October 31, 2009

Oh, the OTHER Pepsi challenge!

As a real-live attorney, I really resent it when people start spouting off about what a screwed up legal system we have, based on whatever outrageous thirdhand horseshit they've heard or read in the Corporate Media. Trust me, whatever reported kangaroo court injustice it is that has your Hanes all hinky, you probably haven't heard the half of it unless your ass was actually planted in that jury box all week. In which case, the story would probably make a hell of a lot more sense.

That said, I do admit there are times when my job feels a tad bit like Professional Wrasslin'. And on occasion, the potential for gamesmanship in our civil court system does come to the forefront. Like when a low-level paper shuffler fucks up and it costs PepsiCo $1.26 BILLION SMACKAROOS!! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
(oh my, look who just got a woody typing that out!)

If this case were on an episode of Arrested Development, the one-armed man would step forward right about now and say "And THAT, kids, is why you ALWAYS file a timely answer when you're sued." And you know what? The one-armed man would be right. Ignoring lawsuits when you're served with one is just not a good idea.

Now in Pepsi's case, I'd be shocked if the court left this decision completely undisturbed. The fact is most courts don't like deciding the merits of a case because someone didn't jump when Simon Said. But how would you like to be in PepsiCo's position right now? As a defendant, the burden of proof WAS on the other side....but now the burden is on Pepsi to prove they deserve a second chance just to defend themselves.

Now if this happened in Judge Balczak's court, I can't tell you exactly what I'd do. My own sense of jurisprudence says blown deadlines and bureaucratic bungles should not decide serious disputes. But geez, people, we have a system for a reason. And the reality is that despite being PERSONALLY DELIVERED a citation by a really official cop-looking guy that says words and phrases like "YOU HAVE BEEN SUED" and "IF YOU DO NOT RESPOND A JUDGMENT MAY BE ENTERED AGAINST YOU," some people out there just can't be bothered to play the game. In those instances, they deserve what they get.

And what they get can feel quite proctological if there's an aggressive collection attorney working the file. Ever been ordered by a court to sit down and tell an adverse lawyer all the details about your finances? Ever had a bass boat taken away from you or a rental property sold from underneath you? Ever had a court order you to turn over stocks or equipment owned by your corporation? You might be thinking you're a turnip they can't bleed but guess what: judgments stay in effect for ten years and can be renewed for even longer. And then, of course, there's what it does to your credit. So you're pretty much betting against your own prospects of ever doing better by taking that attitude.

But back to Judge Balczak's court in Lucky SOB vs. PepsiCo. We could really have fun with this, couldn't we? I've always hated Pepsi. I hate its taste, I have always hated its brand/marketing strategy, I have hated its commercials, and I REALLY REALLY REALLY hate Pepsi when it's products are used to soil a perfectly good bourbon on the rocks that I paid top dollar for by some "bartender" who presumes to mix it with Sierra Mist thinking I won't know it isn't Ginger Ale. Yeah. Fuck it. Default Judgment is hereby affirmed in the full amount awarded, and this Court orders that asshole at the Long Center to pay punitive damages of $1M and enjoins said asshole from ever serving drinks there at intermission again!!! Next case.....

Posted by hbalczak at 12:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tommy Terrific on Transportation

What. A. Joke. Then, read this.

Not for nothing but the Schieffer campaign's pathetic attempt to step on the coverage of Hank Gilbert's transportation policy was really stupid on a number of levels.

  • You point out, far better than the Gilbert campaign ever could, that you don't have a plan. You have an incoherent statement followed by another incoherent (and conflicting statement). EXACTLY what is the last resort!??! Tolls or the gas tax? Where's your urban transit plan?!?!
  • You propose a solution (cutting waste) that EVERYONE agrees won't solve any of the formidable problems we face regarding infrastructure. There just isn't enough fat left to cut to get us where we need to be to actually fund transportation. Anyone who disagrees with that is, frankly, out of their depth on transportation issues.
  • You talk about how Hank's plan will hurt the poor and middle class which gives Team Gilbert yet another opportunity to point out just how cheap the gas tax increase is vs. your 'last resort', tolls (it's $1.60 a week vs. $1.60 or more PER DAY for the average family)
  • You once again allow Hank to point out he's way ahead of you in terms of understanding the real problems facing Texas and proposing realistic solutions to them.
  • You reopen questions about your support for tolling and privatization which is overwhelmingly opposed by Texans. You also show you know nothing about business growth in this state which is heavily dependent on infrastructure.
  • Finally, by being bitchslapped within hours by Hank's campaign, you further undermine any faith your supporters had in your ability to beat 39% in the general and reinforced the argument being made persuasively by the Gilbert campaign that only Hank can beat 39% or Sen. Hutchison.
  • We finally have a Democrat who not only makes sense on transportation but can persuade the electorate to agree with him. There is one guy on the Democratic side that can win against 39% or Hutchison. That man is Hank Gilbert. At this point is there ANYONE out there who thinks the other Democratic candidates have a campaign or a candidate that's even close to Hank?

    Yes, I'm supporting Hank. I'm volunteering for him as well. Now you all know why.

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 30, 2009

    ANOTHER State Agency lobbying?

    Once again, it's just awesome to see a taxpayer funded agency using our money to lobby against something most people support. Thanks, Texas Railroad Commission for wasting time and our money and for allowing polluters to poison the air in North Texas.

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

    Why not make it GIANT?

    We at McBlogger know how hard it can be to show love to friends and family, especially children. Sometimes, you just don't feel like giving hugs or kisses. We know how difficult it can be, after a long hard day, to suck it up and read that same damn story to the kids. Twice. It sometimes feels like you need some space, right? After all, isn't raising your children the reason you have au pair?!?

    What better way to make up for treating the kids like dirt than to make them a GIANT ASS CUPCAKE? Kids, after all, LOVE cupcakes (who doesn't?) and making them a really big one will allow you to gloss over your feelings of guilt and help you put off that painful realization that yeah, you kinda suck as a parent. Plus, the kids at school will be hella jealous of your little tyke when they are confronted with the awesomeness that is this...


    And you can even, with a handy insert which the folks who make this were thoughtful enough to include, fill these mounds of deliciousness with pudding! Or chocolate! Or ice cream!

    Let's be honest... a small cupcake only tells your kids you kinda like them. A cupcake 25 TIMES that size tells them you love them bunches and bunches! It's also educational since it's never too early to teach your little ones to eat their emotions! Finally, Giant Ass Cupcake also tells them you're cool with them getting fat and excited that they'll soon be able to experience the fun of juvenile diabetes!

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

    October 29, 2009

    Hank Gilbert takes the lead on Transportation

    FINALLY, a transportation plan Democrats and Republicans can agree on. Hank Gilbert released his transportation policy proposals today at a press conference in Ft. Worth. The full proposal is here and the press release is here.

    Some of the details include

  • An elected Transportation committee made up of 14 regional commissioners and one chair elected statewide
  • Better integration between TXDOT and local authorities
  • No tolls on existing roads. No tolls in long range plan. Only locally proposed tolling with voter approval will be allowed
  • An absolute end to all public private partnerships
  • Enhanced auditing of contracts and the agency as a whole
  • And finally, FUNDING

  • Increase the gas tax in 2011 by 8 cents and then index to the Highway Cost Index with reevaluations annually and a four percent cap in the application of the HCI, should it be more than 4% in a given year. Overage would roll and any extra money would be used to pay down existing debt to free us from those obligations
  • It's the funding piece that I love because it automatically means restoring pay as you go to infrastructure construction in Texas, no new debt, no need for toll roads and privatization, no ridiculous gimmicks and pulling the politics out of transportation funding. All this with the average family in Texas only paying an extra $5-6 per month. I paid that much the last time I was on the 45/130 tollways in Austin. In a day.

