Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Because (For Now) Freedom

Early Days

Senator Bernie Sanders

The New Hampshire primary has been won by Senator Bernie Sanders (it's reported to be a 60-38 split), and Trumpolina (35%).  Sanders appears to have taken the state in a near-landslide, across a wide spectrum of voter demographic groups. He was expected to do well in New England, but exceeded the estimates.

In second place to Trumpolina is Dennis Kasich (15.8%) -- someone whose previous numbers have been almost nonexistent. The Senator from The Church Of I Kill You! (11.7%) is third.  Jebby The Inevitable !  and Lil' Markie, The Great White Whale and Ragin' Carly are far behind -- in fact, Gov. Christie and Fiorina's offices have made rumbling noises of "suspending" their campaigns.  The pundits are saying well; South Carolina's primary, next in the lineup, will be where Trumpolina must dance "The Dying Swan" -- because he can't create the kind of broad constituency necessary to win the nomination.  He's a sideshow. Could never win.

And they're saying well, Bernie is, you know -- old -- and he's promising everyone free health care and education, and who takes any of that seriously? ha ha ha. And like Trumpolina, can't overcome the reality of The Good Ol' Boyz with Money who run The Politiki.  Bernie and Donnyboy will Auger In soon, they say.

However, the same pundits have said just that about Trump through last year -- and still, swathed in Ivana's old TuTu, considerably altered, It Dances On -- to the tune of Randy Newman's Davy The Fat Boy (I bet we can / persuade him to do / the famous / Fat Boy Dance for you / give him half a chance /I jus' know you'll like my Fat Boy's dance).


His Dream Come True

But of course, the story the media is chittering over is how much better than expected Bernie Sanders has trounced  Hillary The Inevitable !  Still, the Punditi are saying SHE IS THE ANOINTED ONE, and Bernie is just a sideshow who will be worn down and outspent in the long run; why does he even bother? they mumble. All he'll do is "make it difficult" for Clinton to claim the Tub Of Slaw, and prove that Business As Usual can too also be confused with actual continuity and progress. He's divisive! And delusional. And Old!

 

You're Scaring Me, Ren:  Hillary Gives It Her Best Stimpy-Face

But as I've said, a vote for what appears to be the 'extreme' candidates for the Presidential nomination in both parties is an indicator of something more serious:  people simply don't accept Business As Usual, or politics as usual, any longer.  The details on Left and Right differ (and are important) -- but both sides feel used, ignored, and kicked to the curb by special interests.

The fact that Hillary and Jebby The Inevitables ! pretend this isn't happening is an indicator of how desperately the Good Old Boyz in both major parties want to maintain control. The Punditi will paint Sanders and Trumpola as mean statistical deviations, not even worth mentioning (except to say their campaigns will crash and burn 'any minute now').  We'll see.
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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Groundhog Day

Don't Drive Angry

Mr. Murray Sees The Little Rodent's Shadow

"Awright -- Gimme Your Wallet Or I Tell The Groundhog To Bite Down !!"

Nice.  PS -- In Puxatawney, a large rodent saw his shadow, which means Hillary will wear pants in New Hampshire.
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Monday, February 1, 2016

Politiki Note

Eye Oh Way

Election years are when the currents of American society rise and collide in all their noisy, discordant glory; it's particularly true in Presidential campaign years.

A time when every politician in the contest tries to evoke a connection between the electoral process, and the rural-farming, pre-industrial, small-town roots of the nation's past : of torchlight parades; Lincoln and Douglas debating; Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt campaigning from the platform at the back of the last Pullman car in a train that whistlestopped through the heartland.  It's a myth of continuity, of fairness and democracy, an attempt to bind us to an age that disappeared long ago; and it begins with the caucuses in Iowa.

Half of my people are from Iowa -- Muscatine (Pop. 22,000+); Moscow (Pop. 361); Atalissa (Pop. 311). Small places, at the eastern edge of the Great Plains not far west of the Mississippi. And the chances are good that some third cousins, twice removed, are casting their ballots tonight.

Tomorrow, we'll get to see who the winners are. There is a large contingent, left, right and center, that are praying on their knees that this will be the end of Trumpolina. We'll see.
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MEHR, MIT EINE KLEINE SCHADENFREUDE:  The Paper Of Record's headline this morning -- "Cruz Wins In Iowa, Dealing Trump a Humbling Loss".  But in looking at the percentages, it wasn't exactly a crushing rejection of Trumpolina by Iowa's caucusers: 27.6% = Cruz, 24.3% = Trumpy; 23.1% = Lil' Markie. So not yet the singing of O Donny Boy, Da Pipes Da Pipes Is Callin'...

