Saturday, October 25, 2008

You're Probably An Elitist If...

Virgin Ben Shapiro, the godawful scion of two Ivy League educated Reaganauts and himself an Ivy League graduate, has pontificated on how Barack Obama and his liberal minions are elitists.

Indeed, he's even written a list of qualities to assist in identifying elitists!

In true FReeper fashion, he's ignored a few. I'd like to flesh out his list for him:

If you know a polo player, you're probably an elitist.

If you went to an Ivy League school without an affirmative action scholarship, you're probably an elitist.

If you drink martinis wearing a suit and a tie, you're probably an elitist.

If you've ever smoked a Cuban cigar, you're probably an elitist.

If you know anyone who has a chauffeur, you're probably an elitist.

If you went to a prep school, you're probably an elitist.

If you live in a gated community, or were raised in one, you're probably an elitist.

If your dad (or mom, to be politically correct) made most of her income last year from stock options that the board of directors voted him, you're probably an elitist.

If you ride in the corporate jet, you're probably an elitist.

If you have a golden parachute, you're probably an elitist.

If you have a portfolio that includes more than a Charles Schwab account and a few CDs, you're probably an elitist.

If you own an original Rembrandt, you're probably an elitist.

If your idea of a "drink after work with the guys" includes a stop at Harry's Bar on Hanover Square, or any Morton's restaurant, you're probably an elitist.

If you've ever played croquet or lawn bowling and HAD TO WEAR WHITE, you're probably an elitist.

If you've ever been to a cotillion, a debutante ball, or a "coming out party" for a girl of teenage years (not the "out of the closet" kind), you're probably an elitist.

If you have ANY friend who is proudly called Muffy, Biff, or Dexter, you're probably an elitist.

If your friends include more than one person who uses two initials in addition to a first and last name ("C. Russell M. Taibi"), you're probably an elitist.

If your household help...well, you're probably an elitist right there, but...if your household help addresses you by your professional title, you're probably an elitist.

If you've voted Republican for the last four Presidential cycles because, goshdarn, Barry Goldwater said you should always vote Republican, you're probably an elitist.

If you've never set foot in a store in Harlem, despite the fact that your commuter train stops there daily, you're probably an elitist.

If you can discuss the finer distinctions between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, you're probably an elitist.

If your make of car has two names (e.g. Rolls Royce), you're probably an elitist.

If your house has more bathrooms than there are residents, you're probably an elitist.

If you can name the last three squash world champions or have attended the world championship at least once, you're probably an elitist.

If you can tie your own bowtie, you're probably an elitist.

Finally, if you're in your twenties, are male, attended an Ivy League college and proudly claim you never got laid, even by a townie, YOU'RE AN ELITIST!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Music Blogging

NIN - Closer

Everyone thinks this song's title is "Fuck You Like An Animal," but it's not! This video always creeps me out and in keeping with the kind of Halloween scary spirit of the blog today...

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) BREAKING: Election prediction: McCain wins by one vote; porn star Peak Anger blamed! (h/t Miss Cellania)

2) Election Prediction #1: Actor212 will easily win his bid to be elected NotPresident. In a strong show of cross-party voting, Democrats, Republicans and Independents gave him such an huge mandate, he even won some votes in the general Presidential election!

3) Election Prediction #2: Despite Actor212's strong showing, Barack Obama won the election for US President with over 300 electoral votes.

4) You guys outside of New York (and Pittsburgh and a pale imitation in Green Bay...New York's was the original) never got Chiller Theatre, but it's BACK! For one night only, CW11 (formerly independent station WPIX, channel 11) will broadcast the groundbreaking horror film series "Chiller Theatre" with original host, Zacherle! Once you've seen this intro...'ll understand why kids all around the tri-state area were glued to their sets.

5) In other scary consumer credit card debt in the third quarter of 2008 stood at $2.6 trillion dollars. Now that the mortgage industry is going thru it's workout phase, there's another monster in the grass: there's still ONE TRILLION DOLLARS in available, high risk unsecured credit card debt out there, just waiting to be used. This ain't over by a long shot.

6) Welcome to the party, Al!

7) This story smells funny. When even Michelle Malkin won't touch it with a ten foot pole, you know there's something weird going on. Personally, I believe she had a confrontation and probably, um, embellished the story a little, but I'll wait for the ATM camera evidence.

UPDATE: Like I said...I hate being right all the time...

8) Unusually cautiously, the Times has jumped on the Obama bandwagon.

9) Yet another smear by the right wing. This time, Gateway Pundit, who really ought to try the decaf brands, tries to paint Obama as a "whitey hater" by lifting a quote entirely (and clearly) out of context.

10) McCain family values, indeed!

11) When you lose the Goldwater family, the conservative icons from your own home state, you've fucked up royally!

