You’ve Got ‘Em On the Run, Occupy Wall Street! Seriously! It’s Working!

[A highly confidential memo from a preeminent Wall Street bank has been leaked exclusively to ATITP.  Why this blog?  I think it’s obvious.]

From: F. Reginald Hobscott

To: Inbox.List.AllEmployees





Please lean forward and read this e-mail very carefully, because I have to tell you all about a VERY IMPORTANT MATTER that requires OUR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION.

There is a group of people, RIGHT NOW, as I type this, staging a protest on Wall Street.  Let me type that in all caps, in case you didn’t hear me right the first time:  A BUNCH OF PEOPLE ARE STAGING A PROTEST ON WALL STREET.  And do you know what they’re protesting?  ACTUAL WALL STREET, that’s what.

Let me get out the crayons and connect the dots for those of you who aren’t putting this together (*cough* Equities *cough*): THERE’S A BUNCH OF PEOPLE WHO ARE PISSED OFF BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT RICH, AND THEY JUST NOW FIGURED OUT WHO HAS ALL THE MONEY.

I know that some of you think that I sometimes exaggerate, but this is the beginning of the end.  Gather all the Salon de Mesnil you have at hand and just start sucking it all down, because you’ll never daub your lips with its sweet nectar again.  We. Are. Fucked.

“Ho ho ho, FRH, you scamp!” some of you may be chortling.  But I can assure you, this is no chortling matter – these people are using time-tested protest techniques that have never failed in the history of America.  To wit:

1. Carrying weirdo signs around

I have managed to calm the tremors in my mouse hand long enough to go to a bunch of websites and read many of these signs.  They are INCREDIBLY PERSUASIVE.  Let me tell you bunch of smug dicks something – the $100MM we’ve spent so far this year lobbying Congress and the White House to custom tailor financial reform is like a mouse farting in a hurricane when you put it up against a homemade cardboard sign that shrieks “Wall Street and Corporations Have Corrupted the Political Process.”  With just a few strokes of a Sharpie, some simple protester, who almost certainly owns only one home, mind you, has pulled the curtain back and exposed everything that we in the overclass have worked for over a century to create!  Now the people know!  Until this brash rabble-rouser put pen to corrugated paper one fateful day last week, Americans have been slipping dreamily, contentedly, through their First World lives, completely unaware that we in the financial industry, and our corporate bretheren, give money to politicians in an attempt to get what we want from the electoral process!  And now they know!  AND NOW THEY KNOW.  We stood on the precipice when that protester brought his or her sign to Wall Street.  And when he or she raised it high, we plunged.  That wind you feel isn’t the morning air whipping through your hair as you drive your Lexus convertible to work – it’s the howling current of the vertiginous plunge downward in which we inextricably find ourselves.

2.  Slogans

Don’t think slogans pose much of a threat?  “Heard one, heard ’em all,” you’re thinking?  Well, these slogans RHYME.  Understand?  THEY RHYME.  FUCKING ALL OF THEM.  “Lots of CEOs got bailed, we want to see them all get jailed.”  BAILED AND JAILED.  How can you ignore that?  How can you not be drawn in by this seductive appeal?  “The government bailed out the bankers, we would rather jail those wankers.”  Who is writing this stuff?  Thomas Jefferson?  What, not impressed yet?  “Unfair taxing causes pain, no subsidies for capital gains.”  They know about the capital gains tax rate!  I’ve sent my assistant to Brooks Brothers twice just this morning for fresh pants, BECAUSE THAT’S THE NUMBER OF TIMES THAT I’VE SHIT MYSELF IN ABJECT FEAR after I realized this.  You know what’s going to happen now, don’t you?  This is going to be all over the web.  All these impressionable policy makers are going to hear these slogans and, utterly hypnotized by their power, are going to stop writing “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” fanfic and start writing a bunch of restrictive finance reform laws.  They’re going to start investigating things!  Every rhyming syllable is like the pebble let fly from David’s slingshot.  Surely our entire industry will be destroyed in a hail of this agitation.

3.  Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore showed up.

