THE COVETED CotY AWARD

Posted in Quick Hits on December 17th, 2008 by Ed

My take on 2008 points to one person as the overwhelming favorite for the coveted and third annual Ginandtacos.com Cocksucker of the Year Award. I should point out in advance that Joe Lieberman, the 2007 CotY, is ineligible. Like the Heisman Trophy, I feel like the CotY should be spread around and not handed to the same candidate repeatedly. Let's be honest, I could give it to Lieberman every year and it'd be hard to criticize the choice.

I regret giving Holy Joe the award in 2007 because he was practically begging for this year, but fortunately these twelve months offered a cornucopia of candidates whose exploits match his toe-to-toe. In fact, there are so many "winners" this year that I will give out second- and third-place trophies to the finalists who just missed the gold medal. I'll concoct some sort of prize if anyone guesses the top three candidates.

MAKING THE WORLD SAFE FOR REDDI-WIP

Posted in Rants on December 17th, 2008 by Ed

For the Christmas season:

Every generation feels that a gulf exists between its parents and eventually its children. We usually boil it down to ideology, political worldview, and superficial symbols of intergenerational conflict – the stern, flat-topped WWII veteran looking on in bewilderment as his hippie kids roll around in the mud to Janis Joplin. For those of us in "Generation X" the conflict with our Baby Boomer parents becomes increasingly obvious as we start having children of our own and the Grandparents transition into the role of Grandkid Spoilers. Simply put, our generation gap is defined by significant differences in how important we consider the American sacrament of buying shit.

As you are all aware, I am obsessed with the cultural phenomenon of the Cold War. I watch propaganda films of that era moreso than is healthy but with great interest. They never fail to amaze me, and the overwhelming sense is one of wonder that the Baby Boomers aren't more fucked up than they are. The grade-school propaganda of that era was a grotesque mixture of fatalism (pray hard, kids, the bombs will fall any minute!), paranoia, and consumption-worship which inevitably concluded with the same moral lesson: We are better than Them. If you need proof, why, just look at your right to vote for the indistinguishable political parties of the era (Stevenson or Eisenhower – a rainbow of choices!). And look at how many kinds of toothpaste are available.

This is why I think the crunchy granola, environmentally sensitive anti-consumerist leanings of many of my generation so baffle our predecesors. They see recreational shopping as a patriotic duty because it reinforces our superiority; it's the difference between America and lesser nations. Being chastised for throwing out 10 plastic water bottles every day or for driving a 13mpg SUV makes them feel weak and defeated because waste and overconsumption are our birthright; re-using one's trash or driving little cars with tin-can engines is what the people of backward, un-free nations do. Our ability to waste gas is proof of the superiority of our ideology, that the bounty of capitalism is so great that we needn't even think about efficiency. We have to spend $5000 on Christmas gifts not only because that's how we prove we love one another; we have to do it because that's how we know we won the War. That's what makes us different than the Communists, who are so evil that we must forever be emphasizing our differences.

One of the most accessible collections of Cold War ephemera, a Netflixable DVD called The Atomic Cafe, features a video which argues in favor of building the hydrogen bomb to preserve our way of life from Communist aggression – and our way of life is demonstrated at the supermarket. A montage of images show the splendor of the supermarket (to think, Communists have to wait in line for bread!), a Banquet frozen TV dinner, and…a can of Reddi-Wip dispensing its contents onto a slice of pie. When we are defending America, we are defending its status as the capitalist land-of-plenty.



I will never tire of the image or its implications: America is great because we have such ready access (see what I did there?) to cheap aerosol cans of faux-dairy products. What, you think the commies can just have whipped topping whenever they want, mister? Of course not. But our forefathers died so that you can. Recycling and public transit and eating fresh organic foods (processed frozen fare being a fruit of jet age American technology) are a big "fuck you" to everything they died for.

Those of us born in the 1970s, 1980s, and beyond did not grow up with Duck and Cover, the imminent threat of nuclear annhilation, and the idea that Communism was a threat to our way of life. We saw Communist nations for what they were: backward, pitiable places far less of a threat to us than America was to them. Oh, and the Bad Guys in all of our shitty action films. No one in the 1980s, the children of a few paranoid dead-enders aside, grew up thinking that the Russians were going to come and take Our Way of Life from us. The contradictions in the rhetoric made no sense to us – the Russians supposedly couldn't feed themselves or make a car that worked, and yet somehow they were a threat?

