Zippidy Doo Da

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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

When the Going Gets Tough the Tough Get Funny

It is so hot around Texas I am sweating through my third set of clothes just typing this. Blogging is hard.

I saw a couple of things from around the state I wanted to mention. Ciro looked like he was pulling out of the race against Bush toady, Henry Bonilla. Having announced so last night at a labor hall. He was downcast over his perceived place in the race, or something, I am not sure. But it is not settled yet. From the less creepy side of "Strange Bedfellows":

But this afternoon, campaign spokeswoman Gina Castañeda called to say, essentially: Woah. Rodriguez, she said, had given himself until 5 p.m. Friday to make up his mind about whether to push ahead with his campaign or fold it up.

"He's mulling it over," Castañeda said. "He's talking to his family and he's talking to his supporters."

And what about his comments the night before to the San Antonio AFL-CIO Central Labor Council?

"He acted in some haste," she said.

But reading down into the creepy side, another story

Things have been quiet — too quiet — after last weekend's Austin American-Statesman vs. Pink Dome flareup sparked by a blog fight between two gubernatorial campaigns.

It all started with skirmishing on Gov. Rick Perry's blog between Perry's camp and challenger Carole Keeton Strayhorn's spokesman Mark Sanders.

When Perry's folks resorted to posting Sanders' 1980s photo from his days in the Capitol press corps — complete with of-the-era eyeglasses and big mustache — it caught the attention of the Statesman's Jason Embry.

Embry's reference in his item to In the Pink Texas as "the only political blog in the state that's actually, you know, funny" drew the notice of Pink Dome, which lashed back Sunday at Embry's "teenage skill level" of insult.

Jason, your turn.

Well, I can tell you she is very funny. Go see yourself at

You know the gods must be crazy when the Chron blog (the CHRON BLOG?!) weighs in on a blogger spat.

It all started with a blurb by Jason Embry in the Statesman on the Perry Blog and an unfunny commenter named Carole Strayhorn’s Golfish, a rip-off of John Cornyn’s Box Turtle, which has since been copyrighted. (Now there’s Mark Sanders’ Cocktail. OMG, Rick Perry’s Cock Tail would be SO MUCH FUNNIER.)

After plying him with drinks, Embry vowed to refer to my blog as the only funny political blog in Texas. Which, of course, is an outright lie since we all know that BurkaBlog is a laugh. riot.

I told you she was funny.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Satire vs. Reality

Monday during Bush’s photo-op in New Orleans, a prankster posing as a deputy assistant secretary of the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development addressed a conference there on public housing, announcing that the government was reversing policy and would halt plans to demolish thousands of housing units.
The imposter identified himself as Andy Bichlbauer, a name used by a group of activist performance artists who delivered a bogus address to a WTO conference in Austria, were behind a “vote auction” site that purported to connect big money political donors directly to voters, and are suspects in numerous pie killings.
Such surrealism applied to public affairs can lead to vertigo and nausea when the rubes (us) realize that they’ve been afflicted with ‘dumbnesia’ and missed vital clues that they were being taken.
Consider Bush the candidate next to Bush the President. In the debates he spoke the good conservative lines, I may have fallen for it except for the fact that he’d been my governor for years. I remember when he appeared on TV before the Carla Faye Tucker execution and read the right lines about equal justice and personal responsibility, but he had that deer in headlights look, plus his usual problems with reading aloud; I was underwhelmed.After six years of this happy bullshit, the pranksters and imposters are starting to look credible.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Third Coast Music Radio

Support KSYM. 90.1 FM in San Antonio - Your only alternative. They have several great shows and you can listen on-line at

I love these guys.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


The library ladies had laughed so hard that some of them were starting to change colors.
When I asked, they told me that they’d been comparing their exotic dancer names.
To get yours, take the name of your first pet, then add the name of the street you lived on. Call me Smokey Walnut.

"Everything's Broken"

I was truly startled when I read this:

LOS ANGELES - Bob Dylan says modern recordings sound "atrocious," and even the songs on his new album sounded much better in the studio than on disc.

"I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really," the 65-year-old rocker said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

Dylan, who released eight studio albums in that time, returns with his first recording in five years, "Modern Times," next Tuesday.

Noting the music industry's complaints that illegal downloading means people are getting their music for free, he said, "Well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway."

"You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them," he added. "There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like ... static."

Dylan said he does his best to fight technology, but it's a losing battle.

"Even these songs probably sounded 10 times better in the studio when we recorded 'em. CDs are small. There's no stature to it."

Go read that again in your best Dylan voice. I was totally, "Yay Bob"!

I looked in on a couple of music chat sites and the outrage was amazing. "He just did a record with Jack White of the stripes. I guess he doesn't think it is all crap," and so on. Dylan is obviously avoiding the issue of content, and limits comments to production quality, but I would include a condemnation of the entire milleu of music in the modern age for artists and fans. Music just doesn't seem to be reaching people in the same way that it did in the 60' and 70's.

