Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why Gaddafi's Now a Good Guy

Why Gaddafi's Now a Good Guy

"Bush is saying that America is fighting for the triumph of freedom," Gaddafi said between sips of tea. "When we were supporting liberation movements in the world, we were arguing that it was for the victory of freedom. We both agree. We were fighting for the cause of freedom."

At the time, it may have sounded like the typical ramblings of the Libyan leader. But now, a year later, Gaddafi and Bush do apparently see eye to eye. On Monday, Gaddafi accomplished one of history's great diplomatic turnarounds when Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice announced that the U.S. was restoring full diplomatic relations with Libya and held up the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya as "a model" for others to follow. Rice attributed the ending of the U.S.'s long break in diplomatic relations to Gaddafi's historic decision in 2003 to dismantle weapons of mass destruction and renounce terrorism as well as Libya's "excellent cooperation in response to common global threats faced by the civilized world since September 11, 2001."


Friday, February 18, 2011

The Goddess of Hypocrisy

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Deregulation Didn't Work

Lately I've been reading more and more opinions on how government is always more expensive and less efficient than private industry.

For instance FedEx is more efficient than the Gov regulated US Post Office. The US Post Office is having money problems and Fed Ex isn't. I've heard quite a few folks suggest that the US Post Office declare bankruptcy, and go out of business. because of this.

Is this how you measure efficiency? Maximizing profits?

I just looked up letter rates to mail a letter from home to the office, using Fed Ex. They quoted me $14.98

The US Post Office will deliver the same letter for 44 cents.

Maybe the US Post Office needs to raise their rates to be more 'efficient'?

I'm beginning to think that word doesn't mean what people think it means.

ERCOT Study: Deregulation Didn’t Work

ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Delia Villareal of Arlington cooks three meals a day for herself and her husband, so she’s not happy to hear about a new study finding Texas residents have paid nearly $11.5 billion dollars more than they should have for electricity since deregulation in 2002.

That’s about 42 percent higher than the national average. “I find that being very ridiculous,” says Villareal. This despite the promises deregulation would trigger competition and lower prices. “Us as the elderly live on a budget, we’re on a fixed income. Of course, it’s affecting us.”

The study is called The Story of ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the state’s power grid. The study blames the high electric rates residents and businesses pay on Ercot’s bias toward the industry, and what it calls ERCOT’s alarming increases in spending and borrowing.

The study says in 2006, one company illegally charged $57 million, yet only paid a $15 million fine.

Arlington City Attorney Jay Doegey chairs two non-profit coalitions that commissioned the study. He says, “Everything is fine and if they just leave things alone, then everything’s wonderful. For them, everything’s wonderful. But it’s not wonderful for consumers.”

ERCOT declined an interview, but says the issues have been brought up before. In a statement, it says “…These are expected to be acted upon by the Texas Legislature during their current session, and ERCOT stands ready to institute any and all changes the Legislature adopts….”

The study’s author says the state legislature needs to make drastic changes to make Ercot more accountable to the public. Lawmakers may do just that. On Tuesday, a state Senate hearing will focus on the recent rolling blackouts.

As for Delia Villareal, she’s hoping the legislature will listen to people like her. “They need to get their act together. We’ve been promised lots of things. Where’s all the promises?”

On Tuesday, ERCOT’s president, the chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, and energy company executives will be among those testifying before lawmakers about the recent rolling blackouts.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Skipping Fancy Free To Bankruptcy Land

Public education in Texas faces massive cuts

Public education in Texas is facing billions in proposed budget cuts that would include slashing arts education, pre-kindergarten programs and teacher incentive pay as lawmakers take on a massive deficit with the promise of no new taxes.

Lawmakers got their first glimpse of what the next state budget might look like late Tuesday, including the $5 billion cut to public schools, as Republican Gov. Rick Perry and his supporters were dancing at an inaugural celebration.

Texas is facing a $15 billion revenue shortfall, and few corners of state government were spared in the draft proposal for the next two years. The Texas Constitution requires a balanced budget, and Republican leaders have vowed not to raise taxes.

But the budget does propose millions of dollars in new fees. For instance, state employees and retirees who smoke would pay a $30-a-month "tobacco user monthly premium surcharge" and the attorney general's office would charge an "annual child support service fee," a "monthly child support processing fee" and an "electronic filing of documents fee."

The budget draft, which is expected to be filed as legislation in the House later this week, would spend $73.2 billion in state money and $156.4 billion in all funds for the 2012-13 budget period.

It would shutter four community colleges and generally eliminate financial aid for incoming freshmen and new students. The Texas Grants scholarship program would drop by more than 70,000 students over the next two years.

