Friday, December 31, 2010

The Apple Dumpling Gang Strikes Again...(Part V)


I'm not surprised that the Apple Dumpling Gang (and their InterLeft fellow travellers) are gung-ho about having the EPA take over Texas refining industry, what surprises me the most is their main argument: It's good for Texas.

Unless, that is, you're one of the approximately 30% of Houstonians (and the real number is probably higher) who earn a living off of the petro-chemical industry. THEN it's not so good for you. So the main argument seems to be that a lot of you will be homeless, but at least the air you breathe will be .05% lower in carbon dioxide.

Yup, that's worth killing the economy.

The funny thing is that those who claim to be "for the little guy" only look at the success of the big guys when they gauge an impact on an industry. Stock goes up? Well, everything must be just fine. Executives are raking in bonuses? Yup, all's well. What these residents of A Place Called Perfect ignore is that those stock price increases and bonuses are built on cost reduction in a profit-unfriendly environment. The single, biggest cost for most companies is labor. Industry giants look to other countries, smaller players lay-off and the unemployment rate hangs stubbornly around 9-10%. All to try and "fix" a problem that is most probably 99.98% natural occurrence.

Is the Earth's climate changing? You bet it is. Just as it has for Millennia, and will continue to do so even IF humanity were to shut down all traces of industrial activity tomorrow.

The best thing to do is try and live a clean life. Give a hoot, don't pollute, go out and buy some reusable grocery bags, conserve energy, join a local clean-up effort. And while industry progress on some clean-up efforts are (admittedly) slow, realize that forcing them to take drastic steps is just going to put a lot of people out on the street, with no immediate prospects for employment. (The so-called "green" economy being a jobs non-starter.)

Pollution sucks, we get that. But the answer to our pollution concerns is not going to be letting an activist EPA come in and start dismantling our economy so that Al Gore's green investment firm can realize another half-percent return on their principal. He's done a good job convincing a sizable minority that it is however. That this same minority's favorite political party is all but dead in Texas (for now) should tell you something.

New Year's Resolution: Live clean, don't buy the "green" hype. In other words: Be a Conservationist not an Ecomentalist. Your life, and the economy, will be better off for it.

Oh, and stop paying attention to The Apple Dumpling Gang. That's the first step to ridding Houston of intellectual pollutants.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Apple Dumpling Gang Strikes Again.....(Part IV)

Matt Bramanti tells you why (In the comments to this editorial which tries, unsuccessfully, to tell you why Houston, despite providing people with a decent living, really sucks's not just like other places.)

Back to Bramanti's comment:
This editorial is just a rehash of a two-week-old blog post from the Houston Press. It even uses the same statistical examples (Houston-Boston on education, Houston-LA on life expectancy.)

If you think Houston's numbers look bad, just be thankful the study didn't include editorial-board quality in its methodology.
So it comes to this....The editorial board for what used to be the newspaper of record in the 4th largest city in America (and currently America's worst big-city daily) has resorted to cribbing off of the (now mostly amateur) content of the free alt-weekly.

And that doesn't even speak to the ridiculousness of the survey itself. When hard numbers aren't in your favor the preferred method is to start to make up metrics. Metrics that are hard to define, hard to quantify, and therefore difficult to argue against.

Yes, Houston (like any big city) has problems. It also does a LOT of things right. Unfortunately local news media and newspaper editorials aren't two of them.

The Noise Machine (12/30/10)

Humming for the last time this year.....

Your EWWWWW moment for the end of year. Can you imagine the outrage if an O&G plant did this?

The Feds want their money. If you want something done right I guess.....

Guess who's back? Still wanting to spend more of your money believe it or not.... (Which goes back to my points made on education in an earlier post. I think we can all agree that education is a priority. Where the disagreement typically lies is in whether or not our institutions are currently giving us the best bang for the buck. White's missive does little to address this, instead borrowing Mrs. White's catapult to hurl large amounts of money at the problem.)

