Sunday, July 24, 2011

Toasting Cantor Shorts With Norquist Bubbly

The time is fast approaching when to call a man a patriot will be the deepest insult you can offer him. Patriotism now means advocating plunder in the interest of the privileged classes of the particular State system into which we have happened to be born ~ Leo Tolstoy (9/9/1828 to 11/20/1910) a Russian writer known primarily for his novels "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina".

"Relax, it's just a tax write off", Slade Leeds assured his friend William Hartenbaum. "By the way, I heard you've been hanging out with those two assholes Russ Teafeur and Vincent Vanderschmit lately". "You heard wrong Slade, I haven't seen either of them for months", William lied. Slade continued, "it's a premium charity, not a lemon as you have suggested. Anyway, I was thinking of donating some money to Johnny MooMoo's homeless shelter, but when I called him this morning I was told he hadn't been seen since yesterday".

"That's strange", William lied again. "Indeed" agreed Slade. "In any case, these friends of yours insulted me when I asked if they'd like to donate to my charity. Russ called me a bleeding heart Liberal ass-wipe, and Vincent told me to do something nasty to myself. And he called me a do-gooder. But, as I explained, the charity is just a tax write off. Those shitheads know we both belong to the same Moderate organization, so I don't know where they get off calling me a Liberal".

"I love Russ, you know that. He wasn't serious. He's just a provocateur. Slade, you just can't let him get under your skin". "Look William, I'm sick of you making excuses for Teafeur's bad behavior. You know, before I knew he was such a dick I actually invited him over to my place for a cocktail party". "This story again!" William laughed, cutting his friend off. "You've told it a million times. Yes, he took a dump right next to the hors d'oeuvre AND the glass swan. Like I said, he's a provocateur. He knew some of your Liberal donors were in attendance. Specifically that miscreant Cliff Thesage".

"That is total nonsense, my friend", Slade retorted. "You don't have to be able to read between the tea leaves to figure out Russ Teafeur is a major league a-hole".

Just then a slight Asian woman entered the room from a doorway behind the bar. "Here is the bottle of Champagne you requested my dear", she intoned. Slade's wife Sassy Leeds was originally from Beijing, and although her native language was Mandarin, she spoke English with only a slight accent.

"Thank you Sassy" said Slade, popping the cork and pouring himself and William a glass of bubbly. "This is a $700 bottle of the finest Champagne from the South of France. Sassy just received a case from a client as a thank you". Sassy was an interior designer who decorates the homes of the wealthy and powerful in the DC area.

"The client was Samah Norquist. This Champagne is compliments of Grover himself", Sassy explained, laughing. She knew how much Moderates like her husband and his friend disliked the man. "His money, and his Champaign are as good as anyone's, even if he is a right-wing radical", Slade said, draining his glass and quickly pooring himself another.

"In any case, I've instructed my broker to invest in the same fund as Eric Cantor, the one that's betting against United States debt. If the US defaults or is downgraded we both stand to make a pile of money!".<,/p>

William mulled that over for a while, downed his Champagne and then responded, "Some may say Cantor has a conflict of interest, or that because of his investment in such a fund he'd deliberately sabotage the negotiations. While I do not agree with his actions during the debt ceiling negotiations, I think his bet against US debt indicates he is a prudent investor. I'm sure conspiracy theorists on the Left are having a field day with this revelation. Myself, I'm going to take your advice and also invest in the fund".

Sassy reminded her husband she needed to get to work and exited the room. "Goodbye" she said, giving her husband a firm handshake. It was an inside joke William had never inquired about, even though he had seen the "goodbye handshake" numerous times before. Perhaps it had something to do with Slade's irrational fear of protocol.

Slade then explained the situation as he saw it, "Of course neither of us wants the credit rating of the United States to be downgraded, but anyone investing in treasuries would stand to make more on their investment with a increase in interest rates". "I'm in complete agreement" William concurred. "As is often the case, what is not beneficial to the middle class and poor is often beneficial to the wealthy. I'd thank the gods if any existed that I was born one of the productive members of society".

"Excuse me dear friend, but you inherited your money. I earned mine. If either of us is one of the so-called productive members of society that would be me". This was a disagreement they had before. It caused William to wonder if his friend was Society material. "Sometimes I wonder if the Higher Ordered Person's Society is a good fit for you", William wondered out loud. "Next you'll be telling me capitalism is a rigged system that works to the benefit of the wealthy and to the detriment of the poor".

