Zippidy Doo Da

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

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Rabbits Who Caused All the Trouble

The blogs have been running a clip of Glen Beck saying that if there is violence from the right wing, it is because President Obama has provoked it.

This is a TV personality who told his viewers that he couldn’t debunk the story that FEMA was building concentration camps to detain Americans under martial law, that the United States is headed into totalitarianism, and that “progressives are taking you to a place to be slaughtered.”

And then there are the gun molls; Rep. Michelle Bachmann saying “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous,” and Sarah Palin telling tea baggers “don’t retreat, instead reload.”

Now as I read that the FBI has arrested heavily armed members of a “Christian militia” group, I wonder why Obama is doing all this.

Then I remembered the fable by James Thurber, “The Rabbits Who Caused All the Trouble,” published in The New Yorker in 1939.

Check it out..

Within the memory of the youngest child there was a family of rabbits who lived near a pack of wolves. The wolves announced that they did not like the way the rabbits were living. (The wolves were crazy about the way they themselves were living, because it was the only way to live.)

One night several wolves were killed in an earthquake and this was blamed on the rabbits, for it is well known that rabbits pound on the ground with their hind legs and cause earthquakes.

On another night one of the wolves was killed by a bolt of lightning and this was also blamed on the rabbits, for it is well known that lettuce-eaters cause lightning.

The wolves threatened to civilize the rabbits if they didn't behave, and the rabbits decided to run away to a desert island. But the other animals, who lived at a great distance, shamed them saying, "You must stay where you are and be brave. This is no world for escapists. If the wolves attack you, we will come to your aid in all probability."

So the rabbits continued to live near the wolves and one day there was a terrible flood which drowned a great many wolves. This was blamed on the rabbits, for it is well known that carrot-nibblers with long ears cause floods. The wolves descended on the rabbits, for their own good, and imprisoned them in a dark cave, for their own protection.

When nothing was heard about the rabbits for some weeks, the other animals demanded to know what had happened to them. The wolves replied that the rabbits had been eaten and since they had been eaten the affair was a purely internal matter. But the other animals warned that they might possibly unite against the wolves unless some reason was given for the destruction of the rabbits. So the wolves gave them one. "They were trying to escape," said the wolves, "and, as you know, this is no world for escapists."

Moral: Run, don't walk, to the nearest desert island.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Today is the birthday of Dr. James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In 1981 he published a paper in Science magazine that predicted that climate change would open the Northwest Passage. The Passage, sought by explorers since the fifteenth century, was first navigated without the aid of an icebreaker in 2007.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chupacabra Report

I heard this evening that the big health insurance stock prices ended mixed at the close of the market today, mostly flat, plus or minus 1%.

I’d say that’s an indication of whose ox didn’t get gored. Regulation aside, 30 million new customers is nothing to sneeze at.

Later I had a cup of tea, and afterwards, saw something in the leaves.
Unfortunately I saw nothing about the upcoming midterms. I like what I saw from Democratic consultant Ed Martin yesterday..
“In Texas state government, we've got a lot of problems. They all fall at the Republicans' feet. If voters in Texas want to throw the bums out who are running state government, the bums running everything in Austin are Republicans.”

I hope so; with redistricting coming up after the census. In my district, a race between Nobody and Whozat elected a LaRoucher to run against Phil Gramm clone Pete Olson this fall. A gain of a few seats in the Texas Legislature by the Democrats could go a long way towards unmaking the crooked mid-decade gerrymandering instigated by Tom DeLay.

But back to prognosticating; with all the red state A G’s going to court to nullify the new health care measures, chances are that the Roberts Supreme Court will find an opportunity to rule on it. After ruling that corporations need not be bothered by campaign finance laws, it’s a good bet that the supremes will find that actual people don’t have to suffer accessible or affordable health coverage either.

This could work to show John Q. Public which side he really wants to be on, just in time to re-elect the President with a solid mandate to pass a true universal healthcare program, including the death penalty for health insurance companies that reap windfall profits off of human suffering.

While I’m dreaming, let’s have the Texas State Board of Education direct history teachers to teach Eisenhower’s Military-Industrial Complex speech. After about twenty years of that, maybe we really could turn our swords into ploughshares.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Well it’s almost High Noon for reconciling the House-and-Senate-passed healthcare reform bills and the media is flogging away at the story, notwithstanding the yawns of apathy shown by the public at large.

The Chronicle had a page full of stories on the subject from the AP today, and I saw a couple of items that might explain the vehement opposition this movement has generated. (That and the billions in profits at stake)

First was a chart from Deloitte and Touche detailing the expansion of Medicare payroll taxes to high income earners. You see, people with incomes over $106,000 have so far been exempt from the 2.9% Medicare payroll tax. A major source of funding for expanded health coverage under the bill would come from extending this tax to high-earners, from a annual levy of $450 from single taxpayers earning $250,000 a year, to a $43,000 tax bill on those earning $5,000,000. You know that nobody squeals louder about income taxes than those with the biggest income.

