facts stated by government officials and many news media that the economic is healthy and not in recession? We hear about all the jobs being created. Exactly what jobs are being filled by U.S. citizens?

    Unemployment in the U.S. is the highest in many years and the outlook remains gloomy.

    Another question: How many homeowners are there in the U.S.?

    Very few officials and news media are being truthful when reviewing the status of homeownership in the U.S. Some say that most (up to 94 percent) are "able" to pay their mortgages. So, a measly six percent of maybe 100 million Americans who own homes can NOT pay their mortgages? What’s that total number... maybe only six MILLION? Guess it’s not any of our officials or members of their families who are in that bracket?

    By the way, those figures lie.

    Also, just because more people are not in foreclosure or are "able" to pay their mortgages does NOT mean they can afford to do so.

    Even if homeowners are paying their mortgages, for many it’s merely using the "free and easy" credit still available to them, but it is a "walking time bomb" until they no longer can pay their mortgages. Some also use "reversible" mortgages, while some homeowners sell their homes prematurely and at less of a market value to sell more quickly.

    In fact, many Americans even are using plastic to pay off their taxes to "Uncle Sam" because credit cards are a way of life for all of us.

    By the way, even reliable statistics don’t always tell the whole truth.

    Foreclosures from last year have increased 25 to 30 percent, so I don’t know where some of these unsubstantiated facts are coming from.

    According to an article titled, "U.S. economy leaving record numbers in severe poverty" by Tony Pugh of McClatchy Newspapers, Sunday, February 25, 2007:

    "The portion of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line, and the gulf between the nation’s ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ continues to widen."

    How can our president and congress provide citizens with more tax breaks and paybacks when we are TRILLIONS in debt?

    One thing is very clear: the U.S. economy cannot sustain itself and continue to deny American citizens the basic needs of daily living. Our nation has swiftly moved from a Representative Democratic Republic to a seemingly Fascist Monarchy in which only the chosen few get the wealth and perks.

    In short, we are hurting our own people socially, politically, and economically by denying them successful lives.

    We must all stand up and demand accountability, starting with a big change in America’s management and that our government provides all Americans with:

    · Jobs at all skill levels for any American who wants to work

    · Affordable public schools and higher education that provide quality programs for all children

    · Make higher education more affordable for all American children

    · Affordable and quality health care

    · Enforce our immigration laws

    · Fairer distribution of taxation

    · Holdback on "rogue" cutthroat profiteering

    · Decrease/stop outsourcing of American jobs

    · Find fair alternative sources of tax revenue

    · Provide quality affordable health insurance

    · Provide affordable Rx medication and insurance premiums

    · Provide our veterans with the goods and services they need

    · Develop more controls on the financial credit/cards industry and high runaway interest rates

    · Provide more tax dollars for domestic needs and decrease the budget for overseas ventures.

    Most of all, whatever happened to that great American virtue of getting "an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work?"

    While it’s true that the America we once knew has changed over the past several generations, there are values that still should be employed by all of us to make this nation great again. We can’t do that if our leaders continue to be irresponsible. They can’t be permitted to continue ravaging profits all over the globe, like unruly children grabbing for all the merchandise in a candy store.

    I look at this once great nation with tearing eyes and sadly shake my head, remembering what it once was and how we all once worked together to keep it great.

    In closing, too many Americans, officials and news media may be "closing their eyes" to the reality of most U.S. citizens, much as Bush & Co. has for the past seven years, or, maybe they are the minority of those who have wealth — but "the truth is out there" should you really want to see it.

    Currently, fewer Americans can afford to pay their daily living expenses and that’s NOT going to change any time soon UNTIL the voters demand it.

    ---


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

    Abandoning the WaPo

    What irritates me most about the Washington Post is that they allow people like George Will to, you know, LIE.

    And with that, I'm dropping my subscription. Seriously, what's the point of having to endure brainless bullshit from the likes of Will and Krauthammer?


    Posted by mcblogger at 02:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Transportation : Let the voters decide

    Sen. Carona unveils a bill to allow metros to vote up their gas tax or toll the hell out of themselves...

    With statewide gas taxes stagnant and the public wary of tollways, urban areas in Texas could vote to levy local taxes and fees to build road and rail projects under legislation filed Monday .

    State Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas , the Senate's transportation committee chief, unveiled the bill and a companion constitutional amendment proposal backed by eight legislators from both parties and a phalanx of Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex officials. Calls Monday did not turn up any staunch opposition to the concept from the governor or business groups often resistant to tax proposals.

