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Yes, I'm begging...

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/10/16 22:41:12 (980 reads)

Hey folks, times are tough, and don't I know it. But we have some candidates here that our readers chose to support, and we need to get them a few bucks for those last minute expenses before the election.

So, if you can, send a few bucks to these folks Ken Leach, Rick Noriega, and John McClelland - in that order. Since Ken Leach took the most votes, I'll throw an extra $50 his way. (Right after next payday...)

Ken Leach

Ken Leach is running for U.S. Representative in the 26th district of Texas, which covers most of Denton County, and parts of Cooke and Tarrant Counties. This district is currently misrepresented by Michael Burgess, who apparently thinks that our coin and currency should be changed to say "In Ayn Rand we Trust".

Burgess has consistently voted the exact opposite of what would benefit his largely middle-class district, consistently putting the interests of Big Oil, telecoms, Big Pharma, Big Insurance and in general the corporate aristocracy before the interest of his constituents. Burgess continues to maintain that President Bush is the greatest President ever. Most importantly, Burgess is a sponsor on a joint resolution of Congress that calls for an act of war on Iran.

Contribute to Ken Leach: $

Rick Noriega

Rick Noriega is running for U.S. Senate for the State of Texas. If elected, he would take the seat of incumbent junior Senator John Cornyn (a.k.a. "Big Bad John") When it comes to Republicans, Cornyn represents the far-right of the far-right wing. Genghis Khan thinks Cornyn is a "wing nut". Cornyn's votes have been consistently with whatever large corporation or industry is willing to fund his campaign, and consistently against the economic and social interests of Texans. He voted against the minimum wage increase. He voted against body armor for our troops in Iraq. Cornyn has consistently voted against benefits for our returning troops. Cornyn has called for legislated bigotry against gays. The list goes on and on...

While John Cornyn has been busy playing dress-up and trying to "talk the talk", Lt. Colonel Rick Noriega has walked the walk. An accomplished State Representative, Harvard graduate, and Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army National Guard, who served in Afghanistan, and as an incident commander in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. While Cornyn and the other chickenhawks sit in their echo chambers or go for their dog and pony shows to visit our troops, Noriega has had his boots on the ground and knows the real story.

Contribute to Rick Noriega: $


John McClelland

John McClelland is running for State Representative in the 64th House District of Texas, which comprises about half of Denton County. The seat is currently "occupied" by Republican Myra Crownover, who inherited the office after her husband Ronnie's death some years ago. Crownover is "in bed" with embattled House Speaker Tom Craddick's team. She lives to help pollute our state, whether with radioactive waste, or by giving oil companies carte blanche. McClelland is a hard-working local activist who makes his living in international logistics.

Contribute to John McClelland: $


WhosPlayin is proud to endorse all 3 of these men, and we ask our readers to take just a couple of minutes, get out your credit card, and show these patriots some love! Even if you can only give a few dollars, it's time to get some skin in the game.

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When you Don't Have Anything Good to Say...

The Nimrods Never Cease to Amaze Me
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/10/15 20:08:29 (2480 reads)

Shorter Dianne Edmondson: “Oh yeah? Well…uh… at least our candidate is not… uh.. I mean I hear that your guy is … uh, well, he bats for the other team.

Bless her poor old heart; it must be hard to be any sort of leader in the Republican Party these days. Denton County’s Republican Party chairwoman Dianne Edmondson wrote a letter that was published in today’s Denton Record Chronicle ostensibly to defend Republican incumbent State Representative Myra Crownover.

Crownover is being challenged for her seat by Democrat John McClelland, a local activist and personal friend of mine who has been actively engaged in Denton County politics for several years.

I find it interesting and somewhat enlightening as to the state of the GOP in Denton that Ms. Edmondson couldn’t point to one tangible thing Myra Crownover has done in her tenure. All that Edmondson could muster was “She’s approachable, she’s effective and she’s represented us well for eight years.“

This GOP gal was able to fire off two shots at John McClelland though, showing that she is both sadly misinformed, and not above seeking the homophobe bigot vote on behalf of her party.

First, she calls McClelland a “newcomer”, who “moved in just to run for this office.” Not only is it not true, but it’s a ludicrous thought: Lets see, I’ll buy this house and take out a 30 year mortgage just for the privilege of spending even more money I don’t have in hopes of winning an office that will interrupt my paid employment for half a year, while only paying $4,200 a year in salary. It’s true, John did buy a house in Denton County last year. He chose this area for the same reasons a lot of us choose to live here.

