A User’s Guide To Economic Crisis

So there we were in a certain universe.  The Great Campaign of ’08 was proceeding exactly as all the others, with a very familiar final act unfolding before us all.  That is to say both candidates were proceeding to out-dull one another into a submission hold of fatigue and predictable political ploys.

YAWN.

And then, in the midst of this election of Change (TM) something truly remarkable happened.  Something actually changed.

And of course by “change” I mean “collapsed on an epic level” and by “something” I mean the United States economy.  Not that economy hasn’t been an issue the entire election, but now something has started to happen that has given both candidates an opportunity to rise to the occasion… to take bold uncompromising steps toward leadership as a crisis unfolds in this election’s latter days.  And, to their credit, one candidate DID make a slight halfhearted attempt at it.

NONE OF THE REPORTERS REALIZED HOW CLOSE THEY HAD ALL COME TO DEATH THAT DAY.

So with both Obama and McCain trying their best to sound as much like one another (and the polled preferences of the majority of likely American voters), their opinions on the matter are effectively irrelevant.  I imagine they’re JUST as irrelevant by phone or in person, in case it matters.  The important thing to note is that the immediate state of everyone’s credit and finances is in the hands of the US Federal Government.  So really, how can there be anything to worry about?  They do such a bang-up job on everything else.

GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY AT WORK

The United States Department of Pulling Numbers Out Their Asses have apparently generated a $700 billion dollar price tag on what is, to my understanding, the economic equivalent of cleaning out an engine and all its filters so it doesn’t blow up on Dead Man’s Curve down by the old Thompson Farm.  Except that no one knows if engine gunk is actually the problem.  But whatever that problem is, it doesn’t act like anything else that’s ever been solved by conventional means on a car engine, anywhere, any time.

For the average citizen, there are two main responses to this crisis.  The first is open sarcasm.  As such, here are your Final Four brackets for all the banks in the Free Market.  Everyone feel free to start office pools, I’m sure that’s why it was created:

The other path is political action of some sort.  And here I have a proposition to my fellow Americans.  A proposition as to the path that we can take in the immediate, for we are fortunate enough to have a catastophe too fresh to wear off by Election Day.  Allow me to outline my proposal.

For the next few days, and on into forever, you’re going to hear Republicans and Democrats do what they do best: blame each other for shit going wrong.

Since a few Republicans suddenly decided that NOW they were gonna remember the Constitution, it’s already begun.  The point-counterpoint that followed as even the President seemed to shrink to irrelevancy only served to further drive home the point that zealots and pricks have taken over Congress.

Mind you, I’m not saying the bailout is a good thing or a bad thing.  I find it a CURIOUS thing when one considers a few points.  First, the majority of economics experts are predicting something far less dire than people seem to be imagining (myself, at times, among them).  The second thing to keep it mind is that if the US taxpayer winds up having to foot this bill, and I honestly don’t see how we’re not gonna get stuck with this, then there’s a HOST of other things $700 billion dollars could be used for that don’t involve a plan that might not even work.

A few examples?  Well, $365 billion could fix every collapsing road and every shitty railroad line in the United States.  For another $185 billion we could establish BOTH a national health care system and a universal automated health information system, something I was shocked to learn we don’t actually have already (the two groups with the finest communication of respective medical histories in this country are veterans and convicts).  That’s $515 billion, and I’m not done.  Because if the Gila Bend solar array is any indicator of potential, another $85 billion could conceivably provide power to nearly SIX MILLION US HOMES and that would STILL leave us another $100 billion for the infrastructure necessary to carry that power from the southern deserts to wherever the fuck it needs to go.

It should also be pointed out that these projects all address issues that have ALSO been pestering the United States Congress for several years, each one of them threatening this nation in one way or another.  It suddenly becomes very funny how Congress can come up with 700 billion dollars when their rich friends are in trouble.

ONE OF CONGRESS’ NEW LOCAL OFFICES.

The apologists for this bailout will make a big deal about how the government may recuperate all its losses from flipping reams and reams of shitty credit.  Because if there’s one thing everybody’s going to rush to do, it’s buy bad loans from the government.  They also point out that any one of the ambitious projects I just brought up will DEFINITELY mean a tax increase (which isn’t totally true, but it might).  They don’t mention, however, the number of jobs an infrastructure overhaul alone will create, to say nothing of side industries.  Definitely a tax, but definitely a return, which is more than we can say for Operation: “Panic And Throw Money At It”.

But regardless how you feel about the plan, one thing we can ALL agree on is the need to do precisely what DIDN’T get done this week.  Which is to say, something productive.  Maybe the bailout is a better idea, maybe it’s not, but… I don’t know… ISN’T THIS WHAT WE ELECT THESE FUCKERS TO FIGURE OUT?

And so enters my aforementioned humble proposition.  I propose, my fellow voters, that we all do something to blow their fucking minds.  Something none of their pollsters could POSSIBLY envision.  We act like responsible voters.  We use our powers of democracy to attack the REAL culprits of government ineptitude in the face of crisis.

We vote against incumbents.

GET. OUT.

Fuck all if they’re Republicans.  Vote Democrat.  Democrats?  Vote Republican.  Or vote third party.  Just make a showing against whoever is CURRENTLY in office, and that you’re eligible to vote against.  Rush the polls.  Toss a bunch of close races the other way, or narrow the margin of a sure-thing enough he or she notices.  Send them a message.  All of them.

Current economic wisdom says this crisis traces its roots as far back as the mid-1990’s.  Now I don’t know the numbers, but I HAVE to guess there are a lot of motherfuckers (and fuckerettes) who have been in the Senate and the House since at LEAST then.  I’m talking Republicans and Democrats ALIKE.  Maybe it’s time these fine individuals sought work elsewhere.

So fuck it, then.  They can’t get their act together, for WHATEVER reason?  They ALL let this situation get to this point in the first place.  Let’s remind them they work at our pleasure.  Let’s make them feel some real “change”.

ON NOTICE

Out For Now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle

(If you’d like to know which of your current Senators or Representatives are incumbents, and whether or not they’re up for firing this year, the full lists by district may be found here and here)

Just Something To Share

We all love crazy random shit on the internet.  Or I assume we all do, because I do and my reasoning is that’s what brought anyone reading this HERE in the first place.

Point is, whether it’s some YouTube-spawned future meme involving a rodent and music, or just a crazy picture of someones grandmother holding a Desert Eagle, crazy shit on the internet dominates the tubes to the point of congestion.

Occasionally however, in the midst of the random explosion of images brought about by the age of digital cameras and mass communication, something magical happens.  Sometimes from all this chaos is brought forth an image so beautiful, so utterly indescribable, that it transcends the surly bounds of EMail-forwarding schlop and enters the realm of true art.

It is today that I have found one such image.  And, to stimulate the minds of those reading this, I wish to share it below.

Be warned: It will move you, so scroll down only when you are prepared.  Enjoy.

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I know.  I too was left wordless.

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle

You Can Put Lipstick On A Pig, But It’s Still A Lost Election. Or: My Second-To-Last Comment On This Debacle Called The 2008 Presidential Race

This has been the pivotal week.

This is “read my lips, no new taxes” and “it’s the economy stupid” and “I actually DID vote for etc, before I voted against it.”

It’s “The Moment”.  It happens in every election, and it seals the deal.  Sometimes it comes early, and slaps a label on a candidate they can’t shake (Kerry The Flip-Flopper), and sometimes it comes late and gets used as a weapon against a crucial voting block (Obama The Woman Hater).  Either way, The Moment is as inescapable and inevitable as its results.  Results which, over the last week, have become all too apparent.

Mind you, I was preparing a draft for this latest blog entry entitled “Calling The Election For John McCain” before this happened.  But events early this week have made what was going to be a simple assessment of solid red states and battleground poll numbers is instead going to turn into something perhaps a little more flashy here in the home stretch.

This has all been going downhill for Obama since the selection of Sarah Palin.  What at first seemed the baffling pick of a woefully under-experienced and unknown VP candidate quickly crystallized into a cohesive and effective strategy from the GOP side.  Steve Schmidt has apparently learned well from his dark master.

“WHAT IS THY BIDDING, MY MASTER?”

“GO FUCK YOURSELF.”

Much like Chase and Ackroyd in Spies Like Us, she’s a decoy.  They put Palin out there as a target with an Alaska-sized bear-trap sitting right next to her.  And the Democrats stepped right the fuck into it.

WOULD IT BE INAPPROPRIATE TO CALL HER A ‘TROJAN HORSE’ WITH LIPSTICK?

It started with the experience question.  As some rare souls in the media mainstream (if the Post can even be called that) have somehow miraculously noticed, Obama got sucked into an argument that he was preset to lose.  By attacking Palin on the experience question, they set themselves up for a counter-attack on Senator Obama’s own experience, his consistent weak spot.  This led to a “tale of the tape” style back-and-forth between the two campaigns over whether community organizers, small town mayors, or governors with states that have roughly the population of a large trailer park are better experienced to lead this entire nation.  The Democrats played into this nonsense by essentially pitting the HEAD of their ticket against the number two on the Republican side.  So even if the argument is won, it’s lost.  It will read that if Obama’s having trouble with Number One, how’s anyone to believe he’s going to beat Blofeld?

Then this shit happened:

Which is memorable apparently for being so memorable, to hear everyone tell it.  I’d almost erased this moment of retarded levity from my memory and now it may go down as the lamest joke to ever win an election.  Observe:

This is what an overworked candidate looks like, incidentally.  And likely campaign exhaustion is what led to this strategic level fuck-up.  See, a fully refreshed and prepped Barack Obama would have had every ounce of Sarah Palin intel ready to spring into action from the depths of his Vulcan-like mind to prevent uttering those exact words at THIS exact time.  And it would have recalled that atrocious bit of semi-humor and it’s apparent bumper sticker appeal among “working class whites” (racist people).  Or at least recalled before the audience did, and started laughing about it.  You can see him almost realizing what he’s saying halfway through it after their gleeful response, if you look closely.  If it had broken through fully he probably would have cracked a laugh, and with good reason: Because calling Sarah Palin a pig by accident is fucking funny.  Not good for your campaign, but funny.

So the Republicans respond by snapping that bear trap shut with an outraged, ‘OH NOES OBAMA CALLED SARA A PIG WTF!!!1!’  Oh, and a hastily thrown together advertisement I’d love to show you, but apparently CBS made YouTube take it down because it contained illicitly gained footage of Katie Couric, a statement that shouldn’t sound sexy but kinda does anyway.  This is the same CBS that ran a story with fake documents discrediting a sitting president during an election year and tarnishing the reputation of their finest anchor.  But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

In any case, that text-message outrage leaked it’s way into the sea and was snapped up for the journalistic gangbang called the 24-hour cable news cycle.  The Obama campaign was, to say the least, a bit rattled.  There was a poll slip, then a dead heat again.  If you don’t believe they were rattled, observe their response.  Witness Obama’s thunderous denunciation:

Heartfelt, emotional in places, played well in the room, and entirely too late.  Obama slammed the barn door pretty hard, but the horse was already contending for the Triple-Crown.  And if I’m calculating this correctly, Obama is mounting his primary defense on the assumption that everyone is smart enough to know the difference between an exhausted non-comment turning into a funny moment and an actual insult.  In other words, he’s hinging his bet on the political acumen and keen observational skills of the American public.  I’ve never seen a more effective way of losing than that.

For those of you all high on “hope” and “change” (or anything else) that makes you think that somehow this election will be different, I apologize for killing your buzz.  I know that sucks.  But now for the injection of some hard cold factual analysis.  Voters are essentially ignorant, as most serious studies on the matter have apparently concluded.  Social scientists are nicer guys about it and don’t use words like that, but there’s very little doubt you can call an electorate who believes the things they do in the numbers they do anything but that.  Ignorant.  And the answer is YES, this dirty little episode is going to make an impact, an impression, AND a difference.  The Republicans can even pretend some moral high ground my not mentioning it anymore (they’ve already stopped), because they’ve gotten what they wanted out of it.  Unified, overwhelming support for the ticket among their own base, something they’ve not really had up until this point.  And the results speak for themselves.

According to MSNBC, this “Palin bounce” over the “enthusiasm gap”, has not only erased Obama’s lead in national polls, which are mostly garbage anyway, but cut significantly into his electoral vote advantage.  That’s a number that actually makes blood-pressures rise on campaign buses when it jumps around like this.  And it’s coming from a network that doesn’t like to report bad news about Obama, so you know it’s got to be REALLY bad, if not worse than they’re making it sound.

Whatever the case, the raw numbers are as follows: Obama’s gone from being a 28 point favorite in the race for electors to having a 6 point lead, by their estimations.  Most of this is a result of traditional red states which had looked like possibilities for Obama now firmly slamming the door in his face, and the movement of Florida from a total toss-up to leaning McCain’s way.

But all of that is just the beginning.  The Republican juggernaut of church-going suburbanite voters that put the least likable President in US history in office twice is now amped-up behind McCain.  Well, behind Palin at least, but it got them off their asses and that’s pretty much all they need.  The sheer NUMBER of votes these people can generate has been the death-knell for every Democrat candidate since Carter’s re-election attempt.  And the Obama campaign has pulled out… basically nothing.  If ever there were time for a late-game rush on some “hope and change”, now would be it.  This week, with hurricane coverage obscuring politics they may have gotten a reprieve for a moment, but if Team Obama wants to field some crazy last minute move, they have forty-nine more days to make it work.

BASICALLY FUCKED

But don’t look so down!  My very LAST post on the election will be about who I’M actually voting for, and why it doesn’t matter in the end because American democracy is past salvation.  That’ll be sure to cheer  you up.

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle

My Yearly DragonCon Adventure

As most of you know, DragonCon is a pop-culture convention without apparent equal.  A 24/7 convention of dorky mayhem, it’s basically Mardi Gras for geeks, taking over a significant chunk of downtown Atlanta once a year.

As a member of the first generation of true Redneck geeks (that’s “Redneck” with a capital R folks… look it up), I consider it my solemn duty to attend every year I can.  That means I’ve been at pretty much every gathering since about 1995, each one its own unique experience.  From being solicited a viewing of “Clerks” by a very drunk Scott Mosier and Kevin Smith at my first visit before anyone knew who the hell they were, to being whacked with a riding crop by Voltaire in a most friendly manner at my latest, the occurrence known as DragonCon is always and forever a fine time for anyone open-minded enough to have it.

This year was marked mostly by my spreading the good word concerning AFTER, and it’s upcoming future.  Without babbling further on the subject, I’ll let the following pictures give you all a taste of the festivities, and we’ll leave it at that.  Do enjoy, and remember… geeks rule the world.  And the parts they don’t, they should.  Except for furries.  Fuck furries.

SECURITY WAS PRETTY TIGHT THIS YEAR

PASSED OUT, DRUNK, OR JUST A LOSER?  DOESN’T REALLY MATTER AT DRAGON-CON

THEY WERE ON A MISSION FROM GOD.

THEY CLONED HIM SMALL FOR RECON WORK.

HE FOUND HIS LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING.

THIS GUY WON MY ‘OLD-SCHOOL GEEK REFERENCE’ AWARD FOR THE CON.  GOONGALA GOONGALA!

EVEN AFTER ALL THESE YEARS… STILL FUCKING CREEPY.

BY DAY TWO, THEY WERE ALREADY CALLING IN LEGAL REPRESENTATION.

FUCK.  YES.

NORMALLY I DON’T NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS.  BUT I DID TRADE THESE GUYS A FIFTH OF WHISKY FOR A QUARTER BAG.  THEY GROW GOOD SHIT ON COBRA ISLAND.

YES, I GAVE HIM A HUG.

ONE BLACK SUIT PER CON.  THAT’S THE RULE, DAMMIT.

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle