No Shortie Lives

Ok, just so you know, air quality in Vegas is absolutely awful today because of the massive fire on Mount Charleston. This also means that Vegas’s favorite get-out-of-the-heat spot is closed. So on with the Shorties.

A Few Words on Abortion: Don’t want one? Don’t have one. Don’t think others should have them? Support birth control or admit that what you’re really against is sluts having sex.

Insurance Companies Fixing Things: Heh, Kansas’s plan to let teachers carry guns has effectively been nixed by the insurance company. It makes me wonder if SWAT team tactics might not be fixed by enough insurance claims. Turns out Allstate and those guys have lots of lawyers on the payroll….

Always Low Wages: Walmart threatens to leave DC if they are forced to pay a living wage. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Speaking of Wages and the Mood of the American People: liberty vs security, where’s the outrage, I’m not sure it’s capitalism to blame.

On Health Insurance Reform: “The politicians’ consensus is that health care reform shouldn’t alter or disrupt the way the majority of Americans get their insurance today…. The policy consensus, though, is that the status quo is actually the problem and that it deserves to be threatened, undermined and replaced as expeditiously as possible.” Further, it turns out that when real people are forced to hold their noses and select coverage, they choose the plan that costs the least every paycheck and still pray they don’t get sick because the coverage sucks. I concede that means I was wrong about where cash-pay clinics are headed; we’re gonna need more, not less.

How about Lowering the Danger, then?: Pentagon wants to cut danger pay.

On the Millenials: Matt Bors. Thank heaven we have a better name for them than “Generation Y”.

Miscellany: Banks, Choirs, Sinners, Poor Little Pageant QueenCats, Planes, and freakin hipsters.


Music Monday: I Love Trash

Thank Jukkou for this one:


In Closing: Must see pictures from Turkey; Always Low Wages; Four Horsemen; Duhpartment of Research shows young people are generally progressive; right, because I totally am going to go to a drugstore for sushi and a makeover</sarcasm>; food stamps are a good thing (heh); tax breaks; I kinda like this lady’s style; and how lazy do you have to be for this to seem like a good idea?



A Really Bad Week for Music

In the last week, we have lost a bunch of fine musicians.

First, Dave Brubeck.

Then, Jenni Rivera — with whom I was not familiar prior to her unfortunate death.

Yesterday, Russian born Soprano Galina Vishnevskaya.

And today, Ravi Shankar. Apparently, somebody forgot to tell him these things happen in threes.

In Closing: turns out the Feds did good on this investment; the return of on the job training (waaah, it costs more than miraculously finding people who already have the skills!); the right to work for less; record period of no freezing in Vegas couldn’t possibly be because of global warming!; reinventing the wheel; even Wal-Mart is feeling it; if you can, give a hand to JP; and congrats to Ornery Bastard.

A Plea for Civility

Can we please all stop with the name-calling?

Seriously, I don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative, we need to stop hurling around insulting names. It doesn’t do a bit of good, certainly doesn’t persuade anyone to your way of thinking, and it makes everyone who agrees with you look like an asshole.

I’m tired of hearing about Mooselini, the Chimpinator, McLame, Speaker Boner, Rummy, General Betray-us, Tweetie, Slick Willy, George Snuffleupagus, the O-Bomber, Wiener’s wiener, Rahmstein, Bachman-Poptart-Underdrive, Al Frankenstein, the Koch-heads, Dumb-o-craps, Repuglicants, MoDoDo, GingGrinch, and any other creative insults you can think of. Can’t we refer to people with their names and/or titles like civilized adults? “The President,” or “Senator So-and-so”, or “Mr. Clark”?

Now, I will concede a handful of exceptions. The Governator earned his nickname fair and square. So did “Heckuva Job” Brownie — the President himself gave him that nickname. To refer to Pat “Go F*** Yourself” Leahy is a compliment to his restraint. The Cyborg Dick Cheney, well, he is a cyborg.

The rest of it? Knock it off, already! It’s a distraction from real issues, like our eroding Constitutional rights, the developing American oligarchy, the endangered social safety net, the disappearing middle class, our crumbling infrastructure, the failed War on Drugs; our anemic economy, and the elimination of women‘s rights.

In Closing: Dam, dam, dam; Hollywood‘s out of ideas; the most sensible thing I’ve read about the Wal-Mart ruling; it’s a good start; and exercises at work.

Stop Lying about the Economy

Judge Judy had a little saying which I’m sure wasn’t original: “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” Well, by my way of thinking, The Experts who compile and release data have been peeing on our heads and telling us what a good thing golden rain is!

