Friday, March 11, 2005

Ballad of Tillman Fertitta

This is my hometown story for today, a Friday. It was meant to be something good about my hometown, but as I'm from Dallas, this is what came out. I think I'm feeling a bit cynical. Those of you who do not live in Houston can look up Landry's and find out who Old Till is. But as a short cut, think of him as our friendly neighborhood Walmart.

Ballad of Tillman Fertitta

Come 'n listen to the story of a man named Till.
A poor restaurantier, barely'd made his first mil.
Then one day he was looking for some land,
When up came the place that would give him a hand.

Kemah, that is, shrimpin boats, local dives.

Well the next thing you know, old Till's a millionaire.
His accountant folks said, Let's move right into there.
Said Old Kemah is the place to make you feared,
So he tore down the town and he built a "Hollyweird."

Weird it is, boring food, amusement rides.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Wasted a Day Again…

I enjoyed Scalia so much, I wrote my own little song in honor of our truly remarkable state legislators. Hope you like it! It is dedicated to my new friend Steve at Yellow Doggerel Democrat and his muse Mad Kane

Wasted a Day Again…on Legislative Bill (#3)

Nibblin’ on cupcakes,
watchin’ the house break,
all of the poor people,
with regressive taxing.

Strummin’ my chair seat,
God, I could use a drink.
Can we just vote,
And go partying?

Wasted a day again in Legislativille,
Searchin’ for some lobbyist,
Loaded with dough.
Some people claim,
I ought to be ashamed,
But I know, it’s all Craddick’s fault!

Don’t know the reason,
We stay here all season,
With nothin’ to do but,
Rob people blind.

This Bills a real beauty;
A wealthy gratuity.
How we’ll get away with it,
I haven’t a clue.

Wasted a day again in Legislativille.
Searchin’ for some lobbyists,
Loaded with dough.
Some people claim,
I ought to be ashamed,
But I know, it’s all Perry’s fault!

I slept through my time slot,
Grabbed a quick lunch out,
Then headed back,
To get my vote in.

God, should I feel bad?
Lyin’, cheatin’, and stealin’,
But Pastor Bob says,
You’re a Republican.

Wasted away again on Legislative Bill
#3, #3, #3
Lookin’ for some of the righteous,
Loaded with dough.
Some people claim,
I ought to be ashamed,
But I know,
It couldn't be my fault.

Some people claim,
That we should be ashamed,
But I know,
I have god on my side!


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Breaking Out in Song

Since my last post the Legislature has decided to take my advice and make Texas Ground Zero in the War on Poverty...NOT! In case you haven't seen the headlines, look here for an analysis of the proposed HB3 and their effect on the bottom 93% of income levels in Texas. The top 7% save money, everyone else gets pissed on, most especially those who earn under $25,000.

I was so depressed after reading about this travesty of justice and spit in the eye of humanity, I went to several of the sites Bubba has listed on the sidebar under Texas Lefties to read the prevailing wisdom of the Blogosphere (hey, I managed to keep a straight face while typing that). As per usual most of what I read only served to fuel my already righteous indignation, but one happy place did make me smile.

From Steve Bates - The Yellow Doggerel Democrat

I couldn't resist; it finally burst out of me. To the tune of Maria, with apologies to the late great Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim for parodying the stage version of their lyrics, and to Mad Kane, on whose parody territory I'm surely treading...



The most sickening sound we have ever heard:
Scalia, Scalia Scalia Scalia...
All the arrogant pricks in the world in a single word...
Scalia, Scalia Scalia Scalia...

We've heard from a judge named Scalia,
His rulings, cause for shame;
It's Tony that's to blame,
You'll see,

We're screwed by a judge named Scalia,
And suddenly he'll pound
The Bill of Rights to ground,
Will he!

All those Decalogs will be staying;
So be sure it's to his
God you're praying.

You'll never stop hearing Scalia!

The most sickening sound we have ever heard.

Steve in turn took his inspiration for the above from Mad Kane, who has some wonderful poems and song parodies of her own. She also has suggested saving Fridays for postings of local flavor and color, which I think I will try this week. Now there's something to look forward to!


Monday, March 07, 2005

Connections - The Cycle of Poverty

For awhile now I have wanted to touch on the subject of connections - how one topic can relate to another through a maze of oddly attached information.

What do low performing schools and jury duty have in common? In a recent Houston Chronicle report, the three best performing and three least performing high schools were investigated. It seems there is no direct link between how much money is spent per student and how well students perform on standardized tests. The lower performing schools spend more and score lower. The report's conclusion points to the culture in which the students live, their parents and peers, for a clue to their expected level of success. The well-to-do, do well; the poor do poorly.

In a different article research was presented that shows predominately poor areas have a shockingly low rate of jury duty attendance, while upper-income residents attend more frequently. Strangely, the two maps, when overlaid, agreed to an alarming degree. So what does this tell us? The poor do badly in school and then go on to be bad little civic citizens? Is it coincidence, or is there a connection?

Ask the schools why the kids are underachieving and they cite lack of help at home with school work and poor communication between school and home. Ask parents the same question and they express lack of time, language difficulties, and distrust of the system. Ask the courts why people don't serve jury duty and the same type of reasons arise. Fear of missing work and losing jobs, uneasiness with the law and the courts. Poor students missing out of education because their parents are not willing or able to work within the education system; poor defendants missing out on a jury of their peers because those same parents and peers distrust the legal system. Connection = a disconnect.

Why does the lower-class/ under-class in America so disavow the government of the people, by the people, for the people? Small wonder when every day there is a new law, a new rule, a change in how they are viewed, counted, helped or denied help. Tax cuts for wealthy and middle income citizens don't apply to them because "they don't pay taxes." Yet here in Texas the poor are subjected to the highest real tax rate because most of our state funds come from sales tax, which hit the lowest earners the hardest (and aren't tax deductible because they don't itemize). The deficit means across the line budget cuts in all social programs and Bush has proposed to eliminate hundreds more. Minority and lower income young people have been killed in Iraq in larger numbers, are in prisoned more often and more likely to get the death penalty. It really sucks to be poor.

Why doesn't the Bush government (and GOP as a whole) care about this issue? The poor don't vote, for the same reasons they don't buy into government systems that keep them disenfranchised, and they definitely don't contribute to party coffers, so why should Republican's give a damn. Why should the Dems care? Because there are a lot of poor in America, and their numbers promise to keep growing as the Reperves keep stacking the deck against them. Why should middle and upper income Americans care? Because the cycle of poverty is growing ever wider. It encompasses minority communities, former industrial areas where factories have closed, farming families, and anyone whose job has been outsourced overseas. And when not just a few people, but who communities, whole cities become poor, those parents and those peer groups become us. We are all connected because we are all Americans. If half our human chain falls down a well, we all fall down, unless something is done to stop (or better yet turn) the momentum.

Last question, how can the government reconnect with the underserved and switch the momentum? Start with the children. Help provide for their essential needs- food, healthcare & education. Keep the programs fully funded and consistent so families are not in a constant state of uncertainty. Move on to the parents. Make it so they can keep enough of their paycheck to provide for their family's basic needs by moving the majority of the tax burden onto those who can afford it. Sales and payroll taxes affect the poor and small business owners (who employ most of the poor) 100 times more harshly than they do upper income and big business.

Eventually, government can earn back the trust of the people it deserted, and they in turn will trust the system enough to be a part of it. Connections.