<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\07532209663\46blogName\75Sideways+Mencken\46publishMode\75PUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\46navbarType\75BLACK\46layoutType\75CLASSIC\46searchRoot\75http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot.com/search\46blogLocale\75en_US\46v\0752\46homepageUrl\75http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot.com/\46vt\0757682481423868601741', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

In Which I Explain Sport Peppers

Sunday, April 05, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

I do a Q and A for the London Telegraph on the subject of Chicago:

My kind of town.

They cut some stuff. For example, under the category of souvenirs, I added the extra suggestion of a local or state politician, since they are obviously for sale, and Rod Blagojevich is small enough to fit into your luggage.

But of course they cut that and left in the part where I diss the Taste of Chicago. But I said it, so I guess I own it.

Digg This! Links to this post

London

Thursday, April 02, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

So, I'm in London about halfway through this book tour thing. Today I did some improv stuff for Wordia.com. That went fine. As did the interview with 13 year-old Hugh yesterday. And the Burgers with Booksellers thing last night.

But today I had to give an actual speech. A dozen people in a small room. No podium. Nothing to separate me from those piercing, judgmental, critical eyes. The eyes! The . . . eyes!

Okay, actually there were no eyes. It was a dozen eyeless people. And that was creepy, quite frankly.

Anyway, I give this speech. And there's a kind of appalled silence. Questions anyone? Yes, I have a question: what the hell is the matter with you? What in God's name does Ulysses S. Grant have to do with your book?

Here's what was cool tonight. I walked from my hotel at London Bridge all the way to Selfridge's department store on Vegemite Street. (That's right: I am sticking with the Vegemite.) A long walk. Maybe an hour or so. Over the bridge, through the City of London with banker types spilling out of pubs, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. Along the river. Run-down old ships anchored along the way, turned into banquet halls. A drunk, skinny punk and his mate hoot and challenge, looking for trouble. I'm wearing a topcoat. Hands come out of pockets, we exchange glares, they decide that I may be a little larger than they'd like.

I walked through Trafalgar, said "Dude!" to Nelson way the hell up on his column. Through Picadilly Circus. (Turns out it's not actually a circus. Huh. Not so much as an elephant.) Think Times Square minus 90% of the neon. The Brits still can't touch us for jaw-dropping over-the-top excess. Seriously: their bankers are still stealing millions, apparently unaware that we've all moved on to stealing billions.

Up Regent Street which is unfortunately all the same damned stores we have in the States. But there were all these tiny side streets I didn't have time to wander down. A trio played what was probably Mozart, the cello drowned out by passing cop cars.

At each street I pause, check the "Look Left," or "Look Right" signs painted on the street. It's bad enough these people insist on driving on the wrong side of the road, but every other street is one-way so there's no way to make any sense of it.

I finally reached Selfridge's which is a world-class department store. Dutifully bought crap for my kids. Spent a small fortune on four cigars from a certain Caribbean nation which shall remain nameless because we don't want to poke US customes in the eye, now do we?

Cab back to London Bridge. London cabs are flat out the best in the world. No! Don't bother to argue. They find their way around a city that was, as we know from history, laid out not by an architect but by drunken sailors on leave from Her Majesty's Navy. What they would do is tie a string to a sailor before he was given his freedom and a guinea (no, not an Italian, Jesus, keep up,) and told to go wherever he wanted. The sailor promptly took a large quantity of rum on board, set off in pursuit of hookers and wherever he went, that became a London street.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's true. I checked Wikipedia.

Picked up a sandwich and cheese at Marks and Spencer in the train station. Insipid bottled bitters. Good cheese. Peaches. A puzzling sandwich.

I'm back in my room, sated, scanning British TV. Sweet lord: they'll put a gardening show on in prime time! People are planting flowers at 9:00 pm. Seriously? We're mulching in prime time? American TV executives must come over here and think they're anthroppologists studying aboriginies. Do these people know nothing of The Demo?

