31 March 2009

Glenn Beck Rising

The New York times has an A01 article on the rising popularity of the man behind the 5pm Fox News slot, Glenn Beck:

Joel Cheatwood, a senior vice president for development at Fox News, said he thought Mr. Beck’s audience was a “somewhat disenfranchised” one. And, he added, “it’s a huge audience.”

Mr. Beck has used phrases like “we surround them,” invoked while speaking vaguely about people who do not share his discomfort with the “direction America is being taken in.”

His comments have prompted several bloggers to speculate recently that the TV host may have been promoting an armed revolt.
He's a bit screwy in a "crazy-old-Uncle" kind of way, but these are screwy times, so I can relate. He doesn't have that smarmy Neocon approach like Kristol and he doesn't take himself too seriously like O' Reilly, so I admit to enjoying his show (albeit with a little bit of guilt). The guy is a living personification of the pejorative word "wingnut", but there's less shame in that now that conservative ideology is in the minority. Plus, he reminds me of Harry Dean Stanton's character from Red Dawn, which is reason enough to watch the guy occasionally.

Who You Calling Materialistic, White Man?

Time magazine has an interesting article that examines the current recession from a cultural perspective and proclaims the end of the age of excess. I guess I'll have to put my dream of having an H3 in the Orange County suburbs on hold. But the article makes huge generalizations about society and neglects some of the modern-day Cassandras that saw this one coming:

We saw what was happening for years, for decades, but we ignored it or shrugged it off, preferring to imagine that we weren't really headed over the falls. The U.S. auto industry has been in deep trouble for more than a quarter-century. The median household income has been steadily declining this century ... but, but, but our houses and our 401(k)s were ballooning in value, right? Even smart, proudly rational people engaged in magical thinking, acting as if the new power of the Internet and its New Economy would miraculously make everything copacetic again. We all clapped our hands and believed in fairies.
That's not completely accurate. What about the punk rock scene of the 80s and 90s, which was basically a rejection of the spend-cash-to-be-happy mantra? And nary a mention of counter-cultural forces questioning society like the movie Slacker and the Seattle music scene in the early 90s? I'm also a bit confused by the author's slamming of the "new power of the Internet". Certainly, those folks may have been partially responsible for the smaller recession at the beginning of the decade, but it has nothing to do with our current malaise. If the free market wasn't allowed to function in technological development, we'd still be reading Picard Vs. Kirk Usenet posts on alt.nerd.poindexter.trek instead of the awesome time-waster that the internet is today.

So the author is really setting up the reader for an argument in support of centralized power and planning plus a hint of "Obama is Awesome!" which comes on page 3:
But it's also a perfectly apt and gratifying turn of events: candidate Obama positioned himself as a smart, steady character who happened to be black, and the economic emergency that helped ensure his election has pushed the fact of his race and its heavy symbolic freight into the shadows of public consciousness. Once the crises have passed, however, I think we'll rediscover the ramifications, small and large, of the enlightened national turn we made last Nov. 4 and start enjoying the dawn of a new era of racial reconciliation.
If there's any entity that's been living beyond its means the past 30 years, it's not your obnoxious yuppie neighbor who went into mourning with the closing of the Sharper Image store, but rather the federal government which has racked up a debt not seen since WWII. That has to do with politicians making ridiculous promises of entitlements and tax credits to get easy votes. Obama has completely ignored our economic reckoning and continues to print more funny money and go on wild spending sprees, so I disagree (FWIW) with the Time article that the Age of Excess is over. But, nevertheless, a very interesting article characterizing the Sub-Prime generation.

30 March 2009

Rebuild and Renew: Progressive Campaign to Further America's Decline into Irrelevancy

Ben Smith of the Politico has the scoop on a new group of "Grass Roots" outfits such as SEIU, NEA, and MoveOn.org that have put up $25K a piece to form some creepy campaign called "Rebuild and Renew". It's your regular rabble of progressive/liberal/whatever mainstays like unions, trial lawyers, and environmental groups, but this level of consolidation is unprecedented and certainly deserves some scrutiny. Looking to secure their piece of the federal budget pie, their stated mission is as follows:

President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget provides a visionary blueprint that turns away from the failed economic policies of the past and seeks to invest in our future by expanding opportunities for all. His budget commits major investments in health care reform, education, and clean energy, while restoring fairness to our tax system and reducing military expenditures over time in a responsible manner...

...We can extend opportunity and security for families in all walks of life by expanding health care coverage, making college more affordable, supporting the financial and nutritional needs of low income families, expanding affordable housing, investing in a far-reaching policy that will develop clean sources of energy and protect the planet by reducing global warming pollution, and generate good jobs to rebuild our middle class.
More swell ideas that involve spending your money to keep wide swaths of citizens dependent on the dole (thereby securing favorable voting patterns down the road). The group's media spokesman, a Mr. Jeremy Funk, is the same guy behind the Hush Rush campaign a few weeks, so you can expect public shaming and ad hominem attacks will be the norm for anyone who dares to criticize The Obama's budget.

But the strangest thing was the imagery they choose on the header of their newly developed website (pictured below):

Not sure what the pair of grubby hands on the right is supposed to represent, but I presume it's how the rest of America, not affiliated with these special interests, will be living under the catastrophic debt Obama has promised. Foraging for scraps of food in the dirt, and some hope and change too.

29 March 2009

Maybe North Dakota Is Just Better Than the Rest of Us

All I know about the town of Fargo is what I saw in the Cohen Brothers movie of the same name, which actually mostly took place in Minnesota. But the response to Red River flooding has been truly impressive. Citizens actually working with the National Guard to put up dikes, instead of twiddling their thumbs waiting for FEMA to show up. This "can-do" attitude is refreshing for America at a time when Wall Street is cozying up with DC to extort more taxpayer dollars for their failed enterprises and states that spent themselves into oblivion are begging Washington (see California).