I've written about this before in a number of ways, but for instance, compare the Billboard top 100 now to 30 years ago. Record sales now are terrible, and there aren't any rock stars anymore. The content is banal, tired, unimaginative and unambitious, for the most part, and production is horrible.

Plus, despite what some people who traffic in truthiness say, everybody is broke, and what money they have to spend seems not to go very far. The paradigme of musical vacuousness is SXSW. It is cynical pay for play. Product placement. Marketing. Who's kidding who? And the poor kids that go for the hype are getting totally rolled. Some thoughts from SXSW chat:

My secrets of SXSW:

1. The Austin Chronicle has free ho-hos at their tradeshow booth.
2. And the dozen Luna Bar samplers I grabbed were priceless. You never know when you're going to end up standing in line for a surprise secret, last minute showcase outside of Stubb's at 6 PM.
3. Thanks, Aquafina for the free water bottles at Brush Square Tent. When everybody was in line waiting for their free beer, I grabbed a few water bottles (no line) and ran.
4. Getting cross-trainer shoe inserts from Foot Locker was a really good idea. Arch support is key. Dr. Scholl's wasn't enough.
5. Another great idea was buying a bunch of fresh fruit, juice, and energy drinks at Whole Foods (6th and Lamar).
6. And so was booking a massage at the Hilton Austin the day after (8th floor spa) for those poor aching joints and sore muscles. It's pricey but worth every penny.
7. You know the "Always Be Charging" rule by now; the new one for me is "Always Be Sitting." Your knees will thank you later. Spending spare time in the Platinum Lounge with complimentary coffee works wonders, if you have a Platinum badge.
8. Sleeping in and skipping a 10am Interactive Panel is usually the right choice. (Sorry, 10am panelists.)
9. Breakfast tacos are the food of the gods.
10. And sometimes not having your laptop with you is the best feeling in the world.
BONUS SECRET: Dodgeball, while sometimes irritating, really is the best way to keep in touch during SXSW Music when you don't know who's at their hotel, the convention center, or running about town.

Free ho-ho's? What happened to "don't eat the brown acid"? Music used to set people free; it used to change people's lives; it used to make people cry and laugh and dance naked.

I was dismayed a year ago with the price of the wristbands, and had serious reservations about buying one this year. I'm not sure what is motivating Louis Black (or if he is even aware) that SXSW has not only become cost prohibitive for a lot of us in tough econcomic times, it has also lost the Austin "vibe." For years, SXSW was an annual gathering of our local crew and out-of-town friends—it was a time we all eagerly awaited and talked about for months before hand. The usual gang of 20 has atrophied to just three this year! The common reason, without fail, was the price of wristbands and the increasing difficulty in gaining access to the shows we wanted to attend. It is no longer worth the admission or hassle.

What's worse is that all the badges have made it impossible to get into the worthwhile shows. On Friday night our diehard group of three gave up at 10:30 when, after three hours of wandering around, could not get into to see even our fourth-tier selections. We spent several hours on South Congress that afternoon and caught only one act, because the Yard Dog was running hours behind schedule and the Continental Club threw a party sans music. While the day time freebies are not an official part of the festival, they are still an integral part of the overall party.

Hard as it is to say this, this year's fest has not been fun; I'm so bummed at this point (late Saturday afternoon) that I'm staying home tonight. I really hope Louis Black and the other organizers take a hard look at how SXSW has lost its Austin character—and how they might get some that back.

Kids, listen to Uncle Bob. He knows of what he speaks.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Support John Courage in TX21

I don't mean the English ale, although that's good too. I mean the man running against the sour-pussed momma's boy, Lamar Smith. That's John with the mighty Ciro over on the left.

Smith is so good at staying under the radar, I had to go read his voting record to remind myself what a tool he is. Besides supporting everything George Bush ever asked for including privatizing Social Security, the War in Iraq, the Patriot Act, the Gay Marriage Amendment, he went out of his way to vote for awful stuff.

He voted to drill for oil 50-100 miles offshore.

He voted to hurt industrial workers under HR 742. The AFL/CIO said:

H.R. 742, the "Occupational Safety and Health Small Employer Access to Justice Act," would require taxpayers to pay the legal costs of employers with 100 or fewer employees and worth up to $7 million who win administrative or enforcement cases brought by OSHA or any challenge to an OSHA standard, regardless of whether OSHA's actions were "substantially justified." The VA W is deeply concerned that this legislation would have a tremendous chilling effect on the ability of OSHA to enforce workplace health and safety protections. In addition, this bill would reverse the time-honored rule of American jurisprudence that requires litigants to bear their own costs and fees. There is no need for such legislation because the Equal Access to Justice Act already protects parties from administrative overreaching by compensating them in cases where the government is not "substantially justified" in bringing a law enforcement action, or under other "special circumstances."