Yesterday I was watching Robin Hood, and Friar Tuck was a black dude. No explanation. None of the Merry Men saying, "Jesus, it's the 12th freaking century, it's freaking England, none of us has ever traveled further than Ye Olde Swine Faire over in Twaddle, and yet, here's a black dude and we don't even notice!"

English Guys: as the more experienced member of the Special Relationship when it comes to racial balance in TV, allow me to gently suggest: it's okay to mention that a black guy might stand out in Sherwood Forest. That's not racially insensitive. You know, as it turns out, black people know they didn't play much of a part in fighting the Sherrif of Nottingham. I'm sure they would have been happy to help out, but your typical Masai was not terribly well-informed on the whole John vs. Richard the Lion Heart thing.

Anyway, Moll Flanders is on now, and it's an American movie with a bunch of American actors pretending to be English. And Morgan Freeman. So much for laughing at British racial idiocy. But on the other hand you can't argue with Morgan Freeman. There's never a bad time to have Morgan Freeman around. He could be here, right now, narrating and I'd be cool with that.

Morgan Freeman: "Michael takes another swig from the bottle of Bowmore 12 year." How great would your life be if Morgan Freeman was doing the voice over?

The point is -- and you thought I had no point, hah! -- is that London is like the woman you deliberately don't get to know because you're happily married. (WTF? Seriously? That's your analogy?) I think I could totally fall for this city. And I can't. Kids, schools, sunshine . . . all that is great in California.

But I almost have to avert my gaze, not look at London too much, not think about it too much. Because it may be the greatest city on earth. It seduces without trying. And I can't live here.

Digg This! Links to this post

I'm Going To Make It The G-21

Saturday, March 28, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

So, off to London this afternoon for a week-long book tour thing. Sign some books, schmooze with booksellers, hang out with the Egmont people, do some panel, an interview or two. And then on Wednesday I'm hoping to get some free time so I can watch the demonstrations/riots at the G-20.

Apparently demonstrators will be converging on the Bank of England, which is just across London Bridge from my hotel. I'm supposed to be running around from bookstore to bookstore while all this converging is going on, glad-handing and signing books and generally being charming. Yes, that last one is a stretch.

Meanwhile the demonstrators will be shouting whatever it is one shouts at central bankers. I'm going to guess: No more bailouts! But it could be: Longer weekend hours! Or: Shorter lines at the drive-thru! Or: Hotter tellers!

I'm not sure. Because like every single member of the human species, I have no idea how to solve the economic and financial crises. Oh, there are plenty of people who think they know how to solve it all. But they don't. When you have ten experts and you hear two opinions from them, that's standard partisanship. When you have ten experts and you hear ten opinions, you have "experts" in quotes and none of them knows a damn thing for sure.

Nevertheless, people enjoy a good rage, so a lot of people will pour into the streets of London, surround the B of E, and furiously demand conflicting or even nonsensical solutions to a problem the guys inside the Bank of England will have no clue how to solve.

Good times, good times.

Here's my defense in case the rioters turn on me as I'm passing by: I only ever took out 30 year fixed mortgages! Or possibly: I'm just a stockholder and I never even bought on margin!

Or I could run away, but really, at my age what are the odds that I can outrun a wild-eyed anarchist? I could maybe beat one up, because it's not like they can organize and come after me in a group, but really, I'm hoping that if beating is required I can be matched against some mildly irate Unitarians rather than, say, drunken punks.

Here's my defense in case I am chased by drunken punks: I love Rancid and even the solo projects Lars Frederiksen and Tim Armstrong do!

And if it's Unitarians? I appreciate your lack of dogma!

Or maybe I'll just skip the whole thing, stay in the hotel bar and get drunk.

Digg This! Links to this post

Focus You Idiots

Friday, March 20, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

You know, I get that the AIG bonus thing makes for lots of fun cable news outrage.   For 24 hours.  But we're past that now.  So could we please, for Christ's sake, get back to something actually important?  

This is the equivalent of a cable news missing-blonde obsession.  And unfortunately the cretins in Congress can't manage to tear themselves away from the chance to ramble and spout and pontificate on this easy target.

