March 2009


Democratic Party leaders could hardly have come up with a better candidate than Michael Steele to head the RNC.  This guy is non-stop magic happy pretty time:

Steele: I am very introspective about things. I don’t do — I am a cause and effect kind of guy. So if I do something, there’s a reason for it. Even, it may look like a mistake, a gaffe. There is a rationale, there’s a logic behind it.

Lemon: Even with the current events in news–

Steele: Yeah.

Lemon: There’s a rationale behind Rush, all that stuff?

Steele: Yup. Yup.

Lemon: You want to share it with us?

Steele: Sure, I want to see what the landscape looks like. I want to see who yells the loudest, I wanted to know who says they’re with me but really isn’t.

Lemon: How does that help you?

Steele: It helps me understand my position on the chess board. It helps me understand, you know, where the enemy camp is and where those who are inside the tent are.

Lemon: It’s all strategic?

Steele: It’s all strategic.

Similarly, sometimes I empty a revolver into my foot to see which of my toes are with me, and which aren’t; which toes act like they’re attached to my foot, but are really willing to jump ship every time I blow them away.

Strategerific!

TEH EDITORS ADDS: The Institute has obtained this exclusive video entitled “George Will Presents: Media Relations – The Michael Steele Way!”:

CURVACIOUS D ADDS: ch2 gets the gas face:

I think I’m getting the hang of this ol’ capitalism thing-a-majiggy.

Because we’re in a recession, it would be irresponsible – naive even – for Obama to refrain from exacting a pound of flesh from average Americans.  How long can he continue to deny reality?   After all, in down economic times, we “all” have to make sacrifices.  Like, say, slashing social security, medicare and unemployment benefits.  Or raising taxes on the middle class, lowering minimum wage and laying off police officers, firefighters and teachers.  That’s just off the top of my head.  It’s the responsible thing to do.

Fear not, though.  Those sacrifices will make the sacrificees better in the long run – reinforce their moral fiber and, ultimately, lead to true happiness!  Struggle is good for the soul and the spirit!  Everyone should do it!  Almost.

On the other hand, if the government asks for any portion of this guy’s $742,006.40 after tax* bonus back because, well, the government is bankrolling his firm with taxpayer money (read: the sacrificial offerings of the masses), and that’s a lot of money to be paid out on the government’s dime, then that’s not wholesome, moral girding sacrifice at all.  It’s hoary socialism and will lead to the downfall of society. 

Also, very mean to the poor millionaires, causing unspeakable distress in their lives and forcing them to make tough – nay, impossible – choices about such matters as how to pay for the 24/7 nanny and afford the annual ski excursion to Gstaad.  I mean, can you think of how?  Huh? Huh?  Didn’t think so smart ass.

It’s just a matter of time before such enormous sacrifices drive them to drink, do drugs, divorce, have heart attacks, develop ulcers, etc.  It will ruin their lives, deprive them of any chance at lasting happiness and corrupt their morals. 

What kind of depraved soul would wish that on the top earning 1% of the population, especially when we’re going out of our way to bolster the morality and happiness quotients of everyone else?

*Do you know how big the bonus would have to be to be left with $742,006.40 after taxes?  Pretty fucking big.

[UPDATE: What Roy said.]

Hilzoy highlights a few of paragraphs from those Commie rabble-rousers WSJ:

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his colleagues worked the phones to try to line up support on Wall Street for the plan announced Monday. (…) Some bankers say they turned the conversations into complaints about the antibonus crusade consuming Capitol Hill. Some have begun “slow-walking” the information previously sought by Treasury for stress-testing financial institutions, three bankers say, and considered seeking capital from hedge funds and private-equity funds so they could return federal bailout money, thereby escaping federal restrictions. [...]

Bankers were shell-shocked, especially when Congress moved to heavily tax bonuses. When administration officials began calling them to talk about the next phase of the bailout, the bankers turned the tables. They used the calls to lobby against the antibonus legislation, Wall Street executives say. Several big firms called Treasury and White House officials to urge a more reasonable approach, both sides say. The banks’ message: If you want our help to get credit flowing again to consumers and businesses, stop the rush to penalize our bonuses.

