Archive for April, 2009

Sarah Palin, Femisogynist?

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Speaking of self-parodies, Sarah Palin can’t help herself.  In particular, her new appointee for Alaska Attorney General Wayne Anthony Ross is a real treat.

I donkey punch with that hand.

I donkey punch with that hand.

 

 

The anti-gay, anti-Eskimo, anti-environment, anti-gay Eskimo environmentalist Ross is poised to become the top lawyer  in Alaska.  And in the state with the worst rate of sexual assault in the Union, Ross previously aired some views to the advocacy group “DADS”  that may deter any young female from moving to Fairbanks for the long winter nights. 

“If a guy can’t rape his wife…who’s he gonna rape” 

Ahh, to be a victim in Alaska.  Quite a gentleman.  If he doesn’t get approved by the legislature, he can always get a job with the Taliban.  And of course he has something to say to the woman with the black eye that doesn’t listen:

 “There wouldn’t be an issue with domestic violence if women would learn to keep their mouths shut.”

Yikes.  In fairness, if you follow the links above you will see Ross denies making these comments, though he also doesn’t seem to remember a meeting that clearly took place.

Anyway, after reading between the lines, I sat down with Mr. Ross (in my imagination) to pick his brain about various legal issues facing Alaskans.

GW:  Mr. Ross, drinking and driving is a huge problem in Alaska.  What do you believe is most central to the rise in DUI arrests over the last decade?

ROSS:  Stop Lights.

GW:  Great. If I could just switch gears for a second – Another issue facing not only Alaska, but the entire nation is school violence.  What do you see as the primary cause of these tragic school shootings?

ROSS:  Certainly the teaching of evolution is what created an environment for these godless bastards to commit these heinous acts.  Just ask Tom Delay.

GW:  Tom Delay did what now?

ROSS:  He agrees with me regarding the connection between the teaching of evolution and school violence.

GW: Um, ok.  Along those lines, I guess I just have one final question. In your experience, what do you see as the number one cause of pedophilia?

ROSS:  Sexy kids.

GW:  Thank you for your time. 

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Leave My Neighbors Alone!

Posted by Matt on Saturday, April 11th, 2009

I’m all for Conservatives openly tea-bagging eachother in protest of President Obama, ACORN  and whatever other liberal bogeymen Fox News creates out of thin air.  While I don’t really understand the historical parallel between Bostonians dumping corporate tea into Boston Harbor in order to protest an unfair tax cut for the East India Company and the teabaggers buying thousands of corporate tea bags to protest Obama’s “socialist” policies (such as the largest Middle Class tax cut in decades), anything that keeps these nutjobs from deadly rampages like this guy, or this guy, can’t be a bad thing.

And then I saw this dude:

 

Cardinals Fan? What a surprise!

Cardinals Fan? What a surprise!

 

I grew up down the street from the Morans.  They are close family friends. I went to school with their children.  They have a large, extended family rooted in the area. They are doctors, lawyers, journalists, etc..  They certainly have brains.  So when this teabagger tries to disparage their intelligence, I say, “Mr. Teabagger, you have crossed the line. Just because you wear a stars n’ stripes doo-rag over that sweet mullet does not give you the right to single out the entire Moran clan.  Shame on you.”

But seriously, keep it up.  Self-parodies can be hilarious.

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Somalia, Afterthought No Longer?

Posted by Matt on Saturday, April 11th, 2009

I posted this on another site on Januray 30, 2008, prior to the publicity regarding the piracy and whatnot, I thought I’d re-post it.

Somalia, The Afterthought

Per his usual empty rhetoric, the President once again paid lipservice to Darfur in his State Of The Union address:    

“America is opposing genocide in Sudan and supporting freedom in countries from Cuba and Zimbabwe to Belarus and Burma…”

Though the administration overflows with aggression and self-righteous imperialist tendancies, hollow verbal condemnations of rights abuses in places like Myanmar (it’ll always be Burma to George), Sudan, Zimbabwe, etc..is about all we’ve come to expect from Bush2.

As we’ve learned over the years of outside observance of ongoing Civil Wars, providing aid is great and necessary, but prolonging day-to-day survival of victims is only one aspect of preventing war, famine and disease.

Indeed, AU and UN peacekeepers have had relative success (I cringe to use this term) in Darfur lately, but another festering wound of tragic hardship lurks on the horn of East Africa.

Somalia has been engaged in Civil War for essentially 17 years. While there have been occasional lulls in internal strife since the “government” was installed, the country has once again deteriorated. Horrible droughts have exascerbated a situation on the verge of anarchy.

  
Over 1m Somalis are now thought to be dependent on humanitarian assistance, but only a fraction of the needy are being reached.

From Jeffrey Gettlemen in the NY Times:

Top United Nations officials who specialize in Somalia said the country had higher malnutrition rates, more current bloodshed and fewer aid workers than Darfur, which is often publicized as the world’s most pressing humanitarian crisis and has taken clear priority in terms of getting peacekeepers and aid money.

The relentless urban combat in Mogadishu, between an unpopular transitional government — installed partially with American help — and a determined Islamist insurgency, has driven waves of desperate people up the Afgooye road, where more than 70 camps of twigs and plastic have popped up seemingly overnight.

The people here are hungry, exposed, sick and dying. And the few aid organizations willing to brave a lawless, notoriously dangerous environment cannot keep up with their needs, like providing milk to the thousands of babies with fading heartbeats and bulging eyes. “Many of these kids are going to die,” said Eric Laroche, the head of United Nations humanitarian operations in Somalia. “We don’t have the capacity to reach them.”

So what is needed?

  1. More Aid - This needs to be an international effort, not only more aid, but more aid workers (Easier said than done).  Aid has poured into Sudan, and it has helped some of the long suffering Sudanese people. Somalia receives much less aid, and it is increasingly hard to get aid to those who need it.  Obviously, the more content the people, the harder for the violent factions to gather steam.  International Governments have to support NGOs and aid organizations in attempts to reach those most in need.
  2. Diplomatic Involvement – The US pretty much installed the current leadership.  Take an active stance. They need to lead properly, and end corruption. This is a cause other countries can get behind if we lead.  More diplomacy = less of #3. Encourage Ethiopia to act as peace-keepers as opposed to aggressors. Ethiopia is currently crucial to maintaining partial order, but for how long? However difficult, diplomatic resolution needs to include the coopertation of the civil Islamist Movement (not the ‘Insurgents’). Also,  removing the term “War on Terror,” as rationalization for any effort may benefit the US.
  3. Troops? It’s sad to say, but until a stable government forms, maintaining a stable society will be near impossible without military presence. There are suicide bombers, assassinations, and pirates that target aid boats. The U.N. is stretched so thin in Africa with 9 operations, and the AU has minute resources.  Military experts reckoned that it would take at least 20,000 troops to impose order on central Somalia. The AU managed to get promises for 8,000. In fact, just 1,600 Ugandan troops have shown up.

Do we have enough daunting issues facing this country, from Iraq to health care, to affordable child care, etc…..? Absolutely.

However, this country has an opportunity to lead the world properly, partially repair its image, encourage democratic principles, and help the neediest people in the world. I won’t be holding my breath in ’08.  But come 1-20-09, I hope our new leadership can look at these situations and ask “How can we help?” before they ask “What’s in it for us?”

I don’t really have any follow-up. Everything about the situation over there is saddening. Hopefully, the American ship captain gets home safely.  Hopefully, the Horn of Africa will see some stabilization.  I wouldn’t hold my breath on the latter. 

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Chung Lee? Um, from now on, you’ll be Stu Johnson.

Posted by Matt on Thursday, April 9th, 2009

During Texas House testimony addressing the issue of voter identification, Rep. Betty Brown (R-Terrell) suggested that voters of Asian descent should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.

 

As a wise man once said, "I'm an American. Our names don't mean shit."

As a wise man once said, "I'm American, honey. Our names don't mean shit."

Rep. Brown was addressing Ramey Ko, a representative of the Organization of Chinese Americans, who was testifying before the Texas House Elections Committee regarding voting difficulties for Asian-Americans because many Koreans, Japanese and Chinese have a legal transliterated name and then a common English name that is used on their driver’s license on school registrations.

 

Let us first put aside the issue of whether Asians should have driver’s licenses in the first place, considering the broad, yet quasi-true sterotype regarding their poor driving abilities – particularly among Asian females.

Done? Ok. Back to Rep. Brown,  who said:

 

Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown said.

Brown later told Ko: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

While the suggestion that any American should change his or her name for ease of administration is asinine in itself (for some reason I’m thinking about John Stewart’s “Gaydolf Tittler” reference), my favorite part is her derisive dismissal of learning the Chinese language.  What possible application could learning Mandarin or Cantonese have except overcoming confusion on election day?

The irony here is that Betty Brown once encountered trouble voting back in the 1970s, after she mistakenly registered under her Porn Name:  Brown Betty.”

 

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Payday Loans – Gutierrez is Clueless

Posted by Matt on Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Renowned Chicago labor lawyer and prolific author Tom Geoghegan recently wrote an article for Harper’s titled, Infinite Debt: How unlimited interest rates destroyed the economy.  In this article, Geoghegan traces the development of “payday loans” and the destruction they cause in our current economy:

Some people still think our financial collapse was the result of a technical glitch—a failure, say, to regulate derivatives or hedge funds. All we need is a better chairman of the SEC, like brass-knuckled Joe Kennedy, FDR’s first pick. It’s personnel—it’s Senator Gramm’s fault. Or it’s Robert Rubin’s fault.

In fact, no amount of New Deal regulation or SEC-watching could have stopped what happened. Hedge funds in themselves did not cause Wall Street to collapse. Some New Deal–type regulation was actually introduced in recent years, but it failed to do much: think of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002, which made CEOs swear an oath that their financial statements were not fraudulent. No, the deregulation that led to our Time of Troubles was of a deeper, darker kind. The problem was not that we “deregulated the New Deal” but that we deregulated a much older, even ancient, set of laws.

First, we removed the possibility of creating real, binding contracts by allowing employers to bust the unions that had been entering into these agreements for millions of people. Second, we allowed those same employers to cancel existing contracts, virtually at will, by transferring liability from one corporate shell to another, or letting a subsidiary go into Chapter 11 and then moving to “cancel” the contract rights, including lifetime health benefits and pensions. As one company after another “reorganized” in Chapter 11 to shed contract rights, working people learned that it was not rational to count on those rights and guarantees, or even to think in these future-oriented ways. No wonder people in our country began to live for the moment and take out loans and start running up debts.

And then we dismantled the most ancient of human laws, the law against usury, which had existed in some form in every civilization from the time of the Babylonian Empire to the end of Jimmy Carter’s term, and which had been so taken for granted that no one ever even mentioned it to us in law school. That’s when we found out what happens when an advanced industrial economy tries to function with no cap at all on interest rates.

Here’s what happens: the financial sector bloats up. With no law capping interest, the evil is not only that banks prey on the poor (they have always done so) but that capital gushes out of manufacturing and into banking. When banks get 25 percent to 30 percent on credit cards, and 500 or more percent on payday loans, capital flees from honest pursuits, like auto manufacturing. Sure, GM is awful. Sure, it doesn’t innovate. But the people who could have saved GM and Ford went off to work at AIG, or Merrill Lynch, or even Goldman Sachs. All of this used to be so obvious as not to merit comment. What is history, really, but a turf war between manufacturing, labor, and the banks? In the United States, we shrank manufacturing. We got rid of labor. Now it’s just the banks.

While I do not believe the “payday loan” practice should be altogether outlawed, I can not stand by my elected representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) while he pushes forward “H.R. 1214, the Payday Loan Reform Act 2009.”  According to the Consumerist

A House subcommittee wants to legalize payday loans with interest rates of up to 391%. Lobbyists from the payday industry bought Congress’ support by showering influential members, including Chairman Luiz Gutierrez, with campaign cash. The Congressman is now playing good cop, bad cop with the payday industry, which is pretending to oppose his generous gift of a bill.

“While they may not be JP Morgan Chase or Bank of America, they’re very powerful. Their influence should not be underestimated,” Gutierrez, the top Democrat on the Financial Services subcommittee in charge of consumer credit issues, said in an interview this week.

While that last quote is hilarious in its transparent acknowledgment of his fear of the financial sector and what would happen if they were to forego their campaign contributions, the law itself seems like a joke.

After watching members of the military fall prey to exorbitant payday loans, Congress in 2006 capped the interest rates for military payday loans at 36%. Fifteen states have similar caps or outright bans.  

On Gutierrez website, he released the following:

The status quo in the payday lending industry is unacceptable.  The Payday Loan Reform Act says “NO” to the status quo. It would protect millions Americans from abusive lending practices in one fell swoop.  I look forward to hearing the testimony of our panelists and also look forward to a lively debate on this controversial issue.

391%?  This law protects no one.  It might as well not exist, and in fact does more harm than good because it will make it harder to move towards serious reform in the  future.  Congressman Gutierrez can be reached via the following ways and means.

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Is AIG A Ponzi Scheme?

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

My friend Anthony, a/k/a DonPaulPro, posted this video a few weeks ago:

The prescient young man makes a good point.  2 weeks later, Bill Moyers Journal addresses the same issue with writer, professor and former regulator, William K. Black.  I recommend viewing this interview here, or downloading the free podcast from itunes.

GW readers can expect more from DonPaulPro in the weeks ahead.

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More Annoying? Results…

Posted by Matt on Friday, April 3rd, 2009

A while back, I posted this mind-bender:  Who’s more annoying…

…on their cell phones? Yuppie white girls, or overweight black females under 40?

It’s a close call. I try to analyze while on the bus. The frequency is roughly the same. The OBFs are definitely louder, but the YWGs excessive duration of talk is impressively horrible. 
It always seem like the OBFs conversations are more important and necessary, while the YWGs never yak about anything pressing, unless you consider the color of bridesmaids’ dresses must-have info. However, ironically, if you strictly read partial transcripts of each stereotypical conversation the YWGs would invariably seem to be having life or death conversations. (“Oh my God! No Way” vs. “I don’t fucking care.”)

I guess I don’t have an answer. I’ll tell you who never talks on their phones in public – elderly asian men. do they even have phones? who knows – and that’s the point. God bless you, gentle kings of courtesy.

I have had more than a year to ponder this conundrum.  And it wasn’t easy.  The sheer volume of OBFs talking shit about some co-worker who ate their Cheetos in the break-room was enough to keep them in running.  But this one is over.  It’s “Yuppie White Girls” with a decisive victory.  What is it about them? Even when YWGs are not texting, or obliviously gabbing about some mundane bullshit, they are holding onto their phone like Linus to his blanket.  What’s the deal? Who are you waiting to hear from? Don’t you realize you’re in public and the last thing someone coming home from work wants to hear about is how ‘the stupid girl at Starbucks totally messed up’ your order, or how you ‘think he might just need some more time.’  

Unless you’re talking about lesbian experimentation in your college years, maybe keep it to yourself.

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One Sentence Album Review via Wine Descriptors – Strand of Oaks

Posted by Matt on Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

 

Good Music. Questionable Band Name

Good Music. Questionable Band Name

STRAND OF OAKS – LEAVE RUINS

Not surprisingly, this delicate blend is medium bodied coupled with hints of oak.

Grade = B+

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Gratuitous World Blog

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