Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Idi Amin's Briefs Rodeo: O, Minnesota!

Note: every week, news aggregators address hundreds of worthwhile stories or opinions that never catch on, either because they lack an obvious follow-up or because sites that live off ad revenue would rather bang high-traffic drums over and over. Idi Amin's Briefs Rodeo provides a summary of good stuff you might have missed. He has a Bachelor's degree in political science, the rank of Field Marshal and was the last ruler of a free Uganda. He has not eaten anyone since 1980.

Land of 10,000 Corpses

Perhaps to invigorate old people on death's door with a sense of empowerment, nursing homes want to ensure that employees receive less care than residents. To this end, they've sought exemptions from obligations to provide care to workers, who are already so terribly compensated that one in three don't have any health insurance at all. The ironic occupation of uncared-for caregiver gibes neatly with an existing program pioneered by Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), in which congressional cafeteria busboys and servers were replaced by people who are starving to death and paid in useless 20-lb lead ingots they are too weak to lift.

Speaking of Minnesota: Republicans proposed cutting the rolls of MinnesotaCare, which provides poor and indigent state residents with health care. Instead of leaving them sick and dying like people with normal private health insurance, they thoughtfully gave them vouchers to purchase private health insurance, whereupon they could be denied care just like a successful person who's going to die of a treatable illness in his own home. A Democrat brought forth an amendment to test the effectiveness of this method of money-saving by also putting members of the state senate on that same voucher program. It was a failure, just like other attempts to replace public health care programs with private insurance vouchers.

It could be worse for Minnesotans. They could live in Wisconsin, where the state Senate recently voted to end requirements that municipalities disinfect drinking water.

Here's your annual report on skyrocketing CEO compensation, complete with flashy bar graphs to better demonstrate just how hard they must be working in order to merit such lavish lifestyles. Leaving aside images of Muslim men and women protesting for equality under the shadow of secret policemen's truncheons, it's a testament to the gutlessness of teenagers in Che Guevara shirts and the empty countercultural posturing of their parents that a random American CEO doesn't routinely get beaten and terrorized in the streets, hounded into exile behind concertina-wired walls, and lastly scared shitless and into a sense of social justice by a population whose poorer people outnumber him roughly 300,000,000 to 1.

If electricity bills rise for consumers in states with clean energy mandates, the energy company is probably passing the cost of migrating to clean energy onto its customers. Naturally we should just abandon all hope and stick with burning coal until the sky looks the color of a black velvet Elvis painting onto which some eight-year-old nasal spelunker erupted a torrent of nosebleeds. Unintended consequence to consider, though: dystopian Mad Max futures aren't as cool when fights over a bucket of oil are cut short by your asthma attack.

An 8th-grade girl who didn't immediately report two students engaging in sex acts on a school bus for fear of retaliation has been suspended from school and banned from prom. Lucky for her and her parents, this is a private charter school, which isn't as beholden to things like "regulations," so any kind of restitution will come about through expensive lawyers and extensive fights in court, rather than a simple appeal to the school district's public officials. No word yet on whether this is one of the innumerable charter schools which convert lots of money to "fraudulent grades" and "permanent vacation to a non-extradition country with beaches," so there could still be good news here!

CBS ran an investigativish report on a political movement. Its members reject the authority of the Federal government, hate taxes, distrust the courts, believe the American government has overstepped its Constitutional boundaries, and often become violent against those they believe infringe upon their rights. Its figureheads have very close ties to neo-Nazi and White supremacist groups. It's called the "sovereign citizen" movement.

I mean, congratulations to CBS for tossing in the Nazi/white supremacist thing to help the audience distinguish these guys from the GOP, but David Neiwert has been blogging about this stuff for years. I suppose for politics wonks, this must be what it felt like when people who'd been wearing copies of Bleach out on their tape deck finally heard Smells Like Teen Spirit on MTV. The mainstream!—they like us!—they really like us! Of course, this is how the Sovereign Citizens totally fucking sold out, man. They got all fucking into being on CBS and forgot it was supposed to be about the racism.

Game time! Which one of these bylines is from a news story published after the strong Financial Reform Bill passed?
a. As the economy weakens, banks are increasingly squeezing customers who overdraw their bank accounts.
b. Big banks hit customers with higher fees, and more of them
Twist! It's the one that sounds worse.

Conservatives are really, really, really angry that businesses in Nancy Pelosi's districts received waivers omitting them from participation in the health insurance reform bill. You know, the health insurance bill they hate so much and don't want to have to participate in: they're really angry that businesses are being waived from it. Well, not that exactly. They're probably more steamed that those businesses are in Pelosi's district, despite the fact that the department of Health and Human Services and a Republican-owned company clarified that these waivers were requested by businesses, not Pelosi. Conservatives responded by joking that Nancy Pelosi is a liar who has undergone plastic surgery. It's just disgusting how liberals would mock Sarah Palin's appearance like that.

Famous screaming drunk belligerent assfuck Andrew Breitbart tried to get two Missouri professors fired by manipulating video clips of their lessons to make it seem like they were advocating violence in the name of unions. It's important that Breitbart do these things, because "the liberal media" doesn't report the truth, which is apparently something so truthfully hidden that it appears "made the fuck up." The professors were vindicated after full videos of their lessons were released. You probably didn't hear about it, because this is a rare instance where the media did not report bullshit from right-wing smear outlets without letting the story play out first. How refreshing that it only takes something like this happening five or six times before they get wise to it.

New x-ray scanners at airports actually expose you to much more dangerous levels of radiation than previously estimated. Initial studies assumed that the entire density of your body would be scanned, distributing the "hit of radiation" throughout your system. These studies failed to take into account the fact that these scanners operate only at skin-level, distributing radiation to a significantly smaller amount of your body. The good news? If you act suspiciously enough, you can probably still "threat-level" your way into one and make a lady or gentleman of the TSA check out the kind of heat you're packin'.

Vermont isn't unconditionally the best state after all: it's the most lax in the union when it comes to banks and health insurers fucking around with complex financial instruments which collapse our economy, and now some other states are rushing to be just as welcoming to industries that want to risk the country's financial well-being for vast profits. Fucking hippies.

Republican Governor of New Jersey, Soprano-shaped lardass and outspoken asshole Chris Christie gave the commencement speech to Seton Hall's graduating class, urging them to find ways to innovate and be "disruptors." A student took his advice and loudly urged him to shut up.