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Saturday, February 14, 2009

We're All...well, something bad.... Now

I'm glad I don't rely on the right-wing media to get my info. If I did, I'd be terribly confused.

Are we fascists or socialists? Can we be both?

(And moreover...do either of those terms accurately reflect our society? Don't think so...)

Executive Pay

Here's another good move:
The stimulus package Congress passed last night imposes new limits on executive compensation that could significantly curb multimillion dollar pay packages on Wall Street and goes much further than restrictions proposed by the Obama administration last week.
There's no reason why a failed bank should be paying their executives bonuses period.

There are rewards for success and consequences for failure, or at least there should be.

I love this quote, though:
"This is a big deal. This is a problem," said Scott Talbott, chief lobbyist for the nation's largest financial services firms. "It undermines the current incentive structure."
Um, Scott, that's precisely the point!

No incentives for failure!

As for this...
Even some who have long pushed for executive pay reform are concerned that the new rules do not provide enough incentive to executives. Because executives payouts would not be significant, they say, the executives might not be inclined to work hard to return the government money.
I say, then fire those fuckers!

You try that excuse on your boss and see how far it gets you. "Yeah, boss, I'm not working that hard today because my paycheck doesn't provide enough incentive, but if you give me a bonus..."

Something tells me your boss won't find that so persuasive...
Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, has it right with this move.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is accepting a pay freeze in 2009 and cut his total compensation for 2008 by 20-25 percent, USA Today reports.

As part of a league-wide salary freeze, Goodell's pay will stay at $11 million, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the newspaper. He also will take a cut in salary and bonuses for the fiscal year 2008, which ends March 31.

"The commissioner believes it will take a collective sacrifice of everyone to get through this difficult economic environment," McCarthy said.
Before you cry "socialism!" consider that $11 million bucks is not chump change.

Although it does make me wonder...

How much of this is due to the general economic situation and how much is it due to the costs of starting up the NFL network?

The Party of Irrelevancy

I think it's funny --no, hilarious-- that the Republicans mounted almost nearly unanimous opposition to Obama's stimulus bill and it passed anyway!

It passed and will be signed into law, and the only thing the Republicans can do is, literally, bitch and moan about it. This does not bode well for the future of their coalition. During the Bush years, the GOP earned a reputation for incompetence.

Here's hoping that during the Obama years, they'll be known for their impotence. (Because after all...incompetent politicians should be impotent, right?)

Friday, February 13, 2009

High Speed Rail

I saw this map of proposed high-speed rail routes on Matthew Yglesias's blog.

Something's missing.... Like a route through Colorado!

WTF, man?

Updated: Did some research. Eleven of the "Top 50 fastest growing US cities” are are located in AZ, NV, CO, KS, and NM. Notice there are no high-speed rail plans for any of those states.

But at least they got the whole east coast, huh?

Herbalisms

Someone wrote this to me during a flame war on the internet somewhere and I thought it was pretty damn funny.
To Herb . . . You’re confusin’ the herd. These fellas - likes o Bilge Pump and Cybercoot and Boy Goy and others like ‘em - you see they gots themselves some proof. Seems back a ways, oh probably a couple two or three months, they offered up all their private personal info to the Heritage Foundation in exchange for TOTALLY FREE copy of The Constitution. Durn thing fits right in your own pocket. It’s the damnedest thing you ever did see. Anyway, tucked inside that pocket Constitution was a chart and it had all the numbers and arrows you’d ever want. I ain’t never made no claim to bein’ book smart, but I could cipher me enough of them letters to read “It’s the Democrats Fault.” Said so right there on the page. And the Heritage Foundation, that ain’t no partyson outfit. Nope. And they play this real folksy music, if you ever heared them ads on the radidio . . . it’s like that baby flute music. It’s nice and all but I gotta admit I like my tunes a bit more ruggeder, though. Play me some Montogmery Gentry and, BOY HOWDY, I’m ready to go buy me a bear, put it in a pen, load me up some double O buckshot and go shoot him down cuz you know what, a country boy can survive.

So listen, Herb, seriously son, don’t go stirrin’ the pot round here with facts. It just confuses the hill folk. Don’t make me go all Ned Beatty on your ass. Not that I’d like that or nothin, you know, cuz I got me a passel of young ‘uns and that should ell you what you need to know about me. Heh heh. How ’bout you passin’ me one of them beezers. Yeah, that’s it . . . that’s a time. So whaddya think, cold enough for ya?
Hilarious.

