It’s been a while since I’ve felt like saying this, but go Germany! If we don’t have the stones to fight a new raw deal here in the states, it’s good to know that at least someone does.
March 28, 2009
For the few dinosaurs out there like me who still watch 24, I haven’t given up on the theory that this is the season where Jack finally dies, or at least Almeida-dies, and Renée Walker takes his place. I mean, c’mon. They’ve already provided the first two black Presidents and the first female one, so aside from providing the first female Jack Bauer, where else is there to go?
That said, however many sharks the show may already have jumped, having anyone but Jack Bauer be the star may be the Great White. So rather than calling the next season “24: Day 8,” maybe they can have a new spin-off series called “What?” which seems to be the favorite expression of every good guy except Renée and the former members of CTU. And since they’ve all but given up on real time, maybe each episode of What? will be prefaced with “The following stuff happens sometime after the stuff we showed last year.”
Lastly, when writing the above statement about shark-jumping, I initially made a typo and referred to it as shark-humping instead. Does the phrase “hump the shark” exist in the porno industry? If it doesn’t, it should, e.g., “Debbie Does Dallas XIII humped the shark when Debbie did Fort Worth.”
March 25, 2009
While I recently bashed the media for their failure to distinguish AIG the hedge fund from AIG the insurer, it now appears (h/t: Kevin Murphy) that I failed to draw an even finer – but equally important – distinction myself. That is to say – and I blush to admit this – that even while I bashed the media for being too dumb to tell an insurer from a hedge fund, I simultaneously trusted that same media to get the story right with respect to the hedge fund itself. If former EVP Jake DeSantis is to be believed (and I have no less reason to believe him than Chuck Schumer, Chris Dodd, Dick Blumenthal, Earl Pomeroy, Steven Lynch, or any of the other contenders in the pompous ass contest that has been going on for weeks now) AIG Financial Products actually offered more than one financial product, and some of those other products actually did all right. And apparently it is the guys who had their act together, not the losers who crapped the company with their credit default swaps, who are now getting bashed for the bonuses they earned.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know what to do about AIG. The second person to admit that should be Edward Liddy, whose knowledge of the hedge fund and Connecticut labor law have revealed him to be an … err …. accomplished insurance executive who earns every dollar he is paid for his current gig. The third person to admit that should everyone friggin’ else. The one thing we all should be able to agree on is that the government has no business here.
On a side note, a really smart guy published a letter in the Whizz-Urinal on the topic yesterday. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
March 19, 2009
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke aptly described AIG as a hedge fund attached to an insurance company. It’s important to keep the two AIGs straight, as AIG Financial Products, a hedge fund, basically went belly up writing credit default swaps while the group of insurance companies known as AIG are doing fine. Unfortunately, the MSM rarely captures this distinction, typically referring to AIG not as a hedge fund but as an insurer, in articles having nothing to do with the company’s insurance operations. Some politicians are as ignorant on this distinction as the rest of us, while others cynically exploit this popular confusion for political gain. For example, House Democrats Gene Taylor of Mississippi and Peter DeFazio of Oregon are both pimping A.I.G. as an excuse to exhume their past efforts to repeal the antitrust “exemption”* for insurers. Per National Underwriter:
They had introduced such legislation in earlier Congresses, and said they count on the controversy over bonuses paid to American International Group employees to help advance their measure.
“Shouldn’t the $170 billion bailout of AIG be the third and final strike to the ‘business as usual’ attitude toward the insurance industry?” they asked.
Perhaps it should be, if the $170 billion bailout had anything to do with either the insurance industry or antitrust law, preferably both. Does anyone seriously think that a hedge fund went bust by writing a bunch of crazy default swaps because its well-capitalized and solvent sister companies were out colluding with competitors?
At the other end of the spectrum, California Republican (yeah, there still are a few of those) Ed Royce exploits the same popular confusion in support of optional federal charter (OFC) legislation which, like Taylor and DeFazio’s antitrust issue, was a pet project of his long before the AIG scandal. Royce argues that “the 54 various state insurance regulators didn’t have the capacity to deal with a global insurance company” like AIG, as if to suggest that one regulator could succeed where 50 real regulators and 4 imaginary ones had failed. On the one hand, I guess I should congratulate the guy for thinking there are only 54 states rather than 57, which is three states closer to the real number than the President’s conception of the country. On the other, what the hell do any of the 50 state regulators have to do with AIG Financial Products, which was regulated by 0 of them?
As full disclosure, I should note that I work for an insurance company, which may well have its own positions on antitrust and OFC. I don’t know my company’s positions on these issues, and in any event I speak for myself, not for them. Personally, I favor optional federal charter and couldn’t care less about the antitrust question either way. My beef is not with either concept in principle, but with their supporters’ lame efforts to turn popular confusion into their own political gain. The same could likely be said of the AIG bailouts themselves; if everyone had understood that taxpayers were only bailing out a hedge fund, and not a group of insurers who were in need of no help, the already unpopular bailouts would surely have been a tougher sell politically.
*Scare quotes because contrary to popular opinion, insurance companies are not generally exempt from antitrust law. The McCarran-Ferguson Act generally provides that federal laws will not trump state insurance laws, but the effect of this rule is that insurers are only exempt from federal antitrust laws to the extent that the states regulate in this area instead.
The House has voted overwhelmingly to enact an ex post facto fine masquerading as a tax, a bill of attainder, and a taking without just (or even unjust) compensation rolled into one. Meanwhile, the self-righteous punks that just last month voted to make A.I.G.’s outrageous bonuses happen is now lashing out at Edward Liddy, who played no role in drafting the contracts and had no connections to A.I.G. whatsoever until last fall, and is now working for free to try and keep the company afloat. Hope and change, people, hope and change.
UPDATE: Silly me, I forgot the 14th Amendment ban on depriving citizens of property without due process of law. Strictly speaking, that amendment shouldn’t apply to the federal government, but that train left the station a half century ago. On the plus side, it now looks like the administration may prefer an alternative approach that’s only 3 ways unconstitutional rather than 4.
March 18, 2009
1. Here’s a question for those more knowledgeable about the military than I (and that ain’t sayin’ much). Assuming an otherwise clean record, if a gay person in the military does ask and does tell, and gets booted out as a result, which of the following is he most likely to receive:
- Honorable discharge.
- Fabulous discharge.
- General discharge.
- Big gay discharge.
- Other than honorable discharge.
- Red Badge of Gayness discharge.
- Bad Conduct Discharge.
- Hella-gay discharge.
- Dishonorable discharge.
- Other (specify).
2. Same question and same possible answers, only this time assume that rather than simply admitting out loud that he was gay, it came to light because he was caught doin’ the nasty with a dude. Assume the other dude was not in the service, and it didn’t violate any other law.
3. Same as #2, only this time the other dude was in the service, same rank, but the deed did not occur on a military base.
4. Same as #3, only this time it did occur on a military base.
5. Same as #4, only this time he outranked the other dude, who was not in his chain of command.
6. Same as #5, only this time he outranked the other dude, who reported to him indirectly.
7. Same as #6, only this time he was the other dude’s C.O.
March 17, 2009
Beldar has some thoughts on where we are now that The One’s poll numbers have returned to earth:
For every moderate, conservative, or libertarian who voted for Obama because you couldn’t develop any enthusiasm for McCain and you bought into the notions that Obama was a “moderate” and “extremely competent,” I have one word, and one value judgment: Suckers! Shame on you, because you willfully blinded yourself to the mountains of contrary evidence by donning the political equivalent of beer-goggles. Your reckless gamble on untested hopey-changitude is going to cost us all for the next four years. Repent at your leisure.
Read the whole thing.
March 15, 2009
Last weekend I was at the Trader Joe’s in Richmond, VA (the one that wasn’t there when I actually lived there, grrrr…) and overheard a conversation between two employees. She had an obvious southern accent, so let’s call her the local. His speech resembled my California non-accent, so he could have been from anywhere. Let’s call him the presumptive Yankee. Here’s how the conversation went down:
Local: I ain’t got no [inaudible].
Presumptive Yankee: Don’t say “ain’t got no.” That’s ungrammatical.
Local: What am I supposed to say instead?
Presumptive Yankee: “I ain’t got any.”
March 14, 2009
Shorter Barack: “They speak Spanish in Brazil, right? And celebrate St. Paddy’s day like the rest of us descendants of typical white persons?”
March 13, 2009
Between bleating that a law designed to protect a woman from being starved to death because her cheating husband insisted that was what she wanted was “unconstitutional a dozen ways over” (without citing one, let alone 12 supposed constitutional defects), endorsing the most liberal U.S. Senator for President, trashing the U.S. Supreme Court for following his own brief in acknowledging that there is an amendment lodged in between Amendments 1 and 3, and now arguing that his own state’s Constitution is unconstitutional is there anything Douglas Kmiec can say or do to convince some that whatever he may have been in the past, he’s not a conservative now? Or is conservatism one of those “once an X, always an X” traits, in which case I’m a pacifist and a socialist?