Thursday, October 20, 2016

BadPolitics: Waiting for the other shoe to drop on this election.

I stated last night on Twitter that this had to be on last Monty Python prank being pulled on America.

"Two dipshits run for political office"

The debate going on with Python staff (one dressed in drag of course) providing silly answers to questions asked by John Cleese.  Suddenly, he turns, looks at the camera and says:

"And now for something completely different"

*Cue Music.*

As we all are aware by now that's not what's going on.  America, perhaps once the greatest country in the world (debatable I know) is stuck with a horrific game of "would you rather" to determine who will occupy the office of the Presidency from 2017 to at least 2021, barring tragedy.

Would you rather: Be subjected to Donald Trump's blustering idiocy for the next 4 years or Hillary Clinton's shrieking foolishness? This is really a loaded question because, no matter who ends up winning this game show, America is going to lose badly.

It's easy to look at the surface of things and blame the 2-party system with which we're saddled.

Yes, it limits choice and the Republicans and Democrats both have gamed the system to severely restrict the ability of other parties to enter the fray.  From draconian ballot access rules to exclusionary debate standards everything in America is not designed to establish Democracy, but to protect the two parties that benefit the most from the sham that we currently practice.

Yes, Congress has become an incumbency protection racket with the two parties only arguing around the margins of gerrymandered maps hoping beyond hope that one or the other will make a monumental mistake (like the GOP nominating Trump [or, in a normal year Clinton]) that will turn off the electorate to temporarily upset the balance of power allowing them to have majorities in both the Executive and Legislative branches that allow disastrous laws like the Affordable Care Act to pass through on partisan lines.

But that's not 'quite' the root cause of the problem, although it is a symptom of it.  Neither is it that all politicians, and by all I mean all, at every level, each and every one of them, are completely and separately a breed of their own.

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a politician?  It's like talking to a auto-quote generator.  If you meet them at a bar they *might* have a single beer, which they will sit on the table and nurse like a cancer patient while regaling you with their policy priorities and (this last bit is inevitable) "what you need to do" to help them get over the finish line.  Politicians don't have conversations, they have sales pitches. They view every.single.interaction with constituents as either an opportunity to gain a vote, or (more importantly) gain a donation. If the media is there then you become a prop in their minstrel show.  At no point do you get the feeling that they are a public servant and you are an important part of their constituency.

We're long removed from the fantasy of "citizen politicians" who spend the day working on the farm, or in the city, only to be pulled away for a few years, to serve the country and make sage, wise decisions on the matters of the day. That America ever was there is a fallacy that probably needs to die.

What we have today are people who spend a lifetime preparing to run for office, who spend their lives surrounded by the ruling class, so removed from the serfs that they soon lose all ability to socially interact with them.  On the Left you have Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emmanuel and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.  On the Right you have Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and Harris County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez. People who spend their entire lives running from office to office just trying to find a way to glom onto the machine so they're don't have to try and cut it in the private sector.

On the other side are the gadflys. The hangers-on to the political class who act as political remoras, sucking onto the political class and basing most of the business dealings on them.  In Houston we have people like Marty McVey, a man who has, as near as I can tell, no remarkable business acumen except for the innate ability to latch onto the local Democratic political machine and make profit from the largesse of it.

Occasionally, as in the case of McVey and, more notably, Donald Trump, these drains on society decide that they too should make a run at public office. After all, they've grown up their whole business lives around politicians, they view themselves as having the gift of gab and the feel the same way about the commoners as their politician friends do.  It should be a wash right?

Except it's not, and in the case of Donald Trump I'd say there's a better than average chance his campaign was always intended to be a raging dumpster fire in order to aid and abet his life-long friend Hillary attain the office of her dreams.

But the politicians aren't the root-cause of the problem either, they are only a symptom.

Finally we have the media. So far in the tank for Clinton they think the fake chest at the bottom with the air hose running through it is filled with real gold. The media have become blinded by their intense desire to be included in the types of parties their lobbyist friends are invited to. Why else do you think the President attends the White House Correspondents dinner?  It's to throw the sycophants a bone.