To explain this mentality, the NY Times had an article a few months back about why the recession wasn't hurting North Dakota:

North Dakota’s cheery circumstance — which economic analysts are quick to warn is showing clear signs that it, too, may be in jeopardy — can be explained by an odd collection of factors: a recent surge in oil production that catapulted the state to fifth-largest producer in the nation; a mostly strong year for farmers (agriculture is the state’s biggest business); and a conservative, steady, never-fancy culture that has nurtured fewer sudden booms of wealth like those seen elsewhere (“Our banks don’t do those goofy loans,” Mr. Theel said) and also fewer tumultuous slumps.

Online Town Hall with Obama Chocked Full of Obama Supporters

To further the cause of transparency, the online Obama town hall isn't necessarily a bad idea, but stocking the room full of Obama supporters has little to do with accountability in Washington and everything to do with the permanent campaign mentality. The Washington Post did some diggin' and has an explanation of why the "randomly selected" 5 asked hardball questions like "Thank you, Mr. President. My name is Sergio Salmeron. I want to find out about health care." From WaPo:

But while the online question portion of the White House town hall was open to any member of the public with an Internet connection, the five fully identified questioners called on randomly by the president in the East Room were anything but a diverse lot. They included: a member of the pro-Obama Service Employees International Union, a member of the Democratic National Committee who campaigned for Obama among Hispanics during the primary; a former Democratic candidate for Virginia state delegate who endorsed Obama last fall in an op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star; and a Virginia businessman who was a donor to Obama's campaign in 2008.
This was the same online Town Hall where Obama blew off a question about marijuana legalization. Guess there were no talking points available on that one. It's no wonder that lefties like Bill Maher, Andrew Sullivan, and Paul Krugman are dropping the sycophantic nonsense and beginning to publicly criticize the President. 'Bout time they woke up and smelled the coffee.

Quitting Smoking Japanese Style

It can't be over-emphasized how strange a place Japan is. More anti-smoking material is available at Weird Asia News.

Necrophilia with Dead Presidents

An artist from...wait for it...San Francisco has painted herself getting boned by a variety of dead presidents. The fellatio shot with Honest Abe was a real winner in my opinion. Here's how she describes her artwork which appeared at a Stanford student gallery a couple years back. From Justine Lai's bio:

I am interested in humanizing and demythologizing (sic) the Presidents by addressing their public legacies and private lives. The presidency itself is a seemingly immortal and impenetrable institution; by inserting myself in its timeline, I attempt to locate something intimate and mortal. I use this intimacy to subvert authority, but it demands that I make myself vulnerable along with the Presidents.
David Thompson called the young artist egomaniacal for such a lewd display, and her parents must be really proud they shelled out $30K+ per year in tuition at expensive Stanford. What is it with modern artists and their obsession with fucking the President (don't forget to see this other website entitled "44 Presidents Coming" for Grover Cleavland money shots). (h/t Gateway Pundit)

28 March 2009

The Dangers of Hipsterism

An important PSA on the evils of hipsters bedding down in our communities. Ugh. Impersonating Santa Claus, writing unauthorized poems...some things never fucking change.

South Park Explains the Economic Crisis

Link: Economic Crisis South Park Style

The notoriously fast South Park creators hit another home run by explaining the financial crisis. The only thing they leave out is the political and sleazy banking culture that convinced Americans that owning Margiritavilles was the American dream.

Obama Starts Acting Like Commander-in-Chief

Finally. Instead of dicking around with the zombie banks that were shrewd enough to pump money into campaign coffers, the President has announced a revised strategy for fighting the war in Afghanistan. NYT has some of the highlights:

  • 17,000 additional combat troops
  • 4,000 troops for security transition (training/advisor forces)
  • Conditions-based economic and military aid to Pakistan
  • Request for $50B in budget plan
  • Development of "benchmarks" for governments in Kabul and Islamabad
David Brooks writes from a byline in the Kyber Pass that this thing is "winnable". Milbloggers such as Old Blue and the Greyhawks seem supportive of the new strategy as well. Jon Soltz states that the strategy encompasses the proper mix of addressing regional issues and focusing on law and order for the fledgeling government in Kabul.

While I'm deeply immersed in the culture of the bitters, laughing at Obama teleprompter jokes and such, I certainly hope that this ambitious plan is successful. It's our republic, and allowing Afghanistan/Pakistan to fall under control of extremism would prove catastrophic to global security.

27 March 2009


Any of these creepy OFA people show up on your doorstep yet? I'd sure like to hear about it.

Rich AIG Exec Lectures Us On Sacrifice or Something

Jake Desantis, an AIG VP, publicly resigns and gripes about the unfair system which cost him his beefy bonus. From NYT:

The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation. I never received any pay resulting from the credit default swaps that are now losing so much money. I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings in the form of deferred compensation invested in the capital of A.I.G.-F.P. because of those losses. In this way I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers.
Seeing how this corporation would've had to file Chapter 11 but was saved by the cronies in DC (thereby saving his precious "compensation" package), I'm with Gawker when they simply say "Shut Up, AIG".

U.N. Rolls Back Civilization to the Dark Ages By Banning Free Speech

Uh, that's not change we can believe in. The dog and pony show known as the U.N. Human Rights Council has passed a resolution saying criticizing religion is a human rights violation. From Reuters:

A United Nations forum on Thursday passed a resolution condemning "defamation of religion" as a human rights violation, despite wide concerns that it could be used to justify curbs on free speech in Muslim countries.

The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted the non-binding text, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic states, with a vote of 23 states in favour and 11 against, with 13 abstentions.
Freedom of Speech has been a bedrock to modern society for centuries, so it's beyond the scope of this blog to argue why silencing dissent might be problematic. But, Jules Crittenden explains how it's a MoToon thing. Congressman Franks (R-AZ) urged against the ban, and the U.S. does not have a vote since it withdrew in protest from the council back in 2008.

