Zippidy Doo Da

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

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Antarctica in Toytown

I just heard Fred Armison doing Governor Patterson describe Upstate New York as "Deliverance on Snow Tires."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Left Behind

c) Findings.--Congress finds the following:

``(1) Disability is a natural part of the human experience
and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to participate
in or contribute to society. Improving educational results for
children with disabilities is an essential element of our
national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation,
independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for
individuals with disabilities.

Individuals With Disabilities Education Reform Act of 2004

When George Bush left office he cited No Child Left Behind as one of his crowning presidential achievements that history would credit to his great legacy. Like anything or anyone who was touched by Bushco, the education system and the attendant rights of children were ravaged, raped and crapped on.

For example, Texas is able to do TAKS assessments on all children, irrespective of disability-related accommodations; there is no standard alternative. Everybody tests, and many of these children demonstrate needs for help, but don't get any.

As Texas pushes ever forward towards the privatization of public education, parents of children with learning challenges turn to church schooling as an alternative. Since church schools have absolutely no state regulation as to curriculum of special education programs (even the mere requirement for any) who knows how many children with learning and emotional disabilities are neglected educationally and otherwise?

Plainly, the state has an interest in what happens to people once they are on church property. The mass invasion by child protective services and the department of public safety onto the orthodox LDS compound to root out potential hot teen-bride sexiness (i.e. institutional child rape) is a good example of when the State of Texas draws the line on religious freedom. However, as the director of curriculum for the Texas Department of Education told me, there is no requirement for church schools to conform or comply to any state standards or to assess any learning problems. Nor have any church schools have ever sought voluntary compliance through recommendations from state.

A great article on-line from Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA, at entitled "Government Regulation of Private Schools" explains:

By Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

"(T)the United States Supreme Court has affirmed that "[t]here is no doubt as to the power of a state, having a high responsibility for education of its citizens, to impose reasonable regulations for the control and duration of basic education."2 The Supreme Court also has observed:

[A] substantial body of case law has confirmed the power of the states to insist that attendance at private schools, if it is to satisfy state compulsory--attendance laws, be at institutions which provide minimum hours of instruction, employ teachers of specified training, and cover prescribed subjects of instruction . . . [and that] if the state must satisfy its interest in secular education through the instrument of private schools, it has a proper interest in the manner in which those schools perform their secular educational function.

In resolving the issue the court applied a three--pronged test formulated by the United States Supreme Court in the landmark case of Wisconsin v. Yoder:

1. Was the activity with which the state interfered motivated by and rooted in a legitimate and sincerely held religious belief?

2. Was the right to the free exercise of religion unduly burdened by the state regulation, and if so, what was the extent of its impact on religious practices?

3. Did the state have a sufficiently "compelling" interest in the regulation to justify the burden on the free exercise of religion?

Legally, church schools may not discriminate. Any child has the right to attend, the laws make no explicit exception to the disabled. ADA still applies, and such a child still possesses the same rights under the IEDA. I think that nobody has really challenged the church's responsibilities for providing "the least restrictive" educational environment standard to their students. No such obligation appears to infringe on the church's religious freedoms. Indeed, it would seem their Christian responsibility.

As it stands, I predict more intense lobbying from parent's groups and others to use voucher money to set up private schools serving the needs of the disabled and learning impaired to plug the gap on declining school services in this area. Thus, further funneling more resources out of the fund of public school resources.

We'll be reaping the whirlwind of George Bush's legacy for a long time to come.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chupacabra Report

Newspaper claims suspect transformed into a goat

Fri Jan 23, 6:07 pm ET -Associated Press

LAGOS, Nigeria – One of Nigeria's biggest daily newspapers reported that police implicated a goat in an attempted automobile theft. In a front-page article on Friday, the Vanguard newspaper said that two men tried to steal a Mazda car two days earlier in Kwara State, with one suspect transforming himself into a goat as vigilantes cornered him.

The paper quoted police spokesman Tunde Mohammed as saying that while one suspect escaped, the other transformed into a goat as he was about to be apprehended.

The newspaper reported that police paraded the goat before journalists, and published a picture of the animal.

Police in the state couldn't immediately be reached for comment.Belief in black magic is widespread in Nigeria, particularly in far-flung rural areas.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

More 'What Would Jesse Do?'

