Saturday, December 04, 2004

How Low Can You Go?

Retailers are panicking as shoppers flee high-ticket items like administration officials fleeing the cabinet.

America's merchants, shocked by a mediocre post-Thanksgiving weekend, are rushing to mark down their merchandise - way before the majority of holiday shoppers have even seen it.

At the beginning of November, merchants had reduced prices on 5 percent fewer of their goods than last year, according to John D. Morris, a retail analyst with Harris Nesbitt who keeps an annual holiday markdown index. "There's been a complete about-face," he said yesterday, speaking from the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, N.J. "By the end of Sunday, markdowns were 5 percent higher than last year - and judging by what I see tonight, that figure is accelerating."

At the start of November, "everything was coming up roses," he added, "and suddenly there's a foul smell in the air."

I wonder why. Could it be that at least half of the nation saw hope in an electorate seemingly poised to do an about-face and take a step in the right direction, when suddenly millions of Christians crawled out of their Jesus huts and reminded we sinners that the state of the union rests not on a sound economy or strong defense, but on not allowing the gays to marry, damn it?

After the numbers from Thanksgiving weekend were counted, retailers realized that shoppers bought only what was drastically discounted. "They didn't buy the whole store," said Burt Flickinger III, managing director of the Strategic Resource Group in New York. "Now, to stimulate the consumer, the stores must go broader and deeper." In the last few days, repeat shoppers at a wide variety of stores - from Restoration Hardware to J. C. Penney - have been deluged with e-mail messages offering friends-and-family coupons for as much as 40 percent off this weekend. Department stores like Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale's are already running supersales, their racks dotted with signs proclaiming 20 to 40 percent discounts.


Ahead of the holidays, most retailers said they would be able to hold the line on prices because they had spent the last two years slimming excess inventory. But they have apparently guessed wrong, worrying that they will be left with too much stock in January.

The question is whether these merchants will succeed in time for the holidays.

Mr. Flickinger said he thought there was still time, though not much, for the merchants to end up happy with their holiday receipts. "They only have 5 to 10 days to turn it around or it'll be too late," he said. The way to do this, he said, is to advertise, he said. "They should be advertising in four-color supplements and on drive-time radio."

He added, "The ones that discount the deepest, the fastest will have the most success."
Wal-Mart stumbled, he said, "because although they were selling fondue sets for $4.77, when they should have been offering deeper deals on digital cameras and flat screen TV's."

Ms. Mager, at Goldman, Sachs, also said she thought time was running out.

"How much later can they respond?" she asked. "There's not much you can do to change the game plan now: the major promotions have been scheduled; the clothes are in the warehouses or the stores - the only thing you can change is the prices - and keep your fingers crossed."


Best. Poster. Ever.

The official Batman Begins poster is now online.


Friday, December 03, 2004

Bush Country

Record casualties in Iraq?


A mass exodus of cabinet members?


Another month of crappy job creation numbers?


A surprisingly soft 112,000 new U.S. jobs were created in November, the Labor Department said on Friday, casting a shadow across an already downbeat holiday sales season with consumers apparently worried by scarce work and high oil prices.

The November figure -- the weakest since July -- came in well below Wall Street economists' forecasts for 180,000 new jobs, though the unemployment rate eased to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in October.

In a further sign the labor market is improving only slowly, the Labor Department lowered its estimates for job growth in both September and October.

October's gain was marked down to 303,000 from an originally reported 337,000-job increase. The department cut September's total to 119,000 from 139,000.

The battered U.S. dollar came under renewed pressure immediately after the jobs data, losing more ground against the euro.


Extra Values Meal (Supersize The Anti-Gay Sentiments Please)

Their values are, obviously, holier than ours.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Here in America’s heartland, LeAnne, a stay-at-home mom, has taken down the colorful gay-pride windsock that once flew from her front stoop.

Elsewhere in Kansas, a public school administrator has fresh worries about being fired despite 19 years of tenure.

And a veteran fundraiser for a religious charity in Missouri fears a backlash if anyone found out she was raising two children with another woman.

This is life in Middle America a month after the Nov. 2 presidential election, when millions supporting “moral values” turned out to ban same-sex unions in 11 states and back a president who made opposition to gay marriage part of his platform.


Thursday, December 02, 2004

Extra Values Meal #2

Digby -- toward the end of a longer post discussing moral values, which you should all read -- posts this article.