You could start burying ammo in the back yard because you fear dudes in blue helmets are coming to take you away, but, then again, you could realize that the UN is completely fucking incapable of doing anything. Still, it's a slap in the face to individuals forced to live under tyrannical regimes that the UN Human Rights council is supposedly trying to help.

Sullivan Smokin' Mad Over Obama Blowing Off Pot Legalization

The Obama wing of the internet is trying to castigate their usual right-wing suspects (Faux News, Sarah Palin's kids, uh Israel) for daring to criticize Obama's ill-timed laughter. This guy has been in office less than 100 days and the sycophantic chorus of Obama worship to defend against any criticism on some of the bigger liberal blogs is growing absurd. That's why it's nice to point out some well-deserved shots at the President from a guy who once called him JFK II. From Sullivan:

The chuckle suggests a man of his generation. The dismissiveness toward the question of ending Prohibition as both a good in itself and a form of tax revenue is, however, depressing. His answer was a non-answer. I'm tired of having the Prohibition issue treated as if it's trivial or a joke. It is neither. It is about freedom and it's deadly serious. As for your online audience, Mr president, have you forgotten who got you elected?
Indeed, Obama blew off the marijuana legalization issue when drug policy reform might be the best way to halt the rapid collapse of Mexico. Not saying it might be the best possible scenario, but it should at least be discussed. Every American has come of age with anti-drug PSAs being cranked out by the bushel, from Reefer Madness to McGruff the Crime Dog to more recent Ad Council concoctions. So, it's going to take some political capital in the first place to challenge conventional thinking on the Drug War. Seeing how Obama appointed a bunch of serious drug-warriors from the get-go and brushed off the online audience by implying they were typing and doing bong rips, I wouldn't expect anything in the way of drug policy reform until the bums get thrown out.

24 March 2009

Scary Zombie Training Video Released by Obamamaniacs

Following up on the "pledge" that Obama's never-dismantled campaign apparatus was going to be knocking on doors to talk about Toxic Avenger Geithner doing a heckuva job, they've released a training video. Ed Morrissey simply calls it "very, very creepy" as it furthers the bizarre cult-of-personality that Americans seem to have been swindled into. Evidence can be found at the Organizing for America website:

Today it was raining like crazy but several of us still went out and managed to get 212 pledges signed - not bad considering the weather. I was heartened by the strong support President Obama still enjoys locally. We got tee shirts made up for the occasion that have the Obama emblem and "President Obama - We Pledge Our Support" on them.

... Our President told us we have to stay involved if we expect the changes we voted for to happen. The special interests will be active - we have to be twice as active as they are!
Recall the scene in Jesus Camp where religious types blessed a cardboard cutout of former President Bush (in tongues!). At least those weirdos weren't sporting Obama-stickered clipboards and bugging me at the local grocery store to get behind the stimulus package.

Green Gestapo Blocks Green Energy on West Coast

Desolate Expanse of Land To Be Saved From Evil Solar Panels

Here's a few examples that highlight the problem with the modern environmental movement. They raise a ruckus about fossil fuel plants choking up their precious Gaia, and then when some savvy entrepreneurs want to construct alternative energy solutions, they shit all over them too. It wouldn't be such a problem if these Birkenstocked totalitarians didn't have the ability to hold up construction for years in the courts while they drag ass making environmental impact studies, but they do, and liberal politicians buy into this farce hook, line, and sinker.

The latest bit of anti-civilization extremism comes from California, where solar panel construction in the Mojave Desert is being held up because of some tortoises. I've been to the desert in California many times, and besides the occasional meth addict and abadoned mine, there's really not too much there. But that hasn't stopped Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) from blocking green energy production. From FOX:
Feinstein said Friday she intends to push legislation that would turn the land into a national monument, which would allow for existing uses to continue while preventing future development.

The Wildlands Conservancy orchestrated the government's purchase of the land between 1999-2004. It negotiated a discount sale from the real estate arm of the former Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroad and then contributed $40 million to help pay for the purchase. David Myers, the conservancy's executive director, said the solar projects would do great harm to the region's desert tortoise population.

"It would destroy the entire Mojave Desert ecosystem," said David Myers, executive director of The Wildlands Conservancy.
With wind turbine construction being blocked in Oregon because of threats to the "sage grouse" population and being blocked in Washington because "people don't like to look at them", it's becoming increasingly clear that hardline greenies want us to either live in the good ole' days of the stone age or just get wiped off the planet all together.

A rare moment of wisdom came from Gov. Schwarzenegger when he was quoted in the Fox article with:
"If we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave desert, I don't know where the hell we can put it," Schwarzenegger said at Yale University.
I would suggest to the Governor that they put some solar panels out in the old Nevada nuke testing sites, but there would probably be opposition from special interest groups about encroaching on the cannibalistic mutants that dwell in the area.

Other Side of the COIN

Despite the extra-chintzy title of this blog post, VAMPIRE 06 has a detailed piece on counter-insurgency principles being applied near the Pakistan border that is a must read. At a time when Iraq seems to be calming down (especially with the implementation of tour group packages for Western tourists) and the winter lull in A-stan is ending, it's important to understand what our troops are accomplishing in OEF.

More Women Turning to Pole Dancing to Make Ends Meet

One positive unintended consequence of this economic catastrophe is that "gentleman's clubs" are seeing an in-flux of babes looking to work the pole. From AP:

As a bartender and trainer at a national restaurant chain, Rebecca Brown earned a couple thousand dollars in a really good week. Now, as a dancer at Chicago's Pink Monkey gentleman's club, she makes almost that much in one good night.

The tough job market is prompting a growing number of women across the country to dance in strip clubs, appear in adult movies or pose for magazines like Hustler.