I was among those who twisted his arm after that move to consider running for State Representative.

Second, and more disturbingly, she resorts to pointing out John’s role as Chairman of the Denton County Stonewall Democrats: “Google it, folks, to see if the positions that this group advocates match up with your values.” For those who don’t know, Stonewall is a group of Democrats who work to increase the visibility of the Democratic Party to homosexuals who may not otherwise be politically aware. Though John doesn’t wear his gayness on his sleeve, he doesn’t hide his homosexuality, and he is not ashamed of it.

John has never aspired to be a “gay State Rep.”, but he does desire to serve you as a State Representative who happens to be gay. If you talk to John about the real issues affecting our district, you’ll hear about the need for serious focus on education and education funding. You’ll hear about jobs, economic development, and transportation, and protecting our air and water. You’ll hear about reining in a culture of pay-to-play and corruption in the legislature. You’ll hear about decreasing home insurance premiums for Texas homeowners and protecting homebuyers from unscrupulous builders. You’ll hear a lot of concern over Texas’ new income tax that Myra Crownover supported, and how it will affect small business owners. You’ll hear about how to make health care more affordable for Texans.

But of course, to talk about any of those things just reminds voters of how thoroughly the Republican “greed is good” and “Father Knows Best” ideology has been rejected by the reality of today’s economic disasters and educational system failures. And none of those topics particularly satisfies the salacious appetite of a bunch of repressed middle-aged narrow-minded Fox News watching bigots, who would much rather put all that “economy stuff” behind them and obsess over someone’s sexual orientation.

Bless her heart, poor Diane Edmondson. When the radical right-wing took over the Republican party and proved once and for all that it couldn’t govern, its candidates were little better than boorish ideologues, and its ideas were demonstrably wrong, she toed the line. And this just may be the year that voters say “Enough!” and Democrats take a few seats on her watch.



Help us support John McClelland!

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Clinton stumps for Noriega in North Texas

Local News, Notes and Events
Posted by Toni on 2008/10/15 19:30:00 (1025 reads)

The event was very well attended and garnered the Noriega campaign lots of coverage in the Star Telegram, the Dallas Morning News, the Denton Record Chronicle, and the Houston Chronicle.
Mom and I got lucky and had seats near the front next to Dallas County District Judge Larry Mitchell. We also had a chance to visit with State Representative Roberto Alonzo, State Representative Rafael Anchia, Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez, and County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

These are some of my favorite quotes from the evening:

Dallas County Democratic Party Chair, Darlene Ewing: "One punch and you're done. Vote a STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC TICKET."

President Clinton: "It won't be enough to get a new President. We need a whole new Congress. . . The supporting cast matters. . . . This [election] is about the survival of the United States . . . the survival of the American Dream." Clinton also added that he came to Texas at Hillary's request saying she told him she was so "mad at the DSCC" for not giving more help to Noriega.

Well, Bill, I'm mad, too. So, the next time you get an email from the DSCC asking for money for a Senate candidate in some other part of the country. Tell them: "no thank you, we have a great Senate Candidate right here in Texas." Then visit Noriega's website and make a contribution.

When Noriega took the stage--to thunderous applause--he reminded everyone of John Cornyn's terrible record (Texas ranks last in children's health insurance coverage; Cornyn actually said he wanted Texas to be a model for national healthcare reform!) and pledged to stand by "Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama" to sign a health care reform package.

Pictures from the event are posted at Dos Centavos

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Let’s Bring Some Sanity to the State Board of Education

The Editor's Column
Posted by Toni on 2008/10/14 12:50:00 (1092 reads)

Guest post by Toni Medellin

First, let me tell you who you should be voting for in the SBOE District 14 race: Edra Bogle. Dr. Bogle is a life-long educator and will bring the experience we need to the SBOE so that they can start making rational decisions again. Rational decisions like having our school curriculum and textbooks based on SCIENCE. Rational decisions like teaching Social Studies classes that teach about families in America—all kinds of families. And, rational decisions like defending the idea of public education; an idea which is currently under attack.