Move the fuck on.  Honest to God, we have actual fucking problems.  Problems with trillion dollar price tags.  Jesus Christ on a goddamned pogo stick: fucking  focus!  

Idiots.

Digg This! Links to this post

Anointed By The King

Sunday, March 15, 2009 by Michael Reynolds


Today Stephen King — yeah, that Stephen King — wrote this to my editor, Katherine Tegen:

I’ve been corresponding with your “Michael Grant” about his Gone books. More important, I’ve been reading the Gone books–the first and Hunger, the follow-up. These are exciting, high-tension stories told in a driving, torrential narrative that never lets up. There are monsters, there are kids with mad-crazy super powers, there’s the mystery of where all the adults went. Most of all, there are children I can believe in and root for. This is great fiction.

If you want to quote any or all of that, be my guest. I love these books.

Stephen King

I don’t want to go all sincere on you people, but if you showed me starred reviews from everyone with a star to give, it wouldn’t mean as much to me as this does. Reviews are really great. But this is Stephen King.

If you get past my affinity for German cars, tasting menus, molecular cuisine and single malt whiskeys (ahem) I’m a blue collar guy. My father was Army. I had a decidedly lower middle class childhood. High School drop-out. College drop-out. I was a stock clerk, a house painter, an office cleaner, a resident manager of crappy apartment buildings. But mostly I was a waiter. For a decade.

When I waited tables I carried a bigger station than anyone else in a given restaurant and I worked more shifts. I worked every shift they’d let me have. I would carry eight tables — two regular stations — and do it 7 nights a week. I love work. Work gave meaning and structure to my life and even at my lowest, when I was a hopeless screw-up, when I was broke and (deservedly) friendless I still worked my ass off. At one point in my life I was sleeping under an overpass in Austin, Texas, with my busboy black-and-whites in a locker at the Trailways station and I still worked every shift.

There are a lot of good writers out there. There are other people who can write (almost) as well as Stephen King. But no one else is as good as he is and also as hard working. He doesn’t stop. He doesn’t let up. He doesn’t whine about writer’s block. He gets it done, and when he gets it done it kicks ass. He’s seven years older than I am, he’s been through addiction, and he got run over and almost killed for God’s sake, and he still outworks me. He carries that eight table station on a Saturday and he’s got everyone loving him at the end of the night.

If there’s one guy I want to be when I grow up (an event delayed by, oh, about 30 years so far,) it’s Stephen King. I’ve had some high points in writing: big checks, bestseller lists, fans, nice reviews. But this? This is really cool.

Digg This! Links to this post

Tragic Nerd Fantasies

Sunday, March 08, 2009 by Michael Reynolds



That's me in the top picture. See, I have this packable fedora, right? I wear it to keep the sun out of my eyes as I write. But I also like the noise-canceling headphones for listening to music. Hence, the look.

I think I look really, really hot. Oh yeah, bay-bee.

The second picture is Angelina Jolie who, as you know, is the Octo Mom. No, that's not true. She's married to Brad Pitt.

If Angelina ever left Brad you know what she would do? She'd run to my arms.

What. You don't think so?

I ridicule myself this way to make a point. Republicans believe that if we all turn against Obama, we will run to the waiting arms of this guy:

Or this guy:

Or this guy:


Yes, they are that deluded.

The party of Rush Limbaugh, George W. Bush, John "Tanning Bed" Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Michael Steele, Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin actually believes they are that close to regaining power. No, seriously. They do.

They think the if the Captain of the football team drops out the Prom Queen will belong to the pizza-faced nerd.

They are that out of touch. They are that delusional. It's tragic, in a cruelly funny sort of way. They just don't get that we'd sooner paint ourselves blue and run naked through the streets than ever be seen with them.

I mean, ewwww.

Digg This! Links to this post

Michaelnomics (Updated)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

One of the many religious tenets of the Church of Saint Ronnie O'Reagan is this: if you raise marginal rates on the well-off, the well-off will stop trying to earn money. You can see some of that in comments here.

