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Friday, December 31, 2010

Just another Happy New Year blog

According to my watch, we have another 13 hours of 2010 to go. It was a memorable year because I used my Medicare card for the very first time, celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary, and for the most part, my wife, and I had a healthy year.
I don't usually make resolutions because I don't like lying to myself; I know that after 65 years I'm pretty much “what you see is what you get.” I do set goals and this year will be no different; although I did slip on a few, last year. My goals for this year are, as follow:
1…. I will try to be less argumentative on our local paper’s online forum.
2…. I will devote more attention to this personal blog.
3…. I will learn how to create and edit home movies.
4… I will make plans for our final vacation; hopefully somewhere on the East Coast.
5…. I will read 10 books in 2011.
I'm not in the prediction business, so I will not assume to know what will happen in 2011. Why would anyone put themselves up for ridicule by trying to predict the future?
My wife and I are still recuperating from last year's New Year's dance, so this year we're going to bring in the New Year, by relaxing and going to bed early. We'll still have a traditional new year's dinner of ham and of course black eyed peas for good luck.
I don't believe anyone ever says “Happy New Year” unless they sincerely mean, it.
Happy New Year Everyone.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

“Morning Joe”..A show I love to hate


I have put up with the blowhard self proclaimed libertarian/ republican Joe Scarborough because of the show's guests. In the past two years, he has turned his sidekick, Mika Brzezinski, into a Scarborough lite. She seems to parrot his beliefs now. They both admire another blowhard, New Jersey's governor Chris Christie because he is a frequent guest and his aggressive stance on spending cuts. Joe's style has rubbed off on Mike Barnicle and another member of the show, easygoing, Willie Geist. I understand that his conservative guest will not return, if they are treated with disrespect and not allowed to get their message out, but he needs to show the left the same respect.

I thought this morning's guest; Andrew Ross Sorkin (author of” Too Big to Fail”) was going to be given the opportunity to talk about needed tax reform. Joe Scarborough didn’t waste any time marginalizing Mr. Sorkin by ridiculing his apparel. The panel all laughed because Andrew Ross Sorkin was wearing an expensive Cashmere suit jacket. Joe Scarborough used his opening by saying that the democrats are never going to win on the tax cut for the top 2% issue. He said that raising taxes was a losing issue for the democrats. He brought up the Fritz Mondale’s quote of “Ronald Reagan won't tell you he will raise your taxes, but I will.” I'm paraphrasing but you get the picture. Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski disregarded the polls that stated most American’s believed the top 2% should not get a tax cut. Mr. Sorkin tried to make the point that in order to get our financial house in order, taxes will need to be raised but his message was drowned out.

To his credit, Joe Scarborough, will call out over –the- top comments made by members of the Republican Party, but he tries to qualify it as something both parties do. He refuses to believe that there is no moral equivalence because right wing crazy talk dominates an occasional immoderate quote from the left. He thinks liberal columnist Frank Rich of the New York Times rivals the controversial, race baiting, Rush Limbaugh. Joe Scarborough attended the recent “No labels” summit in New York thinking that his views are right down the middle, where American lies. Joe Scarborough fancies himself a foreign policy expert because supposedly he still has friends in the CIA. He knows things the little people don’t.

The show hasn't resorted to shouting matches yet, (except for a couple of occasions) they continued to have knowledgeable guest from both sides of the aisle, but, unless Joe Scarborough takes a new approach as a commentator to ask the tough questions and comment on the answers, he will always be second in the ratings to “Fox and Friends,” a show he should be dominating. It's all right to have a little silly but at that time of the morning, some people want to be informed.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where are the jobs,Boehner?

Unless you are a regular viewer of Fox News, you have heard that corporate profits are up, companies in the Fortune 500 have a $1.6 trillion cash surplus, the market is booming, then why is unemployment still at 9.8%?

That may not be hiring in Victoria, Texas, but they are hiring overseas where sales are surging and purchase orders are abundant.

A company that promised to break ground on a new plant in our city, Caterpillar Inc., has hired over 15,000 new employees this year but over half of them were hired overseas. You wouldn't think a company like UPS would be following the same trend, but they are.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, American companies have created 1.4 million jobs overseas compared to less than 1 million here in the United States. To show how drastic unemployment numbers are, if the 1.4 million jobs would have been created in this country the unemployment rate will still be at a high of 8.9%.

They don't teach patriotism at Harvard Business; they teach maximizing the bottom line. The multinational corporations will build where they can maximize their profits and have the abundance of consumers.

We all know that American companies have been outsourcing jobs for decades, but then it was clothing and toys; today it is semiconductors and software. Last night I saw a perfect example of that given by Keith Olbermann’s ,stand in, Sam Seder, when he showed a chart showing the cost breakdown of a $179 wholesale cost of an iPhone. The value in parts and labor: Japan $61 Germany $30 South Korea $23 China $6, other $48 and United States $11…. The Apple iPhone is as American as apple pie, mom, baseball and Chevrolet.

