Friday, January 29, 2010

Video of the day

Charlie Brooker of Newswipe explains how to report the news.

Broken News: Jesus breathes sigh of relief at underwhelming iPad release

THE HEREAFTER—After the tepid reaction to Steve Jobs’ unveiling of the new Apple branded tablet laptop, dubbed the iPad, sources close to the Son of God, Jesus, have noted that our Lord seems more relieved than usual at the seeming failure of the device to ignite the imaginations of the public at large.

“I just think that of all the things that could possibly supplant His status as the messiah, He was most worried about technology,” revealed one of the holy host anonymously, given that it was an ephemeral being on a spiritual plane without corporeal form or tangible existence.

“He felt that with one more great product that either Apple or Steve Jobs himself would be able to supplant Him in the Trinity. The iPod was great, everyone loves the iPhone, and He really feared that a cheap, touch screen tablet would really push Apple over the top. Thankfully it appears that everyone was underwhelmed, calling it an oversized iPod touch, knocking the whole ‘no keyboard’ thing, or bagging on the underwhelming features. Jesus is really relieved about that.”

Indeed the iPad is only the most recent attempt made to supplant His legacy as the savior of man. In recent years Jesus has successfully fended of challenges to His throne, from the Star Wars prequels, every Super Bowl, Playstation 3, and all forms of alcohol to Tom Brady and President Obama.

However it was only with Apple that the Lord started to take an active and rooting interest against their products and CEO.

“I think it was because He had to switch His service from Verizon to AT&T to get an iPhone,” sang a host of cherubim. “Let’s face it, the 3G service and coverage is remarkably poorer and He is currently in the process of condemning Luke Wilson to hell for convincing Him otherwise. The Lord has been holding back on punishment for residual good will he still held towards Wilson for both Bottle Rocket and Old School, but those fucking ads were just too much. Verizon had unlimited night and weekend minutes!”

“Plus there was the worry that an iPad could revive the flagging fortunes of the moribund US print media, magazines, and newspapers. The Lord has spent the better part of the last two decades smiting them unmercifully and he didn’t want to see his work undone with a new revenue stream.”

In fact the Lord was heard to gleefully cheer on middling reviews from Gizmodo and other tech sites, punctuating His relieved whoops with fist pumps and remarks that newspapers “stay dead.”

“IPad?” a chuffed Lord was heard to sarcastically ask.

“Sounds like a high tech tampon, am I right Father,” our uncreative Lord was heard to ask, no one in the immediate vicinity having the guts to mention that iPad/tampon jokes were completely fucked out and unfunny within five minutes of the name being unveiled.

For now the Lord is in a holding pattern. Gleeful that Apple seems to have made a misstep, but wary that they might, as is their style, be holding back a better, new and improved, second generation iPad to be released four months after the initial iPad release.

“I think He’s just going to hang back, jam some tunes on His iPod, play a little Risk on his iPhone, maybe download one of those boobie jiggling apps, and capriciously smite great historians and writers while leaving alive everyone currently appearing on a reality show,” observed close friend and confidant to Jesus, Superman.

“That’s right, I really existed and now I’m dead,” yelled the angry Man of Steel. “Snookie: still living!”

For his part, Steve Jobs vowed to fix the iPad and create new technological innovations that would allow him to supplant the Lord.

“I have this one idea: it’s essentially a really, really big iPhone instead of just a kinda big iPhone like the iPad was,” Jobs announced. “52 inches wide, with a wireless remote… I call it the i…TV!”

“I’m running out of ideas here,” he sighed.

As of press time it was unclear how the Lord felt about these new revelations.

Something I thought I'd never see

It's the President heading to hostile ground to debate the opposition en masse, much in the manner of the UK tradition of the Prime Minister answering questions from the House of Commons. Or should I say, that was theoretically what was supposed to happen. In reality? The Republicans launched a lot of attacks and policy arguments they weren't equipped to ague in a public forum and Obama utterly laid waste to them.

Health care is debated, hypocrisies are laid bare, Bolshevik plots are referenced, and the President beats, batters, and abuses the opposition on policy grounds. It's a sight to behold. It almost makes you forget that this type of thing, great though it is, will only help politically and not substantially.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



If watching and understanding the full context of how badly Obama made them look isn't your bag, here's a transcript. I'd say that this televised Question Time is something that should happen often, but according to political scuttlebutt, the GOP is already realizing what a political mistake it was to let Obama come and humiliate them on policy grounds on national TV for an hour and a half. Ah well, it was a nice idea while it lasted.

Warning

As part of the These Bastards Child Protective Services we would just like to pass on a warning to those of our readers from Indianapolis or New Orleans who are headed to Miami to partake in the festivities surrounding Super Bowl XLIV. If you have a child and a British man comes sliding up to the little angel on his knees from a great distance while windmilling a guitar: take caution. This man is a danger! There may or may not be a mop headed man wailing in the background.


No, seriously.
Protect Our Children, a non-profit community watchdog group based in Brevard County, is mailing thousands of postcards out in Miami Gardens and the areas surrounding Sun Life Stadium.

Townshend and his group, The Who, are slated to perform during halftime at Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7, and Protect Our Children has spent the past couple months trying to stop him from taking the stage.
If you really want to protect your children, don't play them the albums Face Dances, It's Hard, and Endless Wire after they've heard Tommy, Live at Leeds, and Who's Next. Strike that, it's OK to play them Eminence Front off of It's Hard.

Be forewarned, Townshend may be elderly and still able to shatter eardrums with a well placed windmill on Won't Get Fooled Again.

Chart of the day

Via Marginal Revolution comes a look at various measures of how to measure Haiti aid from different countries in terms of pure dollars, as related to GDP, or per citizen. It seems on a per capita basis, Ghana cares the most.



Health care: run away!

It should be of little surprise, really. It was expected. I don't know why I thought that this time might be different. Health care reform is effectively dead for a while, which might just mean it is effectively dead. Why? Because Democrats have decided to assume their familiar position, one of grabbed ankles, pants around ankles, and a look that says "don't harm the plumbing too much back there." The Senate feels the health care issue, namely putting through reconciliation measures they were already going to vote for, to be too extreme a measure. Why? Because they can apparently see a future where not passing health care reform was a great idea.

So instead, because they can't do more than one thing at a time and literally every Senator is going to be working on this new priority, they've decided to pivot from health care to anything that anyone will throw at them in order to plausibly provide them with an excuse to get them away from health care. That thing is jobs, which they've decided is kind of important now after a year of not doing anything about it.
The White House on Thursday signaled the outlines of its strategy for breaking the partisan logjam holding up President Obama’s agenda, saying Democrats would move quickly to underline their commitment to fixing the broken economy and to build an election-year case against Republicans if they do not cooperate.

With Mr. Obama’s health care overhaul stalled on Capitol Hill, Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said in an interview that Democrats would try to act first on job creation, reducing the deficit and imposing tighter regulation on banks before returning to the health measure, the president’s top priority from last year.
Yes yes, sure sure, good good. I'm sure the Republicans will hop on board to help you with an important priority. If there's one thing we've learned about the GOP it's that they certainly aren't interested in yanking the country down on itself if there's a slight chance it'll benefit them politically. Gee I wonder how the first attempt at this this year, where you tried to pass a measure the GOP supported, namely pay-as-you-go rules for the budget? What, they opposed in en masse? Including several GOP Senators who explicitly expressed support for the measure? Shocking.

