Saturday, October 04, 2008

Halloween: The Hidden People

I love what cartoonist Graham Annable does here, creating weirdness and horror in just under three and a half minutes. His cartoons are wonderfully unsettling.

More at The Grickle Channel.

The Splurge Passed

That wasn't a surprise. It was a surprise, though, that the Senate added another $140 billion of pork. I guess the extra money makes it much more the bill the people want. Like they care...

$840 billion so the government could take over the banks and feed more to the richest 400 homes in the US. $840 billion that all went to the wrong people. This Splurge is the worst thing the Bush administration has done to us. Combine it with the wars and the bungled Katrina response, and it's not funny anymore when conservatives tell me that history will remember George W. Bush as a great president.

So what happens now that Congress has redistributed wealth from the poor to the rich? Well, it's pretty obvious, I think, what their interest is in the rest of us 150 million who don't contribute enough for them to care. They've extended the time it takes the economy to adjust. They've encouraged, even legitimized the reckless behavior of CEOs and executives and the poor, greedy choices they've made because, as Congress says with this bill, there are no consequences for the rich. All of those who've pushed for deregulation over the years, now hypocritically crying that more government is the answer after all. They've caved in to the uncertainty in the marketplace, which was manufactured by those who will benefit most from the Splurge. Now the FDIC gets undermined, despite the number of corporate collapses they've been weathering just fine on their own these last months.

Privatize profits and socialize losses. Increase corruption and shift the burden to those who had very little to do with it.

This is the American way?

There are a couple of links I'd like to point out. First, Enriched Geranium follows the money very well to show us what we keep being forced to buy. Then TheMom says something about the myth of John McCain's medical tax credit, which will actually hurt you more than it helps you.

Dr. Monkey: The Rebel Years

Eddie Albert

A few weeks ago, watching Escape to Witch Mountain on TCM. A bear scares away some hunters with rifles.

ME: Quick! Run! We only have our guns to protect us from the bear!

BECCA: And look at them drop their guns!

ME: Uh oh, they've exercised their right to arm a bear! Now he's armed, and he's going to come after them and everyone they love!

Becca laughs for a few seconds.

ME: Now those kids have a bear and weapons, nothing can stop them! Not in the seventies, anyway.

BECCA: But they've got to find Jason again.

ME: Pish posh! Your anti-bear-with-guns, pro-guy-from-Green Acres agenda has been pretty obvious for some time!

Becca laughs for a few more seconds.

BECCA: Is that going to go on your blog?

ME: I don't know. At some point the internet became about proving you're smarter about something trivial than everyone else. I just chose the wording "guy-from-Green Acres" because I thought it was funny, and all I can see is some peanut on his computer logging on with all of his might in order to get the cheap ego points that come with saying, Comic Book Guy like, "Um, the 'guy from Green Acres' was named Eddie Albert.'"


ME: Yeah.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Halloween: House of 1000 Muppets

Throwdown 10/3

Random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.

1. A headline this morning asked: “Is The Starlost the worst science fiction series ever made?” I think it’s pretty obviously Automan, but that’s just my opinion. Or maybe Future Cop. What the hell was that?

2. I’m not really interested in the news that they’re making a Yogi Bear movie, but for some reason, I would totally go see a live-action Quick Draw McGraw movie. I don’t know why, exactly, but I really would.

3. I see a number of blog posts that are thrilled over tonight’s premiere of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Adult Swim. Why are so many people excited over the TV version of a movie they despised? Is it really, as I suspect, that “fans” are pleased to have more George Lucas stuff to hate?

4. Ricky Gervais might host the Oscars. Everyone is ecstatic, even though they’ll really hate it. Yes, Ricky would come on and be irreverent and poke holes in the bullshit and not take it seriously and make fun of people and everything that people always say they want when it comes to an award show. But they don’t, really. They want gentle teasing and ass kissing, which is what Jon Stewart did. Damn, did you see Russell Brand on the VMAs? Me neither, but I heard he just died with the crowd because he was being irreverent and poking holes in the bullshit and not taking it seriously and making fun of people. Remember when the cool thing about the VMAs was supposed to be that it wasn’t serious? Now everyone takes themselves so seriously that everything is tedious and humorless. David Letterman did all that when he hosted the Oscars, and people hated him for not worshiping at the altar of Hollywood. And given the amount of people I know who don’t get Ricky Gervais, or even Steve Carrel, I’m thinking this is a bad idea.

5. This is awesome. The Ferrari V4 concept. Or as we’re really thinking right now, the Tron Light Cycle. Oh, man…

6. And there goes the last lingering bit of my lifelong attraction to Heather Locklear.

7. Now that is the best wedding dress I’ve ever seen.

8. Jessica, we broke up a long time ago, but you’re still my songbird and I still care about you. Lots of people do, really. So, please, for the love of all that is cute and sunny in this world, I beg you to stop drinking. Please, baby, just stop.

9. I don’t want to point fingers at anyone, because I’m sure no one reading this fits the description, but if you have so much ad content on your website that it takes minutes for the page to open, and minutes more for me to navigate because every pop-up, pop-under, and flash ad is trying to open at once, you suck at building a website and deserve to fail. Oh, and that thing where the page turns into a giant ad? Yeah, that automatically makes me stop reading you.

10. In just three weeks, an 8 meter gash ripped open from the southern tip of the Red Sea through Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique that will eventually result in a new ocean. The East African Rift, as its being called, will probably be completely submerged within ten million years. Fascinating.

