Archive for the ‘bad behavior’ category

Christie Agonistes

February 5, 2015

Drive-by post here, as I grapple with a deadline alas already in my rear view mirror, but I couldn’t resist offering up a taste of David Sirota’s latest for the commentariat’s mastication:

Federal law enforcement officials have launched a criminal investigation of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and members of his administration, pursuing allegations the governor and his staff broke the law when they quashed grand jury indictments against Christie supporters, International Business Times has learned.

Beached_Whale_-_Jacob_Matham_1602

Two criminal investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday interviewed the man who leveled those charges, Bennett Barlyn. He was fired from the Hunterdon County prosecutor’s office in August 2010, and subsequently brought a whistleblower lawsuit against the Christie administration, claiming he had been punished for objecting to the dismissal of the indictments of the governor’s supporters for a range of corrupt activities.

…The investigators are examining what state and federal laws may have been broken in the process. Barlyn said the investigators appeared to be at an exploratory stage, with no certainty that criminal charges would ultimately be filed.

Early days, obviously, and nothing yet (publicly) that links Christie himself to the events under scrutiny.  Seems unlikely that this could be Bush Crime Family action either.  I’d like to think the Bushies are at least smart enough not to get their mitts dirty when they don’t need to.*

So, I guess my take-away is that Christie-gigging has truly bipartisan appeal.  Nobody likes the man.

IOW:  Moah popcorn, please. (and my deepest sympathy to the citizens of New Jersey for being saddled with this sterling example of a public servant. Except maybe not that deep — y’all elected the guy yourselves, as I recall.)

*Christie in recent days has seemed to be his own circular firing squad.  In such moments, it would seem to me to be the wisest course to let your rival keep enjoying the carnal knowledge of his own domesticated flightless fowl.

Ferdinand_Richardt_-_Still_Life_with_Chickens_and_Fish

Images:  Jacob Martham after an engraving by Hendrik Goltzius, Beached Whale, 1602.

Ferdinand Richardt, Still Life With Chickens and Fish, before 1895.

Annals of Gobsmackery

January 19, 2015

Admittedly, he’s just trolling, but Dinesh D’Souza is a good troll.  I mean really:

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 6.24.41 PM

 

If there is the slightest chance he actually believes he merits comparison to Dr. King, all I can say is wow, dude,  That’s some fine delusions of grandeur you got there.

If in fact he is doing what I’m 99% sure he is, just acting like an asshole (i.e., naturally) and poking those who find in King an actual hero of social and racial justice, then what is there to say.

First, I guess, that living inside D’Souza’s head must be its own, truly horrible punishment.  And second — as stated above — that’s some world class classlessness all in less than 140 characters.  Good job, mate.

More Of This Please

January 5, 2015

Via TPM, this from White House spokesman Josh Earnest:

“Mr. Scalise reportedly described himself as David Duke without the baggage. So it’ll be up to Republicans to decide what that says about their conference.”

There’s an old political story — I’ve heard it told about LBJ — about the candidate who tells his campaign manager to spread a rumor that their opponent enjoys the carnal knowledge of barnyard animals.

“I can’t call him a pig-f**ker!” the staffer replies. “No one will believe it.”

“Sure,” says LBJ (oh heck. Go with it).  “But make him deny it.”*

Darwin_Domestic_102

The beauty here is that there is no phantom pig in the room at all.  There’s no possible denial, just, at best a bit of weaseling:  “I didn’t know; I didn’t mean it; I’m sorry if anyone was offended.”

Republicans are who they are, the people their actions define them to be.  The Democrats’ job is to make sure they own it.  To that end, Mr Earnest, keep stuff like this coming:

“It is the responsibility of members of the House Republican conference to choose their leaders,” Earnest said. “Who they choose to serve in their leadership says a lot about who they are, what their values are and what the priorities of the conference should be.”

*The line works best when you really bear down on “deeeennnnyyyy”

Image:  Charles Darwin, Head of Japan or Masked Pig, Copied from Mr. Bartlett’s paper in Proc. Zoolog. Soc. 1861, p. 263.illustration in The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, Vol. I, Ch. 3 1868.

Merry F**king Christmas, Suckas. (MOTU FU Edition)

December 25, 2014

Bah humbug, y’all.

Or:  here is my reminder that our betters, the MOTU, and their eager servants in the political class never, ever rest from their quest to enrich (themselves) and immiserate (anyone it takes).

Fresh on the heels of the GOP’s decision in the omnibus funding bill to gut one more of the laughingly minor restrictions on bankster crime, we get this Christmas Day report from our friends at The New York Times:

“Turn your car title into holiday cash,” TitleMax, a large title lender, declares in a recent television commercial, showing a Christmas stocking overflowing with money.

More than 1.1 million households in the United States used auto title loans in 2013, according to a survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation — the first time the agency has included the loans in its annual survey.

Title loans are becoming an increasingly prevalent form of high-cost, short-term credit in subprime finance, as regulators in a number of states crack down on payday loans.

For many borrowers, title loans, also sometimes known as motor-vehicle equity lines of credit or title pawns, are having ruinous financial consequences, causing owners to lose their vehicles and plunging them further into debt.

In the case with which Times reporters Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery open their piece, a borrower took a $1,000 loan that carried a 171% annual interest rate.  That’s not a typo.  Unsurprisingly, she lost her car and remains about $1,000 in debt on that one transaction.  At that, she got off … well, better than some:

A review by The New York Times of more than three dozen loan agreements found that after factoring in various fees, the effective interest rates ranged from nearly 80 percent to more than 500 percent. While some loans come with terms of 30 days, many borrowers, unable to pay the full loan and interest payments, say that they are forced to renew the loans at the end of each month, incurring a new round of fees.

This isn’t really a banking business (obviously); it’s closer to a combo pawn shop and loan sharking business:

…lenders make the loan based on an assessment of a used car’s resale value, not on a borrower’s ability to repay that money, many people find that they are struggling to keep up almost as soon as they drive off with the cash.

As a result, roughly one in every six borrowers who take out title loans have their cars repossessed, according to an analysis of 561 title loans by the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit in Durham, N.C.

And, of course, something that offers so much easy money to be grabbed from those least likely to find any kind of resource is attracting the finest members of our community:

Jesus_driving_the_merchants_from_the_Temple

The high interest rates on the loans have enticed an influx of Wall Street money. Private equity firms are investing in lenders, and some big banks are ramping up their auto lending to people with blemished credit.

What about regulation? Hah! Vampire squid and masters of the universe laugh at your regulation:

for every state where there has been a crackdown, there are more where the industry has mobilized to beat back regulations.

In Wisconsin, it took the title loan industry only one year to reverse a ban on the loans that had been put in place in 2010. In New Hampshire in 2008, state legislators enacted a law that put a 36 percent ceiling on the rates that title lenders could charge. Four years later, though, lobbyists for the industry won a repeal of the law.

America! F**K Yeah!

It’s ruinously expensive to be poor in this exceptional country.  It’s too damn easy to profit on the bitter hardship of others here.  I’m betting that most of those doing so have today talked pretty about the meaning of Christmas.  If so, let me leave them with Albert Einstein’s injunction, issued almost exactly 100 years ago:

“Honor your master Jesus Christ not only in words and songs but rather, foremost, by your deeds.”*

*Albert Einstein, “My Opinion on the War.

Image: Rembrandt van Rijn, Jesus driving the money-changers from the Temple, 1635.

Not Even Trying To Hide It

October 30, 2014

Via TPM – Lindsay Graham (R-Who Can We Bomb Today) tells the one true beating heart of the GOP exactly what it wants to hear.  Speaking to the all-male, seemingly all-pale Hibernian Society fo Charleston SC, the Senator forgot a fundamental truth of modern politics:  there is no such thing as a private speech anymore.  Or maybe he just doesn’t care.  Whatever, here’s Lindsay, letting his freak flag fly:

“If I get to be president, white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency,” Graham says …as the audience laughs. (h/t Twitteratus @GrooveSDC)

Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_092

Leave aside the cosmic delusion there — is there any geographical location outside the confines of his head in which any sentient being thinks Graham could be elected president? — the glory and horror of this confirmed-by-audio (head over to TPM for a listen) lies with its utter, transparent, total honesty.  Graham speaks the core Republican truth.  The people they server are rich white men.  Full stop.

Please proceed, senator:

“I’ve tried to help you with your tax status,” the senator says in another recording. “I’m sorry the government’s so f*cked up.”

Because, of course, the only thing that the United States government really exists to do is to make sure rich white guys  capture more money.

Friends don’t let friends vote Republican.

Ever.

Oh — and one more thing:  if there is any remaining deluded teahadist out there who thought until now that the movement really had a chance to reclaim the GOP for the values of some mythic better America, you can apologize to the rest of us anytime.

Image:  Rembrandt van Rijn, Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild, 1661.

WTF Is Wrong With These People?

August 28, 2014

By these people, I mean (some) male gamers:

Earlier this week, feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian posted the latest in a series of crowdfunded videos called Tropes vs. Women, devoted to aggregating and analyzing games that portray women as damsels in distress, ornamental eye candy, incidental victims, and other archetypes that tend to be written in service of and subordinate to male players and characters….

…Since the project launched on Kickstarter way back in 2012, the gaming community has been treated to an incessant, deeply paranoid campaign against Tropes vs. Women generally and Sarkeesian personally….now, she’s apparently spent the night with friends after contacting law enforcement about “some very scary threats” against her and her family. She’s published a page of extremely violent sexual threats from the person who apparently drove her to call the police; in it, the user mentions the location of her apartment and threatens to kill her parents, who the user names and claims to be able to find.

Hemessen,_Jan_Sanders_van_-_Tarquin_et_Lucretia

Sarkeesian has tweeted out that she’s safe.  The good news is that some very prominent people in and around gaming and tech have weighed in on her project.  The bad news is that such public encouragement may be making Sarkeesian even more of a target:

In this case, the vitriol might have been compounded by the support her latest video received from popular developers and media figures. Joss Whedon and William Gibson, among others, mentioned it, and Tim Schafer of Double Fine — known for Psychonauts and the Kickstarter-funded Broken Age spent several hours fielding responses after urging everyone in game development to watch it “from start to finish.”

I started to write here about how this is a test of the gamer community, and the need to shame and shun and all that, but we know.  We do.  Take it as read.

And, of course, it ain’t just gamers, though it’s pretty damn obvious at this point that tech in general has a dude-bro problem.  I’ve recently been engaged in efforts to respond to gender bias and sexual harassment on my own patch, science writing, so I know better than to suggest that this is an isolated pathology.  The hate and genuine danger may vary by degree, but it’s hardly confined to one corner of contemporary life.

IOW: if this is a test, it’s a test that we’re all are taking.  Judge for yourself whether, when or if we manage to pass it.

Jan Sanders van Hemessen, Tarquin and Lucretia, before 1579.

Schadenfreude: It’s What’s For Dinesh

January 23, 2014

Oh, the FSM smiled on me today:

Conservative author Dinesh D’Souza has been indicted on federal charges of violating campaign finance laws, the the U.S attorney in Manhattan announced on Thursday.

William_Hogarth_-_Soliciting_Votes_-_WGA11457

D’ Souza is accused of

“making illegal contributions to a United States Senate campaign in the names of others and causing false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission in connection with those contributions.”

If I were a much better person than I am, I’d suppress the grin that seems to have pasted itself across my mug since I read that over at TPM.

Still smiling…

Image: William Hogarth, The Humours of an Election:  Soliciting Votes, 1754


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