There's a reason for all this, but we won't discuss it because we're more interested in who is up, who is down, and who will get the benefit. We won't admit that the jobs that have gone overseas aren’t coming back, and they will remain with the markets of today like China, India and Brazil. Our total consumption is down 3% from last year, and we're spending 10% less on jewelry, furniture, electronics, and big appliances. In the next 10 years, all the growth will happen in Asia.

What's the difference between international growth and growth here in our country? All the countries that were mentioned have a rising middle class that consumes. We're squeezing our middle class with taxation, the high cost of education, health care, stagnant wages, and a higher shared cost of benefits and their retirement plan.

We all know that education, innovation, and consumption is the answer but our leaders are not laying the groundwork. Our cash strapped states will cut back education spending. Federal legislators will cut back initiatives for alternative fuels, so all this leads to low consumer confidence.

I found most of this information on the CBS News web site, “Where Are the Jobs? For Many Companies, Overseas,” but the information is not new to those who continue to search for answers.

I'm a little premature but after January 4th, I think I will give the local right-wingers a taste of their own medicine, by ending my blogs with “Where the jobs, Boehner?".That’s how Keith Olbermann ends his nightly show. The right-wing took about 15 minutes after the stimulus was passed before they all started asking “where the jobs, I thought the stimulus assured us that unemployment would never go below 8%." Remember?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Look forward not backward

If it wasn't for football and basketball I wouldn’t have anything to watch on TV except rented movies.  The Sunday talk shows still have their number one hosts but MSNBC has gone to their third string hosts for breaking news and fill the rest of the hour with oldies but goodies.  I've always hated the countdown to the top 10 stories, gaffes, or events.  Then again I won’t watch a rerun and I'm not too fond of leftovers.  While we are looking backwards others are looking forward.

There's a lot happening in the background during recess before the 112th Congress convenes.  The senate democrats wrote a letter to senate majority leader Harry Reid, requesting a modification of the filibuster rule.  They have to proceed cautiously so it will not hinder their efforts if they become the minority party.  The fact that all of the democratic senators signed the letter  was a major accomplishment in itself.  The GOP is not sitting around the fireplace telling old war stories. They are secretly trying to come up with a plan to pass Federal legislation allowing states to enter into bankruptcy.  This would avoid a Federal bailout and give the states a way to default on their public employee retirement fund.  The GOP plan would weaken the union and hurt public employees; it's a win –win for them.  A weaken union would not be able to contribute as much to the Democratic Party. The public employees would eventually be replaced with a their donor’s contract employees.  The goal is nonunion private contractors.  This is their first move towards plutocracy.

Looking backwards can be a diversion unless you use it to make sure that history does not repeat itself.  The republican party is not comprised of a lot of Phi Beta Kappas, because they have a simple goal and a simple message.  The GOP have put in a climate change denier, Fred Upton, in charge of the Energy and Commerce Committee,a non- regulatory proponent,Spencer Bachus,in charge of Financial Services and our own lone wolf libertarian wing nut ,Ron Paul, as chairman of the monetary policies subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve.  That will keep him busy irritating Ben Bernanke, while the rest of the party tries to undo the history making legislation the Obama administration passed. It's a good thing that the democrats still have the senate and that powerful veto pen.

I did get a good laugh Sunday watching senator Coburn predicting gloom and doom unless we get our fiscal house in order. He said “legislators must be willing to make politically unpopular decisions to avoid fiscal disaster for the country - like 15%-18% unemployment.” this was after he voted for the recent tax cut package that added about a trillion dollars to the debt because it included  a tax cut for the wealthiest 2%.  This was the plan all along, get the estate tax and that tax cut for the rich passed, then pay for it by slashing entitlements and programs they do not like.The GOP announced December 22 that it would replace “pay-as-you-go” , “cut-as-you-go” rule, under which increases in mandatory spending would still have to be paid for but tax cuts would not.e.g. Increases in mandatory spending could be offset only by reductions in other mandatory spending, not by any measure to raise revenues such as by closing unproductive special-interest tax loopholes. For example, the House would be barred from paying for continuation of a provision enacted in 2009 (and extended in the just-enacted tax compromise) that enables many minimum-wage families to receive a full, rather than a partial, Child Tax Credit by closing wasteful tax breaks for multinational corporations that shelter profits overseas.

The pundits say that the 112th Congress will not produce anything because of gridlock but that won't hinder the GOP's efforts. The shutdown of government will not phase them a bit and repeating the mistakes republicans made during the Great Depression won’t either.  The gold standard hindered our efforts to revive the economy in 1932 and the greatest mistake FDR made was listening to those that convinced him to start reining in spending.The efforts the Obama Administration put in to avoid a depression will be wasted if we allow the republicans to go whole hog with their spending cuts without tax increases.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Adapting to gift cards

I imagine like most families, the Christmas tree was not as full as in previous years. Fortunately, it wasn't because we were laid off or any other hardships. The womenfolk met unofficially on the phone and decided it would be easier to give gift cards. I was told of the decision about couple weeks ago, my first reaction was that it was too impersonal but the decision had already been made. The shopping malls, Sam's Wholesale, Wal-Mart and the main drag (Navarro Street) were as busy as I have ever seen it. Of course they will always be an actual present exchange, but I think gift cards will eventually be the norm.