    This is the kind of leadership Texas has been waiting for! Good job, Hank! And if you have a chance, go throw the man a few bucks to make him our next Governor!

    For more coverage, check out EOW.

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

    Houston Mayor : We LOVE us some Annise

    While I don't live in Houston, some of the authors and readers call it home. And they've been bitching that we haven't endorsed a candidate yet in the Houston mayoral race. So, here goes...


    She's talented, articulate, competent and has done an excellent job during her time in public service, no matter the position she's held. And we like her smile.

    Good enough?

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Roundin' Up The TPA

    The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready for the start of the World Series, and it presents to you its weekly highlight reel as we await the first pitch.

    quizas of South Texas Chisme wonders about the US detaining a Mexican human rights activist.

    WWJD on Carter Avenue? TXsharon wants to know if Chesapeake Energy or anyone in Fort Worth government has stopped to consider the answer to that question. Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.

    Bay Area Houston wonders if the Hispanic community will dump their endorsement of Gene Locke.

    WhosPlayin lost a fight with the Lewisville ISD, whose board voted unanimously to define media as print and broadcast only and give itself permission to shut out bloggers. (includes video of meeting)

    Not sure how to green up your life? Lucky for you, there's a whole series of tips to that topic at Texas Vox, the Voice of Public Citizen in Texas. This week's suggestion:Start a compost pile! Even in your freezer...

    The Texas Cloverleaf picks up on the "Pay to Play" system, alive and while with Rick Perry and the TABC.

    Problems for the Democrats in 2010? Harry Balczak at McBlogger uncovers something that says that's what we're exactly heading toward.

    Dembones at Eye On Williamson Posts on TX-31 Rep. John Carter's latest hypocrisy Carter’s income disclosure problem spoils GOP tactic.

    Progressive Coalition candidates for Houston city council (and a Socialist running for mayor) are the subject of PDiddie's post at Brains and Eggs.

    Neil at Texas Liberal suggested that voters in Houston consider Progressive Coalition candidates running for Houston City Council. It is hard to see how voting for Democrats year-after-year in city elections has been of great benefit to the people of Houston.

    Over at Texas Kaos, libbyshaw provides a public service by providing a Republican hypocrisy score card. Check out her Texas GOP Hall of Hypocrites. You can't tell the hyprocrites without a scorecard. Wait, you can almost. If there is an "R" beside their names, the odds are better than even....

    Off the Kuff notes that a settlement has been reached in a lawsuit between Democrats and the Harris County Tax Assessor's office over allegations of voter suppression.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 28, 2009

    Why does Dewhearse lie?

    I never thought our Lt. Governor was one of the crazies. So, imagine my surprise when he claimed he'd balanced the budget without help from the Feds, the same lie that 39% has been pushing all over the state like a bad check.

    Jason Embry wasn't amused and called bullshit which isn't really all that surprising when you consider that Jason spends much of his day buried in 39%'s colon (just slightly below Gardner Selby) and 39% doesn't like Dewhearse.

    Still, whatever his motivation, he did nail The Dew rather effectively, even if it was with all the wit of a lobotomized pekingese. Rep. Dunnam did it better.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 27, 2009

    More Mortgage Madness

    Much has been made about the Landmark ruling in KS. It needs to be remembered that all the legal maneuvering still resulted in the foreclosure of the home to satisfy the first lien. At issue was the second lien which Sovereign did not properly perfect, at least not according to the KS supreme court. The decision will likely be altered when Sovereign properly proves it's interest, but it'll be futile since I doubt the sheriff's sale of the property resulted in enough proceeds to even begin to satisfy the first lien. Still, it will straighten out the relationship between owner of the obligation (Sovereign) and their agent (MERS).

    MERS is never, in my experience, a party itself in the event of foreclosure so I don't know where that's coming from (this may be more common in other states but it's not really here). Further, servicers retain the right, on behalf of security holders and acting as their agents in fact (i.e., in their capacity as servicer) to foreclose even on homes that have mortgages that were securitized. MERS usually doesn't even act as a document custodian, that's usually the servicer. MERS just tracks the physical location of the collateral package documents, the servicer on the obligation and who owns the obligation, currently. In the event the note is securitized, the owner would be Fannie Mae Trust 1998-02 with 1998-02, being the second securitizion of 1998 issued by FNMA and held in trust for the investors. The investors in 1998-02 would not have an individual interest in any of the mortgages, they would have an individual interest in FNMA Trust 1998-02. It would be the servicer, acting as agent for FNMA Trust 1998-02,
    that would foreclose. And they'll have no problem doing it. They'll do it because their servicing contract requires them to keep making payments to the trust... even when those payments aren't received from the borrower. The charges people pay for late payments aren't just padding profits.

    The reality, however ugly, is that until the note is satisfied people are not homeowners, they are mortgagors. Since the mortgage is a debt instrument, it does not entitle the holder to an equity interest in the property (it's not a joint equity instrument) so if someone wants to sell a home for more than the current balance due on the note, they get to keep the difference due to their interest as mortgagor. If the home sells for less than the note amount, the borrowers owe the difference to the mortgagee. They signed the contract and they bear ultimate responsibility for it. It's an installment sales contract, like a car note. Everyone is pretty comfortable with the fact that a car is worth less than you pay for it the minute you drive it off the lot. We're not used to it with housing because, on balance, housing prices usually go up. But not always.

    This is going to sound nasty, but I have little sympathy for homeowners or for investors in all this. And I have real problems with the originator fraud issue as that is usually the complaint you hear in the event of foreclosure. When you dig down, you find that all documentation was executed properly and that the customer understood, per affidavit. They wanted the house and glossed over the terms of the obligation they were taking on. Worse, they were usually (on the west coast) counting on the greater fool theory. GFT states that the value of an asset is irrelevant because at some point in the future, a greater fool than you will pay you more for it. That was a HUGE part of the speculative bubble and big part of the loss mitigation problem we face now. So, no, I don't really have a lot of sympathy for the asshole who bought the McMansion on the 2/28 ARM thinking he'd sell it off for $200k more within the 2 year fixed period. He wasn't buying a house, he was going all in on red 21 at a roulette table.

    As for the investors, no one did any due diligence to figure out what should have been obvious... the insurance policies (the CDS) on this shit were juicing the credit quality and no one asked if the issuer of the policy had
    the wherewithal to pay in the event of a claim. Here's the simple conversation that should have taken place between the investor and the salesperson pushing the CDO...

    S: Oh, it's a really good package, filled with safe home loans. You know people always pay their mortgage!
    I: Actually, I don't. People can walk away from a house easily if they have little down.
    S: Maybe, but it's never happened. Besides, we have the entire issue guaranteed.
    I: Really? By whom?
    S: I think AIG is the CDS counterparty on this one.
    I: Really? How are they accounting for that one their books?

    And that's where things go off the rails because AIG wasn't accounting for these transactions on their books. Which would have told anyone that the insurance being sold in combo with these securities was, you know, worthless.

    This aside, I am a TRUE believer in securitization. Without it, our interest rates would be, at a minimum, 2-3% higher and we would not be able to take on some of the risks we take on in terms of borrower credit quality. I LOVE
    the way what was hailed a miracle four years ago for expanding homeownership in the US is now the red-headed stepchild that is constantly bitchslapped by people like Taibbi who really only have the vaguest idea what the fuck
    they're talking about.

