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TexasTowelie

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 78,322

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Since somebody brought up Ted Nugent, we need some catnip fever.

This place needs kittehs!







CBO – Still Pushing Deficit Scaremongering Propaganda

We’ve written from time to time about the shameless partisan role that the Congressional Budget Office plays in stoking misguided and destructive concern about budget deficits. It’s important to recognize the CBO’s openly partisan stance on this issue, because it is supposed to make independent, apolitical budget forecasts and is widely and mistakenly seen as “objective”. In fact, the CBO’s regularly takes stances that put them in the same camp as billionaires like Pete Peterson and Stan Druckenmiller, who want to slash Social Security and other social safety nets.

In fact, as we detailed in a 2012 post, the CBO departed wildly from clearly stipulated procedures for preparing long-term budget analyses to cook up projections that showed Medicare costs continuing to grow markedly faster than is remotely plausible. This mattered because health care cost increases are the driver of long-term budget worries. The CBO’s analysis was so dubious that two budgetary experts at the Fed published a devastating paper on the CBO analysis. From our post:

A remarkably important and persuasive paper that calls into question the need for “reforming” Medicare has not gotten the attention it warrants. “An Examination of Health-Spending Growth In The United States: Past Trends And Future Prospects” (hat tip nathan) by Glenn Follette and Louise Sheiner looks at the model used by the Congressional Budgetary Office to estimate long term health care cost increases. Bear in mind that this model is THE driver of virtually all forecasts of future budget deficits.

This paper, although written in typically anodyne economese, is devastating in the range and nature of its criticisms….


More at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/07/cbo-still-pushing-deficit-scaremongering-propaganda.html .

Jury hands New Braunfels Utilities a $27.6M win against LCRA

NEW BRAUNFELS - A jury here returned a $27.6 million verdict against the Lower Colorado River Authority on Tuesday, finding the agency had violated its electricity supply contract with New Braunfels Utilities.

NBU Chief Executive Officer Paula DiFonzo hugged her attorneys and teared up after state Court Judge Dib Waldrip read aloud the 10-2 decision by jurors to cap the trial that began June 18.

“I'm just glad it's over,” said DiFonzo.

However, LCRA officials later indicated they were considering an appeal of the jury's finding that it had violated the terms of a 1999 wholesale power agreement with NBU and also overcharged the city-owned utility.

More at http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Jury-hands-NBU-a-win-against-LCRA-5639105.php .

Hospital Slumlord Update: Workers testify that hospitals’ owner interfered in billing

TYLER — Dr. Tariq Mahmood routinely ducked into the billing-code office of his Renaissance Hospital Terrell to insist that other doctors’ patient diagnoses be altered to reflect more expensive treatments, a former employee testified Monday.

After Norma Longley balked, according to her testimony, she later discovered her codes for Medicare reimbursements were being altered at another facility.

Another coder, Cynthia Kennemer Plumlee, testified that she was fired soon after she refused to allow Mahmood to be “involved’’ in reviewing the codes, saying it would have been a serious breach of professional ethics.

On the first day of Mahmood’s federal trial on charges that he conspired to defraud Medicare by submitting $1.1 million in bogus claims for his troubled hospital chain, the two former employees portrayed him as pushing the boundaries on ethical practices far beyond what they had ever seen in their combined 40 years experience in hospitals.

More at http://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/headlines/20140721-workers-testify-that-hospitals-owner-interfered-in-billing.ece .

Related threads (in reverse chronological order)
Hospital slumlord: Owner of failed Texas hospital chain rescinds deal
http://www.democraticunderground.com/107818030

Indicted owner of Texas hospital chain to plead guilty to fraud conspiracy
http://www.democraticunderground.com/107817949

Loss of East Texas town’s hospital (due to Medicare billing fraud) hits home after toddler chokes

http://www.democraticunderground.com/107812403

FBI investigating recent document destruction at Cameron hospital

http://www.democraticunderground.com/107810860

In rare move, sheriff takes control of Central Texas Hospital; effort aimed at protecting community
http://www.democraticunderground.com/107810599

Other links are available at this newspaper article:
http://watchdogblog.dallasnews.com/2013/08/18-million-to-reward-unsafe-hospitals-alarm-in-congress.html/

The most critical article is this:
http://www.dallasnews.com/investigations/headlines/20130713-patients-died-amid-federal-state-regulatory-inaction.ec

World's oldest ham turns 112, museum claims it's still edible



You may be able to eat it, but that doesn’t mean you should.

That seems to be the message as the oldest cured ham in the world turns 112 years old.

"It looks like a piece of old leather," the BBC reports.

Smithfield, Virginia Isle of Wight County Museum curator Tracey Neikirk told the Wall Street Journal, getting a new display case for the ham was a struggle. "I had a few exhibit companies say we can't make a case for that. They can make a case for Mrs. Lincoln's dress, but hams, not so much," she quipped.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/weird-news/worlds-oldest-ham-turns-112-museum-claims-its-stil/ngkL6/ .

Hopelessness And The Rise Of Fascism



All that money sloshing around the political system is so important because it is primarily used to brainwash low-info voters. If you have a brother-in-law you've probably experienced it first hand. Propaganda trumps reason and self-interest, especially for the half the population with double-digit IQs. "When people are [already] misinformed," wrote Professor Marty Kaplan, founding director of the USC's Norman Lear Center, "giving them facts to correct those errors only makes them cling to their beliefs more tenaciously. More and better facts don’t turn low-information voters into well-equipped citizens. It just makes them more committed to their misperceptions... When there’s a conflict between partisan beliefs and plain evidence, it’s the beliefs that win."

Writing this week for Alternet, his post, The Most Depressing Discovery About the Brain, Ever, asserts we can "say goodnight to the dream that education, journalism, scientific evidence, or reason can provide the tools that people need in order to make good decisions." (Which is kind of like preparing to say hello to authoritarianism. C.J. Werleman compares the U.S. today to Weimar Germany of the 1920s and explains that "the kindling for the fire of fascism has already been lit. While the Republican Party holds at least one branch of the federal government, America will never be able to deal intelligently and earnestly with the economic policies that have destroyed the working class and all but decimated the middle class. A GOP congress guarantees that Democratic efforts to raise the minimum wage, reform the tax code and repair our crumbling infrastructure will be thwarted, all in the name of protecting the rich from paying their fair share."

Long-term unemployment promises to be the norm, as well stagnant and poverty-level wages, foreclosures, crippling personal debt and bankruptcies, the evaporation of savings and retirement funds, the outsourcing of jobs, the continued dilapidation of our schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and airports, and the regulations that safeguard our food, water, and clean air. All this comes courtesy of obscene profits, bonuses, taxpayer subsidies, tax breaks and compensation being doled out to our corporate overlords.

...With such profound structural economic malaise, and a reluctance of the Democratic Party to protect New Deal ideals, Chomsky warns, “If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest, this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger, and the absence of any coherent response. What are people supposed to think if someone says, 'I have got just the answer, we have an enemy'? There [Germany] it was the Jews. Here it will be illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is a world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful protagonists. I don’t think this is all far away. If the polls are accurate, it is not the Republicans but the right-wing crazed Republicans who will sweep the November election."


- See more at: http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2014/07/hopelessness-and-rise-of-fascism.html

CFO: Sterling can't pay debt without Clippers sale

Source: AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The chief financial officer of Donald Sterling's properties says the billionaire may be forced to sell a large portion of his real estate empire to cover $500 million in loans if he persists in refusing to sell the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.

Darren Schield, who oversees the finances of The Sterling Family Trust, testified Monday that three banks are ready to recall their loans to Sterling because of his decision to dissolve the trust. His move was designed to rescind agreement for the sale of the Clippers, a team he bought for $12 million.

Schield said if Sterling has to dump $500 million worth of apartment buildings he could destabilize the Los Angeles real estate market.

Sterling's lawyer suggested there are other options for raising the money.


Read more: http://lubbockonline.com/filed-online/2014-07-21/cfo-sterling-cant-pay-debt-without-clippers-sale#.U82UOLFCz2Q



ETA: Another story with more information:

http://www.scpr.org/news/2014/07/21/45475/clippers-sale-trial-team-s-future-on-line-as-proba/

Rep. Burgess proposes cutting aid to home countries of unaccompanied minors

Lewisville Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) is pitching another alternative to address the border crisis: cutting foreign aid to the home countries of unaccompanied minors.

Burgess introduced legislation last week that calls on the president to roll back foreign aid from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico by $15,000 per child who emigrated from that country. The savings would be applied toward state efforts to address the rising costs of the children and to bolster border security.

“President Obama’s open door policy on immigration has resulted in a huge strain on our system,” Burgess said in a written statement Monday. “The U.S. already gives generously in foreign aid to these countries, but we cannot continue to do so if our limited resources are dedicated to caring for these migrant children who have been sent to our country illegally.”

In 2013, Mexico received $265 million in foreign aid, Guatemala received $84 million, Honduras secured $52 million, and El Salvador got $27 million, according to ForeignAssistance.gov, a U.S. government site.

More at http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2014/07/burgess-proposes-cutting-aid-to-home-countries-of-unaccompanied-minors.html/

Struggling With A Monster That America Created

By Carol Morgan

The President’s critics persist in the myth of lax enforcement of immigration policies as the cause of the flood of refugees from the south. It’s a simplistic answer to a complex problem that serves an extreme diabolical purpose.

