Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Get a brain, morans!"

Stamford Tea Party

[h/t Bob Cesca]

Screw Job

It's another deadline week, so posting will be sparse... I haven't had time to read the details of the GM bailout and forced Chrysler merge, but my gut reaction is...


Yes, viewed in a vacuum, I say the government gets to dictate terms when they bail you out. If that means, "fire your board," or "your shareholders get a haircut," that's fine. Don't take the money if you're not willing to abide.

But the fact that the auto companies—companies that nation-wide employ hundreds of thousands of people in good living-wage jobs manufacturing real, durable, tangible goods that contribute to the economy in myriad ways—are getting a trial by fire from the Obama team. Last I checked, the Big Three didn't blow through everyone else's savings (well, excepting Dodge Avenger owners) and drive themselves and the economy over a cliff with borderline-illegal high-stakes gambling. At least at the end of the year Detroit can point to several million cars as a result of their business.

Meanwhile, the greed cancer-infested financial sector that engaged in an unregulated spree of graft and thievery is getting comparatively soft, kid glove treatment and a bailout approach that seems hell-bent on preserving the previous, fatally flawed system and those who run it. Oh, and did I mention an exponentially higher price tag?

This double standard is fucking bullshit. Automakers get raked over the coals for how they flew into D.C. while Wall Street thieves walk away with taxpayer-funded bonuses totaling in the billions.

Someone explain to me how this doesn't sound exactly like something that would have happened under the previous administration.

UPDATE: Mike's spent some more time thinking/reading/writing about this...

UPDATE 2: And so has The Michigan Posse.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Reading Assignment: "Dear A.I.G. Guy, You Suck!"

An AIG exec submits his resignation/woe-is-me letter as an Op-Ed in the New York Times—"Dear A.I.G., I Quit!"

But that's not the assignment. Matt Taibbi's response is...
DeSantis has a few major points. They include: 1) I had nothing to do with my boss Joe Cassano's toxic credit default swaps portfolio, and only a handful of people in our unit did; 2) I didn't even know anything about them; 3) I could have left AIG for a better job several times last year; 4) but I didn't, staying out of a sense of duty to my poor, beleaguered firm, only to find out in the end that; 5) I would be betrayed by AIG senior management, who promised we would be rewarded for staying, but then went back on their word when they folded in highly cowardly fashion in the face of an angry and stupid populist mob.

I have a few responses to those points. They are 1) Bullshit; 2) bullshit; 3) bullshit, plus of course; 4) bullshit. Lastly, there is 5) Boo-Fucking-Hoo. You dog.

AIGFP only had 377 employees. Those 400-odd folks received almost $3.5 billion in compensation in the last seven years, a very large part of that money coming from the sale of credit default protection. Doing the math, that averages out to over $9 million of compensation per person.

[...] Are we supposed to believe that Jake DeSantis knew nothing about Joe Cassano's CDS deals? If your boss and the top guys in your firm were all making a killing selling anything at all -- whether it was rubber kayaks, generic Levitra or credit default swaps -- you really wouldn't bother to find out what that thing they were selling was?

[...] let's just say, Jake, that you're telling the truth, that you don't know anything about this toxic portfolio. If that's the case, then why the fuck does anyone need to retain you at an exorbitant salary to help unwind that very portfolio? If these transactions aren't and never were your expertise, then where the hell is your value here?

I'll add this: Jake DeSantis was already paid in the neighborhood of ten mil (at least!) the last few years. So, he's either still pretty fucking wealthy and can shut the fuck up, or, he's broke—in which case he's a financial moron and shouldn't be anywhere near anyone elses money.

As a commenter at Taibbi's post said, "This guy needs to be punched in the fucking soul."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Brilliance From Just Ten Sentences...

It was just over a year ago when I first heard they were making this movie. While it didn't build the same level of anticipation within me that the Lord of the Rings did, I was pretty freaking excited. Rumors that the project was falling apart left me crestfallen, but apparently everything worked out and the trailer is here.