If you guys would tear yourselves away from your Bloomberg terminals once in a while, or read something other than the Journal, maybe you would have seen the latest Quinnipiac poll which found that Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore are the two most trusted and admired living Americans.  And they have cast their lot with these protesters.  Getting Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore is no different, strategically, than getting every Justice on the Supreme Court.  No different.  And Kanye West!  Kanye West showed up!  You know what’s going to happen next, don’t you?  These multi-millionaires are going to renounce all their material possessions and give all their money away in a powerful demonstration of their sincere commitment to this insidious cause!  What did you think they were doing, just dropping in for a self-serving photo op?  No way!  They’re going to give all their money away, and this is going to inspire the American people!  Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, and Kanye West are the first dominoes – soon, the whole of the American populace is going to join together in solidarity, working for the communal good!  They’re going to stop putting their money into our mutual funds and our ETFs, and they’ll start giving it to poor people instead!  The retail investor will disappear!

I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but Geithner is freaking out.  He almost cancelled our standing Tuesday squash appointment – he thinks we’re days from an outright coup, and that the government is going to be handed over to a cabal of 22 year old dorm room socialists.  “We’re one well-written cardboard sign away from this thing blowing us all to hell.”  His exact words.  And I don’t blame him for being scared.  I’m terrified.  Once the American people get wise to what these people want, it’ll be impossible to escape the tidal wave of support that will certainly follow.  Here’s just a few:

1.  One trillion dollars in infrastructure spending now.

2.  One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America’s nuclear power plants.

See?  These guys already know how they’re going to spend two trillion dollars!  You don’t get any more organized than that – in fact, they’re so well-organized, so disciplined, that they can have a web page detailing a list of demands, and at the top of that page, disavow these demands!  People say you need to be laser-focused to effect change; well, these guys are a laser shot through a prism, and they’re SHINING THE GODDAMN TRUTH ALL OVER THE PLACE.  This is a road map DIRECTLY TO OUR RUINATION.

I wish I had the answers, but I don’t.  All I have is a panic room, and I’m heading there NOW, and I suggest you all do the same.  Mine has a sauna.


Reggie Hobscott


Hey Look, The President Found His Balls

Ever had some neighbors that were really pissing you off?  Letting their dogs run all over the neighborhood, taking dumps all over your lawn?  Having people over all the time, telling them to park in front of your house?  And you try and talk to them every once in a while, try and say “Hey, don’t want to make a big thing out of this, but could you do everybody on the street a favor and clean up after your dogs?,” and they basically tell you to go fuck yourself?

You could respond in kind.  You could slash their visitors’ tires.  You could leave poisoned steaks laying around outside for their dogs to find.  But you decide to be an adult.  “Let’s not escalate this,” you say to yourself.  “I’m just going to keep asking them nicely, maybe offer to let them borrow my snowblower this winter if they’ll keep the dogs chained up, and they’ll see reason sooner or later.  Nobody wins if I start pushing back.”

And that’s where you’re wrong.  Your jackass neighbors win, and they’ve been winning the whole time.

While you’ve been picking up dogshit every day so your kids don’t fall in it, while you’ve been inching out of your driveway every weekend because those asshole friends of theirs pull their front bumpers right up to the edge because screw you, you pussy, what the hell are you going to do about it, their lives are an episode of Sesame Street brought to you by the letters V, I, C, T, O, R, and Y.  This is what being the bigger man gets you, my friend: a lifetime of picking up other people’s shit, while the other people bounce merrily through their day, fat and happy like the infield at Talladega.

It would appear that finally, after a summer of being a pansy the bigger man, the president has picked up his last load of dogshit.

Barack Obama Mans Up

"And my next 3 Supreme Court Nominess? All gay."

Barack Obama came into office promising, as all presidents do, to “reach across the aisle,” to search for “bipartisan consensus.”  The expectation was that this guy was so magnetic, so dignified, that the bitter divides that had characterized the United States Congress ever since Newt shut ‘er down would immediately dissolve into a highly productive legislative lovefest.  Key parties instead of tea parties.

This was an awesome plan that had a lot of promise; unfortunately, everyone involved failed to take into account the fact that a lot of people – people blessed by God and His son Jesus with an utter lack of both shame and self-consciousness, freeing them up to say some of the most awful stuff you’ve ever heard this side of a Klan rally – really hated this guy.  And it didn’t take long for that animus to trickle into the Congress, presenting the president with a choice: do I start cracking heads, Lyndon Baines Johnson style, or do I (*sigh – ed.) be the bigger man?  Of course, Barack Obama decided to be the bigger man.

I suspect he actually meant that bipartisan stuff – why he did, I have no earthly idea.  Perhaps he was arrogant enough to believe his own press, and thought that the frosty Republicans would melt when exposed to his polished, urbane charms.  Or maybe he thought it was the best way to govern.  Whatever it was, it reached the point of farce this summer over the debt ceiling fiasco, when, presented with a sweeping, ambitious bargain that achieved that perfect political balance of pissing off both sides, the GOP more or less Mayweather’d President Ortiz.  Following which, both sides just decided to mail it in and kick the can an election cycle down the road.