And, please remember that the 'winner' in this nightmarish scenario is Greg Stillson. Greg Stillson, ladies and gentlemen. This is a person who will be ecstatically happy to shove their concept of religion down the throats of every member of American society. It is an evangelical Xtian's sacred duty to do so, and so help bring about whatever crazed, brain-damaged delusional mutant freakshow image of their own private interpretation of selected parts of the Bible the will of god (well, somebody's god, anyway).

As a Repub candidate, I'd take Donny any day. But it all comes down to money. It comes down to whomever Addeled Sheldon, the KochBrudern, Lil' Rupert and a few other HNWIs at home and abroad (remember, offshore contributions, properly sheep-dipped, aren't illegal after the Scalia Court's Citizens United decision!) want to purchase to be that candidate. 

On the Democratic side, ony a few tenths of a percentage point separated Hillary The Inevitable !  from Senator Bernie Sanders: the contest continues into New Hampshire.

And, the press recognizes that this election season, the focus is not "jobs" or "the economy" or "the war(s)"; it's about a fundamental Rage At The Machine. As Michael Barbaro noted in the Paper Of Record:
The vote here in Iowa was a portrait of red-hot America, so disaffected that it turned to a pugilistic evangelical Republican who calls for demolition of a system saturated with corruption. And it sent a forceful message to Democratic leaders that it was unwilling to put aside its resentment of Wall Street and corporate America to crown a lifelong party insider who has amassed millions in speaking fees from the big banks.

Monday night’s results confirmed that despite the widening cultural and political fissures that have divided right and left, voters are united in an impatience, even a revulsion, at what they see as a rigged system that no longer works for them.

For Republicans, the enemy is an overreaching government, strangling their freedoms and pocketbooks. For Democrats, it is an unfair economy, shrinking their paychecks and aspirations.
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Friday, January 29, 2016

Life As Candyhole

Training Module 1 : Your Day One

Welcome to a mini-training module in how to conduct yourself as part of an organization.

Join Sparky and Blabber as they report for their first day in a new assignment -- there will be fun, and challenges, and new opportunities for growth as we learn how to cooperate and "play to strengths" in reaching collective goals, while maintaining a healthy appetite for competition!

             

Highlights of today's module:
(1) General ethics in the workplace ("What's In It For Me?")
(2) Goals and Objectives (Immediate Gratification vs. Long-Term Planning)
(3) Cooperative, Team-Building Behaviors (Cooperation Is Sharing!)
Thank you for your time and attention!   Be sure and see our mini-modules on Executive Behaviors (or, "So You Want To Be A Manager") and Challenges In The Workplace: Reaching Your Personal Goals.

For the committed overachiever those who want to know more, all six training modules can be reviewed here.  If you have any additional questions, please contact your manager or compliance officer.

Please accept a free motivational image for your PC desktop as a reminder of the useful information in today's mini-module:

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Candyhole© is a creation of the very talented Brian Frisk.
(Marvin The Shark told us to say that.)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Random Barking: Stuff Out There

You Have Questions. Mongo Has Something Like Answers.

 (Hideous Mongo Stand-In Courtesy Buzsharer.com)

Q:  Does the continuing slide in crude oil prices pose a threat to the economies of nations dependent on oil transport and sales?  And, could that have a ripple effect through the world economy ending in greater financial instability?
A:  It may, and, not at this juncture. I was more interested in seeing that Chelsea Handler, who isn't strapped down real well under the best of circumstances, wants Muslims searched at airports. All of them. Because Freedom, presumably; and what the hell is it that Handler does? Isn't her claim to fame that she's someone's girlfriend? She has, what; 300-page books in 32-point type about her vagina? (Okay; maybe not.) And I hear she drinks.
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Q:  How about Trump and Megyn Kelly?
A:  No one with a particle of self-respect works for any organization owned and operated by Lil' Rupert and his issue, and Roger The Fat. They're not a "positive source" in society, they are factories of lies. It would be like working for Goebbels' Ministry of Enlightenment and Propaganda, or the "news" bureau of the People's Fun Republic of North Korea.

     This l'affaire Donnie is a Tempest In A Thimble. It isn't as if Kelly has any talent or real importance (Trump has it right when he refers to her as a 'third-grade reporter'); and it isn't as if Trump is a real 'politician' or an individual who adds to the sum of human kultur. It's a witless spat between a blowhard and a bimbot, and as a Dog I have better things to pay attention to, such as licking myself in public. And I hear she drinks.
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Q:  Is star KIC 8642862 circled by a gigantic alien construction, such as a Dyson Sphere?
A:  Hope so.  As the old joke goes, "I keep hoping they'll discover intelligent life in the universe, because I haven't observed any so far" (see comments on Fox and Kelly, above).

