Search This Blog

Friday, January 30, 2009

Banker Dicks and their Banker Chicks

As a bartender in NYC, there was no character I loathed more than the investment banker. They'd swagger in, decked out in a fancy suit, and armed with a devil-may-care, sneer-to-kill. To be fair, they didn't come into my bar all that often, it was too close to Columbia University, and too cheap to piss money the way they wanted to. So my exposure was limited...but those few experiences I had were always terrible, and I never understood how any woman could stand them. They'd roll in, approach two or three women talking boysterously after work and casually start insulting them. Everytime. Oh, you're a teacher? That's good, but what's the point? Oh you work for a magazine? How would you like to write something on someone who really matters? The megalomania was stunning. What was even more stunning was the fact that more often than not, their "charms" wore down the ladies defenses, and brought them home. No offense ladies, I just saw it happen fairly often. Invariably she'd be really turned off by his coarse, insulting mannerisms, but the "shock and awe" style of dating challenges a woman to defend herself. On a basic level, I used to do it too. But I would challenge their concepts of rationality, and perception, not demean their chosen professions or values. I hear you snort with disdain, so be it. I'll admit it up front, I couldn't help it, I was poor, bookish, and had little or no prospects, I was jealous.

Point is, now there's a website for the detritus, the human collateral that the ibankers left behind in their hasty exodus. The Times did a culture piece on "Dating a Banker Anonymous" so check out the ladies' website. Full of the types of complaints you might expect. He hasn't taken me out in months! But also genuine confessions from real women are are, really worried. I must confess, two years ago, I was all in favor of wealth distribution. Maybe it's just my way, maybe as soon as something becomes acceptable I abandon it, but my ardor has cooled significantly on the topic. For one thing, in my new life, I know a lot more of them. My basic opinion hasn't changed too much--there are real gems amongst them, but the cavalier attitude they took against anything not finance always bothered me.

Again, I feel sort of shorted. After eight years of watching the gluttonous orgy of buying and discarding, wining and dining, drinking and fucking (ok I had my fair share of the last) I finally decided to sell out and join the party. And the party ends. All I really wanted was to clear my student loans. Well so be it. My plan had been to regulate them anyway.

One last disjoined thought...this is part of what I've written about before...the city is changing. You can almost feel it. I walked alone down wall street last night at 9:30. (I went to the bank honey, that's all) The area is always quiet that late at night. But I saw all the new condos that have sprung up in the last year, and thought dismally, will they ever be filled? It's an unfortunate time, but it's also exciting. It's not everyday year you get to watch the entire zeitgeist of a city change so vividly.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blagojevich's alter ego: The Joker

This guy is beginning to frighten me. I had a realization today that may have been stunningly obvious to others already. Two days ago, Blagojevich skipped out on his impeachment trial to go on 5 talk shows in a row. He laughed, he smiled, he got his hair ruffled, he preened. Either the guy is totally nuts (you don't HAVE to attend an impeachment trial?) or he realized it was hopeless. The FBI has recordings of him making these statements. So maybe he thought he'd go out with a bang, go for all the gusto he can grab. Either way the guy must be a pyschopath. If he doesn't recognize what he did as wrong, and hasn't made any legitimate effort to prove it wasn't (skipping your impeachment trial) than he really doesn't give a flying fart. He wants to see himself on TV. The guy should be put away (in jail/in the cupboard/no where near a TV Camera). And the talk circuit should be loudly discouraged from allowing his face on air.

I've written before that selling a senate seat isn't actually a surprise, they get sold all the time. But the fact that this was allegedly a deal with an actual dollar value is insulting. I know how the game is do Carolyn Kennedy and David Pattersen, but if you get caught in the act...of such a sleazy transaction, at least have the dignity to step down in disgrace.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Torture and the People

As most leftatics, I was thrilled to hear of the first 5 or 6 things that Obama did since innuaguration. Me and my other half were just saying last night, that's it's an amazing feeling to finally have someone minding the store again. After a bunch of Obama disappointments, it was a relief to see his first presidential acts exactly what we'd hoped. In fact, he even did me one step further than I expected. He didn't just shut down Guantanamo with a swipe of his pen, he shut down ALL of the secret CIA prisons. For thinking people everywhere, this was an amazing moment. And one that gives us incredible new hope.

All of that aside, I had some thoughts about torture this morning. I was thinking that a lot of people aren't really going to be thrilled by Obama's choice on the matter. I remember having a lot of heated discussions in 2006 about torture, discussions where there shouldn't be any. Let me state straight out: torture does not produce reliable intelligence. This has been proven again and again, scientifically, anecdotally, and teliologicially. But still a whopping 49% of the American people believe it.


It's hard to make a case to a non-academic about something they can't see, that directly contradicts that which they can see. Think about it: Most of the civilized world (I'd hope) now accepts that the Earth revolves around the sun, and that all matter is made up of tiny individualized particles. But those weren't easy battles. In fact, they were both motivators of huge societal upheaval, and in some cases even war. We won't even start with Evolution. In the case of torture, people torture people everyday, most often children. What is punishment but inflicting pain, or it's equivalent, to prove a point. It seems to work. Of course, I think most behavioral therapists would point out flaws in that reasoning. But let it stand for a moment. If inflicting pain can get results, any results, than why wouldn't torture be a regrettable, but necessary tool of the state?

I think this is what we face when we try to prove that torture is morally unacceptable, and in fact totally reprehensible.

This is one of the organizing factors of a democratic education--to prove and suggest to young minds, before the cast iron sets, that the things that they see with the naked eye, are not always what they think. By instilling this tolerance in them, you make them critical thinkers, capable of accepting an argument that relies on something more than immediate experience.

I think what us anti-torture advocates must prove is two-fold: 1) That there is no moral or religious vacilation on the subject of torture: It is totally wrong. There is no ends justifies the means when it comes to torture. 2) There has to be a way to separate in people's mind that using force, torture, or inflicting pain in their personal lives to get their way, is not a proof, or justification that torture works. Call me an idealist, or a Raving Leftatic, but I believe the latter is possible. We just need to find the key, create the narrative.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pluck 'em says the New York Post

The writers for the New York Post have been universally condemned for two decades for being hateful little maggots, but this cover was so funny, so outrageously idiotic, that I assumed it had to be a joke.

So we all know about the A320 Airbus that crashlanded on the Hudson last week. It wasn't a miracle, it was an incredibly skilled pilot, great conditions, good airstaff, and wonderful New York ferry drivers who came to the rescue. That's not what has my panties in a bind. What gets me is that, it wouldn't have mattered what the cause of the downed engine--the New York Post would have said--Kill 'em. It's like it came from a Monty Python sketch, not that those neanderthals have ever seen one.

And looking at the picture. They're serious. Kill the geese. I wonder if they realize that they're actually undermining their credibility pretty signifcantly. It's one thing to demonize a race, a gender, a sexuality, a religion. But demonizing Canadian Geese at large proves only one thing--that they really don't care. They're completely apathetic--all they need to do is to be angry--it doesn't matter what they're angry about.

One last point. One of the principal complaints is that some species of Canadian Geese no longer migrate. Ever wonder why? Because it's now warm enough to stay here year round. (Search the link for "geese")

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

No, it's NOT my Land

So, there's this email which has been making it through the rounds of Jewish Florida. It's full of inaccuracies and half truths, nationalistic propaganda, and dare I say it, Zionism.

I'll be frank, I am not a Zionist, and I do not believe that the State of Israel is ordained by God (Britain and the US). I believe that religious freedom should be guarantee in all democracies, and a state religion is an affront to that precept.

I'll also say this as a disclaimer...most of the works I've read on the subject of Israel are fictional accounts--the type our mothers give us to read, the Chosen, Asher Lev, the Winds of War. But I HAVE been there, and did get the Birthright Israel tour.

My history classes are old and dusty now, and we didn't go into great depth anyway. But hear me, oh my relatives who stalwartly lay claim to ground that you haven't habitated, and in fact, have mostly NEVER been to--the tribe of Judea lived in Israel 3,000 years ago. And most left. There is a lot of history there--but if you're an American Jew, it is most certainly NOT YOUR LAND. Oh, I know what the books say. And I respect that, I really do, but you can't lay claim that simply even if you had the receipts, deeds and prospectuses all neatly wrapped in a vaccummed pack bundle--it still wouldn't be a justifiable claim. A book my mother owns says we lived in a tiny village outside of Moscow one hundred years ago, if I went back to that town now to stake a claim--they'd laugh me out of the country. And that's only 100 years. And think about it logically! A book written three thousand years ago, even an exalted book like the Torah, and that's your basis, for the continued repression of a small minority of Arabs for the last sixty odd years?

I won't even pretend to give this topic serious discussion. The fact of the matter is, there is just a lot that I really don't know about. What I do know, is that my entire life, this been an extremely bloody contest, that has never, except for a brief shining moment during the Carter years (poor Carter's almost entirely overlooked for this) known more than a couple days of surcease.

There's a story I like to tell, though I haven't in years. I went to Auschwitz in 2001, and I was alone, and on a walking tour. An extremely tall, athletic looking blond man, (I can still recall his face!) asked the tour guide the simple, and most obvious question that comes to people's lips when they hear about the Holocaust: Why didn't they fight back? He asked if it were the most obvious answer in the world, and what idiots they were not to have done so! There are a plethora of great reasons, and a real basic ignorance of human nature in the question. I don't recall what the tour guide's response was, but I was unsatisfied with it. I remember reading stories about how the Rabbis in the Jewish ghettos actually asked the people not to fight back. There were a lot of reasons for that. But I guess the one that meant the most was that the Jews were a peaceful people. We were not a warrior race. And better that we should die, with a clean conscience, than to take up arms and kill other human beings, regardless of religion. That has always struck me as being the one true answer. And it seems to me that granting the Jews parole of Israel, and the right to establish a Jewish State, was not a means of defending them, but a means of saying, here: go bloody your own hands. Then we'll see how Chosen you are, how high and mighty. Well, they have. This isn't a clean war, this isn't a just war, this isn't a good war, or a war for peace. It's fought by war hawks in the Israeli army, who are just too stupid to learn that senseless violence, only breeds more senseless violence. And those aren't Jews to me. The Jews I believe in--when I believe--are kind, and wise, and tell our God, that it was enough, for them "to split the seed" or "to take them out of Eygpt." Or like Job, who saw everything taken away from him, and never once grew bitter or angry at the people around him, but only waited and waited for an answer from God. That to me IS what Judaism is about. It's what being a Chosen people means--it means suffering, and wandering, building for a couple of generations, and then leaving. It means losing loved ones and having the tremendous courage it takes to NOT strike out against those who have hurt you.

I also want to be clear: I have tons of respect for Israeli citizens. To live in that Hell Hole your entire life, never knowing that you can walk down the street, get on a bus, or go to the market without the tension of knowing you could be blown up. That their children take M-16s to the mall instead of rolls of bills. It's awful, and even though "normal" Israeli life doesn't concede even a whimper to that (the girls still bring bills to the mall, and I'm told young Army life is a wanton sexfest) it doesn't take away the fact that there is a better way to live: Free from fear. And you know what? I have a ton of respect for the Palestinians. I don't care whose land it is, I care for human suffering. And Palestinians as a rule, for the last sixty years have suffered, routinely far more than the average Israeli.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dumb Dumb Dumb

Obama kills me. He just kills me. And where is the liberal outrage now? Salon certainly isn't carrying it. He's talking about cutting welfare, cutting medicaid, end the entitlements. This has been the staple of the democratic party for 60 years, and he's just going to cut back on it?

Maybe I should have voted for McCain. Christ. If McCain had tried it, Pelosi and Reid would have rolled over until the liberal blogosphere kicked them back to their feet, but at least they would have stood up. Who knows, maybe the spineless party will develop one. Oh wait, no.

The good people of the Obama campaign should look at this blog. This is real data. This is everyman, every poor or middleclass man. Almost all of our income gets spent EVERY month of the year. You give us welfare, and we're not hoarding it for our 401ks, we're not investing it in Collateralized Debt Obligations. We're spending it. Sometimes every damn dollar.
Maybe I'm overreacting, maybe he'll pull away from this dangerous policy. But if Obama renounces this policy than he's more centrist than Clinton ever was, and all you stupid kids out there deserve what you ordered. I do too, for listening to you. Oh Hillary, I'm so sorry.
However, it should be pointed out that this was one of the first things that FDR did was reign in government spending. He forced the entire government, including Congress, to take a large pay cut, and then cut veteran benefits. So maybe this is all part of the plan, and if he puts America back to work, then maybe it won't matter, but there are lots of places to look when cutting government waste. About the Bush abstinence program for starts. That would clean up a cool 300 million right there.