Archive for the ‘political humor’ Category
After a taking a hiatus from blogging, I thought that I wanted to return with a some sort of scathing political commentary, filled with wit and an almost adolescent exuberance. But then I spied this billboard along the West Side Highway. I was horrified. The Birthers had infiltrated the heart of New York City, my town, and were in the process of disenfranchising the place. Never again would we vote in a national election. Never again would someone from the five boroughs become president. We aren’t in America.
But then I reconsidered. More likely this was the work of an insidiously clever Republican operative. He knows that Donald Trump is a danger to the Republican chances in 2012, if only because of the hair, which looks just like his half brother’s (this is not intended to be a factual statement), the very former governor of Illinois. You know, what’s his name, Blagojevich. If only natural born Americans can run for president, and if New Yorkers are not Americans, then as a native New Yorker Trump can’t run for president. QED And every Birther, including Trump, would have to agree.
A further clue to this dastardly mischief is supplied by one word from a sibling billboard.
Although there is much evidence to support the operative hypothesis, I grant that it could be wrong. It would require the operative to be too clever by half, and judging by the recent budget that the Republicans put forward, we can’t assume that anyone in the GOP has the extra half going for them. So who did the deed? It’s possible, just possible, it was a New Yorker with some extra attitude
Oh, I can understand why New Yorkers might have attitude. After all, why would they have put Times Square, the Empire State Building, King Kong, Broadway, the UN, Wall Street, Steven Colbert, Lincoln Center, Batman, Superman, the Statue of Liberty, and the Yankees (of course), etc., here if this wasn’t actually the center of the planet? Why else would “New Directions,” the club from Glee, have to travel to New York to compete in the national finals? And let’s face it, when the ball drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, everything else is just anti-climatic.
But just because NYC might be the center of the planet doesn’t mean it isn’t in the United States. Where else would it be? So let’s be clear. The sign should have read, “If you leave New York, you will have to live somewhere else in America.” Unless of course there is a Republican operative out there who is too clever by half.
We will remain vigilant at UP@NIGHT.
Well, here we are again. Elections around the corner and about to let the FOX guard the henhouse, yet again.
Yes, we are all angry. But let us not forget how we got into the present economic mess as we listen to the Republicans promising new ideas, once again. Stewart and friends nail this one.
I kid you not. The editors at Newsweek have presented us with one of the most biting pieces of (indirect) commentary yet to appear in a major American periodical. On the last page of this week’s Newsweek (November 2, 2009), Governor Mark Sanford’s wife is quoted as saying about his affair, “I know that I’m going to be fine, and not only will I survive, I’ll thrive” (Jenny Sanford). This quotation is found among statements from the spouses of several other unfaithful hubbies, all public figures. Okay, pretty tacky. But I am not here to complain about tackiness.
Six pages earlier in the magazine there is a two page piece by the Governor himself. Title you ask? “Atlas Hugged,” which appears to be referring to Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, but is no doubt also talking about Sanford’s relationship to Rand. So now poor Jenny has to deal not only with the woman in Argentina but Ayn Rand, a serious swinger in her day. Could Sanford have been responsible for this title? Did he know that Jenny’s words would appear just pages after his? Did he care? Can this man handle not having his fifteen minutes of fame endlessly loop around the air waves? The mind boggles. But the piece does sing the praises of the true individual.
Ah, the piece. It is about how this is a good time for an Ayn Rand revival. And yes, while Sanford does have some reservations these days about Rand, he was once a true believer, and he still appears smitten. There are some wonderful passages in the Newsweek article. Take this one from Sanford’s pen on Roark, the hero of Rand’s book.
The Fountainhead is a stunning evocation of the individual and what he can achieve when unhindered by government or society. Howard Roark is an architect who cares nothing about the world’s approval; his only concerns are his integrity and the perfection of his designs….
[Let's just stop here for a moment. Did Sanford really say, "his only concerns are his integrity and the perfection of his designs." Freud is always out smoking a cigar when you need him.]
Near the end of the book, Roark is on trial for demolishing a building he had designed—he had insisted it be built exactly as drawn, but when some bureaucrats alter the structure, Roark feels he has no choice but to dynamite it. Representing himself, Roark pleads, in characteristically Randian terms: “I do not recognize anyone’s right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy. Nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim, how large their number or how great their need … I recognize no obligations toward men except one: to respect their freedom and to take no part in a slave society.” Cold though they sound, these words contain two basic truths. First, an individual can achieve great things without governmental benevolence, and second, one man has no right to another’s achievement. These are lessons we should all remember today, when each week is seemingly marked by another government program designed to fix society. [Emphasis added.]
“Cold though they sound?” No, Mark, not cold. The man was willing to blow up a building because he didn’t like the way that his plans, his designs, were executed. (Some might suggest that this smacks a bit of terrorism, no? I don’t like what you have done to my work. Okay, I’ll blow up a building.) Think about all of those folks who worked on the building. All of their work is for naught, because Roark has not gotten the building that he designed. Narcissism you say? Narcissism being supported by the good Governor of South Carolina?