12) If you had any money left in the stock markets this morning, kiss it bye bye!

13) They don't have the evidence, yet(i)!

(showing Memeorandum the luvvvvvvvvvvvv)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A New Beginning

Barack Obama has taken a couple of days from campaigning to attend to family matters. We here at Simply Left Behind, including ThumbPer, offer our prayers and hopes for Granny Obama's swift recovery.

As I stood in the shower with little to do except rinse, I pondered American history, and it occured to me that we have reached yet another crossroads for our nation.

It seems to happen every three generations or so, roughly every hundred years, and I'm not sure that it's a coincidence that it happens near the turn of a century.

Events in this decade will echo until the next century, in other words. The pattern is pretty immistakable: an attack on the American economy, followed by a blunderous decision to go to war, followed by a mad scramble to rectify the troubles we've created, followed by a mid-century conflagration the likes of which we hope never to see again.

A brief look back: In 1807, the American frigate Chesapeake was boarded with nary a fight by sailors from the British warship Leopard, on the pretext of searching for deserters. Four were found, only one of which was actually British: three Americans, two black and one white, were also seized.

Ironically, the event itself turned out fairly well for the Americans: only the British sailor was actually tried and hung, while the Americans were eventually returned to America, and Britain offered to pay reparations for damages to Chesapeake

However, this incident did force the passage of the Embargo Actof 1807, which led directly to the War of 1812. The Embargo Act was a pretty dumb idea (conceived by arguably one of the smartest men in history, Thomas Jefferson). America had tried to remain neutral in the French-English conflicts then brewing, and had this act not been passed, likely could have avoided the War of 1812 altogether.

That war saw Americans attacked directly in their own homeland, something that would not happen again until September 11, 2001.

The war begat the era of expansionism, the Monroe Doctrine (buhbye Native Americans), manifest destiny, and an overall sense of hubris and domination on the part of all American citizens, which culminated of course in the Civil War, one of the most humbling experiences any nation can confront.

Skip ahead a few decades to the 1900s, and the Great Panic of 1907. This is an interesting crossroads in history, because some much of what we know today of the Federal Government-- The Federal Reserve, the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal income tax-- finds its roots in this crisis.

In a nutshell, the United States nearly went bankrupt because of the greed of two men: Otto Heinze and Charles Morse, who cornered the market first in ice, and then attempted to corner the market in copper by forcing his brother Augustus to abandon his company.

The mechanics of the scheme are complex (altho it does involve short selling, which is an underpinning of the current crisis), and suffice it to say, Otto failed. Miserably. Instead of driving the price of Auggie's company up, it dropped precipitously.

Otto Heinze's brokerage collapsed under the weight of its debts, money borrowed to finance this sceheme using shares of the copper company as collateral.

Worse, many banks that owned stock in the copper company as collateral also collapsed, the flip side of these transactions, as the price dropped.

Banks affiliated with those banks, so-called correspondent banks, like Mercantile Bank of New York, began to suffer under the weight of the outstanding loans they had made to the banks that held these worthless shares as collateral.

Sounding familiar? Like banks that owned the derivatives of worthless mortgages that weighed on the books of the banks that lent the money to shareholders today?

There was a run on Mercantile, which led to a run on all the money center banks, and banks were running out of money. Banks were reluctant to lend to other banks so that those banks could lend to customers, and as a result, the stock markets collapsed.

Boy, this really DOES sound familiar!

And so on. In 1912, as a result of this crisis, President Woodrow Wilson established the Federal Reserve, thus ceding the printing and issuance of American currency to a quasi-private enterprise composed of many of the large money center bankers (the precise list of board members is unknown).

Wilson's trade policies were at the center of America's entry into World War I. He was a free trader, lowering tariffs wherever possible and trying to remain strictly neutral in the European conflict, using the central bank to keep money flowing freely.

Both Germany, by attacking American shipping including the Lusitania, and England, by embargoing Germany, tested American neutrality. Wilson managed to avoid going to war on either side, of course, until his second term when Germany tried to recruit Mexico as an ally.

And World War I begat American global influence with the Fourteen Points, the League Of Nations and our participation in the Treaty of Versailles, which begat World War II and so on...

And then there was September 11. Which begat the Bush attacks on American governance and oversight, filling the Federal government with the hubris that the markets could police themselves while we attempted to engage in a dual homeland security/ego-driven war policy overseas.

Which begat our current financial pickle.

History comforts us with the knowledge that somehow, things work out for the short term better, and that it doesn't particularly matter whether the President in office is particularly intelligent, like Jefferson, or particularly principled, like Wilson. Somehow, things work out.

That's not the most comforting thought imaginable, but what's past is prologue and it is a new hope for us all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Am A Real American

I was born in this great nation. I was born to two people, one of whom was born here, and moved abroad as a young girl, the other born abroad and moved here after the war to find his opportunity, to two people who loved this nation.