As is with any social problem, Americans prefer to point fingers and blame. This crisis is no different. We blame the parents of Central America for sending their children away, we blame the President for not enforcing the law, we blame the porousness of our borders, and we blame employers for hiring illegals.

Believing that any of these alone is the root cause of the problem is a delusion. Detention and deportation is a simplistic solution to a conveniently-ignored cancer that’s been worsening for over sixty years.

It’s a cancer that America helped to create.

The initial seeds of crisis were planted long ago in 1946 with the establishment of the School of the Americas, and the fertilizer was America’s trade and foreign policy of the 1980’s. Both of these resulted in the exodus of people pounding on the doors of our southern borders. We’re like Dr. Frankenstein struggling to manage the out-of-control monster of his own making.

The School of the Americas, whose name was changed to the Western Hemisphere Institute For Security Cooperation in 2001, is located at Fort Benning, Georgia. It provides military training to government personnel in Central and South American countries. Originally, it was designed to short-circuit a growing Communist ideology in those countries to our south, but after end of the Cold War, the Communist label conveniently changed to narcoterrorism, and eventually evolved as label for any group who opposed the status quo.

The status quo consisted of American corporations and the Central American elite who enriched themselves by way of their capitalist covenant.

The training school produced many illustrious and storied graduates: the founders of Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel, Panama’s Manuel Noriega, Guatemalan Maoist revolutionary Marco Antonio Yon Sosa and Guillermo “Bombita” Rodriquez of Ecuador (to mention only a few).

The school has a particularly checkered past with Honduras (the homeland of the majority of the refugees seeking asylum), having produced fifty or so graduates, all of whom are linked to torture, death squads and other human rights abuses in Central America. That's no surprise; torture was a part of the SOA curriculum.

We used all of them for American purposes, until they outgrew their usefulness, but they forgot what we taught them.

There are more interesting details at the SOA Watch webpage.

The influx of refugees from Central America isn’t a recent phenomenon. The wars that America promoted under the Reagan Administration began the initial flight. Two million Salvadorians alone fled to America in the 1980’s; some legally, most of them illegally.

Besides war, America also added to Central America’s economic woes through NAFTA and CAFTA. Businesses in Central America were privatized, small communities upended or displaced because of foreign mining projects, and U.S. corporations dumped their agricultural products in bulk into Central America, bankrupting rural farming families because they could not compete.

We might have seen far fewer Honduran refugees had the U.S. allowed President Manuel Zeylala to enact his reforms of a minimum wage, agricultural subsidies for family farms and free education, but an elite minority of Hondurans who benefitted from the people’s woes overthrew Zeylala in 2009 with our approval.

Day after day, we see politicians mining this crisis for political gold: Rick Perry, John Cornyn and the most nausea-producing media prostitute, Ted Cruz. They all have nefarious selfish reasons for their actions and it has nothing to do with a concern for the refugees or even for our national self-interest. Their solutions are merely personal step-builders on the ladder to their quest for higher office.

The irony of Ted Cruz is that his own father benefitted from this system, but instead of lending a hand to others, he’s pulling the ladder up behind him.

Money and power, power and money. It’s an old story, but a persistent one.

http://lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/carol-morgan/2014-07-21/struggling-monster-america-created#.U82HArFCz2R

Permission granted to reproduce this blog in its entirety.

Rep. Gary Elkins’ (R) Payday Loan Business Faces Criminal Prosecutions


State Rep. Gary Elkins (R-Houston)

State Rep. Gary Elkins (R-Houston) has a certain attachment to Texas’ payday loan business. After all, he helped pioneer the current model, in which payday lenders operate as “credit service organizations” and can avoid Texas’ laws against usury. Elkins owns a chain of payday stores across the state and has fought strenuously at the Legislature and in court to prevent any new regulation of the industry.

“{I’m} not ashamed of what I do,” he once told the Texas House while trying to kill off a package of modest reforms sponsored by former Republican state Rep. Vicki Truitt. (Ironically, Truitt is now a lobbyist for ACE Cash America, a payday firm that was just levied a $10 million fine for illegally coercing borrowers into taking on more debt. But that’s another story.)

And now Elkins is fighting his latest adversary: the cities of Dallas and San Antonio. If there’s a threat to payday and title lenders in Texas, it’s the growing number of cities—18 at last count—regulating the stores. Dallas was the first, passing two ordinances in 2011, requiring lending storefronts to register and abide by zoning rules, and setting limits on the size of loans and the number of times a borrower can roll a loan over.

Until recently, the cities have mostly taken a light approach to enforcing the ordinances, issuing warnings instead of criminal penalties and relying on consumer complaints. “The intent was to go out and say, ‘All right, this is what we’re seeing, this is what we’re finding, this is what you need to be doing,’” Dallas City Councilman Jerry Allen said.

More at http://www.texasobserver.org/rep-gary-elkins-facing-criminal-prosecutions-payday-loan-biz/ .
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