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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jon Corzine

Jon Corzine was many levels above me in the corporate structure at Goldman, but since I worked in the same division, I had some contact with him. He struck me as a decent guy in a place which was full of sociopaths.

At the same time, I thought his reputation for brilliance was overblown. On Wall Street, you can get a reputation for being brilliant by merely making a series of yes/no (buy or sell) decisions which happen to go your way.

Corzine was a big, confident, calm, masculine, charismatic guy who had a knack for making people feel appreciated. He was also obviously very smart. But it was his personality, rather than any creative brilliance, that accounted for his success.

There was certainly no questioning his ambition. He reportedly tired of being a U.S. Senator because he was merely one of a hundred, so before his first term in Washington was up he ran for Governor of New Jersey, a position where he would have much more executive power. More recently he reportedly had his eye on the Secretary of the Treasury position, a post he thought he would get if Obama were reelected.

To that end he seemed to want to make a big splash at MF Global, in order to demonstrate that he still had the magic touch. So he made big bets on European sovereign debt, bets which ultimately bankrupted the overleveraged firm. The big question, of course, is whether he was personally responsible for the missing customer funds.

I'd be surprised if he was, since, as I said, he never gave off the smell of dishonesty while at Goldman. But whether he personally made the decision to take money from those accounts or not is somewhat irrelevant, since as the firm's chief he was ultimately responsible for all decisions made there.

Corzine will probably be sentenced to jail, since politically it would be impossible not to do so. If the customer money is recovered -- and maybe even if it's not -- Obama will probably pardon him, perhaps as soon as January of 2013. Corzine was always a big Obama supporter, and while Obama can no longer offer him Treasury, he still owes him, and Obama is all about paying off old supporters.

But even if Corzine gets off with a short stint in jail, his career is over.

A friend, Dave Moriarty, pointed out yesterday that "you are tempting the trading gods when you name your firm 'MF'."

Corzine didn't name the firm, but he definitely had more than his share of hubris. And as the Greeks told us so long ago, that is the best way to anger the gods.

"You'll just feel a little pinch"

Every single doctor or nurse or dentist who's ever jabbed a needle into me has always said those exact same words beforehand. They must all learn from the same playbook.

I understand why "pinch" is their word of choice. It certainly sounds less dire than, "Brace yourself, I'm about to plunge this big needle through your skin and into your flesh." A "pinch" is something a girl might do to you if she doesn't know how to fight and inflict any real damage. A "pinch" of vodka is a trace amount that you theoretically won't even feel. (Of  course, I've never heard anyone ask for a pinch of liquor who didn't really want a big dollop.)

But the fact is, "pinch" is not an accurate description of how a needle feels. A "small stabbing" would convey the actual feeling more accurately. I have to admit, though, that once my expectations have been managed so adroitly, I am more relaxed.

None of this is to suggest that all of these doctors and nurses are not perfectly pleasant. The nurse who administered my shingles vaccine yesterday even added, "This one doesn't even go into the muscle, it's just a sub-cute." Which I guess is the cute way of saying sub-cutaneous.

In fact, this particular nurse was not only pleasant, she was insightful as well: she evidently has the ability to recognize a coward when she sees one.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A telling ratio

A front page article in this morning's NY Times detailed how Urban Meyer, the new football coach at Ohio State, is getting a base salary of $4 million, plus yearly incentives that could total another $700,000. The Times pointed out that Meyer is making more than three times what OSU President, E. Gordon Gee, made in 2010.

I've long thought that the quality of the education you receive at a college is roughly in inverse proportion to the ratio of the head football coach's salary to the university president's salary. There are certainly exceptions: Cal, the University of Texas, and the University of Michigan are all fine schools, yet all pay top dollar to their football coaches (in all three cases, much more than the university president gets).

There is an argument to be made in favor of paying a handsome salary to a coach: a big time football program can receive a lot of money from television networks and actually turn a profit that way.

There is also an argument to be made that most university presidents themselves are empty suits, whose jobs consist primarily of meeting, greeting, and fund-raising. From what I've seen, the main qualifications for being a university president are a fine head of white hair, nice elocution, and gracious manners. Presidents are the equivalent of show captains, those fellows who have nothing to do with actually running an ocean liner but who don captains' uniforms and go around greeting the passengers. (The dean of the faculty might be considered the equivalent of the fellow who actually steers the boat.)

So perhaps the better ratio would be the football coach's salary to the average associate professor's salary.

But either ratio is a fair inverse approximation of how much emphasis is placed upon academics at any given college.

"Breaking the silence"

An interesting editorial in Sunday's NY Post discussed how the Brooklyn DA has now arrested 89 Orthodox men on charges of child sex abuse.

