March 2009


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.

The TV News today:

PAUL SOLMAN: Of all the cultures you’ve studied that have tried to deal with severe economic dislocations, what’s the marker of resiliency?

 

JARED DIAMOND: It seems to me that one of the predictors of a happy versus an unhappy outcome has to do with the role of the elite or the decision-makers or the politicians or the rich people within the society.

If the society is structured so that the decision-makers themselves suffer from the consequences of their decisions, then they’re motivated to make decisions that are good for the whole society, whereas if the decision-makers can make decisions that insulate themselves from the rest of society, then they’re likely to make decisions that are bad for the rest of society.

PAUL SOLMAN: Case in point, says Diamond, the place they call the city of New Orleans.

JARED DIAMOND: One could ask, why is it that, for 10 years, people around New Orleans dithered and they wouldn’t adopt these plans for a few hundred million dollars to build the dikes? And part of the reason is that there’s geographic segregation in New Orleans, where the rich people live on the higher ground and knew perfectly well that they were less exposed to problems from flooding.

PAUL SOLMAN: Compare that to the Netherlands, he says, where the system of dikes is considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

JARED DIAMOND: There aren’t any mansions on top of the dikes. Everybody is living down below in the polders. And they know — the politicians and rich people know that, if the dikes failed, they would drown. [...]

PAUL SOLMAN: But to the extent that this economic dislocation affects the wealthy, that’s good?

 

JARED DIAMOND: I think I would like to see the rich suffer even more and — and the politicians suffer even more.

PAUL SOLMAN: Because it would be good for us?

 

 

JARED DIAMOND: Yes, because they would then be motivated to solve all of our problems, and they wouldn’t have the sense that, “It’ll be OK for us.”

This – along with the need for money – would be a very good reason to make the rich pay for everything.  Also a good reason: because fuck them.  But how to do it?  There are arguments against raising the income tax, particularly during a recession – you should let the wealth trickle down, we shouldn’t do anything to discourage investment, because it’s “class warfare”.  Fine.  Bring back the Death Tax, except this time, bring it back at 100%.

People who become wealthy are certainly very lucky, but they also must have done something which some people consider very useful.  Maybe they are good at business, or very smart, or they can hit a baseball very well, or whatever – I doubt anybody really deserves to make $1 million a year, no matter what they do, but obviously the wallets of America disagree with me here.  But being born rich is not a useful skill, and anyway, most rich kids are huge douchebags (I speak here as an expert, having seen every Bad News Bears movie multiple times).  Think about the rich kids in public life: George W. Bush, Jonah Goldberg, Bill Kristol, George Steinbrenner, Paris Hilton, etc.  Dumb, angry, entitled, douchebags.  So, when you think about it, taking away a burdensome inheritance and forcing them to deal with life’s problems like the rest of us is a kindness, and will help our nation’s fortunate sons and daughters be happier, more productive, and more connected to the lives and concerns of their fellow citizens.  The nasty politics, the drug habits, the superior attitude – these are all signs of profound social and spiritual alienation.  So while society would be taking away “their” money, they would be receiving something infinitely more valuable in return: LOVE.  Because that’s what life is all about.

And also because fuck them.

John Stewart on Cramer:

I can’t think of a single media critic (who doesn’t come from a far-right perspective) who is as consistantly as effective as John Stewart.  He’s not replaceable.  Proof: this comes by way of profootballtalk.com, which is, by any measure you care to use, not Daily Kos.

No matter how much joy there is in one’s life – and these days, in my little corner of the world, there is a fair bit – one can always find room for more. I find this is especially true when it comes to that most radiant and perfect joy of all Earthly joys: Joy in the Misfortune of Others. Today, the New Republic looks at the latest tear-stained chapter in the sad, sad story of Pajamas Media. Let’s read it together, shall we?

Getting fired is never easy, but the brush-off that bloggers at the Pajamas Media Ad Network received this January was particularly callous. “I just received a Dear John form letter,” says Jeff Goldstein, a libertarian and mixed martial artist who writes on the blog Protein Wisdom.

Aaaaaanyway.  All the bloggers who got fired thinks bossman Roger Simon sold out the Punk Rock Revolution, and Simon doesn’t care because he’s got Joe the Plumber, and it’s all BAAAWWWW and butthurt because everyone was supposed to get filthy rich Photoshopping dicks on Obama’s face or whatever because everybody knows the internet turns retarded into gold.  I’d pay actual money to see them all Ultimate Fight about it, but I suspect all we’ll get is continued bitching about the ever-expanding pool of enemies denying them their Constitutional right to earn a living doing jack shit.

- The Editors is a liberal and hip hop impresario who writes on the blog The Poor Man.

Curv3ball adding:

This just in: Footage from Goldstein’s first mixed martial arts fight.  I believe that’s Jeff sporting the stylish headband.  And nunchucks. 

He’s gonna be rich.  Rich I tell ya.

Climate change.  On the one hand, every scientific body of national or international standing accepts the basic findings of human influence on recent climate change, and mainstream economists are in broad agreement that taking action to reverse or mitigate warming is both affordable and necessary.

On the other hand, the President of the Czech Republic, recalling that sprin 40 years ago when the Soviets sent solar-powered tanks rolling through Prague and forced their radical environmentalism on his country, says it’s a Commie conspiracy.  Who to believe?  If you are a libertarian, the choice is clear.

Now, it does seem odd to randomly accept the ideosyncratic views of an obscure Eastern European leader with no particular expertise in any relevent discipline over the consensus of the overwhelming majority of highly-qualified, dedicated experts, doesn’t it?  HA!  You have fallen for my trap!  By tacitly admitting your befuddlement, you have proven yourself ignorant of the Libertarian Academy, an entire parallel system of intellectual inquery and credentialing completely outside the Commie conspiracy which, since the fall of Communism, has brainwashed or cowed every scientist, every economist, and every world leader but one.  Carefully designed by John Stossel, Leonard Cohen, and the whole gang at Reason magazine, this completely de-pinko-fied list of the foremost Libertarian-approved authorities from in and around New Europe will enable you to Go Galt from the whole collectivist-statist “Knowing What You’re Talking About” global conspiracy!

For expert advice on this tricky question: Simply consult:
What is the latest scientific thinking on global climate change, and what are the best available policy solutions? Václav Klaus
Does a Hilbert curve or z curve achieve better clustering when applied as an access method for an arbitrary spatio-temporal database? A 2/3rds majority of the Kiev Society of Model Airplane Enthusiasts.
Is this lump cancerous? Jaromir Jagr
What is the mass of the tau neutrino? Miss Teen Latvia 1987 (runner-up)
If I receive a refund from taxes payed taxes to a foreign government in FY 2007, do I claim this as income for FY 2008?  Will this retroactively effect my claimed earned income credit in FY 2007? Udo Kier
What are the likely long-term impacts of the new federal stimulus bill on the commodities futures market? t.A.T.u.
Can one usefully apply genetic algorism to multi-hierarchical complex mechanical structure scheme innovation design? Jean-Claude Van Damme, “The Muscles of Brussels”
What are the implications of surjectivity to the study of the exponential maps of Lie groups? Dino Rađa
How did Locke’s “corpuscularian hypothesis” differ from Scholastic-Aristotelianism? Balki Bartokomous

They laughed at Gallileo too, you know.  That’s what Klaus Kinski told me, anyways.

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