This is my best effort at explaining why our parents think strip malls are fuckin' awesome and we are more likely to see them as eyesores. This is why they think we're weird and stuck-up because we tell them how inefficient the suburban lifestyle is or that we don't eat McDonald's or processed sugar. The Russians would kill for a Big Mac! Where do we get off refusing to eat one? The real gap between our generations is more complex than a one-sentence explanation allows, but as we start raising our own families it will be increasingly difficult to make Granny and Gramps understand that their grandkids will not be raised to understand the American Way of Life as profligate consumption and excess.

SOFT FOCUS

Posted in Rants on December 16th, 2008 by Ed

There has been a lot of recent chatter about where the Republican Party goes from here, with "here" being the substantial drubbing it suffered six weeks ago. What receives much less attention is the question of where the party's most dedicated supporters – the Christian right – go from here. For eight years there was little or no conflict between the leadership of the party and the leadership of the base, as President Bush filled both roles. But as the GOP comes to grips with the fact that it was not Our Leader's hard-right social views that won him two terms in the White House, the relationship between the political figureheads of the party and the base becomes increasingly dysfunctional.

For years the religious conservatives in the GOP were represented by a series of fringe-y candidates in presidential primaries – Alan Keyes, Pat Buchanan, or even Pat Robertson himself in the 1980s. Every four years there had to be one candidate who believed the Earth to be 6000 years old, a person who joined the electoral fray for no reason more apparent than appeasing a voting bloc and giving the rest of us something to mock. Then George W. Bush came along and the movement finally had a candidate who would not be rejected out-of-hand as a joke. The result is a religious right that wildly overvalues this single example and inherently considers its type electable; in other words, if the GOP could find George W. Bush then it can find another George W. Bush. Having sat at the head table for eight years, the Dobsons and Robertsons of the world are not about to go back to the kids' table.

This goes a long way toward explaining the completely overboard reaction of the RR to Sarah Palin. One day they never heard of her, the next she was their savior. If you assumed that her public humiliation would dampen the enthusiasm, rest assured that the fawning has not abated since the election. A recent cover of the Focus on the Family Anus magazine shows exactly to which horse James Dobson is hitching his wagon:

Prop Palin
Gov. Palin and her son Prop

Note that the "Bright Future" tag actually refers to a story about promising research on treating Down's Syndrome…but it takes little imagination to see the double entendre. I've said plenty about my opinion of Sarah Palin's political future, which resembles the Hindenburg much more than a rocket to the moon. It makes clear, however, the importance of the challenge facing the post-W GOP – how can it find someone who appeases what is now its core constituency while also having a half-decent chance to win elections? The fundies don't believe that Palin is the best Christian in the political world – they believe she is the next George W. Bush, the person cast in their image who can appeal to everyone. Even when Palin inevitably disappears the need to fill that role will remain.

There is an excellent piece up at Christian Century about how religion is doing more to divide the GOP than to unify it. The author notes:

In the wake of (the election), the Republican Party has nothing more important to resolve than the consequences of its having become, for a generation, the political home of a conservative religious ideology. Much if not all of the divisive, mocking use of religion in our politics flows from that fact. Unless the party of Bush, McCain and Palin calms the ideological waters, we will be living with the division and mockery for years to come.

Earlier in the same article a pastor in Texas is quoted as saying, in part, "Christian conservatives are going to have to decide whether having a Christian president is really important or not." Are they going to dig their heels in on Palin? She is essentially the ideological successor of Buchanan, Keyes, and Robertson in earlier elections – the token Bible-thumper more likely to be called "kook" than "nominee." Conversely, they could be content to forfeit symbolic representation to support someone who isn't one of them but appeases them on the issues. Even in 2008, a year in which Evangelical support for the GOP remained overwhelming, the anecdotal evidence suggests that "nice to us" is not good enough. It has to be "one of us," a stubborn position that will keep them "living with the division and mockery for years to come" as the linked piece concludes.

The sad truth is that the religious right never has been, and certainly is not now, as big as it thinks it is. The GOP can't win without appealing far more broadly, no matter what Rove Wisdom v.2004 stated. And herein lies the puzzle. Someone like Mitt Romney or John McCain would probably behave in office in ways that would placate the religious right. But neither Romney (Mormon!) or McCain (Secret Liberal!) are "one of them." And the average non-Evangelical Republican, a person who isn't much of a fan of abortion or gay marriage or whatnot, cares not at all if the candidate who holds such positions is an authentic God-fearing end times Protestant. Republican Suburbia – the real reason Bush won twice – is content getting its Republicanism from a Mormon, Hindu, Jew, Catholic, Protestant, or agnostic.

