No, the Government Doesn't "Just Print Money"

Printing moneyIt's not often that I blog about a letter to the editor in my local paper. Generally, one person's misinformed opinion isn't worth worrying about. But sometimes, the opinion expressed is so wrong, yet so widespread, that it must be addressed. I'll quote the whole thing here, so you can get the full impact.

[Wisconsin State Journal:]

It amazes me how supposedly intelligent folks can claim that the stimulus, bailout, bribery money is an actual benefit to those receiving it. You read about brain drain out of Wisconsin when it comes to jobs, but what about brain drain when it comes to intellect?

It's not hard to understand the simple concept of currency value. Print more money and the existing money becomes worth less. Print even more and it continues to drop. At some point it will become worthless. Read about Germany's Weimar government of the 1920s to get a glimpse of what it could be like here.

So when I hear professed intellectuals say that not taking $810 million in deflated dollars is insanity, I question their sanity. For every time you accept debt as a benefit, you widen the hole in the hull of the ship. That is true no matter what the new job scheme is. In the end it will still be debt, and people will be poorer than before or out of work because the stimulus jobs have run out.

We have joined the frogs in the pan, never realizing we are actually being boiled for dinner while thinking we are in our new swimming pool.

The $810 million referred to is stimulus money for high speed rail that our new -- and mostly brainless -- governor turned down. It may be the stupidest move a Wisconsin governor has ever made.

But my larger point is that the writer -- who I won't name here because I'm about to say unpleasant things about his intellect -- is factually wrong on just about every point. If you want an example of how badly our media is failing us, consider that someone can write something so ignorant without any fear of becoming the target of public ridicule.

For example, the government doesn't just print money. I've had to shoot this idea down more than once in conversation. And it's not just the right, I've had to address it in speaking to people about the Bush administration.

The government issues bonds. It's kind of like selling a loan. People buy those bonds and this covers the debt. In fact, most money is created by debt, since banks create money out of thin air when they give loans. No bank has cash reserves equal to the money it's loaned out. Money is created by debt and most of that money is speculative.

What the writer describes would result in a massive wave of inflation. In fact, he says, "Print more money and the existing money becomes worth less. Print even more and it continues to drop. At some point it will become worthless." And, even as he writes it, he fails to notice that it simply isn't happening. Currently, inflation is all but nonexistent, at an average of 1.64% last year. In 2009, when the stimulus was passed and the government was supposedly printing up all this worthless money and driving down the value of the dollar, inflation was actually a negative -- -0.34%. In other words, the value of a dollar went up.

Further, even if the government were simply printing money, how would that create debt? It'd be like cutting smaller pieces of pie; whether you slice it six ways or twelve, you don't wind up "owing" pie. It's impossible to cut it small enough that you wind up with a negative number of slices.

I guess what I'm getting at here is that, when it comes to economics, a lot of people are just dumb. It's only partially their fault -- we don't teach this stuff in school and we should. People are casting votes based on the economic mumbo-jumbo and that's an extremely serious problem. If we don't do something to raise the level of economic literacy in this country, we're heading for some terrible problems. Already, people who subscribe to this crap are being elected to office, where they're poised -- as Governor Walker is -- to wreak havoc on the economy, by virtue of their complete misunderstanding of the most very basic economic principles.

Until we make sure that our kids are learning how to be informed citizens by teaching civics and economics in high school, we're going to have to do this ourselves. If you hear someone making this argument -- and sooner or later, you will -- don't bite your tongue. Set them straight. Facts matter.

Because when people start making decisions based on this level of ignorance, we are really, really screwed.


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News Roundup for 1/28/11

Bristol Palin, abstinence hero

-Headline of the day-
"Furor at Washington U. nixes Bristol Palin appearance."

Dancing with the Stars celebrity Bristol Palin was scheduled to speak at Washington University is St. Louis on the subject of abstinence, but things went awry as her appearance was "overshadowed by controversy," in the words of the school. It may surprise you to know that Palin became a teenage mother by not practicing abstinence.

So, it seems students weren't too happy that some of their tuition money was going to a talk on abstinence by someone who wasn't very good at abstinence. "It's not necessarily in opposition to the ideas that are being presented," said Philip Thomas, a Washington U. student launched an online petition against the gig. "People are getting so angry because of the opposition to Palin's lack of expertise and the high cost she is charging." The whole thing cost $20,000 -- while the school was making budget cuts.

Seems to me Bristol Palin is famous for something other than sucking at dancing and abstinence. I'm sure it'll come to me eventually. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

-Factor this-
Ok, so Rep. Steve Cohen compared Republican lies to Nazi lies and that was the worst thing ever! So Megyn Kelly then took offense to the idea, put forth by a guest on her show, that Fox News calls people Nazis like once every 4 and a half minutes. So then, Jon Stewart put together clip showing that, yes, Fox News calls people Nazis like once every 4 and a half minutes and Megyn could stop whining about it. So then Bill O'Reilly gets all butt-hurt and...

You know what? It's all this big, long, crazy thing. Just watch the clip:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Bill O'Reilly Defends His Nazi Analogies
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

See that? That's called "logic." (Comedy Central)

-Bonus HotD-
"GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter: The Federal Government Can't Legislate Bike Paths Because They’re Unconstitutional."

And that's why you never see portraits of the founders on ten-speeds. (ThinkProgress)

On the Front Lines of the GOP's War on Math

Before we get started here, I just want to say that the next person who says that Egypt and Mubarak are important for stability in the region gets to shut up. Is Egypt looking real stable to you right now? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Here at home, where things are a little more stable, the only major skirmish right now is the Republican War on Math. If there's one thing that Americans can count on, it's that the GOP will remain unswayed by fact for quite some time. With the rise of the Tea Party on the right, we see an anti-fact movement taking hold of the party. From the raising of the flag at Iowa Jamma to the Soviet Union being brought down by Sputnik, in the hands of Republicans, facts become irrelevant things. Want Thomas Jefferson -- who actually wrote the divinity of Christ out of the Bible -- to be the most Christian man ever? Done. Need the American Civil War to be about anything other than slavery? You got it. Give them a little while and the right will be blaming FDR for America's humiliating loss in WWII.

So it shouldn't surprise anyone to learn that the Republican relationship with arithmetic is a rocky one. Numbers are, after all, one of the highest forms of truth. So, since no fact is immune to revision and twisting, numbers have found themselves in the GOP's crosshairs surveyor's marks.

