Friday, March 20, 2009

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) I didn't realize "dignity" was an issue for Barack Obama? Especially after a clowncar President like Bush?
2) Sometimes life imitates art. Godspeed, Natasha. Good luck, Liam and sons.
3) Personally, I can't wait for this to come out, so I can finally listen to music while walking down the street and not worry about missing a phone call.
4) Finally, some sensible use of the White House lawn! We need to encourage the "locally grown" movement as part of an energy strategy, and that Bush and his cronies didn't do even this simple gesture speaks volumes about their cynical attitude towards the nation's future.
5) By the way, I watched "W." last night. As to be expected from an Oliver Stone film, it was massively overhyped. It was also scarily watchable. I put it on the level of a first year drama production at the local community college. It doesn't tell you much you didn't already know, but Stone does give it all a context that he supposes was behind some of the more egregious decisions made. Rent it, or wait for it to come out on cable, but it's not a keeper.
6) Spring has sprung. Winter seems longer each year.
7) I dunno...I read this and immediately think of the movie "Americathon".
9) I think it's safe to say this spider lived up to its name.
10) I thought Bush was the Special Education President?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Too Juice Not To Take A Swipe At

Sometimes, I have to let my inner imp out:
Former President George W. Bush, who once famously called himself "The Decider," is writing a book about decisions.
"I want people to understand the environment in which I was making decisions. I want people to get a sense of how decisions were made and I want people to understand the options that were placed before me," Bush said in an interview Wednesday from his office in Dallas.
News of the book emerged Tuesday when Bush spoke in Canada. Tentatively called "Decision Points," the book is scheduled for a 2010 release by Crown, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, which in turn is a division of Random House Inc. Financial details were not disclosed. Instead of telling his life story, Bush will concentrate on about a dozen personal and presidential choices, including giving up drinking, picking Dick Cheney as his vice president and sending troops to Iraq.
Clearly, this is an important book, important enough that it will be released by Scholastic Books under the Cozy Corner brand.
Now, former president Bush (Oh....thank GOD!) says he'll write about a dozen or so decisions he's made in his life. This means you can expect five serious topics, since that's how many fingers he'll have free once he puts crayon to coloring book. In this mathematical regard, Bush is like the idiot savant in RainMan, only not savant.
Once his know, Laura?...points out to him that a dozen is more than five, and even removes his shoe to help him count that high, Bush will suddenly realize he'll have to pad his book out in order to make it biggerer. My suspicion is, by the end of the book (you know, the pages you can't color in) he will be talking about his choice of breakfast cereals.
I, I could have gone with the tiger's flakes, y'know (they ain't payin' me for endorsements, so I ain't mentionin' names!), but Laura tells me those have ingredients, so she helped me pull the box of them "oatie O's" *winkwink* off the top shelf. It's good to be the Decider!
What's probably going to piss him off more than anything else is that this book will be marketed as remaindered fiction, alongside OJ's "If I Did It", thus becoming the second book in history to be binned during the first edition.
Now, I've received an advance galley of "Decision Points", and while I can't claim this is how the book will ultimately be released, I wanted to share with you some of the decisions Mr. Bush has made in his life:
  1. Ginger v. Maryann - He comes firmly down on the side of Maryann, although he has some very nice things to say about Ginger's tits. This took 85 pages, if you count the obscene doodles with palm trees and Lovey Howell.
  2. Boxers v. briefs - Ultimately, he decides he doesn't like lawyers very much, but that Rocky fella seems like a nice guy. He wonders why he only fought the six times, since he made a helluva champion.
  3. Coke v. Pepsi - This one, he's very decisive about: Coke. As he puts it, "Pepsi tickles your nose when you snort it."
Much of the book seems to ramble in a fairly incoherent manner, but that might be due to the fact I was reading it watching Bill O'Reilly last night. Or perhaps he wrote it watching Bill O'Reilly last night. I'm not sure. It is short, coming in at a crackling 184 pages, which includes five pages copied directly from "The Pet Goat".
I expect any moment now to receive an email from offering me a free copy or twenty with any paid subscription, along with Ann Coulter's latest book, two books by Michelle Malkin, and a SlapChop.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Hobgoblin Of Small Minds

Say what you will about Rush Limbaugh, but at least he's consistent:

