News Roundup for 4/30/10

Wild bird covered with oil
Much better than giving a fuck about your gas mileage

-Headline of the day-
"Obama won't back off drilling plans, but pledges safeguards."

A big flaming wreck, millions of gallons of oil pumping out in to the Gulf of Mexico, 11 dead, the destruction of wetlands, and an end to the tourism industry in the region? Yeah, it's totally worth it to get that half-hour's worth of oil off the coast. A minor setback, really. Don't worry too much about it.

Never mind that this one rig is expected to cause damage in the billions of dollars, while never pumping enough oil to cover that cost. Cost-benefit analysis? Who needs it? We've got Republicans to mollify, because they're absolutely committed to bipartisanship, so long as we give one of their stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid ideas a spin. It'll be safe from now on, because we'll learn from our mistakes -- just like we did the last time we totally ruined a huge chunk of the environment. That taught us so many lessons that we now find ourselves in a nearly identical situation.

Leadership means making the tough decisions. As well as the fuckwitted ones. (McClatchy)

-Saving a different environment-
Here's what everyone needs -- a fart-eating blanket.

I feel the need to point out that this is 100% real. Will it sell as well as the Snuggie? There are pros and cons here. Pro: the Snuggie is basically a robe you wear backwards, offering the least possible protection against flatulence. It's open at the back, so any toxic emissions vent freely out into the atmosphere.

Cons: as user "Munroman" points out in the comment thread at Youtube, "Whats the point? Why even fart if she can't smell it?"

Well played, Munroman. I believe this round goes to you. (Huffington Post)

-Bonus HotD-
"Boehner takes credit for ideas in health law, then calls for its repeal."

The Republican Party; as hopelessly incoherent as ever. (Think Progress, with video)

Republicans Don't Really Have Good Ideas

Early reports were that the wrecked oil platform off the Gulf Coast wasn't seeping oil out into the Gulf of Mexico. We're now looking at a oil spill as bad -- or worse -- than the Exxon Valdez disaster. This is, hands down, the worst environmental disaster for a good long time -- if not in American history. And the damage won't just be to the environment.

[FOX News:]

Oil rig burnsAs a massive oil slick creeps ever closer to the Gulf Coast, officials in Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi and Florida are bracing for the worst. The economic impact over miles of prime coast land has the potential to be catastrophic.

Officials say the slick from last week's offshore drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico may have a devastating impact on one of the coastal states' most precious commodities -- shrimp -- and the entire industry that surrounds it. And state officials acknowledge that the oil's effect on travel and tourism to the area could be equally destructive.

Remember how offshore drilling was going to be so freakin' good for the economy? Remember how safe it was all going to be?

Remember this?

And this?

Of course, President Obama let himself get talked into this bad idea, but now there's probably some momentum behind the move to change his mind back. That momentum comes in the form of an oil slick the size of Delaware moving slowly, but unstoppably, toward the shores of the Gulf States. FOX reports that revenue of more than $441.8 million from shrimping and $65.5 billion from tourism alone will likely be lost. I chose FOX for a reason; even the network that all but took "drill baby, drill!" as their motto in 2008 can't put a happy face on this. This is 100%, unspinnably bad.

My point here isn't just to report the obvious -- that a huge environmental catastrophe is really, really bad -- but may be an even more obvious point; Republicans don't really have very good ideas. And that shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Republican ideas have become less proposals that might be good for the country and more advertising slogans to sell the Republican Party. "Drill baby, drill" was never going to bring down oil prices. It had no hope in hell of doing that and the Republicans knew it. But it was simple, easy to remember, and -- as a successful marketing campaign -- wouldn't be shown not to work until President McCain had already taken the Oath of Office. So "drill baby, drill!" it was.

Likewise, we need only look at recent events in Arizona for another example of economic disaster disguised as a Republican "good idea." Arizona's new "Papers please... Macht schnell! Schnell!" law stands to cost the state $2.7 billion in lost Mexican tourism alone, according to the Arizona Republic. And this in a state that's been so crushed by the economy that they seriously considered selling their State Capital building to plug the budget hole.

To the lost tourism and various boycotts, add the inevitable lawsuits -- from both sides. Not only are groups around the nation ready to sue to block the law, but the law itself calls on citizens to sue police if they believe the law isn't being enforced. The Arizona Attorney General's office is about to become the lawsuit capital of the United States. Lawyers stand to make a lot of money off this, but taxpayers can expect to pay through the nose. And now police will be housing undocumented (and documented, but yet to be proven so) people, instead of having the feds do it. Arizonans will now pay twice for every illegal alien caught in their state -- as well as paying for housing the inevitable American citizen, legal immigrant, or tourist caught up in the police state net. Brilliant.

What we can learn from all this is that, in addition to just being stupid, Republican ideas are really expensive. Hey, let's degregulate Wall Street! Let's invade Iraq! Let's spend boatloads of money on missile defense systems that don't work! Let's create a budget-busting Medicare drug plan, but not come up with any way to pay for it! Let's chase down illegal immigrants by asking everyone (OK, just Hispanics and people with accents) to prove they're a citizen! Let's drill baby, drill!

So you might save a lot of time and agony by just adding "Get out your wallets, because this is going to cost a lot of money" to any Republican argument for any Republican idea. Go ahead and add that to the pros and cons. Because, if you don't reach into your back pocket and pull out your wallet, that Republican bad idea will reach in and do it for you.


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News Roundup for 4/29/10

Adobe Photoshop box
Where a lot of the GOP's public support comes from

-Headline of the day-
"Ohio GOP Photoshops Very Big Sign Into Tea Party Rally."

The teabaggers love Ohio Republican candidate for the House of Representatives Steve Stivers thi-i-i-s much!

Faked image from teabagger rally

So how much is thi-i-i-s much? According to the report, the Stivers sign at that rally "would have to be 30-50 feet high" -- So I guess a lot. However, since no one can actually remember this Godzilla-sized sign, there's some suspicion out there that this might be the result of a super hightech thing called "Photoshop" -- suspicions the Ohio GOP has confirmed.

"This isn't the first piece of political mail in which Photoshop was used," says Ohio GOP spokesman John McClelland. "I've got plenty of mail pieces on my desk where the Democrats, from the Ohio Democrat Party and the DCCC, have used Photoshop against Steve Stivers. So criticizing the use of Photoshop in political mail, I don't think the Democrats have any political room to be criticizing." Yeah, it's not showing a candidate as the hero of the tea party movement that's dishonest, it's the software you use to do it. Democrats are using fakie pictures to make people think things that didn't happen actually happened, too. McClellan sent this over to Ben Smith at Politico to prove it:

Photoshop of Stivers hooked up to lie detector

See? Using an image to make an editorial point and using an image to make people believe Stivers is supercrazy-popular among wingnuts are totally the same thing. (Talking Points Memo)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, we don't have to worry about illegal aliens anymore, thanks to Police State Pete! Yay Pete!

