Zippidy Doo Da

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

Monday, May 31, 2010

Chupacabra Report

News that gets my goat..

-The California Jobs Iniative is one of the latest astroturf creatures to crawl out of the muck that is their initative and referendum process. -Does anything honest ever make the ballot this way? The CJI is a joint effort by the petrochemical industry and the Howard Jarvis Foundation to forestall measures scheduled under the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, specifically a greenhouse gas cap and trade system that is to come online in 2012. This caught my eye when I read that Valero Energy has donated $500,000.00 to the effort. I’ve written here to encourage people to trade with Shell and ConacoPhillips because they have been involved with identifying and promoting best practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Valero, a San Antonio company that sells gas under their name and through Diamond Shamrock, are on the other side of the issue. I suggest that you take your business elsewhere and let them know why.

-The NYT reported last week that General David Petraeus has ordered increased clandestine military activity in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and other mid-east countries to “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” al-Qaeda and other “terror” groups and prepare for attacks by US or local military forces. My question is, remember “blowback?” The history of US covert operations is rife with examples of such moves back-firing, with great loss of blood, treasure and international good-will; with successes being few and far between.

-AP reported last week that as part of its new sanctions against the North, South Korea has been blaring western music across the border. Let’s hope they’re using country western music, that should have them crying into their Taedonggang beer in no time.

-General Electric ran full page newspaper ads across the country last week urging Congress to approve contracts for them to supply a second engine model for the F-35 joint strike fighter presently supplied by Pratt & Whitney. The House complied with a rare bi-partisan vote to spend $485 million on this boondoggle. Defense Secretary Robert Gates may ask President Obama to veto the entire $568 billion defense bill to stop this.

-And Paleolithic pundit Charles Krauthammer wrote last week that “environmentalists must share blame for gulf oil spill.” His angle is that if the oil companies didn’t have to drill so far offshore, they wouldn’t have to drill such deep and dangerous projects. Disingenuous. The Gulf of Mexico already has hundreds of near-shore rigs operating, and since the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress there has been little requirement that operators be prepared to contain or clean up spills. For further explanation, I’ll refer you to James Thurber’s fable “The Rabbits Who Caused All the Trouble.”

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pirates terrorize boaters on Texas lake along Mexican border

by Christopher Heath
KENS 5 San Antonio

ZAPATA, TEXAS -- It sounds like something out of yesteryear: Pirates attacking boats and sailors, robbing them of their treasures. But it's not on the high seas, but in deep South Texas.
With machine guns in hand, Mexico's deadliest cartel is patrolling the waters of a Texas border lake.

These pirates already have hit several boats on Falcon Lake near Zapata, which is about an hour south of Laredo. If you go too far across the lake and past the international boundary bouy, you are in Mexican territory and subject to attacks by pirates toting assault weapons.
"It is unsafe in Mexico. Don't go to Mexico," warned Game Warden Capt. Fernando Cervantes. "We can not cross over onto that side. If a boat goes across, that's it. We stop there at the line."

One man fishing on the lake Thursday, Lucas Garza, said he'd be staying away from the boundary. "We're not planning on going to that side," he said. "We just know there's no good news on that side." He and his friends have heard the warnings about Zeta cartel pirates ambushing boats on the Mexican side, operating with virtual impunity as they steal cash and electronics at machine gun-point. At least three boats have been robbed so far, and authorities say they are investigating a fourth incident, as well.

The fear of what lurks beyond the boundary is keeping even local fisherman well within the U.S. side of the lake. U.S. authorities say there just isn't a Mexican law presence on the other side of the lake, so boaters who do venture to that part of Falcon Lake are on their own.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Service Industry