To be clear. There is not now, nor has there ever been, anything closely resembling an "unbiased" media. There was never a "good ol' days" where all we got was a solid dose of Walter Cronkite truth. Hell, even Sir Walter the Revered himself didn't give us that.  There is not a person on this Earth, not one, who is capable of 100% repressing their personal beliefs when writing on a topic. THERE.IS.ALWAYS.BIAS. Always. There are no exceptions to this, either on the left or the right.

But still, we're not talking about the problem, only a symptom of it.

The root cause, the Pater Familia of where we are today, stuck in the worst election cycle ever with the two single worst candidates to ever be nominated for office by a major party, is because we, the people, the so-called "backbone of the Nation" have stopped thinking, stopped paying attention, and have outsourced our political discourse to the three groups above.

And I'm not just talking about the 2/3rd of Americans who can't name all three branches of government, I'm referring to people who consider themselves "politically clued in".  I'm talking about party activists, people who stay up late watching FoxNews and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, People who spend their Monday nights at county party committee meetings, their Saturdays phone-banking or block-walking instead of watching College Football as God intended.

I'm referring to people who can name the President, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, both Minority leaders, the whips, their Governor, all of the State elected officials, their party chairman and their local politicians as well.

Or, as politicians like to call them: useful idiots.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties could have spared us from this mess. The Republicans could have shown a backbone and not allowed a life-long Democrat, and Friend of Bill (Clinton) take over their nomination process and, through open primary votes from non-Republicans, become the parties standard-bearer.  And the Democrats could have decided that no, they're NOT going to run interference for Hillary, forcing her to face some real competition instead of just crazy Bernie other guy that ran, for a minute...ah never mind, you don't remember him either.

Even after the nominations it could be stopped. If only people would be willing to call out their own party when they're wrong.

But they're not. They can't be.  Because so many political types have based so much of their self-worth on whether or not their chosen party wins we're to the point that policy doesn't matter.  This is why politicians can "evolve" on issues and suddenly a vociferous pro-defense-of-marriage Democratic blogger pivots and writes (without a hint of self-awareness) that anyone anti-GLBTQPI(Z? We need to find something different, I'm getting lost) thoughts is a bigot who should immediately be ran out of polite society on a rail.

We either don't think, or we don't care. The result of this is that the ruling class has successfully convinced us that the real threat to the Republic, the number one danger facing us, of changing our way of lives and taking away all of our freedoms,

And we thank them for it, begging them to take over more, empowering them with more and refusing to see what is going on right in front of us each and every day.

"And now for something completely different." won't be.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

HALV: One more thing on the GHP's expensive new office space.

Earlier, (OK, a few minutes ago, I schedule these things so there's some distance) I wrote about how The ruling class is dining on peacock and quaffing Champagne while the under class in Houston is reliving a scene from Oliver! (Please sir, may I have some more?)

Of course there are problems with this, problems that will only be exacerbated as Statist thought continues to plague our politics and mask itself under the guise of "Progressive" political theory, but it doesn't really get to the heart of the issue.

Let's be clear:  Houston having a "nice front door" on a house that's a shambles won't matter one iota.

"That view of Discovery Green"?  Bunk.  Because almost every city in America can find a place where there's a nice view on offer.

"Gleaming offices with stills of Houston?"  Crap. Because you can find picturesque spots almost everywhere.

(The exception to the above rules is Midland, where there is nothing pretty.)

The nicest view of Houston, when entering, is coming up State Highway 288, right about the time you hit the exit to the Zoo.  If you've watched a Texans game on CBS then you've seen it, because that's where they originate the wide shot of downtown.

That Houston has some nice places, and there are people who think we need MORE of them (for "quality of life" or some such) is not the issue. Because any CEO, or President, or Princess, or low-level royalty coming to Houston who thinks they want to upend their company because of some pictures and a view is one step below the intelligence level of the two functional idiots we currently have facing-off for the Presidency.

