Archive | September, 2008

McDonald’s McCafe an Election Indicator

30 Sep

McDonald restaurants from coast to coast are introducing a McCafe line of espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes.  The McCafes are already active in 2500 McDonald’s, with over 14,000 units expected to serve them by the middle of 2009.  McDonald’s main purpose here is to add to their bottom line, but the willingness to expand into this market segment reveals a significant perceived shift in American society.  McDonald’s knows Red State America like no one else, making this move a key indicator in the 2008 Presidential Election. 

Twenty-five years ago the only people in the US drinking cappuccinos, espressos, and lattes lived in Seattle, Los Angeles, and the Northeast Corridor.  They were poets, gays, displaced Europeans, Ivy League elites, and girls whose Dads had sent them to Nice for the summer.  Things changed when Starbucks burst onto the national scene in the 1990’s, becoming the purveyor of foamy coffee, Italian slang, and alternative, non-threatening music.   Whether due to marketing, good coffee, or stratospheric sugar content, many Americans started drinking Starbucks-type concoctions.  In the third quarter of 2008, Starbucks sold over 2.0 billion dollars worth of coffee in the United States.  Those sales can’t have come in Blue States alone.

Naturally, McDonald’s wants a piece of the action.  It’s clear that the 29 billion-in-annual-US-sales behemouth has determined that the citizens of Wichita, Missoula, Gary, Little Rock, Davenport, and Cheyenne are ready to abandon their Chock Full o’Nuts tin cans for a McCafe Hazlenut Iced Latte.  If the mindset that governs our heartland’s most important drink of the day can be altered, then the thought process with which Americans choose their President can also evolve.

This mid-American transformation will extend right into the 2008 election.  McDonald’s is certain that their customer base (not exactly your Northeastern Liberal Elite Obama-types) will drink these foofy mega-coffees.  The Hangover is equally sure that this means the Red Staters are ready to expand their range of political thought.  Typical Republican scare tactics will fall short and “change” will rule.  Obama will carry some traditional Republican states and win.  McDonald’s tell us so.

The World of Commander McCain

27 Sep

In September 26th’s Presidential Debate, Republican hopeful John McCain often touted his vast experience in both domestic and foreign affairs.  McCain entered politics in 1981, when he retired from the Navy.  According to his talking points, the Senator was heavily involved in many of the most critical American political actions of the past 25-plus years.  And if that’s the case (who would doubt this man of honor?), why haven’t things turned out better for the United States?

Early on in the debate, McCain stated, ” We Republicans came to power to change government, and government changed us.”  He later added, It (meaning the money laden system of politics in Washington) corrupts people.”   This is one arena where McCain knows of which he speaks.  He was one of the infamous Keating Five:  A group of Senators found wielding influence for Charles Keating, director of the corrupt Lincoln Savings and Loan (There’s that deregulation, greed, and collapse formula again).  After receiving more than $100, 000 of Keating’s ill-earned dollars in campaign funds, as well as stays at Keating’s Bahamian vacation home, McCain attended hearings with federal regulators on behalf of Keating.  In the words of the Seattle Times, this placed McCain (and the entire group) “under an ethical cloud for years.”  It also led to McCain being found guilty by the Senate Ethics Committee of “using poor judgement” in acting on Keating’s behalf.  The incident does prove that McCain can work across the aisle–the other four members of the Keating Five were Democrats.  The Hangover is puzzled as to why that wasn’t featured in McCain’s considerable self portrait last night.

McCain did manage to mention that he’s been to Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Pakistan, Georgia (the country) and New Hampshire (the state).  He also boasted of meeting with Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Misha Saakashvili, and General Patraeus.  He looked into the eyes of Vladimir Putin and saw “a K, a G and a B”  Perhaps McCain was drunk at the time.  Just about the only thing McCain hasn’t done is kept track of how many houses he owns.

