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Dizzying Intellect » 2009» April

Give or Take a Zero or Three

This makes me sick. When Leona Helmsley died, she left her entire estate, worth roughly five billion dollars (that’s billion with a ‘b’), to dog-related charities, in her will.

While this makes me happy, being a dog-lover and avid animal shelter supporter, I don’t think it’s entirely normal. But she was “of sound mind and body,” she earned that money herself, and that’s what she wanted done with it.

Right.

Trustees of real estate baroness Leona Helmsley’s estate say they’re giving $136 million to charity - with just $1 million going to the dogs.

Helmsley’s estate announced its first round of charitable grants on Tuesday. The largest, $40 million, goes to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The majority goes to New York City hospitals and other health care systems across the country.

Helmsley’s estate distributed $1 million to 10 animal rights groups, including $100,000 to the ASPCA.

So, instead of all of it, her skeezy trustees are allowing her selected charities to have only 1/5000th of what she left them. That’s just disgusting.

The moral, I guess, is to tighten up your will to show exactly who gets what, dollar by dollar. And make sure your trustees aren’t sewer-dwelling scumbags. But who in the real world can afford to create a more airtight will than freaking Leona Helmsley?

Obligatory Cuteness

Yeah, ok, not exactly cuddly widdle fuzzy kittens. Two-toed sloth and flying fox, in fact. And yet bizarrely, adorably, hilarious — and potentially huggable if you ignore the claws.

Caption, if you like.

On the “Fringe”

Oh, Meghan, Meghan, Meghan. I do not understand why this girl is still talking.

[B]etween you and me, many of the people in this business tend to take themselves entirely too seriously. I wanted to break out of that.

I am concerned about the environment. I love to wear black. I think government is best when it stays out of people’s lives and business as much as possible. I love punk rock. I believe in a strong national defense. I have a tattoo. I believe government should always be efficient and accountable. I have lots of gay friends. And yes, I am a Republican.

You know, all of this describes me too. Except she apparently thinks it makes her so very, very unique. (I thought that too, once. When I was twelve.) I would guess that at least 15% of Republicans under age 50 fit this mold. Take out the (aware of) gay friends part and you’re up to about 25%.

But the rest of us aren’t asking the whole party to conform to our beliefs. We know we’re the outliers. And we also know that running a moderate as our leader doesn’t work — the moderate we ran last time (I believe Meghan may have met him once or twice) couldn’t even beat a man with ties to domestic terrorists and no leadership experience.

Asking the entire Republican party to be like us, that’s like being the only vegetarian invited to a party, and demanding that the entire menu be changed so that no one else can eat meat either.

It’s not just stupid, it’s rude.

Update: One last thing, she actually said “My hair stylist, Josh Rupley who is here tonight and a proud new member of the Log Cabin Republicans.” Come on, really? She couldn’t find anyone except her freaking hairstylist? You ponderous, stereotyping hag. Please stop trying to sound outré. You’re not helping.

[Cross-posted at the Green Room]

Operation Bark Alert

Governor Nixon held a press conference at the Humane Society last week on the success of Operation Bark Alert, the administration’s effort to crack down on substandard, illegal puppy mills in the state.

“In a short couple of months, since the initiation of Operation Bark Alert, the effort has already proven to be a great success. I’m happy to announce that through Operation Bark Alert, the state has facilitated the rescue or voluntary surrender, already this year, of more than 1300 individual dogs across our state. [applause] The majority of these dogs were found in bad shape, they were in substandard conditions, in facilities run by breeders without licenses. Many were sick, dirty and without proper veterinary care.

But because of enhanced efforts on the part of the Department of Agriculture, rescue agencies across the state like the Humane Society of Missouri, and engaged members of the community who provide tips, these dogs were removed and changed to better environments.”

Two weeks ago, 102 dogs (along with three chimps) were rescued from a single puppy mill in Daviess County, Missouri — mostly pocket dogs, like Yorkies, Chihuahuas, and toy Poodles. The Humane Society was allowed to take them, and they’re being rehabilitated and cared for.

Many times, these substandard puppy mill dogs have never seen or touched green grass. Never spent even a few hours outside of a two foot square metal crate, in their whole lives. They’ll be available for adoption beginning next week, and finally get good homes. Microdogs aren’t my thing, personally, but they adopt out like hotcakes, and these little guys have really suffered. They deserve great families, excessive spoiling, and lots of love.

I’m not always thrilled with Governor Nixon, and I’m still a little sore about him defending the tax refund delays, but this kind of thing goes a long way with me. Good work, sir.

Picking Hate Over Funny

I love (LOVE) Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. There was a time shen I considered it my favorite movie. It’s funny and campy and clever and adorable, and Adrienne Barbeau kicks so much ass.

So it’s personally crushing to me, to see what Bill Maher has devolved into. He has the ability to be so funny, but he chooses to just be angry and ugly and hateful instead. And it’s not because he opposes my personal beliefs, because I find Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert hilarious (most of the time).