Q:  Bill Gates just sold the Corbis Photographic archive -- millions of images, some of them classics -- to "Unity Glory International", a division of Visual China Group. Commentators are curious: just what will happen with the thousands of images in Corbis' archives of the 1989 demonstrations (and subsequent brutal crackdown by the Chinese government) in Beijing's Tienanmen Square?
A:  So -- one Oligarch sells other Oligarchs a part of his art acquisitions. As a result, the new owners may not allow public access to some of it, a form of censorship and repression. They may even alter the art -- why not? Who will stop them? They own it.


      This is not news to WeiWei, and countless other human rights activists in the Land 'O Mao -- or to George Orwell, who noted that He who controls the past controls the future. It's situations like this which make me think the world becoming like Lucas' THX1138 is the best-case scenario our species can look forward to.
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Q:  Allegations have surfaced that the well-publicized Wounded Warriors Project, a charitable organization which has claimed to provide direct benefits to seriously wounded veterans of Lil' Boots' wars, spends lavishly for junkets, conventions and meetings, hotel rooms, travel, etc. for its leaders and staff -- over $26 million dollars in 2014 alone.
A:  The effort necessary to recover from even relatively simple combat injuries, and what we now understand to be PTSD, is significant.  You can spend a lifetime trying to overcome events which (for draftees, during my time in the barrel) lasted a year -- or less, if you were invalided out.  Iraqi and Afghan war veterans dealt with multiple rotations and unit reactivations, which were not part of the of the Vietnam war experience. The need is for care and support.
     Since WW2, the treatment of veterans has been, mostly, a scandal.  The VA was is disorganized, even criminally so (anyone remember the VA managers, conspiring to falsify official and patient records, covering the fact that vets were being forced to wait for critical medical appointments, sometimes for months, with men dying in the process?). So when the Wounded Warrior Project appeared, it seemed this isn't a bureaucracy; vets themselves are organizing it. They'll do right by their brothers and sisters. And the organization promoted itself as putting the veteran's needs first. It's organizers wouldn't commit the usual offense of so many charities by providing executives and staff with high salaries and perks -- money which could have been spent on the veterans. Unfortunately, that's what appears has happened; and, the usual culture of fear has kept potential whistleblowers in line -- until now.
     Call me cynical; another disappointing story of human nature seeking its lowest level. Only, this in an organization who had claimed to put first the quality of life for men and women who came when called, and did more than what was asked. A lot of people will be more than just disappointed if the allegations are true; I'll be one of them.
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Q: How do you feel about the 2016 U.S. Presidential race?  Who will run? Whom do you support?
A:  As a Dog, I'm not guaranteed the vote.  But if I show up at the polling station in my neighborhood for the Primaries and the General Elections and act cute -- tail wag, sit up and beg; roll over -- they usually let me cast a ballot.  Normally, I vote for other Dogs.
     Everyone assumed the contest would be   Hillary !  Jebby !  Eventually, it might be -- but at some time in the summer of last year, Jebbo began to slump in the polls, and Trump quickly moved to the front of the Rat Pack on the right, just as Bernie Sanders has begun to edge out Hillary !  on the left.
     In different ways, left and right in America feel disenfranchised, ignored, impotent -- that the system Clinton and Bush represent is organized to benefit wealth and influence. Traditional politics only exists to make sure that feeding at the swine trough continues uninterrupted. Neither current popular favorite represents Business-As-Usual America, as Hillary and Jebby do -- Trumpolina and Bernie thumb their noses at the System, and people have responded.
     It should be pointed out that while Sanders is an authentic New-Deal, Progressive politician who wants radical changes made to The System, Trump claims to be a rebel while actually representing that System. Donnyboy panders to Joe-Tea-Partei voter by being the candidate who 'tells it like it is ... outspoken' and 'not afraid to go there'. Once in office, Trump would provide a continuation of tax leniency and loopholes for billionaires -- while the rest of us would continue to see flat wages, rising prices, but plenty of Monday Night Football and a ceiling on the price of beer.
     The vast cloud of political commentators have been saying (and the Old Guard in the Rethug party have been hoping) for six months that Trump would tank.  He hasn't. Trump wants... well, he can't articulate it very well, but under a Trump presidency, America would somehow be "bigger" "better" -- Leftists, immigrants, bimbos and foreigners better watch out.  People may not take Trump seriously -- but if he polls the most support and wins the majority of Republican primaries, he could become the party's nominee by default.
     Bernie Sanders is very specific about what he wants and who would pay for it (whenever he mentions it in a speech, the Old Guard in the DNC have an anxiety attack): nothing less than New-Deal Era socialism for Wall Street and the Banksters, and the 20 billionaires who own 99% of the country's personal wealth.  Right now, no one in the "financial and investment community" takes him very seriously -- but, again: if Sanders wins the majority of Democratic primaries, and  Hillary ! doesn't... And I hear she drinks. 