African-American babies are going to parents overseas even as US couples adopt children from other countries. Adrian, Emma, and Elisa have more in common than their charm and being the apple of their parents' eyes. All are black children born in the United States and adopted as infants by parents in other countries.

They also are representatives of a little-known trend: At the same time the US is "importing" increasing numbers of adoptive children from Russia, China, and Guatemala, it is "exporting" black babies to be adopted in other countries.


The majority of [american] couples seeking to adopt are white, but there aren't nearly enough Caucasian babies available in the US to meet the demand. Although exceptions certainly exist, American parents generally prefer babies to toddlers, girls to boys, and Caucasians to African-Americans, adoption professionals report. Other ethnicities fall in between, depending on their skin color. African-American boys are at the bottom of this "ranking" system, they say, which is why they're harder to place.

"We have to work much harder to find homes for our African-American babies," says Robert Springer of Christian Homes, an adoption agency in Texas.

No one is equating babies with commodities, but the principles of supply and demand apply. Adoption costs and waiting times in the US vary depending on a baby's ranking in the "desirability list."

The children who are in the greatest demand are also in the shortest supply. Those who want to adopt healthy white babies in the US may wait as long as five years, agencies say. In contrast, they add, the waiting for African-Americans is often measured in weeks and months, especially for baby boys.

Yes, we Americans, we of the moral authority, would rather import a child from another country than adopt one of those *audible gasp* negro children. Perish the thought! I feel scandalized just thinking about it... Where's my medication?


Governing From The Middle

This began with the Republican Congress in 1999 and has spiraled out of control ever since. At the current rate, our future leaders will soon be learning that headaches are the result of the small troll, which lives in their brains, becoming agitated.

Many American youngsters participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals "can result in pregnancy," a congressional staff analysis has found.


Among the misconceptions cited by Waxman's investigators:

• A 43-day-old fetus is a "thinking person."

• HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears.

• Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.

One curriculum, called "Me, My World, My Future," teaches that women who have an abortion "are more prone to suicide" and that as many as 10 percent of them become sterile. This contradicts the 2001 edition of a standard obstetrics textbook that says fertility is not affected by elective abortion, the Waxman report said.


President Bush has enthusiastically backed the movement, proposing to spend $270 million on abstinence projects in 2005. Congress reduced that to about $168 million, bringing total abstinence funding to nearly $900 million over five years. It does not appear that the abstinence-only curricula are being taught in the Washington area.


Some course materials cited in Waxman's report present as scientific fact notions about a man's need for "admiration" and "sexual fulfillment" compared with a woman's need for "financial support." One book in the "Choosing Best" series tells the story of a knight who married a village maiden instead of the princess because the princess offered so many tips on slaying the local dragon. "Moral of the story," notes the popular text: "Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess."

Moral of the story: "Boys love a whore, but they marry a housewife."


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Extra Values Meal


An Alabama lawmaker who sought to ban gay marriages now wants to ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university libraries.

A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, would prohibit the use of public funds for "the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the "homosexual agenda."

"Our culture, how we know it today, is under attack from every angle," Allen said in a press conference Tuesday.

Allen said that if his bill passes, novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed.

"I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them," he said.


New Record

Even more great news from the war front, as November proves to be
a record-setting month of the worst kind. We are now losing men at a faster pace than at any previous point in the war; I've said it before and I'll say again: any able-bodied 18-45 year-old who voted Bush needs to either get their ass over to Iraq post-haste, or go purchase a nice T-shirt with the word "coward" emblazoned on the front. Period. Support your cause. Be a man.

"Ha! This current crop of Republicans
seems scarcely fit enough to join the
Puff Riders, let alone the Rough Riders.
Why, I reckon that while I was blowing
away unscrupulous Spaniards on San Juan Hill,
you gents would have been preferred to be at
home suckling from your mother's teet."

"Don't listen to him guys, it's totally
cool -- I'm a coward too."


Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Devil With A Blue Dress...

From The Washington Post.

With the three Cabinet replacements Bush has announced so far for his second term, he kept his circle tight by dispatching White House staff members to take over the State, Justice and Education departments. Aides said many other such moves will be announced, because Bush and senior adviser Karl Rove are determined to "implant their DNA throughout the government," as one official put it.

There's a killer Bill Clinton joke somewhere in there.



Great news from the war-front, where -- according to the AP -- we are two military casualties away from November being the most deadly month thus far for US soldiers in Iraq.