State Republicans behaving badly. Maybe I'm wrong, but my thought was people in Texas elected Republicans to large majorities in large part because they wanted a small, unintrusive, effective government. Instead we get infighting. (Surprised?)

And finally......

Some (clean) coal in your stocking? Sure hope so.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Things we hope not to see in 2011....

That we unfortunately saw too much of in 2010......

Proclamations that "New" Metro/BARC/HUD are "fixed": No they're not, they just have new leadership. The truth is all of these organizations are bureaucracies that are inflexible by nature. There was a commenter over on BlogHouston that likened Metro to a huge ship that's hard to turn. That's true for all dysfunctional organizations. It takes a long time to change an unwieldy organization. Attrition and a total culture change have to take place, and that's not done overnight.

That Mayor Parker is "promoting the gay agenda" when she makes an appointment: The simple fact is all politicians appoint their friends and colleagues to positions of power when they have the chance. Annise Parker has many prominent friends in the GLBT community. It only makes sense that many of her appointments would come from there. On another note: We're tired of partisans claiming one side accusing politicians of cronyism while ignoring the fact that all politicians partake in this practice. They all appoint their friends, that's the power of the executive.

Bad journalism: As an example. These political agencies spend enough on PR. They don't need help from ostensibly (but not really) neutral news organizations whose number one concern should be the well-being of the citizenry. Since we can pretty much rule out anything of substance from ChronBlog, We guess we're hoping for alternative news outlets to continue to shine.

A repeal of the Texas Senate Blocker Bill: One of the most conservative provisions in Texas law is the 2/3 requirement in the Texas Senate. The purpose of this bill is to keep most legislation from passing. What's left out of the discussion is the simple fact that most legislation shouldn't be passed into law. If you take the time to read the bills that are in the hopper for the 82nd you'd pray that the blocker bill stays in place as well. Related: That Texas Senate Democrats show a spine.

More news-ish organizations: The one's already in place (Texas Independent, Texas Observer and the Texas Tribune) have all failed at their #1 goal: framing the news in a manner that gets more Democrats elected. It's time for them to go. (Well...the Trib can stay around (how else are we going to follow eye-wear trends?) but he's hoping their future work is more along the lines of their in-session Lege reporting and less like their poorly edited issues reporting.)

A smooth redistricting: Messy redistricting fights are to bad political blogs what celebrity divorces are to bad entertainment blogs. And the sour grapes are fun to watch as well. While I doubt anyone will carry on a grudge to the level of perennial candidate (and 2nd place to a corpse vote-getter) Chris Bell, I'm sure one of the Republicans who are sure to lose their seat will be good for a laugh right?

Gary Kubiak as the head coach of the Texans: That one's pretty easy right?

Happy New Year Y'all. Here's hoping it's a good one.

An error by omission...

Today's weak effort by The Apple Dumpling Gang....

(Call the spin doctor, TADG, ChronBlog)
We can think of at least one other agency in town that could use bad-news insurance. The Port of Houston has lately garnered unflattering reports for paying former executives outsized severance packages.

Notably missing from the Ed board pages of America's worst big City daily are the following.....

City of Houston Department of Public Works
Jerry Eversole
Annise Parker


Houston Metro.

All of these groups (people) have had way worse years than has the Port of Houston.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad and all that.

Here's hoping your holiday is filled with giving and joy and not pesky new reporters asking asinine questions:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We wish you a Merry Christmas....

...and a Happy Federal indictment.

In a move that was a surprise to no one. Heck, the Harris County Democratic Party even had theircanned response ready to go.

Two questions.

1. How the heck is Gary Binberg still the head of the HCDP? I mean, after all, Harris County Dems were talking about gains in the manner of Dallas-area Democrats just a few months ago.

2. I'm not sure what Democrats hope to gain by Eversole resigning. In his district, with Texas anti-Dem fever still alive and well in the State, there's precious little chance they could win this seat, even in a special. Far better to keep this in the public eye and then make a big run after A.)Eversole is forced to resign. or B.) the regular election comes up and the atmosphere is a little more favorable. Unless the idea isn't to win but just to poke the other guy in the eye that is.

