twominuteshate's Journal - Archives
Posted by twominuteshate in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Nov 26th 2009, 02:40 PM
The Obama/Biden ticket got my vote because I had such an overwhelming dislike for the McCain/Palin ticket (mostly the Palin part), not because I embraced the Obama/Biden campaign ideas and promises. Other than Palin, I saw three seasoned and reasonable political opportunists with the standard-issue pro-corporation, pro-war agenda.
Aside from a few issues, and apart from the impact Palin would have had, I don't see much Obama has done that's much different from what I think McCain would have done. Pro-bank? Check. Pro-corporation? Check. Pro-war? Check. Pro-insurance company? Check.
This administration does not want the kind of change liberal folks like myself are looking for. I welcome some of the intangible changes, such as the racial barrier being broken and the resulting dialogue, being proud of a President who can actually speak clearly, and an improved view of the United States in the eyes of the world.
But real things that impact me, like the economy, health care and endless wars? I don't see any change at all. The premise that those with the wealth know best, know all and must be protected at all costs has not changed. The premise that the house should continue to win vis-a-vis health insurers has not changed. And the premise that US corporate interests in Afghanistan and Iraq must be protected at the peril of both the citizenry of the US and the strategic interests of the US has not changed.
The corporate handouts to the banks did nothing to help anyone in the US other than bankers. The handouts to states for "shovel-ready" projects only delayed construction company layoffs by several months (and artificially deflated unemployment numbers), and gave opportunists like Texas governor Rick Perry a platform to bluster about the fiscal irresponsibility of Democrats.
The answer to Afghanistan, a country that couldn't threaten the US outside of its own borders, is send more troops/escalate the war. Um, what is the objective here? Are we protecting a pipeline, a people or contracts for the continuous sale of Predator drones?
And health care? What a joke. It's as if we have caught the casino owners in the act of rigging the games and now are asking them to rewrite the rulebook so they won't get caught again. Nevermind the fact that they will continue rigging the game.
I have a better approach. Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and save a bundle of money. Get off the oil tit and we won't need any pipelines other than the ones that already criscross the US, nor will we need to protect oil interests in the middle east. The money we save from the war can go to a real health care solution that's not predicated on the continuous increase in profit, market share and stock price the insurers demand (you know, like every other country in the world has) and into making alternative energy, like oil from algae or solar towers. All it requires is a fuck you to health insurers and oil companies. Our national security improves, the economy grows (in spite of losses by unsustainable oil and insurance interests) and the health and welfare of our citizenry improves.
That's change I can believe in, and it's a little more satisfying than, "hey, this president can actually read a teleprompter!"
Posted by twominuteshate in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Sep 25th 2008, 12:12 AM
I have been following the current banking meltdown with great interest and concern. I'm a cynic among cynics, I lived in Texas when Bush was governor here and I've spent most of the past 14 years working in land development, so when talk of a "mortgage crisis" emerged a couple years ago, I was well aware of what could happen. You have to remember that people in Texas only got home equity loans for the first time 11 years ago. Yeah, that bill was signed by, oh, what's his name, the governor at the time? I have to give it to him, though, we did a lot of business back then. There were a lot of surveys to be made and a lot of loans were closed. But if the number of foreclosed homes I surveyed in the years following were any indication, people here just weren't ready for their loan to be worth more than their house.
I'm not saying it's a crooked business on the whole, but selling houses - especially the volume builders throwing up crackerjack boxes in 28 days - it's all about the commission. These people don't give a shit about you once you've signed the closing papers because that sucker is sold. They're brokers, not bankers. My wife and I got the old contract switcheroo when we bought our house. At the closing no less, they ask us, "well, how can we be sure your wife will go back to work after she has the baby?" Uh, because I have to pay for this fucking house, asshole! Because now it's a balloon payment loan since you can only consider my income and you just found this out today while I've got a moving truck ready to go? Thanks, dickhead! Thankfully, I refinanced my loan, 366 days later at the first available opportunity and got out of that scam.
So you could say there were some "really motivated" mortgage brokers out there. Lesson learned. But I can't say I anticipated passing stupidity when it came to irresponsible lending. When friends and coworkers talked about the houses they were buying compared to my modest home, and the ways and means of acquiring the financing, I could see there were people who were willingly getting into loans they couldn't afford. I mean really dumb loans. These jokers couldn't stay in apartments from one lease to the next and now they thought they were going to buckle down and pay a $2500 a month mortgage payment? Oh, that's right, it's really only a $1500 a month payment, because you're going to do the escrow part yourself. Yeah, let me know how that works out...
But trumping the stupidity of those folks came when I was driving to the next cookie-cutter subdivision to survey the next cookie-cutter house (I would actually make one sketch of each of the five different homes these builders constructed and make photocopies to put the measurements on at each job site, so yeah, not an exaggeration to say cookie-cutter). I heard a radio ad for the interest only loan. That's right! Fuck the principle! Pay only the interest! The house will appreciate forever. You're only going to live there 3 years anyway, so why pay too much? Were these people serious? Apparently the loan officers had run out of risky people to sell their mortgages to so they had to resort to selling them to the guaranteed to default crowd. After all, it's a commission business. We don't underwrite the loan, we just sell them.
Now all this I can safely say I saw it coming. I saw the decline in our business in 2006 when sales of existing homes (coupled with the ability of the owner to use a past land survey, so long as there were no changes made to the property) caused our numbers and my workload to collapse. That was okay, though, because we still had the builders. But then the precipitous drop began and by Thanksgiving 2006, I wasn't wondering how big my Christmas bonus was going to be, I was at a recruiting session for FedEx seasonal help at the airport at nights. By December 28 - on my day off - I was layed off. My wife teased me endlessly about that, referencing Chris Tucker in Friday, "you got to be a stupid motherfucker to get fired on your day off!" I still laugh about that now - and it makes me happy to have such a positive person around me, the cynic, but I digress.
Since early 2007 I've worked in civil engineering doing basically the same cookie-cutter subdivision design as I had done previously. And not a day goes by I don't wonder if I will still have a job tomorrow. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I'm not an idiot. I know the pendulum swings both ways and there is money to be made no matter which way it goes. Right now there's commercial development. It's not much, but it's not unemployment.
But until this week I didn't understand how the bush crew would make this banking/mortgage crisis work for them. They made a lot of money in that home equity deregulation thing here in Texas. They made a ton of money in refinancing when interest rates plummeted. They had to continue making money so they relaxed the requirements to sell loans. Once all those loans had sold, they shitcanned the requirements and made more money. I felt my job slipping away and ultimately saw it disappear. The company I worked for most of my career is a shell of its former self today. So where would they get the money? From the same place, of course: the voiceless masses of homeowners and taxpayers.
That's when it hit me. Bush was talking all those years ago about compassionate conservatism. I knew what he was talking about: stay real conservative on the public services, healthcare, education, the arts, even go bare-bones on defense. Conservative means cut funding for everyone who's not exactly like you. The compassionate part I knew was bullshit. "Oh, we feel your pain!" Yeah, like you republican dogs with your "W04" stickers on your Hummers feel the pain of the bums down by Parkland Hospital that you ignore at the red lights. You don't give them so much as a quarter, but you "feel their pain." When was the last time I saw you drop by the Salvation Army one street over. Never? No, the compassion he spoke of comes now. But instead of helping hurricane victims, the homeless (or soon to be), people with oppressive healthcare costs, it's "go easy on these poor mortgage bankers, these million- and billionaire investment brokers. Feel their pain. Just give them a little help and they'll get the economy rolling again." There's your compassionate conservatism. The same old trickle down bullshit that has never worked for real people.
Guess what, you dumb deluded broke-ass republican supporting assholes? He wasn't talking to you. Every speech, every address, every debate. He was talking to his base, not you. You remember: "some people call you the elite. I call you my base." Oh, well, there was that one time he actually talked to you when he said "I need some patriots to throw in front of IEDs while I make you walk around the desert looking for the WMDs I just lied about." Pretty sure he wasn't talking to his base then. And then tonight. The same spiel again. We need to confront this crisis and do the right thing, blah blah blah. Oh, like the last one? The endless war that creates a demand for new Humvees, Predators, guns and bombs? And young, impressionable patriotic warriors who are dying for your profit? No, I think I'll pass on this one. Chalk it up to a funny feeling.