I'm no economist. (Also no brain surgeon, rocket scientist or hedge fund manager.) But I understand my own, personal economics.

By virtue of being just so darned brilliant I have a good couple of years ahead economically. (Touch wood, throw black cat over shoulder. Or however that goes.) In fact, I have an ass-load of work. And for that work I'll earn half an ass-load of money.

But, let's say a publisher suggests that I might be in line for still more work. At roughly the same time Mr. Obama and Mr. Schwarzzenegger sidle up beside me, each armed with a big tube of KY and looking for a little Michael love.

So, knowing that my marginal tax rate is going up, what do I do? Duh. I jump at the chance to work harder. Why? Because . . . and Republicans might want to lean close to hear this . . . 40% of SOMETHING beats hell out of 60% of NOTHING.

See, kids, here's the thing: if I have a choice between more money and less money, you know what I always choose? More. I know: controversial. But me, I like more. It's so much better than less.

Let's break this down for the slow class. Let's say this publisher offers to pay us 100k. In the old days that would translate to 60k. Now it will translate to 40k. The Republican theory is that I would LEAP to snatch up that 60, but RUN AWAY from the 40.

And you wonder how they managed to bankrupt the country.

In fact, and here's the salient point, I will take the deal in part because of the tax increase. That's right: I will work harder because of the tax increases. You know why? Because all my other deals just went from 60 to 40, too. And, as discussed above, I like more money rather than less.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Schwarzzenegger are going to take 60% rather than 40%, so I have to make that up somewhere. Right? I'm going to make it up by working more and harder. In other words, I'll have to become more productive. And in the process I will create jobs. Most of that money will go to editors, publicity people, lawyers, corporate weasels, Borders truck drivers and Barnes and Noble clerks.

If Republican theory were correct I'd turn down this theoretical deal. Which I would do. If I were a fucking idiot.

Higher marginal tax rates don't make me want to work less. They make me want to work more. I suspect they have the same effect on anyone who is in a position to increase his productivity.

UPDATE #1: It may not be obvious but the 40%/60% numbers are place holders. God only knows what the actual numbers will end up being.

UPDATE #2: For a much more thoughtful, well-researched post on the subject go here.

Digg This! Links to this post

Outperforming Eunuchs

by Michael Reynolds

What is the point in writing about politics now? I mean, I need some opposition to really get motivated. There has to be some jeopardy. It's a sport to me, you know? And this game is so one-sided it's Godzilla vs. Bambi. It's like debating a coma victim. It's like boxing a corpse. Outwitting a hamster. Outperforming a eunuch. Um. . . that's all I can think of right now.

Is there any way the GOP could be more thoroughly fucked?

Obama is riding high. The Democratic Party outpolls the GOP two-to-one. The public has said Mr. Obama inherited this mess and is ready to be patient.

The right track/wrong track number just took its single biggest peacetime jump ever.

And the public is quite clear on this: any failure of bipartisanship is the fault of Republicans.

Meanwhile, GOP pooh-bahs are left to argue whether they should genuflect to a deeply unattractive, drug-addicted, race-baiting, philosophically incoherent radio talk show host; or whether they need to actually drop to their knees and blow the deeply unattractive, drug-addicted, race-baiting, philosophically incoherent radio talk show host.

Ours: Barack Obama.
Theirs: Rush Limbaugh.

Seriously. Why bother?

Digg This! Links to this post

Why So Quiet, Michael?

Thursday, February 26, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

It seems I have a quota. Who knew? When I'm writing 5 or 6 pages a day of actual paid work, I blog here, I blog at my kidlit blog, I run around annoying people by posting comments on their blogs. When I'm writing ten or twelve pages a day of actual work I pretty much don't write anything else.

I'm in the last chapters of a book. 550 pages, give or take, and the way it's built is that the last 75 pages or so are lots of quick-cut action scenes. This is my favorite stuff. I hate writing exposition. He said, she said, he felt, she thought, that's not fun to write. Yesterday I had a character hanging in the air above whirling helicopter blades. Now that's fun to write.

