I suppose if I had just discovered that everything I had ever believed in with regard to the "free market" had collapsed and proven itself wrong over the last week, I might want to be a little quiet too.
As of today, right now, a week after massive bailouts of private financial institutions, our Congressman, Michael Burgess (R-TX 26) has said JACK SQUAT about any of it. What $700 Billion bailout? What largest deficit in history? What largest privatization ever? Michael? Is anyone home?
Nope, instead, the last thing he posted is some bullshit that attempts to make light of the tragic shortages of fuel in the gulf coast regions hard hit by Ike, as some sort of a confused point to prove that unfettered and government-subsidized drilling would help those people:
"Right now in places like Galveston and Houston, gas lines and shortages are leaving Texans high and dry. While people there are hurting, here in Washington the Democrat-controlled Congress is doing nothing about it. Instead, they’re playing partisan games with our energy supply and policy."
Nice of you to make these folks into political pawns, Mike. I'm sure if you had only gotten the corporate welfare that your big-oil sponsors told you to ask for, there would be no gas shortages down there? Putz.
Michael Burgess is just chronically out of touch with the economy. Will he show some fiscal conservatism with regard to this $700 billion bailout, or will he put the Republican Party before the interests of the American taxpayer, and insist on a blank check?
P.S.: Michael, I know you right-wing nimrods think it's cool to pervert grammar in order to emulate your semi-literate hero, George Bush, but it really makes you look stupid when you use "Democrat" as an adjective. The correct usage is "Democratic Majority"
When I ran for US Congress during the 2006 mid-term election our campaign received contributions totaling $5,246. My opponent Michael Burgess received individual contributions during the same election cycle totaling $259,742.
Here is the point; our candidates need our money to win!
If every person who voted for me had contributed just $5 to my campaign we would have had over $291,000 to spend.
Folks, that buys a good amount of radio ads and signs.
Give our candidates an even financial playing field and they will deliver victory!
Ah... 'tis Sunday night and I am just "wore out". Seems like there has just been too much to process in the past week, right?
I mean, our nation's banking system on the verge of a collapse based on irrational fear after years of irrational exuberance. Of course, just because it's irrational doesn't mean it's not serious. And given the amount of dire predictions from the media and everyone else, we now have the Republican "free market" ideologues, making one last attempt at redistributing your wealth before they leave office. I hope everyone will be mindful that the largest part of this mess is brought on by people like John McCain who naively trust the markets to regulate themselves as if they were guided by the invisible hand of God himself. McCain trusted these Wall Street titans so much that he wanted to invest your Social Security dollars with them. Can we finally now admit that sometimes government is the answer?
Jennifer and I and many of our neighbors spent some time block-walking this past week. Of course, it wasn't for political candidates this time, and I sort of feel like a slacker for that. I know there are candidates I need to be helping. But this oil and gas drilling situation here in the neighborhood is more immediately important. This past week, I threw together the CPANA website for the neighborhood, and spent more time organizing, researching, and so forth.
Donkeyfest 2008 was last night in Denton, and I missed it, unfortunately. Our neighborhood had a meeting about the drilling, and I needed to present. My portion of the talk deals with the consequences of drilling, and makes the point to our neighbors that the signing bonus and royalties we might receive are anything but free money. Mamask8z has just about made up her mind to oppose drilling in the neighborhood. I'm still trying to figure out whether it's more useful for me to work at the economic issues and contractual environmental concessions. The pragmatic side of me says that most of my neighbors will probably prefer the money to the principled stand of protecting our local trees, streams, soil, and air. This side of me says the only hope is to work at education, and try to be involved in the team that works out the contract.
What surprises me a bit is just how many folks I'm meeting either in my blockwalking or in these meetings that pretty much line up with what Mamask8z thinks about simply opposing the drilling. I know it's far from scientific, but check out the poll: Poll Results At the moment, the "hell no" option has the most votes. Even my fellow blogger from Lewisville who covers things from a right-wing perspective, John Gorena, is leaning against allowing it at all.