11. Those idiot commercials from the Corn Refiners Association that imply it’s somehow rude not to drink high fructose corn syrup? They tell you to get the facts. CBS looked at the studies cited by the CRA, and it turns out, no surprise, that three were sponsored by groups that profit off of HFCS. One was sponsored by a Dutch foundation representing the sugar industry. So, it’s no surprise that nutrition research can be influenced by industry. But I would like everyone to remember that when someone who has a monetary interest in something tells you to get the facts, they mean the facts they’re sponsoring.

12. So, during Sarah Palin’s photo-op with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, he was openly flirting with her. Or he was over-friendly, depending on who you talk to. Anyway, a mosque in Islamabad has issued a fatwa against him because of it. Gee, I wonder if hardline religious fundamentalism has made political stability more difficult in Pakistan?

13. Bruce Elliott, a bar owner on the North Side of Chicago, painted this nude of Sarah Palin in his bar. “I don’t see how she could be offended by this,” he says. “I turned her into a sex figure.” That’s a fine understanding of women you’ve got there, sir. He says that although he despises all of her points, he finds her “bizarrely fascinating.” You know what I find bizarre? That he had his daughter, “a heck of a stand-in for Sarah Palin” who “can even do the voice,” pose nude for the painting. He even says he got the idea for the painting by watching his daughter impersonate her. Why do I think this is about something other than Sarah Palin? Creeeeepy.

14. Joe Liarman: “But frankly, [the Splurge] will be good for John McCain too, because it will get people back to comparing the two candidates free of a sense of crisis that may make them want to turn against Republicans.” Sweet mercy fuck, I hate this asshole.

15. John McCain, who was born in 1936, says the current economic crisis is the worst in his lifetime. What? He also said that Franklin D. Roosevelt never appeared on TV. McCain was alive when FDR appeared on TV. Also, McCain is now calling for Bush to veto the Splurge bill, which is “putting us at the brink of economic disaster.” The same bill McCain just voted for on Wednesday. What the fuck is this guy’s problem?

16. Apparently the theme of last night’s debate was “Let’s Take the Facts Off the Table.” I thought Biden came across a lot better than Palin. He had confidence and character, to a point, while Palin came across as smug and scared, and whatever the pundits are saying now, there were a couple of occasions of moose in the headlights where it looked like Palin was just going to start crying and saying she wanted to go home. She’s trying to do the whole folksy Andy Griffith “Let me tell ya story” thing, but it comes across as childish and unprepared. It doesn’t surprise me that people are buying her act; people love that stupid, condescending, cynical bullshit. Not only did she go out of her way to not answer any of the questions put to her and stubbornly refuse to pronounce “nuclear” correctly and prove that she can’t name a specific anything on anything and accuse Biden of rehashing the past when she spent the first half of the debate doing the same thing, she also basically reasserted Dick Cheney’s claim that the vice president is its own branch of government. She’s a frustrating, infuriating, goddamn moron. Oh, and did you know that Alaska is an energy-producing state? You might have missed one of the 15 or so times she said it last night. It’s apparently her “I was a POW.” Biden really should’ve just called her on all of her lying, unpreparedness, and evasion-through-talking points instead of making multiple errors of his own. Oh, and Minnie Moose? The press can’t censor you and distort when you say when you barely talk to them. Oh, and you’re not working class, so drop the populist shit. Get over yourself.

17. I’d like to point out, just because I keep bristling every time a Republican says that this collapse on Wall Street was the fault of poor people borrowing too much money, a couple of factors that led us here. First off, this was caused by the very government intervention that Wall Street is begging for now. The Federal Reserve created too much liquidity and artificially lowered interest rates. Then Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lured people into mortgages they couldn’t afford. Yes, lured. I know, because I’ve seen people at banks trying to throw money at people I know, as if they just had to take it or else something would go wrong. They put people in a position to lose their homes in the first place. And how about the Community Reinvestment Act, which basically forced banks to loan money to people with poor credit. And then there’s the law making it harder for someone in debt to declare bankruptcy. The government encouraged this, and Wall Street ran with it. I’m sick of being told this is somehow our fault.

18. Something that made me happy this week? The Chicago Cubs are in the playoffs. You all know I’m not a sports fan, but the Cubs are my team. Not because I’m that interested in baseball (although I’ve been to the occasional game, and I do love Wrigley Field), but because my Grandpa who lived in Iowa loved the Cubs. They were his team, so they’re my team too because, well, I loved my Grandpa. I hope they take it all the way, because he would’ve loved that. They won’t, but, well, I can dream.

Good Advice

Donkey Burger


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Halloween: The Best Inflatable Lawn Decoration Ever

Some other neat Halloween lawn thingies:

Debate Tonight

And it better be a damn good one if they're pre-empting The Office.

The McCain camp is doing everything they can right now to cry foul for something that's not even happened. They've demanded that responses be limited to 90 seconds. They've decried the fact that moderator Gwen Ifill wrote a book about race and politics, even though they approved her after her book was published (and Tom Brokaw, currently spreading pro-McCain misinformation propaganda on TV, will moderate the next debate; he's NBC's liaison to the McCain campaign). They've already decided that Biden will be patronizing and sexist, that tough questions for someone who will assume the second-highest executive office in the country are "gotcha" questions, and even tried to limit the questions to talking points only. Despite the fact that the 2004 VP debate centered on foreign policy, they say asking Minnie Moose foreign policy questions is "stacking the deck."

How can you stack the deck against a person who, in this day and age, believes that dinosaurs and man lived at the same time? How can you stack the deck against a journalism major who can't name a single newspaper or magazine she reads?