The latest salvo in the Republican War on Math comes in the form of an attack on the concepts of addition and subtraction. See, it turns out that Republicans want them to be the same thing. In this case, if you add to the deficit, you act surprised that you haven't reduced the deficit. Observe:

[Steve Benen:]

The day of President Obama's inauguration, the federal budget deficit left by the Republican administration was $1.3 trillion. After some additional economy-saving measures were added to the mix, the 2009 deficit reached $1.4 trillion. Last year, things improved slightly, and the deficit fell to $1.29 trillion.

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office warned lawmakers that the budget picture was poised to get worse again, projecting a $1.5 trillion deficit this year.

Summarizing the thoughts of many, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) told
Roll Call, "I think everyone is in a collective state of shock right now over the CBO numbers."

Yes, how completely surprising. After all, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that continuing Bush's tax cuts for top earners would increase the deficit. So Republicans bullied Obama into continuing those tax cuts. Now it turns out the deficit will increase. How did that happen? I can see how that would come as a tremendous shock to Sen. Kirk. Who could've foreseen such an unfortuitous turn of events? If only we had some sort of agency that, you know, dealt with budget numbers coming out of Congress. Some sort of Office of Congressional Budgets or Budgets of Congress Office or something that could warn us that these things would happen. Oh well, if wishes were horses...

"It's unclear to me why Republicans aren't confronted with hysterical laughter when they claim credibility on fiscal issues," writes Benen. "This is a party that inherited a massive surplus a decade ago, when we were actually paying off our debt. The GOP proceeded to squander the surplus, add $5 trillion to the debt in just eight years, and then demand Democrats clean up their mess."

That's because Democrats are good with numbers and facts and all those things the Founders clearly had no time for. Republicans? Why they're Idea People. Big Idea People, with big, big dreams. And they aren't going to let little things like provable facts and clearly predictable consequences stand in their way. That's for the Poindexters with their slide-rules and whatever those giant watch things with all the buttons are for... Whaddya call 'em? "Calculators," yeah. Those Poindexters with their calculators and sums and operators and decimal points. Elitist snobs, if you ask Republicans.

So, the War on Math isn't going so well. Turns out addition and subtraction are two entirely different things. Republicans can either play by math's rules or make up their own.

Of course, they make up their own, so the War on Math isn't going very well.


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News Roundup for 1/27/11

National Zoo logo
Future home of Sens. Vitter and Paul

-Headline of the day-
"Rand Paul, David Vitter join forces to violate Constitution."

According to the report, "Freshman Tea Party pseudo-libertarian Sen. Rand Paul and Louisiana embarrassment David Vitter are introducing legislation that will end birthright citizenship. While birthright citizenship stems directly from the 14th Amendment, which means that banning it would require a constitutional amendment, Vitter and Paul have figured out a loophole: Their bill claims that the 14th Amendment doesn't mean what it says. Brilliant!"

While Randy and Dave say they "do not believe that the 14th Amendment confers birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens," the amendment itself says, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." So, yeah, that's exactly what it does. Sorry guys.

So, basically, the idea is to define the Fourth Amendment for the Supreme Court, so they can't say it means what it says. Do I need to point out that this is stupid and would never work in a million years?

I mean, as long as we're writing laws that hinge on deliberately misunderstanding what the Constitution clearly states, why don't we write one that defines the Third Amendment guarantee that you won't be required to house soldiers as really meaning that David Vitter and Rand Paul have to be on display in a cage at the National Zoo?

And Dave and Randy wouldn't be able to complain, because it says so right there in the Constitution. What, do they hate America? (War Room)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, do you want to go to a magical place? How about...

AT&T's real boy now! (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"'Tea Party News Brief': The New News Network For the Insane."

I can't do better than Wonkette, who say the internet news outlet was necessary, because "Fox News seemed suspiciously lucid and organized." (Wonkette)

On Milbank's Palin Embargo

I'm not completely sold on Dana Milbanks's embargo on Sarah Palin news for the month of February. Personally, I'd like the unpopular Palin and the equally brainless demagogue Michele Bachmann to become the two vacant faces of the Republican Party. The only downside to this that I can see is that people will start equating a midwestern accent with idiocy.

In any case, it's not February yet, so deciding to join in or to violate the ban is a moot point. Which is good, because it turns out someone told Sarah to say something clever and she's extremely proud of herself.


Former Alaska GOP Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday night that President Barack Obama's call for "winning the future" during his State of the Union address is best framed by the acronym it shares with a much different phrase -- "wtf."

"That was a tough speech to sit through and try to stomach," Palin said during an interview with Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren.

"His theme last night was wtf, winning the future," she continued. "I thought, okay, that acronym -- spot on. There were a lot of wtf moments throughout that speech."

"Palin, seemingly pleased with her joke, repeated the line later in the interview while poking Obama for referencing Sputnik in another section of his address," the report goes on. It's not hard to imagine her clapping like a delighted toddler when she was told everyone would think she thought of it.

This is one reason why I'm not sold on a Palin embargo -- she's completely outside the mainstream and, the more people realize this, the more they realize they don't agree with other Republicans either. It pays to remember that an address Palin called "a tough speech to sit through and try to stomach" enjoyed 91% approval among respondents to a Knowledge Networks insta-poll. Only 9% disapproved. You want an example of someone way outside the mainstream? I think holding an opinion only 9% agree with qualifies.

Here's how you could sum up the entire political belief system of Sarah Palin and her followers: if Barack Obama does it, it's wrong. It doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in the idea of a President Palin -- the Oval Office is not an office of reaction, but of pro-action. She'd have to come up with a couple two-three ideas of her own. So far, there's been no evidence that she's capable of that. Palin is a reflection of her followers, who might as well march around in circles with misspelled signs announcing, "WE'RE AGAINST THINGS!" Being capable of only negative opinions and no original thought can only take you so far -- a one season run on The Learning Channel seems to be the ceiling for that kind of "talent."

So, while Milbank has a point -- Palin is a spotlight-grabbing, lens-and-microphone-seeking egotist -- it's also true enabling Sarah Palin's fixation on Sarah Palin doesn't help her at all. And it doesn't help the GOP or the Tea Party. Unpopular, witless, devoid of anything resembling original thought, Palin can only help Democrats.

Give her enough rope and she'll not only hang herself, but everyone associated with her.


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News Roundup for 1/26/11

Animation of Biden excited
Knocking it out of the park

-Headline of the day-
"Poll: High Marks for Obama's State of the Union Speech."

