Things I Learned from the President


  • It’s possible to proclaim innocence too much.
  • Clean air and water are good things.
  • Chinese food is tasty!


  • Be Careful!
  • Sometimes success is stepping up when you happen to be in the right place at the right time.


  • It’s possible to be a good man and not-so-good a President.
  • Telling people the obvious won’t make you popular. Sometimes they just don’t want to hear it.
  • Being too diplomatic can backfire.


  • Sometimes a pithy one liner is the best “argument.”
  • Don’t lose track of reality when you are negotiating.
  • Call it “supply side” or call it “trickle down,” it still doesn’t work.
  • Tell an outlandish enough lie, and somebody will call you on it.

Bush 41:

  • Don’t make a pithy one liner you can’t keep.
  • It doesn’t pay to lose track of the little people and their concerns.
  • If you feel sick, you shouldn’t go out.
  • It takes a lot of skill to pretend to not know something that theoretically should have been discussed with you in the room.
  • You’re never too old to do something fun just because you want to on your birthday.
  • All your sons can’t grow up to be “the smart one.”


  • Take credit for things you do — or good things that happen when you’re in charge.
  • Do your dry cleaning promptly.
  • Sex with the help is a bad idea.
  • If someone wants to hurt you bad enough, they will find a way.
  • Just because you walked to McDonald’s doesn’t mean a cheeseburger is good for you.
  • Repeating one meme over and over is almost as good as a pithy one liner.
  • Don’t lose track of the important stuff. Stand your ground when it’s important.

Bush 43:

  • There are no Illuminati.
  • People will do almost anything if it’s for “safety” and “security.”


  • We can elect a black man President and still have a big race problem.
  • “Liberal” and “Conservative” have changed so much that we call Mr. Obama a Liberal despite the fact that he’s well to the right of Mr. Nixon.
  • We really do have a plutocracy.

Technically I was alive during the Johnson Administration. I don’t remember any of it.

In Closing: death penalty; Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill isn’t over yet; Hurricanado; Women’s Equality Day; the sad state of humans when it comes to searching; terrorism since 9/11; this could be part of the illegal worker problem; school quality; why The Steve resigned now; debt; decoding book reviews; the role of metabolism in weight loss; Cheney takes credit (bet he never travels outside the country again); and Chemistry.

Too Mad to Write about Politics

Seriously. If I write about any of the crap spewing from Washington — whether from Congress, Timmy Geithner, or our gutless President who is more conservative than Nixon or Reagan — I’m likely to say something regrettable. So here’s what some other people have to say. As it is, I use a little more salty language than normal, so deal with it.

Here’s something on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. You know, the group of fatcat businessmen that President Obama was begging to create jobs? What a bunch of “greedy fucks.”

Here’s what an 11 year old girl has to say about Gitmo. Notice where she admits that some of her information may be biased? I have hope for the critical thinking skills of the next generation, somewhat less hope that the War on Terror will ever end.

There’s a lot to be said about Egypt today. How about we start with a picture:
Bill Day

But really, this sums up my thoughts well.

There’s really a lot to say about the Anti-Woman forces calling themselves “Pro-Life”, but I’ll let Nancy start the parade. Remember, HR3 has a much wider reach than most people know. That’s even before we start talking about conscience clauses that would allow ignorant ******* to turn people away whose pregnancies can kill them. That’s before we talk about the fact that if these ******** had their way, women whose “babies” would be born with fatal birth defects would be forced to carry that corpse to term, endure dozens of well meaning people asking “Is it a boy or a girl? Have you picked a name??”, go through all the complications of pregnancy including the possibility of death in labor, all so some ******** can pretend he — and I do mean HE — is preventing abortions. People who think that is acceptable can rot in hell. Republicans want to cut family planning too, so we know they don’t really give a damn about preventing abortions.

Here’s something on states declaring bankruptcy to get out of paying people the retirement funds they were promised — and remember, state employees pay no Social Security taxes, so those pensions may be all they’ve got.

