Gold and Silver Go Full Retard After Bernanke Comments at Jackson Hole

Pic via Kitco

Oh logic, you always ruin it for everyone, don't you?

Here are the facts so far:
  • the dollar is fucked
  • the Fed is fucked
  • American politics are fucked
Don't tell the economic rocket scientists at the Fed that, they're still trying to pretend like they have a plan out of this mess.

So while Ben Bernanke is getting all academic in this motherfucker, let's look at it for what it is: a mess. Lucky for all of you, I totally speak Fed so let's attack Bernanke's comments one obscure reference at a time and see what we can uncover from Jackson Hole.

Here's what your favorite barbarous relic got worked up over today:

"The hurdle for using nontraditional policies should be higher than for traditional policies," he said. "At the same time, the costs of nontraditional policies, when considered carefully, appear manageable, implying that we should not rule out the further use of such policies if economic conditions warrant." 
Translation from Fedspeak: "Holy shit, we are FUCKED aren't we? So we'll do whatever we can to get unfucked but really I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing so, you know, let's just keep doing it and hope that it clicks eventually. I'm pretty sure it won't but hey, might as well give it a shot."

Large-scale asset purchases can influence financial conditions and the broader economy through other channels as well. For instance, they can signal that the central bank intends to pursue a persistently more accommodative policy stance than previously thought, thereby lowering investors' expectations for the future path of the federal funds rate and putting additional downward pressure on long-term interest rates, particularly in real terms. Such signaling can also increase household and business confidence by helping to diminish concerns about "tail" risks such as deflation. During stressful periods, asset purchases may also improve the functioning of financial markets, thereby easing credit conditions in some sectors.

Translation from Fedspeak: "Yeah so, um, we get no one wants American assets at this point so we're totally and completely cool with not only being the 'lender of last resort' but basically biggest sucker as Washington tries to pawn off more and more debt to people who don't want it. It's all good, we got this, don't trip. We have HELLA tools left, like, you know, printing money and stuff. We got this. Stop trippin, boo."

While there is substantial evidence that the Federal Reserve's asset purchases have lowered longer-term yields and eased broader financial conditions, obtaining precise estimates of the effects of these operations on the broader economy is inherently difficult, as the counterfactual--how the economy would have performed in the absence of the Federal Reserve's actions--cannot be directly observed.

Translation from Fedspeak: "Right, so, you, me and anyone with half a brain know what we've done this far hasn't done shit but let's just keep doing it MMMMKAY because who else is gonna do it? US, that's it! The Fed will do it, don't you worry your pretty little head. And if you need actual like numbers and stuff, don't ask, just trust us when we say this has totally worked!"

Clear communication is always important in central banking, but it can be especially important when economic conditions call for further policy stimulus but the policy rate is already at its effective lower bound. In particular, forward guidance that lowers private-sector expectations regarding future short-term rates should cause longer-term interest rates to decline, leading to more accommodative financial conditions.

Translation from Fedspeak: "Listen, you fuckers, we already TOLD YOU we're printing at full force for as long as those stupid Europeans are in a worse position than we are. Once people figure out the dollar is worthless I guess we're screwed but until then, you better believe we are printing 24/7 for your sake. You're welcome."

Making monetary policy with nontraditional tools is challenging. In particular, our experience with these tools remains limited. In this context, the FOMC carefully compares the expected benefits and costs of proposed policy actions. 

Translation from Fedspeak: "Yeah... uh... we have no idea what we're doing. Our bad."

In light of the policy actions the FOMC has taken to date, as well as the economy's natural recovery mechanisms, we might have hoped for greater progress by now in returning to maximum employment. Some have taken the lack of progress as evidence that the financial crisis caused structural damage to the economy, rendering the current levels of unemployment impervious to additional monetary accommodation. The literature on this issue is extensive, and I cannot fully review it today. However, following every previous U.S. recession since World War II, the unemployment rate has returned close to its pre-recession level, and, although the recent recession was unusually deep, I see little evidence of substantial structural change in recent years. 

Translation from Fedspeak: "Wow, seriously, I can't believe this shit didn't work. Why didn't it work? It was supposed to work. I should be a hero by now. Is this an episode of Punk'd or something?!"

As I have discussed today, it is also true that nontraditional policies are relatively more difficult to apply, at least given the present state of our knowledge. Estimates of the effects of nontraditional policies on economic activity and inflation are uncertain, and the use of nontraditional policies involves costs beyond those generally associated with more-standard policies. Consequently, the bar for the use of nontraditional policies is higher than for traditional policies. In addition, in the present context, nontraditional policies share the limitations of monetary policy more generally: Monetary policy cannot achieve by itself what a broader and more balanced set of economic policies might achieve; in particular, it cannot neutralize the fiscal and financial risks that the country faces. It certainly cannot fine-tune economic outcomes. 

Translation from Fedspeak: "We have absolutely no idea what we are doing but you can't blame us when this doesn't work out. SUCKERS!!!"

Yup, fucked. Don't say I didn't try to tell you so.

What You Didn't Read About This Week: CIA Operatives Shot In Mexico



The shit has gotten serious, people:

The two Americans who were wounded when gunmen fired on an American Embassy vehicle last week were Central Intelligence Agency employees sent as part of a multiagency effort to bolster Mexican efforts to fight drug traffickers, officials said on Tuesday.