President Obama killed last night. He destroyed. He left Paul Ryan looking like a kid who forgot his homework and Michele Bachmann looking even crazier than usual. According to the report, "91 percent of those who watched the speech approved of the proposals Mr. Obama put forth during his remarks. Only nine percent disapproved."

Further, 82% like his plans for the economy, 75% said they thought "the president's plans would make America more competitive in the world economy," and 75% thought "the plans outlined in his speech would create jobs."

Even healthcare reform got a boost. 65% say they like the reform law now, up nine points from pre-address numbers.

I think the takeaway for the White House here is clear: be on the teevee all the damned time! (CBS News)

-And lobbyists, too-
What the lottery says about our government.

Because there's nothing out there but stuff about the State of the Union and there's only so much you can say about it, OK? (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

-Bonus HotD-
"Michele Bachmann Too Crazy for the Right?"

That'd be a good trick. But if anyone can pull it off, it's Shelly. (Little Green Footballs)

-And another thing-
If you missed last night's State of the Union address, check out Wonkette's live blog of the event. It's totally accurate in every detail. (Wonkette)


News Roundup for 1/25/11

Would it surprise you to learn this guy's a dick?

-Headline of the day-
"Rep. Peter King: '80 Percent Of Mosques In This Country Are Controlled By Radical Imams'."

GOP Rep. Peter King of New York went on the Laura Ingraham Show, reached into his pants, and pulled a completely made-up statistic out of his butt. This being talk radio -- and, specifically, Ingraham's radio show -- such behavior is encouraged.

Asked how many mosques in America were "infected" with "radical jihad sentiment," Petey answered that "over 80 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams."

His source for this claim? I mentioned it already. It was his ass. According to the report, "For his part, King has said he is willing to be called a 'bigot' if that's what it takes to continue his witchhunt into Muslim American communities."

Mission accomplished there, Pete. You're a bigot.

Now, how do you feel about being called an asshole? (Think Progress)

-Too easy...-
Jon Stewart catches Fox's Megyn Kelly claiming that no one on her network ever compares anyone to Nazis.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
24 Hour Nazi Party People
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

Bonus fun: go back in time to May of last year, when The Daily Show commentator Lewis Black said that Glenn Beck had "Nazi Tourette's."

Fox is like what the History Channel used to be: 24/7 Nazis. (Comedy Central)

-Bonus HotD-
"Cantor invites Pelosi to sit together at SOTU."

Nancy said no, she already has a date to the big congress prom with another nice Republican fella. He bought her a corsage and everything.

Nancy Pelosi; finally one of the popular girls. (MSNBC)

A Stealth Attack on Democracy

I'm running a little late today, so this one's going to be pretty short. I just want to draw your attention to a piece by Andy Kroll at Mother Jones:

On Wednesday, House Republicans plan to rush to the floor a bill that would eliminate the federal government's presidential financing system—in the process, violating recent pledges by the GOP's leadership of increased transparency and debate in Congress. Not one hearing has been held on the legislation, nor has a single commitee debated its merits. If it passes, it will roll back more than 30 years of law born out of the Watergate scandal, eviscerating one of the few remaining protections stopping corporations from heavily influencing, if not outright buying, American elections, reform experts say.

Democratic lawmakers and campaign finance reformers blasted the bill, not only for seeking to kill public financing but for breaking the GOP's campaign promises on transparency and accountability. "This is a sneak attack on the system," says Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). "It's a total break from their public pledge for transparency and openness." Fred Wertheimer, a longtime campaign finance reform advocate at Democracy 21, called the bill "a gross abuse of the legislative process."

Now seems like an excellent time to bring up the fact that the vast majority of Americans believe that corporate campaign cash is bribery. A Survey USA poll taken in August found that 77% of respondents, when given a choice between describing corporate money as "free speech" or "bribery," chose "bribery." Clearly, now is the time to make corporate money even more dominant in elections. If most people knew about this, it seems likely that the dominant opinion would be that it was an astonishingly corrupt piece of legislation. No wonder House Republicans put it in stealth mode.

But nearly as bad is the hypocrisy. According to Kroll:

House Republicans' much-touted "Pledge to America" bashed Democrats for "limiting openness and debate" during the legislative process and vowed to "ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square." The Pledge says the GOP "will fight to ensure transparency and accountability in Congress and throughout government." And in House Speaker John Boehner's first remarks after taking control of Congress' lower chamber, he spoke of a greater emphasis on "real transparency" and "greater accountability." He went on, "Above all else, we will welcome the battle of ideas, encourage it, and engage in it—openly, honestly, and respectfully."

So Republicans will, in the words of their "Pledge to America," "make government more transparent in its actions, careful in its stewardship, and honest in its dealings" -- except when they won't. Apparently, they'll only be open about legislation they can be proud of. Shameful bills that people probably won't like will still come in under the radar.

Add this to the fact that the GOP broke several items in their pledge on the first day and you wind up with one undeniable fact -- Republicans are still liars. Imagine my surprise.


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Stories to Watch: 1/24/11

Finally broke down and decided to try my hand at sourdough. All the instructions for starter I'd found sounded like a lot of work. And then I found this. Turns out you can force yeast into dormancy by refrigerating it. You can even freeze the starter and wake it up later when you need it. Yeast are hardy little critters. Now here's the news...

RIP Jack LaLanne.

Rahm Emanuel is ordered off the mayoral ballot in Chicago by an appellate court for not meeting the residency requirements. It's actually kind of a bullshit decision -- and that opinion comes from someone who doesn't think much of him.

President Obama's polling bounce is putting possible opponents off their game.

Republicans take credit for job numbers they had nothing to do with.

Hopelessly insane blogger and paid CNN pundit Erick Erickson says "mass bloodshed" may be necessary if something isn't done about Roe v. Wade. Funny how the religious nuts always forget the "pro-life" part of being "pro-life," isn't it?

Michele Bachmann's presidential maybe-campaign is off to a marvelous start as she declaring the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence wonderful, then going on to say "the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States." No Shelly, they didn't.

There may be a coming revolt among the 'baggers if Republicans insist screwing with Social Security. In related news, Republicans are eager to screw with Social Security.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is an empty suit.

Finally, Tim Pawlenty has released a campaign ad for his as-yet unannounced presidential bid. It goes way over the top in trying to make the boring Minnesota guy seem inspiring and winds up leaving us wondering it an asteroid is about to collide with the Earth.

News Roundup for 1/24/11

After retiring, Joe Lieberman plans to celebrate his re-election

-Headline of the day-
"Lieberman to retire in 2012 but 'confident he would have won' a fifth term."

Joementum's quitting the whole governing business because he wants to retire to Sussex Downs to keep bees. Or something like that.

Whatever the reason, it's super-important that you know it isn't because he didn't stand a chance in hell of being re-elected. That's just a horrible lie made up by commies, terrorists, and the 66% of Connecticut voters who say they'd replace him.

Of course, you might be asking what difference it makes. If Lieberman's retiring, why would he even bother to speculate on an election that's never going to happen?

Ego, young grasshopper. Ego. (New Haven Register)

-Because that's just too short-
Rush Limbaugh pegged hypocrisy meters nationwide when he critiqued President Obama's State of the Union speech in advance:

"I know a lot of you don't want to watch this... I'm like you. Who wants to sit there and listen to somebody lie for an hour and fifteen minutes?" Rush asked.

I know what you're thinking and it's not fair. Rush's show is three full hours, so there's a difference. (Mediaite)

"78-year-old woman gets death threats after Beck shouts conspiracy."

But remember, it's completely irresponsible to say that rightwing hate talk inspires violence.(Raw Story)

The GOP's Job-Killing Agenda and the Poll Tax

"I'd like to vote, but I can't afford to."

Any society in which that statement can be made has no business calling itself a democracy. Yet, if Republicans in Wisconsin have their way, it'll not only be possible to make that statement, but -- in some places -- common.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:]

Republicans plan a two-pronged approach to require voters to show photo identification at the polls, with the quick passage of a bill followed by an attempt to amend the Wisconsin Constitution that would make it difficult to undo the ID requirement.

"Photo ID is really going to be the foundation of ensuring fair and accurate elections," said Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale).

Stone and Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) introduced their bill Wednesday. They said they will also take steps to amend the state constitution, a years-long process that would require the measure to be approved in this legislative session, again in the session that starts in January 2013, and then by voters in a statewide referendum.

If the amendment fails, the bill is still law. The amendment is only to make this law harder to undo.

Wisconsin Republicans took over the Governor's mansion and both houses of the legislature in the last elections. And they did so on a platform of "jobs, jobs, jobs."

But since taking office, Governor Scott Walker has managed only to kill job creation in the state, by chasing away federal money for a high speed train, making wind energy all but illegal, and halting construction of a biomass energy plant. Having promised Wisconsinites a quarter of a million new jobs, Walker is already in the hole by tens of thousands.

But Walker never promised good jobs -- and he didn't promise a net gain in employment -- and there's more than one way to lure business to a state. The pretense that businesses look at low taxes and nothing else when it comes to choosing locations has always been a Republican mainstay, but I doubt most of them actually believe it. Too many of them come directly from big business themselves to guy that load.

But one thing that definitely does attract business is cheap labor. If you doubt that, then ask yourself why companies outsource to the third world, where workers are paid a few dollars per day. How do you get cheap labor? Supply and demand. If the supply of laborers is greater than the demand for labor, then labor is cheap. And this formulation gets truer as the imbalance becomes greater. More unemployed, cheaper wages. If you want to keep wages low, low, low, you create a surplus of job seekers.

Am I saying that Walker and his GOP crew are deliberately trying to create unemployment to lure businesses? There's no solid evidence of that, but it sure looks that way. And by adding in what amounts to a poll tax, in the form of the nation's strictest voter ID scheme, they'll manage to keep a lot of the people most affected by their economic policies from voting.

The not-by-any-means-liberal LaCrosse Tribune calls the voter ID bill a solution to a "non-existent problem." Others point to those affected.

[O. Ricardo Pintenel, Journal Sentinel:]

...Milwaukee County residents of color are the target - intended or not. A 2005 study [pdf] by John Pawasarat at the Employment and Training Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee bears this out.

Less than half (47%) of Milwaukee County African-American adults and 43% of Hispanic adults have a valid driver's license compared to 85% of white adults in the balance" of the state, Pawasarat wrote. "The situation for young adults, ages 18-24 is even worse - with only 26% of African-Americans and 34% of Hispanics . . . ."

The genders break out this way statewide: The percentage of African-American and Hispanic men with driver's licenses are 45% and 54%, respectively. For African-American and Hispanic women, it's 51% and 41%. And Pawasarat told me that these percentages likely have worsened since 2005.

Basically, what we're looking at is making it harder for the poor to vote, while "solving" a problem that doesn't actually exist. No one can find any instance of illegal voting affecting election results. As it is with most states, the number of illegal voters in any election year counts in the low tens -- fifteen, twenty maybe. Not the thousands and thousands it would take to throw an election and justify such a draconian law.

So the GOP screws the poor, making them desperate for work and driving wages down, while keeping those same poor from the polls, where they'd no doubt vote in their own best interests -- interests that are most definitely not shared by the Republican Party and their job-killing agenda.


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News Roundup for 1/21/11

Is her name really Michelle Bachmann?

-Headline of the day-
"PolitiFact: Bachmann’s claims ‘false’ more often than any other politician."

Rep. Michelle Bachmann lives in a different world from the rest of us. And it's costing her, because that world doesn't look anything like the world we live in. See, Shelly has some weird hope that she stands a chance in hell of becoming president, so she took a trip to Iowa, to seed the fertile ground in advance of the caucuses.

"Only a day before the congresswoman's Friday visit to Iowa," the report tells us, "the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact noted that she had made false statements more often than any public official."

"We have checked her 13 times, and seven of her claims to be false and six have been found to be ridiculously false," PolitiFact editor Bill Adair told Minnesota Public Radio. Do the math. It turns out that Shelly tells the truth... Let's see... 13-7-6=never. A trip through PolitiFact's file on Bachmann confirms my math. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, representative from the great state of Minnesota, is not on the record as ever having said anything true.

So, if she says she has a chance of ever being president, well... you know. (Raw Story)

-Rush Limbaugh, polyglot-
Stephen Colbert translates Rush Limbaugh's racist rant.

"My favorite donut is every donut."

Stay classy, Rush. (Crooks and Liars)

-Bonus HotD-
"Historian: Thomas Jefferson supported `government run health care'."

That's right, Thomas Jefferson was a liberal commie!!! (Plum Line)

Republicans Strike Another Blow in the War on Math

The Republican War on Math marches on, as the House's farthest-right members, in the form of the Republican Study Committee, put forward a list of cuts they say amount to $2.5 trillion over ten years. By cutting, non-defense discretionary spending, and then holding spending to 1996 levels for ten years, they promise it's going to save a specific amount. However, when asked how these savings are going to be achieved at this specific level, things get a little murky -- as Rep. John Campbell demonstrates:

[Partial transcript from Think Progress (emphasis their's):]

CAVUTO: I don't want to pick it apart too much, because you always appreciate the efforts at spending cuts, but a lot of these eliminations and reductions, Congressman, realistically come to $330 billion of the $2.5 trillion of proposed cuts. So, in other words, the real meat, up-front cuts, while still substantial, about $330 billion, ain't the $2.5 trillion. So what is the more realistic figure?

CAMPBELL: The more realistic figure than the two, oh, you mean other than what's listed on here?

"It's not surprising, of course, that the RSC would be hesitant to place on paper the practical implications of its plan," TP explains. "Returning non-defense discretionary spending to the 2006 level -- and then keeping it there -- would result in billions of dollars in cuts to vital and popular programs and agencies like Pell Grants, the FBI, the Coast Guard, the National Institutes of Health and the federal prison system."

As Frank James put it for NPR, "[I]f this list creates any winners, it will be the lobbyists who will bill a lot of hours for trying to ease their clients off the trapdoor." Unfortunately, the increase in jobs for lobbyists won't offset the decrease in jobs for everyone else.

[Steve Benen:]

To get there, these Republicans would go after plenty of familiar targets: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts, Amtrak, and U.S. Agency for International Development. But given that the U.S. just doesn't spend that much on any of this, the Republican Study Committee has to dig much deeper, going after transportation and infrastructure projects, energy research, aid to states, legal assistance for low-income families, family planning funds, and assistance to American businesses seeking to export their products overseas.


Instead of working on creating jobs, we're left with a new House majority that either (a) wants to ignore the problem; or (b) wants to deliberately make it worse. For all the Republican excitement about the midterm results, I suspect the GOP just wasn't listening very closely to what Americans said they're concerned about most.

All of this puts House Speaker John Boehner on the spot. He's already getting flack for not being serious about cuts. Imagine what things will be like when he fails to deliver on the empty promises of the RSC. The whole thing seems designed to make absolutely no one happy -- in part because it's never going to happen anyway and in part because it leaves the bloated military budget untouched, while a majority of voters -- even Republicans -- want to see the military cut. We aren't in the Cold War anymore, after all -- we don't need a overly-expensive Cold War military.

The problem with the Republican War on Math is that math is reality. Pick a fight with reality and you're going to lose. It doesn't matter if you make up crazy numbers or believe with all your little wingnut heart that your plan will work. What matters are the numbers and the numbers just don't work.


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News Roundup for 1/20/11

Michelle Obama takes another life

-Headline of the day-
"Safety Group Accidentally Touches Off Accusations That Michelle Obama Is Killing Pedestrians."

Michelle Obama wants you to get up off your fat ass -- and die.

At least, that's how the rightwing blogosphere is framing a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association that pedestrian deaths had risen slightly last year. "A focus on liveable communities, or 'get moving' health and fitness programs may increase walking and pedestrian-vehicle conflicts," the report says. It doesn't say a damned thing about Michelle Obama.

Still, The Daily Caller, a "news blog" set up by former rightwing bow tie addict Tucker Carlson, posted the headline, "Highway safety spokesperson blames pedestrian deaths on Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign." After it was pointed out that this was complete bullshit, DC added a question mark to the headline. Needless to say, this isn't any better, since the only people asking the question are DC and the nuts who take it seriously.

"That makes it seems like we're blaming Michelle Obama's program," GHSA executive director Barbara Harsha told TPM. "That's ridiculous."

Yes, it is ridiculous. But that's the rightwing blogosphere for you. (Talking Points Memo)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, Republicans want to save America by repealing the healthcare reform law! Yay!

Let's take look at what this evil bit a commie government social engineering does:

Click to read full post

Thank goodness the GOP got here in time... (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Lieberman Says It's 'Too Early' to Endorse Obama."

He's got to find out if Palin's running, first. (Political Wire)

For the GOP, We are All Just 'Minor Things'

Here's a short list of things that are the height of tyranny -- at least, in terms of healthcare reform -- according to Republicans (and courtesy of Crooks and Liars):

Boehner and caption, 'No We Can't'-Excluding children under age 19 with pre-existing conditions
-Lifting lifetime and annual limits on benefits paid. No longer can a price be put on someone's life.
-Allowing young adults to remain on their parents' policies.
-Closing the Medicare Part D donut hole for seniors.

These things must be repealed or the Republic shall surely fall! So the party's majority in the House of Representatives voted to save America from communism last night, passing a bill to repeal the healthcare reform law. Unfortunately, the effort is doomed to fail and is seen as symbolic (read, "political theater"). The hyperbolically and inaccurately titled "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act" has no chance of ever becoming law itself. It would have to pass in the Senate -- where it stands no chance -- then to the president's desk -- where it'll be surely vetoed. Then it's back to Congress, where there's no chance of a veto override. The only thing more doomed than this bill are Sarah Palin's presidential ambitions.

Republicans allowed no amendments. It was total repeal or no repeal, because no repeal is -- frankly -- better for them. Like so many other wedge issues (i.e., abortion, gay rights, etc.), Republicans have no intention of doing anything about healthcare reform. Sure, they'll nibble away at the edges, but once the law is gone, they've killed the golden goose. It's very, very, very important that the GOP keep their pet wedge issues alive forever, so they can "fight" them for eternity.

There's been talk of defunding some provisions of healthcare reform, but which ones? It's the individual mandate that's the most unpopular part and that's just a tax penalty -- how do you defund that? On the other hand, things like closing the donut hole for seniors could be defunded, but it would be political suicide. So that's not going to happen. The Republican base has a wildly inaccurate idea of what the GOP could choke off funding for, which isn't extremely surprising -- they've been listening to the GOP and rightwing media. And those are the top two producers of raw, unrefined BS in the nation.

Still, it does give you an idea of how the GOP feels about you. Short answer: they think you're a gullible dope, they need your vote, but otherwise could give a crap either way. Consider that list of things this bill would repeal, then check out this quote from Republican Rep. Steve King:

"I actually don't think [full repeal] would be met with tremendous backlash. There are Republicans who support those ideas and we start tomorrow the process of replacement of 'Obamacare.'

"It will not work for us to say there's a certain component of Obamacare that has some merit and so therefore we want to leave that in place and repeal the rest. This is too many pages, it's too cluttered, it's too big an argument to allow it to turn on one or two minor things.

To which Steve Benen responds:

In this context, it appears protection for children with pre-existing conditions is a "minor thing."