Monday, December 20, 2010

It makes sense really.

(Harris County-Houston Sports Authority insured for bad publicity, Chris Moran. ChronBlog)
Insurance no longer just pays for damage. It pays for damage control.
If things go really wrong for the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority in the coming year, an insurer now will cover what the public agency spends on spin.
This new kind of insurance kicks in, according to a policy summary, when an event "has caused or is reasonably likely to result in adverse publicity."
Given the questionable financial state of the Harris County Sports Authority this could be an example of one of those weird public sector deals that makes sense.

Their debt service is increasing annually, their credit rating is falling faster than Congress' approval rating, and they just signed what seems, to some to be a sucker of a operating agreement with the Houston Dynamo......and we haven't even mentioned yet that they recently had to dip into their reserves.

If you really want a laugh, go read Moran's entire article to see some of the things the HCSA is now insured against.

What kind of sports shop are they running over there? " An authority employee is the victim of a violent crime at work"? Really?

The Noise Machine (12/20/10)

Forgive me, a head cold and the new job have thrown these off kilter for a bit.....trying to get back on the beam.

News-ish, Correction-ish? Or just hella correction?

The big losers in the last election? Hispanic Democrats. What was notable to me was the following quote:
“The most alarming thing about this election was, not only did Latinos not turn out to vote despite the fact that there were huge voter-registration campaigns going on,” says San Antonio Express-News columnist Jan Jarboe Russell, “but the gains were made in the Republican Party. We have to give [Hispanics] a reason to vote. We have to give them a public agenda to vote on.
Not that it's unusual for newspaper columnists in Texas to lean left, what is unusual is here them refer to the Democratic Party as "we".

Keep an eye on lawsuits & Texas have a long, sordid history.

I'd say that 2010 is the election that won't die but, quite honestly, this is typically how all elections eventually play out. (At least in today's over-litigious society.)

Peña for Congress? It makes sense. Especially when you consider the State GOP could draw him a fairly safe district without much trouble. (And gain another Hispanic Congressman in the meantime)

Go get that new oven NOW!

OK, so Metro cancels their non-compliant contract and throws $26 Million away while doing so. While partisan think tanks and ChronBlog focus on an unrelated $50 Million that was part of a compliant program which was going to get the money anyway. This is what happens when you don't look beyond the press release. (Which, should be expected from the partisan think-tank but not from America's worst big city daily.)

Sheriff Garcia is running for re-election. I expect he'll have a Tea Party challenger who will give him quite a run.

Meanwhile, Loren Jackson finds a job, leading to predictable reaction from the Left (YAY!!!) AND the Right (BOO!!!) As for HCA, we believe that Mr. Jackson is a good fit for the position, but feel that the hiring freeze should have been honored and not tossed aside for political insiders.

I'm not quite sure how this is going to go over. (Although I think the idea might have some merit)

And finally.....

"Small" Government Yeah....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Point. Counterpoint.

Less-than-a-corpse-vote getter Chris Bell on why people should invest in Texas Democrats.

Frequently right Texas conservative political blogger Evan on why Chris Bell's argument is 100% wrong.

Advantage Evan. There's a reason he's my favorite Texas political pundit. That some major media outlet hasn't offered him money for his analysis is one of the State's great political crimes.

Of Pensions and Balanced Budgets. (UPDATED)

***Updated with link***

In today's print only Chronicle (link here) there's a story about Houston's continuing problems with municipal pensions. The story, well written by ChronBlog reporter Bradley Olson, got me thinking.

Wasn't pension reform one of the planks of Bill White's "vote for me" platform?

Yes, it was. It also wasn't fixed as many critics of the White administration pointed out while being jeered down by White's blogger cabal. It's interesting that ChronBlog, one of White's biggest supporters, is choosing to report on this now, after White lost badly and their editorial choice for governor has been vanquished.

