Archive | March, 2011

Headline of the day so far

While this headline doesn’t pertain specifically to the Texas House of Representatives, it might as well.

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Top ten list of ignorant politicians

Not a surprise: Sarah Palin is on the list.

A disturbing surprise: Sarah Palin is number 4 on the list.

A huge surprise: nobody from Texas is on the list.

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Think your family is cursed with an odd last name?

Think again.

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Donald Trump has hell toupee

Donald Trump, slipping another notch down the ridicule slope, has recently become a birther, in his attempt to gain traction with the reality-challenged crowd, so Trump can run for President. Yes, of the country. Yes, of THIS country. Stop laughing, I haven’t even gotten to the joke part yet.

So The Donald has been making the media rounds, joining with other like-minded kooks by suddenly expressing doubt that The Only President We’ve Got was actually born in Hawaii.

Recently, in an attempt to prove how easy it is to obtain your own birth certificate, he proudly proclaimed that it had taken him no more than an hour to obtain his, and he produced it for a conservative website.

Thing it, it’s not real. It’s a commemorative birth certificate, not an official State of New York birth certificate. Not only that, it’s a commemorative birth certificate issued by a hospital to which Trump’s family has contributed heavily.

This “running for President” thing is a little tougher than  it looks, eh Donald?

To quote a certain reality show star, you’re fired.

Update: another candidate trashes Trump.

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Answer: Yes.

Question: should this company change its name?

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Weekly TPA blog round-up

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready for another sports-related tourist infusion as it brings you this week’s bloog roundup.

If the goal of the 81st Texas Legislature and Governor Rick Perry is to stifle job creation in Texas for the next two years, then Off the Kuff says they’re knocking it out of the park.

Letters From Texas rolls its collective eyes about the word games played by the Republicans in charge, as they announce their Senate subcommittee to find “non-tax revenue.” Earth to Republicans: if we used to own it, but now the government owns it, it’s a tax.

Musings looks ahead to 2021 when the Texas economy is in the ditch and many thousands of children have had a substandard education. Do we solve the problem now, or wait until we go to the ballot box in Nov. 2012?

WCNews at Eye On Williamson has this to say about the austerity budget that the House passed out of committee this week, House Appropriations passes budget – tea party blamed for cuts.

In the latest post regarding the poll he’s conducting on the mortgage interest tax deduction, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs explains why he has never owned a home.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme warns that republicans are near their goal of killing public education for k-12 and at the university level.

Neil at Texas Liberal apologized for ever having voted for Houston City Councilmember C.O. Bradford for any public office. Neil feels that voting for Mr. Bradford was one of the worst ballot box mistakes he has ever made.

refinish69 is ever amazed by the stupidity of the Texas Ledge. It is the gift that keeps on giving. Case in point is Rep. David Simpson’s Don’t Touch My Junk Bill.

This week, McBlogger takes a look at what austerity will do to Texas.

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Letters From Texas rolls its collective eyes about the word games Republicans in charge play, as they announce their Senate subcommittee to find “non-tax revenue.” Earth to Republicans: if we used to own it, but now the government owns it, it’s a tax.

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FUBAR-Cam update: graffiti

Neighborhood folks over in East Austin where I live are generally pretty good about erasing street graffiti whenever it appears. But they seem to be taking their own sweet time doing away with this gem, and who can blame them? What it lacks in artistic value, it more than makes up for in its smile-inducing sentiment.

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Bexar County blues

I have hesitated to write about this, because it’s just too nasty. It’s the San Antonio organization, so you know activists are all-too-happy to fight rough, and draw blood. Insults have been lobbed, law enforcement has been called in, and it would be difficult to imagine what could make the situation more tense.

But finally, at long last, there is a resolution.

What — you thought I was talking about Bexar County Democratic Chairman Dan Ramos’ trials and tribulations? Hell no, he’s a dumbass unworthy of discussion on these pages.

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Headline of the day so far

I have no idea who this Leonard Green dude is, but what he does on his own time is nobody’s business but his own.

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FUBAR-Cam update: bar procedures

I spotted this sign a few days ago, posted on the door of the walk-in cooler of an Austin bar.

There can only be one kind of mishap responsible for this new policy, so I certainly hope no bartenders were injured in the making of my beer. But feel free to embellish your own “based on a true story” mini-novel leading to the posting of this sign in the comments section.

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Your money now belongs to the state, but don’t worry – it’s not a tax

Somebody tell me what I’m missing.

Today, Lt. Governor Dewhurst will appoint a subcommittee led by Senator Robert Duncan to look at “non-tax revenue” sources to help balance the budget. I know you haven’t read this anywhere because the Republicans in charge are pretending it doesn’t exist, but we have this small matter of this teeny tiny microscopic $27,000,000,000.00 budget shortfall. But don’t worry, we’re not like California (we’re worse).