Republicans are looking for someone to lead the party to electoral victory. Not only do they not insist on a Dobson-approved fundamentalist, but many would prefer to avoid such religious litmus testing at all costs. As the nation becomes less homogeneous this is not only logical but also a nod toward self-preservation. Unfortunately "logic" and "self-preservation" are not terms accurately applied to the worldview of people like Pat Robertson.

CHARLTON HESTON: PUSSY

Posted in Rants on December 15th, 2008 by Ed

So have you ever thought about joining the NRA but pulled back at the last minute because you just can't morally support an organization that merely pretends to be pro-gun? Deep down we all know that the NRA are sellouts, secretly brokering deals with Hillary Clinton and Susan Sarandon to take away Americans' treasured 2nd Amendment rights. Those of us who understand that it is our duty to be armed to the teeth and accidentally kill one of our own family members in the dark are left without an organization of the like-minded to call Home.

Wait! What's this? If the National Rifle Association is just too frou-frou and liberal for your lead-chewing, take-no-prisoners lifestyle, the Gun Owners of America might be for you!

The group greets readers with a laudatory quote from Ron Paul: "The only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington." Congressman Paul was coincidentally the only presidential candidate to receive an A+ rating from GOA. Here is a helpful hint to gun owners and enthusiasts – if you ever get to a point in your life at which Mike Huckabee and Duncan Hunter are insufficiently pro-gun to merit an A+, it might be time to take a break from hand-loading .338 rounds in your basement. Go to a movie or something. Talk to a female. Really. It's time for some air.

The GOA's website is indicative of an organization stridently opposed to gun control legislation, proofreading, and web design. While the NRA goes to great lengths to appear polished, professional, and reasonable, the GOA comes off as exactly what most firearm owners hate – the stereotype of the paranoid, shack-dwelling conspiracy theorist who rehearses sniper scenarios in daydreams on the long, boring drive to the Aryan Nations compound. The NRA pointedly notes that it "has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world." In contrast the GOA's year-in-review subtly notes, "Get it? Every time a crackpot goes on a shooting spree, the Obama administration is going to use that 'crisis' to come after your guns!"

Their membership fees are quite reasonable compared to the NRA, and more importantly each new member receives complimentary firearms inventory software ("a $99 value!" to people who have never heard of an Excel spreadsheet). Their legislative scores for the 110th Congress are not very generous. I suppose I can respect that, from one harsh grader to another! Unfortunately two of the mere six House members to receive an A+ (Bill Sali and Virgil Goode) were sent packing in November. Only David Vitter can claim a Senate A+…and Senator Call Girls probably won't be on the list after 2010.

But as a liberal "gun-grabber" the best part of the GOA website is the helpful "Just for Skeptics" section. It's peppered with anecdotal gems told from the perspective of average folk oppressed or otherwise grievously wronged by gun control legislation. My favorites are the plaintive "A Daughter's Regret: how a gun could have saved my parents' lives" (and a bulletproof helmet would have saved JFK's, and if the Queen had a dong she'd be the King) and the theologically tenuous "The Bible & Gun Control," debunking the myth that Jesus was a pacifist. Fans of formal logic will delight in the characterization of anti-gun arguments as an exercise in Straw Man-building in a piece entitled "Shouldn't We Repeal The Gun Laws… If It'll Save A Single Child?" by "Vin Suprynowicz" who is either a Estonia's most famous porn star or a pseudonym for a convicted spree killer.

John McCain received an F- from the GOA, which stacks up very poorly to Obama's mere F. I can only look on in awe and confusion at any pro-gun group that can so order the candidates and yet somehow spend a lot of time and energy talking about how the NRA are pussies. If McCain really merited an F- then maybe the talking heads are right – the GOP lost in November because it wasn't conservative enough! Maybe they'll right the ship for fans of the 2nd Amendment in 2012. They can get David Vitter to run; he'll be looking for something to do by then.

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG

Posted in No Politics Friday on December 12th, 2008 by Ed

As of September 8, 2008, it is once again legal to purchase, sell, and own Gambian Pouched Rats as pets in the United States. Gambians are the largest rats in the world, approximately the size of a house cat (weighing from three to nine pounds) and with a life expectancy of about eight years. Like all other rats, they are completely awesome. Imagine the kind of awesomeness obtainable from regular rats (see photo) and now imagine it…giant.