We bought about three gift cards for that unexpected guest, but it was from stores that we usually frequent, just in case they don't show up. We have two gift cards left, one from Hastings and another from Best Buy. Speaking of Hastings, I swear they used to have stores in Corpus Christi, Houston and Austin. I have about $75.00 in gift cards that will have to be spent in Victoria, unless we go to San Marcos or Seguin.

I have to admit that I warmed to the idea pretty fast especially since all I have to do is log onto the ITunes and Amazon websites, input the redemption codes, and I don't have to worry about losing the cards or carrying them in my wallet. I don't have to keep up with a receipt or remember how much value remains on the card; it sure beats that extra tie, socks, and coffee mugs. Since we lost that “it's a thought not the gift” mentality; gift cards should ease the pain unless you give grandpa a gift card from a video game store. Then again, my wife and I still like cold hard cash…Smile....

I'm sure young parents and grandparents still get that warm and fuzzy feeling for the gift that our children put in long hours to make, just to say how much they care. Then there is the overtime , scrimping and saving to buy our loved ones that special gift.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and look forward to even a better New Year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winding down

I'm anxiously waiting for this day to be over, so I can finally wind down. My wife gets off at noon, so it's going to be like a 2 minute drill to do the final touching up before the Christmas Eve party we're hosting tomorrow night for  our family. Once the party gets going , no one will notice the corner of the room that didn't get vacuumed because everyone will be trying to get a word in edgewise. We have a lot of catching up to do. I have to take my things out of the downstairs bedroom just in case someone wants to stay the night. This is a time of the year when I'm glad that we purchased that extra trash can. Both cans will be filled to the brim for Tuesday's trash.

My wife and I enjoyed “The Little Fockers” but it was not as funny as the original. Two tickets, two sodas, a large popcorn and one hot dog cost us $35.00…. I can't say priceless.

I have to say I was wrong because president Obama showed me a few things about politics. I pissed and moaned about the morality of giving tax cuts to the top 2% while the rest of the country continued to suffer. I took my eye off the ball. The president gave the two year extension of the Bush tax cuts to the top 2% but in return, he bought time for Congress to pass DADT, START, and the 9/11 responders bill. As Senator Lindsey Graham said “Senator Reid ate our lunch.” President Obama stroked the flames by having an impromptu press conference to gloat and promised more of the same, next year. The president said” "If there's any lesson to draw from these past few weeks, it's that we are not doomed to endless gridlock," Obama said. "We've shown in the wake of the November elections that we have the capacity not only to make progress, but to make progress together.".. The republicans might have taken a lame duck session ass whipping but there is still a second half, and I expect revenge. Now, it's time to democrats to stick together and if need to, go down defending our principles.

I'm not one to preach, but it's sad that a couple of posters won’t put their swords down for a few days, it’s just not that important. It's a classic pot meet kettle. Their feud has been going on for a couple of years, in a Hatfield v McCoy fashion, where one will randomly poke his nemesis, just to to get a response; it doesn't take long before they at each other's throat again. I'm sure a lot of posters find it entertaining, but if they were the subject of ridicule; the shoe would be on the other foot. I don't choose sides because they have equal blame even though one is popular and the other gets what he deserves because he certainly can dish it out.

This will be the last blog until after the Christmas holidays; let me say thank you for reading and may you have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday and Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The joy of the holiday spirit

This is the time of the season that I put all my political arguments aside and the main reason I refrain from posting on our local newspapers online forum. I still remember the “ceasefire” we had during the Vietnam era. It's the time to be with good friends and family and to be grateful that we live in a country of free speech,diversity and different opinions.  I know it’s just my self -imposed rules but I'm still amazed that on December 24th and 25th, posters are still arguing about the same old things that divide us. I think a “ceasefire” forces us to reflect inward, so that we might be more receptive to ideas others might have.

I'm taking my wife out to eat and to see a movie tonight, now and that's something we haven't done in ages.  The children tell me that it's $8.75 a ticket and a small popcorn will cost me $4.50. Well, she deserves it for putting up with me.  Later this week, we're finally going take that 28 mile trip to see the Christmas lights in Cuero,Texas. Every year, we say we're going but something comes up. We would've done it by now if we still had small children. Our grandchildren are all grown up and our four legged children are not interested in giving up their naps, just to see some lights.  Sometime Sunday, the family will get together and make that sad but necessary trip to the cemetery to visit our lost loved ones.  I take a new small United States flag to replace the old one on my stepfather's grave and we will continue the ritual of giving my mother “poinsettias” for Christmas. Due to the cemetery's rules; the poinsettias  have to be artificial.