These are campaign claims that SHOULD have been given the journalism once-over in the same manner that Rick Perry's claims were. But they weren't. Which makes readers wonder: What, exactly, is Chronblog's reason for doing this now?

Metro is broken, the pension system is broken as is the City budget. These are problems that need serious discussion and serious solutions. "Cut at all costs" or "raise taxes (on people we don't like) at all costs" are not long-term answers to the problem. What Houston (and Texas) needs to do is take a long, hard look at how their spending money and then have a serious conversation about how to fund the core priorities that most agree are needed.

Education? Agreed, we do have to teach our children. But are we going about it in the most cost-efficient, effective way?

Public Safety? You bet. But are we using all of the tools available to us, and are we spending money where it's needed? (And yes, Republicans, that includes taking steps to reduce the prison & jail population)

Transportation? Yes, but are we building roads where they need to be? And, most importantly, are our mass transit plans designed to move people where they need to go?

The safety net? Republicans would say "no" but I'm of the thought that most Americans agree some form of safety net is needed. The question is, how much and how to pay for it.

The easy answer is to change the way we fund things in Texas (and Nationally) from the ground up, and to remove political influence from the taxation process. The reality is that this not going to be easy because special interests die hard. If Texas wants to succeed going forward however they're going to have to do some serious navel-gazing in order find answers that will work for the Tea Party crowd, as well as Texas conservative majority.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Damage Control

Very interesting reporting by Mike McGuff yesterday regarding Mark Greenblatt's FOIA request that confirmed a local political agency was leaking his stories to a friendlier news outlet to mitigate the damage.

Though neither Greenblatt or McGuff named names, it shouldn't be too hard to see which local news outlet spent significant time in their reporting questioning Greenblatt's credibility. I'm SHOCKED!! to find out that certain local news outlets are carrying the water for local agencies, SHOCKED!! I tell you.

Next thing you know we'll find out that TV news stations run racy stories during sweeps week.

Glad to see Houston has solved it's budget woes.

...How else can one explain hiring graffiti artists to paint a mural in a downtown parking garage? Not that I have a problem with graffiti artists (provided, of course, that they don't graffiti my house or property) but it sure seems odd that the City would go out of it's way to spend money on something like this while simultaneously raising fees in order to meet the budget crunch.

While $30K is not material to the City budget as a whole, it's indicative of spending cuts that the City should be making, but aren't. And it makes the Apple Dumpling Gang's contention that the fee hikes are inevitable in the current economy sound even more daft.

It's high time our local elected officials (on the City and County level) take a straight-razor to the budget and cut off the excess fat before deciding that pet owners and ambulance drivers should cover the cost of art installations in parking lots for libraries whose hours are being cut due to cost constraints.

Here's an idea: Don't lay-off the librarians, and lose the mural.

Just a thought.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sell your dog, become a lobbyist.

After all, according to the City's new (revised) fee structure it's more expensive to own Fido than it is to ask the City to spend Millions of dollars of taxpayer money on pet projects.

Or, you could be mad about the adult service industry having to charge more. Or ambulance services, car repairmen, restaurants etc.

At least the Parker administration seems to understand where their priorities lie. How about those spending cuts we were promised?

Garnet Coleman refuses to join Tea Party Caucus.

Color me shocked*.

As a matter of fact, NONE of the State Democrats signed up to join State Sen. Dan Patrick's capitol hot-tub party. They all did however express "concern" about something called "ideological ideas" from the far-right. Far preferable, I'm guessing, would be "ideological ideas" from the far left? Or maybe they'd be willing to work to dissolve the various "progressive" caucuses that one finds from time to time.

After all, the last election revealed progressives to be further out of the American mainstream than the Tea Party crowd right?

*That's sarcasm, I'm not really shocked

Different but similar.

Remember C.L.O.U.T.?

How about the Independent Conservative Republicans of Texas?

Yes? No?

Well, don't worry, they're all just past vehicles for forwarding the political name of one Texas State Senator Dan Patrick. Some would say they were all created to increase his "clout" at the State level, thus allowing a run for the Federal Senate.

