Oh, you THINK??

China Might Bar Tiananmen Broadcasts

I honestly don’t know how a government that insists on maintaining an embargo against a mostly harmless speck of an island off Florida can reconcile that with the fact of massive trade – indeed, massive economic indenturement, to be blunt – to the hugest Communist dictatorship in the world. Yes, Communist. Yes, dictatorship. Just because everydamnthing in this country is made in China, because businesses get moist in their special places at the thought of 1.2 billion future customers, we’re willing to overlook the fact that IT’S A GODDAMNED TOTALITARIAN STATE.

I realize that nobody in this country has a memory longer than last week’s American Idol elimination, but yes, this is a country that was “liberalizing” back in 1989 – right before they machine-gunned the kids asking for democracy. That guy didn’t have a line of tanks waiting to run over him because he missed his quota at the Nike plant. It’s something that none of the last three Presidents seem to be able to wrap their brains around, and I sure don’t expect any of the current crop to grasp it (if we piss off China, who’s going to make all the cheap Wal-Mart shit to try to make our economy lurch forward again?), but this is a fact, and it is indisputable: the leadership in China is, for lack of a better word, evil. I’ma say that again. EVIL. If the Soviet Union was evil, if Saddam Hussein was evil, then a government that eschews democracy, uses its economic power to dampen foreign opposition, sells dangerous weapons to known international bad guys AND suppresses its citizens by force of arms?

If you don’t think that’s the definition of evil, well, you’re welcome to suggest another word, but I will also suggest that you’d be full of shit.

And now, oh look, they’re basically doing what they always do to Tibet…and cutting off the press to make sure nothing mars the pretty pictures from the Olympics. Where the world will turn a blind eye again. Just like always. Massacring citizens, shipping toxins, ravaging huge areas of the country (think Three Gorges) – we’re willing to look past all that, because we need our cheap goods, and maybe one day they might buy them too.

If that’s not a pathetic indictment of us as a country, I don’t know what is. But if we had the balls God gave a gnat, we’d bag the Olympics right now and tell the butchers of Tienanmen Square that they can have their five-ring circle jerk without us, because despite everything, we still really do care about promoting democracy. I’m not waiting, though.


You want to chant “Overrated”? Fine. Chant away.

4 teams from the SEC East made the tournament. 3 of them going out in the first round. And having never led, never tied, and generally shit the bed all the way through the game, Vanderbilt – with 10 minutes to go and having cut it to 7 – basically laid down and died. Uncontested dunks in the halfcourt, fumble turnovers by unguarded players – the Commodores basically quit on the game.

Well, fuck them Commodores. No, that’s not a typo. FUCK THEM. I can accept losing. I will NOT accept quitting. And to trail by 12 at the half and ultimately lose by 21 is a fucking disgrace to the uniform. They quit. They gave up. And when Siena gets waterboarded in the next round, it will be obvious to the world just how incredibly overrated we were.

Moral Hazard

It’s a favored concept among economists, especially conservative ones, this notion of moral hazard. Basically, the argument is that if you are insulated from the consequences of your foolish decisions, you have no incentive to avoid them. Think of it in terms of Britney-Lindsey-Paris: if you catch an STD or seven, you can get all the drugs you need. If you drive your Jag into a pole while tanked on Grey Goose, you can go to tennis prison for a week. If you’re whacked out on grass and pills and God knows what else, there’s always a VIP suite at Betty Ford waiting for you. No matter what, you never have to land on your ass.

P.J. O’Rourke, back when he had his fastball, had the perfect term for this: “the Whiffle Life.” It came to him after he spent a night with the DC police at the height of the crack epidemic when they raided and busted a teenaged drug dealer at his roach-infested house, came home the next day, and found out one of his friends had a kid on drugs and was trying to get the kid on the “treatment track” rather than the “punishment track.” (An aside: everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, should read “A Parliament of Whores,” PJ’s landmark book about the American system of government – from the 3 branches to implementation issues to the ultimate responsibility in a democracy. I would have used it as the textbook for PSCI 101 if I’d stayed in my old profession.)

So anyway, a bunch of stock traders get wacky on the junk and start pouring money into crazy financial instruments built on unsound lending practices and borderline-deranged notions of investment, and as a result, they wind up holding the bag when the whole house of cards comes crashing down. Their investors are baying for blood, the value of the company is in freefall, and guess how big a splat it makes? None. Because at the last second, Uncle Sam is there to throw a $30 billion mattress under them.

Now everyone will go on and on about how it had to be done, you can’t let a major financial institution collapse, the economy is in a precarious state, blah blah blah. I’m not having it. Lassiez-faire capitalism, market economy at its purest, relies at heart on the immortal words of the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson:

Buy the ticket, take the ride.

If you loaded your investors’ money into securitized subprime mortgages and suddenly found yourself staring at a billion-dollar shortfall, whose fault is that? Nobody is obligated to save your ass. Now that you’ve climbed up there, it’s a hell of a lot higher than you thought, ain’t it? But not if Uncle Sugar is waiting with the parachute, because even if we have to cut interest rates five times and kindle the kind of inflationary pressure that hasn’t been seen since Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter were asking “what’s your 20, good buddy?”, we’re not going to let you hit the ground, because you’re a vital part of the American economy and must be preserved. It’s not like you were a bad person or anything – you’re too white and too rich for that.

