Zippidy Doo Da

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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

Have you written to the White House lately? Here's my latest:

President Obama,

When I caucused for you in the Texas Primary, and then voted for you in the general election, I never dreamed that you would go on to follow the Bush/Cheney war agenda once you took office.

I know that you face pressures and challenges unimagined by you or by anybody a year or two ago; still I feel obliged to write to you once again and say that there must be a better path for us than to further escalate the wars that were pushed upon us by the previous administration.

I know what the Republicans will say. I’ve been hearing the same lines since the Viet Nam War. If you want to shut them up I suggest you move to pay for these foreign adventures by raising taxes on the top income brackets. If you make it clear what these wars are costing us, you could have all those tea-baggers singing “Give Peace a Chance.”


Charly Hoarse

-And next is a comment I found on today's Crooks and Liars string:

We absolutely need to question why we are there
and how much it is costing.

To hell with the Pottery Barn Rule. Afghanistan was broken before we went in. We've made it worse. We cannot fix it. We need to get the hell out.

Republicans need to be forced to vote on funding the war after the public has been made aware of the costs. No more whining about how much social programs cost without mentioning how much military programs cost and how much the Pentagon loses track of annually.

Yep, they are given so much money that they lose enough to fund health care. They need to be put on the budget and they need to be cut down to a manageable level.
Of course, that won't ever happen. We've long past the point Eisenhower warned us about. The most we could hope for is to put the GOP on the hot seat by forcing them to vote on funding any escalation with a tax.

Sun, 11/29/2009 - 16:18 — Chicago-gal

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The State of the State

"Friends" of Rick Perry are running some rather hard-hitting adds against Princess KB lately, calling her, basically, a communist codling whore.

I think the reason that ex-Senators rarely get elected to executive offices is because the nature of the senate makes the member learn to compromise, which especially in Texas, means certain death at the hands of demagogues who never compromise on anything, except whose tree to hang the nigger in.

It would be useful for people to pay attention to the current tea-bagger meme of the "Texas Economic Miracle," which sustains the govenor's current national popularity with wingers, who imagine that Texas is doing great now because we, unlike all the other losers, have stuck to the principals of free-market capitalism.

It is difficult to know how healthy the Texas economy really is because the state is notorious for keeping lousy stats, or no stats that the public can view. In terms of one indicator, the records of deaths and disease, infant mortality, hospital ER visits, etc., which one would expect to rise since Texas has more uninsured per population than any other in the country, but the state has no available statistics in this area after 2006.

A look at the US Dept. of Labor figures show that Texas, on the average, has unemployment that has gone up about 1.3% in 2009.

I know a few things that are circumstantial that might indicate that things are worse than what is being let on. For instance, new claims for Social Security Disability and SSI in Texas are up 63% in one year! Medicaid and CHIPS applications have risen in commencerate terms as well. The homeless population in my town has exploded - they seem to be everywhere. My local charities are struggling with overwelming requests for assistance, and are for the most part broke.

The thing I see most prevelant is that nobody seems to have any money, and banks aren't loaning any.

I hope things are getting better for everybody, I really do. But the idea that Texas is THE model for every state's recovery deserves greater scrutiny.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

(Click on this and you can read it without your spectacles)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chupacabra Report

News that Gets My Goat..

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testified before Congress’ Joint Economic Committee yesterday.

Rep. Kevin Brady of The Woodlands, ranking Republican on the committee, is a staunch conservative, going so far as to get himself convicted of drunk driving, the better to emulate his heroes George Bush and Dick Cheney. Yesterday he called on Geithner to resign.

“For the sake of our jobs, will you step down?” Brady asked. “The public has lost all confidence in your ability to do the job, and it is reflecting on your president.”

Republicans “gave this president an economy falling off the cliff,” Geithner told Brady, “I can’t take responsibility for the legacy of crises you bequeathed the country.”

The “worst financial crisis in generations” happened after “almost a decade, certainly eight years, of basic neglect of basic public goods, in health care, in education, in public infrastructure, in how we use energy,” Geithner said.