Speaking of bankruptcy, here’s something on how the bankruptcy “reform” of a few years back contributed to the foreclosure mess.

Nobody seems to remember that almost all regulations are put in place to protect somebody. Of course it’s dumb to say that regulations are automatically “job killing.” If the people whining about “job killing” gave a shit about jobs, maybe they wouldn’t be trying to cut and gut jobs programs! Here’s an urgent message for our elected officials: JOBS are still the number one issue on Americans’ minds. Put people to work, and some of the other problems — national deficit, social security, foreclosures — might start to fix themselves.

But this one really makes me mad. Ornery has it right when he calls the move to cut emergency funding for heating in the middle of a colder than average winter “so fucking tone deaf it boggles my fucking mind.” Heaven forbid we should raise taxes on people making, say, a million dollars a year when we can just freeze Granny to death! Who needs a death panel when you’ve got a blizzard? Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot!

See how mad I am, and all I’m really doing is quoting other people? Over the weekend I promise to have something happier to say… about something.

In Closing: Kafka-san; tip of the iceberg?; junk fees and foreclosure; too lazy; secret air travel; pot of gold; is it snarky if it’s true?; the status quo is bad; on conservatives and the Bible; city-states; zero tolerance means zero thinking; vaccinate; the budget.

On Being a Responsible Consumer

I grew up in a household that values the power of the consumer. I have never crossed a picket line. My father refused to so much as ride in a Mercedes because of what the company did in World War 2, before he was born. I’m not sure, but I think when Mercedes bought Chrysler, he sold his 10 year old New Yorker in favor of a Ford. He had purchased it used. I have at least forgiven VW for things done over 60 years ago.

Alright then. Just about the time that Wal-Mart (mostly) rehabilitated it’s corporate image, Target got itself in hot water with the liberal/progressive communities with ill-considered campaign donations, and stayed there after some Halloween ads that were considered in poor taste by Parent-Americans. Ok, fine, looks like Wal-Mart has moved to be the lesser of two evils, at least until the other day when they “teamed up” with the Department of Homeland Security to “catch terrorists” (remember, terrorists do “suspicious” things). Clearly, no officials from the DHS have ever actually been inside a Wal-Mart.

So where am I supposed to shop? Albertsons apparently wants to get rid of unions; is it alright to shop at Smith’s or Von’s? Will it be acceptable next week? Even if I could afford to shop at Whole Foods, there’s still the scandal surrounding their purchase of Wild Oats. I could go down to the farmer’s market, but unlike those amazing markets in cities like San Francisco, there’s just not a whole lot available. This of course assumes that the vendors at my local farmer’s market aren’t practicing the exact same contemptible business practices of the worst factory farms. “Hey Mr. Farmer! You don’t mind if I drive on out to your farm and see if your workers are legal before I spend $3 on onions, do you??”

And now I’m supposed to get rid of my account because they decided that the rest of their clients were more important than one controversial one? Screw that!

Since I am clearly not allowed to shop anyplace convenient or close, that means I’ll be using a bunch more gas: do I buy it from the guys who polluted Alaska, the guys who poisoned the Gulf of Mexico, one of many that is stirring up Middle East unrest, or the Venezuelan “dictator”? How do I reconcile my bigger “carbon footprint” with avoiding businesses whose practices I don’t like? Do I buy the electric car from Japan, or the American one that unlocks all my doors and puts my life in danger every time I put it in park?

Things get even worse if you want to boycott products by a certain company. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Proctor and Gamble has done something you disapprove of: here’s everything you must avoid if you want to vote with your wallet! You’ll have an easier time getting by without Colgate-Palmolive’s products. If you decide you won’t give money to P&G, Colgate, or Unilever, give up any hope of cleanliness. Ever. We’ll just call you Pig-Pen. Unless you prefer “Dirty Hippie.”

And let’s not get started on banks! Even if you are willing to endure the hassle of changing banks, the only way to be sure your new bank won’t be taken over by one of the big players is to give up and bank with a “too big to fail” institution and just live with the BAMTOR Principle. It’s worse with mortgages: you can’t control who buys the note, you can’t control who your servicer is, and you may not be able to stop them from claiming you owe money even if you don’t.

So how exactly am I supposed to “vote with my wallet”?

I’m deadly serious about this. It has literally gotten to the point where I cannot avoid doing business with companies I don’t like. How can I possibly stick it to the Oligarchy when I can’t go a day and a half without giving them my money or using their products and services?

When Ted Kaczynsky starts to look sane, the nation has gone crazy.


Yesterday, we learned that Ford was planning to create 1200 new jobs in the state of Michigan. GM and Chrysler also announced job plans.

This morning I learned the truth: they planned to create those new jobs if they got certain tax breaks.

Sure is a nice state ya got here, Miz Granholm. Sure would be a shame if somethin should happen to it.”

Seeing as Ford’s profit in just the last three months was $1.7 billion ($1700 million if you prefer), why do they deserve such a tax break at the expense of the everyday people who pay taxes? Don’t you suppose the tax break given to the large and newly profitable again auto manufacturers could do a lot towards fixing Michigan’s abysmal roads and Detroit’s crumbling infrastructure? Perhaps it would be easier to balance Michigan’s budget if they didn’t have to play tax games with their biggest taxpayers.

Of course every state and many municipalities have to play this game, and corporations are more than happy to play us off one another, threatening to pick up their factories and stores and go somewhere else if they don’t get their way. And since Congress is a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Business, we can’t expect them to level the playing field for us. All we can do is sit back and hope our state and local politicians don’t screw us too hard in the name of “economic development” that may never materialize.

In Closing: How will they make enough money without bubbles to inflate??; college degrees by county; growth, accidents, and the poisoning of the Gulf of Mexico; the ACLU finally caught up to me on this one; I agree; how about we stop doing things we aren’t proud of instead?; Paul is Dead; and a novel way to get crime tips.

Grape Leaves Changing Color

Fall has officially arrived in Vegas.

In Closing: 22.5%; a brave man confronts ignorant women; it’s the continuing adventures of Harry and Sharron!; glad I’m not in Chicago this week; accidental gay marriage; is anyone really, honestly surprised they’ve found oil at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico? Really?; no wonder things are tough all over; Vote For Jobs (and in my opinion, against ballot initiatives); the Problem with Charity; I bet that there may be jobs at the worlds largest solar-thermal plant; what is the Treasury hiding?; BlueGal‘s got your Contract With America; Hup, two, three, four, keep it up, two, three, four; trial balloon (notice that the things under consideration mostly effect working class people?); gee I can’t imagine why; the “step 2” problem with austerity; President Obama created more jobs this year than President Bush created in 8 years; on poverty and student performance; ZAP!; and Janitors with PhDs.

Nice of him to notice, and Economic Bonus Round

I am glad to see someone with a high profile speaking out on this, and I sincerely hope other journalists start talking about it.

Now, about that economy.

The nicest thing I can say about the United States economy right now is that unemployment isn’t as bad as it is in much of Europe. Our economy lost jobs last month — and only partly because some of those temporary Census workers were let go — but the really awful part is that the number of workers went down. It isn’t that we had an abnormal number of people die or retire or anything like that, it’s just that over a half million people gave up on trying to find work. And that’s why the official unemployment rate went down.

Of course, if you just happen to have the right set of highly technical job skills, there are plenty of jobs. But — as Jill so ably points out — somehow or another businesses don’t think they should actually have to train employees to use very specialized equipment. I guess they are waiting for the “Qualified Employee Fairy” to stuff resumes under the door.

It’s also worth pointing out that the SBA is running out of money again, which means it will be even harder for small businesses to get money to ramp up operations and create jobs. I am no supporter of the SBA — everyone I’ve ever known that has ever talked to them has ended up with an application for a second mortgage — but this is crazy.