Hey guys, I've read a couple of reviews of "Calm Down," and they are just precious. MySA called the record, "bouncy." I hate to say it but the only thing bouncy going on would be Mike McCoy's balls on that guy's chin.
Harsh, you ask? The commentary I find misses the mark, but makes for good copy sales-wise, but to distill these mega-talented guys to that kind pap is sickening.
I have been driving around in my wife's land yacht listing to Calm Down over and over until I think I got it. I like the Service Industry even though I hear they are fomenting race riots in Pheonix - I don't know how they find the time.
I have a theory about certain kinds music that fit TSI. One day I was having a conversation with a prominent physician friend of mine who told me that little kids who are especially bright can discover their own mortality before their brains are fully developed. It's worse than seeing your parents fucking. This cognitive hammer to the personality can screw these tots up.
This might have happened to several members of the group but especially Mike, who figured out that once knowing this secrete, he can't just holler out, "hey fatty, you're gonna get ass cancer and die, die, die! That would not be a good way to make friends. The urge to let it out is over-welming, so these young geniuses learn the more subtle approach is better. Hey, why not rock-n-roll?
It has to work that way. When I was last in LA, in the Century City part, I was walking by a very exclusive spa, in front of which many LA-types were walking past engaged in vapid conversations and pitching deals. A man dressed as a yound Richard Simmons was standing in the xeriscape terrorizing people with zingers, like Don Rickles with rabies. No one dared make eye-contact, and scarcely seemed to notice him. That man in a different persona can be heard throughout this album.
Now if you know anything about this band, the first four offerings on the record are somewhat of a surprise. Heart Repair, This Town Makes My Skin Crawl, Conflict Resolution and Calm Down, make a statement right away that Service Industry has the chops in composition, arrangement, and production to stand out as masters of their craft. The songs are beautiful; full of strong guitar lines and very lush vocal harmonies. Somebody left the reverb on, and it works. The music tastes like Beach Boys meets Weezer, but is completely original because they are nothing but that. I hope this record is a breakthrough for them.
Having said that, the rest of the record are the guys I know would stomp on the beach crew with heavy, steel-toed Ho Dad Doc Martins and feel-up their girl friends. Honestly, I Suppose So, Loudon Wainwright, AZ and We Buy Broken Gold, are the best three songs in rock this year. If a man dares to summon the Rock Gods by using the three power chord triumverate of D - A- G, he must prove worthy. He must have power, honor and balls of steel. Such is the case of I Suppose So. No band should go there if they ain't got the stuff. They prove their mettle on this tune. Loudon Wainwright to me is the best song on the record. Mike and the guys know that one can't seperate Mick Jagger from Ted Haggerd from Carney Barkers, and I have a feeling that so-and-so's daughter insn't gonna need that 200 dollars.
This is a great record. Buy it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When Bloggers Attack

Let me share with you a list of my life's events since May 1st:
1. I lost my job of 20 years (in June) and started my own firm in order to survive;
2. We are now under water and selling our home at a loss in order to avoid foreclosure;
3. I have to spend every waking moment working or repairing the house;
4. The pug dog next door nailed my chocolate lab and created a litter unspeakably offensive to all mankind;
5. On monday our lights went out for 12 hours and ruined all our food;
6. Yesterday my Galaxie burst into flames and burned to the ground.
7. My daughter is in full-scale rebellion;
8. I lost my medical insurance;
9. We can't pay our bills;
10. No cable or internet.
My brother says that banks are scared to death of men like me because of the risk that we would not hesitate to walk away from our expensive mortages. I can say with certainty that neither myself or anybody else in my situation cares what happens to the thieves that stole the treasury, destroyed the middle class, and are now sqeezing folks for every last penny they get their sticky fingers on.
Be afraid.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chupacabra Report

News that Gets My Goat..

Sundays Chronicle had an op-ed by three climate change deniers; surprise, they’re all retired oil company execs, each of whom has held leadership positions in such trade groups as the American Petroleum Institute, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. One of the authors, H. Leighton Steward, wrote a book titled “Fire, Ice, and Paradise,” from which they quote extensively.

Here’s Steward’s “Ten Myths about CO2."

Myth 1: The planet Earth will be healthier with lower CO2 levels.
Myth 2: Rising CO2 levels cause temperatures to rise.
Myth 3: Sea levels will rise 20 feet by the end of the century.
Myth 4: Scientists unanimously say that CO2 caused by humans is the dominant cause of global warming.
Myth 5: The United States is the largest contributor of human-caused CO2.
Myth 6: Storms are more frequent and intense because of global warming.
Myth 7: Polar bears will go extinct if this warm period continues through the 21st century.
Myth 8: CO2 is a pollutant.
Myth 9: As Earth warms, the climate will become much drier and windier.
Myth 10: Higher levels of CO2 than the current 385 parts per million in the atmosphere are not harmful to humans.