I’ve been plugging away at this 1956 biography “Jesse H. Jones, The Man and The Statesman” by Bascom N. Timmons. It’s a good read. The other book I found, James S. Olson’s “Saving Capitalism, The Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the New Deal” looks like it’s going to serve me more as a reference book. The author spent twenty years writing it in a foreign language, Economics.

I haven’t laid hands on Jones’ own book yet, but I’m intrigued by the title, “Fifty Billion Dollars.” I found a chart that converts the value of the dollar over the centuries. If $50 billion is what Jones disbursed in the 30’s, that would compare to $819 billion today. So far, so good.. That is both a comfort and a caution to me as I look at the “Troubling Recovered Assets Program.”

Jones and the RFC lent all that money out over thirteen years. Most of that was repaid with interest, which more than covered any losses. This without taking into account the public good that was the object of all this financial activity. For example, in 1933, when the RFC started making loans for rural electrification projects, 11% of American farms had electricity. Twenty years later, 95% of farms had power. This is huge. When Robert Caro and his wife moved to the Texas hill country in the 1960’s so they could interview surviving acquaintances of LBJ, they got so that could tell the age of the women by their posture, because women of a certain age were no longer stooped from a lifetime of carrying buckets of water.

The RFC had broad authority, and good relations with the congress to whom it answered. The RFC directors operated by consensus, and if they couldn’t agree that an enterprise was worthy, that loan would not be made. If the RFC directors didn’t have confidence in a company’s management, they had the power to appoint new board members and vote in new management.

Jones wrote this to Vice-President John Nance Garner (yeah, the “bucket of warm spit” guy) in 1934. “Railroad executives are always reluctant to allow any sort of government interference. That is perfectly all right as long as they do not have to come to the government for money.” Bankers and executives still spouted their free-market capitalist dogma, but they tended to quiet down when it was pointed out that their entities were insolvent.

I’ll wind up this installment with a story about Jones’ dealings with Richard S. Reynolds, of the Reynolds Metals Company (as in Reynolds Wrap) from Timmons’ book.

“In the negotiations Jones did not deal with Reynolds until the final stages. Sam Husbands and others worked out the details. Husbands and Reynolds went together to Jones for his approval of the completed plans.

“After Jones had examined the papers very carefully, Reynolds addressed him jokingly:

“You have got some hard traders here, Mr. Jones. They made me scrape the bottom of the barrel for collateral and I have given more security for these loans than I ever gave a bank. I hear you are a harder trader than any of them. Is there anything else you want?”

“Yes,” Jones responded. “We want one more thing. We want an Oklahoma guarantee.”

“What is an Oklahoma guarantee?” Reynolds entreated.

“Well,” answered Jones, “when I was a young man in the lumber business out there, a farmer would go to an Oklahoma country bank for a loan. He would be required to mortgage his prospective crop, a mule or two, and maybe a milch cow or anything else he had. After this was done he was handed a note with all the customary printed conditions, and before affixing his signature he was asked to insert in his own handwriting one more line which read: ‘And if I don’t pay this note I am a son of a bitch.’ “

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Larry McMurtry

Last night I got to join the crowd at the Rice Memorial Center’s Grand Hall to hear Pulitzer prize-winning author Larry McMurtry speak.

I knew I had a hot ticket when I saw Bill Hobby work through the crowd and take a seat in the reserved section. A few minutes before the scheduled start the crew rolled away a wall to make room for hundreds of overflow folks. This was quite a turnout for a speaker who had announced that his topic would be ‘the end of the book culture,’ but true to his theme, the audience was mostly people over forty.

McMurtry opened up speaking about Inuit people who traditionally fished with hooks carved out of bone, a skill lost within twenty years after the Hudson Bay Company began supplying them with metal hooks.

He said that children still love hearing stories and turning pages, but by the age of ten or twelve they are lost to electronic media. A bookseller for fifty-five years, he pointed to plummeting sales in this decade. Before that he’d seen that when he made inquiries to other sellers, they would respond by offering to sell their entire collection. For a while, he was buying them, but now he’s begun collecting the signs from failed bookstores. After a five hundred year run, books are being relegated to “talismanic objects from past culture.”

Later, in the Q&A, someone got up to thank the author for his hand-typed reply to a letter they’d sent years ago for advice on the disposition of a collection of Texana they’d inherited. They said that the letter is now the most valuable item in the collection. McMurtry said that not all authors were celebrities, and that he wasn’t one himself. He also said that many authors, such as his old friend Ken Kesey, don’t read books.

Another was a grad student who reported that when he was on the bullriding circuit, it was not unusual to see a paperback copy of a McMurtry novel in the front of a pick-up truck. McMurtry noted that rodeo had become an international sport, but predicted that some events would fall by the wayside, being seen as too slow, driven out by the dominant element, bullriding.

Much like what he had to say about electronic communications. “You can’t blame people, what’s available will be used. A better tool, people are gonna use it.’

Still, it felt like they’re closing the movie house down.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Prepare three envelopes..

The Obamas walked the Bushs to their waiting helicopter, which whisked them off to Edwards Air Force Base, where a plane waited to take them off to the family compound in Paraguay.

When Obama got to the oval office, he saw that the outgoing president had left the traditional message in the top desk drawer. He opened the envelope and read the message, which began…

“Prepare three envelopes.”

Prepare Three Envelopes

A fellow had just been hired as the new CEO of a large high tech corporation. The CEO who was stepping down met with him privately and presented him with three numbered envelopes. "Open these if you run up against a problem you don't think you can solve," he said. Well, things went along pretty smoothly, but six months later, sales took a downturn and he was really catching a lot of heat. About at his wit's end, he remembered the envelopes. He went to his drawer and took out the first envelope. The message read, "Blame your predecessor." The new CEO called a press conference and tactfully laid the blame at the feet of the previous CEO. Satisfied with his comments, the press -- and Wall Street - responded positively, sales began to pick up and the problem was soon behind him.

About a year later, the company was again experiencing a slight dip in sales, combined with serious product problems. Having learned from his previous experience, the CEO quickly opened the second envelope. The message read, "Reorganize."

This he did, and the company quickly rebounded. After several consecutive profitable quarters, the company once again fell on difficult times. The CEO went to his office, closed the door and opened the third envelope. The message said, "Prepare three envelopes."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Your friend, Lazlo Toth

Dear Congressman Olson,

Congratulations on your election to the House of Representatives. I must confess that I didn’t vote for you myself, as I was concerned about you working for Sen. Phil Gramm back when he was repealing Glass-Steagle Act banking regulations, but as a pragmatist and believer in two-party rule, I wish you well, and may try sometimes to help you see things in another light.

I am writing today because you voted against a bill to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Surely you realize that there is a pressing need for affordable healthcare, especially for children from poor Texas families. This may not have been an ideal bill, but it will help millions in need until we can agree on a more comprehensive solution to this critical problem.

As I look at the “How They Voted,” in the Sunday paper, I see that we split on all four bills, however, I remember appreciating what you told a reporter recently about “not always throwing spears.” The new House has important work ahead of it, and as much as you can take part in making good things happen, you’ll have my support.

Judge Chief Charly Hoarse

Saturday, January 17, 2009

You can fool 27% of the people all of the time

Here’s a little of Paul Krugman’s column urging Obama not to rule out investigating Bush administration misdeeds:

“Last Sunday President-elect Barack Obama was asked whether he would seek an investigation of possible crimes by the Bush administration. “I don’t believe that anybody is above the law,” he responded, but “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards."

“I’m sorry, but if we don’t have an inquest into what happened during the Bush years — and nearly everyone has taken Mr. Obama’s remarks to mean that we won’t — this means that those who hold power are indeed above the law because they don’t face any consequences if they abuse their power.

“Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. It’s not just torture and illegal wiretapping, whose perpetrators claim, however implausibly, that they were patriots acting to defend the nation’s security. The fact is that the Bush administration’s abuses extended from environmental policy to voting rights. And most of the abuses involved using the power of government to reward political friends and punish political enemies.

“In fact, we’ve already seen this movie. During the Reagan years, the Iran-contra conspirators violated the Constitution in the name of national security. But the first President Bush pardoned the major malefactors, and when the White House finally changed hands the political and media establishment gave Bill Clinton the same advice it’s giving Mr. Obama: let sleeping scandals lie.