I wonder what there contribution to the jobs debate will be. How does the New York Times phrase it? "[I]nstant Republican resistance to the jobs plan", a jobs plan which hasn't even been articulated. I'm sure this will go well.

So good job, Democrats. I'm sure that running shrieking from health care to the issue of jobs, because two things at once is hard, is going to work out for you. Hell, I foresee a future where both health care reform and an actual, working jobs bill are passed with enough time to be enacted before the election. The election being your only real concern at this point. This, like all your plans and legislative strategies, will totally work. Why shouldn't people trust you? You're the Democrats! Things things always go well for you and, by extension, the American people.

..........Growth?

U.S. Economy Grew at Fastest Pace in 6 Years Last Quarter
The United States economy grew at its fastest pace in over six years at the end of 2009, but a sluggish job market is still souring economists on the sustainability of the recovery.

Gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter, well above analysts’ expectations. It had grown at an annualized rate of 2.2 percent in the previous quarter. Analysts had forecast annualized growth of 4.8 percent in the quarter, and the better-than-expected result sent stocks higher when trading opened on Wall Street.

“It was excellent report, but it’s not clear how sustainable this pace of growth is,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics. “We need numbers like this for the next two years, and I just don’t think we can achieve that.”
What the hell? 5.7%? That's like... a real number. The kind of number you need to see to start believing we might actually stave off of our impending dystopian hobo future. Things are looking good. No, things are looking great. Gentlemen, dust off the spats, shine up the monocle, order that gold toilet you've been eying, and... wait, I found the rainy cloud for this parade.

Seems that the reason for the growth is that businesses were replenishing stocks and inventory that had been allowed to dwindle because of the recession. Actual growth, not taking into account this unsustainable blip, was 2.2%. I think the phrase of the day you want to learn is: "inventory bounce". Why are some economists looking at this 5.7% number, looking at the inventory bounce/blip and saying "...ehhhhh"? Well because other economic indicators are poor, namely the jobs market.

Once again we've learned one of the fundamental lessons of this recovery: as long as you are an abstract number representing our economy and not someone actually living within the economy, things are looking good for you.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Picture of the day

Via Joe My God comes this look at the Joint Chiefs during the State of the Union.

When Obama mentions fucking with Iran over nukes:
When Obama mentions that the gays should be allowed to gay up our armed forces (with their gayness):
Hmmmm.

Cheap Blogging Crutch 01.28

Bernanke Confirmed for Second Term as Fed Chief
The Republic is saved! Praise be unto the only man on the planet who can do this job, Ben Bernanke! Sure, he didn't see any of this coming and by any measurable standard is doing his job poorly, but we all have to pretend like society will collapse if he isn't there to advocate for cutting social security and medicare while doing nothing to combat unemployment. The vote was, however, a stunning rebuke. He only was confirmed by a 40 vote majority, the smallest ever for a Fed Chairman. That must be a tremendous blow to his ego. We at These Bastards wish him luck at completely not seeing the next crisis.

In 3-2 Vote, SEC Requires Companies To Disclose Climate Risks To Investors
For the first time ever corporations are going to have to divulge to their shareholders the risks posed by their policies and actions to the climate and the risks of climate change and laws to prevent climate change will have on their business/hubbahubbahubbamoneymoneymoney. While this sounds all well and good, I'm sure the reports will just say what most companies have been saying for years about climate change "It's a hoax, everything's fine, do not look behind the curtain." But props to the SEC for making companies pretend to care about science and stuff by tying it to money.

Superfast Bullet Trains Are Finally Coming to the U.S.
Good news everyone! Now your Europeans friends eyes will no longer bug out of their heads when you tell them how long a train ride in this country takes. No longer will you have to explain how it's quicker to walk. Now they can only look down at us for our inadequate social safety nets, our terrible health care system, and lack of architectural period arches on our money. But, starting in Florida and California, our moribund commuter rail is getting a high speed bullet train kick in the ass.

Defense Analysts Blast Military Exemption to Spending Freeze
It seems that there are these weird creatures in Washington that the Washington Independent has tracked down and interviews... and hopefully tagged for future study. It seems these silly and unserious people don't believe that wars and defense infrastructure are free! Furthermore they believe that this kind of spending counts as spending! Not only that, but they think that the defense budget should be subject to the spending freeze/strategic cuts that every other department is, just because it happens to be the one most rife with fraud, waste, pork, bloat, blork, fraste, and what is generally called a "wide and varied scheme to piss away billions." Thankfully they have been pointed out and named publicly so we can sterilize them.. lest they never breed and spread their filthy ideas about defense appropriations again.

Karzai Sees Taliban Pact as Central to Ending War
Hamid Karzai doesn't want to rain on your parade, but you know Afghan police and military forces? The ones we've been training, arming, and equipping for like eight goddamn years? Well apparently we won't be done training, equipping, and arming them for another 4-5... or 10....or 15 years, if you want Hamid to be really honest about it. Why is it going to take that long? Because apparently there's something about the space/time continuum in Afghanistan where instead of training taking a few months, like it does in America, training takes close to two decades. It has something to to with quantum physics. Just in case you thought we were going to be out of there any time soon.. nope. Your grandkids' grandkids are going to be fighting over there.

Compare/Contrast

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on health care:
As I said to some friends yesterday in the press, we will go through the gate. If the gate is closed, we will go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we will pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we will parachute in. But we are going to get health care reform passed for the American people for their own personal health and economic security and for the important role that it will play in reducing the deficit.
Various and sundry Senate assholes on health care:
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said health care reform “is on life support, unfortunately,” and the president should have been more specific with how Democrats should move forward.
...
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) said it was “a real possibility that health care is at a stalemate and you can’t solve it this year.”
...
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on health care reform, Democrats are “thinking about it and how to move on it.”

But, he added, jobs are the current high priority and that is what we are going to work on for now.
Anyone still confident that health care is going to be acted on anytime soon? They've got to pretend they're doing something on jobs now.

Video of the day



Murray Hill Inc. for Congress
! I like the sound of their designated spokeshuman. Onward to victory in the Republican primary in Maryland’s 8th congressional district!

Art of the day

Via the site The Golden Age of Comic Book Stores comes this look at the late 19th/early 20th century editorial headings of Winsor McCay.

Click to embiggen.





The army has been overrun with hippies

Over the past few years one thing we've learned from our Republican brethren is that the military is always right and must always be listened to no matter what they say. We've also learned from the GOP that global warming and climate change are utter myths that are to be ignored.

So what are they going to make of this news: the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, the "statement of purpose" for the Defense Department, is going to come out virulently in favor of recognizing climate change and overdependence on fossil fuels and how the military will have to adapt to and address these issues going forward.
Climate change may be an “accelerant of instability” in future conflicts, and the U.S. military needs to plan for possible environmental catastrophes and resource wars, according to the Pentagon’s soon-to-be-released master strategy document.
...
Among other things, the draft QDR suggests the military will have to start planning for operations in which rising sea levels, an ice-free Arctic and higher overall global temperatures may be an important factor. What’s more, it suggests that military planners will have to prepared for the knock-on effects of climate change: forced migration, resource scarcity and the spread of disease.

In parallel, the draft QDR calls for a bigger push for energy independence by the military. The Defense Department, the document notes, is already “moving out smartly” to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, and to tap more renewable sources of energy.
And if that isn't enough to cause the vapors in Jim Inhofe, the Defense Department has already taken numerous steps to prepare for a dystopian world decimated by climate change and is also at the forefront of investing in green technologies and green energy sources in order to cut out supply line vulnerabilities, fuel dependence, and fuel costs. Many of those steps are documented here.

Why do I get the feeling that the global consensus of scientists, demand from the public, possibilities for new industries and economic strength, and a commitment from the rest of the world aren't enough to change the thoughts of the most rock-headed US legislator, but some three-star general with a sufficient Muslim agitating resume going "maybe we need to look at this climate thing... because of war and kaboom and freedom and the troops" is going to make a big difference?

Is it sad that this country can't get major climate legislation passed and that the most significant investments into climate research and green technology we can get without a 60 vote supermajority and some kickbacks to coal state congressmen is from our military backdooring the research so it can wage war better?

So I say to our elected betters who won't vote for environmental legislation but will vote for any and all military action: forget about the hippies, fat Al Gore, or the fact that it may or may not be cold where you are at this very moment and how that disproves global warming. Take action on climate change for the sake of the troops, so they can fight more effectively. You don't hate the troops... do you? Climate Action Now! It's what General Patton would want.

McDonnell's SOTU response: I'm lovin' it

As many of you know, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA), gave the GOP's response to last night's State of the Union speech. But this ain't yo daddy's Republican response. The 2010 version offered the full package: dedicated website, streaming video, Twitter feed, live blog of the response to the response...

Seriously, let me tell you what Melba Toast is packin' right here, all right? We got 4:11 Positrac outback, 750 double pumper, Edelbrock intake, bored over 30, 11 to 1 pop-up pistons, turbo-jet 390 horsepower. We're talkin' some fuckin' muscle.

But it don't come cheap. So who bankrolled the GOP's brave and uncharacteristic venture into the 21st century? Why, none other than Gov. McDonnell's PAC. But who funds the PAC?
The predictable funny. It burns!

[via
ThinkProgress]

Howard Zinn: 1922-2010

I suppose it's fitting that on the same day we sat down to listen to a president who counted Goldman-Sachs among his biggest campaign donors gripe about a government that has catered to big business at the expense of everyone else, we also lost Howard Zinn.

His detractors will cheer the death of a zany polemicist, a Marxist reactionary who cherry-picked primary sources in order to craft a narrative upon which he'd decided long before researching.

I'm going to mourn the passing of a brilliant mind who time and time again was on the right side of history. From the civilian atrocities at the end of World War II, to American civil rights, to Vietnam, to the modern feminist movement, to global capitalism, to the Iraq War, the man nailed it with greater frequency than any other contemporary American historian.

Zinn was combative and uncompromising, often at the expense of the message he was trying to convey. But that didn't make him any less correct.

So there was this speech thing last night

Last night the President gave his State of the Union and the response seem to be pretty good. The speech was so good that Chris Matthews forgot Barack Obama was black for an hour. Me? I forgot the President was half white for an hour, then I forgot I was black for a half hour, remembered that I'm lily white for the other half hour, acutely remembered the religion and ethnicity of everyone I know for an hour, and then forgot who the supporting cast in the Godfather Part II was. I still can't remember.

It was a long speech, long on optimism, quick with mocking humor, and took numerous opportunities to chastise the shitty legislature, the problems he inherited, and the fact that nobody seems to want to do anything to address them. Here are some of the more buzzworthy lines from the speech. The TB consensus favorite was this:
"At the beginning of the last decade, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion. By the time I took office, we had a one year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. That was before I walked in the door."
A completely true statement about the absolute horrowshow he was handed, which also triggered another running theme of the evening: human blights on the country mouthing bullshit when the cameras were on them.

But what were the themes of the evening? Jobs... and jobs, and jobs, and jobs, and jobs. Why? No one has one. Barry also took the time out to pledge and urge support for passing health care in the vague, nonspecific way that has been so infuriating during the health debate. He wants Congress to trust in the recovery path he put this country on, threatened to veto financial reform if it's the festering pile of lobbyist bullshit we all know it will be, ordered his party to get some balls, and offered up that maybe we should let gays serve in the military.

That's all good and well, but if good speeches that were very popular with the American people got things done, we'd have decent health care, smart regulatory reforms, action on climate change, decent bailouts and stimulus plans passed, and the country wouldn't be the shithole that it is. But as we've learned over the past year; talk is cheap, and so is owning a lawmaker. Well, cheap relative to the cost of what they can do for you by stalling, killing, or weakening laws. For all the good ideas, smart words, and big plans Obama has, they still have to go through the fiery crucible of stupid that is the US Senate and the lesser stupidity of the House.

So, Mr. President... yeah, good luck with all of that. I'll believe it when I see it. Still, nicely delivered and thought out. It's that implementation thing we're all still waiting on.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chart of the day


From Talking Points Memo comes this handy little look at how filibuster and cloture requirements from the Republicans have effectively crippled the Senate into a quivering, useless pile of political retardation. Supermajority is the new majority!

Cheap Blogging Crutch 01.27

Report: U.S. Drone Goes Down Over Pakistan. Again.
What's the one phrase you don't want to hear in our illustrious war on terror. I mean besides "they're using magic wands to detect bombs in Iraq." Would it be something along the lines of all the Predator drones are glitch ridden, cut out of contact frequently, don't handle anything other than nice weather very well, are notoriously difficult to land, and crash a lot? Good news then, as it seems as we widen the scope of our war on terror we are coming to rely more and more on crash prone planes that can't be flown if there's a stiff breeze. On the bright side, it looks like General Atomics is the Bell Helicopter of our generation. Buy stock.

Dungeons & Dragons Prison Ban Upheld
In what is the next great step in the evolution of the main goal of the US prison system (Goal 1: fuck over inmates as capriciously and pettily as possible for no discernible reason other it makes society feel better. Goal 2: See Goal 1.) Dungeons & Dragons is now banned as it "promotes gang activity." Still one wonders why anyone would want to play a game that so closely resembles their own life, with the dungeon represented by an actual concrete dungeon and the dragons represented by the many personal battles one fights in prison from rapes from the black gangs, to rapes from the Mexican gangs, to rapes from the Aryan gangs. Oh, let's not for get the shankings. Ah well I'm sure this will solve all gang related problems in prison.

Pentagon Report Calls for Office of ‘Strategic Deception’
The Defense Science Board in the Pentagon says our intelligence and military capabilities are not being used to their fullest. It seems we are lacking a Dept. Of Dishonesty or a Ministry of Truth, if you will. Because for all the trillions we spend on defense, we just haven't put enough effort into having a few more lying fuckers on the payroll. I agree, if there's one thing that I complain about, it's that our military and intel communities are just way too truthful. It's nice to see that the lessons people take away from 1984 are "this book is just chock full of good ideas." Ah well, at least people are reading more.