In case you missed those two short-lived (and pretty much ineffectual) organizations fear not, Patrick is back today with his latest bit of political theater, the Tea Party Caucus. Or, should we say, the "I'm for what Dan Patrick is for so ergo I'm a really" Texas House Caucus.

Because that's what this is really, Dan Patrick issuing press releases and trying to get his name out there in preparation for his run at Kay Bailey Hutchison's Senate seat. He's smart enough of a politician to understand that he's going to need the Tea Party behind him to win, and he's savvy enough a politician to realize that all people are going to remember is the press release.

It doesn't matter if the Tea Party caucus actually succeeds or no. That's not the goal.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You're kidding me

The Apple Dumpling Gang (otherwise known as the Chron Editorial Board), a group of people acting as the mouthpiece for the former newspaper of record in Houston, the newspaper that failed to report on years of Metro malfeasance, who's role as a watchdog on local government has gone the way of the dodo, whose seriously understaffed metro desk hasn't broken a meaningful story in some time, is seriously hen-pecking the TCEQ for their deficiencies?

Shutter the Ed board, redeploy the resources to the Metro desk and do some real reporting.

Otherwise just go back to creating International treaties and overusing exclamation points.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The best political news in Texas is on the blogs.

It's certainly not coming from Paul Burka, whose posting and pulling blog posts makes it difficult, at times, to see what he's saying. At least he admits to pulling the post and supplies an explanation for it, that's better than some at ChronBlog. (Hint: Rhymes with Jichard Rustice)

He's back at it again suggesting that Beaumont area Democratic Representative Allan Ritter is going to change parties.

Meanwhile, Evan, from Rick Perry vs. World, offers up some real analysis telling you why Peña won't switch. (Not if he wants to get re-elected anyway.)

Meanwhile, The Hearst Austin bureau snoozes. Hey, at least Austin's alternative weekly had something to offer. It's not very good, but it's something right?

Other places to watch are Peña's Blog and independent blogs such as On the South Steps, who hasn't written anything about it yet but probably will. Also worth following is the news-ish site Texas Tribune, the part of their budget that doesn't go toward hip eye wear for staffers goes to writing liberal interest pieces and (most importantly) doing a good job covering the goings-on in the State Capitol.

On the plus side these sources rarely pull posts.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Farouk is on FIRE!!!!

Recently named to Rick Perry and David Dewhurst's 2011 Inaugural Committee.

We can only hope he's in charge of entertainment.

Just not this guy.

New is Old (Metro that is)

The thing about contracts, they don't go away just because new management is in place. So writes award winning Houston Community Newspaper scribe Mike Reed....

(New Metro paid $21 million to CAF after federal admonishment, Mike Reed, Houston Community Newspapers)
The new Metro — caught in something of a contractual Catch-22 — paid more than $21 million to contractor CAF, even after the federal government announced the agreement was under investigation.
Metro summary-of-payment records show that on May 21 and July 16 checks totaling $8.84 million and $12.6 million, respectively, were sent to the light-rail vehicle vendor, even as a probe into Buy America violations and the use of a flawed procurement process were under way.
George Smalley, Metro vice president of communications, said the transit agency had little recourse because the investigation, in and of itself, did not void the contract.

Go read the entire article, it speaks a lot about the foolishness of the prior administrations contract writing, their blind determination to build the thing no matter what, and the troubles that "new" Metro is having shedding the skin of "old" Metro.

Congrats as well to Mr. Reed, who's providing Houstonians with the Metro coverage they've long been denied by ChronBlog.

Also reported on by Reed (and missing from ChronBlog) is the sudden, unannounced, departure of Wilson-era CFO Louise Richman. (As well as their raising of their debt limit, and talk of issuing $440MM more municipal bonds. Wow.)

Mayor Parker to issue mandatory furloughs

with the threat of lay-offs still hanging around in the background.