The most interesting paragraph:

"When rabbis who hate and fear the non-Jewish world can dictate to the parents of Jewish child victims whether or not to talk to (mostly non-Jewish) police, a prosecutor’s job is not an easy one. In 2000, after a Hasidic family went to police over alleged abuse of their young son by another Orthodox Jew, some 50 rabbis signed a public announcement in a Yiddish-language Brooklyn newspaper literally authorizing the murder of anyone who “informs” on a fellow Jew to secular authorities."

Isn't this in effect the equivalent of Sharia law?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Leash the hounds"

An editorial in the NY Post this morning discussed the danger of pit bulls. Evidently pit bulls bite humans more than six times as often as the next most aggressive breed of dog.

Some people are calling for their ban. Councilman Peter Vallone is quoted as saying, "People refuse to admit that pit bulls are bred to fight, they have higher pain tolerance, stronger jaws, and they do not have the instinct to back down — they refuse to submit.”

Not everyone agrees. Mario Merlino, of the NYC Health Department, says, "There’s no differential between breeds — we say everyone should treat their dogs well.”

Ada Nieves agrees: “Sometimes, it’s the owners with the bad temperaments.”

Ah, the old nature vs. nurture argument. Can't help but be reminded of the parallels with different breeds of humans.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fair and balanced

The NY Times has studiously avoided giving the Solyndra scandal much front page coverage; as scandals go, it is obviously of less national significance than the Duke lacrosse rape case, which garnered front page coverage for three weeks running (as long as it looked as if the players might be guilty). But the Times did run an editorial yesterday titled "The Solyndra Mess." The first two paragraphs: 

The Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee appear to have hit the pause button on their investigation into the failure of Solyndra, a solar panel maker that entered bankruptcy proceedings  in September, defaulting on a $528 million federal loan.

What have we learned? Nobody comes out of this looking good. Not the Obama administration, which appears to have misread the market in its eagerness to proclaim that it was creating green jobs. Not the Republicans, either, as their partisanship turned a legitimate inquiry into a circus of broad accusations aimed more at tarnishing the administration than contributing to a serious discussion of energy policy.

Ah, I see. Here all along I had thought that the Solyndra scandal was about how the administration had rewarded George Kaiser, a big time Obama campaign contributor who was a major investor in Solyndra. But no, it was just about the administration's eagerness to create (and take credit for) green jobs. Hey -- their intentions were good!

I had also naively thought that the scandal had only tarnished the Obama administration and, by extension, the Democrats. I couldn't have been more mistaken! Now I see that it has made the Republicans look equally bad, since rather than helping the Democrats sweep it under the rug, they instead used it to score partisan points. Bad, bad Republicans!

Please remind me, because my memory is fuzzy: the last time the Republicans were embroiled in a scandal, did the Times point out that it made the Democrats look bad as well since they tried to score partisan points off of it? Or did they just take delight in talking about the scandal? I'm sure they must have been just as even-handed then; I just can't remember, that's all.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hilarious skit

A friend sent the following link a couple days ago:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqA577_IoBk&feature=youtube_gdata_player

It's from the comedy show, Life's Too Short, which originally appeared on the BBC. It's perfectly cast, and perfectly acted.

Ironically, I'd thought before that Liam Neeson, a former Ulster amateur heavyweight boxing champion, would have made a good James Bond except for the fact that he'd never demonstrated any discernible sense of humor in any of his movies.

As if I needed further proof that I'm a fag at heart....

I wasted close to two hours on this gossip website over the past two days:

http://www.blinditemsexposed.com/

The worst part was, I actually felt sort of gay while I was reading it.

I don't even remember which links led me to the site, and I certainly didn't mean to spend so much time there, but reading the items was a little like eating Doritos....

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nice guys, average guys, and sociopaths (XI)

SITUATION: A buddy owes you $500, is several days overdue, and cannot pay in the next five days. What does he tell you?

Nice guy (feeling horrible): “I’m really sorry, but I don’t have the money, and can’t pay you until next week. I'll pay you interest. I understand if you don’t trust me, so here, take my new laptop as collateral. I'll use my old one.”

Average guy (feeling badly): “I’m sorry, something’s come up, I’ll get the money back to you as soon as I can.”

Sociopath: (feeling nothing, and with no intention of ever paying you back): “I’ll have the money by tomorrow. I swear -- you have my word on it. And you know I never go back on my word.”

SITUATION: A lawyer walks by a Mercedes dealership on his way home from work and sees an SL500 convertible in the showroom window. What does he think?

Nice guy: What a flashy car. I wonder if the people who drive it are ever embarrassed by it. It'd sure be nice to be able to afford one though. 

Average guy: Let’s see. If I saved a thousand bucks a month for the next year and a half, I could put down a deposit…..nah, that’s silly.

Sociopath: Hmm, that thing’d look damn good on me, I’m a Mercedes sport coupe kind of guy. I wonder if my credit card would be good enough for a down payment? By the time the next payment comes due, I’ll have figured out some way to get the money.

SITUATION: A man has a strong opinion about an upcoming football game. What does he do?