Will Haiti Earthquake Response Slow Afghan Troop Surge?
An interesting subplot for the next few months in our war on terror and in our relief efforts. Seems we just went and put our Afghanistan surge into Haiti, putting 33,000 troops and the requisite equipment onto the ground in Port-au-Prince. What will happen when we need those troops to go kill brown people instead of help black people? It'll be interesting to see how they answer that ques..... they'll leave and go kill brown people. It's not even a question. Hope you get all your aid you need in the next few months, because the mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is calling to us like a sirens song.

Driving A Hard Bargain: Nelson Says He Would've Opposed His Own Abortion Language
If there's one silver lining to the fact that Democrats don't have 60 seats and that the conference committee option is no longer feasible for health reform, it's that odious fuckers like Ben Nelson will no longer get to needlessly poison the bill with their short-sighted, troglodytic concerns. Not only was Ben Nelson fighting for his right to own every woman's uterus, he was willing to pull a knife-in-the-back double cross during the conference committee process to kill the bill if he didn't get abortion concessions made that were even more restrictive than the ones he already negotiated, signed off on, and voted for. Do you understand, House? This is why the Senate can't be allowed to meddle with health care again.

Broken In Brief: Collection Agency's Call Answered

DES MOINES--Unemployed steamfitter Joseph Nantz made history yesterday when he looked up from his mason jar of lukewarm beef broth to read the incoming call number on his cell phone and, despite noting that the number began with 888, answered the call.

This marked the first time in nearly 18 months that an American had intentionally answered a call from a collection agency. By some estimates, over 2 million phone calls originating from a credit collection agency were sent straight to voice mail between September 2008 and January 2010.

"To be honest, I was just surprised that Verizon hadn't turned off my phone yet," said Mr. Nantz, whose unemployment benefits are set to expire next week. "On top of that, a diet of mostly broth, week-old bagels, stolen church candles and dumpster salad is probably affecting my judgment a bit."

"There's also the part where I long for any shred of human contact, no matter how minuscule," Natz confided, noting that he hung up the second he realized it was a collection agency.

The collection agency in question refused to comment, and all calls to the number stored in Mr. Nantz's phone did not seem to connect to any extension.

Picture of the day

As the world is still a depressing, depressing place, it is our duty to bring you happiness through primitive means. By which we mean... FIRE!!!!! Thankfully the Big Picture blog is here to inform us of the status of two fire festivals that are ongoing, the Scottish based Viking fire festival of Up Helly Aa and the Spanish based fire and horse centered Feast of Saint Anthony the Great.

We eat the pig and together we burn! Burn!




Depressing information about Iraq of the day

With lasts month's bombing attacks in Iraq that left 127 dead, an attack that killed 155 in October, bombings that killed 35 in August, and attacks over the weekend that killed at least 35, the question is asked "why don't Iraqis have better bomb detectors?" Well, they have the money, they just choose to spend it on fraudulent technology sold by monstrous crooks. Still.



$85 million was spent on this "technology" from a UK company that is now under arrest for fraud. But the "machines", car antennas hooked up to a device meant to detect department store theft, are still in use by an Iraqi government who still seems to think that they work.

So in case you were wondering why the security situation is still so unstable after this many years and why dozens of bombs seem to go off each month, just know that one of the pillars of our security strategy was hoping that magic detected car bombs. Don't worry though, I'm sure we'll get this figured out sometime in the next intervening decade we spend in Iraq.

Time to get jerked around more on health care

It's clear what the main purpose of health care reform is: to jerk so many people around emotionally at such breakneck speeds for the purposes of our elected betters' entertainment. There doesn't seem to be any other explanation. It surely isn't "passing the best bill", as that option went off the table months ago.

If you remember where we last were in the health care debate, Scott Brown had just won in Massachusetts, giving Republicans their 41-59 majority. This of course caused Democrats to inexplicably start concocting new ways to fuck over people and make sure they get defeated in the 2010 elections as they all suddenly decided that finishing the work on the bill that both the House and Senate had already passed was a bad idea. The best solution forward, the House passes the Senate bill while the Senate passes the conference committee agreed upon changes through reconciliation, was jettisoned by House members for some undiscernable reason.

But because it is a new week, the House has a new opinion, and all is well in health care reform again.
But for the first time since last Tuesday's special election in Massachusetts, it's clear that they're coalescing around the most widely discussed option: moving ahead with the Senate bill once it's clear that it will be changed through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process. Before they can move ahead, they need the Senate to make some real headway on their end of the bargain--and they're not getting the signs they need.

"I thought we could get the votes in the House to pass the [Senate] bill if fixes to the Senate bill can be done," House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) told reporters today.

"That would be a good option as far as I'm concerned," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), leader of the House progressives' health care task force. "I could support it. Reconciliation. Majority rule."
Finally. How about it Senate? Just pass the ideas you had already agreed to support in the conference committee through reconciliation and we can bang out this bill and have it signed by next week?
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, deflected questions about health care. “We’re not on health care now,” Mr. Reid said. “We’ve talked a lot about it in the past.”

He added, “There is no rush,” and noted that Congress still had most of this year to work on the health bills passed in 2009 by the Senate and the House.
Great job, Harry. Make sure to also thank Landrieu, Bayh, Lincoln, Lieberman, Pryor, Begich, Nelson, and McCaskill, who have all come out a bitched to various degrees about using reconciliation to vote for something they would have voted for had Martha Coakley been elected. But the beauty of reconciliation is that those 8 assholes, plus one more asshole can be jettisoned and the reconciliation bill can still be passed. So of course there's movement on making sure health care is passed, right?

No, most of the Senate is content to sit around and go "rush, what rush" and dick around supporting the easy and obvious thing to do to get health care reform passed. I'm sure that'll change next week... at which point the House will invariably have a problem. And on and on and on until somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 million people have their heads explode from the inanity of their elected betters, thus solving the uninsured crisis.

So just a word of thanks to Congress. You may be slow on action and bad at legislating, but you are experts at dicking around, blame shifting, kicking back, and fucking around. Here's to the next seven dramatic shifts in the health reform battle. Seven dramatic reversals, that's all I can deal with before I'm out.

Speechishness

Tonight is the State of the Union. And what is the state of the union? Not good. In fact, rumor has it that the White House is going to be layering 4-5 thermal undergarments on the President in order to try to give Barry enough body warmth to counteract the involuntary cold shiver he has any time anyone mentions America's prospects for the future. What will this speech be notable for? Not pushing back the premiere of Lost, for which a grateful nation thanks him. Other than that, it'll just be essentially a wish list of things that will inevitably have to pass through the childish, incompetent, and incapable hands of the US Congress.

So as Americans huddle around storefronts who can still afford the expense of leaving the TV's in it's front display case on, or huddle around barrel fires as some former banker whose Verizon service hasn't been turned off offers SOTU updates from various Twitter feeds, here are some of the things they'll here. Surprisingly, no Bothans were harmed to bring you this information.
  • Apologies, apologies, apologies. Barry will admit missteps in some misguided attempt to shock the American people at the sheer sight of a man taking responsibility for his failures.
  • Re-jumpstart his agenda. That agenda? Getting his agenda fucked up by the Senate. I think it'll be a good year on that front.
  • Focus on the economy. Mention jobs a lot. Roll the dice and call for Congress to act on the economy in the hopes that random chance will produce a bill that rates better than 'mildly retarded.'
  • Try not to mention the incongruity behind calling for all these new programs and actions with the fact that he is also calling for an economically harmful spending freeze.
  • Try to soften the blow of administration economists who analogize the future of the economy as "like the plane crash on Lost, except that all the survivors of the wreck are eaten by strange monsters this go around."
  • Open with a 30 second free-for-all period where southern lawmakers can yell out anything from "You lie!", to "Socialism!", "Tea Party!", and "Nee-gruhs in mah squash patch!".
  • Ask the lawmakers that are completely owned by financial giants and banks if it's OK for them to maybe, possibly move forward on meaningful reforms.
  • Ask "pretty please" when they say no.
  • Announce a continuing investment into "the terminally failed populace that is our nation's children, with their furrowed brows, their poor math skills, and their ugly faces and manner of dress."
  • Place a large bottle of whiskey on top of the lectern, unscrew it slowly, take a swig out of it, mutter "Fuuuuuuuuuuuck", and continue.
  • Barely conceal his contempt for the circumstances he was handed and the Congress he was given to fix those problems.
  • Ask if anyone could possibly drive Joe Biden up to a fundraiser in New York, noting that the VP is "Willing to go halfsies on gas."
  • "Seriously. Health care. Finish it. Fuuuuuuuuuuck."
  • Announce exactly how much money he has decided to take from the Treasury to use to bet on the Super Bowl, along with the team he's backing and the point spread. Ask for suggestions from the House on any prop bets he should make.
  • Sarcastically point out the Supreme Court and thank them for letting more corporate money into elections. "Real good job guys," the President will mockingly say while golf clapping slowly.
  • Smash the now empty whiskey bottle on the floor and yell "I'm out."
Sounds eventful. It's not like anything else will be on.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Video of the day



I say this about you Wal-Mart, you may be a giant evil conglomerate, but at least you've decided to get entertainingly creepy. Shame you couldn't have given the clown sharp teeth or ponied up the cash for Tim Curry.

Cheap Blogging Crutch 01.26

Why Some Comics Aren’t Laughing at Jay Leno (Essay)
Nathan Rabin of the Onion AV club looks into the most important issue of our time, the Coco/Leno feud, and analyzes why everyone seemed to take Conan's side and heaped unending vitriol on Leno. Essentially he's boring, not funny anymore, tries to play the innocent guy shtick while he's stabbing people in the back, he isn't funny, he never wrote one single monorail related Simpsons episode, and he isn't funny.

In audio message, bin Laden says he endorsed Dec. 25 airline bomb plot
I'm not in the business of giving advice to terrorists. Well, not for free anyway. But Osama, you're starting to lose your terror cache. There use to be a time when we'd fear your proclamations of Jew hate and promises of fiery death from the sky. Now? You're repeating old material and trying to take credit for a guy who staged the greatest public groin singeing in the US... outside of the rural south. Get your shit together man, all we have to fear nowadays is the complete idiocy of our legislative branch. It's just not the same.

Slime Mold Grows Network Just Like Tokyo Rail System
You know how me and Sean are always saying that Japanese engineers are as smart as pond scum? Turns out it's not a racist remark anymore, it's a complement. When mold is allowed to grow on a grid the shape of Tokyo, they end up laying out nutrient channeling tubes much in the same manner as the Tokyo rail system, one of the best designed rail systems in the world. Looks like all those people who protested at our offices for our Japanese slime mold jokes owe us an apology. We still refuse to apologize for the Bulgarian physicist jokes.

US to lift 21-year ban on haggis
Finally, our senseless ban on haggis is ended. I know you haggistotalers wanted this delicious concoction banned from American life, but all your meddling laws did was empower the mob and the haggisrunners. Hell, we've all dabbled in a little haggisrunning, brewing up some bathtub minced sheep offal and selling it in underground speakeasys. Now we're finally allowed to come out into the light of day and enjoy haggis out in the open as God intended. Our long national nightmare is over.

NASA Reveals New Batch Of Space Program Artifacts
If any of you are in the market for some slightly used spacesuits, lunar landers, or a space shuttle or two, NASA is being kind enough to auction some of these items off to the highest bidder in the next coming months. Why build your own spacesuit when you can just drop a couple grand on an Apollo or Mercury era one? If you want the ultimate front lawn centerpiece forget a garden gnome and get a decommissioned shuttle. Only $28 million and the shipping is free. Help them out and buy a goddamn rocket or two. Science is expensive and their budget just got frozen for petty political reasons.

The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures
Dating site OK Cupid is not only a sit for hipsters to meet other hipsters for the purpose of discussing Vampire Weekend at tapas bars, it's also a site where statistics nerds analyze pictures and response rates of it's members to create mathematical and statistical breakdowns of what does and doesn't work online if you're trying to meet another human. Girls making that annoying duck face in a profile shot? Bad. Guys looking away in their profile shot? Good. The Myspace shot? Winner winner chicken dinner. In addition they also have studies done on how different races interact online, the receptive response rates/cruelty of men and women in relation to perceived attractiveness, and what responses work best when human contact is attempted. Check it out, it's sociologically interesting.

Broken News: Ayla Brown Dating Political Blogger

CHESTNUT HILL, MA--Multiple sources have confirmed that Ayla Brown, elder daughter of Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown, is dating infamous internet personality Sean of TheseBastards.

Brown, 21, first came to mild prominence in 2006 as a contestant on American Idol. She had flown under the cultural radar ever since, but with her father's election and acceptance speech pimping of his daughter as "definitely available" last week, Ms. Brown has once again been thrust into the public eye.

Indeed, Google image searches for "Ayla Brown nude" and "Ayla Brown upskirt" have increased tenfold over the last week. This is reportedly how Mr. Sean came across his new romantic interest, sometime between 1:30 and 4:00 AM last Friday night/Saturday morning after having repaired to his small Brooklyn apartment to cry and masturbate, using his own tears as lubricant.

"It was love at first sight," said a friend of Brown's, who claims to have overheard multiple conversations wherein the Boston College student said she had been "swept off her feet" by the co-creator of The Internet's Only Political Commentary and Fake News Blog.

According to this source, who has never actually met Brown in person but sits behind her in class all the time, the affair began when Sean posted several nude pictures of himself to Brown's Facebook page late one night. Soon thereafter, he traveled to Chestnut Hill, where after a few "misunderstandings" with Boston College campus police, including three accidental macings and one deliberate tasering, his intentions were made plain.

"Once they saw I was functionally immune to pepper spray, the taser shocks were stimulating me sexually, and that I wasn't going to ever stop roaming the wooded area outside of her dorm, they knew I wasn't there for some flash in the pan, tabloid romance, paparazzi coverage," the lovestruck blogger mused.

The couple has since been on several dates, including afternoons spent matinee hopping at the local multiplex, followed by romantic dinners at their favorite restaurant, Arby's, after which they "totally did it," according to Sean, who had the Beef 'n Cheddar with a side of curly fries.

"They're such a modern pair," said the source. "Sean is so secure in his masculinity that he doesn't object to Ayla paying the bill, fronting him rent money, or talking down a group of South Boston bar patrons he drunkenly called 'dickless meathead fucks'."

"What can I say?" said Sean when asked to address this budding romance. "When you get a shot at some strange who was not only on American Idol but the daughter a Republican who will be jobless in a couple of years, you have to take it."