During the March 17 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh -- "a great leader for conservatives" -- defended American International Group (AIG) from criticism of the company's controversial employee retention bonuses. Limbaugh declared, "A lynch mob is expanding: the peasants with their pitchforks surrounding the corporate headquarters of AIG, demanding heads. Death threats are pouring in. All of this being ginned up by the Obama administration." Limbaugh later claimed, "This $500,000 limit on executive pay -- let me tell you why it won't work. New York City will die. New York City needs a whole bunch of people being paid a whole lot of money, so they can tax their butts off, so that the city can maintain its stupid streets, potholes, and welfare state. Without the super wealthy in New York, it's over. ... This -- it's just a populist ruse. It's just designed to people go, 'Yeah, yeah!' "

Most people have focused on Limbaugh's "ginned up" comments. Some have focused on the fact that underlying what Limbaugh has said, there's a kernel of populist truth there: people are angry about the bonuses because they are rather hideous. 
And there's also something miniscule to be said in defense of the fact that New York City's economy is tied to the economic health of the brokerages and more, the brokers in them. As New York's economy goes, so goes the Northeast. As the Northeast goes, so goes much of the east coast. As the east coast goes...and so on.
It would take a better apologist than Rush Limbaugh to make that case, however.
I choose, however, to focus on the fact that this kind of statement is consistent with the kind of parody-conservatism that Limbaugh has preached for decades now.
I hope he lives a long life and continues to feed this malevolence into the mainstream media.
There is a saying that politics is the art of the possible. There is also a saying that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. Let's take a closer look at those, shall we.
The art of the possible is attributed to Otto von Bismarck in 1867, although no one can cite the precise words he said. John Kenneth Galbraith had an interesting corrollary in which he said politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
I tend to think that Bismarck was warning us (meaning people) that politics was an avenue by which that which can be done is done. He's also widely credited with the saying that the making of laws and sausages are two things which entail things you really don't want to know about, which dovetails nicely with this saying.
You see, politics is about compromise. Politics is about recognizing there are opposing factions who have a different agenda than yours, and trying to include those people in your political stances and actions.
It is, in short, about what degree of compromise you are willing, or more important, need, to go to get things done.
A foolish consistency being the hobgoblin of small minds is pretty self-evident, and Ralph Waldo Emerson was spot on when he talked about this. The full quote is even more revealing:
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
Certainly describes the far right of this country to a tee. It also describes the far left in this country, but they don't have the megaphone that small minds like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham have. A foolish consistency bellowed at high decibels is to be admired for the breathtaking stupidity it entails. As Abe Lincoln used to say, better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.
By jumping through the hoops of fire that he has, Limbaugh has proved beyond a shadow of doubt that he is consistent.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Does It Matter?

One small step for men, one small step for mankind:
The United States and Britain have welcomed the Pakistani government's decision to peacefully resolve its political crisis by reinstating deposed Supreme Court justices.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the resolution a first step towards reconciliation.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband separately praised Pakistan's president and opposition leader for putting the country's interests first.
The diplomats had urged Pakistan's leaders to defuse the week-long crisis, expressing concern it would divert Islamabad's attention from the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban.
 Truly, this is good news and a positive step for the world.
I'm just not sure what it's going to mean in the grand scheme of things. I did some thinking over the weekend, the kind of thinking that back in 2006 made me realize that the country was going to hell in a handbasket very quickly. Some of my more economically savvy friends laughed at me back then but they ain't laughing now.
Even I had my doubts that I might be overstating the case for a long-overdue collapse.
I think things have hit bottom, now. I don't have any evidence of this beyond some broad sense of things. I called the bottom of the market at around 7,000, and I seem to have been pretty accurate, based on a similar seat-of-the-pants call.
That's not to say the way ahead will be easy. It won't. We won't magically zoom back up to the middling levels of 2005, nevermind the levels of 1999. It will be a slog and many people will be hurting, but we'll make it back. 2011, I think, will show some clear and positive signs for this nation. 2010 will show some stirrings. Even Christmas this year will have some reasons to celebrate.
I think.
The longer the US economy is weighted down the way it is, the more dangerous the world will become. Poverty has a way of bringing out the worst in people and if you need any evidence, you need look no further than Al Qaeda's support structure. The way they recruit new terrorist foot soldiers is to go to the poorest sections of Muslim populations and talk up life everafter and the promise of jihad.
Sounds like Christian missionaries, when you come right down to it.
The longer this downturn lasts, the more poverty there will be, and the more fertile ground for recruitment. That Pakistan has chosen to make this largely symbolic gesture towards freedom is nice and all that, but the bottom line is, they can't hold back the tide of fundamentalism without a thriving economy and I just don't see that happening anytime soon over there.
Indeed, if we are lucky, and cooler heads prevail over the next decade, it's possible we might avoid another widespread, global conflict that marries itself to our economic recovery. It will require luck. Too many things can go wrong between now and prosperity for us to rely solely on the goodwill and small gestures of men and women in power.