The rarely-observed "Hammock Double Nose Poke"

You're not sold yet? Well, they save a lot of lives. In Africa they are now widely used to detect landmines, which they do with 100% accuracy. They're better than metal detectors (Whoops! Missed all the plastic mines.) and obviously more economical. They're easy to train, they never tire of the "game" of finding buried explosives, and, unlike sniffer dogs, they're too light to trip a mine. A single human and a metal detector can de-mine a 100 square yard area in about a week. A handler and a rat can do it in 20 minutes. If this seems like an obscure talent, outside of the comfy Western world landmines kill 60 people every day and cripple 200 more. Yeah.

You're still not sold? They are being introduced into medical labs after trainers discovered that their noses can be used to detect diseases. Throughout Africa, tuberculosis still runs rampant. And a rat can be trained to respond to the smell. If you're thinking, "But microscopic tuberculosis bacteria have no odor, silly" then you are obviously not a rat. A human using fairly expensive lab equipment (which, you know, Africa tends to lack) can test 50 samples for TB in about 48 hours. A rat can do 100 in 30 minutes. No mistakes.

Are you not on board yet? They can fuckin' smell tuberculosis. What does it take to impress you? Oh, how about this: they're being trained to smell cancer too.

You should check out this website from a non-profit group which trains these little balls of awesome to help resource-poor parts of Africa rid themselves of landmines strewn across the continent in seemingly endless conflicts and TB. A few bucks to help them out will probably save a couple kids from getting a leg blown off. And if you're really bored at work, check out the slideshow of how they're trained to de-mine. Pretty awesome.

Now excuse me, I have to find an exotic pet dealer.

LAWRENCE KUDLOW PRACTICALLY BEGS FOR THE FJM TREATMENT

Posted in Rants on December 11th, 2008 by Ed

I think Lawrence Kudlow reads ginandtacos. He reads it daily and fancies himself the recipient of an FJMing. That is the only conceivable reason he could write a column entitled "It's Time for Supply Side Tax Cuts." At this point you probably think I am shitting you. Let me be clear and unequivocal: I am not shitting you. The column is entitled "It's Time for Supply Side Tax Cuts." This would make sense if it was 1983. It's not.

The bailout-nation saga continued this week as the little-three carmakers from Detroit drove to Washington to plead for a $34 billion federal package to save themselves from bankruptcy and insolvency.

I feel like the straight man / host of an infomercial – that person paid to say "There's no way that a single Sham-Wow can soak up all that hot, viscous minestrone!" or "The NuWave oven can't cook all that food in under 30 minutes, can it?" My sole purpose is to set up Kudlow's eventual Hayek-approved tomahawk dunk. So be it.

"Gee Lawrence, is there an alternative to the bailout that keeps money away from those Fat Cats in Washington?"

Hot on their heels was a devastating report of 533,000 lost jobs in November. Actually, it's a loss of 732,000 jobs, including downward revisions from the prior two months. Unemployment moved up to 6.7 percent from 6.5 percent, a number that's going to get worse as the volume of discouraged workers continues to rise.

Don't forget to tack "and when the auto industry goes bankrupt like my fellow conservatives want it to" on the end of the last sentence.

So here's the painful choice for both Republicans and Democrats in Congress: Will the political class risk a Detroit-carmaker bankruptcy that might lead to catastrophic liquidation — including, realistically, a couple million car-related jobs — all while the recession deepens and job losses mount (1.2 million in just the past three months)?

That would be one hell of a risk to take in a democratic nation, but fortunately we do not have regular elections. Thus is the "political class" spared from retribution and should do the "right thing."

Wait, we do have regular elections. So we need to shame the political class into having the "guts" to do the "right thing."


It's a tough choice

That does not sound like a tough choice at all. It is not even remotely tough. This is the categorical antithesis of a tough choice. It is as tough as the entrance exam at Arizona State. This choice scores a seven ("Watery, with no solid pieces; entirely liquid") on the Bristol Stool Scale.

I think what you mean, L-Dawg, is that Congress is forced to choose from two bad options. They are both bad. That does not mean that they are equally bad. Let's say that you have two choices for your upcoming weekend. Option #1 involves your hated in-laws, hours of home movies of their trip to Branson, and backbreaking yard work. Yuck! Option #2 is to spend 48 hours being repeatedly raped by a particularly horny and flatulent Michael Clarke Duncan.

Your call, Larry.

especially for Republicans, most of whom want to vote against bailout nation and stop big-government encroachment on our free-market economy.

If any sentence accurately summarizes the way the Republican Party has governed in the last 30 years, this is it.

That's the right theory.

And that's all it is: a theory. Also, no.

But are the economic risks simply too great to employ it?

Yes. That is why it never gets employed, even when your fiscally conservative heroes are in complete control of all three branches of government.

Various polling surveys say bailout nation, and a federal rescue for autos in particular, is very unpopular. At least 60 percent are polling against a bailout. The TARP bailout of banks is increasingly unpopular.

Stunning. Relevant. Stunningly relevant. Who would have thought that financially struggling Americans, most of whom need to have episodes of Who's the Boss? explained to them during the commercial break, would oppose something called a "bailout" involving billions of dollars being redirected to Fat Cats and other stock characters from the populist narrative?

Meanwhile, the pressure for more bailouts grows daily. The Avis rental-car company wants a bailout from TARP. A company called BlueFire Ethanol wants a bailout. The trade association for equipment-leasing companies wants a bailout. There's no end to it. And if we keep going down this path we'll make a mockery of free-market capitalism.

Slippery slope. Learning to say "no" would be a pretty comprehensive solution. Avis can go out of business because Avis is irrelevant to our economy. The entire auto industry isn't.

Coming back to Detroit, there may be a pragmatic solution, one that takes some of the apocalypse-now threat of major economic decline out of play.

My ass tingles with anticipation.

Senator Bob Corker and others have proposed a federal oversight board that would in effect become a bankruptcy court. Strict conditions would be imposed on the carmakers,

Three sentences after he said that most Republicans want to get government out of the economy, this is his example of a good idea: the Soviet model of centrally planned industry.

especially regarding compensation

Read: "Congressionally sponsored Union-busting." That's what the 59-Democrat Senate is going to do, turn things over to Bob Corker to decide what wages should be paid in an industry employing millions.

the single-biggest reason for Detroit's decades-long decline.

I thought the inability (or purposeful unwillingness) to make a $30,000 car that doesn't need three new transmissions before 50,000 miles had something to do with it.

(uninteresting "pampered workers make too much for Detroit to compete" boilerplate omitted)

There still will be considerable job losses for downsized Detroit carmakers. They'll have to cut a huge chunk of their dealer networks. Domestic brands will have to be sharply reduced. But essentially, as would be the case under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the federal government will provide short-term financing while Detroit goes through its radical restructuring. It looks like bankruptcy lite, and it will completely change the direction of the former Big Three.

And who's going to make the judgment calls on how and where cuts will be made? Bob Corker? Lawrence Kudlow? Or the jackassed auto industry executives who ran their companies down the drain in the first place?

Boy, I sure hope you have a better idea than "Congressionally mandated wages and production decisions," Comrade Kudlow.

It's probably too much to ask, but tough federal action under the aegis of oversight-board enforcement also should relieve the CAFE fuel standards that have plagued U.S. automakers.

Read the following in your best Milhouse from The Simpsons voice: "When are they gonna get to the fireworks factory!???!??!"

Jesus H., Larry. Your headline promised something that this pastiche of right-wing bugaboos which kill our economy (unions, the environment, lazy workers, occasional Rodan attacks) is not delivering.

At the very least, worldwide standards should be substituted for domestic ones. Making expensive small green cars is an unprofitable business.

You know what is profitable? Making grotesque land barges! Like when GM made that great decision in 2005 to halt its passenger car development in order to rush the new GMC Yukon / Suburban / Escalade family of armored fighting vehicles to dealerships. Why, it practically rained money thereafter in Detroit.

Ironically, with oil and retail gasoline prices plunging, it's not unreasonable to expect something of an auto-sales recovery. Gas prices have dropped all the way to $1.75 from over $4. This tax cut will help revive the whole economy, along with auto sales.

GET TO THE FUCKING TAX CUTS, LARRY. I SWEAR TO GOD IF YOU DO NOT SAY SOMETHING ABOUT SUPPLY-SIDE ECONOMICS IN THE NEXT THREE SENTENCES I AM GOING TO EAT AT P.F. CHANG'S EVERY DAY FOR SIX WEEKS AND SHOW UP AT YOUR FRONT DOOR ASKING TO USE THE BATHROOM.

But if Washington can put this car-bailout business behind it, perhaps Congress can move on to the ultimate solution: restoring economic growth.

*sigh*

Thank you. Was that so hard? We know what "restore economic growth" means in Republican.

President-elect Obama has been cagey about the details of his massive $700 billion infrastructure spending plan and whether he'll raise taxes on successful earners.