So when all is said and done, I think that more than being “still in the gravitational pull of the Great Recession” and perhaps headed for a “double-dip recession,” it is more intellectually honest to say that from the standpoint of the typical American, there is no recovery: we still aren’t finding jobs, we still are having trouble paying the mortgage, we are still declaring bankruptcy at an alarming rate. Fine, maybe our largest corporations are still making plenty of money, but without the American consumer having money in pocket to buy goods and services, GDP growth can only be somewhere between shaky and an illusion.

In Closing: Uncle Shelby; turns out the kids are bored and not learning the things they should; on the newly revised dietary guidelines; fun with Google auto-complete; biggest banks in the world (and the ones that don’t exist anymore; and please, please drive safely this weekend.

Shorties Sematary

Nothing about mortgages or housing today, I promise!

When did Progressives turn into Reaganites?: With Progressive “ideas” like these, we don’t need Conservatives. Doesn’t matter, the Party Of No shoulders on. Maybe everybody thinks the Underpants Gnomes will take care of the problem.

The other side of the coin: Everybody’s favorite Liberal President, Richard M. Nixon! That damn Commie signed the EPA into law, called for true universal health care, and made Father’s Day an official holiday.

Speaking of Conservatives: b***s*** like this and this are why I don’t listen to most of them.

I Shot a Bank in Reno, Just to Watch it Die: Bank Failure 83 this year. It’s only June. 90 banks have missed their TARP payments, so watch out for more to come.

I’m not sure I entirely agree, but it’s an interesting thought: why baggage fees are good for most travelers, with bonus bagging on airport security.

Aim Carefully When Shooting Your Foot, You Wouldn’t Want to Mess Up Your Pumps: I’m not worried about Sharron Angle anymore. Between blowing off a major news outlet in a market that represents 80% of the voting base (there’s a link for video goodness) and not having any money, Senator Reid has no problems.

On Why Medical Care is More Expensive: Not only is it more complicated, it actually works now. Speaking of which, how quaint that USA Today thinks patients have any control over the use of electronic medical records! Oh yeah, and it looks like your doc will only have a 21% pay drop from Medicare in June. Which by the way is generally a lean month for doctors anyway.

The Beginnings of  Made For TV Disaster Movie: The Night the Oil Rig Exploded. Several scenes already sketched out, with character development and dialogue, ripped from real life.

On Teacher Assessment: It’s only fair to assess them on stuff they have some control over.

It turns out that Moving is Expensive and Inconvenient: Raising taxes on the rich doesn’t cause them to move to other states. If it did, there would be no multi-millionaires in California and lots of huge mansions outside Primm.

On Fraudulent Debt Collection: Has it really gotten to the point where all somebody needs to do is claim you owe money? Even if you do owe money, there’s stuff you don’t have to tolerate from debt collectors.

Why, No Matter What the GDP is, We Are Still in a Recession: Only the very rich have money to spend.

The “Experts” show their Ignorance Once Again: Experts declare that kids don’t need close friends. Parents scratch their heads, wondering where the heck kids will learn to have relationships with other human beings.

The Crazy Neighbor: Whew!

Have a great weekend, folks! Feel free to let me know what you think of the ads in comments.

2001 Maniacs: Field of Shorties

The Truth About Cattle Grazing: done correctly, it can help restore the land.

Two Funny Things and a Lot of Unfunny Ones about Racism: Let’s get rid of the Mexicans, and Who translated this for you? There’s a movement afoot to pass laws that violate the 14th Amendment on the grounds that not everyone born here has parents that are really not American enough. By not American enough, they generally mean “brown.” There are a number of problems with this, aside from Constitutional issues (funny how some people only like the Constitution some of the time). First, you might end up with people who can’t prove they were born anywhere because the law denies them a birth certificate. Second, you might end up with people who are effectively not citizens of any nation, because they weren’t born in the country of their parent’s citizenship. Third and finally, who gets to decide what constitutes “American enough”? At least “born in U.S.” is a simple to apply measure.

