August 31, 2009
Get your Treasuries while you can!
As the economy continues to stabilize overall and even return to growth in some sectors, Treasury's issuance of US debt is going to decline. Sharply.
OK, quit with the laughter, asshat... Here's the thesis:
1) Current deficits are being driven by war obligations (about to be sharply reduced), economic stimulus and infrastructure reconstruction. As the economy stabilizes, stimulus is going to stop as is infrastructure reconstruction (there's a limit to how much we can pump in for infrastructure in one year without causing inflation). The two combined with war obligations will dramatically reduce deficits.
2) Tax receipts will increase because of the economy and slightly higher tax rates. This will close the gap and put us back into surplus.
3) New issuance driven by SS and Medicare long term short falls won't be needed as the government steps up to make actuarial changes to the system to bring long term projections back to par.
As new issuance falls back, there will only be refinancings to look forward to. This may help explain why investors are so eager, despite our allegedly precarious financial position, to buy our debt. It's not just a safe haven, they're looking down the road to severely diminished supply.
August 30, 2009
The Schlockman offers some AWESOME advice
It's pretty awesome that the Statesman is so much in love with Democrats that they're urging them to run a full slate in the general election in 2010. That's one of the reasons Hank Gilbert (whom The Schlockman mistakenly referred to as a lesser-known candidate than Tom Schieffer who, until earlier in the year, no one even knew existed) is running. He's working on doing just that, finding a full field and doing the job that Tom Schieffer should have been doing since May.
This is party building at it's best and Tom's and it's clear Team Schieffer just can mount an effort to decide which fundraiser to use, let alone with whom to share the ticket. Apparently all he's been able to do is secure the endorsements of four good folks in the House which was done long before Gilbert became a factor in the race (just sayin', Ed Board).
It's remarkable that a paper that's been so staunchly Republican and so consistently wrong would even bother talking about the 2010 D primary. Still, it's great to see them finally right on something. Even if there's probably no way in hell they will endorse any of our candidates for the general election.
Oh, and just a note for Selby and Embry... you look kinda stupid pretending that Hank Gilbert is a non-entity. The man ran a campaign on less than 100k in 2006 and still managed to get more votes than any other Democratic executive office candidate. Since then, he's worked tirelessly all over the state and was a significant part of the reason the Republican drive to privatize infrastructure was shut down hard in the Special. I'll be the first to offer that he has a hard to climb to build the kind of cash on hand that Schieffer has, even if most of that is from loans. However, he knows that money cost him that election in 2006.
And he's not about to let that happen again.
August 29, 2009
Fuckin' around with Joe Klein
Last week I went to a cookout on the beach here with some old friends (Sausages and seafood, but no cocktail weenies!) Every year they do a cookout, and then a birthday party, and for years I've known that one of their guests was Joe Klein. I never mixed it up with him because, after all, well...the opportunity never presented itself and while I'm pretty aggressive in print no one really goes up to someone and picks a quarrel with them, do they?
Or maybe they do. Yes, I guess they do. I was standing at the cookout minding my own business when Klein started pontificating for the rubes on how “surprising” and “shocking” it was that Grassley, of all people, should have come out and endorsed the “death panels” lie. I walked up and said “why are you surprised?” [edited to remove typo] to which he, in best pundit debater fashion (never allow yourself to admit you were just posing!), shot back “who says I'm surprised?” I said “well, you did. You just started your lecture saying “Its surprising.”” Its not surprising, the republicans have nothing left to lose and nothing left to gain at this point outside of pleasing the crazy base and attacking Obama and the dems.”
The exchange goes on and on with Klein steadily losing ground. Absolutely brill and a stunning reminder to everyone to challenge people on their bullshit, especially when they write for Time Magazine. And their name is Joe Klein.
August 28, 2009
Calling Bullshit : We're going to need to boycott Whirlpool
Whirlpool today announced that it was closing a plant in Indiana, laying off 1100 workers, in an effort to 'trim production capacity'.
Whirlpool Corp. announced Friday it will close its Evansville, Ind., factory next year, moving the plant's production of top-freezer refrigerators to a facility in Mexico.
Citing the need to trim manufacturing capacity, Whirlpool said the mid-2010 plant closure will eliminate 1,100 full-time jobs.
Whirlpool /quotes/comstock/13*!whr/quotes/nls/whr (WHR 66.09, +1.55, +2.40%) , like most manufacturers, has seen its sales slump over the past year as a global economic recession and housing market slump hurt demand for home appliances. Whirlpool's latest revenue numbers show sales in the second quarter fell 18% to $4.17 billion from the second quarter of 2008.
Closing the Evansville plant is part of Whirlpool's ongoing drive to consolidate its North American manufacturing operations.
The company said it is also considering relocating its Evansville refrigeration product development center, a move that would affect another 300 jobs. "A decision is expected in the near future," the company said.
Trim production capacity? Nah, you're moving jobs to a cheaper labor environment. How much cheaper is it really? Will the cheaper labor offset higher transport costs and brand damage? And by brand damage I mean me and everyone who reads this telling everyone they know not to buy your products? How much do you think your stock price will take a hit when your sales start to crash?
Seriously, how the hell is the country supposed to come out of the recession without jobs?
Thinking about the food baby...
...this will create makes me all warm and happy inside.
KFC’s newest “sandwich” is a heart-stopping creation that seems literally to die for: it layers two kinds of cheese with bacon and oozes “Colonel’s sauce.” The twist? Instead of bread, two deep-fried chicken breasts round out the calorific concoction.
Dubbed the Double Down, the sandwich is in test markets so far, which means that only overeaters in Providence, Rhode Island, and Omaha, Nebraska, can get their greasy fill. The buzz is that it’s got more than an entire day’s worth of the recommended allowance for fat, cholesterol, sodium and protein, according to an analysis in the Vancouver Sun.
A couple of thoughts... one, what some have estimated to be a 1200 calorie disaster is actually only around 600 cals. Which will leave you enough room to go ahead and get the super megahuge assload of fries. Oh, and a soda that's actually run up with more corn syrup than water.
Second, why the fuck not Austin as a test market? Why do we always get some earth-mother vegetarian (sorry, Harry but this man can not live on black beans and Gardenburgers alone) bullshit that's NOT deep fried and doesn't come with delicious bacon? HOW MUCH MORE SOYA CHEESE WILL YOU BITCHES MAKE ME EAT?!?!!?
Now, much like a certain other restaurant I patronize a few times a year (I'll never tell you... ), I eat at KFC only 2-3 times per year. But with this on the menu, which I can only imagine is analogous to eating a baby angel, I will go a few times more. I couldn't make it weekly... I'd burn out and burning out on something like this, while decadent as a motherfucker, would ultimately make me sad. Like getting to the bottom of a really good bottle of scotch the same night you opened it.
Roundin' Up The TPA
School is starting, and the Texas Progressive Alliance is prepared as always to ace the test. Here is this week's roundup of blog highlights.
From TXsharon: Woo Hoo! EPA testing has now confirmed wells are contaminated “with various substances connected with gas drilling”--proof that hydraulic fracturing contaminates our drinking water. Even Motley Fool supports the FRAC Act and says industry is "crying wolf."
Should Texans care about NJ? The Texas Cloverleaf examines why the GOP thinks we should.
For a long time it has been universally agreed upon that people should engage in end-of-life planning, at least until right-wing pundits made end-of-life planning an easy but incidental target of their battle against health care reform. Xanthippas at Three Wise Men takes aim at these critics, and the very real harm they do to people with their dishonest and partisan attacks.
Over at TexasKaos, jaxpagan gets us the scoop on Ted Poe's Town Hall meeting in a funeral parlor. Snark , with a wicked point!
At McBlogger, Harry Balczak takes a few moments to tell us what he thinks about Whole Foods and it's 'health care for all' hating CEO.
Neil at Texas Liberal is back from a two-week vacation that took him to Chicago, Kenosha, Wisconsin, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Dayton, Ohio and Northern Kentucky. This itinerary is consistent with a post Neil made earlier this summer encouraging folks to visit the industrial midwest. With vacation over, it's time now to think of school and swine flu. It sure would help if more working people had paid sick days to help manage getting sick themselves and having kids sick at home.