The proposal also would reduce reimbursement rates by 10 percent for physicians, hospitals and nursing homes that participate in Medicaid -- a decrease that could eventually dry up participation in the health care program for poor and disabled Texans. In all, $2.3 billion would be cut from Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program and other health and human services.

The plan would eliminate 9,600 state jobs over the next two years, including more than 1,500 j in the prison system. The Department of Criminal Justice faces $459 million in cuts, including a 14 percent reduction in psychiatric and pharmacy care for inmates.

`'It's a catastrophe. No financial aid for kids to go to college. No pre-kindergarten for kids to learn their numbers and their letters. Health and human services slashed," said Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine. `'No Texan can be proud of this."

The Legislative Budget Board was required by law to release the budget to leaders Tuesday, the fifth business day after the session starts. The draft is just the beginning of a long process, which probably won't be finalized until next summer when the governor signs the Texas budget for 2012-13.

Perry took the oath of office earlier Tuesday for his third term. After a day of parties, he spent the evening at a celebration in downtown Austin, just a mile from the Capitol. The inaugural was paid for by donors.

Some analysts say the true shortfall could be much higher than $15 billion -- closer to $27 billion -- to account for enrollment growth in public schools and on Medicaid rolls, cost increases and other variables. That figure amounts to almost a third of discretionary state spending in the current budget.

The proposal would make public school finance reform legislation almost inevitable. It also would mean about 100,000 children would no longer have access to pre-kindergarten, schools won't get help building new science labs and would end a program that helps students earn promotion to the next grade.

The plan would slash $772 million for Texas colleges and universities, including nearly $100 for flagship universities Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin. The two-year colleges that would be closed are Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, Frank Phillips College in Borger, Odessa College and Ranger College.

The state's contributions to the state employee retirement fund would be reduced from 6.95 percent to 6 percent, less than what is needed to maintain the fund, according the Legislative Budget Board. The base budget proposes a similar cut in contributions to the Teacher Retirement Fund.

While almost every other state agency would see a reduction in employees, the average number of full-time employees in Perry's office over the next two fiscal years would go to 132 from an average of 120.

The base budget does not use money from the state's Rainy Day Fund, expected to have a balance of $9.4 billion at the end of the next biennium.

"Texas needs a balanced approach that includes using the Rainy Day Fund and adding new revenue," said Scott McCown, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which advocates for needy Texans. "With a revenue shortfall this large, as the proposed budget shows, the Legislature cannot balance the budget through cuts alone without doing terrible damage."

Rep. Jim Pitts, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said he would explain the proposal to the chamber on Wednesday.

"There are no sacred cows for this next biennium for our introduced bill," Pitts said last week. "So many people said, 'You cannot cut education'. You can't not cut education . . . We will be cutting every article within our budget. We will be cutting health and human, we will be cutting education and we'll be cutting our own budget in the Legislature."

(Copyright ©2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Not Really New, But Good Fuel for Cornucopians....

New drilling method opens vast oil fields in US

By JONATHAN FAHEY, AP Energy Writer Jonathan Fahey, Ap Energy Writer – Wed Feb 9, 4:59 pm ET

A new drilling technique is opening up vast fields of previously out-of-reach oil in the western United States, helping reverse a two-decade decline in domestic production of crude.

Companies are investing billions of dollars to get at oil deposits scattered across North Dakota, Colorado, Texas and California. By 2015, oil executives and analysts say, the new fields could yield as much as 2 million barrels of oil a day — more than the entire Gulf of Mexico produces now.

This new drilling is expected to raise U.S. production by at least 20 percent over the next five years. And within 10 years, it could help reduce oil imports by more than half, advancing a goal that has long eluded policymakers.

"That's a significant contribution to energy security," says Ed Morse, head of commodities research at Credit Suisse.

Oil engineers are applying what critics say is an environmentally questionable method developed in recent years to tap natural gas trapped in underground shale. They drill down and horizontally into the rock, then pump water, sand and chemicals into the hole to crack the shale and allow gas to flow up.


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Bush Family Values

We're experiencing rolling black outs here in Texas.

It's a dire power emergency that no one could have foreseen. After all, we have a Republican Governor. And Republican are constantly surprised by unforeseen events. Like the current winter storm that no one except the weather service and the media saw coming.

But there is a bright spot. Our new stadium in Arlington is exempt from the blackouts for security reasons. To make sure that the Stadium doesn't lose power, and get unsecured... Oncor (Bush family business), is cutting power to local hospitals.

Oncor understands that property is valuable, as is money. If the stadium loses power once in a while, it might cost some money. That would be bad.

But hospitals take care of human. These have no value to Oncor. The Stadium and it's property needs, outweigh the needs of the many.

Stadium losing power, BAD BAD BAD
Hospitals losing power, WHO CARES? Oncor doesn't. ERCOT doesn't.