When I'm writing the fun stuff I don't blog because I hit my quota in paying work. But it suggests that there's some fixed number of words I have to spew on any given day. Today I got distracted while working. I only nailed about four pages. So here I am.

Digg This! Links to this post

Jindal Makes Me Laugh

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

We couldn't at first figure out why Bobby Jindal made us laugh so hard. One reason here. That plus the jaw-dropping content. Really, Bobby? You're bringing up Katrina? Telling us there's no hope from government? In Louisiana?

This is the great non-white hope of the Republican Party? This clown and Sarah Palin?

Form the committee. I'll write a check.

Digg This! Links to this post

Republicans: So Completely Fucked.

by Michael Reynolds

I swear to God I have tried to help my Republican and right-of-center friends. I've tried to warn you that Obama was neither a fool, nor Bambi, nor a radical, nor a crook, nor a naif. I tried to tell you.

But, no.

I said, this guy is smart. This guy is subtle. This guy is ruthless. He's going to bend you over and the smart move, the only smart move, was to grab a piece and claim an assist.

And none of my Republican friends listened.

The GOP jumped out there to present its goose-egg on the stimulus plan, sticking their aged, palsied chins wayyyy out. And tonight Obama delivered a Sugar Ray Obama uppercut that knocked the silly twats on their asses. The Limbaugh Party was just run over by the steamroller of history.

Dear Republicans: It's 1856, and you're Whigs.

Digg This! Links to this post

Survivor Guilt

Friday, February 20, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

Can we dispense with one thing up front? It's not the "magic of the marketplace." There's no magic. There was never any magic.

The free -- or freeish -- market is the best way we've found so far to ensure that more people are eating than are starving. It works. But it doesn't work pretty. It's crude. It's messy. It works like a 20 year-old Compaq with a frayed power cord. It gets the job done, but magic? No. So don't make a religion out of it. Don't pray to it. It's not Jesus. It's not Jehovah. It's not the Buddha. It's not even Harry Potter.

The marketplace is devoid of morality. It doesn't reward the good and punish the bad. It doesn't even reward the hard working. Or the smart. Or the capable. It shoves a bunch of money into the pockets of people who may, taken as a group, be somewhat more capable than those who aren't getting the cash, but that in no way suggests that any blessed individual is deserving or any screwed individual is undeserving.

It's hit or miss. It's not a smart bomb, it's a World War 2 era 1000-pounder falling from a meandering prop plane: it means to hit a target, but mostly it misses, and when it does blow up a target it tends to blow up a few houses next door. And a church. Maybe an orphanage. Crudely effective, not magic.

A drunk usually manages to drive himself home without hitting anyone, but that doesn't make the drunk a wizard.

But talk about the marketplace this way, as the leeches and enemas of economic systems, and people get very pissy. See, people need magic. They need faith in something perfect. So they need to believe that the economic system is somehow akin to God. They need the system to be benign and rational and moral.

The winners need to believe they deserve what they get, and the losers need to believe that all they really need to do is try again and they, too, will be winners. It's about 75% bullshit. Because as much as people hate to hear it, success or failure is, like all of life, affected by more than free will and positive thinking. DNA, environment and pure luck all have a role in your life. And the magic of the marketplace doesn't somehow exert its magical magitude and reshuffle that deck.

It looks right now as if 2009 will be a good year for me, marketplace-wise. You know why? Because some wad of gray goo in a corner of my brain was formed by DNA and environment into a tiny, slimy little plot machine. And luck led me to my wife, and put me in an English-speaking country at a time when those facts can be translated into income. If bad luck blows a hole in an artery tomorrow, guess what? Suddenly that wad of gray goo dies and I'm bagging groceries for minimum wage.

That's scary. It's scary to think that all you have, all you are, is a consequence of some kind of alchemy between DNA, environment, random chance and free will -- four factors that are each part of the other -- but that's the reality. And given what we've seen of the billionaire masters of the universe lately, isn't it time, finally, to admit the truth? There's no magic here. No morality. Assholes win, good people lose. Idiots win and geniuses lose. And other times the reverse. And the system we have isn't wonderful, it stinks. It's just the best we've come up with so far.