"Sure enough, the second Bush administration picked up right where the Iran-contra conspirators left off — which isn’t too surprising when you bear in mind that Mr. Bush actually hired some of those conspirators.

“Now, it’s true that a serious investigation of Bush-era abuses would make Washington an uncomfortable place, both for those who abused power and those who acted as their enablers or apologists. And these people have a lot of friends. But the price of protecting their comfort would be high: If we whitewash the abuses of the past eight years, we’ll guarantee that they will happen again.”

-And in case you’re unclear about what this is about, here’s Countdown’s eight minute rundown on eight year’s malfeasance:

Friday, January 16, 2009

What would Jesse do?

Whoo-hoo! I’m just off on this Jesse Jones project and it resonates with every story about the Troubling Recovered Assets Program. I haven’t been this obsessed since way back when Tom DeLay had a job.

I haven’t even started on the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and have already started a list of “what would Jesse do?” questions, so I’m just gonna let fly. I reserve the right to revisit some of these points later when I actually know some facts. Ms. Hoarse warned me that in some later chapter I may learn that he had three wives and kept slaves.

-Congress last year temporarily increased the limit on federally insured bank deposits up to $250,000. What would Jesse do? Easy. Jones supported William Jennings Bryan for president in 1908 because Bryan was for guaranteeing of bank deposits. The 1957 biography I’m reading has a photo of Jones with Rep .Henry Steagall, author of the 1933 banking act that established the F.D.I.C.

-Jones was a close associate of Sen. Carter Glass, who wrote the law (repealed in 1999 by Sen. Phil Gramm) that enacted a barrier between commercial and investment banks. What would Jones think of the new derivative banking products like bundled mortgages and credit default swaps made possible by this de-regulation? I take a clue from Jones’ attitude toward the oil business. Other than as a builder and landlord, Jones had minimal involvement with oil companies because he “saw ample opportunities to profit from things that were visible above the ground” and didn’t find it necessary to go drilling underground to make money.

-The Bank of America, strong enough to go bargain hunting for Countrywide and Merrill Lynch last year, is looking for more bail-out this year and will probably get it, being “too big to fail.” Is this right? Consider what Jones did when he found himself to be the owner of both The Houston Chronicle and The Houston Post. He spun off The Post to the Hobby family under easy terms “because he didn’t want Houston to look like a one-horse town.”

-That’s enough of this for today, but watch for more. Like I said, I’m obsessed.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What's your favorite Woody song?

This goes out to all you Driftwoods, Suburban Spears, and Bannanalogicians:
What is your fave Woody Guthrie song? I found a list and was surprised to see that I knew eight or ten, Maybe everybody does. Any of these look like fun to you?

Bound for glory



Hard Travellin

Hobo’s Lullaby

I Ain’t Got No Home

Mermaid Avenue

Mail Myself to You

So Long It’s Been Good to Know You

The Sinking of the Reuben James

This Land Is Your Land

Union Maid

Jesse Holman Jones

Watching Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke try to bail out the foundering US economy has me thinking about Jesse Jones, the man who did the same job seventy years ago. I’m no longer surprised when people ask “who’s that?” I thought I knew, but the more I learn the more I’m astounded at the career of the man who was known as “Mr. Houston.”

Jones grew up raising tobacco and cotton on farms in Tennessee and Texas, and came of age managing lumberyards for his father and uncle. He moved to Houston in 1898 and within ten years had become one of the young city’s movers and shakers. He became a builder by choice and a banker by necessity. Jones built a new building in Houston every year for fifty years; high rise office buildings, hotels, including the venerable Rice Hotel, and a 25,000 seat convention hall, built in four months to host the 1928 Democratic National Convention he brought to Houston.

As the US entered World War I, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Jones Director General of Military relief for the American Red Cross. He set out preparing for the care and rehabilitation of wounded and disabled soldiers even before the first American battlefield casualty. Soon he had ninety five hospitals up and running. No Walter Reed- type scandal here. After the war he was sent to Paris where he worked to make the Red Cross an international organization.