Through connections in Washington DC, The Hangover has gained access to a video of McCain actually taking on terrorists in New York City.  Only great modesty must have prevented McCain from sharing these exploits with the American People:

Deregulation+Capitalism+Socialism =Economic Herpes

24 Sep

Anyone who owns a television, radio, or computer now knows that the taxpayers of the United States are about to become the de-facto owners of one of the world’s largest insurance companies, AIG.  The US is also currently subsidizing the airline, oil, agriculture, banking, and finance industries.  Media talking heads and politicians are claiming this is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  Back then, FDR bailed out the country by thinking from the bottom up.  Now, our leaders are approaching the problem from the top down.  Which is just the kind of thinking that got us in this mess to begin with, starting with Comrade Reagan’s deregulation of the Savings and Loan industry back in the 1980’s.  A direct line can be drawn from there to the socialism the US is employing today to save our staggering economy. 

Roosevelt’s New Deal dealt with the Great Depression by offering relief and creating jobs for out of work Americans–the regular people, in other words.   Money was given to states and local municipalities to distribute in the form of aid to those same people.  The government also became involved in planning with industrial, agriculture, financial, and transportation sectors of the economy.   What basically became a managed economy survived and prospered.  Roosevelt’s plan worked, as history shows.

But now we are going to take a different approach.   We (as in the American government, spending our tax dollars) are going to pop 700 billion to save the financial industries.  We’ve loaned AIG , a company now under investigation by the FBI, 85 billion.  Even with a change in leadership at Freddie Mac or AIG, it’s “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’   It’s a curious approach–and seemingly un-American, as capitalism should operate as a meritocracy.  If you do well, you profit.  If you lose, you’re out. 

But that all changed in 1980’s when Comrade HW Bush engineered a bailout of a deregulated Savings and Loan Industry.  According to the GAO, that bailout cost half a trillion dollars, of which more than 130 billion was taxpayer funded.   It also provided today’s generation of CEO”s with a blueprint:  “If you run a deregulated industry,  your mission is to haul as much money out of it as you can.  If you cut some corners or take some chances and the wheels come off, so be it.  Your Uncle Sam will make it all better.  The worst that can happen is you get sent to your mansion for a five month time out.”  

A favorite of Republican economists and Presidents, deregulation is at the root of our economic herpes (Let’s face it; our “issues” might be eased, but they’ll always be subject to outbreaks).  Unfortunately, a deregged industry always collapses under the greed of those running it.  Look no further Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, AIG, and the old Savings and Loans. 

Of course, there are exceptions.  Deregulation of energy speculation has made gazillions for the oil companies and their lackeys.  And that sector just keeps chugging along.  It also allows you and me the privilege of paying $4.00 a gallon for gas. 

There’s no doubt that the Republicans are capitalists at heart.  Give them credit:  Their ethos of deregulation and bailout has raised America to new heights.  The United States will soon become the greatest Socialist country on the face of the earth.

Obama Just Says No to Lindsay Lohan

18 Sep

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the Obama campaign has turned down Lindsay Lohan’s offer to host events for young voters and go on the stump for Barack.  It appears that the actress’s past troubles with alcohol and drugs have scared off the campaign.  Sure, she’s been arrested for drunken driving and cocaine possession, and she’s done a stint in rehab.  But all that makes her is an icon for those in the 18-25 year old demographic–and a perfect ambassador for Obama. 

In case you haven’t noticed, people aged 18-25 like to do drugs and drink alcohol.  That’s why they often go to college.  They also can vote, and in an election expected to be close, their votes could make the difference.   Survey results from the Department of Health and Human services found that nationally in a particular month, approximately 40.1% of those in the 18-25 demographic used illicit drugs (6.5 million people).  Approximately 50% of those 18-20 used alcohol, while 68% of those 21-25 also drank (19 million people).  Even if you consider that a good portion of those using drugs probably did so with a cocktail in their hand, that’s still a considerable number of potential votes.  And Lindsay Lohan is just the starlet who can reel them in.
Key to the "Party Vote."

Lindsay Lohan: Key to the "Party Vote"

Taking an overview, it’s likely that some 18-to-25ers are probably intending to cast their ballots anyway.   But there are others, ones who are too stoned to watch the news but just cognizant enough to ferret out Entertainment Tonight or TMZ.  Here’s the scenario:  Inbetween lines, tokes, or mojitos, the youthful party animal catches the stunning Lohan in a little black dress; she’s saying how much the country and especially their generation needs Obama.  A thought rises as the endorphins fire:  “Hey, if Lindsay’s for this guy, then he’s got to be cool and I might as well vote for the dude.  Worse comes to worse, I can hit the booth and pick up a 12 pack of Bud Light Lime and an eight ball on the way home.”  This could play out in every state in the nation, and those voters could tip the scales in favor of Obama.   If you don’t think “the party vote” would have carried Florida for Al Gore in 2000, then you’ve never seen Miami Vice.  
Mr. Obama, ignore your advisors and get Lindsay Lohan on the phone.  Put her to work for you.  She’s the key to votes that could win you this election, even if she can’t walk a straight line at 3:00 in the morning.