The two operatives, who were hurt on Friday, were participating in a training program that involved the Mexican Navy. They were traveling with a Mexican Navy captain in an embassy sport utility vehicle that had diplomatic license plates, heading toward a military shooting range 35 miles south of the capital when gunmen, some or all of them from the Federal Police, attacked the vehicle, Mexican officials have said.

The Mexican Navy said Tuesday in a statement that an American was driving the vehicle and that during the attack the captain, who was handling logistics and translating for the men, remained in the back seat calling for help on his cellphone.

The men were wounded, the Navy said, when the rain of bullets managed to tear through the car’s protective armor. It was unclear if the Americans, who officials said were unarmed, were specifically targeted, if the shooting was a case of mistaken identity or if there was some other reason that the vehicle was ambushed. Mexican prosecutors have detained 12 federal police officers and have said no theory can be ruled out.
I love this. They aren't quite sure why a couple of Americans got targeted in a hail of bullets or if maybe there was a case of mistaken identity or... you know, someone sending a completely clear message that American intervention is not wanted down there.

Has anyone seen To Catch a Predator? We Americans aren't so great with our disguises.

Glad that whole drug war seems to be working in our favor these days eh!


Gay Dudes Outraged By United-Continental's Handling Of Their Dildo



Daily Mail:
A gay couple in Virginia is suing United-Continental airlines after the two men found a large dildo had been removed from their checked checked luggage and taped to the top of their suitcase - and then sent down to the baggage pickup carousel.

Christopher Bridgeman and Martin Borger say baggage handlers at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport invaded their privacy and targeted them for humiliation because of their sexuality.

They are seeking punitive damages to hold the airline accountable, they say, after officials refused to respond to their complaints.

Alright... so let's just be real about it. I've flown with questionable vibrating devices myself (one TSO in Chicago was a little more fascinated with the vibrating duck in my carry on than he should have been) and not once were my devices trotted out in front of my fellow passengers. Had they been, I would have dealt with the situation accordingly - I mean, it's a freaking vibrator, not a bomb amiright?! There's nothing to be ashamed of. Hell, the thing said "travel size," what was I supposed to do? If anything, one should boast for being smart enough to know how to get off.

The more likely scenario for these two fun-loving kids is that the bag zipper broke, the dildo plopped out and United-Continental (or TSA or whomever) did their best to make sure the dildo stayed with its rightful owner. How the hell would they know the guys were gay? Straight people need dildos too, duh!

So here's your helpful suggestion of the day: SECURE YOUR DILDOS if you're going to check them in luggage. Or better, put them in your carry on. Nothing makes TSA want to grope you less than seeing a vibrator in the X-ray. Trust me on that (I had no dildos in my luggage when TSA groped me in Oakland. Damnit!)

If these guys were so mortified by the situation - as they claimed - why make a stink about it? Your dildo fell out, big deal. Own it, girl!

The plaintiffs claim the bag was secured and the dildo was taped outside of it but if you look at the picture, it's clear the zipper was bursting and the tape was presumably put there to keep everything in, not just the big purple dildo.

The plaintiffs also claim the bag was taped with Continental-branded tape but that tape looks awfully clear to me. Anyone else?

Here's the whole problem, you packed the damn dildo and then get horrified when you see it? Come on, it's a freaking dildo. You packed it! You bought it from some gross, dusty adult bookstore in Virginia! Just own up to it and everyone can move on, it's nothing to get horrified about:

"I was shocked, humiliated, embarrassed, horrified and confused because I didn't know what to do," Borger told the Daily News, describing how he felt when he first saw the bag.
Again, did he feel that same feeling when he or his man packed the dildo in his bag? Perhaps if sexuality weren't bursting with shame here in the good ole USSA, we'd all feel better about a rogue dildo making its way to the baggage claim and save ourselves a fat lawsuit.
But yeah, believe what you need to if it makes you feel better.

If you're shocked, humiliated, embarrassed, horrified and confused when your dildo pops out of your checked luggage, you obviously haven't mastered this whole flying thing.

Jobs I DO Envy: The Person Who Gets Cussed Out By People For a Living



Now this is a real job:

Two German entrepreneurs have devised a way for passive-aggressive citizens to blow off some steam - dial a telephone number and give the person on the other end a verbal lashing.

The swearing hotline, known as "Schimpf-los" ("swear away") in German, has operators standing by seven days a week for frustrated individuals to jeer at and taunt using the most unsavory language they can muster.

"We don't judge people who are angry," said Ralf Schulte, who set up the hotline with his fellow media services provider Alexander Brandenburger.

"It happens. It's natural. With us you can blow off steam no strings attached," 41-year-old Schulte told Reuters.


I could do that all day long! Why don't we have something like that here?

Oh wait, we do. I get paid to write articles and then get cussed out by America's accounting elite Monday - Friday.

I don't judge people who are angry either but it gets a bit old when you're writing about lame items like IFRS adoption, the CPA exam and saving money in your early career and getting cussed out about all of it. I sense a little anger.


The service costs 1.49 euros per minute - a figure Schulte feels is completely justified. "For getting everything off your chest, it's a bargain."


I would completely do something like this here if there are that many angry people out there, who is with me? $5 on PayPal and you can cuss me out by text for half an hour. $10 on PayPal and you can cuss me out from a train platform in any major city. I'm beginning to see the potential in this.

There are A LOT of people out there who need to get shit off their chests in my opinion. This can only help.

Who wants in with me? I'll start on our flyers immediately!

eBay Psychics Mistaken For Craigslist Sluts As eBay Abandons Metaphysical Wares




As a self-employed person who relies on the Internet to pay the bills myself, I completely understand the plight of Tabetha Berry and her fellow eBay-reliant psychics who are now needing a new source for suckers:
Tabetha Berry has sold psychic readings for much of her adult life. But there is one thing she didn't see coming: the death of her cash cow.

Since 2010, the 50-year-old resident of Santa Clarita, Calif., has made 80% of her annual income selling as many as 60 psychic readings a month on eBay typically for about $15 each. Earlier this month, eBay said it will shut down sales of "metaphysical" goods such as spells, potions and other magical services on its namesake website.
Um, wait, I write (mostly) accounting career advice for a living and this chick sells psychic readings so either we're practically the same person or not at all alike. Perhaps I should start charging accounting students to read their career tea leaves instead of giving them real advice they can use? YES, it's so genius!

Let's do the math quick, shall we? If Tabetha Berry has been making money off of this for "much of her adult life" and eBay has been around since 1995, that means for approximately 1/3 of her adult life, Ms Berry used something other than eBay to pay her bills. Assuming, of course, that she was one of the 4 people who used eBay back before it was eBay. More likely, she's been milking eBay for a good decade or so. So what did she do before that? Psychic Friends Network commercials? Why can't she go back to whatever it was she did before eBay?

While we're debunking wild claims from this WSJ article, since when is $900 a month a cash cow? That wouldn't even pay my rent! I certainly wouldn't refer to it as a cash cow, especially for someone living in overpriced, overtaxed California. Come on now, WSJ, stop being lazy.

Anyhoo, looks like the eBay psychics are going to have to find an alternate way to pull in obscene amounts of money like $900 every month now that eBay is no longer helping them scam unsuspecting losers who think psychic readings are at all legit. Apparently that's not working out too well already:
Still others are throwing in their wands and turning to less paranormal careers, like selling shoes. "I'm feeling so defeated," says Ms. Berry, who says she has tried to reduce her reliance on eBay by posting psychic services on Craigslist—only to be propositioned. "I guess I could have seen that coming," she says.
YA THINK?! Maybe you should have charged yourself $15 for the reading, Tabetha!

While we're on the subject, enjoy my favorite psychic, Q-tip head Gary Spivey:


One Colorado Attorney Learns It Sucks To Share a Name With a "Nutcase"



I guess it's a good thing I have a pretty rare name. I'd hate to be a Michael Jackson, Michael Bolton, James Holmes or... Allison Ernst?

In case you aren't aware (I know I wasn't until moments ago), Allison is an attorney in Colorado. She happens to share her name with a woman who made a tiny bit of a scene at a routine hearing for alleged Aurora shooter James Holmes last week:

There was some drama during Thursday's mostly procedural hearing. A woman seated in the second-to-last row of the courtroom stood up and said she had evidence of judicial misconduct on behalf of the public defender.

"I tried to deliver information vital to the defense of James Holmes to the public defender," the woman--in a red dress with a shaved head--said, her voice shaking.

The woman, who was held by two deputies, said the defense team told her they were not willing to speak to Holmes about that information.

"It will do the victims' families justice to have this information," the woman, who identified herself as Allison Michelle Ernst, said as she was led out of the courtroom.
The Yahoo! story leaves out the part about Ernst leaving her laptop bag in the courtroom and trying to talk to a reporter in attendance about a conspiracy theory going back almost 60 years:

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the 37-year-old woman was was briefly detained, but was released without being charged. He declined to identify her, but said she was from Tucson, Ariz.

A TV reporter who spoke to her before the hearing began said the woman talked about a conspiracy dating to 1956 and a blazing light that surrounded Holmes when he allegedly opened the back door of the theater on July 20.

Presumably swamped with furious Googling conspiracy theorists hoping to track down this woman in the red dress (oh how Matrix-like), the attorney Allison did what any good professional would, she added a disclaimer to her website:


Meanwhile, is anyone else wondering what the hell 1956 conspiracy theory that other Allison Ernst was talking about? I mean we could be talking Philadelphia Experiment level awesomeness with aliens and lasers here, why on Earth did the judge have her removed from court? It's relevant I'm sure!

Yup, this case is weird.

Dallas Fed's Fisher Gets Me Excited But Doesn't Accomplish Much Else



JDA's #1 Fedhead is still chugging along making it clear that more easy money isn't the solution. You tell 'em, #1!

"In terms of further easing, nothing has been decided," Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher told Reuters in a phone interview. "Nothing is predestined."
So says Fisher. Remember, there's no way out but devaluation and we all know that.

Likening the effects of monetary easing to the prescription drug Ritalin, used to calm children who otherwise have trouble focusing, he warned that doing too much will do more harm than good.

"We would like to have orderly financial markets in order to lead us out" of economic malaise, he said. "What we need to think about are the negative side effects" of doing still more easing, and such effects are already evident, he said.


Stop it, dude, you're turning me on.

By continuing to push down on interest rates, Fisher said, the Fed "lulls the government to sleep," when what is really needed is for lawmakers to make budget and other fiscal decisions that provide businesses the certainty they need to make critical hiring decisions.

"They want an easy fix," he said, of markets' desire for further easing.



Oh God yes, tell me more.

"The solutions to our problems do not lie in the monetary sphere," he said. "The solutions lie in getting our fiscal house in order....Otherwise, we are just running the presses."