    EOW calls it a half measure. Normally, I'd agree but in this case, not so much. While we need infrastructure improvements all over the state, the need is most acute in the metros. However, if this is left to counties and not the RMA's, then you have a situation where Dallas County will vote yes and Collin County will vote no. Something has to be done to make sure this is regional. If that doesn't happen, this isgoing to be pretty damn worthless.

    That aside, this is the only way we'll make real progress without ultra-regressive toll taxes. If this is done on a statewide vote basis, the rural areas will crush the measure because they aren't even close to the pain that we in the cities feel. Not to mention that our good friends on the nutter right have spent 30 years telling people all taxes are bad, even though on a inflation basis without the state doing ANYTHING, their gas taxes have gone down in terms of purchasing power.

    I'd rather see an index bill that would fix the problem for good and take politics out of transportation planning. I have little hope for that kind of common sense. I mean, TXDOT is playing games with stimulus money, apparently unaware of just how close they are skating into the thin ice.

    One last point... this from the Statesman article was rather irritating...

    Various studies over the past five years have put the state's transportation funding shortfall at anywhere from $44 billion to more than $300 billion . Much of that was for highways. And now urban areas, including Austin, increasingly are pushing for rail projects.

    OVER FIFTY YEARS and the low estimate is the far more accurate one. That $300 bn, if memory serves, is that damn estimate for the total buildout of everything and the full TTC. And the TTI busted it like a pinata long ago. So, STATESMAN reporters, why the hell do you continue to use it?

    Texas has immediate, intermediate and long term needs which our state can meet with a little leadership. This is the first practical step toward a workable solution I've seen. It'll have to do until some miracle day when we can take politics out of the equation.


    Posted by mcblogger at 09:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 03, 2009

    This just in...

    A friend of Rick Warren's says he's not so bad a guy.

    Sorry about the rehash, just found this and thought it was kinda funny.

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

    Roundin' Up The TPA

    It's the first of another week, and that means it's time to look at some of the best posts by TPA members in the last week. Here are this week's submissions:

    McBlogger takes a look at possibilities for 2010.

    Bay Area Houston is following a bill to abolish the Texas Residential Construction Commission.

    BossKitty at TruthHugger is sad to see that some things have not changed in the minds of the loosers - CPAC Fans Fuse of Hatred - Seeks Civil War

    jobsanger discussed a couple of Supreme Court cases. The first case discussed in A Good Supreme Court Decision denied anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse the right to own a gun, and the second case discussed in The Right To Know The Penalties, which will be heard this Fall, will settle the matter of whether an immigrant defendant has a right to be informed of all penalties that could be imposed in his case -- including deportation.

    Off the Kuff takes a look at the push for expanded gambling in the Lege this session.

    Can you read this resolution, posted on Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS and find any good reason why Big Oil should get to keep the hydraulic fracturing exemption from our Safe Drinking Water Act? Yeah, TXsharon didn't find one either.

    nytexan at >BlueBloggin comments on the >Hypocritical GOP Fiscally Responsible and with no surprise, the world of the GOP is definitely a parallax view.

    The Texas Cloverleaf reviews the TX Stonewall biennial conference in Austin, and notes who was or wasn't there, among elected officials and hopefuls.

    WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the economic changes that are starting to show up locally in The state of the economy in Williamson County.

    Neil at Texas Liberal states his intent to make videos for the blog in Big Texas Liberal Blogging Announcement and Innovation. Also, Neil discusses if Ice Age beasts in Massive Fossil Find-Should Ice Age Creatures Be Brought Back From The Dead?

    CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is hopeful that the adults will address the drug cartel violence and figure out how to end the war - the drug war that is.

    Rhetoric & Rhythm laments the fact that George W. Bush has become a scapegoat for the conservative movement. Bush did everything they wanted. It's not HIS fault that their ideas don't work.

    Xanthippas at Three Wise Men, on the mixed bag that is the Obama administration's decision to try captured terrorist suspect al-Marri in the criminal justice system and what this might mean for the future of the "war on terror."

    Do you know the real reason John Sharp and Bill White aren't running for governor? Because they're afraid they will get whipped by a girl, just like Rick Perry. So says PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

    Over at Texas Kaos the 2.7 trillion that Duyba forgot to mention as part of his deficit. As Libby tells it the bubble dwellers who should have been on top of this little detail weren't. "...The bubble dwellers don't know what is going on outside of their self-fixated bubble. Now I understand why President Obama leaves that nutty and toxic place when he wants to speak to real people..."