He voted to screw college students. The Daily Texan said

But no matter which way you slice it, The College Access and Opportunity Act of 2005, or HR 609, has snuck onto the floor of the House of Representatives and, as written, threatens to cut $9 billion in student financial aid.

Besides tailoring college for the super-rich - since middle- and lower-income families rely heavily on financial aid - the bill would increase the average cost of students' fees by about $6,000 per year.

HR 609 is an oxymoron, and a more adequate label would be "The Closed Doors and Lost Opportunity Act."

The proponents of HR 609 must think something as important as receiving a college education should be determined by how much money a person's family makes.

According to a report released by the College Board on Tuesday, as tuition continues to outpace increased funding for financial aid, students' chances of attending college, or even finishing their degree, depend increasingly on how deep students' parents' pocketbooks are.

He even voted to promote children dying, by ending federal funding in support of trigger locks.

There is tons more low-down, rotten stuff he did listed at

John Courage on the other hand is a sensible, moderate family man, who has spent his life fighting for kids to get a good education and in making college accessable to everyone. He will be probably the most like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington of all the many reformers who will likely be elected to save this country from oblivion. He is not corrupted by special interests or cynical from "business as usual" institutional rot.

He has a real good shot, but he needs money. Go learn about him and give a little at

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Kinky Drafts Willie as Energy Czar

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman on Friday reiterated his top pick to implement his energy plan that emphasizes renewable sources: Willie Nelson.

Friedman said the country singer/songwriter and benefactor of biodiesel was a natural choice to lead a state energy department or commission, which he wants to create. He also said Nelson "would never have his hand in Texas' pocket."

"My plan is to appoint the best people I can find, get out of the way and let them work ... people whose only agenda is to do the right thing for the people of Texas," Friedman told the Fort Worth Rotary Club. "... I really believe that musicians can better run this state than politicians."

A Texas biodiesel supplier partnered with Nelson to develop the BioWillie brand of the clean-burning fuel for truckers. It is made from used vegetable oils or soybeans and is blended with diesel, and does not require modification to diesel engines.

Nelson is on the board of directors of Dallas-based Earth Biofuels, which produces biodiesel and is the exclusive distributor of Nelson's signature brand of biodiesel. Nelson did not immediately return calls seeking comment Friday.

Friedman, who unveiled his energy plan Thursday, said he plans to have 35,000 school buses running on biodiesel fuel, as well as his own vehicle. He said as it catches on, some 7 percent or 8 percent of Texans will be trying biodiesel, resulting in lower prices at gas stations because of supply and demand.

"What you're going to see is Texas finally leading the way instead of following behind all the time, being first in something besides executions, toll roads and property taxes," he said.

The other gubernatorial candidates running Nov. 7 are Republican Gov. Rick Perry, Democrat Chris Bell, independent candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the state comptroller, and Libertarian James Werner.

Friedman said Perry, Bell and Strayhorn have a combined 89 years of political experience among them.

"I think politics is the only field in which the more experience you have, the worse you get," Friedman told the crowd of about 300, which roared with laughter throughout his speech. "So I think it's time we had a non-politician as governor."

Dare to dream.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Police seal Congress building to prevent sit-in

MEXICO CITY -- Hundreds of Mexican riot police in black body armor sealed Congress on Tuesday after violent clashes with leftist protesters and legislators who say last month's presidential election was stolen.

Police blocked streets around the Congress building, closing the area to prevent the return of demonstrators who want to rebuild a tent city to protest what they say was election fraud.

With the imposing concrete building surrounded by police, no protesters went near Congress on Tuesday.

About 15 legislators from the left-wing party whose presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador narrowly lost the July 2 election, were among those hurt on Monday when police tore down tents in their partially built camp, tear gassed protesters and drove them back with clubs.

It was the first violence since the election protests began weeks ago. Police officials construct a metal barricade surrounding the Congress building Tuesday, one day after clashes with supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

"Pope Shelley Sekula-Gibbs"

Well, the GOP has picked the official write-in candidate for TX22. That's her on the left. When I saw this and her other photos it hurt my face. They reminded me of a story lately in Huffington Post:

"Mouthing Off," Bernhard free-associates about her outspoken, passion-fueled lips, saying "If I had thin lips I could never express myself the way I'm able to express myself," and "Can you really handle it? I mean, can you really handle these lips?" Apparently, MAC parent Esteé Lauder could not, and edited out the part where Bernhard spoke of an "intimidated, frightened, right-wing Republican thin-lipped b*tch." The video, first posted on August 3rd, was linked yesterday on the Drudge Report, and the company was inundated by angry phone calls.

But I will defer to the expert on TX22, Juanita at her very very fine blog This her turf, and she is a great warrior in the fight to free America of one of the most caustic, malignant political criminals in history. Today she writes:

August 18 - Okay, I'm up. I'm up. Quit hollering. They came to a conclusion and white smoke came out of the baptistery. It's Pope Shelley Sekula-Gibbs.
The Pearland Group picked Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. The Pecan Grove Group picked a fair parade float. And the other 99.9% of the people in CD22 picked doing something meaningful by not attending either meeting.
Fort Bend GOP Party Chair Gary Gillen - who was at the Pecan Grove secret meeeting - whined about the new by-laws for the party. Tom DeLay - who was at the Pearland secret meeting - whined about judges.
The coolest thing I heard all night, except that Tom DeLay showed up at the Pearland meeting and they didn't stone him - I mean, you gotta admit that's pretty noteworthy - was that David Wallace sent a dozen "protestors" down to Pearland to walk around with his signs and sing Kumbaya or Michael Row the Boat Ashore or something.
Okay, so I made up the hippie song singing and I suspect that no one burned their bra or anything but Wallace is sure big on this protest stuff. But, hey, as long as they're not sending Ken Dexter to whack me, I'm perfectly willing to watch them walk in circles. The CD22 seems pretty darned good at going in circles.

The local GOPpers are saying that the National GOP has promised to send 2 to 3 million (or sometimes 4 million depending on the size of the speaker's .... uh, mouth) to this race right here in CD22.
I think that's kinda like David Wallace's "one million dollars" - just a bark and no bite. However, it does show you that the Republicans think they can buy a race.
I'm sure the check's in the mail.

One more thing. When I looked at that face, for some reason, I was immediately reminded of the following from the Manchurian Candidate:

Mrs. Iselin: It has been decided that you will be dressed as a priest, to help you get away in the pandemonium afterwards. Chunjin will give you a two-piece Soviet Army sniper's rifle that fits nicely into a special bag. There's a spotlight booth that won't be in use. It's up under the roof on the Eighth Avenue side of the Garden. You will have absolutely clear, protected shooting. You are to shoot the presidential nominee through the head. And Johnny will rise gallantly to his feet and lift Ben Arthur's body in his arms, stand in front of the microphones and begin to speak. The speech is short. But it's the most rousing speech I've ever read. It's been worked on, here and in Russia, on and off, for over eight years. I shall force someone to take the body away from him and Johnny will really hit those microphones and those cameras with blood all over him, fighting off anyone who tries to help him, defending America even if it means his own death, rallying a nation of television viewers to hysteria, to sweep us up into the White House with powers that will make martial law seem like anarchy! Now, this is very important. I want the nominee to be dead two minutes after he begins his acceptance speech - depending on his reading time under pressure. You are to hit him right at the point that he finishes the phrase, "Nor would I ask of any fellow American in defense of his freedom that which I would not gladly give myself - my life before my liberty." Is that absolutely clear?

Headline News?

The U S Coast Guard captured Francisco Javier Arrelano-Felix,
leader of the Tijuana drug cartel, off Baja California yesterday.
“We feel like we’ve taken the head off the snake,” said Michael Braun,
a Drug Enforcement Administration agent. “We’ve got this brutal
organization in a chokehold, and we’re not letting up.”
Braun later celebrated by ascending in a hot air balloon, fueled by
$50 billion in burning greenbacks.
“I’m going up, up, up!” he exclaimed. “I’ve got gravity by the throat, and I’m never coming down.”

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bush Library Delayed

From the AP:

First lady Laura Bush said Wednesday that she doesn't expect a decision to be made on the site for the George W. Presidential Library before at least the end of the year.

Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Baylor University in Waco and the University of Dallas in Irving are finalists for the library.

"The first of the year would be my guess," Mrs. Bush said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News during a campaign fundraising stop in Fairmont, W.Va. "Or, maybe, the end of the year."

She said that the process of picking a site is complicated with a lot of negotiations and "give-and-take from all the sites that are interested."

"It just takes a lot longer than you think it might," she said. "There's a lot of legal parts that are associated with it."

First of all, isn't "Bush Library" an oxymoron? Really. I've noticed a frank national discussion has begun about whether the nation is endangered by the bully-president's stupidity coupled with his messianic grandiocity; even among republicans. Whether brain-sick from syphillis and profligacy, or simply mentally retarded (my theory), Babs can't hold down the truth anymore, it always rises up in the end. I'll admit he can seem to discuss sports without falling down or soiling himself. But a library?

I've never had a quiz before, so let's try one. Besides Hungry Catapillar, what other books would one expect to find in the Bush Library?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Down on the Farm

The Houston Chronicle has a cute homage to the Snake Farm:

"I only have one bad snake dream," says John Mellyn, owner of New Braunfels' Snake Farm, Texas' roadside home to the world's most lethal snakes. "It always involves the mambas.

"They're loose, and they're in Snake Farm, and I've got a full house, and the people won't listen to me when I tell them to move back."

