« September 8, 2013 - September 14, 2013 | Main | September 22, 2013 - September 28, 2013 »

September 20, 2013

can we make ted yoho a thing?

To return briefly to the general theme of this site, check out this House GOP backbencher:
"It only takes one with passion -- look at Rosa Parks, Lech Walesa, Martin Luther King," said Representative Ted Yoho of Florida, one of the rank-and-file House Republicans who have risen up to challenge their party's leadership over whether to confront the Senate and President Obama with their demands to cut off funding for the president's health care law. "People with passion that speak up, they'll have people follow them because they believe the same way, and smart leadership listens to that."

The temptation is to mock and deride Ted Yoho for making equivalence between the Civil Rights movement/Solidarity and the Republican Affordable Care Act Derangement.  Because that's butt-stupid, no matter your favored ideology.  But me, I say that the true idiocy of Ted Yoho is his fundamental understanding of each of King, Walesa and Parks: the reason they are remembered by history has not a single thing to do with "passion" or "speaking up."  Surely King and Walesa spoke, but the were not purely orators.  They were organizers.  They did not create their respective movements; the movements created them (and put them in great personal peril to boot).  Not surprising that Ted Yoho would conflate leadership with talking loudly, as that would be a peculiarly American misapprehension, but still: it's just brain-damaged.

And for the record Rosa Parks is remembered because she sat down, not because she spoke up.  Dumb-ass.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:12 AM

September 19, 2013

the balm that is gail collins

On the national news front, there is going to be looming background noise of a hundred trifling news stories all spinning off one greater trend: GOP intransigence.  At the center of this beige maelstrom is the Affordable Care Act, which has somehow become All That Is Wrong With Everything for the Cuckoo Wing of the Republican Party.  Take that and add in the need for next year's budget to go through Congress AND the debt ceiling to be raised (by the Congress) and it's Full Metal Clown time.

But it all goes back to the ACA ("Obamacare," some call it).  You could take the Tea Parties at their word and believe that the ACA is some form of socialism that will grab the neck of liberty in one hand and the neck of freedom in the other and then squeeze until they breathe their last.  Me, I'm a realist, so I propose that they hate the ACA for two reasons: one, it's something Obama accomplished, which triggers all sorts of ugly no fun things in the cauldron of their little "I have friends that are black!" souls, and two, they are fundamentally opposed to affordability when such affordability is accorded to people worse off than they are.

I could be wrong.  There will only be three or four thinkpieces a day on this topic, so maybe we'll find out soon.

But it's a time like this, being pecked to death by a flock of nuisance news "hot takes," that it's useful to turn to Gail Collins.  Yeah, everyone knows she's funny, but her trick is that she buries one genuine revelation in there, in between all the Mitt Romney's dog mentions.  And today's revelation, in a piece about the ACA and opposition thereto, is this:

Actually, Ted Cruz has an answer for this. Once the law goes into effect, he told the Web site The Daily Caller, the public will be overwhelmed by its sugary sweetness -- "hooked on the subsidies." It's the duty of Congress to take it back before people can taste it, just the way New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to whisk away high-calorie Big Gulps.

So, the message is clear. The new health care law is going to be terrible, wreaking havoc on American families, ruining their lives. And they are going to love it so much they will never have the self-control necessary to give it up.

We get the dystopia we deserve, I guess.  But don't worry!  We only have another forever to look forward to of this fucking nihilism from the minority party.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:14 AM

September 18, 2013

peter weller, russell brand are awesome

Sometimes our celebrity actor class has more to add to the world than entertainment and the vicarious thrill of their famous interestingness.

First is the one you heard about: Russell Brand was honored at some awards ceremony in London, one sponsored by Hugo Boss.  Brand made humorous reference during his remarks that Hugo Boss, once upon a time, designed uniforms for the Third Reich.  (True!)  The organizers were not happy, and Brand was uninvited to the after-party (which is some orbits is a fate most cruel).

So Brand gave his version of events, and he is one smart cat:

In case you don't know, these parties aren't like real parties. It's fabricated fun, imposed from the outside. A vision of what squares imagine cool people might do set on a spaceship. Or in Moloko. As we come out of the lift there's a bloody great long corridor flanked by gorgeous birds in black dresses, paid to be there, motionless, left hand on hip, teeth tacked to lips with scarlet glue. The intention, I suppose, is to contrive some Ian Fleming super-uterus of well fit mannequins to midwife you into the shindig, but me and my mate Matt just felt self-conscious, jigging through Robert Palmer's oestrogen passage like aspirational Morris dancers.

Welcome to show biz!

And the one you didn't hear about is this supremely interesting interview with Peter Weller by the Onion's AV Club.  Who's Peter Weller?  Well, he was Robocop, duh, plus also Buckaroo Banzai for you fanboys, and he was in the last Star Trek movie.  Plus also he's a deep thinker who says "man" a lot, been there and done that, and currently finishing his Ph.D. in Italian Renaissance Art History.  Weller on "Shooting The Moon":

When that movie came out, honest to God, I was sitting with an executive who was a friend of Frank Capra, and he said, "I got a compliment for you from Frank Capra." I said, "Come on!" He said, "No, I just got off the plane with him, he's an old friend, and he said you were fantastic in that film. But as fantastic as you were, the film is important." I said, "What is Frank Capra saying about the importance?" I didn't get it at all. Now I get it. Frank Capra was a guy who's steeped in social comedies. That's what he made most of his life. And he looked at Shoot The Moon, and he said, "Wow, this has really got something poignant to say about the survival of women in the United States, in particular women who've been buried in domestic situations and obviously have no out." You have to remember, in those days, if a woman had an affair with someone she worked with, she could be fired. There was no maternity leave. Can you imagine that? Were we living under a fucking rock then, or what? I don't understand it, man. But Shoot The Moon... I'm so proud of that movie. Sorry to wax on like that. But it's a fantastic film, a real winner, and, by God, Diane Keaton's performance is one of the great performances by anybody. That performance... you can't recreate that, man.

More show biz, but a lot less depressing!

All good stuff, to unburden yourself from the actual news.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:53 AM

September 17, 2013

freedom partners

This won't get as much splash as I'd like, but news broke last week (by Politico, so grudging props where props are due) that the Koch brothers had a secret financing vehicle for the run-up to the 2012 election that disbursed two hundred and fifty million dollars financing conservative super PACs like Americans For Prosperity and lobbying organizations like the NRA.

It's called Freedom Partners, and the trick of it is that it's not classified under the tax codes that most modern political lobbying orgs are filed, 501(c)(4).  No:

Freedom Partners is organized under the same section of the Tax Code as a trade association, a 501(c)6, which allows the group to conceal its donors from public release, although the amounts and recipients of its major grants are public.

The other consequence of classification as a trade association (technically, as a "business league") is that the donations to Freedom Partners are deemed membership dues, and as such are potentially tax deductible as business expenses.  So while they are buying politicians wholesale, they also saving money!

It should also be noted that this scoop was not one that Politico dug up.  No, instead it was the case that a Koch rep reached down to give Politico the favor of an early release of a filing required to be publicly filed by the IRS:

"There's a mystery around us that makes an interesting story," Short said in an interview in his conference room. "There's also a vilification that happens that gets exaggerated when your opposition thinks you're secretive. Our members are proud to be part of [the organization]."

I would say that the existence of this "trade association," one that spend a quarter billion dollars in the last election cycle, was not known until last week would indicate that Freedom Partners is secretive whether or not its opposition thinks so.

But please don't let me stand in the way of the oligarchy!  It's just a bunch of billionaires exercising their constitutional rights to anonymously bankrolling political candidates, or as they call it, "speech."  And to expose who spent what would expose the spenders to criticism, and they are cowards, so that would be a bad thing.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:38 AM