Russians use insane squirrel as mascot for anti-alcohol campaign

Trying to get Russians to stop drinking is one of the few things more doomed to failure than trying to get The Cubs to win the The World Series. Still, in both cases, you have to try – right? The Russians have purposefully turned this job over to one of the least appealing mascots ever – an insane squirrel with a terrifying case of mange. This is not as bizarre as it sounds. According to The Telegraph:

In Russian slang, delirium tremens, the moment of inebriation when people start to get the shakes and to hallucinate, is known as “belochka” or “a little squirrel.” The squirrel in the video, who is red-eyed and bedraggled, is therefore shown ranting, singing, and delivering a nonsensical monologue.

That’s kind of how I imagine Glenn Beck is when he first gets out of bed.

He talks about “chasing spiders up the walls” and finishes up by offering to kill his neighbour’s wife because she is “the devil.” “Are you a boozer?” the deranged squirrel asks in the finale. “Then I am coming around to your place.”

Just replace “spiders” with “Nazis” and “his Neighbor’s wife” with “Democrats,” and it’s practically a transcript of Mr. Beck’s show.

Demon squirrel wants you!

To say Russia has a severe problem with alcoholism is to dangerously understate the case

Alcohol is to Russians what coals are to Newcastle. Russians drink more than 32 pints of pure alcohol per capita per year, more than double the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum. During the Cold War, the Soviet Army was constantly having to guard against its soldiers drinking the brake fluid from vehicles. In his great book Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of The Soviet Empire, David Remnick expressed his total amazement at a Soviet general being sacked for drunkenness this way: “I’m not sure it is possible to describe just how hard it is to acquire a reputation as a drunk in Russia.” At the start of World War I, Czar Nicholas threw a bone to the serfs and got rid of the government tax on vodka. This cut the government’s budget in half.

This ad campaign follows a decision to reduce the amount of alcohol permissible in motorists’ blood to 0 and the introduction of a minimum price for a half-litre bottle of vodka of 89 roubles ($2.80). To put the price issue into context consider that a Russian airline pilot has a net average monthly salary of $864 and a bus driver nets $242.

It also suggests the Russian economy is doing better. In November 2008 stockpiles of Russia’s national drink were six times higher at the start of the month than the same time a year ago because factories were producing vodka faster than they could sell it.

“States consider drug tests for welfare recipients” — does this includes bankers?

“It’s not against the law to be poor in the U.S. but it might as well be.”

I read that somewhere once and wish I could remember where. It came immediately to mind when I read the following:

Lawmakers in at least eight states want recipients of food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare to submit to random drug testing.

We seem to have a fondness for humiliating the poor in this nation. If you say “tax the rich” you get accused of class warfare. However no one raises much of a fuss if you want to impose some draconion requirement on those with the least.

Not sure how many people understand a basic fact of life: People do not like being on food stamps, unemployment or welfare. I speak with experience about being on unemployment. It is embarrassing to not be able to provide for yourself and, even worse, for your family. Now in case that wasn’t enough, states are starting to ask these folks to pee in a cup periodically to prove they are worthy of recieving the help they need to feed themselves.

“Nobody’s being forced into these assistance programs,” said Craig Blair, a Republican in the West Virginia Legislature who has created a Web site … that bears a bobble-headed likeness of himself advocating this position. “If so many jobs require random drug tests these days, why not these benefits?”

“Nobody’s being forced into these assistance programs”? Well, none of my friends are going willingly to them that’s for sure.

And yet we don’t ask the same of people who are being given billions of dollars to bailout companies they screwed up in the first place. Let me ask you a question: Which one of these groups is more likely to be able to afford drugs? Nevermind all those caps on executive compensation — I would be content if I knew the board and/or senior execs at any company getting federal bailout funds would have to submit to random drug testing for as long as they owed the government money. That would end the car companies’ begging in a hurry.

So if you’re a bankrupt bank — here’s a check. If you’re a bankrupt person — here’s a cup?

I am all in favor of people not being addicted to anything. Addiction is an ugly, destructive thing — whether that addiction is to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or whatever. However — as any doctor will tell you — this is a medical issue, not a moral one. So Mr. Blair and company are willing to disqualify people from getting assistance if they have this medical issue — however there is no mention of providing health care to deal with that medical issue.

Meanwhile Jamie Dimon (CEO of JP Morgan who makes $18M annually and whose company has recieved $25B in taxpayer funds) and his ilk complain about “the constant vilification of corporate America.”

Which would you rather be: villified and rich or villified and starving?