Feb 17, 2016

Penny for your thoughts, but do you take MasterCard?

I've been using plastic for a while. It returns a couple-three percentage points on money I'd spend anyway. I avoid the heartbreak of possible "late fees" by automatic draft pre-payments, maintaining a credit balance just over estimated expenses. It's one way to ease -- however damned slightly -- the Yellin pain of zero per cent return on savings.

So what, Jim? 

So this. About every two weeks a charge for exactly $18.08 at a local liquor store shows up. Meaning that somewhere in Washington, a snoop knows I'm a drunk -- worse than a drunk, a cheap drunk, probably babbling from an overload of  1.5 liter jugs of Three Feathers blended whiskey  (guaranteed aged in containers for several weeks!).

It might be just what the feds need to hustle me off to jail for typing under the influence, resulting in  subversion --  antigovernment agitation with intent to mock.

And I might not even be able to prove the truth. In fact the $18.08 buys about two weeks worth of tobacco, and please don't tell Michelle or the surgeon general.


It has become feasible to  live your entire financial life electronically, to never touch a coin or a note.

(Humming) Three Coins in the Fountain..." 

Oh, hello, officer.

You're Busted. You hearts wanna be seeking happiness, swipe your cards at that there kiosk machine.

Then President Obama knows you were fooling around with a bimbo in Rome instead of negotiating that deal for a cargo of pimple cream in Sardinia like you told your wife, and if you make him mad he can tell her.


It's about the war on cash, of course, the exchange medium which permits a citizen to exercise a little of whatever privacy remains in a world gone mad with surveillance. Put a pack of Trojans and a copy of  Esquire on your card and you've given any government cop with a sympathetic judge enough to peg you as a sex maniac and, therefore,  probably hot for trafficked humans. Charge a Colt 1873  at an antique sale and get on the no-fly list.

The latest comes to us from Europe where the central bank has just snuffed the 500-Euro note because -- it says -- Bin Laden used them.  (So do, I'll bet, European Central Bank bigwigs when they are fooling around with Roman bimbos, but that's beside the point.)

Enter the United States of America and one of its leading gadabout economists, Larry Summers, the guy who almost became secretary of the treasury under Obama and is undoubtedly on the Hillary and Bernie short lists for the same job.

He wants to kill the $100 Federal Reserve Cartoon because bad guys like drug dealers  use them. And what a brilliant idea based on astute observation, there, Larry. I can't imagine Jalisco Cartello, in Tijuana to make a buy, would ever think to fill two brief cases with 50s when it becomes illegal to have one brief case with 100s.

'course, then you can outlaw 50s, then 20s, etc., then, presto! 24/7/365 Mr. Orwell's Telescreen is in your wallet.

Feb 15, 2016

Drip, Drip, Drip

A friend once asked me if I could win an election for a regional candidate who wasn't well-known or particularly popular. I said, "Of course not.

"But what I can do, given enough time and money, is create a political climate that gives him a very good chance to win."

The important term is "political climate."  Fish swim in water. Birds fly in air space. Politicians and their political movements flourish when immersed in a favorable  stew of public attitude; that ragout is itself a mix of fashionable beliefs, ideas, misconceptions and general thinking which may or may not be within fifty parsecs of reality.

The base political climate of a country is largely a creation of its information sources, the "news." The media themselves are a mishmash of all that is good, the destruction of Richard Nixon, for instance. Or evil, perhaps exemplified by the destruction of Robert Bork.

Leading us to this morning's news, in the category of Wog-Bombing.  Now, "everyone knows" that when swarthy widows and orphans get bombed, Suspect No. 1 is Uncle Sam, the aspiring imperialist master  of all under Heaven.

The AP,  perhaps unintentionally and as a result of simple editorial ineptness, falls into the pit in its report of bad bombing in Syria. In a lead story it requires readers to endure five full paragraphs of detailed horror description,  geography, and an explanation that Doctors With Borders is sometimes called MSF.

Than and only then does AP reveal the first "W" of basic reporting: "Who?"

Turns out it was the Russians. At least the Brits say it was Putin's air force.

As most any readership study of the past fifty years will report, by the sixth paragraph of any new story readers will have flocked away by massive percentages and turned to the comics or the scores. And those people will have no reason not to believe the United States bombed the hospitals, maybe on purpose because, y'know, like, that's what Uncle  does.


Not to let Reuters off then hook while I'm chastising the wire service which still helps feed me.  The Brit version of AP leads today with a piece on the replacement for Justice Scalia: "Republicans Gear Up for Supreme Court Battle after Scalia's Death," leaving readers to figure out for themselves that the opposite is also true and just as newsworthy. Democrats are also in gear.

Thus a fellow can be forgiven for the big thought that day-in and day-out, decade after decade, a water drip at a time, the political climate becomes a closed-circuit sewer

Jan 15, 2016

How to Think About Iowa (if you must) And It's Caucuses

Milk the cows, slop the hogs, pitch the hay, shovel the shit, go to church. Vote Republican and present yourself to the world as a paragon of fierce independence.  Picture it  this way ...

...and you'll have it mostly wrong.

 It was wrong  in 1930  when Grant wood painted it and still is.  About one year before  Wood touched his brush to this canvas  Herbert Hoover and his congress created The Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929 which said:  "If'n you can't sell your corn to actual people, never mind.  We'll buy it at a pretty fine price." A couple years later Franklin Roosevelt kicked the tax tractor into a higher gear and farmers never looked back.

That explains Bernie Sanders.

Jan 1, 2016

Yes, George, a Happier New Year to All of Us

For my friends and enemies:  I'm afraid I must insist that you read Mr. Wills' review of the year just interred. If it is credibly reported that you don't, I shall disappear you with my magic ring, even if it gets me suspended from 4th grade.