November 30, 2009
Two data points, one conclusion...
First off, more people were out shopping on Black Friday this year. However, on average they spent less than last year. Not the end of the world and aggregate sales should be higher... but it paints a grim picture of a still distressed consumer.
Next up, banks are taking cheap money from depositors and the Fed and then investing it in US Treasuries. Why? Well, banks survive off fees and spread income. Spread is the difference between what banks pay depositors (or the Fed) and what they get in terms of a return on the money they lend. Since they are essentially paying 1% or less to depositors, they can make a risk free return by investing in long term Treasuries at 3-4%. It's easy because for the foreseeable future, there is no reason for banks to expect short term rates to spike higher which would destroy the spread.
So what to do? One idea is to jack interest rates to 2% which would keep them low and 'force' the banks to stop with the treasury trade. Of course, what it would really do is drive up longer term rates which would stifle the recovery in housing and equities destroying what little of the wealth effect has been rebuilt. So, in other words, that's a stupid idea.
What we need to do is nationalize one of the big banks and Geithner needs to let the others know, in no uncertain terms, they're next if they don't start lending to consumers and businesses. Only then will they finally act to restore credit to the economy.
November 25, 2009
Thanksgiving and helping those in need...
With all the crap flying about in my professional life (you may have heard that banking's not doing all that well right now unless, of course, you work for a company whose name rhymes with soldman gachs) and all the stupid speculation on the Democratic ticket, it's easy to forget there are a lot of people REALLY hurting this Thanksgiving.
Hank Gilbert reminded me of that today and here are some links to organizations around the state (scroll to the bottom of the page) that are helping put food on Texans' tables this Thanksgiving. Please, instead of giving money to any candidate, send a few bucks or some food to these hardworking people who are doing everything they can to make the holidays a little less tough for our friends and neighbors.
Y'all have a great Thanksgiving and remember things always get better... it may take a while, but everything turns around!
Houston Mayor : You're so gay! No, YOU ARE!
Well, it didn't take long for the runoff in the Houston Mayor race to turn nasty. Apparently, Gene Locke has been busy building himself a little coalition made up of people who don't like teh gays including Dr. Stephen Hotze (who is anything but and whom I've always thought was a lover of teh cock). No one seems to like that much including the Chronicle, Muse and Kuffner.
None of it seems to have had much of an impact on the Chronicle which decided to endorse Annise Parker in the runoff. Voters don't seem too concerned either as recent polling indicates that Parker is far ahead of Locke. And it has nothing to do with her being a lesbian, it's because she's a great leader and she'll make a fantastic mayor.
November 24, 2009
Hangin' like my nuts...
November 23, 2009
Former Ambassador Tom Schieffer will exit the race for Governor this afternoon... more details will come as they are available. I've just been waiting for a confirmation.
My bet? The man has a bunch of debt and will back Shami to get it paid off.
Update : OR, is the sugar daddy going to be Bill White who is rumored to be entering the Governor's race? If this is some sort of deal and part of it is Schieffer as Lt. Governor, we have a big problem.
November 22, 2009
Roundin' Up The TPA
The Texas Progressive Alliance is starting to feel an odd craving for can-shaped servings of cranberry sauce as it brings you this week's highlights from the blogs.
TXsharon continues to follow the abuses of Aruba Petroleum in a Barnett Shale backyard and Wednesday the Wise County Messenger picked up the story. It's all on Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.
WhosPlayin posted an interview with Neil Durrance, the Democratic candidate seeking to unseat Michael Burgess in Congressional District 26.
A guest post from the ReEnergize Texas blog is the pick of the week over at Texas Vox, where we were quite disappointed that Georgetown City Council Snubbed Students over Nuclear Power.
WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on some of the talk this past week about raising the statewide gas tax. All that being said there are only two options to pay for transportation in Texas, which will we choose Taxes or tolls?.
The War on Christmas starts early at The Texas Cloverleaf, complete with a beach landing at WalMart.
Sue Schechter announced for Harris County Clerk last week and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs caught the press release.
With Thanksgiving almost here, Neil at Texas Liberal ran a picture of a sultry pilgrim holding a turkey, and included in this post information about the status of women in Colonial New England.
Hank Gilbert : The Future
Bob Moser wrote this piece in the Texas Observer a few weeks ago, a real change from his earlier opinion that Hank was a nobody with no real business in a race for Governor.