Employers across the adult entertainment industry say they're seeing an influx of applications from women who, like Brown, are attracted by the promise of flexible schedules and fast cash. Many have college degrees and held white-collar jobs until the economy soured.
While the cash flow is certainly a vast improvement over slinging chicken fingers to fatso families at TGI Friday's, this AP article does not take into account the lady's new spending on the requisite cocaine addiction that often comes with being an exotic dancer. But if she can keep away the demons, there's no reason to believe this isn't a lucrative career option. What other business (besides a casino) can a guy walk in and spend hundreds of dollars in a matter of hours on lap dances in the VIP room because he erroneously thinks "I bet she really likes me, man!". Most male readers of this blog should be able to relate with some level of empathy.

Much like the Depression saw the repeal of the ill-suited Prohibition laws, perhaps we should look at scrapping some of the more ridiculous laws about strip joints. I'm not talking about full-on brothels (yet!), but at least to the level of regulation of Canada, which has some pretty awesome strip clubs. Liberal busybodies like Mayor Nickels of Seattle could stop with the jihad against the flesh industry and actually allow a much-needed shot in the arm (or snatch-in-the-face) to stimulate the economy.

23 March 2009

Timothy Geithner the Toxic Avenger

Timothy Geithner has had a metamorphosis from "Melvin the DC Mop Boy" to the great avenger of Toxic Assets plaguing our economy by unveiling his master plan to save America. The trillion-dollar investment seems to involve a lot of cronyism by backing up hedge-fund purchases with taxpayer money, but don't take it from me. More knowledgeable folks from all over the political spectrum are weighing in with serious criticism:

But the most devastating rebuttal of Obamanomics in general comes from Senator Gregg (R-NH), no drive-by pundit. From CNN (video here):
“The practical implications of this is bankruptcy for the United States,” Gregg said of the Obama’s administration’s recently released budget blueprint. “There’s no other way around it. If we maintain the proposals that are in this budget over the ten-year period that this budget covers, this country will go bankrupt. People will not buy our debt, our dollar will become devalued. It is a very severe situation.”
Unfortunately, America doesn't have the luxury of crashing in its mother's basement for a few months after making a series of boneheaded financial mistakes. All Obacalyptic rhetoric aside, the issue of a rising debt and the dollar going bust seem to be very real:

Jihad Chic in London

An Afghan reporter from Newsweek highlights some troubling extremist trends in the international community. However, it's not from Peshawar, Tehran, or Medina, but...London?!? From Newsweek:

In fact, during my three-month stay in England I met a surprising number of Muslims who shared Jan's fascination with the Taliban. The older generation, urbane and relatively well educated, had little love for the extremists. But among some younger men, frustrated and marginalized in British society, I discovered a fury that was depressingly familiar. I met many immigrants who were blatant, vocal and unquestioning in their support for what they imagined to be "jihad." Few seemed troubled by the brutality that characterized Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar's reign, or by his banning of music or girls' education. Indeed, many looked back on Omar's rule as a kind of Islamic utopia, and they eagerly snapped up the Islamist leaflets handed out after Friday prayers at various mosques around town.
This comes on the heels of an incident in early March where members of the fundamentalist Islamic community were seen protesting (Westboro Baptist Church-style) a military parade honoring some fallen British soldiers in Iraq. These clowns have vowed to continue their disgraceful demagoguery.

The Newsweek report from our allies in England is indeed disturbing, and you have to ask why the Muslim community in the U.S. is so much different than in Europe. Is it because they are less affluent and less educated across the pond? Does America's melting pot and "love it or leave it" mentality do a better job of assimilation? Following 9/11, I was at UCLA which has a large Arabic/Persian student body, and the sentiment seemed to be why we weren't immediately bombing those "Taliban pieces of shit" into the stone age on 9/12. This one liquor store I used to buy booze at in the Valley (owned by an Arabic gentleman) had American flags and patriotic stickers that would rival a Toby Keith concert. It was practically comical like the Simpsons episode where Apu pretends he's not an immigrant. While this is all observational evidence on my own part, it has been proven with extensive polling that the broad majority of American Muslims do not hold these bullshit extremist views. Why are things so different in Europe?

Any insight from a European on this issue would be much appreciated.

Of Bread and Circuses

Professor Hanson at PJs wonders publicly if America is going the way of the Roman Empire due to crooked politicians and rude businessmen on planes. The piece is worth your time:

It is easy to dismiss our ancestors as illiberal, or with the caveat “Oh, but if we were as poor as they were, we’d have to prove just as tough”, but we still sense they were different in the sense of far better. When I drive up to see those Sierra dams poured in the 1920s, one wonders how they made such things with only primitive machines, and in contrast, are amazed with our sophisticated tools, we do so much less.

This self-congratulatory generation can hardly, as we are learning, build a Bay Bridge again. Yet when we see on the Internet pictures of a new aircraft carrier we are stunned in amazement—we did that? We built such a powerful, sophisticated ship? We—at least someone— can actually still do things on rare occasion like that?

Lately, there seems to be a lot of concern about America becoming some second-rate entitlement state. But what are you gonna do?

22 March 2009

Pentagon Protest Brou-ha-ha


TSO gave me a jingle and said there was barely a thousand miscreants at the Pentagon protest, and most of the signs were just stacked up on the ground. Seeing how Hezbollah was there, that might've scared off some potential malcontents.

From This Ain't Hell

Saturday Recession Super Fun Special

Here's a flashback to 1997 with the classic Midwest dystopia film: Gummo, directed by a young Harmony Korine.

The movie has a lot of negative stereotypes about flyover country, but I found the depiction of the creepy underbelly very accurate and chilling. I've been through South Central LA, Detroit's East Side, and even the Florida panhandle, but I've never had the balls to cruise through Xenia, Ohio.

In No-Bama news, everyone's talking about the new blog: Barack Obama's Teleprompter's Blog, which is good for a chuckle.

For a comprehensive lists of Obama goofs, check out Don Surber's 60 Days/64 Mistakes.