Nice guy: Bets his best friend ten dollars on the outcome and watches the game if his wife hasn’t made other plans.

Average guy: Makes a $20 with each of three buddies, and watches the game, telling his wife he'll rake the lawn the next day.

Sociopath: Phones his bookie, and bets $1000 on the game even though he doesn’t have the money. Figures he can always get it from his father-in-law, that tight-fisted old bastard has so much money he doesn’t know what to do with it anyway. But why even worry about it? This game is a lock.

SITUATION: The host of a large party has left ten $20 bills on his bedroom dresser upstairs. On his way to the bathroom, a guest sees it. What does he do?

Nice guy: Puts the money in a dresser drawer, and tells his host where he put it.

Average guy: It occurs to him how easy it would be to steal, but he quickly banishes the thought and walks on by.

Sociopath: Quickly calculates how many other people have been up here during the course of the party, then pockets the money, knowing they will never be able to pin it on him. Thinks, that guy ought to pay me for coming to his lousy party anyway. I’m easily the most charming guy here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

In case you want to feel good about your own parenting abilities.....

The following AP story appeared on Yahoo News today:

Nazi-naming parents seek to regain custody of baby

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey couple who gave their three children Nazi-inspired names is due in court Monday to try to regain custody of their newborn.

Heath and Deborah Campbell's lawyer says state child welfare officials took custody of the child named Hons after he was born Thursday at Hunterdon Medical Center.

The state took custody of the couple's other children nearly two years ago, saying there were in danger because of previous violence in the Campbell home.

Their parents made headlines in 2009 when a supermarket refused to decorate a birthday cake for their son, Adolf Hitler. His siblings are named JoyceLynn Aryan Nation and Honszlynn Hinler.

One has to wonder exactly what is going through the mind of a parent who bestows this name  upon his child. Exactly what kind of chance does a boy named Adolf Hitler Campbell have in life? How much teasing will he undergo? How much outright hostility will he face? How old will he be when he legally changes his name? What sort of relationship will he have with his parents in the future?

Forty years ago Johnny Cash composed A Boy Named Sue, about a boy who was given that name by a soon-to-be absentee father so that he would grow up to be tough because of all the ribbing he would take.

Sue had it easy by comparison. 

What sort of political and racial attitudes will Adolf have when he grows up? There are basically two possibilities here: either he will absorb his parents' (evidently) Nazi values, or he will be a flaming liberal. It's one or the other.

A name like that just doesn't seem to leave much room for a moderate, centrist position on those issues later in life.

I was curious as to what they looked like, so I Google imaged Heath and Deborah Campbell and found this picture of them with their young son Adolf:


I was a little surprised to see that they look a little like hippies. 


Adolf himself looks adorable. But I'm not betting that he stays that way, especially personality-wise, as he grows older.

Brothers?

While pondering the question of whether J. Edgar Hoover was part black (see previous post), it occurred to me that the one person Hoover resembles most, ironically enough, is Jesse Jackson. Both men have their eyes spaced far apart, often a sign of fetal alcohol syndrome, and both have a somewhat bug-eyed appearance as well:











































Sunday, November 20, 2011

J. Edgar

















Saw Clint Eastwood's latest directorial effort, J. Edgar, last night. Not bad, but not great either.

The movie came across more as documentary than as drama. Eastwood tried to hit all the highlights (and lowlights) of the FBI director's career. The movie briefly touches on Hoover's role in centralizing a fingerprint database, on his role in apprehending the most famous criminals of his era, and on his relationships with various Presidents, without delving too deeply into any of them. 

The movie tries too hard to be even-handed about the question of Hoover's sexuality, in the end leaving it unresolved. Clyde Tolson, Hoover's longtime companion, is portrayed as unquestionably homosexual. But Hoover is portrayed as someone who on the one hand proposes marriage early on to a woman, and who claims to have gotten "physical" with actress Dorothy Lamour, yet on the other as a man who dressed up in his mother's clothes on the occasion of her death and constantly dined with and vacationed with his companion Tolson, to whom he eventually left his entire estate. Eastwood's refusal to extrapolate from the documented facts of Hoover's life comes across less as scrupulousness than as an abdication of a moviemaker's responsibility to take a stance. C'mon, Clint: was he or wasn't he?

The third possibility is that both Hoover and Tolson were simply repressed homosexuals who had a homoerotic relationship but who never consummated their relationship that way. If that was the case, then the movie was an accurate portrayal. But the young Tolson was portrayed as a tall, good-looking, well-dressed, self-confident young man. The idea that such a man would be satisfied for his entire life with this one never-consummated relationship just doesn't ring true.

DiCaprio did a workmanlike job in evoking Hoover. DiCaprio may be a great actor, but playing a stiff like Hoover takes less chops than other roles.