The other item that caught my eye was the measures in the bill to ensure that no tax dollars are spent for abortion coverage. This has been a sticking point in the House, with no-choice Congressman Bart Stupak of the C Street “Family” that has included disgraced Senator John Ensign and disgraced Governor Mark Sanford, threatening to derail the legislation. To my eye, the only item they have left to object to is the exception for cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother, one accepted by most reasonable people.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

After the week-end news of a naked legislator, a deadly wolf attack, Son of Ron Paul, and a vampire space cowboy bomber, today things got back to normal.

Senator Chris Dodd D- Conn. has a banking reform bill that he would like to send out this week from the banking committee he chairs. He has watered down his original proposals to gain approval of the Republican committee members, none of whom will vote for it.

Banking and securities regulation has supposedly been a priority of Congress and the Obama Administration since the Wall Street induced near meltdown of the world economy in late 2008.

Former Fed Chairman Paul Volker, head of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, has called for a break-up of the largest banks, and regulations prohibiting deposit taking institutions from engaging in risky trading and investments.

Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren, head of the Congressional Oversight Panel investigating the U.S. bank bailout, said today
“Since bringing our economy to the brink of collapse, Wall Street has spent more than a year and hundreds of millions of dollars in an all-out effort to block financial reform. Despite the banks’ ferocious lobbying for business as usual, Chairman Dodd took an important step today by advancing new laws to prevent the next crisis. We’re now heading toward a series of votes in which the choice will be clear: families or banks.”

So soon the Senate will consider a compromise bill, stripped significantly of the proposed consumer protection agency that was to stem abusive practices in credit card, auto, and mortgage lending. Senate Democrats are expected to struggle to pass even this measure with their fifty-nine seat minority. Chris Dodd is retiring after this year, he has nothing to lose. Barney Frank has done his part leading the House Banking Committee, and Wall Street and the banking industry are widely vilified by the public and in the media. Last week it was revealed that Lehman Brothers was cooking their books before they went under in a “repo” scheme that spun-off toxic assets at accounting time only to take them back afterwards. (Enron did this too)

The time is ripe for reform that would restore safeguards that kept our economy from major implosions since the great depression. I wonder how the Democrats will manage to screw this up?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Letter to the Editor

Textbook example

In “Bunning and the GOP in an alternative universe” (Page B9, Saturday), Paul Krugman states, “Today, Democrats and Republicans live in different universes, both intellectually and morally.”

He continues: “Take the question of helping the unemployed in the middle of a deep slump. What the Democrats believe is what textbook economics says: that when the economy is deeply depressed, extending unemployment benefits not only helps those in need, it also reduces unemployment.”

Then Krugman draws his comparison: “But that's not how Republicans see it. Here's what Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, had to say when defending Bunning's position (although not joining his blockade): Unemployment relief ‘doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.' … To me, that's a bizarre point of view — but then, I don't live in Kyl's universe.”

A handful of bloggers did Google searches since this column appeared in The New York Times and came up with this interesting quote from a college economics textbook called Macroeconomics: “Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect.”

The authors cite this example: “In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker's incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of ‘Eurosclerosis,' the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.”

The co-authors of this textbook go by the names of Paul Krugman and Robin Wells (aka Mrs. Paul Krugman). So, according to Krugman, the Republican's “bizarre point of view” is in fact “textbook economics,” even textbooks written by Krugman himself. Like many Nobel Prize winners in the recent past, Krugman sure knows how to completely change and reverse his science depending on whoever is in power.


-Kudos to whatever web-heads went digging in that Krugman text. This, however does not mitigate the fact that, at least to hear them tell it to their base, the GOP would, if they could , dismantle unemployment compensation, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, child labor laws, the Sherman Antitrust Act, and the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Heal Lepers!? Are You Crazy?

Maybe you've seen the Republican Jesus figureens where he is posed giving a thumbs up and a knowing wink? It's a funny concept alright, but like all things ridiculous it has its roots in truth.
I was listening to Glenn Beck this morning, which I had stopped doing a few months ago because it finally had gotten too stressful to endure. He went right to caller one who complained that his kid's catholic school was indoctrinating girls in Catachism classes using the old "social justice" playbook. And somehow this issue got conflated into a kind of Christian theology that preaches that Jesus was indeed a free market adherent and not some pussy who believed in giving away things for free. Furthermore, any idea or policy that promotes social justice is just communism in sheep's clothing. To quote the caller, (whose shpeel was enthuseastically endorsed by Beck) "I believe the only way to be truly close to God is through the American Free Enterprise System."
For anybody who isn't a little freaked out by the country's most powerful congressmen and senators; like Coburn, Ensign, Wamp, and Bart Stupak and many, many others, essentially living with a cult called, "The Family" in "The C Street House" - blocks from the Capitol for free, while sponsoring legislation and policies that favor The Family and their friends, it's probably too late to lengthen your attention span. But to the rest of us, this attempt to corrupt Christian faith into a religious justification for naked capitalism, should be an additional reminder that wing-nuts never sleep.
The ironic part is that the Government had to save American capitalism, because the Government failed to regulate an institution that cannot survive without it, and the notion that free markets are the perfect systems to cure all ills (including the soul) like all religions are just mythology.