The state’s long-suffering progressives, on the other hand, have been staring at next year’s elections — if they’re not averting their eyes, unable to look — and seeing a big old pile of nothing. What leftie in her right mind is going to do cartwheels over the so-called leading Democratic contenders for governor, Tom “George W.” Schieffer and Kinky “Book Tour” Friedman? Or the Democratic contenders for the imaginary U.S. Senate seat, John “Who the Hell?” Sharp and Mayor Bill “What’s the Opposite of Charismatic” White?
But one Democrat running for governor is showing flashes of actual (gasp!) progressive life. Last week Hank Gilbert, the anti-toll road activist and rancher who ran for Agriculture Commissioner in 2006, burst out with a clarion call to combat anti-gay discrimination in Texas. Among other things, Gilbert called for the state to recognize same-sex unions, for universities to recognize domestic partnerships, and for the state to make it easier for transgender folks to change their gender on birth certificates and drivers’ licenses.
“Just because some people see this as controversial or say that Texas isn’t ready for this,” Gilbert said, “is not a reason I can use to justify remaining silent on the issue.”
Dear God, can this be true? A Democrat with guts? This is highly irregular, people. Texans are used to Republicans swinging for the ideological fences and paying no political price for even the wildest swings. But Texas Democrats? Pure-T wusses.
More than anything, Gilbert’s moves show that there’s at least one Texas Democrat with the basic good sense to understand that you don’t win elections without giving people something to vote for. The days when mealy-mouthed, money-soaked DINOS (Democrats In Name Only) like Lloyd Bentsen could win statewide elections have long since passed.
Bob seems to be coming to the same conclusion activists, the media and voters are coming to...Hank is the only candidate in the race, from either party, who belongs in a race for Governor. Not only is he willing to take on tough positions, he persuades and holds his ground. With Hank, we don't need to fear the tough issues because, for the first time since Ann Richards, we have a candidate who can persuade.
Ask Tome Schieffer or Farouk Shami, point blank, their position on a woman's right to choose. Or gay marriage. Or any of a thousand things that usually tie Democratic candidates in knots. They can't handle it, not the way Hank can. Now let's help him out and make sure that he's our next Governor!
November 20, 2009
The inestimably stupid Dick Armey
OMG. I wish it was OK to beat stupid people senseless... if it was, I'd LOVE to introduce that fucktard Dick Armey's face to a hardcover copy of the Community Reinvestment Act since he's decided it (and not poor decision making at the banks) was the reason the banking industry melted down last year.
I guess Dick doesn't understand how easy it is for $600bn in liabilities to crush a mere $20 bn in equity (in the case of Lehman).
And thank you, Dr. Krugman, for nailing his ass. Yet again.
TX GOV : Two Man Race
Farouk Shami announces and the race shrinks, effectively, to two. Anyone dazzled by Kinky now folds to Shami and Schieffer hasn't a chance to beat him in a money war (not to mention that Schieffer generates the same buzz and excitement as a bowl of cold vegetable soup) so any remaining support he had will fold over to Hank Gilbert who is building support with a fantastic stump and spot on communications and messaging.
I think we're about to find out if Texas Democrats are ready for a Muslim candidate. For me, I'm sticking with Hank! Of all the candidates, he's the only one bold enough to actually stand up, campaign on issues and win with them. He's the only one with any hope of attracting Independents and moderate R's, something he clearly proved he could do in 2006.
My only fear is that the money from Farouk manages to cloud the reality of Farouk... which reminds me, why was he bringing jobs FROM China to Texas? Why weren't they already here? Farouk was. But back to reality, here's a taste of what's in store for Democrats with Shami at the top of the ticket...
Farouk Shami was an awardee and honoree of the anti-Semitic American Task Force for Palestine (which believes all of Israel is “Palestine”)–the the video below, and he supports illegal alien amnesty. He wants to employ Mexican aliens at his Texas plants and get them “working papers,” he told Houston’s KHOU / 11 News, last week (Watch the Video). He says we Americans have too much, and it’s “not fair” to the Mexicans. Though, I guess he thinks it’s fair and not “too much” to live in his 30,000 square foot mansion. Meet Farouk Al-Hypocrite. Farouk says he’s against building a wall on our border or keeping illegal aliens out. “Why can’t Texas have 30 million or 40 million people?” he asks. Uh, yeah, you wanna pay for it, Farouk?
And this is just a short piece of vitriolic garbage. But this will be everywhere next year. Shami could spend $200 mln and still not best Sanchez's numbers from 2002.
November 19, 2009
When discounts are anything but...
As part of the health care reform package, the President cut a deal with drug makers for their cooperation. They agreed to voluntarily reduce prices. What wasn't specified was the start date and from what level they discounts would apply. It appears that they've decided to go ahead jack everything up across the board in an effort to maintain their income and profitability.