I’m not going to rehash that whole thing, mostly because it’s tough to admit that the country I love has gone so far down the rabbit hole.  Also, it kind of makes me hope that virus from Contagion was let loose in the Congressional cafeteria.  But after that disaster, I think the president finally figured it out: no matter what I do, these guys aren’t going to stop their dog from shitting all over my lawn.  I gave them climate change, I gave them financial reform, I gave them Guantanamo.  And what did I get in return?  A hostage situation with the U.S. economy.  Time to load the shotgun.  Time to do what Democrats do best – tax the hell out of rich people.

And so, President Barack Obama, the Compromiser, lays out a plan that gets his pensive mug on the splash page of next to the words “$1.5 trillion in taxes.”  Strong, man.  Strong.

I am not going to use this post to defend or discuss the merits of the plan.  I don’t like taxes, but a bureaucracy’s gotta eat, right?  No, I’m just here to congratulate the president for finally deciding screw it, time to start swinging the heavy lumber.  I’m under no illusions as to why he finally did this of course – it’s election time, and if he didn’t start acting like a Democratic president soon, the only bloc he could count on would be Portuguese water dogs (who can only vote in South Carolina, anyway).  But no matter – I was getting tired of this lame dance he was doing where he’d threaten to really start getting tough, and then fold like a card table.  It got to be like watching the movie “Air Force One,” when Harrison Ford would go “Get off my plane!,” only with Obama, five minutes later he’s saying “Well, ok, you can stay, but you’re paying for that wine!”

[Digression: The GOP, of course, immediately proved with its response that it’s never had a balls problem, accusing the president of “class warfare.”  John Boehner got out there and said “Pitting one group of Americans against another isn’t leadership.”  Now, if you’re John Boehner, it takes a real brass set to say something like that when you consider what they’re doing with gay marriage, evolution, and their Alaskan mascot’s attempt to claim the exclusive rights to define what the “real America” is.  Pitting groups of Americans against each other is what the GOP does now – they love wedge issues!  Love ’em!  It’s how you distract the middle class from the fact that their primary legislative objectives are protecting the wealthy investor class at the expense of the middle and lower class!  “Hey, socially conservative blue collar mom working two jobs…I may not lift a finger to get you better access to health care for your kids, but if you don’t vote for me, those gay guys that live in the apartment down the hall will be able to marry each other!  So make sure you take advantage of that 25 minute lunch break of yours and get down to the polling place double-time!”  And looking at changes to the tax code is “class warfare”?  All right then! End Digression.]

So President Obama, it’s nice to see you laying it out there.  Some of us want a Democrat for President.  Some of us want a Republican.  But nobody wants a pushover.

I Never Knew Using Simple Household Items Was So Fraught With Danger

walter-2  Civilizer

Well it’s wintertime, and I assume that means that this blog post is reaching most of you from your hospital beds, as the frigid outside temperatures have forced you to  throw caution to the wind and, in a desperate attempt to warm yourselves, try to operate a blanket.  Up until now, I would have carelessly assumed that you’re all capable of using such an apparently infernal device, and I suppose I need to apologize for being so callous.  I had no idea that some of these tassled monstrosities can turn into straitjackets that would confound Houdini himself.  Thank God the people at Snuggie clued me in.  

Indeed.  How many times have I been caught between a ringing telephone rock and an urgent need to cover every exposed square inch of me in a blanket hard place?  Do I answer the phone?  What if it’s a family emergency?  But then again, what if it’s just the increasingly desperate New York Times begging me to subscribe to the print edition?  Then I’ve shifted my body position, thus causing irreparable blanket slippage, for no good goddamn reason!  More than once, I’ve frozen up like a Bomb-Pop when faced with just such a choice.  And here I thought I was the only one.  Well apparently not, as we’ve bought more than 3 million of these things.  

My sorry ass hasn’t been bailed out of such a harrowing household situation since the Get-A-Grip was introduced.  I forget when this hit the market, but I’m pretty sure it’s inventor was a guy named Jesus H. Christ.

I thought that slipping like a Warner Brother’s cartoon character on a banana peel every time I exited the shower was an embarrassing ritual that only I was going through.  But thanks to Get-A-Grip, I know it isn’t true…there’s a strapping, vital young man with muscles almost as big as mine making the same wacky “Oh shit!” face, right there at the 4 second mark!  And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve destroyed perfectly good tile by ramming it with an 8 inch drill bit after watching “This Old House” and getting it in my head to try and install a handle myself.  

I think it’s safe to say, especially now that we’re all down on the American capitalist system, that it’s products that save us from our own clumsy idiocy that make us the best f**king economy in the world.  You know what they’re doing in bombed-out cesspools like Venezuela when they have to chop vegetables?  Slicing their fingers to bloody ribbons like the poor woman who failed to buy a Chop Wizard, that’s what:

Not us though, man.  Not even the dreaded onion, the dirty bomb of the vegetable kingdom, can make us flee the kitchen.  Just throw one of those things in the Chop Wizard, and BAM!  Chopped onion with nary a teardrop to be seen.  Is it just me, or did President Obama really screw up naming Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary instead of this man:


Nothing subprime about this guy


All Things In Their Place Endorses Barack Obama


“Screwed the pooch.”  It’s a great phrase that uses fornication with a dog as a vivid, absurd metaphor for dorking something up so bad that everyone who sees you doing it can only shake their heads and look away, disgusted but yet a little bit bemused.  And my friends, you look up “pooch-screwing” in the dictionary, you’ll find that it says “See John McCain presidential campaign, managers of.”

When it looked like the Republicans were going to throw in the electoral towel by nominating either an empty suit, a crazy Christian, or a generally crazy person and admit that 8 years of Bush/Cheney/Rove ruined their brand, they got it together and nominated John McCain.  War hero, experienced and popular Senator, guy with a reputation for not being under the thumb of the GOP leadership.  Going up against Barack Obama, quickly becoming the darling of the Daily Show crowd, the Republicans picked the candidate who basically made the Daily Show with his famously well-humored response to Steve Carell’s ultimate gotcha on the Straight Talk Express back in 1999.

And then they told that guy to go screw off, and introduced the country to A-hole John.  Out of touch, dishonest, pandering.  It’s gone about as well as you would expect.

When John McCain did take the nomination, I was relieved.  Republican that I am, I thought “Thank God.  The party has been one big embarrassment for the past several years, but now I can vote for one of the few guys that wasn’t.”  Not anymore.  Given the conduct of the McCain campaign, I must throw my support to Barack Obama, and for the following reasons:

That IS a pretty sweet state quarter, I have to give her that

1.  Sarah Palin – what a frighteningly stupid move picking this chick was.  Thrust from national anonymity into the spotlight of a presidential campaign, she’s initially fawned over by the media and voters as the much-needed “game changer” that McCain was after.  “Old guy listened to his gut,” everybody said.  “What a maverick,” they said.  She makes a carefully scripted but nevertheless punchy, red-meat fortified speech at the Republican National Convention.  And then, in a series of embarrassing interviews with the mild-mannered Charlie Gibson and former America’s Sweetheart Katie Couric, reveals herself to be a clueless dolt.  And then, in a series of stump speeches that continue to this day, reveals herself to be a strident harpy as well.  She displays all the contemptible failures of character that Tricky Dick Cheney does, but none of the effectiveness and villainous intelligence.  Cheney may have used the Constitution for fish-wrapping paper, but at least he succeeded in preventing another attack on American shores with those methods.  With Palin, we’d have a dirty bomb in Epcot Center inside her ticket’s first 100 days.  It’s telling that the McCain campaign had to fall back, predictably, on loud cries of sexism whenever their anointed loon came under attack – unfortunately, it’s not what’s between her legs that bothers me, it’s what isn’t between her ears.

2.  The recent tone of the McCain campaign – in a word, unbecoming.  Unbecoming the man who denounced the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry and frankly unbecoming our entire country.  How embarrassing it has been, in 2008, to watch video in which our oft-lauded “salt of the earth” Americans who I have often stated make up the backbone of the military, economy, and society of this country, sound like benighted dullards at every turn.  And how troubling it has been to see the McCain campaign pounce on this sad state of affairs.  McCain has been trying to get the bigot toothpaste back in the tube over the past few days, but that shouldn’t obscure the fact that he let his shrill toady turn a tenuous connection of Obama’s to Bill Ayers (who, for the record, is a complete asshole that I wouldn’t piss on if he were on fire to put him out) into some sort of insidious partnership cloaked in secrecy.  The McCainanites have stood there as Palin basked in shouts of “kill him” while she let her crowds turn uglier and uglier.  Rep. Lewis was exactly right when he compared the tone of the campaign to the “climate and conditions” created by George Wallace in Alabama.  The campaign isn’t being overtly racist, but has done shamefully little to contain that element at its events.  Fortunately, the McCain attacks aren’t working.