To all the readers of this blog, may you , your family and loved ones have a joyous holiday and a very Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Don't politicize our schools

The Texas State Board of Education got the equivalent of a black eye Friday when a far right group succeeded in injecting conservative ideas into social studies, history, in economics' lessons that will be taught to our children for the next decade.  Our children have enough difficulty comprehending the basic lessons that they are required to know.  The board voted 10-5 in favor; in a strict party line vote.  All this did not come about without protest because tempers did flare and several members threaten to walk away.  I can't remember controversy of this nature in my lifetime.  Three democrats eventually left making it easy for the republicans to push their agenda.

Teachers in Texas are not going have to teach Judeo Christian influences of our nation's founding fathers but without teaching them the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state.  Students will be required to study the decline of the American dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard. Economics' is tough enough, without injecting partisan theories.  I can't believe that a historic fact like Tejanos  dying at the Alamo alongside Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie will not be inserted in the text books.  It's not surprising that students will be required to learn about the second amendment, that's a conservative holy grail.

During the days of slavery, slaves were not permitted to read, so have we evolve from that period if we are going to brain wash our children to adhere to conservative ideals,only? According to the World Economic Forum’s Competitiveness Index, the United States is now only the fourth most competitive country in the world, having been surpassed by Sweden and Singapore and still trailing Switzerland, and we know we trail our main competitors in the areas of science and math. This is not the time for partisan gamesmanship; science and math are not political footballs. It's bad enough that 40% of our population believes in creationism.  Where do we start if we don't believe in the theory of evolution?

I will pretend to be an expert on the education of our children but I do know you should not be about political ideology.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday morning quarterbacks


One of the easiest things in life is to be a Monday morning quarterback; no pressure, just quote the obvious. The people who will give you their honest opinion will usually take all the flak if their information is wrong. We just don't hold anyone up for the truth, as long as it agrees with our opinion. I'm sick and tired of politicians making excuses, lying, and exaggerating issues that are very important. Our politicians won't sit down to discuss ways to reduce our deficit because of their ideological differences, which come before the country's needs. As Farred Zakaria said yesterday “we’ve got to be the only country in the history of the world that borrows money from its adversaries, to pay for tax cuts and wars for our citizens.”

Sarah Palin is the number one Monday morning quarterback because all she has to do is Tweet or enter her opinions on Facebook, and the news media has the administration's readymade opposing view. The media never vets her opinion; they just run with it. Legitimate presidential candidates like Mitt Romney write editorials for the New York Times, but it won't get as much attention. I love legitimate opposing views, and I will give credit when they are correct but many criticize just to be criticizing.

I have to admit that I don't have all the details, so I really shouldn't be criticizing the tax cut deal the president made with the republican leaders. He might have had is back against a wall like having to face a NO vote on all pending legislation in the senate. That's not Monday morning quarterbacking; that's standing up for principles. I think it's morally wrong to be giving millionaires and billionaires a tax cut when we need that money for infrastructure projects that will get our economy moving again. I was criticized for being against the tax cut package by a poster named itisi because we have to do what he called, and I quote “It is time for physical responsibility within the campus grounds of the United States Congress and including the President regardless of whom or what party is in charge." I didn't answer because I know that this tax cut is just a temporary measure (stimulus) and it probably is not fiscally responsible to tack on another $858 billion to the debt.

The red light controversy in Pt. Lavaca has seemed to die down, but we still have posters like Frank, itisi, and waywardwind injecting illegal immigration every chance possible. We recently had a DWI checkpoint where the police officers did fairly well finding numerous traffic violations, and they found a couple of illegal immigrants. It did take long for the connection to be made for those posters. It’s as if the illegal immigrants are running through and trampling their tomato gardens on a daily basis we are 232 miles from the Mexican border but these people act as if all the action is taken place in their neighborhood. They should be in a legitimate concern about illegal immigration but for them, it's an irresistible impulse to comment on the subject every day.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Fox propaganda...That's not news

I didn't need a report from the University of Maryland to convince me that Fox News viewers were the most misinformed people in the world.  Nevertheless, the University of Maryland conducted a study titled “Misinformation and the 2010 election." I see enough letters to the editor, comments to our online forum, and right wing guest on various programs convincing me that someone is feeding these people a line of crap.  Since Fox News has such a large viewing audience; they are just that many more naive uninformed people.

The study found that Fox News viewers were more likely to believe the erroneous than actual facts on the following subjects:

1.  Most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses.
2.  Most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit.
3.  The economy is getting worse.
4.  The stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts.
5.  Their own income tax have gone up.
6.  The auto bailout only occurred under Obama.
7.  When TARP came up for a vote most republicans opposed it.
8.  It is not clear if Obama was born in the United States.

