Zippidy Doo Da

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

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chupacabra Report

News that Gets My Goat..

I don’t know what gets into me sometimes. I was browsing and read something in BartCop about Rush being on Leno last week, and like a fool I just had to look.

First off, they talk about how much weight he’s lost, 82 lbs. Great, only about 200 pounds to go. Then he started in on the President. Everything he says either makes me gasp or cuss. Really puts my blood pressure meds to the test.

He says that “we” don’t want Obama taking over the car companies, the banks, student loans, or health insurance companies.

I’ll take these in order;

>In the past decade, the Republican Congress passed tax subsidies to encourage Americans to buy 5,000 pound sport utility vehicles. As the price of gas rose, and the value of Hummers and Suburbans fell close to their scrap value, GM headed for bankruptcy. In the fall of 2008, the Bush administration shoveled billions to GM, with no conditions, simply kicking the can down the road for the new administration to deal with. At least Obama shook up the management, and pushed for production of fuel efficient cars, which has a chance of achieving synergy with the goals of cutting oil imports and reducing carbon emissions. In recent history, we've bailed out the financial sector over and over again, while we let U.S. manufacturing go to hell. It's about time we saved some blue collar jobs instead.

>Nobody is taking over the banks. The banks own Congress, and Congress lets them write their own rules. The current recession happened because the banks got Congress to repeal regulations enacted to prevent another Great Depression. If we’re lucky, the House and Senate Banking Committees chaired by the reform-minded Barney Franks and Christopher Dodd will produce new regulations to prevent further outrages before Republicans take over and continue to give away the store.

>The Government is not taking over the student loan industry, but the Democratic Congress is working on a bill to discontinue Federal subsidies to banks that issue student loans. If enacted, this law would spend eight or nine billion dollars a year that it’s been giving to banks, and instead use it to fund Pell grants, community colleges, and pre-school programs.

>And health insurance companies. Every year, tens of thousands of Americans die needlessly for lack of access to affordable healthcare, while health insurance companies rake in profits not otherwise seen this side of the Medellin Cartel. The GOP did nothing about this for the past decade except cash campaign checks from AHIP and PhARMA while insurance costs doubled. Rush, you are a multi-millionaire who has sent your servants doctor shopping to get you multi prescriptions for oxy-contin painkillers until you nearly went deaf from it. Go cry on somebody else’s shoulder

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chupacabra Report

Little state action follows feds' food-stamp warning


AUSTIN — Despite a federal warning for Texas to fix problems with its food stamp program, state leaders temporarily rejected efforts to hire more employees to process a backlog of applications.

But a spokesman for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Friday that state leaders are working on a plan to ensure that more workers are properly hired.

In a letter Thursday, U.S. Department of Agriculture Regional Administer William Ludwig warned Texas officials that future funding could be suspended if the state does not comply with federal rules involving the food stamp program.

The federal government provided more than $3 billion worth of food stamps to eligible Texans last year. The state is obligated to pay for half of the administrative costs.

Texas has not come close to meeting federal requirements to process food stamp applications within 30 days. Last month, nearly 40 percent of food stamp applications were not processed on time. A class-action lawsuit against the state is pending.

“Urgent and immediate correction action is required,” Ludwig said in the letter to Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suchs.

The state's action denying additional employees to handle food stamp applications is stunning, said Celia Hagert, a senior policy analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin-based group that tracks issues affecting modest-income Texans.

“During this deep economic recession, programs like food stamps, Medicaid and CHIP provide a lifeline for millions of struggling Texans. Those new staff are critical to ensure Texas can get help to families when they need it most,” Hagert said.

The new state budget allows the Health and Human Services Commission to hire an additional 656 employees to handle increased demand for food assistance during the recession.

Last month, 354,429 Harris County residents received $45.9 million worth of food stamps. Most of the recipients were children.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Declare War on Your Oppressors

I am feeling the effects of the bad economy in the things around me. The level of human suffering is unimaginable.