    So, in case you are wondering, you can't get your home for free if MERS appears in your docs. Just sayin'.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Kickin' Kay in the kooter

    So, the fucktards that comprise the State Republican Executive Committee (what passes for leadership in the other party) elected themselves a new chair, which they had to do when Tina Fish got pulled over to 39%'s campaign in what we can only assume is an act of self-mutilation. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the new first lady of Teh Crazy, Cathie Adams.

    Cathie's been involved in the Eagle Forum for so long she's actually got a tattoo of Schlafly's face on her inner thigh (it's the left one). That would matter except for the fact that, even in most Republican primaries, no one really gives a shit about the Eagle Forum or what they think. That tends to happen when you lie a lot to people about a homosexual agenda that doesn't exist. Cathie's other claim to fame was convincing a bunch of nutters to make her chair of the RPT. Which brings us to Sen. Hutchison. You see, Cathie had already endorsed 39%, but that was only because Larry Kilgore wouldn't return her calls (one of the few non-crazy things he's done in his entire life).

    One thing that's certain is that she's not retracting her endorsement of 39%. It's also pretty clear Cathie doesn't like Sen. Hutchison and has decided to ride her ass to resign like a stud top in a gay porno.

    Cathie Adams of Dallas, who also said she won’t be withdrawing her earlier endorsement of GOP Gov. Rick Perry’s re-election, said her hope that Hutchison acts on the resignation issue reflects concern among party activists waiting for Hutchison’s decision before setting their own political plans or making political commitments.

    Adams singled out the possibility of Hutchison putting off her resignation until after the 2010 candidate filing period ends in early January, a scenario potentially leaving party leaders with the job of choosing some nominees for major statewide positions. That could happen if incumbents react to a Hutchison resignation after the filing deadline by deciding to either pursue Hutchison’s vacated seat or to chase other offices opened up in the wake of her resignation.

    “It would help the people of the state of Texas to know more clearly, especially by (the candidate filing deadline of) Jan. 4,” Adams said, “because if she resigns after that, we’re going to throw things into quite an unknown.”

    Cathie then whipped out her strap on and started rubbing it suggestively. At that point, everyone just started to back away from her.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 26, 2009

    US Chamber of Commerce losing members?

    Apparently, when an organization swings to the far right, companies choose to leave it. What. A. Shock.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 24, 2009

    If only for the surveillance does

    I didn't care for 'Napoleon Dynamite'. I just didn't get it. And nothing could ever compel me to suffer through 'Nacho Libre', not even a lifetime supply of Glenlivet. But I can't wait to see this!

    Posted by barfly at 02:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 23, 2009

    Oh... one other thing

    On the 20th, I posted this about comments made by Tom Schieffer on health care reform. I realized this morning that I left out one additional comment regarding his remarks...

    Schieffer was asked where he stood on the public option. Supporters argue that private insurance companies will not lower premiums unless and until there is a government-run alternative. Schieffer said he does not believe the public option is the be all and end all of health care reform.

    Really? Well then, Tom, absent strongly enforced regulation, how would you guarantee competition in an industry which is known for concentration? In the health insurance industry, where some insurers control up to 75% of the market in a state, the only certain way to make sure that consumers stop getting screwed is a public option insurer. It will force the private insurers to either become more efficient or go out of a business. Either way, they stop killing people.

    This is what galls me... in a vacuum, the electorate doesn't realize that Republicans are doing nothing but defend the insurance companies. We've done a really poor job of messaging on health care reform and it's only recently started to turn. The polling, despite jacked Democratic messaging and weak as hell bluedogs, is actually very good for a public option. Most people, even in Texas, see it as important to very important. Yet here's one of our candidates for Governor talking about it like it's just not a big deal.

    Guess what, Tom? IT IS. Why the hell wouldn't you drop these useless companies in the grease??! From a messaging standpoint, they are the perfect punching bag... wasteful, greedy and guilty. They've done nothing but fuck over shareholders AND customers, something I always thought would be exceedingly difficult. The only people health insurance companies help are their own worthless management teams. And Tom Schieffer is out carrying their water.

    You can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit. And the longer Tom Schieffer's campaign goes on, the more that becomes abundantly clear.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Roundin' Up The TPA

    The Texas Progressive Alliance celebrates the start of early voting for the 2009 elections with its always on time weekly blog roundup.

    Human tragedies are mounting in the Barnett Shale as study after study shows high levels of toxins in the air. The only ones who can't seem to find anything wrong are the regulators. TXsharon asks, "Will the EPA intervene in Texas?" at Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.

    Why did the US forcibly detain a Mexican human rights advocate? CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know.

    Bay Area Houston says Tort Reformers in Texas suck.

    The Texas Cloverleaf presents the Kay Coward Bailey Hutchison plan for health care mediocrity.

    Off the Kuff takes a look at Cameron Todd Willingham's supposed confession, and finds the evidence for it lacking.

    WCNews at Eye On Williamson states that no matter what you hear Transportation schemes are continuing, despite “death” of the TTC. EOW also had a guest post this week on the PEC, Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC): Who’s Electing Your Board Representative?.

    "Other big names" may enter the Republican primary for governor if Perry and Hutchison can't get their acts together, according to a right-wing talker in D-FW and passed along by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

    The folks at Texas Vox would like to thank everyone who participated in Blog Action Day on Climate Change last week. Following that trend, check out our round-up of Texas Blog Action day posts, let us know who we're missing, and read up on the Business of Climate Change.

    WhosPlayin posted an update on gas drilling in Lewisville, and also breaks the story that a local group is looking to ban smoking in public places in Lewisville.

    refinish69 reopens Doing My Part For The Left with the latest installment of his series Homesless in Austin-An Insider's View Part 7.

    Mean Rachel got to see President Obama speak in College Station on Friday.

    We have known for a long time that Governor Perry is a bottom feeder, but letting an innocent man die and then refusing to get at the truth about his execution? Well, I would not want that on my conscience. Let Libby Shaw bring you up to speed in his posting, All the Good Hair on the Planet Won't Make the Cover Up Go Away.

    Neil at Texas Liberal ran a picture he took this week of the confluence on White Oak Bayou and Buffalo Bayou in Downtown Houston. This spot, important in the founding of Houston, is still a place of connection. If connection could be found in the hot and Hell-like Houston of 175 years ago, we can find connection even in tough circumstances.

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 22, 2009

    Gee, ya think?

    E.J. Dionne over at the WaPo has a very interesting article up today about the problems Democrats may have in 2010 with young voters. It seems the Under-30 vote may be cooling to the Obamessiah and congressional Dems.

    As someone who is safely out of that demographic, my initial reaction to the lede was "So what? Those snot-nosed young punks can't be counted on to consistently vote anyway, what with their autotuned hiphop music and Guitar Hero and what-have-ye' " (my internal voice is much more rural, cranky and out of touch than my talking voice)

    But as Dionne's article notes, the under-30 vote was a significant factor in Obama's election. It's the only demographic that is decidedly more liberal than conservative. Yet pollsters are sensing this wave of promising young progressive voters might sit out in 2010. Know why? For one reason, because they perceive that Obama and the national Democrats aren't serious about following through on last year's campaign promises.

    Another interesting point in Dionne's article is how the different demographic groups act on their dissatisfaction with politicians. Old voters get pissed off and vote. Young voters say 'Fuck it" and stay home.

    This holds good news and bad news. The bad news is that the White House and Congressional Dems appear poised to give the under-30 vote an excuse to stay home next year with some half-assed health care bill that doesn't fundamentally change anything. The good news is, if the news out of Washington these days sometimes makes you fantasize about staying home on Election Day in 2010 as some kind of protest against mambypamby Democrats like Baucus and Nellie, it just means you're young at heart.

    Of course, us older and wiser folk know that's counterproductive. But for you Democrats out there who think you're playing to the "middle", I would ask this: Who's going to support you in the primaries if the young voters stay at home and the old voters are pissed at you?

    Posted by hbalczak at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 21, 2009

    Fuckin' around with the FEC

    If your wondering just how solid our campaign finance laws are, go look at this piece on the swiftboat network. Doesn't it make you feel good to know that laws designed to keep campaign fundraising transparent really do anything but?

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 20, 2009

    Dumbass. This is why your idea sucks balls.

    Working for Hank has restricted some of the blogging I can do... however, this just had to be said. I did manage to clean up my language. Somewhat.

    Last week Tom Schieffer, who is running for the Democratic nomination, had a nice chat with the Rio Grande Guardian. He was so impressed with it, he even sent it out to his mail list and posted it on his website. Here's the part that caught my eye...

    “The situation we have right now is unsustainable and what we have right now is fewer and fewer people being covered and higher and higher costs. That does not work. What the president is trying to do is give people access to a system in which they can get coverage and I think it will eventually lower health insurance premiums because everybody will be covered.”

    Schieffer said what is happening right now is the people who are paying for health insurance are paying for all the people who are not insured. He said they are paying it in the form of higher taxes at the county level and they are paying for it in the form of higher insurance rates. “Someone has to pick up the indigent health care costs and the uncovered costs. That is why the costs are so high right now,” he said.

    Schieffer was asked where he stood on the public option. Supporters argue that private insurance companies will not lower premiums unless and until there is a government-run alternative. Schieffer said he does not believe the public option is the be all and end all of health care reform.

    “I look at it like we have mandatory automobile coverage. Everybody has to have it and you have what they call an Assigned Risk Pool and people compete for the business,” Schieffer said.

    “When we first started mandatory auto insurance in Texas there were hundreds of thousands of people who were not covered. We have got that down to less than 100,000. I do not think that having the public option or not having the public option is critical. I think it is all about access. When people have access they will feel a lot better and it will work better than it is right now. Right now the system is broken.”

    We do not pay sky-high premiums because there too few insured. We pay higher property taxes and that's the only accurate thing he said. Everything else is complete bullshit. Hank Gilbert nails it here, but I wanted to point out some things in my own special way. Mostly because it pisses me off badly as a Texan and a Democrat that a man who wants to be Governor would be so casual about one of the biggest problems we face as a nation.

    Health care reform ISN'T about access to private insurance. Everyone has access but an ever growing number can not afford the premium. And this isn't auto insurance, it's far more complex and dominated by some extremely large players. In other words, THERE IS NO GODDAMN EFFECTIVE MARKET. Further, just having more people in the pool isn't going to lower the premium... that's not the way insurance works today. NOW, with real time analysis tools and risk management systems, premiums are often based not on the pool, but on the effective risk of the individual in non-negotiated (individual) insurance plans.

    Even if it were still the 70's and what Schieffer said was true (assuming it ever really was), this is saying 'let's create a legal obligation to buy health insurance and put no restrictions on the insurers to lower rates'. I'm not real comfortable trusting an insurance company that thinks being a woman is a pre-existing condition. Or that uses credit scores to determine price, not actual risk (and don't come at me with that ridiculous little study from UT that was based on industry data).

    A candidate for Governor should know all this. And that's why I'm supporting one who does.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 19, 2009

    Fatback to run against Rep. Donna Howard

    Dan Neil, a former lineman for the Horns and the Denver Broncos, is now a salesman for a manufacturing firm. He'd also like to be the Republican candidate in HD 48 running against Representative Donna Howard in the 2010 general election.

    Now, I'll give $50 cash to the first person who can give me a reasonable explanation as to why he's decided to run against Rep. Howard and what, exactly, would make him a better Representative for HD 48. Remember, it has to be reasonable.

    This has the distinctive reek of a do-over of Ben 'Douche' Bentzin, without the millions. And the powerwashing nanny.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Fox v The White House

    For those of us still pissed at the White House for not, you know, working harder on health care reform and instead prostrating themselves to please Sen. Snowe, there is some funny. The campaign to take on FOX continues...

    Stick with it, kids. It's time someone finally stated the obvious and cut off their access. It won't kill them since there will always be 2-3% of this county dragging their knuckles in a futile attempt to keep up with the rest of us. However, there's just no reason to pretend they are a real news organization any longer.

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

    October 16, 2009

    Yet another sign of the apocalypse

    Mark it down, girls and boys... I'm agreeing with ARNOLD GARCIA

    Toward the tail end of last week, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who are competing for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, both signed pledges not to raise state taxes. They did so at the behest of Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader who famously said he wanted government made small enough so that he could drown it in a bathtub.

    Perry has wrapped himself in so many layers of fiscal conservatism over his two decades of elected service (starting with his election to the Texas House as a Democrat in 1984) that he wouldn't need a windbreaker in the dead of an Iceland winter.

    But wait, there's more.

    Perry waved the anti-tax banner even higher last week when he declared that he would like to see a constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise taxes.

    Wow. Let's see somebody get inside that, as they say on the golf course.

    The two-thirds proposition is a real head scratcher because Perry is plagiarizing ideas on how to run a state from California, of all places.

    Tax increases must pass by two-thirds vote of both houses of the California Legislature — a stipulation adopted by 12 other states.

    So, how's that two-thirds deal working out in California?

    Not so well. As you may recall, California legislators had a devil of a time passing a budget because Republicans and Democrats couldn't agree on taxes. The state government was issuing IOUs in the meantime, and the budget crisis was making for a national spectacle.

    Perry was the leading voice in the choir of tut-tutters about how California politicos manage money.

    In fairness to the Duke's adopted state, California legislators were also hamstrung by Proposition 13, which caps property taxes and was passed with great hoopla in the 1970s.

    What Garcia didn't point out is that if CA had our property tax structure, they'd have been pretty close to surplus right now unlike Texas which needed more than $12 bn from PRESIDENT OBAMA to balance the budget. 39% failed to make apologies to the Tenth Amendment for that one.

    So, once again we have two chickenshit Republicans who took time out of their lives to suck off Grover Norquist by pledging to throw us all under the bus if they're elected. This is 39%'s, what, 18th time doing this particular duty? I guess 39% really likes Grover's ball juice.

    If you want to stop this bullshit, go here and volunteer. And drop a few bucks here if you can.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 15, 2009

    Dregs : Sen. Snowe (R-Moron), 39%'s arson link and more

  • Scarecrow over at FDL reminds us that it was Sen. Olympia Snowe who helped jack up the stimulus package, directly putting more than 40k people out of work... because of politics.
    “When history calls . . .” we’d better hope Olympia Snowe is not the only one listening. Snowe was among those responsible for weakening the stimulus, and now she’s in a position — because that’s where the White House wanted her — to do similar damage to health care reform.

    Ms. Snowe was the center of what Krugman called the “destructive centrists” whose demands on weakening the stimulus bill led to the firing of 40,000 or so teachers and thousands more state workers by stripping state budgets of a desperately needed federal rescue.

    So we have Sen. Snowe to thank for allowing the states to become dozens of anti-stimulus time bombs that are still going off, as they cut spending, raise taxes and lay off hundreds of thousands of workers tied to those budgets.

    Now she’s become a major obstacle to fixing the abysmal Baucus health bill, and so far she’s staked out positions that, if honored, will leave the Democrats with a bill no one should vote for unless they’re hoping to earn the contempt of the American voters.

    And now, she's looking to do the same thing to the public option in particular and health care in general, despite massive public support for the public option. The sad thing is that we don't need her, but the White House and certain chickenshit Congressional D's have given her this power. Never before has someone so worthless been given so much power.

  • Irony for the week... 39%'s general counsel when he denied the stay of execution for Willlingham (the guy who, it turns out, was likely innocent) was indicted for insurance fraud and... wait for it... ARSON.
  • Over in Houston, Musing has an interesting story up about some trouble for Gene Locke.
  • As it turns out, even doctors support the Public Option. So why doesn't Sen. Snowe? Or Sen. Baucus?
  • 39% and Sen. Hutchison spent some time recently fellating Grover Norquist. It's always heartening to see two Republicans giving it up to a dirtbag who isn't even from Texas. Which makes them, at best, whores.
  • Speaking of Senators, our own Junior John is now talking about how much he hates deficits. But Kuff, oddly, remembers a time when he not only loved them, he let them gang rape him and finish off with a chilli dog using his moobs. He also has a huge thing for Grover Norquist.
  • Y'all have a goodun!

    Posted by mcblogger at 02:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Payroll Tax Holiday?

    If we need another round of stimulus, I can't think of a better idea...

    The Administration and Congress are informing the public that everything is beginning to look good because of the trillions of dollars that they provided to repair the banks. The problem is that they have it backwards; the economy is best fixed from the bottom up rather than the top down.

    In June 2008, Warren Mosler proposed three ‘bottom up’ policies to fix the economy. The first proposal is for a full Payroll Tax Holiday for both employees and employers. This stops the government from taking approximately $20 billion a week from people working for a living (a total of $600 per month for someone making $50,000 per year) rather than using that $20 billion to keep some bank limping along. The Government would still continue to credit the social security and the Medicare accounts, so employees and employers will never have to pay back the monies they received. The Payroll Tax Holiday would restore income to American workers (and businesses) to help make their loan payments, rents, pay bills, and sustain their households. The real economy would benefit as Americans both reduce debt and resume consumption. Banks will benefit because there will be fewer delinquencies and foreclosures in non fraudulent mortgages, which will also help limit home price declines. The Payroll Tax Holiday would also reduce corporate cost structures and help contain prices and inflation. The payroll tax is regressive (it is not graduated based on income like the income tax), so the Payroll Tax Holiday will benefit those in the lower income levels the most. This “People Power” solution will be far more effective than the Bush and Obama trickle down solution. And the Government can decide to end the Payroll Tax Holiday should the economy become too strong and inflation become a concern.

    While the banks did need to be stabilized, the President and the Congress (mostly because of Republicans and Blue Dogs) focused the stimulus more on marginal tax cuts than on real tax cuts to people who would actually spend money.

    Of course, Mosler isn't saying anything about wage growth which is the real, far larger problem. Until we fix that, we're going to continue to concentrate wealth at the top and we'll be continuously vulnerable to another economic meltdown.

    Posted by mcblogger at 11:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 14, 2009

    Out of their element

    If you thought the Bush folks, once the compliant media started getting a little more testy, seemed more incompetent, you were pretty much spot on...

    after chris, Jonathan Horn, and I learned about the president’s $700-billion-bailout proposal and drafted the remarks announcing it to a stunned nation, Ed said the president wanted to see us in the Oval Office. The president looked relaxed and was sitting behind the Resolute desk. He felt he’d made the major decision that everyone had been asking for. That always seemed to relax him. He liked being decisive. Excuse me, boldly decisive. The president seemed to be thinking of his memoirs. “This might go in as a big decision,” he mused.

    “Definitely, Mr. President,” someone else observed. “This is a large decision.”

    The president asked his secretary, Karen, to bring him the Rose Garden remarks he’d just delivered that day, September 19, announcing his action plan. He got slightly exasperated when she was delayed in printing them out. When he finally got them, he put his half-glasses on and looked at them. “See, this was fine today,” he said. “But we got to make this understandable for the average cat.” He proposed an outline for another speech that talked about the situation our economy was in, how we’d gotten here, and how the administration’s plan was a solution.

    “This is the last bullet we have,” the president said at one point, referring to the bailout. “If this doesn’t work…” He shook his head, and his voice trailed off. That wasn’t good enough for me. If this doesn’t work, then what? We’re done? America is over? I looked around at everyone else. What does that mean?

    This is the problem when you have an incurious and frankly stupid President driven by ideology, not reality.

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

    It's worth noting...

    As a follow up to the Mayor's piece this AM, I'd like to take a little time to spill some reality on the speculation and innuendo. The TTC is a really minor part of Hank Gilbert's campaign. Actually, it was even in 2006. The broader issues are eminent domain abuse and infrastructure privatization, two VERY important issues in Texas. TTC was merely the most glaringly offensive symbol of both.

    Maybe the Mayor doesn't give a crap about being on the hook for billions to a private company as a taxpayer in this state. But many of us do.

    Hank cofounded TURF which now has almost 300,000 members and working with ASL has managed to delay or fully stop a lot of bad public policy. Keep in mind, EVERY Democrat and more than a few Republicans voted to do exactly what TURF had been lobbying them to do during the last legislative session. People in Washington talk about bipartisanship and accomplish nothing while Hank is actually doing something, with those on the opposite side of the political spectrum, to stop a mountain of bad policy. And McSleaze wants to compare THAT with Rick Perry leading some sort of secessionist chant at a teabagger party? Sorry if I don't draw the connection... I haven't had my daily cup 'o crazy.

    The Mayor would rather make this all about some guilt-by-association thing, as if working with Republicans to accomplish something worthwhile were anything other than an unalloyed good thing. It would be great if Democrats acting alone could accomplish everything. I for one am proud to support someone smart enough to build a coalition to actually do something other than bitch and moan or, like the other candidates in the Democratic primary, ignore the issue altogether.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    When You Lie Down With Dogs

    No one was happier than I was when Hank Gilbert entered the Democratic Primary for the gubernatorial nomination. Tom Schieffer, the semi-official candidate of what passes for the Texas Democratic Establishment, struck me as possessing all the charisma of Chris Bell taking a nap, making very real the awful prospect of getting stuck with D-List buffoon Kinky Friedman as our nominee and an automatic four more years of Governor For Life Goodhair. At last we had a guy who really seemed up to the job of kicking Rick Perry's sorry ass down Congress Avenue.

    So I suppressed my initial cynical thought "I guess Ag Commish wasn't really the only job he wanted after all", applauded instead, even made a donation that I really couldn't afford. But... what should land in my inbox a few days ago but this fascinating communique...


    TUESDAY: Hank Gilbert, TURF, and American Stewards Of Liberty Officials will be available via conference call to discuss the "death" of the Trans Texas Corridor and potential taxpayer liability

    TYLER-Hank Gilbert will be available, along with leaders from Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) and American Stewards of Liberty (formerly the American Land Foundation and Stewards of the Range) to discuss the demise of TTC-35 and potential taxpayer liability related to the state's contract termination with Cintra-Zachry.

    WHO: Hank Gilbert, Democratic Candidate for Governor of Texas; Dan and Margaret Byfield, American Stewards of Liberty (formerly the American Land Foundation and Stewards of the Range); Terri Hall, Texans Uniting For Reform and Freedom (TURF) [NOTE: Mrs. Hall's availability is subject to change]

    WHAT: Phone-in Press Conference, Media Q&A Session

    WHEN: Wednesday, October 7, 2009, 12:00 P.M. CST

    HOW: Participants must dial into the conference call as follows:


    Now, for a lot of people, Hank Gilbert included, the Trans Texas Corridor has been a Great Satan. Me, not so much. Oh, to be sure, I figured that anything the governor wanted so bad probably couldn't be good thing. But I just never really bought into the menace of a concrete Gargantua, sixteen football fields wide straight as an arrow from the Gulf of California to wherever the hell it supposed to be going; Rick Perry as the unholy spawn of Ozymandias and William Tecumseh Sherman, not so much. I figured that the TTC, like fluoride in the water, like broccoli, might turn out to not be quite as horrible as predicted. And who knows, it might not even really happen.