In other words: “suck it, bitches”.  And, as the unofficial spokesbitch for bitches everywhere, I must say we’re feeling rather disinclined to suck it any more than we have already.  There seems to be an emerging consensus that nationalization of the banks and banking-related program activities is the endgame, and this is the sort of compassion-annihilating publicity which will ensure it ends on terms favorable to the middle class.  Governing out of anger may well be bad practice, but politicking from that position is tough to beat.

Alex Knapp hehs all over your indeedies:

I’ve been following the growing “Tea Party” and “Going Galt” movements with no small amount of amusement, in part because there is really just too much sweet, delicious irony surrounding both of these groups of people (who, I might add, are largely the same people). Here’s a few observations:

  • The “Tea Parties”, of course, started springing up in response to Obama’s stimulus package, a package whose largest fiscal component is a tax cut that will largely benefit the people in the income brackets who make up the Tea Party movement. That I find funny.
  • The folks in the blogosphere largely cheerleading the Tea Parties are the same folks in the blogosphere who cheerleaded the war in Iraq. So apparently, government intervention to the tune of $650 Billion is okay to spend when it comes to an unnecessary war that in no way advances American interests, but not okay when it comes to building bridges, cutting taxes, helping state governments meet budget shortfalls, or making sure that Americans don’t get covered in lava. Gotcha. [...] 
  • Some of the biggest proponents of the “Going Galt” bandwagon in the blogosphere and at Pajamas Media are Glenn Reynolds and his wife, both of whom have jobs (Professor of Law at a public university; forensic psychiatrist) that are dependent on public, taxpayer-funded institutions.

Finally and most ironic of all, none of the folks who attend “tea parties” or who will “go Galt” (one of these days, when they scrounge up the cash) have apparently noticed that we haven’t had anything approaching a free-market system for decades now, but apparently only now that the political party they don’t like is in power have they bothered to notice.

After all:

  • I didn’t see people sending bags of tea to their local city councils when tax dollars were taken from the middle class and used to support athletic stadiums and tax shelters for athletic teams worth hundreds of millions–sometimes billions of dollars.
  • I don’t recall anyone threatening to cut their own wages to protest the fact that the United States Armed Forces continues to contract with KBR despite the fact that KBR cannot account for billions of taxpayers funds that it has already received.
  • And I’ve done some searches, but I didn’t find any evidence of large scale protests aimed at a Republican Party which, over the last eight years, further doctored the tax and regulatory codes to favor large, public corporations and disfavor small businesses and individual entrepreneurs.

Yup, those are just about the most useful idiots you can scrounge up these days.  And given the current state of our glorious republic in decline, that’s saying a lot.

(via the Big Green Satan)

It’s the Summer of RAGE!!!

Singer Lloyd Marcus told the crowd assembled in Lake Eola Park on Saturday that he was going to give them his take on the first days of the Obama administration.

Then he shrieked.

Seems sort of, well, shrill. What has caused this unpatriotic outpouring of unhinged and out-of-the-mainstream criticism of a popular President in a time of war?

“This is maybe the greatest single gathering of God-fearing patriots in the history of Orlando, Florida,” local conservative radio host Bud Hedinger, who emceed the event, told the crowd.

Nevermind, then!  So, what seems to be the problem, God’s Patriots?

The attendees, many of whom said they’d heard about the rally on Hedinger’s radio show, brandished flags and homemade signs bearing slogans such as “Repeal the pork or our bacon is cooked” and “Obama lied, liberty died.”

“We’re really scared about what’s happening in our country,” said Debby Whisenand, 71, of Largo in Pinellas County. She waved a sign that read “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money” on one side, and “You can’t blame Bush anymore” on the other.

I guess we’ll be putting the “Deficits Don’t Matter“/”Clinton Did It!” signs in long-term storage, then.  But, tell us, now: what distinguishes this patriotic protest from the sort carried out by anti-American, anti-social elements?

Her feelings were shared by Lisa Feroli, one of the event’s organizers, who said that a similar fear motivated her to e-mail Hedinger with the idea for the Orlando Tea Party.

