And the hits just keep on coming

  • In a followup to our piece on property taxes, we found this proposal from Senator Watson which is just complete crap.

    Here’s a simple rule for everyone in Texas: If a politician tells you they have a solution to high property taxes and it doesn’t involve an income tax, you need to STOP LISTENING. Anything else is analogous to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

  • The DMN has a great piece on the overreliance in Texas on toll roads. The funny thing is that the money quote comes not from a Democrat, but from a Republican…Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Senator John Carona:

    Carona, the state senator, said the reliance on tolls actually costs North Texans more than raising the gas tax would have. He said that toll projects cost more than three times what free roads do because they involve much more complicated financing methods and typically involve private developers who aim to make a profit.
    Carona said politicians who pat themselves on the back for not raising the gas tax have effectively hit their constituents’ pocketbooks harder.
    “It’s been a hoax on the public,” he said.

    Thank you, Senator Carona, for finally saying in plain English what we’ve known to be true since 2006.

  • Posted in Stupid Democratic Tricks, Stupid Republican Tricks, Texas, Transportation | Comments Off

    No, you can’t. You just CAN’T.

    You’ve all heard of In The Pink. It, like this blog, started before Tumblr was the cool place to blog, and before bored bloggers could use Tinder to find a writing partner (Note: I think this is what you use Tinder for, but I’m so out of touch with technology, I may be wrong).

    Well, today, Eileen Smith, the Pink Lady, the blogger in residence, the head enchilada, she who once worked with Burka and stalked Mark Warner (who?), has decided to call it quits.

    This could not have come at a worse time for the world.

    I mean, I know drinking Pinot and raising a baby and a pug are really hard while you are also single-handedly running this country’s campaign to increase Starbucks’ barista literacy, but now?

    Who is going to reveal to us that Dan Patrick’s medical records show he has small testicles? And who, mind you, WHO, is going to be around to sort it all out the next time a politician gets sued for making his nanny power wash his house (and you KNOW this will happen again)? We are lost. Lost, I tell you. Lost.

    Worst of all, when Hillary runs in 2016, because god knows Texas won’t have a female governor this year (though we have high hopes for Lt. Gov.), who are we going to look to for the right level of snark, fear, abrasiveness, hatred, puzzlement, and confusion to possess when someone disses HillDog?

    Eileen, we know the pug and child need you, but you will be missed.

    I’m so sad right now. The only place I can go to drown my sorrows right now? Starbucks. And I’m telling them my name is EILEEN.

    Posted in Texas | Comments Off

    You’re still here? Steve Forbes edition

    Steve Forbes, as many of you know well, would probably be a failed vacuum salesman if not for his luck in the ovarian lottery. Coming out of the right vagina has given Forbes not only wealth but a platform to show the world that money may be able to buy you an incredible education but not the intelligence to understand.

    Case in point, his latest screed on the minimum wage. At issue, Seattle’s decision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hr. Forbes says…

    All of these consequences are well known, even if politicians and leftist economists pretend otherwise. So why did Seattle do it? Why have a number of other municipalities and states done the same, even if not on the same willfully destructive scale as Seattle?
    There’s more than wishful thinking and economic illiteracy operating here. Such moves reflect the frustrations and anger that erupt when an economy is stagnant and people lose faith in a prosperous future: If the marketplace won’t raise wages, then, by golly, we will decree them by law!

    Not for nothing, but ‘leftist economists’? Just in case you can’t hear the schmuck’s dog whistle, he’s talking about the folks who’ve been screaming for almost 40 years that supply side economics wouldn’t work. That tax cuts for the rich alone with exacerbate wealth and income inequality, increase the federal debt and depress long term economic growth below potential. The same folks who’ve been saying that speculative mania, not real fundamental growth, would be the result of supply side economic policies.

    You know, the people who were RIGHT. The people who got every single piece of this correct while people like Steve Forbes called them names like ‘leftist’.

