Tag Archives: Current Events

Elections 4 $ale

I’m trying not to be too upset about SCOTUS’ ruling lifting the cap on individual campaign contributions. I mean, think about it: if money alone could decide an election, we’d have President Gingrich and Vice President Adelson today.

Trust me, I’m not thinking this is a good thing by any means. But let’s be real, the rich are not our betters, nor are they necessarily any smarter than anyone else. I just trotted over to OpenSecrets.org and got a look at Lee and Kelly Beaman’s latest campaign contributions. Here I found they both donated generously to Liz Cheney’s aborted senate campaign — not exactly a smart investment, since any idiot knew she wasn’t going to go the distance — as well as the notorious Palin grift vehicle known as SarahPAC. Now that we know they can just keep on giving, maybe these folks will all be bankrupt before too long. Fools and their money, after all.

The place this is really going to hurt, I think, is on things like ballot initiatives and local elections. Because even though this ruling only applied to federal elections, I have to wonder if states aren’t going to do away with their own restrictions now. Seems like a few have already tried.

But you know, here’s the thing: Congress could pass a law. They could say that corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech and all of that other stuff. They could pass a law saying all federal elections have to be publicly financed. They won’t, but they could, if we elect the right people. So elections do matter.

Also, you know who the big beneficiary of this is, right? The corporate media. All of those campaign contributions run straight into their coffers, most of them at least. That explains a helluva lot, don’t it?

Gotta think the Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves right now, though. If money is speech, the poor are voiceless. Is that your vision of America? Shameful.

16 Comments

Filed under campaign finance, Media, Supreme Court

Inconvenient Truths

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

Residents of the small town devastated by a massive mudslide that left at least 14 dead knew that there was a “high risk” of this kind of disaster in the area, according to a Washington state official.

“This entire year we have pushed message after message that there’s a high risk of landslides,” John Pennington, director of Snohomish County Emergency Management said. “The dangers and the risks are known.”

And this one:

Scientist warned of Wash. mudslide danger 15 years ago

ARLINGTON, Wash. – A scientist working for the government had warned 15 years ago about the potential for a catastrophic landslide in the fishing village where the collapse of a rain-soaked hillside over the weekend killed at least 14 people and left scores missing.

As rescue workers slogged through the muck and rain in search of victims today, word of the 1999 report raised questions about why residents were allowed to build homes on the hill and whether officials had taken proper precautions.

“I knew it would fail catastrophically in a large magnitude event,” though not when it would happen, said Daniel Miller, a geomorphologist who was hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do the study. “I was not surprised.”

Patricia Graesser, a spokeswoman for the Army Corps in Seattle, said it appears that the report was intended not as a risk assessment, but as a feasibility study for ecosystem restoration.

Asked whether the agency should have done anything with the information, she said: “We don’t have jurisdiction to do anything. We don’t do zoning. That’s a local responsibility.”

Snohomish County officials and authorities in the devastated village of Oso said that they were not aware of the study but that residents and town officials knew the risks of living in the area.

In fact, the area has long been known as the “Hazel Landslide” because of landslides over the past half-century. The last severe one before Saturday’s disaster was in 2006.

Over and over again we see people behaving with willful ignorance of the deadly consequences of their actions. People build houses on floodplains and stop vaccinating their kids and pretend climate change isn’t happening and levies won’t fail and kids won’t find grandpa’s gun, and on, and on, and on.

It’s getting really hard for me to feel sorry for humanity. We’re just so fucking stupid sometimes.

22 Comments

Filed under Current Events

Hate Isn’t Dead But Fred Phelps Is

Good riddance to a despicable person.

I know we’ll be hearing the usual, “if you can’t saying anything nice …” mealy-mouthed pablum on hearing that Fred Phelps has finally left this earth, but I say, screw that. He was an evil person. He caused so much pain and suffering, not just to LGBT people but to his fellow Christians, to the families of our soldiers, even to his own family. Using gays as a scapegoat for every tragic event that hit the headlines, from Whitney Houston’s death to plane crashes to 9/11, all these fools ended up doing was uniting the nation against them. Again, good riddance.