Let's pray to whatever energy form in the Universe which appeals to you (as Mistah Charlie, ph.d, might say) for a Sanders candidacy.
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     But, hey; we'll all get to see what happens. Well, most of us will. There are new, "curvy" Barbie dolls now, and there will be obese Barbies at some point, I'm sure. A White Person will play Michael Jackson in an upcoming British television biopic being planned. And (thank somebody's god), women still think that a Dog putting their snout into the ladies' crotches is 'cute', and they will rub your ears. Nice.
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Thursday, January 21, 2016

At Night They Dream Of Robot Nixon

Reepub Leakin'

Forget Donnyboy. Ignore Crazy Moose Lady and Greg Stillson. Put Randy Paul, Carly Cruella, Big Chris, Little Marky, Jebby !  and the rest of the Thug Boat Rat Pack on the Back Burner.

Real Americans™ respond to two -- and only two -- true candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination: The Zombified Ronald Rayguns, and Robot Nixon.

Real Americans™ want a leader who will Restore America without resorting to laborious steam-cleaning methods, use of smelly chemicals, or compromises with cheese-eating Surrender Monkeys abroad and Fifth Columnists here at home. Or as Crazy Moose Lady said on Monday, “How about the rest of us? Right-winging, bitter-clinging, proud clingers of our guns, our God, and our religion, and our Constitution.”

Yes; Murragh In Cans want a leader who is undead -- or, bound to a robot body so as to stomp our many, many enemies flat.  As the poet says, Well, and then /  funny, ha ha, not funny / but now what they’re doing is wailing / Trump and his Trumpeters / not conservative enough. Zombie Rayguns and Robot Nixon will give Merrycow back its Gravitas and its full-service gas stations, where the Beefalo roam.

 They just know it to be true; so they will be coming, to a Primary state near you:  Vote early, and often.  Any questions, call Fat Karl.  He has The math.  A-roo.


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MEHR, MIT OBLIGATORISCH FOTO, VON NETTISCH KLEINE TIER:

Hoo Hoo Hoo; Es ist Natürlichkeit! Click Here To See More About This Little Guy
Don't Forget To Bring Your Personal Injury Attorney. 
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Friday, January 15, 2016

Wheeeeeeee

Random Barking:  Dog Track Daze

Would Risking It All At The Dog Races Be A Better Retirement Option?

The Great Curmudgeon, Blogger extraordinaire and member of the Kool Kidz, used to report days like today in the stock market under the title "Wheeee", and the usual note, "Another exciting day at the dog track." In fact, he still does.

And, it does appear to be an open question whether it's a better retirement option to bet your entire 401(k) on Greased Lightning in the fourth, as opposed to letting it ride on the Craps Table of the open market.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost over 1,000 points since the market opened on January 4th.

The plunge is historic -- the Dow has never dropped that far in so short a period of time.  And, since the market's last true high on May 19, 2015 (18,312), it's lost over 2,300 points.

(For a little perspective, in the 2008 Crash the DJIA went from a then-all-time high of 14,066 to 6,626 -- however, that took nineteen months, most of it in a 3,300-point slide over eight weeks in the fall of 2009; you can see it in the chart below.)

The DJIA, 2006-2016 -- As Your Significant Other Says, "Click To Enlarge"

The most obvious effect of a drop in the market is that the value of investments decreases; and, a company's value (it's Market Capitalization) also drops.  But the longer-term effects are hard to project. It's likely that hundreds of billions of dollars in stock value has been lost by investors, just on the Dow Jones -- the international stock market has lost over $2.4 Trillion US in just the past ten trading days  (international market losses in the 2008 Crash have been estimated at $15 Trillion; the GDP of the United States is $14 Trillion, just for comparison).

All of this has been happening against a backdrop of regional wars, migration; politics (in Europe and the U.S.); an increase in global terrorism -- and a lack of consensus, a tremendous irresolution, in the world over how any of it should be dealt with.

And, all the talking heads on finance programs, asked to explain what's happening and look ahead to the future, all say that future is bright -- but the market will remain volatile, possibly with further losses; be cautious! Or, maybe be ready to pick up a few bargains! Or not. Or some of both! Most of these people work for one major investment house or another, or have firms of their own; their clients wouldn't appreciate it if they simply said, "Hey, man; who knows?"

One question which keeps being asked (and by these same talking heads) is: has the 'recovery' of the U.S. economy since the '08 Crash been "real"? Corporations in the U.S. have been reporting record profits for five years -- and while the wages and salaries of their "individual contributors" (read: Peasants) have stagnated, salaries and bonuses for managers and executives have skyrocketed.

Millions of jobs have been added to the American economy since 2009 -- but are they sustainable positions, tied to businesses that manufacture or build things, and sell them? Or are they jobs with Uber and TaskRabbit, tech startups? As they part-time, working from home? Are they waitpersons or others in the "service economy", which can vanish with the next downturn? 