21 March 2009

Local Ann Arbor Dude To Whoop Obama's Ass in Bowling

Kolan McConiughey Drops the Bowling Glove

While any outrage on my behalf at the Special Olympics gaffe would be completely manufactured, it seems an Ann Arbor gentleman and six-time Special Olympic bowling champion Kolan McConiughey has issued a one-on-one deathmatch with the Commander-in-Chief. From M Live:
OK, Mr. President. You think your pitiful bowling skills are something you'd see at the Special Olympics?

An Ann Arbor man has a challenge for you.

"Bring it on, Obama!" says Kolan McConiughey, who is proud of the six Special Olympics bowling medals he's won as well as the fact that he's bowled five perfect games. "I challenge him! I'll show him how to do it."
His average last year was 218, so Obama better seriously improve if he doesn't want his ass handed to him. Obviously, since only about 7 or so people don't like Obama in hippiesque Ann Arbor (most of whom are relatives of mine), the confrontation is good-natured.

Kolan bowls at the Colonial Lanes in Ann Arbor, which I recall has some pretty good Rock N' Bowl action on Fridays, and back during the 90s the bar at the bowling alley would serve high school kids with shitty fake IDs. I also have confirmed reports from my Mother that Kolan is a grocery bagger at the Busch's near Ann Arbor Saline Rd. Yes, the city is not that big, and it could use a boost in publicity after UofM had a seriously depressing season of football.

Populist Backlash Backlash

Lay Off!

I'm staunchly opposed to any form of the bailout bonanza because it represents a DC/Wall Street cronyism that ultimately bones the taxpayer and will eventually collapse the economy and cause massive worldwide inflation. Not like I'm pessimistic or anything. Also, progressive blogger Yglesias has a couple posts today sharpening the pitchforks that comes from a different ideology and higher level of education but arrives at the same conclusions I would (fuck these clowns!).

But if you want a thoughtful article on why this populist rhetoric is a complete waste of brain space, Ben at 2 Dinar has some sharp words:
In the outrage over bonuses paid to executives at companies that received federal loans or investments- “the bailouts”- American politicians are leveling their potato guns and attempting to out-faux-populism each other by indicting the companies that they chose to bail out. They are wasting their time. They are manipulating American citizens who need actual market recovery, not theatrics. And they are damaging much more than simply AIG- they are corroding the concept of the market, merit-based reward system.
Of course I don't agree, but it's always interesting to hear out the thinking opposition. Especially since I seem to be part of the 59% of "outraged" Americans and a minority viewpoint shouldn't be totally run out of town by me and the angry mob.

Shocker: Iranian Thugocracy Ain't Chomping on Obama's Carrot

Besides throwing the Special Olympics under the short bus yesterday, Obama made a pretty bold soft power move by issuing a video addressing the Iranian people and its leadership on the occasion of Nowruz (Persian New Year). Not a terrible idea, since not exercising all diplomatic options prior to conflict would be madness. However, it unsurprisingly was met with disdain by Iran's leadership. FOX News has a little blurb about Iran saying "neigh", and using the power of teh google news aggregator, I was able to dig up this FARS News Agency (one of Iran's propaganda mills) article:

The new US administration needed a "fundamental change in attitude", he said. But Iran would "not show its back" to Obama if the US put its words into practice.

"By fundamentally changing its behavior, America can offer us a friendly hand. So far what we have received have been unfriendly fists. Unlimited sanctions which still continue and have been renewed by the United States are wrong and need to be reviewed," he said...
...But Iranian memories go back much further, to the 1953 CIA-backed coup that overthrew the nationalist prime minister Mossadegh, and decades of American support for the shah. As Obama pointed out, with presidential understatement, it would not be easy to overcome "the old divisions".

Javanfekr also singled out US backing for Israel, Iran's arch-enemy and currently the only nuclear power in the Middle East.
You're pretty standard Iranian fanfare about our support of Israel and past involvement with the Shah. Of course, nothing from Iran about their aggression of the last 3 decades from kidnapped diplomats to flying drones above neighboring countries to undermine regional security. However, it seems like the video was a clever way to reach out to the Iranian people ahead of their elections, and the vid is getting some serious attention on the Middle Eastern satellite stations.

The Persians are smart enough to have good taste in music, so perhaps they'll realize that all the ridiculous conspiracy theories about the West attempting to assassinate Ahmadinejad with airport X-rays is simply state-issued propaganda to distract the citizenry. Also, observational evidence suggests that Iranians don't have some deep-seated hatred towards America and in fact have some affinity for Western culture. Fundamentalist theocracies will inevitably collapse during an information age, since control of media by the state becomes less and less feasible. Perhaps the President was just trying to hasten the process.

To Boldly Go Where No 33-Year Old Virgin Has Gone Before

In order to cash in on the latest Star Trek movie, some entrepreneurial geeks are marketing a fragrance to channel your inner Shatner. From Seattle Times:

John McGonigle, president of Genki, said the two men's colognes and one women's perfume will retail for about $30.

Soon, Trekkies will be able to channel their inner Starfleet commander — or inner William Shatner — with "Tiberius," based on Kirk's character. The scent which carries the tag line "Boldly Go," is described by Genki Wear as having a "warm vanilla, white musk and sandalwood" base.
They are also marketing a seperate fragrance called "Pon Farr", which is the once-every-7-year Vulcan mating ritual according to the Star Trek wiki entry on the subject. If a Trekker got laid once every 7 years, I'd say he'd be doing pretty well for himself, yuk yuk yuk.

20 March 2009

20 Year-Old DC Intern Blamed for Entire Economic Crisis By Geithner

Staffer "Timmy" Goes Under The Bus

How low and sleazy can these worms in DC get with the whole Notorious A.I.G. saga? This low [Politico]:
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, taking his turn on CNN tonight, says not to blame Chris Dodd for the AIG bonus mess -- but don't blame him either.

The responsibility, he said, lies with "staff" -- but emphasized that he stood behind the decision.