And it looks fucking amazing.

I'm not embedding it, because it's an Apple Exclusive, and all the embeds I've seen have been choppy and shitty. Just go to Apple and watch it as big as you can.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Reading Assignment: Get Mad

Matt Taibbi's The Big Takeover.

If yesterday's assignment was a punch in the gut—knocking the wind out of you while you contemplate how screwed we are—then Taibbi's article is like a drink in the face and a finger in the chest...

It's fucking go time.

The people on Wall Street should give thanks that New Yorkers have no reason to own pitchforks. This makes me want to abandon any pretense of a bailout or rescue and burn the whole fucking thing down and sort through the ashes—no matter the cost. I'm now of the opinion we have nothing to lose. We're going down either way, I want some bankers to land on. And Joe Cassano and Phil Gramm's heads on pikes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Great Shot

In honor of today's festivities, I'll pass along this photo gallery I just received in my email...

Photographer Bill Bamberger has spent the last several years documenting one of the most iconic objects in all of sports: the basketball goal. [...] Bamberger has traveled to more than thirty states for his remarkable ongoing series, “Ball,” photographing hoops built on the edge of cotton fields, made of old signs, nailed to telephone poles, hanging from barns...there are no people in these pictures, and there don’t need to be. Whether you’re a basketball fan or not, you’ll begin to see these simple structures as a vital part of the American landscape. But it’s even better to see them as Bamberger does—as pure art.

Reading Assignment

The best (and worst*) thing I've read on the economic collapse and the failure to do anything about it that will actually work.
No Return to Normal

Why the economic crisis, and its solution,
are bigger than you think.

By James K. Galbraith

In short: There's a way out, but the way things are going now, we're fucked. This is worse than the Great Depression, because nobody is proposing anywhere close to a bold enough plan to fix the public sector and get things going, and there won't be WWII to carry it through. Even with all that working, it still took twenty years to rebuild the economy. These days, between the A.D.D.-media, the next-cycle-only politicians and the panic-or-party jackasses on Wall Street, that will never suffice. Even if Obama took the steps necessary (and nothing indicates he can or will), he will pay too heavy a price for it, control will change hands in 2012 0r even 2016, and any progress he starts will be immediately undone.

The only thing that will make me feel any comfort would be for Obama to fire his current crew of in-over-their-heads insiders and replace them with guys like Galbraith, Krugman Nouriel Roubini and Nassim Taleb, and let them get to some real work.

That doesn't seem likely.

Coach K (the K is for Shut the Fuck Up)

Duke University head coach and WATB Mike Kczeschehzjejcje0ajfl has his panties in a bunch 'cause Obama filled out a bracket.
"Somebody said that we're not in President Obama's Final Four, and as much as I respect what he's doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said from the Blue Devils' first-round site in Greensboro, N.C.

Maybe you should worry less about politics and more about coaching your team in the tournament, douche. Since clearly it's not possible for someone to do two things at once...like go to college, take classes AND play basketball...Or, maybe walk and chew gum...Or, do my job AND tell you to drink the fuck up...

[h/t Toast]

UPDATE: That post was based on a FOX News story, so naturally it should have been wiped off my shoe rather than believed. Video shows Coach K is clearly joking as he makes the remarks and goes on to declare he thinks Obama is great. He's absolved for this, but not everything else, so he can keep sipping.

The Jet Set

The first of three new JetBlue videos/ads aimed at CEOs...

All three are here.

The Furious Bracket

Money's too tight for me to be going nuts entering pools, but I still gotta do a bracket. This is absolutely the most ill-informed one I've ever completed—I know absolutely nothing about college hoops at this point in my life. It's gone downhill dramatically since having kids and an actual job (as opposed to consulting), but I think the cumulative effect is actually erasing the six-years-stale knowledge I do possess.