I wonder how many of the millions of families already benefiting from the Affordable Care Act would dismiss their benefits as "minor things"?

Also keep in mind, King isn't exactly cagey about his intentions. There is no alternative reform package from him or his party -- the goal is to gut the American health care system now, and then maybe figure something else out later.

And as we're about to find out, the entire House Republican caucus is on board with exactly this approach.

It probably pays to point out that, as fruitless as the effort is likely to be, there's an extremely thin (about three atoms wide) chance of it actually becoming law. Republicans are willing to risk that, in order to make a big show of trying to repeal something they have no intention of repealing. They're willing to return the country to an unsustainable status quo, because they whipped up a wedge issue by lying to everyone about healthcare reform. What's more important than lifting lifetime caps on benefits or allowing kids with pre-existing conditions to get care?

The 2012 elections.

Don't kid yourself, you're the most important person in the world when you stand in that voting booth. But once you step out, the Republican Party doesn't give a damn about you.


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Birth of a Conspiracy Theory

Monday, a pipe bomb was discovered in a backpack left along the route of a Martin Luther King Day unity march in Spokane, Washington. The bomb was described by the FBI as a case of "domestic terrorism."


In an interview on MSNBC cable's The Rachel Maddow Show, Spokesman-Review reporter Thomas Clouse said confidential sources told him that the device was equipped with a remote control detonator and contained shrapnel.

A bomb disposal unit was called in and neutralized the device with a robot. The FBI said in a statement on Tuesday that "the backpack contained a potentially deadly destructive device, likely capable of inflicting multiple casualties."

"You could describe it as an improvised destructive device... or improvised explosive device," Frank Harrill of the Spokane FBI office said. "...the timing and placement of the backpack [along the march route] is inescapable."

But "inescapable" conclusions lead different people to different places. Where the average, non-crazy person would conclude that the bomb was meant to send a message about Dr. King, the marchers, or the type of people who might be those marchers (i.e., liberals and minorities), others come to conclusions far more devious and sinister get stupid.

To view all this stupid, we need only head over to Jim Hoft's Gateway Pundit blog. You may remember Hoft as a clown too dumb to find his butt with both hands, a flashlight, and a map. So you can imagine what his fan-base is like. Of course, we don't have to imagine, do we? We can just meander over and have a little look-see.

Hoft mentions the bomb scare and, perhaps having been burned by his own idiocy so recently, comes up with very little to say about it other than, "Has the media started blaming the tea party yet?" As always, a wingnut plays the victim card right off the bat. I guess they learned the value of the preemptive attack from Bush.

Then he leaves it up to the nutjobs, who get right to work piecing together a conspiracy theory that blames liberals for the attempted bombing.

MrGoodWench commented:

Now who would benefit from this "bomb" and the media publicity following it?
So who would do such a thing?


Taqiyy. commented:

#6 nails it. Who benefits? Alinsky and Obama and the State-run Media. That's who.

Speaking of nails.

And do you know how close Spokane is to Alaska? You know what I'm gettin' at.

To bed with me. Goonight. I blame Miller, a Union-run beer co., for my semi-incoherency.

Still, my spelling is better than our average troll. How the f sad is THAT?!


Tank commented:

Spokane + MLK Day March = False flag.


olm commented:

Nope, not the Tea Party but white supremists/Aryan nation types. Just heard it on the top of the hour newsbreak.
You would think there would be some learning curve here but apparently not.
They are ramping up a Clinton/OKC part 2 darn it. Or something.

Aha! Liberals planted the bomb!

The thought processes here -- if you could call it that -- astound and amaze me. You'd think the mental gymnastics it takes to believe what you want to believe would be more trouble than they're worth. After all, no one else buys this crap, so why even bother to stitch it all together? Still, they seem to have a talent for it. Hoft posted his piece at 10:51 PM and the snakepit had a conspiracy theory all cooked up and ready to serve by 11:11 PM.

This obviously all crackpottery, but let's look at the facts anyway.


In the 1980s and 1990s, individuals with ties to extremist and hate groups were convicted of planting and detonating homemade pipe bombs at various locations in Spokane and nearby Coeur d’Alene and Hayden Lake, Idaho, which served as headquarters of the Aryan Nations.

The FBI released photographs of two T-shirts found in the backpack after it was disarmed Monday.

One of those T-shirts was from a cancer fund-raising event in 2010 in Stevens County, in northeastern Washington. Individuals linked to the earlier bombings in Eastern Washington and North Idaho had ties to militia and Christian Identity groups in Stevens County.

Even in Hatewatch's comment thread, we already see the conspiracy theory spreading. "Sounds more like a left winger setting up a blame-the-right incident," comments user "Mary."

These are the people we're supposed to have a rational, respectful debate with. Frankly, I don't see how that's possible.


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News Roundup for 1/18/11

Man makes exasperated face
GOP voter reacts to latest Palin tweet

-Headline of the Day-
"Even Republicans say media handled shooting better than Sarah Palin did."

Turns out that constantly reminding everyone that she's the real victim following the events in Tucson hasn't been the smartest way for Sarah Palin to go. Would'a guessed?

Polling shows the public thinks pretty much everyone handled things better than Sarah -- including the media, who failed miserably right off the bat by declaring Gabrielle Giffords dead. Even Republicans think she did a pretty crappy job, with only 48% approving. Meanwhile, the media scores 53%

And President Obama? He's Republican voters' new favorite thing, with 70% approving of his handling of the incident. "If Palin wanted to cast this conflict as a standoff against her familiar antagonist, the 'lamestream media,'" Greg Sargent writes, "then the lamestream media won hands down."

Hey Sarah, how's that whiny, victimy thing workin' out for ya? (Plum Line)

-Regulation gone mad-
Paul Krugman has a pretty good find. He catches the Attorney General for the State of Texas saying, "It is almost the height of insanity of bureaucracy to have the EPA regulating something that is emitted by all living things." Actually, it was Think Progress' Joe Romm who made the catch and Krugman writes, "As Joe points out, this argument says that we should adopt an equally laissez-faire attitude toward sewage."

Krugman goes on to find a 1858 article in The Economist [pdf], which does exactly that, which is pretty funny. "[T]here was a time when conservatives did, in fact, argue for doing nothing about effluent of any kind," he says.

But it got me thinking; seems to me that someone else made the same argument once, only with a lot more satire. Then it hit me -- Al Franken, on his old radio show. I don't remember who the other guy was -- Joe Conason, maybe?

"It enables us to create great art and to raise great kids. To travel to the moon, to hit homeruns, or simply to grow old with the people we love -- without exploding... Feces: They call it pollution, we call it life." (Paul Krugman)

-Bonus HotD-
"David Frum Reacts To Hannity's Palin Interview: 'She Should Stop Talking Now'."

Yeah, what are the odds of that happening? (Talking Points Memo)

Poor, Poor Sarah Palin

Palin scowlsOne thing I've believed for a long time is something I believe is obvious -- you don't get to decide what other people find offensive. If you say something and someone is insulted by it, then the wisest thing to do is explain that you didn't put that very well, apologize, and move on. It's a pretty simple concept. Even in cases where you believe you're right, just drop it and move on. Maybe you didn't mean it the way it was taken, maybe you meant it exactly that way, but are surprised the other person found it so offensive, maybe they're completely misunderstanding what you said -- whatever, doesn't matter. Apologize and move on. If you get bogged down in an argument over whether there's any cause for offense, you're going to lose the thread of your conversation and get stuck arguing about an issue that simply isn't the point. Needless to say, this is less than constructive. If you unintentionally hurt someone's feelings, apologize and let it go, because -- no matter what it was you meant to say -- those hurt feelings are real.

The right has never gotten this. When they say something that's offensive, they often stick to their guns and argue that you have no right to take offense. You see it all the time. What should've been a simple, momentary distraction becomes an issue all its own. And, as all of these tertiary distractions snowball, Republicans suddenly find themselves on the defensive, fighting battles that have absolutely nothing to do with the original point. No wonder conservatives make a deliberate effort to stay on message and all recite exactly the same words -- get them to wing it for a second and everything goes spiraling completely out of control, as they skirmish over idiotic trivia like word-choice. It's like a political version of adult ADD.

The latest example of this is Sarah Palin's use of the term "blood libel" to explain that she's been the real victim in the Tucson shooting incident. When some took offense at the term, the smart thing to do would have been to say, "Blogger Glenn Reynolds used that term and I thought it sounded nifty! That's what it means? Yikes! I sure didn't mean that!"

But, of course, that's not what she did at all. And that's not what the rest of the right did. Using the term suddenly became all the rage.

Turns out there's a flip-side to this whole "you don't get to decide what other people find offensive" thing. There are people who are going to take offense at everything -- even the fact that they've offended you. Conservatives in general and Sarah Palin in particular have worn a hole in their victim cards, portraying every perceived slight as part of some liberal conspiracy to wipe out conservatism forever.

[Alex Pareene, Salon:]

All of the old white guys pictured above voted against the establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. (John McCain did, in 2008, apologize for his vote.) 28 years later, it's hard to imagine even a deeply Republican Congress opposing a holiday dedicated to Dr. King -- in part because some contemporary conservatives like to pretend the civil rights activist was or would be a Republican, but mostly because conservatives have spent years pretending to be a persecuted minority group.

That's why something like Sarah Palin claiming to be a victim of "blood libel" doesn't raise an eyebrow among the true believers. It's the myth that keeps the checks rolling in for most right-wingers. The liberals are all-powerful and they oppress us.

It's especially rich coming from Palin, obviously. The only thing the former governor seems to enjoy more than attacking her political opponents is acting like the entire world is aligned against her and her poor family. A tasteless joke from a late night comedian isn't simply part of the cost of living a public life, it's more proof that a cabal of liberal elites is devoted to the relentless persecution of innocent conservative Americans. (Part of the game involves purposefully conflating criticism from media figures with organized political attacks. What, after all, is the true difference between David Letterman and the DNC? They're all liberals.)

It pays to point out that this was a fight Palin was winning. Only 35% blame Palin's rhetoric for the shooting -- which, to be fair, is lot. But it's nowhere near the majority. On the other hand only 30% approve of Palin's response to the shooting. By making it all about her, she blew it. And getting bogged down defending her "blood libel" comment only serves to make it even more about her, by opening a second front in the War to Defend Sarah Palin, the real victim in the Tucson gun rampage.

By ignoring the fact that you don't get to decide what other people find offensive, Palin has allowed herself to be distracted by trivia and has opened up a second can of worms. If this is how she plans to behave as president, we should expect a war with Canada over a nasty comment someone might make.

Luckily for pretty much everyone in the world, Palin herself is sabotaging the chances of that ever happening, by virtue of being so easily distracted by her own ego.


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News Roundup for 1/17/11

Obama healthcare reform logo
Suddenly a lot more popular than repeal

-Headline of the Day-
"Public support for health care repeal plummets: AP poll."

If you ask 'baggers, they'll tell you "Obamacare" is the worst thing ever! If you ask anyone else, you're going to get a different answer. According to the report, "Only one in four Americans said they support full repeal of the reforms, according to a newly-released Associated Press-GfK poll, and 30 percent strongly opposed the law, the lowest figure since September 2009."

Even 49% of Republicans oppose repeal and, among all voters, 43% believe the law should do more, not less -- by far the largest percentage. Only 26% want it repealed, 19% want to leave it as is, and 10% want to change it so it does less.

Lesson for Republicans: the reason that a finger in the wind is a lousy way to govern is because the wind changes all the damned time. (Raw Story)

-Keep it simple, stupid-
Since everything she says seems to dig her in deeper, Sarah Palin discovers a method of communication that allows her to say even less than Twitter.

Palin Defends Communicating Only Through Cookies
Click for full comic

If this doesn't work, then she'll move on to either smoke signals or emoticons. (Bad Reporter)

-Bonus HotD-
"LePage Relents, Attends MLK Day Event After Refusing NAACP Invites And Telling Them To 'Kiss My Butt'."

Backpedal, backpedal, backpedal... (Think Progress)

The Right, Ayn Rand, and Dr. King

King supports AFL-CIOMartin Luther King was a Republican. This statement was all the rage a year ago, when it was extremely important to remember that Tea Partiers marching around with racist signs were most definitely not racist. In fact, when Glenn Beck announced his big rally on the anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream Speech," he said it was to "reclaim" the civil rights movement -- as if King and his followers braved dogs and batons and jail to protect the downtrodden, oppressed rich white guy from tax increases. But it pays to remember where King was and what he was doing when he died.

[John Nichols, The Nation:]

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was not assassinated at a rally organized by a right-wing talk radio host, or at the inauguration of a conservative Republican governor.

King, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning campaigner for economic and social justice whose legacy we celebrate with a holiday that falls on Jan. 17 this year, died while supporting the right of public employees to organize labor unions and to fight for the preservation of public services.

That inconvenient truth is sometimes obscured by pop historians, who would have us believe that King was merely a "civil rights leader." King's was a comprehensive activism that extended far beyond the boundaries of the movement to end segregation. His most famous address, the "I Have a Dream" speech, was delivered at the 1963 "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" -- a historic event that explicitly linked the social and economic demands of campaigners for civil rights and economic justice.

The Republican attempt to claim King as one of their own -- despite all evidence to the contrary -- is all part of what Cornell West called "the Santa Clausification" of King. It's the idea that he was a nice man who freed people and now that's all done with, because he made everything perfect.

For a political movement committed to either protecting the status quo or restoring a previous status quo, the idea that issues of race and racism have been resolved completely is pretty damned useful. That's all over now, because Dr. King descended from heaven and solved everything with his magic speech. Never mind that this aspect of King's work is far from done and, on issues of race, America is a less than perfect country.

But beyond just issues of equality, King envisioned a more just nation. In addition to racial justice, he worked for economic justice and the dreaded social justice.

"All I'm saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we're caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly," King said in his 1963 speech, Social Justice and the Emerging New Age. "For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality. John Donne caught it years ago and placed it in graphic terms. 'No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of a Continent, a part of the main.' He goes on toward the end to say 'Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.' It seems to me that this is the first challenge. This emerging new age."

King's message here is, put simply, "we're all in this together." Compare that to the GOP's objectivist-tinged "every man for himself!" ideology and see how they match up. They don't. Ayn Rand and Martin Luther King jr. weren't kindred souls, but polar opposites.

And, if you still need convincing that the real King has no place on the right, consider the Tea Party. Not only are they fans of racists slogans, but they're busy restoring segregation and scrubbing all mention of the founders' slaves from history textbooks. I'm guessing King wouldn't be much of a fan.

And the right knows this. Which is why they've pretty much given up on the "King was Republican" lie. It was all an attempt to get African-Americans to accept the Republican Party. This failed, so they've moved on, giving up on blacks -- and most minorities, for that matter.

It was fun while it lasted, but once they learned he was about more than just a single sentence -- "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" -- but an entire philosophy, they were done with him. Embracing King would require them to change. And conservatives don't do change -- unless that change is to undo previous change.

"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness," Dr. King once said. Conversely, Republicans and the Tea Party are guided by the Prophet of Selfishness, Ayn Rand -- self-proclaimed enemy of altruism.

One philosophy excludes the other -- completely. Republicans and the Tea Party gave themselves a choice between two contemporary thinkers. They claim to follow both, but that's just cynical pretense, born of a need to win over minority voters. They made their choice and it wasn't Dr. Martin Luther King jr.


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News Roundup for 1/14/11

Hand reaches out from grave
Tea Party donor

-Headline of the Day-
"Political Gifts From Beyond the Grave: Dead Woman Donates Thousands of Dollars to Tea Party Express."

Joan Snyder Holmes loves her some teabagging politicians. Loves, 'em, loves 'em, loves 'em. In fact, she loves them so much that she gave $7,500 to 'bagger groups last year.

What a patriot.

There's only one problem. Not only is Joan dead, but she died long before there even was a Tea Party. According to the report, "Such activity would have been unremarkable had Joan Holmes not died of cancer on Feb. 1, 2007. She was cremated, and her ashes are now buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia."

Seems she's "the late wife of media entrepreneur Lee Holmes, who himself has in recent years ranked among the most prolific political donors in Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean. And Lee Holmes was one of the first donors to the upstart Our Country Deserves Better PAC, which played a prominent role in electing conservative Republicans during the 2010 election cycle."

Holmes hit the legal limit for donations and then -- mysteriously -- wife Joan started her giving from beyond the grave. Holmes says he doesn't know anything about it and the 'baggers say they're just as clueless. It's paranormal or something, I guess. Asked about the donations, Sal Russo, the chief strategist of the Tea Party Express, said, "She died in 2007? You're kidding me?!" (That's not snark, by the way, that's verbatim).

If the ghost of Joan Snyder Holmes didn't actually give to the 'baggers, then the donation is almost certainly illegal. The reports tells us, "Federal law prohibits contributions in the name of another person" -- even if that person is no longer among us.

The fact that Mr. Holmes also exceeded the limit in giving in several instances in 2010 might shed some light on the mystery. Several organizations and one Senate candidate were forced to refund donations after Holmes gave more than the legal limit.

Who was that Senate candidate? Delaware Republican Christine O'Donnell.

I knew it. She really is a witch. Nothing else explains the ghostly donations. (OpenSecrets.org)

-I think they'll probably decline that offer-
Friend of the blog Chandler McGrew points us to this story from his home state of Maine. Turns out that Maine's new Republican Governor Paul LePage is a little bit of an asshole.

My question here is, how are they going to kiss your ass when you won't even bring it to the event? You got a little bit of a logistical problem there, Paulie. Another problem is that having a black kid, brought up by rich white parents in a rich white neighborhood, doesn't give you a real keen insight into the problems of black America. This is just "I'm not a racist -- why, some of my best friends are _____!" taken to the next level.

Handy tip: when you're the governor of a state, you're the governor of everybody in that state. Not surprisingly, LePage doesn't seem to see it that way. "I think what his comments do is let us all know just how much of an extremist the governor is and what interests he represents," says Wells Staley Mays, a community organizer with Peace Action Maine and member of the executive committee of the Portland chapter of the NAACP, "which are the interests of a very few, very wealthy white people."

Sounds about right. LePage may want blacks to kiss his ass, but we know whose ass LePage kisses. (MPBN Capitol Connection)

-Bonus HotD-
"Palin to deliver address at gun convention."

I'm beginning to think that Sarah doesn't actually want to be president and is busy sabotaging her own campaign. (The Hill)

Some retro pieces

You're gone.

Sitting in the chair
worse for wear
Talking to you
when you're not there.
You picked me up
when I was down.
Now, like a clown
I juggle round
where there's no sight
and there's no sound.

My spirit worn
The silence kills
Into a ragged edge
I'm torn, out here
on my window ledge
Will l jump
even if only for thrills....
For below me is a
Berberis hedge!

Thoughts on 15th Sept '09

I think I started this for a Helium article, and then got bored with it.

Routine is essential to the running of everyday life. It consists of the things we need to do and the habits we have formed. The habit is a previous need which is no longer valid but has been incorporated into our routine. So we add to our routine with new necessities as they arise, setting up new habits for the future.

Routine can be an enjoyable experience or an unhappy chore.