Incidentally, the post that this was taken from was originally called "Our Recession Began in Earnest After Obama’s Election" by Tom Blumer, but since that's not exactly true...it was later changed to "Democrats Halted Recovery, Derailed Economy Last Summer." If that's not a complete 180, I don't know what is.

Rule 1 of American politics: It's always the Democrats' fault.

The News Frivolous

Thank God...a plane crash. That means that the news will spend the next few hours showing the same footage of burning wreckage, talking about pilot safety, air travel statistics, expert speculation about what may have caused the crash.

What we won't hear is a bunch of ignorant people who never bothered to read the details of the stimulus bill complaining that there is too much "pork" in it. (Although I have it on good authority that those who bother to educate themselves on perhaps the biggest piece of legislation this country has ever seen have "too much time on their hands" and "needs to get laid.")

Updated: In case you were wondering, yes, I am a callous asshole. Not only am I calling Jesus names you can't use on TV, but I'm making jokes about a plane crash which killed everyone on board.

Not cool, James, not cool. About the plane crash.

As for Jesus, the all-knowing, all-powerful Son of God can fend for himself, the fucker.

In Bad Faith

In the comments to a recent post, I referred to Jesus as a "motherfucker." In the interest of fairness, I'd like to issue a retraction.

There is no evidence that Jesus ever fucked anyone, mother or otherwise. In fact, according to every version of the story that I have heard, he was not only born of a virgin, he also died as one too. (Whether any hanky-panky occurred during his "lost weekend" though is still a topic of much debate.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Joaquin


I don't know what the joke is, but I sure hope it's funny.

Will Smith Rulez

No disrespect for Daniel Day Lewis, but I'm watching I Am Legend again and Will Smith should have won the best actor Oscar for 2007.

No joke.

Oh, sure, Lewis's Plainview character was complex and his portrayal interesting. (It can be argued that Daniel Day Lewis's performance is the only thing that makes There Will Be Blood watchable. It's certainly not the story!)

Will Smith's portrayal of Robert Neville, on the other hand, simply transcends the material. He is, after all, an actor on a set playing for a camera, every emotion fake, every word rehearsed. And yet Smith brings an intensity that, through the magic of cinema, makes it feel incredibly real.

Pulse-pounding fear? Check. Inconsolable loneliness? Check. Steely determination? Check. Irrational anger? You got it. Heart-breaking sadness? Yup. Moments of warmth and humor? Yeah, it's even got that!

So what it if it's a genre picture?! Watching it, you are literally watching a master at work.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This one's for you, Jim.

Some of the "pork" in the stimulus bill.
* Energy, including $32 billion to transform the U.S. energy grid to make it more efficient; $16 billion to repair public housing and make it more energy efficient; and $6 billion to weatherize low-income homes;

* Science and technology, including $10 billion for new scientific facilities and $6 billion to improve broadband Internet access in rural areas;

* Infrastructure, including $30 billion for highways; $31 billion to modernize federal buildings and other public infrastructure; $19 billion for clean water, flood control, and other environmental investments; and $10 billion to improve public transit and rail infrastructure;

* Education, including $41 billion for local school districts, $79 billion in outlays to states to prevent educational service cutbacks; $15.6 billion to broaden the federal Pell Grant program, which gives need-based grants to fund education; and $6 billion to modernize higher education programs; and

* Health care, including $87 billion for Medicaid; $20 billion to improve health information technology; and around $4 billion to improve preventative care.
Read all about it, here.

Ignorance is Amusing...Sometimes

I saw this comment on a blog that shall remain nameless, but it cracked me up.
Rachel Peepers:

What would it be like if Joseph Stalin were elected President of the United States of America?

Exactly like this.
No, Rachel, if Obama was like Stalin you would be dead. Your family would be in the gulag. And your image would be erased from every picture you ever appeared in.

The Messiah

Just asking...

Why do Obama-haters insist on calling him "the Messiah?" I mean, I know that's what Rush Limbaugh calls him, his velvety voice dripping with all that sarcasm. (Or is it bacon grease?)

And while I admit that there are some folks on the left who positively swoon over Obama, I have yet to see any of them refer to Obama as the Messiah.