Wouldn't it be nice if our doe eyed President would stop trusting people who are, inevitably, going to fuck us over?
Are the Republicans afraid?
Are they afraid of actually allowing the Constitution to work or of the terrorists? Both, maybe?
November 18, 2009
Live Streaming the TCU Candidates Forum
The debate that's not so much a debate...
There's stupid and then there's Rahm
“It is foremost on his mind and the mind of the economic team,” Emanuel said of deficit reduction in comments yesterday at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council conference in Washington.
Fucktard. IN A RECESSION LIKE THIS, YOU WORRY ABOUT JOBS. YOU WORRY ABOUT DEFLATION AND TRY TO DUMP AS MUCH MONEY INTO THE ECONOMY AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. You don't get overconcerned about idiots bleating on about debt and deficits, especially when they're the same folks who voted for the very tax cuts which doubled outstanding federal debt in less than 8 years.
I wrote this back in June and the only thing I'll add to it is that the majority of the deficit now, outside of the stimulus, is related purely to reduced tax receipts. In other words, once the economy returns, the deficit takes care of itself. What these 'tighten your belt' conservatives don't seem to get is that in a recession that has to be someone who expands. Sometimes, in a normal recession, that's business. In a recession like this, it's got to be the Government, there's just nothing else.
It might also help Rahm to think about that, too. Even better, would someone just tell him to STFU about things he doesn't understand. Even from a PR standpoint of mollifying your critics, this was stupid. And all it did was piss off your friends (like me) who actually know better.
November 17, 2009
It's a sad day when loathesome people don't die
November 16, 2009
Farouk Shami is putting $10 mln into his run to be the Democratic Gubernatorial candidate. I just wish he'd spend some of it on his website. Specifically, on simple things like spell check (suport?!?) and the legally required campaign disclosure that's usually at the bottom.
Sure, we have typos and misspellings on an ongoing basis. We're a blog. And I certainly don't have $10 mln to spend on this.
On raising the gas tax...
Apparently, Burka and Sen. Carona agree with Hank. Meanwhile, the rest of the Democratic field is no where on the issue. Well, except for Schieffer who got soundly slapped down for saying no to taxes and no to tolls, with the lame statement that he's for eliminating waste.
No shit, Tom. What would be helpful is if you knew what the rest of us already know... there's not enough waste to cut at TXDOT to make up the funding gap. And your solution to that gap is a rhetorical non-answer?
Granted, no one likes taxes but people like paying $3.20 PER DAY in tolls even less. The reality is that we are piling on debt in guarantees to private contractors that will take generations to pay off. And it's doing nothing but providing corporate welfare. That's the Republican solution. Apparently, Tom Schieffer also thinks it's OK as a final option. Hank, on the other hand, is absolutely opposed to it. Because what the Republicans and Schieffer aren't being clear about is that if we don't fix this now, all new roads will be tolls roads. All improvements made to existing roads will be tolls. You will not, under any circumstance, be able to avoid paying a toll.
And Hank's plan costs the average Texan $1.60 PER WEEK. That's it. I know about 100k people in Willco and Travis County who'd gladly pay that rather than the tolls they are paying now.
So, you have two options... Hank's plan which restores fiscal responsibility to TXDOT OR the Republican/ Schieffer plan which will crush the taxpayers of this state by piling on debt and guarantees that will burden our children and grandchildren.
Oh, you really do belong together!
Here is a collection of some of the worst engagement photos ever taken. It IS true, there's someone out there for everyone.
November 15, 2009
This is irony, Alanis
I should start by saying I wasn’t in the best of moods to go out. I like to argue with my body when it tells me that I don’t want to go out, and force it to go out anyway. Makes me feel like I’m fighting depression. The exception is when I feel like I really need a drink, I try to make sure I don’t have one because that would be giving into depression. And when my body tells me that should totally shag the hot boy I just danced with, I don’t argue, cause, hey…hot boy. Or when it tells me that I should sleep in on the weekends because I stayed out drinking... Ok, so I’m inconsistent. Whatever.
So I went out to a charity party that benefitted a battered women & children’s shelter. Never mind the irony of going to The Ranch to party, which can lead to drinking, poor decision making, conceiving children and getting battered. That’s not the point. The point was to be seen at a charity function with other classy people.
I have heard that this bar is an incredible meat market. I have heard that the douchebag factor is through the roof (oh, except the place doesn’t HAVE a roof—it’s too cool for that). I read the reviews, and thought “Hey, I can take it. It’s for charity.” Stupid me.
I wandered upstairs, and while doing so, pondered the panties that the woman in front of me was wearing. I could see them. Her skirt was that short. At least they were clean. It appears that the unwritten dress code for this joint was tight, short, and tottering. The higher the heels, the higher the hemline. Nothing like a bunch of inebriated, war-painted, foundation-spackled, silicone-enhanced stilt-walkers to make me feel inadequate. But at least all my parts are real, I was relatively warm, and I could walk back to the car under my own power while still wearing the shoes I wore in.
I waded through the douche to the bar and ordered a drink. The upstairs bar pours weak. When you want a real drink, go inside. Just be advised that the manly cologne assault is much worse when you’re indoors. Maybe that’s why they have no roof upstairs? They’re venting the fumes. You’d think the synthetic shirts were flammable enough without the accelerant cologne. And these fools were smoking? Pinhole burn to conflagration in seconds...way to die in a fire (h/t Wil Wheaton).
I fought my way back through the throng of thongs to see the catwalk where the Bachelor/Bachelorette auction would take place. This was something of a mistake. When former Mayor, Will Wynn, decided to strip off his shirt and twirl it over his head, I was grateful for the frat fuck that was blocking most of my view. I got a shot of Wynn’s pecs, and somehow managed to keep my drink down.
As I averted my eyes from the horror that is Will Wynn’s chest hair, I noticed a woman spectator to my left. She had finely quaffed hair, and was wearing all black. She was standing awkwardly, and I wanted to get a look at her face to see if she was ok. Turns out, using a deeply plunged neckline to distract men from noticing that your eyes are crossed is marginally effective. Too bad I’m not into boobs. And, sister, if your heels are so high that you are physically incapable of standing upright, they’re too tall. Ballet boots aren’t meant to be worn while standing. You’re already fighting the eyes, don’t add a ridiculously swayed back to the mix, even if it does present your cleavage even more. Yes, it makes your ass look big.
I think I talked to two people the whole night. One of those was because he had just stepped on my foot, the other asked me if I was in line to get in. I guess my long pants and sensible flats made me uninteresting. Or maybe they were distracted by the cross-eyed boobs to my left.
To their credit, the whole event raised upwards of $60,000 for SafePlace. But next time, I’m giving straight to the charity.
November 14, 2009
This Week In Lawyerin' : A brief vacation
Writing this week's installment of This Week In Lawyerin' is as serendipitous and effortless as it gets. This week's installment is quite literally "low hanging fruit." A banana to be precise. (Probably a couple of plums in there, too, but that's not really the focus of the story)
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Albert Freed, a man who has sued because his Hanes underwear allegedly injured his schlong. You see folks, it seems that Mr. and Mrs. Freed went on a Hawaiian vacation. To commemorate this most auspicious occasion, Mrs. Freed bought Mr. Freed a new pair of undies. The trouble was, the fly on that sucker apparently opened right up and little Albert was, indeed, Freed. This led to much chafing, to the point that Mr. Freed was in debilitating pain. Or just enough pain, anyway, that he complained about it only after gallavanting in Hawaii for two long weeks. Then sued Hanes for making defective drawers.
There was plenty about the plaintiff's case that one might find flummoxing. By Day 2 of the trip, Albert Freed says he was hurting something awful but didn't say anything because he didn't want to ruin the wifey's vacation and because he was excited about the vacation himself. (Excited about something, the evidence would show!)
There are a few different options available to somebody in such a predicament, including [a] putting on different underwear; [b] self-inspection to assess the problem; [c] inspection by another party to assess the problem; [d] adjusting oneself from time to time; [e] going commando in a grass skirt - remember, this is Hawaii.
Mr. Freed chose none of these options. It seems he and Mrs. Freed are rather shy around one another so he couldn't very well enlist her help (could lead to nudity...that, and they were both afraid the other might have cooties). It also seems Mr. Freed has an official medical diagnosis of Dickey-Do. That is, his gut sticks out farther than his dickey do, so he couldn't even look down to ascertain his own protrusion. Another option would have been looking in the mirror, which Freed said he declined to do "just 'cuz." That's a polite, coy way of explaining that if you deliberately look at yourself naked, then it would make you a gay.
Well, long story short, the court wasn't buyin' what Mr. Freed was sellin' and poured him out - which is legalese for telling a plaintiff he might want some cheese with that whine.Download decision here.
Pretty entertaining, huh? I really kinda feel like stopping here and not offering any legal commentary. Seems like it would just screw up the beauty of the story. Then again, I've got a word quota to meet. So here's your insightful expert legal analysis, rapid-fire style:
 This case is a real head-scratcher.
 Who was the expert witness, Inspector 12?
 Imagine showing up for jury duty and having to answer those kinds of questions in voir dire!
 Under common law principles of negligence, Hanes only owes a legal duty if the injury was reasonably foreskin- er, foreseeable.
 How awesome is it that the plaintiff is named Albert Freed and the case is about his johnson freeing itself ? Come on!
 If this case is appealed, there will be briefs about briefs (kinda phoned that one in, right?)
 The court's entire written opinion might be dismissed as mere dicta.
 How can the court rule on this case and not once cite the Penal Code ?!?
OK, that's enough on one case. Tune in next week. Or whenever there's more lawyerin' to write about.
November 13, 2009
Kay Bailey concedes to 39%
Senator Support Hose decided today NOT to resign prior to the primary. Instead, she's decided to continue her project in the Senate which consists, primarily, of fucking things up for her constituents. And wasting her contributors money in a vain attempt to beat 39% who will, because of this, beat her like she owes him money.
I find it interesting that this comes not long after Hank Gilbert's campaign rolled Kay's Magic 8 Ball. I also loved Hank's comment...
Anyone who says they are shocked by her announcement hasn't followed the lengthy trail of broken promises she's left in her wake, starting with her promise to serve only two terms. She is an unreliable and undependable public servant who dodges and weaves as it suits her political ambitions. Senator Hutchison has left her supporters and contributors holding the bag.
Cause and effect? Certainly didn't hurt. I do think it's funny that, once again, Gilbert's campaign is the only one with a pulse, hitting Republicans hard. And Hank even had time today to go live in the comments on a post at Kos regarding his LGBT policy.
B team member Tom Schieffer was busy telling that retarded little story about his tux while Kinky was trying to con someone into buying one of his books by promising that it was really written by someone with talent. Farouk Shami was busy scribbling out checks to every Democratic club in the state of Texas in a sad attempt to make up for years of neglect. Just like my mother. Which reminds me, if you have a Democratic club (especially one that endorses) you need to hop on the gravy train soon. I just set up three new clubs last week and am looking forward to making enough to have a very merry Christmas (Thanks Farouk! I can even say it like Ms. Texas, it's really something in real life).
39%, meanwhile, celebrated his rapidly approaching victory in the R primary with a 'close friend' at Charlies.
Reforming the financial system
A little something worth a read... about the slow start in the investigation of the credit collapse and ensuing recession. Food for thought for those who want a faster timeline. Granted, this isn't the 30's so it will go faster. But we need someone with teeth leading it who can actually get Congress to act. That, no doubt, is where we'll step in.
Channeling Glen Beck
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|The 11/3 Project|
November 12, 2009
Is KBH really this stupid?
FORMER Vice President Dick Cheney offered to endorse Sen. Hutchison in her race for Governor. Like an idiot, she accepted the endorsement. Not missing a beat, Hank Gilbert's campaign ridiculed the endorsement and the idiot who accepted it.
On defections...Rep. Hopson goes for a walk
Someone recently asked me how I am able to drink so much and not look a total wreck at the end of the night. That little story really has nothing to do with this post and the only reason I'm putting it in is that it makes me look good. Well, kinda...
So, Rep. Hopson decided to flip over to the Republicans because of President Obama in what is really one of the more craven political moves in a body known for craven political moves. Unlike the defection of Rep. England last year, this is all about Hopson wanting to save Hopson's ass and not realizing that he'd be better off staying on the D side... at least he can get through the D primary. The same can not be said of the R primary where he will face a reasonable, decent guy and (possibly) a nutter from the boob hatch who'll fling enough shit onto Chuck that he'll have no chance of survival.
The saddest thing is how hard this has been on some of our friends, like Harold Cook who is genuinely broken up about all this (see here and here). It's never easy to say good bye, especially to such a steadfast and loyal vote on things that would really help people in his district, like tort reform and electricity deregulation. However, say good bye we must as he's now on the other side suckling at the teat of Grover Norquist.
Have fun signing your pledge! Hope you too will enjoy being the political equivalent of a prison bitch!
(Sorry I'm late digging into this... I had better things to do than worry about What The Fuck Chuck was up to. I've never liked the fucker and have spent the last few years actively wishing he'd be killed in some tragic pharmacy accident.)
November 11, 2009
It's never been more important to remember those who served
Prior to 1954, what we now call Veterans Day was called Armistice Day to commemorate the end of the Great War on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
I mention this only because this day of remembrance was dedicated to the end of one horrible war, not the others in which Americans fought. In fact, Armistice Day wasn't even a federal holiday until 1938, just as it became clear that another great war was on the horizon. It's important to know because there will always be Veterans. There will always be those who serve and honor themselves, and this nation, with their service. And, as we all know too well, there will always be conflicts in which our fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters and friends are fighting.
Remember them all. Say a prayer for those who've lost loved ones as a result of service. And click here to support something very worthwhile.
November 10, 2009
Questioning the stimulus...
Chris Thorman forwarded me a piece he did on the effect stimulus funds have had on construction jobs. He did a really fantastic job analyzing the data without skewing in one direction or the other. The verdict is that at this stage of deployment, it's clear the stimulus is having a positive impact, albeit a small one. That will likely change on a go-forward basis as more funds are deployed and projects approved and funded enter more labor intensive phases.
This piece is exactly the sort of thing the MSM and bloggers should be writing about, not the process stories involving the he-said, she-said between R's and D's in DC over 'wasting' money and deficit spending. Politicians don't know what the hell they're talking about, especially on the Republican side.
While we're on the subject, it might be good to actually learn a little something about stimulus in an economic decline. Stimulus, and this is what's so confusing to our rightard friends, is a stop gap measure to arrest decline, stabilize and reignite growth. You can do it every time you have a recession, however there's a big difference between monetary (the Fed lowers rates) and fiscal (the government spends money) stimulus. You can only do the latter under limited circumstances when certain monetary factors are in place and the net effect on inflation is zilch. Otherwise, you extend UI bene's, drop interest rates and wait it out. During this cycle, we hit the trifecta... we have tightening of credit due to an asset bubble and collateral overvaluation, we have tons of capital sitting on the sidelines not being being invested in any sort of recovery and a massive write down of assets that functionally eliminated trillions from the economy and caused massive deflationary pressures. In that type of environment, the Fed can't just lower interest rates (monetary stimulus) and we'd recover. The problem, as CR and Krugman have been pointing out, the Fed would have lower rates below zero to promote growth and you can't do that. Thus, you need the government to spend lots of money. Voila! Fiscal stimulus.
Despite what some have lied about, fiscal stimulus is not always the cure for a recession and no one (outside of the rightard spin machine) is saying that, cue Krugman yet again. It's also why some deficit hawks, myself included, have done an about face and said the government should be spending a lot more and borrowing at least another trillion. The key in this type of situation is to think about things in terms of the house on fire metaphor. When your house is blazing, you don't worry about what that water used to put it out is going to cost or fret about how much of it will soak your furniture. So, yeah, inflation is not so much a concern when facing a deflationary death spiral that leads to a nasty depression.
Which takes us back to Thorman's piece and this, also from Krugman. We knew, months ago, that we needed more stimulus and that it needed to be more spending than tax cuts. Instead, the D's (at the urging of the President who either ignored good advice or was given bad, or some combination of the two) cut a deal with R's and gave us a stimulus package that was too small for the crisis at hand. Thus, the jobs saved number has been low and we're still seeing declines in employment. When the book is finally written on the government's response to the crisis, it's going to note that what was done to shore up the financial services industry was laudable with few exceptions (see here and here). However, the government's fiscal stimulus was woefully inadequate and caused unnecessary suffering for Americans as a result of political posturing. If you want someone to blame, look no further than the teabaggers, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and Savage. None of them knew what they were talking about yet they pontificated at length on the evils of 'encroaching government' and drove a political movement made up of people who were, in effect, hurting themselves.
Then turn to blame the chickenass politicians who ignored good advice and went with political expediency rather than take on the forces of stupid in a head on PR war. Let this be a lesson for all voters... do not support candidates who are wishy washy and wrong on issues. Support the ones who'll take a stand and fight, the ones who'd rather convince those who disagree with them than compromise with naysayers in some useless gesture.
We have always had issues that the vast majority of people in this country just don't understand. We've had one party who has turned lying to them into a cottage industry which has helped them get elected and re-elected. We have another party who polls incessantly, finds out what people think, and agrees with them. We need politicians strong and bold enough to stand up and say 'I know that's what y'all think, but it just ain't so. The other sumbitch is lying to you and here's why...'.
And yeah, it really is that simple.
So what ever happened to?
One of 39%'s appointees to a regulatory agency (TABC) thought it was OK to solicit donations for 39% from the people he regulates. The dumbass didn't think it was a problem. Folks in West Texas and Denton disagreed.
So, what's going on with that guy? Will the AG's office get involved?
Quit your snickering... sometimes Wheelie likes to do stuff about political corruption. Of course, that's rare but I think he wants to. I think so, at any rate. I like to think the best of people, even the ones who sue to build their wealth and then work ardently to restrict the rights of others to sue when injured. I think it was called tort reform?
November 09, 2009
Notes from a degenerate
Newsweek was kind enough to print an amateurish book review from Mark Sanford about a new bio of Rand by Anne Heller. I was privileged to read it on the internet, created in no small part through the efforts of the US government which he so blissfully dismisses as worthless and oppressive. Why is it that degenerates like Sanford are usually the most vocal regarding their hatred of government and most ignorant regarding what the government actually does? If you can answer that, I'll buy you dinner at the restaurant of your choice. As long as it's any Carl's Jr. location.
When I first read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged in the 1980s, I was blown away. Those books portray the power of the free individual in ways I had never thought about before.
He does acknowledge that Rand's philosophy is fundamentally flawed since it doesn't jive with human nature which I have to admit is awfully large of him. Where he goes off the rails is his bullshit about government being the problem and the free market solving all problems.
Why? I think at a fundamental level many people recognize Rand's essential truth—government doesn't know best. Those in power in Washington—or indeed in Columbia, S.C.—often lead themselves to believe that our prosperity depends on their wisdom. It doesn't. The prosperity and opportunity we enjoy comes ultimately from the creative energies of the country's businessmen, entrepreneurs, investors, marketers, and inventors. The longer it takes this country to reawaken to this reality, the worse we—and in turn, our children's standard of living—will be.
Rand's essential truth? How ridiculous. As if any of her pedestrian writing and thin plots contain more than fleeting moments of truth on the subject of greed. Altruism is wholly absent from Rand's world as are notions of shared sacrifice (or even responsibility) toward achieving a common goal. But she was a hater of government and always bore an irrational fear of it which isn't surprising since she spent her formative years in the early Soviet Union. Had she been here, she might have taken in a little more of what we did... WE are the government. WE are the country. WE depend on one another to keep the United States healthy and strong. It's a, hold your hats Randians, COOPERATIVE EFFORT.
When the economy took a nosedive a year ago—a series of events that arguably began when the government-sponsored corporations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went broke—many Americans, myself included, watched in disbelief as members of Congress placed blame on everyone and everything but government. This wasn't new in 2008. It's an act we've seen over and over since the beginning of the New Deal in 1933. For that reason, I think, those passages in Atlas Shrugged foreshadow what might happen to our country if there is no change in direction. As Rand shows in her book, when the government is deprived of the free market's best minds, it staggers toward collapse.
And this is what makes me think Mark needs the stupid beat out of him. He's either too ignorant of the markets to know this all started in 2007 or he's just lying to make a point. Either way, it's really infuriating to those of us who were there before and are still here now. We knew what was happening though none of us had any idea how bad it would all get as a result of a few strategic errors on the part of a guy we thought would be a great Secretary of the Treasury but who, in fact, ended up being another Randian ideologue masquerading, like Alan Greenspan did for decades, as a real capitalist.
This started with the collapse of hedge funds and CDO's which were largely unregulated by the government. This started when the loans inside those CDO's started to perform like B&C credits which is exactly what they were. The investors lost faith in the instruments because they thought all along they were getting A credits and never really understood the structure of the CDO's. The final straw was all the insurance fraud going on with credit default swaps when insurance wrote far more coverage than they could possibly provide. And, within months, Bear Stearns had collapsed and that really kicked things off.
Even today the private markets are still in disarray, more than a year after the collapse of Lehman Bros. Sanford assigns the beginning of the collapse to the takeover of FNMC and FHLMC, better known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This incredibly questionable nationalization was executed by a Secretary Paulson who entered office as a common sense businessman and who quickly showed his true colors as a partisan ideologue. Neither Fannie nor Freddie were in any real danger of collapse. Both are turning rather large profits even today on continuing operations mostly due to massive delivery fees imposed in the wake of the crisis and still in effect today. Both Agencies have current losses due in large part to mortgages in their portfolios that are being modified because of Administration programs AND, of course, the loans on their books many of which were securitizations purchased from (you had to see it coming) WALL STREET BANKS. Exclusive of those losses, FNMA for example would have posted a profit of almost $4bn. In point of fact, the only mortgages being done in the US are those written to guidelines promulgated by Fannie, Freddie or the Federal Housing Administration. The government IS the market in residential financing because the free market which Gov. Sanford lauds is still balled up in the corner crying.
Could things have gone differently? Sure. At any time we could have stopped the slide and cut the crisis off at the knees because, in the end, it's a crisis of confidence just like any other crisis. The actual flaws in the financial system (aside from the ridiculous underwriting standards of many now deceased companies) were only deadly when everything spun out of control and massive layoffs ensued. It wasn't necessary, it didn't have to happen this way. For one thing, had we not been running such large deficits for so long the dollar never would have collapsed as low as it did which, coupled with some common sense regulation of commodities speculators, would have kept oil far lower than the roughly $150/bbl at which it traded as the disaster unfolded in 2008. That one thing could have averted a lot of the disaster and I wasn't the only who saw that piece.
However, high oil prices cause a recession, they don't cause an economic collapse. What really turned the crisis into a full blow panic was the decision of Secretary Paulson to kill Lehman Bros. For that decision, the Secretary should go to jail. As soon as he did that, it was a signal to investors around the world in debt markets : WE'RE READY TO LET THE WHOLE THING GO DOWN THE DRAIN. Investors rapidly got the message and much to Paulson's dismay even started tearing down Goldman Sachs. Where Mark Sanford, once upon a time, used to work. Mark's so blinded by that old loyalty even now he can't bring himself to see the very part Paulson played in all this.
If you want to read a GOOD review of Heller's book that doesn't have all the partisan sniping and factually incorrect information about extraneous events, click here.
Guest Post : Hank Gilbert on LGBT policy
Last Wednesday night in Houston, I did something that no statewide candidate in Texas history has ever done: I released a comprehensive policy statement on issues of importance to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
In front of a packed house at a meeting of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, I outlined my plan to repeal the Texas Defense of Marriage Act and all statutory and constitutional barriers to equality for LGBT citizens, as well as ending discrimination in hiring and employment, public accommodations and real estate transactions, insurance, and more.
After The Advocate took note of this policy release, a Texas reader in their comment section said he though, with a policy like that, I don't stand "a snowball's chance
in hell," of winning this election because of the reputation Texas has under Rick Perry.
But you and I know different.
You and I know that Texas has come a long way since 2005 when bigotry and hate were written into our state constitution in a low turnout, low information election. By and large, Texans recognize GLBT citizens deserve these rights and recognize that the discrimination our state shows to this group of individuals is inappropriate. America's most successful Fortune 500 companies provide domestic partner benefits to their employees yet Texas' universities do not. You see what is wrong with that picture and so do many others. They may not be as vocal as the rightwing Perry/Palin echo chamber, but they recognize this as an inequality.
You and I know that, when the time comes again (and it will when I am governor) to right the injustices done to LGBT citizens in Texas, that Texans will step up to the plate. So, I'm going to ask you to do two things
for me: go to Facebook and join the group "I Stand with Hank on LGBT Issues." When you get done there, head over to my website and add your name to
the rapidly growing list of Texans who support this policy.
While you are there, you can sign up for my mailing list to keep up to date with my campaign. And, if you have a few bucks to spare during the Rick Perry Recession, campaign contributions through Act Blue are always welcome.
November 08, 2009
Roundin' Up The TPA
Aruba Petroleum is drilling a Barnett Shale gas well in the backyard of Tim and Christine. Their property was taken, it's value diminished, they were threatened and now Aruba Petroleum spilled toxic drilling waste a few feet from where their daughter plays. Another tale (with VIDEO) about the Victims of the Shale on Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.
The Texas Cloverleaf looks at the high cost of low turnout elections by examining Denton County. $25 a vote, anyone?
Big news from San Antonio, where with just days before City Council was to vote to move forward with the South Texas Nuclear Project expansion, officials suddenly announced that the cost estimate for the project had ballooned by up to $4 Billion! Find out more from Citizen Sarah over at Texas Vox.
WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the Texas' GOP leadership that thinks our state's economy is just fine, Dunnam hammers Perry, Dewhurst - GOP needs to face rality on economy in Texas. They'll be singing a different tune when they're out of work in 2011.
TEXPAC, the Texas Medical Association's political action committee, hosted a forum where all six declared US Senate candidates -- John Sharp, Bill White, Elizabeth Ames Jones, Florence Shapiro, Michael Williams, and Roger Williams -- made an appearance. See the videos posted by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.
Off the Kuff takes a look at how Houston's mayoral candidates are spending their money.
At WhosPlayin, Trace makes his case for why we need to talk to Iran.
This week Teddy at Left of College Station writes about the