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May 14, 2011

colbert super pac

Stephen Colbert is an unalloyed genius, and I am not embarrassed to slavishly worship him.  I don't get to watch the show so much, as I am not too much of a television guy, but his "activism" is a thing of beauty to behold.

Yesterday he (very publicly) filed with the Federal Election Commission an eight page request for an Advisory Opinion concerning a political action committee that Colbert intends to form, the Colbert Super PAC.  In the (very funny, read it) letter he requests the FEC to verify that he may form (in light of the Citizens United decision) an unlimited Independent Expenditure committee that can draw unlimited amounts of corporate cash, and to speak to whether there would be reporting requirements for Viacom, the broadcaster of his show.  From the comments he gave to a a crowd gathered on the steps of the FEC:

"As we stand here on this historic site, where 250 years ago today George Washington filed his papers to form his independent expenditures non-connected political action committee, we are also standing at an American crossroads -- not to be confused with American Crossroads, the name of Karl Rove's 'Super PAC," Colbert told the crowd. "I mean a metaphorical crossroads, because the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United has proved that unlimited corporate money equals free speech. But by the transitive property of elections, does it not also follow that no corporate money equals silence?"

It's fun to yammer against Citizens United and the landscape of political speech in general — it is! take it from me! — but to spend a couple grand on an election lawyer to make a point, to force the slippery slope, is a whole 'nuther level of speech.

And I pray that the FEC approves the Colbert Super PAC, so that we can all give it five or ten bucks.  To drive the point home.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:10 PM

May 13, 2011

street action against david koch

This is something I can get behind: last night a bunch of organizations conducted a little protest/street theater in front of the David Koch Theater (where the NYC Ballet performs)(and yes, that David Koch), highlighting Koch's other hobbies — funding the Tea Party, buying elections, that sort of thing:
Reverend Billy, Brave New Foundation, The Other 98% and Koch Brothers Exposed among others, conducted a modest face-lift on the upscale building, or perhaps a "facade lift" with a huge sticker suggesting new ways to think about our rich overlord patrons of the arts and their hitherto covert orchestration of trumped-up grassroots organizations spewing falsehoods while waving flags.

Check the photos at the link; they're awesome.

I don't think that Lincoln Center should give Koch's money back or anything, but at the same time the "David Koch" brand deserves to be divisive if not outright nauseating.  He is a billionaire oligarch determined to use his fortune to buy think-tanks and sock-puppet grassroot movements in order to impose a dingbat Objectivist ideology on the nation.  And given that we'll never be able to win a war based on money-bags, tarnishing his well-maintained philanthropist image is totally fair game.

Also: I did not see news of this in my morning diet of media, which is a shame.  Reverend Billy spending the night in lockup seems to me to be news.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:47 AM

May 11, 2011

john boehner thinks he is entitled to his own facts

I'm just linking this up because it's fun to type — Boehner's functionally illiterate on economic policy.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appears to have made a terrible error in his speech to the Economic Club of New York on Monday. His mistake was sharing with the audience his actual beliefs, which upon even cursory examination, are so conspicuously unintelligent, it’s rather alarming.

That's Steve Benen's lede.  And then he goes from there.

The reason that this is news is not that Speaker Boehner suddenly caught a case of the stupids, to the shock and alarm of the DC press corps.  No, Speaker Boehner and the rest of his party had economic ideas that are contrary to fact rattling around in their heads like marbles for some time.  Think trickle-down economics: it's been around for thirty years, has never actually worked, and is still a flag flown by the GOP.  The reason that this is news is that establishment writers are actually writing about it.

It's a corollary to what happened with the climate change debate — there was consensus on the fact that we were killing the planet up until Objectivist dingbats like David Koch decided that they didn't want any stewardship of the Earth to interfere with their business interests, whereupon the Republicans lined up behind him, in the face of crushing scientific agreement, like pigs to a trough.

Billionaires want the social safety net shredded and not to have to pay any taxes, so they set their thinktanks to provide intellectual cover for thralled Republicans so that they can say demonstrably untrue things like, "The economy never grows after a tax increase."

Hopefully the coverage of this continues.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:15 PM

strong argument to keep making fun of the GOP

This is a little bit fascinating.  The freshmen GOP representatives have gotten together and written a letter to the president.  Letters are nice, in this age of texts and emails and brain-to-brain telemetry, but this letter is asking the president to stop making fun of the republicans for trying to kill Medicare.


And what's really head-scratching about this is that this is not the emergence of this weird, little HEY NO FAIR complaint that is entirely out of character for an ideology that prides itself on manliness and resolution and ultimately runs elections powered one hundred percent by ad hominem — just this weekend, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor whined:

"The reality is this president has excoriated our Medicare proposal...this president has done nothing but attack the plan," Cantor said. "That is unfortunate."

There's a decent chance that Cantor might not know the exact meaning of "excoriate", but assuming that he does, implying that the lone act of criticism can somehow derail legislation is loony tunes.  Again, excoriation is the default tone of discourse for the modern Republican Party.

It's just really confusing in light of my premise that the popularity of the GOP is predicated on them being WINNERS, of having this kind of macho, bully appeal.  Voters that are attracted to that are going to have a hard time stomaching all this belly-aching.