Some of the very worst of Texas was on full display last week, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs documented the atrocities.
August 27, 2009
This is kind of awesome
See more here...
You don't bring a .22 to a nuke fight
Well, this happened. It was expected and the only thing that was surprising was the fact that it was done so early in the cycle. Honestly, I have a lot of respect for all these folks and even for Mr. Schieffer and I realize the rollout got pushed because of Hank Gilbert. Still, if this is true, it really pisses me off...
Democratic consultant Jason Stanford, who is not affiliated with a gubernatorial campaign, said the Schieffer endorsement was in the House members' best interest because Schieffer will not turn off the swing voters needed to win close House elections as the party tries to add more seats.
"I think self-interest might be playing a role," Stanford said. "Their goal is to win back the House. It's not to win the Governor's Mansion. It would be nice, but it's not what gets them out of bed in the morning."
Nah, he won't piss off swing voters and, as a result, they'll vote Republican or not vote at all. Gilbert gets them so angry they'll be ready to set their Republican house member (and 39%) on fire. Ask some of the R house members how much fun the Special Session was. Ask them about the phone calls. You think Glen Beck is bad whipping up the teabaggers against health care? Wait until Hank starts whipping up every Texan the way he has Democrats.
This idea that we, as Democrats, need to nominate someone bland, inoffensive and frankly out of their depth when it comes to a statewide campaign in order to win is laughable. It's what we've been doing and it hasn't been working. What really irritates me is the idea that one candidate can bring Republicans and Democrats together, as if that will ever happen. Ask President Obama how that's been working out. Contemporary Republicans are mostly a bunch of vile, rabid dogs. They'll never miss an opportunity to bite and compromise, to them, means you giving up what you want. Running someone like Tom Schieffer against that is beyond stupid.
It's akin to telling the Republicans 'We won't bother you too much so please don't hit us or try to take out seats'. That strategy has allowed us to get within striking distance of retaking the house. But we have to put up some big statewide wins and our best chance, all due respect to the house leadership, is Hank Gilbert.
August 26, 2009
I've Got a Niiiiii-Kon Camera....
OK, OK!!! Jesus H. Tap-Dancing Key-RIST, Mickey B!! I do NOT handle guilt well. I feel that this is the direct result of a little incident that occurred when I was 12 and was captain of the Safety Patrol. As a joke, I told all the first graders that there was no talking allowed on the playground...and the little shits believed me. So some little tattle-taled fucker (who probably grew up to be a Fox News "analyst") ratted me out, my 6th grade ass got hauled to the principal's office, and I was "reprimanded." Holy hell...it was like going to school in fucking Pyongyang. Being, if you recall, a no-balls-having little coward, I was properly repentant and regained my exalted status as the only 6th grader allowed to wear the ORANGE safety patrol belt. In my head, though, I wanted to tell the motherfuckers to insert that shiny badge up their Kim Jong asses and find another dickless 12 year old to walk out in front of traffic holding nothing but a 6 x 6 piece of red poster board attached to a Popsicle stick with the inscription, "Slow, Children." Fuck yeah, we were slow. Some of us were too god-damned stupid to recognize what I admit was a pretty lame-assed joke and some of us were too busy jonesing to be important to notice that we were being used as fucking traffic cones.
Since McB regaled you with the deets of his day, I've decided to make this "Itinerary Day" and save my good Hooterville stories for another time, another day.
So, my Friday night. Cowboy game, Arlington, Texas. Cowboys vs. Titans. First home game in the new It Cost A Gazillion Dollars Motherfuckers Stadium. Fucking awesome stadium, bitches. But before we got to the stadium, we had to park the Krispy ride. And do you know how much Jerry "The Toupee" Jones is charging to park a fucking vehicle at It Cost a Gazillion Dollars Motherfuckers Stadium? Holy Shit dollars, that's how much. And because Krispy dude is kind of a cheap bastard, we decided not to fork over Holy Shit dollars, but instead we drove pretty much all the way back home, parked there, and walked to the ICAGDM Stadium. And I, in all my Krispy wisdom and kick-assedness, was wearing some truly bitching high-heeled shoes. You never know who you're gonna see, fuckers. Dress for success.
So, a mile into the journey, after the last tradin' post had faded into the distance and we were keeping our eyes peeled for Apache, the shoes started to hurt. A little. But of course I could not get pissy about this because Krispy Dude would sigh and roll his eyes and claim that he TOLD ME NOT TO WEAR THE FUCKING CRUEL SHOES. Yes. Yes, he did. This is a man who buys shoes based on one criteria: Do they fit? Fuck that, motherfuckers. I will shove my size 7 into a fucking size 5 if the shoe is cute enough. And if it has a stiletto, well...game ON, bitches.
OK, we were still at least several days away from ICAGDM Stadium and I was limping along, pretending that No, this is not a limp...this is a saunter, motherfucker. I am sauntering. Painfully, painfully sauntering. At some point, the stadium came into view and I was able to stop sauntering for precious seconds in order to capture the moment for posterity. And slide out of those motherfucking shoes for a teeny second of blessed, blessed relief. (Pretend that they make you too tall to get a good picture, you vain bitch.)
I whipped out my little dij camera and started snapping the giant-assed bitch on the horizon, when this dude with "I Just Got Kicked in the Balls" face and freaky mirrored sunglasses walked up and said, "You'd better take your camera back to the car. They won't let you in with it. I just had to walk all the way back to my car to leave mine."
Walk back to the fucking car? WALK BACK TO THE FUCKING CAR??? Are you SHITTING me? In these FUCKING JAPANESE FOOT BINDINGS? No. Fucking. Way. So I finished snapping my pix of the outside of the god damned behemoth and decided that the camera was indeed going inside with me, even if it meant shoving the fucker inside OF me. And so you get a clear picture of this, here's my get-up: skin tight jeans that are giving me massive camel toe and a form fitting tank top with jangly bead things all over it to disguise my lack of boobage. In other words, nowhere to hide, bitches.
Krispy Dude decided that he could stuff the camera down his pants ("Happy to see me?") only the dude wears boxers and the camera slid through like a bran-muffin doody. Nowhere to hide, bitches. I tried sticking it in my pocket, but my jeans were so damned tight that the fucker was pressing against a hip bone and turning the painful saunter into some kind of god damned Weeble-with-palsy-on-a-dinghy-during-a-hurricane pitch and roll. Not happening. I thought about stuffing it down the front of my jeans, but bitches, I am trying to look sexy here--Tony Romo in da house!--and blond hair, tight jeans, tank top, no tits and a bulge in the front of my pants might send a lot of messages, but "sexy" ain't one of 'em. So instead of the front, I stuffed the camera in the back of my jeans, right inside the waistband, and hoped like hell it wouldn't fall out in front of stadium security.
We FINALLY pulled up in front of ICAGDM Stadium, with me crying on the inside because my feet hurt like shit, and discovered that stadium security was not only checking bags--which we expected--but they were doing that Cheap Excuse for Feeling You Up pat down too. A pat down? For a fucking football game? I could not decide if this was truly for our safety in a search for the random Teabagger who decided to bring his weapon to the game to "Show some fuckers what health care reform REALLY means" or if Jerry Jones is such a money grubbing whore that he figures a bitch is gonna hide a camera down her pants and he won't make any dough off the Officially Sanctioned, Trademark Here, Copyright There, Every Square Inch of the Fucker is Mine Even the Images, Bitches photos that are for sale once you enter Valhalla.
So now, my feet are screaming loud enough to attract police attention, and my upper lip is starting to sweat as I remember that nasty little affair with the safety patrol and what getting caught with a camera up my ass might mean for my future in law enforcement. So I kind of scooched back against a barricade before it was my turn to be frisked and shoved that fucker all the way down my pants, from my waistband, all the way to my poop shoot. So at that point I had moved from being worried that I looked like a trannie to completely accepting--nay, embracing--the fact that I looked like I had a large turd in my pants. Because who's gonna frisk a turd?