Jones was born in 1874, as the country suffered from the panic of 1873. He saw the depression of 1894, and the panic of 1907. (Are you seeing a theme here?) When the depression hit Houston in 1931, Jones called the city’s bankers and business leaders to meet secretly in his oversized penthouse office for an all night meeting where they identified the two banks that were about to fail, and arranged a cash infusion from the others to keep them afloat, preventing a run on all the banks. Thousands of banks failed across the country in the great depression, but none in Houston.

President Herbert Hoover appointed Jones to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, newly created by Congress to keep the economy afloat, and President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him Director of the same RFC. He stayed there thirteen years, becoming the most powerful figure in the financial world. Now “Mr. Houston” was referred to as “the fourth branch of government."

Jones was appointed to the RFC because he had the connections and the knowhow to bang banker’s heads together until they could see the common good. He played a big part in saving capitalism from itself. As I learn more about how he did all this, I’ll see how today’s players stack up against his example. Stay tuned..

Monday, January 12, 2009

Grab your shovel and get up here!

Just spoke to Sean and Hoolio at Higgins Manor. They say this year's sculpture will be the biggest and best ever, (which will take some doing) and think they can land in in the McPaper.
If somebody will just send us a picture, I bet I can get it on to ZDD.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Here's To Ya

The new record is nearly complete. Nails mentioned to me that driftwood's site, had 10,000 unique visitors last year, which I honestly found shocking. I urge anyone who is listening to drop us a line to let us know you are out there.

Don't be shy.

We would love to come to your area and perform. The music is always a crowd-pleaser, and in many ways better than the recordings. We have stream-lined things so that the expense is less of a problem now. We're tanned, rested and ready.

Again, please provide more feed-back.

2009 looks to be a healthy year for artists, since folks are seemingly returning to shows. In a poor economy, live music usually delivers a good bang for the buck.

We love the fans we hear from, and would feel honored to know of any others who might be lurking out there.

Happy New Year,

Bartcop had this from Gene Lyons of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:

No sensible person wants to see the United States become the kind of country where "regime change" means flinging the party out of power into dungeons.

That said, it's nothing short of pathetic to observe pundits who urged President Bill Clinton's impeachment for lying about a private sexual matter rending their garments over the prospect of holding Bush administration insiders responsible for war crimes including kidnapping, torture and even murder.

Excuse me, make that "extraordinary rendition," "enhanced interrogation" and a series of regrettable accidents. Or something. Even the Bush administration seems not to have invented a bureaucratic euphemism for prisoners found beaten to death in solitary confinement. And how did President Bush, who claimed a dictator's power to imprison thousands purely on his say-so, determine them to be "enemy combatants"?

Not by anything resembling evidence in many cases. Some were certainly guilty of plotting against the United States. Many have confessed, although confessions obtained by torture aren't worth the blood they're written in-one reason several hundred "detainees" remain in military prisons in Guantanamo and Afghanistan today. Others were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or belonged to the wrong tribe. Some were grabbed up by Afghani and Pakistani warlords eager to collect $5,000 U.S. bounty payments.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Party of Hoover

As stock in Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of economic theory has fallen through the floor, and mainstream economists such as Paul Krugman look for Keynesian type economic stimulus to keep the US economy from tanking in the months ahead, Texas Republicans haven’t gotten the message. Stewart Powell of the Chronicle’s Washington Bureau reports what the Texas delegation is selling..


President-elect Barack Obama has talked about reaching across party lines to rescue the ailing economy, but Houston-area lawmakers are showing little willingness to stray from traditional ideology. Here's what some said:

• GOP Sen. John Cornyn: Lawmakers should focus on tax relief for small businesses and working families "instead of trying to spend our way out of the problem"

• Rep.-elect Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land: "Our economic security must be the first priority," and the Bush-era tax cuts should be made permanent.

• Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston : Congress should eliminate capital gains taxes, reduce corporate taxes and adopt a national sales tax to replace the income tax.

• Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin: Congress should reduce the 15 percent capital gains tax rate, which "would unleash capital currently on the sidelines"

Monday, January 05, 2009

Tom Craddick takes his hat back

Texas Republicans announced yesterday that Rep. Tom Craddick will withdraw his candidacy for the office of speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Erstwhile Craddick supporters said that the next session of the Texas House will be directed by Rep. Alan Smithee of Amarillo.