Bail out the billionaires, huh? Fuck that. Come on, don't you republican bastards remember what you told me? "The helping hand you're looking for can be found at the end of your own arm." "Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps!" No, no help for you. Oh, I'm going to suffer and the economy is going to collapse? Bring it on! Who's able to deal with that now: me or you? You people think I'm afraid? Not anymore.
Let me give you poor, helpless, corrupt bankers and brokers some advice. Get a piece of cardboard, a piece of coal and scrawl WILL WORK FOR FOOD on it and hang out near Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Don't worry, without your healthcare plan you'll learn where it is real quick. And maybe if I'm feeling generous I'll throw a quarter at you while I'm stopped at the red light. Or maybe I'll just pass you by without a thought.
North Tarrant Express or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Toll Roads
Every weekday morning and afternoon, the engines of this great economic machinery of Texas sit still in our cars as our cars' engines idle in traffic jams that started decades ago, crawling continuously even on Sundays and producing that familiar phenomenon known as the brown sunset. It's more than just time wasted. It's energy wasted: fuel for our cars and physical and mental energy for our jobs and for our families. It's money going up in smoke, smoke that squeezes the breath from the ever-increasing number of asthma sufferers in our midst. It's tension built to toxic levels in each of us that sometimes bursts in a fit of roadrage. It's a monster that feeds on itself: congestion causes accidents that cause more congestion, gridlocking freeways and delaying first responders from reaching those in urgent need.
Texas needs to solve its transportation problems before they get even worse. The number one priority for the Texas Legislature should be mandating that tax revenue derived from transportation be dedicated to transportation and only to transportation. The Texas Legislature has made a habit of siphoning revenue derived from transportation and diverting it to unrelated programs and pet projects. It is not acceptable that user taxes (such as the motor fuels tax) and tolls collected on dedicated tollways should benefit any entity other than the transportation sector of the Texas government. Additional funding must also be made available, through not only an increase in the existing motor fuels tax rate, but also by transforming the flat rate to an ad valorem rate. As the challenges to our transportation needs mount, so should our attention to additional sources of revenue increase.
Recent comments delivered by Governor Perry at the GOP convention in Houston discuss the budget surplus our state has. How is it possible to have a surplus with so many urgent transportation problems to address? It defies logic to suggest that Texans' needs are met and tax dollars should be "refunded" when transportation networks such as our Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex system is not only woefully inadequate, but in poor repair as well. Even the most hard boiled cynics hate to think that diversions of transportation taxes and the rationale that new toll roads are the only way to bring new transportation solutions to our area could be related. But start pushing for private operation of public infrastructure - an often bandied solution to "bureaucratic waste" which simply exchanges government inefficiency with private graft and misfeasance - and the jig is up. The state of Texas belongs to Texans and attempts to auction it off to high foreign bidders are insulting to the good people of Texas.
The recent public relations nightmare that was Spanish firm Cintra's acquisition of a proposed toll roadway illuminates a loophole that must be closed. Toll roadways constructed on public land should be owned and operated by the public only. Inviting private interests to operate public infrastructure is the calling card of only the most short-sighted and ill-informed public servants, or the act of an underhanded snake oil salesman looking forward to a payoff. The simple act of commuting to work along these roadways is expensive, but it's a cost some of us have chosen to bear for a variety of reasons, including the time and distance savings. In some cases, the choice of traveling on toll roadways was made without our knowledge or consent. For the Legislature and Governor to regard public roadways as money-making schemes for pet projects or private interests is obscene, given the state of our transportation network.
To better serve our citizens, the Texas Legislature needs to address these urgent transportation needs with dedicated funding in both the short term and in the long term. To accomplish this, we must expand, improve and better maintain our existing roadways beginning today. Right-of-way acquisition for expansion or widening is expensive, but it costs less than new rights-of-way and costs even less than inaction when the hidden costs mentioned above are considered. After all, inaction now is just more expensive action later. In areas where right-of-way acquisition is prohibitive, innovative solutions must be employed to maximize the use of existing land. Austin's double-decked IH-35 and Dallas' cantilevered access roads along US 75 are good examples of how to fit more roadway into a limited space. Dual-use right-of-way, such as Chicago's IH-94, integrates commuter rail and highway traffic seamlessly, where the rails occupy the otherwise unused median that's so common on Texas interstate and state highways. Use what we already have to accomplish our short term goals more efficiently and effectively and to prepare our region for long term solutions.