Companies like Uber and Airbnb, Facebook and Twitter, or Rovio (developer of 'Angry Birds') are worth billions, traded at hundreds of dollars per share -- and all of that value is blue-sky; strictly on paper. As in the Dot-Com era, the vast majority of Tech companies only provide access to online services which many might want to use, but which no one truly needs.  This is the current shiny new business model -- an economy (and an investment market) driven by businesses built on "sharing".

It's a Geek Dream: You build a business to do something cool -- a different way to do this or that with your smartphone, or connect to a a service. People's lives will be... just so much better! It'll be powered by software, available online or via mobile -- so you hire people whose lives revolve around coding, project management; 'presentation'.  And you need money. Lots and lots of money.

However, businesses like this don't create anything that has separate, definable and independent value -- like a hammer, or wristwatch or dinnerware.  The people driving the "sharing economy" sniff, "Making and selling things? So 20th century; not cool. Leave that to some poor people in Malaysia or Bangladesh. We're building the future."  But their businesses sell concepts; nothing more. Any business has to consider image and position and marketing; but in these days, it may be all these businesses are about -- appearance.

After manufacturing left the U.S. for elsewhere, and the businesses dependent on selling the things being manufactured closed... how were Americans supposed to make a living? Since Clinton's first term in office, the dream that keeps being touted (including by Obama in his most recent SOTU) is that, somehow, American workers will just have to become better educated, and trained, and take "tech jobs" in the "new digital economy." That rising digital tide, allegedly, will lift all boats.


My concern is that the present 'recovery' and the "sharing economy" is based on the development of businesses that are forced to quickly turn a profit in a vicious cycle: Venture Capitalists put their money into Tech startups specifically because the business models (unlike those for industrial processes, or manufacturing) have a rapid ROI. Everyone just wants to get richer. This same focus and method in the 90's helped create an overvalued, "overheated" Tech sector, better known as the Dot-Com bubble.  

If America's so-called recovery since 2008 had been a real sea-change -- for example, if more capital investment had gone into developing a new manufacturing base for next-generation technology to move away from fossil fuels, or create entirely new economic sectors for development and investment -- then, I'd feel more confident about the future.  With few exceptions, that didn't happen; so I don't.
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The global economy is more interconnected than even before the 2008 Crash. No matter how many Quants are running algorithms to analyze market action and so allow the firms who employ them to trade more effectively (and make more profit), there are simply too many variables in play for anyone to say what will happen next. So as it turns out, Hey man, who knows? really is what it comes down to.

I don't pretend to understand how international stock markets, international banks and finance corporations; falling oil prices and the effect on dependent sectors of the global economy; and how the stability of economies in China, the EU and the U.S. inter-relate and affect each other.  I've met people who make decisions involving hundreds of millions of dollars in institutional investments on a daily basis. If they make a bad call, people could lose their employment; pensions could be affected.  You couldn't pay me enough to live with the level of stress associated with that.

One thing is true: investment markets are in part experiments in crowd psychology; John Maynard Keynes coined the term "Animal Spirits" in the 1930's to describe something already known -- that investment decisions can be influenced by emotion over reason:
Even apart from the instability due to speculation, there is ... instability due to the characteristic of human nature that a large proportion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than mathematical expectations... [Most] of our decisions to do something positive... can only be taken as the result of animal spirits—a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of [reasoned decisions based on weighing the data].
-- The General Theory Of Employment, Interest, And Money (1936)
It's an election year. Expect more "volatility and uncertainty", and of course, plenty of Animal.
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MEHR, MIT EL-ERIAN; For Those Who Do:  Mohammed El-Erian, Very Wired-In Guy, writes about current global market instability in Canada's Globe and Mail. While I believe there are some additional forces at work, his main points I've extracted here:
Financial markets are undergoing two consequential transitions... The first has to do with the shift from a prolonged regime of repressed financial volatility to an environment in which such instability is higher and less predictable. The primary reason is that central banks are less willing ... or less able ... to act as suppressors of volatility. 

...The second transition involves liquidity... Facing tighter regulation and sharply reduced market appetite for short-term [losses], broker-dealers are a lot less willing to take on inventory when the market overshoots. Other pools of capital, including sovereign wealth funds, also face constraints in increasing their risk-taking.

Left unchecked, these two transitions would feed each other, accentuating the general sense of financial instability and insecurity. The longer this continues, the greater the volatility... and the higher the risk that the instability could then spill back onto financial markets, fueling a destabilizing vicious cycle of economic and financial dislocations.