    As for the last line, YES. There are a number of things the public sector can do to drive private sector employment and only the truly economically ignorant would think that government can never create jobs (think Boeing or Halliburton). One of the things government can do is mandate a minimum wage. In so doing, it raises the level of economic activity as those who are receiving the newer wage begin to consume more and aggregate wages increase a very marginal amount which holds back wage push inflation which I’m sure someone like Steve Forbes thinks is constantly a real problem. The one thing we know about people at the bottom of the economy is that they spend everything they make. THIS is where you want to put money to work, not dropping tax rates for Steve Forbes.

    Steve, unfortunately, isn’t done…

    One of the ugly—and utterly misunderstood—results of a weak currency is the erosion of social trust. As the link between honest effort and reward appears to be undermined, such values as hard work and saving for the future are mocked. Crony capitalism and financial speculation mushroom: Consume now, only suckers believe in the long term. Why invest, when the markets are rigged against you? Envy grows, and politicians profit by fanning divisions and targeting scapegoats.

    Aren’t we lucky that we have the scion of a wealth family, whose only achievement was arriving on earth between the right pair of legs, to show us what we utterly misunderstand? This section is just completely crap. It’s not the weak dollar that’s causing the problem, it’s that people on the bottom do not have money to LIVE. This isn’t about luxuries, it’s about basic necessities. These people don’t have money for investment, they’re looking for ways to FEED themselves.

    It’s this piece that paints a crystal clear picture of why people like Steve Forbes can’t be part of the solution… they don’t even understand the problem. They are now so far removed from the day to day reality of ordinary Americans that they don’t even conceptually understand the issues faced by people earning the minimum wage. How can someone who thinks that the poor just don’t want to invest understand that the real issue faced by most people in the bottom 20% is how they are going to feed their families?

    Posted in Economy, Media Madness, Stupid Republican Tricks | 1 Comment

    Eating paint chips

    It’s been a while since I last posted, as I have been a little busy recently. I broke up with a woman that I had allegedly been dating (I, for one, still vehemently deny the accusation that I would settle on monogamy and am offended by the suggestion), and have had to pick up the pieces of my life since then. Literally, I mean; she smashed up my apartment with a baseball bat. Last time I make mistake of exchanging keys with a prospective romantic partner, but I digress.

    She also slashed the tires on my car, though thankfully did not do anything too awful to the great love of my life, such as smash in her windshield or car her brand new paint job. Still, the incident made me reevaluate my transportation options for a couple of days, as I had no way to get around and most of my friends were out of town interning with Deloitte or saving the fucking humpback glitter turtles off the coast of Narnia. So I called a cab.

    Now, I’m not socially stunted like most people my age, so I have the capacity to pick up a goddamn phone and talk to another human…scary, huh? 452-9999, it’s a really fucking simple telephone number. The cab picked me up pretty quickly, and I took me where I was going. I probably wouldn’t eat off of the floor, but it was clean enough, and the driver seemed like an interesting enough dude, one I had an entertaining conversation with. But again, people my age don’t know how to look up from their damn phones

    Come to think of it, I have had nothing but good experiences with Yellow Cab and other taxi companies, no matter what city I’ve been in. Typically it’s Austin and Dallas, but I’ve visited women in Houston before when I was far too drunk to safely operate an automobile, and they have done the trick down on the carcinogenic coast as well.

    So when I hear the usual suspects in Austin politics clamoring about how shitty the cabs are, I am immediately skeptical. These fine people have gotten me out of sticky situations more times than I can remember, particularly in High School. But the supposed solution to this crisis-that-does-exist is a far, far worse medicine than the underlying ailment. These cocksuckers are called Lyft and Uber, and if Democrats are the herpes of the political world, these guys are the antibiotic-resistant syphilis.

    Lyft and Uber, hereafter known as “syphilis,” claim that they are an app that connects drivers to people in need of rides, and as such are not a taxi company. They claim that, therefore, they do not have to follow the same regulations that a taxi company has to. Of course, I know a pimp who claimed he only connected men and women each seeking love, but that is a story for a different post.

    Because of this asinine argument, so stupid that it should probably be watered twice a day, syphilis has entered the marketplace illegally. A couple of days ago, Lyft, and today, Uber. Even though the Austin City Council has begun to consider changes to the Taxi Code, syphilis said “Fuck it” and barged in anyways.