Hell, I'm still not convinced they won't find some way to take Palin out of the debate. Maybe McCain will have to pretend to suspend his campaign for some reason.

Here's Jack Cafferty going after Palin again. The best thing he says comes right at the end.

Make No Mistake: The Splurge Will Get Passed

Three quarters of the Senate passed it last night, and the House only needs 12 more votes to pass it on their side. The real problems will not be addressed. Health care will still suck and no homes will be saved from foreclosure. And those deal-sweeteners that I keep hearing about that will entice House Reps to vote for the Splurge added another $100 billion to the pot.

So, on the week when our national debt hit $10 trillion, Congress is really going to pass a bill that doesn't do dick for our economy to the tune of $800 billion of your money and mine.

Seriously, put it in perspective here. The richest 400 people in America own more than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. They have a net worth of $1.6 trillion. Their wealth has increased in the past eight years by $700 billion. They can afford to bail themselves out, they just don't want to. They want us to do it. And believe me they are laughing about.

Hell, Alan Fishman, the guy who was CEO of Washington Mutual for just three weeks before it became the biggest bank failure in history is going to walk away $18 million.

First Bush stole our $127 billion surplus, which was also our tax money, and now he wants to screw over an entire generation by stealing $800 billion more. And, as with everything else, he's going to get away with it.

Welfare for the rich. Socialism for the banks. Everyone else is fucked.

And no one's going to get arrested, or even fired. The 400 rich people will get to keep their houses and their cars while others lose their homes and have to live in their cars. Our incomes, which went down by $2000 during the Bush years, will continue to drop because we're underwriting their lifestyles. Our infrastructure will continue to crumble. No jobs are going to be created from the Splurge, no health insurance will be more affordable, the price of gas will not go down. Regulations will not be tightened. No pensions will be protected. Monopolies will still be allowed to form, which only endangers us more. Companies will still move overseas for slave labor. CEOs now make over 400 times what their employees make, but they need their employees' tax money to bail them out.

This is what makes me so cynical about the electoral process. In the end, it doesn't matter who gets elected, because we, the 150 million on the bottom, are going to keep getting screwed by the 400 people on top. And the government will always dance to their tune; them or OPEC.

And what's the real disaster here on Wall Street? Has anyone lost their money this week? Not if it's in a bank, or a trust, or a CD. That's right wing fear-mongering. People are still getting loans to buy cars and homes and an education. People are still getting mortgages. The Dow lost 7% of its value? Big deal; remember in 1987 when it lost 23% in one day? The economy recovered then, and it'll recover now. 3000 banks closed in the eighties, but America survived that. What we're dealing with right now isn't even that bad. Those brokerages collapsed before it was too late, I'm telling you. But the media wants to terrify you into believing otherwise.

This Splurge does nothing to help us, the 150 million. Nothing. It helps the 400, who can afford to clean up their mess for themselves. Why are we supporting them?

It sucks when you know you're getting screwed and you can't do a single thing to stop it.

Swiftboat Willie

Thanks to the anonymous commenter who left the link to this.

This very short cartoon by Bob McKeon sort of says it all about John McCain. And at the same time, it spoofs the Mickey Mouse cartoons Steamboat Willie and Plane Crazy, so of course I think it's hilarious.



Happy Birthday, Tiffany

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Halloween: Dead Man's Party

It's 1 October, which means one thing: time for me to start posting Halloween stuff.

More Splurge Stuff

I must really be boring everyone with all of this political stuff.

Here's the first thing I noticed this morning: the Splurge didn't pass, but the sky hasn't fallen yet.

Yes, I know someone's going to have to do something, but between Republicans crying about Nancy Pelosi hurting their feelings, McCain grandstanding about how only he can fix the problem, and Bush getting sweatier and sweatier as he begs for the money on TV, I don't see a fix coming anytime soon. I'm anxious for a lot more hearings before they press through on it. Just like these 200 economists who signed a letter asking for more hearings.

I'm actually kind of enjoying this whole thing, mostly for reasons of schadenfreude. I enjoy seeing Bush finally treated like the powerless lame duck he always should have been. I enjoy seeing Republicans realize that, hey, if I support the thieves, I might not get elected again (and good luck, anyway). This is the reason why I've said for years that Election Day ought to be April 15. I enjoy the fact that this meltdown occured and Deregulation McCain has to answer for it with the amount of lobbyists and failed CEOs who are running his campaign. With Phil Gramm in his camp.

I love this.

It's comical watching the same Republicans who backed the war and deregulation pretend to stand up for the little guy they've been screwing over for years. They're all rats swimming away from the sinking Bush ship.

Hey, did you know that Barney Frank had a long term relationship with a Fannie Mae exec who promoted high risk loans? I wonder if that plays into his support of the Splurge. And what's this about Nancy Pelosi paying her husband's real estate firm with her PAC funds? Didn't she vote to ban that very practice? Honestly, this Wall Street crisis is kind of showing me who I should and shouldn't support. I think Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich in particular have shown why they should be in better positions in Congress. Seriously, why isn't Kucinich the Speaker of the House? He's one of the few people in Congress who seems to understand exactly what's going on. Can't we just get rid of Nancy Pelosi and replace her with Kucinich? I mean, what has Nancy Pelosi brought to the table, exactly? She's been a failure as Speaker. Congrats, you broke the glass ceiling. Now let's let someone who might do some good in the position have a turn. Someone who won't vote to support the raid on the treasury and the nationalization of the banks because they're scared by the Wall Street threats.

