Category Archives: Texas

Yes, gasoline costs more, because easily-obtainable oil is depleted.

Get yourself a Chevy Volt; this isn’t going away.

The simple truth of the matter is this: most of the world’s easy reserves have already been depleted — except for those in war-torn countries like Iraq. Virtually all of the oil that’s left is contained in harder-to-reach, tougher reserves. These include deep-offshore oil, Arctic oil, and shale oil, along with Canadian “oil sands” — which are not composed of oil at all, but of mud, sand, and tar-like bitumen. So-called unconventional reserves of these types can be exploited, but often at a staggering price, not just in dollars but also in damage to the environment.

In the oil business, this reality was first acknowledged by the chairman and CEO of Chevron, David O’Reilly, in a 2005 letter published in many American newspapers. “One thing is clear,” he wrote, “the era of easy oil is over.” Not only were many existing oil fields in decline, he noted, but “new energy discoveries are mainly occurring in places where resources are difficult to extract, physically, economically, and even politically.”

Further evidence for this shift was provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in a 2010 review of world oil prospects. In preparation for its report, the agency examined historic yields at the world’s largest producing fields — the “easy oil” on which the world still relies for the overwhelming bulk of its energy. The results were astonishing: those fields were expected to lose three-quarters of their productive capacity over the next 25 years, eliminating 52 million barrels per day from the world’s oil supplies, or about 75% of current world crude oil output. The implications were staggering: either find new oil to replace those 52 million barrels or the Age of Petroleum will soon draw to a close and the world economy would collapse.

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Filed under Barack Obama, economics, Iraq, Middle East, Politics, public corruption, Texas

Film review: Persepolis

This is a feature-length black and white animation in French, with subtitles. It is the story of a girl growing up in post-Shah Iran. The film is surprisingly moving at times, and generally informative, but it is rather long and, let’s face it, a little boring. It has won a number of awards, and rightly so, but don’t expect miracles.

I am constantly annoyed by the portrayal of Iranian history as starting at the time the Shah was overthrown. The overthrow of the democratically elected leader of Iran by Britain and the US, and the installation of the Shah, set the stage for the revolution and repression that has followed. It’s all about the oil, today as it was back in the 50’s. Don’t let the oily president and vice president of the US fool you.

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Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Bush blunders worldwide, Countdown to attack on Iran, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, global warming/environment, Iran, Iraq, John McCain for president of Del Boca Vista, media, Movies, perpetual war: fascism in disguise, Republican politicians: are any of them normal, Texas, Wordpress Political Blogs

Film review: No Country for Old Men

This is a great flick. Based on the novel by 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner Cormac McCarthy. It’s a little out of the mainstream, but that’s the Coen brothers for you. Tommy Lee Jones, (and other old men from Texas) gets to revel in his down-home accent and various cute homilies, and pretend to be astonished by the level of violence in the world. I mean, Texas is a land of ironies. The mild-mannered, polite, “god-fearing” folks, who drink, smoke, get boob jobs, go to strip clubs and practice racism and violence. But they all “church,” which makes it okay.

Fascinating place. Land of George W. Bush.

Javier Bardem: a total freaking scary guy.

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Filed under books, entertainment, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Movies, Texas, The Big Lebowski, Torture: you're next

Austin TX police have access to Austin Energy customer accounts

This stuff is just more of the same that started with your phone company illegally giving the government access to your phone calls. People can pretend that it’s only to catch al Qaeda or it’s only to catch drug dealers. By the time folks realize what this is about, it’s gonna be too late.


I can now confirm that Austin Police have access to Austin Energy customer usage information. The City of Austin, in response to my open records request, turned over an agreement titled “Utility Database Confidentiality Agreement.” This agreement gives Austin PD the right to search Austin Energy customer information without a warrant.

Here is the history. I received an email from the NORML listserv. An Austin resident was concerned the police were using customer information from Austin Energy. Allegedly, Austin PD was using electricity bills to get search warrants for marijuana grow operations. I, along with ACLU Texas, filed open information requests to confirm this story.

The City of Austin withheld further information pending an AG opinion. For those who are not familiar with Open Records requests, Attorney General Opinions are often sought to delay releasing information….

It is a sad day for freedom when your power company become an agent for law enforcement. Is the danger from cannabis so great that we must give up our privacy?

The War on Drugs makes us all less safe and less free. Austin Police have 127 unsolved murders they could be working on. Instead they are wasting resources on indoor pot farms. Unplug your tanning bed and hot tub or else expect Austin SWAT to visit.


Filed under Congress, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, FEMA/Homeland Security, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iran, Iraq, Politics, public corruption, Republican politicians: are any of them normal, Texas, US Attorneys

Consumer Product Safety Commission still non-functional: meanwhile, kids are dying on ATVs

The government yesterday warned that children could be injured or killed because of major defects in an all-terrain vehicle produced in China.

One of George W. Bush’s many gifts to business, at the expense of the public, has been the disabling of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. People may be dying as a result.

714,500 Americans sustained injuries while riding ATVs between 2000 and 2005.

