Zippidy Doo Da

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chupacabra Report

-“And it is made up of Americans from all walks of life like a three-legged stool. It's the peace through strength Republicans, and I'm one of them, it's fiscal conservatives, and I'm one of them, and it's social conservatives, and I'm one of them. It's the Tea Party movement and I'm one of them.”
-Michelle Bachman today in Waterloo Iowa.

For some reason, that line reminded me of this:

“I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
-Eugene V. Debs in 1918 after he was convicted for violating the Sedition Act for telling Americans to resist the draft in World War I.

American Socialist Eugene V. Debs ran for president in 1912 and 1920, getting over 900,000 votes each time; the latter while he was serving time in federal prison. The U. S. population was under 100 million in those days. I think it’s a fair bet that he surpassed any vote total that Bachman will garner next year.

-I had mixed feelings about President Obama loosing 30 million barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve last week. He did it as a response to inaction by OPEC, and along with an equal release by other members of the International Energy Agency, but this country uses over 20 million barrels a day, three-quarters of that imported. On the other hand, I thought that maybe he was simply taking a page from the Bush family playbook, as Clinton did. Maybe he’s finally learning how to play the game, in time for his re-election campaign.
Still another angle is that Obama did this to check speculation in the futures market that has been driving up the price of oil absent any real shortage or demand. If this is his motive, I suggest he listen to Senator Bernie Sanders, who points out that under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act passed last year, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission has authority to regulate such derivatives trading, but has yet to exercise it. Sanders suggests that the President asks for the resignation of some of these sluggish watchdogs.

-And last, the Sunday Chronicle had an ad from Houston Area Realtors thanking six area congressmen for cosponsoring H. Res. 25, a resolution to preserve the current federal income tax deduction for interest paid on a first or second home mortgage. Well holy Mom and apple pie. This is the sort of issue that divides the Joe Biden/ Eric Cantor group that’s been negotiating raising the debt ceiling. The Democrats propose limiting tax deductions to families with over $500,000 in income to 10% of gross adjusted income. At my house, we’ve never been able to claim more than the standard deduction unless we were buying a house or having a baby that year, and I’m not happy about helping people buy McMansions or lake houses on my dime. Grover Norquist may call it a tax hike; I call it socialism for millionaires.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

-From BartCop

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Leaders blame ideology for failure to fix budget


"Lawmakers entered the 2011 legislative session facing a chronically under-performing business tax, a school finance system in need of a revamp and pointed questions about billions of dollars in tax exemptions while the state faced a massive budget shortfall.
"They could enter the 2013 session the same way, having failed to come to agreement on any of the three, potentially guaranteeing themselves a repeat of the budget woes that bedeviled the regular session's 140 days.
"Because of the ideological nature of this session, and because we have a bicameral Legislature, we didn't get a lot of the big reform ideas on the table and debated and resolved," said Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan. "And that's probably my biggest disappointment - that we basically kicked the can down the road in almost every area."

-Another landmark session for the Lege. The GOP supermajority has managed to achieve gridlock all on their own. The voters are getting what they asked for, I guess; this is the equivalent of what you could expect if you were to hire a demolition company to build your house. Though many Texans may not be mindful of the consequences of what the wrecking crew they elected has been up to, having been busy watching important sports games and reality shows; spending cuts in education, healthcare, nutrition assistance, nursing homes and mental health facilities will hit home in coming months. Hopefully next year the electorate will remember who brought us here and turn things around before the state gets to looking like a Mad Max movie.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More ‘Running Government Like A Business’

I’ve been hearing Tim Pawlenty talk about the ‘Google Test;’ he says that if a service is listed in Google then the government shouldn’t be in that business. This idea has been rattling around the GOP brainpan for years, also called the ‘Yellow Pages Test.’

This conservative dogma has sparked fiascos across the country, as when the State of Texas fired the bureaucrats that administered the Children’s Health Insurance Program and awarded a contract to an offshore corporation started by some old Arthur Anderson beancounters out of work after the Enron scandal, (They couldn’t do the job, and 200,000 poor children lost their health coverage.) How about when Cheney and Rumsfeld decided to hire Blackwater or Halliburton to do jobs formerly done by G.I.’s, because the people wouldn’t buy into the war if it meant that their children might be drafted to serve in it. Better to spend billions on contractors and use a backdoor, or ‘economic draft’ to staff the military. What these schemes do is privatize the profits and socialize the costs. And you hear a lot of them when the Torys are in power. Rick Perry pitched a deal for a Spanish consortium to build highways in Texas to operate as toll roads. Texans used to build their own roads and drive them for free. Perry also wanted to sell off the Texas Lottery. Phil Gramm wanted Texas to buy ‘dead peasant’ insurance policies on retired schoolteachers so the state could collect when they died. The biggest scheme of all would be to privatize Social Security. This would be a billion dollar boon to the financial conjurors of Wall Street but just imagine what would have happened if Bush had pulled this off in time for the crash of 2008.

Ideology aside, the purpose here is not to save money, or better serve the public good; it’s all self serving, to feed at the public trough and dole out favors to cronies.

According to the Google Test, we ought to shut down Medicare and rely on the insurance industry to provide health coverage to seniors, as the Ryan Plan prescribes. After all, Medicare spending, adjusted for inflation, rose 400% over the last 40 years. Makes sense right? But over the same 40 years, the cost of private health insurance has risen 700%. If you ‘follow the money,’ you find that the GOP receives the lion’s share of contributions from insurance and pharmaceutical interests, which totaled over $70 million last year.

These so-called conservatives really do want to run government like a business, but that business is a chop shop, where they steal your car and break it down to sell off the parts, sort of like Mitt Romney’s vulture capital business does. It’s like junkies that destroy thousands of dollars worth of electrical work so they can sell the copper as scrap. Good business model?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Running Government Like A Business?

The U S Dept of Labor filed suit Wednesday alleging that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Child Protective Services Division forces employees to work off the clock and owes them over $1 million in overtime back wages.

Although the Texas Legislatures has added a billion dollars in funding to the department in the past six years, shrinking caseworkers caseloads form 40.4 to 29.5, caseloads still exceed the national average of 18.9, and Texas caseworkers' pay still is at or near the lowest in the country, averaging under $31,000.

But protecting neglected and abused children is like 'supporting the troops,' sounds good when you say it, but that doesn't mean much when it comes time to pay for it. If Texas officials really wanted to 'run government like a business,' another widely over-used term, they would pay competitive salaries to a staff sized for the workload.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Another handgun tragedy..

I hardly know what to say about this but I will try to put some thoughts in order here. Another one of our neighbors is dead, along with his wife, this time in a murder suicide. This quiet and friendly young man, who worked in a local business that we patronize, succumbed to trouble in his life thinking that a small handgun held an answer to his problems. We can take solace only in the fact that he didn’t feel the need to turn the weapon on their two small children too. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their family and friends.

As the shocking news sinks in, my thoughts turn to other friends and acquaintances that have died from gunfire. There have been so many over the years.

Some may not believe this, but I do not favor a “nanny state.” I heartily approve of all of the Bill of Rights, and am an advocate of liberty (Stupendous.)

But I do believe in progress, that humanity is ultimately perfectible, and wonder what we can do to change this culture of ours, a country where there are more guns than people, and more folks die from shootings every year than in automobile accidents. Are we safer because so many of us are armed? I don’t see how that can be when most victims are shot by people they know, yet to hear the 2nd Amendment fanatics, gun ownership is the essence of patriotism and good citizenship. Yet for every “armed citizen” story in the NRA Magazine, there are certainly hundreds of tragedies like the one I heard of this morning. There is a good reason why your doctor asks if you own guns.

I’ve said that I would allow guns to be carried anywhere if we could only get them off the television. We are a nation of vidiots, and staring in to the “wasteland” one sees hundreds of actors shot every day. Toddlers pick up guns and fire them. Where did they learn this?

As with many problems, the solution lies with education and sensible regulation. We can rise above our culture of death; but first we have to stop moving in the wrong direction.