I entered the Balloon Juice pool (free—bragging rights only) through Yahoo! and if I can figure a way to show you the whole bracket I will, but in the meantime, my Final Four is Loisville, UConn, Gonzaga and Texas. With UConn over the Zags 78-70 in the final.

Purely sentimental picks based on nostalgia and not much else. UConn and Gonzaga are long-time Furious Favorites, but I've never ridden Gonzaga this far. Texas is here solely for my love of Rick Barnes—and I don't even know if he's still the freaking coach. And Louisville, because I just can't argue with the numbers.

Oh, and here's Obama's bracket.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Reading Assignment

Former Powell Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson responds to Cheney's softball/talking points "interview" on CNN.

First, Wilkerson again explains how badly the Bush Administration failed in it's "interrogations" and how illegal they were...
The fourth unknown is the ad hoc intelligence philosophy that was developed to justify keeping many of these people, called the mosaic philosophy. Simply stated, this philosophy held that it did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance (this general philosophy, in an even cruder form, prevailed in Iraq as well, helping to produce the nightmare at Abu Ghraib). All that was necessary was to extract everything possible from him and others like him, assemble it all in a computer program, and then look for cross-connections and serendipitous incidentals--in short, to have sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified.

Thus, as many people as possible had to be kept in detention for as long as possible to allow this philosophy of intelligence gathering to work. The detainees' innocence was inconsequential. After all, they were ignorant peasants for the most part and mostly Muslim to boot.

[...] Simply stated, even for those two dozen or so of the detainees who might well be hardcore terrorists, there was virtually no chain of custody, no disciplined handling of evidence, and no attention to the details that almost any court system would demand. Falling back on "sources and methods" and "intelligence secrets" became the Bush administration's modus operandi to camouflage this grievous failing.

Then he calls Cheney out for crawling out of his lair to revise history, fear-monger and sabotage and smear Obama...
Recently, in an attempt to mask some of these failings and to exacerbate and make even more difficult the challenge to the new Obama administration, former Vice President Cheney gave an interview from his home in McLean, Virginia. The interview was almost mystifying in its twisted logic and terrifying in its fear-mongering.

As to twisted logic: "Cheney said at least 61 of the inmates who were released from Guantanamo (sic) during the Bush administration...have gone back into the business of being terrorists." So, the fact that the Bush administration was so incompetent that it released 61 terrorists, is a valid criticism of the Obama administration? Or was this supposed to be an indication of what percentage of the still-detained men would likely turn to terrorism if released in future? Or was this a revelation that men kept in detention such as those at GITMO--even innocent men--would become terrorists if released because of the harsh treatment meted out to them at GITMO? Seven years in jail as an innocent man might do that for me. Hard to tell.

As for the fear-mongering: "When we get people who are more interested in reading the rights to an Al Qaeda (sic) terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry," Cheney said. Who in the Obama administration has insisted on reading any al-Qa'ida terrorist his rights? More to the point, who in that administration is not interested in protecting the United States--a clear implication of Cheney's remarks.

Evil personified. Richard Cheney deserves to have a fucking bag thrown over his head, abduction, swift "rendition" to Iraq to dropped off in Sadr City, where he can try to "interview" his way out of his inevitable horrible death.

UPDATE: Wilkerson's not off the hook with me, but I don't have time for that right now.

Quote of the Day

From John Cole's Being a Republican Means Never Having To Know What the Hell You Are Talking About:
Now, if you read Bob Owens during the campaign, you would have thought that Obama’s first priorities as President would have been to institute Sharia law, unionize ACORN and pay them 100 dollars an hour to go door to door taking away shotguns from white people, and then burn down every small business and build a mosque in its place. But, the times have changed, and now Owens informs us that President Obama is looting the treasury to send your tax dollars to companies that were by law forbidden from contributing to his campaign but he is sending them the money anyway, and even better, Obama managed to do it while Bush was President.