Another source:

At least 18 people — five of them children — died in crashes involving all-terrain vehicles over the Memorial Day [2007] weekend, and federal safety officials expect more deaths in coming months….

So far, the commission knows of 467 ATV-related deaths in 2005. Wolfson said commission staff members believe that number is much higher, closer to 700.

Nearly 137,000 people went to the hospital in 2005 for injuries involving ATVs, according to the commission. About a third of the injured were children.

The Wall Street Journal and other sources are carrying the story of a Chinese -made All-Terrain Vehicle which is defective and unsafe, and is being marketed for kids,

The Kazuma Meerkat 50 Youth All-Terrain Vehicle, imported by Kazuma Pacific Inc., of Stafford, Texas, has no front brakes, no parking brake and is missing a neutral indicator light.

Thousands of these things have been sold. The CPSC has asked the importer to voluntarily cooperate, but has met with a stonewall:

The commission said Kazuma Pacific refused to provide complete incident or injury information for any of its products, so the CPSC could not figure out how many children may have been injured.
Between December and May, the company “impeded CPSC’s efforts to protect the safety of children” by refusing to implement a plan to fix the ATV’s defects.
The company did not return telephone or e-mail requests for comment yesterday.
It has sold at least 2,700 Meerkat 50 ATVs and has said it will continue to do so.
Kazuma dealers and Web retailers nationwide have sold the vehicle since 2003 for $525 to $825.

Yet there seems to be nothing that can be done officially to ban it, because the Consumer Product Safety Commission continues to have a critical vacancy.

…ex-Chairman Hal Stratton, another Bush appointee, bolted the job with little warning on July 15 to join a law firm.

Bush waited so long to fill the post that the two remaining commissioners lost all regulatory powers on January 15.

In the CPSC’s 35-year history, only four times has it ever gone more than six months with only two commissioners. Three of those times were under the current administration.

On March 7, with a Democratic Congress in control, Bush made a bizarre nomination of a man who has made a career out of fighting consumer protection and workplace safety, a man Bush knew would never be confirmed:

[Michael] Baroody’s nomination has enraged consumer advocates and is expected to raise a fight in the Senate Commerce Committee where Bush’s nomination must be approved.

Baroody is the executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). NAM is one of the nation’s largest trade groups and it opposes aggressive product safety regulation.

Ann Brown, the CPSC’s chairman from 1994-2001, laughed in shock when ConsumerAffairs.Com informed her in an interview that Bush was expected to nominate a NAM executive.

Predictably, Baroody was not confirmed. Now, Bush can claim that the vacancy is the fault of the Democrats. Meanwhile, the number of fatalities from ATVs is climbing; though numbers are incomplete, deaths have approximately doubled since Bush took office.

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Filed under George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Karl Rove:Bush's brain or Bush's as'hole?, Outdoors, Politics, Texas

Dallas Morning News: Bush “setting up Iraq” so we can’t get out???

I pay special attention to Bush stories that come out of Texas. Maybe that’s wrong…maybe with his Texas pals Bush talks more “macho” (not to say he might be drinking…).

Who knows…but this story out of Dallas is yet another disturbing reminder of the dark and unpredictable side of the man who somehow became the most powerful man in the world. It may be that the “Koreanoid occupation” is more than a pipe dream.

Georgie Ann Geyer in the Dallas Morning News:

…Iraq, where we were supposed to be “containing terrorism,” is now clearly exporting insurgents to other regions – to Lebanon, to Syria, to Gaza, to Bangladesh, to Kurdistan.

And so, on the one hand, you have weakened societies vulnerable to the “new answers” of “new insurgencies,” and on the other hand, you have Iraq set up as a school for terrorists with American troops and policy providing the constant inspiration for their fight.

This, of course, is not the way the Bush administration sees it.

The White House sees terrorists as born, not created by history, bearing the mark of Cain, not the mark of circumstance. There is a scarlet “T” written on their foreheads at birth and the only answer is to destroy them. This kind of thinking, of course, relieves the thinker of any responsibility for the presence of the insurgent-terrorist-whatever in our innocent midst.

What’s more, there is not much real give in the administration’s policies. True, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other American diplomats met Memorial Day weekend with the Iranians in Baghdad (a good first move but limited, since the Iranians have most of the power because of our incredible stupidity in Iraq). But by all reports, President Bush is more convinced than ever of his righteousness.

Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated “I am the president!” He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of “our country’s destiny.”

We have recently learned that Bush is planning on a prolonged US presence in Iraq, making some bizarre analogy to our 50 year South Korean occupation. Yet many have assumed that Bush’s influence on Iraq will cease in 2009, if not before.

This story raises several unpleasant possibilities: first and most importantly, that Bush is an irrational and egomaniacal person. But we should also wonder: What is he planning? yet another “strongman” installed by the US as a puppet regime in a dependent state? Widening of the war to include Iran or Syria? Tampering with the American system of government?

Neither Bush nor Cheney are the sort of person who should trusted with the immense military power of the United States. Yet they are virtually unchecked. This story should add to the concern that they will do even more harm to the Republic and the world than they have already accomplished, if they are left in power until 2009.

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Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Politics, Texas

Chainsaws: Bush, don’t try that at home.