But go for it.  Maybe in a week they'll also ask that the Democratic Party stop making fun of them for crying like little children.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:47 PM

coal cares

Hey, I got taken by a Yes Men prank!

Yesterday reports of a coal company website (calling itself "Coal Cares") promoting free, individualized inhalers for children made the rounds, and, like the dummy I am, I jumped in with both feet.

But!  Come to find out that the site, and the campaign that goes with it, is a hoax, brought to you by a joint effort from Coal Is Killing Kids and notorious pranksters The Yes Men.

I do not feel bad in the least.  The coal industry is not only committed to breaking unions, endangering the lives of its miners and removing the tops off of mountains, it does not give any weight to the evidence that burning coal is not an environmentally helpful or personally healthy activity.  And the idea that a coal company would offer free inhalers as a PR ploy seemed plausible in that split second before you decide to share the link.  I think that says a lot about Big Coal.

Which is the point of the prank, yes?

Posted by mrbrent at 9:56 AM

May 10, 2011

newt gingrich, and his (currently) third wife

This is, I swear to God, the caption to a photo on the front page of the NYTimes this morning of Callista Gingrich, watching her husband Newt speak on some topic, half-smile as frozen as her platinum coiffure:
Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, at a screening last month. Associates think Mrs. Gingrich may be an asset in a campaign.

Which is why these associates are begging, pleading with Newt not to divorce this one.

Mr Gingrich is apparently running for president.  And the story in the NYT was a soft profile of Callista, who may or may not be a good sort?  She'll be opening herself up to an awful lot of scrutiny (if not outright mockery) once Newt announces, but she's a grown-up.  And if she thinks that her husband can be president, then there are actually two people alive that think that.

I am personally for Mr Gingrich to run for president, just so someone can ask him, "When you said that love of country forced you to cheat on your second wife with your current wife while attempting to impeach the president over a blowjob, what exactly did you mean?"

Hopefully at least once a day.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:08 AM

May 9, 2011

more jim demint

Speaking of South Carolina, this is an interesting brief post from Ezra Klein that slipped through the Friday afternoon naptime, tangentially about Sen. Jim DeMint, representing the state of SC and de facto gatekeeper of the Conservative movement.  Klein compares Sen. DeMint's former support of the Romney health care plan as was passed in Massachusetts with his rabid villification of the Obama plan (which is of course based on the same precepts as the Romney plan).

The greater point made is that the whiplash policy retrofitting of the GOP from 2007 until now is an example of something less than principle:

And that’s politics, I guess. But too often, we pretend that it’s policy — that there’s something tucked inside the mechanics of the individual mandate that make it a policy only Democrats could support, or that cap-and-trade was invented by Al Gore and Barbara Streisand and is clearly some socialist invention from the planet Marx.

It’s important that people realize how fake many of the policy arguments that go on in this town really are, and that the media is there to call out politicians who continually move the goalposts.

The Republicans are not the only party guilty of this, but they are the most egregious, given their focus on the naked acquisition and retention of power and seeming ignorance of the concept of governance.  Is there a single position of the GOP that is not expedient, that is not calculated to appeal to a bunch of voters easily swayed into voting against their own self-interest?

I don't think so, but I also think that Jim DeMint is creepy in that he looks like a time traveler from 1949.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:13 AM

good times in south carolina not involving charleston

I just figured out what I should have been doing this weekend: cherry-picking quotes from the South Carolina GOP Convention. 

Not to take away anything from anyone who did — to attend something like that and scribble down the things that people say and then publish them, that's a big part of the news industry, isn't it?  And the reporter is free from that whole "false equivalence" obligation that makes every mainstream story so predictable and low-fiber ("[X] alleges/[Y] countered").  He or she gets to roll around in a specific kind of crazy and then run it unfettered:

Rick Santorum, a possible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, even raised the specter of Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy in a speech here Friday night while explaining why his grandfather emigrated to the U.S. His uncle, he said, “used to get up in a brown shirt and march and be told how to be a good little fascist.”

“I don’t know, maybe they called it early pre-K or something like that, that the government sponsored to get your children in there so they can indoctrinate them,” Santorum said.

Rick Santorum is a possible candidate for the GOP nom like I'm a possible candidate for winning Megamillions, but whatever.  But YES pre-K hands out the Little Red Book to all the children OF COURSE.  Who else could suss out possible fascism than a man who urges behavioral uniformity and enforced patriotism?

But you don't just have to be a candidate/punchline to play.  What to the regular folk have to say?

Jim Sullivan, a 63-year-old retired accountant, said, “The big issue for me is the level of federal debt. That translates into the government getting into your life.” When asked for specifics, Sullivan said he had heard of new requirements for passports that will collect more information “of a personal nature that I don’t think the State Department needs to know,” such as employment and school history.

The little people are more than happy to lend a hand by making not a lick of sense.

I question the newsworthiness of things like the SC GOP Convention — their political views are no surprise, and the only event that happens is Insane People Saying Exactly What You Expect Them To Say.  But at the same time, I could read that stuff all day long!

One lawmaker said that if they could combine Newt Gingrich’s ideas, Haley Barbour’s wit and Santorum’s age then they would have a great candidate.

Yes, America is waiting for a plastic-surgeried, racist, serial divorcing megalomaniac!  Yes!  Thank you, Palmetto State!

Posted by mrbrent at 9:02 AM