Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I was sitting at the bar one night in a dump outside Detroit with a couple of friends, where I'd been downing bourbon at a pretty steady clip (the night was warm, the bourbon on ice was cold, the rest is fond memory; fuzzy but fond).
At some point, after a few hours of fun and relaxation, I needed to urinate.
So off to the (really awful, disease-infested) restroom I went.
When I came back to the bar, I looked at the two guys sitting there and said, with eyes popping open,
"Hey, you're not going to believe what just happened in the men's room."
"What?" they asked in unison, with a certain amount of trepidation.
I said, "You know how, when you're standing at the urinal sometimes and there's someone at the next urinal beside you, you raise up on the balls of your feet and peek over the side to see how big his penis is?"
"You know what I'm talking about. When you're sometimes standing at the urinal and there's someone standing at the urinal next to you, you raise up on the balls of your feet and peek over the side to see how big his penis is. Don't tell me you guys never do that."
"So I peeked over the rim of the urinal next to mine, where a black guy was taking a squirt, to see how big his penis was, and - to my total surprise - happened to notice it was tattooed."
"What?! You're making that up!"
"No. I swear, he had tattooed on his penis a woman's name."
"It said, 'WENDY.'"
"Yeah! The entire length of his penis!"
"Yeah! So I asked this fella, who had dreadlocks going in all directions, 'Sorry to interrupt you at a time like this but I'm curious. I notice that you have the name WENDY tattooed on your penis. What's that all about?'"
And in my best Jamaican accent I tossed out the punchline:
"He looked at me rather oddly ... Then replied, 'Oh, no, mon. That doesn't say Wendy. That's ...
... WELCOME TO JAMAICA. HAVE A NICE DAY.'"
They hit the floor.
I ordered another round.
True story. I don't make things up for the weblog. Ever. Well ...
You've got another fella who's prepared to lend it to him.
The two agree on the interest on the loan.
The transaction takes place.
So, what's missing?
THE GOVERNMENT ISN'T IN THE MIDDLE OF IT.
Well, that's just not to be:
No braking car-title loans
Roanoke Times editorial
In the final days of this year's General Assembly, Virginia lawmakers are scrambling to close a loophole in a law they passed just last year to rein in the payday lending industry's worst predatory practices.
Yet car-title lenders will escape untouched, although they operate freely with the kind of open-ended, virtually unregulated credit that many payday lenders added to their product lines -- to legislators' chagrin.
Lawmakers could, and should, protect consumers simply by capping interest rates for short-term loans of all kinds. But once burned, twice cautious is a lesson not yet in learned in Richmond. [link]
A cap on interest rates.
And so the lender decides that there's not enough money to be made in the transaction. He takes his wad of cash and invests it in something with a greater return on his investment. Like all those tens of thousands of foreclosed homes around Virginia (that the government brought about).
And the fella who needed cash to pay his monthly mortgage payment can't get it.
And he takes the only course of action left to him. He walks away from his mortgage obligation and the bank forecloses on his home.
And the car-title lender scoops it up at a fire sale.
Leaving the borrower homeless.
But the Richmond legislature is happy.
And the Roanoke Times editorialists are happy.
Because those car-title lenders got their comeuppance.
The car-title lenders who now own that poor schmuck's home as well as another on Maui.
What's the point here?
Oh, yeah. The government is there to protect us.
Camera Giant's Focus FaltersThe last time I was in a Ritz Camera store I left rather mad because the manager there came across like he was doing me a big favor by taking my money for some specialty development. A favor he was never allowed to extend - I walked out.
By V. Dion Haynes, Washington Post Staff Writer
After 91 years of steady growth that turned it into the nation's largest photography retailer, Ritz Camera is under pressure from the digital age, plummeting consumer confidence and one of the worst financial slumps in generations.
The privately held Beltsville-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware on Sunday after suffering losses in all of its core businesses: camera sales, photo processing and the Boater's World Marine Centers chain it operates. [link]
Having said that, Ritz has a nice, broad assortment of cameras and accessories and, unless they get their act together, they will leave a big hole in the retail world when they fold. Until Best Buy builds on every other street corner, that is.
The changing times ...
Senate Confirms Solis as Labor SecretaryI need a government gig. I'm tired of paying more than my fair share of taxes.
Washington (AP) — Representative Hilda L. Solis of California won confirmation on Tuesday as President Obama’s labor secretary, giving the agency a decidedly pro-worker tilt after years of business-friendly leadership in the Bush administration.
The 80-to-17 Senate vote ended more than a month of delays prompted by Republican concerns over her work for a pro-union group, and later, revelations about unpaid tax liens on her husband’s business. [link]
"Behold. Alternative sources of energy will now be profitable."
Barack Obama, last night:
"To truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy."
And the multitudes gave thanks for it.
And Obama went on television last night and told the American people how his government is going to become really, really fiscally conservative.
Right after this:
House Democrats propose $410B spending billYou can bet your ass that your congressman is up to his eyeballs in this earmark hog swill.
By David Espo, AP Special Correspondent
Washington (AP) -- House Democrats unveiled a $410 billion spending bill on Monday to keep the government running through the end of the fiscal year, setting up the second political struggle over federal funds in less than a month with Republicans.
The measure includes thousands of earmarks, the pet projects favored by lawmakers but often criticized by the public in opinion polls. There was no official total of the bill's earmarks, which accounted for at least $3.8 billion.
The legislation, which includes an increase of roughly 8 percent over spending in the last fiscal year, is expected to clear the House later in the week.
Democrats defended the spending increases, saying they were needed to make up for cuts enacted in recent years or proposed a year ago by then-President George W. Bush in health, education, energy and other programs. [link]
And we'll bring you the smelly details as soon as they become available.
In the meantime, Obama was hoping you were able to listen to his speech about fiscal integrity and slashing the federal deficit last night.
Hey, it got him elected. Why not continue to massage that ploy?
[Bill] Moyers has a reason to hope that everyone under 60 forgets, after all his PBS moralizing on shows with titles like The Secret Government, and after suggesting Reagan should be impeached for Iran-Contra dishonesty in a documentary suggestively titled High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
The more that uncooperative writers peek under the rocks of Bill Moyers in government service, the phonier he looks. He looks, unsurprisingly, like a Democratic hack who became a Democratic hack media star on PBS, a network launched by LBJ's Democratic hacks.
If you've not been following this story, it's about PBS's resident saint seeking dirt on members of LBJ's staff back in the day. "Is PBS Harboring the Man Who Led the Jack Valenti Homo Hunt?"
February Ratings: FNC Beats CNN and MSNBC Combined in Total Viewers
Fox News was the ratings leader during prime time and total day during February 2009 — its 86th month on top. FNC averaged more Total Viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined in prime time and total day.
FNC had nine out of the top 10 programs in cable news last month in Total Viewers. The O'Reilly Factor was #1 for the 99th consecutive month, and was up 33% in Total Viewers compared to February 2008. The other top programs included Hannity (up 38%), Glenn Beck (the 5pmET hour was up 100%), The FOX Report with Shepard Smith (up 30%) and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (up 24%).
On the Record also reclaimed the lead in the 25-54 demographic, up 4% year to year. At 7pmET, FOX Report was up 28% in the demo, The O'Reilly Factor was up 44% and "Hannity" up 34%. [link]
"Fair, balanced, and unafraid." A winning governing philosophy.
These guys rock!