Police State Pete
Click for animation

Ok, so maybe that didn't work out so well, but better safe than sorry! (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"FOX News' Triumphant Ad Touting 'The Most Powerful Name In News' Leaves Out Glenn Beck ."

Know who Bret Baier is? Not ringing a bell? He's that guy who sits in when Shepard Smith has lunch.

Apparently, he outranks Glenn Beck at FOX. (Think Progress)

On AZ Immigration Law, FOX News Deliberately Misunderstands the Issue

FOX News seems to believe they've discovered some lefty hypocrisy in our concern over Arizona's immigration law. Turns out that people who are all up in arms about protecting illegal immigrants don't seem to be all that interested in protecting illegal immigrants. They're boycotting Arizona, but they aren't sending out engraved invitations to undocumented people.

They may call themselves "sanctuary cities," but very few of them are offering sanctuary to the illegal immigrants in Arizona who now face possible arrest and deportation.

As San Francisco and other "sanctuary cities" declare war on Arizona over its new law cracking down on illegal immigrants, most state and local governments that provide a safe haven to undocumented workers refused to publicly roll out a welcome mat for the estimated 440,000 illegals in the Grand Canyon state.

It's been said that even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. Unfortunately for the visually impaired squirrels at FOX, this isn't one of those once-in-a-whiles.

First off -- and probably least important -- is that the term "sanctuary city" is probably misleading. A sanctuary city is one that won't assist federal immigration authorities without a warrant and won't enforce immigration laws on its own. According to a 2008 press release from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's office, "The Sanctuary Ordinance helps to maintain the stability of San Francisco communities. It keeps communities safe by making sure all residents feel comfortable calling the Police and Fire Departments during emergencies. It keeps families and workforce healthy by providing safe access to schools, clinics and other City services."

"As a Sanctuary City, San Francisco has and will continue to provide compassionate services to all immigrants, regardless of status," the release quotes city supervisor Tom Ammiano as saying. "When certain people are targeted and denied access to vital social services, the health and safety of the entire city is compromised."

So contagious people get treatment, fires get put out, crime gets reported -- all because people aren't afraid to call 911. Those screwy San Francisco hippies and their concern for their own city's welfare. What'll they come up with next?

But second and more importantly, the outrage of civil libertarians over Arizona's new law isn't about "protecting illegal aliens," as FOX's story seems to be suggesting. It's about the civil liberties of American citizens. Arizona has justice bass-ackward here; if police suspect you're committing a crime, you have to prove you're not. This just isn't the way America works. And, while supporters of the law argue that it isn't about racial profiling, I have my doubts that blond-haired, blue-eyed Bobby Whitebread is going to be asked to produce his birth certificate any time soon.

"SB 1070 does nothing short of making all of Arizona's Latino residents, and other presumed immigrants, potential criminal suspects in the eyes of the law," reports Vivek Malhotra for the American Civil Liberties Union. "It authorizes police officers to stop and ask people for their immigration papers based only on some undefined 'reasonable suspicion' that they are in the country illegally. Given that Latinos comprise an estimated 30 percent of Arizona's population, the law presents a pretty big target."

Vivek describes Arizona as a soon-to-be "police state" and he's not exaggerating. Even before Arizona passed this bill, law enforcement in that state were violating the civil rights of American citizens.

[American Civil Liberties Union [PDF]:]

On the morning of February 11, 2009, Julian Mora was driving to his place of work in southern Phoenix, accompanied by his teenaged son, Julio Mora. Julian Mora was taking his usual route and obeying all laws when a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office ("MCSO") vehicle suddenly cut in front of him, forcing him to stop abruptly. Without any legal justification, MCSO deputies ordered Julian and Julio Mora out of their pickup truck, frisked them, and handcuffed them. The deputies then transported the Moras to Julian Mora's workplace where MCSO was in the process of conducting an immigration related raid. Over the course of the next three hours, MCSO deputies detained the Moras, forbade them from any contact with the outside world, and subjected them to painful and humiliating mistreatment resulting in emotional distress and injury. The Moras were effectively taken prisoner by armed MCSO personnel without any explanation for their arrest.

The Moras are American citizens who were picked up because they were Hispanics in the vicinity of an immigration raid. If that's not racial profiling, I'd like to know what is. New flash for FOX and other right wing idiots: I'm not mad because police were mean to illegal immigrants, I'm mad because police violated the civil rights of American citizens.

Now, if San Francisco and other sanctuary cities don't want to roll out the red carpet for illegal aliens, who can blame them? It's not what being a sanctuary city is about anyway. And the fact that San Francisco is boycotting Arizona doesn't mean that the city is trying to protect undocumented people -- it means they're trying to protect Americans.

Any random set on FOX News looks like Uncle Sam threw up all over it after going on a stars and stripes bender. They wear what they like to call their "patriotism" on their sleeve. But the fact that they don't care about American citizens in Arizona -- and further, go out of their way to ridicule those of us who do -- shows that this "patriotism" of theirs is as phony as the hypocrisy they want you to believe they've found at the Golden Gate.


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News Roundup for 4/28/10

FOX host interviews lingerie models
According to Sarah Palin, these people hate America

-Headline of the day-
"By 'lamestream media,' did Palin mean Fox News?"

In a mixture of bullshit, idiocy, and craziness, Sean Hannity interviewed Sarah Palin about Arizona's new "Paper please... Macht schnell! Schnell!" law. I guess that's because, as the former governor of Alaska, Caribou Barbie has so much experience with illegal Canadians and keeps an eye on the Russian border from her house. Anyway, she's totally an expert on this because -- let's face it -- she's an expert on everything.

Ha ha! "Lamestream media!"

Of course, they're both way out in the weeds on this. Hannity claims it's just a law that allows police to -- I'm sorry, the stupid is so distracting -- enforce the law, because every statute needs a separate statute allowing police to do something about what the first statute made illegal. You know, like how all the states have a statute declaring murder illegal, then another one that says police need to investigate murders.

Wait, they don't? Then I guess Sean Hannity's just an idiot.

He also claims that it's not about racial profiling, but neglects to mention how the fuck else you're supposed to figure this illegal alien thing out. And police need a reason to check you out? Yeah, ask anyone familiar with "driving while black" about that. If the cops say you forgot a turn signal, you forgot a turn signal -- how the hell is anyone ever going to check?

But the fun part is when Sarah said, "One of the media outlets the other day just was killing me on this one, Sean, where they had a caption across their screen that said Arizona law will make it illegal to be an illegal immigrant? Some bizarre type of headline like that where it was just this illustration that they just don't get it."

You mean like this one?

FOX News runs 'Illegal to be Illegal' headline

Yup, she's right. No good patriotic American should ever watch FOX News again. They just don't get it. The Sarah has spoken.