Handicapping the Presidential Race

15 Sep

With 50 days to go before the election, the race for President remains hotly contested–and close.  Sure, you could bury yourself in MSNBC, CNN, and Fox for a non-stop slew of reporting on likely scenarios and probabilities of victory.  But there are analysts out there much sharper than the political pundits.  They’re the guys running the sports books.  Yes, ironically, you can actually gamble on the Presidential Election.

For those of you faint-at-heart or honest or sheltered, a sportsbook is a place that establishes odds and takes bets on various sporting contests.  It’s a big business, estimated at over $200 billion dollars annually across the planet, with the Super Bowl accounting for $7 billion in just one day.  The analysis that goes into establishing odds is no less intense (while probably being done more scrupulously) than what takes place on Wall Street.

A survey of three major online sports books reveals that Obama is a clear favorite:  Obama -150, McCain -110  (To win $100, one must bet $150 on Obama or $110 on McCain.)  Obama -130, McCain -110.     (To win $100, one must bet $130 on Obama or $110 on McCain.)  Obama -145, McCain +105  (To win $100, one must bet $145 on Obama and a $100 bet on McCain will bring in $105).

Odds are established so that an equal number of dollars are wagered on each side.  The sports book makes their money off of the vigorish–the gap between the two propositions.  The higher wager cost on Obama tells us that more people (their dollars, anyway) are betting on him to win.  By raising those odds, the bookmakers are hoping to slow down the action on that proposition, while encouraging people to go to McCain for a better payout. 

What the bookmakers are analysing here are the betting habits of Americans, not how economic issues may play out in Ohio or Sarah Palin’s cleavage will effect the voters of Florida.   They are revealing that “more people likely to gamble on a Presidential Election” think Obama will win.  Whether these “degenerates” are betting with their hearts or have spent the past three months sifting through historical voting data and current opinion polls cannot be known.  The Hangover just hopes that they are right.  My money–and yours, if you’re in the bottom 95% of income earners in America–is riding on it.

Sarah Palin’s Banned Books

8 Sep

The media frenzy surrounding reports of Sarah Palin’s attempt to ban books from the Wasilla Public Library is somewhat off the mark.  On becoming mayor of the thriving Alaskan metropolis in 1996, she did not attempt to ban specific books from the town library.  She simply inquired with the librarian about how she would react if Palin did attempt to ban books.  It was a rhetorical question, Palin claimed, according to the Mat Su Valley Frontiersman.  This puts the Hangover at ease.  Luckily for those left wing advocates of free speech, Library Director Mary Ellen Emmons actually had a backbone (not to mention respect for the Constitution) and symbolically told Palin to take a long walk off a short iceberg. 

The good news is that if the McCain-Palin ticket is elected, the nation will enjoy some consistency in the Vice Presidential positition.  If one of Palin’s first acts as mayor is to determine what level of censorship she could wield in her position, she’ll feel very comfortable behind Dick Cheney’s desk.  He doesn’t believe we know what’s good for us, either.   It’s certainly reassuring to have such honest, god-fearing leaders to do our thinking for us.  The Hangover would hate to waste time reading books and following government, especially with the season premiere of Desperate Housewives only weeks away.

This being something of a literary site, The Hangover had to wonder just what books Palin was hoping to strike from the library.   Consdier me cynical, but there had to be some specific targets.  To determine what works these might be, we scanned the list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 and tried to discern which qualified for her lets-get-rid-of-them platform.

The Hangover immediately eliminated the following from Palin’s agenda:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Little Black Sambo, and Native Son:  How many African-Americans can there be in Wasilla?

Sex (by Madonna), Sex Education, Girls and Sex, Women on Top, Boys and Sex, What’s Happening to my Body, Asking About Sex and Growing Up:  With all the kids they’re popping out up there in Wasilla, I don’t think sex was a worrisome issue for Palin.    Apparently, they’re good at it.