Where new rights-of-way are needed, toll roads can be successful. However, transforming existing freeways into toll roads should not happen. In those cases where this has occurred, the toll road should revert to a freeway. An excellent example of such a road is SH 121 through The Colony, Plano and Frisco. In the mid 1990s, this was a two-lane blacktop flanked by farmland. As the farmland stopped growing plants and began sprouting tract homes, promises of a new highway in place of that well worn blacktop were uttered daily by home builders and realtors. The families moved in and the lines at the few traffic signals got longer by the day. Soon, wooden stakes appeared along the blacktop and not long after, the construction began. One ordinary day at one ordinary city council meeting, a handful of people said yes to a toll road and goodbye to the freeway that linked their growing city to the places all these new citizens work and play. The resulting uproar didn't change a thing and SH 121 remains unfinished and heavily congested in some areas, partially open in other areas and currently collecting tolls where it is open. How many of those home owners were never informed about the toll plan? How many bought into the location on the promise of excellent freeway access?
As we get on with the near term rehabilitation, improvement and expansion of existing facilities, a second priority for the Texas Legislature emerges. A master transportation plan for the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex must be adopted and complied with to ensure mobility for all our region's residents and visitors. Just as you wouldn't want two ends of a tunnel to be dug without a discussion of how and where the two will meet, allowing individual cities to control the transportation health of a region through bad action or inaction is, at the very least, bad policy. Where some cities might stand in the way of meeting regional transportation needs in the name of keeping the character of their city intact or to avoid a perceived nuisance factor, the Legislature needs to provide the "teeth" a master transportation plan and its governing agency requires. Yes, transportation planners must be thoughtful of the impact thoroughfares have on small communities and consensus should be built if possible, but in absence of an amicable agreement, compliance with a master transportation plan must not be optional. At the other end of the spectrum, special interest transportation projects, such as the massive improvements to the area surrounding the Dallas Cowboys stadium construction project, which serve the needs of a facility that's in use a couple dozen times per year, must not preempt other urgently needed improvements intended to quiet a year-round demand. If developers of such projects wish to pay for highway improvements up front, then one could hardly avoid entertaining their requests. But ultimately the responsibility of the state and region is to all its citizens, not just certain corporate citizens.
As the future needs of our region come into focus, it is apparent that continuous expansion of roadways only cannot be supported. The construction of commuter rail, light rail and HOV lanes is to be applauded, but the methods for achieving transportation alternatives for the combined Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant County metropolis are varied and demonstrate a lack of understanding of the meaning of the word efficiency. Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton all have regional transportation authorities set up to operate what are essentially independent systems. The lack of coordination and standardization between neighboring agencies in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is the stuff of legend, and has led to inaction or delayed action for generations.
For example, the rail systems either currently operating or proposed consist of no less than four distinct, non-interchangeable networks. DART operates articulated light rail vehicles powered by overhead electricity; DART/The T operates a diesel powered heavy rail commuter platform augmented by reconditioned Diesel Multiple Unit railcars under the name Trinity Railway Express; The T has proposed new Diesel Multiple Unit railcars which will interface with - but not interconnect with - proposed DART light rail vehicles at DFW airport; and Denton DCTA has proposed a Diesel Multiple Unit solution, which again, interfaces with but will not interconnect with light rail.
How is it that the wisdom of one of our region's most successful businesses - Southwest Airlines - is lost on our various transit agencies? Southwest standardized their fleet years ago, choosing the Boeing 737 platform as their sole aircraft type. Even when Southwest acquired rival airlines, any aircraft of a type other than Boeing 737 was sold off and replaced with more 737s. The cost of maintaining a parts inventory for one aircraft type is obviously less than the cost of maintaining an inventory for a fleet of many types of aircraft, even from the same manufacturer. Flexibility of which components of their fleet can operate in specific areas and airports to meet the ebb and flow of demand is a non-issue. As a result of Southwest's decision to maintain a uniform fleet, the airline remains competitive in an era of flagging profits, mergers of survival and record bankruptcies.