The State Board of Education needs new leaders, leaders who will address textbook standards and raise them so that the children of Texas will be able to compete in the global economy. The SBOE needs to improve their curriculum standards, Dr. Bogle is ready to serve. Most importantly, the SBOE needs members who will be good stewards of the Permanent School Fund and press our state legislature to more responsibly fund our public schools.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Bogle, as I am now living in Denton County. She is a tough cookie who will fight hard for your children. I could list all of Dr. Bogle’s qualifications, but that would make this a really long post. Instead, I invite you to visit her website, join her campaign, and while you’re there, make a donation.

Now, let’s turn to the incumbent, Gail Lowe. Ms. Lowe scares me to death—and the fact that she has anything to do with our children’s educations should scare you too. This is a woman who

-will turn down any book blaming global warming on the normal activities of everyday people.

-was quoted in Texas Monthly as saying “The National Academy of Sciences has still stated that [evolution] is not a fact, and we don’t believe evolution ought to be taught as a fact.”

-is opposed to any textbook which exposes children to alternative lifestyles.

Are you scared yet? I sure as hell am.

Listen, you can do something to prevent the State Board of Education from being run by a bunch of homophobic, anti-science, closed-minded people: Replace them with rational, responsible, and reasonable people—the Three R’s--in District 14, that person is Dr. Edra Bogle.

Early voting starts October 20th.

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2008 General Election

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/10/14 0:46:47 (10749 reads)

Folks, your freedom to vote was bought and paid for the by the sacrifices of generations of American heroes who have fought on the battlefields and in the courtrooms. Don't be the generation that fails to exercise these hard-won rights. Not in Denton County? Click here.

This Election for 2008 is Over. Do not use these polling locations


Update #2: No Drivers License Required We are getting reports that some polling locations in Texas are asking voters to provide a Texas Drivers License in order to vote. (and only enforcing it on minorities) THIS IS ILLEGAL. If you present your voter ID card, you will NOT be required to show your drivers license. If you are asked to provide a drivers license, please call your County Elections Office immediately, and be sure to get the name of anyone who told you that. Individuals spreading misinformation at the polls are subject to prosecution. Acceptable forms of ID and phone numbers are below.



Election-Day Polling Locations


On election day, you MUST vote in YOUR OWN PRECINCT. Your precinct is listed on your voter ID card. (See example to the right. Your card may be a different color, but that's ok.) If you don't know your precinct, you can look up your Denton County, Texas voter registration here. EACH LOCATION IS OPEN FROM 7:00 AM TO 7:00 PM. If you are in line by 7:00 PM, they must let you vote.

Prepare Yourself:
- You may have to stand in line for awhile. Wear comfortable shoes, and have something to eat or drink before you go.
- Parking may be scarce at some locations. Arrange for a carpool, or have a friend drop you off and pick you up.
- Bring a cell phone that is charged and ready. Just be sure to turn it off when you're in the polling place.
- Bring an acceptable form of identification such as a voter ID card, or a drivers license. (See below for specific requirements)
- Know your precinct, and show up at the right location.

List of Election Day Polling Locations for Denton County
(Table of polling locations removed to avoid confusion in future elections)

Paper, or Electronic?


Unless they run out of paper ballots, you should be able to choose either paper ballots or electronic voting. In the event of tampering or other problems, you may be more protected by casting a paper ballot, which can always be re-counted by hand if needed.

Denton County uses paper ballots that you mark with an ink pen by bubbling in a little square. When you're done, you slide them into a machine that counts them right then. There are no paper chads or flip cards.

Electronic voting uses the Hart Intercivic E-slates, which are some of the more reliable ones.


What Are We Voting On?


We will be voting on candidates for President, Senator, U.S. Rep, State Rep, State Senator, Various appeals court judges, State Supreme Court Judges, County Commissioner, District Judge, and Constable. There are also some Denton County Bond proposals for Roads and Facilities.
YOU ARE ALLOWED TO PRINT THIS PAGE AND TAKE IT WITH YOU INTO THE VOTING BOOTH IF YOU WANT. Sample ballots for your precinct are found here.

Here is the rundown, not necessarily in the same order as your ballot:

President / Vice President of the United States

The President and Vice President serve a 4 year term. The President heads the executive branch of government, and the Vice President casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate.
- Barack Obama and Joe Biden (D) (Endorsed)
- John McCain and Sarah Palin (R)
- Bob Barr and Wayne Root (Lib)

U.S. Senator

The U.S. Senate has 100 members, 2 from each state. They serve staggered 6 year terms.
- Rick Noriega (D) *
- John Cornyn (R)
- Yvonne Schick (L)

U.S. Representative

The U.S. House of Representatives has 435 voting members, 32 of whom are from Texas. They all serve 2 year terms.
District 26: (Most of Denton County)
- Ken Leach (D) (Endorsed)
- Michael Burgess (R) (Why not?

District 24: (Southeastern portions of Denton County such as Carrollton, The Colony, parts of Lewisville)
- Tom Love (D) *
- Kenny Marchant (R)


Railroad Commissioner

The Texas Railroad Commission is a misnomer. It regulates the oil and gas industry and pipelines. Its three commissioners serve 6 year staggered terms. Its job can be compared to the Environmental Protection Agency, applied to oil and gas production.
- Mark Thompson (D) *
- Michael Williams (R)
- David Floyd (Lib)

State Senator - District 9

Texas has 30 state senators who serve staggered 6 year terms
- Melvin Willms (D)
- Chris Harris (R)

State Representative

Texas has 150 state representatives, each of whom serves a 2 year term.
District 63:
- Jesus Carrillo (D) *
- Tan Parker (R)

District 64:
- John McClelland (D) *
- Myra Crownover (R)

Texas Supreme Court


Unlike its Federal counterpart, the Texas Supreme Court only hears civil cases - basically lawsuits.
Chief Justice
- Wallace B Jefferson (R)
- Jim Jordan (D)
- Tom Oxford (Lib)

Justice - Place 7
- Dale Wainwright (R)
- Sam Houston (D) *
- David Smith (Lib)

Justice - Place 8
- Phil Johnson (R)
- Linda Yanez (D) *
- Drew Shirley (Lib)

Court of Criminal Appeals

The Court of Criminal Appeals is the state's highest appellate court on criminal cases.
Judge - Place 3
- Tom Price (R)
- Susan Strawn (D)
- Matthew Eilers (Lib)
Judge - Place 4
- Paul Womack (R)
- J.R. Molina (D)
- Dave Howard (Lib)
Judge - Place 9
- Cathy Cochran (R)
- William Strange (Lib)

State Board of Education - District 14

The State Board of Education's biggest job is approving curriculum and textbooks for use in Texas' public schools.
- Gail Lowe (R)
- Edra Bogle (D) (Endorsed)
- John Shuey (Lib)

District Judge - 16th District

State district courts handle serious criminal cases, family law, civil suits, and a variety of other types of cases
- Carmen Worley (R)
- Karen Guerra (D) *

Bond Proposition No. 1

$310,000,000 in bonds for roads and bridges, and a tax increase to pay for them.
- For *
- Against

Bond Proposition No. 2

$185,000,000 in bonds for buildings, facilities, and technology, and a tax increase to pay for them.
- For
- Against

Other uncontested races


Some offices have only one person running for them. You are not required to vote for them if you don't want to. You can choose to bubble them in or not. Some think that by not voting for these races, you register a bit of a protest or a vote of no confidence. You always have the right to choose not to vote for a particular race, and it will not invalidate the rest of your ballot.

What if I don't have my voter registration card with me?


According to the Texas Secretary of State's office you may vote with any of these forms of id:
1. a driver's license or personal identification card issued to you by the Department of Public Safety or a similar document issued to you by an agency of another state, regardless of whether the license or card has expired;
2. a form of identification containing your photograph that establishes your identity;
3. a birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes your identity;
4. United States citizenship papers issued to you;
5. a United States passport issued to you;
6. official mail addressed to you, by name, from a governmental entity;
7. a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.

Provisional Ballots


If there is a problem with your voter ID, registration, or anything else where you would normally be turned away, you may be offered a provisional ballot. This is a ballot that is placed in a sealed envelope and kept separate from other ballots. After all of the regular votes are counted, there is only a small chance that they will verify your eligibility, then open the envelope and count your ballot.

If you are offered a provisional ballot, especially during early voting, then what you need to do is see if you can solve the problem first and get a regular ballot. Otherwise, you run a very big chance of having your vote literally thrown away.

Problems Voting?


If you witness irregularities in your polling location, and you think that someone is violating the law or otherwise discouraging votes, there are several organizations willing to help. But first, you should try to work it out at the lowest level:

1. Talk to the election clerk and be courteous. These folks are usually volunteers doing it more for the community service aspect of it than for the meager few bucks.

