Secret Banking Sham

Posted in Policy, Snark and Snarkier, Politics at 2:20 pm by steve

I just bought these great glasses. I put them on and everyone says “My, you look thinner.” Now, when I go into banks tellers smile at me. When I go into restaurants, waitresses smile at me. When I go into gymnasiums people nod approvingly. I walked into my doctor’s office wearing them. They took my weight and blood pressure. The doctor looked at the numbers and said “Well, I wouldn’t really worry about these numbers because obviously they are irrellevant to you. I can see that you aren’t fat.” These are really great glasses. And, in fact, they are so good that they make me want to get out more. Who knows maybe I will eventually come to resemble the new me everyone sees. Or perhaps not.

The magic glasses parable came to me as I was contemplating the article at the Economist (link above) advocating more transparency and less regulation. At first I saw it differently; but I think it is useful to consider the possiblity that our society is simultaneously embracing more government involvement and less transparency in the world of finance. That, in fact, if banks get to magically make risk go away by using less conservative and more abstract valuation models they may be donning the kind of magic glasses we talked about; that may make them look better in the short term. But in the longer term it is bound to make them less stable when downturns occur.

I will be the first to advocate for temporary government involvement because it is better than collapse - which seems the only other alternative. But long term governmental direct participation industry, commerce, and allocation of resources always tempts corruption. Lack of transparency aids in hiding corruption. The only answer is free markets and sound, well enforced regulation. The question for government is not whether it ought to govern (as the whole of the Republican party apparatus appeared to advocate for some time) but how?

The answer is “well.” And the means to that is by discussing policy openly. While I just happen to agree with most of Obama’s policies, it is not his policies that I find so deliciously refreshing as it is his style of governance. He welcomes discussion and is open to dissent. He proposes key principles upon which we can agree and he lets us focus on working out the details in open discussion. This kind of discussion is illuminated by transparency. Transparency - the free and open flow of all information crucial to making a decision - is of vital importance to the proper function of markets and democratic governments. Systematic behaviors that stifle transparency or promote bad judgement in light of good information ought to be considered corrosive to the very liberal principles upon which these institutions are built.


Strategy Session

Posted in Rant and Rave, Snark and Snarkier, Politics at 9:53 pm by steve

The Secret Plan* to Portray Obama as a Pederast

I was sweeping the floors down at the neocon headquarters the other day when I overheard a few prominent neocons discuss a few dirty tricks that would make Nixon’s “dirty tricks” crew green with envy.