Sorry Sean. (Media Matters)

-While we're on the subject...-
...Arizona's law is causing more problems than it solves.

Illegal Zebra Confuses Arizona Cops -- 'It was black so I arrested it. But then it was white, so I let it go.'
Click for full comic

I can see how that would be confusing... (Go Comics)

-Bonus HotD-
"Tancredo's Conspiracy Theory: Obama Hides His Birth Certificate To Stir Up The Right And Make Us Look Crazy."

Yeah, that's it Tom. It's not crazy-assed, paranoid conspiracy theories about Obama that make you look like a bunch of nuts, it's Obama screwing with you.

Because that's not a crazy-assed, paranoid conspiracy theory at all. (Think Progress)

Tea Party Statists

Supposedly, I'm a statist. That's a fun new word all the teabaggers have learned from objectivist Utopians. It apparently means someone who's secretly a commie or a Nazi or both (they don't seem extremely clear on the difference). Or someone who believes in global warming and thinks we ought to do something about it before a bunch of people die. Or those who think that maybe not getting reamed by insurance companies might make for a helpful change of pace. Or someone who thinks that someone ought to do something about the fact that women make less on average -- for the same jobs -- as men. You know, crazy, pie-in-the-sky stuff like that. I love me some of that "Big Gummint."

And I do, to a point. I believe that government can be a force for good. If you have trouble believing that, then you need to consider big government programs like the GI Bill, the Civil Rights Act, and rural electrification. I think it's probably a good idea to make sure kids can read and, further, have some understanding of history, literature, science, and the arts. I think we have a responsibility to make sure houses and cars aren't death traps and that the food and pharmaceuticals sold to us are safe. Call me irresponsible, but I don't put a lot of trust in the Invisible Hand of the Market. Anyone who looks at the market meltdown, anyone who's paying attention to the Goldman Sachs fraud case, anyone who remembers Enron and Tyco and WorldCom, the dot-com bubble or the housing bubble, knows that this Invisible Hand is attached to a very visible mental invalid. The Genius of the Market is really just a drooling moron. It turns out that the financial world isn't greater than the sum of its intellectual parts. The opposite is true. It's prone to groupthink and a herd mentality that occasionally stampedes us all off a cliff.

Strangely, I harbor the belief that maybe we shouldn't let stampede happen. I guess this makes me part of some commie plot to institute a one-world government and crush out the light of liberty in the world.

So what about the people calling me a statist and saying this is the worst thing in the world to be? Some of them are Libertarians. I consider fullblown objectivist Libertarianism to be a form of political moonyism, but at least there's some reasoning behind it -- as flawed and blind to human events and nature as that reasoning is. Others are just repeating something they heard Glenn Beck or something some equally insane blowhard say. They have no idea what it means but, like "Communism," "Fascism," and "unconstitutional," they just use it as a synonym for "bad."

And it's these people who seem to use the term most. "Big gummint-lover" doesn't have the same suggestion of smarts, so "statist" it is. So let's talk about statism. Real statism. What the morons mistakenly refer to as "patriotism." Specifically, police statism.

You've got people walking around tea parties in t-shirts with photos of Bush on them and the caption, "Miss Me Yet?" This despite the fact that, if there was ever a police statist in the White House, it was George W. Bush. You've got torture, indefinite detention, an honest-to-God concentration camp, warrantless wiretapping, and a political chauvinism that viewed political rivals not as opponents, but as enemies of the state and lovers of terrorism. A lot of people out there defend "Obama=Hitler" signs by saying that some lefties did the same to Bush. But in all honesty, who resembles fascism more -- they guy torturing people in a concentration camp and listening in on your phone calls or the guy who wants you to be able to afford healthcare and wants to make sure some dick on Wall Street doesn't screw you with his hubris and egotism? Bush got the comparison not because lefties are crazy, but because he practically invited it.

Now, you've got Lovers of Liberty who argue that women should be forced to remain pregnant against their will. That Arizona law should require all Hispanics to carry their papers with them at all times. That people should be discriminated against because of what they do in bed and who they love. These true statists believe that the government isn't a guiding force, but that the state is hammer used to crush those they deem insufficiently American. If the state's bullying people into thinking and behaving the way they do, well that's fine. Somehow, this isn't a love of big, oppressive and repressive government. I guess because they say so.

So the next time someone calls me a statist, I'll give them the link to this post. It'll save a lot of time, because I won't have to explain why I'm laughing at them.


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News Roundup for 4/27/10

Used car salesman offering a lemon
Goldman Sachs salesperson offers new investment opportunity

-Headline of the day-
"Levin's language hits the fan."

At a hearing on the Goldman Sachs fraud case, Sen. Carl Levin quotes an internal Goldman Sachs email calling a spade a spade -- repeatedly:

This went out on CSPAN live. "It is extremely unusual for senators to use obscenities from the dais, let alone during remarks carried live on cable television networks," Politico reports. "Levin used it again and again."

Expect the rightwing blogosphere to get squirrelier than normal over this, while completely ignoring the fact that Levin was referencing a GS document. Saying "shitty deal" on the national teevee is the worst thing ever. Using a shitty deal to screw consumers and help bring down the economy is just good ol' 'murriken capitalism in action.

Shame on Sen. Levin. Yay for Goldman Sachs! (Politico)

-Best opening paragraph to a news story in a good long time-
"Breasts were big on Facebook on Monday as a female blogger called on women to prove wrong an Iranian cleric who preached that cleavage causes earthquakes."

Story? Who needs a story?

OK, a story. Turns out that some crazy-assed cleric in Iran said that boobs cause earthquakes. Specifically, the boobs of immodest ladies. "Many women who do not dress modestly... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, a senior Iranian cleric, said, "which increases earthquakes."

Some noted that Las Vegas, New Orleans, any place known for hosting Spring Break celebrations, and the dick who makes those "Girls Gone Wild" videos aren't famous for their earthquakes, while Iran is. But stating the obvious isn't science, you've got to prove something. So this nice young lady...

Jennifer McCreight

...put together a super-scientific experiment to see if boobs could destroy the world. Jennifer McCreight started a Facebook campaign to measure the power of women's WMDs. She enlisted "more than 20,000 women promising to show as much cleavage as possible on Monday, April 26."

"On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own," McCreight said. "Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that's your preferred form of immodesty... With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake."

Mission accomplished. There was a 6.5 in Taiwan yesterday.

I never thought I'd say this, but point those things someplace else, will ya ladies? You're making me nervous. (Raw Story, FOX)

-Bonus HotD-
"Glenn Beck to Deliver Commencement Address At Liberty University."