More on Friday’s lousy employment report: Good, bad, and ugly. Really ugly.

Obligatory Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Items: Woo, recapturing a whole 10,500 barrels a day. Really interesting that a BP exec managed to dump a third of his company stock a month before the disaster. You would think they could find a cable tie to keep stuff out of the way on the equipment BP is using a mile below the surface. Harry Reid thinks BP should pay for the clean-up (more on Harry come Tuesday with the Nevada Primaries, probably over on TMV). And on BP’s spill “plan”.

Civil Forfeiture Must Go: Guy sells truck on a payment plan. Truck gets seized by the cops. Cops don’t care that guy still has title and is owed money on said truck. Somehow I bet GMAC doesn’t have this problem.

And it’s only June 6: 22% of states have passed new abortion restrictions and 81 bank failures so far this year.

Speaking of the Banks: 6 made $51,000,000,000 last year; the other 980 lost money.

While we’re on the topic of making money: Just the threat of Federal enforcement makes companies want to restate their earnings.

How Laws are Really Made: Most people of my generation were taught that it works something like this, but the truth is a bit more complicated.

Run Sarah Run!: Ten reasons she should just keep doing the speaking circuit and stay the heck off the ballots.

Two Medical Items: Did you know that if enough doctors decide “No, that isn’t enough money for that procedure and we won’t take that insurance anymore,” the Government can decide they are in violation of anti-trust laws? And scroll down for a breakdown of infant mortality rates in developed nations, compared to health care spending per capita and military spending as a percentage of GDP. The United States has a shameful showing.

And Finally, Japanfilter: Fireflies.

Twofer Thursday: This is Your Economy and Warren Buffett Redux

This is Your Economy:

The ADP payroll report is out today. They’re the people who print paychecks, so they have a very good idea how many private sector jobs there are. And in May, they say there were 55,000 more private sector jobs. All the gains came from the “service” sector: jobs that often begin with “how can I help you” and end with “is there anything else” (or alternatively, “would you like fries with that”). No new manufacturing jobs; no new construction jobs; no jobs doing anything that won’t be gone or irrelevant in 6 months. Tomorrow the Bureau of Labor Statistics will come out with their own numbers, which include government jobs. And since there are roughly 400,000 extra Census workers on the job right now, they are expected to announce something like 540,000 new jobs. Because those Census workers will be unemployed by Christmas, we should really call this 140,000 new and possibly permanent jobs. Once more, we haven’t added enough jobs to account for people entering the workforce (sorry, class of 2010!) let alone put the unemployed to work.

Speaking of the unemployed, the percentage of them who have been out of work more than half a year is at record levels. Sadly, unemployment is higher among parents, who have families to feed. Let’s not forget that the biggest reason for unemployment benefits is that those kids didn’t do anything wrong and still deserve roof-over-head and dinner-on-the-table. And in an unconscionable move, at least one employer is advertising that they won’t consider your application if you are unemployed! On what planet is it desirable to hire people who you know will jump ship for a better gig, when there are thousands of unemployed people desperate to work for you? Even without the public relations nightmare unfolding, how can this possibly be good business?

No wonder personal bankruptcy filings are up.

This is your economy. And now, in the face of a consumer revolt that threatens to turn into a voter revolt, Congress is actually considering doing something about the people who got us here. It sure sounds like too little too late, if it happens at all.

Warren Buffett Redux (a follow up):

Yesterday was the big day for the Oracle of Omaha. He had to sit down in front of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and explain how the 3rd richest man in the world let a ratings agency he had partial ownership of overlook the real estate bubble. Well, he didn’t want to “look foolish” by sounding the alarm. After all, everybody was trying to make a buck in real estate. Nobody could have seen it coming, especially the company that was paid to see it coming. Which is it: he didn’t want to be the first to say anything, or nobody could have foreseen it?