MSNBC will have a field day reporting the results of the Maryland study but unfortunately the viewers of Fox News will claim that the study is just another leftist bias study.  This study comes after the leaks that Fox News wanted their anchors to discredit the healthcare plan and global warming.  The viewers of Fox News are brainwashed and there's nothing in the world that will make them believe Fox News is feeding them propaganda.  I'm sure Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity will put up a media bias defense, and their viewers will lap it up.  Fox News will continue pumping up the propaganda because they have willing viewers that love to have their ears tickled.

It's really sad because it's hard to have an intelligent debate if the opponent uses unsubstantiated material to make their point.  I still believe that every issue has a pro and con, and that should be the starting basis; not made up stuff.

Happy days are here again because president Obama got his tax cut package passed, adding $858 billion to the debt and although everything points to an unsuccessful mission in Afghanistan, we're committed until 2014.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blind loyalist come out of the closet

I call the posters that submit blogs or comments to our midsized town of ~65,000 on line forum, the locals.  Victoria, Texas, is a libertarian/republican city but when their GOP representatives get involved in scandals; the so called libertarian- republicans will call themselves conservatives.  Since the GOP national, state, and local recent victories, the locals have adopted the republican label once again.  One poster wrote a blog about the consequences of a super majority, and another wrote a letter to Santa; thanking him for all the new conservatives in office.  One recent letter to the editor written by a local right winger named Robert T. Smith, titled his letter “Ideas to improve our Federal government." It was a right wing boilerplate special with the same calls for abolishing Medicare, the Department of Education and HUD.  You know all the safety net programs.  He calls our membership in the United Nations a move toward a one world government.  He wants to raise our trading partner’s tariffs, as if that worked in the Great Depression of 1929.  He called for abolishing the 14th and 17th amendment.  Not amending; abolishing. .  He wants a curb illegal immigration with our overextended military and abolishes the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.  He apparently has a problem with our voting system because he wants to take away a citizen right to elect their senator.  He wants to abolish the 17th amendment and go back to state legislators appointing senators to their federal office.  I love his closing statement “next month. We will cover our state and three local governments." I can hardly wait.

Evidently, the locals get all their news from Fox News and right wing blogs else they would know that it only takes 218 votes in the House of Representatives to pass a bill.  They then have to send it over to the senate where the republicans do not have a majority, and they have to get 60 votes to bring any the legistration the house passes to the floor for debate.  Super majority doesn't mean much in the House of Representatives; bill usually gets stalled in the senate.  The democrats had a 79 seat advantage in the 111th Congress, but they saw over 400 bills stalled in the senate, without a single vote.  Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and executive branch, but they were still unable to get any Federal judges appointed.  

I understand party loyalty but when one criticizes a political party for irresponsible spending but remains silent while their own GOP party adds to the deficit, conducts a pledge to stop earmarking but the first chance they get,they’re caught adding millions of dollars of earmarks to a bill.  It has to be about the power because it's certainly not about a principle.  I consider myself a loyal democrat, but I think the current tax package is wrong and bad for our economy.  I'm also disappointed that the democratic president does not pay attention to the words of recently departed Richard Holbrooke when his last words were" we need to get out of Afghanistan." The leaked cables just reinforced what we already knew; we are losing the war in Afghanistan because the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan are not cooperating. 

On a side note; there's a small town about 32 miles up the coast that installed a camera atop a traffic light to catch violators.  The locals of that small town started a petition to remove the camera mounted lights and our newspaper published the story on line.  It didn't take long for commenter to complain about their fourth amendment rights, etc.  The local know it all, police apologist, SpeakUp1968, writes several long winded comments; lambasting those that oppose the light.  What's funny is that most of the posters don't even live in that town.  This is been going on for several days.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A hyperbolic senate

Rachel Maddow cracked me up last night when she played clips of the senate passing several pieces of legislation in fast motion, to the theme of  the Benny Hill show. The senate still has the Start Treaty, which will likely pass, but the Dream Act and DADT will probably will not be voted on, in this lame duck session, but at the rate Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are going, nothing is impossible…Got to give Speaker Pelosi credit, she sent over 400 bills to the senate, where they went to die. Things are getting testy since Harry Reid is making the senate work during this holiday season.

I hope the democratic majority in the senate will get rid of the 60 votes rule required for cloture; Sen. Tom Udall has a plan to change the required votes for cloture to be the simple majority. The GOP set an all time record using the filibuster in this last legislative session, when they used it 79 times. I doubt that Mr. Udall will get republican support because their main goal is to make sure President Obama is a one-term president.
Yesterday, a poster who goes by the handle of Hictoria didn't like that I made a joke about the
future Speaker of the House, John Boehner, recent crying outbursts....He said he would rather have a person who cries because he cares more about America, than Nancy Pelosi. Do they really believe that crap?...He posted several cut & pastes to back up his point but they didn’t make any sense. The right-wing would have had run a clip of her crying in an endless loop.  After several rebuttals decided it was a complete waste of my time and broke it off had a weak moment for even arguing with Hictoria because he is a self-proclaimed secessionist, believes that the U.S. should default on our debt, and a shameless shill for the rich. He once said "we shouldn't do anything to anger the rich"......He is a prime example of a voter who votes against his self interest.