Glenn Beck + the Jerry Falwell-founded wingnut hothouse = guaranteed lunacy. Let me sum up what Beck is expected to say; "Liberal progressives social justice socialism communism fascism Obama race war Nazi born in Kenya Stalin taking over our country global plot one-world government Muslim extremists internment camps for the love of Jesus crap your pants!" (Right Wing Watch)

'Popular' and 'Just' are Two Different Words

Woman protesting Arizona lawIt's important to remember that popularity and justice are two completely different concepts. If you want proof of that, just look at the Supreme Court. The only branch of the federal government that's not democratic, the highest court is insulated from the whims of popularity. In recent years, it's become obvious that it's not insulated from partisan politics, but that's more a failure of the people sitting on the court than a failure of the court's design. "Popular" and "just" are two different words. Life's a lot easier when they're in agreement, but this isn't always the case.

Take Arizona's insane new immigration law; it's popular, but it isn't anywhere near just.

[Rassmussen Reports:]

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer last week signed a new law into effect that authorizes local police to stop and verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 60% of voters nationwide favor such a law, while 31% are opposed.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Republicans support the law along with 62% of voters not affiliated with either major party. Democratic voters are evenly divided on the measure.

At the same time, however, 58% of all voters are at least somewhat concerned that "efforts to identify and deport illegal immigrants will also end up violating the civil rights of some U.S. citizens." That figure includes 29% who are Very Concerned about possible civil rights violations.

The good news here is that most people realize the danger of this law to the civil rights of US citizens. The bad news is that most don't care. Twitter users have something to pat themselves on the back about here; a study by Crimson Hexagon found that 66% of the tweets commenting on the law were critical of it. But clearly this criticism hasn't had an impact on the larger population.

Rasmussen also points out that the law is even more popular in Arizona, were 70% of residents support it. With 30% of all Arizona residents being Hispanic, this does not say good things about race relations in that state. And the history of a previous "tough" Arizona immigration law doesn't speak well for them either. In 2007, Arizona passed the Legal Arizona Workers Act. This act makes it illegal to knowingly hire undocumented workers and requires employers to check immigration status on hiring. How did that go? Let's check.

"Officials from 12 of the state's 15 counties said last week that they had not taken legal action against any businesses for failure to comply with the law," writes Nicole Santa Cruz for the LA Times. "Officials in two counties -- Apache and Coconino -- could not be reached for comment."

So that went well. Not too paint Arizonans with too broad a brush, but it's starting to look like when non-Hispanic employers are the problem, it's not a problem worth actually doing anything about. But when Hispanics are the problem, it's time to go fullblown police state on them. If you think I'm being hyperbolic about a "police state" here, have a look at this report from an Arizona TV station of an incident that's taken place before the law has even gone into effect:

A Valley man says he was pulled over Wednesday morning and questioned when he arrived at a weigh station for his commercial vehicle along Val Vista and the 202 freeway.

Abdon, who did not want to use his last name, says he provided several key pieces of information but what he provided apparently was not what was needed.

He tells 3TV, "I don't think it's correct, if I have to take my birth certificate with me all the time."

He provided his CDL and Social Security card, but this wasn't enough to satisfy police. They handcuffed him, took him to the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, and had his wife bring his Birth Certificate. Apparently, not being a Hawaiian birth certificate, this was good enough for Arizonan authorities and Abdon was finally released. No word on how long this all took, but it doesn't sound much like a minor inconvenience. When Rasmussen's majority indicated they were "concerned" about civil rights violations, they were right. Unfortunately, they weren't concerned enough to care much about it.

"It's still something awful to be targeted," Abdon's wife Jackie said. "I can't even imagine what he felt, people watching like he was some type of criminal."

Unfortunately for them, people are already watching them like they're criminals -- again, 70% of state residents support the law, while 30% of the population is Hispanic. Those two figures fit a little too exactly to be coincidental. There's probably some crossover -- as far as I can find, Rasmussen hasn't made the demographics of their polling available -- but you'd imagine that it's minor. In fact, we have a much smaller poll that backs up the idea that conservatives are big boosters of this, so long as they aren't Hispanic.

Think Progress reported last night that of all the elected Republicans in Washington commenting on the law, exactly one comment was critical. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart said, "I strongly disagree with the Arizona immigration law." All the rest have been either praise or a non-committal expression of ignorance ("I haven't studied it yet," says senate minority leader Mitch McConnell).

What's popular and what's just may often be two different things, but it's clear that neither Republicans or the majority of voters in Arizona give much of a damn about that. In a contest between justice and popularity, popularity wins hands down.


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News Roundup for 4/26/10

'Liar's Club' sign
GOP National Headquarters

-Headline of the day-
"Poll: Majority Backs So-Called 'Permanent Bailout' Fund."

The GOP spin machine is starting to lose its mojo. After all the Republican screaming and crying that a provision in the Wall Street reform bill will mean "endless taxpayer bailouts," a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that a majority of respondents support that very provision (53% with 27% strongly supportive).

Part of Republicans' problem here is that their complaint is total bullshit. Not only doesn't it create new taxpayer-funded bailouts but, according to the chair of the FDIC (a Bush appointee, by the way), it "makes them impossible."

To get an idea of just how wrong Republicans are on this, imagine someone arguing that speed limits make it legal to go as fast as you want. It's that wrong. Totally, 100%, not anywhere near true.

Here's the polling question: "[Do you support] requiring large banks and other financial companies to put money into a fund that would cover the cost of taking over and breaking up any large financial company that fails and threatens the broader economy?"

Should be a no-brainer. Makes you wonder what's wrong with the 47% who were against it.

Look, I've said this again and again and it bears repeating here -- Republicans lie. They lie when they get up in the morning until they go to bed. At no time should you ever believe anything they say. If they tell you their name, ask for ID.

Seriously, better safe than sorry. (Plum Line)

-Thanks teabaggers!-
The good folks at the political satire site TheFullGinsberg.com have put together a short thank you video from crayon company Crayola to the teabaggers. Let's watch, shall we?

Remember, markers don't have erasers, so spell carefully. It's H-I-T-L-E-R.

And "fascism" isn't spelled with an "SH". (TheFullGinsberg.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Grassley Takes Credit For Medicare Provisions In Health Care Law That He Opposed."

Of course he does... Maybe Republicans ought to figure out whether they want to repeal healthcare reform or take credit for it.

Get back to us when you get that sorted out, OK guys? (Think Progress)

Will Republicans Self-Destruct Over Wall Street Reform?

Television setThe ad pretty much writes itself. It opens with news headlines, while bass and cellos saw a low, dark note; "U.S. charges Goldman with subprime fraud," "Goldman Sachs fraud case stunning in its indictment of Wall Street culture," "Goldman Cited 'Serious' Profit on Mortgages," and the kicker; "Goldman Sachs Bonuses: Bank Paying Staff Over $5 Billion For Just Three Months Work."

"We could've reformed Wall Street," that voice-over guy who does all the political ads says. "We could've reined in corruption. We could've ended huge bailouts and said, 'Too big to fail is too big to exist.' We could've regulated or outlawed risky and exotic investments schemes that have turned our economy into a failing casino. We wanted to do it. You wanted to do it. We could've done it. But Republicans wouldn't even allow the debate.

"All we needed was one vote."

At this point, you show a black and white image of the Republican incumbent. "One vote," the narrator continues. "One independent-minded Republican. One Senator willing to put the good of the nation above petty partisan politics. One politician who knows that fighting Wall Street corruption is more important than their party. Just one Republican with courage.

"One vote... We didn't get it." Flash the opponent's name and McCain/Feingold disclaimer; "I'm _____ and I so approve this message."

This ad has a chance of playing in states across the country, as Democrats bring Wall Street reform to a vote today. As of this moment, Republicans are standing together, threatening to filibuster the bill. While it's hard to believe that Democrats aren't willing to give up something to get this through, the signals they're sending are that they're not willing to give up much. The New York Times reported yesterday that Democrats "had bridged internal party differences and coalesced around a plan to tighten regulation of derivatives" and had "raised the pressure on Senate Republicans" to drop the filibuster threat.

Writing for the Huffington Post, Robert Kuttner reports that the White House has rejected the idea of a bipartisan compromise.

Although Senate Banking Committee Chair Chris Dodd and his sometime Republican ally Richard Shelby continued to make noises on the Sunday talk shows about a possible bipartisan deal, both President Obama and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank have personally urged Dodd not to cut a deal with Republicans. I asked Frank point blank why Dodd would want such a deal, and he said--on the record--"I have no idea, but both President Obama and I have urged him not to."

For those of us who remember the healthcare non-debate, this can't be taken as anything other than good news. Republicans have murdered bipartisanship as a public lynch mob. Even those Republicans who'd engaged in negotiations used it as a delaying tactic, with no intention of ever voting for any bill. After months of bipartisan negotiations, the bill passed the Senate without a single GOP vote. The moral of this story: negotiating with Republicans is a waste of time -- by GOP design.

What we have now is a stand-off. And it's one that Republicans can't possibly win -- not in a political sense, anyway. That's not to say that we won't get some sort of deal after the initial procedural vote fails. But Democrats should go ahead and cut that ad now, then email it to incumbent Republicans running for reelection. You want to run on how much you hate healthcare reform? Knock yourself out -- we're going to run on this.

Someone's going to blink here and, unless they're bent on self-destruction, Republicans will blink first.


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News Roundup for 4/23/10

Charlton Heston as Moses
Glenn Beck

-Headline of the day-
"Glenn Beck: A Vatican-approved, 'wildly important' warrior against forces of 'great darkness'?."

How crazy is Glenn Beck? This crazy:

"We are entering a -- we are entering a dark, dark period of man," Glenn says. "Um, I was, um, I was in the Vatican, and I was surprised that the individual I was speaking to knew who I was. And they said: 'Of course we know who you are. What you're doing is wildly important. We're entering a period of great darkness, and if good people don't stand up, we could enter a period unlike we have seen in a very long time.'"

In other words, Beck's starting to think he's freakin' Moses leading the people out of bondage. "Of course, Beck doesn't clarify whether the 'individual' he talked to was a Vatican official or a tourist from Omaha," writes Media Matters' Ben Dimiero, "but the impression he wants to give his listeners is clear: the Vatican itself has identified Beck as 'wildly important' in the coming 'dark, dark period of man.'"

That is, if it actually happened at all. Note to the fine makers of Koolaid; don't advertise on Beck's show, because that might just come back to haunt you later. They're going to find this guy's corpse and those of a bunch of his audience in a bunker somewhere with a big pile of empty Dixie cups.

My advice; let the cultists give Gatorade a bad name for a change. (Media Matters)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore (and special guest)-
Hey kids, want to become really, really, really, really rich? Then what you want to do is lose money like crazy! Worked for these guys...

Born to Lose
Click for animation

Remember, in America a little incompetence and/or corruption is no impediment to success! (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Inspector: SEC staff surfed porn sites during crisis buildup."

There's a surprise, huh? Still, it's a step up from regulatory agency scandals involving snorting crystal meth off toaster ovens. Believe it or not, this is a better class of scandal than we used to get in the gold old days. Every day, in every way, we're slowly getting better and better.

On the other hand, if you're spending eight hours a day downloading porn, I think you might have a little bit of a problem. I mean, I like boobs as much as the next guy, but come on... (MarketWatch)

Explode Baby, Explode!

Drill baby, drill! w00t!


A 1-by-5-mile sheen of crude oil mix has spread across the Gulf of Mexico's surface around the area where an oil rig exploded and sank, according to the Coast Guard.

"This is a rainbow sheen with a dark center," Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry told reporters.

Officials do not know whether oil or fuel are leaking from the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig and the well below, but BP Vice President David Rainey said "it certainly has the potential to be a major spill."

The good news is that, as I write, MSNBC is reporting that the rig is not leaking from the well, so -- for now at least -- all the environmental damage seems to be done. The reporters seem positively giddy about this, but we've still got a 1-by-5-mile oil slick to deal with. Seems to me that's still pretty bad. 11 are missing and, at this point, presumed dead. So no happy news there, either.

Was it just 2008 when we were all told this could never, ever happen? Not only was it something that we shouldn't worry about, but people who did worry about it got well-earned mockery.

Yup, them crazy fish, they love those oil rigs... Except when they explode and leave an oil slick measured in miles. I'm guessing the fish don't like that much. And China was never looking at drilling off Cuba. That was just a wingnut rumor that served McCain's argument -- so he didn't shoot it down, as an honest man would've, he perpetuated it.

And how safe did McCain actually believe offshore oil rigs were? Well, when it was his ass on the line, not very.


Just over an hour after finalizing plans to visit an oil rig tomorrow, the McCain campaign has cancelled the visit.

"The meeting with Governor Jindal has been postponed and we are canceling the trip to the rig due to weather," said spokesman Michael Goldfarb.

Of course, there's President Obama's reversal on offshore drilling. After taking a rational stand on the issue during the campaign, Obama caved into the irrational arguments of the pro-drilling crowd. And they attacked him for it.

What we learn here is that, when it comes to environmental concerns, you should never, ever, ever give a crap what Republicans say. Your default position on this should be "they are wrong," until they prove otherwise -- which they'll almost never be able to do. Some may see this a little unfair, but I'm just saying that when you look at their track record, it bears out. We can save a little time in any debate by going with the odds.

We also learn that -- as I always say -- meeting someone who's crazy halfway is halfway crazy. Fewer rigs than Republicans would like may mean a smaller risk, but it's still an unnecessary risk of potentially devastating consequence.