My father was awarded one of the most prestigious civilian awards for his service to both this nation and his homeland, a value he made certain to instill in all of us from a young age.

I won't get into the myriad of accolades I've received as a citizen of the United States, but they started as a young child, and have continued into adulthood. I shouldn't have to wear my various medals and post my various certificates on the wall of my house.

But according to some in this nation, I am not a real American. Indeed, according to some, I am anti-American.

Sarah Palin:
Speaking at a fund-raiser in North Carolina, the Alaska governor said: "We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation."

Michelle Bachmann:
“Absolutely. I’m very concerned that he [Obama] may have anti-American views,” she said.
It seems to me that some small-time hoodlum Congresscritter from a flyover state once ran this scam on America. Lemme think...Joe...McDonald? McCasey? McCain?

I can't recall.

In Palin's defense, she offers up an apology:
Democrats and others immediately criticized Palin, alleging she was saying that some part of the country are more patriotic than others.

Palin denied that was her intention in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.

"I don't want that misunderstood," Palin said. "If that's the way it came across, I apologize."
To put this weak-kneed response in perspective, say Sarah Palin ran over your dog:
If indeed it was my car, it was not my intent to run over your dog and if I did happen to squash Fluffy under the wheels of my Hummer, and there's no proof of that despite the word "Hummer" tattooed on his ass, if that's the case, I apologize for your misperception
What is it with Republicans and responsibility that they simply can't take any?

If this meme was limited to these two rather desperately moronic Republicans, then I'd be tempted to say "justice will be served on November 4," and ignore it.

But it's pretty clear that the Republicans have decided to declare class warfare on America:
On MSNBC this morning, McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer asserted that “real Virginia” does not include Northern Virginia:

I certainly agree that Northern Virginia has gone more Democratic. … But the rest of the state — real Virginia if you will — I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain’s message.

MSNBC host Kevin Corke gave Pfotenhauer a chance to revise her answer, telling her: “Nancy, I’m going to give you a chance to climb back off that ledge — Did you say ‘real Virginia’?”

But Pfotenhauer didn’t budge, and instead dug a deeper hole.

Real Virginia, I take to be, this part of the state that’s more Southern in nature, if you will.

Corke ended the segment noting that Pfotenhauer was appearing via satellite from Northern Virginia. “Nancy Pfotenhauer, senior policy adviser for the McCain campaign, joining us from Arlington, not really Virginia.” “Alright, I’m just gonna let ya– you’ll wear that one,” Corke responded. Watch it:
So this was not a slip of the tongue. This was not a tossed off insult in the heat of the moment, when one might get worked up and exaggerate one's point.

No, all three of these have been a coordinated attack on anyone who is Democratic or lives in a blue state, which means this is a campaign tactic. I'd say "strategy" but it's clear McCain has none.

You know what? After six years of "real Americans" running the Congress, the Presidency and the courts, and after eight years of "real Americans" running two thirds of this government, maybe "real America" just ought to take a hint from Jon Stewart's reaction and shut the fuck up already.

Real Americans, you know, the ones who built and shaped this nation into the greatest economic power that the world has ever known, into the most innovative and progressive knowledge base in the history of the frikkin' universe, who created and destroyed and rebuilt this nation over and over again, are getting a little tired of listening to people decide who is American and who is not.

Real Americans, who own your gas stations, and teach your kids, yes, right through college, who fight your wars, who do your plumbing, who hope for that one shot at the brass ring that is the American Dream, are tired of being pitted one against the other to determine who is a patriot and who is not, as if America was some horribly tragic reality show, "Survivor America".

Real Americans live in cities and suburbs and small towns, and on farms and in mansions.

Real Americans drive jalopies and bicycles and ride in limos.

Real Americans don't criticize their fellow Americans because real Americans understand that as great as this nation is, we each of us still have to survive day to day, all the time watching our money get stolen and off-shored by the cronies of the Palins and Pfotenhauers and Bachmanns, who let it go without protest, because their money is safely invested with those folks who take our money and deposit it on Bermuda or the Cayman Islands.

Real Americans are us. Not you, Sarah Palin, not you, Michelle Bachmann, and not you, Nancy Pfotenhauer.

And me. I am a real American.

UPDATE: Seriously, Republicans, shut the fuck up!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Can I Get An "AMEN", Brothers and Sisters????

One could only hope for this:
SHOULD Barack Obama win the presidency and Democrats take full control of Congress, next year will see a real legislative attempt to bring back the Fairness Doctrine - and to diminish conservatives' influence on broadcast radio, the one medium they dominate.

Yes, the Obama campaign said some months back that the candidate doesn't seek to re-impose this regulation, which, until Ronald Reagan's FCC phased it out in the 1980s, required TV and radio broadcasters to give balanced airtime to opposing viewpoints or face steep fines or even loss of license. But most Democrats - including party elders Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Al Gore - strongly support the idea of mandating "fairness."
It's funny. I never really noticed how much I missed the disclaimer that my local television stations had to broadcast.

See, when some moron, say, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, would wrangle a moment of air time from the local television outlet, a) he was forced to keep his comments factual and polite, and b) the station was forced to "provide free air time for responsible spokespeople of opposing views."

In 1980, sensing an opening, the broadcast media, owned and operated in many instances by stridently right wing corporatists with an agenda (think Richard Mellon Scaife) prevailed upon Ronald Reagan's FCC to do away with the Fairness Doctrine, thus eliminating reasoned discourse presented for the public enlightenment.

The Fairness Doctrine was introduced in 1949 by the FCC, but until 1969 was usually applied on a case-by-case basis.

In 1969, journalist Fred Cook was torn to shreds on the radio program of the Rev. Billy James Hargis. Attacked personally for writing a book about Barry Goldwater, Cook argued before the Supreme Court that the FCC doctrine implied the right to free and equal time to respond to the scandalous (and nearly slanderous) charges levelled.

At first blush, it may seem that this was not a matter for the Courts to decide, free enterprise, First Amendment and all, but the SCOTUS took note of the fact that the airwaves were a public trust overseen by the Congress and therefore were actually public domain. As a public trust, there was no reason the government couldn't require such a doctrine and upheld Cook's complaint.

(The other thing the Fairness Doctrine required was programming "in the public interest" which is why your rock or hip-hop station broadcasts those bizarre programs really early on Sunday morning, like herbal medicine shows or community affairs programming.)

When the Reagan administration effectively eviscerated the Fairness Doctrine, it created Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Monica Crowley, Michael Savage and any number of right wing knuckleheads whose only claim to fame is being potty-mouthed and willing to be paid for it.

It also created Stephanie Miller, Air America Radio, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann.

I apply the Fairness Doctrine to my columns, you see... ;-)

This deregulation of the broadcast market, along with the consolidation of power amongst five mammoth content distributors, created the hugely right wing media goliath that we have today.

It is no secret the agenda that General Electric, Disney, and the others have established: entertain at the expense of informing. Don't tell the truth, tell a masking of truth. Put lipstick on a pig and trot it out as a beauty queen. Tout "American Idol" rather than America's failures in Iraq.

In short, cry havoc and unleash the dogs of war on the people of the United States. Beat us into submission until we no longer care, and never EVER let a responsible spokesperson with an opposing point of view have any air time whatsoever, except in a context where he can be edited and mocked into submission.

Mr. Anderson's article, as panicked as it is (after all, he works for Rupert Murdoch, who made his life's fortune on being a strident partisan and suppressing rational discussion), points out the enormous success lying on the radio has had.

It's about time it stopped. He cites the First Amendment, but as anyone with a speck of understanding can see, the First Amendment is under more savage attacks without the Fairness Doctrine than with.

What Anderson is more concerned with (and his article amply demonstrates) is comfort. The comfort of not having one's views challenged substantively. The comfort of being truly elitist because one is truly ignorant. The comfort of being, in short, an idiot.

So "amen" to the Fairness Doctrine, and long may she oversee the dialogue of this great nation.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What Part Of "Comedy" Do You NOT Understand?

Here is the Jon Stewart piece from Boston.

Here is the reaction of Mary Katharine Ham at The Weekly Standard (click at your own risk)

The media has devoted hundreds of stories of late to the tenor of audience comments at McCain-Palin rallies, fretting about "rage" and "incitement" by the campaign, but the only account of Stewart's appearance is a one-sentence mention in the Boston Globe, and his abusive Palin comments are not included.
Now, admittedly, this is not Stewart's funniest bit. I think the network censors force his comedic stylings to focus on delivery, more than content.

But to equate a stand-up comedian to these folks:

Or these folks:

Hammie, that kinda smacks of desperation, dontcha think? I would like to believe that the "wing" that has both Rush Limbaugh AND Glenn Beck, two avowed "comedians", would understand that sometimes humour gets angry, humour gets ugly, and humour makes a point.

Sorry your skirts are ruffled, Hammie, but Stewart's points are spot on: the cities and suburbs ARE where most of the people in America live and you know what? Maybe those folks in small town America have some wisdom that we SOphisticated city folk don't, but I'd like to see one walk from Wall Street to Harlem, just once, without a frikkin' map and GPS system.

And understand that running a country is a LOT HARDER than negotiating a simple grid formation (north is higher street numbers, east is lower avenue numbers, etc.)

Perhaps your fainting couch is in dire need of a visit, Hammie?

(show Memeorandum the love, gang!)