I think he's been pretty clear about the latter.

But this new New Deal, including Obama's middle-class tax credits, will not create permanent economic growth incentives. What will?

OMG THIS IS SO EXCITING! I WONDER WHAT HE'S GOING TO SAY?!?!?!11!!!?!ONE!!?

A conservative columnist asking a rhetorical question like this – "What, you ask, will prompt runaway economic growth?" – produces the same mixed feeling of dread, recognition, and boredom as when one of the guests in Fawlty Towers turns to Manuel the waiter (you know, the lovable Spainiard who no-speaky-eeenglish so good) and orders a Screwdriver. Everyone knows exactly what's coming and it'd be funny if it weren't so damn obvious.

A genuine supply-side growth agenda to reduce tax rates across-the-board.

Post-1980 Republicans: "THE ANSWER IS TAX CUTS ACROSS THE BOARD, BUT ESPECIALLY CORPORATE TAXES!!!! Now what was the question?"

If the Republican party wants to put bailout nation to rest it should campaign for lower corporate, individual, and investment tax rates.

As opposed to now or the last 30 years.

Good suggestion, Larry. Republicans have never tried this. They certainly don't bring up tax cuts like their asses are afire and saying the phrase "lower taxes" will bring down torrents of soothing water.

It should make clear that the Democrats are the government-spending party while the Republicans are the tax-cutting party.

To whom is this revoltingly oversimplified binary unfamiliar? I just called the Topeka Home for the Retarded and asked for a random tard who proceeded to correctly connect the phrases "Republican Party" and "cutting taxes." Unconvinced, I empaneled a focus group of people with traumatic brain injuries who were also able to connect those phrases.

Everyone already knows this, Larry. The problem is not recognition – the problem is your ridiculous assumption that cutting taxes is always a good thing or that people are always wildly in favor of it.

Like, when I say "Carrot Top" or "Zamfir" the average person automatically thinks "prop comedy" and "Master of the Pan Flute", respectively. The reason Carrot Top and Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute are unpopular is not that people fail to associate them with the appropriate shtick. The problem is that prop comedy and the pan flute are horrible, horrible things that I wouldn't wish on a Welshman.

We will not bailout our way into prosperity. Nor will we spend our way into prosperity. Somebody has to stand up and yell: It's time to cut tax rates on the supply-side.

I'm sure someone in Congress would do this, taking this heroic stand a la Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, if not for the fact that voters tend to dislike completely retarded thirty year-old ideas that have repeatedly been proven useless. Larry, why must you talk like this has never been tried, like the idea is novel? Unless "income redistribution toward the highest brackets" is the objective, Supply Side tax cuts have been an unqualified failure.

That will reinvigorate growth and infuse new spirit into a demoralized economy.

"Why? Because I say it. I don't have any evidence, but you don't need evidence when you're this fucking right."

Lawrence Kudlow, avid reader of ginandtacos: this was a disappointment of monumental (New Coke) proportions. Sucking us in with an eye-grabbingly stupid headline and then tossing us a few crumbs of discredited economic "wisdom" at the end is….well, Larry, it's just a dick move.

Then again, given how little there is to say in support of your idea, I'd tack it on the end of 10 paragraphs of gibberish too.

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BLAGO UBER ALLES

Posted in Rants on December 10th, 2008 by Ed

As a person who will always consider himself an Illinoisan and a resident of greater Chicagoland no matter where life takes him, I have a very simple request: can we elect one Governor who doesn't end up under a Federal indictment? One? Just one. I'm not asking a lot.

I have shockingly little to say about Governor Blagojevich's indictment that I did not express two months ago in my discussion of what happens when stupid people end up in positions of great authority ("Tards in Power" 10/22/08). The type of corruption so readily associated with Chicago and Cook County is in reality the same anywhere in the country – albeit more prevalent in some locales. The predictability of stupidity should never be underestimated. Be they Chicagoans or Alaskans, morons in power inevitably treat public office as an infomercial-like cash making scheme. Government budgets become their personal checkbooks, their powers and influence used exclusively for their personal enrichment.

Any reasonably intelligent individual can deduce 1001 entirely legal ways to parlay political power into personal wealth. This is why the vast majority of elected officials never end up like William Jefferson, Duke Cunningham, or Blago. They are smart enough to know how the game is played and they have tact. They line their pockets, but they line their pockets like smooth, high-rolling, Oceans 11-style thieves. Blagojevich, who is plainly an idiot, can't come up with a plan better than smashing store windows with a baseball bat and running away with whatever he can carry.