"That is a truthful observation", Slade answered his friend. "But, don't get me wrong, I'm a true believer in capitalism. It may not be perfect but it's a hell of a lot better than the European Socialism pushed by the radical Leftists". William nodded his head in agreement, mollified that his friend and he shared similar worldviews. There was no place in the Society for radical Leftists or radical Right-wingers. HOPS members traveled the morally superior middle path. They agreed with the Left on some social issues, but more strongly with the Right when it came to fiscal matters.

"Us capitalists shall be magnanimous in our treatment of the less fortunate. So long as they put forth an effort. Let them toil in our factories and service industries and we will see they receive the bare minimum needed to survive, even if that entails some government welfare". Slade, who was in total agreement with his friend, added, "The greedy Left with their tin-cups always seek to steal our wealth, threatening the use of force if necessary".

"I've said it before and I'll say it again", William concurred, "A frigging bum off the streets can do that. Extend their tin cups, that is. Which reminds me of what you said earlier... I can't believe you're considering donating money to Johnny MooMoo's homeless shelter. You do realize all the vagrants he's attracting are depressing the property values in the area? Why, just yesterday Voltron, um Vincent Vanderschmit told me that he might lose some of the tenants in an office building he owns nearby".

"That is sad", Slade mocked his friend. "I know how much you loathe bums, but I think some of them, at least, are redeemable. They just need a leg up". "Perhaps some are redeemable", William reluctantly agreed, "but the majority are not. They'll just take whatever money you give them and spend it on rot-gut. I strongly contend that any money spent trying to save a worthless bum is money wasted. The dregs of society don't deserve, and have not earned, our compassion".

"And your buddies Vincent and Russ agree with you on that, I presume?" William's friend queried him. "It just so happens they do", William responded. Then he thought better of his answer, adding, "Or at least I presume they do, it's been awhile since I last spoke with either of them, if you recall".

SWTD #88, PIF #9.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Rage of The Plundered Affluents (A Randian Tale)

Arresting a single drunk or a single vagrant who has harmed no identifiable person seems unjust, and in a sense it is. But failing to do anything about a score of drunks or a hundred vagrants may destroy an entire community ~ James Q. Wilson (b. 5/27/1931) an American academic, political scientist and leading conservative scholar, Wilson is a professor and senior fellow at the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy at Boston College and holds an advisory position with the American Enterprise Institute.

Three friends sat around a campfire in the middle of the woods in the dead of night. The party had been going on for hours. Each of the three friends were quite buzzed from all the alcohol consumed and all the pot smoked. Finally the sky turned crimson as the sun began to rise. The three friends fell silent for several minutes as they contemplated packing up and driving back to the city.

Finally William Hartenbaum spoke. "Excuse me, Voltron" he said, addressing his friend Vincent Vanderschmit by his nickname. "I do not think it fair that you claim 10 points for snuffing out Johnny MooMoo. The group never agreed to additional points for high value kills".

"Listen up William" Voltron said, raising his voice. "I took out Johnny MooMoo with a single knife thrust to the kidney. You never saw anything sweeter. And, seeing as he was wealthy like us, I think ten points is entirely justified". "He wasn't that wealthy", William objected. "I doubt he had more than a few hundred K in his bank account".

"Chump change, in other words", Russ Teafeur interjected. "That may be so, but he was no worthless bum, which was my point", Voltron countered. "Anyway I had no choice but to off the punk after he saw William bash that bum in the head with his baseball bat".

"That was the second one of the night for me", William reminded his friend. "Two points". "Yes, William, you have two points, Russ has three, and I now have twelve. Johnny MooMoo was definitely worth ten. The cops are going to be investigating the disappearance of that do-gooder for certain. Ten points is entirely justified. Ten points for anyone of significance, five points for an ordinary schmo, and one point for a worthless bum. It might not have been agreed to before, but I'm telling you now that's how it's going to be".

"Volt, I think you've lost it" said Russ. "Snuffing out worthless bums is one thing, but Johnny MooMoo is entirely different. It can't happen again or the cops will start to take notice. You ain't getting no ten points either".

"I agree" William said, interrupting his friend. "By the way I find it incredibly convenient for Volt that Johnny MooMoo just happened to see me smash that bum's skull. He's been griping about Johnny's homeless shelter constantly since it opened two months ago".

"That's right William", Voltron responded. "That do-gooder lowered property values by attracting dozens of worthless vagrants to the area. I own an office building a block away, and the actions of this evil bastard had some of my tenants speaking of moving out. But you didn't like the guy either William".

"You've got that right" William agreed. "Johnny MooMoo was a tax and spend Liberal. Although, Johnny was at least calling for taxes that would apply to him. Most Liberal soak the rich types are ordinary schmos who wouldn't be affected by the tax hikes they're calling for. I've said it before, but it's the easiest thing in the world to call for tax increases that don't apply to you. A frigging bum off the streets can do that".

"Bums and Liberals with their tin cups, both think we OWE them!" an outraged Russ suddenly yelled. "What Liberals fail to realize is that the last thing the productive people need is to be harassed all the time". "Russ, I could not agree with you more" William clapped his friend on the back, then stood. "If there is one thing I can absolutely not abide, it's alcoholic panhandlers who spend whatever you give them on rot-gut. I can stand them no more than you Volt".

"And the Liberal thieves like Johnny MooMoo who want the government to redistribute our money" Voltron added. Then William declared, "it's the plundering of the affluents, and it's got to stop". William picked up a large stick and stuck it into the fire, stirring up the embers. "Johnny MooMoo is now nothing but ash and charred bone".

Grabbing a shovel from the back of his nearby pickup truck William began digging a hole directly next to the smoldering fire. "Well, let's get to it. Help me bury what's left of Johnny MooMoo so we can go home" William ordered his friends. Voltron and Russ took up shovels and soon they were scraping the contents of the fire into the hole they had dug.

"I spit on your grave" Voltron declared, hawking a loogie onto the freshly packed earth. Then, after throwing their shovels and other gear into the back of the truck, the three friends departed. "Don't worry about it guys" Voltron assured his companions. "William's buddy Slade Leeds owns this property, and he's personal friends with the mayor. Nobody will ever find MooMoo's grave".

SWTD #87, PIF #8, Murder Club #1.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Story That Makes No Sense What-So-Ever

In battling evil, excess is good; for he who is moderate in announcing the truth is presenting half-truth. He conceals the other half out of fear of the people's wrath ~ Kahlil Gibran (1/6/1883 to 4/10/1931) a Lebanese American artist, poet, and writer chiefly known in the English speaking world for his 1923 book "The Prophet", an early example of inspirational fiction including a series of philosophical essays written in poetic English prose.

"A story that makes no sense what-so-ever? You've got some nerve! I've sent you lamebrains dozens of short-story masterpieces and you've failed to publish a single one! Screw you, I'm done! You won't have William Hartenbaum to laugh at any longer!". The man finished screaming and slammed down the phone. "Can you believe those nimrods?" he said to no one in particular. "Refuse to recognize my genius!".

William was still feeling quite high, as earlier in the day his buddy Slade had offered him a few tokes on his bong that he couldn't refuse. That was before the basilisk had turned his poor friend to stone. One minute he was stoned, and the next he was literally a stone statue.

William tried to put the horror of the events that transpired only a few hours ago out of his mind and get back to work. "Please send my next appointment in", William said, pressing one of the buttons on the device sitting on his desk. "Yes sir, I'll send Mr. Leeds right in", a disembodied female voice replied (it was actually his secretary Lynda). "Whoa, that is weird", William giggled. "She's out there, but I can hear her in here!".

Then William nearly jumped out of his chair when he realized what name had come from the box on his desk. Lynda said she was sending in his dead friend Slade Leeds! How could that be possible?, William wondered. But before he could reason it through the door opened and in walked Slade Leeds in the flesh, or possibly a doppelganger. William readied the pistol he kept in a right-hand drawer just in case, aiming it at the look-alike from under his desk. He placed his finger on the trigger and almost fired, deciding at the last millisecond to see if he could deduce what this stranger's game was.

"Hello Slade, if that IS your name", William said, greeting the man he had presumed dead. He removed his finger from the trigger. "Hello William", the disheveled man who could clearly not even dress himself replied. William surmised he was a sorcerer of some kind. He probably had cast some kind of spell, reversing the stoning that had killed his friend, then stripped him down and donned his clothing. The man's pants were on inside out, and the buttons of his blazer were in the wrong buttonholes!