Ah, yes...the snake dream.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Whatta You Lookin' At?

A smelly, slothful, slow-whitted, scavaging, nocturnal beast...and an oppossum.

Pills, Porn And Thingy-Tang?

So we have a meager little message board for our band Driftwood on a spunky (no nasty pun intended) website My Texas Music. We just want a tiny little speck of the internet universe to call our own, make some music that might make someone feel less alone, and even connect somehow with fellow humans. I was excited to see some activity on these boards for our band until I discoverd that the main topics on the message board were advertisements for:
PILLS - Canadian pharmeceuticals
PORN - Blowjob videos
POON-TANG - Lonely women seeking men

I thought the moderator would have taken down some of these messages, but it looks like they have some auto-antispam censor - a "spaminator" - that presumes to sanitize the content. The post I made complaining about this spam used the word "poon-tang". The spaminator censored this by switching it to "thingy-tang", which I find more offensive than the original post. Some words and phrases that slipped by the "spaminator":
Ooops! Looks like the spaminator needs to consult a naughty thesaurus to beef up it's blue vocabulary. I am not complaining about the message board, I am dismayed by the assault on every dark and hidden bit on the internet being subject to such invasion. I am not even really offended by this content, it is comical and ridiculous at best, so it's not a moral issue.

I can find Pills, Porn and Poon-Tang everywhere on the internet, without even trying. Culture? Well that's another subject.

Straight Ticket

I’m an old ticket splitter. Goodell, Goldwater, Gus Hall, gone there, done that.
Always been smugly appalled at straight ticket voters, seeing them as ignorant tools of machine politicians. As precinct judge, it fell to me to educate my voters when a LaRouche latah or a transsexual convicted murderer made it on to the primary ballot. And when I swore to support all party nominees, I did so with one hand behind my back, fingers crossed.
Two columnists from the Times dichotomized last week to make me reconsider my long held practice.
David Brooks, in his “Present at the creation of McCain-Lieberman Party” suggests that the moderate majority is fed up with the “Sunni-Shiite style of politics,” and that this third way will be co-opted into the existing parties, perhaps by John McCain and Hillary Clinton re-introducing centrism to party politics.
This took me back to Paul Krugman’s “Centrism is for Suckers.” He writes about the Sierra Club’s endorsement of Sen. Lincoln Chaffee, R-R.I, saying “the only thing that matters for the issues the Sierra Club cares about is the “R” after his name.”
“If the Democrats gain only five rather than six seats this November, Senator James Inhofe, who says that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” will remain as chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.”
“Now we’re living in an age of one letter politics in which a politicians partisan affiliation is always far more important than his or her personal beliefs. And those who refuse to recognize this reality end up being useful idiots for those, like President Bush, that have been constantly ruthless in their partisanship.” I think he’s got something there. The way the Tories have operated the past ten years, we should kick their asses so far back that they have to caucus with the Whigs.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Blonde Joke

Two bit paperhanger and convicted bigamist Eric Eugene Cooper was sentenced to fifteen years in prison yesterday for altering a government document. His trial was enlivened by the appearance of seven ex-wives who came to testify against him. Cooper, who once joined the navy only to wash out of basic training, took to wearing dress whites and passing himself off as a naval officer. This shtick seems to have gone over well with the ladies, judging from the seven wives, plus girlfriends and fiancées in ten years time. The Chronicle photo of them rowed up in court looked like some kind of blonde joke, but it was not funny to Coopers lawyer, who convinced his client to change course and accept the state’s plea agreement before the last three witnesses even came to the stand.
Cooper appeared in court in a wheelchair, claiming to be suffering from diabetes and bone cancer. Have to wonder if that’s his latest act.
In the movie version, I’ll have the lawyer his grandmother hired for him be an imposter too.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Camp Logan Riot of 1917

On what is now the sight of Memorial Park in Houston, as lovely a place as there is in Houston, nestled along Buffalo Bayou on about 2,000 acres stood Camp Logan, a US Army post built to guard the construction of Ellington AFB in 1917.

Black soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry were sent by the army to perform the necessary guard duty. These men were an excellent choice at the time, having earned a fine reputation from San Francisco to Manila, where they were treated according to their merit, and not by their skin. Once achieving a sense of pride and confidence, they were not willing to be degraded by Jim Crow and racial hatred they found in Houston.

Although they were welcomed warmly by the black and (to a certain extent) the white communites in town, there was still an element, (and still is) that embraced attitudes of bigotry and racial hatred. All the "whites only" institutions history has come to know were in full force and effect.

On August 23rd, a rumor that a soldier had been killed by police swept the camp, and under the leadership of Sargeant Vida Henry, more than a hundred soldiers marched up Washington Avenue shooting nearly everything in sight.

After killing an officer who tried to intervene, the rioters ended the melee. In all 26 people died including 7 police officers. Sgt. Henry committed suicide. Later in November, 13 soldiers were hanged at Fort Sam Houston.