Digg This! Links to this post

Pitiful Drunk

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

You ever notice how an agile and disturbed mind can take a compliment and turn it into an insult? My wife is a genius at this. Most wives are. Normally I'm not. Because I'm a man, and we are, as a species, notoriously insensitive.

But I'm talking on the phone to a friend of mine who is a recovering alcoholic. (His terminology, not mine. To me he's a guy who demonstrates more willpower and strength of character every day than I have in the years 1981 to present.) And we're joking about the last time we got together in Hollywood. (Of course the place is irrelevant, but when I said "Hollywood" you paid more attention than if I'd said Glendale, didn't you?)

Anyway, he said, "Reynolds, the thing about you is you never even change demeanor. The difference between sober and five Scotches is: nothing."

Feeling obscurely insulted I said, "Hey, my speech gets slurred."

"Nah, barely. Drunk or sober you're exactly the same."

And it was then that I realized: there is no amount of alcohol that could make me fun at a party. I have no deeper level waiting to be liberated by alcohol or drugs. I'm a unitary creature. Perfectly integrated.

Or shallow. That would be another word for it. Unidimensional.

Absolutely shit-faced I'm still observing, and still judging, and still just as fucking tedious as I am in sober life.

I don't dance. There is no amount of alcohol (or weed) that will make me dance. No amount of alcohol that would induce me to karaoke. Here's how it goes: I take a drink and I'm still me. Another drink, still me. Another, me. Me. Me. Me. Unconscious. There's no transition. I'm me until I pass out and puke all over myself.

It's been bothering me ever since. So I'm going to get really hammered and run naked down the street.

Right.

Digg This! Links to this post

Pull My What?

by Michael Reynolds

Because life is good to bloggers:

You'll never guess which two App Store developers have engaged in a legal battle over trademark rights to App Store content. A lawyer representing Pull My Finger developer Air-O-Matic has demanded $50,000 from InfoMedia for using the phrase "pull my finger" in reference to their infamous chart-topping fart machine app, iFart Mobile. InfoMedia, not to be out-stunk, has responded by asking a court to rule in their favor.

At one point in my life I was involved in an angry legal tussle over who owned a thing called Barf-O-Rama.

Digg This! Links to this post

Hi, We're Staring At You.

Monday, February 16, 2009 by Michael Reynolds


Michael Reynolds (Grant), Katherine Appleg*te and Lady Liberty.

Photo by our son, Jake.

Digg This! Links to this post

Our Top 10 Obscenities

by Michael Reynolds

Your preferences may vary. These are ours:

10) Dick! (Includes Dickhead!)
9) Cocksucker!
8) Motherfucker!
7) Bastard!
6) Son of a bitch! (Variants: Son of a bitch! and son of a bitch!)
5) Asshole!
4) Jesus Christ! (Includes Jesus Fucking Christ! Jesus Tap-dancing Christ! Jesus Titty-fucking
Christ! and Jesus Christ fajita!)
3) Shit!
2) Goddam it!
1) Fuck! (Includes fucking! as an adjective.)

We're thinking of adding Banker! and Congressman!

Digg This! Links to this post

The Stupidifier

Saturday, February 14, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

Mild-mannered Barack Obama is . . . the Stupidifier.

It's amazing. Republicans of normal intelligence when confronted by Obama, suffer a sudden 50% IQ drop.

It cannot be explained without recourse to the supernatural. It's kind of miraculous. Many politicians drive people crazy: Obama drives them stupid.

Frank Rich nails it:
Just as in the presidential campaign, Obama has once again outwitted the punditocracy and the opposition. The same crowd that said he was a wimpy hope-monger who could never beat Hillary or get white votes was played for fools again.