Worse than AIG

The marketing asshats that convinced NBC to do this are this week's most overpaid, worthless employees.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dick(s) of the Week: The Pope and Catholic leaders

Why not honor the most overrated* holiday of the year with a D.O.W. for the leaders of this misbegotten religion. First there was this...
Two week ago, we learned of a 9-year-old girl in Brazil, pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather. Though there are strict restrictions on abortion in Brazil, doctors concluded that the girl's immature hips made childbirth exceedingly dangerous. Catholic Church leaders unsuccessfully fought to force the girl to carry the baby to term and then have a cesarean. What's more, as part of the debate, church leaders condemned a judge for following the law, lashed out at the doctors treating the victim, and even excommunicated the young girl's distraught mother.

And now this:
Pope Benedict XVI said on his way to Africa Tuesday that condoms were not the answer in the continent's fight against HIV, his first explicit statement on an issue that has divided even clergy working with AIDS patients.

Benedict arrived in Yaounde, Cameroon's capital, Tuesday afternoon to a crowd of flag-waving faithful and snapping cameras. The visit is his first pilgrimage as pontiff to the African continent.... Benedict said that the Roman Catholic Church is in the forefront of the battle against AIDS.

"You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane headed to Yaounde. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."

By what possible measure could condoms increase the spread of AIDS? Dogmatic, lying asshole. If there is a bigger historic scourge on the human race than than Catholic Church, somebody needs to remind me what it is.

*What's my problem? I still recall living in NYC where St Patrick's Day is not much more than a big fucking excuse for bigots to flex their muscles, gaybashing, filling the streets with vomit and a license to behave like a total and complete asshole. To wit...

Friday, March 13, 2009


One could argue that Jon Stewart drove a nail in the coffin of Crossfire, or that Stephen Colbert held a long-overdue, uncomfortable mirror up to Bush and the D.C. press corps at that dinner a couple years back...but both of those occurred in the relative obscurity of unanticipated improvisation. No one saw them coming.

This Jon Stewart vs. Jim Cramer/CNBC thing has been 8 days in the making and has gone far beyond YouTube viral stages. It was above-the-fold on USA Today yesterday—don't even ask me if that furthers the irony here or not.

Anyway, last night was the showdown, and from everything I've read it didn't disappoint. I saw a few minutes "live" last night, and a clip on line, but I won't be able to sit and watch the whole interview until later. But that doesn't mean you can't...

NOTE: Unedited and NSFW. Part One:

Part Two.

Part Three.

"Thank You, Sir. May I Have Another?

Messing with Rush Limbaugh gets you some blowback...Messing with Jon Stewart gets you blown away.

If you need further proof that Jim Cramer indeed has no idea when, if ever, to cut his losses—he agreed to appear with Stewart on TDS tonite. I saw a few minutes live...as soon as the video's avalable, I'll post it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Steele Cage Match

The GOP picking Michael Steele as party Chair is the gift that keeps on giving...
In an interview with GQ, RNC Chairman Michael Steele made some statements that will likely be controversial with many of his Republican constituents.

On if women have the right to choose an abortion: "Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice."

On whether homosexuality is a choice: "Oh, no. I don’t think I’ve ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there’s a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can’t simply say, oh, like, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay.’ It’s like saying, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.’"

Granted, there's nothing I would consider remarkable in there, and Steele remains a total jackass, but he's inside the GOP housefire pissing gasoline, and it is awesome to behold...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Comment of the Day

Just Some Fuckhead (yes, really his name) in a thread at Balloon Juice:
All my friends and family who have been investing in their 401Ks dutifully for the last xx years have pretty much nothing to show for it. Meanwhile, I eschewed retirement savings and instead focused on buying a bunch of cool shit.

Grasshoppers: 1
Ants: 0

Thursday, March 05, 2009

8 Minutes

Jon Stewart obliterates CNBC with the perfect combination of humor, disgust and disdain. It's a thing of beauty.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Horse Association Commissioners Need Not Apply

Not a donor, not a party apparatchik, not even a Democrat! President Obama selected a FEMA Director that's an actual qualified, experienced manager of a major emergency response agency...
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — President Barack Obama plans to name Florida's state emergency director Craig Fugate to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency, an official familiar with the appointment said Wednesday.

Fugate has served as director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management since 2001, when he was tapped by former Gov. Jeb Bush. He was retained by current Gov. Charlie Crist. Both governors are Republicans.

Fugate previously served as the agency's assistant director for nearly five years. Fugate has been praised for his efforts steering Florida through numerous hurricanes in the past decade.

With rare exception, Obama's appointments have been people who are arguably the best-qualified person for the job, regardless of almost anything else. I could get used to this...

Democrats Now Apologizing to Limbaugh

Getting in line behind Republicans prostrating themselves to the right-wing radio host is a freshman U.S. Congressman from Florida, Rep. Alan Grayson:
"I’m sorry Limbaugh called for harsh sentences for drug addicts while he was a drug addict. I’m also sorry that he’s bent on seeing America fail. And I’m sorry that Limbaugh is one sorry excuse for a human being."

Well-player, Sir. That's fucking inspired. I wish my Rep had a pair like that, instead I'm saddled with DINO Heath Schuler.

Not to be left out, the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) has uncovered the GOP's "Apology to Rush" form letter.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Dick of the Week Update: Late Entry Blows Away Field

Early last week I tossed a few possible D.O.W.'s out for consideration...the usual harmless political douchebaggery. On Friday, John Cole posted a video that sealed the deal for King County Sheriff's Deputy Paul Schene.

I actually skipped the embedded video at the time because I thought it might be too disturbing—I have a thing about watching what I KNOW is actual, real violence. I've viewed it since, but with the video all over the place now, you can watch it somewhere else if you like. Here's what happens:

A 6'2", 195-pound 31 year old sheriff bum rushes and beats the shit out of an in-custody 15 year old girl in a holding cell for kicking her sneaker off in his direction. Deputy Schene has pleaded not guilt to misdemeanor assault [news story here].

First off, good luck with that, motherfucker. You did it in front of a camera, and now the whole world wants your ass in a sling. But misdemeanor assault? That looks like serious fucking felony assault and battery to me. Deputy Asshole deserves a lengthy sentence in actual prison, and I hope everyone on the block knows who he is and why he's there.

Worst. Video. Ever.

But it's a fantastic song. Mike Doughty's "Put It Down" from Golden Delicious...

[h/t Angelos]

Monday, March 02, 2009

Worse Than Detroit*

Awhile back, I added Sweet Juniper! to the blogroll and gave particular love to the haunting photos taken by that blog's proprietor, James Griffioen. The latest installment is jdg's story of returning to one of the decaying abandoned schools in Detroit and salvaging some books for his daughter and trying to get SOMEONE to do something about the offices filled with confidential student records...
I am haunted by what I found in one office: hundreds of file folders containing student psychological examinations complete with social security numbers, addresses, and parent information. I sat and thumbed through them. Many contained detailed histories of physical and sexual abuse, stories of home lives so horrifying I still can't get them out of my head: sibling rape, torture, neglect that defies belief. The detailed reports explained emotional impairments, learning disabilities. There was another box full of IEPs. The dates revealed that many of these students are still in the school system somewhere. I found several of their faces in the 2007 yearbook.

These aren't 20-year-old files, this is a school that just closed at the end of the 2007 school year. The names and stories belong to still-little kids shuffled to some other Detroit school.

His photos and a brief essay documenting those schools in Detroit appear in the U.K. magazine, Vice.


This post tells about an afternoon James spent giving a TIME magazine reporter a tour of the city for a story...His Flickr page reveals that TIME then turned around and screwed him by hiring some NY photographer to come to Detroit and recreate his photographs. Assholes.

*Title of a fantastic Robert Plant song. After contemplating this story its hard for me to imagine a place that actually is...