-Frankly, I’m not qualified to dispute all his points, but they sure don’t jibe with other sources I’ve been reading, such as James Hansen’s “Storms of our Grandchildren.”

When Steward says that solar intensity variation is the most significant climate forcing, I wonder that NASA scientists say we’re experiencing the hottest year on record during the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. And when he says we could do fine with twenty times the current CO2 level, or that marine oil spills are harmless, and that the ocean can clean them up by itself, I lose patience with him.

You see, I agree with that line from Upton Sinclair about how "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” The oil and gas industry has been very good to these guys, and they are never going to see outside their own paradigm until the surf is lapping at their country place.

Native Texas had mixed forests, bountiful grasslands, and fecund bay waters. With settlement and civilization these were exploited to near extinction. If we are to leave more than a wasteland for those who come after us, we need to be careful about who we listen to.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gates in Abilene

I’ve seen some mention of the speech Defense Secretary Robert Gates made in Abilene Kansas last Saturday. Gates was giving notice to the defense establishment that the gravy train is over.

"The gusher has been turned off and will stay off for a good period of time," Gates said on the steps of the Eisenhower Presidential Library to a crowd of around 300 people.

"Given America's difficult economic circumstances and parlous fiscal condition, military spending on things large and small can and should expect loser harsher scrutiny," Gates said

"Simply taking a few percent off the top of everything on a one-time basis will not do," he said. "These savings must stem from root-and-branch changes that can be sustained and added to over time.".”

Gates means to prioritize spending to give us “more tooth and less tail.” This means reforming a military top-heavy with brass, where the pentagon bureaucracy consumes forty percent of the $550 billion annual budget, where weapons and supply programs become sacrosanct because they are parceled out to all 435 Congressional districts.

It’s interesting that he gave this talk outside the Eisenhower Library. Ike in his farewell address to the nation warned about the influence of the military-industrial-congressional complex; not that we’ve heeded the warning.

This was exhibit “A” for what James Carroll called the retirement syndrome; “criticism of policy by the creators of policy after they no longer have responsibility for it.” For over fifty years we’ve had retired warriors and hawks go about face and start talking about détente and beating swords into ploughshares. I wouldn’t count Gates among their number. A holdover from the Bush Administration, this former CIA Director became Defense Secretary after serving as President of that conservative bastion of militarism, Texas A&M University; but that doesn’t mean that he’s not on to something here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

ArtCar 2010 "I'm Only Sleeping"

This year was an adventure. Gale-force winds took our roof and kept the sheeps flying. The Catillac got a flat, and the spare showed up five minutes before showtime, and take-off found Beedow waiting in line for the porta-potty, putting me behind the drums for the first half-mile. Nonetheless, a fine time was had by all, thanks to "Night Train."

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Chupacabra Report

There was a great letter in the Chronicle yesterday in response to a recent column by Kathleen Parker about measures requiring women seeking abortions to view a sonogram before having the procedure:

Give them the whole picture

In regard to Kathleen Parker's “Fetal ultrasound laws are one way to limit abortions” (Page B12, Sunday), to those who advocate forcing girls to see ultrasounds and photos of a fetus before they have a legal abortion, why not give them an entire picture album to shock them into life as a parent, too?

The album might include a picture of a father, with and without a child support check, a photo of the mother with and without her high school or college diploma, and the likely income potential of each of these scenarios, next to a bank statement showing the $180,000 estimated cost to raise a (healthy) child to age 18, times the number of children she may bear if she doesn't turn the page of the album to the list of birth control methods available.

The album could provide additional information for these overwhelmed pregnant teens, such as resources to ensure that boys and men take financial responsibility for the children they father, mental and physical health resources for exhausted and unprepared young mothers, and finally, a list of adoption agencies and foster care organizations (like Houston Achievement Place) that take care of children who are neglected and abused, often by those very mothers shamed into having children by people whose “right to life” support seems to stop as soon as the children are born.