-Well, I’m glad that somebody’s saying it. The GOP is desperate to prevent this administration from addressing the crises we face, whatever the cost, be it national security, financial peril or public heath, in order to gain advantage in the next election. This so they can take back the reins of government and do Lord Knows What.

Remember this bit I ran recently from an Atlantic Monthly blog:

"One analogy I've thought of often, aligned with your interests, is an economic analogy of an aerodynamic stall. When commerical credit froze and consumers reduced spending, the prevailing economic "lift" was gone. Stall! Conservative knee-jerk reactions for tax cuts were the equivalent of "pulling up" on the stick- intuitive but deadly. Obama's expert advice was to gain speed by spending (diving), even at the cost of altitude (deficit/debt). High unemployment was destined from the moment the stall occurred. Only when sufficient airspeed/angle of attack (spending) had been reached could the economy begin to pull up, and the unemployment would be analogous to the altitude lost even after the decision to finaly "pull up" had been made. Passenger relief (consumer confidence) would follow long after the immediate recovery (i.e., GDP), and no one would be "satisfied" until the plane came in for a (economic) "soft landing."

The Republicans are willing to crash the plane, for their purposes, if we only let them.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sarah Palin’s book is finally out, if you live in fly-over country she may soon be hawking it at a bookstore near you.

Myself, I’m not interested in her happy bullshit, or whatever her ghostwriter has to say. I just want to point out that, 1.25 million dollar advance notwithstanding, it’s common for books by celebutards to be best-sellers and remaindered at the same time. Amazon has been selling this book priced at nine dollars for weeks. Today it is priced at $14.50; half price. This is possible because at a certain rarified level, right-wingers take care of their own. Daddy Warbucks all over will open their checkbooks and buy boatloads of this book to pass out to illiterates or send to the landfill, doesn’t matter, it’s a “best-seller.”

If Palin really wants to prove that she’s a serious player, she ought to go on Jeopardy, they’re running celebrity contests the third Tuesday of every month now. I recently saw cable news bozo Wolf Blitzer get his ass kicked by comedian Andy Richter. It was hysterical. Blitzer finished double jeopardy in the red, proving that he’s no David Brinkley.

I wouldn’t care who Palin plays against, as long as there’s at least one comic in the mix. “The Great Satan” David Letterman would be choice, but any comic, the leftier the better. Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Al Franken have all won on Jeopardy. Tina Fey?

Chupacabra Report

News That Gets My Goat..

I hear that Republican buttcake Senator Tom Coburn of Jokelahoma is threatening to require the senate clerk to read the entire healthcare bill aloud in order to stall action on the bill. Apparently it takes a unanimous vote by the senate to stop this nonsense, and senators can call for such a reading every time an amendment is offered.

Damn; I know that the senate serves as a check on crazy moves by the wind-blown goniffs in the house. This is a fine and noble purpose but there must be some procedural remedy for such gridlock or else we’d still be mired in the eighteenth century.

Here’s hoping that Reed and Biden can sharpen their gavels and put a stop to this baloney. If the GOP trogs in the senate want to filibuster, let them stay up all night and talk themselves hoarse like Jesse Helms did trying to stop civil rights legislation, at least that will stop them prowling around the servants quarters at night.

-This from Susan at

November 17 - Oh lookie, y'all. The Congressional Frat House is no longer tax exempt.
Residents of the C Street Christian fellowship house will no longer benefit from a loophole that had allowed the house's owners to avoid paying property taxes.

Previously, the house -- despite being home to numerous lawmakers -- had been tax exempt, because it was classified as a church. That arrangement had allowed the building's owner, the secretive international Christian organization The Family, to charge significantly below market rents to its residents. In recent year, Senators John Ensign (R-NV), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Jim DeMint (R-SC), and Reps. Zach Wamp (R-TN), Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) have all reportedly called C Street home.