“The goal was to get people united, to let people know that they aren’t alone in their feelings on despair,” Feroli said. “We want to speak out against the push toward socialization that we feel is taking place in our country.”

It’s about time somebody did.  Down With Society!
teapartyorlandogalt1

The lack of mainstream media (that’s “MSM”, if yer hep) coverage given to this Retirees Against W.I.C. and/or America countercultural moment is, indeed, shameful.  I mean, when the flickering lights of conservative talk radio and a full-court press from the Jingosphere can whip up crowds almost a third as big as an Arena Football League (R.I.P.) regular season game, you know that you are living in historic days.  Glenn Beck’s porcine face says so.  FOX News says so.  Chuck Norris is assembling a glorious Revolutionary People’s Soviet to rule the breakaway republic of Chopsockystan.  People all over America are “Going Galt” by saying they coulda been millionaires if only Barack Obama wasn’t pouring socialist salt on their game, and then refusing to be millionaires out of spite.  Indeed, the entire conservative counterculture is united in their belief that America must be destroyed, its corruption confirmed by its rejection of conservatives.  The giant papier-mâché puppets are at most 6 months away.

Josh Marshall, The Point.  The Point, Mr. Josh Marshall.  I don’t believe you two have met:

I had heard this AIG bonus bill described as being more or less narrowly tailored to claw back AIG’s bonuses. That in fact was why some people were saying it might amount to some sort of unconstitutional action since it focused on a narrow class of individuals. But that’s not what this is about at all. Unless I’m misunderstanding this, it applies to the entirety of the concentrated financial sector — all TARP recipients talking over $5 billion. [...]

But it’s not clear to me why a couple, both of whom work in the financial services industry [for a company which the taxpayers are bailing out -ed.], and make $150,000 each should essentially have their entire bonuses taken back in taxes.

Are you on acid?

Because they didn’t earn it, maybe?  Because if they were working for any other industry where they’d fucked the collective dog to the extent the financial services industry has, they wouldn’t even have a job?  Because while 40-odd million Americans have no health care, these folks get $300,000/year plus bennies plus a bonus?  Because fuck them?

Ruth Marcus don’t get it:

Could we put down the pitchforks for just a moment and have a reasonable discussion about the bonuses at American International Group?

No thank you.

The problem with close-reading back-and-forths about the fine points of the AIG bonuses is that, however well-intentioned, the AIG bonuses are not The Point.  These bonuses, Dubya’s speaking fees, Paris Hilton’s diamond-encrusted dashboard are rounding errors on the $10+ trillion economic clusterfuck, and poor Paris really didn’t help cause it.  The Point is that these situations exemplify, for a great many regular people, a fundamental unfairness in American life, which is that the rich get over on everybody else.  When times are good, the rich benefit disproportionally.  When times are bad, and it’s entirely their fault, they get bailed out by the rest of us.  So it goes.

I’m a liberal.  I don’t believe in Fairness.  Some people are luckier than others, the powerful will get what they want (that’s a fair definition of “power”), none of these asymmetries ever seem to work out in my favor, and I’m pretty sure I’m getting a cold sore.  That said, there are degrees of economic inequality, and the last ten years has seen this inequality deliberately exacerbated.  It is past time for a pushback.  If the AIG outrage is where it starts, then I guess it can start there.  I’m not getting bogged down in the details.

Of course, the danger is that libertarians will “Go Galt“, abandoning the collectivist, statist, parasitic Liberal Fascist dystopia of Obamerica and retreating to a world of heroic individualism where a man can be truly free to make his fortune with no obligations except to himself, and perhaps a few like-minded and similarly superior comrades.   Why anyone is supposed to care how much time these losers spend playing WoW, I certainly don’t know, but we here at the Institute believe in taking every threat seriously.

ITEM:

parispinkbentley

PARIS HILTON is having a £200,000 diamond-encrusted dashboard made for her pink Bentley. [...]

Paris bought the Bentley in December as a Christmas present to herself.

She had it sprayed pink and the Bentley badge replaced with her own initials. The upholstery, grille and hubcaps are also pink and the car has a tint on the windows to prevent photographs being taken of her inside.

She gushed: “I’ve just always wanted a pink car.

“I think when you’re a little girl and you have the Barbie Corvette you’re always like, ‘Oh, I wish I had a car like this one day.’

“I think it just comes from being a fan of Barbie for so long.”

So, was it the empty plastic head or the absence of a human soul which touchedyou so deeply?  Enquiring minds want to know.

ITEM:

He was often a man of malaprops — e.g. “Is our children learning?” — but former President George W. Bush will be getting $150,000 a speech when he hits the hustings later this month.

Bush is charging a six-figure fee, plus private jet transportation or first class for a party of four – when he launches onto the lecture circuit. The former president’s first gig, entitled “A conversation with George W. Bush,” is scheduled for March 17th in Calgary, Alberta.

We got Gretsky.  Seems fair.  If you can’t get to Canada, you can catch the comedy stylings of Marty Peretz when he opens during the Hell leg of this tour, which will last from Not Soon Enough until Forever.

ITEM:

We learned over the weekend that AIG had, last Friday, distributed more than $160 million in retention payments to members of its Financial Products Subsidiary, the unit of AIG that was principally responsible for the firm’s meltdown. Last October, AIG agreed to my Office’s demand that no payments be made out of its $600 million Financial Products deferred compensation pool. While this was a positive step, we were dismayed to learn after the fact that AIG had made multi-million dollar payments out of its separate Financial Products retention plan on Friday. [...]

As you may know, my Office yesterday subpoenaed AIG for the names of those who received these bonuses, and we plan to do everything necessary to enforce compliance. American taxpayers deserve to know where their money is going, and AIG’s intransigence and desire to obscure who received these payments should not be tolerated. Already my Office has determined that some of these bonuses were staggering in size. For example:

• The top recipient received more than $6.4 million;

• The top seven bonus recipients received more than $4 million each;

• The top ten bonus recipients received a combined $42 million;

• 22 individuals received bonuses of $2 million or more, and combined they received more than $72 million;

• 73 individuals received bonuses of $1 million or more; and

• Eleven of the individuals who received “retention” bonuses of $1 million or more are no longer working at AIG, including one who received $4.6 million;

Again, these payments were all made to individuals in the subsidiary whose performance led to crushing losses and the near failure of AIG. Thus, last week, AIG made more than 73 millionaires in the unit which lost so much money that it brought the firm to its knees, forcing ~ taxpayer bailout. Something is deeply wrong with this outcome. I hope the Committee will address it head on.

Things are tough all over, it would appear, though perhaps some have it tougher than others.  Who are we to judge?  As Christopher said:

Somehow it’s always reasonable to hurt the poor as a way to make them shape up. Tougher bankruptcy laws, welfare reform, it’s all good social engineering.

But if you talk about hurting the rich to make them reform, it’s terrible. Taking money away from a guy with plenty more to spare is worse then taking money away from a person with none left.

Have I mentioned “fuck them”?  Have I?  I only ask because fuck them.

The GOP: the party of crazy randomness.

Bill Kristol: we must exploit the populist rage at the AIG bailout!

Doughbob: we must not exploit the populist rage at the AIG bailout!

13 year old CPAC star and Twitter enthusiast John McCain: we should exploit the populist rage at AIG to make up some facile crap about how we shouldn’t have bailed them out!

Mel Martinez: we must not tell this company AIG which we, the government, own what to do about its bonuses!

(That last link has the bonus what-the-hell? of Chuck Grassley suggesting the proper response is the ritual suicide of business executives. Not your father’s GOP!)

They’re not intellectually bankrupt so much as gone deep in to intellectual hock to regain their fortunes buying commemorative plates and tulip bulbs.  Look for Newt Gingrich’s new book “The Dumb Idea Bubble, And Why Now Is The Time To Buy”.

Seriously at some point when they’re done with this insanity they’ll have to convene some kind of GOP Year Zero retreat to learn basic political competence. “Item one: what is this thing you call a ‘memo’?”

So instead of solving all of humanity’s poblems with my weblog, here are music videos.

Utopia tomorrow.

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