    WhosPlayin has video and commentary on Lewisville's first Barnett Shale gas well.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Transportation : No, TXDOT. You're still doing it wrong.

    While Texas didn't get quite as much Stabilization money as I would have liked, it did get some and of that a portion is earmarked for transportation. And how has TXDOT decided to use almost a BILLION DOLLARS of that money? On toll projects.

    The toll roads — including the Grand Parkway in Harris County — are among 21 major projects up for a vote at next week’s meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission in Austin. The commission had planned to vote on the list this week but delayed its consideration a week after at least one state legislator complained the money was being spent without enough input.

    The delay has given opponents an opportunity to organize a lobbying effort aimed at persuading state leaders to withhold stimulus money from toll road projects.

    “It’s a total rip-off,” said Terri Hall, director of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, a nonprofit opposed to toll roads. “That’s not how the money is supposed to be used.”

    TxDOT leaders and transportation planners defend the projects, saying all of them, including the toll roads, are important to their regions and offer tangible economic and mobility benefits.

    “I think it’s unfortunate that the discussion about these funds has eclipsed the broader discussion about the state’s transportation needs,” TxDOT spokesman Chris Lippincott said.

    Before we rip in to the horrendously inept Chris Lippincott, let's focus on one thing... this money is from the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT to be used for transportation projects that will help stimulate the economy. While building any road will do this, the tolls on the new road will have the effect of being an economic deflater in the future as it fails to alleviate surface road congestion and pulls money out of the local economy. In other words, it's like curing a head cold by cutting off the foot.

    The money has been created by the issuance of almost one trillion dollars in new federal debt. Which we, as taxpayers, will have to pay back well into the future. Which means we'll be paying toll taxes AND income taxes ont he same goddamn money.

    THAT, Chris, is what has me and a whole lot of others pretty upset. I'm sorry if you think our quite legitimate anger over this is 'unfortunate' but it's not distracting from our transportation needs. WE'RE ALL COGNIZANT OF OUR NEEDS BECAUSE WE'RE THE ONES SITTING IN THE TRAFFIC.

    What we need to be talking about is a funding mechanism and since TXDOT lacks the authority to tax, they should stay the hell out of the debate. Completely. It's not their place. If Deidre or Chris want to advocate for tolls, let them do it and make no mention of the fact that they work for TXDOT. It's a conflict of interest and it's, frankly, surprising the AG hasn't already launched an investigation of TXDOT regarding misappropriation of public funds.

    Finally, I'd just like to say THANK YOU to Representatives Dunnam and Coleman!

    Texas Department of Transportation officials had a rough day before Jim Dunnam’s select committee on the stimulus package. Dunnam and Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, were particularly exasperated with TxDOT officials Amadeo Saenz and John Barton — Coleman repeatedly used air quotes to mock “managed lanes,” or lanes in which tolls and can go up and down. The TxDOT officials also told the panel that of the $1.2 billion worth of projects up for approval this week, $841 million are “toll-related.” Dunnam also questioned why the department didn’t take more account of whether areas are economically distressed, saying that if Texas followed federal law, it was by accident.

    As a side note, would someone PLEASE explain to me why the Texas Department of Transportation needs a PR flack?


    Posted by mcblogger at 09:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 02, 2009

    Dregs : Van de Putte, 39% waffles and more

  • It looks like Sen. Van de Putte has a some nice support out there urging her on to run for Governor.

    1)She's a strong, positive, progressive Democrat, period. She's concise and pointed when she speaks about our failed current public officials but not nasty or divisive. Working families are her natural constituency and she resonates incredibly well with them. On every important issue for Democrats, she's on the mark and then some, with the legislative record and advocacy history to back it all up - without reservations, asterisks, or apologies. To top it all off, she's effective at her job and serves her constituents well. Think about what a breath of fresh air that would be - not just for us as activists, but for thousands of like-minded Texans who have given up on the Texas Democrats ever having the cojones (ganas?) to make it worth showing up at the polls for them. Our lack of a clear and concise message, coupled with an abject fear of wielding real money to hard-sell plausible outcomes to a statewide audience, has cost us the respect of a generation of Texas voters and led to our marginalization as a statewide party. LVdP doesn't come from timid stock and isn't content to wander in the wilderness of either the Bill Whites or the David Van Oses. She'll tell it on the mountain and the Valley, clearly and convincingly, and while I don't know this for sure, I'd bet she'd be glad to spend the jack to get it out there in something 50% of Texas voters can relate to and digest easily.
  • I continue to hope she'll run for Lt. Gov.