Whether we end up doing some sort of huge compromise at safe drilling, or we completely put the brakes on it, I know one thing at this point: We have to stay in a coalition to stop Cherokee Horn from getting the signatures they need. One thing I'll say right now, is that if they want to try to make an end-run around the citizens of the neighborhood and do this thing without our input, I will fight to stop them by any means necessary.
The Job There were a couple of times last week when I really felt like walking off the job. I spent a good amount of time struggling against some of the most ingrained institutional fear and "we've always done it that way" mentality. Change is a tough thing for many people, even though they may be suffering mightily from the consequences of inertia in the path they've chosen.
One of the things that aggravates me is that I was told this past week that I'm just frustrated that they do things differently than I'm used to. But you know, I'm used to being a consultant. I'm used to all sorts of different styles of management, technical architecture, and workflow. I'm usually pretty adaptable. But at just about every turn, I'm seeing paranoid management clutching information, and keeping team members in the dark. They don't like direct communication, but prefer instead to let managers be gatekeepers between the business and the programmers building functionality for them. I'm seeing workflow that has all the frustration and red-tape of the most regulated financial industry, but without any of the useful parts like documentation and quality assurance.
In a bid to be "agile", they prefer not to develop specifications for most things, but rather to just toss a paragraph or two to a developer, who must then throw it back over the wall multiple times for a daisy chain of questions to clarify requirements. This so-called "agile" environment has me taking about 10 times as long to accomplish a task as what I'm used to.
But a large part of the agility problem is based on a technical architecture that is both half-assed and overblown. Rather than creating a good framework that sits the heck out of the way and lets the programmer utilize it while doing what programmers do, the framework tries to be all things, and fails miserably. While I must admit being impressed with the overall product they've been able to deliver and market very well to an appreciative customer base, I have to think that it is by brute force.
So I was hired as a senior programmer, and brought in for what? Apparently not to bring in new ideas, or even ideas from this decade. Several times recently, I've had well-meaning coworkers try to tell me to just come in 9 to 5, do as much as I can using the crappy tools they provide, and try to leave it alone. Apparently, having a serious discussion among peers about how to work smarter and accomplish more threatens someone. And it's not that I'm coming in telling them "my way or the highway". I'm basically saying things like "I notice you guys don't do anything about X. It's been my experience that if you do Y, you can take care of X quite nicely. What do you folks think?"
Anyhow, it's been quite challenging to keep my sanity and what's left of my hair.
The gift What activism I've been involved in these few years I've been an activist has never been something I've done for profit, although there have been times when I wish I could do it for a living. Usually, I end up paying quite a bit for the privilege. I don't even want to admit how much I've spent. And please, lets not count the opportunity cost of all the overtime hours I could have earned.
So last Saturday at my precinct's weekly Coffee Chat at Bahama Bucks (Saturdays at 7:30pm) it was just a very cozy small group of us, and one of the other local activists showed up. I was happy to see her and asked her to have a seat. She said she couldn't, and that she just wanted to give me something. It was a card. I was puzzled. I'd been feeling like caca for weeks that I'd neglected various things due to higher priorities and my general lack of energy and time due to the new job. I thanked her as she explained it was from several folks. When she left, I opened it up to find generous gift cards for groceries and gas. I was just floored. I'm very humbled and honored. I guess I take it as some affirmation. I want to sincerely thank you. We used the grocery card tonight.
I hope that in the coming weeks I can get refocused on the goal. Next Saturday will be a good start. I'll be registering voters at the Western Day celebration in Lewisville.
Well, that's all I have the energy to write tonight.
P.S. I almost forgot! Folks down around the coast are still suffering the effects of hurricane Ike. If you can spare it, please click the banner below and join me in chipping in a few bucks to the American Red Cross.
(Note the amount of noise and banging around. This is hard, dangerous and fast-paced work. Can you hear the engines revving? This rig appears to have some sort of wall behind the roughnecks. Maybe that cuts down on some of the sound.)