While the romance hasn't been without its rough patches, namely Brown's failure to reimburse the expenses Sean incurred on chloroform and nylon rope that, as yet, remain unused, the couple remains happy.

"$90 goddamn dollars," Sean was heard to sigh. "Well, at least it's probably safe to put the spare tire back in the trunk."

"Truuuuuuuuue loooooooooove," he began to sing.

But despite the whirlwind nature of their courtship and pending engagement, these young lovers are doing their best to keep level heads.

"Monogamy is really strange," admitted Sean. "Like when you know their name and shit?"

The couple is also requesting that the media respect their privacy, although Sean was quick to note that everyone "should feel free to stop by TheseBastards for up-to-the-minute news on all things romantic-like."

The Brown family did not return multiple requests for comment on this article.

The Arby's in question is under investigation for numerous health code violations.

Picture of the day

It is almost 9 years since the Cassini spacecraft gave us our best look ever at Jupiter. I know, I was so focused on the upcoming global celebrations for the 10th anniversary and planning a science related excursion for the week we'll all get off to celebrate the Cassini/Jupiter adventure that I just plum forgot about the 9th anniversary! Well, to make it up, we'll just gawk at the photo Cassini got as it flew by on its way to Saturn.

Click to really, really, really embiggen.

Quote of the day

President Obama, already turtling into that punch-drunk "I don't care what people say", "I listen to what's in my heart", "I'll let history judge me" period of the Presidency that took George W. Bush 7 years to get to.
“I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president,” he told ABC’s “World News” anchor Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview today.
...
Seated across from Sawyer in the White House, the president added, “I don’t want to look back on my time here and say to myself all I was interested in was nurturing my own popularity.”
Well, you certainly have shown you aren't interested in doing things that are popular.

Let's see: fucked up health care to the point it might not pass now, haven't gotten around to focusing on that whole jobs thing, no attempt on serious financial reform, your economic leaders have been shown to be way too close and too eager to cut cushy deals for the financial giants that shitted the economy and help them hide from any scrutiny, you've continue much of the repellent legal shenanigans the Bush Administration engaged in, Gitmo is still open, there's those two wars still going on, and you don't seem interested in actually fighting for anything you ran on.

Will you settle for mediocre one-term president?

I am struggling to think of a 'freeze' related pun that hasn't been done to death at this point

Last week seemed promising on the economic front. Not in the sense that the economic numbers looked any better or anyone got a job in this country, but better. Mostly because the President seemed to jettison the ideas of Larry Summers and Tim Geithner and embrace Paul Volcker and the idea of actually getting tough on Wall Street. There finally seemed to be some interest in paying attention to unemployment and the peasants. Putting that "laser like jobs focus" on making sure we had nice plows and a sturdy mule for our new job opportunities toiling in the fields. Hell, It even looked like a Fed Chairman who was uninterested in getting unemployment figures to drop was going to ironically find himself jobless. Positive steps were being taken.

Then today came. President Obama announced his big economic idea for the State of the Union was to be an across the board spending freeze for all non defense spending. In other words: all the money spent that benefits us. We'll not dwell on the fact that Obama ridiculed this idea as not serious when John McCain said it. Instead we'll dwell on the fact that it's just cheap political theatrics and a terrible economic idea that will contribute to weakening the economy further. Because my beard isn't as great and the Nobel committee doesn't want to recognize my economic work, I'll let Paul Krugman explain.
A spending freeze? That’s the brilliant response of the Obama team to their first serious political setback? It’s appalling on every level.

It’s bad economics, depressing demand when the economy is still suffering from mass unemployment. Jonathan Zasloff writes that Obama seems to have decided to fire Tim Geithner and replace him with “the rotting corpse of Andrew Mellon”
...
It’s bad long-run fiscal policy, shifting attention away from the essential need to reform health care and focusing on small change instead. And it’s a betrayal of everything Obama’s supporters thought they were working for.
Tell us how you really feel, Paul. I forgot to mention he also calls the idea "pure disaster". But hey, looking tough on the deficit, whether or not it shorts the GDP gap that government spending has to make up in order to get us out of this recession, is really really important. More important than making sure the economy is fixed.

Of course, a spending freeze isn't even that good a policy if you're looking to cut the deficit. A spending freeze on non-defense spending is almost useless. It's what someone does when they want to look like they're serious and pretend they're cutting the deficit. Looking serious combined with pretend action? Sounds familiar. At least they're combining it with something that will be politically popular and economically terrible.

So, on the bad side, it doesn't look like we're going to get a handle on that economy thing anytime soon. On the other hand, we are going to get a lot of cheap political pandering. If something makes the economy worse, is panned by most economists as a bad idea, but sounds good to Republican lawmakers, and gets the political media all in a Twitter over your decisive action on the deficit, who really loses? Sure, the American people will lose. But Barry needs some good political coverage. We need to take one for the team.

The massive unpopularity of health care reform


Nate Silver of 538 takes a look at a recent poll done by the Kaiser Family Foundation claims that the health care bill is unpopular. The conclusion? That while while people react differently to the phrase "health care reform" or "Senate health care bill", when they are asked whether or not they are for or against specific provisions within the Senate health bill there is not only almost overwhelming support for those provisions, but the entire bill itself. The problem? With most provisions the public is only marginally aware that they are contained within the Senate bill.

Let's see. When told of specific provisions of the bill the public is broadly supportive and for the reforms under consideration. Numerous political experts are screaming that the only chance Democrats will have in November is for the House to pass the goddamn Senate bill. Numerous health care experts are screeching that for the betterment of the US health care system the House needs to pass the goddamn Senate bill. So what are Democrats going to do? Dick around, delay, and start over in an attempt to pass some watered down, lesser, piecemeal version of the Senate bill. Maybe. Maybe just give up.

Of course they are. "Health care reform" is "unpopular", legislating is haaaaard, and there is that 41-59 Republican majority to think about. Never underestimate the ability o Democrats to look at the facts and the political reality of a situation, choose to replace that reality with one of their own mental creation, and convince themselves that showing massive weakness and getting nothing done is the best way forward. Well done, Democrats. Well done.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Broken in Brief: Thieves Steal $18.2 Million in Daring Weekend Heist

HOLLYWOOD—In what was amongst the largest and longest thefts in recent US history, today police put out an all points bulletin for the arrest of suspects in connection with a daring three-day raid across the country that resulted in an estimated $18.2 million dollar haul for the perpetrators.

“We would like this country to be on the lookout for actor Paul Bettany, director Scott Stewart, and the studio ironically titled Screen Gems in relation to the release of the so-called film Legion into theaters” announced the director of the FBI’s Robbery/Cinematic Homicide Division, Will Franks.

“It is to be assumed that they are armed… without any sense of taste or the ability to recognize competent storytelling or dialogue. It is suspected that they might have seen or at least partially remembered hearing about the movie the Prophecy. Co-star Dennis Quaid is purported to be with them and is to be considered needing money and in an extremely desperate state.”

The FBI vowed to bring down the men “with extreme prejudice” for what they feel is a coordinated theft of $6-$12 dollars from hundreds of thousands of people at close to 2,500 locations, 7-8 times each day between Friday and Sunday. Officials will charge the men with premeditation for the robbery pending confirmation that nearly two years of pre-production, filming, post-production, and marketing went into unleashing this “film” on an unsuspecting public.