"I was worried for your safety my friend", the disingenuous impostor said. William put his finger back on the trigger and prepared to fire. "You were SO high when you left the Quarry", Slade commented. The Quarry was the name of the bar Slade owned, William remembered. Now it was coming back to him. His buddy and he had been up all night playing Dungeons & Dragons and getting wasted drinking and taking bong hits!

"I'm going to need that check back I gave you last night" Slade said. "You dented my Ferrari with your pickup when you left this morning. Pay my HOPS dues out of your pocket and we'll call it even", Slade explained, sticking out his hand. "Wait a second", William protested. "The Higher Ordered Person's Society yearly dues are scheduled to be collected today. The manager from the head office will be here shortly and any member who isn't paid up will be assessed a late fee. I can't get the money to replace your check for at least a few hours".

"You're suggesting I drive around in a dented Ferrari?", Slade scoffed incredulously. "Of course not Slade, that would be unseemly. I just need to get to the bank and make a withdrawal from my trust fund. I'll have the money for you when I drop by the Quarry later today", William assured his friend. "Very well", Slade replied, "but I thought you were meeting up with Mark after work today".

"You may be right", William said, flipping through his day planner. There it was penciled in for 3pm. He was supposed to meet Mark downtown where they would hand out HOPS fliers. "Can it wait until tomorrow?" William asked his friend. "My dedication to the Society comes first. We've got to convince as many people as possible to call Democrat Congresspersons and urge them to concede as much as necessary to get the debt ceiling raised".

Slade really admired his friend when he spoke with such metaphysical certainty about the Moderate organization they had both dedicated their lives to. "Of course buddy. I'll drop the Ferrari off at the shop today, take a cab home, and drive the Hummer until the damage is repaired. I'll send you a bill and you can pay it whenever". "Sure", William agreed. What the hell did he care? His dearly departed father had left him almost a billion dollars when he died, but his friend Slade was just a lowly millionaire.

"To the Society", Slade declared, extending his arm again. William stood and extended his arm. They performed the secret handshake and William echoed his friend's sentiments, "to the Society!" he declared.

SWTD #86, PIF #7.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tea Party Stupid A Liability for Republicans

President Obama continues to outsmart, out-strategize and out-talk the Republicans in the debt-ceiling standoff ... Vice President Biden spent weeks entertaining discussions of massive spending cuts - as much as 3 trillion dollars in spending - that is now clear that the White House had no intention of ever actually agreeing to in the end - because the White House always knew that the Republicans would never agree to the White House tax revenue proposals ~ Lawrence O'Donnell (b. 11/7/1951) on the 7/13/2011 broadcast of his MSNBC program "The Last Word".

Critics of the president denigrate him by referring to him as a community organizer. For some it's an insult to his intelligence, meant to imply that he is in over his head. He isn't qualified to be president and does not know what he is doing. For others the term "community organizer" is a political dog whistle used to disguise their racism to individuals not hip to the most current code words.

"Community organizer" is code for, according to a 9/13/2011 Daily Kos blog post, "N-Word Lover". A certain individual who posts on a supposed Moderate blog I frequent uses the term quite often. He also refers to the president as "Obie". My guess was that "Obie" is code for "boy" (see the first comment here for an example of what I'm talking about).

The Right-wing Obama-haters also frequently refer to the president's use of teleprompters, even though Reagan and both bushes used them. The blog Pensito Review suggests that "racism is at the heart of rightwing disbelief that a black man would be as stunningly brilliant and yes, articulate, as Barack Obama". That sounds very probable to me.

I have posted on the subject of the teabag racists in the past. I agreed then (and still do now) with President Jimmy Carter who described the bigots as a "radical fringe element". But whether or not any particular Tea Partier is racist or not, there is one thing that is certain, which is Community Organizer smart trumps Tea Party stupid.

In the debt ceiling negotiations President Obama offered a four trillion dollar "grand bargain" which was to consist of 1 trillion in tax revenues and 3 trillion in cuts (including cuts to Social Security and Medicare), but as the president himself pointed out, "nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to". He was signaling to Congressional Democrats and his base that they should not worry about cuts to our social safety net programs because the Republicans would not agree to everything ("everything being the 25% of the deal that was revenue increases). The purpose of offering so much was to appear reasonable to Moderates and Independents (which he needs to win re-election).