3.  Policy – I am going to sum this argument up with two examples.  First, the quickie:  I was watching TV the other night, and there was an Obama ad and a McCain ad almost back to back, with just another weird Burger King ad between them.  The Obama ad was an explication of the candidate’s health care plan and an argument against McCain’s.  The McCain ad was about Bill Ayers.  The economy is in absolute tatters, there are serious matters at hand, and Obama responds with an issues ad.  McCain responds with a character assassination.  What seems more useful to you? 

Second is offshore drilling.  I’ve written about this before, but I’m going to go over this again for any of you who still think that it’s a good idea (this means you, Aaron Tippin).  You can skip my argument and just go to this tidy little piece from those crazy redwood humpers and polar bear kissers at the Christian Science Monitor, but here we go:

The Minerals Management Service estimates that there are 86 billion barrels of oil in offshore regions.  This estimation keeps going up as the political winds dictate, and just a few years ago the estimate was 45 billion.  But, in the areas that McCain would open up, there are estimated to be around 19 billion.  Let’s be generous and go with the 45, meeting somewhere in the middle.  The United States uses an estimated 20.7 million barrels per day.  That means there is just under 6 years’ worth of oil in them thar oceans.  Six years’ worth, and that’s after the 10 years it will take to extract the oil have passed.

No wonder the Bush Administration’s own analysts have said that offshore drilling will have no significant effect on oil prices through 2030.  It’s just plain stupid, but McCain is all for it.  For me, that kind of poor judgement blows all the goodwill he’d built with me on the surge.

File photo, Arnold Conrad

4.  The Christian Right – McCain had Arnold Conrad introduce him in Iowa a few days ago.  Here is what he said:

I would also pray Lord that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their God — whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his [McCain’s] opponent wins for a variety of reasons. And Lord I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you would step forward and honor your own name in all that happens between now and Election Day.  Oh Lord, we just commit this time to you, move among us, make your presence very well felt as we are gathered here today in Jesus’s name I pray.

I can’t stand and cast my vote with these people.  Not if I want to ever respect myself again, anyway.

Warren Buffet: Apparently a Commie

5.  Warren Buffet – No president, no matter what he says, can “fix” this or any economy.  The market forces involved are by and large beyond the scope of presidential authority or ability.  But on the economy, Barack Obama has the endorsement of Warren Buffet.  Warren Buffet is a financial genius.  John McCain has the endorsement of Phil Gramm.  Phil Gramm is not a financial genius.

Lots of reasons that Warren’s endorsement means a lot, but I want all of you who think that because Obama is going to raise taxes on the 5% of Americans earning over $250,000, we’re suddenly socialists and our economy is going to grind to a halt, read this story.  The gist?  The Oracle of Omaha, the ultimate anti-socialist, says “I see nothing wrong with those who have been blessed by this society to give a larger portion of their income to the society than somebody that’s working very, very hard to make ends meet.”  So I guess Warren Buffet’s a pinko now, right, jackasses at Cape Fear BBQ in Fayetteville, North Carolina?

6.  Barack Obama – if you’re able to think critically, you’ve hopefully noticed that I’ve decided to vote for Barack Obama for reasons that have a lot more to do with the McCain campaign sucking like a $500 Dyson instead of Obama being a good candidate.  And believe me, I’m well aware that the man is flawed.  He’s slick, for one.  I don’t like slick.  You don’t survive Rev. Wright, Bittergate, Bill Ayers, and the middle name “Hussein” in a presidential election without being slick.  Obama talked around these issues more often than he tackled them head-on, and I wasn’t a fan of that.  And admittedly, he’s very green for the chief executive role, a point that McCain and Co. somehow managed to fumble by talking about the Weather Underground all the time and then nullifying the point by selecting Our Sarah.  And his support for ethanol is just…so…stupid.

But here’s the deal:  ethanol aside, the dude is smart.  B.A. from Columbia, thesis on Soviet nuclear disarmament.  Harvard Law School, magna cum laude.  Senior Lecturer at Chicago School of Law.  A lot of people look at a C.V. like that and say “he thinks he’s better than you.”  Good.  Good.  I freaking hope that the MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD thinks he’s better than me.  I hope that he is better than me.  I hope the President of the United States is smarter than me, more clever than me, braver than me, more well-read than me, more well-traveled than me…just plain more everything than me.  You know that line of conventional wisdom that goes “People want to vote for a guy they can imagine having a beer with”?  That’s some of the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard.  Let me just say this:  if I can imagine kicking back and having a beer with you, then I don’t want you anywhere near the Russians.  They will eat you alive like the simple rube that you are.  I don’t want you anywhere near the tax code.  You won’t think it through.  Jeffrey Fastow won’t pay any taxes because his lobbyist buddies duped you, but you’ll somehow be trying to collect $78,000 from a family dog in Bismark, North Dakota.  I want somebody who is steeped in brainpower, has a bunch of degrees and a bunch of stamps on his passport, and knows how to think around corners.  Barack Obama is that smart.

Also, I think his opposition to Iraq is one of the most overrated aspects of his candidacy, but the guy has it right on Pakistan, which is the real national security threat of the next decade.  Iraq and Afghanistan are obviously must-wins, but Pakistan is the constantly evolving, inscrutable ticking time bomb of international terrorism.  And Obama knows it, he knows the ISI is keeping the tribal areas safe for al-qaeda and the Taliban, and has the stones to say that if we’ve got a bead on a high-value target, and Pakistan won’t take the bastard out, then our Special Forces will.  No kow-towing to our strategic reliance on Pakistan, no letting that country’s intelligence service leverage our relationship to carry out private and nefarious agenda.  Just hey, your sovereignty doesn’t supercede our security.  Deal.  McCain’s big on his surge, and good for him, but he’s given me no indication whatsoever that he has a plan for Pakistan.  And that’s a big miss.

The guy just gets it more than McCain does.  Obama has proven, throughout the course of the campaign, to be more thoughtful, more intelligent, and more thorough than his opponent.  McCain has flirted with self-destruction as Obama continues to draw crowds, donors, and the respect of military leaders, lawmakers, economists, and hell, even aides to John McCain who worked in the Reagan White House.  I hope that a McCain loss, borne of a craven appeal to the racist, the frightened, and the under-educated, burns my party to the ground.  Because it will be rebuilt again, and I hope the people restoring it pay attention to what happened in 2008.  I hope they noticed that a bright, eloquent, educated, intellectual man won the presidency, and that when they’ve got the GOP up and running again, they have the sense to tell the creationists, the pro-lifers who stop caring about the fetus once it’s out of the womb, the protectionists, and the dittoheads to please get off, the country has passed them by.  There’s a big difference, after all, between “elitism” and being elite.  Get that sorted out, and I’m back on board.  Until then, I’m voting Obama/Biden this year. 

An Open Letter to Barack Obama


Dear Senator Obama –

Couldn’t help but notice that your “I’m already President” act has continued even after your goodwill tour of Europe and the Middle East has wrapped up – by which I mean you seem to have perfected the old Potomac Two-Step.  And at such a young age for a politician!  That’s impressive.  Did you have somebody from Arthur Murray in your entourage?

But hey Stretch, just wanted to say that your post-primary tendency to dance like Fred Astaire on the issues is wearing on those of us who were either going to vote for you or considering voting for you.  Moving to the center is understandable so I can’t say that I really cared when you moderated yourself on gun control.  Stuff like that, it’s expected, right?  Who cares if you said one thing and then something entirely different once you clinched the nomination.  That’s politics as usual, and that’s ok.  It would be nice if someone ran for office who promised to change politics as usual, but that would certainly be a difficult standard to uphold.  Am I right?

Hell, a certain amount of blatant bobbing and weaving actually makes me feel better about you.  When you were running in the primary, you laid all that hope stuff on pretty thick.  “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”  Remember that?  Clearly it grabbed a lot of those stupid college kids who love speeches but not issues (good luck turning them out in the general, by the way!), but to a free-agent Republican like myself, you were giving off a babe-in-the-woods vibe that worried me a little.  In today’s world, I don’t want a President who’s so interested in telling world leaders he wants to “work together” or “cooperate for the good of everyone.”  I want a President who will smile and shake hands with Russians for the cameras and then behind closed doors tell Vladimir Putin (sorry, Dmitiri Medvedev) that we’re going to help Europe build a pipeline that circumvents Russian control and if anything should, ah, happen to it, then we begin bombing in 10 minutes, as your buddy Reagan once said.

So really, it’s nice to see that you can lie and deceive without compunction.  It’s “cagey.”  And we need a  cagey leader to negotiate with the Iranians.  There’s a reason that George Lucas picked the stubbly stereotype of an Arab trader for the scuzzball shopowner/slaveholder for Watto in The Phantom Menace, you know?  A certain amount of shaking hands with your right while you’ve got a stiletto behind your back in your left makes me feel better about voting for you.

But offshore drilling.  I gotta tell you Senator – it’s this kind of thing that makes an observer like myself wonder if you didn’t learn a few lessons in triangulation after running so hot and heavy against a Clinton like you did, or if you’re just another sackless politician who will say anything to get elected.  I know that gas prices are one of the biggest populist issues of the election.  I know you want to look like you’re doing something about it.  And I know that it appears that you have no coherent plan right now – you were against offshore drilling and that stupid gas tax, which were wise positions, but you didn’t really have anything you supported except ethanol, which is just as stupid.  

But offshore drilling has become the issue on which I draw the line.  Not just because I’m an inveterate tree-hugger.  I’m actually putting aside environmental concerns for a minute.  I draw the line on offshore drilling because it’s such a myopic, idiotic, worthless idea that will not work.  It won’t bring gas prices down in the short term, because it will take a decade to get that oil out of the ocean and refine it.  Can you think of any commodity that trades at a reduced price because it is anticipated that there will be slightly more of it on the market in 10 years?  Remember that announcement that McDonald’s made the other day where they said “A couple farmers in Montana said they’re going to start raising more cows, and those babies should be old enough for slaughter in about 10 years.  So we’re going to go ahead and lower our prices on the Big Mac today.”  No?  You don’t remember it?  That’s because McDONALD’S WOULD NEVER DO THAT.  BECAUSE THAT ISN’T HOW THE MARKET WORKS.

You say you’re willing to do this in order to “compromise” with the Republicans.  So you could get an energy bill passed.  Well I don’t know what kind of simplistic chimps you’ve got running your campaign, but they’ve evidently subscribed to the notion that after years of folding up like a card table for the Republican Congressional majority, it’s imperative that once they get that majority for themselves, they take advantage of it by folding up like a card table for the Republican minority.  Way to make yourself look strong, Senator – it’s an idea you oppose, an idea you know would have a nasty effect on the environment and no effect on gas prices, but you’re going to just go along to get along.  I’ll say this for Hillary – she may have been a strident harpy, but sometimes she was strident about the right thing and didn’t seem inclined to back off.  You, sir, are behaving instead like an Ivy League nancy-boy. 

I’ve seen you hoop, and I noticed that you’re not one to bang underneath.  Apparently this holds true for your governing style.

Aw Crap – Quote Of The Day

From Ted Forstmann, quoted in The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Forstmann’s argument about the present crisis starts with the money supply. After Sept. 11, 2001, the Federal Reserve pumped so much money into the financial system that it distorted the incentives and the decision making of everyone in finance. He illustrates this with what he calls his “little children’s story”: Once upon a time, when credit conditions and the costs of borrowing money were normal, the bank opened at 9:00 a.m. and closed at 5:00 p.m. For eight hours a day, bankers made loans and took deposits, and then they went home.

But after 9/11, the Fed opened the spigot. Short-term interest rates went to zero in real terms and then into negative territory. When real interest rates are negative, borrowing money is effectively free – the debt loses value faster than the interest adds up. This led to a series of distortions in the financial sector that are only now coming to light. The children’s story continues: “Now they [the banks] have all this excess money. And they open at nine, and from nine to noon or so, they’re doing all the same kind of basically legitimate things with it that they did before.”

So far, so good. “But at noon, they have tons of money left. They have all this supply, and the, what I would call ‘legitimate’ demand – it’s probably not a good word – but where risk and reward are still in balance, has been satisfied. But they’re still open until five. And around 3:30 in the afternoon they get to such things as subprime mortgages, OK? And what you guys haven’t seen yet is what happened between noon and 3:30.”

John McCain Just Lost Me


Un-goddamn-believable.  Of all the sops to offer the conservative base of the GOP whose enthusiasm John McCain has thus far failed to inspire, John McCain goes for broke (morally and logically) with overturning the ban on offshore oil drilling

I always figured that if McCain was going to turn hard right on anything, he’d do it on the economy with a low low taxes lower lower regulation scheme to make all the free marketeers and I-bankers piss themselves with glee.  Or he’d start sending coded messages to the Christian right about making sure he nominates a justice who overturns Roe v. Wade.  I did not think he’d do it on the environment or energy.  Not because I thought he was a passionate tree-hugger or anything, but these two issues are 1) closely intertwined and 2) can be effectively addressed with straightforward policies. 

