Saturday, March 28, 2009

Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out


President Bush had become extremely unpopular, and politically he was sort of a millstone around our necks in both ‘06 and ‘08. We now have the opportunity to be on offense, offer our own ideas and we will win some.

A millstone? How DARE he say that about the Dear Leader? Does McConnell suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome? Is he a snob who hates common sense? Doesn't this mean McConnell hates America and loves terrorism?

Or is the leader of Senate Republicans just an unprincipled hack who'll lick Dubbya's boots when things are going well, but who'll say he never liked the guy when the Republicans are out of power?

And while we're asking questions, why do you think the people who are so snarky about Obama followers thinking he's a "messiah" have developed amnesia about the six years of servile groveling the Right did before the altar of George Dubbya Bush? Why do you think they've forgotten Rudy Giuliani's gushing speech where he claimed to have said, as he watched the Twin Towers fall, "Thank God George Bush is President?" Is it hypocrisy, or is it, as I've suggested, some sort of brain damage?

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Public Service to the Writing Community

Hey, writers! Ever been deep in the throes of Deadline Hell, with the laundry piling up in drifts and stuff growing in the shower tiles, when you get a phone call that your mother's bringing the vicar over for tea? No? Me neither. I'm not really even sure what a vicar is. But I'm still willing to bet you'd benefit from these handy tips on How to Quickly Fake a Clean House .

Hat tip to Lifehacker.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!

Villanova beats Duke for first time in 50 years.

Go Heels! Gonzaga's gonna be a tough one...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE Trailer!

You know, this might actually not suck.

You Make the Call


Is this man the luckiest sumbitch in the world? Or the unluckiest?

Good One!

Best line of last night's press conference:

The president, expressing his "anger" over bonuses paid to executives whose company received billions of dollars in federal bailout funds, was asked why it took him a few days to voice that anger. "It took us a couple of days," he replied tersely, "because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak."

Ohhh, snap! Of course the "liberal" press has to protect their own, so the answer is being characterized as "cranky". But I think it was a perfect response to Ed Henry's attempt at a stupid "gotcha" question. Someone needs to tell these so-called "journalists" that they're polling at about the level of used-car salesmen in terms of credibility.

When asked a serious question, Obama had his facts and figures and arguments at the ready, and delivered them in a clear. comprehensible way, like this question on cutting the deduction for charitable contributions:

Now, if it's really a charitable contribution, I'm assuming that that shouldn't be the determining factor as to whether you're giving that $100 to the homeless shelter down the street.

And so this provision would affect about 1 percent of the American people. They would still get deductions. It's just that they wouldn't be able to write off 39 percent.

In that sense, what it would do is it would equalize. When I give $100, I'd get the same amount of deduction as when some, a bus driver who's making $50,000 a year, or $40,000 a year, gives that same $100. Right now, he gets 28 percent, he gets to write off 28 percent. I get to write off 39 percent. I don't think that's fair.

But when asked a "gotcha" question, he delivered the smackdown it deserved.

Of course idiots like Matt Drudge and Bill O'Reilly sniff that the press conference was "boring." Here's a news flash: The President of the United States is not there for your entertainment. We have a grownup in the office now, not some overgrown frat boy who cracks jokes about not finding WMD's and gives reporters stupid nicknames.

One thing Barack Obama has been consistently good at doing is staying on message and not letting himself get derailed by celebrity "journalists" trying to provoke a "gaffe" to make themselves look good. Mike Allen at Politico has a revealing article (hat tip to Balloon Juice):

The unspoken contest playing out under the East Room lights: The president wants to deliver a message – in this case, reassurance on the economy and a plug for his budget – and not get tripped up by issues he considers extraneous, or that might overshadow what he wants to say.

Reporters have the opposite incentive:
They want to “make news” by getting the president to say something he hasn’t said before, or wasn’t prepared to say – which, by definition, is not his message.

Barack Obama wouldn't play the game. He wouldn't let the reporters "make news." And they're steamed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

We Have a Winner!

No, I haven't forgotten last week's contest. I wanted to make sure everyone who wanted to got a chance to get their idea in on how to use Death Switch in a story. I didn't get a lot of entries, but the ideas folks came up with were good ones, so it was a tough decision. But our winner is:

kit!