Just remember, the Fallujah offensive -- which served as the catalyst for this latest round of violence -- should have occurred in October, but we have a coward for President who was more concerned with his re-election than sound military strategy.


Monday, November 29, 2004

Support My Idiocy

Boy, this is lovely. Via Digby, we learn that some douchebag has created a T-shirt celebrating the Marine who shot a wounded, unarmed insurgent inside a Fallujah mosque.

Support our Marine

The Marine who killed the wounded insurgent in Fallujah deserves our praise and admiration. In a split second decision, he acted valiantly.

On the otherhand, Kevin Sites of NBC is a traitor. Beheading civilians, booby-trapped bodies, suicide bombers?? Sorry hippie, American lives come first. Terrorists don't deserve the benefit of the doubt. This Marine deserves a medal and Kevin Sites, you deserve a punch in the mouth.

Printed on high quality superheavyweight, preshrunk cotton (6.1oz)

Now, I support and sympathize with this soldier in that a) he had been shot in the face the day before; and b) it's the fault of our civilian leadership that a sufficient troop level in Iraq has yet to be reached, therefore a Marine who had been shot in the face has to be sent back out on patrol the next day. However, how can anyone describe his actions as valiant?

The jackass producing these shirts has accomplished nothing but to cheapen the actions of every soldier who earned a medal for true courage and heroism on the battlefield.


Why Did They Beat Me?

Via Atrios, this is a Matthew Gross post comparing the Democrats to abused wives. It's spot on.

The answer is quite simple. They beat us because they are abusers. We can call it hate. We can call it fear. We can say it is unfair. But we are looped into the cycle of violence, and we need to start calling the dominating side what they are: abusive. And we need to recognize that we are the victims of verbal, mental, and even, in the case of Iraq, physical violence.

As victims we can’t stop asking ourselves what we did wrong. We can’t seem to grasp that they will keep hitting us and beating us as long as we keep sticking around and asking ourselves what we are doing to deserve the beating.

Listen to George Bush say that the will of God excuses his behavior. Listen, as he refuses to take responsibility, or express remorse, or even once, admit a mistake. Watch him strut, and tell us that he will only work with those who agree with him, and that each of us is only allowed one question (soon, it will be none at all; abusers hit hard when questioned; the press corps can tell you that). See him surround himself with only those who pledge oaths of allegiance. Hear him tell us that if we will only listen and do as he says and agree with his every utterance, all will go well for us (it won’t; we will never be worthy).

And watch the Democratic Party leadership walk on eggshells, try to meet him, please him, wash the windows better, get out that spot, distance themselves from gays and civil rights. See them cry for the attention and affection and approval of the President and his followers. Watch us squirm. Watch us descend into a world of crazy-making, where logic does not work and the other side tells us we are nuts when we rely on facts. A world where, worst of all, we begin to believe we are crazy.

The whole thing is well-worth reading.


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Walking The Line
with Dr. Victor Von Doom

"I must prepare a helpless humanity for the coming of DOOM!"

Bah! Bah! Bah! Doom returns from another accursed 1-2 week stuffed full of plump Thanksgiving bird and vowing nothing less than perfection.

The phrase "beating a dead horse" was coined by Doom after, ironically, Doom beat not a dead horse, but a dead foe until the man looked like a horse. Such it is with the awful Washington Redskins, Doom will continue to pick this horrid team as long as Vegas continues to give Doom an astonishing amount of points; Washington is bound to cover a spread eventually.

Reed Richards is a jerk. The highlight of the illustrious career of Doom involved dumping a vat of super-glue on Richards and his blasted wife, The Invisible Woman. It was a brilliant scheme, foiled only by the mentally-challenged Thing and the even-dumber Human Torch; both of whom -- upon saving Richards and his woman -- celebrated like a pair of star-crossed lovers. By the way, take San Diego with the points.

A little known fact about Doom is that Doom loves dolphins and, indeed, owns several. The dolphins live in a large, well-maintained tank beneath Doom's Latverian castle, which is staffed by various marine biologists who have been kidnapped from the top aquariums of the world. The dolphins perform at least one show a day, just for Doom, and -- after a long battle with Thor, or the accursed Richards -- Doom likes nothing better than settling into the grandstands with a big tub of popcorn and watching his treasured mammals. Take Miami in this pick 'em game.