We had the largest single-day drop in the Dow in history. But you know what? It'll go back up. That's what the stock market does. Hell, the rich are going to get richer off of this. I guarantee you they're buying right now while everything's cheap, and then they'll sell when it's high. The circle of the market goes on. And the corporate-owned media will continue to try and scare the hell out of us, but it's not working on me. Just because some of the firms have failed doesn't mean the economy is destroyed. It means it has to adjust. Big whoop. Gas will still be expensive and health care will still be unaffordable.

The people who are really getting screwed in this deal are small business owners who were getting killed on taxes anyway (Obama wants to lower their taxes), retirees who will see their retirement funds wiped out (what hasn't been already stolen by CEOs), and people who were already losing their homes because of out-of-control interest rates. I would say that someone ought to bail them out, but apparently they come last.

If we're voting for a $700 billion Splurge, I don't want Bush anywhere near it. I don't want Bernanke and Paulson and Cox to touch it. I want criminal investigations; I want arrests. I don't want any golden parachutes for the people who are already rich enough to ride out the cost. I want boards dismantled and new directors hired. I want homeowners who can pay their mortgages to have their interest rates lowered to manageable levels. I don't want lobbying firms to get shit. I want healthcare so that people don't have to default on their payments. I want collateral. And I want some accountability, damn it.

What did we nearly get? Little oversight with no enforcement and no penalties. We got a bill that would not have stopped a single foreclosure.

Thank you to everyone who refused to vote for the Splurge.

Democrats: this is yours to lose. And we are watching.

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

Having watched The David Cassidy Story a few weeks ago, I spotted this one starting on Encore and thought I'd watch this one, too. This one was told from Danny Bonaduce's point of view, but it was a much better movie. It was fun and peppy, not as over-dramatic and self-important as David Cassidy was. It also had a sexier Shirley Jones (Eve Gordon) and was just an all-around nicer movie. Like the show itself: peppy and inoffensive with pretty decent songs that occasionally made you feel good. Also, I always love to see Willie Garson. *** stars.

I think it might be impossible for George Clooney to direct a movie in any genre that I won't like. He plays Dodge Connelly, an aging football player who wants to popularize professional football in the 1920s by hiring Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski), a war hero and college football phenom. And they both fall for the same dame, Renee Zellweger as Lexie Littleton, and all of the scrappiness that implies. I realize it sounds horrible on paper, but somehow Clooney the director gets the tone exactly right, having fun with it while still making the love triangle believable (and not annoying) and lacing it with what seems to be the central theme of his films as a director: the abuse of power by men in charge. And it turns out my much-earlier assessment of Renee Zellweger was right: turns out I was ready to like her again. John Krasinski was good, too, which was nice coming off of the excerable License to Wed. Also, I always love to see Stephen Root. Good-looking film, too. ***1/2 stars.

Perfect. That's it: perfect. I know a lot of people who didn't like this movie very much, but I loved it. It was one of the films I've seen in my life that just totally gets me. Sometimes on memes I'll see a question come up about what films someone could see and really understand me: this is one. I wouldn't change a single thing about it. I will say that I thought Russell Brand was funny (and blessedly used sparingly), but I didn't lose my shit over him. Jason Segel was the most sympathetic I've seen him since Freaks and Geeks. Kristen Bell was great; I'm so glad they gave her that moment where she confronts Segel with why she left him and why their relationship didn't work. That's what made this movie so much more than most of the romantic comedies I see (it being my most-hated genre). There was an emotional honesty to it that let each character be true to themselves. It didn't really demonize anyone or make anyone seem like the better person. It often takes two people to fail a relationship, you know? How perfect was Mila Kunis in this movie? And they threw in Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Jack McBrayer... damn, I'm even starting to like Kristen Wiig. I love this movie. I absolutely love it. **** stars. Oh, and I'm so xazzed that these guys are going to be making the next Muppet movie. I couldn't think of a better fit. And Segel can even write songs! Please, guys, please get K. Bell in that movie!

Great cast: Roddy McDowall, Elizabeth Taylor, Elsa Lanchester, Edmund Gwenn (eternally Santa Claus to me), Dame May Whitty, Nigel Bruce, and, as the stern-but-understanding father, Donald Crisp, my favorite stern-but-understanding father. But the whole thing is so saccharine it'll rot your teeth. ** stars.

HIGH NOON (1952)
I finally saw it. And it's fantastic. This is a fantastic picture. Gary Cooper plays, of course, a retiring marshal who, on the day of his wedding (to Quaker Grace Kelly), gets news that a pardoned criminal with revenge on his mind will be rolling into town at noon. Rather than run, Cooper stands his ground and, almost in real time, tries to enlist anyone he can to help him stand up to the gunmen coming in. The political allegory is obvious, but still sharp: a crisis is about to occur, and while one man tries to do something about it, everyone else finds a reason not to help by running away, denying it affects them... myriad political reasons. But he stands his ground. It's an excellent movie, and I'm glad I finally saw it. **** stars. The supporting cast includes Lloyd Bridges, Thomas Mitchell, Lon Chaney Jr, Harry Morgan, and the astoundingly beautiful Katy Jurado.

Happy 72nd Birthday, Stella Stevens

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Health Report, Year 2: Week 42

I'd much rather be at Oktoberfest.