History reflects well on the city of Houston's leaders and people who reacted in a measured way to the emergency and held back a potential race riot that obliterated the black community as seen in Tulsa a few years later.

Not much is written about this facinating story. On the verge of its 100th aniversary, I look forward to seeing more and better accounts of this event.

Red Oak Spouts Water in Peak Drought

Lucille Pope's red oak tree has baffled tree experts, water specialists and nursery professionals.

The knotted, towering tree, more than 100 years old, has become the root of scrutiny in her East Side neighborhood. The tree has gurgled water from its trunk for the past three months.

Pope, 65, has sought answers from several specialists, calling experts from the Texas Forest Service, the Edwards Aquifer Authority and nurseries for an explanation.

They've combed her backyard, probing the gnarled tree that leans away from a parked white 1980s Cadillac.

After snapping pictures, doing taste tests and conducting preliminary studies, they're still working to give her a definitive answer.

Photos by Tom Reel/Express-News

Lucille Pope drinks the water that is mysteriously leaking out of a tree in her backyard on the East Side.

Lloyd Pope catches the water springing from a tree in his backyard on the East Side.

"I got a mystery tree," Pope said. "What kind of mystery do I have where water comes out of a tree?"

The odd occurrence started in early April when her son, Lloyd Pope, noticed bark smeared with sap when he went to fill his the water trough of his stepson's dog Neno. After moving the Rottweiler's tray, he saw a wide stain that ran from the root up toward the branches, with fluid dripping to the ground from above.

Days later, he saw water streaming onto the ground from the other side, and he showed his mother the sight.

Lloyd Pope, 47, said the water was cool, like it came from a faucet. The only damp spot around the tree trunk is where the water lands.

The peculiar incident has the Popes wondering if the water has properties not found on tap.

Pope said her insurance agent dabbed drops on a spider bite that went away after the application on the welt. Pope said she's soaked her sore ankles in water from the tree and the pain has gone away.

Now she wonders, is it a tree that heals or water that blesses?

Her son doesn't believe the cause of the streaming water is anything holy or religious.

"I ain't with that superstitious stuff," Lloyd Pope said, sitting on the hood of the Cadillac, catching water spurting out of the tree in a plastic gallon jug. "There's no crying Mary here."

After hearing of the leaking tree, two water experts stopped by Wednesday afternoon to study the strange sight.

George Rice, a hydrologist on the board of the authority, and Annalisa Peace, executive director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, walked around the tree, touching the damp surface.

"I've never seen anything like this before," Rice said. "If you wanted to dream something up I'd say that somehow water pressure underneath is forced through some kind of channel in the tree. But that's still very unlikely."

Rice watched the water gurgling about 2 feet up from the roots, estimating the flow at a 10th or 20th of a gallon every minute.

Lloyd Pope offered a blue plastic cup of the cool water to Rice and several bystanders. After a sip, Rice said it tasted like it could have had a trace of saline, almost like something that could have gone through natural dissolving salts.

Rice took a quarter of a plastic bottle of water from the tree, analyzing it later with a quick examination kit that measured water conductivity.

"From a crude, free test I can't tell the difference," Rice said of the water he compared to Edwards Aquifer water. "It's 600 micromhos, the same as what comes out of my tap, maybe a little higher."

Mark Peterson, regional community forester from the Texas Forest Service, paid a courtesy call three weeks ago to help Pope figure out a logical explanation to the phenomenon. He hasn't done any extensive research but still is trying to identify the enigma. He's talked to consultation services without any results

He said he believes it could be a spring, adding that that would be rare with the drought conditions this summer.

Peterson plans to ask colleagues around the country via link services for ideas about the tree.

"If it is a burst pipe their monthly bill would be enormous," Peterson said. "It would definitely be reflected in their bill."

Pope said she doesn't think the cause is a broken water pipe. She said her water bill is normal and hasn't fluctuated from the monthly average.

The only fluctuation she's seen she said is in the morning when the water flow is more forceful.

Roland Ruiz, spokesman for the authority, said that early in the morning he would suspect that the aquifer level would be up.

"With a high demand the level would be down," Ruiz said. "As the demand dropped, theoretically it would go up."

Thursday afternoon Ruiz said a science team member researched the elevation of the area and said that it's unlikely that the water from the tree is from aquifer springflow.

The family members said they plan to call the San Antonio Water System for an assessment.

After Rice and Peace left with their sample of water, Lloyd Pope continued to sit on the hood of the Cadillac, pressing the mouth of the nearly filled jug to the spout of water, just as he does every other day. Then he put the collected water, which he said is better than faucet water, in the icebox.

His mother cupped her hands to the tree, drinking the pooled water spilling over her fingers.

She's still waiting to find out if the source of the mysterious water flow is an artesian spring, a broken water pipe or an abandoned well.