When Wal-Mart’s CEO says their shoppers are running out of money, things are bad. Seriously. Wal-Mart, for pity sake.

Unemployment is a serious problem. In fact, there’s one job for every 4 unemployed job seekers. That means that even if by some miracle we were able to fill every job vacancy with someone currently unemployed, we still couldn’t get unemployment down below 7%. And more people file for unemployment every week. Nevertheless, instead of doing anything that might create desperately needed jobs, Congress is hell-bent on slashing the deficit created by the Bush tax cuts. Never mind that creating jobs would be creating employees who earn an income and pay income tax.

Over a quarter of renters are paying more than half their income on housing — a number that should alarm anyone with a passing familiarity with the rental industry. This is despite the fact that “multi-generational housing” — double-speak for “I had to move in with the kids/parents” — is “hot.”

So now GDP growth has “slowed.” I still contend that if inflation were calculated fairly, we wouldn’t have had much in the way of “growth” in a decade. How can we have “growth” when so many people are jobless, underemployed, not even looking for work anymore, losing their homes, losing their savings, losing their retirement plans, not even having enough money to shop at Wal-Mart anymore? I bet it has a lot to do with companies like Exxon, Pepsi, and Microsoft having great earnings. These are large, multi-national businesses that earn money — and have workers — in many countries. Offshoring jobs is only part of the story. Remember, earnings season is just starting, so expect a lot more of these happy-Wall-Street stories.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the trade deficit. Granted, that’s already figured into GDP, so you can’t blame it for manipulating GDP, only causing a decline. That $45 thousand million dollars represents money that used to be in America, that is now in other nations, raising their standard of living. In one month! And do not forget that this number is as high as it is because here in America, we no longer make many things more durable than a latte.

So sure, the economy is great if you are a large corporation, or wealthy. To the rest of us, that golden rain is just someone else’s pee.

In closing: taking personal responsibility to it’s illogical extreme; better apply for that passport now; amen, CSM; on nutrition; Ezra comes >< this close to blaming the media for the Birthers; how come if ObamaCare is so bad, Republicans want to dismantle Medicare in favor of something just like it?; being poor is hazardous to your lifespan; you never know when you might spot something new; let me save you some time; more on student loans; and yeah, that will help.

Wanted: X-Ray Glasses

Watch this. It’s a man with a golf club, being shot to death in his own home by cops who had a no-knock warrant. He was known to have a drug problem, and was suspected of being a dealer. The county attorney called it “justified.” Do you hear the police identify themselves in that video?

Now then, pretty much every state in the union gives me the right to defend myself and my home. I live in a neighborhood where people try to deliver items to homes with the same number but a different street name on a regular basis. So I have a deadly serious question: When somebody is trying to break down my front door, how do I tell whether it’s a theoretical drug-addled group of gangsta neighbors, a bank trying to illegally foreclose on the wrong house, or Metro Police executing a no-knock warrant on the wrong address?

I’d really like to know, because in two of those situations I’m a hero for defending myself, but in the other I’m dead.

In closing: Todd the Bod; Facebook; really, Wal-Mart?; MC2; follow-up on an adoption; truth; and coffee.

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.

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 Violent Shorties

Obligatory Health Insurance Reform front and center: Health care and the denial thereof as a way to control the masses; the good, the bad, and this POS reform bill (no, doesn’t mean “point of service” in this context, sorry).

Not as overt as Quiverfull: religion and women is an interesting read. And I don’t know what to make of this.

Study confirms what most of us knew: When Wal-Mart comes to town, the number of low-wage jobs they create are roughly equal to the number of decent jobs they destroy.

Most Americans are Idiots: Most approve of the use of full body scanners. These scanners are much like a virtual strip search with a side order of radiation. Oh, and they would not have found the Undiebomber‘s stash. Pfeh.

On Employment: America’s Low Wage Future; Are the Baby Boomers starting to retire?; Who are the unemployed?; 6.4 job seekers for every open job.

Mighty Joe Rollino: how many people can lift 635 pounds with one finger? The answer is now zero. Joe has passed away at the amazing age of 104 (insert obligatory comment about fitness and long life here).

Conan is classy: (No, not this Conan). Conan O’Brien’s resignation letter.

This is not news: I seriously do not give a shit where Bill Clinton hides his sausage. I can think of few bigger wastes of journalist time. Enough already!

And one last thought: Airplane accidents.