I tried to look as nonchalant as possible as I made my way to the frisk station. And motherFUCK if I didn't get frisked by some 18-year old attention-deficit having, future cashier at the Mini-Mart with a reluctance to make human contact. Hoo Fucking Ray! Once "I Probably Won't Actually Make Physical Contact With Any Part of You During This Search for Weapons" girl finished up her thorough security procedure, I--with much mental relief--painfully sauntered my large-and-vaguely-square-looking-turd ass right on in to that bitchin' stadium. And as I looked around at the millions and billions of people mingling on the concourse and on the stairwells and the walkways and in the stands, I noticed that every motherfucking one of them had a camera. Out in the open. That they were holding up and taking photos with. Gleefully. And I, giant god damned Stranger With Mirrored Sunglasses-Believing retard , had to furtively stick my hand down my ass and pull out my camera, covered with sweat and panty lint so I could capture all those good times we were having.
But that stadium is awesome, bitches. And I took my shoes off and went barefoot when we walked back to the car.
What I've been up to...
I'm sure you've noticed the paucity of posts today and for that I can only offer my apologies. I'm sure some of you are jonesing for a little profanity since you've been without all day long.
Sorry about that. I was kinda fucking busy living my fucking life. We cool?
It's not like there aren't 86,000 authors for this site who could have, I don't know, stepped up to the goddamn plate and written something. Meanwhile, the post I put up before going to bed is the one that was up ALL DAY LONG. And it kept making me feel like shit.
So, anyway, a brief accounting of my time...
My favorite thing... from Swing State
It looks like there'll be an alternative to Bush-backer Tom Schieffer and weirdo self-promoter Kinky Friedman in the Democratic primary after all: Hank Gilbert, a cattle rancher who lost the 2006 Agriculture Commissioner race (although he did do the best of any Dem statewide candidate that year), says he'll run.
No. no... stop. You had me at weirdo self-promoter!
I kid, I kid... actually, it was very cool and even without the little HH love, I was hella excited about this project. But I didn't tell them that until my drink had already been delivered. Evan even said he actually enjoyed McBlogger. I'm sure it was probably something The Mayor wrote. Or Krispy Kreme. Or FruitFly. Who have all been noticeably absent lately, right?
I'll try to do better tomorrow. Until then, havagoodun!
This is why I hate checking email before I go to bed
Godspeed, Senator Kennedy and to his friends and family, our deepest sympathy.
August 25, 2009
So I'm a sucker
Yeah, I thought the first one blew, too. However, I can't not see it... I'm like a moth drawn to a flame.
August 24, 2009
Why do we even care about Joe Lieberman?
Sen. Lieberman is once again fulfilling his role as douchbag of the Congress.
Joe Lieberman's love of spending hundreds of billions on freedom through explosions knows no bounds. There are no limits to how much Lieberman would ask the American tax-payer over generations to pay for his beloved wars. If Obama, for some reason, called Joe up some evening and asked him to vote for $100 billion so as to bomb Tehran he'd have the supportive Op-Ed in Fred Hiatt's hands by the next morning.
But when it comes to providing policies that actually benefit Americans, in America of all places, like health care; no matter how small the relative price, it is too much for Senator "He's with us on everything except the War" (thanks Harry Reid).
We still care about this jackass because Sen Reid, our inestimably valueless Majority Leader, decided to leave him with his power intact. Despite the fact that he campaigned against the nominee of the party with which he caucuses.
Even after the country vomited President Bush out of DC and back to Texas, we still have to deal with his enablers? No. Not so much.
About time for a trip to Mazatlan?
Mexico just legalized the personal use of drugs. No, I'm totally not making this up...
On Thursday, the Mexican President signed into law a controversial piece of legislation that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD and methamphetamine and yet at the same time promotes drug dependency treatments funded entirely by the government.
The law sets limits on how much citizens can possess for “personal use.” When caught in first and second offenses, those citizens possessing within limits, will be encouraged to enter a treatment program and those caught a third time must enter a program.
The “personal use” maximum under the new law is 5 grams, about four joints. Other threshold amounts are: Cocaine - one half a gram, heroin - 50 milligrams, methamphetamine – 40 milligrams, and 0.015 milligrams of acid (LSD).
The question of legalization is one that has been debated since the dawn of civilization. The argument to legalize drugs is a sincerely difficult one to win, and one with many very famous supporters. Authors such as, Timothy Leary, Lewis Armstrong, Jules Vern, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Aldous Huxley, Sir Walter Scott and Terence McKenna believed what persons do in private should not be regulated by the government.
William F. Buckley Jr. argued supremely that, “If all our laws were paradigmatic, imagine what we would do to anyone caught lighting a cigarette, or drinking a beer. Or exulting in life, in the paradigm, committing adultery. Send them all to Guantanamo?” Buckley’s argument was one of consistency, legal and exampled reality, illustrated by several countries around the world.
Exactly what are we waiting for? Our Partner in the War on Drugs just basically said 'Fuck it, let's have a beer and go to the beach' and we're STILL arguing? The War on Drugs has always been futile and nothing paints that picture more clearly than Mexico doing what we should have done in 1980. We've wasted more than a trillion dollars fighting this war and incarcerating combatants.
Let's be done with it as well.
August 23, 2009
Meh. Another ultra-violent Tarantino oeuvre. The special unit roaming behind enemy lines, killing Nazis is not exactly a new idea in Tinseltown. Brad Pitt is no Lee Marvin. But then Martin Wuttke is no Hitler. In fact, there are cats that look more like Hitler.
August 22, 2009
Oh, this has disaster written all over it
Apparently, some Hollywood types, rapidly approaching their individual midlife crises, have decided to turn 80's classic movie St. Elmo's Fire into a television series.
Anyone else think this is a recipe for suck?
August 21, 2009
It's Larry Kudlow's coke use that makes it art
August 20, 2009
Ladies and gentlemen, Judge Sharon Keller revealing herself as THE ONLY PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE WHO THINKS SHE DIDN'T FUCK UP.
Prosecutor Mike McKetta’s closing question to Judge Sharon Keller:
McKetta: “Knowing what you knew then, and based on the specific things Ed Marty said to you on Sept. 25, 2007, is it correct that there is nothing different you would do if the same questions were put to you today?”
Keller: “Yes, that is correct.”
Defense lawyer Chip Babcock begins questioning his client at 1:45 p.m.
Another key exchange before the prosecution rested:
McKetta: “Would you not agree that each time you said ‘No” on Sept. 25, 2007, that was a decision?
Keller: “No. It did not because the clerk’s office closed at 5 regardless of what I said.”
McKetta: “Would you not agree that each time you said ‘No’ on Sept. 25, 2007, it had consequences?
Keller: “It did not. The clerk’s office closed regardless of what I said.”
McKetta: “Would you not agree that each time you said ‘No’ on Sept. 25, 2007, your choice affected Michael Wayne Richard?
Keller: “It was not my choice. By state law and court custom, the clerk’s office closed at 5 o’clock.”
WOW. With a few notable exceptions, I've never seen anyone so devoid of ethical responsibility or so unwilling to even acknowledge a mistake. Is there anyone who doubts that if Judge Keller has been working in a real business, she would have been shown the door that day based on her actions?
No, I don't think I do...
...want to hear what my dog is thinking. I honestly don't think it will be anything other than
"Gimme some of what you're eating"
"I want to go outside/inside RIGHT NOW"
"Some water would be, you know, AWESOME. Unless you want me drinking out of the toilet again"
"NO, goddamnit! I have to pee RIGHT HERE"
"Oh, this shit smells really good... just gimme a sec"
"Sorry! I keep forgetting you don't like it when I step on your balls"
"CATS! SQUIRRELS! FROGS! I MUST GET OUTSIDE NOW!"
August 19, 2009
AWESOME! If only every Congressman could be Barney Frank!
This is exactly what should have been happening from go. These morons and their little teabagger movement never should have been allowed to build any traction. They should have been slapped down as soon as their irrational crap turned to Nazi.
And more good news...
Given hardening Republican opposition to Congressional health care proposals, Democrats now say they see little chance of the minority’s cooperation in approving any overhaul, and are increasingly focused on drawing support for a final plan from within their own ranks.