Kind of unimpressive testimony. It’s almost like he was trying to invoke his right to remain silent.

In Closing: Androids don’t play Tetris; Wal-Mart’s lawyers warned the company not to be misogynist prigs in 1995; obligatory Gulf of Mexico oil spill items; Congressional slap-fight may make it hard to buy a home anywhere floods are a remote risk; Driving While Black (I feel certain that “brown” is close enough in many areas); cooking is hard; health insurance limbo; vaccine refusal puts everyone at risk; National Association of Evangelicals might actually be ready to face reality, that birth control prevents abortions; farewell Mercury; the 50 year “anomaly”; Governor Gibbons made the Real ID Zombie walk again, but the ACLU’s got a boomstick; and Star Trek insignia. Yes, I do try to always make the last item fun.

The Man is Right. Oops, I meant Correct.

Over the past few days, a Robert Reich piece has been making the rounds, and appeared today in the Christian Science Monitor. It’s called “Five reasons Obama should put BP under receivership.”

Now, just for review. Oil has been spewing into the gulf at roughly 3-5 times the rate BP says it has for over a month. Coverup and obfuscation from officials continue. Oil has hit multiple states. BP’s half-hearted attempts to stop the flow (and save themselves billions of dollars) are officially over, and they hope that relief wells will stop the problem when they are done — in August! The fact that it is still described as a “hope” does not instill confidence. In the meantime, hurricane season is upon us. While the problem is many feet underwater, the humans dealing with it must contend with weather on the surface. That doesn’t even address the issue of high winds and waves as a “dispersant.” It should be obvious to everyone who isn’t hopelessly addicted to wingnut commentators that there is an environmental disaster that is quickly becoming an economic disaster for the people whose livelihood depends on the Gulf of Mexico.

The CSM asks what kind of “reforms” this will trigger. If it’s anything like our health insurance “reforms” and our financial “reforms,” expect nothing and suffer no disappointment should we receive it in abundance.

Back to Mr. Reich. He’s one of the Clinton Era fixtures that wasn’t returned to the White House when Mr. Obama arrived. All things considered, I suspect it’s because he’s too “L word” and I don’t mean “Lesbian.” (as an aside, where did this idea come from??) Anyway, Mr. Reich has 5 key reasons that BP needs to be temporarily taken over by the Feds. And unfortunately they are good reasons. They’ve been lying to us. We have no idea if they really are doing enough to stop this thing. They want to go ahead with risky strategies to (maybe) stop it, and the Feds currently have no way to stop them from making matters worse. For that matter we have little authority to do much of anything. Many on the Right want to blame Mr. Obama, but he’s not in charge and can’t be unless he’s willing to nationalize BP (a very Left position), in essence making their property forfeit due to bad management.

Liberal rock, meet conservative hard spot. That oily bit in between is what’s left of the libertarian position.

Only the Federal government is big enough to stop the environmental destruction that will eventually circle the world, and they can only do that if they are willing to seize the day — and the company.

In Closing: What morons thought this was a good idea and more importantly have they been fired yet?; Bank of America doesn’t care that she owns it free and clear, they’re foreclosing anyway (why exactly do I pay my mortgage?); Congrats to the many college grads, who are unfortunately both drowning in student loan debt and unprepared for the workforce; U.S. insists that Afghan peace plan must preserve women’s rights (which means there will be no peace); Dalian, China may look like this today, but to me it will always look more like this (turns out there is a Dalian Power Plant!); We just can’t afford to continue spending 155% of our average after tax income, at least not without serious debt and destroying the worth of our assets; bank failures continue; European unemployment is as bad as ours; Brad DeLong wonders if Washington really cares about the problem of unemployment (they will when the “unemployed” turn into the “angry mob”); solve the childhood obesity problem, the reputation of cops, and the made up problem of stranger danger in one brilliant move; it’s not 1967 anymore; basic economics at work (some would argue it’s a less dangerous crop than corn); and how to put on a yukata.