Voter Questions Don't Count

Yesterday, Sarah Palin appeared on CBS Evening News with John McCain creepily standing over her, guiding her answers and even answering for her. Why are there women who support McCain? Look at the way he treats Palin; now he won't even let her get interviewed by herself because he's so worried about what she's going to say. Seriously, women who are supporting McCain because of Palin, do you really appreciate the way he treats her like an idiot? He won't even let her speak, and when he does, he just retracts her statement for her. Or, like with Couric, he establishes what Palin's answer should be before she answers, and then she parrots it back out. You want to talk sexism and feminism? He is so scared that she's going to sink his campaign, and he just wants to be president so goddamn bad that he's trying any tactic he can to shut her up.

Take the coming debate, for example. Here's a clip from Fox News (and I've finally figured out the secret of Fox News's success--pitch everything at the level of a five year-old) with Pfotenhauer getting all pissy about how she doesn't want Sarah Palin to be asked too many foreign policy questions during this week's foreign policy debate.

The McCain campaign's message is clear: Sarah Palin is stupid, so it's unfair to ask her questions she won't be able to answer well.

(And, honestly, even if they asked Palin about domestic affairs, her answers would still be ridiculous. If this is how she defends her answers, I'm amazed she made it through college.)

Already, the McCain camp is spinning a debate that hasn't even happened yet. They're outraged by the way they imagine Palin will be treated and it hasn't even happened yet.

Do you think the McCain campaign thinks you're stupid? Would you be surprised if I told you they're counting on it?

Trust me, if the debate is "stacked" in Biden's favor, it's only because he's smarter than Sarah Palin. Then again, so was every single seventh grader in the five science classes I taught last week.

The most telling moment on yesterday's CBS appearance was this whole kerfuffle over the "gotcha" question that came from a voter while Palin was taking questions from the audience. She told Couric: "This was a voter, a constituent, hollerin' out a question from across an area askin', 'Whatcha gonna do about Pakistan? You better have an answer to Pakistan.' I said we're gonna do whatcha have ta do ta protect the United States of America."

Now, McCain was pissed about it because he had already said Obama was naive and irresponsible for saying publicly that he supports striking terrorist targets inside Pakistan if Pakistan isn't going to do it. And here was Sarah Palin saying the same thing to some concerned voter in a Philly restaurant. So what did he do? Glossed over her answer, attacked the person who made the question as a "gotcha journalist," and made excuses for why Palin's answer was unacceptable to him. And then Palin contritely apologized, too, by deferring to whatever daddy says she should do. What does he do to chasten her? Tell her she can't go to prom?

Whatever McCain claims, there was no context for the quote to be taken out of. It was a voter who asked the question, not a journalist. No one "grabbed a phrase," as he contests; the media took her answer. And, let's face it, you could run the entirety of what she says verbatim and it would actually make less sense. Which is what the media did here, actually. And McCain has already accused Charles Gibson and Katie Couric of being "gotcha journalists" because they stupidly let Palin talk for herself and show the country what a damn moron she is, I guess. "Gotcha journalism" is their new codeword for "liberal media."

So, this is the McCain strategy? "How dare you ask the little lady such serious questions? She doesn't understand your big words about foreigners. How dare you report on things she says when she's having private discussions on camera at a scheduled campaign stop to get an obligatory cheesesteak campaign photo in the local press. It's so unfair that you're holding her even to the low standard she's currently being held to compared to every past VP candidate when she's a woman and obviously has a smaller brain! How dare you?"

What concerns me the most is that McCain dismisses her answer out of hand as though it doesn't count because it only came from a voter. That incredible vanity of his, which is constantly telling the media that they should show more deference to the war hero and his moosey trophy mate and believe whatever he says, apparently applies to voter concerns as well. One of the citizens he claims he's so interested in taking care of because, gee, he's just such a nice man. Gee, that sounds kind of elitist to me...

It's like saying "I don't know the correct answer to your question, so it's your fault for asking." Funnily enough, it was one of the few coherent answers she's given lately.

And let's just be honest (some of that "straight talk" we never, ever get from McCain): when McCain gets all pissy about the whole Pakistan thing, he's really saying "Obama was naive to say that. We wouldn't rule this strategy out, but of course we shouldn't tell anyone about it, even though people already know about it. And Bush is already doing it." He should learn to lie better.

McCain also said: "Gov. Palin and I agree that you don't announce that you're going to attack another country." I guess singing "Bomb, bomb Iran" to a crowd is perfectly acceptable, though.

The Splurge Will Not Work

I'm not going to call it a bailout anymore. I'm going to call it the Splurge. Because it's really just the Surge in financial terms, isn't it?

I saw Resident Bush address the nation a few minutes ago, and I just hate him so much. He always comes on with what I guess he feels is a simulation of earnestness, flashing those puppy dog eyes and shining the American people on, pretending he really, really cares about what happens to anyone else. So he gets up there and tries to terrify us and tells us the sky will fall unless we commit more of our money into his hands, because that worked so well in Afghanistan and Iraq and New Orleans, didn't it? But here's the part where he really pissed me off. Pissed me off like crazy.

"Our country is not facing a choice between government action and the smooth functioning of the free market, we're facing a choice between action and the real prospect of economic hardship for millions of Americans. For the financial security of every American, Congress must act."

There are some issues I take with this statement.

1. His first clause is absolutely correct; America is not facing a choice between government action and the smooth functioning of the free market, because a government rescue is not the free market. I really hope that's clear with Americans right now. The Republicans have been pushing the free market on us since the last days of Nixon, but every time the supposedly altruistic and self-correcting free market stumbles, there's the government stepping in to take over. That's not a free market at all.