How would you like to be Treasury Secretary Geithner's staff, where the guy sells you up the river to a national media outlet to save his own soon-to-be-doomed career? As AllahPundit slightly modifies the phrase from probably the last decent Democrat this country had: "The buck stops...with my staff".

Politics Ain't What It Used To Be: The Baffling Partisan Rhetoric of the Bailout Era

The Fact That I Share the Same Sentiment as Code Pink is Further Complicating Matters

Goddamn. Remember a couple years ago when all everyone talked about was Iraq? The left would say something about the surge was going to flop and Cheney was a dick, and the right would retort with cries of "defeatism" and that they didn't support the troops. Man, political discourse was so much easier in those days.

As the cool heads at The Moderate Voice have already noted, the TARP bailout in response to the economic crisis back in September 2008 and it's political fallout (this week, it's AIG bonuses in the spotlight) have woven the most convoluted mess of punditry we've been privy too in a long time. Talking points are altered on a daily basis, people largely responsible for the mess are trying to save their own asses by whipping up populist rhetoric, and the President is trying to "take the proverbial heat" just to squash this wretched debate.

So here's a bit of half-assed pundit deconstruction on where we are at as of 19 March 2009 (likely to change tomorrow...if not later this evening):

President Obama: While acknowledging that these bailouts were necessary, he's trying to pull the old Clintonesque "I Feel Your Pain" bit by acknowledging popular sentiment that the AIG bonuses were appalling for fear that he has an angry populist uprising amongst Americans. I'm sure he hopes this whole outrage gets swept under the rug quickly and the media will revert back to talking about the status of his White House blackberry.

: Scrambling around like buffoons (both sides of the aisle) and getting all preachy about how awful these AIG bonuses are to save their careers on the public teat. The irony seems to be lost on them that they were the body that dumped all the taxpayer dollars into these floundering companies with very little accountability, and that many of these same congressmen/senators were at least partially responsible for this whole economic fiasco in the first damn place.

Fox News: They seem to be trying to blame the goons in Washington D.C. for this mess as seen by Shep Smith's angry rant yesterday and BillO going nuclear on incompetent legislator Barney Frank (D-MA) a few months back. Personalities like Neil Cavuto try to explain why the government dishing out billions of free money might have negative long-term ramifications, but breaking stories about AIG execs going to tanning salons strike the anger chord with more Americans and get more ratings.

CNN/MSNBC: Also lots of stories about suits flying off to corporate junkets in the Bahamas, and CNN was responsible in catching Senator Dodd in an embarrassing (criminal?) lie about who authored the amendment to allow for the AIG bonuses. The cable news outlets have been relentlessly pummeling anyone in Wall Street or DC who might be responsible for this economic mess to whip up ratings, and we appreciate it! My .02 is that the big cable news networks have done a good job documenting this saga for your average person sans MBA.

Dead Tree Media: Providing a lot of cover for the Obama administration and Wall Street by not looking deeper into the shady ties between Wall Street and Washington. For instance, why are hobbyist bloggers the ones sounding the bell about AIG campaign contributions? I suppose the only exception would be the Wall Street Journal, which has tried to investigate, albeit at a more educated (ergo boring) level than the cable news stations. However, the print media still thinks publishing illegible Kathleen Parker Op-Eds about boorish Americans who take an interest in politics is key in reviving this rapidly vanishing industry.

Conservative heavies: This is where it gets all weird. Just a few days ago, William Kristol said going populist would be a great political strategy for the GOP. With billions of taxpayer dollars going down the tubes, I'd say that's a good idea and where's my pitchfork. But, today Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, and even the exalted Glenn Beck (oh noes! he's my fave!) are now opposed to the outrage against AIG. I suspect this has to do with following the partisan axiom of "always being for what the other side is against", and they are now crying a river about AIG suits receiving "death threats" because the of congressional Dem reaction. Odd.

Reason/Free-Market/Paultard types
: I've generally believed that a collapse of portions of the bloated financial sector was necessary for long-term economic survival. Especially, since the zombiefication of all these banks in a quasi-socialist/nationalization type system will just delay an economic reckoning that is way overdue. Reason has been against the bailouts before they were against it, so at least someone out there is staying consistent and knows something about economics. However the "Go Galt" phenomenon I've seen with some of these people is incredibly creepy and I'd rather get touched in the bathing suit area by a mustached PE teacher than have to try and live out Ayn Rand's tyrannical vision of life.

Netroots: Also, another weird bunch. After spending 2008 and early 2009 deifying The Obama, they are now going after...Obama's Treausury cabinet?!? Glenn Greenwald is on a rampage saying that Summers and Geithner are responsible for the executive bonuses at AIG and same with FireDogLake. This seems like a big push to exonerate skeezy Dodd after he was caught lying, but at the expense of the one and only Obama?!? What is this world coming to? Dogs and cats, man.

AIG CEO Liddy: Took a dollar-a-year salary to save this monstrosity back in September 2008, which is respectable. But, he wrote a piece in the Washington Post promising the company was going to payback the taxpayers, which isn't look too good considering they just took billions more. However, he seems to be under the misconception that public service employees shouldn't be getting millions in bonuses. After all, with 80% government ownership in AIG, it should essentially have the perks of any government bureaucracy replete with lack of basic office supplies and crummy GS-whatever salaries. I think the man may be a bit "out of touch".

Anyhoo, I can't keep up with all the moving parts in this deep debate involving our financial future or lack thereof, so I'm dropping all feeds off my reader...except for Wonkette, which follows the model of "making fun of everybody all the time". Seems enjoyable enough to sit in your underwear and read. With all the rhetoric flying around that follows no traditional ideological conventions, it's almost like blogging in the twilight zone.
Maybe the next person to come out and talk about why we need more TARP funds will be... I dunno Art Bell or something.