A church? A church? Well, I guess paying taxes and extortion fees is just asking too much, huh? The boys of Sigma Epsilon Chi are going to have to pay their taxes just like everybody else. (Thanks to Carl up north for the heads-up.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Olson Opponent?

I was at the Rice v. Navy game last month to see Pete Olson grammstanding over the moon rock that the Kennedy family donated to the university. I heard him promise to support NASA so that he could come back and give Rice a mars rock someday.

Tonight I was catching up on The Daily Show and saw video of Michelle Bachmann’s tea party on the Capitol steps last week, the one with the big picture of stacked holocaust victims labeled “national socialist health care.” Pete Olson was there too, pandering to Dick Armey’s stooges.

This got me wondering, are we going to be stuck with Olson for twenty years like we were with DeLay? Who have we got to run against him? I like Richard Morrison, but question whether he can win. Besides, Fort Bend needs him on the Commissioner‘s Court. Who else is out there for us? I can’t see running Nick Lampson again, there’s too many republicans in the Democratic Party already. Is Ginny Matranga rested and ready?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Crime and Punishment

The Supreme Court heard arguments today challenging the right of states to sentence juveniles to life in prison. The court ruled in 2005 that is “cruel and unusual punishment” to sentence juveniles to death. The cases before the court today both come from Florida, which has over seventy inmates serving life terms for non-homicide crimes committed as juveniles.

Sullivan v. Florida seeks parole for Joe Sullivan, who was convicted twenty years ago for raping a seventy-two-year-old woman. He was convicted on testimony provided by two older accomplices, who then received lesser sentences. His lawyer, who filed no appeals in the case, was later disbarred.

Florida is a draconian Bible-belt state much like our own. This story reminded me of The Chronicle’s Bill King’s story Saturday about Baptist preacher Emmett Soloman, who runs a friend in need program for some of the 50 to 100 ex-offenders who exit TDC everyday with $50 and a bus ticket. King writes..

“At the rate we put people in prison in Texas we need to be concerned about what happens when they are released. Worldwide, the incarceration rate is about 160 individuals for every 100,000 people. The second highest incarceration rate is Russia at about 650. The highest is the United States at 750. In Texas, the rate is about 1,000. That is, at any given time, about one person in 100 in Texas is in a prison or jail, six times higher than the world average and higher than even the world's worst dictatorships. Even if we stop putting people in prison at the current rates, we will be releasing 20,000 to 30,000 prisoners each year for many years to come just from TDC. Many thousands more will be released from county and city jails.

“Most of those released do not have a family to take them in. Solomon told me that only about 5 percent of the men released are met by family members. The odds are heavily stacked against those with no support system. With almost no chance of finding a job or a decent place to live, most fall back into trouble within a few years. TDC studies show that about one in three is back in prison within three years. If you extend the time frame to five years and include other prisons and jails, the recidivism rate is more likely 60 percent to 70 percent. Since most of these inmates are also fathers, long absent from serving as any positive role model for their children, the cycle will likely be handed down to the next generation. The fact that Texas has one of the nation's highest incarceration rates and still has three cities with violent crime rates in the top 10 in the nation suggests that what we are doing now is not working.”

Crooks and Liars’ Blogroll had this letter to Atlantic Monthly’s James Fallows:

"I'm really confused by how the Obama administration has handled the narrative and voter expectations for this recession. I clearly understand that they had to carefully balance early 2009 dire warnings against economic pessimism, while making a case for the stimulus package, etc. But once the stimulus was passed, I believe that they should have boldly stated how bad things really were, how their economic policies were the correct choices (even acknowledging Krugman's critiques of "too little"), and emphasizing that even the best possible management of the 2008 economic trainwreck would see significantly increasing unemployment as a lagging indicator.