    Now, let’s look at some of the oh-so-terrible regulations that syphilis wishes to do away with. First, they want to nix the whole “Licensed Drivers driving Licensed Vehicles” thing with taxi cabs. Rather, they believe in this super-cool system where randos download an app on their phone and just give people rides for money in their cars.

    In other news, I’m going to open up a bar in my apartment. Lord knows I have any liquor for it. But it’s okay that I’m not registered with the TABC or anything because I just connect people who are thirsty with the soon-to-be-empty bottles of booze. Besides, if you dare try to enforce the law, YOU ARE STIFLING INNOVATION, FUTURE, BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!!!! WHY DO YOU HATE FREEDOM???????

    Perhaps all my contemporaries ate a bunch of paint chips as children (which, when you live in this shithole of a City, you find to be a significant likelihood), but I just do not see the value of their arguments. I get it, syphilis has apps, but Yellow Cab does too. And unlike syphilis, you know exactly how much you are going to pay, and you can fucking use cash if you fucking want.

    In a spirit of full disclosure, the more I started to research these cocksuckers, the more I just plain started to loathe them…like with fiery burning passion. They cavalierly break the law as if it does not apply to them, laws that are put in place for a reason.

    Like insurance, for example. Currently there is a huge, gaping donut hole involving riding around with syphilis. Private car insurance does not cover commercial operations, and the syphilis providers do not cover the driver if he or she is not in the process of providing a ride. So if a car infected with syphilis slams into you while you are walking down the road, and you quickly transform into “Massive Headwound Harry,” you might be running around like a chicken with its head cut off looking for a way to pay your medical bills.

    Now forget everything I just said, because that is just the selfish interpretation of the issue. This is how the issue of syphilis affects rich trial lawyer’s sons a/k/a little shits like me. And while there is a fairly good argument for this, the more compelling one would be those who entertain just a tiny goddamn smidgeon of altruism. I’ve made the case for this before, specifically in regard to the abortion issue.

    Taxis are all about picking everyone up. Sometimes it’s a little more expensive than it could be, because they by law have to take everyone, even the most unprofitable rides. Typically these are short-length trip in bad neighborhoods that do not foster many rides. Even more so than Dallas, I have found that Austin is chock full of otherwise liberal people who go full libertarian-imbecile when the government ever dare mess with them personally.

    They would rather disenfranchise the old and the crippled away from what is often their only transportation option, because they want a flashier ride. Geez, I’m an openly philandering asshole, and even I don’t go that far. Grow the fuck up and realize the entire goddamn world does not revolve around you.

    Posted in Texas | Tagged , | Comments Off

    Top Texas energy official wants step back from wind power subsidy | www.mystatesman.com

    Top Texas energy official wants step back from wind power subsidy | www.mystatesman.com.

    There are a few points that Donna misses…

    1) There are no long term waste storage issues with wind power.
    2) There are no long term pollution issues with wind power.

    Those two items alone are worth the subsidy. What EIA isn’t calculating into the report is a cost for the pollution and waste created by legacy generation facilities (coal, gas, nuclear). For a pollution cost example, look at how much it costs farmers to treat their fields with lime to compensate for the increased soil acidity resulting from pollution created by legacy power plants raining out on their fields. Those little costs all add up and up to create tens of billions of dollars in costs that are not being properly allocated to the right folks. Then there’s waste storage issues… we’re all familiar with what we have to do with ‘spent’ nuclear fuel, but there’s also a tremendous amount of coal ash produced that causes groundwater contamination all over the country.

    Since EIA missed this too, we’ll let Donna off the hook on this one and assume she just didn’t realize it.

    Not that I think it’ll change her mind, I just hope some of the Commissioners may see this and ignore her.

    Posted in Energy, Stupid Republican Tricks, Texas | Comments Off

    OMG! Property Taxes!!!!

    OK, let’s all take a look at this

    “I’m at the breaking point,” said Gretchen Gardner, an Austin artist who bought a 1930s bungalow in the Bouldin neighborhood just south of downtown in 1991 and has watched her property tax bill soar to $8,500 this year.