Roads, accessibility, education, cost-of-living, plentiful, cheap, conveniently located housing, access to services and yes, public transit (designed properly, of which Houston has none) are things that companies consider right behind profit and loss.  Here's what a good CEO would consider (In no particular order):

1. Is Houston an appreciably cheaper place to conduct business than where we currently reside?
2. Is Houston accessible to my workers and clients?
3. Can I hire and retain a quality workforce?
4. Is the long-term political system sustainable?
5. Is the regulatory framework stable, fair and consistent?
1002. Do they have nice parks?
1,000,008. Is their Chamber of Commerce housed in nice offices with pretty pictures?

The point being that trinkets, while nice to have and they make the people working inside them feel better about themselves, do not draw business. It's telling that the two business highlighted in the Chronicle story were newly located in Katy and Pearland respectively, and NOT in Houston proper.

The reasons for this are pretty simple: First, Houston's roads are shit.  And not just "could use some work" shit but "falling apart at the seams" shit.  "You struggle to get around town" levels of shit is what we're talking about. Second, (and this is really not Houston's fault to a point) the education system in Texas is starting to crumble. Yes, we have ourselves some bitchin' football stadiums, and our underwater basket-weaving program is second to none, and boy does HISD have the administration staff cooking. But when it comes to actually, I don't know, educating, the whole kit-and-kaboodle is just as much shit as the roads.

Then there's the regulatory and tax structure in Houston, which is even more shit. City Council and the recent run of Mayors have chosen to take an "ordinance for all" approach to solving problems. Got an issue? Pass and ordinance to solve it. Then, once everything falls to shit, react in horror as the law of unintended consequences rears its ugly head.

Oh, and raise taxes. Or, more specifically, go to the citizens and tell them that they can have more than the dreams of Avarice for just a little bit more than the cost of a pizza per year in increased taxes. Don't worry, the evil, greedy businesses will pa.....ah shit.

In summary: The shiny new, gleaming, GHP offices area gilded front door on what is becoming an increasingly large pile of shit.  The answer?  Right now it's limited to "raise taxes" and " bike exchanges", which only mean that the poor will have a diminished ability to get out of the shit they find themselves in and the rest of us are just going to have to pedal harder to not fall further behind.

Meanwhile businesses, being in possession of shovels, will dig themselves out of the shit and continue to move to locations, outside of the city, preferably upwind of the stench.

HALV: No boom for you. (But it's still going for the ruling class)

"Houston's Boom is OVER!" blared the headline from Business Insider in my news feed today.  Followed immediately by this:

Greater Houston Partnership unveils shiny, new digs in downtown Houston.

They've hidden more details (and their usual rah-rah reporting) in this story behind their paywall, where they (seriously) discuss the President of Mozambique not being impressed with the GHP's cramped offices as being one of the driving forces behind the expenditure of $8-plus Million.

Which sums up the leadership vacuum in Houston pretty neatly methinks.

Houston is a city with a 2nd world infrastructure, glaring budget problems, rising violent crime and an increasing unemployment rate.

But by golly we sure have some nice digs for our quasi-governmental Chamber of Commerce.

A Chamber of Commerce presided over by Jaime Rootes, who also presides over the Houston Texans, that perpetually mediocre NFL franchise on Kirby.

Which is fitting when you think about it. While Texans fans suffer through loss after loss the owner and his crew rake in Millions.  While Houston citizens suffer the members of the ruling class, especially those connected to elected officials through patronage, are thriving.

Welcome to America in 2016 and the "new" American dream. It's not what you know, how hard you work or how innovative you are any more folks, it's whether or not you have enough money to dole out favors to elected officials or quasi-governmental agencies in order to gain subsidy in return.

And it's just going to get worse as we go forward if we continue repeating the same mistakes, and electing the same type of politician to lead us.

Oh say can you see......that all of the tenants of the building are quasi-governmental, or rely on the government for largesse.

Partnership Tower is owned by Houston First, which is a tenant, along with the Harris County Houston Sports Authority, the Center for Houston's Future, the Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Houston and the Greater Houston Visitors Bureau, whose staff has been integrated with Houston First.