Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween, you Moochers!

By grace of God and his prophet Muhammad, we have finally reached the halfway point of this beast!

Ayn Rand tries her hand a babysitting.

Winter had come as it does every year. It's a part of impersonal nature, devoid of thought or meaning.

Unless you're a narcissist prone to magical thinking, like Daffy Braggart. Then you associate even the changing of the seasons with anthropic properties directly related to your own fuck-ups.

And oh how Daffy did associate! The dropping of the temperature, the graying of the sky - a welcome change from the usual brown - all clearly indicative to her of the world reacting to her petty inconveniences!

Like Spank going to jail. Not only did it rob her of freaky, adulterous sex but it meant no more glowing green spankmeum for Braggart Big Damn Rail! And right with it came the news that Dan the coal guy was also in jail for such trumped-up collectivist charges as "bombing whole towns to get at their black gold," meaning no more coal for Daffy's choo-choos!

And no, she didn't care that coal-burning engines had been a rarity, even for her own company, for the past half century...

Click here for more Atlas Shirked!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Nanny State by Any Other Name...

The Romney-Ryan Campaign said it would focus on storm relief. If you have a functioning brain stem, your immediate reaction to such a claim should be, "What the hell can they do!?" Because Romney ain't president, he ain't even governor anymore. But he is still stinking rich.

"Romney, the GOP presidential nominee, will be joined by race car driver Richard Petty and country singer Randy Owen at what is billed as a 'storm relief event' in Kettering, Ohio."

We won't get in to how New York got the real drubbing from Sandy, but this speaks to something at the heart of conservative rhetoric in this country - we fucking love handouts. I know, everyone's supposed to be a rugged induhvidualist and all, but when things need fixing we're always happy for someone else to do it. For free.

What conservatives, libertarians, and other subomegaloids object to is how these handouts are administered. They absolutely refuse to have government do it, not because government is evil - except the libertarians but they're fucking morons - but because then it becomes something impersonal and equal. And these poor dweebs need to feel flattered by their betters stooping to help them - "Oh, thank you for the storm relief, Massa!" - something bloodless plutocrats like Romney are happy to indulge in because it reinforces his own sense of power.

Just a thought for today. A reminder that all this noise we've been hearing for the past year about the threat of Big Gub'mint is just that. Stupid noise by stupid people but useful to clowns like Romney.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Donald Trump: Professional Failure

The Donald decided he would be the October Surprise for this election and took to YouTube - like any monomaniacal retard - to offer five million dollars in charity if Obama releases his college transcripts and passport records. Obama's response deserves to be quoted in full -

"This all dates back to when we were growing up together in Kenya. We had constant run-ins on the soccer field. He wasn't very good and resented it. When we finally moved to America, I thought it would be over."

"Presidential pwn!"

So that little venture has crashed and burned, but that's nothing new for Trump. His entire professional career has consisted of making bad bets, boneheaded moves, and then bragging about it while suing the very people he ended up owing money to.

Like Trump Airlines. Or Trump Casinos. Or damn near anything to bear the name "Trump" including the comb-overed douchebag himself. Seriously, Donald Trump has owed nine hundred billion dollars personally over his consistent business failures. Not Trump Overcompensation Industries, but Donald himself, personally. His own personal debt exceeds several Third World countries combined!

Also, he is one gross looking sumbitch.

And he inherited his fortune. The man is as useless as training wheels on a horse.

It's fitting that Trump has turned to boosting the GOP, using the dumbest rightwing memes available. As his own record shows, he always fails.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Welfare Myth

The most pernicious lie in American political discourse is that we have a welfare system. While it technically exists, it's more in the way the ARVN existed - on paper and in the dreams of suckers.

Let's look at Virginia, which as an "at will" state is a good example of how the system screws people. First, if you want to claim unemployment benefits - which you have every legal right to - you first have to register with the Virginia Employment Commission. This can be done on their website or at your local VEC office on their website. That's the extent of personal assistance you can expect, "Internet's that way! Quit botherin' me!" finding the link to their registration page will take longer than the actual registration but if you wanted to report unemployment fraud, there's a big fat banner ad dominating every page.

Once registered, you'll have to file an initial claim of unemployment. This involves answering the same questions over and over again, each time reading through some long-winded warning about how even the slightest mistake on your part will constitute fraud - which means no benefits and the Commonwealth of Virginia will sue the shit out of you.

But once all that registering and filing is complete... you have to wait a week and do it all over again. See, that first week is a probationary period. The reasoning behind this isn't explained on the VEC site or in official documents - at all - but remember this isn't about serving citizens. And you'll have to re-do your registration because the McDonnell administration can't be bothered to hire competent developers for the Virginia Jobs site.