I think at a fundamental level many people recognize Rand’s essential truth—government doesn’t know best. Those in power in Washington—or indeed in Columbia, S.C.—often lead themselves to believe that our prosperity depends on their wisdom. It doesn’t. The prosperity and opportunity we enjoy comes ultimately from the creative energies of the country’s businessmen, entrepreneurs, investors, marketers, and inventors. The longer it takes this country to reawaken to this reality, the worse we—and in turn, our children’s standard of living—will be.
Well, this is certainly the case in S.C. with the old governor disappearing for days on end. Hiking that trail. But on a more serious note, notice that Sanford doesn’t mention in his list of prosperity creators: workers, teachers, scientists, etc. Whatever reservations Sanford may have about Rand–she “doesn’t include the human needs we have for grace, love, faith, or any form of social compact”–I would say that he is still in love, in love with a narcissistic ideal of what it means to be a good human being or a good productive citizen. It is as if the choice were between golden knights on corporate horseback (just what we need right now) and demons clothed in government garb. If only life were this black and white. If only all the good guys were those involved in the private sphere and the corrupt (or soon to be corrupt) were allied with the government. What sophomoric pablum. Soap opera is more nuanced. I say, if the right thinks that it is time to bring back Ayn Rand, more power to them. There are few political thinkers, and I am being generous here in calling her a political thinker–as Sanford points out, “William F. Buckley called objectivism ‘stillborn’ in a column he wrote when she died”–who are less relevant to the world that we face. It’s clear that we are going to need to stand together if we don’t want to fall apart. And this doesn’t mean collectivism. It means responsible citizenship. We are citizens, after all, and not just Roarks.
I had been planning to write a blog on the bogus ways that the notion of “impartiality” has been used in the hearings for Judge Sotomayor. I still plan to, even though Colbert and his writers have hit one out of the park on the rather implausible notion of “neutrality” that has been bandied about by Republican senators and pundits.
We have all wondered how the financial wizards down on Wall Street managed to help tank the economy. No doubt creative accounting played a substantial role. This clip will explain to you, in a straightforward and easily accessible fashion, just how simple creative accounting can be.
Music to the rescue in the face of economic troubles….In this case some saxophonists.
Another reason to support the arts, even in times of trouble.
The word is out. Unless AIG pays their executives millions more in bonuses, they might lose the best and the brightest of their employees. Corporate raiders will swoop out of the clouds and plunder their human capital. And then where would AIG be? And then where would we be? (According to FOX, if AIG cannot retain their top execs, it has threatened to morph into a black hole and take the inner planets with it.)
But wait. We may have nothing to fear but fear itself. Let us not forget that AIG is in the business of insuring companies against their own incompetence. The solution is simple. AIG should insure itself against its own incompetence through one of its products, for example, FinancialGuard (see below). So, even if it were to lose its best and brightest by not paying out the bonuses, AIG could still survive through the miricle of insurance.
Here is AIG/Australia hawking one “product” that can help save it (and us):
What is it?
Professional indemnity insurance on a civil liability basis
Why do you need it?
The activities of regulators, the changing distribution of financial institutions products and a more informed and litigious consumer environment lie behind the increase in the frequency of civil liability claims against financial institutions….
Our Civil Liability product provides blanket protection against the financial consequences of a legally enforceable obligation in which a civil liability is incurred arising from services provided. Covers includes defence costs and civil penalties.
Who needs it?
All Financial Institutions including Banks, Building Societies, Investment Management Companies, Insurance Companies and Stockbrokers.
And under a discussion of assets on the AIG site we find the following pitch:
A company’s assets are vital to its operations. And protecting those assets is essential to the well being of a business. Assets can be tangible and intangible and can include a company’s corporate reputation, as well as physical assets such as property or goods. We offer standard or customised programmes on a domestic or global scale as well as a wide range of products covering more demanding and specialist risks.
Protection of assets!! Protection for corporate reputation!! Protection from the activities of regulators!! AIG can save itself (and us).
Up until now little beside blind greed and gross incompetence have been offered to explain AIG’s behavior. Here is an alternative hypothesis: Someone inside AIG decided that the best way to stimulate the market for its financial insurance products was to come up with an example (AIG’s own failure) that would scare the daylights out of even the most confident of finance people, pushing them right into the arms of AIG’s financial insurance sales force. Insanely diabolical, wouldn’t you say?
And if this hypothesis is incorrect, I have another: AIG is a corporate comic genius.
P.S. Here’s five bucks. Feel free to buy yourself half a dozen shares of AIG.
AP Photo/Ron Edmonds
Just in case you haven’t heard, Rush Limbaugh is now calling the shots in the Republican Party. It seems that you can’t criticize Rush if you are a Republican, especially if you are in the House of Representatives. Here is an excerpt from Congressman Phil Gingrey’s “apology” to Rush, on Rush’s radio show, for having dared to criticize him. (Select the link to view a video of Rush speaking with Gingrey.)
Rush, thank you so much. I thank you for the opportunity, of course this is not exactly the way to I wanted to come on. … Mainly, I want to express to you and all your listeners my very sincere regret for those comments I made yesterday to Politico. … I clearly ended up putting my foot in my mouth on some of those comments. … I regret those stupid comments. Huffington Post, January 28, 2009.
And who does Rush want to see as the Republican standard bearer? Sarah Palin, of course. And he is not alone.
Coming off a shellacking at the polls in November, the plurality of GOP voters (43%) say their party has been too moderate over the past eight years, and 55% think it should become more like Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in the future, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just 24% think failed presidential candidate John McCain is the best future model for the party, and 10% are undecided. Rasumssen Reports, January, 29, 2009.
Now there are many sound arguments for not taking Palin seriously. But let’s not bother with arguments here. Let’s just follow the video
Let me show you something…
A thanks to the (anonymous) person who did this video.
UPDATE 3/2/2009 Rush has really got them on a leash. A GOP senator can’t even say the words, Rush is wrong.
Following the unregulated free market logic that has spiraled the country into our current economic morass, the Republican Party, especially those in the House of Representatives, have taken a page from the corporate world. They have decided to downsize, and it appears that the execs at GOP, Inc. are expecting the downsize to be permanent. The logic here seems to be that it is better to have a smaller, more efficient body of ideologues, that can be held in line, in order to toe the line. This will guarantee that the rhetoric from GOP Inc., its most important product line, will remain as pure as the first snows of winter. After all, Republicans are principled folks, unlike Democrats and Obamanites who are willing to be “pragmatic.”
The unprecedented scope of their business plan has only become apparent in the last few days. The Republican execs in the House of Representatives, Boehner’s band of boys, have been especially aggressive in supporting it. A recent Washington Post-ABC News Poll has shown overwhelming support for the President’s stimulus package, yet not one Republican in the House voted for the President’s package.
Would you support or oppose new federal spending of about 800 billion dollars on tax cuts, construction projects, energy, education, and health care to try to stimulate the economy?
- 70% Support
And Nate Silver reports on January 29, 2009, the following on FiveThirtyEight:
It’s not just the goose egg that the House Republicans laid on the Democratic stimulus package yesterday: Boehner’s Boys have been equally uncooperative on other matters. Case in point: a bill yesterday to delay the transition to digital TV. This measure was approved unanimously by the Senate; every Senate Republican gave it the green light. But 155 out of 178 House Republicans voted against it, which resulted in the measure’s defeat since a two-thirds majority would have been required for passage under the House’s suspension of the rules.
Or, take the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a seemingly fairly popular/populist (if not inscrutable) piece of legislation on gender-based pay discrepancies. This was something that Barack Obama whacked John McCain on on the campaign trail, with McCain offering little rebuttal. In the Senate, five Republicans — out of 41 — voted with the Administration on Ledbetter, including all four Republican women. In the House, just three Republicans did — out of 178.
There may be a few retrograde Republicans in the Senate not fully with the downsizing program. But one has to understand that the House represents the life blood of the Party. They are the elected Republicans closest to the forces of production, those that produce the largest quantities of grade A ideology. So, unless there is an unexpected upheaval at the top of GOP, Inc., expect the downsizing to continue. (The proposed new motto for the new GOP: Change through Ideological Purity.) There have even been rumors that GOP, Inc. would rather go bankrupt than compromise its principles. (Unnamed sources suggest that bankruptcy filings can be expected any day now. Stay tuned.)
(Image from The Boston Phoenix)
UPDATE: August 26, 2010. Well, it looks like I must have been terribly wrong about this from what appears to be a Republican resurgence. As of today, the Republicans look like they may win back the House this November. They have been temporarily saved by the bad economy and the mid-term election pattern of voters turning against the incumbent party. However, I would still argue that in the long term Republicans will be forced to downsize if they decide to stick with ideological purity. They don’t have any answers to the economic mess that we are in. (Just look at the how dependent they are on the “magic” bullet of lowering taxes, which helped bury us during the Bush years.) Once people realize this, and understand how much of the Party is under the sway of right wing ideologues, the Republicans will indeed have to consider downsizing. (And then there are the demographics that are against them. But this would be another blog.)
McCain: A Blast from the Past….He might have seen an Alien (and this is just one more thing that Sullivan doesn’t know)
[Here's a scoop that you won't find on Andrew Sullivan's site. He isn't sufficiently in tune with this stuff. Too much Oakeshott.]
Sometimes the familiar reveals itself in strange and wonderful ways when viewed in hindsight. Here is John McCain’s (in)famous anti-Obama ad “Celeb.” Not only does the line of attack seem even more ludicrous after the election, but take a good look at McCain’s picture as it “morphs” at the end. (Freeze framing the image is helpful here.) Tell me if you don’t think that he has just had a close encounter of the third kind, that he has come face to face with a “benevolent” alien? (His present claims about the stimulus package certainly suggest that he is out of touch, in a serious way. “What we need are more tax cuts, especially for the wealthiest aliens.”) Of course, it could simply be that Obama strikes him as an alien. I mean, he did refer to him as “that one.”
And while we are at it, let’s not forget how closely the Republicans, and John’s soul mate, George, have been to the aliens. When Obama gets through cleaning out the Justice Department, he should really have his people check this out.
“SPACE ALIEN BACKS BUSH FOR PRESIDENT”