Drill Bit Animation:
(Here's how a drill bit works. It's lubricated and cooled by mud pumped down the drill pipe.)
"Tripping" is where workers pull out 90 foot sections of pipe. They do this to change the drill bit when it wears out.
A small rig in action:
(Again, note the noise)
Once the well is drilled and perforated, they fracture the rock by pumping a mixture of water (note all the water trucks and tanks), sand, and solvents like toluene or benzene and other proprietary chemicals. The containment ponds shown are illegal in Lewisville by city ordinance, so more tanks would be necessary to hold the water. In Lewisville, it would be required to do this during the daytime.
Here are a bunch of diesel engines running the pumps during an active fracture. Note that some of these engines are not well tuned and are smoking heavily. Each well in the Barnett shale may need to be fractured multiple times. Each main bore may have up to 8 horizontal wells coming off of it, so you could in theory have some 24 fracturing operations per hole.
Animation of underground
Here's one where the fracture flowback is coming up.
Completed natural gas well:
(It's a little messy. I think they're wrapping it up)
(This is in New York in the Marcellus shale. Note the wide swath of forest that had to be cleared in a straight line.)
Here's a 36" pipeline being lowered.
Some neighborhoods in Fort Worth are getting some through front yards.
What could possibly go wrong?
Drill floor explosion (forgetting to turn off mud pump)
Truck full of drill pipe:
(This one was fatal)
Injection Well Pollution:
(Injection wells are illegal in Lewisville, so they'll either have to filter the produced water, or haul it by truck to another city)
Deadly Poisonous Gas:
(This was in Daisetta, TX. Their geology is different than ours. They sit on top of a salt dome.
The site may look familiar because it's run with the same software (albeit a newer version) than this site.
Here are some of the features: - News items - Customized notifications of changes - Comments - Document download center - FAQ center with the ability for users to submit their own questions - Links - Multiple administrators - RSS feeds
Please pass around the address and share it with everyone in the neighborhood.
This morning, I watched an interview on CNN with Joe Biden. The interviewer said something to the effect that Democrats want to redistribute wealth through tax policy. Biden missed a hell of an opportunity there to shut down one of the stupidest memes I've ever heard.
To say that Democrats want to redistribute the wealth from the wealthy to the poor is not just the biggest load of bullshit, but it's one of the few things I would label as a "dangerous" idea.
The fact is, that under Republican administrations, and the piss-poor job Republicans have done with governing, we have already had redistribution of wealth. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that we've had a re-institution of slavery via indentured servitude.
Through Republicans' corporate-sponsored tax legislation, you have folks who don't work for a living paying a much lower tax rate than you do. You have large corporations sucking on the government's no-bid contract teat for contract after contract. You have government bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists.
Still don't believe me?
Ask your electric company. You've redistributed your wealth to them, thanks to Republican deregulation.
Ask your mortgage company. Thanks to Republican regulators asleep at the wheel, they raked it in with bait-and-switch and predatory lending tactics, lending on liar loans, and qualifying lenders on teaser rates. Thanks to Republican borrow-and-blow fiscal policy, rates went up, the housing market went down, and you and I just bought Fannie and Freddie back - completing the cycle of privatized profits and socialized risk.
Ask the petroleum companies. I don't even have to tell you that you've redistributed your wealth to them. You can thank Republican-instituted instability in the Middle East for that. You're about to redistribute even more of your wealth to them when your government lets them drill in our territory without paying full market lease rates and royalties. They want a subsidy from you and me, so they can keep selling oil into the world market at market rates. Drill, baby, drill - indeed.
Ask the foreign companies that your state is trying to sell all of your highways to. Every time you pay toll, you're redistributing your wealth to them.
Ask your cell phone company. Thanks to Republican lack of regulation, they provide shitty service at top rates. They rip you off, and you can't take them to court. You switch providers, and they'll hit you with an "early termination fee".