It is understandable that one size doesn't fit all, especially in a region as diverse as the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. But a little coordination and some thought into future growth should not be too much to ask. Those municipalities now capped out at the state maximum for sales tax are unable to participate in any public transportation initiatives unless they've already been a member city of DART or The T for years. Perhaps they should have signed on years ago, but since the region lives or dies based on the success of the whole of the region, it should be mandatory that all municipalities within the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex - for example, those cities and towns under the jurisdiction of the North Central Texas Council of Governments - be included and pay a proportional share of the burden. If separate transit agencies continue to exist, they must be overseen by and regulated by a single agency responsible for and accountable to the whole region. The current approach is splintered and leaves too much room for duplication, planning errors, lack of interchangeability and, as history shows, the inevitable bad blood that comes up from time to time between cities on either side of county lines. A unified, standardized approach is not only a good idea, it is an imperative if our region is to catch up to other large metro areas like Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston, just to begin to meet the needs of our region.
Such an agency, funded by transportation revenue and tasked with enumerating the challenges of the region, offering uniform, proven solutions to those challenges, must have the authority to implement those actions, not just offer guidelines, suggestions or targets. This regional authority can accommodate the diverse interests of its citizens and put the Dallas - Fort Worth region on a rapid pace toward getting our city streets, highways and our people moving again.
Posted by twominuteshate in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Jul 03rd 2008, 10:22 PM
In response to this thread (http://tinyurl.com/66erol ), I substitute for Rush Limbaugh on the EIB network to debunk the OP's claim...
I looked up the address provided in Rush Limbaugh's arrest record posted above, and came up with this:
When you click this link (assuming you can get it to work, you feeble minded liberals), you will see with your own eyes incontrovertible evidence that Rush lives in a very posh part of town. They don't let just anyone in there, you know.
And if that's not enough, friends, well, I don't have to tell you that the only way ordinary Americans can rise up to the economic strata that Rush enjoys is by faith in God, pulling oneself up by his bootstraps, believing in the American dream, and working hard, all the while maintaining strict adherence to the letter of the law. People, his address is proof of his infallibility!
You can't leave a carbon footprint of the scale a giant like Rush does if you're busy doing drugs and having sex with children. There's just not enough time. The man spends his days and nights poring over the so called news, filtering out the propaganda the liberal media continues to hurl at you, and this is how you thank him? With baseless accusations?
OK, OK. I'll grant you he did at one time have intense pain, for which he received pain medication. So he got a little carried away and, from time to time, exceeded the recommended dosage of his pain medication. Big deal! This was medication that is legal and that was prescribed to him by a doctor. A doctor!
But pedophile? There is no proof of that! You know, the Dominican Republic is where he gets his cigars. It's a great place to spread the good word about the free market. And it's a fabulous vacation spot. I mean, the beaches... just glorious! And the poor people there, they know their place. They behave just like they should: you ring a bell and they bring you a drink with chunks of fruit in it and a little umbrella.
Plus -- and I didn't want to give this away, but you people just won't quit -- he's a scout for a major Major League baseball team. There, I said it. As you know, a great many baseball players come from the Dominican Republic. Sweaty, firm young men. Pitchers. Catchers. Ballboys, even. He is even using his vacation to give you the best baseball and you have the nerve, the audacity to claim his visits are for something as heinous as mind-blowing illicit sex! Amazing. This is the thanks El Rushbo gets...
It is not easy trying to protect Americans from liberals and commies. You people fall for it time and again. That's why he gets paid so well: to ease his pain. To pay him back for the service he provides to you and me. He cares about us so much that he absolutely cannot possibly consort with us outside of his radio show. That is why he must live among them: the super rich liberals down in Florida who voted against Bush in 2000. He must be with them to convert them. He sacrifices himself for us.
Rush, a junkie pedophile... unbelievable.
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