    Well, who would have guessed it, the TTC was pronounced dead last week. Which you'd think would be Good News except apparently it's bad news if a big part of your message has been fighting the TTC... kind of like how all the professional anticommunists who had flourished under Reagan weren't all that happy about having to find new gigs after the Evil Empire landed in History's Out Box. So Hank Gilbert is one of those proclaiming the project as The Thing That Wouldn't Die. Fine, that's his opinion, he can argue his case as he sees it. But his cohorts mentioned in the press advisory, I have to ask: Who ARE those guys?

    The website of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (that's TURF for those who can stomach cutesy acronyms) identifies it as a grassroots group. Of course, these days that's a claim made by just about everyone smaller than Microsoft. Maybe a clearer picture of just who TURF is can be found by visiting their links page. It's certainly no surprise to find the libertarian/paulite Texas Toll Party front group, together with its local cells. A little bit more on the crazy side is the NAU War Room, "leading the fight" against that bête noire of the black helicopter crowd, the North American Union. If you've never heard of it, they have a video of Tom Tancredo who will edjumacate you all about it. And then there's Habeas Corpus Canada the lonely project of an activist who "is preparing legal proceedings in Habeas Corpus to halt the annexation of Canada to the United States." (Anybody got Orly Taitz's cell number?}

    The American Stewards Of Liberty is a little harder to pin down, since it's a merger of two groups and they haven't finished construction on their new website. But we can get a taste from their "news service" Liberty Matters, which proclaims...

    One of the most critical elements of the Liberty Matters project, however, is its strong affiliation with major think-tanks such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. While these groups already compile and provide sound, credible public policy solutions and very effectively influence lawmakers and the major media, often these ideas do not reach the grassroots until the political opportunities have passed. As a result, these ideas do not get the kind of push and backing that only the grassroots can provide.

    In November 1994, the grassroots clearly demonstrated their political power by overloading the Capitol Switchboard more than once. The result was the shelving of every major piece of environmental legislation by the attachment of property rights amendments. By combining and coordinating the political strength of think-tanks and the grassroots on these issues, the political direction of this country will change.

    I expect that most readers of this blog need no introduction to the Heritage Foundation. The Competitive Enterprise Institute isn't as well known, in spite of actions like its campaign against the threat to civilization posed by World Car-Free Day.

    A few months ago Rick Perry came in for his share of criticism for speaking to the motley collection of tea baggers, birthers, and unaffiliated nuts at the Fox News-inspired Austin Tea Party. Texans should expect better of their political leaders than associating themselves with the crackpots and astroturfers of the lunatic fringe. And that holds true even if you're a Democrat.

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 08:23 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    October 13, 2009

    Fatass v Candyass

    Or, as some of you might like to think of it, Limbaugh v Scarborough. It would seem that the round mound of sound has actually picked on another conservative who is unafraid of slapping him with his dick.

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

    October 12, 2009

    Who is running the Austin Catholic Diocese?

    Texas Association of Business president Bill Hammond raises his ugly head. More on that later

    When the former bishop of the Austin Diocese, Greg Aymond, was installed as Archbishop of New Orleans, the now vacant Austin position that could take up to 18 months to fill by Pope Benedict the 16th created a power vacuum. In the meantime, the former vicar general of the Austin diocese, Monsignor Michael Mulvey, was elected as Administrator until the appointment.

    Mulvey’s recent public statement about the impact of Austin Energy’s Resource and Climate Protection Plan on the poor has lead to State Rep Eddie Rodriguez’s response that choosing between green energy and protecting the poor is a false dilemma.

    The reasons for Mulvey’s statement could range from ensuring the Pledge of St. Francis and the church’s commitment to the poor to the more earthy concerns about the cost of utility bills for the diocese’s churches and schools. What should be included in the debate is whether solar conversion subsidies or rebates can be structured for the schools classified as educational entities rather than denominational ones. That might be asking for too much.

    Setting aside the fact that a worsening environment has more impact on the poor, the formula to calculate future pricing on energy is in constant flux with parameters tied to improving technology, political leadership and will, emerging world economies, transmission capabilities, inflation, and a number of other factors.

    For Mulvey to say that utility bills will rise as much as 50% in the next five years was either alarmist, naïve, or engineered behind the scenes.

    While it is difficult to ascertain the current remarks coming out of the diocese, it seems a bias toward maintaining a coal, natural gas, and nuclear strategy at the expense of cleaner forms. So why the public pushback by the diocese on clean energy?

    Maybe you don’t have to look any farther than Hammond and his organization.

    You might remember them during the Tom Delay reign. Having Hammond included in a joint statement with the diocese along with talking points on the dioceses’ website raises a number of red flags. Plus, a well-known strategy for conservatives is to interject their concern for the poor while trying to get favorable outcome for corporations, the wealthy, and their own self-interest.

    The diocese needs to be more transparent on their relationship with Hammond, and the rest of us need to start connecting the dots.

    This discussion is not a referendum on the church and the faithful, but a need to understand why the diocesan leaders came out with this statement, and to find out if there has been infiltration of people and organizations that wish to use the diocese as a political football, and would like nothing more than to cause a rift.

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

    This Old Company

    In Goodfellas, a restaurant owner has some problems with Joe Pesci's character and goes running to the family boss, played by Paul Sorvino. He asks Sorvino's character to step in, take an interest in the joint so maybe Joe Pesci won't forget to pay his tab.

    What ended up happening was Sorvino and the family loaded up the restaurant with debt and when they couldn't get any more credit, they torched the place and collected on the insurance. It's illegal when the mob does it, so why isn't it illegal when private equity does it? I mean, that is essentially what Thomas H. Lee Partners did to Simmons Mattress Company.

    Twice after buying Simmons, THL borrowed more. It used $375 million of that money to pay itself a dividend, thus recouping all of the cash it put down, and then some.

    A result: THL was guaranteed a profit regardless of how Simmons performed. It did not matter that the company was left owing far more than it was worth, just as many people profited from the mortgage business while many homeowners found themselves underwater.

    Investors who bought that debt are getting virtually nothing in the new deal.

    “From my experience, none of the private equity firms were building a brand for the future,” said Robert Hellyer, Simmons’s former president, who worked for several of the private equity buyers before being asked to leave the company in 2005. “Plus, the mind-set was, since the money was practically free, why not leverage the company to the maximum?”

    Just as with the housing market, the good times ended when the economy fell into recession and the credit markets froze. Simmons is now groaning under a huge amount of debt at a time when its sales are slowing. And this time there is no escaping by finding yet another buyer willing to shoulder its entire burden.

    Simmons is one of hundreds of companies swept up by private equity firms in the early part of this decade, during the greatest burst of corporate takeovers the world has ever seen. Many of these deals, cut in good times, left little or no margin for error — let alone for the Great Recession.

    Now, to some people, making an enormous profit is all good even when it's destroying whole companies, jobs and the fortunes of investors dumb enough to buy the debt (I am not one of those folks, so don't think I'm coming from there). However, I think we can all agree that while it's good for a very small number who are actually doing the deals, for the rest of society and the economy, it's really bad in a black and white, unmitigated kind of way.

    So how do we stop it? How about changing tax policy to asses a special tax against special, one time dividends paid to owners on companies that have acquired control of those companies in the last 10 years if the dividend is to be paid by issuing debt. And set the tax at 90%. While this won't completely stop the looting, it will at least make sure that companies aren't eaten alive with debt.