2. Ask for an Election Judge or Alternate Election Judge. Each polling location has one or both, and they'll be wearing name tags. If your precinct normally votes Democratic, then the Judge will probably be a Democrat, and the Alternate will be a Republican. The reverse is also true, so most locations will have two judges who have a vested interest in making sure the rules are followed.

Keep in mind that on Election Day, an Election Judge has the same power as a District Judge in a court of law. Be respectful and follow instructions, but you can be courteous and assertive at the same time.

Always get names.

3. Call the County Elections Office. They are extremely busy on election day (which is another reason to vote early).

Denton County Elections Office: (940) 349-3200
Explain the situation and ask how you can solve the problem. Have your precinct number and voting location ready.

4. Call the Secretary of State's Office. Also very busy on election day.

Texas Secretary of State's Voter Hotline: 1-800-252-8683 (toll free)

5. Contact political parties and advocacy organizations.
Democratic National Committee - Voter Protection Resource Center - 1-888-DEM-VOTE (1-888-336-8683)
Election Protection: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)

WhosPlayin.com presents this information as a public service and cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Always check www.dentoncounty.com for any last-minute changes. Also feel free to contact your party's local headquarters.

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Progressive Blog Roundup

Miscellaneous
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/10/13 23:36:24 (2323 reads)

It's Monday, and that means it is time for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance's Weekly Round-Up. This week's roundup is compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme agrees with Webb County Elections Commissioner Patricia Barrera and Webb County voters: Electronic Voting machines need a voter verifiable paper trail.

jobsanger thinks the Texas Legislature should rescind the Texas Driver Responsibility Program, which has one million Texas driver's owing $815 in fines, and wonders if a Denver mural is artwork or a political sign.

Justin at AAA-Fund Blog makes note of near-violent anti-Iraqi racism at Texas A&M.

Captain Kroc at McBlogger has some advice for evangelicals narrowly focused on abortion.

Voter suppression by Republicans in Harris County is carefully distinguished from the "voter fraud" the conservatives continually whine about, but PDiddie's favorite (indeed his only) conservative commenter studiously doesn't get it. At Brains and Eggs.

nytexan of BlueBloggin points out that once again Bush lied and Congress went along with NSA Eavesdropping On Americans And Bush’s BS War On Terror. Americans now have the pleasure of knowing that NSA has listened to US citizens. Happy now!

Off the Kuff takes a look at the 30-day finance reports for Harris County candidates.

Mail in ballots returned for postage? It has already happened in Denton County. The Texas Cloverleaf has more.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News posted videos, from why Obama is leading in North Carolina to the new GOP base and other stuff in one of his rambles around the web.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is saddened how some Americans cannot progress beyond old thinking. I’d Rather Not Say Its About RACE is an expose showing how Republican Politics exploits "old thinking" to control voters.

If you live in Bellaire, Sugarland, Galveston, or another part of the oddly gerrymandered SD 17, you may have gotten a "push poll" from folks trying to whittle down Democratic candidate Chris Bell's lead in the state Senate race. George at The Texas Blue points out some dirty tricks in Texas' 17th Senate district.

Vince at Capitol Annex--freshly back from a six-day hiatus after moving servers--has
ranked "Hot" Texas House races in anticipation of the 2008 elections.

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Socialists Trend

The Editor's Column
Posted by Trace on 2008/10/13 22:23:38 (1227 reads)

As African American poet and communist Langston Hughes wrote in "Good Morning,Revolution"

…Together,
We can take everything:
Factories, arsenals, houses, ships,
Railroads, forests, fields, orchards…
And turn 'em over to the people who work.
Rule 'em and run 'em for us people who work.


America's headlong rush into full-blown socialism has been accelerated with the Federal Reserve's takeover of American International Group, Inc. (AIG), one of the world's largest insurance companies. Followed by the nationalization of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, "This move could (and as of now) represents the biggest tilt toward socialism that this country has yet to see. In my opinion, this move could be the signal of the start of the end of our free market economy,

Since there is no limit to the amount of money the Fed can create, there is no limit to the number of assets they can acquire.
"Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital”

I feel it really needs to be noted; that the federal government, much less the executive branch, has zero constitutional authority to nationalize corporations.

We the American taxpayers will ultimately pay a heavy price for the bailouts of AIG,Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, as well as any other foundering corporations the feds choose to "rescue" in coming months. Always the rationale is the same: investors and the economy must be protected. But in point of fact, the chief beneficiaries are always those who stand to lose the most. The giant investment firms, hedge fund managers, wealthy bankers, and others whose immense wealth depends on the survival of the system. In a word, those who benefit from the Federal Reserve's inflationary policies, and who have the assets and the clout to enlist the government to protect their fortunes.