2. One of the most insulting parts of this is his fake concern over "the real prospect of economic hardship for millions of Americans." Since when does he care? Millions of Americans are already facing economic hardship every single day. Does he know that there are people living in Hoovervilles in California because they can't afford their mortgage payments? Does he know what the unemployment rate in this country is? Does he understand that when you cut taxes for the rich, then start two expensive wars, then lose an entire American city to a hurricane, all while continuing to let corporations move their manufacturing to slave labor countries so they don't have to pay wages (or taxes), Americans lose their jobs, their homes, and then face, you know, economic hardships?

3. The other most insulting bit is when he says that Congress must act "for the financial security of every American." Let me ask you: do you feel financially secure? I am one medical emergency away from being completely broke and losing my apartment. So are a lot of people, I imagine. I'm sure many of them are homeowners who are paying a wild inflation rate.

And this is what I hate the most about Republicans over the last few years, honestly. Bush is acting like the economic collapse is brand new. Like everything was fine and everyone in the nation was prosperous until just a couple of weeks ago. And now, you know, thanks to the obstinancy of Congress, everyone is in danger of severe financial problems that we've already had for years and years and he's just made worse.

It was the same with the Surge. Obama called out McCain on Friday for acting like there wasn't a war for four years before the Surge even happened; Bush was the same way. They love to point to the Surge as a massive success while conveniently ignoring the fact that the war had been so mishandled for the years leading up to the Surge that the only thing Bush could do was simply throw more troops at it. And here he is now, with the Splurge, desperately wanting to throw more money into a sucking money vacuum so that he can protect the money he and his business cronies have already stolen from us in the past eight years.

And still no one talks about the healthcare crisis in this country that has helped exacerbate the problem. Is the problem really poor people borrowing more money than they could afford to pay, money that a more and more deregulated Wall Street threw at them? I will grant you that there were some people trying to exploit the real estate bubble for instant riches by flipping homes; there are always people who try to exploit a bubble, especially a speculative one. But I say again, the number one cause of Americans declaring bankruptcy is medical bills. They can't afford to pay their medical bills, because the insurance industry is a criminal hive and the cost of seeing a doctor is far too high. And God forbid you have a disease that needs long-term treatment, because that's only going to cost you more and more until everything is gone and they leave you out in the street to die.

That's an economic hardship that's been around for a long time. It's not just the last couple of weeks.

The Splurge is a bad solution. I'm not sure what the good solution is, but the Splurge is basically there to protect Wall Street from its own greedy and inept business failures, to ensure that their CEOs get to keep the huge payouts they get from running companies (and your savings) into the ground, and to make sure that you keep paying the insurmountable pile of debt that has been accumulated because of out-of-control interest rates.

Where are the solutions? The government should be moving to protect us, the people, from the way Wall Street has ruined the economy. But Bush, who really cares about your potential, imagined, future economic hardships, wants to save the people who have failed to play fair with our money. He wants to put people responsible for the collapse in charge of the Splurge; the ones that aren't running the McCain campaign, at any rate. The Splurge is a profit opportunity for corporations, not a rescue for your bank accounts, credit, or mortgages. He doesn't care about you. He cares about himself and his rich friends. That's the way he's played everything.

There are, thankfully, people in Congress who get this:

[Videos via Suzy]

McCain's Healthcare Solution: Wal-Mart

Here's a video that shows just how out of touch McCain is about health concerns. His solution? Go to Wal-Mart.

Now, Wal-Mart's $4 pills have been a godsend for me, because I'm poor and uninsured, but if I need to see a doctor, I'm not rushing off to Wal-Mart. Why does this video show McCain as out of touch? Because he's let his healthcare rhetoric boil down to this one bullet point: emergency room waits are too long. Wow, are emergency room waits the only medical problem we have in this country?

I know someone who is slowly dying of brain cancer who might take issue with that point. And I don't think he wants to go to see someone at Wal-Mart to deal with it. No offense, Wal-Mart on call GP guy, but I think he wants to go to a real doctor.

And does McCain not realize that small clinics actually already exist?

Generally, these Wal-Marts that have a doctor option only have a doctor via webcam. And they can't handle most ER procedures, like x-rays and sutures. I'm sure it's great if you have a cough or a bad cold or something, but come on. I guess the only good thing you can say here is that at least McCain isn't arguing that we should all just go down to the general store and get a tonic to settle our nerves. Although, he kind of did, didn't he?

Gimme a Little Love from Your Heart

He would've been 61 today.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sarah Palin = Comedy Gold, Very Real Terror

Thanks to Roger for pointing this out.

I didn't realize that some of the things Tina Fey said on Saturday Night Live as Sarah Failin' last Saturday were taken almost verbatim from the actual interview with Katie Couric. Classic. Here's Palin:

And here's what Tina Fey actually said. Read along.

FEY AS PALIN: "Like every American I'm speaking with, we're ill about this. We're saying, 'Hey, why bail out Fanny and Freddie and not me?' But ultimately what the bailout does is, help those that are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy to's gotta be all about job creation, too. Also, too, shoring up our economy and putting Fannie and Freddy back on the right track and so healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reigning in spending...'cause Barack Obama, y'know...has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans, also, having a dollar value meal at restaurants. That's gonna help. But one in five jobs being created today under the umbrella of job creation. That, you know...Also..."


All I can say is: fail.

You know what the difference is between Tina Fey and a pitbull with lipstick? Tina Fey didn't have to keep looking down at her notes.

Political and Economic Melange

It's getting harder and harder for me to talk about politics and the bailout coherently. So this is all going to be random.