At Huffington Post (at the moment) is an image of Bush, wearing absolutely no protective gear, “drop-starting” a chainsaw, with a couple of other guys standing right next to him, just for another cynical photo-op, sucking off the tragedy in Kansas.

Your “technique” is not safe for you, mr preznint, and not safe for people around you….

Don’t I recall him almost committing mayhem with a bulldozer recently?

“I’m about to crank this sucker up.” As the engine roared to life, White House staffers tried to steer the press corps to safety, but when the tractor lurched forward, they too were forced to scramble for safety.”Get out of the way!” a news photographer yelled. “I think he might run us over!” said another. White House aides tried to herd the reporters the right way without getting run over themselves. Even the Secret Service got involved, as one agent began yelling at reporters to get clear of the tractor. Watching the chaos below, Bush looked out the tractor’s window and laughed, steering the massive machine into the spot where most of the press corps had been positioned. and gets clobbered, and why his little invasions don’t always work like “his gut” tells him they will.

And this is the guy who hurts people with bicycles….he needs to be kept away from machinery. Period. Whether or not he’s been drinking. He’s risking more than his own sorry ass.

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Filed under George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, healthcare, Iraq, Texas

NCAA tournament begins; thousands overcome by toxic cliches

I watched “Supersize Me” last night (second viewing); lots of bloating, nausea, sweating, high blood pressure, gas, intestinal upsets.  Enduring the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament I have some of those feelings, related to the overuse of the tired and terrible sports cliches by the dozens of Dick Vitale wannabees.

‘Scuse me…..I gotta get some Alka Selzer and turn off the audio on the TeeVee.

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Okay, the Bears lost, but what about the Cubs?

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Unfortunately, the Chicago Cubs have emptied the vault on a player who will do them absolutely no good. Alfonso Soriano. Thirty one years old, on the downside of his career; played on several mediocre teams who didn’t want him back. Thinks he’s A-Rod, acts like an A-hole. Soriano doesn’t have a position, and his idea of “clutch” is a small woman’s handbag. Can’t hit good pitching; he’s what I call a dogpile player: when the Cubs face a no. 4 or 5 starter and win 11-5, Soriano will be 3 for 5 with a home run and a double and a meaningless stolen base. When the Cubs face a 1, 2 or 3 starter and lose 3-1, Soriano will be 0-4 with three ugly strikeouts and a groundout. In the clubhouse, he’s a liability. He plays matador defense, and will look frankly ridiculous 5 or ten times a year. Walks? this guy may end up with more errors than walks. By the end of August the Cubs fans will have figured him out and after that it will be ugly for the next what? eight years? Too bad. At the end of the year he will have 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases. And no one will be able to remember any of them. After a couple of years the Cubs will have to make one of those deals where, in order to trade him to some exhibition team like Arizona, they will have to pay part of his salary. I mean, the Cubs were smart enough to let go of the pathetic Juan Pierre. But this is worse.

Too bad.


Filed under baseball, entertainment, football, Texas

Texas Gov. Rick Perry orders cancer-preventing vaccine for all girls

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human papillomavirus infection

Bypassing the Legislature altogether, Republican Gov. Rick Perry issued an order Friday making Texas the first state to require that schoolgirls get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

By employing an executive order, Perry sidestepped opposition in the Legislature from conservatives and parents’ rights groups who fear such a requirement would condone premarital sex and interfere with the way Texans raise their children.

Beginning in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade — meaning, generally, girls ages 11 and 12 — will have to receive Gardasil, Merck & Co.’s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Perry also directed state health authorities to make the vaccine available free to girls 9 to 18 who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover vaccines. In addition, he ordered that Medicaid offer Gardasil to women ages 19 to 21.

Perry, a conservative Christian who opposes abortion and stem-cell research using embryonic cells, counts on the religious right for his political base. But he has said the cervical cancer vaccine is no different from the one that protects children against polio.

“The HPV vaccine provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer,” Perry said.

Merck is bankrolling efforts to pass state laws across the country mandating Gardasil for girls as young as 11 or 12. It doubled its lobbying budget in Texas and has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country.

Perry has ties to Merck and Women in Government. One of the drug company’s three lobbyists in Texas is Mike Toomey, Perry’s former chief of staff. His current chief of staff’s mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, is a state director for Women in Government.

The governor also received $6,000 from Merck’s political action committee during his re-election campaign.

Perry panders to the religious right, but he was re-elected in November so he doesn’t need them anymore. Now it’s just all about the money. This is essentially like Bush’s Medicare part D: a bonanza for Big Pharma. It is not mentioned anywhere in the article but I’d guess that, in spite fo the reassurance of free vaccine for those who can’t afford it, Merck will getting full retail. Which, by the way, is something like $380 for the series of three shots. Perry is also taking a page out of Bush’s unitary executive playbook, by just ordering something done that would customarily have been decided by the legislature. In this case, in Texas, it would have never happened.

Incidentally, or perhaps not so, I do think that the vaccine is a wonderful advance and very worthwhile. If you have a daughter, get it done.

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Filed under healthcare, Politics, religion, Texas