Brave New World, Of MIce and Men, The Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies:  These books are only read by eastern and urban elites who vote Democrat.  No one in Alaska would be caught dead with any of them.

Slaughterhouse Five, The Dead Zone, Tiger Eyes, To Kill a Mockingbird, Cujo, Scary Stories, The Goats, The Pigman:  With the hunting and outdoor sporting culture in Alaska, anything involving possible game and/or killing of possible game has to be considered acceptable reading.

All poetry could be considered safe:  No one reads it anyway, outside of the beret-wearing fops in New York and San Francisco.

To be honest, The Hangover had never heard of many of the books on the list.  And if we’ve never heard of them, it’s probably safe to assume that a busy hockey mom and Mayor like Palin never did either.  That takes care of another eighty.

Palin’s Possible Targets:

By process of elimination, The Hangover concludes that Palin had two particular volumes which she wished to eradicate from the Wasilla Public Library’s shelves:

  1. Private Parts by Howard Stern.  Howard is one of those northeastern liberal intellectuals.  And he has a potty mouth.  And he is one of America’s strongest advocates of free speech.  You can’t have that kind of thinking threatening the way of life in Alaska.
  2. The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling.  If Wasilla’s children became engrossed in reading about the fantasy world of wizards, puny English kids, Cheney Voldemort, Dumbledore, and Harry, they wouldn’t have time to play hockey, babysit their many siblings, and have underage, unprotected sex.  

The country owes a debt of gratitude to Library Director Ellen Emmons.  Censorship is defeated.  And because of that, The Hangover’s dream is alive–hoping to one day author a book that will vie for consideration on the 2010-2020 list of Most Frequently Challenged. 

What?  Who wants this blog shut down?

McCain’s Speech – Almost Famous

5 Sep

John McCain’s acceptance speech was to be a highlight of the Republican National Convention.  Let’s face it, the man has experience to draw from: Five years in a Vietmanese prison camp to the Keating Five to his 2000 campaign being sunk by a Bush-Rove dirty torpedo to not knowing how many houses he owns.  But he finally got what he wanted, a chance to be President.  One would figure he’d have a lot to say, but it wouldn’t necessarily be easy.

He had to follow Sarah Palin.  The pundits were thrilled by her preformance Wednesday night when she gave a riveting and engaging speech.  Hopefully, the folks at Fox were able to save their wool suits by borrowing the druel buckets the talking heads at MSNBC used during Obama’s acceptance at the DNC.  That people were surprised by Palin strikes the Hangover as being foolish, if not sexist.  Just because the woman is attractive, Americans shouldn’t assume she is incapable of stringing together a few sentences.  After all, she is a former sportscaster and current governor.  Did they expect her to sound like a go-go dancer after one too many midnight happy hours?  But I digress.

While waiting for McCain’s speech, I happened to catch the beginning of Almost Famous on one of the numerous HBO stations populating Time Warner cable.  After five minutes, there wasn’t even a decision to be made.  I could watch a four-star depiction of a budding journalist in a rock and roll setting with numerous three-dimensional characters, or I could listen to a politician spouting the same lines he’s been treading out since this campaign really started back in, what, 1988?  If one doesn’t know who John McCain is and what he stands for by now, those are the people who shouldn’t be allowed a vote. 

The Hangover didn’t need to hear that speech, not when presented with such an alternative.  The characters in the film, William Miller, the members of the fictional Stillwater, Penny Lane, Elaine Miller, etc.., were more real than anyone speaking at or covering the convention–which when you boil it down, is nothing more than a week long political advertisement. 

There’s a scene in the movie when guitar hero Russell Hammond (Billy Cruddup) is tripping on acid, standing on the roof of a garage, proclaiming, “I am a Golden God.”  The moment offers a profound lack of false modesty, which surely fouled the air in Minneapolis.   As Hammond then contemplates jumping and his possible last words, he settles on “I’m on Drugs.”  Fitting, again.  One, because in the world of the film, it is true, and two, because you’d have to be on drugs to believe that anyone you’ve seen at either of these conventions was as truthfuly portrayed as the characters in Almost Famous.   Judge for yourself: