Monday, October 18, 2010

Dysfunctional Banks - The Optics Look Bad

You can't open the paper without reams of articles on the further meltdown of our banking system.  Now, 'Foreclosure-Gate' soaks up ink, like Goldman-Sach's investment bankers soaked up bonuses predicated on selling lousy securities made up of lousy mortgages to unsuspecting institutional investors who were duped by compliant ratings services.  Moody's really set the mood!

Of course, the optics of the whole deal look bad . . . but not as bad as this analyst's webcast talking to an outside expert who looks like he's simulcasting from county lockup! Check it out. . . .

Does this guy not look like he's wearing a prison jump suit? With the orange suit and the do-it-yourself haircut he looks like he's on a video remand hearing, rather than offering financial insight. I gotta shake my head.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dysfunctional Corporate Politics - Starbucks Bans Multi-Tasking

It's ugly out there, folks . . . and bound to get uglier, as Starbucks introduces new employee rules that are bound to lengthen your morning wait for a low-fat-mocha-caramel-vanilla-cappacino-americano, with a double-shot of expresso grande (or whatever floats your morning boat). News flash! It's a frickin' cup of coffee, for Pete's sake! Get over yourself. Particularly, you funky t-shirt, chino-wearing coffee "suits" in Seattle!

As was best said by Tom Hank's character in my favorite 1998 comedy-romancy/chick-flick, You've Got Mail:

"The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self . . ."
 According to one source, Starbucks' "list of bizarre new edicts" are strangely  (and, quite frankly, Orwellian-ly) specific, including rules requiring employees to stand in one place, instead of scurrying around and (gasp!) multi-tasking.

The Wall Street Journal is reported to have got hold of the new Starbucks rules (which make McDonald's 'Clean, Don't Lean' policy, look liberally wimpy) that instruct their baristas to:

  • Steam milk for each individual drink (instead of steaming an entire pitcher for multiple coffees)
  • Rinse a pitcher every time it gets used
  • Stand still at the espresso bar rather than moving around the counter
  • Only use one espresso machine - not two.
  • Heaven forbid that a twenty-something counterperson working his or her way through college by slinging joe (yes, its just coffee) should attempt the never-tried-before art of "multi-tasking".

    I can just see a scrum of impatient and surly, caffeine-deprived java junkies jonesing for their morning Starbucks hit. Lord help the poor schmuck who can't speak Starbuckian, or comprehend with an unstimulated brain why on earth a small coffee is, in fact, now a 'tall' coffee in this brave new world of corporate chic.

    This whole item seems like Starbucks is taking a page from Coca-Cola's 'New Coke' strategy. (Hint: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!")

    I can only shake my head . . . and head for the exits.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Paladino Smugly Anti-Gay, Yet a Misogynist Who Distributed Bestiality Porn

    Can you get more dysfunctional than Carl Paladino, the Tea Party candidate that captured the Republican nomination for governor of New York?

    First, Paladino was outed for the racist and misogynist e-mails he shared around with his "friends" - purportedly, according to TPM, one e-mail which "shows a video of an African tribal dance, entitled "Obama Inauguration Rehearsal," while another depicts hardcore bestiality."

    Hard-core bestiality? How whacked is it that Paladino (who excused himself by saying he was in the construction business), can seriously be considered for high office when he distributes born purportedly showing a woman engaged in sex with a horse? Could any woman forgive and forget such disgusting behavior by the gubernatorial candidate?

    And, now, he is all over the airwaves and internet with his anti-gay views . . .

    What other description, other than purely dysfunctional, is there for a political candidate who has demonstrated by his words and actions that he is anti-gay, yet apparently pro-bestialty? He's probably pro-life and for the death penalty as well.


    I can only shake my head when I think that anyone would vote for this kook.

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Functional/Apolitical: John Lennnon's 70th Birthday

    John Lennon
    October 9, 1940 - December 8, 190

    In a tribute to John Lennon, born seventy years ago today, here are two of his classics. The first, Imagine, Lennon's classic anthem of peace and idealism, was written after the Beatles breakup, and while the Vietnam War tragically dragged along during the Nixon administration.  The second, Come Together, was ostensibly written as a theme song for Jerry Brown's campaign for California Governor. (How ironic life can be! Thirty-five odd years later, Brown is again running for California Governor, and the idealism of the Boomer generation lies in tatters.)

    Thanks to Google for recognizing Lennon's birthday in their ever changing logo that recognizes the signifigance of  the days as they pass.

    Rest in Peace.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    The Nation Outs Former CNN Host: Lou Dobbs American Hypocrite

    Ha! Ha! Ha!

    Hoist the pompous ass, Lou Dobbs, on his own pitard! The former CNN blowhard famous for ranting against our broken borders, illegal workers, and the employers that employ illegals stands accused in the court of public opinion of hiring illegal workers . . . not to nanny his little ones, or clean his home.  Lou Dobbs reportedly hired illegal aliens to look after his prize equistrian horses and hired a landscaping company to work on his Florida mansion.
    The news of Dobb's blatant hypocrisy was first brought to light in an expose written for The Nation magazine.

    Lou claims no knowledge of illegal workers working on his Florida and Connecticut estates . But seriously . . .  Lou looks out his front window and sees a bunch of hispanic mexican and guatemalan grooming the grounds of his very lush estate, or cleaning the barns for his prized horses, and he never asked himself if all these workers were here legally in the U.S.

    Poor Lou called himself a victim of the left wing media (ha ha ha!). He didn't directly, or indirectly, ever employ an illegal worker. I didn't know, how could I know seemed to be the jist of his lame defence on his appearnce on "The Final Say with Dan O'Neil" on MSNBC.

    I shake my head, I blow razzberries at the talking heads, and  I laugh at the arrogance of such a phony, self-righteous, and self promoting hypocrite.  He should have been in his own stable shovelling out the manure, instead of  foisting it out so shamelessly on a news audience that looked up to this schmuck.

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Lou Dobbs. Methinks thou protests too much, Lou!

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Boenher Plays Santa Claus for Tobacco Lobbyists

    Characterizing GOP House Minorty Leader (and wannabe House Speaker), John Boehner, as "one of the especially sleazy figures in a capital seething with sleaze," New York Times columnist, Bob Herbert paints a pretty picture of Boehner's largesse towards fellow Republicans, a largesse that undoubtedly gained Boehner his current influence and position.

    "I remember writing about that day back in the mid-’90s," Herbert recalls, "when this slick, chain-smoking, quintessential influence-peddler decided to play Santa Claus by handing out checks from tobacco lobbyists to fellow Congressional sleazes right on the floor of the House."

    Is it just me, or does anyone else see the resemblance? Shifty eyes, weird complexion, cat-that-ate-the-canary grin?

    "It was incredible," Herbert recalls, "even to some Republicans. The House was in session, and here was a congressman actually distributing money on the floor."

    Checking with Boehner's office, his then-staffers unabashedly confirmed to Herbert that the checks the jolly Boehner was so merrily spreading around were, in fact, contributions "from tobacco P.A.C.’s.”

    When Herbert asked the staffer why Boehner was so blatantly handing out checks from the tobacco lobbyists on the House floor (a practice that is now, belatedly, illegal), the staffer reportedly replied, "The floor is where the members meet with each other.”


    I can only shake my head. Yet, at the same time, I wonder if it were mandatory that all lobbyist checks be handed out live on C-Span, if Boehner's then practice would not go along way towards the ephemeral goal of "transparency" so blithely touted by Republicans and Democrats alike.

    Obama Shows Comic Chops in Presidential Seal Fail

    Say what you like about Obama, but whether you think he's a "transitional president" (as many chest-thumping Democrats still do), or that he's a Kenyan anti-colonialist, Manchurian-candidate (Newt Gingrich), the man has a sense of humour.

    Check out his response (below) when the Presidential Seal falls off the podium.  What gets me is how he quickly figures out that some political intern hack behind the curtains is probably cringing.  As a former summer student in a blue-chip law firm, I've been a minion just waiting for the partner's shoe to drop, as was Obama, I presume. (Although you have to admit that he was pretty brash in picking up, and eventually marrying, his associate lawyer mentor, Michelle.)

    I gotta say he's pretty quick on the uptake.  Must come from all those rickety podiums in rundown gymnasiums he used when he was, "palling around with terrorists" as . . . gasp. . .  a "community organizer"!

    You have to respect the man's chops.  I'd give him a wry grin, and a sincere nod of approval for his comic timing. You can't make this stuff up!

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Which Witch is Which? Ms. O'Donnell???

    The latest in the unravelling yarn of Deleware senator want-to-be, Christine O'Donnell, is her commercial (below) where she declares, "I am not a witch.. . .  I'm You."

    Let me get this straight.  She's not a witch.  She's me?  I'm her?  It begs the same old question: "Which witch is which?"

    Are you shaking your head in disbelief yet? Or are you busy reassuring your six-year old that there is no such things as witches.  Wait until next week when, courtesy to the mad woman of Delaware, you could find yourself having to explain masturbation to little kids who have (and should not necessarily have) any ideas of what you're talking about.

    Which brings us back to Ms. O'Donnell.  Her whacked-out views on everything from sex (anti-gay, anti-choice and anti-masturbation), to stem cell research (Scientists have made mice, she claims "with fully functioning human brains.")

    What can we expect next as Ms. O'Donnell plays defence to the clearly cracked things she said on Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect." Maher has kept good on his promise to release a new O'Donell clip every week, until Ms. O'Donnell agrees to a reprise appearance on his new show, "Real Time with Bill Maher."

    Ms. O'Donnell agree to appear! You are slowly dying politically from the death of a thousand quips.

    Ms. O'Donnell, in the latest release by Bill Maher, says that besides dabbling in witchcraft, she also dabbled in Buddhism, and even the Hare Krishna movement before adopting a strict, and it seems particularly exclusive, brand of Christianity.  "I couldn't join the Hare Krishna," Ms. O'Donnell proclaimed. "They are vegetarians, and as an Italian American, I like my meatballs."

    Apparently Ms. O'Donnell obviously didn't dabble very deeply in so-called alternative religions, or she would have known there is a Buddhist stricture favoring vegetarianism. The first of five buddhist tenets (close in substance to the evils addressed in the Mosaic code) advise adherents to embrace vegetariaism in order to refrain from killing (including all sentient beings, all though the question of whether this stricuture applies to mutant mice with fully functioning human brains is not clear).  The other four tenets are to refrain from taking what is not yours, (itself,,perhaps, an impediment to higher office); to refrain from harsh or harmful speech, (another natural bar to politics it would seem); to refrain from sexual impropriety (where, perhaps Ms. O'Donnell gained her loathing of self pleasuring); and to refrain from taking mind-altering intoxicants.

    One has to wonder what intoxicants Ms. O'Donnell is taking, or has taken, as she certainly is drunken with a lust (dare I say it) to be seen as a real, grownup, serious adlt politician.

    Personally, I'm waiting for O'Donnell's spin campaign ad to show that she is not as whacked out on sexual issues as her anti-masturbation views imply..  I can just vision it.  Straightforwad and smiling, Ms. O'Donnell smiles her perky smile into the bedrooms of America declaring, "I'm not against masturbation. In fact,  I'm You."

    Of course, that will only happen if poles (er, polls) all across Delaware show continuing signs of softening.  Clearly, if this happens, Ms. O'Donnell, will have at least enjoyed, one presumes, her two minutes of fame, or infamy.

    I'm shaking my head over this clearly dysfunctional politician, although others may describe it as banging my head against the wall.  If only I could become truly dim in this manner, I, too, would seem to be fit for higher office.

    Seriously? "The Donald" for President? Eeyikes!!!

    Donald Trump for President??? Seriously? Surely we are all living in cloud-cuckoo-land.

    Talk about dysfunctional politics.  Is this the death knell of all commonsense in the political discourse? What about the practicalities of a "Trump for President" campaign? How would "The Donald" select a vice-presidential candidate?  Are we to see the ultimate reality show? I can just see the V.P. being selected "Apprentice" style by voter call-ins. "Text 8667 for Sarah Palin, or 8668 for Justin Bieber."

    (Of course, that may be a better method than the vetting process used by John McCain in the last presidential sweepstakes.  The old codger was willing to put anyone a heartbeat away from the presidency, if only he could win the ultimate political prize.  Unsurprising blind ambition, from a washout of a well-connected Naval Academy midshipman desperately trying to live up to the legacy of a father and grandfather who were both Navy Admirals.)

    Reuters reports that Trump, declaring himself a Republican, dipped his toe into the wacky world of GOP politics in a whirlwind of Sunday morning interviews.  "For the first time in my life," he told Fox News, "I'm actually thinking about it (running for president)."  Lord, help us all!

    Yeah, right . . . The ego-maniacal Trump just woke up one day last week and thought, "Hey! I could do that." Yet, again, with the current slate of potential GOP candidates, why not? At least "The Donald" doesn't claim to be able to see Russia from the top of Trump Towers. Yet, Trump also apparently left open the option that he would run as a Tea Party candidate.  Talk about a grassroots movement. . . .

    Reuters describes the thrice-married real estate mogul (and reality TV star) as "a larger-than-life figure in the United States, whose company operates a string of resorts and casinos."

    What the heck, with Republicans, Democrats and the financial gurus of the Obama administration all handling the casino-operators at Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan etc., with kid gloves, why not elect a president with experience running a casino?

    I can only shake my head, and stifle an expression somewhere between mirthful laughter and a groan.