The good news is that such dynamics ultimately exhaust themselves. Unfortunately, that only happens after a lot of volatility, accompanied by a heightened risk of very sharp and disorderly declines in financial asset prices as well as contagion.
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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Greg Stillson Neglects To Report Campaign 'Loan'

Doing God's Will (Well, Somebody's God, Anyway)


The New York Times reports that Greg Stillson (R - Canada), candydate for the Republican nomination as Empty Suit Front Man For The Owner Class™, has hidden failed to report as much as a $500K 'loan' arranged by the investment firm, Goldman-Sachs, which may have found its way into the coffers of his previous campaign for the U.S. Senate, raising questions about Stillson's ethics in seeking higher office.

Mr. Stillson's wife, Ilse, is employed by Goldman-Sachs as a Squid Wrangler, but is currently on leave to act as a helpmeet for her husband. 

A giant, speaking toad spokesperson for the Stillson For Leader campaign admitted that the loan from Goldman Sachs (drawn against the value of an investment account the Stillsons have with that firm), was a source of money for Stillson's race for the Senate in his current breeding ground in the Mutant Zone state of Texas.  "We had some media issues that had to be addressed," the spokesperson said.


However, failure to report the Goldman Sachs loan (for as much as $500,000) was “just one of those things,” the spokesperson said, adding that corrected reports would be filed, "and no one cares about this anyway. You should be getting right with god before you besmirch the beatific nature of the representative of Our Savior On Earth."  

There were, the spokesperson added, no attempts to hide anything. "But we will remember you who asked these trivial questions --  and on that great day when the Senator becomes Leader, those who are not pleasing in his sight shall be made to tremble."

Photo Of Stillson As A Child Preacher In His Native Canada

Mr. Stillson, a conservative former lay preacher and Amway distributor, campaigned for his Senate seat (the Times noted) "as a populist firebrand who criticized Wall Street bailouts and the influence of big banks in Washington. It is a theme he has carried into his bid for the Republican nomination for president."
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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

We're All Good

Liveblogging The STFU

You've Been A Tough House; G'Night !

 Ah, another year passes us by, and already it's nearly time for the Pepsodent to deliver the annual 'Feel Good About Ourselves' speech, the State Of The Union, which I refer to as the STFU. And we will be performing our little Dadaist liveblogging as we go with Nopence, rolling, rolling home (poor wife).

It was established in the Constitution that the Prestident would, from time to time, show up and report out on how everything is in This Great Land Of Ours. And we will be there, listening to Herr Obama's last speech in The Big House, and watching the capering antics of  Rethugpublicans and Der Amerikanischer Tea Partei in this, an elective year.  And there will be a Rethuglican Response to the STFU! Americans are so cruel. And fortunate.

We want you to know that watching the STFU has resulted in animal behaviors, which  may include dry mouth, rapid barking; sudden and irreversible loss of bowel and bladder control; the temporary inability to move. But it's delicious and keeps you in balance through new Eco-Boost technology. Check with your Doktor before STFU.

Ooops; sorry -- I'm already liveblogging the commercials. As usual, we're tuned to CBS, the network of Uncle Walter, and Eric, and Dan What's The Frequency. It makes me feel happy but at the same time not so happy because we are proud -- the key is to change how people see us. And Thus the STFU will be America's best-selling brand and only at your Ford dealer. It's all theater, man. All In The Game, Yo.
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6:03 PM:  John Dickerson and Norah O'Donnell of CBS tells Scott Pelley everything. This is about larger ideas in a circle, and this is an early STFU because of elections and the Pestident wants to put on Trump's cap.  Margaret Brennan has been at the White House all day and is tired but still they pester her with questions. Scotty is so cruel.

Little Paulie Ryan is the new Speaker-To-Animals, and took a dim view of this STFU. He just wants to tell the Poptent to STFU already.

6:06 PM:  The Sargent At Arms is bellowing; the Perterdunt is marching, marching down the aisle; yes we see him, blocked by a man with a camera. Camera Persons are so cruel. The Punterdant is slapping shoulders in manly fashion. As in past STFU's, man Republigan members (read: Dicks) are dressed in windbreakers and jeans, as if they have somewhere else to be that involves housecleaning or barbecue. Clearly their focus is elsewhere.

Herr Obama has offered an Olive Branch to Paulie Ryan, and is giving his speech to people now. Not as cool as getting a nice book of porno, but Paulie gets to say he has a rare privilege and here's That Guy.
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6:11 PM:  I understand that because it's an election season, it will be constructive, and I'm hoping we can work on some bipartisan priorities, like helping people battle each other and  -- who knows! We may go easy on the year ahead. Don't worry, I have plenty and the progress we make will be about fixing, protecting, equality, and raising the minimum things that matter to hard-working families. I want to get 'em done.  And terrarists plotting a half a world away.

America has been before. Each time, we have been afeared of people who just got something that threatened to take America out of control. In the words of Lincoln, We Fought A Gnu; We acted Like A Gnu. And because we did -- the opportunity made us better than before, with horns.
The Gnu, Which We Fought, And Became.
6:16 PM:  What was true then could be true now -- because we are unique and separate from history, discovering adversity and committed to ruling law, and will secure prosperity forever.  That's how we recovered from The Great Crash (Applause, from Democrats -- Little Paule Ryan is sitting behind Herr Obama like a mannequin).

Will we face the future with calluses and be better, or talk about the future?  There are Four Big Questions, regardless of whether Donald Trump paints the White House Puce.  (1)How Do We? and (2)How Do We?  (3)How Do We? And Finally, How Do We?

6:22 PM: There is a basic fact about the economy -- We have  the most virile economy in the world; we have a giant member. More than 14,000,000 feet long, all grown within the year. It's just part of a surge that has been done on the cheap. Anyone who says America's economy is in decline is Battling A Giant Fiction. You've seen them in Hollywood movies; they're Big Fictions.

But because corporations are disloyal and can do whatever they want, America's workers work hard and shake themselves fairly, but are concerned. We make progress out of thin air, and need to make more.

Americans, Broads or No, agree they need to be trained. No Child Left Behind was sadly abandoned somewhere but we made it do a Thing it could not do (Applause). Every student was offered hands to be on with their teachers, and there were laws.

We have to make every American affordable (Applause).

All of us here in this Chamber are doin' great (Laughter). But everybody else in Murrika needs to spend time and effort to retrain, whether they want to or not.  It's the new digital economy that will be here now, and we must train, train or not eat.

Let us strengthen Social Security (All Rethuglicans sit, hands folded, sour faces: Death To Grandma and Grandpa! Useless Eaters !  Free Markets Will Lift Or Sink Their Boats!)  I guess we won't agree on Health Care, and you laugh out there -- but there are other ways we can work hard to make sure that a person who loses a job can still pay his bills; and that's how we make the economy better.

Speaker To Animals Ryan has said things (Applause).  But there are some areas which we have found in seven years -- it's an honest disagreement; Paulie wants big bloated corporations to do whatever they want and I just want the red tape to go away (Applause).

6:30 PM:  But working families will allow big banks and oil companies to do what they want. Food Stamp recipients didn't cause Wall Street; those decisions were made by average families who sit in Board Rooms. Workers need more, not less. Rules should work for them or be fired. I want to spread Best Practices, like Best Foods, across America with a giant Best-Spreader.

How do we ignite things sixty years ago? America is every immigrant racer in Silicon Valley; that's who we are. More low-income students and online tools will be brought together, but we can do so much more. Vice-President Biden worked with the National Science Guys to do things to cure cancer.

(Applause for Joe, whose son died from cancer -- but not from Little Paulie, sitting right next to him.  Inhuman Stupid Fucker = cruel).

6:35 PM:  Ever if the planet was 2014, even if it wasn't Global Warm 'n Toasty, would you pass up the chance to make a buck off of it? (Applause) Seven years ago we made investments in fields, and on rooftops and in jobs that, by the way, environmentalists and Tea Parteigenossen have come together to support (Applause).

Now we must accelerate, especially in communities that are fossilized. That's why I will push to reflect taxpayers, putting money and workers in those communities (Applause, but never from the Thugs). The planet, we will preserve, and that's for our kids. How am I doin'?

6:40 PM:  All the rhetoric about our enemies getting stronger? The United States Of America Has the biggest Dick in the Universe (Applause) We spend more on our military, our troops have all the Morse in the history of the world;  nobody fucks with us because they know they don't call Bejing or Moscow, people call us. It's useful, because it's a dangerous time.

The Middle East dates back to economic headwinds in China that are contracting in Russia or Ukraine, and slipping away. The international system built after WW2 won't keep pace with us. We have to remake that system, with priorities.

(1)Protecting America's networks. Both Al-Kiadea and Eyesil use the Internet, and we have to focus on destroying them, but its not WW3. Guys on the back of pickup trucks? They're not a threat to our national existence. They don't represent Islam (Applause, but not from the Rethugs). We have to be rooted out. (Applause)

6:45 PM:  If you people are serious about taking out ISIL, vote for it. The American people should know that justice can be done -- just ask any of the people we've taken out in drone strikes.  We remember stuff and we'll just wait for you. Our foreign policy is focused on the threat of Eyesil, everywhere; many places may become new safe havens for The Bad. The world will look to us to solve everything.

Fortunately, there is a smarter approach; America will always act -- it's why we have Hollywood. That's our approach to places like Syria, where we can't seem to pull a coalition together;  but look at Iran -- where we asked them not to build a bomb but they can jack up our navy as if they were North Korea and we will let them because Freedom.

The Pacific Trade Agreement is the right thing because so many Rich People want it. It will mean Good Jobs at Good Wages. Pass it, like a kidney stone. Call for a vote on the environment if you're so tough. The point is, American leadership is not where we kill terrorists or occupy things. It means around the world that we see our national security is in leaving nearly 200 nations to themselves.