Or possibly something else.

"I just want to know if it is a healing tree or blessed water," she said. "That's God's water. Nobody knows but God."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Donut of Doom

This story goes back three years ago, when Bush and the Congress decided to deliver on their promise of a Medicare prescription drug benefit.
According to the National Review, the Medicare program already has an unfunded liability of $13 trillion. So these geniuses add a program expected to cost $40 billion a year. “That’s a bit like a family that can’t pay their mortgage deciding that they should build a new swimming pool.”
Where do Republicans go to get the bill written? To the pharmaceutical and health insurance lobbyists of course. These folks cook up a scheme that prohibits the government from negotiating drug prices and instead offers seniors a bewildering menu of private prescription drug policies. This bill has something for everybody, premiums, deductibles, co-pays; low cost users (under $1,000/year) could save 37%, high cost users (over $10,000) could save 65%. But golly, how to pay for it all?
Here’s where the donut hole comes in. When you reach $2,250 in drug expenses, the system stops paying and the next $2,850 is on you. If you reach $5,100 in expenses, coverage resumes at 95%. That is, if you survive.
The House wouldn’t pass the bill, so the leadership kept the vote open through the middle of the night while Tom DeLay bribed and threatened members to change their votes. For this he was rebuked by the Ethics Committee, and rewarded by the pharmaceutical industry. (Note; resigned congressman DeLay and his family will be getting taxpayer funded healthcare for the rest of their lives.)
So, between now and election day, an estimated 7 million senior citizens will be falling into this hole, choosing between medicine and groceries, and figuring out who the beneficiaries of this program really are.
In 2002, seniors made up 25% of the electorate.
Go Granny go!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Do You Feel the Joementum?

You better watch out. He is really angry.

Texas Democrats take note: There are worse things than being caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl. (see: "The Kiss")

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Reverse Robin Hood

The state of Texas has been having a blast kicking around poor folks, the disabled and elderly by slashing the Medicaid program services the past couple of years. No eye glasses, hearing aids, dental work, mental health services, walkers, canes, restorative care, tertiary, primary or well clinic visits for you granny. "Go suck eggs, junior." "Try CHIPs (snicker!)." "Oh yeah, we didn't fund it, and kept all the dough." "We would like to give Juanito his asthma inhaler, if you have the $5.00 co-pay."

If a large, homeless schitzophrenic who is self-medicating on booze because there are no mental health services to look after him, gets a drink from your garden hose, just call the police. They will fix him.

One of the lies Texas is determined to make stick with the public is the story that public health is improving by slashing services and consolidating agencies into a total chaotic nightmare. Problem is, they haven't done any public health surveys since 2003, two years prior to the action to strangle babies in the crib pursuant to HB 1 becoming law in May, 2005. ( Nevertheless, infant mortality hit an all-time low in 2000 of 3.4% and rose to 4.4% in 2003. ( I would predict that all deaths, especially according to income and ethnicity have sky-rocketed. Why wouldn't they with markedly lower prenatal care, practically no food stamp and nutrition programs, and non-existent clinics and migrant health services?

Now I have discovered a law that I didn't know about until recently that allows Texas to take one's homestead in order to reimburse themselves for nursing home services under Medicaid. Read it and weep middle class folks:

Subchapter A GENERAL

373.101 Purpose
The purpose of this chapter is to implement section 531.077, Government Code, consistent with applicable federal law at 42 U.S.C. § 1396p(b)(1), which requires the Health and Human Services Commission, as the State Medicaid Agency, to operate a Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) to recover the costs of Medicaid long-term care benefits received by certain Medicaid recipients.

373.103 Applicability

1. A Medicaid Estate Recovery claim may be filed against the estate of a deceased Medicaid recipient for covered Medicaid services if the recipient:
1. Was age 55 years or older at the time the services were received; and
2. Initially applied for covered Medicaid long-term care services on or after March 1, 2005, the effective date of these rules.
2. For purposes of this chapter, an individual will be considered to be age 55 as of the first day of the month following the month in which the recipient attains the age of 55.
3. Covered Medicaid long-term care services include the following services provided to a recipient age 55 years or older under the State of Texas Medicaid plan under Title XIX of the Social Security Act (SSA):
1. Nursing facility services;
2. Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded (ICF-MR);
3. Home and Community-Based Services (§1915(c), SSA) and Community Attendant Services (§1929(b), SSA); and
4. Related costs of hospital and prescription drug services.
4. For the purposes of this chapter, covered services do not include services provided before the effective date of these rules.

In other words, mom goes into the nursing home; incurs a LARGE bill; Medicaid pays for it; she dies (there or someplace else); they take the family farm. Gone. Bye-bye.

Suckers. You guys voted for these evil hose-bags. And I have a feeling you will vote for them again. God/guns/gays and all that.