I now have friends who are unemployed and can't get work. Some of my relatives are worried sick that they might get laid off. I know people who are newly homeless who can't get food stamps. I met a family from Ohio who are shacking with relatives. Since dad lost his job he has become severely depressed and has started having panic attacks. He hopes to find a job at the truck plant, but he has lost confidence. I know a lady who has been in town since August and can't get assessed for mental health services, so she doesn't have her psych meds, and says she wants to kill herself. There is nothing I can do except call the police.

There are a few jobs around, and things might be getting better on paper, but I feel Rick Perry and his ilk might be gilding the lily for political reasons. The news this week, some of which was eloquently reported by Judge Hoarse, was that Texas leads the nation in teen births, and has the highest rate of uninsured folks at the rate of 24.1%.

State agencies essential exist these days to have their tickets punched, and there is a consequence for this.

The same people who are dependent and reliant on government services for survival, and who demonstrated in droves in the greatest display of fucktard cognitive dissonance ever over their perceived fears of "socialism", will be the first ones to tar and feather any politician within reach once they start to starve.

The end game on this crisis is profoundly serious because America is not creating jobs; just artificial wealth.

Republicans use the phrase "class warfare" the way they use "socialism" and "nazi." The term has lost its meaning. Real class warfare ain't bean-bag. Let us pray for our President to be wise and strong.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Foreign Affairs

“This Polish missile defense system walks into a bar at noon and says, “Give me six shots of Vodka.”
“How can you afford to get drunk in the middle of a business day?” the bartender asks.
“Easy,” the Polish missile defense system replies. “I don’t work.””

-That joke comes from Jeff Huber, on his blog Pen and Sword. When I read last week that President Obama had ordered a change in the Bush/Cheney missile defense plan for Eastern Europe, I knew that the right wing would be all over this as a sign that Obama was opening the gates for his Soviet overlords. Missile defense is part of Republican orthodoxy, another example of their preference for faith over science, especially when that faith comes with billions in defense contracts. The GOP has been enthralled by “star wars” ever since Edward Teller, the original “Dr. Strangelove,” sold the idea to Ronald Reagan many billions of dollars ago.

Huber is a retired Navy Commander who used to do air traffic control for carrier-based warplanes. He is an authority on the human cost of listening to saber-rattling chicken hawks. He’s not one to roll over for the Commander-In- Chief either, just check his posts on the quagmire he calls “Bananastan.”

But Huber agrees with Obama’s decision to scrap the planned radar and missile installations in Poland. So does Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This must be a relief to millions of Europeans, who would rather not be at ground zero of some neo-con gambit. The Russians, for their part, have decided not to stage new SS-26 Iskander missiles on the Polish border.

I see this as a welcome break from the old cold war cycle of fear and escalation that has brought the world to the brink of destruction so many times before.
So I won’t be getting excited when McCain, Kyl, Boehner, and the brass-hats-for-hire on Faux News try to tell me that the sky is falling.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Problem Does Not Lie With Your Set

The recent ZDD format problems were entirely due to human error, and cannot be attributed to on-line terrorists or porn over-load.

We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Monday, September 14, 2009

George Will on Citizens United v. The FEC

Once in a while George Will writes something that makes good sense; usually in those cases he is talking about baseball, or some other less than critical matter. More often, he can be such a tool as to put me off paying any mind to his opinions.

That said, I have to wonder what possessed me to read his column about Citizens United v. The F.E.C, the Supreme Court case about the funding and broadcast of “Hillary: The Movie,” a ninety-minute attack ad by the Orange County California right-wing astroturf group Citizens United.

Will is of the opinion that the freeing of corporate speech –by that he means unfettered corporate campaign spending- will bring on a healthy public debate. Will is employed by the Washington Post Corporation, an education and media company with $4 billion in annual revenue. When the directors of the Post Corp. want to express their views, they can publish them in the op-ed section of their flagship newspaper. When their 20,000 employees want to make their voices heard, they can do so like the rest of us do; by speaking, writing, marching, organizing, and giving to the candidates and causes dear to us.

In the state of Texas, and at the national level, our lawmakers haven’t changed much since the nineteenth century, when the giant railroad conglomerates gave away stock options to friendly members of congress. The banking and insurance industries too, have always been well represented.

I propose a government take-over of Congress; that is, “that government of the people and by the people.”

Corporations are not people; Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad notwithstanding. There are corporations and industries that dwarf the countries that host them; and their influence can be a threat to world peace and public health.

Along with the current stupidity pandemic, the corrupting power of corporate cash is a threat to our democracy. One wag has suggested that Congressman be required to wear the logos of their corporate benefactors on their persons. Imagine 535 members of Congress wearing suits festooned with decals reading “General Dynamics,” “Raytheon,” “Goldman Sachs,” or “PhRMA.”

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Joe Higgins is God

There is scarcely a more interesting family than the Higgins' of New York, and a stand-out among them is the artist and philosopher, Joe Higgins.

Get to know him! (find his blog over to the right:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Official web site for Representative Joe Wilson (R - SC).

Due to exceptionally high traffic, this site is temporarily unavailable.

Please come back shortly.

-Gramiam sent this to Susan at ..

Rep Joe Wilson is a Col in the US Army reserves.Please contact his Commanding Officer and remind him of his duty to maintain discipline in the ranks.
Article 88: Contempt Toward Officials: Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Jeff Huber

Jeff Huber is the author of a great book, Bathtub Admirals, drawn from his career in the US Navy. A very funny book, that could be even funnier except that he insists on listing the human cost of the immense folly practiced by the Defense Department.

I’d heard of this book, but was spurred to find it after I heard Huber on Dr. Helen Caldicott’s radio show “If You Love This Planet” on Pacifica. Huber sure didn’t sound like some retired Navy Commander when he started talking about the phony surge and quagmire in “Bananastan.” Huber is an iconoclast, along the lines of Smedley Butler. Like Andrew Bacevich, when he takes issue with US foreign policy he does so in the language of the military, ‘cause that’s where he’s comin’ from.

Here’s a sample from his blog Pen and Sword..

“If we’re serious about rehabilitating ourselves from dependence on foreign oil, the pipeline flowing through Afghanistan has no bearing on our national interest. The notion of evil ones getting their hands on Pakistan’s "fissile material" gets one’s attention at first blush, but on examination it suffers from what George Costanza called "shrinkage." The "suitcase nuke" is an urban myth from the Cold War. Terrorists will develop a suitcase nuke capable of destroying an American city about the time they invent time travel. The thing terrorists are most likely to do if they get their unholy mitts on Pakistan’s nuclear warheads is die of radiation poisoning.
If we really want to eliminate risks presented by Pakistan’s nukes, we can have our worthless $2 billion stealth B-2 bombers fly over there, evade Pakistan’s non-existent air defenses, and blow them all up.”

-Here he responds to talk comparing General David Petraeus to Eisenhower..

“Petraeus’s three tours in Iraq were noteworthy for their short-term theatrical successes and their dismal strategic failures.

“He came to prominence when his hagiographer Thomas E. Ricks singled him out as the only two-star general who had done things right after the fall of Baghdad as commander of the Mosul area. What Petraeus actually did in Mosul was hand out a lot of bribes. When he left, Mosul slid to scheiss in a sleigh, and it continues to be a major trouble spot. During his next tour, in charge of training Iraq’s security forces, Petraeus lost track of 190,000 AK-47 rifles and pistols that trickled their way into the hands of Shiite militants. As honcho of the surge, Petraeus handed guns out to Sunni militants and bribed them not to use the weapons on anybody but al Qaeda in Iraq, the all but non-existent group that at its zenith contained fewer than 1,000 full time fighters and whose only real connection with the al Qaeda that gave us 9/11 amounted to stealing its name. Al Qaeda in Iraq is the equivalent of a Cleveland garage band calling itself The Beatles in Ohio (“We’ve pledged allegiance to Paul and Ringo,” says lead vocalist.)

“As Ricks artlessly admits, Petraeus duped the American people and Congress into thinking he was paving a way out of Iraq when he was in fact laying a yellow brick road to the “long war,” an amorphous conflict with no imaginable end state or any purpose other than to justify America’s seam bursting defense budget.”

Monday, September 07, 2009

Back to Business

Wall Street Pursues Profit in Bundles of Life Insurance

After the mortgage business imploded last year, Wall Street investment banks began searching for another big idea to make money. They think they may have found one.

The bankers plan to buy “life settlements,” life insurance policies that ill and elderly people sell for cash — $400,000 for a $1 million policy, say, depending on the life expectancy of the insured person. Then they plan to “securitize” these policies, in Wall Street jargon, by packaging hundreds or thousands together into bonds.

They will then resell those bonds to investors, like big pension funds, who will receive the payouts when people with the insurance die. The earlier the policyholder dies, the bigger the return — though if people live longer than expected, investors could get poor returns or even lose money.

Either way, Wall Street would profit by pocketing sizable fees for creating the bonds, reselling them and subsequently trading them. But some who have studied life settlements warn that insurers might have to raise premiums in the short term if they end up having to pay out more death claims than they had anticipated.

The idea is still in the planning stages. But already “our phones have been ringing off the hook with inquiries,” says Kathleen Tillwitz, a senior vice president at DBRS, which gives risk ratings to investments and is reviewing nine proposals for life-insurance securitizations from private investors and financial firms, including Credit Suisse.

“We’re hoping to get a herd stampeding after the first offering,” said one investment banker not authorized to speak to the news media.

In the aftermath of the financial meltdown, exotic investments dreamed up by Wall Street got much of the blame. It was not just subprime mortgage securities but an array of products — credit-default swaps, structured investment vehicles, collateralized debt obligations — that proved far riskier than anticipated.

The debacle gave financial wizardry a bad name generally, but not on Wall Street. Even as Washington debates increased financial regulation, bankers are scurrying to concoct new products.

Hungry Texans Wait Months for Food Assistance

The Chronicle had another report today of a backlog of food stamp applications in Texas. Federal rules require the states to process food stamp applications within 30 days but The State Health and Human Services Commission was only able to meet that deadline for 63% of the 131,000 applications it received in July. Some applicants have waited months.

2.8 million Texans received food assistance last month, half a million more than two years ago.

In 2003, the Republican State Legislature tried to privatize HHSC functions with disastrous results. As state employees were let go, newly-formed crony corporations were unable to keep up with the work load. Soon authorities were embarrassed by reports of tens of thousands of poor children losing coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Now HHSC is struggling to handle a record number of food assistance applicants with a little over half the staff they had ten years ago.

This year Governor Perry had to borrow two billion dollars from the Federal government to shore up the unemployment insurance fund because stopped collecting employer premiums last year when unemployment was low, and he turned down $555 million dollars in stimulus money to pay extended benefits because he refused to modernize Texas’ strict eligibility rules.

This all shows that the GOP response to Hurricane Katrina was no mistake. There may be corporate welfare and socialism for millionaires, but as far as public health and safety are concerned, this is a “harsher, crueler nation.” When Republicans talk about the “ownership society,” what they mean is that “you’re on your own.”

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Serendipity + Surf

I was reading Tide ( the other day, reading about Pompano eating shrimp and crabs, and thought that the forecast for Saturday could offer flat green water and that maybe I ought to stop for a pint of live shrimp instead of netting up mullet at the beach.

So I stopped just over the causeway to buy bait and drove down Harborside (no train delay today, and the city fixed another traffic light) to the beach and stepped in just after sunrise.

The first gut was full of little croaker, small enough that some of ‘em I just slung as bait till they worked their way off the hook. The second gut held ladyfish, toothy little torpedoes no good on the table but acrobatic when hooked. Both species were eager to eat my just bought shrimp.

But around eight 0’clock I lost a bait to some more muscular fish, something that pulls hard, runs fast, and might cough-up your lure when you get ‘em in close. Soon I had one, an eighteen inch Pompano. I whooped. Big whoop. Could I get another?

I landed three more by ten thirty, included one that launched itself vertically out of my cull net to escape. This was a ice cream day in the summer surf, green to the beach, water so clear I could see my feet in chest-deep water. Could last until cold weather, or the next hurricane; think I’ll go back the next chance I get.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Glenn Beck Eludes Public on 1990 Rape/Murder Charge

Did Glenn Beck rape and murder a young girl in 1990? Rumors of this persist and won't go away. Since I can't really be sure, (although I have my suspicions) what bothers me the most about this allegation is that Glenn Beck refuses to deny it, or show any any proof that he didn't rape and murder a young girl in 1990. As far as I know, the record remains unclear.

What I know is that hundreds of women disappeared in 1990. Could one (or more) of these poor creatures have been raped and murdered by Glenn Beck? Or even murdered and raped?

Like many others, I have searched the net and the MSM for any comment from Glenn Beck denying his murderous, rapey ways in 1990, but none is to be found. Where is the long form denial, Glenn? Do you think you are immune from any responsibility in answering the public about these alleged heinous crimes? We demand an accounting.

If you haven't heard anything about how Glenn Beck might have raped and murdered a young girl in 1990, just Google: "Glenn Beck raped and murdered a young girl in 1990," and find out the shocking facts. If that doesn't make you cringe, or even become sick to your stomach over the growing pile of suspicion that possibly Glenn Beck raped and murdered a young girl in 1990, then continue Googling "Glenn Beck blows goats."

Many thanks to

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Poll: Facebook? Sucks, yes?

If anybody noticed I was gone, except Judge Hoarse who probably missed me bringing him mint julips, then howdy do - I’m back.

I’d like to explain as an excuse that I was the hapless victim of Mexican kidnapping plot, or extraordinary rendition, or even that I was taking the waters and healthful colonics at Birschgarten, but that would be a lie. The simple fact of the matter is that, like many others, I was seduced, discarded and thrown in the dumpster by Facebook. Kids, stay away! It’s not worth it. Yes, you’ll find yourself suddenly and amazingly popular. Beautiful women will clamor to be your "friend." You are at once the hale fellow, lost and found, well met.

Basking in your new-found glory, the realization comes quickly that you are trapped in the matrix of vacuousness that is stultifyingly boring, because even though you are surrounded by tons of people you’d love to relate to, nothing ever gets said.

It’s a helluva a lot like high school. With the added extra of being old, married, and on the treadmill to oblivion.

I’ll go back, but on rescue missions. I’m content here at ZDD, and I’m glad to be home.

Oh, and other stuff, too, but later.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Flounders Without Eyes

Sometimes I'm left wondering whether or not Lloyd Maines has the Svengali-like ability to seduce bands he produces so he can get the sound and performance he wants, leaving the artists groggy, sore and in need of a long, hot shower. He doesn't just play a guitar with bigger balls than anybody else, he literally has a guitar nobody else can physically play without vise-grips and a ballpeen hammer. It must be like having Tony Soprano remodel your guest bathroom. Don't argue.

With this in mind, I listened to the Flounders Without Eye's (FWE) latest, "What's the Rush" (Zone Records), and I noticed a few things I did not expect on this memorable and thoroughly satisfying record.

The band features Jenny Mier and her brother Joe, plus Don Baker, Mike Morgan, Andy Markoff and Sam Hendricks. They are all fine, seasoned and sturdy players, having played chingos on the demanding Austin club scene for a while now. I really like their sound, although I hate to characterize artists, but I was left thinking of the progressive country/southern rock vibe I grew up around. Like Marshall Tucker meets Graham Parsons; drop acid together and have a freaky baby.

I love Jenny. I want to protect her. I can envision Mier killing on her vocals for her song, "The Bad Guy", the single on What's the Rush; when Lloyd coos, "mind if a lay down a little pedal steel track on that?' and blowing everyone's mind about what a real pro sounds like and what "presence" is. Because if Jenny and FWE didn't have it before, they sure got it now. Her singing is strong, I don't mean butch. She has a sweet alto, with just a hint of throaty-ness for a nice edge. She is deeply earnest; when she says "the bad guys always win" I'm left feeling her. She had me at hello. You go girl.

When "Drift Away"comes around I hear a woman hopelessly possessed by love. "Damn, he pulled another Terri Hendrix on the poor woman!" I'm not judging. Far be it for me to judge. Whatever happened that night we are all better for. "Drift Away" is as good as it gets. Her performance is at once controlled but immensely soulful; almost mournful and completely unforgettable. All the songs are great, but this is the gem of the record and makes it worth having.

Flounderwithouteyes came to my attention as a "jam band." Unfortunately, all the songs on What's the Rush are around three minutes, so I feel like they didn't real get to stretch like the wanted and could show off doing. There's no doubt the Flounders are all capable of exploding. These guys gig everywhere. They are notoriously fab players, tightly blowing doors. What's the Rush has great playing all over it, and here's what surprised me most: despite the presence in the studio of a giant like Lloyd Maines, it's not the music, sound and production that I was drawn to. It was the band that I kept thinking about as I listened. All those things Maines contributed to were expertly rendered, but "the band" is noticeably packed with talented writers who are all different from each other in interesting ways.

As impressed as I was of Jenny, the artistic soul of the Flounders seems to be Mike Morgan. "I was most moved by the haunting "Set a Place." People these days are so cynical, the issues expressed in this song aren't preachy-sounding, or angry either. "Set a Place" shows that music can reach out to people and still be cool.

Don Baker makes it clear by the strength of his song-craft to hold his own easily with the others. However, "Hills of Carolina" seems a little out there and not quite in keeping with the direction of the record. It could have waited for the next record.

Any group that can keep that many writers together as a functioning unit for one rehearsal, much less the level of achievement and command of the stage like the Flounders have, and for as long as they have, they deserve our love and support. They will no doubt go on to great things in the future and produce more music that I think could become classics some day if given the chance.

see: Buy at CD Baby.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Hillary: The Movie

The Sunday Chronicle ran a piece by Adam Liptak of the New York Times about an upcoming Supreme Court case stemming from the Citizens United documentary “Hillary: The Movie.” The court will be re-examining Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, a 1990 decision upholding restrictions on corporate campaign spending.

Citizens United once filed a FEC complaint against Michael Moore for his film “Fahrenheit 911,” and has produced films attacking such GOP bugaboos as immigration, The UN, and The ACLU. The Hillary movie producer credits go to “The Lincoln Club of Orange County,” Orange County California being the wealthy, froth-mouthed bastion of Paleo-Conservatism. Last year a DC District Court ruled that “Hillary: The Movie” was “express advocacy,” and could not receive corporate funding, leading Citizens United to go to court rather than reveal their sources of income.

I looked at their Hillary film, it’s all on YouTube, but I couldn’t stand to watch much of it. It consists of Republican talking heads like Anne Coulter, Robert Novak, Bay Buchanan, Dick Morris, and Newt Gingrich talking about what a horrible person Mrs. Clinton is. Funny, none of these speakers come without their own baggage. Be they liars, cheats, spy-outers, hacks, or toe-suckers, they raise Clinton in my esteem by the quality of enemies she makes. When this film was made, she was front-runner for the Democratic nomination, and they were all scared.

These dubious testimonials are crosscut with shots of news clippings about Mrs. Clinton, all the scariest headlines from her ordeal by right-wing smear machine. Anyways, the production values are a step above other Republican film ventures like the Phil Gramm- produced soft-porn “Truck Stop Women,” or the pro-apartheid action movie “Red Scorpion” written by Jack Abramoff.

As this case makes the news, look for apocalyptic talk about the end of free speech or the unstoppable power of money in politics, but don’t expect much earth-shaking. New Justice Sotomayor is expected to vote much like David Souter would have, leaving Chief Justice John Roberts the only question mark, and that’s not much of a question. There is little chance that the court will act to overturn the 1886 Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad decision that granted personhood to corporations, allowing them the right to political and other non-commercial free speech, the right against self-incrimination, right to privacy and the right to lobby the government, not to mention the right to own slaves, be richer than God, and be immortal.