Maher was in town performing last night — and the Post-Dispatch returns to its liberal roots, and treats him to their typical sycophantic slobberfest.

At the Fox Theatre on Thursday night, comedian Bill Maher imagined what his critics must say about him. “There goes Bill Maher, hating America first,” he said. “But I don’t hate America first. I have my coffee, burn an American flag, perform five abortions, and then I hate America.”

He was joking, of course.

Uh huh. The fact that he follows up later with a statement that Americans are so gullible that they believe “anything you write on the Internet is true if you don’t add LOL” kinda makes me question the hilarity of that observation.

Some of the lines quoted in the article are actually pretty funny, but of course a stand-up routine has to be presentable to a wide audience. Here’s what he sounds like when he’s not performing for Mr and Mrs Midwest:

– At the debate in New York with Coulter, he said that “if it wasn’t for the two coasts, this country would have been sold off to China thirty years ago” (But he loves you, St Louis!) and called Nancy Reagan “batshit crazy.”

– On Larry King, he said that America is “a stupid country with stupid people who don’t pay attention.”

– And last month, on his own show, Maher said “Can anybody tell me why in 2009, we still have more than 50,000 troops in Germany and 30,000 in Japan? At some point these people are going to have to learn to rape themselves.”

Yep. Hi. F’ing. Larious. No America hater, he.

Two-Seaters

I have mixed feelings about the airlines’ policies about making very overweight people buy two seats if they can’t reasonably fit into one.

On one hand, it’s embarrassing and degrading to the passenger, which doesn’t exactly score maximum points in the Great Customer Service Handbook. And different planes and airlines have different sized seats, so overweight passengers often wouldn’t know until flight time whether they’d fit or not. Whole vacation itineraries would be thrown off, connecting flights and cruises missed, by the off-chance that a second seat wasn’t available.

Ideally, there should be some way to know in advance, I guess. A website that showed the seat sizes of different aircrafts and their girth allowance. Less pain and awkwardness for all involved, which the airlines clearly don’t care about.

On the other hand, I was wedged in next to a 300+ pound man on Tuesday, on a plane barely bigger than a winnebago. And I swear by all that’s holy, he bathed in Old Spice that morning. I’m still getting over the migraine. So right this moment? Not quite as sympathetic as I might have been last week.

Borrowing Borrowers

So, like a few other states, Missouri’s delaying tax refunds. Nice.

Guess what? I noticed.

I’ve always gotten my federal and state tax refunds at the same time — usually on the same day, via automatic deposit — but not this year. And now I know it’s not just me.

Missouri has delayed tax refunds and quietly borrowed $325 million from its cash reserves in order to pay employees, public schools, hospitals and other bills.

So they’ve wasted the money that they borrowed from you and me, and now they have to borrow even more to pay the bills. Repaying the money that didn’t even belong to them in the first place? Not exactly their highest priority.

Gov. Jay Nixon’s director of budget and planning confirmed Monday that the delay in tax refunds and the borrowed money both were necessary for cash flow purposes.

The “director of budgeting and planning” is obviously lacking in natural ability to do either. Think they’ll find him a new job, or just a new title?

Although Nixon’s administration never publicized it, Missouri borrowed $175 million from its reserves in February and an additional $150 million in March, according to an April 2 cash flow analysis by Nixon’s Office of Administration labeled as an internal draft.

Missouri began its 2009 fiscal year last July with $557 million in its budget reserve fund. The state constitution allows money to be withdrawn from reserves for cash-flow purposes so long as it is repaid with interest before May 16.

And yet they still have to pay out our tax refunds. Think that $325 million is going to be paid back — with or without interest — by next month? Yeah, me neither. Wonder how they’re going to make up the difference. Let me guess.

The longer the state takes to process tax returns, the longer it earns interest on the money.

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

So I guess I won’t hold my breath, waiting.

Audience Participation

Just a head’s up, I’ve been asked to write for Hot Air’s Green Room. I KNOW. So you can look for me over there, but I’d also like to ask you to keep an eye out here, at least for a while, for anything that might be cross-postable. Or cross-postable with modifications.

See, I’m not sure exactly what they’re looking for yet. So far everything in the Green Room is almost purely political, and not much social commentary — which is more my forte, obviously. I know a lot of you read over there, so maybe you can help me find my place.

All of this implies, of course, that I’ll be writing more. We’ll see how that goes. Right now I have a meeting and then a metric assload of documentation to write. But I have about ten things in draft mode, so I’ll try to fit them in at lunch or something…

New one?

Seen this weekend:

Nice.

Observations

My favorite tweet from while I was gone (too late to reply now…)

girlarsonist - Warning sign #44 that you’re narcissistic: You name your dog after yourself. Case in point: BO. #tcot

True.