The power of example is American leadership, rejecting any policies that targets people because of race or religion (Applause, but -- you know. Fuck these people). The world respects us for our diversity. Pope Francis told us that imitating murderers is the best way to take their place. When Mosques are vandalized, we aren't safer  -- here, anyway.  It betrays who we are as a country (Little Paulie refuses to applaud).

We The People -- our Constitution, we recognize as insisting we rise and fall together, so we can perfect our nation. So here's number 4:  The future, all of it, in it's glowing and pustulent glory, is within our reach, but it will only happen -- and I'm on a roll, preacher-style, now -- if a better politics is needed. I'll try to be better, my fellow Murikans.

7:00 PM:  Good people in this chamber want things to be elevated but feel trapped by the noise comin' out of your face. It's the worst-kept secret in Washington. But if we want better politics, it isn't enough to change our leaders, we need to change the system (Democratic applause). At least nobody is yelling, "You Lie!" at me this time.

This is America (looks around, as if unsure). But changes in our political process aren't just Who gets elected, but how, and when the American people demand it.

The problem is, all the folks who were elected believe our actions and words don't matter. People with money and power want greater control. And as frustration grows, voices will urge us to become tribal, and we can't afford it because the economy contradicts everything that makes us who we are. Whether you supported my agenda or not, our collective futures count on you to stand up for the weak. Somebody, somewhere, stood up for us.

7:05 PM: When I am no longer in this office, I will have traveled so far.  I will hear the voices -- immigrant, straight, native born gay, and Doctor King -- they don't have a lot of potential, they don't say a lot, but I hear them. All the time. In daily acts of citizenship.  I see the worker clocking, the boss paying, and the dreamer who stays up late. And the early teacher, because she knows a grrl may cure a disease. The brave, private work of keeping us safe.

I see us all. None of them understand that elections have been bought out from under them, but that's the America I know.  Unconditional -- because I believe in the American people. I am as confident that I am, God bless you.
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Little Norah O'Donnell reminds us that Herr Obama "seemed defensive at many points", and has an overall approval rating of 45% (Norah's overall approval rating is 10, but we're not here for that). So cruel, Little Norah.
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The Rethug Response
 
(The Reptilian response was delivered by Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina, a god-fearing, non-Caucasian female.)

Good evening. I am from a capitol of our state. It's rich, and in just a minute I want to say just a few words about Barack Obama. They may be bad words. He inspired millions, just as Herr Hilter did, and he had respect, but sadly the Prestident's office feels the squeeze of health care and crushing debt, and chaotic unrest. Even worse, we are facing a terratrist threat he is unable or unwilling to dealt with. No one can keep you safe but paid killers, those without principle or moral order. So thank god you have Repustlicans then.

Now let's talk about the future, and neither am I. You and I are frustrated, and it has built up year after year. We need to be honest -- Democrats bear all the responsibility, but so do others, though I don't say who, though I mean Trumpolina.

We need to accept erosion, and in the foundation of America, which never went anywhere. It's right here. I am the proud owner of living in this country, growing up a Foreign Darkie in the rural South, as long as we were willing to work for it. And we had each other or else.

Our shores have been here for generations for people, time and again. Today, we have recent memory. In ancient times, we resisted the temptation to allow our tradition to open our borders. We can't allow immigrants -- and I am kind of an immigrant, telling you -- we must stop it, and welcome the legal people. I have no doubt we can protect our sentinels, all true to America's noblest something.

On an ordinary Wednesday evening, people came and joined us. They didn't sound like us or look like us but were pregnant and what happened after the tragedy we must remember. Our people had violence, but had vigilance because we turned towards god -- the things that divide us. The hate that filled up. God of money, god of vengeance.

In many parts of society, the media has a tendency to think some people must be the loudest voice to make a difference. And it can make a world of difference. Republicans will stand up loudly in the room, for our beliefs. We will be heard, and all about America. We will do everything, as we have always said we would -- but this time, we are actually letting you keep your dog.

As a cornerstone of our Democracy, again, we have a Second Amendment celebrated, and not the other way around. An armed country will make others think twice. We would actually strengthen our military. Because when we fight, we win, except for Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan and Kent State.

Our forefathers weighed us. America; the finest country for men -- and women !
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And for all the rest of us -- The Smell Of Inevitability is ahead.  Fasten your seat belts:

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Plastic Soul

David Bowie (1947-2016)

(Photo: Leonhard Foeger / Reuters)

Ground Control to Major Tom. Take your protein pills and put your helmet on ... For here am I sitting in my tin can. Far above the world. Planet Earth is blue. And there's nothing I can do. 

Now he knows what we do not.  So turn and face the strange.
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