And, finally, we learn that you can't make Republicans happy. Not if you're a Democrat. It simply cannot be done. Obama could suggest that a 100-foot gold statue of Ronald Reagan be built next to the Washington Monument and Republicans would pretend to be insulted that he didn't go for 150 and snubbed the Lincoln Memorial.

So my advice, which I have no hope that the White House will ever take, is screw Republicans. Screw them all. Every last one of them. And throw Joe Lieberman in there for good measure. They don't know what they're talking about and you can't make them happy. They've taken the position -- either by design or default -- of opinionated ignoramuses. No matter what you do, they'll oppose it as the biggest outrage ever imposed on the American people in the history of big outrages.

So do whatever the hell you want. The reaction from the right will be no different whether you're 180 degrees off their position or just one degree. Repeat after me; "bipartisanship is dead." If you want an idea of what a Republican "good idea" looks like, as well as what an attempted compromise with them looks like, take a gander at that big, flaming wreck off the Gulf coast.


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News Roundup for 4/22/10

Mariachi band
Typical undocumented aliens

-Headline of the day-
"Rep. Brian Bilbray Says He Can Spot Undocumented Immigrants Based On The Shoes They Wear."

A new bill in Arizona would give law enforcement the ability to check the papers of anyone they suspected of being an illegal immigrant. Wait, did I say "give law enforcement the ability to...?" I meant, "legally require law enforcement to..."

Of course, the bill has drawn criticism for racial profiling, which is especially bad in a state with such a large Hispanic population. So supporters of the bill are bending over backward to deny that race would have anything to do with it.

According to the report, "Yesterday on MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) to give a 'non-ethnic' example of how Arizona cops will be able to identify undocumented immigrants..." He didn't do so well.

"They will look at the kind of dress you wear," Bilbray answered, "there's different type of attire, there's different type of... right down to the shoes, right down to the clothes." See, because Mexicans wear clothes that are made in Mexico, while Americans wear clothes that are made in China... And Mexico. What's Bilbray thinking, that illegal aliens walk around in sombreros and bandoliers like the Frito Bandito? The last time I saw footage of some guy jumping the fence, he was wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and a baseball cap. He dressed like a Wisconsin farmer.

Which is bad news for Wisconsin farmers. Don't go to Arizona, guys -- or the cops will think you're an illegal Norwegian and scoop you up right pronto. (Think Progress, with video)

-Not much of a defense-
Apparently, the birthers are gaining traction in state legislatures. This shouldn't come as a big surprise since -- as I pointed out yesterday -- state legislatures have become hothouses of bona fide mental illness. According to the report, the Arizona state legislature has passed legislation "that would require presidential candidates to submit their birth certificates in order to get ballot access for the election." Not extremely constitutional, but neither is that whole illegal alien catchin' scheme, so who even cares?

To discuss this development, CNN's Anderson Cooper spoke with Republican State Representative Cecil Ash, who explained his reasoning for supporting and voting for the measure. It didn't go well.

You'll notice that Cecil's argument in defense of himself basically boils down to "I have no freakin' idea what the hell I'm talking about," in the form of "I haven't investigated that personally" repeated ad nauseam. Anderson did get him to admit the moon isn't made out of cheese, but Cecil wasn't willing to go out on any other limbs -- other than the tiny, creaking, birther one he was already weighing down.

Of course, Cecil's just your typical disingenuous, finger-in-the-wind local Republican. He's just doing what he thinks would be popular. He doesn't give a crap whether the legislation is insane or not. He's just doing what he thinks will get him reelected.

Which begs the question, voters in Arizona: what the fuck is wrong with you? (Huffington Post)

-Bonus HotD-
"Earth Day: 40 years of imminent catastrophe."

An op-ed Laura E. Huggins in the Philadelphia Inquirer informs us all that Earth Day was founded among "apocalyptic tales of disaster," when all the scientist were a'scared of "global cooling." I should probably point out that Huggins is the Director of Development for a rightwing corporate front group called the "Property and Environment Research Center."

See? I told you so. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

-Earth Day bonus fun-
Republicans love them some environment! Today's the 40th Earth Day since it's founding in 1970, so go check out all the fun things the Grand Old Party has to say about this celebration of the little place we call home.

I think you won't be surprised at all. (GOP.com)

People in Glass News Networks Shouldn't Throw Stones

I wrote about Jon Stewart's response to FOX News' yesterday, but only briefly. Taking one last trip through my RSS feeds last night, I found a post by Steve Benen that convinced me to go into a little more depth. For those of you who need catching up, a Daily Show/FOX News feud all started with this segment, where Stewart called out FOX on their hypocrisy:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tea America
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Now, as you can see, The Daily Show wasn't just critical of FOX, but of the news media in general. While it's fun to show how goofy the teabaggers are -- God knows I love to -- TV News spends very little time showing how wrong they are and explaining the issues. Still, at the end, Stewart singles out FOX. Apparently FOX believes the rest of the media is generalizing about the teabaggers, which is the worst thing ever, but that it's entirely fair for FOX to generalize about liberals. Stewart ends the segment the only way a rational, dispassionate media critic can -- by telling FOX, "Go f*ck yourselves."

Strangely, this didn't really fly with two of the people mentioned in Stewart's segment -- Bill O'Reilly and Bernie Goldberg. Here's the aftermath:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Bernie Goldberg Fires Back
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

New rule: when you've got a gospel choir singing "Go f*ck yourself!" to you, you've probably picked on the wrong show.

But for a long time, I've been saying that The Daily Show offers some of the best media criticism out there. And the reason is simple; comedy depends stupidity and absurdity. This means that a comedy show commenting on the media will go straight to either or both of those two wells and, in doing so, cut straight to the point in a simple manner. As Stewart himself points out, people have been using comedy this way for generations. But a better point is that comedians are under no obligation to create a phony equivalency -- to be what FOX calls "fair and balanced." You don't get equal time. So, if Jon Stewart wants to make fun of people who don't believe in global warming, for example, he's under no obligation to tell a joke about them, then get one of them on the show to rebut the joke.

The result of this is a trimming away of the BS. News networks tend to do the opposite -- what's called "equal time for nutjobs." If you have a story about global warming, you get some anti-warming quack or some corporate mouthpiece to interview, because you have to be "fair." As a result, the arguments for and against anthropogenic warming seem to have equal weight -- when they don't. The clear majority of scientists backing the current consensus (90%) completely overwhelm the minority skeptical of it. Global warming denialism is a fringe position. Yet you'd never know that from watching talking heads on cable news.

And so, when Goldberg derided Stewart's audience as "unsophisticated," he was way off the mark. And it's here that Benen's post got my attention:

[T]here's a related point I wanted to emphasize that Stewart didn't mention. In 2004, the National Annenberg Election Survey found that Fox News viewers were the most confused about current events, while viewers of "The Daily Show" were among the best informed news consumers in the country. Comedy Central, relying on data from Nielsen Media Research, also found that Stewart's audience not only knew more about current events, but were far better educated than Bill O'Reilly's audience.