"The president's superior strategic maneuvering" is how Lawrence O'Donnell characterized the president's plan to gain the upper hand by appearing reasonable ("The Last Word" 7/13/2011). The Republican leadership knows they have no choice but to raise the debt ceiling, but are afraid of angering the Tea Party elements within their party which does not.

I propose we call this lack of ability to compromise and general ignorance regarding the workings of government "Tea Party Stupid". Absent the stupid the Republicans COULD have extracted some serious concessions from the President, but instead the question is who is going to capitulate and give the other side exactly what they want (which, in the president's case, would be an increase in the debt with zero other stipulations).

Acknowledging Republican Party leadership had been duped, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell characterized the three options offered by the president as "smoke and mirrors, take hikes, or default". Then he added, "Republicans choose none of the above". So, if they can accept no deal (not the "smoke and mirrors" deal and not the deal they proposed) AND since the debt ceiling MUST be raised - then raising the ceiling with no conditions is the only option left.

"I refuse to help Barack Obama get re-elected by marching Republicans into a position where we have co-ownership of a bad economy" McConnell said when explaining his party's idiotic refusal to accept ANY deal (even the one which handed Republicans virtually everything they want). The truth of the matter, however, is that they are scared of the stupid.

But the Republican leadership still needs to figure out how they can concede and still claim victory, or place all the blame on the president. They also need to convince House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (who, unlike Boehner and McConnell, is still saying "no deal, no way") to get with the program. If they fail to do this they risk bringing down the wrath of the Tea Party on their heads.

Mitch McConnell proposed allowing the President to pass three debt ceiling hikes (through the end of his term) which the Republicans could disapprove of - but then the president could veto (Youtube video). A clueless Boehner voiced his approval for the McConnell plan saying, "frankly I think Mitch has done good work".

McConnell and Boehner were hoping that, given Tea Party Stupid was the reason they were in this quandary, Tea Party Stupid could get them out of it. Unfortunately even the Tea Party was not quite dumb enough to fall for McConnell's copout. They knew McConnell was looking for a way to give the President exactly what he wants and still be able to claim the Republicans voted against it.

Conservative commentators were not fooled either. Michael Medved, writing for The Daily Beast on 7/14/2011, called the McConnell proposal "cowardly", although his article also uses the word "cunning" (cowardly but cunning). Personally I fail to see how such a transparent deceit could possibly be called "cunning".

This is a victory for Barack Obama no matter what happens next. In addition to using the Tea Party Stupid against the Republicans, he used the stupid to APPEAR reasonable and fool Moderates and Independents. Can the blog of a certain so-called Moderate be taken as proof that the President's ploy was successful? "I try and call it down the middle as often as possible... [and] I've totally got the scars to prove it" the self-described Moderate claims. These Blue Dog dopes praised Obama for placing entitlement cuts on the table. A 1/11/2011 blog post says "he's the one who's being serious and taking on his base".

But the offer was never genuine. If you recall these same types of rumors were flying around just prior to the President's 2011 State of the Union address. A 1/21/2011 CBS News article says "voters have approved of the president's recent moderate moves" and, as a result, "Obama's job approval rating stands at 49 percent, up from 45 percent in October". So, again, the president said things to appear Moderate, but didn't actually follow through. The takeaway lesson is that "nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to".

In conclusion... I'm happy the President is kicking Republican ass in the negotiations, and that the 3 trillion in cuts, and the placing of entitlement reform on the table is all just a bluff. The good news is that the Tea Party loses and the Moderates are fooled (which will help the president get re-elected). The bad news is that AT BEST the only the only thing the Democrats will get will be a clean bill raising the debt ceiling. Maybe we'll get some tax revenues through the elimination of loophole and subsidies. If possible I'd really, really like to see the subsidies for the oil industry go. But I still think the President should have pushed for the elimination of the bush tax cuts the MINUTE he assumed office, and should have NEVER agreed to extend them. I pray that the next time they expire that this is it, and THEY ARE GONE FOR GOOD.

Republican Congresspersons Who Are Reconsidering Their Stance Re the Debt Ceiling

Maybe the debt ceiling was the wrong place to pick a fight, as it related to trying to get our country's house in order ~ Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee speaking on the Senate floor, 7/14/2011

Our problem is, we made a big deal about this for three months. How many Republicans have been on TV saying, "I am not going to raise the debt limit". We have no one to blame but ourselves ~ Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, as quoted in a 7/13/2011 New York Times article.

SWTD #85