"One analogy I've thought of often, aligned with your interests, is an economic analogy of an aerodynamic stall. When commerical credit froze and consumers reduced spending, the prevailing economic "lift" was gone. Stall! Conservative knee-jerk reactions for tax cuts were the equivalent of "pulling up" on the stick- intuitive but deadly. Obama's expert advice was to gain speed by spending (diving), even at the cost of altitude (deficit/debt). High unemployment was destined from the moment the stall occurred. Only when sufficient airspeed/angle of attack (spending) had been reached could the economy begin to pull up, and the unemployment would be analogous to the altitude lost even after the decision to finaly "pull up" had been made. Passenger relief (consumer confidence) would follow long after the immediate recovery (i.e., GDP), and no one would be "satisfied" until the plane came in for a (economic) "soft landing."

"There are probably numerous logical errors with this analogy [JF note: seems pretty good to me], but the simple point is this: If "Joe six-pack" clearly understands that Obama saved his economic life, while Conservatives would have driven the plane into the ground, he's more likely to appreciate and reward the unpalatable choices that Obama made. His appreciation would be enhanced if he understood all along that the pilot had no choice but to lose altitude, and the pilot explained that altitude (jobs) would take a long time to regain. This administration sorely needs a narrative that citizens can grasp and accept, otherwise the cynical partisan naysayers will continue to fill the void....”

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Newt Gingrich still thinks he’s gonna be president. This giant of the GOP, one of their top prospects, a serial philanderer and hypocrite, a man with no moral compass; instead he has some sort of wheel of fortune going.
He’s just gone head to head against Sarah Palin of Alaska and Dick Armey of Texas over who was to be anointed the super-deluxe conservative Representative of New York’s 23rd District; but the voters instead elected their first Democratic Congressman since the nineteenth century.

See the resemblance?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Reviews: The Sons of Hercules/Snowbryd

I know I’m as old as the amount of hope I’ve lost.

Sometimes I wonder if things have truly changed for the worse, and not just changed. Like I have to bag my own groceries because I don’t want kids who have become mentally retarded by the constant exposure of depleted uranium, microwaves, and rapid fire electronic images mishandling my food purchases. Like the retired Castle Hills colonel screaming at children to get off his lawn, I have been hollering to an embarrassing degree about the death of the American music industry. The thing that makes me especially hopeless as I write this is that the answer to the question about what to do is so clear and yet unheard. But you have to keep hoping or you’re dead.

Before I talk about two great musical groups, (and their recent records) it would be helpful to back up a little and look at what has happened before that shaped these artists and, in turn, how they managed to shape things in return. Both The Sons of Hercules in A Different Kind of Ugly, and Snowbyrd with Diosado pay great homage to the legendary Taco Land, in loving and reverent ways.

Ram Ayala was a jolly old reprobate who ran the ramshackle tavern in the heart of the upper San Antonio river area, near the old Pearl Brewery, that was prime for River Walk development - the life blood of the city's economy. His bar was surrounded by a community of homeless people who had lived there for years. I knew a lady named Josie Flores, a retarded dwarf, who stayed in a rusty old jelly bean trailer with her man Joe, who beat her when he was drunk. She’d wash clothes in the river and survived that way, and was one of many such folk who didn’t panhandle, or make trouble, and who needed to be there because it was relatively safe. Ram was always providing support for the people there in exchange for odd jobs, so the area was always clean and free of serious crime.

The place was cherished by musicians as a forum where anybody could play, and had national acts stop in town for shows as well. If a band didn’t have any money to get home, Ram would give them money, tacos, and a case of beer to help them on their way.

Then some asshole pumped a slug into his stomach and then shot two of his close friends, one of whom died later. The timing was odd. There were sure to be no cops around because of a big game in the dome. It was then that the legend was born and the myths continue.

Look, San Antonio has always been a crooked town. Always. The powers at be always wanted that land. Those people had to go. If one is to believe the allegations of Otto Koeller, the Pearl heir who claims he was kidnapped and locked in the State Hospital for the insane and continually drugged while the city and county stole his land, then it is likely to be believed that the death of Ram Ayala was an assination to get his property, and clear out the homeless. Even if not true, the end result was the same.