It's always the wingnuts, and it's always with that sneering tone the Romans used to mock Jesus over his Messiahship. All that's missing is an INRI sign and some nails.

Who was it that said, "Forgive them, father, for they know not what they do?" Hint: It wasn't Obama!

Just Saying...part 2

If you recently declared bankruptcy or foreclosed on your house or have way too much credit card debt, then you should feel stupid making the argument that "Individuals should be trusted to spend their own money wisely."

While I agree that this idea is generally true for most people, it's obviously not true in your case.

Just Saying...

If you're commuting to work on the Interstate Highway System and the voice on the radio tells you that "Infrastructure spending is not stimulative," all you need to do is look through your windshield and see that they are lying to you.

Yes, it's crazy, I know, but a huge taxpayer-funded infrastructure project is still paying stimulative dividends decades after it was completed.

After all, what's more stimulative than getting your dumb ass to work?

Blast From the Past

I don't usually repost things, but here we are, in February with the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression breathing down our neck, arguing about a massive stimulus bill, and what I wrote in June of last year bears repeating, relevant parts bolded for emphasis:

I read this alarming column on the sad (and continuing) state of our economy and after reading it, I started to get a little scared. I live in a single income household, with a mortgage and an outstanding loan and all the other bills that come with it and sometimes I think I can barely keep it together, and that's without the shocks and stumbles of the larger economy.

But the truth is, my contribution to the economy is statistically irrelevant. What I make and spend in a year is literally pennies when compared to the multi-million dollar deals that truly fuel the world economy. In the big scheme of things, my contribution (and responsibility) to the economy is so small that you would need an electron microscope just to see it.

If the economy were a multi-celled organism, I would be one cell. No, not even a cell. I would be a single protein in the nucleus of a cell. A small piece of a small piece of a small piece, microscopic even by microscopic standards.

Chances are, you are in the same boat.*

I guess what I'm trying to say is that when John Edwards talked about the "two Americas," he was only half-right. There are two Americas, but it's not rich-versus-poor. It's the super-rich versus everyone else.

I mean, I'm not poor by any standard. I have a home that I own, a vehicle, clean water, food in the cupboard, perishables in the fridge, and even when I spend my way down to almost nothing, my next paycheck is never more than two weeks away. I made more money last year than I ever have in my life.

But I have no hope of accumulating enough wealth to compete with the kind of corporate interests that truly control the world. Almost no one does, no matter how hard you work, how virtuous you are, or what economic policies are in place. According to one number I found (taken with the proverbial grain of salt, as all Googled information should be) there are 793 billionaires in the world.

To put that in perspective, it's about .00001% of the world's population, an infinitesimally small portion. You are more likely to be born with a conjoined twin than you are to become a billionaire. That's how rare it is.

That's not to say I wish there were less billionaires in the world. I don't. I'm just saying that this this crappy economy...it's not my problem. It's theirs.

Too bad that if things really go south, you can bet that the people whose net worth is wiped out won't be the billionaires. That would only be fair, and anyone who survived childhood knows, the world isn't fair.




* Any millionaires reading this are encouraged to click the Donate button to the right. It's tax-deductible and a good cause.
Now Nostradamus I'm not, but if your eyes are popping out of your head because of the size of the stimulus bill, push them back in with your thumbs.

It's not about you.

You are statistically insignificant.

A thousand bucks won't help you. Five thousand bucks won't help you. Oh, sure, maybe you'll finally be able to convert to Blu-Ray, or buy those shirts from the Gap you've had your eye on.

But then what?

You gonna set aside some of that so you can repair the axle you broke driving on potholed roads?

Hey, I know you like paying out the nose for utilities...who doesn't? But wouldn't you rather pay less and still be just as warm?

What are the soccer moms going to do when school districts around the country start cutting sports programs as an unaffordable luxury?

And I know you thought your kid would be learning how to use a computer, being that this is the 21st Century and all, but blackboards are so much cheaper! (Although I suppose if you want your son or daughter to be familiar with computers, you could always home school them...)

I'm not saying Obama's stimulus plan is going to work, or that it's the awesome. All I'm saying it's that if we need a stimulus plan (and I think we do) then this is the type of plan we need: bold, big, and directed at institutions, not individuals.