The economy is a complicated behemoth with a lot of moving parts whose future is chock-full of unforseen consequences and influenced by future events impossible to predict.  Imagine announcing to the nation on Sept. 10, 2001 that you’ve got bipartisan support to balance the budget, maintain present interest rates to cap inflationary pressure, and you’ve got a plan to encourage more participation in the capital markets by everyday Americans so every one can strike it rich.  Economists would raise a host of objections, and other economists would laud the plan, but not a one of them would say “But what if a bunch of religiously-motivated aviation enthusiasts get so tired of being turned down for sex at clubs and bars and decide the only way they’re going to get any tail at all is to fly passenger jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and get at some virgins?”  Not a one would say that.  Offshore drilling as a way to manage America’s energy need is another story.

The challenges facing America in terms of oil are both short- and long-term.  The high price of oil is and has been for some time now putting serious inflationary pressure on an already stressed American economy – you don’t have to be an economist to understand that high oil prices push up the cost of transporting all that stuff you buy, and retailers have to pass that cost on eventually.  Plus, petroleum is the feedstock for any number of industrial and consumer goods, meaning that companies that make the stuff are going to experience pressure on gross margins and have to charge you more to make up the difference.  Short-term, those issues have to be addressed in order to right the American economic ship.

Long-term, we have got to come to grips with the fact that we can’t base our economy around dead dinosaur goop that we suck out of the ground with huge drills.  It’s not foreign oil that we need to end our dependence on, it’s OIL that we need to end our dependence on.  All of it.  Commercial transport like sea freighters, planes, it’ll be a while before those things can be reasonably expected to be manufactured with power plants that don’t burn fossil fuels of some type.  But we can sure as hell do something else for our cars and our energy grid.  And that’s why McCain’s announcement is incredibly, undeniably, harmfully, stupid.

“We must embark on a national mission to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil,” he said on Monday.  “We have untapped oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States. But a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production. . . . It is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions.”  That moratorium, by the way, is one he supported in 2000.  Just like he supported opposing oil exploration in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and the Everglades.  

There’s no delicate way to say it – we’ve got to stop putting off the inevitable with the oil supply with these short-sighted plans to find more of it elsewhere.  Oil was always a finite resource, but with China, southeast Asia, and the Latin American Third World starting to burn gas at an incredible rate, the timetable is far shorter now.  McCain’s plan to overturn the offshore drilling ban fails to both alleviate the short-term oil supply problem and the long-term oil dependence problem.

21 billion barrels sounds like a lot.  Unfortunately, it isn’t.  The Energy Information Administration forecasts that oil consumption in 2008 will 87 million barrels per day, and 92 million by 2010.  If we start drilling and the oil starts flowing by 2010, that’s enough oil for a whopping 228 days of global oil consumption.  Not even a full year.  If we want to keep it all to ourselves so we don’t have to keep funding terrorism in Saudi Arabia, that 21 billion barrels off the American coast is good for about two years and eight months.  Sweet.  So let’s do nearly irreversible damage to a fragile ecosystem so that we can put off a difficult choice for less than three years.  It’s like deciding not to quit smoking because you found a couple cigarettes in your couch cushions and what the fuck, they’re there, you know?       

I was willing to dismiss his harebrained support for that risible “gas tax holiday” idea as a one-off populist appeal his campaign would use to contrast their man with the “out-of-touch” Barack Obama and his elitist contention that America would maybe need the billions of dollars the tax provides for stupid bullshit like highway maintenance.  What hard-working blue collar American worth his or her Richard Petty decal doesn’t like a good pothole, after all?  Gunning your F-150 over one of those babies is what this country is all about!

Unfortunately, McCain has made it clear with this offshore drilling idea that it wasn’t just a one-off.  Rather than having the good sense and political courage to force this country to make some hard choices, to say “I will have the nation’s first post-petroleum presidency,” the senator is acting as an enabler for continued dependence on fossil fuels and failing to stimulate real, substantive government investment in alternatives.  Tax breaks for ethanol might sound nice, but nothing jump-starts real and rapid innovation like urgent need.  You gonna figure out how to break down an oak door faster when you’re just leaving the house for a walk, or when the room you’re in is on fire?

Bad enough the Japanese had to figure out home video for us, they’ve got to show us how to fix our energy problems too?