Zippidy Doo Da

I'm not stupid, I'm from Texas!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ay Currumba!

The Narco War in Mexico is getting to be quite a conflagration. Yahoo News reports:

"We're throwing everything into this. We are cleaning the house," said President Felipe Calderon in an interview on Mexican television.

There are now 2,020 soldiers and 425 federal police in Ciudad Juarez, a city of around 1.6 million people. An army spokesman said the reinforcements would begin to arrive in the coming weeks.

Calderon's military operation is supported by the United States, which is concerned the violence could destabilize Mexico, a key trading partner, and spill over the border.

Mexico has deployed some 45,000 troops across the country to try to crush drug gangs but clashes between rival cartels and security forces killed around 6,000 people last year.

I am determined now more than ever to keep my narco dollars in the state of Texas.

A U.S. Senate committee said on Thursday it would hold two meetings on the violence along the border, days after the Obama administration warned travelers about the growing risks.

"We must assess border security programs and plans in place and we must review the readiness of federal, state and local law enforcement," said Senator Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The panel would examine how the two governments were addressing the situation and determine the potential for increased terrorist activity.

The committee said it may also look into whether there is merit to deploying National Guard to the border, fencing issues and potential mass migration from Mexico.

I have a nasty feeling that this will be the issue that saves the GOP from irrelevance and obscurity. It has it all: kidnapped white girls sold into sex slavery; cheap narcotics pouring into our gated communities; brown people wanting to steal our land and jobs; racial strife; explosions, etc.

This gonna be good.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dear President Obama,

I was driving this morning when I heard your exchange with Rep. Joe Barton at the Fiscal Health summit. I must say that you said just the right thing to him. I would add that we’ve been watching Rep. Barton for years, and the last thing he will be is constructive. He was always neck deep in slime with Tom DeLay, and although neck deep for those two is only hip deep on an average person, he’s still a nasty piece of work. Remember last summer when Jessie Jackson was backstage at CNN, and thinking that the mic was off, suggested something he’d like to do to you? That’s the way to treat Joe Barton.
Good luck to you in all you do Mr. President, we have high hopes for you.


Charly Hoarse

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gramm Not to Blame, Says Gramm.

Last week UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States by impeding the IRS.
UBS agreed to pay $780 million in fines, and to release heretofore secret account information on US customers of the bank.

In June of 2008, UBS executive Bradley Birkenfeld pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the government. In November of 2008, UBS executive Raoul Weil was indicted on similar charges. He is now a fugitive. This indictment also referred to unindicted co-conspirators who “occupied positions of the highest level of management within the Swiss bank” that oversaw legal, compliance, tax, risk and other issues.

In 2002, Phil Gramm resigned his Senate seat, along with his spot on the Senate Banking Committee, and took a position as vice chairman of UBS Investment Bank.

Last week, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal published an op-ed piece by Gramm titled “Deregulation and the Financial Panic,” in which he claims that loose money and politicized mortgages are responsible for the recent worldwide economic melt-down.

Gramm said that if the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which removed barriers between commercial and investment banks enacted by the 1932 Glass-Steagall Act, had caused the credit crash, it would have first struck in Europe, which never had Glass-Steagall regulations.

Gramm went on to cite Bill Clinton’s defense of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which deregulated futures markets, and included Gramm’s “Enron loophole.” (Apparently Gramm’s down with Bubba now.)

According to Gramm, the current worldwide economic crisis happened because in 1995, the Department of Housing and Urban Development raised their quota for low and moderate- income housing loans from 30 to 40%. This brought about “GSE losses.” He means government sponsored enterprises, not grapefruit seed extract. According to the Congressional Budget Office, GSE losses will total $240 billion in 2009. Hell, the first half of the TARP could have covered that.

Gramm’s article was adapted from a talk he gave at right-wing think tank The American Enterprise Institute. I saw this on C-SPAN, and wondered what kind of nut would cross the street to hear Phil Gramm speak. I got a clue during the Q&A, when a questioner challenged his statement that “nobody foresaw a fall in home values,” saying that Lyndon LaRouche did. The next question came from a Mother Jones reporter who ambushed him with one of his own quotes, asking how he could reconcile his statement in light of the facts. Gramm blathered on for a few minutes without ever answering.

What horseshit.

Monday, February 23, 2009

In Clarence and Buffalo, counterdemonstrators vastly outnumber three members of Kansas fringe group opposed to homosexuality

Counterdemonstrators overshadow Kansas fringe group

By Aaron Besecker

Outnumbered more than 50 times over, three members of a Kansas- based fringe group here to picket a memorial service for a victim of the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 were hushed and eclipsed Sunday by counterprotesters in Buffalo and Clarence.

With many counterdemonstrators wearing white plastic angel wings and others holding large white flags and banners, two efforts by the three from Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., were rousingly overshadowed by the response of area students and residents who gathered because they said they opposed the group’s hateful, anti-gay message.

“We wanted to show people that we don’t put up with that sort of hate in Buffalo,” said Meghann French, a city resident who stood Sunday afternoon on a Main Street sidewalk near the University at Buffalo’s South Campus. “We just don’t tolerate it.”

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chupacabra Report

-Perry may not accept all the stimulus money / Governor says the aid may have too many strings


AUSTIN - Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday he's not sure the state should accept all of its projected share of federal stimulus money - $16.9 billion and counting by preliminary estimates - because of the "mile-long" strings that might be attached.

-Reading Perry

Regarding Wednesday’s Page B3 article “Perry may not accept all the stimulus money / Governor says the aid may have too many strings”: Don’t worry, folks, Gov. Rick Perry will take the stimulus money. He was just posturing for his base.

Missouri City

-Perry says he'll take stimulus aid
Governor remains concerned about long-term baggage

By PEGGY FIKAC Chronicle Austin Bureau

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry, who Tuesday suggested Texas should say “no thanks” to some of its share of stimulus funding if it comes with costly strings, Wednesday notified President Barack Obama that the state will accept the money.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Read all about it. Walter Isaacson, a Time Magazine editor, media gadfly, and general talking head, is making the rounds recently plugging fuzzy ideas about making print media popular again. Time Magazine is the most popular of doctor's waiting room's glossy news pulp. You might also remember Walter as the writer who recently attempted to recast Ben Franklin as a Buck's County Republican. Poor Walter labors under the hilarious notion that journalists should get paid.

He seems to forward the popular notion that upstart bloggers, the evil internet tubes, and citizens with phone camera-thingy's have shined their way into the hearts of news consumers. As unlikely that there are millions of Americans sitting on the crapper everyday with their lap-tops dialed into TMZ and Huffpo instead of the traditional alternatives, Mr. Isaacson naturally has a point. Certainly the music business is in the throws of figuring out a new business model as a result of the same trends that are making the dailies struggle.

However, have the bothered to check out the stuff they've been printing the last twenty years?

I remember writing to CNN in 2006 to point out that George Bush was about as popular as today's equivalent of Costco peanut butter and Angelina Jolie's doppelganger with the eight future wards of the state. CNN's inability to gain ratings in the face of an increasingly progressive-sounding (read: sane) MSNBC tracked perfectly with Faux's steady decline. They no longer should have been fluffing president dumb-ass, but they did anyway and it confused me.

And yet, even this last week, or so, the MSM felt compelled to run this process narrative in which stalwart republicans man-handled Obama, etc., paying absolutely no mind to the mood of the country, and the Presidents effort to avoid food riots at Walmart.

Hey, why don't you guys write about something without the standard, "and what do you think, Mr. Hitler?"

Seventh-Worst Ever?

C-Span released their latest Presidential Historian’s Survey this week, and George W. Bush was ranked 36th of 42, just ahead of Millard Fillmore.

Excuse me?

I happen to have grown up in East Aurora New York, where Fillmore built his home and his law practice. While he’s not on Mount Rushmore, Fillmore was a self-made man who served four terms in Congress before being elected Vice-President and succeeding to the Presidency. No silver spoon case, Fillmore was actually born in a log cabin. Like Newt Gingrich, he married one of his schoolteachers, but unlike Newt, he didn’t throw her over for a younger model.

As Vice-President, Fillmore presided over the Senate debate over the legislation known as The Compromise of 1850. These bills, designed by Henry Clay, were moved through Congress by Stephen Douglas and Daniel Webster, and signed into law by Fillmore, who had assumed the presidency on the death of Zachary Taylor.

The compromise was an attempt to resolve the issue of slavery by preventing its spread into the territories while preserving it where already established. These measures postponed the break-up of the Union for ten years, but prevented Fillmore from running for re-election when his Whig party denied him their nomination in retaliation for his signing of the Fugitive Slave Law.

The Fillmore administration normalized post-war relations with Mexico, making it possible for Franklin Pierce to negotiate the Gadsden Purchase of the New Mexico and Arizona territories. His administration peaceably resolved conflicts with Portugal, Peru, England, France, and Spain. No “bring it on” from him.

Fillmore was one of the founders of The University of Buffalo, and after his presidency, he returned there to serve as chancellor. Fillmore met Abraham Lincoln when they were both Whigs in Congress, and hosted Lincoln when he stopped in Buffalo enroute to his inauguration.

Fillmore died in 1874, when the experimental aircraft he was piloting crashed into Lake Ontario.

bannanalogic redux

Last month I put out a call for banannalogicals and darn if they didn’t show up last weekend. Doonsbier and friend Barbara travelled farthest, but our inspiration, El Pollo, won the prize for most fashionably late. We were about liquefied by the second set, but we sounded pretty good. Hadn’t played some of those tunes for twenty years. Those old setlists used to be rather topical, at least not moldy, but I’m afraid that by now they could pass for some classic rock crap that Clear Channel would pipe in. At least there was no Freebird or Stairway

Monday, February 16, 2009

More Gene Lyons

-Bartcop runs Lyons’ columns in almost every issue for good reason..

Stimulus plan put into perspective

Gene Lyons -Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Maybe the best way to get some perspective on President Obama's $800 billion economic stimulus plan is to compare it with a couple of his predecessor's noteworthy adventures in the art of governance.

Faced with a mild recession in 2001, George W. Bush contended that "a warning light is flashing on the dashboard of our economy, and we just can't drive on and hope for the best. We need tax relief now." His answer was a $1.35 trillion tax cut targeted largely at the wealthy, i.e.. more than 50 percent larger than the Obama initiative.

Enacted with numerous Democratic votes, the Bush tax cuts were supposed to invigorate a sluggish economy. Eight years later, with the aid of a chart prepared by, the results are clear. Unemployment has grown from 4 to 7.6 percent and continues to increase frighteningly fast. The economy lost 3.6 million jobs last year, and 600,000 in January alone. The number of persons living in poverty has risen from 12.7 to 17 percent. In 2001, 17 million Americans relied on food stamps; today, 30 million do.

Contrary to GOP dogma, Bush's tax cuts also failed to pay for themselves. As Obama pointed out during his Feb. 9 news conference, the national debt doubled on his predecessor's watch. The Iraq war alone cost several times more than Obama's stimulus plan. Republicans like Sen. John McCain who voted to spend billions rebuilding Iraqi roads, schools and power plants now call it "criminal" to rebuild them here at home.

GOP politicians stood quietly by when Bush's Coalition Provisional Authority air-lifted $12 billion in cash, 363 tons of crisp, shrink-wrapped $100 bills, to Iraq. Then reportedly couldn't account for almost $9 billion of it. As in, the money vanished. Permanently. Odd how quiet the allegedly liberal media's been about it, don't you think? Imagine the uproar had a Democratic administration done that.

The point is the dashboard light is not blinking anymore. The U.S. economy's broken down at the side of the road with black smoke pouring out from under the hood. Fire extinguisher? Completely unnecessary, Republicans chant. Why, Rush Limbaugh says if we'd just cut taxes again, Americans could afford to rotate the tires. The fire will die out eventually. Anything else would be socialism!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chupacabra Report

News that gets my goat..

The paper yesterday had a full page ad from The Cato Institute endorsed by hundreds of libertarian college professors. The text disputed Keynesian economic theory and opposed the stimulus plan before the Senate. No doubt some of the signees are knowledgeable on the subject, while others are no more qualified than me or my dog Joseph Stiglitz.
The Catos repeated an assertion we’ve been hearing from a lot of republicans lately; that The New Deal failed to ameliorate the Great Depression, and that only the country’s mobilization for World War Two put the U.S. economy back in business.

First I submit a comment that U.T. economist James Galbraith made this week on Amy Goodman’s show:

“Well, first of all, there is a grave understatement in those arguments about what the New Deal actually did. And that understatement is typically because the unemployment figures that many people are accustomed to using for the 1930s don’t count people who actually worked for the New Deal. This is Michael Steele’s distinction between jobs and work. But people who were building the Lincoln Tunnel or the Triborough Bridge or the aircraft carrier Yorktown are counted as work relief and not as employed, and there were many millions of those. And when you put them into the figures, you find that the New Deal actually reduced unemployment from 25 percent in 1933 to about—to less than ten percent in 1936. It went up again in ’37 and then came back down again to about ten percent before the war. So, a major, major improvement in unemployment did occur under the New Deal.”

And next I offer some stats from the Kent State history department, showing that in the fifth year of the Roosevelt administration, the Gross Domestic Product grew to ninety percent of pre-crash level.

GDP 1928 – 1941

Column two is actual GDP (in billions)
Column three is GDP (in billions of year 2000 dollars)

1928 $96.52 $812.60
1929 $103.60 $865.20
1930 $91.20 $790.70
1931 $76.50 $739.90
1932 $58.70 $643.70
1933 $56.40 $635.50
1934 $66.00 $704.20
1935 $73.30 $766.90
1936 $83.80 $866.60
1937 $91.90 $911.10
1938 $86.10 $879.70
1939 $92.20 $950.70
1940 $101.40 $1,034
1941 $126.70 $1,211

So now when you hear some hired liar on TV saying that the New Deal was a failure, you’ll know not to pay attention, and you might drop the program’s sponsor a line and tell them that you won’t be tuning in for any more propaganda. (You can get that here.)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Chupacabra Index

Amount of TARP funds paid out under the Bush administration: $350 billion

Annual administrative costs, profit for investors and shareholders, and management salaries of American for-profit health care insurance companies: $350 billion

Ratio of U.S. health care spending per capita to that of other industrialized countries: 2:1

Percentage personal bankruptcies caused by medical expenses: 50

Percentage of these bankrupt individuals who had health insurance when they got sick or injured: 76

Number American women who cannot afford reproductive health care: 17 million

Number American women receiving reproductive health care through federal Title X program: 5 million

Percentage of all births in Texas paid for by Medicaid: 56

(Hey, it worked for Lewis Lapham)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Chupacabra Files

No need to meet GOP halfway
Gene Lyons - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

For President Obama to treat individual Republicans with civility is one thing. Etiquette, however, has its limits. Embracing bipartisanship as a political goal can be a snare and a delusion.

It has certainly seemed so of late, as GOP congressmen responded to Obama's friendly overtures by voting unanimously against his desperately needed economic stimulus, persevering in their party's cultlike faith in tax cuts and aligning themselves with a bombastic radio talker who brags that he wants the president to fail.

In a recent interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, the rare Democrat who appears to relish spirited give and take, correctly pointed out that "the largest spending bill in history is going to turn out to be the war in Iraq. . . . And I don't understand why, from some of my conservative friends, building a road, building a school, helping somebody get health care, that's wasteful spending, but that war in Iraq, which is going to cost us over $1 trillion before we're through-yes, I wish we [wouldn't] have done that. We'd have been in a lot better shape fiscally."

In short, the past 16 years couldn't have done more to expose the wrongheadedness of the Republican "war on arithmetic" had it been a laboratory experiment. GOP tax-cut theology is sheer superstition, on the level with sacrificing goats and reading tea leaves. Meet grandstanding GOP congressmen halfway? What for? Democrats swept the 2006 and 2008 congressional elections precisely because the public finally gets it. Pretty much everybody except Rush Limbaugh's faithful listeners has caught on.

Monday, February 02, 2009


"Just stop panicking!"

"Who said anything about panicking?" snapped Arthur. "This is still just the culture shock. You wait till I've settled down into the situation and found my bearings. Then I'll start panicking."

A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Down in beautiful Moulton, Texas we have an event twice a year called the "City-Wide Garage Sale" where everybody, (Lutherans and Catholic) put out their stuff for sale while everybody goes from place to place buying other people's stuff. Then they sell each other's stuff to one another beginning the next time, and so on. Over the span of time, a person is liable to wind up buying their own stuff back; hopefully, for a deal.

This phenomena strikes me as a sort of artificial economy, but some money had to have entered the circle at some point to replace the stuff that doesn't get recirculated because the individual who bought it liked it enough to keep it. I have kept my bottles, Baldwin organ, Hillbilly lamps (made from Wild Turkey Decanters) and the duck-taped, green Naugahyde ottoman. But where does the money come from in the village of Moulton?

Well, there's the farm economy that is heavily ag subsidized. Plus social security disability and retirement. The most eligible bachelors are the ones with a SSA and a VA disability check - paging Mr.Wonderful!. If you count welfare and the sweet largess of state, county and city jobs, including school districts, it becomes clear the place is a welfare queen's holiday.

You see, Mouton doesn't make anything. Neither does Lavaca county, except for Shiner beer and metal wastepaper baskets. An ideal combination: drinking heavily with the perfect receptacle for discarding your useless resume. That's why the kids don't hang around. The average age in Moulton is 48 years old.

The ironic thing about this situation is how down-right ungrateful the citizens of such an idyllic place are for all that free money that allows for the continuation of the city-wide garage sale tradition. The notion that people in the "real America" (the one that Sarah Palin waxes so poetically over) vote to punish and over-throw the very system that keeps things a-float has been written about by social and political scientists for a number of years now. There was a influential book written about how kooky this apparent cognitive dissonance is called "What's the Matter With Kansas." The author Thomas Franks observed...

"Their grandstanding leaders never deliver, their fury mounts and mounts, and nevertheless they turn out every two years to return their right-wing heroes to office for a second, a third, a twentieth try. The trick never ages; the illusion never wears off. Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meat- packing. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining."

In order to keep the rubes in a froth, the Republicans created a golem. A soulless monster bent on mayhem. Instead of fleeing the torch-bearing peasants, he leads them. The monster has run amok for so long it no longer knows its purpose and leaves his masters behind. Happening upon an innocent child what does the monster do?

I fear the child of Obama's political dreams is dead. Strangled to death.

Nance, a Texan-by-marriage, sent this improved copy of the picture she scanned from The Agonizer. Just goes to show, if you want something done, call The Tree Lady at The Village Green Preservation Society.