Armie Hammer, great grandson of billionaire Bolshevik Armand Hammer, demonstrated his familial loyalty by playing Clyde Tolson, Hoover's longtime companion. (What better way to strike back at the ferociously anti-Communist, wannabe he-man Hoover than to play his closest friend as a flamer? Armand would have been pleased.)

Judi Dench plays J. Edgar's mother, who tells him at one point that she would rather have a dead son than one who was a daffodil (read: gay). Her forbidding performance is not too far in spirit from the one she gives as M, James Bond's boss.

Naomi Watts, one of the few actresses who has managed to be both siren and serious actress, plays Helen Gandy, Hoover's longtime secretary. Watts gamely lets herself be gradually aged for her role. Her performance is so good -- and unobtrusive -- it never occurs to you you're looking at the same woman King Kong fell so hard for.

Jeffrey Donovan, star of television's Burn Notice, takes a turn as Robert F. Kennedy. He seems to have been cast more on the basis of buck teeth than acting ability. His Boston accent is too broad, and even his bushy wig lacks subtlety.

Steve Sailer's review of the movie mentions that J. Edgar may have been a mulatto, from a family which passed. (Look closely at the picture above.) If that was the case, then Hoover, as both a gay man pretending to be straight and a black man pretending to be white, was certainly well suited for his job of catching criminals who essentially led secret lives.

Surprisingly, given all its other faults, the movie was actually sort of touching as a love story. Any long relationship where there is still visible affection at the end is moving, and the odds against such a relationship make it even more so.

Eastwood is arguably our second best film director, after Martin Scorcese. He's brought us Unforgiven, A Perfect World, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Father, Letters from Iwo Jima, Gran Torino, and Hereafter, among others. But this latest effort will not further his case for overtaking Scorcese.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Why not be truly daring?


The NY Post ran an editorial this morning detailing how the Brooklyn Museum is up to its old tricks. They are running a video entitled, "Fire in My Belly," which features a figure of a crucified Christ with blood on it, and ants crawling all over it.

This is obviously some artists's way of demonstrating his rebellious, independent, epater le bougeois spirit. In fact, such works of "art" are getting a little tiresome after all the similar things we've seen in years previous. The Brooklyn Museum, in case you forgot, is the place which -- run by the same Arnold Lehman who runs it now -- exhibited Andre Serrano's infamous "Piss Christ," a work which showed a figure of Christ in an aquarium filled with urine. It also exhibited a painting of the Virgin Mary made out of elephant dung, juxtaposed with pornographic pictures.

Being "controversial" is one way for a young artist to gain attention. But if a young artist really wanted to get attention, why not create a "Piss Menorah" or "Shit Koran"? Those would get far, far more attention, and generate far more outrage, than yet another piece meant to demean Christianity.

Evidently there are no artists courageous enough to produce such works. And even if there were, my guess is that Arnold Lehman would not exhibit them. Because Lehman, like the artists themselves, displays only politically correct "courage."

Which is to say, none at all.

Nice guys, average guys, and sociopaths (X)

Situation: A group of young male students attend a college mixer. How do they behave?

Nice guy: Has a beer just so his friends won't think he is a square. Chats politely with whoever talks to him, male or female. One particularly pretty girl catches his eye but he is too shy to try to talk to her.

Average guy: Makes a desultory attempt to chat up various coeds; doesn't know any better, so stares at their breasts rather than looking them in the eye while talking to them. Awkwardly tries to get a couple of phone numbers, but is rebuffed. Takes advantage of the free beer by having several. Ends up hanging out with his buddies; they agree that most girls just go to mixers for the opportunity to turn down guys in order to feel more desirable.

Sociopath: Doesn't bother with the beer, since he knows he doesn't need one to loosen up. (Inhibitions are for losers.) He mingles successfully, knows how to make each girl he talks to feel as if she is special, and gets a few phone numbers. He makes an unsuccessful attempt to bed one of the girls in a nearby dorm room. Later tells his buddies the attempt was successful. They admire his nerve and slickness.

Situation: A man is walking down the street in a hurry, late for an appointment, when someone in a car stops to ask for directions to a local restaurant.

Nice guy: Stops to answer, gives detailed directions. Repeats directions when asked.

Average guy: Gives a rushed answer indicating the general direction of the restaurant. Starts to edge away even before he is finished giving directions, so as to forestall further questions.

Sociopath: Stops to answer and gives detailed directions to a seedy section of town. Afterward cackles with delight at his cleverness and wishes he could see their faces when they find themselves in the ghetto.

Situation: One of a group of buddies is diagnosed with terminal leukemia. How do his friends react?

Nice guy: Is stunned, and saddened, but doesn't say much because he knows that mere words cannot do justice to the gravity of the situation. At the funeral, is afraid he might cry in front of the deceased's relatives on the receiving line, so avoids it.

Average guy: Is saddened. Visits the guy, and says the right things. Also can't get over how bad he looks; is a little grossed out by him. While at the funeral, reflects a little on the nature of life and death, and feels bad for the grieving relatives, but also can't wait for it to be over so he can go home.