Top Democrats said Tuesday that their go-it-alone view was being shaped by what they saw as Republicans’ purposely strident tone against health care legislation during this month’s Congressional recess, as well as remarks by leading Republicans that current proposals were flawed beyond repair.
Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said the heated opposition was evidence that Republicans had made a political calculation to draw a line against any health care changes, the latest in a string of major administration proposals that Republicans have opposed.
“The Republican leadership,” Mr. Emanuel said, “has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama’s health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day.”
Will this resurrect the public option? We can but hope. Still, this is a good sign that Democrats are not going to be held up by Republicans who care more about politics than their country and it's citizens.
Perry slaps Hutchison whose friends then beat up Perry.
Seriously, a sign truck? That's sooo lame. Wait until fall 2010... then we'll have some real fun.
August 18, 2009
Asking for a little help
From one of the funniest sites I've been to in a while...
(617): i would really appreciate it if you would stop texting my girlfriend. (508): i would really appreciate it if you would stop cock blocking me.
A Point Requiring Further Clarification
So by now, I guess everyone has heard or read that the CEO of Whole Foods has come out against the kind of health care reform most of us would like to see enacted.
Of course, what naturally follows is a hue and cry from the left hemisphere of the blogosphere calling for boycotts of the grocery chain. As there are some other issues in play for some of us, I just need to clear something up.
Up to now, I have not shopped at Whole Foods for a variety of reasons:
1. Central Market kicks their ass in the produce department.
2. Pretty much anywhere else has better prices. The "Whole Paycheck" joke has some truth to it.
3. Not to mention that all their alternative/meatless/veganful/gluten-free/organic/otherwise-morally-superior brands and products aren't that good and never fail to disappoint.
4. It's even more disappointing when you pay that much.
5. Half their clientele appears to consist of carpetbagging Beautiful People who just flew into town from L.A. to close on a half-million dollar vacation condo (I know I'm being provincial and superficial here, but just go with it). From outward appearances, these people have no organic connection to Austin. Which is funny and ironic when you think about where they shop.
6. Where else can you go just to buy some groceries for the house and end up feeling like you've spent your day and your wallet at Six Flags by the time you leave?
That said, however, let it be unequivocal that from this point forward, I, Harry Balczak, will NOW not shop at Whole Foods because John Mackey wrote some things about health care reform that I disagree with.
Just so's ya know.
Suck It, Vick
No, I didn't pussy out on the blogging again...had a little trouble here in Hooterville that kept me occupado for a period of time.
So. It was a Wednesday, which means that I don't have anywhere in particular to be except hanging around this joint, doing what I do. The only must-do on my Wednesday agenda is a little yoga, which I mostly do to keep my ass from getting huge, only I pretend when I talk to someone about yoga that I "just love!" the mind-body connection and the meditative aspect and the communion with the cosmos and words, words, words to show that I am enlightened. Eh. That just be my bullshit. In my world, yoga does one thing and one thing only--saves me from Fat Ass. Commune with that, Gandhi.
Krispy Dude, on this particular Wednesday, decided to schedule a meeting in a burg about an hour from home base. So he gets up and heads off to meet with the grown ups and takes our SUV with him, which at that moment, also happens to contain my cell phone. This leaves me at the mercy of the land line and makes me want to go "grr," but I decide to roll with it. So K-Dude is gone, and I slip into my yoga duds, which consist of a teeny pair of shorts and and an even teenier tank top.
Before heading up to Spare Bedroom Yoga Studio, I think, "I'd better let the dogs out to pee. Nothing like easing into a good Warrior Pose and then having a dog need to commune with the God of Squat and Pee or worse, Krishna HunkerandPoop. So, I open the front door, and six dogs haul ass out to the front yard.
I see it an instant too late. A big, juicy, and MUCH coveted Denta-Bone, glistening in the drive-way like a god damned doggy grail. And the Bad Ass Doberman and the dog henceforth known as Hard Times (that story later, bitches) both have radar lock on the fucker. I swear to God, time really does slow down when disaster strikes. Or maybe it speeds up. Who the fuck knows, because I was waaayy too busy hauling my yoga-clad ass out to snatch up the object of desire. Not to be, bitches. Not. To. Be.
Bad Ass and Hard Times lunged for the bone simultaneously and when no one was able to come up with the winning lottery ticket, they decided to arm wrestle for it, doggy style, and were truly getting medieval on each other's asses. And the pit bull, for our purposes here called Nasty Bitch, decided to help out Hard Times. And at some point, the other 3 jumped in and took sides and I felt like I was in fucking West Side Story minus the operatic Puerto Ricans. And then I felt like I was in a Jackson Pollack painting with debris splattering everywhere--blood, pee, wet and smelly fear shit, and I swear to God, somebody's squirting out these little black demons that are fucking laughing and cavorting in mid-air and poking me in the eyes with two fingers like Moe did to Larry. Or better yet, I was in the middle of a Munch painting, only my hands were nowhere fucking near my hollowed out and horrified cheeks and big round "O" mouth, because they were too busy grabbing for collars and encountering teeth.
Bitches, it seemed like it lasted forever. Have you ever seen a pit bull fight? Worse, have you ever seen a pit bull fight a fucking doberman? There were teeth and claws and more teeth and bodies and hair and shit and piss and blood and teeth and little black demons--but enough about Michael Vick. Back to me. I was rolling around on the driveway screaming like an epileptic with Tourette's having a heart attack while clutching a lightning bolt. At some point, a neighbor across the street heard the commotion and probably wondered why someone was blasting the "Saw" soundtrack in his front yard. He came to the fence, saw what was going on, and started yelling something at me. By this time, I had Bad Ass by the collar in one hand, Nasty Bitch by the collar in the other hand, Hard Times is being fended off by a leg, and the other three have gotten bored and lost interest. So Neighbor Dude is yelling at me and I'm yelling back, "It's OK! I think it's over! Thank you! I'm fine!" What he sees from his nice safe little vantage point behind an iron fence is a skinny bleeding woman holding two fucking scary looking dogs while wearing nothing but a pair of skimpy shorts that have been jammed into her ass crack and a teeny tank top with at least one boob and probably both flopping around, each boob totally confused about being out in the open in the broad daylight without a beach anywhere near. I still have no idea whether Neighbor Dude was yelling "Are you OK? Do you need help?" or "Pipe down crazy train, what the fuck?! And put some god-damned clothes on!"
After Hard Times decided that the fun was elsewhere, she headed off and I was left panting and shaking and still holding Nasty and Bad Ass. Don't ask me how because I think I went a teeny bit crazy at that point...OK, crazi-ER...but I somehow managed to corral everyone except Bad Ass and get them in the house, in separate rooms, behind closed doors, with large chiffarobes pushed in front of the doors and a cross and string of garlic hanging on each door. I went looking for Bad Ass, only to discover that she had been dealt some serious shit in this little tete-a-tete. Her face was kinda hanging in Doberman tatters, she had deep puncture wounds to her neck, and an ear was sort of just hanging there by a loose tendon, making her look so much less like a Bad Ass and so much more like an old and dirty and torn My Pretty Pony on the dollar table at Goodwill.
Fuck. I can't let this one heal by itself...this is vet territory. Only the SUV is an hour away and all I have is a little BMW at my disposal. FUCK. Why the FUCK did Krispy Dude take the fucking truck???? Fuck. I got blankets and covered the seats of the Beemer to keep both Bad Ass blood and Krispy Kreme blood off the seats. Oh yeah, Krispy is bleeding, fuckers. The knees are torn to hell, the legs are covered in deep scratches, the elbow has a giant gash, and the bare feet are bereft of both toenail polish and skin. No time to clean myself up though, since Bad Ass has her face hanging off in bloody strings and all.