Read the indictment. It is absolutely devoid of any hint of ass-covering or avoiding the explicit. There are no oblique Sopranos-style "So, did you talk to that guy about that thing? Think he'll play ball?" conversations. Instead we see "So how much will (name withheld) pay my wife in exchange for the Senate appointment?" Instead we see a man who brings a mental knife to the intellectual gunfight. Instead we see someone who is either too stupid to realize that he's violating the law or too stupid to avoid being so goddamn obvious about it. Maybe both.

For the record, I'll bet a large sum of money on "Senate candidate #5" being Emil Jones. It is not Jesse Jackson Jr. The latter's hatred for all things Blagojevich make it nearly impossible for me to imagine him responding to being hit up for a bribe with "Sure, I'll see what I can do for you! I play ball." Sorry. Not happening. Jones, on the other hand, is almost as stupid as Blagojevich and many times more corrupt. He also has a history with the Governor. #2 is obviously Lisa Madigan. #1 is probably one of Obama's Senate staffers. No idea on the others.

I hope Hot Rod likes prison meatloaf, because he is going down hard. There will be no plea bargains, no powerful white guy's Get Out of Jail Free card. As I noted during the Michael Vick fiasco last year, Federal prosecutors operate on an entirely different level than their state and local counterparts. The reason they have a 95% conviction rate is not that the Federal courts are biased – it is because they don't issue indictments until they have enough evidence to convict the suspect ten times over. Your local county DA has to fly by the seat of his pants, indicting car thieves and burglars with the merest suggestion of evidence. Not so with the G-Men. They have a mile-long trail of evidence and it's not limited to the Governor's poorly-chosen words.

No, there will be no "corrupt man beats the charges thanks to a corrupt system" ending to this story. They are going to make an example of the him. It's not fair, since certainly there are dozens of powerful elected officials who do exactly what Hot Rod has done. Since the law can't punish everyone, history shows that the system inevitably brings the forces of retribution to bear on the individual or individuals who are dumb enough to get caught.

FOLLOWING THE HERD

Posted in Rants on December 9th, 2008 by Ed

In one of the most stunning(ly retarded) examples of hysteria since the days of stocking up on duct tape and plastic bags to fortify one's home against dirty nuclear bombs, Barack Obama's victory has triggered a buying frenzy at America's gun retailers. The disturbed jockey with the merely paranoid for the opportunity to purchase totally unnecessary levels of firepower before such weapons become as illegal as burglary and heterosexual marriage under the reign of liberalism.

You are probably assuming that these waves of gun buyers are merely concerned that the libruls are going to take away their high-capacity handguns, 30-round magazines, and .50 caliber sniper rifles originally designed to shoot holes in armored vehicles. Mr. David Greenberg of the unironically named Second Amendment Family Gun Shop in Arizona confirms this school of thought, noting that "(the) day after the election, I had many more calls than usual from people looking for semi-automatic rifles." These kinds of weapons are vulnerable to legislation like the Assault Weapons Ban which expired in 2004. They are also inarguably essential for home defense and little-dick compensation.

But if you think that this hysteria is all about the fear of impending legislation, well, let me disabuse you of that stupid, potentially treasonous assumption.

Buyers are also acutely aware that we are on the verge of a full-fledged race war. President-elect Obama is no doubt going to "exact retribution for the legacy of slavery," most likely by rounding up and gassing huge numbers of white people. Other concerned buyers avoid the contentious specter of race and refer only to generalized "civil unrest" motivated by the poor economy as the reason for stocking up. These concerns are perfectly reasonable. When the black crackheads and secular humanists show up at your door, it'll take more than colorful language to protect your family.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "Ed, even if we accept this paranoia at face value, can't one suitably defend one's home with the hundreds of firearms that don't fall under any conceivable restrictions on gun ownership?" Well, no, you ignorant bastard. Today's roving bands of murdering black thugs are armed with weapons that leave America's slovenly white G. Gordon Liddy fans at an embarassing disadvantage. Don't forget that civil unrest is only half of the problem; Obama's Gestapo-like ATF will also be breaking down the doors of the God-fearing. And history has proven repeatedly that only one thing can protect private citizens when that happens: standing in the doorway armed to the teeth and shouting "You'll get my guns when you pry them from my cold, dead hands!"


Waco
Pictured: cold, dead hands

This has to be a mixed bag for gun retailers. Sure, Christmas 2008 will be a great and possibly record-setting month. But in six months one of two things will be true: either everyone who wants a .50 cal will have one and sales will taper off or the Second Amendment will be repealed and all gun shops will be converted to gay wedding chapels. If you've been reading the truth about B. Hussein Obama, the stories the mainstream media don't want you to read, I think you know which one of those two outcomes is more likely.

OVERKILL

Posted in Quick Hits on December 8th, 2008 by Ed

Perhaps you've seen Apple's ad campaign touting the newest generation of MacBooks as the greenest laptops ever made. While I suppose I should be happy that a high-volume seller is utlizing less irresponsible technology in its manufacture, do we really need to further stroke the ego of the average Apple fanboy?

Rumors abound of a next-gen iMac powered entirely by its user's smugness and sense of self-satisfaction.

THE BIG LETDOWN

Posted in Election 2008, Rants on December 8th, 2008 by Ed

I am sincerely disappointed in the way things have gone in the month since the election. I'm not referring to anything Obama-related (you people understand that he's not the president yet, right?) I'm referring to the whimper-like sound made by what we all hoped would be an entertaining torrent of right-wing vitriol in response to their resounding electoral thrashing.

Sure, there have been a few moments of hilarity, the odd shrill meltdown or grand bit of delusion. That aside, the reaction has been dominated by infantile whining and an effort to spin a few key talking points – the "center-right nation" thing, the miraculous and meaningful victory of holding a 41st Senate seat. But mostly it has just been the same nonsense; the same repetitive talking points, the same idiotic comments from your local internet trolls, the same bullshit we've been hearing for thirty years. Thus overall the reaction has been a non-event. It has been less than background noise. The creative bankruptcy of the right-wing noise machine has consigned it, for the time being, to complete irrelevance.

I've commented before that watching Fox News is like cracking open a time capsule from January 2003. It is that moment frozen in amber, preserved for posterity. Its anachronistic feel reflects the increasingly obvious fact that the early Bush presidency, and specifically the onset of the Iraq War, was the zenith of the right-wing media. The far right and its ideas were legitimately mainstream. Time and Newsweek wrote about Ann Coulter as a "public intellectual." Every cable news network was cowed (by ratings, the administration, and rampant jingoism) into mimicking Fox in its coverage and parroting the White House line almost verbatim. Judith Miller was America's most famous journalist. The morning fare on talk radio provided the headlines for the evening news. The best-seller list was a roll-call of right-wing pundits.

Fast forward to today. On December 30, Ann Coulter's latest book Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America hits the stores. Oh, it'll sell a million copies to the same million people who buy everything with that bulimic horse on the cover. But be honest – does anyone give a flying shit about what Ann Coulter has to say? Does anyone pay attention to Bill O'Reilly anymore, springing into action as he rails against the War on Christmas? Does anyone treat Rush Limbaugh like a serious political commentator, discussing his daily pronouncements in earnest on the nightly roundtable shows? Does any major media outlet not owned by Rupert Murdoch take its marching orders from Dick Cheney's press releases?

Don't misinterpret me: I know that these people and their demon spawn (every time O'Reilly ejaculates, 1500 new Pajamas Media "reporters" are born) still have audiences. But they used to have an audience like the Super Bowl – that is, even people who don't care are exposed to it – and now it's more like Major League Lacrosse. It has been ghettoized, pushed to the fringe. It has almost no influence on the mainstream, being followed only by the small group of true believers who already agree with it and thus seek it out. It is little more than an echo chamber for the 20% of the population who think George W. Bush has done a good job.

Like an investor who puts everything on a single stock, the RWM didn't just hitch its wagon to George W. Bush – it mortgaged the house, sold the heirlooms on eBay and emptied out Billy's college fund to bet it all on Our Leader. In the process they have utterly alienated almost all of their potential viewership. Murdoch et al have created something that can't even rightly be called conservative media, for it is as hostile to non-neoconservatism (i.e., McCain, Romney, and similar Republicans) as it is to liberalism. They bet everything on the Bush-Cheney-PNAC worldview. Like so many historically bad examples of strategic myopia, this worked really well. Until it didn't.

These people or their eventual replacements haven't been permanently banished from the mainstream. I'm sure we'll hear from them again at some point in the future. But their behavior suggests that it's going to be a while. Nothing will change until they come up with something, anything, that resembles a new idea. They seem content to double down on the same horseshit – blah blah terrorism blah blah supply-side tax cuts blah blah Democrats are socialists blah blah teh gays. I am content to let them, as it ensures that they will make punchlines rather than headlines for the forseeable future.

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