Three years later, the Pew Research Study published a report showing that "viewers of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report have the highest knowledge of national and international affairs, while Fox News viewers rank nearly dead last."

I went ahead and grabbed a poll graphic from that Pew study for you. It's pretty enlightening.

Poll graphic
Click to zoom

When it comes to people who actually know the facts about the issues, as opposed to opinion, FOX did a terrible job. At 37% to 35% you actually could've read random blogs and got better information than you got from FOX News. And, at 54% to FOX's 35%, Daily Show viewers were better informed than FOX viewers.

So, we have hard numbers to show that FOX News sucks. They have no business being offended when someone tells them to "Go f*ck yourselves." The best way to prevent accusations of being an almost completely useless news organization isn't to attack your critics.

The best way is to stop being an almost completely useless news organization.


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News Roundup for 4/21/10

Crazy-looking street person
Republicans' target audience

-Headline of the day-
"What's With the GOP and Microchips?"

the Georgia House Judiciary Committee held a hearing last week on a GOP proposal to "prohibit the involuntary implantation of microchips in human beings." This isn't a problem anywhere, but I suppose it pays to get a jump on this sort of thing. And the GOP has been getting a jump on it. The issue has been raised by Republicans in Virginia and many GOPers worry that healthcare reform will mean implanting microchips in your body -- probably before you're taken to the Death Panel.

"Was there some kind of memo about the dangers of microchips at some point?" asks Steve Benen. "Where did all of these concerns come from?" Luckily, Steve clears the questions up with a story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about one such unnamed voter who shares the GOP's microchip concerns.

"I'm also one of the people in Georgia who has a microchip," she told the paper. Turns out she just wants the "right to work without being tortured by co-workers who are activating these microchips by using their cell phones and other electronic devices."

"Microchips are like little beepers," she explained. "Just imagine, if you will, having a beeper in your rectum or genital area, the most sensitive area of your body. And your beeper numbers displayed on billboards throughout the city. All done without your permission."

So here's what I think; the GOP is trying to corner the market on the lunatic voter. You've got your paranoiacs with the birthers, your people with anger management problems with the teabaggers, and now your schizophrenics with their subcutaneous microchips.

So, if you're walking down the street and see some guy in a wedding dress, with a birdcage on his head, screaming about how the King of Prussia keeps stealing his butter, just turn to the person next to you, shake your head, and say, "Wow, how 'bout these Republicans, huh?" (Political Animal)

-FOX is the Lupus of news-
FOX commentator Bernie Goldberg took on The Daily Show's Jon Stewart. This turned out to be a mistake. It only gave him more ammo.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Bernie Goldberg Fires Back
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

I saw this last night and the foulmouthed Jay Leno was just as funny the second time. If you're a FOXbot and you're thinking of attacking Jon Stewart, please, please, please do it.

This makes for great TV. (Comedy Central)

-Bonus HotD-
"NY Times Magazine damns Politico with intended praise: Being first beats being correct."

No it doesn't. (Raw Story)

Debunking a Widespread Climate Lie

Tomorrow is Earth Day. The holiday was founded in 1970 and this year will mark the fortieth observance. So what was the original Earth Day all about? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explains the catalyst this way:

On June 22, 1969, the Cuyahoga River on the southern shores of Lake Erie caught fire as oil, chemicals, and other materials, which had oozed into the lake, somehow ignited. The fire captured national attention and made the people of the United States aware of the many insults that had been heaped upon the environment of our nation and of our planet. It also helped lay the foundation of NOAA's major coastal resource management responsibilities and usher in the environmental protection or green side of NOAA.

As a result of the Cuyahoga River fire and other horrendous environmental insults -- the decline of the bald eagle from the pesticide DDT, whales hunted to near extinction, and the Santa Barbara oil spil -- Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson (1916-2005) began planning in September 1969 for an environmental teach-in known as Earth Day...

That's right. A river caught fire. A river. It was so polluted it was actually inflammable. I distinctly remember this event, along with political cartoons joking that Lake Erie was so polluted you could walk across it; a joke that was only barely untrue. I was just seven, but things like water being on fire tend to stick with you. It's the sort of weird, real-world contradiction that kids -- OK, maybe only kids like me -- find fascinating.

Apparently though, the NOAA and myself remember everything wrong. And even the late Gaylord Nelson himself -- Earth Day's founder -- remembered it incorrectly. Earth Day wasn't about what an environmental nightmare the United States had become by the late sixties and early seventies. It was all about some crazy idea every scientist on the planet had called "global cooling."

See, it comes up somewhere every Earth Day. Here's R. Warren Anderson -- billed as a "research analyst," whatever the hell that means -- and Dan Gainor, a T. Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow, in 2006. Not exactly fresh, I know, but the right brushes the dust off the same old line every year and I know I can't go a month without seeing it repeated on some rightwing blog or twitter.

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, amidst hysteria about the dangers of a new ice age. The media had been spreading warnings of a cooling period since the 1950s, but those alarms grew louder in the 1970s.

Three months before, on January 11, The Washington Post told readers to get a good grip on your long johns, cold weather haters -- the worst may be yet to come, in an article titled Colder Winters Held Dawn of New Ice Age. The article quoted climatologist Reid Bryson, who said there's no relief in sight about the cooling trend.

Now I remember the Cuyahoga fire, but I don't remember a lot of "hysteria about the dangers of a new ice age." Of course, as I said, I was only seven. Obviously there's a lot about that time that I either don't remember or didn't pay any attention to in the first place. But here's the weird thing; not only don't I remember it, but neither does anyone else I could find -- that is, other than rightwingers who use this to make fun of climate scientists. And we all know about the right's respect for history.

In fact, it takes a rightwing approach to history (i.e., revisionism) to buy this, because recorded history doesn't remember this widespread global cooling hysteria either. In 2008, the American Meteorological Society went back and checked to see how prevalent this global cooling thing was. Turns out, it wasn't very prevalent at all. In looking back at published papers of the time [original PDF here], the AMS found that global cooling was definitely a minority opinion. They looked at published papers between 1965 and 1979. What they found was climate science in its infancy -- and very little talk of global cooling.

"The survey identified only 7 articles indicating cooling compared to 44 indicating warming. Those seven cooling articles garnered just 12% of the citations..." the AMS reported. So, not only were published papers arguing the case for global cooling rare, but -- accounting for only 12% of the citations -- they weren't very influential.

Global cooling "was never more than a minor aspect of the scientific climate change literature of the era, let alone the scientific consensus," the study found. The report goes on to call the idea that people in the climate science community were fixated on global cooling a "myth."