So, with Bad Ass in the back seat on some blankets and me in the front, shaking and crying like a god damned 16 year old girl who didn't get invited to the prom and sees years of Janis Ian songs in her future, we start hauling MAJOR ass up I-35 to the only vet I could find that was available...30 minutes away. I'm freaking out, I can't call Krispy Dude for a little moral support because MY CELL PHONE IS IN THE FUCKING SUV, my dog is in the back seat bleeding like a lawn sprinkler, and I'm speeding like a son of a bitch, in a foreign car, in south Dallas, wearing almost no clothes, crying, bleeding, and whipping my head around to the back seat every ten seconds like Linda Blair to make sure Bad Ass hasn't bled out and fucking croaked on me. We finally get to the vet, Bad Ass is hauled into the back for inspection, the vet gives me the estimate for surgery, I keel over and die, through the miracle of modern medicine I am revived, sign the necessary papers, spend enough money to buy a couple of fucking Iphones as spares, and leave Bad Ass in the very expensive hands of a vet that I hoped had done this before.
I made plans to pick up Bad Ass later that day after she had a face again, and with a huge fucking sigh of relief, I headed home driving a little less like a retarded and blind ferret this time. And here's the kicker bitches...when I got home, I noticed that Krispy Dude had left his god damned Sonicare toothbrush case in the front seat. Why is his Sonicare toothbrush case in the car? What, he's that concerned about his dental hygiene? I picked it up, planning to take it back in the house and it came open. And in it, bitches...oh, yeah...in the Sonicare toothbrush case, which was in the front seat of my car as I sped at least 85 miles an hour up I-35 like fucking Jack Nicholson in The Shining, was Krispy Dude's stash of pot, roach clips, and rolling papers. And bitches, when Krispy Dude got home--with the SUV and my fucking cell phone--Bad Ass was not the only one who got shredded that day. And let me tell you...the next time a toothbrush case finds its way into a vehicle, it god damned well better contain a toothbrush.
August 17, 2009
Hypocritical Sacks of Shit in the News
I made this movie as if it was going to be the last movie I was allowed to make.
So says filmaker Michael Moore about his forthcoming screed My Dinner With Andre The Giant.
The rest of us can only hope, Mike. Only hope.
Worrying about Goldman
But in another respect, Goldman's resurgence should send shivers down the backs of every hardworking American who has lost a large chunk of retirement savings in this economic debacle, as well as the millions who have lost their jobs. Why? Because Goldman's high-risk business model hasn't changed one bit from what it was before the implosion of Wall Street. Goldman is still wagering its capital and fueling giant bets with lots of borrowed money. While its rivals have pared back risks, Goldman has increased them. And its renewed success at this old game will only encourage other big banks to go back into it.
"Our model really never changed, we've said very consistently that our business model remained the same," Goldman's chief financial officer tells Bloomberg News. Value-at-risk -- a statistical measure of how much the firm's trading operations could lose in a day -- rose to an average of $245 million in the second quarter from $240 million in the first quarter. In the second quarter of 2008, VaR averaged $184 million.
Meanwhile, Goldman is still depending on $28 billion in outstanding debt issued cheaply with the backing of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Which means you and I are still indirectly funding Goldman's high-risk operations.
This actually hits on some of my issues with GS right now. First off, the inordinate dependence on proprietary trading. This isn't making commissions executing trades (small and large) for investors and funds. This is Goldman's traders playing with Goldman's money. And they have to make a lot of money to compensate for higher costs of funding (from all that government-backed debt which we'll get to in a moment) which means they have to make some really large, directional bets. That's OK for an insurance company with a large float of paid in capital (or, in industry parlance, float) from premiums, not good for an investment bank. Which leads me to think the VAR is way understated. I'd love to see the actual numbers used to calculate the VAR.
As for the debt, GS has issued a lot of debt guaranteed by the FDIC since they are now a depository. That's long term capital which means they aren't as dependent on commercial paper (CP) and repo agreements, most of which can dry up quickly. Which is what happened in the wake of the disastrous decision to let Lehman go to BK... it wasn't that Lehman represented systemic risk (it's book was unwound fairly painlessly), it was the shock to the funding market that meant the government may not step in to save anyone. Which made the CP and repo's go away and caused a cash crunch at Goldman as they suddenly could not longer use that money to float their balance sheet. Technically, this isn't a horrible thing but it definitely means their cost of funding has gone up which means, again, they have to take outsized risks.
One other thing that's worried me is the fact that Goldman is now a depository. They have no retail network and no experience in retail banking. Further, considering their business model, would YOU feel comfortable keeping your checking account there?
Finally, GS management seems almost proud of the fact that they are not returning to their fee based roots. In short, they are doubling down and turning their backs on what made them successful. While it's not a prescription for disaster, it sure as hell doesn't leave me with an excessively high comfort level.
Assholes On Bikes! The Biking Beast... all for you, ladies!
A little something to lighten the mood...
Ladies and gay mens, I don't want y'all gettin' all a-flustered over this Grade A beefcake. There's more than enough to go around.
This mook didn't really get in my way (I mean other than being in front of me at a left turn signal in a busy north central intersection). I just thought I would share his rather criminal dress sense.
Health care reform... Now the President sells us out
Before we get to the nasty little betrayal from Sunday, let's recap on a few things...
And finally, Secretary Sebelius kinda threw the country, on behalf of the President, under the insurance industry's lobbying bus in what will be interpreted by the right as a victory for their little teabagging movement.
Sebelius told CNN's "State of the Union" that a public option was "not the essential element" of healthcare overhaul, but that lowering insurance costs and preventing insurers from dumping customers for preexisting conditions or for exceeding coverage caps are must-haves.
Well, to achieve your stated goal, the Public Option was THE only way. But now we'll go down the rabbit hole of 'insurance exchanges' and watch as nothing really gets done and the costs continue to skyrocket. Worse, you and the rest of the chickenshit Democrats, especially the Blue Dogs, have shown that you can be easily intimidated by, I'm sorry but it's true, a bunch of fat, old white men.
And the Members of Congress, out to sell the public option with town hall meetings did a piss poor job of getting out their supporters. No wonder the news has been interviewing these teabaggers... they're damn near all that's there. When Congressman Doggett had an event here a week ago Saturday, I did receive a few hours notice and went. There I found our side represented 3:1 and a bunch of teabaggers who had to play nice this time because suddenly there were all of us. Because of that little bit of advanced notice.
It's almost as if the Democrats wanted this to happen so they could claim there wasn't popular support for reform, which we already know is a lie.
In the end, I doubt any of it will matter as the whole thing goes down in flames. Oh, they'll pass a weak, watered down bill. The President will claim victory and Congressional D's will say it's the best we could do. Meanwhile, activists and volunteers will be hard to come by in 2010. And I'd put even money on Republican's regaining the House by a narrow margin.
And it all could have been avoided had the fixation on kindler, gentler politics been dismissed after the stimulus fight. But the President chose not to do that and now we're all going to pay the price for his weakness and that of the Congressional Democrats. They have, officially, lost the tremendous momentum that came from the 2008 election, squandered it in an effort to be nice to people who'd rather see them gutted.
I wrote this in December, 2007. I never anticipated then Senator Obama winning the presidency if he won the primary mostly because I never anticipated Sen. McCain's massive campaign blunders and a tanking economy. However, he did win but this piece actually is very applicable to his leadership as President. It's steadily weakened, as if he's being beaten down... a bad trait for a President.
Of course, Secretary Clinton, had she been elected President, would have been much worse, right? It would have been constant attacks, right?
First, those who don’t want to nominate Hillary Clinton because they don’t want to return to the nastiness of the 1990s — a sizable group, at least in the punditocracy — are deluding themselves. Any Democrat who makes it to the White House can expect the same treatment: an unending procession of wild charges and fake scandals, dutifully given credence by major media organizations that somehow can’t bring themselves to declare the accusations unequivocally false (at least not on Page 1).
The point is that while there are valid reasons one might support Mr. Obama over Mrs. Clinton, the desire to avoid unpleasantness isn’t one of them.
Second, the policy proposals candidates run on matter.
I have colleagues who tell me that Mr. Obama’s rejection of health insurance mandates — which are an essential element of any workable plan for universal coverage — doesn’t really matter, because by the time health care reform gets through Congress it will be very different from the president’s initial proposal anyway. But this misses the lesson of the Clinton failure: if the next president doesn’t arrive with a plan that is broadly workable in outline, by the time the thing gets fixed the window of opportunity may well have passed.
Krugman, again, was spot on 20 months ago. He called it perfectly. And right now I'm out of hope for change.
August 15, 2009
This Week In Lawyerin' : Defense strategy
Harry, after a little light prodding (a prod wired with only 20k volts), posted this piece recently about a man framed by his cat for downloading kiddie porn. He presented some ideas for a defense that were, in my humble not-so-legal opinion (I'm not a lawyer, but...), quite good. For illustrative purposes, we'd like to offer this.
August 14, 2009
NEW FEATURE : This Week In Lawyerin'
I was told there would be no bullshit in this profession, but I now suspect that may have been a lie.
Like this morning. There I was, deep in summer staycation slumber, when the phone rings. I was so startled I even answered it!
It was McBlogger, and boy was he pissed. I was still groggy so I'm not sure what all the ranting was about, but I remember something about not pulling my weight, blablabla, plenty of other profane, leftward, Maker's-swilling bloggers with law licenses who would kill for my position, yaddayadda. Post something "rightgoddamnnow" is I believe how he put it before abruptly hanging up.
Well, from that little bout of morning unpleasantness, a new feature is born: This Week In Lawyerin'. Every...week?...uh, or so...I'll post a report on law stuff. You know, cases in the news, ancient legal doctrines with dirty-sounding Latin names, no big whoop.
This week's topic for This Week In Lawyerin' comes from Florida. Or as I've referred to it since November 2000, Flori-Duh. It seems there's this guy. And he has a cat. We all know how cats are the minions of Satan and do his bidding as demonic agents here on earth, right? Well this cat must be an arch-demon, because he framed his owner for a quite heinous crime.
Yeah, this guy was just minding his own business, downloading some Bjork for the iPod, when he has to leave the room for a second. and when he comes back, there were "strange things" on the computer. No, not Bjork - REALLY strange things. Criminally strange things. And the cat's apparently just sitting there with one paw still on the computer, sporting a creepy grin and one raging, furry kittyboner (I will resist the temptation here to pursue a more metaphysical tangent on the subject of reincarnation and Michael Jackson).
What's really disturbing about this story is that the cops don't believe this poor man! They're too focused on the kiddie porn to recognize the real issue is kitty porn. If I were this man's lawyer, the first thing I'd do in voir dire is coax out every last story from the panel about the evil, rotten things they have witnessed cats do. Poison the jury panel right out of the box so that everyone is ready to lynch a cat if they weren't already. Get that jury to thinking about all the times cats have suffocated their babies, or stolen their identity and maxed out their credit cards, or seduced their spouses (remember, this IS Florida we're talking about).
After that, I'd object a bunch. I'd tell the jury in opening statement that this is about a game of cat and mouse...but NOT the kind of mouse they might think. I'd also argue motive, because clearly anyone who would side with the prosecution here must be in a love triangle with the cat and in on the setup. But I'd save my big gun for the very last sentence of closing argument, when I'd stare the jury in the eyes and exclaim, "IF HIS CAT'S A PERV, HE MUST NOT SERVE!!"
My new favorite thing...
A website that takes the irritation of real people and turns it into funny videos...
What are you, a camel?
Quit with the using of the water, K?
All must not be well with the braintrusts of the Texas Democratic Party. It's only August and already from the Lone Star Project comes a warning to Democrats to not even think about voting for Senator Barbie in the 2010 Republican primary.
The 2008 election featured a Presidential campaign, attracting broad attention and a record turnout for both parties. In 2010, there will be no Presidential buzz or national attention.
Even with the expected sucker-punching, name-calling brawl between Perry and Hutchison, Republican Primary turnout will likely be close to 2006, when 655,919 voters turned out for Republicans. So, even if the ratio of crossover voters in 2010 equals that of the 2008 Democratic Primary and all of the crossover votes go to Hutchison, she will garner only about 7,215 more votes - not nearly enough to significantly affect the results.
As the 2010 Republican primary race develops, both Perry and Hutchison will appeal to hard line Republican primary voters, touting their allegiance to causes and policies that are opposed by both Democrats and many independent Texas voters.
Clearly, any Democrat who participates in the 2010 Republican Primary will be squandering their vote.
On the other hand, if the choice on the other side is between Tom Schieffer and Kinky Friedman it's hard not to feel the same way about voting in the Democratic primary,
August 13, 2009
Stiglitz on infrastructure
Wednesday afternoon on Bloomberg, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz was interviewed by Carol Massar about the economy and the best thing to do moving forward. While it primarily focused on the banks and the aid to them (Stiglitz wasn't a huge fan of providing the banks with equity without making sure they'd lend money), the discussion veered over to investments in the country as part of the stimulus. He also discussed the 30 years of underinvestment and our need to step it up.
Specifically, he was talking about raising taxes to fund this. We've coasted on the infrastructure (schools, roads, water systems, telecom systems) we built over the 20th century for basically the last 30 years. We've failed to adequately build for a prosperous future and now we have to make up for lost time. Normally, we could borrow and invest but we can't right now because we've been borrowing and spending on tax cuts for years. As it turns out, tax cuts, once again, don't pay for themselves.
So we need taxes, but the good thing is that taxes collected and spent on building things we need helps the economy through employment and increased economic efficiency. In other words, it's not lost down a black hole like a war.
Mah Boo Takes a Load To The Face And Jokes About Huffing
You KNOW that bitch McBlogger is scraping the bottom of the barrell if he's asking the Fruitfly to post. So let's just dive straight into the gutter, shall we?
Back in June, Anderson Cooper co-hosted Live with Regis and Kelly. I guess Reeg was getting his face pulled again or something. Anyhoo... this is a semi-regular gig for Mah Boo and I try to catch him on the show because Kelly is a class-A fruitfly that tends to bring out Andy's inner giggling schoolgirl. After regaling the audience with stories about going to Studio 54 WITH HIS MOM, Andy and Kelly hosted a weird 4th of July cooking segment. It started with Kelly doing the coke shimmy and ended with Andy giving all the gays of the whole wide world some jackoff material.
Here's the clip that made my no-heart area sing. You know when Andy took that load to the face, a million gay angels got their wings.
note: if you don't get the "Mah Boo" reference, you need more internet in your life.
August 12, 2009
Stop with the litter, yo!
Some of you may have noticed a marked increase in the amount of trash all over the place. And now, there's something you can do about it.
Uhm. Yeah, I'm just gonna call bullshit right here
The last units at the Bel Air condos on South Congress between the Ben White freeway and Stassney were auctioned over the past weekend. The larger two bedroom units went for up to $240,000.
Just as a point of reference, you can buy a decent 3/2 in that area for less than $200,000. With a yard and more square footage. Granted, it's not brand new but it also doesn't have a view of a junkyard.
The best part of the article...
Winchell said the condo market in general has slowed nationally and locally over the past six to nine months.
However, he said Austin doesn’t have a large excess supply of condo units compared with other markets.
“I think Austin will be one of the first to recover,” he said.
Larry Warshaw, a co-developer of several condo projects in and near downtown, including the Spring high-rise that opens this month, said in an e-mail that “qualified buyers are having no difficulty getting financing.”
At Spring, he said, more than 100 buyers are expected to close on their units and move into the building within the next 10 to 90 days, “and virtually all of them have traditional Fannie Mae-approved residential financing in the $300,000 to $1 million range.”
At the W Austin Hotel and Residences under construction downtown, developer Stratus Properties Inc. said that almost half of the 159 condos are under contract, representing $80 million in sales, and that no one has walked away from a contract. That project will be completed in December 2010, with the last condominiums finishing in May 2011.
Oh. My. Where to begin... first off, we do have a lot of condos all over town so there's pretty decent supply. We also have a lot of Single Family Residential (SFR) units on the market and more on the way thanks to foreclosures. No, we're not the Inland Empire region of CA, but it's not the market here is breaking records to the upside. Needless to say, we're not going down the tubes but it's going to be a year or more before things are stable.
As for the Spring, there have been some recent changes on the secondary market regarding acceptable condo projects, especially new construction. They may not effect these first closings, but they'll probably effect the ones immediately after. And how many of those units were financed by TBW?
The best is the part from the W... no one is backing out of the contract yet? Big shocker since that money is (likely) non-refundable and you won't even know their intentions until December, 2010.