"Why? Because fuck you, that's why!"

That racist goober also supports George Allen, as if you needed another reason to hate ol' macaca. But that's a rant for next week...

So you're registered and finally you get to file your continuing claim and maybe get some help from the state you've been paying taxes to while gainfully employed. If you have your PIN number. That's delivered through snail mail, ostensibly for security purposes, and it will arrive after the deadline for your weekly filing.

You have to file weekly too. I forgot to mention that and if you forget tough shit.

Now assuming you've managed all of that, you'll start collecting the unemployment benefits you've earned - for a couple weeks. This is the intentionally ambiguous part of the process, where the VEC determines how much tax money a dirty moocher like you are allowed. It comes down to what you used to make, who your dependents are if any, and the mood of the VEC auditor at any given moment. And God help you if you lost your job through anything other than a layoff, 'cause the Commonwealth of Virginia sure won't.

This infuriating system is technically welfare in the sense that Dick Cheney is technically human. It has all the material trappings without any of the spirit because there is no political will in this country to support workers. Rather the entire process is geared to be complicated, demoralizing, and forever reinforcing the popular judgement that people are poor only because they deserve to be. And that's not a new development - as a Christian nation, America has always held firm to the Good Book's declaration that, "For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him." [Matthew 13:12]

Quit begging for austerity, kids. It's been here all along.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Density without Depth

Hey kids! It's time for another awfully hilarious - or hilariously awful - chapter in the world's worst novel re-imagined for the bailout era!

Turkey, $30. Champagne, $25. Fancy lace tablecloth, $2,000 (seriously, tablecloths are frickin' expensive). Dinner service and fine china, $2,500. Silverware, $3,000. Feeling superior to everyone in the room because you can quantify all this junk, priceless!

Or it would be if Spank Rearend could wrap his myopic mind around the concept of something being worth more than money. As it stands, he calculated his self-satisfaction this night at being somewhere in the seven figures... And was wondering when he would be receiving a check for it.

"God, I hate Thanksgiving," Rearend's mother groaned at the head of the dinner table. "It always means I have to see you people again."

"We love you too, ma," said Bill, Spank Rearend's brother who'd been long absent from this narrative.

"Rakum frakum..." Spank just muttered from his end of the expensive spread.

"What was that?"

"Please excuse Spank," Lilly said nervously. "He's... not in the best mood."

"Oh, is this about that trial tomorrow?" Spank's mother asked.

For those of you just joining us, Spank Rearend was arrested and charged with contempt of court - and some other stuff - for violating an injunction against producing more of his spankmeum alloy. That's still part of the plot and he's damn sure going to court for it.

"I'll have you know," Spank said with great self-important gravity, "I intend to make a stand tomorrow."

"Of course you will, everyone stands when the judge enters."

"No, ma. I think he means he's gonna make a scene."

"Well that's to be expected. I remember when he tried to muscle more allowance -"

"I had expenses!" snapped Spank, hotly.

"Of course you did, you were twenty-three!" his mother retorted.

Continue reading the latest chapter of Atlas Shirked!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Chick Flick with Guns

Act of Valor has got to be the most hilariously inept propaganda film ever. Not because it's bad - it's surprisingly decent and in a few rare cases well acted. Rather, it fails due to how it exposes all the failings and neuroses of contemporary American culture.

First of all, it's embarrassingly weepy. For an action flick, it's all inaction for the first twenty minutes as we get to see Our Heroes fuss around with their families. Lieutenant Soon-Be-Dead is an expectant father and promises his wife Gonna-Be-A-Single-Mom that he totally won't die. And Chief something or other delivers half the dialogue as a meandering monologue on his father and some shallow platitudes about manhood and honor.

"This right here is the first third of a film about Navy SEALs..."

I get it, they're simple family men and stuff. But this sort of thing can be communicated with much less slow motion and maudlin voice-overs.

Second, the film can't decide who our enemies are supposed to be so it goes for a cocktail of bogeymen - terrorists, drug lords, illegal immigrants, even Russians! Technically a Chechen, but the guy is straight out of Cold War casting right down to the gnarly facial scar. His childhood friend, a Colombian-Russian-Jewish international crime lord, is the best actor in the entire piece and gone much too soon.

There've been lots of complaints that the real SEALs who starred in this couldn't act. That's less of a problem than one might think at first. A much bigger problem, particularly in the slow opening, is that the lines they're given are just so damn bad. The sort of thing a sanctimonious dolt would find deep, so the fault of a bad screenwriter. And it persists through the whole damn movie! Even when they're about to jump out of a plane, one of them is gushing, "The only thing better than this is being a dad!"

I don't blame the SEALs for this drek and not just because I know they could hunt me down and kill me in some fairly unpleasant way. The guy who says that line about being a dad is visibly uncomfortable with it, just making it more obvious that the line was jammed in by a writer with an agenda. A stupid agenda.

"Changing a diaper is way cooler than this!"

You'd think the action sequences are why people went to see this. There are some fast, punchy scenes, in particular the helmet-cam parts filmed down the SEALs' gun sights. Call of Duty: The Motion Picture! But no, even the firefights are gummed up by slow-motion melodrama, as Americans need their ass-kicking served with a spoonful of syrup. In the middle of a damned car chase, things have to slow down so the SEALs can share long, meaningful glances that bring to mind "In The Navy" more than a stolid brotherly bond. Even in the climactic gun battle, where everything slows down every two minutes so the SEALs can dive away from a blast or make a heroic stand against the odds, all looking like they're ready to shed manly tears. Because Americans need their heroics that blatant and their heroes that... I don't even know. Is there a word for being a meat-eating super soldier while simultaneously being an Oprah fantasy of the gentle father and provider?

Compare Act of Valor to the British drama about the Special Air Service, the unfortunately named Ultimate Force, and it doesn't compare. On that show, the national heroes are portrayed as human beings with all their warts. They're not the nicest bunch but they're not monsters. They're brave and good at what they do but they clearly enjoy shooting people more than polite society would deem healthy. And the very first episode involves "resolving" a hostage situation by shooting the shit out of all the hostage takers, even the kid who'd put down his gun and was ready to surrender.


But that's what the SAS does and Ultimate Force merely relays it, leaving any moral judgement up to the viewer. Act of Valor in contrast is a silly suburban fantasy, glossing over the uglyness of special operations - which can get damn ugly - and wallowing in a new sort of militarism bathos.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Sit and Spin Zone

Leave it to David Brooks to try and rehabilitate Paul Ryan's image following the righteous beatdown last week. As Matt Taibbi pointed out, not only did VP Biden call the little troll on his shoddy math but even the moderator demanded, "Do you have a way to make this tax cut work, yes or no?"

And Ryan, like any rat-fucker, tried to talk his way around it. He delivered this whole spiel on how they were going to work out the specifics in a bipartisan manner after the election. A Republican talking bipartisanship in this day and age! Only fools and shameless party flaks could take such claims seriously!

"You called?"

And David Brooks. While we probably shouldn't expect much from a man who conflates interior decorating trends with grand cultural change, to look at Ryan's transparent prevaricating and then write in the paper of record - "[Ryan] did an excellent job of demonstrating policy professionalism." - that should be grounds for reducing Brooks to a public laughingstock.

But that would involve recognizing that sometimes issues are more than just he-said-she-said sideshows. Sometimes one side is being truthful and the other is cranking out bullshit so lazy a toddler wouldn't be fooled. But too many American journalists - Brooks in particular - make a living off of promoting this false dichotomy. That Ryan was called out on his non-answer regarding his non-plan is the anomaly in our system. If that doesn't fill you with shame, you are what's wrong with democracy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Rock 'em Sock 'em Candidates

There was a debate last night if you hadn't heard. Matt Taibbi has the best to say about it, being less concerned with crowing over Biden's victory than with the proper thrashing delivered to Ryan.

I'll say this though - it's Ayatollah! Singular! The Romney/Ryan ticket has been presenting itself as strident know-nothings on foreign policy for over a month now, but when you don't even know the titles in the one government on Earth that seriously hates us, you have no business playing Commander in Chief.

Ryan also repeated the "Russia is our enemy!" meme, a favorite of clueless yokels like his boss and Cold War fossils who are still cranky about not getting thermonuclear war. At least the bullshit from the Democrats is new bullshit, the GOP still thinks it can win by pitching the same policies that dominated from '00 to '08.

Which they can, since Americans are so damned stupid. Read the Taibbi post if you want more in-depth analysis. The gist of last night was Biden giving Ryan - and these failed policies - a long overdue drubbing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Masochism Tango

Because I must enjoy pain to keep doing this...

Lily shuffled through the dank evening streets, knowing she should find her husband Spank Rearend but not particularly wanting to. She'd known of his infidelity of course - this most recent and his previous ones - and had as usual kept mum about the whole thing. She'd learned through long, painful experience not to press Spank as he more than lived up to his name.

Though she did wonder if the little financial security their sham marriage provided was worth the embarassment of that night. Not just her husband being so publicly affectionate with his mistress Daffy Braggart and her brother's wedding, but at finding the two of them in an alley just now, Spank vigorously railroading the railroad exec.

"Oh Franky!" Daffy cried, remembering Francisco Domingo Carlo Banana Fana bo Binko d'Ano The Third who'd been mincing about in the last chapter.

"Yeah, take it Franky!" hollered back Spank Rearend. "I'm not gay!"

It was times like this Lily really considered just leaving... But where would she go?

She wasn't stupid. She knew just walking out on Spank would absolve him of all the obligations stipulated by their marriage - namely the financial support Lily would need. She'd been a kept woman so long it would be hell to try and find a job. And despite the many reasons for divorce Spank had given her over the course of the narrative, she knew he'd fight her every step of the way. He wasn't the sharpest spoon in the pudding but he was tenacious when it came to grabbing money.

"Which I don't want but take anyway! It's about principles and shit!"

Spank, you're too dumb to break the fourth wall.

"Right! My bad!"

So needless to say. Lily felt trapped. She saw every opportunity to relieve her misery as a distant door slammed shut, receding in the distance like the elipses used by mediocre writers in lieu of proper transitions.

*    *    *

Spank Rearend sat in his office. The plasma screen mounted on the wall relayed the latest news in the d'Ano scandal.

"Sources now say Mister d'Ano not only had no copper, but knew this and the many reports he filed with the police regarding 'stolen' ore are fraudulent."

"That's right, Bob. Mister d'Ano defrauded just about everyone in Mexico and a number of private investors here in America, running from major firms to average citizens looking to diversify their IRAs."

"No word yet on if the Mexican government will honor the contract between d'Ano and his many cheated investors. Cindy, I don't know how many folks out there know this, but American laws require investors be paid their principle even in the event of bankruptcy."

"Yes, Bob. Because we have rule of law here, where everyone is equal regardless of wealth or inherited privilege."

Spank sneered contemptuously at the big TV screen. "'Rule of law!' Feh!"

And he was disappointed no one was paying attention to him. "Judy!" he barked into the intercom. "Send in some peon to bask in my brilliance!"

"My name is Roger, sir," replied the much put upon office manager.

But the door to Spank's office opened anyway and in came Doctor Floyd. He'd been tasked with making a study of Spank Rearend's new wonder metal spankmeum - mostly a wonder how it could be so green and flammable.

"Mister Rearend," Floyd said pleasantly. "I hope I'm not intruding?"

Spank just bawwed like the big baby he was.

"Oh, uh... Well, I hope we can get through this smoothly. I know you don't want anymore contempt of court charges."

"You just hate how awesome I am!" whined Spank.

"Mister Rearend, I'm just here to study the, er..." Few people other than Spank himself really care to refer to the mistery alloy as "spankmeum." Can you blame them?

"You used to like my metal!" Spank sputtered. "And you changed your mind! You're inconstant! A flip-flopper!"

"I don't really remember that," Floyd said politely, trying to diffuse the situation. "And to be fair, any previously produced metal of yours has less bearing on your current product than, y'know, empirical study."

"You're too weak to be emperor!"

"Okay, I think we're in a different parody now."

No, see, it's a pun.

"Christ... How much longer is this scene?"

Find out at our sister blag, Atlas Shirked!

Monday, October 8, 2012

From the Battleground

I've lived in Virginia 29 years and this is the first time I've seen it matter in an election. I hear it went for Obama in 2008 but the politics in this state are as schizophrenic as the weather. Exhibit A - George Allen can still show his face.

Mostly, this new status only means we get more and more damned campaign ads. I've never seen a campaign ad that wasn't pandering bullshit and neither have you. Because those ads don't exist. The intellectual high point of these have just been rehashing Mitt's 47% flub - which, as I've already pointed out, is a bullshit statistic. So it's bullshit debunking bullshit.

And no one in this state cares. Most of them if asked would repeat the same line as Romney, it being a popular meme among stupid people. What's really hurting Romney in Virgina is he pissed all over the State Department with his Libya gaff. That's the largest voting block in this state after DOD staff - not actual soldiers - and a bunch of racist Jesus freaks. That last group will always vote Republican because everyone knows Democrats are in league with Old Scratch but those State and DOD workers are usually who carry the election, being strident supporters of private enterprise and opposed to government spending.

Really. Damn near every State and DOD employed Virginian is most concerned about excessive government spending. Like I said, stupid people.

But people who understand when someone craps on them, like Romney did over Libya. So will that make Virginia go Obama again? Maybe, I don't really care. I'm voting for Barry just 'cause it angers up those technocratic dweebs I just described. American politics devolved to raw spite years ago and this is a spite that works for me for a change.