Unnnngggghhh I need a cigarette now. 

Bottom line: as exciting as all of this talk is, Fisher is outnumbered by easy money whores who know if we pull out now, the entire system will collapse upon itself. As much as I'd love to see that, even I realize what a disaster that would be.

Still, all we've accomplished is kicking the can down the road. Are your investments worth more today because of Fed intervention? How about your car? Your house? Your career? If you sell your house today for more than you bought it for years ago (haha yeah right), does that mean it was actually worth more or did they just rob the purchasing power from the dollars your buyer will buy your house with? 

That's Fisher's point (that and shit-talking the government for using the Fed as their own personal piggy bank even though the Fed has been complicit in using us as one too), the "fixing" that's been done thus far has not actually "fixed" anything it all, so more isn't going to "fix" it more.

DERP.


Richmond Fed's Jeffrey Lacker Finds Out the Hard Way Hawks Aren't Popular



Being a central banker must be a rough job these days. You get ripped on by armchair economists, left out of People's Sexiest list and will never show up in Tiger Beat magazine as a heartthrob unless you're Ben Bernanke.

 Yeah OK, that's a little awkward...

For Richmond Fed's fearless leader, flying the gay flag in front of the Bank and bucking the easy money status quo just can't help Jeffrey Lacker claw his way up on the Richmond power ladder.

Holding steady at #17 on Richmond's Style Weekly 2012 Power List, one of the most powerful men in the region can't even get close to super villain Eric Cantor (who came in at #5). Has no one been paying attention? It's important stuff those guys do over at the Fed!

Oh and the Weekly nailed it: the economy still sucks. Don't blame Lacker, he can only do so much before Janet Yellen and her merry mob of money-printing morons shut him down.

Hawkishness is SOOOOO dreamy!

A Bizarre Capital Wasteland Weather Phenomenon: "Lightening"



It happens.

So if you try to submit your horrible storm photo to NBC Washington, you get pre-populated tags.

Among them: "lightening"

I get after two years here that east coast weather is no joke. All kinds of crazy shit happens. I faced it with boots full of ice and beer and a roll of zebra duct tape. No biggie.

But what's lightening? I wasn't at all prepared for that.


I didn't type any of that in.

HAIL? WTF? I didn't sign up for that either.

OH GOD THE END IS NIGH.

El Cajon Gets Bernanked


EWW. Who Googles that?


But fair enough. You asked for it.


EWWWW.

Oh wait, you meant like figuratively. Yeah, fuck Ben Bernanke! Or is that fuck yeah Ben Bernanke? I'm so confused.


The Easy Money Whores at the Fed Are Craving More Easy Money



Just when we stopped caring about Fed minutes, a clear sign that the easy money whores are itching to pull the trigger on even more "accommodation" (read: future inflation) since markets haven't been receptive to the several years of completely accommodating monetary policy they've embraced as policy, not exception. SAVE US, YOU FUCKERS!

Read it and weep, folks:

The Committee had provided additional accommodation at its previous meeting by announcing the continuation of the maturity extension program through the end of the year, and more time was seen as necessary to evaluate the effects of that decision. Nonetheless, many members expected that at the end of 2014, the unemployment rate would still be well above their estimates of its longer-term normal rate and that inflation would be at or below the Committee's longer-run objective of 2 percent. A number of them indicated that additional accommodation could help foster a more rapid improvement in labor market conditions in an environment in which price pressures were likely to be subdued. Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery. Several members noted the benefits of accumulating further information that could help clarify the contours of the outlook for economic activity and inflation as well as the need for further policy action. One member [who we can only guess was JDA's former #1, Richmond Fed's Jeffrey Lacker] judged that additional accommodation would likely not be effective in improving the economic outlook and viewed the potential costs associated with such action as unacceptably high [stop turning me on, dude!]. At the conclusion of the discussion, members agreed that they would closely monitor economic and financial developments and carefully weigh the potential benefits and costs of various tools in assessing whether additional policy action would be warranted.

What this means: the bastards have their finger on the trigger and cannot WAIT for a reason to pull it. Again, let's totally ignore the fact that they really haven't been able to make the smallest of dents in the problem this far because, well, it's their fault we got here but whatever, who cares! FREE MONEY FOR EVERYONE!!!

Zimbabwe Ben, where are you? We need your help! PLEASE or else we're doooooomed OMG.

Sigh.

At Last, I've Been Groped By TSA!



I've waited years for this moment. While my sketchy business-like boyfriend has gotten his bits scanned and 99 year old grandmas are pulled out of the line to get extra pat downs, I've mostly glided through TSA except for that time I didn't have government ID trying to get home to San Francisco from Dallas. Well no more, people, it's official: JDA has been groped!

Not only was I groped but I was scanned, dusted for explosives and found a nice little note from TSA in my luggage that told me they felt compelled to check my stuff out.

After a quick trip to California to clean out my storage unit I no longer need, I shipped the few boxes I wanted to keep to myself at UPS and decided to check the final box with my luggage on my flight out of Oakland. No biggie, right? People fly with boxes all the time.

Maybe it was the fact that I bought my ticket to leave the same day of my departure from my iPad in the airport. Maybe it was that I checked an overstuffed suitcase filled with the last bits of my former life in California and a sketchy box triple-taped a whole 7 hours before my flight. Maybe it was the tattoos and the fact that I write an incendiary blog about how fucked up the government is. Who knows but something happened that made me get harassed by TSA in ways I've never experienced up until yesterday.

I made it to Oakland with only 20 minutes to spare before my flight. Thankfully it was late so security didn't seem to be an issue. "OK TO BOARD" printed across my pass and headed home to the District of Columbia from which my government-issued identification comes, I figured I'd have no problem cruising through TSA with my laptop bag (that just so happens to have an official "Federal Reserve Police" badge safety-pinned to its flap).

I should have known when I saw TSOs everywhere despite the thin lines that I'd be up for additional harassment. Although I never do, I even pulled out my small (less than 3 oz.) Secret Wonderland body spray and tossed it in the tub. The last several times I've flown, I haven't pulled out a single liquid (except for the sauce I smuggled back from San Francisco last time) and no one has complained as long as it isn't toothpaste, body wash and shampoo crammed into 3 oz bottles in their own plastic bag.

The TSO picked the spray out of the bin before it made its way into the X-ray, looked up at me and tossed it back down.

"Smells AWESOME," I said to him, smirking. That part is true. It's like crack. It smells so good it makes me want to feel up myself, you can imagine what it does to my boyfriend.

"You know, we're going to start enforcing the plastic bags," he said to me, his face frozen in a snarl. Damnit, I knew I should have sprayed myself before I went into the airport. The guy was young. Maybe if he opened up the spray and sniffed it, he'd recognize it from some one night stand he banged at the bar not too long ago.

"Is that just Oakland or everywhere?" I asked innocently, stunned considering most airports honestly do not care.

"Everywhere," this young TSO with the perfectly-trimmed white trash chin strap said to me. He believed it. Little did he know...

At this point, I'm standing there barefoot waiting to make my way into the body scanner. Whatever, I've had to explain my nipple rings at TSA before, no biggie. CHECK OUT MY BITS, YOU FUCKERS, ENJOY YOURSELVES!!

Apparently, something about my scan sent me to the bad line where the bad people wait to get groped and possibly pulled out for additional screening. They're so quick about it you don't even realize you're in trouble for nothing until a TSO is grabbing your bra's underwire looking at you like you're a terrorist for wanting to keep your tits hiked up on a cross-country flight.

"I'm going to touch you here," the female TSO said, motioning her hand up and down between her own breasts. Mine were better than hers, obviously, but I got the point.

"Go for it," I said, smirking again. I couldn't wait to tweet it at that point. I GOT GROPED OMG YOU GUYS!!!

She paused, rolling her fingers along my bra.

"Underwire," I said to her as she felt up my hot giraffe print Victoria's Secret push up. Maybe she needed a little underwire in her life herself, might make her a little less frumpy IMHO.

Maybe 45 seconds later, she'd made the trip from my underwire down to my belly button ring and back. Apparently satisfied that my push up bra which I've worn many a flight was not a security threat, she kept me corralled until the explosives duster could check me for the really bad stuff. Let's just hope Victoria's Secret doesn't use nuclear weapon residue in their padding or I'm fucked, right?

At last, I was free to gather my shoes, laptop, belt, phone and hot stripper smell body spray and make my flight home to DC.

When I got through my front door and unzipped my suitcase to make sure the art I'd packed made it home in one piece, I discovered the note from TSA that they'd inspected my bag. Everything was exactly as I'd packed it (and smart traveler that I am, I took a photo of the perfectly-packed bag before I checked it to prove it) as if they unzipped it to see what the hell I was packing, realized it was just dirty clothes, a couple paintings, a box full of love letters and $300 or so worth of Federal Reserve-branded shred (it makes for good protection for fragile items like picture frames) and gave up. Damn me, I wasn't a threat, I was just a 30-something tattooed white female born in the United States making her way home.

And I paid almost $600 for that experience. For that kind of money, I could buy my boyfriend a couple dinners and a gold-plated vibrator or two for a good time, WTF? Why do we allow this on our own soil?

Thanks for the good time, TSA.


TLP: Ay, Caramba! Stamp Sales Bad News for the Springfield Mailman

bart stamp

Not even some of the most popular imaginary characters to ever show up on teevee can help the U.S. Postal Service salvage itself from financial ruin.

The Washington Post:
In a move that wasted $1.2 million in printing costs, the Postal Service produced 1 billion of “The Simpsons” stamps. It sold 318 million.

A Postal Service inspector general’s report singled out the overproduction of stamps marking the 20th anniversary of the cartoon as an example of failing to align stamp production with demand.

The service could save $2 million annually by ending overproduction of stamps that, like the Simpsons run, end up being destroyed when they don’t sell, the inspector general said.
The thing is, the way the USPS wastes money, that's not even a lot of d'oh.

Iowa Farmers Are Not Impressed By Obama's Meat on Campaign Trail



You learn something new every day! Today, I learned the term "sow liquidation" - I'm totes using it next time I defriend some harpy skank I used to like on Facebook.

Anyhoo, what exactly is the government going to do with $170 million in meat? BBQs at welfare offices around the country? Meat drop flights across the poorest parts of the country with hamhocks and chicken wings falling from the sky like Obama's delicious meaty manna?

Bloomberg Businessweek reports:

President Barack Obama, campaigning in Iowa today, announced $170 million in government meat purchases to help farmers struck by drought, helping to send hog prices to a one-week high.

The purchase of as much as $100 million of pork, $50 million of chicken, and $10 million each of lamb and catfish come on top of $30 million in assistance announced last week. Farmers and ranchers are struggling with the worst combination of heat and dryness since the 1950s, the administration said. 