One thing about it, in the private sector, the concept of a furlough instead of an outright layoff and reorganization is foreign. I realize that City employees are going to be mad about losing a day's pay, but it sure beats the alternative. An alternative that should not be the last option on the table. Nobody wants to see anyone lose their job (with a wife that's currently only partially employed due to a lay-off I'm sympathetic) but it's been a while since government at any level went through a fat-cutting process as far as payroll is concerned.

There's a fair question circling around the InterLeft, "What level of Government Services are we willing to tolerate?" The idea being that the starve the beast tactics of Republicans is doomed to fail because people really do want the safety net. I don't disagree. I believe people do want the safety net and should be able to have it available at a reasonable cost. Part of maintaining a reasonable cost structure involves constant workforce analysis.

During a down time the City, County and all layers of Government should take a long, hard look at staffing levels and efficiencies to see where improvements and savings (yes, head count reduction) can be found. I'm sure every department head and every worker will tell you that they are over-worked and can't get by with less. In almost every case I've found this to be nothing remotely like the truth. There are always inefficiencies and redundancies to be found.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Root Cause Analysis

There are a lot of theories why Democrats did poorly in Texas during the recently completed 2010 election. Starting with a voter backlash to the Obama administration, continuing to low voter turnout amongst minority groups and ending with that old election stand by, the enthusiasm gap, every idea has merit, and is probably a contributing factor to the carnage.

However, at the base of it all, might I offer up a different theory: In today's most recent post-mortem focused on the historic losses experienced by the so-called "Yellow Dog" Democrats ChronBlog reporter R.G. Ratcliffe reported the following quote from losing Democratic incumbent candidate for Angelina County Justice of the Peace R.G. Bowers:
"They were so anti-Obama that they just pushed one button. I said they couldn't spell R.G., so they just spelled R," Bowers said.
It's hard to have people vote for you when you (and your State Party) are continually insulting their intelligence.

"You're all a bunch of dumb, stupid, mouth-breathing, inbred, illiterate rednecks....but vote for us" doesn't typically make for a good campaign strategy. Add to this a State party platform that's out of step with a majority of voters and you have a recipe for electoral disaster.

After the '08 election, when it seemed Democrats were on the verge of transforming back into a viable political party in Texas, I praised them for their move toward ideological purity within their ranks. To a large extent Republicans in Texas have mimicked that strategy to a victory in 2010. The Democrats problem is that, by and large, they have abandoned their working class roots in favor of a North East ruling class, condescending progressivism. Their current ideology is more of a mangled statism, far removed from the lean roots of liberalism that just wanted to ensure the little guy got a fair shake. All today's Texas Democrats seem to want is to take advantage of the little guy for votes, all while taxing the heck out of their employers and funnelling State money to trinket projects within urban cores. (Now with MORE world-classiness!!!)

Is it any wonder the rural areas have soundly rejected them?

Monday, December 6, 2010

In one line....

...possibly the greatest indictment of the State's political media.

(Already lean Texas faces a bitter diet, Rick Casey, ChronBlog)
I don't mean to complain, but there is precious little evidence of massive waste in Austin.

For once, Casey is correct. The problem is that while identifying the symptom (no evidence) he's failed to identify the cause. You see, there is evidence of waste and bloated spending in Austin. It's just not being reported on with much vigor by the State's lazy, ineffectual political media.

Take a look at the landscape:

Paul Burka, Texas Monthly: Here's a guy who epitomizes the fallacy that longevity equals expertise. He's been a round for a long time, and consistently gets his analysis wrong, adds nothing of note to the discussion and runs under the (false) assumption that the single-party Republican Texas is playing by the same rules as the single-party Democratic Texas was. Add to that the fact that he doesn't have the strength of will to be an investigator.......

Wayne Slater, Dallas Morning News: Now mostly known for his unhealthy Karl Rove obsession which has led to the creation of the Slater/Rove drinking game. Once the Bush administration jumped to Austin Slater (much like Burka) lost their contacts. Also like Burka, Slater's more a political commentator who's been around for a while and doesn't have the will to be a watchdog investigator.