-Elsewhere in the paper was an article about young Texans, “survivors of the foster care system,” taking advantage of free tuition offered at public colleges and universities to foster children. With the article was a sidebar of statistics about the outcomes the foster care system delivers. Shocking.


According to a study by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, by age 23, former foster children are more likely than their peers to be:
• Unemployed: More than half were out of work.
• Homeless: Almost 25 percent had lived on the street or in a shelter.
• Pregnant: More than 75 percent of young women had been pregnant.
• Convicted of a crime: Nearly 60 percent of young men had been convicted of a crime, and more than 80 percent had been arrested.
• Uneducated: Only 6 percent had an associate's or bachelor's degree.

- There are over thirty thousand Texas children in foster care, more than half a million nationwide.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Bill Moyers

Last week marked the end of ‘Bill Moyers Journal’ on PBS. We can hope to see more of him in coming years, but he wants to get away from the grind of a weekly program.

Moyers was a summer intern for then Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1954, took a degree in journalism from UT in Austin, and had a career that bounced around between journalism, politics, and the ministry before serving in the LBJ administration. (Johnson once offered him the position of CIA Director.) After the White House, he worked for CBS and NBC before finding a home at PBS.

Bill Moyers Journal introduced America to such lights as Andrew Bacevich, Kathleen Sebelius, Elizabeth Warren, and Howard Zinn. These and many other programs are available to watch on PBS Online. Here’s the wrap-up from his last program, where he reports on the state of US plutocracy..

BILL MOYERS: You've no doubt figured out my bias by now. I've hardly kept it a secret. In this regard, I take my cue from the late Edward R. Murrow, the Moses of broadcast news.

Ed Murrow told his generation of journalists bias is okay as long as you don't try to hide it. So here, one more time, is mine: plutocracy and democracy don't mix. Plutocracy, the rule of the rich, political power controlled by the wealthy.

Plutocracy is not an American word but it's become an American phenomenon. Back in the fall of 2005, the Wall Street giant Citigroup even coined a variation on it, plutonomy, an economic system where the privileged few make sure the rich get richer with government on their side. By the next spring, Citigroup decided the time had come to publicly "bang the drum on plutonomy."

And bang they did, with an "equity strategy" for their investors, entitled, "Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer." Here are some excerpts:

"Asset booms, a rising profit share and favorable treatment by market-friendly governments have allowed the rich to prosper...[and] take an increasing share of income and wealth over the last 20 years..."

"...the top 10%, particularly the top 1% of the US-- the plutonomists in our parlance-- have benefited disproportionately from the recent productivity surge in the US...[and] from globalization and the productivity boom, at the relative expense of labor."

"...[and they] are likely to get even wealthier in the coming years. [Because] the dynamics of plutonomy are still intact."

And so they were, before the great collapse of 2008. And so they are, today, after the fall. While millions of people have lost their jobs, their homes, and their savings, the plutonomists are doing just fine. In some cases, even better, thanks to our bailout of the big banks which meant record profits and record bonuses for Wall Street.

Now why is this? Because over the past 30 years the plutocrats, or plutonomists — choose your poison — have used their vastly increased wealth to capture the flag and assure the government does their bidding. Remember that Citigroup reference to "market-friendly governments" on their side? It hasn't mattered which party has been in power — government has done Wall Street's bidding.

Don't blame the lobbyists, by the way; they are simply the mules of politics, delivering the drug of choice to a political class addicted to cash — what polite circles call "campaign contributions" and Tony Soprano would call "protection."

This marriage of money and politics has produced an America of gross inequality at the top and low social mobility at the bottom, with little but anxiety and dread in between, as middle class Americans feel the ground falling out from under their feet. According to a study from the Pew Research Center last month, nine out of ten Americans give our national economy a negative rating. Eight out of ten report difficulty finding jobs in their communities, and seven out of ten say they experienced job-related or financial problems over the past year.

So it is that like those populists of that earlier era, millions of Americans have awakened to a sobering reality: they live in a plutocracy, where they are disposable. Then, the remedy was a popular insurgency that ignited the spark of democracy.

Now we have come to another parting of the ways, and once again the fate and character of our country are up for grabs.

So along with Jim Hightower and Iowa's concerned citizens, and many of you, I am biased: democracy only works when we claim it as our own.