Ask big agribusiness. Now you get to pay them when you fill up at the pump. Your tax dollars pay them again through ethanol subsidies. Your wealth is transferred yet again when you pay twice what you did just a couple of years ago for your pesticide-laden, or hormone-pumped food.
Ask your employer, who by-and-large has not raised your pay enough to keep up with inflation.
Ask big pharma, to whom you have transferred more of your wealth in double-digit drug price inflation each year.
Ask the health insurers, if you're lucky enough to be able to dump $1200 a month of your income to them for family coverage. You've been transferring your wealth to them more and more.
Folks, I've said this before, and I'll say it again. If you earn less than $250,000 a year, you can't afford a down payment on that line of Republican bullshit. You can't afford to put that bullshit on layaway.
Redistribution of wealth is what the Republican party is all about. Redistribution of your wealth to those who already have wealth.
The first two steps to fixing any problem? 1. Realize there is a problem. John McCain has shown with his "fundamentals are strong" comment, that he is just out of touch. 2. Stop contributing to the problem. Elect Democrats to restore a fair and progressive tax code, and enact legislation that rewards the American worker who works hard and does the right thing.
When the economy and tax policy reward hard work and innovation, we will have less economic disparity.
The next time you hear somebody repeating that tired old Republican bullshit talking point about "redistribution of wealth", I hope you'll remind them just where that redistribution has gone.
I'll leave you with this chart of income distributions in the U.S. from 1979 to 2006:
- No food. There is only one grocery store open nearby (if you can get to it) and the lines stretches for blocks. My dad says it is so jam-packed that there are hundreds of people waiting to check out. And they are so full that they can only let someone in as someone else goes out- 2 people out, 2 people in (like they do in a nightclub if they are over capacity).
THEN AND ONLY THEN can you gather what little is left on the shelves. In Houston most homes have electric stovetops so the only way to cook is if you have a gas grill. Hotdogs and anything you can put on a grill are long gone. Bread is gone. All the staples are gone. They are grabbing anything they can and being creative about how to cook it. - They have a 6 pm curfew to try to deter looters. - Schools are closed all week and most likely next week too. My sister in law is a teacher and was told to call in this weekend to see if school will be open next week.
Again, this is highly unusual. I remember when I was a kid we had some bad hurricanes come and we were lucky to get one or two days off of school. We loved it as kids because you don't get snow days in Houston so those were our only chances of getting off of school. The schools are usually the first things up, so this is not a good sign! A couple weeks off of school? Let's face it- Houston is a mess!
Hello Everyone, We had some problems with Prince Bistro and are no longer meeting there. They were unwilling to post our DL sign because the manager said that "families may get the wrong idea". Our new location is La Sierra Mexican Grill 2221 Cross Timbers Rd Flower Mound, TX 75028 Phone: (214) 513-8718 Fax: (214) 513- 8728 They have happy hour all day on Thursday. $1.00 drafts and $1.00 off other drinks.
This is for our Lewisville folks as well as anyone who lives outside of the coastal areas of Texas where Ike will hit, but inside the path it will take after it passes over houston:
Remember to secure your property outside. We're looking at wind gusts up to 55 MPH Saturday. Things like patio furniture and trash cans can become projectiles and cause property damage in strong winds. Trash that may be in your trash cans behind your house can blow off and end up in our creeks, streams, and trees. It's much easier to secure it now than to clean it up next Spring.
So, before it gets too dark, go out and look around for things that could blow off and cause damage:
- Patio Furniture and umbrellas. Turn chairs upside down, remove cushions, bring umbrellas inside. - Trash Cans. - Bring them inside the garage, or put them behind a fence. If you have to leave them outside with trash, cover them up and put a bungee cord or a brick over them. - Lawn Ornaments - Flag poles - Toys - Bicycles - Plants - Newspapers or phonebooks that may be sitting on your porch - any other litter.
Hopefully we won't have much weather to deal with up here, but if we do, lets be prepared. Check your flashlight batteries, radios, etc. Make sure you have some drinking water. Make some ice.
If anyone has any other ideas for how to get prepared, please post them. The more the better...