K: What do you think, is “Obama the Marxist” idea getting traction?
F: People are idiots. We tell them a hundred times that Obama is a Marxist and he will be a Marxist.
K: So where are we in that process?
G: Not far along. We need to swing about fifteen percent of the electorate and any movement so far is much less than the margin of error.
K: There’s lots of time before the election. Think we can reach the middle on this one?
G: We can certainly energize the base. We can swing a few of the aging “better dead than red” “yellow dog Democrats” in the South. We can give a lot of traditional Republicans second thoughts about abandoning their beloved GOP. They might go into the booth intending to vote for Obama but emerge having voted for McCain.
K: Whether they realize it or not. (All Laugh.)
G: We expect to count the vote this time around, too.
K: Okay, so the Marxist thing doesn’t completely solve the problem, it just stops the bleeding. What else do we have?
F: There is race. As I said before “I say Obama is a racist. And unless he can prove otherwise, he is one.”
K: Sound’s like children’s game of cooties.
F: That’s politics today, isn’t it, Bill?
K: But of course, you are right, Bill.
G: “I know it’s true, like all fundies:
God wrote it clearly on my undies.”
F: Don’t knock divine revelation; it takes whole peoples where reason dare not go.
K: Race is tricky ground, because if one appeals to race explicitly, the process backfires. But there are dozens of indirect approaches. The swiftboating approach is a good one. Produce fake associates who portray him as racist. Guilt by association is good, too. Portraying his preacher as anti-American was a great start.
F: Why not provoke a few of the more volatile black leaders. High visibility guys like Sharpton or Jackson tend to grate on the independent voter. There are even non-racist Democrats who find the demagoguery of these guys to be strongly distasteful. If guys like this could be broadcast saying outragiously racist things in a speech supporting Obama, we could turn half the white voters in America away from Obama.
G: It’s a thought. Obama would be in the difficult position of having to choose between distancing himself from men who are closest to his core supporters and allowing guilt by association to poison his candidacy. In one case he alienates his base. In the other case he is painted as a racist.
K: We have some good speechwriters who work for Democrats. Let’s see what we can do. If we can get the right connections, we’ll set up a media event.
F: What about the Islamist tag? I mean, he has an Islamic name.
G: Hussein, mother of all bad guys in the Mideast. And Osama, father of all bad guys in the Mideast. Son of a divorced white woman and a black foreigner. How does such an evil person even get to be a candidate? (Chuckles)
K: Pillory Hillary. Rush did most of the groundwork. But you wrote the book on it, Jonah.
G: It was a close call.
K: The Islamist tag seems to work pretty well with the poor white trash. It might make a difference in the heart of the Appalachians. But the real question is whether the independent voter can be persuaded that Barak Hussein Obama is actually an islamofascist. If he chooses Hillary, it will be easier. Even if he himself is not one, he associates with them. End of story.
G: But if he doesn’t choose Hillary?
K: It’s not clear to me that there is a lot to gain from this fight other than to energize the base.
G: But the Sharpton thing can be exploited here. Sharpton is viewed widely as also being antisemitic. So if one could provoke Sharpton to really alienate every Jewish person in America, one might swing a big chunk of the liberal Jewish vote.
K: We’ll work that into the racism project. It will be a good two-fer, racism and anti-semitism. What else?
G: That he is a crook, and a pederast.
K: Crook? What does that get you?
G: I see your point. Nobody gives a shit that Dubya broke the law. Over and over. Law means nothing. But sex: everyone understands sex.
F: You think you can get that to stick?
K: The idea is to sow seeds of doubt, then nail the issue at the last minute. On the issue of Marxism, we just keep repeating the same old stuff. We have dozens of footsoldiers; guys at think tanks, guys who mysteriously resigned from Congress, and so on. On the more scary issues we use more subtle tactics. Like starting the rumor that the guy denies being a pederast.
F: Ha, Ha, why would anyone deny being a pederast if they weren’t one? There simply would be no question.
G: But that’s just the start, right? The rumors of denials will just set up the mental frame for the big putsch.
K: We have radio talk-show hosts and guests who are perfect for the job. They will float the rumors for weeks; and the rumors will be persistently lambasted in the “liberal media.” This will keep the idea in circulation. Meanwhile, find someone who has a bone to pick with Obama personally, someone who has a twelve year old son. Pay them a few hundred thousand to claim that Obama solicited sexual favors from their son. Hold the press conference on Halloween to announce the charges. By the time the law-suits are settled and people understand what really happened, McCain will be out of office.
G: It’s a slam-dunk. I have to give you and your father credit, Bill. Over the last fifty years you have reduced public discourse to pure pablum and reduced the reasoning powers of the public to the sub-moronic level; their capacity for critical thinking is inferior to that of the nematode. Fifty years ago the kind of approach you advocate would have been unthinkable. Today it’s actually the most effective approach.
K: You give me too much credit, Johah. The American impulse to be motivated in political choices by material gains rather than by moral reasoning, and to be people of action rather than people of thought has always made them perfect candidates for this kind of treatment. It’s just an accident of history that we’re the first people in a long time to really capitalize on the gap. So long as Americans choose warriors and giants of commerce as heroes rather than philosophers, true moral leaders, and insightful men of science, our jobs will be easy.
G: I’ll tell you, this is the team to be on. There’s some serious thinking and long term planning going on. Thinking up dirty tricks is diabolically fun. It pays very well. And we never lose.
K: We never lose.

*The conversation is purely fictional. Any resemblance it might bear to persons, institutions, events, conversations orl dirty tricks - real, planned, or imagned by others - is purely coincidental.


Democrat Plants at the Republican Debates

Posted in Snark and Snarkier, Politics at 7:34 pm by steve

Evil Democrats have been working overtime this year to embarass the bejesus out of Republican candidates. And it’s just not right. It’s just not fair. Take this, for example. During a recent debate a person who is giving paid advice to the Clinton campaign asked a question of the Republican candidates. I mean, how fair is that? These guys are candidates for the Presidency of the United States, for gosh sakes. It’s arguably the most powerful and influencial position in the world. What right do people who might have opinions that are different from the candidates have to ask potentially embarassing questions, especially questions about matters of public concern and public policy?