“I will not rest until these sick freaks are brought to justice,” yelled Franks, a veteran of the previous arrests of the makers of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Superman Returns, most romantic comedies, and the men who decided to let people view Avatar without the benefit of 3D to distract from a shop-worn plot and pedestrian dialogue.

As of press time the group is rumored to be using Legion to engage in smaller thefts throughout the week with another planned robbery next weekend expected to net roughly 40% of this weekend’s haul.

It is hoped that Stewart, Bettany, and Screen Gems can be apprehended before the August 2010 release of Priest, their next diabolical gambit to steal from the American public en masse.

Video of the day

Felix Baumgartner will try to do this:



And try not to end up like this:


Worth a try I'd say. Good luck to him.

Legalese

A recent decision was made on another series of lawsuits making the crazy claim that since the government and telecommunications companies illegally spied on us, someone somewhere should maybe face a criminal case, jail time, a large fine, a stern talking to, or a stern finger wag because of it. Of course this nonsense was thrown out of court. But we knew this would happen. The rule of law clearly states that those who rule must be protected from the consequences of the law.

But what is of interest is not so much the fact that the case was thrown out of court, but the reason why. We've moved beyond mere "The government did it so it's legal" and "Unless you can get the government or the telcoms to willingly give you information specifying that your were spied on, you can't sue" to merely stating that everyone got fucked over equally, so you should just take it like a man.

He noted that the plaintiffs include most every American connected to the internet or to have used a telephone — meaning the lawsuits boil down to a “general grievance” and are barred. The decision came days after a government audit showed the telecom companies and FBI collaborated for four years, between 2003 and 2007, to violate federal wiretapping laws.

Judge Walker said that the lawsuits, in essence, cannot be brought because they are “citizen suits seeking to employ judicial remedies to punish and bring to heel high-level government officials for the allegedly illegal and unconstitutional warrantless electronic surveillance program or programs now widely, if incompletely, aired in the public forum.”

Unfortunately the government and telcoms just spied on and wiretapped too many goddamn people, otherwise the courts would totally be able to do something. But since these spying thingy-dingys happened to essentially everyone with a phone or internet they get bussed down from Constitutional violations to general grievances. Your concerns are now legally like the buzzing of flies to Lord Vigo the US government.

And where was the Obama Administration on this case? They were busy trying to get it dismissed based on the "state secrets" privilege and arguing that the US government should not be allowed to be sued unless it has given consent, aka "sovereign immunity." Well at least they're vigorously fighting for one principle they hold dear.

So remember, if you think your Constitutional rights have been violated, you totally have legal recourse.... as long as Congress doesn't pass a retroactive law absolving those who have violated your rights, a company and the government wishes to willingly incriminate itself in said rights violation, the government doesn't claim a "state secrets" privilege, and also doesn't claim the rights of a 12th century Prussian monarch. Wonderful.

...and the home of the braaaave.

New United States

Don't like the fact that you live in a city with actual people in it and that legislative priorities you favor that benefit those areas with people in it are typically thwarted or largely mangled by lawmakers from states that don't have people in them? You know, like when the Senate health care bill was negotiated by the Gang of Six that represented 2.75% of the nation's population?

One man agrees with you: Neil Freeman. As such, he's devised a simple solution to fix the over-representation of small states and under-representation of large states in elections and legislative matters: redraw all the states!
click to embiggen

Each new state contains about 5,617,000 people, preserves the electoral college system which we seem to like for some reason, redistricts states and power like congressional districts, and let's us keep that 50 number we all like.

The negatives are we lose all those state names and barriers we like so much, "some county names are duplicated in new states", and new state laws will have to be drafted.

See: simple. I personally would love to live in a state called Allegheny (FUCK WILLIAM PENN AND HIS WOODS!), Okefenokee, or The Delta. But I also realize this is like looking at a map of Narnia and wishing you were BFF with Mr. Tumnus. I'll stop fantasizing about ways in which this country might work better and get back to the criplling reality of what actually is.

Seriously, two Dakotas?

Art of the day


Coco, walking into the sunset.

The sunset, of course, being September on a non-NBC network making around $30 million a year after taking a buyout from NBC that amounted to around $40 million, depending on various estimates.

*sniff* That poor bastard.

Asshole advocates for asshole

With the confirmation of Ben Bernanke seeming to take a happy little detour into the bottomless canyon of failure that is the United States Senate, a stifled yawn and cries of "No really, that's a shame, awwwwwwww" are coming up from most casual observers and critics of the Fed Chairman. Mostly that stems from the fact that he either completely failed to see or completely failed to act on the large housing bubble, seems intent on ignoring his mandate to attempt to get this country to full employment, and that his sole claim to fame as Fed Chairman seems to be that he hasn't fucked up during this recession. Which, seeing as how things are still shitty, isn't much of an endorsement.

But there are people coming to Ben's defense. It's just a shame it's another guy everyone thinks is fucking up.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned that the financial markets would view a Senate rejection of Ben Bernanke's renomination as "very troubling" but said he's sure the embattled Federal Reserve chairman will prevail.
...
"He's done a remarkable job of helping steer this economy out of the great recession. And I think he'll play a very important role in helping in the success of our efforts to try to make sure we are bringing this economy back to durable growth."

Asked about possible market reaction to a defeat, Geithner said: "I think the markets would view that as a very troubling thing to the economy as a whole."
First off? This country: not steered out of a recession. Point of fact: still in recession. Point of other fact: looks to be in recession for foreseeable future. Second point: country is not being brought back to durable growth.

And threats of a Wall Street tantrum, also echoed in this Washington Post editorial that echoes the same line of bullshit Geithner is slinging? Well I imagine they would be pretty pissed off if a guy who has been looking out for them and only them was suddenly out of a job, but I'm not that concerned about their feelings. I have this bizarre idea that the economy isn't some GDP number or stock market number; that the economy is about the relative financial health and stability of the people in the economy.

Now I know when Bernanke was made our Infallible Money Jesus he, like those who came before him, ceased to be a mere mortal as his brain became attuned to what our financial Gods wanted and his proclamations became unerring law. But people seem to look at the results of his tenure, not like what they see, and want a guy who was, you know, ahead of the curve and maybe interested in their problems. 10% unemployment does irrational things like that. It's this foreign concept some refer to as "holding people responsible for their performance." We don't do it too often with financial leaders, so I can see why it's such a shock it might be happening to Benny.

I know it's hard to understand, but there was a time in this country when Ben Bernanke wasn't the head of the Fed. Time still flowed forwards and the fabric of the universe was still held together. I'm just saying I think it might be possible, nay probable, that the universe won't compress itself into a singularity if Ben Bernanke has to return to Princeton and he gets replaced by someone who gives a fuck about things that aren't massively giant financial corporations. But, then again, I've been wrong before.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Picture of the day

click to embiggen

Via Space Gizmo, comes a look at Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov performing a spacewalk while working on Mini-Research Module 2.

Or so they would have you believe. Me and Hugo Chavez know Oleg is just recalibrating Russia's earthquake machine, Comrade Rumblovitch, for it's inevitable battle with our earthquake machine, El Ultimo Tectonico Diablo. And you thought the space program was boring.

Makes sense

One has to appreciate all the opportunities that the Haiti earthquake has given people. Oh, not to improve a beleaguered country, show unprecedented levels of humanitarian care and aid, or aspire to the better angels of human nature. No, to come up with crazy ass conspiracy theories about the "truth" behind the relief efforts and the earthquake.

Of course the man to step up to the forefront is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. First he stated we were using the earthquake and aid as a pretext for occupying Haiti. you know, because controlling Haiti would be such a jewel in our crown. But then he wised up and came to a more reasonable conclusion: we were responsible for the earthquake.
Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez has reportedly said the Haiti earthquake was caused by a U.S. tectonic weapons test, also being dubbed The Earthquake Weapon.

Hugo Chavez told Spanish newspaper ABC that a "tectonic weapon" launched by the U.S. Navy was capable of triggering a powerful earthquake off the coast of Haiti. Chavez told the newspaper that this time it was only a test and the ultimate target is Iran
First off: The Earthquake Weapon? That's an unbelievably shitty name. Come up with something better, Hugo. Secondly, he also blames the US for the January 9th earthquake in Eureka, CA, but says we only might be responsible for a 2008 earthquake in China. Which is it, Hugo? Do we cause all earthquakes now or just some of them? Get your facts straight.

As for the accusations that we want to use this secret (but not so secret that every two-bit conspiracy theorist not only knows about it, but also knows where it is located: the HAARP facility in Alaska) earthquake weapon to finally destroy Iran? Well, no shit. We don't have the troop strength to fully invade so our only other recourse is magic space vibrations shot from satellites formerly controlled by Sarah Palin.

It's just a shame that you caught on to our plan to unleash El Ultimo Tectonico Diablo on Iran. Now we can't crush them under the might of our weather controlling powers! Curse you, Hugo, and curse the Fifth Republic Movement! Now we'll have to wait to destroy Iran... that is unless... would people find it suspicious if Tehran was hit by a Category 5 hurricane? I guess we'll find out soon enough.

P.R.

Well, well, well, looks like the Taliban has fallen into our complex little trap. Oh sure, they might have been glad to lure us into a guerrilla insurgency battle in the mountainous Graveyard of Empires; a battlefield and tactic they are much more familiar and better at than we are. But now they've made the mistake of letting themselves be led into a battlefield of our own choosing; a battlefield where our prowess is unparalleled; the public relations battlefield.

Oh foolish Taliban. Now you're letting us fight a battle we can win. We can probably win. Probably definitely maybe win. Possibly. We at least have better odds than with the counterinsurgency thing.
The Taliban have embarked on a sophisticated information war, using modern media tools as well as some old-fashioned ones, to soften their image and win favor with local Afghans as they try to counter the Americans’ new campaign to win Afghan hearts and minds.

The Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, issued a lengthy directive late last spring outlining a new code of conduct for the Taliban. The dictates include bans on suicide bombings against civilians, burning down schools, or cutting off ears, lips and tongues.
Cutting off of limbs, hands, feet and heads? Still on! ...until... they're cut off. See.. when they cut them off... no longer... on... *sighs* This is the problem with mutilation humor.

The Taliban is eager to win over hearts and minds seeing as they're responsible for 3/4th's of civilian deaths. You hear that, Robert Greenwald? We're only responsible for 1/4th! That practically makes this whole thing justified!

So sorry for you, Taliban. After almost a decade of fighting we finally lured you into a fight we could win. Sure, it was an overly complex, ill-defined, and labyrinthine plot that involved an actual war, but we finally did it. We were personally hoping we'd be able to lure you into a pop singing competition or perhaps a baseball game, but we'll take P.R. Hell, we can kiss babies, stage photo-ops, press the flesh, and schmooze better than any nation on earth. Our army of public relations reps and spokesmen will blot out the sun. I can't believe you fell for it.

Awwww

Senate Dems Not Sure They Can Get Enough Votes to Reconfirm Bernanke
Amidst the voter anger at Wall Street and Washington, D.C., ABC News has learned that the Senate Democratic leadership isn't sure there are enough votes to re-confirm Ben Bernanke for another term as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Bernanke's term expires on Jan. 31.
What a shame. I just can't believe that in this day an age an ostensible agent of government who feels it is his duty to look out for financial and banking giants at the expense of people, completely neglects the bolded large print declaration that the central bank is supposed to be committed to enacting polices that promote full employment, tilts at windmills and the imaginary dragons of inflation, presided over a disaster, did nothing to stop it or foresee it, and is unpopular with the American people, isn't finding much support in Congress.

As an added bonus, it seems that Geithner is on the outs as well. Hey, I guess better late than never. Sad that it has to take months and months of deeply unpopular toadying to the people who ruined the economy before someone speaks up and says "Maybe... this is a... bad... idea?" while someone else tentatively nods in agreement. Or as Matt Taibbi puts it "the government only starts listening to its voters once the more corrupt option turns out to be untenable."

So soon we might have a new head of the FED and, if Obama seems to be moving away from his ideas, a new head of the Treasury. Hah! Just kidding. Did you see the confirmation rate in the Senate for Presidential appointees? Even if he dumps the both of them, it'll be years before both positions were filled. I'm not sure if those would be bad things at this point, but that's where we are. That is unless Senate Democrats are able to muster some sort of unified and bipartisan support for something supported by the President. LOLersaktes!

So sorry Ben. Bitches will eventually know about your rate cuts and we all appreciate your rocket cycle heroics, but we just can't let you run things anymore. I guess it's back to Princeton to boss around Krugman. That might be as fun as swimming in the Fed's money vault. Fare thee well.

Money, money, money, money... mon-ey

When we all get together at out weekly These Bastards Tea Party meetings, what's the one thing we always say about politics? No, not "kill them all" or "More booze." I'm talking about how we all wish politicians and elections were influenced even more by corporate money. Well thankfully the Supreme Court heard our clarion call and read our feces strewn correspondence written with letters and words we cut out of Ladies Home Journal and came to the same conclusion.
Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.
Whew, thank God. Politicians already listen way too much to the will of the people at the expense of large corporations. Now, there will finally be some balance and the little people will finally get to stop imposing their tyrannical reign on poor, poor put upon conglomerates. I mean who can't be thrilled to hear lobbyists respond to the ruling with articles full of stuff like this:
The Supreme Court has handed lobbyists a new weapon. A lobbyist can now tell any elected official: if you vote wrong, my company, labor union or interest group will spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election.

“We have got a million we can spend advertising for you or against you — whichever one you want,’ ” a lobbyist can tell lawmakers, said Lawrence M. Noble...
Again, whew. Lobbyists just don't have enough access and wield enough power, finally they'll be able to do God's work more effectively.

Thankfully the Supreme Court is there to tell us that the people need to be made into a electoral underclass, roaming the depths undergrounds, eating what crumbs fall to us, and hissing at the light. Money equals speech and since corporations have more money than us, they deserve even more speech than us. Which is good, we were really drowning Big Oil, pharmaceutical giants, and financial companies out. I know we all thought we had too much influence over our elected betters. Well, the Supreme Court, in their infinite wisdom, agrees.

I can hardly wait for the first ad from a Wall Street company that was funded with bailout money. The 2010 midterms are going to be so great. Our suggestion? You know all that tremendous power and influence you wielded over the past few years? Well, remember it fondly. It was the high point in American Democracy. Why no, that isn't incredibly sad.