That’s what we’ve come to in our society. There is a threshold line, which I shall call…the Whiffle Line. Above that line you get to live the Whiffle Life. You are completely free from the consequences of your actions. Somebody is always there to bail you out, and you can go on your way just as you always have without ever having to change a thing.

But God help your ass if you’re not above the line.

Hmmmm… (part 1)

I have talked about politics in highly opinionated terms, I have discussed college football and basketball in downright inflammatory language, what’s left that I could give offense with?

Oh yeah – religion!!

(more after the jump, or just click the link. Go on. Ah ye will. Go on go on go on go on.)

Continue reading “Hmmmm… (part 1)”


I don’t know how we pulled it, but I’ll definitely take a 4. A 4 means you’re on chalk for the Sweet Sixteen. A 4 means you get an automatic-bid team in the first round (Siena, in our case). I figured we’d be a 6, and nobody ever wants to be a 5 anymore…

4! Love the 4! LET’S GO DORES!!!!!!

Cue the Benny Hill music

“Geraldine Ferraro? What is that, Flip Wilson’s sports car?”

A plant if you get that. Another plant if you can say who I nicked it from.

Seriously. If my cultural signifiers were Tab, Virginia Slims, and a Bea Arthur character*, I’d probably be a little irritable too. But what the Ferraros and Steinems and the other folks from the age of ERA and “women’s lib” don’t seem to grasp is that there are a lot – a lot – of younger women who look at Hillary Clinton and see someone who was wrong on the war in Iraq, someone who stayed with a philandering husband to trade on his political credentials, someone whose political record outweighs the potential for breaking the ultimate glass ceiling. Maybe it’s a valid viewpoint, maybe it’s not, I’m not going to presume to read minds. But I have friends who are female and more experienced and better-educated than me who have made this point, which bears repeating: feminism in the 21st century doesn’t mean you have to close your eyes and pull the lever for whoever has the second X chromosome.

* No lie. I have seen anti-Hilary spam that is still name-checking “Maude” as a symbol of the horrors of women’s lib. Here’s a little nugget for all the Archie Bunkers out there: try not to build your argument on a show that got cancelled THIRTY YEARS AGO.

The Quagmire, part the second

Twelve months ago, everyone knew what to expect from 2008. The abortive 2000 Senate race was going to become the 2008 Presidential race: America’s Mayor vs the Clinton Restoration. Rudy vs Hillary, as inevitable as the dawn, an epic bloodbath that would no doubt lead to another few rungs down the ladder in American political culture. Funny thing happened on the way to the coronation, though…

(more after the jump, or follow the link)

Continue reading “The Quagmire, part the second”

The Quagmire, part the first

Everybody knows what the right-wingers in this country think of Hillary Clinton. What the press thinks is also readily apparent, although it has to be caveated by the fact that they seem almost anxious and eager to be led around by the nose and will change positions on a dime if it makes things more interesting (I mean, if my wife were to perish in a tragic blimp accident I would not dissuade Tina Fey from comforting me in my hour of need, but one good zinger – even if it was the sublime “Bitch is the new black” – just ain’t enough to make the scales fall from the eyes of the MSNBC types and cause them to suddenly get behind the idea that They Done Hillary Wrong.)

What a lot of people don’t realize is that much, if not most, of the activist left in the U.S. also hates Hillary. Despises her. Reviles might even be the best word. For a couple of reasons, after the jump:

Continue reading “The Quagmire, part the first”

Pimpin’ ain’t easy…

When I heard Spitzer was mixed up with a prostitution ring, I hoped against hope that he was either pimpin’ or ho-ing, not just purchasing. You’d kind of like them to mix it up once in a while. I commend to your imagination the figure of Elliot Spitzer in an electric blue shirt unbuttoned to the waist, tight yellow bell-bottoms, a huge chinchilla coat and a purple velvet hat with a a huge wide brim and a white leopard-print band, waving a stick and clutching a jewel-encrusted pimp cup full of a nice Finger Lakes ice wine. Or maybe Manischewitz.
As for his future – who knows? That Republican guy who paid to be put in diapers is still in office, but that’s Louisiana, and I think the state of Edwin Edwards and Earl K. Long may have a greater tolerance for that sort of thing than New York, especially when Spitzer built his career on regularly taking a deuce on big-money Wall Street types. I have a sneaking suspicion that if he just digs in, he can hang on for a while, but he will be politically impotent the rest of the way and I don’t think the GOP machine in Albany will have any problem running over him like a tractor trailer hitting a rooster. Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if Howard Dean puts a horse’s head in his bed to get out of the public eye before he gets stuff on the eventual nominee (I think the NY association probably hurts Clinton more than Obama).
Ah well. He already got Microsoft, and he wasn’t going to be anyone’s VP this time around, so I don’t have a vested interest. Like ML, though, I am astonished that his wife stands up there with him instead of sending him out there to face the guns while she takes shelter in an undisclosed location with her team of very good divorce lawyers.