* First off, the debate. I watched the debate. It was like watching a high school drama teacher attempting to get Barack Obama and a Sontaran to interact realistically. Many have pointed out that John McCain imperiously refused to look at Obama, as though he wouldn't deign to give Obama the privilege of looking him in the eye. Personally, I think he was scared. Yeah, there weren't any knockout punches, but McCain looked like a horse's ass. He's a terrible debater, frankly, because he just clings to the same points over and over again, spewing proven falsehoods, outright fantasies, and the occasional half of a fact in the hopes that the softheaded will just absorb it. He couldn't stand up to Obama and he knew it. So McCain chose to look at the audience and give his shit-eating grin, waggle his eyebrows, and mutter "horse shit" under his breath a couple of times for good measure. Oh, man, if only Obama had pushed McCain into blowing up. You could tell McCain wanted to.

* The one part of the debate I keep playing in my head over and over: Obama finally brought up McCain's plan to tax you on your health care as though it were earned income. McCain didn't tell him he was wrong. Because he wasn't wrong. Instead, McCain blathered on about some talking point or other that he'd raised several times already.

* Maybe the debates need to be shown later in re-edited form. (Thanks Some Guy for posting this.) I think, when it came to foreign policy, Obama was more than able to hold his own in the one place where we keep being told McCain has a decisive advantage.

* I don't know why this needs saying, but McCain's little "white knight to the rescue" act was colossal bullshit. And it proves that McCain is incapable of leading. He was self-righteously inserting himself into proceedings that were well underway, and he did it just to make himself look great and Obama look bad. Obama wanted to release a joint statement (which was really nothing but would've at least made it look like they were paying attention), so McCain jumped out into the public eye first as a way to make it look like he was the one who was above politics and Obama was a dick for not agreeing to suspend the campaign.

Never mind that, in McCain-speak, "suspend my campaign" apparently really only equals "cancel my Letterman appearance." He didn't cancel anything else, and he was perfectly thrilled to let Sarah Palin go on talk shows and reveal more and more just what a fucking bimbo she is. And never mind that McCain went way over the line by trying to cancel the debate. What really pisses me off here is the manner in which McCain tried to ride into Washington, with his love of free markets and his votes for deregulation and his desire to tax health benefits and to privatize Social Security and the lobbyists in his campaign and Phil Gramm telling him what to do about finances... and he has the unmitigated gall, without even admitting that his policies have absolutely failed--and what's worse, that he doesn't really believe in the free market, because bailing out businesses with taxpayer money is not the free market--to claim that he's the only person with the solution! Senator "I don't really understand the economy" suddenly knows how to fix it? Give me a fucking break!

And what did he do to help, really? Hell, even Chuck Schumer wanted McCain out of the process "for the sake of America" because McCain didn't know what he was talking about.

* About Sarah Palin's interviews... come on, Republicans. Really? Are you really still going to claim that she's smart because she tried to talk about trade missions to Russia (which she's never had)? Vladimir Putin in her airspace? Come on, Republicans, just admit that she's stupid. You're better than this. You really are. A lot of people don't think so, but I do. You're better than this.

Sarah Palin is the kind of hilarious moron who thinks the way to answer a question she has no idea how to answer is to keep talking beyond any hope of making sense. Picking her as a running mate says a lot about John McCain's vanity and about his judgment. It ought to be an automatic disqualification for him being president. He's using her to make a mockery out of the election.

And check this video out; Jack Cafferty puts Sarah Palin into perspective like no one's business. Good for him. Be sure to watch the end of the video where he even digs at Wolf Blitzer for being a right wing apologist.

Another great quote about a Palin interview came from the New Yorker: "The whole thing reads like something rendered from the Finnish by Google Translate."

* Let's put the economic bailout in perspective. $700 billion. As longtime readers know, I think of America's lack of universal health coverage for the uninsured is one of our government's biggest failures. They always say there's no money for that. But the bailout costs seven times what universal health coverage for the uninsured would cost for one year. For $700 billion, we could have that healthcare for seven years. There's always money for the war or to nationalize the economy, but there's never any to help people with their medical bills.

By the way, it's important to note that BushCo has been telling us for the past two weeks that the number one cause of the economic meltdown has been poor people borrowing too much money and being too poor to pay it back. Actually, the number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is that their medical bills are too high. So, what's the real bailout and what is the government stealing from us?

More perspective: for a mere (in comparison) $35 billion a year, America could have universal preschool; for $10 billion we could actually carry out all of the security recommendations of the 9/11 commission, and for $0.6 billion we could innoculate every child in the world for measles, whooping cough, tetanus, tuberculosis, diptheria, and polio. And those numbers come from the New York Times.

(The South Florida Sun-Sentinel also has a tongue-in-cheek but still-depressing list of what you could do with $700 billion.)

That kind of money could really help, I don't know, America's infrastructure, or enviornmental programs (such as reducing emissions), fuel alternatives, education, national security... hell, they only spend $5 bil a year on curing cancer. But a bunch of CEOs won't get to buy a new yacht this year, and that's a national crisis?

If they really want to stimulate the economy, forgiving all of our debt would be a huge start. But that just makes too much goddamn sense.

* When it comes to the bailout, they are going to fix the part where it claims the bailout will be totally non-reviewable, right? Right? Because the last I checked, those clowns Paulson, Bernanke, and Cox were going to be in charge of any oversight. Oh, and those golden parachutes? Still there.