Now maybe it's just me, but this idea that scientists can't make up their minds between global warming and global cooling is starting to look like a bunch of BS. And the idea that global cooling was the reason Earth Day was founded is definitely BS. Remember that tomorrow, because you might hear it and the person you hear it from will either be a liar or a chump.

Feel free to inform them of that fact.


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News Roundup for 4/20/10

Man dress as fairy at pride parade
Sen. Lindsey Graham

-Headline of the day-
"Immigration Group Demands Lindsey Graham Admit He's Gay."

OK, now this is just stupid. There's a longstanding rumor that longstanding Senator Lindsey Graham -- a longstanding bachelor -- may be a longstanding gay. Everyone knows all about it. The rumor, I mean.

Anyway, Graham -- despite being one of the most conservative members of the Senate -- is often the target of wingnuts who think he isn't conservative enough... And, by "conservative," they mean "crazy." So, when Lindsey said something that wasn't crazy, an anti-immigration group went crazy for him.

See, Graham was speaking to the National Council of La Raza -- which everyone knows is a terrorist group bent on bringing whatever the Mexican version of Sharia law is to the US -- and he told them that "no group owns being an American." Hispanics can be American, blacks, whites, asians, eskimo... even Hispanics! Did I mention that Lindsey did all of this three years ago? I probably should have.

Despite the fact that Lindsey's statement was inarguably true and logical, William Sheen of Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee decide it was the worst thing ever.

"Sometimes I wonder what it would take to make a person sell their country out like that," Sheen said. "There's one thing that it could be, that I'm going to put out in the open here today. It's a secret Lindsey Graham has& I hope this secret it isn't being used as leverage over Senator Graham, so today I think Senator Graham, you need to come forward and tell people about your alternative lifestyle and your homosexuality."

Because, see, being gay or not gay has everything in the freakin' world to do with immigration. Did I mention that "Graham=gay" is a longstanding rumor that every person with a heartbeat in Washington knows about? I did? Good, because that's important. It's not much leverage for blackmail when you can tell someone, "Lindsey Graham is gay!" and they whisper back, "Yeah, that's what I heard too..."

Bonus fun: Huffington Post reports that "ALIPAC has posted the video titled 'US Senator Graham is Gay' -- and tagged with the keywords 'queer' and 'fag' -- on YouTube, where various news outlets have covered it."

You stay classy, guys... (Mediaite)

-It explains everything-
How does a guy like Larry King manage to marry and divorce so many babes? Science has the answer:

Biologists discover Larry King lures women with fleshy head growth
Click for full comic

You know, I've noticed that it's always the jerk with the fleshy head growth who gets all the chicks... (Go Comics)

-Bonus HotD-
"Former government employee Dana Perino doesn't trust the government."

That's not as crazy as it sounds. Perino used to work for the Bush White House's press office -- she lied her ass off for a living. Given her experience, I wouldn't trust government either. I'd assume it was filled with shameless, lying chipmunks like Dana Perino. (Think Progress)

It's Springtime for Goldman Sachs

This whole Goldman Sachs derivatives fraud thing is complicated. So complicated that the news media has been struggling to explain it. Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart went looking for some good explanation from the media and found instead clumsy metaphors and inapt analogies.

I think I found a clip that explains the whole thing pretty well. Here's Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel explaining Goldman Sachs' scheme:

So the short version of Goldman Sachs' fraud; they were selling Springtime for Hitler to unwitting investors. The details are a little different, but that's the broader idea.

See Goldman set up something they called ABACUS 2007-AC1, which was basically a big pile of sub-prime loans. They sold shares in Abacus, with the idea that investors would get paid back (with interest) when the mortgages were paid off.

Except that wasn't the idea. It's just what told these investors.

The real idea was that Abacus was crap. Goldman told investors that Abacus had been chosen as a good investment by ACA Management LLC. In reality, it was a bomb. Here's where things get ugly.

"The Securities and Exchange Commission says this is where Goldman lied," reports Arthur Delaney for the Huffington Post. "According to the [Securities and Exchange Commission's] complaint, the underlying portfolio was put together by John Paulson, a hedge fund manager who hand-picked the worst possible assets in hopes that they would default. He rightly anticipated that the housing market would soon crash, and that people put into mortgages they couldn't afford would default when they lost the ability to simply refinance based on rising home values."

So, like Springtime for Hitler, Abacus was designed to fail. And, unlike Springtime for Hitler, it served its intended purpose wonderfully. Paulson cleaned up by buying credit default swaps, which are basically insurance that pays if the mortgages default.

"[Goldman Sachs] arranged a transaction at Paulson's request in which Paulson heavily influenced the selection of the portfolio to suit its economic interests," the SEC charged, "but failed to disclose to investors, as part of the description of the portfolio selection process contained in the marketing materials used to promote the transaction, Paulson's role in the portfolio selection process or its adverse economic interests."

So basically, Paulson and Goldman created a big economic and financial fire bomb -- complete with investors -- for the sole purpose of collecting the insurance. Metaphorical arson to collect on a failing business. Paulson paid Goldman $15 million to create Abacus, for the sole purpose of watching it go down. It'd take more than a few of the marks with it and a good chunk of the global economy, but so what? This is business and it's a dog eat dog world out there. It's eat or be eaten, except these dogs were already incredibly well fed.

It's at about this time that we ought to be enjoying a little lesson in the nature of reality. Conservatives and Libertarians like to talk about the "invisible hand of the market," which is a self-correcting mechanism driven by the "enlightened self-interest" of guys like John Paulson. The moneyed elite would never screw things up this badly, because then they'd get screwed too.

But what all this pie-in-the-sky economic fantasizing overlooks is that a lot of people suck and that no one commits a crime with the intention of getting caught. People commit crimes because they think they can get away with them. Had Goldman's and Paulson's scheme gone off as planned, no one would ever be the wiser and they'd be a little bit more insanely wealthy than they already are. "Enlightened" and "self-interest" don't necessarily go hand in hand and the "invisible hand of the market" just slapped us upside the head.

Some are accusing the Security and Exchange Commission of politically motivated timing in charging Goldman Sachs with fraud. The charge is that the White House is using this as a way to drum up support for reforming Wall Street. But, like the "invisible hand of the market" idea, this argument is fatally flawed:

-Goldman and Paulson did this and they did it on their own schedule, not the SEC's or the White House's.

-If the timing is politically motivated, how badly would Wall Street need reform then? By this argument, you can just run out and find a case of massive fraud any time it's convenient for you -- it's all over the damned place. It would have to be near-constant. Critics of reform are basically arguing that things are even worse than the White House is saying and that's why we shouldn't do anything. That's not the most persuasive case in the world.

Our choices seem pretty clear here. We can either reform the way Wall Street works or we can sit through Springtime for Hitler again and again and again. Republicans and Wall Street will bring the popcorn.


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