So, I wondered, what exactly is “non-tax revenue”? Presumably, under the definition I’ve been able to derive from listening to Republicans discuss it, is money or other assets the state has squirreled away in various places, currently out of reach of budget writers trying to make ends meet. Also, they say fees will also be a part of the discussion of this subcommittee. Presumably, they won’t be reducing any.

Don’t buy into the spin – they’re playing with words again.

With the exception of some admittedly-vast real estate holdings we inherited when we beat Mexico in a quaint little war that produced some dandy songs, several iconic old buildings, and at couple of bad movies, and the income and interest earned on that real estate and other interest income, unless I’m missing something, every dime the state of Texas now holds is money that once belonged to you, and now belongs to them. How is that “non-tax?”

If you used to own it, and Texas government made you hand it over, it’s a tax.

Just because you already handed it over, probably for some unrelated, and quite possibly very noble, purpose, and the state didn’t spend it for the purpose they promised you they would, doesn’t mean it’s not a tax. We call that a lie, and we don’t even accept behavior like that from our own children.

And the state has been lying to Texans for a very long time on all those “fees.” They call them “fees,” you see, to avoid using the word “tax,” but if you’re the guy being charged the fee, I bet it feels just like a tax to you, doesn’t it?

Here’s how they lie: they create a tax, and tell Texans that they’re collecting it for a specific purpose, which sounds hunky-dorey to the public, so they very quickly go back to sleep. The public pays this tax month after month, year after year, without even noticing, hidden in your phone bill or utility bill or paid by a business that passes it through to you. The state collects the money for years and years, spending little or nothing of it on what they promised you they would. The result are special funds held by the state worth hundreds of millions of dollars, which they use to certify the budget, so they can pretend to be fiscally responsible.

I’m sure it started out innocently enough, to get out of what budget writers believed at the time to be a short-term cash crunch. But like most drug use, it has gotten completely out of hand, until now, the little fibs have become huge lies.

Now they want to call it “non-tax revenue.” But what that really means is, they already collected the money from you, and have for years. It was a tax then, but now that they have the money, they’d rather pretend they just found it in the street somehow.

I actually believe that this “non-tax revenue subcommittee” move might be a step in the right direction for making ends meet in this immediate budget crisis. After all, teachers need to teach, doctors need to doc, potholes need to be filled, that sort of thing. It costs money to serve Texans, and they’ll have to get it from somewhere. Better to sweep it out of those useless special funds than to make public education a luxury or throw grandma out of the nursing home. Cuts alone won’t get ’em to $27,000,000,000.00.

But, like a drug problem, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. And until legislators admit they have a problem – that they’ve been misleading taxpayers for years, using financial shell games to cover up the structural deficit – they’ll only continue to play this problem forward.

This may be the very worst time for state budget writers to solve these huge problems, because the solutions cost money they don’t have. But it is the perfect time to absolutely insist that they lay out the plan for how the Republicans in charge will stop lying to taxpayers about their money. If legislators with conscience fail to insist on it now, they’re missing a huge opportunity to get Texas back on track financially.

How is that not the true conservative view? What am I missing?

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Shooting the moon in Marathon

We here at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters don’t often go into detail about our love for the Big Bend region of Texas, specifically a town named Marathon, although some might have noticed on the lefthand side bar the odd placement of the current weather in Big Bend, right under the odd placement of the current weather in Austin.

Then again, we here at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters wonder how many readers mistakenly believe that those headquarters are actually in Austin, and not Big Bend? Everthinkathat?

Also in the lefthand sidebar, right under the weather, is a link to the live Marathon webcam, which Danny, the esteemed proprietor over at the Marathon Motel, re-aimed the other day to keep an eye on a fire in the mountains, and has apparently forgotten to re-aim back to its more picturesque view, but oh well.

So, while this has absolutely nothing to do with politics, it does relate to current events, at least in the sense of #supermoon being a trending topic on Twitter yesterday. And, I guess once the Republicans in charge over at the state Capitol figure out a way to screw up the moon, it will become political, and they’ll get right on it – Perry will probably even declare it another one of his emergencies.

But until then, the moon, in its closest orbit to Earth in years and full last night, was gorgeous and unspoiled as seen from Big Bend last night at midnight, when I shot this photo:

When that photo turned out so nice, it inspired me, stupidly, to set my alarm to get up in time to photograph it again as it set over the mountains to the West. It was made more difficult because the sun was also rising at the time, but this is what I got:

So, next time there’s an astronomical event, think about heading out to Big Bend. There’s a reason they put that big expensive McDonald Observatory out there. You can actually see stuff.

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Headline of the day so far

We’re a little behind on this one.

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To our good friends and allies in Israel

We apologize in advance.

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