The community of artists, musicians, and the lovers of music and art felt robbed and the tragedy of his death remains to this day.

The two times historically when music was on the ropes, 1975 and 1989, it was saved by youth returning to the basics. Making music without rules. That is what Rock N’ Roll is: rebellion. The punks saved it, twice. One man I know of was there on the front lines; in the trenches, fighting hand to hand. His name is Frank Pugliese. His band is The Sons of Hercules.

When the Sex Pistols did their second and last American tour in 1978, Frank was there shocking the public in The Vamps, who opened up for the Pistols at their Austin show. By then punk had opened up a flood of new music from new wave to techno, and turned the nauseas wave of disco and art rock back into the darkness where it belonged. Not completely defeated., the forces of stifling commercial banality threatened again to suck the life out of rock in the late eighties, only to be repulsed by the second punk movement, called “Hard Core,” The Sons of Hercules, served up ample portions to a starving audience of grateful fans.

Today the musical horizon is bleak. The mind numbing sterility of music has left the people in utter thorazine-tinged babbling catatonia. As kids use a fractured system of electronic downloads, and remain at home to consume their media, there is seemingly no community to shoulder a movement that would return creativity and energy to mass culture.

The Sons of Hercules are here. But can they fight?

A Different Kind of Ugly, as they say in their press, makes no great departure from their time-tested formula. You can hear at first run that this true, to a point. What has changed over time is they have become very, very good at what they do. The playing and production is impressively sure-handed. Dale Holon’s guitars are poised, powerful and polished, but still full of energy and verve. The rhythm section is as strong as anything you’d want. And Frank Pugliese is more Iggy than Iggy is Iggy.

They have helped make punk an American musical genre just as real as any other. Like anything that sells, punk has been bought and sold and raped senseless and is currently branded as “Neo-Punk.” Bands like Sons of Hercules are master practitioners of the art form they helped create as much as B.B King is to the blues, or Merle Haggard is to country western. Punk has established a musical and thematic orthodoxy they can claim to have carved and made rule. Attempts to pigeon-hole them for the sake of media promotions are stupid. They are the purist of the pure. It is like comparing Dylan to Springsteen for the sake of sales. Would you rather listen to Stevie Ray Vaughn or Albert Collins?

They cannot be dirivitive of themselves because they are the standard.

The Sons of Hercules are the Texas Godfathers of Punk and a national treasure.

My feelings about Snowbyrd’s new CD Diosado, come straight from my heart.

This record is, in part, a tribute to Manny Castillo, their drummer, who died of cancer before the release. This is to Manny,

Your drum playing is breath-taking, without over-shadowing the music. We saw you and the Lutz’s play at Taco Land all the time. But you guys were not just a bunch of jerks playing badly, loudly. You are a talented group beyond the norm; standouts in composition and pure creativity.

A lot of people seem obsessed with finding some way to categorize you by comparing you to some other band, which is lame. It’s so simple, really. Snowbyrd is original, and originality can never be categorized. When listening the first time, I did hear the 13th Floor Elevators screaming at me to put my doobie down and pay fucking attention to what y’all are doing. Thus chastened I was enlightened.

I always honor bands like yours who are unafraid to go the full monty by creating a total musical album that incorporates theme, style and concept. This record goes big, and stays there. It is challenging to the listener. That’s the way it should be.

If people don’t get you, fuck ‘em.

You might have known how sick you were when you making the record, but it doesn’t show, with you or anybody else. It is a suitable tribute to your life. You were much loved and will be remembered. Your musical legacy lives on. Good job.

“Light It Up,” is just plain bad-ass, and stays on my playlist.

p.s. how did you get all those bass players on one bus?


To the rest of you, Taco Land is gone, and the space is all covered with tourists. Obviously, by making sure the place had a sound track of sorts, Ram made a big dent in things in what would otherwise be a forgotten story.

I hope that some place, kids who are growing up believing that there is no future find something to make a loud noise with to voice their rage, and to let the world know they’re here and that they matter.

Keep hope alive.