MTV Sheds Light On the Bag of Dicks Known as IRR Mobilization

Ryan From The Real World Learns He Just Got Activated (h/t Floppin' Aces)

Since I'm a twentysomething curmudgeon, I pretty much stopped watching MTV some 15+ years ago when they stopped airing Headbanger's Ball, Beavis & Butthead, and The State, but I certainly wished I saw last night's episode of the Real World. One of the cast members is an Iraq vet and the show depicts him getting the dreaded "package in the mail" from the Army indicating he's been called back to Active Duty. While it sucks for Ryan, this is beneficial to widespread dissemination of veteran culture, which is probably why IAVA was pushing it so hard. Seeing how modern day veterans are a such a small sliver of the current populous (unlike past wars), it is important to spread the word through available communication mediums about some of the shit the military has to put up with.

I've known a bunch of guys who've gotten the dreaded IRR call-up, but Uncle Sam can do it (read your contract). It's interesting to see how the rest of the cast responded to the news:

The cast's response that Ryan "doesn't want to do this" and "he's just doing it for the government" shows a standard civilian misperception of the military. Most military members don't much enjoy going 15 days on a Combat Outpost with no showers and sweat-stained IBAs, but they do it out of a sense of patriotism and sacrifice. This may seem counter-intuitive to the your typical self-important Real World participant, but it may help explain Ryan's response that "I'm actually kind of excited in a weird way". Thanks to Ryan for his service and for MTV in airing this sequence.

As for Iraq, did you know that it's the 6-year anniversary of the invasion? At least, Stephen Colbert still does, because he headed to the sandbox to entertain the troops. I always liked his show a lot better than Jon Stewart's, because he sticks with the comedy and spares the audience from self-righteous indignation...unlike Stewart.

19 March 2009

Onion: Americans Woefully Unprepared For Apocalypse

Do You Even Know Where Your Spiked Leather Chaps and Arm Harpoon Are Located?

More troubling news from The Onion:
"Our survey of households in seven U. S. regions demonstrated that few citizens have bothered to equip themselves with fireproof suits and extinguishers to deal with volcanic upheaval, solar flares, or the Lord's purifying flame," Malthusian Institute director James Olheiser said. "Almost no one is prepared for a sudden shift in the Earth's polarity or the eating of the Sun and moon by evil wolves Skol and Hati during Ragnarok."

Olheiser added: "All in all, America gets an 'F' for end-of-the-world preparedness."
You'd think with everyone on the dole looking for temp jobs on Craig's List, they would have the time to dig out their personalized doom bunker. Perhaps, the prophetic movies coming out from Hollywood in the future (Terminator Salvation and 2012) will raise public awareness. But, not to fear! The Sniper and this bleg have got your back for properly preparing for all possible Doomsday scenarios.

Shep Smith Destroys Dodd For Allowing AIG Bonuses

Since everyone likes Fox News' Shephard Smith when he "goes rogue", here's his latest striking a populist tone. He slams DC (particularly mortgage-paper Houdini Senator Dodd) for passing the Dodd Amendment which allowed companies who took TARP funds before 2/11/2009 to be able to pay out these monstrous bonuses at the taxpayers' expense. It should also be noted that Senator Dodd got $103,900 from AIG in 2008, but I'm sure it was just coincidental.

Left-Wing Cabal Totally Not Frightening

Entrepreneurial Hippies Do Not a Cabal Make

The excellent site Politico has a not-so-excellent investigation into the so-called "left-wing conspiracy". Apparently, the Skull N' Bones-type shenanigans going on behind the scenes of a bunch of prominent lefty bloggers/journalists is...a secret message board known as JournoList! Oh noes, good thing I have a bunch of ammo stockpiled in my bunker. From Politico:
For the past two years, several hundred left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics have talked stories and compared notes in an off-the-record online meeting space called JournoList.

Proof of a vast liberal media conspiracy?
While the "conspiracy" moniker is a tad overblown, this sort of thing will have negative ramifications for blogland in general. It's pretty obvious that many liberal blogs follow the same tune in an effort to rev up a "unified message". However, being publicly chastised to criticize things which some well-funded think tank has blessed off is a form of censorship that goes against the internet ethos of saying whatever. Too many of the big liberal blogs are so limited in what they can say due to this collective mentality, that all you get is the same schnoozer posts about "Faux News is racist!" and what dumb thing Bush did today (he's out of office guys, who gives a fuck).

In a way, it resembles conservatism's problem in 2002-2006 of never acknowledging the Bush Administration's boneheaded moves and just re-packaging whatever was coming out of the White House or the Heritage Foundation on teh internet. But, hey, at least they weren't knocking on your door to talk about the awesomeness of Obama.

Jon Stewart and Veterans Groups United Against Third-Party Insurance Scam From VA

Jon Stewart's riff on the Obama administration for trying to save $540M by making wounded vets use private health insurance is well-deserved. The Frito Lay-sponsored MOH and Arlington National Water Park were particularly humorous. The bi-partisan ruckus being made indicates this proposal by the VA is about as politically toxic as AIG executives doing taxpayer-funded cocaine off some chick's ass. From a strategy-level, it's certainly a good thing that veterans care is still viewed as a moral imperative by most of America, since veterans are quantitatively a small voting bloc and would have difficulty competing with other more well-funded special interest groups.

Here's some of the veterans groups that are hoppin' mad:

American Legion - calls the plan "A desperate search for money at any cost"
VFW - Not happy either
IAVA - Obama's proposal is an embarrassment to Abraham Lincoln!
VoteVets - Just Say Nay

Props to the This Ain't Hell dudes, who were the first bloggers to break the story.

Update: This proposal is now DOA and the administration has backed off.

18 March 2009

Embarrassing "Bring It On" Moment for Obama

If Obama would've used Spirit Fingers during his speech, maybe the press wouldn't have noticed

Remember that scene in Bring It On when the Toros hire Sparky Pulastri to teach them some hot new cheers only to find out another team at regionals had the same routine (don't act like you don't know what I'm referring to). Obama had a similar moment when a teleprompter snafu forced him to read the same St. Patty's day speech as the Irish Prime Minister. Go Toros! From Fox News:
Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen was just a few paragraphs into an address at a St. Patrick's Day celebration at the White House when he realized something sounded way too familiar. Turns out, he was repeating the speech President Barack Obama had just given.