    The arrival of this year’s appraisal notices — which in Travis County showed homes’ average market values jumped 12.6 percent and average taxable values rose 8 percent for 2014 — is sparking a push for reform.

    First off, I have nothing but sympathy for someone who bought a house for, I’m guessing, $70,000 which is now worth probably around $700,000. It’s difficult not to feel bad for someone whose investment is up more than 1000%. But, let’s at least try to look at things rationally and realize that all in all, the homeowner has done pretty well, certainly better than the poor schmuck who put money into a DJIA index fund in 1991. We’ll come back to this in a bit (and trust me, though it may sound like I don’t, I really do have a lot of sympathy for Ms. Gardner… stay with me).

    Now, the second part of the quote is the far more revealing one… y’all don’t seem to get that TAX value is rising LESS rapidly than market value (a little less than 2/3 of the increase in market value is being assessed). Plus, the value the county places on your home is LESS than what it’s actually worth. The County, for instance, has Ms. Gardner’s home appraised for $650,000 when it’s really worth north of $700,000. The TAC, to be quite honest, is doing y’all a favor.

    As for solutions, THIS is suggested…

    A key problem, critics say, is that the current system has shifted a disproportionate share of the burden of paying for schools and local services on homeowners, in favor of commercial and corporate interests who can afford to appeal their values and win big reductions year after year. The share of property taxes from homeowners to support public schools grew from 45 percent to 54 percent over a 12-year period, while commercial and industrial owners’ share has declined to less than 20 percent. (Other sectors, from oil and gas to personal property, make up the rest.)

    Brigid Shea, who is running for County Commissioner, is one of the people bleating on about commercial property taxes. Here’s the thing…even if you do something to increase their assessment and drop the assessment on residences, it doesn’t change the values which are continuing to climb which means we’re going to be right back here in two or three years. What’s more likely, since we’ve been shortchanging critical needs for damn near a decade, is that Legislature will act to increase collection on commercial and do little to help homeowners because they’re going to need the money to pay for things like infrastructure and education.

    To be honest, I really wish I’d listened to Shea more in the primary because this is a dumbfuck idea that ignores the real issue… and that’s where we get back to Ms. Gardner.

    I do understand that just because the value of the house is high, it doesn’t mean that income has risen and therein lies the problem with how we fund the government. When the property tax system was implemented, most Texans made their living from the land. That’s not been true for a really long time which brings me to the only solution that will fix this mess, a state income tax. That’s the only way we can fund the government equitably and give homeowners some real relief. Everything else is a Band Aid at best.

    Yeah, I know no one wants to talk about or hear it. However, it’s time for the people of this state to grow the fuck up.

    Posted in Economy, Texas | Comments Off

    What Political Compromise Looks Like

    Politics is a strange beast. Things that might seem normal elsewhere in the world, like math or how to conduct a simple negotiation, are not so normal in the political world. For instance…

    Republican Greg Abbott makes an opening offer of 2 debates, no more. Wendy Davis says no.

    Democrat Wendy Davis counter-offers with 6 debates. Greg Abbott says no.

    Now, if you guessed that the actual number agreed to was 3, 4, or 5 you would be making a guess in good company. But you would also be wrong. Because political compromise means you end up with 1 debate.

    The one-hour WFAA-Texas Tribune Debate forum will be broadcast on Gannett Co. Inc television stations WFAA in Dallas-Fort Worth, KHOU in Houston, KVUE in Austin and KENS in San Antonio. It will be streamed at TexasTribune.org and on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s site.

    WFAA said the debate also will air on London Broadcasting Co. television stations in Waco-Temple-Bryan, Tyler-Longview, Corpus Christi, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Abilene-Sweetwater and San Angelo.

    The reach of this one debate knocks out over half of the cities requested by Davis. The Valley & El Paso being notably absent, which gives Davis an opening to push for at least one more debate. So Greg Abbott proposes 2 debates, negotiates down to 1, and in the end, at best, may be negotiated back up to 2.

    Do we really need to debate who is winning or likely to win the debate debate?

    Follow up question: Other than reporters and people paid to care about politics, does anyone actually care who wins the debate debate? I’ll leave that up to you to debate as the moderator has indicated we have run out of time.

    UPDATE: That didn’t take long. Looks like the candidates have negotiated their way up to 2 debates with the second one being in…McAllen. The 2 debates that Greg Abbott wanted and what we predicted, what, last night?

    Well that was fun. Can we move on now? Or are we going to keep up the debate about having more debates?

    Posted in Texas | Comments Off

    Anyone know where Sid Miller is?

    Pony Drag

    Update : Due to a considerable amount of confusion, I’m providing this background material to help you people get the joke.

    Posted in Stupid Republican Tricks, Texas | Comments Off

    Dear Republicans: Your Chickens Are Coming Home To Roost (Primary Runoff 2014 Edition)

    GAWD Almighty and Lord Jeeezus! It has been a hot minute since old, Uncle O’Grimacy has had a minute to do anything for himself–let along post on the blog.

    Here at the Home for Retired Fast Food Mascots, it has been a busy spring. The King has been in and out of rehab–twice (nose candy). Birdie has had two pregnancy scares, and now, yours truly has Hamburgler’s Power of Attorney (not, mind you, because he has gone crazy and grabbed one too many lady’s ta tas at Walmart, but because it is a condition of his probation on felony charges related to ordering 61 Pizzas from Papa Johns, not paying for them, and handing the delivery man a bag of dog turds with “RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE” written on it). In short, FML.

    So, before Birdie’s Valium wears off and before The King’s DTs send him going door-to-door here at the home begging for enough change to try to buy an 8-ball, in the peace and quite of the early evening, I have a little something to say about Republicans, which I believe is most appropriate in this primary season:

    MOTHER F-ERS, YOUR CHICKENS ARE COMING HOME TO ROOST. Congratulations.

    Now, what do I mean by this? What am I talking about? Why now?

    Two words: Ken Paxton.
    Continue reading

    Posted in How YOU should vote | Comments Off

    This week in funny…(so far)

  • Lobbyist and really bad investor Sid Miller, who faces successful businessman Tommy Merritt in the runoff to be the Republican candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture, is all kinds of butthurt that the Houston Chronical endorsed Merritt over him.

    Sid Miller

    Sid, bubba, no need to get all upset. Commissioner of Agriculture is an important job. TDA has a budget of more than half a billion dollars and it’s gonna be too much for a guy who bought GM AS IT WAS HEADING INTO BANKRUPTCY.

  • Steve Adler, candidate for Mayor of Austin, kicked off his campaign on Sunday. The breathless writeup from Austin Bulldog has all the highlights including deets on the crowd, which included pigbeastshitbox Gerald Daugherty:

    “I’m ready for a change, to give a guy a shot who’s been a business guy,” Daugherty. “One of the problems we’ve got is we can’t get business-minded people involved. Some of my party are against government in general,” he said. “… most people want to see some changes.”

    Yeah, I don’t know what the fuck this means either, but it does make it appear that Adler is the choice of Republicans. I think I hear Mike Martinez and Sheryl Cole laughing hysterically somewhere.

    I was unable to attend the big announcement and it bummed me out because I love Amy’s Ice Cream. Then I remembered that the only flavor I really like is the Orange Amaretto and they probably wouldn’t have that since they never seem to AT THE DAMN STORES.

    For those of you interested in Adler, here is a link to another Bulldog article which features an issues Q&A with him. I can summarize here:

    Austin Bulldog: What do you think about this INSERT ISSUE HERE?
    Steve Adler: I think ISSUE is a problem, I think we need to do something about it (but I’m not sure what).

    And repeat.

    Seriously, though, for someone who has been thinking about running for mayor for months, he’s shockingly under prepared. For example, conservation and reuse ain’t going to be enough to solve our water issues… there’s an easy answer but I don’t know if he can get there without convening a committee.

  • Posted in Austin, Stupid Republican Tricks, Texas | Comments Off