August 11, 2009
Sweet dreams, kids!
see more Fail Blog
Hope your teddy bears don't bite!
Health care reform : The Republican's bad bet
Playing politics with healthcare worked pretty well in 1994. It's apparently working pretty well now if current polling is any indication. For one thing, the numbers are still high for reform but about middle for getting everyone covered and setting up a public insurer.
The Republicans have, in short, shot their wad. They moved public opinion, mostly in a vacuum, and as a result they have the delay they wanted. However, they've given an activist President and the activists who got him elected the ability to counter their arguments over the next month. To call out their lies about what is and is not in the bill being considered.
And finally, to demonize the Republicans and their health insurance industry sugar daddies.
It's that last bit that's important because we're not throwing in the towel this time. We're going for the finish line.
I have no investments to speak of, and I'm not really a businessman. But I do know bullshit when I see it, so naturally this scare-mongering editorial from Investors Business Daily caught my eye. The subject is the possibility of rationing healthcare using a system other than our current Only The Wealthy Deserve To Be Healthy method:
People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.
Okay, see the funny thing here is that Stephen Hawking actually is... English. Yet somehow he has managed to live all these years with a degenerative disease without some government bureaucrat deciding it was time to wheel him onto an ice floe and give it a shove out to sea.
However, under European Union regulations the IBD's anonymous editorialist might qualify as a vegetable.
August 10, 2009
By Their Cheetos Ye Shall Know Them
For some years now liberals have joked about outfits like the Fighting 101st Keyboard Brigade: rightwing bloggers who wholeheartedly supported Bush's invasion of Iraq and global sabre-rattling but whose taste for all out warfare toe-to-toe with the bad guys stopped short of logging off and actually enlisting themselves. Now it seems that this not-so-well regulated militia may be transformed into a more professional "fighting" force.
I thought I was under blog attack once, but it was just something I ate.
Health care reform : An update fit for a toilet!
I thought it might be time to give you folks a little update on the ongoing efforts of President Obama and some good people in Congress (mostly Democrats) to reform our health care system so that it serves us all a whole lot better. Now, you probably know I disagree with the President and the pro-reform members of Congress on the path they are taking toward a 'public option.
Yeah, I think we should nationalize all health insurance companies. Because they're wasteful, inefficient and only exist because of their lobbyists.
Still, I know they're as likely to pass nationalization as I am to put down this drink and swear off gin forever. So, let's just jump right in and see what's happening:
1. These disruptions are being funded and organized by out-of-district special-interest groups and insurance companies who fear that health insurance reform could help Americans, but hurt their bottom line. A group run by the same folks who made the "Swiftboat" ads against John Kerry is compiling a list of congressional events in August to disrupt. An insurance company coalition has stationed employees in 30 states to track where local lawmakers hold town-hall meetings.
No, I'm not entirely satisfied with what is possible. Some Democrats and just about ALL Republicans seem hellbent on preserving a broken and ineffective system of private insurers that are some of the most inefficiently run companies in the world. Health insurers in the US, from an investment standpoint, make the old Soviet state-run companies look like models of efficiency and customer service. The ONLY reason these companies exist is because of government. There is no rational reason for them.
And if you're invested in them, you're in an idiot. Seriously, learn to read an operating income statement.
August 09, 2009
You can never have too much butter. Yum!
August 08, 2009
Come learn about what's really going on in DC
Congressman Doggett, a rare master of event planning, is having a health care 'neighborhood office hours' event in about 30 minutes. It's sure to be lousy with those obnoxious teabaggers, so be sure you're prepared for a Silkwood shower later.
CommunityCare, Rundberg Health Center - 825 E. Rundberg Lane
If we're SOOPER lucky, Junior John will show up as well!
August 07, 2009
... just in time for 2012, TEXAS AS SWING STATE!
Now, watch it swing back if President Obama doesn't start bitchslapping some Republicans and that asshole from Montana.
Around Texas : Toll increases; AMPO changes; Killer changes the rules and more
Just so we're clear-the spoiled little princess who thinks the state should pay for her attorneys (despite not having reported all her real estate holdings), and who effectively killed a man because his appeal couldn't get filed before 5 p.m. on the day he was to be executed is concerned that she might be judged in a possibly "arbitrary" way.
Gee, the tollways just seem better and better all the time, don't they?!
August 06, 2009
64 years ago today...
...the United States of America because the first and (so far) only country to use a nuclear weapon during war time. And I'm with one of the survivors.
I still think President Truman made the right decision given the progress of the war and what the Japanese had planned as defense against a US invasion. It's not just the American lives that would have been lost, it's the millions of Japanese civilians that would have died defending their homeland.
However, I also think we need to find a way to control these weapons and limit them to more reasonable numbers and yields. While we can't put the genie back in the bottle, we have to find a way to make sure that should another of these weapons ever be used it doesn't have the potential to ignite a larger conflict that could eliminate life on Earth.
August 05, 2009
Oh, this is just shocking. No. Really, it's very surprising.
According to research, more than a third of all pay in the United States goes exclusively to executives and certain highly paid managers. As a shareholder who's been bled dry by overpaid and incompetent management teams for years, this came as a huge shock.
How to fix? Easy. Implement an 80% tax on the salaries of executives and management at any company that pays those people more than 10 times what the lowest paid worker makes. And apply it to contractors as well.
Oh, and you should probably give tax breaks to those companies whose lowest paid employees make more than 2 times the regional poverty level.
The bottom line is that as a shareholder I am enriching a largely worthless managerial class that does nothing for me and who are impoverishing the working and middle classes who are the backbone of a strong economy. The same people who create the underlying foundation for the success of the companies in which I have a stake. Needless to say, the best way for me to maximize earnings is to cap management and executive salaries and increase worker salaries.
It's better for overall economic growth and the success of the country. Not to mention that better paid workers are more productive workers. And make me more money.
Are birthers and anti-choicers one and the same?
Amanda Marcotte thinks so... you will too after you read this.
Roundin' Up The TPA
Here we are in August, and like every other week it's time for another Texas Progressive Alliance blog roundup.
TXsharon needs your help to Expose This Dirty Video.
McBlogger takes a look at a lawsuit against TRS and discovers losses, possible corruption and a nightmarish problem for the Republicans in 2010.
Mean Rachel decides that Democratic gubernatorial candidate is still too Bush League for her tastes.
Our governor is living the life of the rich and famous. It does so on our dime and on the "dimes" of his fat cat contributors. Libby Shaw gives us the ulgy details over at TexasKaos, Our Kept Governor to the Unemployed: Eat Cake.
Why did Ciro Rodriguez vote against the Waxman-Markey climate change bill and then suddenly flee the House? And why is he taking grip-and-grin meetings with David Dewhurst? PDiddie at Brains and Eggs would really like to know.
Vince at Capitol Annex tells why he believes that the smart money is on Texas Governor Rick Perry picking Lt. Governor David Dewhurst to replace U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison if she resigns before the end of the year.
Neil at Texas Liberal posted a video he made that will take only 39 seconds your life to watch. Also, Neil made a post marking the third anniversary of Texas Liberal. Texas Liberal has run 1500 page views a day so far this year and had racked-up over 725,000 views since it began. Thank you blog reading public!!
WhosPlayin notes that the City of Lewisville is cancelling its Cinco de Mayo celebration for 2010 due to budgetary concerns.
Teddy of Left of College Station was forced to evacuate his home in Bryan due to a warehouse fire that was burning toxic materials, but was able to return to his home the next day. Before the evacuation Teddy was able to write about Michael Vick’s return to the NFL, and whether or not he deserves a second chance. Left of College Station also covers the local and progressive events in the Bryan-College Station this month.
If nuclear power companies are already having trouble with their credit ratings, why are Texans rushing to throw them billions for plants that even the builders can't finance themselves? Good question, says Citizen Sarah at Texas Vox.
August 04, 2009
Should we be worried about Terminators?
Long a subject of dystopian science fiction, the lack of progress in AI has been, in a word, disappointing. At least compared to books and movies written about the subject. So, should we be scared about imminent conflict between humans and AI's? No... at least, not yet.