This whole thing is nothing more than a raid on the US Treasury by the same criminal scum who've been stealing our taxes for the last eight years. If another world leader siezed private industries and nationalized the financial institutions, America would break off relations and denounce them as a Communist dictator. This is a coup that is being operated under a layer of confusion and fear; a swindle by the carpetbaggers on their way out the door. Wall Street firms are lobbying and angling to benefit from this as much as they can. Rudy Giuliani, who hates the cosmopolitan elites now, was lobbying for his firm to be hired and paid for "consulting" on the bailout.

Is this bailout going to lower the price of gas or protect you from losing your home or give you health care? No. It's only to protect the wealth they've stolen from us in the past eight years from going away. This is not about us down here on the bottom. This is about them continuing to be on top. This is not about us storming the Bastille; this is the Bastille storming us.

* Oh, yeah, the melamine did make it to North America, not just in the form of White Rabbit candies in Asian markets, but also in Chinese-made brands of instant coffee and milk tea, and apparently there is reason to be worried about Oreos, M&Ms, and Snickers. I just read that Cadbury is recalling products (I've had a few of their Halloween eggs in the last couple of days). Now, I know companies love to exercise their God-given right to access Communist slave labor for the health of the self-correcting, altruistic free market, but since we've seen how well that works, can we please just get our fucking economy out of China?

* Here's a potentially interesting tax calculator that purports to calculate what your tax cut would be under Obama and compares to McCain. If I hear anyone else say "Obama's going to raise everyone's taxes," they're going to get a chop right in the throat.

Of course, whatever it tells you, you still owe $700 billion.

* I think this ad especially shows how desperate McCain is after the debate. Sure, there were no knockouts, but I think Obama came out a lot better than McCain, who Sarah Palined the conversation to repeat the same nonsensical talking points over and over. McCain looked like an idiot. Now his idiot ad boils down to this: "Barack Obama agrees with me, and I'm an idiot, so Obama is also an idiot." Seriously, I'm not buying the "Now, McCain is a smart man..." caveat anymore.

* Is the best election stunt the McCain campaign can come up with really going to be Bristol and Levi getting married on 4 November? Seriously, Republicans? I mean it: you're better than this. I'd have more respect for you if you voted Barr, believe me.

* Wow, that's scary. Very scary.

Sunday, September 28, 2008



Song of the Week: "More Than This"

Bryan Ferry's birthday was Friday, and since I haven't had any Roxy Music on here since January '07, I figured now was a good time to throw up this song, the most beautiful song off of the lovely, final Roxy album, Avalon, from 1982. This one never fails. (The audio is quite loud.)

TV Report: Quick Shots

* I caught the premiere of Worst Week the other day. It thankfully wasn't as precious and self-importantly awful as the original British sitcom, The Worst Week of My Life, but that's about all you can say about it. Oh, and that it has Kurtwood Smith, who's awesome and the only reason I watched the damn thing. Otherwise, it's incredibly frustrating nonsense about a guy spending a week with his girlfriend and her parents. And his girl is pregnant, but they haven't announced it yet because the parents hate him. I don't blame them; the guy's a chump, and we don't get a chance to like him before we're supposed to be on his side against the overreacting parents. He's stupidity in human form. Who cares?

Side note: I was watching the show and thinking Come on, no one's as stupid as this guy. Then, while getting ready for work that morning, I accidentally put aftershave in my mouth instead of mouthwash. So what do I know?

* Why does Fox keep trying to turn Kitchen Nightmares into a makeover show? Seriously, I know that there's always some staging in reality shows, but the staging on this show goes far beyond dramatic effect and into sentiment porn. Giving the guy a ring and having a wedding just so he'll get his life in order? Get over it.

* Okay, Ugly Betty is back, and Betty made the exact decision I was hoping she'd make: she chose herself and went out to find herself alone. Awesome. Now let's never speak of Henry or Gio again, 'kay? And do they have to shove a new love interest on her right away? Let's just let her be Betty for a while.

* Okay, Privileged finally pushed it too far for me, and I'm giving up on it. I love JoAnna Garcia so much, but this is too ridiculous. All of the girly whining is bad enough (because, you know, all girls ever have to worry about on TV is whether or not a boy likes them, because that's not boring to watch over and over), but I just can't dig the premise. Here's what I found unbelievable on this week's episode: Sage, who we're supposed to accept isn't interested in learning or in doing anything for herself, apparently wrote a computer program that keeps an inventory of all of her clothes. (I guess she saw Clueless.) She invented the program, we're told, which means she wrote a computer program and hooked up everything including a full-length mirror that takes a full-length picture of a person, scans it into the computer, and allows you to dress it up. So, JoAnna worries about lesson plans and buckling down and getting into Duke University, while casually ignoring that a program like that could make her some real damn money. I don't know, I just found it so freaking LAME.

* I'm so happy The Office is back, and I guess it's kind of funny that Ryan came back as a temp, but are they really going to keep BJ Novak on this show for very long? It's just... well, he's not really that funny, and I'm kind of sick of him. Not a complaint, really; this show could do just about anything right now and not lose me as a viewer.

* Thinking again about the Heroes premiere and its now-routine glimpse of the future. Peter is stuck with a group of villains that include a guy with some kind of flame powers and a shape changer. Future-Peter can shape change, so this is obviously why. We see Ando kill Hiro in the future with some kind of flame power. I find rifts so tiring on shows like this; they always take two people who are the best of friends and drive something between them, and it's just the most obvious, lazy kind of drama. Obviously it's the shape changer killing Hiro in the future and not Ando, no matter how many red herrings (like Mohinder's power-giving-juice) the show throws up to make you think otherwise. Do we really have to go through an entire season of Hiro being suspicious of Ando to figure it out? Why do they keep making Hiro so boring?

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