He was not a Christian and please, stop calling his organization a “Baptist church.” It wasn’t. He presided over an abusive religious cult that operated as a hate group. His wasn’t the only one, there are plenty similar organizations in this country (here’s one), Westboro was just more adept than others at gathering headlines. Phelps probably had something horrible happen to him when he was a child that made him that way, who knows, but guess what, lots of people suffer similar tragedies and don’t end up like this.

When a cult leader dies the cult tends to dissolve into the breeze. I don’t know if that will happen in this case because it seems a Phelps daughter long ago picked up the protest mantle. But one can hope the day of the hate-headline is over.

From the memory hole:

8 Comments

Filed under cults, culture wars, religion

Follow The Links, People

[UPDATE]:

Thanks to my friends at Wonkette, it appears this whole smear started in the most predictable of places: the lying liar Frank Luntz:

LuntzTweet

Well, nobody could’ve anticipated ….

———————————————————–

This almost seems too petty to be believed, except it’s such a classic example of how the right-wing smear machine works that I just had to share it.

Our travel through the conservative cesspool begins at The New York Times, where we have this innocuous little story about the White House executive pastry chef leaving his position in June. Here’s the tantalizing lede:

WASHINGTON — The first lady, Michelle Obama, is soon to lose her executive pastry chef, Bill Yosses. And she is partly to blame.

Ooh, yummy! What did that wretched woman do now? Ah, it’s all fun and games, as the story goes on to say that FLOTUS has inspired Chef Yosses’ newfound interest in healthy food. Oh, okay! They were joshing us. Indeed, Yosses was originally famous for his rich desserts, but he changed his ways at the direction of Mrs. Obama and has a new culinary calling. Not only has he changed his own diet, he’s found a new passion for creating healthier yet still delicious dessert treats:

She has piqued his interest in the relationship between food and health, he said in a recent telephone interview, so the man who made the Hawaiian chocolate-malted ganache for the White House state dinner for France is now headed to New York with an aim to teach children and adults about eating better. In the meantime, he has given up his usual breakfast doughnuts for a smoothie made with apple, kale, spinach and ginger — from time to time.

Oh! So the Times was just using a time-honored literary device to pull readers into the story. Nicely done. The chef further tells the Times,

The result — oatmeal bars, baked apples and pear-quince cobblers, among many others — will have a lasting impact on his eating habits, as will Mrs. Obama.

“She has done it with humor and good will, without preaching, just the way you would hope the ‘Mom in chief’ would do,” Mr. Yosses said. He called her “definitely an inspiring boss, a combination of spontaneity and seriousness.”

Hugs and kisses all around! The openly gay chef will get to finally live with his husband of three years — they’ve been separated for their entire 11-year-relationship — and Chef Yosses has found a new career direction. So, a nice little (dare I say it?) fluff piece, yes? Nothing to see here, move along.

Unless you’re The Daily Caller, of course! Over at Tucker Carlson’s Little Conservative Lie Machine, a nothing little story about the White House pastry chef is given a complete 180 and turned into a major smear of FLOTUS.

Here’s the screen shot:

daily_caller_smear

Nice way to take quotes out of context there, guys! See how they mashed up the Times piece to put an entirely new spin on what Chef Yosses actually said:

White House executive pastry chef Bill Yosses is resigning after First Lady Michelle Obama fundamentally changed his job duties to focus on healthier food.

Yosses is leaving the White House in June to work on a new project focusing on “food literacy” and The New York Times says Michelle is “partly to blame.” The openly gay chef was hired by Laura Bush in 2007 to make his trademark cookie plates and sugar sculptures. Mrs. Obama took over in 2009 and ordered Yosses to make healthier plates in smaller portions.

Yosses began replacing butter with fruit puree and sugar with honey and agave. But Yosses was never fully committed to the new policy.

“I don’t want to demonize cream, butter, sugar and eggs,” Yosses said, noting that his departure from the White House is a “bittersweet decision.”

Oh, I see what you did there! That nice twisting of facts and quotes to give them an entirely new context is what we in the business call “fundamentally true but essentially bullshit.” Just enough plausible deniability to prevent a lawsuit in these United States — but don’t try that shit in Britain, Patrick Howley! You’d get your ass sued.

Oh, and give them extra points for actually linking to the original New York Times story. That takes balls. It appears the business model of The Daily Failure is to assume nobody follows links. Considering how lazy the right wing readership is, I’d say that’s a pretty good gamble.

But our little story isn’t finished, kids. Nope: along come the usual rabble of right-wing idiots like Tennessee’s own Marsha Blackburn to post the “smear” version of the Chef Yosses story on Facebook, with a snarkly little anti-Obama quip to feed her brain-dead followers:

blackburn page

This takes talent, it really does. This is how the conservative bubble operates. None of this would work if just one person followed the links from a Daily Caller story and actually compared the two versions. But they don’t. Clearly Marsha Blackburn didn’t — she didn’t need to. Because what matters to them is not what’s actually true, but what they want to be true. And they want to believe that even the White House pastry chef hates Michelle Obama. The entire right-wing spin machine is created to make a fringe minority believe they are a persecuted majority. It’s how the outrage stays alive.

This is not something Democrats need to aspire to in any way, shape or form, but it is something we need to be aware of the next time someone tries to launch another Swift Boat attack on a war hero or tries to sell death panels and FEMA camps to the masses.

41 Comments

Filed under conservatives, FLOTUS, food, media, Rep. Marsha Blackburn

Mystery & Irony

I find it incredibly fascinating in this modern era of satellite surveillance, military drones and NSA wiretaps, that the entire world has apparently lost a Boeing 777 airplane carrying 239 people. How do you lose an entire airplane, people?

Even keeping in mind that disabling the plane’s communication was likely an intentional act (though not an easy thing to accomplish), I’m still finding it hard to believe that an airplane could just disappear.

In a way I find this almost encouraging, a silver lining in what is obviously a tragedy for hundreds of families whose loved ones are aboard. We keep hearing about the global surveillance apparatus, that a person can no longer “disappear,” that individuals are being monitored and tracked and observed a thousand different ways to Sunday, that satellites and drones can monitor your movements from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. And yet, 239 individuals just vanished off the face of the earth, despite all of this. Despite the cell phone tracking and the satellites and the military monitoring and drones which can scour the face of the earth, an airplane full of people has vanished.

I don’t get it.

Part of me feels like this is all an elaborate hoax designed by Hollywood to promote the new movie version of “Lost.”

Is this not just bizarre?

8 Comments

Filed under Current Events, NSA

It’s UKRAINE. Not THE Ukraine.

Fer crying out loud, media people. It’s not hard. Do you say THE France? THE Spain? No, you don’t.

I just heard both CBS News’ Elizabeth Palmer and our local station’s Steve Hayslip say THE Ukraine, and even Jon Stewart adds the THE on occasion.

THE Ukraine goes back to the Soviet days when Ukraine was not an independent country but a piece of the Soviet Union. It’s now been an independent country for a few years so get with the damn program.

Cripes. Do you still refer to Rhodesia and Zaire?

4 Comments

Filed under Current Events

Because There’s Absolutely Nothing This Country Won’t Commercialize

[Update: Welcome, Wonketteers!]

Ummm….

An Oregon firm introduced an action figure of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. ThatsMyFace.com, whose catalog also includes Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, said that the 12-inch Snowden figure comes dressed in a blue shirt, casual trousers and black high-top shoes, but wardrobe options include a gray-striped business suit, Indiana Jones outfit and a combat uniform. It sells for $99. ThatsMyFace.com promises that proceeds will go to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, although the foundation’s executive director, Trevor Timm, denied any association with the doll or ThatsMtFace.com. (Agence France-Presse)

The Edward Snowden action figure sells for $99:

Edward_Snowden_a_53014ad925cf1

If the $99 price tag seems a little steep the manufacturer notes,

By selecting Head only in the Outfit selection box above, you can also buy Edward Snowden’s head for $60 only and fit it onto your own 12-inch figurines.

Well, hey, kids! Now that’s a bargain!

You can see the Julian Assange figure here, including set-ups where he’s brandishing a military-style assault rifle and one where he’s dressed like a pirate.

You can see them in “action” here (laptop comes separately?):

In all fairness, I noticed this company also makes an array of celebrity action figures, including Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Eric Holder and Rahm Emmanuel, to name a few.

Sigh.

As if we needed any more evidence that American politics has moved away from actual governing and into the realm of mass entertainment.

11 Comments

Filed under consumerism

First They Came For The Immigrants

Delaware’s governor says if Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs her state’s law legalizing gay discrimination, the NFL should move next year’s Super Bowl elsewhere. The 2015 Super Bowl is supposed to be held in Glendale, AZ.

To this I say, yes, a thousand times yes. There need to be some big repercussions for those who legislate hate. For that matter, concert tours should bypass the state and big conventions should stay away, too.

But let me point out, I’ve been saying this since Arizona first legalized discrimination with its heinous “papers, please” law. And while a few artists decided to boycott Arizona then, not enough cared or paid attention. I said we needed to “nip this crap in the bud” four years ago, and did you people listen? No, you didn’t. And look where we are today.

We let Arizona come for the immigrants and now they’ve come for the gays. You think these people are going to stop legislating their cultural beliefs? How do you people think the Taliban got started? That’s where this is headed. First it was the immigrants and hey, they’re an easy target. Then it was the gays, under the guise of “religious freedom.” Who’s next: women? Muslims? Atheists?

Until the state of Arizona feels some actual repercussions for its actions, it will keep legislating hate.

You gonna endorse that, Miley Cyrus? Cher? Billy Joel? James Taylor?

8 Comments

Filed under boycotts, GLBT, immigration, marriage

Death Of An NRA Talking Point

The pants-wetters of the pro-NRA crowd have always argued that the Second Amendment is the only thing protecting American citizens from tyranny, i.e. American citizens need to arm themselves so they can take over the government if they need to.

This is a ridiculous assertion on a lot of levels, not the least of which being the far right has always supported expanding our armed forces, too. We now have the world’s largest military, spending over $554 billion a year for this show of strength, and any attempt to cut the Pentagon’s budget is met with screams and hollers about “protecting the homeland” and “liberals make us less safe,” and other BS. So yes, Joe and Jane Teabagger, do tell me how you’re going to out-gun the largest military the world has ever known, please I’m dying to hear. How are Gus and Jethro down in the holler going to do what the Russians and Chinese haven’t?

But anyway, that’s all beside the point, as Joe Nocera made an excellent observation this weekend about Ukraine:

Ukraine, a nation of 45 million people, has restrictive laws governing private gun ownership. The government is in possession of more than seven million guns, while three million weapons, both legal and illicit, are in the hands of private citizens, creating a staggering gulf in firepower. By comparison, in the United States, there are 310 million guns in private hands, with only 3.85 million possessed by the military and police forces.

And yet, these “largely unarmed Ukrainian protestors” took on “a military armed with the world’s sixth-largest inventory of small arms” and just overthrew their government. The president has been ousted, a new president has been put in place — despite the disparity in firepower. Amazing, isn’t it?

I’ve said from day one that anyone interested in overthrowing their tyrannical overlords, either in some future America or anywhere else in the world, is better off learning to write computer code, not fire an AR-15. Of course, expecting people pretending to be leading players in their “Red Dawn” fantasies to care about reality is a stretch.

9 Comments

Filed under gun control, gun violence

Your Modern Democracy

Here we go again:

Voting Problem 2

Col. Davis, according to his Howard University bio, is a prominent human rights lawyer, retired Air Force colonel, and former Gitmo chief prosecutor. His resume is pretty impressive. Pretty sure he knows how to work a voting machine.

We can send a man to the moon but we can’t operate an election. But yes, let’s create a Voter ID requirement so complicated that thousands of women are disenfranchised and even the former speaker of the United States House of Representatives can’t get an ID. (For the record, I know Virginia and Texas are not the same, but Virginia’s Voter ID law goes into effect in 2014, just FYI.)

Remember to vote today, folks. And after you vote, check your vote. Then double-check it. Because when Republicans are in charge of your state government, nothing functions, not even the most fundamental element of our democracy.

5 Comments

Filed under electronic voting