    Posted by mcblogger at 08:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 10, 2009

    Not the most terrible idea...

    ... but I'm sure Captain Kroc will hate it.

    Posted by mcblogger at 03:19 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    October 09, 2009

    Chamber of Horrors

    Maybe the most worthless organization this side of the Heritage Foundation continues its’ creep toward conservative Christian extremism. Recent statements from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about global warming would make the Texas SBOE envious.

    "We've never questioned the science behind global warming," the chamber's spokesman said. "The chamber is trying to move forward with solutions on climate change." That wasn't what a chamber senior vice president said in late August when he said the chamber wanted to put the science of climate change on trial. "It would be evolution versus creationism," he said. "It would be the science of climate change on trial." Nor was the chamber pro-science when its foundation identified a global warming denier's book on its top ten reading list for 2009. Nor was it pro-science when the chamber's president claimed global cooling in 2008.

    Now, corporations are deciding that the chamber’s main purpose is no longer to promote business but to push nutty religious beliefs. Many are not renewing their membership with the organization.

    Here's the rub: a growing number of businesses recognize that being boneheaded and short-sighted about climate change is bad for business. If what's good for business is what's good for America, then pro-environmental corporations know that what's bad for business is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Given the number of businesses that belong to the chamber and are headed by American Christians, one wonders if these Christian CEOs are speaking to their local chambers about the need for the national office to be truthful and to stop being obstructionists to a real solution to global warming. The Chamber of Commerce is being neither a responsible corporate citizen nor a truth-teller. That should concern Christian business leaders.

    The full story from ethicsdaily.com

    Posted by Captain Kroc at 08:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    A Fire On The Moon

    Stung by the furor over NASA's launch of a probe meant to impact the Moon, enabling scientists to look for signs of water, spokesman Herbert Visafloud acknowledged that many Americans are more comfortable with traditional methods of discovery and colonization. The next rocket, he said, would carry a payload of conquistadors, missionaries and smallpox.

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 11:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    GOP loves poor people. Who knew?

    Every once in awhile, a local contributors’ letter to the AAS is so outlandish, that you are left speechless. Well, at least for a little while.

    When Travis County Chairwoman Rosemary Edwards states in her diatribe against the city of Austin’s energy plan, that the GOP is concerned for poor people, even Jesus himself probably became faint. Her words might be encouraging if not for the fact that she has lead organized protests against Congressman Lloyd Doggett and the Democratic Party’s plan to provide affordable and accessible health care to the same poor people she professes her undying love.

    Then she has the gall to involve the Austin Catholic Diocese in her partisan politics and take a Diocesan spokeswoman words out of context. While much of the church’s commitment to the poor and environment is found in the creed of St. Francis, the GOP’s new-found enlightenment comes from the screed of Karl Rove.

    This is the GOP’s latest attempt to con us into believing they are compassionate conservatives, and gain inroads to the catholic community. Although local Republican operatives are pushing hard for the next bishop of Austin to be ultra conservative with a strong fondness for business, this movement is nationwide.

    Some advice for Edwards – go back to just demanding President Obama’s birth certificate because your reputation is already one of a wacko, no reason to add liar.

    Posted by Captain Kroc at 10:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Once more, Bruce Bartlett

    Why Bartlett continues to call himself a Republican is a mystery, especially when he says things like this...

    His conservatism starts with the idea that high taxes are no longer the problem, even if complaining about them still makes for good politics. This year, federal taxes are on pace to equal just 15 percent of gross domestic product. It is the lowest share since 1950.

    As the economy recovers, taxes will naturally return to about 18 percent of G.D.P., and Mr. Obama’s proposed rate increase on the affluent would take the level closer to 20 percent. But some basic arithmetic — the Medicare budget, projected to soar in coming decades — suggests taxes need to rise further, and history suggests that’s O.K.

    For one thing, past tax increases have not choked off economic growth. The 1980s boom didn’t immediately follow the 1981 Reagan tax cut; it followed his 1982 tax increase to reduce the deficit. The 1990s boom followed the 1993 Clinton tax increase. Tax rates matter, but they’re nowhere near the main force affecting growth.

    And taxes are supposed to rise as a country grows richer. This is Wagner’s Law, named for the 19th-century economist Adolf Wagner, who coined it. As societies become more affluent, people demand more services that governments tend to provide, like health care, education and a strong military. A century ago, federal taxes equaled just a few percent of G.D.P. The country wasn’t better off than it is today.

    Yes, that's right kiddos! A conservative who actually understands the Laffer Curve.

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 08, 2009

    Wherever Sarah Palin goes...

    ...she's sure to make Americans in general and Alaskans in particular look like a bunch of low-brow, mouthbreathing hillbillies.

    It was Sarah's trip to Asia and her first appearance since her resignation as Alaska's top Mum. In her state capital, she told us, you could see a moose in the middle of the city. It was not a common sight in Hong Kong. Why, in Alaska, where 20,000 square miles of the state was glacial and with only two humans per square mile, "it seems to me that God just chucked this bucketful of resources there". It was then we realised that whoever wrote the Palin sermon for her, they had – mercilessly – allowed some of the real Sarah to show through. Even husband Todd got a mention. He had flown with her into Hong Kong. And – here was a reference to the Alaska fish and caviar consumed in this "beautiful", "magnificent" and "libertarian" part of China – "some of the fruits of our labour, mine and Todd's, ended up on tables here". The caviar at the Hyatt, it should be added, comes from Iran.

    Salmon caviar? Whoever heard of such a thing.

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

    Assets, liabilities and Federal debt... a tempest in a teapot

    Much has recently been made of our collective debt and the rapid increasing of it by the current government. It's odd how so many debt hawks have come out of the woodwork recently and loudly... my only question of them is WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN, ASSHOLES? See, many of us have been worried about Federal debt levels for a while, especially since when we were running huge deficits to give tax cuts that did nothing to grow the economy because, at the level of taxation from which the cuts were made, there was no marginal utility from them.

    In other words, we cut taxes by a dollar and that ended up creating no additional economic activity... other than giving Treasury the opportunity to sell more debt. People like me were worried about this because, naturally, you only want to take on debts when you're

    A) Using it to grow assets that will earn income at a rate that exceeds the coupon on the debt. Basically, if I buy a business for $2 mn and it's earning 200k per year, if I finance the purchase with debt then my interest rate really can't be more than 5% which would give me enough to service the debt and pay it down. SIMPLISTICALLY.

    B) As a government, in economic distress and even then you want to spend the money by basically giving it to people to get the economy producing maximum tax revenues. Again, you want to grow the economy at a rate which exceeds the interest you're paying.

    The reality the debt hawks are unwilling to acknowledge is that the debt is largely a tempest in a teapot. In general, you don't want debt to exceed four times your annual income. In the case of the United States, we're still a long way off...

    debt graph.jpg

    What really irritates me is that they're double counting mortgage liabilities in household debt, then again with the GSE's. So, functionally, we're at 263% of GDP in total debt. As for the other really scary columns that represent future entitlement spending, it's really simple... they disappear with a few minor changes. Like increasing the retirement age which should have been done 30 years ago.

    Now, assets are also important... As of 2008, US citizens and non-profits have around $51 trillion in assets. This doesn't include local, state and federal assets or infrastructure. Which would likely add another $20 trillion to the party. I point this out because a good rule of thumb is that the absolute maximum debt that's reasonable is about 100% of assets. And we're no where near that point.

    Don't take this as me saying 'hey, let's spend, bitches!' The point is that while we're in an economic hole, we should be spending. A lot. We also need about $2 trillion in infrastructure investments. And we CAN afford it.

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

    October 07, 2009

    Study Finds Brainiest States Voted For Obama

    It must be true, it's on the internet...

    The District of Columbia was at the top of the pack, thanks to the high amounts of fish and DHA omega-3-fortified foods and supplements consumed there, the quantity of fruits and vegetables its residents eat and the fact that many of the capital's residents are bookworms. (Interestingly, Alaska tied with D.C. in the rate at which residents read for personal interest.)

    Also receiving high marks were Connecticut (ranked fifth brainiest overall), thanks in part to the quality of its education system; Massachusetts (ranked seventh), for its high rates of health insurance coverage; and New Jersey (ranked eighth), for having one of the lowest rates of psychological distress in the nation. The complete top 10:

    1. Washington, D.C.
    2. Maryland
    3. Washington state
    4. Vermont
    5. Connecticut
    6. Colorado
    7. Massachusetts
    8. New Jersey
    9. Maine
    10. New Hampshire

    Yeah, we'll see who's laughing when the zombies attack.

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 12:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Homeland Security and the 2016 Olympics

    Did the current intrusive mess that is US Customs mean the loss of the 2016 Olympics? Very likely, according to the NYT

    “Among the toughest questions posed to the Chicago bid team this week in Copenhagen was one that raised the issue of what kind of welcome foreigners would get from airport officials when they arrived in this country to attend the Games. Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, in the question-and-answer session following Chicago’s official presentation, pointed out that entering the United States can be “a rather harrowing experience.”

    Posted by mcblogger at 09:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 06, 2009

    Texas is all about FUN!

  • Texas is now #1 in SECOND teen pregnancies. You know, because condoms would promote sex.
  • Would you buy sex from this lady?

    Apparently, the cops in University Park (with the help of their big brother, DPD) think this lady is a prostitute. She claims to just be a masseuse. Honestly, having met some female masseurs, she looks more like one of them than like a prostitute. I think this is a case of a neighbor in UP not liking this lady or the house she's renting. Or wanting it as a tear down.

  • Apparently, we're not the only ones pissed about lack of a public option in some Democratic plans. And you gotta see the art that goes with the post.
  • Muse wants to know if it would be a good idea to expand Rep. Chisum's Twogetherness law to Teh Gays. So they don't get Teh Divorced which is apparently just as bad as them getting Teh Married.
  • I've been loathe to wade into the Houston mayors race, mostly because I don't live there and frankly could care less. Don't get me wrong, I like Annise Parker, but it's hard to care about a race for a city office in another place. That being said, this did catch my eye. Seriously, Gene Locke? $640 AN HOUR.

    In my world, you better damn well deliver full release to charge an hourly rate like that. And it better be AWESOME.

  • TXDOT has to give money back to the Feds... not because of some rescission issue but because they JUST DIDN'T ALLOCATE IT FOR CONSTRUCTION. Score yet another fuckup for the boys and girls managing TXDOT.
  • Speaking of transportation, the revolving door between tolling and government continues.
  • Y'all have a goodun!

    Posted by mcblogger at 12:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 05, 2009

    Net Neutrality and Sen. Hutchison

    Obama's FCC comes out in favor of Net Neutrality. Which is hella cool since we've been worried about that for a while.

    Meanwhile, Kay Baby is still shilling for AT&T. I can't wait to see her contributors list and cross check with that AT&T lobbyists and employees.

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Precisely right

    We want a public option. We do not want anything less.

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

    October 04, 2009

    Today In History

    In 1945, President Truman signed an Executive Order restoring the standard spelling of "cigarette". The name of the tobacco product had been shortened to "cigaret" in 1942 to make more t's and e's available for the War Effort.

    The efforts of the War Spelling Board also paid off in helping to identify nazi agent Bruno Schurzmann, put ashore by U-Boat in 1943 to sabotage the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Schurzmann's persistent use of the prewar spelling aroused the suspicion of the FBI. When he also insisted that the Chicago Cubs were in the American League the would-be saboteur was arrested, tried and executed.

    Posted by mayor mcsleaze at 07:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 02, 2009

    Welcome to Supercuts, Mr. Edwards

    If wife Elizabeth cleans him out, it'll probably be a long long time before Hair Cut Boy drops four hundred bucks on getting coiffed again.

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

    Roundin' Up The TPA

    As early voting for the November elections looms on the horizon, the Texas Progressive Alliance says good-bye to September and hello to another weekly blog roundup.

    BREAKING NEWS: Natural Gas Development Brings "amazing and very high" Levels of Carcinogens and Neurotoxins to Barnett Shale area! Take a deep breath before you read this study because the findings will take your breath away! TXsharon at Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS broke this story and the study evaluation by MacAuthur (Genius) Award winner, Wilma Subra.

    This week Left of College Station, Teddy reports on why the anti-choice movement is not about abortion but about the oppression of women. Also, guest blogger Litia writes about asking non-tradition questions about Texas A&M traditions; Litia writes a weekly guest blog for College Station about a liberal teaching in Aggieland. Left of College Station also coves the week in headlines.

    Neil at Texas Liberal writes that Socialist candidate for Mayor of Houston Amanda Ulman should run a serious campaign or not run at all. There once was a solid base of socialist voters in Texas and the U.S. Who says that cannot someday happen again?

    McBlogger takes aim at people who think that adjusting to climate change is just something that will unfairly hurt the poor.

    Off the Kuff contemplates the possible entry of Farouk Shami into the Governor's race.

    Over at TexasKaos, boadicea, Warrior Queen, is seeking a pulse, any pulse over at the Tom Schieffer campaign, as she opines that Tom Schieffer Needs Something Original to Offer. It seems that lifting policy ideas from Hank Gilbert is the best he can do right now. Read the rest at TexasKaos.

    The old Easter Lemming has a useful post on voting for the Constitutional Amendments in his area.

    The Texas Cloverleaf looks at the 22 year high TX unemployment rate. What recession? We're in one?

    Agriculture commissioner Todd Staples opened his mouth and out fell a big wad of stupid. Stupid so ignorant that it topped anything Rick Perry or John Cornyn or even Glenn Beck could manage this week. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has it -- if you can stand it.

    WhosPlayin followed up on an open records request for internal emails related to Lewisville ISD's decision to ban President Obama's speech to children. The emails, including a racially charged email from a board member to the superintendant, do not paint a pretty picture..

    WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on money, energy, and the economy in the Texas governor's race, Perry's cap and trade photo op.

    CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Rick Perry does his best George Bush cowboy imitation with Ranger Recon.

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

    Glen Beck... in love with TARP

    Well, at least he was until we went to FOX...

    Posted by mcblogger at 01:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    The echo chamber

    I'm sure it will come as a HOOOOOOGE surprise that Fox News was tops in the ratings of all the news channels. Considering that they're the only ones really appealing to the all important older white conservative demo, it's really not all that shocking.

    What was shocking was the vein on Glenn Beck's forehead when he was bellowing on about Rep. Grayson's refusal to apologize for remarks on the floor of the House. In those remarks, he accurately assessed the Republican health care plan as 'Don't get sick' and 'if you do get sick, die quickly'. Which actually IS their plan so I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.

    In other news, more people watched Gossip Girl Monday night than Bill O'Reilly. Yes, I was one of them, which I'm sure will give The Mayor yet another opportunity to ridicule me for the programs I watch.

    Posted by mcblogger at 10:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    October 01, 2009

    This makes me laugh...

    A bill targeting ACORN may hit an unintended target, defense contractors. The bill is designed to cut off federal funds from contractors who commit fraud. Which would, coincidentally, effect many private companies from defense contractors like Lockheed Martin to small Katrina cleanup companies.

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