Monday, March 08, 2010

You must have heard last week about Sen. Jim “beanball” Bunning, R-Ky., putting a hold on legislation to extend unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies for unemployed workers. (That’s right, beanball, because in his days as a major league pitcher he hit even more batters than notorious head-hunters Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson.)

Paul Krugman wrote about this, noting that unemployment payments are one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus, as it is readily spent, helping to prevent unemployment from begetting more unemployment in the surrounding community.

Krugman goes on to contrast the philosophical differences between the two parties. See who’s on your side..

“During the unemployment benefits debate, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., pleaded for action on behalf of those in need. In response, Bunning blurted out an expletive. That was undignified — but not that different, in substance, from the position of leading Republicans. Consider, in particular, Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) position on a proposal that would extend jobless benefits and health insurance subsidies for the unemployed for the rest of the year. Republicans will block that bill, said Kyl, unless they get a “path forward fairly soon” on the estate tax.

“Now, the House has already passed a bill that, by exempting the assets of couples up to $7 million, would leave 99.75 percent of estates tax-free. But that doesn't seem to be enough for Kyl; he's willing to hold up desperately needed aid to the unemployed on behalf of the remaining 0.25 percent. That's a very clear statement of priorities.”

-So the Democrats are extending help to millions of working class people so they can pay their bills and stay in their homes, while the Republicans are standing in the way unless they can deliver another tax cut to the richest families in America.

Likewise when they oppose health care reform projected to cost one trillion dollars over ten years time. The Republicans ran up a 1.7 trillion deficit enacting George W. Bush’s tax cuts, which went predominantly to the wealthiest Americans, and they passed these cuts using the reconciliation process!

This really gets my goat! The GOP have no credibility for me on the subject of health care because they were running the show for over ten years and they did nothing but cash checks from and carry water for the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

And likewise on the deficit; now that there’s an emergency, and deficit spending is called for to keep the economy from stalling, they’re all about fiscal responsibility. Again, where have they been for the last thirty years? Spending like drunken sailors. Ninety percent of the national debt was spent under Republican presidents. You can look it up.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Chupacabra Report

Lame-brained Voters Get My Goat

Well, I know that I live in a district that elected Tom DeLay ten times, one that he drew up himself to be permanently Republican, but I didn’t realize until today that the Democratic side was seeded with dolts too.

Democrats in District 22 yesterday gave 53% of the vote to Kesha Rogers, a “LaRouche Democrat” who calls for President Obama to be impeached because he wants to kill off the old and the sick, like Hitler did.

I might have figured this after one of my kids asked me who Lyndon LaRouche was. I guess there must be a lot of folks who don’t know about this eighty-eight-year-old conspiracy nut. Ever see those odd people sitting outside your library, courthouse, or post office with the card table stocked with leaflets about their crackpot economics and international conspiracy theories? Those are the LaRouchers.

LaRouche dropped out of Northeastern University in 1942. He was a conscientious objector to WWII who joined the army as a non-combatant in 1944. After the army he went into politics, variously as a Marxist, a Trotskyite, a Maoist, and then a Socialist. He has been associated with thugs, racists, and anti-Semites such as the Ku Klux Klan. He first ran for president in 1976 on the U.S. Labor Party ticket, and has run seven more times as a Democrat. In 1988 he was convicted of conspiracy and mail fraud over some $30 million in defaulted loans and served six years of a fifteen-year sentence in the federal pen.

So in November we get to choose between a Phil Gramm Republican and a Lyndon LaRouche Democrat. You see why I’m a ticket-splitter.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Don’t Forget To Vote

Please make time to vote the Democratic Primary today and cast a vote for Bill White for Texas Governor, a vote for competency and consensus; a vote against the cronyism and wedge-issue politics we’ve suffered under Rick Perry.

Chupacabra Report

News that gets my goat..

Goat leads Odessa police, animal control on chase

© 2010 The Associated Press
March 1, 2010, 11:51AM

ODESSA, Texas — All over town ran a lone goat as Odessa police and animal control officers tried to catch the roaming animal.

The report to police came in Saturday as a sheep on the loose. Officers then determined it was a goat loping through a Taco Bell parking lot, a park and the dorm area at the University of Texas-Permian Basin.

It took four police officers, two animal control officers and one off-duty police officer on motorcycle to corral the goat after about 30 minutes.

Animal control officers subdued the goat with a tranquilizer gun and took custody of it.

There was no immediate word on who owned the goat.

Texas not number fifty after all

The Chronicle reported today that Federal officials have issued a waiver that will allow food banks in Texas to process foodstamp applications.

“During a mid-January visit to Austin, the top federal official overseeing the food stamp program said Texas ranks last among the 50 states AND U.S. TERRITORIES in processing food stamp applications and also does a poor job getting eligible people to apply.

“In Texas, about 40 percent of food stamp applicants are not getting processed within the 30 days required under federal law, the worst record of any state. About 3.3 million Texans received food assistance last month — up from 2.3 million in the fall of 2007, before the economy crashed.

The Houston food bank provided help for 865,000 people last year, but only 23 percent received food stamps, although the vast majority likely were eligible.”

-Todays Bible quote comes from Matt 25:40
“Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”