OK so let me just make sure I have this (I'm kinda dense sometimes for a smart person...), the government's interference here sent hog prices to a one-week high which means I, as a consumer, am going to then have to pay for that through HIGHER PORK CHOP PRICES later? So up until this, more farmers were having to kill their animals because they couldn't afford higher feed prices (which are being blamed on drought but might not be so bad if we didn't burn food for fuel, just sayin) and prices were actually dropping for consumers. DAMN YOU, Obama, stay away from my pig.

Obama said he also directed the Defense Department to speed up purchases and hold the meat for later use. The buying will help farmers, and the government will get a better price on products than if they were bought later, he said.

“We’ll freeze it for later -- but we’ve got a lot of freezers,” Obama told supporters in Council Bluffs as he kicked off a three-day visit to Iowa, a swing state that is also the country’s leading producer of pork, soybeans, corn and ethanol. “That will help ranchers, you know, who are going through tough times right now.”
Just to put this into perspective, the Defense Department buys about 94 million pounds of beef, 64 million pounds of pork and 500,000 pounds of lamb annually. And you think the government is too bloated!

The USDA says the meat will go to food assistance programs - anyone else grow up broke like me and remember that "delicious" gubmint cheese? Way to waste $170 million worth of quality Iowa meat, yo.

$170 million worth of meat is only about 10 hours' worth of the nation's meat output (ooh, that sounded dirty). Unfortunately for Obama on his little campaign trip, the corn belt isn't buying it. The issue - as JDA has been saying for yeeeears, come on you guys! - is that farmers are required by the same government kind enough to buy up 10 hours' worth of meat to use a whopping FORTY percent of this year's corn crop to produce engine-killing ethanol. Make it stop already, please, and get the government out of our freaking fields, they obviously have no idea what they're doing. So crops are drying up and prices are going to be insane as a result but meat prices are down so let's buy some up and freeze it? I honestly don't understand what these people are thinking.

Instead of buying up an immaterial amount of meat, how about an ethanol waiver? That might lighten up a bit of the pressure on these poor guys - at least a lot better than the government hoarding meat in these giant freezers of theirs. This whole drought thing will not pan out well, even worse with bizarre government ethanol requirements in place. Plus my engine will thank you, Mr Government, for letting my gasoline refiners lay off on the freaking corn fuel for a minute thankyouverymuch. Food not fuel! How douchey are we that kids are starving in Africa and we're burning 40% of our corn on a "biofuel" that really does nothing but keep lobbyists and car makers/repair shops in a job?! BLEH.

Corn is up 60% over the last two months with no sign of getting any better so we might as well brace for a Fed bacon buying program now or else this is gonna hurt. Get ready for $6 a gallon gas, if we're lucky. Of course, the government doesn't think the drought is going to be a problem for gas prices but then again, they're the ones thinking freezing 10 hours' worth of meat is going to make the slightest dent in farmers' bigger issue. Sigh.

The AAA disagrees:

The increase in ethanol prices helped spark a 16-cent jump in the national average gasoline price in July—the biggest increase for that month on record—to $3.45 per gallon. Four cents of that increase are attributable to ethanol, said Michael Green, spokesman for the American Automobile Association, a consumer travel group.

"If ethanol prices had not increased as a result of the drought, there would not have been a record increase in the price of gasoline for July," Mr. Green said.
OMG wait that is not at all what the EPA said! The nerve! Funny (or maybe not), I blamed corn over a year ago for high gas prices.

Anyone else want a big fat burger after reading all this? Better go get one before the government buys up all the good stuff.

Marion Barry Disrespects My Entire Neighborhood From Corner to Mailbox



Some of you may not know this but I live in DC's most undesirable quadrant, SE. SE itself isn't so bad - and includes Capitol Hill, which could be considered undesirable to some - but my part of SE, Ward 8, is. When speaking to the locals of "east of the river" (as in east of the Anacostia River, a trash-filled cesspool on its own), one is referring to the area where no one but the boldest white person dares tread (that might be me). I believe the official demographic is 97% black - but I grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood of Milwaukee so racial weirdness is nothing new to me and, in fact, I prefer living among "real" people than some carefully-crafted, planned neighborhood like the one I worked in up in the Maryland suburbs up until a few months ago.

Believe it or not, it's actually been a great experience. My neighbors say good morning and we catch up on gossip at the mailbox when we can. My landlady is just a text away if I have any issues - I haven't - and dollar for dollar, I get far more in this town than most do. Not sure if you heard but DC rents are quickly approaching NYC-level craziness, and we can only blame the fact that most in DC have no idea there is a such thing as a recession. Go figure.

On the surface, Ward 8 is the run down, forgotten bastard child of thriving DC. While even the most violent parts of NE have been taken over by gentrifiers looking to rip off hipsters with theme bars and bike shops, Ward 8 remains undeveloped, cut off and ignored. According to School Board representative and activist Trayon White, unemployment in Ward 8 is the highest per capita in the entire country and I believe it.

But for some reason, Councilman Marion Barry - who most of you know as the former DC mayor busted by the FBI smoking crack on camera - continues to be reelected by his loyal constituents on this platform that he has brought jobs and prosperity to DC's armpit. He's DC's most loved politician - which doesn't say much.

The funny part is that it's been exactly 4 and a half months since the April 3rd election and his large, graphically-challenged sign is STILL blocking the "Welcome to Washington DC" sign on Southern Ave and S Capitol. I've tweeted repeatedly about this and each time I drive past it hope that maybe this time he's sent his minions out to pick it up but nope, still there. And there. And there. It really makes me wonder if the guy thinks his face is more important than a proper welcome for everyone coming down Indian Head from PG County down into DC.

Speaking of the "Welcome to Washington, DC" sign, maybe if Marion Barry really cared about his peeps in Ward 8 he'd send some money our way to fix the big ass dent in said sign? It's not classy.

Don't believe me? Here it is a few days ago:


And here it was two months ago:


And now he's harassing my mailbox asking me to join the Liberation and Transformation Movement, whatever that means. I assume he isn't handpicking these mailings and blindly assumes anyone with a Ward 8 address must automatically be on his side since they've reelected him to City Council all these years despite the whole crack thing, a small issue with paying his taxes, a propensity for riding dirty and all manner of pretty lame racist and anti-gay views that he has no problem throwing around. Way to keep everyone back in the Stone Age, there, Mayor for Life.


You've got the wrong girl, bro, I'm not buying your bullshit and know you've done little for your Ward 8 constituents. Unemployment is still up as are rents, gas and everything else you're supposed to magically be able to fix as long as the Asians stay out of our side of town. Isn't that the line?

I love Southeast and wouldn't trade the time I've spent in this part of DC for anything (like I said, at least it's real and not swollen with Midwestern bros who make up job descriptions to make their Hill coffee-fetching sound way cooler than it is) but I want no part of Marion Barry's supposed revolution. I'm willing to bet even though I got the mailing I'm not invited anyway, which sucks as I'm as much a part of our vibrant community as anyone else and respect it like the home that it is to me. But I guess that doesn't matter?



It begins thusly: "We in Ward 8, under my leadership, have made tremendous progress in providing countless job opportunities..." Oh, you lost me there, bro. Where are these jobs? Tell me. Point me to them. I'll be waiting. Most of my neighbors work somewhere but Ward 8 overall continues to struggle despite Mr Barry's leadership.

"Webster defines liberation as an act of liberating, the state of being liberated, a movement seeking equal rights and status for a group." That's really funny coming from the guy who fought gay marriage in DC, wants Asian storeowners out of his hood and uses racial slurs when referring to Polish folk. I guess I know what specific equal rights he's after.



"Liberate us from the corner grocery stores where owners take our money to Virginia and Maryland," he whines in his liberation manifesto. And where exactly does he want them to take it? Such is the nature of the DMV, money flows in and out across DC, Virginia and Maryland.

Meanwhile, he continues to say really silly things. Word is he won't be seeking reelection once his most recent term is up and that's probably a good thing since he's ancient and obviously a joke to almost everyone except those who keep electing him. I always hear "he's done great things" but very few of those saying that can tell me what, exactly, those great things are. Oh well. Fight the power, Marion! AND COME GET YOUR FUCKING UGLY SIGN!


TLP: Ryan Takes the Bridle

ryan

No matter what Mitt Romney tells you about Paul Ryan in the next three months, remember this: Romney made the man he wants you to believe is ready to lead the country wait for the horse that cost American taxpayers (at least) $77,000 to finish dancing at the Olympics.

At least that's what conservatives say. Like William Kristol a week ago in The Weekly Standard:
Almost two weeks ago, I speculated on Fox News Sunday that Mitt Romney would announce his vice presidential pick early next week, on August 6 or 7. It was, if I may say, a reasonably well-informed forecast at the time. But I didn't take into account the existence and importance of the redoubtable Rafalca, the Romneys' equestrian Olympian, who's apparently made it to the final dressage round on August 7 in London.

Ann Romney, understandably, wants to be there to see Rafalca do his thing. But she also, of course, should be at the vice presidential announcement and the subsequent barnstorming with the VP pick and his spouse. So the announcement of Marco Rubio or Paul Ryan (Steve Hayes and I explain why it really needs to be one or the other in this week's editorial, available online early Saturday morning) has been pushed back, and will apparently take place a bit later in the month.
Giddyup!

BREAKING: Woman Outraged By Turtles Doing It at National Aquarium in Baltimore



After two wonderful years of living in Washington, DC, I've decided to pack up and head south to Richmond, VA where the weather is a notch milder, the rents way cheaper, the politicos more in line with my conservative views and the traffic much MUCH easier. Take note, Richmond Fed, we're about to be neighbors. I know you must be about as excited as I am.

Anyway, it goes without saying that I'm trying my best to absorb the best my current stomping grounds have to offer so I made a quick trip up 95 to the National Aquarium in Baltimore to see what all the fuss is about. Was it worth a $30 ticket? Maybe not but hey, just doing my part to support the local economy and important stuff like nature and whatever.

While cruising through the exhibits, we came across this pair of turtles getting it on as shown in the photo above. While the living reefs and shark exhibits were great and all, you can imagine how enthralled the adults were who passed by and noticed what was going on in the tank. That's when I heard "WHAT?! How can they DO that?! There are CHILDREN WATCHING!!" from one woman who watched in horror as the turtles slowly but surely boned it out among the little Nemos blissfully swimming around and children scampering past the tank completely unaware that anyone in the tank was doing anything dirty at all.

Let's stop and think about that for a minute... this woman was outraged that wild turtles stuck into a tiny ass fake habitat in a large, well-maintained aquarium that exists solely for the entertainment of human beings would have the gall to fuck each other in front of the children. Nevermind that sex is completely natural to everyone but uptight Americans and, uh, pretty much how most species have managed to keep their genes going for however many hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.

Let's not even address the fact that children are A) created by sex and B) going to have to learn about it eventually. Isn't it better to see turtles doing it than their own parents? I'd sure say so but maybe I am a progressive parent.

What should the aquarium do, break it up? Burn off all animals' naughty parts so they can't be disgusting in front of the poor children? Come on, it's bad enough they've got to be stuck in a tank for the rest of their lives, the least we can do is let them have a little fun.

People disappoint me. Turtles, on the other hand, kick ass, apparently. Go turtles!!


Small-Minded Americans Everywhere Outraged Over Fast Food, Forget Fast Food Is All Garbage Anyway



In case you've been in a cave, let me catch you up. Today is apparently Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, the one day when gay-hating conservatives everywhere line up to eat questionably authentic chicken in solidarity of Chick-fil-A's corporate position on "the biblical definition of the family unit." That's all well and good and though I love me some gays, I fully support their right to do so but really, let's not lose sight of the bigger picture here.

First, corporations aren't people. That was Chick-fil-A's first major error. Its president (and that's president, not CEO as many lazy media outlets are reporting, its CEO is S. Truett Cathy) Dan Cathy should have stuck to expressing his own personal views, not those of the corporation. After all, the corporation is required by law to hire gays, but what gay person do you know would A) work at a fast food restaurant and B) work at a place that doesn't support their right to be miserably married up to the love of their life like us straight folk? The corporation cannot HAVE a position, it's a corporation! It doesn't have feelings or views or opinions, it exists to make money. But hey, guess that's the world we live in today.

Second, if Chick-fil-A is so serious about "the biblical definition of the family unit," does that mean they hate single mothers? Divorced dads? Mormons? Do they hate me too because 1 Corinthians bashes chicks with short hair and Leviticus forbids tattoos? We could do this all day. Perhaps Chick-fil-A needs a real come to Jesus themselves to remind themselves that Jesus Christ taught love and acceptance, not judgment, but hey, that's an argument for another day.

Now, let's get to today. Apparently one Wendy's franchise owner took it upon himself to stand in solidarity with his gay-marriage-hating brethren at Chick-fil-A and put up signs declaring "we stand with Chick-fil-A" just to make sure everyone knows it. I mean really, since when is it a smart idea to say you're all for the competition? Whatever, this is a heated debate and people are losing it obviously.

So some said the franchise owner had the right to free speech. As an American, sure, but as a franchise owner he does not. Can he put "Fuck black people" on his company sign? NO, he has an agreement with the company as a franchise owner and is likely held to a minimum standard of decency that supercedes his rights as an American. Stop missing the point, people. Can he wear a "fuck black people" t-shirt out and about in the world? Sure, and I dare him to do it in my neighborhood and see how far "free speech" gets him. Just because you can say whatever you want doesn't mean you should. It's not some huge injustice, folks, come on.

Wendy's corporate got the guy to take the signs down but couldn't get the intern who runs their Twitter account to keep from opening his or her big mouth to imply that Wendy's, big sports that they are, serves anyone regardless of race, color, creed or sexual orientation. That would be really admirable except Chick-fil-A does the same, it's just that they don't want the gays they serve to get married. Derp.

The offending tweet has since been deleted (though you'll still catch a stream of apologies coming out of the account if you check it out now) but thankfully the Internet is quick and managed to snag this screenshot:

Durrrrrr. Sometimes, it's best to keep your trap shut. Take that as a free piece of advice, Wendy's, no charge this time.

Anyhoo, so a new uproar ensued, mostly among the #tcot crowd on Twitter, who immediately took the opportunity to slam Wendy's for a) saying dumb things and b) implying that Chick-fil-A ever discriminated against any paying customer. As far as we can tell, that's never happened. If this is a First Amendment issue (it isn't), we're again forgetting that CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE and therefore are not afforded any rights. Regardless, Wendy's should have known better but we're still missing the point.

The point - finally - is that we're getting all worked into a lather over industrialized food that is toxic to our bodies. Who cares if the makers of pink slime hate gays/blacks/kids/monkeys? They're producing pink slime! THAT, my friends, is what matters, not photo ops of Rick Santorum stuffing his face with Chick-fil-A (although if one exists, please point me to it, I need a laugh after all this hostile back and forth today).

Chick-fil-A hates gays, that much we know. Personally, I have never had the "pleasure" of eating their slop, nor do I plan to any time soon because I don't like the taste of recycled grease and don't really like to give my money to bigots if I don't have to. But this has gone way too far. When the dumb intern at Wendy's starts getting attacked, we've really lost it. What next, you guys are going to start staging a McDonald's sit-in, launching chicken nuggets at riot cops as they drag you away kicking and screaming? Get real, people!

So, here's where we're at:

1) Fast food sucks. It's bad for you. Just don't eat there.
2) Corporations are not people. Dan Cathy or any other American can say whatever they want but the CORPORATION does not have a "right" to free speech as it is not an American. Got it? Moving on...
3) People need to settle the fuck down. About everything. I am not joking, this is seriously getting out of hand. Everyone just shut the fuck up for a minute and relax. Take up yoga.
4) Obviously we as a nation are not prepared to have an adult conversation about equality. Give me a call when y'all are ready, I'll be here.