Thank God Paris Hilton isn't going to have to pay a "death tax."


Sunday, August 06, 2006

DeLay for Congress

Well, unless we get hosed by the supremes again, the “Party of Harding” will have Tom DeLay on the District 22 ballot this November. This could be disastrous news for this candidate, who has been counting on using his remaining campaign war chest to pay the passel of lawyers he’s been employing. It can’t be getting any easier for him to raise money. Remember that in the last primary, he scored the lowest proportion of his votes in the Sugarland community he’s represented for twenty years. People are getting wise to him. And I can’t help but believe that the various prosecutors who are interested in him might go easier on him if he would just shut up and go away. I think that is why he tried to quit in the first place. Some of his associates have been convicted of crimes that carry possible life sentences, and they gotta be singing up a storm.
DeLay’s crooked machinations have left Texas with the weakest congressional delegation in a hundred years, and made the atmosphere toxic for Republicans across the country.Old Hot Tub Tom has pissed in the tub, and now he has to climb back into it. Sweet.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I'm Worth a Million in Prizes

In the latest example of the menace posed by the initiative and referendum process, the state of Arizona will vote in November on a measure that will award a $1 million prize to a random voter. Funny that they say random voter, I makes me think of some ignoramus stepping unprepared into the voting booth and going eenie meenie minie moe.
Besides the fact that federal law prohibits offering or receiving an expenditure to any person to vote or to withhold a vote, this is simply disasterous policy with the aim of increasing voter turnout. Consider those polls where people are givin a list of ten statements that happen to be the Bill of Rights, and are asked which ones they approve or disapprove. An alarming proportion of the public give Thomas Jefferson a failing grade.These are the people we are encouraging to vote. I say we should require them to pass a short quiz on American history and government first. Failing that, they can then go back to watching Wheel of Fortune. I’ll wrap with a line from H.L.Mencken: “ Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

Friday, August 04, 2006


with the state of current affairs, I picked up a biography of
Sam Rayburn. Mr. Sam ran for Congress in 1911
as a Democrat, his platform included a federal inheritance tax,
direct election of senators, abolition of the electoral college,
and opposition to initiative and referendum. Not bad…..
Author Donald Bacon says, “Rayburn postponed hard decisions as long as possible;
most problems, he believed, disappeared in time. Open conflict was his last resort. He had learned that once an angry battle is joined, scars and bitterness inevitably remained whether you win or lose. He believed every public official had a responsibility “to be fair, to be just, to be reasonable.”
A few quotes:
“We were always so poor at home and everybody worked like the devil,
that's what made me determined to try to help the average man get a break.”
“A man ought to live in the very best house that he can afford,
if a man doesn’t get his chief pleasure in life after he goes home and closes the door behind him, he doesn’t get much pleasure.”
“Now I don’t hate anybody, but there are a few shitasses that I loathe.”
Rayburn was an effective legislator for over fifty years and was, by all accounts, incorruptible. Needless to say, nobody ever took him golfing at St. Andrews.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Speaker Hastert Eats Waco

Just Kidding.

I saw the oddest story on the AP wire today, in part:

Among the dozen or so congressional seats Republicans are hoping to pick up this fall is the district that includes President Bush's Crawford ranch, U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said Tuesday while campaigning for its GOP candidate.

Hastert, R-Ill., said businessman Van Taylor would make "a great addition" to Congress because he is an Iraq war veteran who understands sacrifices and family values.

"I think this race has a lot of wheels," Hastert said after a private fundraiser for Taylor attended by about 100 people. "Van is one of those stars that we have that we see on the horizon. I think he has a story to tell. I think he has the energy to run this race, and I think he has the credibility to get his message across."

Taylor, who is trying to unseat eight-term U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, said he was pleased with Hastert's support. Taylor declined to say how much was raised at the fundraiser.

Hastert, who said he is "playing offense" by campaigning in 42 districts nationwide throughout August, said Republicans are targeting some Democratic districts in Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa and Washington.

Hastert said the GOP also is eyeing Texas congressional District 17 as "a district that we see promise in."

"It's a district that's Republican leaning," Hastert said. "People expect ... at least whoever they elect, even if they pretend to be an independent, to vote for Republican issues, and quite frankly that's not being done right now."

In a statement issued Tuesday night, Edwards said, "I respect Speaker Hastert, but no amount of partisan endorsements from Washington, D.C., will change the fact that just 13 months ago, Van Taylor had never lived or worked in our district."

Taylor, who moved from Dallas to West a year ago, said he plans to focus on the issues that matter to residents of Central Texas.


I called the honorable Mr. Edwards office to ask for comment. They had little to say, although they were amused by the article, like me. Asked if the race was tight, his aid replied, "we haven't done any recent polling," but, "this district is always tight because of the demographics."

Why would Denny come down? "Like the article says, this is the president's home town."

Show Chet some love:

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Geography 101

Pinched from