ChronBlog/Hearst: To be honest, the Houston Chronicle is not a major player on the State level. They have a couple of reporters whose job it is to attend press conferences and report the news (and R.G. Ratcliffe does a decent job at that) but they lack a significant lead presence. (Sorry Ms. Fikac) In actuality, their content is derived from the Hearst "Pool" so nothing they really report from Austin is original anyway.

Harvey Kronenberg: His Quorum Report is useful, but Harvey is a beat reporter not an investigator. He doesn't have the time, or funding, to embark on big, expansive investigations. He's best covering elections and lege sessions. To be fair: He's very good at what it is he does.

Ross Ramsey, Texas Tribune: Ramsey's been around for a while, and he's got a stable of young, energetic reporters seemingly ready to go. Unfortunately, when put to the test their results have been somewhat formulaic and superficial. With all of that trendy eye-wear better is expected.

Texas Watchdog: Their mission is to expose waste, corruption and abuse in Government and they've done a fine job. Often producing reports that traditional begrudgingly must approve, TW is leading the pack. Unfortunately, they're still a web-only news outlet in a media market that's still trying to decide what it's going to be.

The Interleft: Blogs as news has always been somewhat laughable to me because of two things: 1. Most political bloggers don't have the training or resources to produce investigative reporting on a meaningful level. 2. It's party-blogging, which typically results in the production of pieces that are either attack pieces, or carefully regurgitated press releases from candidates of the chosen party.

Bloggers O' the Right: I don't lump them in with the InterLeft because, as bad as the InterLeft is, their Republican equivalent is worse. If anything, Republican party-bloggers are MIA from the State scene, choosing instead to focus on soft targets, such as Pelosi, Reid and Obama, instead of dabbling in the minutia of State and Local government.

I'm not suggesting that every State agency is a bloated, fetid cess-pool of excess where grapes are peeled while the commoners suffer etc. Far from it. I'm sure, given budgetary restrictions, that many Government organizations are running on shoe-string budgets and making ends meet with creativity. What I don't believe is that 100% of Texas Government is running fat-free 100% of the time. Scant evidence produced by a disinterested media is hardly proof of case. Nor am I suggesting that the names listed above are responsible for the mess we've gotten ourselves into. The fault with media in Texas goes way beyond the heads of each outlets Austin bureaus.

The Noise Machine (12/6/10)

Well it feels like Christmas anyway.....

Sucking up all of the oxygen will be District Judge Kevin Fine's hearing on the Death Penalty. It probably shouldn't however because Fine's inevitable ruling against the Constitutionality of such will certainly be reversed on appeal. (Judicial theater anyone?)

Parks are good. Privately funded parks that are better. (Privately funded parks with disabled access are even better still.)

I would imagine that there are better ways to cut the budget. Given the limited vision of the County Commissioners however I'm not sure there's much chance they get enacted.

If Texas Democrats are looking for a go-to guy, State Rep. Aaron Peña would be a good one to look at. His money quote:
“These are examples of what has happened, so people have become increasingly polarized. When there is no Center in the Democratic Party or when there is a diminishing Center… we have lost the business vote, we are losing the rural Hispanic vote and we have lost much of the Anglo vote. Those people are not, necessarily, hard conservatives. But, increasingly, they have lost identity with the Democratic Party.”
Thank you to the Rio Grande Guardian for the interview. Go read the entire thing.

"Perry taking his rebellion national" really sounds like a sour-grapes headline. I wouldn't call it a rebellion, more of a revival of a political thought suddenly back in favor. (What's old is new again. Funny how that works.) Houston deserves a better paper than ChronBlog.

Here's a line you don't see very often in newspapers today: Perry does the right thing. (Which he does more often than his detractors (of which I'm one) like to admit.)

Why Hutchison is considering a run in 2012 is beyond me. Her brand was irreparably damaged when Perry cast her as a Washington insider. (If only she's have bowed out four to six years ago. Hard to quit while you're on top of the dung heap however.)