Barack Obama just got what he wanted. Almost dollar for dollar. He got the percentage of tax cuts vs. spending that he wanted, almost dollar for dollar. The pundits and the GOP have bet their all on his failure. And then he didn't fail. He didn't fail, he got his way. His support among the people is rock solid, numbers for Democrats are up slightly, support for the stim is still strong, while support for the GOP has actually managed to drop further.

And yet, as Rich points out, the Party Of Stupid thinks it just won a big one:

But the Republicans are busy high-fiving themselves and celebrating “victory.” Even in defeat, they are still echoing the 24/7 cable mantra about the stimulus’s unpopularity. This self-congratulatory mood is summed up by a Wall Street Journal columnist who wrote that “the House Republicans’ zero votes for the Obama presidency’s stimulus ‘package’ is looking like the luckiest thing to happen to the G.O.P.’s political fortunes since Ronald Reagan switched parties.” There hasn’t been this much delusional giddiness in these ranks since Monica Lewinsky promised a surefire Republican sweep in the 1998 midterms.

Here's how this plays out: the odds are heavily in favor of the recession ending at some point in the next couple of years. Even if all we did was sit around playing with ourselves the recession would probably end within Obama's first term of office. Since people tend to credit "something" over "nothing" as a cause of change, Obama will be credited for any turnaround.

The Republicans could have blunted this by helping out. They could have earned credit for an assist. Obama gave them every opportunity. Instead they ensured that they would recieve no credit for a turnaround. But if the economy somehow fails to turn around they'll still take a big share of the blame.

The GOP just bought 0% of success while holding onto at least 50% of failure. Obama is holding 100% of success and at most 50% of failure. Can someone explain to me why this is good for the GOP?

Here's the thing. You're Fred the Carpenter, living in Ohio. You lose your job. Thanks to Obama you get some extended unemployment benefits and although you don't get your job back in 2009, your wife gets a job working on a school remodeling project. And during the worst of it your kids still have health care, and your wife is paying less in payroll tax. Thanks to Obama. So you . . . vote for Republican Senator Voinovich who opposed the creation of the job your wife just got?

Hello?

Possible outcomes:
1) Economy turns around: Obama gets credit
2) Economy stays in crapper: Obama gets credit for trying, GOP gets blame for obstructing.
3) Economy stays in crapper: Obama and GOP split blame.

What in God's name can they be thinking? How can they be this stupid?

Well, I'll tell you how: The Stupidifier. That's how. Obama has used his mutant super-powers to make them stupid. (Well, stupider.)

Still don't believe me? Normally intelligent conservative blogger Rick Moran picks through the stimulus bill and comes up with a long list of spending he finds suspect. Very impressive list. Long list. It amounts to 1.5% of the cost of the bill.

Summoning all his outrage, Moran points to . . . 1.5% of the bill. Moran calls this. " . . .the greatest betrayal of the public trust in my lifetime."

1.5%. One point five percent. Skim outrage.

The Greatest Public Betrayal In My Lifetime.

Say what? Moran is my age. Which means he's lived through Vietnam, Watergate, Desert One, Beirut, Iran/Contra, the Blue Dress, Gitmo/Abu Graib and Katrina, but the 1.5% in this bill is the big one?

Stupid. But it's not Moran's fault, not the GOP's fault. They are mere mortals up against a man with superpowers.

Some superheros have super strength, some have cool gadgets, some can have super speed or power over the elements. But I'm kind of liking this stupidifying thing. I think it could be very useful.

Digg This! Links to this post

Republicans: Kind Of Like Spartans if Spartans Were Pussies

by Michael Reynolds

I know what you think. You think Republicans hate America. You think Republicans care more about their own political necks than they do their country.

You are so wrong! I am ashamed of you.

Republicans love America. They care deeply about the American people. You want proof?

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), who broke with his party to support President Obama's stimulus package last week, said before the final vote Friday that more of his colleagues would have joined were they not afraid of the political consequences.