The senate finally passed the Bush tax cuts but the bill is being held up in the house..Senator Mitch McConnell is warning the house not to tinker with the bill..Like they will listen to him!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The year is winding down

As 2010 comes to a close, I am reflecting on what I accomplished as a father, grandfather, retiree, husband and citizen.  At age 65, the list gets shorter and shorter. 

I'm still waiting for my wife to retire, so we can decide the lifestyle we’re going to adapt.  I know coming home to a hot meal every night will be part of it; eating out will be less of it.  We would both would like to visit Washington, DC and that part of the country, but we are reconsidering the drive.  Perhaps we can get some really good prices on air flights?I did get to use Medicare for the first time, so I surpassed that milestone and my wife is looking forward to her first Social Security check early next year.  She is thinking about volunteering at the hospital because she's been working since she was 17 years old, and sitting around the house is not an option.  She’s a people person; within 10 seconds of sitting down; she will strike up a conversation with the person next to her. She even strikes up a conversation with the clerk who rings up her order.

On our way back from Houston Saturday, we stopped off in Richmond to buy some things at a Fiesta Food Mart.  That brought back a lot of memories for us because highway 90, directly through downtown Richmond, Rosenberg, Sugar Land was not bypassed on the way to Houston.  I remember a cafe in Richmond or Rosenberg (I could never tell the difference between the two) that served the best enchiladas in Texas.  That was a must stop, but now we have substituted Heinz’s barbecue in Wharton as that must stop. The sleepy towns of Rosenberg and Richmond have not changed a bit; it did bring back some good memories. Sugar land is a different story; the much improved HWY 6 is an accident waiting to happen because of all the impatient drivers.  As you exit the Colony Creek Mall, a left turn is out of the question.

I know its Christmas and department stores are trying to increase their sales but that shouldn’t make an overzealous sales clerk ask me for my Sam's Club membership card.  Saturday, I was looking at some electronics at Sam's Club when a clerk asked me if I wanted to upgrade my card to the deluxe model.  I politely said I wasn't interested, but she persisted and started asking me what type of Sam’s Club membership I had in my possession.  I said I only needed the basic card, but then she asked to see my membership card, as if I was a suspect of not having a card.  About that time, my wife pulled up with her basket, and I told her to immediately check out and I would explain the reason in the car.  I know was not that big of a deal, but it made me feel really uneasy. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Conspiracyville USA

Several months ago an investor came to our City Council and proposed buying an old eyesore located in our city park.  They offered to buy a pump house that has been idle for years, and renovating it to the tune of one million dollars.  The final project would be the only restaurant in our city park.  It is my understanding that the City Council sweetened the deal by offering to build parking spaces, which could also be used for the city's zoo.  Of course, the local conspirator, BSspotter, began throwing out charges of collusion and corruption between the City Council and the investor.  Just for good measure, he said that his candidate for City Council lost by 61 votes and if the deal of this corrupt deal would have been known back then, just perhaps his candidate, Jeff Williams, might have won.  He left out a little detail, Jeff Williams, lost because a local slumlord, James Wayne, contributed $5000 to his campaign. 
BSspotter's cabal is perplexed because the whole town is not up in arms.  Perhaps the good citizens are waiting for more detail; instead of just of taking the word of a conspirator who is so afraid that his property taxes might go up by 59¢.

BSspotter is a Ron Paulite, so his ideology prevents him from even imagining a joint venture between the private and public sector.  He's even tried to enlist a local blogger named Jared to divulge conversations that he might have had with the principles.  That's what I don't like about the transparency BSspotter is always calling for.  He wants to make public every rumor or unsubstantiated theories.  He jumps on every expenditure the city or the county makes; he takes out his calculator and posts what he thinks it will cost the taxpayer.  I've had several civil arguments with BSspotter, but they always end up with one of us walking away.  I suspect BSspotter's argument is more political because he's so afraid that Caterpillar Industries or the Pump House restaurant will become a success ,blowing his economic theories out the window.

It's not often that I even pay attention to city matters but our local paper covered the situation and the comments' section of the Victoria Advocate online forum makes it hard, not to have an opinion but this blog allows me to vent my frustration instead of making a fool of myself and waste a good bit of my time by making a comment on the subject.  There is the one comment then several rebuttals.  There, as a local poster likes to say “I’ve said it."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A busy week

I'm reading a fascinating book about the 1929 Great Depression and there are times when I have to turn back a few pages to make sure I'm in the right era.  There are so many similarities between our recent financial crisis and the great depression.  I remember when we were in the middle of the collapse of Wall Street when John McCain uttered those famous words that doomed his presidential candidacy" " the fundamentals of our economy are strong." The stock market crashed on October 29, 1929 and later became known as Black Tuesday...  On October the 25th of 1929, president Hoover said" the fundamental business of the country" being " on a sound and prosperous basis.  The wealth was concentrated at the very top like it is today.

I wrote a blog in the local paper yesterday about me being in " A Constant State of Confusion" because we keep hearing economists say that we need to get a house in order before we will be forced to.  A local blogger forcefully said that we need to go to some sort of national sales tax, to get everyone to pay because some do not pay any taxes.  He went onto say that unemployment compensation was a social program.  He was wrong on both counts, but he doubled down by saying the republicans reward the workers; while the democrats dole out social programs and reward the slackers.  Naturally, another right winger applauded his statement.  It went downhill from there, as one blogger suggested that we default and another came in with his free market fundamentalist theory backed by an economist, who believes that taxes and stimulus hurts the economy.  It took some brilliant researching by our local genius KyleC ,to put everything in perspective.  I'm afraid I haven't heard the last of it because he's probably researching all the right wing sites to contradict KyleC's posts.

I ordered a few things from Amazon recently and I was really impressed with their shipping.  I got the product in a couple of days.  I knew my daughters ordered quite a bit from Amazon; in fact they are the ones that convinced me to do my online shopping there.  I convinced them that we could share the Prime Membership fee of $79 and get free shipping for the rest the year.  It may take me a while and I eventually get there.  Their prices are actually cheaper than the  local Best Buy and Office Depot, so even though it might hurt our economy, I probably won't be shopping at those stores anymore.

I can't believe, we have to go all the way to Houston,Saturday just to buy some cornbread stuffing for Christmas dinner.  We have a picky family when he comes to traditional foods.  When my mother passed away, she took her dressing recipe with her and the family will only settled for what they perceive to be the closest to being like grandma's.  It's also that way for tamales, so now the Don Jose is temporarily out of business,it's gonna be a lot of taste testing before settling on tamales like grandma or use to make.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Anger from the left and middle

I'm pretty sure the president intended to explain his reason for coming to agreement on a bipartisan framework of tax cuts.  He chose to lecture the democrats instead of the republicans.  The democrats did not like this one bit and several have vowed to not let the agreement see the light of day.  I haven't seen that much anger from democrats, toward a president of their own party since Bill Clinton supported NAFTA and Welfare Reform.  Bill Clinton was a centrist but president Obama is left of center, so I don't know why he chose  to anger his base.

The democrats have nobody to blame but themselves because this was a winning issue before the election but they were afraid to pull the trigger.  The republicans are trying to say that eliminating a tax cut to the top 2% is a job killing proposal....  The democrats should challenge that by saying they realize that there are some in the top 2% that are actually employers; they should have suggested that they would allow the Internal Revenue to make that distinction.  They would get a tax cut if they employed 50 people or more and paid salaries of $50,000 or more.  The republicans are winning with a simple message because everyone likes tax cuts and they know they can take advantage of that.

With a weather forecast of clear, with a low of 32 degrees tonight in Victoria ,Texas,  it will be a great time for some hot soup with apple pie and hot chocolate for dessert.  I have never lit the fireplace  because my wife is terrified of all the horror stories of a first time start-up..  I bet our northern friends are laughing at us. First, you are lighting up the fireplace when it's only 32° and why don't you have your fireplace cleaned on a yearly basis? My wife's cat,Pudge, likes to sit up on the top rung of his house so he can see the stray cats,  as they get into the boxes my wife sits out for them on cold nights.

Our daily newspaper had a story about a salon customer who said a stylist removed half of her eyebrow. The  Customer went onto say that the stylist found it pretty comical.  I don't know why this was frontpage material but our local posters are having a pretty good time, commenting.  A local lawyer said "Get references and understand that if you have a bad result with these kind of deals, there's probably not a whole lot you can do."...  References,really?  A poster who usually makes one line quips said "a sharpie marker will take care of her eyebrow and make it look better!"

This week ,a couple people who I admired died....  In my youth Don Meredith, then a quarterback for Southern Methodist University got me interested in college football.  Mr. Meredith went onto play for my favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys.  I will never forget the story he told of how the broke the huddle, got behind the center, and forgot what the play was.  He received the ball from the center and threw it directly into the stands and then had to explain his reasoning to Tom Landry.  The other person was Elizabeth Edwards who fought terminal cancer with the dignity that we rarely see these days.  Even though she knew her prognosis, she continue fighting the good fight for Health Care reform and stood strong to the very end....  May they, both rest in peace.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Is that the best you could do?....Really?

President Obama brokered a deal with the republican leadership to extend the Bush tax cuts in its entirety for two years; in return the republicans agreed to extend unemployment compensation for 13 months.  Two years for the top 2% to 13 months for those that are unemployed.  What a deal! There are some good things in the package such as payroll tax holidays, UI and other refundable credits but it comes with a cost.  The bipartisan commission on reducing the debt had a plan to reduce the debt by $4 trillion, this package adds another $1 trillion to that.  The package still has to go back to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, where they will make a little noise but will probably encourage their troops to pass this bill in its entirety.  I don't get it; an ABC News, CBS News, and Washington Post poll stated that over 65% of Americans did not want the top 2% to get a tax cut.  The American people sided with the democrats on this issue but they will vote against their wishes.  I can understand why the president did it, but it isn't making any easier to swallow.  The republicans would have let the tax cuts expire and would have won the message war by convincing the uninformed that the democrats raised their taxes.  The republicans are happy for now but they will still call Obama a socialist, liberal ,progressive even though he was instrumental in giving them exactly what they asked for.
This morning, Joe Scarborough tried to stroke the fire by saying that the president should go out and promote the package he just brokered, as it being good for America.  In the president's speech yesterday he'd said that he was adamantly opposed to giving tax cuts to the top 2% and making the Estate Tax more favorable but he was not willing to play politics with people's lives.  Taxpayers would have seen smaller checks starting in January, if a deal was not brokered. According to progressive economists, it won't stimulate the economy much.

The Tea Party is starting to make their move by asking Sarah Palin to be chairman of the RNC.  She said "thanks but no thanks" but does she know that it may  have been a move to remove her from being a presidential candidate?  Another tea partier suggested going back to a time where only property owners could vote.  Give them a little more rope and supply them with all the media coverage they want, so they can be exposed as the fanatic group that they are.  More and more mainstream republicans are going public with their displeasure that Sarah Palin might be considered a presidential candidate.

Pretty quiet on the local front but a blogger named Barry opened the door for immigrant bashing, on  a thread that was supposed to be about the Victoria College and the University of Houston bracing for more budget cuts.  Now, another poster named, Frank, is blaming liberals for complaining about the Victoria Police department's Operation Moody; I guess it’s because they caught a couple of illegal immigrants...  They don't need facts; their opinions outweigh any stinking facts.

Writein, continues to try and lecture the old people and those that post their opinions but never run for public office.  He continues to have a love fest with a despicable character named Matt Ocker, I guess that's because he ran for public office.  He even shamelessly left a link to his blog, so others can discuss the situation with him....  I have better things to do, than go beyond what I'm writing in this blog....Matt Ocker made daily racist statements and called then BigJ a boy with a little "b" and just because he ran for public office; all is forgotten and BigJ, now worships the ground he walks on...Go figure.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What a way to start the week

I turned off my Blackberry yesterday morning to charge, and forgot about it, until this morning.  To my surprise, it kept alarming with e-mail notifications, when I turned it on.  I use the Victoria Advocate message notification.  The locals used my blog to vent, carry out old grudges, and Pilot made a couple of unflattering  comments: one to his nemesis,Writein, and the other one directed at anyone that thinks the president of United States actually governs.  He included me in that group.

I don't know what to make of Pilot's statement; does he think some unknown group pulled the strings for the last 12 presidents.  He never supplied any detailed facts.  I think that we've all heard of the Trilateral Commission conspiracy, and the other one about the 5 old white men, smoking cigars, drinking brandy, and calling the shots.  I suspect he's talking about Goldman Sachs, Halliburton, and Koch Industries replacing our democracy with plutocracy.  Then again it could be one of his weekend rants.  Pilot has been against Barrack Obama; even before he got the nomination.

A couple of posters commended John Lara for his viewpoints but as usual, waywardwind didn't stop there, because he wanted no part of the word racist...  It was laughable for him to emphasize that he was not republican and his views were moderate, but the trouble with this country is Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the liberal progressives.  He prides himself as being a constitutionalists, but he didn't say much when President George W. Bush circumvented the constitution and bragged about it.  He seems to think that the “mandatory clause" of the health care law is unconstitutional.  First, that part won't be enforced until 2014 and then the wording could change to make it a tax.  A couple of lower courts have already thrown out cases ,where plaintiffs have tried to call the health care law unconstitutional.  Writein continues to pour on the heat, trying to make him confess that he doesn't like Obama because the president is black...  I do know that waywardwind has not liked Obama since the get go, because of his middle name, Hussein.  I remember another poster (who has since left) had many fiery debates with him on this subject.  I do know that he hates Muslims. His past comments have led me to believe that.

As I suspected the GOP would prevent the democrats from passing any tax cut legislation, so it's now between the White House and the GOP leaders come up with a bipartisan plan.  The plan will probably include a two year extension of the Bush tax cuts in its entirety and an extension of unemployment benefits.  The GOP will call it a victory, the White House will make its usual excuse; "that was all they could muster." They played their hand months ago when they said they would be willing to negotiate.  You cannot negotiate with the party of NO. They seem to forget that the president still has that veto pen.