I particularly liked kit's take on having the main character disappear and go after the bad guys because it "takes one SOB to go after another." My kinda story.

kit, send me your snail mail address and I'll shoot you a copy of BREAKING COVER. Send it to dustyr AT nc.rr.com.


There are three vaults in Arizona that store contraband nabbed by US port inspectors and customs agents on Arizona's 370-mile border with Mexico. A reporter from the Arizona Republic visited one of them, in Nogales, where racks are packed with 27,000 pounds of marijuana, boxes of speed, coke, and guns. A file cabinet holds half-a-million dollars in cash...

Strange E-mail of the Day

"Jack Reacher is now following you..."

Oh, shit. That can't be good news.

"...on Twitter."

WTF?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bad Cases Lead to Bad Laws

Latest Newspaper column (turned in before the vote on taxing the bonuses):

Like a lot of you, I'm well and truly teed off about the massive bonuses (totaling $165 million) paid to executives of failed insurance giant AIG. The bonuses were paid after a massive federal bailout of the company, using our tax money.

It's certainly a tempting idea to grab a torch and a pitchfork, storm AIG's offices and start tossing these mooks out of windows.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley even suggested that the top brass of AIG should, and I quote, "follow the Japanese model and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things -- resign, or go commit suicide."

Talk about a major sign of how things have changed! If a Democrat had said that a year ago, he'd have been denounced as promoting "class warfare" at best and dismissed as a Naderite socialist kook at worst. Guess we're all Naderite socialist kooks now.

But here's the thing. It seems that some of the contracts under which these bonuses are paid were negotiated before anyone -- President Bush, Congress, or Senator and later President Obama -- had any idea AIG was in trouble, much less that they needed a bailout. These shocking bonuses, which appear to be payable regardless of how the company or the recipient performs, appear to be debts incurred pre-bailout that are now coming due.

Yes, you heard that right, this one I'm not blaming Bush for. Shocking to some of you, I know. Don't worry, there's plenty I do blame him and his henchmen for in this mess. But on this one issue, I think everyone got blindsided.

Saying in an employment contract, "you get a bonus, no matter what," is, no doubt, a bad deal. But if we demand as a cost of the bailout that the company spend attorney fees defending a contract claim that AIG's going to lose and end up paying anyway (with interest), doesn't that seem like a worse deal?

I know, I know, you don't care about "legal technicalities," but if these guys sue AIG over these contracts, at least some legal argument for not paying is going to need to get made, probably at great expense. All I'm saying is, unless the contracts these guys negotiated before the government got involved don't tie the bonuses to company performance, then they're as much a legal obligation of the company as the light bill.

Yes, it was foolish of AIG to negotiate a deal like that. It was one of an awful lot of foolish things done by AIG that got them, and then us, into this mess. But what we can do about it may not be so simple.

Some in Congress have proposed the idea of recouping the bonus money via a tax. Sen. Chris Dodd has suggested a tax rate on these bonuses alone of as much as 100 percent. In fact, it appears that a provision to tax bonuses at a high rate was in a version of the original TARP bill, but was removed, and no one seems to know how or why.

I do like the idea of taxing these bonuses out of existence, but I worry that this may be what the Constitution refers to as a "Bill of Attainder" (an act of legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a trial). And the Constitution says Bills of Attainder are a big no-no. We've had eight years of a president who treated the Constitution as a suggestion. I'd like to start treating it as the law of the land again.

I want us to get that money back. But I think it's important for us to do so under the rule of law, especially now that emotions are running so high.

I have no problem with canning the people who head up AIG, giving them 15 minutes to clean out their desks, and having security escort them out of the building with all their stuff in a cardboard box. But I don't know that we should just give Obama and/or Congress the supreme power to take something away because it offends us. That would go beyond socialism into despotism.

It's become fashionable in the wingnut community to sneer at supporters of Obama by implying they think he's "the Messiah." Well, I might have no problem with the actual Messiah having unlimited power, but I'm leery of handing it to any man, including Barack Obama.