"When I came back to the cloak room after coming to the agreement a week ago today," said Specter, "one of my colleagues said, 'Arlen, I'm proud of you.' My Republican colleague said, 'Arlen, I'm proud of you.' I said, 'Are you going to vote with me?' And he said, 'No, I might have a primary.' And I said, 'Well, you know very well I'm going to have a primary.'"
Well. There you have it. Three Republicans actually had the courage to vote for the stimulus bill. And at least one had the courage to sidle up next to Specter and say, "Yessss, my Precious, we loves the stimulus, yessss, gollum."

Do you think only four Republicans have the courage to either openly or surreptitiously support the stimulus? No. I refuse to believe that. I believe rather that many, many other Republicans are willing to whisper their support if they know they won't be quoted. Because they do care about more than their own electoral prospects. They love their country: they just don't want their supporters to know it.

Digg This! Links to this post

Sometimes The Artist Says It Best

Friday, February 13, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

Digg This! Links to this post

Pedestrians

Monday, February 02, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

We've been in California for a couple of months now. I love the weather. Today, February 2nd, I spoke with my friend Alex by phone. Alex was walking home in Chicago where the high today was 17 F. 17 and windy, which translates to a windchill factor of Nicole Kidman.

Meanwhile, I was sitting at an outdoor cafe in a t-shirt. Gazing up at a palm tree. I could have been drinking a Frappuccino. I wasn't because I'm not a girl, but I could have been.

I'm looking to meet more people I can talk to in places like Minneapolis, Bangor and Denver.

So, the California weather? Lovely. The California landscape and landscaping? Terrific. The California pedestrians? Cattle. But dumber.

In Italy the rule is if you didn't actually hit a pedestrian head-on, you're cool with the law. (Law in Italy being a series of suggestions.) A smack with a side mirror? That's only to be expected. You want to walk? You're going to need to toughen up.

The Italians are particularly sensible when it comes to this matter, but even in the rest of the United States it's understood that pedestrians are a barely-tolerated nuisance. It's clear that you should not actually hit a pedestrian, or even (sigh) come close to hitting a pedestrian, but it's fine to scare the living shit out of a pedestrian. Not okay to hit, but okay to make them think you might.

But here in California not only can't you hit a pedestrian, not only can't you cause a pedestrian to leap in pants-wetting panic toward the curb, you are not even allowed to imply that you just might be thinking about gunning the engine and mowing them down.

This is taking things too far. There is a natural order to the universe, a Darwinian order. At the very bottom of the food chain are skateboarders and bicyclists. Slightly above them, pedestrians. Atop the food chain, the drivers. The masters of the wheel. The men on horseback. We drivers have a sort of 21st century droit du seigneur. We cannot deflower your bride (like a pedestrian would have a bride, hah!) but we are, or at least should be, entitled to demonstrate our superiority by daring you to step out into the sidewalk, refusing your impudent attempt at eye contact, and racing toward you in an effort to make you drop your bag of loser goods from the loser store.

But here, in California, all is topsy-turvy. It's madness. Here, the pedestrian rules. It's bizzar-o world! Here, a pedestrian, a frail, watery, flesh-made creature, a sack of goo hung from a toothpick frame, has the legal right to step out in front of even a fine German autobahn monster.

It's koyaniqatsi. (Really? Spell-check recognizes koyaniqatsi and not Frappuccino?) World out of joint. (That's the Rastapocalypse, by the way: world out of joint.)

Pedestrians here need only indicate an intention to enter a crosswalk and the entire street comes to halt. A pedestrian need only cast a sidelong look in the general direction of the street and we all have to hit the brakes. My God! They want drivers to be psychic!

And there will be no slipping the transmission into neutral and gunning the engine. Nor will there be the sudden forward jerk. Nor will you adopt the crazy-ass smile of the psycho killer and grip the wheel as though you are merely waiting for the fools to step in front of you.

It sucks. It takes forever to get through the parking lot of a strip mall. I mean, goddamn, I have chicken to buy. Get the fuck out of my way.

Digg This! Links to this post

about


Politics, Blasphemy and Self Indulgence.



search

recent posts

archives

moderate blogs

leftie blogs

righte blogs

his own category

other blogs i like

my msm

my tv

admin

Desert Bayou