After all, recent history has shown us that Republican Presidents are answerable to nobody. So once one of these persons assumes the Presidency they will not be expected to answer these kinds of questions. We have been taught during this presidency that it’s just not done. So how can it right or proper to ask Republican Candidates for the Office difficult or embarassing questions?

Things like “Do you think America is a good country?” That’s okay. Things like “Can you tell us what you had for breakfast?” that’s borderline. It requires a President or candidate who can remember that far back or at least who can clearly articulate some breakfast-related food item. For Republican Presidents since Richard Nixon this kind of question borders on badgering. There is a risk that they will not be able to answer it. In some cases it is only because of memory problems. In more recent ones, no sensory information penetrates, so the existential world is such a blur that the distinction between a breakfast menu item and a tenet of existential philosophy is an impossible one. This is true even for those who don’t know any tenets of existential philosophy.

Questions of national policy are completely inappropriate. This is because The President, aka, The Decider - see also the one who decides, the same all-knowing and all-wise person - has decided on national policy all on his own. Only he knows; Only he comprehends. The policy is handed down to him from God like the ten commandments to Moses, only without the use of stone tablets. And any questions, including questions that are simply meant to clarify His position on policy issues are strictly forbidden. Asking means there is some question. And the idea that there is some question is suggestive of wavering or unsteadiness or unclear leadership. So asking is forbidden.

Polite people will probably notice, too, that asking a President to clarify his position on a policy issue when he is incapable of articulating what he has had for breakfast is a little like asking a boa constrictor to sing Italian opera knowing that it cannot even hum a simple children’s tune.

No, it is simply wrong to expect a typical panel of Republican Presidential Candidates to answer hard questions. They are practicing for the august position of President.

In the interest of promoting democracy and good taste I have assembled a list of approved questions for Republican Candidates.

1) Do you like America?
2) What is it about America that you love so much?
3) Is America’s military powerful?
4) Is America’s military very powerful?
5) What is it about America’s military that makes it so powerful?
6) Terrorists are bad people, right?
7) Terrorists are really bad people, right?
8) What is it about terrorists that makes them bad?
9) The President protects all of us from bad people, right?
10) Many people have compared you to Ronald Reagan, what do you say to that?

Pretty much every other question is off-limits because it requires the candidate to discuss or approach discussing some issue of public policy about which there is or might be some controversy. And that means there might be issues of disagreement among voters. And if issues of disagreement are broached in presidential debates there is a possibiility that people will vote for candidates on the basis of whether candidates positions seem reasonable or unreasonable. It will encourage debate about issues that are divisive, thorny, embarassing. And it will lead to the misapprehension that people are alowed to have an opinion about these issues that is not prescribed by The President.

So it is practically criminal that people, especially Democrats, ask difficult questions of Republican candidates. Really, there ought to be a law…


Fox Wins Court Battle to Make Up News

Posted in Social, Snark and Snarkier at 6:59 am by steve

Truth, sometimes, is stranger than fiction. But Fox news does not find truth strange enough or compelling enough to sustain a news program; fiction is evidently required. Exaggerations and outright falsehoods are part of any well-wrought news program, in their view. And the FCC agrees.

The story is well summarized here. It starts in December 1996 when reporters Steve Wilson and Jane Aker were hired by a Fox affiliate in Tampa. They were assigned to cover a story about Monsanto’s Bovine Growth Hormone.

Fox executives and their attorneys wanted the reporters to use statements from Monsanto representatives that the reporters knew were false and to make other revisions to the story that were in direct conflict with the facts. Fox editors then tried to force Akre and Wilson to continue to produce the distorted story.

But the reporters refused to comply and threatened to tell the FCC. They were fired. In 2000 they won $425,000 in damages in a jury trial. In 2003, the Second District Court of Appeals overturned the verdict. Fox argued that the first ammendment allows them to lie. The FCC said it violated “policy” but it was not a “rule” or a “law.”

So there you have it. Fox has fought a legal battle to allow it to broadcast fictions, lies, fabrications, and falsehoods under the pretense of delivering news. And with the support of the FCC it has won.

Hey. You can’t make this stuff up!

Thanks to Arizona Eclectic for the heads up.


Beware the IslamoDemocratiFacistas !!!!

Posted in Snark and Snarkier at 6:40 pm by steve

Daniel Pipes warned us:

Muslims appear growingly aware that the terroristic ways of Osama bin Laden offer a less successful path to realizing the Islamist goals of imposing the Shari’a and creating a caliphate do than the political, lawful ways of Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan, Turkey’s newly-triumphantly reelected prime minister. Whereas terrorism stimulates its own antibodies and offers no plausible path to power, working through the system is proving successful in such diverse places as Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Iraq, and Bangladesh and The West.

Translation: Moslems are realizing that the ways of Bin Laden are less successful in achieving a Shari’a caliphate than democratic means. It’s no longer necessary to be quite so fearful of terrorists. No. But be afraid of democracy!!! Be very afraid.

Never mind that in this case Turkey was a Islam state for a millennium before it became a secular state about a century ago. And Turkey’s Moslems have no reason to be less fundamental than, say, Israel’s Jews or South Carolina’s Baptists.

This is a popular theme among the National Review crowd. In their narrative the IslamoDemocratiFacistas first move into nations inhabited by nice white folks. Then they reproduce faster but fail to assimilate. Then it happens: you go to sleep one night in Paris or Antwerp or Zurich and you wake up in Sarajevo or Teheran or Isfahan. (Read Clair Berlinski’s Menace in Europe and Mark Shteyn’s America Alone). “But,” the agument continues, “somehow, if Dubya just reads all my e-mail and pays independent contractors huge amounts of money to make airline travel onerous enough for anyone who disagrees with his political agenda, none of this can happen. Instead it will be 1950 and we can wake up happily to the comforting sounds or Joseph McCarthy’s inquisition on the radio.”

Duck and cover.

Great comments at Sadly, No!


The Goddess of RightSpeak

Posted in Snark and Snarkier at 5:32 am by steve

It starts with a choice:

smoking mirrors or the real firestorm.

Are we all understood? Comprende? Gazpacho? No? Hint: it has to do with “what’s brewing.” Never brewed a smoking mirror or a firestorm?
Perhaps this will help:

to put a little testing water between the hideous sandwiched proposal of a third-world nation, let’s look at some of the downers associated with this type of so-called union.

Where to start? A “sandwiched proposal of a third-world nation.” Got me. “A little testing water.” Still clueless. “Downers.” Hmm the last time I was reading about those, it was in the context of being tested for BSE, mad cow disease.

More clues, perhaps.

I’ll buy that baloney, at least for now

We seem to be on the right track. After all, baloney might connect somehow with that sandwich thing we just heard about. It’s an essay about baloney sandwiches and mad cows smoking mirrors, I guess. I have never seen a cow smoking a mirror; but I guess that explains the rarity of the affliction.

What’s this talk of union? I thought the guys who make baloney did so in states where slave labor was still the standard?

Oh, wait. I seem to have hacked away the operative phrase: “North American Union.” That’s what it’s all about. All of it. Capiche? Still a little hazy? Hmm. maybe the mad cow thing was not germane to the interpretation after all?

Perhaps its more helpful to consider what all this has to do with the topography of the pavement at the bottom of the Grand Canyon:

Considering that the trade deficit in America is already deeper than the Grand Canyon — who is really going to prosper? Our leaders are so bumfuzzled and baffled they are leading us down so many dark alleys, it will be a miracle if we see daylight again.

Except how is it that dark alleys keep one from seeing daylight? Dark alleys are not quite so dark in the daylight, no? Even blind alleys don’t actually prevent sunrise. Then there is the question of how many dark alleys one can march down at once. Surely there is a physical limit. I guess if I were to march down too many at once I wouldn’t see daylight; but it would not have much to do with the darkness of the alleys per se. Would it?

I can answer the first question, though. It depends. But it’s a good question. And I am quite certain that anything more definitive must have something to do with the Grand Canyon and the darkness of alleys. And with making a clear distinction between baffled and bumfuzzled.

Still, there must be something more. Perhaps it has to do with criminal justice:

Canada and Mexico have abolished the death penalty, refusing to impose it on the most horrendous crimes.

Good point; but I wonder, how does one appropriately punish a crime? Does one incarcerate a parking violation? How much time does a stolen watch serve? It takes a very peculiar state of mind to imagine how this would work or how it might help. And what would the appeal process look like?

By reading further I learn this has something to do with something more fundamentalist, namely the

enormous problem with the diversity of religion and other cultures trying to interfere with the Judea-Christians’ practice of “freedom of religion.”

Yes. Now it is all beginning to be clear. The cows are taking a break and the mirrors seem not nearly so enshrouded in haze. If all those Hindus and Moslems and damn Atheists would just stop interfering with our Judeo-Christian practice of “freedom of religion” we could all get on with the Inquisition in a quiet, orderly manner characteristic of a serious, free society.

Then we can concentrate on the real business of governing:

Boy, how convenient it will be to secretly transfer nuclear bombs, shoulder missiles, and everything else associated with warfare in mack trucks.

A little jest, surely: since when are nuclear bombs used for “warfare in Mack trucks”? Wouldn’t it ruin the effect? And could “shoulder missiles” be a reference to “shoulder launched missiles?” Here again, the same reservation applies.

Has the truck company in question somehow been demoted? Or was the punctuation a matter of economy. I wonder what a capital M goes for these days? There can hardly be any question that it is imported from China. Everything else is. Even liquidity.

Due to our stupidity, China enjoyed a $ 26 billion dollar surplus last month, while our trade deficit in the last month was probably triple that amount with the supposedly “most favored” nation in the world.

By considering the incremental cost of capitalization of the letter m, at least one writer is scrupulously avoiding the needless expansion of the trade deficit.

If, however, one cannot afford a capital M, then a gramatically correct sentence is out of the question. And one that clearly communicates an idea must be very expensive indeed. An essay composed almost entirely of such sentences is priceless.

Special thanks to Sadly, No for finding this gem. Comments there are priceless, too.


A Neocon Mass

Posted in Culture, Snark and Snarkier at 6:24 pm by steve


The following is a liturgical mass for the neocon. It celebrates the neocon God. It orients the neocon to his goal. It binds together the neocon practitioners into one practicing body.

The Chicago School Mass
- In memory of all the guys who taught us how to get power, manipulate fear and greed, and make tons of money.

(Enter to Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie)

Masters of the universe, rulers of worlds known and unkown, imagined and yet to be imagined, makers and destoyers of the world and its inhabitants, men of money, power, wealth, glory, intelligence, and incredible sexual apetites, we are gathered here together like Apollo and Zeus on Olympus, like Odin and Thor at Valhala, like Siegfried and Roy at the Mirage. Here today we celebrate Everlasting Omnipotence of the Glorious Greed, dedicate our selves to its hegemony, and promote the men who promote the cause.


Sprinkling of Money
Let us now share a moment of silence to allow our hearts to fill full and overflowing with the power of greed.
(Visual: Hundred dollar bills fall from the sky. An old man sits motionless. “What about greed,” asks a younster “look at all this money” “You call this money? Ha. Show me a government contract.”
Maynard Ferguson’s “Primal Scream” plays in the background. Huge projection screen shows tanks powering across the landscpe, airplanes in the sky, shiny glass cities in the desert.)

Opening Prayer
Greed is Great
Greed is Good
Let us Shove
And be Rude

Invocation of the Greed Spirit
Gregorian Chant (3 times)

You have got some and I want it.
You have got less but I need it.
I’ve got power; I’ll take it.
Open your wallet and shake it.


And Greed spoke to His People and they answered.

We are nice People — No were not!
We are good People — No were not!
We help the infirm — No we don’t!
We give to the poor — Nothing they might use!
We love our neighbor — When her husband’s away!
We work to make the world a better place — For us!
We believe in justice — So long as we always win!
We believe in fairness — So long as we have the advantage!
We believe in mercy — We will not incinerate a corpse twice!

Greed and Fear — the irresistable forces
Greed and Fear — the immovable objects
Geed and Fear — Our Janus God of yesterday
Geed and fear == Our Janus God of tomorrow


( Sung to All You Need is Love)

There’s nothing you can want that can’t be had.
There’s now way you can take that isn’t “bad.”
There no thing you can want that isn’t yours to take
It’s easy.
All you need is force, pal.
Force is all you need.
Force is all you need.


The ripe fruit of greed in the abstract
Takes great skill and cunning to extract.
To get you top dollar
Get a starched collar
And a Single Source Government Contract.

Ritual of Fear

Fear, the Holy Spirit of Greed Spoke; and the People Responded.

We fear nothing — but Brown Poople.
We loathe nothing — but penury.
We despise nothing — but foreigners.
We hate nothing — but weakness.

The world is full of hungry — Brown People
The world is full of penniless — Brown People
The world is full of foreign — Brown People
The world is full of weak — Brown People

They hate us for — Our liberty
They hate us for — Our cars
They hate us for — Our money
They ought to be — Behind bars.

Neocon Creed

We believe in one power,
Greed, the almighty,
Maker and mover,
Omnipotent shaker.

We believe in one Lord, Reagan,
The only son of Greed,
Magnificently begotten of the almighty:
Power from Power, Might from Might
Greed from Greed , Right from Right,
Self-made through sheer force of will.
By his Way are all things made.

For us and for our triumph
He rode out of the West.
By power of Trigger
He was borne across Flickering Screen,
And was made heroic.
For our sake he was elevated
to the highest post, then
was transmuted into pure spin.

In accordance with Prophesy
He transformed back into flickers
And rode off into the sunset.

Today he lives in our dreams
Protecting us from libruls and
the terrors of brown people.

We beileve in the reality of the Flickering Screen
from which Greed is fashioned
And by which eternal fear of brown people
Is transformed into a living, daily reason for existence.
It has spoken and Prophecied.

We believe in the Holy Neocon Church
We immerse ourselves in the perpetual baptism of Fear
We anticipate the resurrection of
A world controlled by Rich White men with Good Hair,
In this life and the Flickering Next.


Gloating over the Loot

Look! This is the End of Want.
Look! This is the Promised Land.
Look! A pile of loot bigger even than your own imagination:
A fleet of Humvees stretching past the horizon,
A airport full of airplanes.

You sit in the best seat, with the best company at the Opera
You sit in the best seat, with the best company at the Show
You command the best table at the restaurant
You command the highest commission at the firm.

A trail of attorneys makes you omnipotent
A train of accountants keeps you rich.
An ocean of fools makes you invincible
An endless supply of idiots hangs on your every word.

Who can touch you now?
Who can touch you in your glory?
Who has holds a candle to your flaming sun?
Your God Greed has made you pure
Your God Greed has lifted you to the heavens
In your towering greedmobile you overrun the cowering masses
You go where you will, and need no brothers.

Psalm of Inspiration — Eulogization of Chutzpah
In the desert of my want I call out to Greed:
Greed, Greed, give me what I want,
Greed, Greed, give me what I need.
The fire of lust then fills my being;
The fire of desire burns bright within.
Greed’s energies infuse my limbs;
Greed’s impetus makes my plans.

Before me stands the city
Rich with ripe fruit
Plump with voluptuous wenches.
I will enter the city
I will take what I want.

This man objects “It is not yours”
But I reply “Greed blesses most who takes most boldly.”
This man objects “You have no right”
But I reply “I have the charter signed by the King. What’s yours is his. What’s his is mine.”
This man objects “I will file in court”
But I reply “I own the judge. He eats or dies at my command.”
This man objects “I will creep into your house at night and murder your babes.”
“Ha Ha!” I reply “Report to my castle for guard duty tomorrow at ten.”

Yes. Yes.
I approach the city.
I will enter its gates
I will spare nothing.

The Ritual Awarding of the Contracts

We now celebrate the fruits of our efforts
We now celebrate the Gifts of Greed.

Here are this week’s contract awards

  1. A Systematic Method for the Creation of Irresistable Memes.
    Ichabod Asher. $360,000 Congratulations
  2. Invisible War: Planning, Prosecution, Preventing Disclosure
    Norman Galichnakov. $275,000 Congratulations
  3. Electronic Surveillance of the Brain. New method of Inquisition.
    Franz W.G. Schiller $150,000 Good Job
  4. Cloak of Invisibility an Evaluation of the Technology
    Ludwig H Kerfufflemuir $80,000 — Sensing an invisible theme here.
  5. Out of Sight, Out of Range - Invisibility on the Ground
    Norman Galichnakov $120,000. — There’s a busy fellow!

The Check Writing Ceremony
Let us open our checkbooks in praise of the almighty Greed without which our lives would be empty and our accounts would be overdue.

Reagan’s Prayer

Though I live in a world filled with brown people
I will fear no evil:
Greed’s invisible hand will produce handcuffs
To stay their hands.
Greed’s invisible hand will produce radar tracking towers
To protect me from their intrusion.
Greed’s invisible hand will fill my house with automatic weapons and vigilant guards.

My pantry overfloweth with C-Rations
My fatigues are pressed and spotless
My alarm system is tested and functional
My guards tote tasers and Berettas
They do a thousand push-ups a day.

Greed’s invisible hand will keep me connected with the powerful.
Greed’s invisible hand will make me popular and necessary.
Greed’s invisible hand will fill my electronic devices with contacts.
Greed’s invisible hand will deliver me the government contract.
Greed’s invisible hand will get me the lucrative book advance.

When dark clouds of fear roll over the land -
Clouds wrought by this same invisible hand,
Greed’s spirit of fear will produce nuclear bombs
That I might incinerate the cities of men in need
And vitrify the sands on which they breed.


The Blessing

May Greed bless you and keep you
May Greed’s countenance shine upon you
And bring you Gold
And everlasting lust


The Dismissal

Go forth into the land that Greed hath wrought
Go forth and take the loot none other could have bought
Go forth and make fools of men dumber than soil
Go forth and make trillions capturing oil.


Form derived from — Mass in a moment, a real mass that otherwise has absolutely nothing to do with this one.

Apropos of nothing: “Well, yes” he replied, “I can think of one difference between us and Nazis: we might have the benefit of learning from history, if we were inclined to do so. They made the same mistakes for the first time and did not have that opportunity.”


The Party Platform

Posted in Rant and Rave, Snark and Snarkier at 6:34 pm by steve

One of the marvelous things about the Democrats’ aikido approach to political issue formulation “exactly what he said, only a bit less so” is that they have driven the Republicans so far right that Barry Goldwater, were he alive today, would probably be pummelled and pelted into seclusion by jeers of the neocons and fundamentalists yelling “librul, fascist, ter’rist.”

So when we discover the real Republican agenda in a secret, encrypted document that we are not allowed to speak about, there is nothing there that can really surprise us: Here are some tasty tidbits from “Plans for a Great America”

  1. Require “Made in USA” labels and little embossed flags to be on all goods sold in the US.
  2. Outlaw burning, shredding, defacing, discarding, composting, marking or otherwise desecrating any object that bears the likeness of an American flag colorized or embossed.
  3. Ban marriage among “God-haters.” That would be people who do not belong to approved religions and to the official Party of the United States of America.
  4. Require that all Gays and Prostitutes relocate to the District of Columbia.
  5. Ban condom sales within 100 miles of any church, school, or interstate highway. District of Columbia is exempt.
  6. Nuke Iraq to free up troops for other invasions.
  7. Invade: Iran for their support of “terrorists,” Venezuela for no longer being an easy target of capitalist exploitation, and France for being French. Also to get their expertise on bread and nuclear reactors.
  8. Free trade deal with Aruba - keeping free enterprise safe for democracy.
  9. In the spirit of Enron, export the obligation to pay government debt instruments to offshore entities. These would be corporations who agree to assume the US government’s indebtedness for pennies on the dollar. Then, when the debts come due, they default and close up shop. Most of them would be corporations whose corporate offices are located within P.O. boxes in Aruba.
  10. Rescind any laws that restrain the flow of money between corporations and politicians. Giving us the “best government money can buy.”
  11. Require that all people who say things in public post $1 million bonds which may be forfeit if they say anything “unpatriotic.” Public is defined in such a way that this requirement extends to speech on airplanes, on shopping mall sidewalks, and in internet e-mail, on web sites, and in blogs. “Unpatriotic” is generally assumed to be what the president says it is.
  12. Cap taxes just as Social Security contributions are capped so that nobody pays more than $30,000 per year in tax, no matter how much they make. This will keep capital flowing out of te US and into underdeveloped nations such as Dubai. And Aruba.
  13. Inflate. Only foreigners and suckers hold cash or credit instruments. Smart people hold foreign assets or are in debt up to their eyeballs.
  14. Bigger prisons, tougher laws. Too many Americans disagree with us. We need to be more persuasive.
  15. Require that all votes in general elections and statewide elections be tallied on computer systems owned by The Party and operated by loyal party operatives.
  16. Require Party loyalty oaths to be administered to all people receiving jobs that are paid for by government funds. This would include positions in universities, work by private contractors, and so on.

Bear in mind: sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.


This Land: Of Guthrie and Ehrenreich

Posted in Culture, Snark and Snarkier at 12:08 am by steve

In a short but provocative essay at Alternet, Barbara Ehrenreich talks about the way natural beauty has been monopolized by the very rich and the reasonably rich. She ends the essay recalling Woodie Guthrie’s old classic “This Land.*”

In the spirit of fourth of July and of being subversive we rewrote the song to match the Eherenreich idea.

This land is their land, it is not our land
From the Brentwood Mansions to Manhattan Island
From the Jackson ski slopes to the Tampa condos
This land was made for him and her.

As I was walking along the mallway
I heard above me the floutist Galway
I smelled the lattes and frappucinos
This land was made for him and her


I drove my Prius across the nation
And on the radio they preached salvation
And all around me I got the message
This land was made for him and her


I saw a forest, a sign said “Posted”
The land was private, the owner boasted.
The owner visits a week a season
This land was made for him and her


The traffic jammed up as I was driving
A driver gestured “Go dumpster diving”
He pulled a pistol from his glove compartment
This land was made for him and her


Which, ironically must have been written in the 1930’s, bears its first copyright notice in 1956, and has been renewed over and over, leading one to wonder whether this folk song is made for you and me.


Farther Afield (2020)

Posted in Snark and Snarkier at 5:35 pm by steve

In a lightly attended press conference in the basement of an obscure beyond-the-beltway building spokesman for the Fatherland Security Authority announced today a new safety initiative. In a steady and clear voice, Alfred B Duncer announced:

Bearing in mind that corn has become a strategic resource whose role in the production of food and fuel has become central to The American Way of Life, the FSA hereby declares it illegal to use or possess photographic cameras, camera bodies, camera lenses, film, lights, or any other photographic paraphenelia within 2 miles of a location where corn, or any of its derivatives may be cultivated, transported, stored, processed or distributed. Nor shall any buildings or structures or natural resources involved in any of these processes be photographed. Doing so is a misdemeanor offense with a fine not to exceeed $100,000.

Here are some of the follow-up Questions:

Q: Mr. Duncer, serious concerns have been raised about the fact that the president’s fine head of hair is deteriorating. Is this a strategic problem as well?
A: Lucy, as you know, we at the FSA do not comment on the President’s health.
Q: Will photographers prosecuted under this provision be tortured?
A: The US does not torture. But, sure, if this guy turns out to have bad intentions we are going to find out. No matter what it takes.
Q: How does one find out if a potential corn-field photographer has bad intentions?
A: We don’t talk about interrogation techniques; But don’t underestimate the harm that can be done by exploiting simple information. Our goal is to eliminate all possibilty of that happening.
Q: Some people, when they hear about this, are going to say it is an overreaction; what do you say to that?
A: As we explained, corn is the very basis of all American activity. we have to keep it safe.
Q: But isn’t there a difference between actually harming corn and just photographing it?
A: In the opinion of the FSA any body of information that could or might or may be used to put our Fatherland at risk is too important to be disseminated to the public. You just don’t know who might be listening or watching. You just don’t know what ill intentions they might have.
Q: Some might argue that there is a difference between photographing something that represents a huge capital investment like a bridge or a refinery and photographing a cornfield.
A: Everything we can do to make it safer for Americans we will do. That is all.

A few questions remain. For instance, sunlight is a resource used in the cultivation of corn; are we to believe that any photographic effort that employs sunlight violates this executive directive? Has this equivocal notion of what may be photographed been left equivocal on purpose? What did Mr Duncer mean when he said “eliminate all possibility of that happening” in reference to getting simple information? We already need to use our passports to enter libraries and to get internet access. And technical libraries of all sorts require special credentials for access. Periodicals are nothing but picture magazines with fluff. And even arts and literature courses are being dropped from high school and college course offerings. It’s all public relations, communications, and accounting. Nobody below the age of sixty-five can remember what information was.

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