Indeed, when Wilson chatted with Wired for War author PW Singer during our ominous Machines Behaving Deadly theme week, we learned that a Terminator uprising was unlikely to happen anytime soon because the "preconditions" simply weren't in place—yet.
"The Global Hawk drone may be able to take off on its own, fly on its own, but it still needs someone to put that gasoline in there," he said. Nevertheless, as Wilson added after that comment, "it's not hard to see how this precondition could eventually be overcome." No kidding.
The most recent Republican screwups
It's simple, yo! He's going to use his little platform as part of this Commission to blame everything on the government. A sawbuck says a ton of the responsibility will lie, in Petey's eyes, with the Community Reinvestment Act. We already know it's a lie, but that won't stop Petey from fibbing. Again.
DICK ARMEY: What I’m suggesting is we have a sort of an eco-evangelical hysteria going on and it leads me to almost wonder if we are becoming a nation of environmental hypochondriacs that are willing to use the power of the state to impose enormous restrictions on the rights and the comforts of, and incomes of individuals who serve essentially a paranoia, a phobia, that has very little fact evidence in fact. Now these are observations that are popular to make because right now its almost taken as an article of faith that this crisis is real. Let me say I take it as an article of faith if the lord God almighty made the heavens and the Earth, and he made them to his satisfaction and it is quite pretentious of we little weaklings here on earth to think that, that we are going to destroy God’s creation. [...]
I guess no one told him about all those pesky species mankind has hunted to extinction.
Seriously, Republicans, why would you scare the fuck out of sweet old people by lying to them?
It's always nice to see a bunch of poor trash get all worked up by a horrible Democrat whose only crime is trying to help make their miserable, poor people lives a little better. These are the folks who are barely scraping by, working-class, paycheck to paycheck slobs who make up the grassroots that the Republicans use as their collective cockwipe. Don't worry about these folks too much... they're on their socioeconomic way back to their roots as subsistence farmers.
August 03, 2009
Running ssllooww with Barbara Bembry
Well, it appears that our last remaining Republican elected official happens to have the slowest JP Court in Travis County...
Not satisfied, Hendricks said he searched and found what he thought was a direct e-mail address. In his e-mail, Hendricks expressed frustration while acknowledging that Bembry's court was probably very busy.
"I'm respectfully asking that you or someone on your staff provide me with an honest expectation of when my case might be heard," Hendricks wrote in closing.
Neither Bembry nor anyone in her court answered the e-mail, he said.
After Hendricks called July 15 — 331 days, or nearly 11 months after he filed his complaint — and was told by a clerk that a time frame for a court date could not be estimated, Hendricks called Statesman Watch.
"It's frustrating," he said. "No one can give me an answer. She (Bembry) is an elected official, but it seems as though all I can do is not vote for her for re-election. I think I'm entitled to justice."
Office managers for justices of the peace in Precincts 3 and 5 said someone filing a small claims case in their courts can expect to wait three to six months for a court date. Neither manager was willing to speculate on what would keep Hendricks' case from being scheduled for 11 months.
Take a moment and go help out a fantastic attorney who has stepped up to the plate to take Judge Bembry on, Amy Clark Meachum.
Does anyone want to see this?
I'm seriously on the fence on this one. I never thought I'd say that about a zombie movie, but this one really sounds wrong.
I am just a caveman. Much of your world frightens me.
For example, churches that look like Las Vegas...
Seriously, the first time I saw this I thought my local salvation mart had lost its lease and was now a strip club.
August 02, 2009
Using TRS like daddy's credit card
Apparently, Harris County District Judge Dion Ramos has dismissed a suit filed on behalf of retirees against Teachers Retirement System of Texas (TRS). The case was based on their benefits being diminished by risky investments made by TRS.
TRS argues in its response that the members have no standing to sue because they have not been harmed.
“The premise of the suit is that because the net value of assets of TRS trust fund has declined as a result of the historic upheaval in the world economy that plaintiffs have somehow been damaged. That is simply not the case,” TRS lawyers wrote.
“Members and annuitants have no investment account or interest in the pension fund; their interest is in the benefits as defined by law,” and those benefits have not been threatened, the brief says.
While it's true that TRS is a defined benefit pension plan, there are three issues...
1) Half of the funding for TRS comes from the people who will eventually receive benefits from it, people who work in the public school systems all over Texas. While it doesn't give them an actual account, it's still their money. Unless you want to call their contribution an income tax. And call their retirement checks an entitlement.
2) The benefits can be reduced by the Legislature IF the fund performs poorly and the Lege doesn't feel like making up the gap. Which, just FYI Judge Ramos, they AREN'T required by law to do.
3) The likelihood of the Lege making up losses in TRS to fulfill current statutory obligations is about zilch. Just ask Sen. Duncan.
Needless to say, it's one hell of a stretch for this case to be so blithely dismissed. Especially when retirees haven't received a COLA since 1995, proving clearly that retirees ARE negatively impacted by poor performance at TRS.
The more interesting thing here is that some of the advisers and board members at TRS (all appointees of 39%) are financial professionals at firms that may be doing business with TRS. One has to wonder where AG Abbott is on that issue. Has he even looked into the possibility that there may have been some self dealing?
Go on, Abbott. Run for LG. I'm sure no one from a school district will mind your failure to investigate exactly what happened.
Let's also keep in mind that during Britt Harris' time as Chief Investment Officer, the fund has lost a THIRD of it's value. And these high risk investments aren't necessarily going to turn around like stocks. Some of them may have expired worthless and simply have ceased to exist or may have counterparties that no longer exist. It's almost comical that this happened WITH financial professionals in advisory roles. The same number of professionals 39% wants to keep on...
Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill that would have given more voice to retirees on the board of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
That additional voice for retirees would have meant one less financial professional on the nine-member board, which would have been “an inappropriate adjustment in these uncertain economic times,” Perry said in his veto statement.
“The significance and ramifications of the board’s decisions on the futures of those who steward our children’s education make it imprudent to dilute the board’s financial expertise with House Bill No. 2656,” Perry continued.
The final House Bill 2656 was a much more watered-down version of the measure that easily cleared the House. That version would have stripped Perry of much of his authority to appoint members of the nine-member board.
Sure, 39%. Right. Because of that 'financial expertise' retirees haven't seen a cost of living adjustment since 1995 and the fund itself will be exhausted by 2040. Sure does look like they're doing a bang up job at TRS.
And, finally, a MASSIVE shout out of thanks to the Republicans in the Lege who voted against the stronger bill which would have stripped 39% of the authority to appoint members of the TRS Board. I bet the teachers in your district will be THRILLED to get mailers telling them how voted to make sure they would be able to enjoy the fancy catfood during their retirement, not the cheap kind.
August 01, 2009
Dear Lloyd Doggett,
Unless you desired to be surrounded by nutties shouting you down, next time you hold a “town hall meeting”, try to have it in a more controlled environment with moderators and, you know, get groups involved who support health care reform. Obama for Texas and the Travis County Democratic Party would have been a good start. But God-forbid, that would not be very bi-partisan.
With several hundred in attendance, 90% being anti-government, teabaggers, nutters, birthers, imbeciles, d-bags, bullies, and libertarians(sorry, I already said nutters), you could not get out your message as shouts of socialist, ignorant, evil, and other unprintable terms, along with uncontrollable rants dominated what was supposed to be a civil debate.
Hopefully, you realize that a concept of a unity of purpose endorsed by all people is now a mute point. So screw them.
Also, the management at Randall’s at Brodie and Slaughter probably didn’t take kindly to screaming crazy people blocking the entrance to the store.
Lloyd, you had to know that this was going to happen. An angry mob following you to your car certainly had to have you thinking about your safety.
The good old days of people standing in line of a grocery store lobby to kiss your ring and complain that social security didn’t deliver their check this month must seem like a faint quaint memory.
What is really sad is that there were people who have legitimate concerns about the current drafting but were not allowed to debate in a civil manner.
Let’s go over this one more time. Fear-mongering created by corporate and conservative think-tanks flamed by Republican politicians and right-wing media for the benefit of insurance companies and pharmaceuticals.
The framing, Lloyd, the framing.