Sunday, January 25, 2015

Parse this, liberal scum!

Sarah Palin graffiti in Paris, a few year ago. The graffiti looked crazy then. Sarah sounds crazy today.

I know, I know, I'm late with this. Others have already commented, but Sarah Palin gave a speech in Iowa the other day that made her sound as if she had been stuffing magic mushrooms up her nostrils while simultaneously trying to inhale some mysterious white powder through her eyeballs.

My favorite sample of Sarah's wit and wisdom, in which she referred to the fact that a lot of other crazy Republicans keep telling us that they want to be president, was this:
“It is good that we have a deep bench and its primary competition that will surface the candidate who’s up to the task and unify and this person has to because knowing what the media will do throughout all of 2016 to all of us it’s going to take more than a village to beat Hillary.”
Right, Sarah.  It's going to take armies of men with butterfly nets scooping up and carrying away anybody who can think clearly, understand logic, and speak a coherent sentence.

 And to think the Republicans wanted you for vice president. Sometimes I think our elections are blessed.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pssst! What's gonna happen in the hush-hush meeting between Mitt and Jeb?

The New York Times reports this morning that Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush are on the verge of, as they  used to say in Hollywood, taking a meeting. I wonder what that could be about? My imagination runs wild.

• In one scenario, Mitt and Jeb decide one will run for President and the other for Vice President, but then beat each other to death with their bare fists in an argument over whose banana will be top banana. Chris Christie delivers eulogies at the funerals of both, but inexplicably gains so much weight and girth despite his lap band surgery that he becomes unelectable, leaving the nomination to a runoff between Rick Perry and opportunity-seizing Joni Ernst.

• In another, Mitt and Jeb iron out the vice president issue and decide they'll play good cop/bad cop, with one of them acknowledging citizens' concerns over wages and global warming and the other denying the same and declaring that the only way to save the economy and the planet is to put all unemployed Americans to work laying Keystone XL oil pipe for less than minimum wages.  The idea is, whatever you're for or against, you can find somebody on the ticket who'll make you want to vote Republican.

• In yet another, the purpose of the meeting turns out to be that Bush merely wants to rent some of Mitt's residential garage space when Jeb goes on fund-raising visits to Malibu. In exchange for parking in Mitt's elevator-accessed garage, Jeb offers Mitt a percentage of the fund raising proceeds.

• Or perhaps it's just this: both admit at the meeting that neither of them can beat Hillary, but instead plan a post-election joint career for themselves on FoxTV – an hour of weekly wit and wisdom called The Mitt and Jeb Show. Their long-term aim: to turn the TV talk show into a Broadway musical with songs that have titles like: "If it's getting so hot, how come everybody tells me I'm cold?" And "My solution to pollution is a coal mine in Wyoming." Plus the big, bring-down-the-curtain romantic song at the end of the first act: "I'm 47 percent in love with you."

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Swiss gnomes blow a hole through their own economy’s head, creating a bloody object lesson that American conservatives will almost certainly ignore

Conservative economic theorist
at work
“A strong dollar is one of our greatest weapons against inflation. Anyone who doubts the value of a strong currency should look at the postwar performances of Japan, Switzerland and West Germany.”
-Ronald Reagan, economics genius of 
sainted memory, March 2, 1984

There’s got to be a secret Holy Place somewhere. You know, deep underground, in a steel vault, a shrine where the cult worshippers of Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan go to wave their hands above their heads and speak in tongues.

I’m almost certain that, mingling in the crowed of worshippers with Tea Party congressmen and conservative presidential candidates, there is a clutch of grim-faced Swiss gnomes who fall into trances during which they see heavenly visions of gold bars and tight money.

Intoxicating vapors

This week, no doubt high on the fumes given off by a moldering copy of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the Swiss set the Swiss Franc  free from its limits in relation to the weakening Euro.  Why?

Chris Bailey’s Tumblr suggests, “ What they are worrying about in reality is that as the European authorities appear to have little option but to push the euro down further. Do the Swiss really want to follow the euro down and down and down progressively cutting their international purchasing power? Not at all.”

That’s the reasoning. It was about as strategic and insightful as your run-of-the-mill winner of the Darwin Awards, given to “individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives.” They do this through their "astoundingly stupid judgment."

Who qualifies for
a Darwin Award?

One example of a potential Darwin Award winner might be this guy, who blew his own brains out while while trying to demonstrate gun safety to his girlfriend by putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger. 

If they ever create a Darwin Award for the suicidal economic consequences of a financial decision, I would plead with the nominating committee to move the Swiss to the head of the list. The fallout from their economic decision came as quickly as a bullet out of the muzzle of a Mauser.
LONDON (Reuters) - Frantic foreign exchange trading after the Swiss National Bank scrapped its euro cap on the franc took $100 billion(65.52 billion pounds) off the value of Switzerland's blue-chips on Thursday, putting them on track for their biggest one-day fall in at least 25 years. 
The Swiss SMI index (.SSMI) slumped 10 percent, with stocks including Swatch (UHR.VX), luxury-goods firm Richemont (CFR.VX) and cement-maker Holcim (HOLN.VX) down between 11 and 15 percent in what some traders described as "carnage" 
Swatch Chief Executive Nick Hayek called the SNB's decision "a tsunami" for Switzerland's economy.
Hey, to paraphrase the late Senator Everett Dirksen, lose a hundred billion bucks here and another hundred billion bucks there and pretty soon you’re talking real money.

So now the much richer Swiss can afford anything they want from abroad with the savings they have in the bank, but it’ll be harder and harder to earn a dime's worth of Francs, as the price of their goods soar out of control on international markets. Which is actually going to make them a lot poorer.

Uh, Tea Party folks? 


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

One of the great curmudgeons of the ad biz now advocates throwing corporate CEOs in the slammer. Good for him!

This is Denny Hatch. Don't 
mess with him.
Unless you were in what used to be called the “junk mail” end of the advertising business before it went all electronic on us, you may not have heard of Denny Hatch. He’s an iconic direct marketing consultant and business magazine publishing pioneer, celebrated for his marketing insights and knowhow.

Like many of the rest of us, he also really wishes he were a full time novelist. Well, there's nothing you can do about that, so let's get on with the story.

In recent years, Hatch has also been a columnist for Target Marketing magazine.

If you’re in the business of highly targeted direct response advertising and marketing, you’ve not only heard of him, but also know he gets pissed off easily.

Rage, rage against CompuServe

For example, back in the 1990s, when the Internet was new and most people simply dialed it up via their ISP provider, which often was a now-defunct company called CompuServe. Hatch ran a CompuServe online direct marketing forum. He quit in an explosive fury after the CEO of CompuServe dared to describe what his customers on that forum produced  as “junk mail.” (These days everybody calls it "junk mail," including – at least once in a while – Denny Hatch.)

Ya gotta love Hatch, if only because he not only says what he means, but also because he says it with a sledge hammer.

Currently, Hatch has a column in Target Marketing online called “Denny’s Daily Zinger.” Most of the time, he points and shoots lightning out of his finger at marketing incompetence, but from time to time he goes beyond that.

Today, January 13, 2015, he went after fat cat corporate CEOs. The source of Denny’s rage is the policy made by corporate chieftains who place profits and their own bonuses above the financial security of their customers. These are customers who entrust the multi-billion dollar companies with personal information such as credit card numbers.

Here’s Denny Hatch on the subject:
My opinion: greedy CEOs whose organizations are entrusted with our actionable data—and then allow thieves to steal it—should go to jail along with the thieves. 
I'm not talking pieces of paper. 
I'm talking jail time for James Dimon (JPMorgan); Craig Menear (Home Depot); Karen Katz (Neiman Marcus); Gregg Steinhafel (former CEO, Target); and Tim Cook (Apple). 
Only when prison stripes replace pinstripes will the nabobs of corporate America be scared so witless and they'll stop treating their customers like dog turds.
Now mind you, Denny is not some crazed political radical, or a left winger. I doubt he'd normally spend ten seconds of his time at a blog like The New York Crank. I’ll bet that when he saunters out of his Philadelphia town house on Election Day, he generally votes Republican.

Slammer time for CEOs and
the politicians who suck up to them

But when corporate behavior becomes so egregious that even generally-pro-business Republicans want to throw the bums in the slammer, you know it’s actually time to really throw them in the slammer.

Congress? Want to act on this, Congress? 

Oh, sorry, I forgot. Nearly all of you Congressional and Senae imbeciles are on their payrolls via campaign contribution scams. Which means nearly all of you ought to be behind bars, too.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Isn’t there anybody left on this planet with a sense of humor?

They’re all interconnected: Charlie Hebdo, Kim Jung-un, the script writer of “The Interview,” and Cho Hyun-ah. (Who? Keep reading.)

Let’s start with the fact that morning’s news was anything but funny. A bunch of Islamo-terrorists in Paris invaded the offices of a satirical magazine called Charlie Hebdo and opened fire with automatic weapons. As of noon today, the body count of their victims was 12.

I’ve become somewhat familiar with Charlie Hebdo during several more or less recent visits to France.(Hebdo is short for hebdomedaire, or weekly). Its covers stand out on French newsstands because of their sock-in-the-eye cartoon humor. Sometimes they’re downright funny. Sometimes, you might find them not-so-funny, despite their satiric intent. 
Charlie Hebo is an equal opportunity 
insulter of religions

Yes, they take on and mock Islam and those who commit terrorism in its name. Yes, they’re crude and insulting. But let it also be said that when it comes to religion, Charlie Hebdo is an equal opportunity insulter. 

One example is the magazine cover at right, in which three major religions demand that Charlie Hebdo should be hidden behind a veil. There have been multiple attacks of gross humor on both Catholicism and Judaism as well as Islam in Charlie Hebdo, as well as stinging mockeries of French government officials. 

Overall, is the publication funny? That’s a question that demands a subjective answer. I’ll just say it’s no less funny than “The Interview” the movie that the FBI claims provoked a recent web attack on Sony Pictures – an attack that revealed employee memos, internal sniping, and finished with a flourish that promised violence against the patrons of any theater showing the new Seth Rogin flic. 

That movie, The Interview, is about an American attempt to assassinate Kim Jung-un, the young North Korean head of state. You know,who I mean – the fat dictator with the terrible haircut. (Not to be confused with Chris Christie. Not yet, at any rate.) 
And you thought your barber is bad?

What is it, by the way, with bad hair, dictators and other disagreeable personalities – from Kimg Jung-un’s father Kim Jung-il, to Donald Trump? Is there a single gene that generates both autocratic behavior and a penchant for lousy-looking hair? But I digress.

The truth is, that had North Korea (or whoever it was) not hacked Sony, the film would have passed through the theaters (I borrow the next phrase from the author Tom Robbins) “like thin shit through a tall Swede.” It generated reviews that were not calculated to bring crowds running to the theaters, like one in Variety that called it “a terror attack…against comedy,” and “about as funny as a communist food shortage…half-baked burlesque.” The put-down went on and on, but you get the idea.

However, the hackers forgot that nothing focuses public attention like an out-of-proportion attack. This film has earned $31 million in streaming revenues to date, “becoming  Sony’s number one online film of all times,” and has been rented or purchased a total of 4.3 million times. So much for the economic impact of terrorist intimidation in this era of streaming technology. If Kim Jung-un was behind the Sony hack, he should know that the financial fallout of this caper makes him look like a bigger schmuck than the movie does.

Although finding a theater that plays the film isn’t easy, my cable channel offered me the opportunity to see it on demand for $5.95. I bit. My own review?

In my personal opinion, the movie isn’t quite as bad as Variety would have us believe. The Interview is really not a fourth rate film, although it is most certainly second- or third-rate. It starts out entertainingly enough, with a bunch of school children singing an engagingly insulting song about the United States that is so ridiculous it could make a fanatical patriot chuckle. It introduces us to a couple of amusing TV jerks working on the fringes of TV News. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there to base sophomoric yuks pretty quickly.

However, you don’t have to be either an outraged terrorist or a fat dictator with a bad haircut to have no sense of humor and behave outrageously these days. All you need is lots of money and connections.

A case in point has to do with Cho Hyun-ah, the rich, self-important, and evidently vicious member of a family that controls Korean Air Lines via a family-owned conglomerate. She was also a vice-president of Korean Air. The New York Times reports:
Ms. Cho’s father, Cho Yang-ho, the chairman of the Hanjin Group, has placed his three children in executive perches in the conglomerate, which also runs shipping, logistics and hotel businesses.
Well, see, if you’re born rich and connected, in South Korea (or North Korea, or here for that matter) you don’t have to start at the bottom and work your way up the executive ladder. Or know how to behave.

Seems that after boarding a flight from New York to Inchon, Ms. Cho became extremely pissed off (“irate” is the polite word that the New York Times used) “after a flight attendant served nuts without first asking her, and in an unopened package instead of a plate.”

So of course, she did what any rich, overprivileged, brat with unearned power would do. She ordered the plane, which had already left the gate but not yet taken off, to return to the gate, so that the steward could be kicked off, the insolent serf!

Yes, there was some backlash, not to mention that Ms. Cho’s fellow passengers were rankled by the delay. South Koreans began calling their own national airline “Air Nuts.” Ms. Cho was eventually forced to resign as head of the airline’s flight services, although for some curious reason she remains a vice-president of the airline. Draw your own conclusions.

There seem to be several morals in all this. Those that occur to me right off the cuff:

1.   Beware of rich or powerful people with bad haircuts.

2.   Every country in the world should have an excess wealth tax and other reins on excess power. I wish we could have that here. (Are you listening Donald Trump? How about you, Koch Brothers? And you, Bush Brothers?)

3.   There would appear to be an inverse relationship between violence and a sense of humor, as the Paris massacre demonstrates. Which makes me terribly worried about Chris Christie’s evident interest in running for President next year.

4.   If anything violent happens to me, or if I should suddenly and unexplainably disappear, round up and question the usual suspects. Those would be anybody mentioned in this post.