"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Thursday, July 30, 2009

First against the wall when the revolution comes

Stop the presses!

The President had a beer with a professor and a policeman! Why is it that I can't read these stories without this song going through my head?

Meanwhile, back in the American heartland, in the shining city on a hill, there is good news as the the latest minimum wage increase kicked in last week. The federal minimum wage is now $7.25 per hour (about $15,000 a year based on a 40 hr week) Of course some states don't even have minimum wage laws. About 13 percent of the population of the United States lives below the poverty line (set in 2001 at $18,000/year for a family of four).

There are about 45 million americans without health insurance of any kind and millions more with wholly inadequate insurance. Kids are dying of toothache because their family doesn't have the money to take them to a doctor. The current health care proposal in front of congress now is estimated to cost $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion over the next ten years and some people oppose it because it would be funded by a one percent increase in income taxes for people making more than $200,000 a year. That's in addition to the roughly 3% income tax hike Obama already has proposed for the top tax bracket, bringing their tax rate to 38%.

Handing over 38% of your taxable income to the government sounds like a lot until I see stories like this:

Bank Bonus Tab: $33 Billion

Nine Lenders That Got U.S. Aid Paid at Least $1 Million Each to 5,000 Employees


Nine banks that received government aid money paid out bonuses of nearly $33 billion last year -- including more than $1 million apiece to nearly 5,000 employees -- despite huge losses that plunged the U.S. into economic turmoil.
Wall Street has shown little sign of slowing down the pay train this year. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley recently disclosed that they have set aside $11 billion and $6 billion in compensation and benefits, respectively, for their employees so far this year. Goldman's second quarter was among its best ever. Morgan Stanley lost money for its third straight quarter.Goldman and Morgan Stanley declined to
comment on the report.Meanwhile, some big banks that received government bailouts, including Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., are offering handsome pay packages to lure stars. Citigroup -- which received about 25% of the aid going to the nine banks -- has the No. 1 pay recipient. Andrew Hall, who heads Citigroup's energy-trading unit Phibro LLC, received $98.9 million in 2008, according to a government official. Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, by comparison, received more than $38 million last year."

Poor Vikram, he's the CEO and he has to struggle along on a paltry $38 million a year.

The U.S. government in the past year has spent about $1.8 trillion on bailing out and proping up the banking industry: $31.1 billion on bank takeovers, $117.9 billion on bailing out AIG, $1.4 trillion on Fed financial rescue efforts including the Bear Stearns bailout effort, $40 on the capital investment in Citigroup and Bank of America, $20.4 billion on the Capital Purchase Program to bail out banks, and another $5 billion in assest guarantees for BoA and Citi. This is money spent, not just money committed or earmarked for bailout programs - those numbers are even higher. And it doesn't include the more than $1 trillion spent on the GM bailout or the stimulus plan or the money spent on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and mortage relief for homeowner facing foreclose. Nope, that $1.8 trillion is just what has been forked over to shore up the banking industry. (figures from here)

And that's just the financial sector payoff. How about the military industrial complex?

They say if you aren't angry, then you aren't paying attention.

People often wonder why the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution were so brutal. How could ordinary French peasants and townsfolk cheer to see people they formerly respected as their "social betters" being marched to guillotine? How could the Bolsheviks be so hardhearted as to machine-gun to death the Tsar and his family, even the young children?

I think I might understand it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

a different kind of pillow talk

Yeah, yeah, I know, "judge not lest ye be judged" and "People who live in glass houses" and all that, but uh.....sometimes it seems like this country is just one big open air freakshow:

Momo, whose real name is Toru Taima, has more than 150 body-pillow covers at home. His current favorite is Karada-chan, a copper-haired sixth grader from the anime “A Direction in the Day After Tomorrow.” She’s fully clothed in the cartoon, but in Momo’s imagination and thus on his pillow cover, she appears naked, her cheeks flushed, her prepubescent nipples hidden by her forearms, her white panties rolled down to her ankles. A translucent square etched onto the pillow cover censors her hairless vagina.
Every night, Karada-chan and at least two other animated preteens, drawn with large pink nipples and exaggerated labia, share a mattress with Momo, one on each side and another on top. “They’re so cute, I can’t stand it,” he said shyly. “It’s like my favorite girl comes to marry me every night. I just can’t stop thinking about them.” When Momo talks about Karada-chan, his mousy face lights up like a kid opening Christmas presents. “Her existence to me is like daughter, younger sister and bride all put into one.” Does he have sex with her? “Yes.” Is he interested in real women? “It’s not like I’m completely uninterested. But the last girl I really liked was hen I was 12 years old.”

And my wife sometimes wonders why I don't want the kids out of my sight in public places. If there was ever a society in dire need of a massive dose of psychotherapy, I'm living in it.

(a hat - tip to Our Man in Abiko)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

News sources say the darnedest things

Just a couple of interesting juxtapositions of quotes and information in news stories I noticed today.

First, this attempt to put a good face on things in Afghanistan:

"You look into the eyes of some of the soldiers and they have clearly grown up on this operation, " (Britian's top commander in Afghanistan Brig. Tim) Radford told reporters in London via a video link from Helmand.

Yes, Brigadier - and in the very next paragraph we find out how many of Britain's youth clearly won't be doing any more growing up as a result of this operation.

A total of 22 U.K. soldiers have died in July - many as the result of roadside bombs, and about half of them on missions other than Panther's Claw - raising new questions among the British people about the cost of the eight-year military campaign. Since 2001, 191 British service personnel have died in Afghanistan.

* * * * *

Second, this sort of Libertarian-U.S. Republican approach to social welfare found in Japanese culture:

Toyoki Yoshida, 37, of Yoake no Kai (Daybreak Association), which assists people who are heavily in debt, said: "We've seen many cases of people who grit their teeth and fight on after losing their jobs. However, when these people spend the last of their unemployment benefits and savings, many choose to commit suicide."

It's hard to imagine another country or culture that would see bank bailouts and antirecession measures as a primary way of fighting suicide because killing yourself rather than going on welfare is considered a reasonable thing to do. The quote is from an article that very matter-of-factly points out that the suicide rate is up from last year and may break the record of 34,427 people taking their own lives set in 2003.

* * * * *

And, of course, we can always count on Texas:

According to police, the 33-year-old Sanchez told the responding officers that she was “hearing voices” and that the “devil made her kill” her son – Scott Wesley Buchholtz Sanchez – who was born on June 30.
Chief McManus told reporters the mother confessed to eating parts of the child’s body but declined to give details. Earlier reports from the Associated Press said the mother had eaten the baby’s brains and bit off three of his toes.

Yeah, it wasn't anything scientific like untreated galloping post-partum depression or incipient schizophrenia - the woman who ate part of her own baby admitted that "the devil made her do it." (no offense to Flip Wilson) Thank God the United States doesn't have any kind of crazy Marxist socialist universal health care system that might have helped this woman get the treatment she needed or at least kept her and her baby in the hospital -- all she really needed was a good exorcism! Yep, she was crazy to believe in the devil, not like most of her fellow citizens.

I. Have. No. Words.

Yeah, but if they comb their hair just right, no one will notice it.

James Inhofe (R-Dumbfuckistan) still thinks the birthers have a Very Important Point.

In other news, U.S. President Barack Obama apparently still a U.S. born U.S. citizen from Hawaii which is in the United States.

Pssst! Did you know the United States was still involved in two wars?