Sociopath: He makes a big show of grief, raises money for a group gift for the sick person; makes sure to take credit for the gift. He comments disparagingly about how the nice guy hasn't demonstrated sufficient sympathy for the sick person. He may let his mask slip by asking inappropriate, probing questions about the physical effects of the disease. He instinctively knows that this is a good time to ingratiate himself with the ill man's relatives, and pretends that he and the sick guy were closer than they were. At the funeral, summons up a few crocodile tears for them on the receiving line. Uses his "grief" as an excuse to misbehave. Forever after lambastes the nice guy for the fact that "he didn't even bother" to offer his condolences to the relatives.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Logic

Yesterday I was complimenting someone for being logical when I was interrupted by someone else. She said, "Uh, what do you mean by logical?"

I was taken aback by the question, so could only come up with "The word is pretty self-explanatory, don't you think?"

If you look it up in the dictionary, most of the definitions of logic use the word "reason." For instance, Merriam-Webster's definition:


a: a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration : the science of the formal principles of reasoning 

b: a particular mode of reasoning viewed as valid or faulty 

Upon further reflection, I've come up with a more usable, illustrative definition: a logical person is one who looks at the facts, then comes up with a theory based on those. An illogical person is one who comes up with a theory, then looks for facts to support it while studiously ignoring those which don't.

The two people mentioned above happen to be particularly good examples of each type.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tex

Just saw an article about how Charles "Tex" Watson, one of Charlie Manson's followers -- and one responsible for several slayings -- is up for parole today. The article goes on at length to quote his lawyer, who feels he is reformed, and the relatives of his victims, who feel he shouldn't be freed. No big surprises there. While Watson seems a good candidate for lifetime imprisonment, I can't get all that worked up about whether a 65-year-old who's been in jail for 42 years stays there.

But what caught my eye was the following sentence:

"Watson married and divorced in prison and has four children from conjugal visits..."

That, of course, is the real outrage. Watson should never have been allowed the pleasure of conjugal visits, let alone the satisfaction of knowing that he has had more reproductive success than most Americans who've led law-abiding lives. (And far more reproductive success than Sharon Tate and some of the others he killed.)

Must be why he's half-smiling in that mug shot.

That's going to be another plank of my Presidential platform: no more conjugal visits for felons. If a guy like Tex wants children, let him try to have some with his cellmate.

Addendum, same day: Watson was denied parole for the sixteenth time, and also told that he cannot seek parole again for at least five years. (His kids, however, are doing fine.)

Confessions of a beta male XII: pessimism

One of the key differences between alphas and betas is their outlook on life. An alpha's glass is always half full. I find the second half of my glass rarely worth finishing.

An alpha's motto is, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Mine is, nothing ventured, nothing lost.

To an alpha, many ideas, even some of the cockamamie ones, sound good. As a result, he is often disappointed, but occasionally succeeds. To me, they all sound bad. I am never disappointed, but also never succeed.

Had I been a venture capitalist back in the 1970's, and had a young Bill Gates approached me with an idea for "software" for computers (what a stupid concept!), I would have told him that computers are just overweight calculators, and as far as storing other data goes, encyclopedias are far more convenient. Had Steve Jobs approached me with the iPod, I would have told him he was too late: the Sony Walkman already had that market locked up. Had a young Henry Ford beseeched me, I would have informed him that my horse was plenty reliable.

If things don't go an alpha's way, he becomes furious, and will often pass blame around in a very generous manner. I never expect anything good to begin with, so rarely get mad.

To an alpha, every party sounds like a good idea because he just knows this is the one that's going to be stocked with beautiful and willing females. I figure, I didn't get laid at the last ten, this will be no different.

An alpha is always up for a new adventure. I know the movie will suck, the concert will be off key, the comedian will be lame, the traffic will be bad, and the seats inconveniently located as well as uncomfortable. So why bother? I am the stuff hermits are made of.

An alpha's enthusiasm will often be described as "contagious." I like to think that my wet blanket attitude functions as an occasional reality check. (Mostly it checks peoples' enthusiasm for me.)

Mention Hawaii to an alpha and he thinks of sunny beaches, lovely girls dancing the hula, tropical drinks, and great surfing. I think of the long waits at the airport, turbulence on the airplane, jet lag, locals regarding me with disdain, sunburn, and the high cost of it all.

Aloha.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dirty tricks

There has been concern expressed in some quarters that I have entered this Presidential race in a somewhat unprepared and naive fashion.

Don't worry, I'm not naive: I watched The Ides of March. I know all about the dirty tricks which are a vital part of every well-run campaign.

That was me, not Rick Perry's staff, who got those women to come forward and accuse Herman Cain of sexual harassment.

I had a few former foster children of Michelle Bachmann all set to testify as to what kind of a "mother" she actually was, but her poll numbers are telling me those won't be necessary.

Coming soon: revelations about the inner workings of the Mormon Church where Mitt Romney was a bishop. Yes, Bishop Romney. It has a nice ring, doesn't it? I promise, these will be almost as revealing as the revelations Joseph Smith himself experienced in the desert of Utah. Didn't know about Mitt's four other wives, did you? Stay tuned.

I also have a push-pull phone poll all planned out for the general election. Some of the questions we will ask include:

"Do you feel there is any truth to the rumors that Bill Ayers was in fact the real writer of Obama's two "autobiographical" books just because their writing styles were so eerily similar?"

"Do you sometimes feel that Brother Obama might as well have written his black nationalist preacher Jeremiah Wright's speeches?"

"Do you feel that Obama's gift to Queen Elizabeth of an iPod containing his own speeches displayed a deft diplomatic touch? How about his gift of a pair of White House cufflinks to the Dalai Lama, who never wears Western-style clothing?"

"Was obsequiously bowing to the Saudi king the right way for Obama to demonstrate Presidential protocol?"

"Did you feel good about the way Obama threw his own grandmother under the bus in the last election?"

"When Obama said, in the last election, that he had been to fifty-seven states with one more to go, did you worry that there were eight states that you didn't know about?"

"Do you feel that a weekly five hour golf expedition is a necessary part of a Commander in Chief's duties?"

"Do you feel that Michelle Obama has made a good First Lady? Do you feel that Marie Antoinette would have made a good First Lady?"

"Do you feel there is any truth to the rumors that Barack Obama hates white people?"

Even more planks

A few more positions:

Anything which gets this country further away from a pure democracy is a negative. The Founding Fathers didn't want any one area of the country to get too much power over another, and so instituted the Electoral College. Thanks to modern communications, we are all now just one big unhappy family. Every member of that family deserves to have his vote count, so get rid of the electoral college.

Congress ought to get the same medical insurance and pensions the rest of us get, not the lavish benefits they keep for themselves. They also should not be able to exempt themselves from the laws they pass for us -- which they do on a regular basis, even though the public is mostly unaware of this. They'll think twice about passing restrictive laws if they themselves are subject to them as well.

If a judge or jury deems a lawsuit frivolous, the plaintiff and his lawyers must pay the court costs of the trial.

Although I believe in the death penalty, I also believe that if someone given the death penalty is later found to have been innocent, the prosecuting DA should serve a year in jail. This will not prevent obvious serial killers, killers convicted on the basis of DNA evidence, or killers whose crime was viewed by multiple reliable witnesses from being given the death penalty. But it will prevent the penalty from being sought when there the evidence is shaky. And it should save the taxpayers from endless appeals.

Unions for public employees wield far too much power, which is why they have far better pensions on average than the taxpayers who pay their salaries. There should be no more collective bargaining for government workers. And with campaign contributions outlawed (see original platform), public unions will no longer be able to muscle in their candidates of choice.

Part of the reason unemployment is so high is because we have been exporting jobs. Companies which outsource labor will have to pay a tax equal to the difference between what they are paying their foreign employees and what an American worker would be get for that job. Every time I want my computer fixed, I have to talk to someone with an Indian accent so thick I can only understand half of what he is saying. I'm tired of it. (Those Indians who don't want to lose their jobs needn't vote for me.)

Abolish rubber stamp boards of directors. If a company does something illegal, the board should be liable. Otherwise, why have them?

Let shareholders vote on executive compensation, for at least the ten highest-paid employees of a corporation. Why should the owners of a company have no say in how they pay their employees?

The highest paid employee of a company ought not to be paid more than forty times what lowest paid employee is -- which is the way it was forty years ago. And stock options and bonuses will be counted as part of their pay. This would not prevent an Edwin Land or a Bill Gates of a Steve Jobs or a Bill Hewlett or a David Packard or a Henry Ford from becoming fabulously wealthy, as they all deserved to be. They got rich by founding companies which they then grew. But it would prevent corporate climbers from taking advantage of a company's shareholders. These types tend to rise by virtue of their skill at corporate politicking, then tell us that their presence is invaluable to the company, and reward themselves outrageously. I have a hard time lying back and enjoying it when I get raped this way.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Needed: new image consultant


(Herman Cain with supporters yesterday)

Given the nature of Herman Cain's recent problems, is this really the way he wants to be posing for pictures? First of all, he's doing everything except winking at the camera. His lascivious grin plainly states, I'm gettin' laid for sure tonight baby.

Then check out that outfit. The open jacket and sweater are fine. But that hat and gold chain all but proclaim "The pimp is in."

Well, at least he's not appearing in pajamas and a red silk robe embroidered with "Herm."

Still, someone should inform Cain he's campaigning for President, not for the title role in the remake of Superfly.

Gotta admire his devil-may-care attitude though.

Good reason not to show off

From this morning's NY Post: 

I woke from a stroke-- gay!
By Andy Soltis

A hulking, beer-guzzling rugby jock suffered a stroke in a freak training accident -- and woke up gay.

Chris Birch was a straight, 266-pound Welsh bank worker who liked sports, girls and booze and was engaged to his girlfriend before the life-style-changing event.

Now, he’s a 154-pound hairdresser who bleaches his tresses and lives with his 19-year-old boyfriend above his salon.

“I was gay when I woke up and I still am,” he said.

Birch, 26, was showing off before friends in a gym by doing a back flip, but he broke his neck and suffered a stroke, according to Britain’s Daily Mail.
EXTREME MAKEOVER: Everything about manly rugby player Chris Birch changed after his stroke, including becoming a gay hairstylist (above).
EXTREME MAKEOVER: Everything about manly rugby player Chris Birch changed after his stroke, including becoming a gay hairstylist (above).

He was rushed to Royal Gwent Hospital in the Welsh town of Newport. His girlfriend and relatives waited for him to recover consciousness.

“It sounds strange, but when I came around, I immediately felt different,” Birch recalled. “I wasn’t interested in women anymore. I was definitely gay.”

Birch, who lives in the town of Ystrad Mynach, said he never experienced any gay inclinations previously.

Researchers have reported many cases of stroke patients experiencing changes in behavior and personality, such as becoming less satisfied with their lives, losing confidence in themselves, or being easily irritated.

But turning gay? That’s a new one.

Birch said the change was sweeping and instantaneous.

“Suddenly, I hated everything about my old life. I didn’t get on with my friends. I hated sport and found my job boring,” he said.

So he underwent a transformation, quitting his job and shedding more than 100 pounds.

He said his family and friends were shocked by his change of sexuality.

“I think I’m happier than ever, so I don’t regret the accident,” he said.

“I’m nothing like the old Chris now, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”

A few observations:

He seems to like his new incarnation, and almost disdain his old self. But my question is, what would the old Chris have thought of the new one?

He claims to be happier than ever; if true, that means that "gay" is not a misnomer.

Could this possibly work the other way? Could a 154 pound hairdresser have a stroke and turn into a 266 pound beer-swilling football player? (Somehow that seems less likely.)

If I get caught molesting little boys, can I blame it on a stroke? ("I used to be a real stud, I swear, you'd be amazed how many women I did. But somehow, ever since the stroke I just haven't been the same.")

Is this a possible defense for Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant coach? He actually looks like a stroke candidate.

On a more serious note, a brain scan to see which areas of Birch's brain were damaged by the stroke could provide some interesting insights into the roots of sexuality.

Addendum, 11/12/11: For those of you who are curious, this is the only "before" photo I could find of Birch:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why couldn't he just be happy with Barbie dolls?

Those of us who marvel at the vagaries of the human psyche recently received a gift in the form of a Russian man, Anatoly Moskvin, 45, who had dug up the bodies of 29 women and dressed them up like dolls to decorate the three room apartment he shared with his parents. (Ma and Pa sure set a new standard for parental leniency there.)

The NY Post reported that police investigators were shocked at what they found in the city of Volga River city of Nizhny Novgorod. Moskvin reportedly stole just the bodies of young women. (Well, at least he wasn't a pervert.)


From this one snapshot it looks as if his apartment could have been selected for an episode of Hoarders. Three rooms does seem an awfully small space in which to fit 29 bodies, as well as three living people.

Moskvin is a professional historian who supposedly speaks 13 languages, and was described as a "genius" by his neighbors. (If he can actually speak 13, then he merits that description.) He once stated that his interest in the dead dated from the time he was 12, and was made to kiss the face of a dead 11-year-old girl.



Moskvin has the thin lips of a serial killer, and his sneer and unkempt appearance in this picture certainly make him look creepy enough. But Moskvin didn't kill. He was more spiritual cousin to Ed Gein, the infamous Wisconsin man who stole the remains of nine women from local graveyards in the late 1940's and early 1950's, and occasionally dressed up in their skins. (Gein also killed two women, and was used as the model for Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.)



When the police searched Gein's house, they found nine masks made from human skin, bowls from human skulls, human skin covering several seat chairs, nine vulvae in a shoebox, a belt made from female human nipples, a pair of lips on a drawstring for a window shade, and a lampshade made from the skin of a human face.

You can decide for yourself who's weirder -- Anatoly Moskvin for dressing corpses up as dolls, or Ed Gein for occasionally wearing someone else's skin. 

Or me, for being so fascinated by these guys.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More planks

Please note that my campaign platform outlined three posts ago actually favors the middle class. Most Presidents talk the middle class talk but then enact policies which favor either the upper or lower classes.

In the meantime, several more people have told me I have their vote. Among these are a couple of liberals, which caused me to take another look at my stated platform, and sure enough, there are several positions more closely associated with Democrats. So I will list several more policies which will discourage liberal support.

(Like all good politicians, I shudder at the thought of votes from people who don't fully comprehend my mindset.)

Here goes: 

We need to declare war on gangs. Gangs -- whether they be the Crips or Bloods, MS-13, the Mafia, the Mexican Mafia, the Tongs, the Albanians, or the Russian mob -- have no redeeming social value, and make certain neighborhoods unlivable. Virtually all motorcycle gangs are criminal enterprises as well. Merely joining a gang should be criminalized.

Legalizing marijuana would deprive the gangs of a large revenue source, and create one for the government. The same rules will apply to marijuana as to alcohol use, i.e., not for use by minors and no driving under the influence.

I would even legalize cocaine use, but with far stricter usage requirements. You can only use it in government-controlled locations, and if you agree to have some semi-permanent form of birth control implanted. This would also deprive the criminals of money. And not incidentally, it would mean fewer crack babies would be born.

Keep the death penalty, and cut down on the time spent on Death Row. If the death penalty is not a deterrent now, it's partly because the endless appeals process tends to make it more of a life sentence.

Abolish the National Endowment for the Arts. It should not be a function of the government to be the arbiter of artistic taste. If someone wants to be paid for his art, let him sell his art in the marketplace.

Disparate impact is one of the more insidious, destructive concepts ever to get past the Supreme Court. This country spends an inordinate amount of energy pretending that all races are equal on average in every way, and that any differences must be the result of racism. We can't keep saying that "our diversity is our strength" and then deny any real diversity. Throwing out the New York Fire Department's entrance exam -- or any other exam -- because blacks score lower on it is as ridiculous as insisting that the NBA be 70% white, 12% Hispanic, and 5% Asian.

In case that's not enough to turn off the liberals, in my second term I plan to institute eugenics.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bye bye Herman

With a fourth woman now coming out to say she had been harassed by Herman Cain, his campaign for the Republican nomination is now effectively over.

When one woman accused him, it seemed like, well, who knows, there are a lot of people who just want attention out there. When one became two, he started to have a bad odor about him. When the third woman came forward, most doubt was removed. And now that a fourth has emerged, it's all over.

What a clodhopper Cain must be to make such awkward passes at these women that they felt they were being harassed. Before you put your hand between a woman's legs, you ought to have some sense that she wants you to do that. Were his antennae so blunted that he had no clue?

Cain seemed like an affable enough fellow during the debates, but these women must all have resented him immensely to come forward like this to sink his campaign. Was he not otherwise gentlemanly?

Evidently not. The fourth woman, Sharon Bialek, said that when Cain reached for her genitals, he also grabbed her head and brought it towards his crotch, saying, "You want a job, right?"

As a result, it looks as if he is no longer a contender for the job he wants.

Romney, of course, would never admit to it, but he must be chortling.

I, on the other hand, as the only honest candidate, freely admit that I find this entire episode hilarious.

Back

Well, power has finally been restored to my house, after seven days. I won’t grouse, because that’s boring. In any case, it did serve as a convenient excuse not to blog for several days.

The “convenient” is because I was so busy campaigning for President anyway. 

My campaign for the Presidency, in case you are curious, is going extremely well. In the past several days nine people have told me, either in person or via email, that I have their vote. 

Nine is an infinite multiple of the number of supporters I had just one short week ago. If that rate of change continues, I will end up at 1600 Pennsylvania.

Wait a sec, the week really didn't seem short, given how cold and dark my house was. And, what with setting the clocks back Saturday night, it was actually long.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the campaign is going exceedingly well. In case you're wondering about about skeletons I might have in my closet, a concern raised by a commenter after I stated my platform, consider the following.

It has often been said that in politics you can get away with pretty much anything, as long as you are not found with either a dead girl or a live boy in your bed.

Well, the other day I was caught in bed with both -- at the same time. 

I explained to the police that I had been walking by a house when I heard the sound of anguished cries coming from within. Thinking I might be of assistance, I rushed in the front door of the house – which happened to be ajar -- and found a young man trying to revive a 16-year-old girl who had just had a heart attack. I tried to help by performing mouth to mouth resuscitation on her. In fact I tried so hard to save her that somehow my clothes fell off in the process. That’s when the police appeared.

They bought my story.

Bill Clinton has nothing on me.

I am the Teflon candidate.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Power outage

he early storm which swept through New England this past Saturday knocked power out in 80% of my town (including my house). No electricity means no light, no TV, no internet, and no land line phone. It also means no heat (the oil heater is run by an electric thermostat) and no water (the pump is run by electricity as well).

So the local Y and library are basically refugee camps. There's nothing intrinsically interesting about this, I guess, unless it happens to you. Whenever I read about the inconvenience caused by extreme weather elsewhere, I must admit I am never stirred to sympathy.

Just goes to show that self-pity is more easily stimulated than the other kind.

Well, at least with me.