  • While bank lending has declined, it's held up relatively well. What hasn't is the securitization market which is larger than bank lending. And here's the plan to get it going again. I don't think the mechanism is good... what we really need to is to guarantee existing securitizations instead of cramming them down. Plus, this puts taxpayers in a prime loss position without much reward. Always a treat.
  • The stimulus package included money for high speed rail. While there's no plan for a train from LA to Vegas, there are two lines for Texas.
  • Censure Leo Berman!
  • Deficit hawks are attacking entitlements. As it turns out, while something needs to be done, it's rather more minor than Peter Peterson (who first served in government during the Nixon Administration which, of course, speaks volumes) would have you believe. Y'all already knew that but it's always nice to hear it again.

  • Posted by mcblogger at 03:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    For troops, a good start

    Last week I posted this about an Army charity that's not so charitable. In that post, I wondered what was being done by government to help troops and vets and why wasn't more being done?
    This'll help but it's still not enough...

    The program does not cover all military members facing a loss because of a home sale.

    In an attempt to limit the number of claims, the program applies only to a service member's primary residence, and only to homes purchased before July 1, 2006, roughly the time the market began its free-fall. The Army Corps of Engineers said it has not determined what proportion of families will be eligible.

    This was the 'fiscally responsible' compromise our centrists wanted in the stimulus bill which establishes this program. Thanks to Joe Lieberman, Olympia Snowe, etc, some of our active duty servicemembers are going to get screwed.

    What really pisses me off about this is that it's not unusual in the private sector for a company to relocate an employee and pay those expenses, including buying the current residence. DoD doesn't do that. This is really awful in light of the fact that having a foreclosure or other derogatory credit event can prevent you from being promoted in the military. Which means some of the best and brightest might be replaced by some clueless moron with good credit.

    Sleep well.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Austin Tech Outfit Screws Shareholders, Employees and Taxpayers

    FLASHING RED LIGHT!!!


    Several weeks ago Spansion, a Texas-based chip manufacturer, laid-off a large group of its employees [160] in an effort [supposedly] to increase the company's cash flow.

    Last week the company raised the salary of its executives.

    A few days later Spansion filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

    These actions smell like month-old fish!

    Who is protecting the shareholders, former employees and taxpayers? Apparently no one!

    Where are Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Legislators when you need them?

    Read all about it: http://www.statesman.com/business/content/business/stories/technology/03/02/0302spansion.html


    -

    Posted by pstern at 10:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    College Students Soon Carrying Concealed Weapons?

    What's in the drinking water at the Texas Capitol?

    Texas House Rep. Joe Driver and Sen. Jeff Wentworth are pushing a legislative bill that will permit college students to carry concealed weapon on campus. We're supposed to buy into the bill because the caveat is that a person must be 21 to carry a weapon.

    While I believe in the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, this has to be one of the craziest bill to come before the Texas Congress. Concealed weapons in our learning centers? These 2 men may have some serious mental health issues.

    P

    printed by Fox news:

    Students Could Carry
    Guns on Campus

    Last Edited: Thursday, 26 Feb 2009, 5:44 PM CST
    Created On: Thursday, 26 Feb 2009, 4:46 PM CST

    - While UT students were passing the day catching a few rays, at the state capitol, Representative Joe Driver was working to pass a new law to allow guns on college campuses.

    "What we are saying, 2nd Amendment rights people that have a concealed license, can help stop a situation, but mainly to protect themselves," said Rep. Joe Driver.

    Driver, a Republican from Garland, along with State Senator Jeff Wentworth from San Antonio, say the rampage two years ago at Virginia Tech justifies the need for the legislation.

    "The criminals realize those are gun free zones, they'll have no opposition if they want to go there and cause problems," said Driver.

    With that in mind, Texas State students continue to hold whats called empty holster rallies, wanting to concealed guns to be allowed on campus. A little more than 40 years ago, 14 people were killed here at the University of Texas. Despite the memory of the Clock Tower Shooting, faculty and students have passed resolutions opposing campus carry legislation. John Woods is leading the effort at UT.

    "Yeah, its a terrible idea," said Woods.

    John Woods, who is a graduate student at UT, also wears a Virginia Tech ring. He does it not just for the degree he got there, but also to honor his friends who were among those killed in the 2007 attack.

    "I still feel like Im fighting for all of them" said Woods.


    He does not believe armed students and faculty then would have made a difference at Virginia Tech. He says arming campuses now will not help.

    "I think the gun only helps the aggressor, the person who starts it," said Woods

    Almost 100,000 people currently have gun permits in Texas. Representative driver says those who believe his plan will turn campuses into armed camps just do not understand the law.

    "Because they have a child probably sitting in a movie theater with somebody thats packing a gun," said Driver.

    Concealed gun permit holders must be 21 years or older. That would limit those with a gun legally on a campus- other than visitors, to faculty members and graduate students.

    Posted by pstern at 08:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    March 01, 2009

    So much for Santelli's rant

    As it turns out, it was nothing more than Republican astroturf. And you'll never believe who broke the story...

    Is it any wonder newspaper's are dying?

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

    The Ticket, 2010

    With the 'action' in the Lege creating the kind of excitement not seen since watching paint dry, it's little wonder that people have already begun to discuss the Democratic Ticket for 2010. My friends at BOR have been exceptionally busy with posts from both Phillip Martin and David Mauro who are doing yeoman's work to keep us all informed.

    Being an opinionated asshole, I just assumed you'd want to read my two cents.

    Governor
    PhotobucketTom Scheiffer

    Scheiffer has some nice qualities. He's got a good foundation in the statewide business community, he's well known in Dallas and Fort Worth and he has some good cross party support from people who will be hard pressed in a matchup between him and Sen. Hairdo. His only apparent downside, right now at least, is that he was a friend, business partner and supporter of President Bush (the bad one). It'll be interesting to see how he handles issues related to that relationship. I'm keeping an open mind on this because while I loathe President Bush, I also remember that the SOB came within a hair of winning even Travis County in the 2000 election. In other words, a LOT of Democrats voted for Bush one or more of the times he was on the ballot. It's kind of hard to get pissed at someone for doing what a lot of other people did.





    Lt. Governor
    PhotobucketLeticia Van De Putte

    VDP, which is what we're going to call her (at least until she's a candidate), has a massive amount of support from the grassroots. While she has a name recognition issue, the rumors flying around are that if she runs, the money will be there to support her which will easily overcome that issue in the general. From my perspective, I don't want her in the Governors Mansion. I want her running the Senate.












    Comptroller

    Anyone's guess. No one has announced and honestly, I can't think of anyone who would want to take on Comptroller Tall Bitch who can self-fund if needed, or at least that's what folks focus on. Which kind of amazes me because she's been a terrible Comptroller and her efforts in the office have yielded a massive loss of experienced personnel. In short, she's been a disaster for Texas taxpayers. We deserve far better.

    Attorney General
    PhotobucketRonnie Earle

    While we'd love nothing more than to see Sen. Watson make another go of it, he apparently wants to sit this one out. I've heard rumors (VERY unconfirmed) that Earle is interested in the race. The former Travis County District Attorney is well known for being a paragon of ethics who has at one time or another struck fear into the hearts of both Republican and Democratic officeholders. He also enjoys a solid conviction record for crimes committed in Travis County which gives him a lot of crossover appeal to law and order independents and Republicans. The only drawback that I can see (don't even bother saying his prosecution of Tom Delay will be a problem) is that as a campaigner he's mostly untested. Though he's been reelected for more than two decades, he's rarely faced a serious opponent.

    Agriculture Commissioner

    PhotobucketHank Gilbert

    Seriously, did you think it would be any body else? Most of you will remember I worked for Hank in 2006. His command of issues and politic savvy impressed me greatly during the run. He is one of the best natural politicians I've ever seen which is ironic since running for office is really the last thing he'd want to be doing. Still, he recognizes that the Ag Commission has been run very badly and is willing to put himself forward to lead it to better days. After his surprisingly strong showing in 2006, he's continued to build support statewide among Democrats and Republicans. He's also lead the fight against the TTC as a co-founder (along with Republican Terri Hall of San Antonio) of TURF, fulfilling a campaign promise.

    Hank has the unique advantage this cycle of being the one candidate in the primary that everyone seems to agree on.

    Land Commissioner

    This one is up for grabs. Obviously, with redistricting coming up, we need a strong candidate. While I've never been a big fan of Rep. Patrick Rose, he's been mentioned a number of times, as has Rep. Raymond.

    We're almost at the one year mark to the primaries. I'm sure there will be others who roll out and throw their hats into the ring. And we'll take a look at them. For now, and not to jinx anything, this is my Dream Team, which desperately needs to be filled out.


    Posted by mcblogger at 09:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack