« July 22, 2012 - July 28, 2012 | Main | August 5, 2012 - August 11, 2012 »

August 2, 2012

5 hour energy

This is totally not important (well, as compared to whatever else I complain about), but if you watch TV/listen to the radio, you may have noticed that the caffeine bomb product 5-hour Energy has launched a pretty big ad campaign that punches its new tagline:
5-hour Energy
Hours and Hours of Energy

At first I thought it was a joke, but then I saw/heard enough spots, some themed differently but still punching the tagline, to figure out its not.

So the makers of this product have decided that their target demographic is people who can't count to five.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:50 PM


So I blew a gasket or two on Twitter last night concerning yesterday's Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, which you are no doubt sick of hearing about.

I have no problem with Chick-Fil-A.  As was oft pointed out yesterday, if you want to avoid the social policy misdeeds of corporations, best to avoid corporations altogether.  Yeah, I think Chick-Fil-A is vile, in that way that Conservative Christians tend to (unwittingly) be, stuck in an echo chamber where the worst intentions are clothed in the Bible.  But, hell, the US Chamber of Commerce is guilty of worse than donating to NOM, so try not to read the roster of that one.

But what chuffs me, terminally, is the unbridled glee with which the bigots waddle out to eat their chicken.  "Freedom of speech," they say, or, "Freedom of religion," say the more honest ones.  And they bring their kids, and they eat there three times that day, and they talk to the TV reporters about how it's a proud day for America, etc. etc.  It's a Moment!  They'll show those special interest groups!  And it's just unalloyed bigotry is what it is, and these folk who are presumably good in some way are absolutely shameless about it.

It's enraging.  And saddening.  And you don't know whether to rail, rail against Americans and how ignorant and privileged they are or to turn off the internet forever.

But I am clear on this: the professional commentators on the right that are so cheered by yesterday?  And not so much the radio dudes—they are monsters unto themselves—more the contributors to the Corner, them?  That is some super, SUPER cynical shit right there, as they as much a Tea Party target as anyone else.  They are too clever by half, and moral opportunists.  You don't get to be an egghead and a ham'n'egger at the same time, at least not in those quarters.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:57 AM

July 31, 2012

for-profit colleges and taxpayer money

Here's another story lost in the shuffle: yesterday, Senate Democrats released a report on the for-profit college industry, and it should set your hair on fire.  Some highlights (from an NY Times article concerning the same:
According to the report, which was posted online in advance, taxpayers spent $32 billion in the most recent year on companies that operate for-profit colleges, but the majority of students they enroll leave without a degree, half of those within four months...

Enrolling students, and getting their federal financial aid, is the heart of the business, and in 2010, the report found, the colleges studied had a total of 32,496 recruiters, compared with 3,512 career-services staff members.

Among the 30 companies, an average of 22.4 percent of revenue went to marketing and recruiting, 19.4 percent to profits and 17.7 percent to instruction.

Their chief executive officers were paid an average of $7.3 million, although Robert S. Silberman, the chief executive of Strayer Education, made $41 million in 2009, including stock options.

And when they talk about "getting the federal aid," that's the crux of the scam.  For-profits enroll anything that moves, set the tuition at approximately the Stafford load levels, and then rake in the cash.  Quality of instruction?  Job placement?  Afterthoughts, because the cash is already raked.

And why isn't this a consensus, across-the-aisle issue?

With the Department of Education seeking new regulations to ensure that for-profit programs provide training for “gainful employment,” the companies examined spent $8 million on lobbying in 2010, and another $8 million in the first nine months of 2011.

Read it it; tell your friends, and if you're still interested, I can recommend this (long) examination by Maria Bustillos, who knows how to worry a bone when she finds one.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:56 PM

July 30, 2012

romney donors meet with netanyahu aide

Further to this news of Mitt Romney raising money in Israel, let's unpack this a bit.  Story is that Mitt Romney, having never held federal office, is taking a three-nation tour to "burnish his foreign policy credentials.

Now I have a fundamental problem with that, inasmuch as I don't understand how such a trip is a credential-burnisher.  What Romney said in Jerusalem wasn't much different that what he says on the campaign trail (other than the bit where he compares the GDPs of Israel and the Occupied Territories, which is a vicious little bit of specious).  So no point for that.  And no points for becoming the most derided man in Great Britain (not even for degree of difficulty).  The only thing being burnished is the fact that Romney is the putative nominee.  Like, the optics, of standing in front of 10 Downing Street, or getting huggy with PM Netanyahu, those only happen because he's the presumptive nominee.  It's custom.  Sure, it may burnish something, but had Sarah Palin undertaken such a tour four years ago, everyone would have to stand around and smile with her too.

However, there is this anonymously-sourced tidbit:

A group of donors also met with a top aide to Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, one donor said on the condition of anonymity to discuss private meetings.

Now these foreign-soil fundraisers are not so controversial—citizens only, no foreign cash.  But on the other hand, not being an expert in campaign finance law, to gain access to bigwigs in a foreign government as reward for fund-raising, that smells a little fishy, no?  And both for the campaign and for relations with Israel, who seem to have interceded in our election.

Someone should be running with this.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:17 AM