If the American economy continues to unravel, look for the Federal Reserve to continue to remold itself into an autocratic new Ministry of Finance. With the implosion of Washington Mutual, the world's largest thrift, as well as other regional banks, the possible failure of a money-center bank or two (Citibank, for instance), and the potential collapse of one or more of the Big Three automotive giants, the Federal Government will have adequate pretext to continue the truly revolutionary onslaught on America's "once-vaunted free market economy."

An economy cannot function for long once trust is broken, and it is pretty hard to trust your business partners when greed has become the motivating factor in high finance. And that is the problem with capitalism. The primary focus is on increasing profit margins. Pretty soon that is all everyone thinks about: money and getting more of it.

Prime examples of no trust.

According to figures from AIG Corporate Library. Martin Sullivan payout package was worth $68 million, despite his less-than stellar performance. This included a golden parachute worth $15 million.

Franklin Raines, the former top man at Fannie Mae, bought a three-bedroom, seven-bath penthouse condominium in the West End’s Ritz-Carlton Residences for $4.9 million. The condo has a rooftop terrace with a hot tub, a butler’s pantry, and three parking spaces. Raines, was CEO of Fannie Mae from 1999 to 2004. “Regulators have said that of the $90 million paid to Mr. Raines from 1998 to 2003 at least $52 million — more than half — was tied to bonus targets that were reached by manipulating accounting,” The New York Times reported two years ago.

Alan H. Fishman, the CEO of Washington Mutual, will likely be unemployed after only a few weeks on the job. But don't cry for Fishman. He is trying to walk away with about eighteen million in bonuses after his three week stint at the failed savings and loan giant.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency notified former Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd and former Freddie Mac CEO Richard Syron that such "golden parachute" payments will not be paid. The housing agency, which took control over the companies earlier last month. Mr. Mudd had been due to receive up to $8.4 million in compensation, while Mr. Syron was due to receive up to $15.5 million,

If we as Americans fail to demand accountability for this bail out, then we as American taxpayers will foot the bill.

Don Tracey

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Thoughts on Sunday Morning er,,, afternoon.

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/10/11 22:23:35 (879 reads)

Started writing this last night actually, and wanted to wrap it up this morning. But, I woke up with a humongous headache. The kind where you feel like one of your eyeballs is trying to suck itself back into your skull.

The great escape
I woke up to the sound of my youngest son carelessly flinging the front door open, followed by "Hank got out!". They have this awful habit of not closing the front door correctly, and our dog Hank thinks it's a great fun time to slip out and go for a run. The kids then make it worse by chasing him, which Hank thinks is an awful fun game.

I had to throw on some clothes and drive down the street in our van, until I found him. I called him over and slid open the back door, and he came right on in.

Markonomitics
I guess the economy has been issue #1 in the past week. My retirement account took a pretty huge hit. What most dismays me is that my dad, who has been retired for several years now, is looking for full time employment again.

Fannie and Freddie have each been directed to purchase $20 Billion a month in sub-prime, alt-A and underperforming mortgages as part of the government's $700 billion rescue plan.

Chesapeake and XTO, two major players in the Barnett Shale for gas development are apparently pretty well screwed due to their high leverage and exposure to knock-out swaps. It makes me wonder whether my neighborhood will have to wait a good while to get a deal on our gas. Oh well, it's been there 330,000,000 years or so. I can hold out for a few years. (hat tip to Patsy...)

Forced march as analogue for the economy
Thinking about economics more, and what really runs our economy, it's always amazing to me how many of us are employed in growth-related industries. What I mean by that is that we are employed because of someone's investment based on the expectation that a given industry, geographic area, population, or market is going to expand. In other words, we're not just "holding down the fort", but rather we're contributing our labor to the vision of building something bigger.

Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I'd like to point out a phenomena of sort of "chained" expectations. For instance, one industry has investors thinking that they are going to grow, so money pours in to that industry. They hire a bunch of workers, and scarcity drives up wages. These workers now anticipate growth, and like their employer, they mortgage themselves to the hilt in anticipation of this money. Just as the employer buys equipment and makes capital investments, the worker buys a new house and furniture to go with it, and a good reliable car to get to work. The beneficiaries of all this spending, in turn see growth, and plow that money back in to further investment in their own growing industry. And the cycle continues as everyone sees growth and anticipates more growth.

But eventually, there comes a time when those investments have to pay off. A business can operate only so long on the expectation of profits, and must eventually show a profit. In normal times, the market self-regulates this by making access to capital competitive to those with the best expectation of a solid return. But during a bubble, if capital is free-flowing, regulation lax, and more supply of cash than demand, well - you know what happens.

Anyhow, I was reminded of when I was in the Marine Corps, and we would occasionally have to do a forced march or "hump" of 20 miles or so. Basically you'd have a 60 pound pack, rifle, helmet, and flak jacket, and you'd be in a long single-file line going down the road.

At the point of fatigue, what would invariably happen is that the one arms-length distance between one Marine and the Marine in front of him would lengthen a bit, as the second guy would fall a bit behind. This of course would put everyone behind him a few steps behind where they should be. But as more guys would get tired, more gaps would open up.

Then a Sergeant would come along yelling at the troops to "tighten it up!". So each person, suddenly looking up and seeing themselves behind, would pick up their own pace to tighten the gap. As the guy in front of you would do this, it would put you that much further behind where you thought you were. So you would have to run to catch up. If you were marching near the end of the line, you would spend all day running and then slowing down and then running again. And it hurts. You wouldn't have fallen behind if you weren't tired.


In a way, if you think of borrowing a bit like allowing yourself to lag by a step or two, you can begin to see what is going on. Because by borrowing (or lagging behind) you are setting an expectation for the person you're buying from (or who is marching behind you) about where their market is. They thus make their own decision about borrowing based on where they think you are. And so when we all borrow based on the expectation that people are spending and going to continue to spend, it's a lot like marching along looking at the back of the person in front of you, and thinking that you're keeping up.

But eventually it's time to pay up. And when the debts come due (or the Sergeant screams to tighten things up) people have to scramble to get back where they need to be.

Maybe it's a crappy analogy - I dunno. It made sense to me.


Retired Prius Again
Months ago, I ran over a nail in my Prius, and it was on a Saturday night after the tire stores had closed. So the only place I had where I could get a flat fixed was Walmart. They did a crappy job, and the hole still leaked. The tire was still wet and I could see bubbles coming out from the hole.

So for a long time I've had this annoying slow leak that I've had to air up every few days for. And it got worse. Friday morning, Jennifer went out and discovered it was completely flat. I went out to air it up with my tank, and as it inflated, I could hear a hissing.

I reached back around to the source of the hissing and discovered a screw shaft sticking out of the inside wall. I stupidly jerked it out, and the rest of the air came on out within seconds. Great.

Well, I put that cute little spare on and took it up to Discount Tire. They were quick and efficient, and replaced the tire with a new one for me. Total cost $14 to renew the road hazard warranty on the new tire.

Done with Tom Thumb. Lets go Krogering
Ever since they built the Tom Thumb store in our neighborhood some years ago, we had been shopping there for most day-to-day stuff. But the past few times I've been in there, I've felt very violated with the prices on groceries. It seems that Tom Thumb has just about removed any chance of a consumer saving any money in there.

They have cut way back on the generic and store-brand options, which frustrates me quite a bit. One of the other things they have done is to offer savings, but only if you buy a bazillion of whatever. For instance, buy 4 bottles of Dr. Pepper at twice the average price, and get 5 bottles free. I don't want to lug 18 liters of Dr. Pepper home though. Sometimes I just want one bottle.

My friend and neighbor Julie has been telling me for months to go to Kroger instead. They're down the road a bit in Flower Mound, so it requires a drive. But they do seem to have much more variety and much better prices on the stuff we buy. They even give a little discount if you bring your own bags. I stuck with Tom Thumb for convenience for awhile, but no more. It seems to be worth it now to pay for the extra gas.

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Cornyn's Assault on Veterans

The Nimrods Never Cease to Amaze Me
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/10/10 7:41:27 (1529 reads)

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Do NOT under any circumstances...

Miscellaneous
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/10/9 15:56:45 (872 reads)

... be tempted to go look at your 401k balance today.

It will severely fu** up your day. Just remember that this too, will pass. The dow lost 679 points today. It will come back. Hope you weren't planning on retiring this year.

My account had lost about 20% of its value in the past few weeks, which would have been way more if I didn't have such a large percentage in utility and European stocks. Damn... why did I have to look?

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