Zippidy Doo Da

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

Friday, December 31, 2010

ZDD 2011 Predictions

I have been contemplating this last year and could not think of anything profound. It was a tough one. Everyone seems to have experienced some personal loss, or set back. In my case, the last I see of it before I pass...ehr, fall asleep, will be my little family together, which at one time I dared not ever hope to see.

On this happy note, the 2011 Predictions!

1.President Obama will admit he is from Kenya to make everybody shut the fuck up. But it won't matter because the world will end in 2012.

2.Tod and Sara Palin will die in a meth lab explosion. But it won't matter because the world will end in 2012.

3.Churches, lodge societies, museums, libraries, and bowling leagues see an explosion in members as America returns to civilization. But it won't matter because the world will end in 2012.

4.Michael Vick will be pecked to death in a cock fight gone wrong. But it won't matter because the world will end in 2012.

5.Chas Bono will announce that he's gay. But it won't matter because the world will end in 2012.

6.The TV show, "Celebrity Park Bathrooms," hosted by Bryan Seacrest is a ratings winner. But it won't matter because the world will end in 2012.

7.Monsanto discovers a new food substance that could feed the world's starving: chicken. But it won't matter because the world will end in 2012.

8.The Texas Republicans will face election disaster in 2012. But it won't matter because the world will end in 2012.

9.Liquiddaddy accurately predicts end of the world. But it won't matter because the world will end in 2012.

10.There will always be cockroaches, lawyers and, jehova's witnesses, and since ZDD has many of these survival traits, expect good things to come.

Best wishes to everyone for a safe and prosperous new year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

A McClatchy Newspapers article about the lame duck session of the 111th Congress quoted one of my favorite historians, H. W. Brands from the University of Texas at Austin. Brands has written biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Jackson and Franklin Roosevelt as well as an excellent Texas History, “Lone Star Nation.” He says:

“There’s no way you can credibly say anybody could have delivered more. Obama to me is basically a centrist, a pragmatist.”

Sure doesn’t sound like the guy you hear about on Rupert’s news channel, does it. I’ve long thought that a good president is one who pisses people off on both sides of the aisle. Well, I’ll give him that. I wanted out of Iraq and Afghanistan, single-payer healthcare, re-regulation of Wall Street and a carbon tax. He has delivered none of those things, maybe because they’re impossible today. Maybe next year, or the next term..

An Object of Beauty

I’ve just enjoyed Steve Martin’s new novel “An Object of Beauty.” It’s a novel of the art world. He’s been there; he’s a collector. I remember reading something about him and Cindy Sherman once. He wrote a play about Picasso. The book is no joke, see? Martin has author chops and knows the subject.

Here’s some: this scene is a dinner with an artist, an art writer, a gallery owner and some collectors..

“What was the Gober like?” Brooke asked.

“It’s a kitchen sink,” said Hinton.

“A what?” said Saul Nathanson.

“It’s like a kitchen sink that hangs on a wall, but with an elongated back,” Flores told him. “Plaster and wood; it’s an amazing piece.”

Kip Stringer couldn’t resist: “The sink is evocative of cleaning, but the fact that it is on the wall, without plumbing, not functioning, creates cognitive dissonance. It embars the viewer from the action it implies.”

Schjeldahl, whose art criticism goes down like good wine, said, “Huh?”

“Sort of like a locked door,” said Saul. Saul Nathanson did not mock art, so his response was probing rather than cynical.

“Well,” said Kip, “Gober actually did install a locked door in the wall of a gallery.”

“I would only pay a million for that,” said Brooke.

“Not if I’m there first!” said Hinton

Kip tried to laugh but couldn’t.

“No kidding. Hinton would buy paint in a bucket,” said Cornelia.

“Is he a bad boy?” said Brooke.

“You would think each gallery had a pole dancer,” Cornelia said with a grin..”

-Later in the story we get some history and economics:

“Proceeding parallel to the art boom was a real estate boom, inspired by crafty lenders who assured easy profits in home ownership, no money down. These weak paper promises to pay were sold off to investors in every corner of the world, and Wall Street saw a glut of money. Wads of cash fell off the money truck as it trundled through Chelsea, across 49th Street for a stop at Christie’s, and onward to Madison Avenue to Sotheby’s.”

“The next day, Tuesday, the stock market just quivered, but on Wednesday it fell four hundred fifty points. Investors, meaning not just high-end Wall Street pros but every civilian with a few thousand dollars, pulled their money and bought T-bills and T-bonds, and they certainly didn’t buy art. There was no credit, which the U.S. mainstream had relied on for at least thirty years.”

“Art as an aesthetic principle was supported by thousands of years of discernment and psychic rewards, but art as a commodity was held up by air. The loss of confidence that affected banks and financial instruments was now affecting cherubs, cupids, and flattened popes.”

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chupacabra Report

News that Gets My Goat

-Yes, you are entitled to your own opinion. No, you are not entitled to your own facts.

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission voted down a move by Republicans to remove language referring to "deregulation," "shadow banking," "interconnection," or ‘Wall Street.’ Republicans on the committee then issued their own report, scrubbed of the offensive terms.

-Today Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that they won’t approve the extension of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty endorsed by five former Secretaries of State and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Our top concern should be the safety and security of our nation, not some politician's desire to declare a political victory and host a press conference before the first of the year.” Meanwhile, the Doomsday Clock maintained by the board of directors of the Union of Concerned Scientists at the University of Chicago stands at six minutes till midnight.

-Last week Texas Reps. Aaron Pena of Edinburg and Allan Ritter of Nederland announced that they were leaving the Democratic Party and joining the GOP, giving the Republicans a supermajority in the Texas House. Add them to the list of unprincipled party jumpers such as Rick Perry, Phil Gramm, and Kent Hance, the only politician to ever beat George W. Bush in an election. (He did it with dirty tricks.) State Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie called on Pena and Ritter to resign and run as Republicans to keep their seats; don’t hold your breath. These guys aren’t bothered by a little voter disenfranchisement. Consider former Harris County Judge Robert Eckels or former County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt, both of whom resigned immediately after being re-elected, so that the Republican Commissioners Court could appoint their successors. In related news, State Senator Dan Patrick announced that more than 50 legislators had joined the Tea Party Caucus. (Patrick didn’t switch parties, he merely changed his name. He was Daniel Scott Goeb back when he was suing people.) Patrick said the Tea Party movement is “the most important movement of our lifetime” –more important than the John Birch Society, the Ku Klux Klan, or Ross Perot’s Reform Party?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chupacabra Report

I happened to hear some of the House Judiciary hearing on the Espionage Act and the Legal and Constitutional Issues Raised by WikiLeaks. WikiLeak’s dump of diplomatic cables has inspired frothy outbursts around the world, with calls here for Julian Assange to be prosecuted for treason. (Assange is Australian.) Bill O’Reilly says Assange should be executed after his trial. Sarah Palin and William Kristol suggest that the President might issue findings to authorize intelligence services or the military to “use all necessary means” to neutralize WikiLeaks. Leave it to the Congress to pile on.

Texans on the Committee have been comparatively low key, maybe saving the crazy for the home crowd.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, slammed WikiLeaks and media sites that posted the cables, including The New York Times, saying the continued flow of classified information would be "naïve and dangerous." He disputed the notion that the release of the information is promoting increased government transparency. "The real motivation is self-promotion and increased circulation to a large extent," he said. "They claim to be in pursuit of uncovering government wrongdoing but dismissed any criticism that their actions may be wrong or damaging to the country."

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) called for the government to find the leaker and hold him or her accountable. He likened the leaker to "a Texas pawn shop dealer who deals in stolen merchandise.”

Rep. Ron Paul talking to Faux News, showed that he can’t be wrong all the time: “In a free society we're supposed to know the truth,” Paul said. “In a society where truth becomes treason, then we're in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it.”

Meanwhile Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada introduced a bill to amend the U.S. Espionage Act that would give prosecutors more flexibility to pursue a criminal case against Assange and his organization. I guess all this has him too busy to introduce legislation to prevent philandering senators from Nevada from giving jobs and money to the spouses of staffers they’re screwing.

The Espionage Act is the law that was used to imprison Eugene V. Debs for telling workers to resist the draft in World War I. It was the ‘Patriot Act’ of 1917.

Daniel Ellsberg, whose leak of the Pentagon Papers helped turn public opinion against the Viet Nam War defended Assange and Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of leaking thousands of documents. "I think they provided a very valuable service," Ellsberg said, "To call them terrorists is not only mistaken, it's absurd."

Democratic Congressman John Conyers said, "Prosecuting WikiLeaks would raise the most fundamental questions about free speech, about who is a journalist and what citizens can know about their government." "The problem today is not too little secrecy but too much secrecy."

I got to hear Anthony Weiner, lefty Democrat from Long Island go to town. He cited Jefferson and Madison, calling information the ‘currency of democracy.’ He asked why we never get to see officials prosecuted for suppressing information, saying that more people are certainly harmed by secrecy and disinformation than have been hurt by any Wiki disclosures, that several wars could have been prevented if people had access to the facts. He’s right: I can’t imagine the Tonkin Gulf Resolution being passed by a congress informed by the Pentagon Papers.

Then Weiner said something scary. Assange has said that the next data dump will be documents leaked from banks and corporations. This raises the likelihood that big business and government officials will co-operate to turn public opinion and the law against WikiLeaks, to intimidate whistleblowers, restrict the internet and generally threaten free speech.

Gets my goat!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chupacabra Report

Driving west to the Bakery Saturday we got to listen to “your friend and mine” Larry Winters’ show on KPFT until the signal ran out in central Texas.

Larry cut audio from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ eight-hour filibuster of the tax bill Friday, saying things like “It is beyond comprehension that the Republicans would hold hostage the entire middle class of this country so that millionaires and billionaires would receive huge tax breaks,” with old lefty anthems, heavy on the Guthrie. Larry had it goin’ you can tell, because he got a bunch of angry callers. Another great show on one of the best radio programs I know, sorry we missed the last of it.

But Bernie Sanders: with his long career in Congress, he’s a rare living argument against term limits. Gives me an idea. Ms. Lulu Maude? I’d like you and your neighbors up there in Vermont to consider a proposition here.. What do you say we trade you a John Cornyn and a Kay Bailey for one Bernie Sanders? Then you would have three senators, more than all the other states. Deal? OK?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

America for Americans

In the Korean War the North had this habit of marching innocent civilians in front of their tanks, forcing the allies to kill these poor souls in order to ward off the assaults.
Republicans have added this strategic arrow to their supple human skin quiver.
In order to get a continuation of their precious Bush tax cuts, they have marched all of 2 million happless unemployed families before their jugernaut of human misery. Their unemployment benefits had evaporated and are now held hostage to a "compromise," with the president that would buy them Christmas in exchange for two more years of party time for the richest among us, who have proven that they not only couldn't care less about America, but also Americans themselves.
These guys have made Obama their bitch since jump. He is a weak, feckless, frightened little man. He has sold out America so these poor people can have Santa visit their tents. A drink of cool water in the desert only prolongs the suffering for those with no hope for rescue.
This is war for the future of a free republic. Obama must take heart of his own spoken truth that America cannot bargain with terrorists.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Chupacabra Report

News that Gets My Goat

-The Chronicle’s lead editorial today is about a case in State District Court challenging the Texas death penalty on the grounds that the “slipshod and inequitable imposition of it in Texas violates Eight Amendment protections" against cruel and unusual punishment. The piece notes that since 1976 Texas has executed 464 people, while eleven inmates sentenced to death have been exonerated and freed. That’s over 2%. Would you support capital punishment knowing that the courts were right 98% of the time? That would mean that Texas has executed at least twelve innocent people in recent decades.

-The Chronicle today has an op-ed piece from Houston attorney Patrick F. McCann titled ‘Who profits from Arizona type law?’ McCann says that Arizona State Senator Russel Pearse, sponsor of SB 1070, his top aides, and most of the bill’s co-sponsors, took money from the American Legislative Exchange Council, PAC for Corrections Corp. of America, the private prison contractor who actually wrote the bill. This tells me that the Texas Legislature, who can’t resist anybody wearing Gucci shoes and brandishing a checkbook, will soon pass a similar measure.

-University of Texas law professor Steve Bickerstaff, author of “Lines in the Sand: Congressional Redistricting in Texas and the Downfall of Tom DeLay”, writes about reactions to DeLay’s conviction for conspiracy and money laundering. He makes an interesting comparison:

“I would compare TRMPAC's scheme to a similar situation that sometimes occurs closer to home. Assume that you know that a neighbor cannot legally contribute to a specific candidate (e.g. because your neighbor has already given the maximum allowed by law), would you agree to contribute to the candidate in return for the gift to you of an equivalent sum from your neighbor. I certainly hope not. It would take a fool as an attorney to advise you or your neighbor that such a scheme is legal.”

Thursday, December 02, 2010

More Hammer

The Chronicle’s Rick Casey wrote about local attorney Chris Feldman, the man who first turned up the $190,000 money swap between Tom DeLay’s Texans for a Republican Majority PAC and the Republican National Committee that ended up in DeLay’s conviction for money laundering and conspiracy.

In 2003, Feldman was a young lawyer at the Austin firm of Ivy Crew & Elliot, who represented five Democratic candidates for the State Legislature defeated after the RNC sent their opponents tens of thousands of dollars. It was Feldman who discovered the e-mail from TRMPAC director John Colyandro that sent a blank check to ARMPAC director Jim Ellis; IRS records showing the $190,000 donation to the RNC, and soon after, checks totaling $190,000 sent to Texas statehouse candidates.

Some folks who haven’t been nuts about this story for six or eight years as I have been, don’t see ‘what‘s different from what the Democrats have always done in Texas.’

Well, for starters, under the Democrats, redistricting was done every ten years, after the national census as provided for in the U S Constitution. Secondly, redistricting was done to protect incumbents, whatever their party, so that a Republican like Jack Fields could represent River Oaks for thirty years and rise in seniority to chair the Ways and Means Committee. The Texas Congressional Delegation was even known to vote together for the benefit of the State of Texas. Try to find that now. With DeLay counting votes, if they found that they were getting too many votes from across the aisle, they would re-write the bill to include measures poisonous to Democrats to create another campaign issue to club them with after they voted against it.

The best part of Casey’s column comes at the end : “Feldman was pleased to see DeLay convicted last week, but he was even prouder of something Ellis told the Texas Observer back in 2003 — that TRMPAC was going to be a model for similar operations around the country, until the lawsuit.”

So the Travis County DA and the people of Austin foiled a plot to use corporate money to pack the legislatures in thirty-some states to institute a one-party system rivaling that of the Kremlin. Pretty good piece of work; now if we can overturn Corporate Citizenship and FCC v Citizens United we’ll be getting somewhere.