How to say absolutely nothing in 800 words or less. Casey can't even write a good Municipal column, why are we expected to take him seriously on State matters?

You know things are bad in the budget when even ideas meant to be humorous are potential options.

And finally....

Remember, back during the salad days of the Abe Savaadra HISD regime, when the anti-merit pay forces were labelling the proposed HISD merit-based bonus program as ineffectual and worthless? Yeah, well....not so much. They're not a silver bullet, nothing is, but they're also not the total waste of time and money that Gayle Fallon (and others) proclaimed them to be.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

In November....

Did Texas move further to the Right? Or were Republican voters just more motivated?

My opinion is it's just a little of both. Not only were Republicans more motivated to come out to the polls, but the political middle in Texas sided with their anti-National Democratic argument. Ironically, the best thing for State Republicans could be the Obama administration.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Some Good, Some bad.

First, the bad......

I give you what could possibly be the worst piece of political commentary to ever see print.

Not only does Thomas Friedman project, but he projects without regard to the Chinese worldview or any sense of reality. (Hint: Do you REALLY think the Chinese would make fun of Americans for their 'immobile population'?) This column should be a fireable offense.

It has often occurred to me that the cure for intolerance could be the death of the tolerance movement. (Which is, by design, intolerant.)

Ditto for the environment and the "Global Warming" movement. The way to save the climate could be to remove most of the people that claim to be trying to save it. (Provided, of course, that "saving" the planet involves large sums of money and huge chunks of National power being transferred to them. -and a lot of money going to Al Gore and his investors-)

Now, the Good.....

Meet the Sugar Land Skeeters No better a name for the region could they find. Of course, urban Houstonians (many of whom will probably never attend a game) are already deriding the name. (One supposes they would have preferred the "Lizard Kings"?)

Think of it as a National Do Not Call list, but for the Internet.

How do you know something is a good idea? When advocates on both sides are "disappointed". My initial reaction is 'bring it on', as the idea of usage based pricing for the Internet makes perfect sense. One of the worst things about I-net pricing is getting a lot of speed but coming nowhere near the usage limits. It's the same for cell phones, whose minutes-based service plans I've never liked either.

Not all of our espionage apparatus is broken. Some of it is working quite well.

The Noise Machine (12/01/10)

Ah December.....

My favorite part of this story on the projected rise of diabetes in Texas is the big government response of purportedly 'small-government' Republicans:
"The numbers are shocking," Nelson said after the Texas Health Institute report was released. "I want my colleagues and the public to see what will happen if we don't change behavior, if we don't do something now."
Something!!! Must be DONE!!!

And when they're not calling for big government solutions they're having issues with ethical issues it seems. The more things change....

The red light camera issue, seemingly resolved by voter decision, could emerge as one of the more entertaining (and politically damaging) fights of 2011.

Imagine if these were ads for a Church. Then ask yourself, is faith that there's no God any different (other than the obvious) than faith that there's a God?

These reforms are great, provided they are coupled with a lower overall rate. How much you wanna bet that won't happen?

Rick Casey goes back to San Antonio. Can we work out a trade so they can keep him? (Houston deserving better than a lazy, disinterested columnist)

I expect this will go over like a lead balloon. Our universities don't want to compete. They feel entitled to more money after all. No matter how poorly they handle it. (Not that we'd know, if they had their druthers.)

Are straight-ticket voters lazy? Or is it just that the two parties are so ideologically opposed? (There are good arguments either way, but voting blindly straight-party often means casting a vote for a bad candidate.)

ERCOT and nodes. This is a big story with far-reaching ramifications. As such, it's been almost totally ignored by the biggest political blog in the energy capital of the United States.

And finally.....

Two red flags in this story. First, you have a news-ish agency breathlessly promoting a progressive budge plan. Then you have a politician using the word "Honesty" in a proposal. Combined these two items 100% guarantee that the plan will not be.

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