Cowen was set to speak twice at the White House on Tuesday night because there were two different parties going on at the executive mansion. No matter -- he would give the same speech to the two different audiences.

But Cowen was 20 seconds into his second address when it dawned on him that he was giving word for word the speech that Obama had just read from the same teleprompter.
Diplomatic relations have been strained with English-speaking Euro-allies ever since Obama staffers gave the UK PM a box O' flea market DVDs as some token of a lasting partnership. There is also news day that Steelers Owner and Obama sychophant, Dan Rooney, will be the Ambassador to Ireland. Cronyism in the State Department is nothing new, but Obama seems to be carrying on the ill-advised tradition. Luckily for America, Ireland is not an important country that requires a sharp ambassador. And now that the celebration of drunken buffoonery known as St Patrick's Day is over, we have a 364-day reprieve from four-leaf clovers and surly leprechauns being plastered on the walls of our favorite watering holes while people revel in their Irish heritage. (Disclaimer: This blogger is one part Italian and zero parts Irish).

Great Moments in Reflective Belt History

I received this in my email while in Iraq and was never successful in locating it again. That is until Troy Bouhammer emailed the powerpoint...thanks Troy! He's commented on some of the more ridiculous aspects of Fobbitism degrading morale along with Vampire 06 if you're interested.

17 March 2009

Whore-Lovin' Husband, Gary Skoien, Beaten with Guitar Hero Ax

The Sheriff's Department of Cook County recently wanted to go after Craig's List in a misguided attempt to curb prostitution. Turns out they probably should have just looked in the former GOP Chairman's rumpus room to get two hookers off the street. From The Chicago Tribune:

The former chairman of the Cook County Republican Party denied Wednesday that he was with two prostitutes when his wife allegedly attacked him over the weekend.

Palatine Township GOP committeeman Gary Skoien said that two female friends were at his Inverness home around 1 a.m. Sunday when his wife assaulted him.

Eni Skoien became angry when she found that "Gary was downstairs in the children's playroom with two prostitutes," according to a report filed by a Barrington-Inverness police officer. She allegedly swung a toy guitar at her husband and punched him.
I can understand the wife getting upset at the hubby having "two female friends" over at 1am, but busting up a guitar hero controller?!? That might be the only worthwhile thing the kids can cling to as this media circus plays out.

16 March 2009

The Achilles Heel of Obama Might Just Be...AIG? Maybe Not.

Corporate Fat Cats Cramping Mr. Cool's Style

You might've thought Obama blowing off his promises to be an earmark reformer and not hire sleazy lobbyists in the administration would have been enough to piss off the American public in the first 100 days. But that news was met with more yawns than a Jane Fonda broadway performance, because Obama's approval is still relatively high. However, the Obama spin machine is freaking out about the latest news of teh ridiculous from government-subsidized AIG. From NYT:
Mr. Obama’s advisers argued that to at least some extent, this was a sentiment they could tap to push through his measures in Congress, including raising taxes on the wealthy. They pointed out that in his speech to Congress, Mr. Obama denounced corporations that “use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet.”

“The president has been very clear about this,” Mr. Axelrod said. “There is reason for anger, but we also have to solve the problem. We need a functioning credit system. That’s our responsibility, and he intends to meet it.”

Still, aides acknowledged the risks of a backlash as Mr. Obama tries to signal that he shares American anger but pushes for more bail-out money for banks and Wall Street.
Regarding AIG paying out $1B in bonuses for gross incompetence, the President would have had a better leg to stand on with the criticism if the feds hadn't just given them another $30B in loans two weeks ago. Obama likes to slam the fat cat culture, but why does he keep dumping more and more taxpayer dollars into their coffers? It should also be noted that AIG gave billions of bailout money to European banks, which has only recently been disclosed...I'm sure that'll stimulate job growth for Americans out of work! So while our newfound economic system based upon running up our debt to fund politically-connected zombie banks collapses around us, the Obama media strategy will be to distance himself from the inevitable fallout. At least he'll still be Mr. Cool in the public's eye.

NYT Op-Ed Ecstatic That Obama Replacing God

Frank Rich has a strange editorial in NYT where he argues that Obama lifting the ban on federal funding stem cell research indicates the culture wars are over, because politicians and pundits had better things to talk about this week (like the economy sucking ass). He cites how Prohibition was one of the early culture wars crusades (which he tries to equate to today's Pro-Life crowd) and how Americans don't like the gubment intruding on their business since we have bigger things to worry about. Actually, Prohibition was primarily a Progressive reform in the 20s and the issue gained much prominence once women were given the right to vote (sorry ladies, but history isn't always convenient). But let's not split hairs here, because Mr. Rich might be onto something.

While the Bill O' Reilly wing of the GOP has been talking about cultural decay and unwed mothers for a long time (remember Dan Quayle and Murphy Brown?), but the Dems are not free from their own morality crusades. Taxing the bejeezus out of cigarettes for social engineering purposes, banning fast-food restruants, and seeking the elimination of ladies night in New Jersey because it was "discriminating" were all born out of lefty policy ideas. So really, the only difference between these culture warriors is whether the state or the church should tell individuals how to live their private lives. Frank Rich comes out for the state [NYT]:

The new American faith, Allen wrote, was the “secular religion of social consciousness.” It took the form of campaigns for economic and social justice — as exemplified by the New Deal and those movements that challenged it from both the left and the right. It’s too early in our crisis and too early in the new administration to know whether this decade will so closely replicate the 1930s, but so far Obama has far more moral authority than any religious leader in America with the possible exception of his sometime ally, the Rev. Rick Warren.
Welcome to the new religion, America.

The Problem with Modern American Democracy