Sunday, June 5, 2011

Idi Amin's Briefs Rodeo: Liberal Extremism

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.

You Can Keep the 'Climate Change'; I'll Cling to My Fracking and Logs

Due to budget cuts, the government will shut down or significantly scale back several web projects which increase government transparency. One of those projects involves showing which private companies were awarded stimulus contracts. Surely this move won't benefit companies owing millions in back taxes, for a total of almost $25 billion given to companies that hate the government so much that they want to ensure it won't be able to afford to give them contracts in the future.

Blue Dog fuckhead Steny Hoyer insists on ruining the well-being of Federal employees, by asking as a part of budget negotiations to bring down their employee benefits to the nonexistent level of the private sector. Give Hoyer credit for mastering the art of Democratic negotiation: abandoning all major demands as a prerequisite for getting to the bargaining table and converting all those golden concessions into the lead of GOP demands rubber-stamped by "liberal" policymakers.

State Park Obituaries:
California — Democratic (questionable) Governor Jerry Brown has proposed closing a quarter of the state's parks, with 70 scheduled to shutter as a result of budget cuts. Thankfully, closing 16 of those parks may violate federal law, meaning a mere 56 would be closed. Besides, the ones remaining open are already in such bad shape, it's like, who cares?

Ohio - A bill to allow Oil and natural gas drilling in state parks has passed the state house, and famous asshole governor John Kasich supports the measure. Nevermind that fracking for natural gas is like sticking nitroglycerine in your air-popper before the start of movie night, and that it's worse for the environment than just straight-up using coal. The big problem is that otherwise there's just not enough of a chance that Ohio will experience earthquakes, and this is something fracking can finally correct.
Senator and possible diaper fetishist David Vitter (R-LA) has blocked a scheduled pay raise for the secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, because Salazar hasn't been nice enough to oil companies in the wake of their causing the worst man-made environmental disaster in history. Vitter says he'll allow the raise to go through if Salazar issues six new deepwater exploration permits in the next month. With such a specific number, it's almost as if Vitter is speaking on behalf of oil company executives who know exactly what they must do to meet stockholder expectations, but this would imply that Vitter is an immoral shitbag.

Dentists love money to the point that they're 38 times more likely to let poor children on Medicaid suffer than treat them, preferring instead to treat children covered by private insurers.

Record snowfalls in May, tremendous earthquakes, and more deaths from tornadoes in the first 6 months of this year than in the past 10 years combined are all just coincidences, and not a volatile reaction to a changing climate, because that literally is not a real thing that happens.

Public schools now charge many fees for everyday activities such as extracurriculars, in addition to the fees already charged for unspecified "registration" and "instructional" purposes to cover budget shortfalls. This probably comes as no surprise to the Florida GOP, who any day now seem like they might try to circumvent the class-size amendment by making one teacher per classroom budget-optional.

James Carville, who endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, is one of the first in the mainstream to notice that the way he's governing is almost identical to how his opponent John McCain said he would, and this link features one of the most brutally insightful quotes on the upcoming 2012 Presidential election and the American political spectrum's nosedive rightward:
It's pretty remarkable that the next election is going to boil down to a competition between the 2008 Republican presidential candidate and his vice presidential nominee.
And because James Carville is so on-point about so much, and because Michele Bachmann is so fucking nutty and re-entering the mainstream, here's an awesome segment from 2008 of the two squaring off on Larry King Live.

Islamaphobic birther-tweet-lover Patrick McHenry (R-NC) snapped and indirectly called citizen advocate Elizabeth Warren a liar during a Congressional hearing because of her ability to correctly read a schedule and her willingness to point out that reality doesn't automatically correspond to whatever the fuck Patrick McHenry thinks it is.

Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that ruled corporations can give an unlimited amount of money to candidates through proxy groups, might be made even worse by this decision: corporations now don't even have to go to the trouble to set up those proxy groups, and can give directly to candidates. Expect political bloggers to lament the fact that classifying GOP representatives from Arkansas or the Carolinas as "(R-Wal-Mart)" or "(R-Philip Morris)" will no longer be a joke.

Federal judge Richard J. Leon exclaims "Horsefeathers!" as he rules that the EPA must exempt a natural gas power plant in California from greenhouse gas emission standards. The power plant is in the San Joaquin Valley, which has the worst smog and particle pollution in the US. He actually said that, by the way. Go read it. He walks right up to the Folksy Idiot Line of saying, "If smog can hurt people? If??? And if a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his ass."

The air you breathe in California isn't important, and the same applies for Texas, where the state legislature passed a whole bunch of environmental laws. One mandates that natural gas drilling companies disclose the chemicals used in fracking (which ruins air, water and land), something no other state requires. But wait — what's the catch? This mandate won't be implemented until July 2012, enough time for gas companies to modify their formula, which they will surely use in states with less stringent standards. But the real kicker is this: "it also approved a bill that makes it more difficult for cities to sue large companies that emit global warming gases, methane or other gases from... 'fracking.'" DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS.

White people are super dumb and think that discrimination against them impairing their ability to get ahead in life has any statistically valid claims to existence. When people in a privileged majority feel that they're the victims of discrimination, bad things start to happen to people that are in the Real-World™ oppressed minority role. Whoops.

In Brazil, legislation is being proposed that lays the groundwork to cripple preservation status of its rainforests to an unprecedented degree. Legislation passed in the kickin-rad 1960s mandated that 80% of landowners' property be protected as forest. This new bill allows states to set the minimum, and it's much easier and more convenient to buy off state legislators in swathes as-needed than it is to buy off federal legislators all at once. It also lifts limits on logging near waterways and mountain slopes and grants amnesty to all illegal logging that occurred in protected areas prior to July 2008. Then there's this:
The Amazon rainforest stores massive amounts of carbon, which, if released, would make a major contribution to changing the global climate. According to a 2010 World Bank study, a 20% reduction in forest cover, combined with droughts, fires and climate change, could cause a dramatic dieback of the Amazon, converting large areas to savannah.

Tropical forest scientist Thomas Lovejoy, who chaired the bank’s scientific panel, said the study “indicates a tipping point in the South and Southeast Amazon of 20% -- it is currently at 18%. What is needed is reforestation to lower risk of dieback, rather than promoting more deforestation."

Lovejoy, who has led research projects in Brazilian forests for four decades, said the new legislation “is driven by short-term interests and ignores the rainfall benefits provided by the Amazon for agro-industry and hydropower.”
Naturally, there's no reason for Americans to worry about this, as these are events and conditions that exclusively impact Brazil. This is the kind of completely logical environmental policy that takes up space inside brains that wholly endorse interdependent globalization as an economic policy.

After plans to privatize the Kansas Arts Commission failed, Governor Sam Brownback (R-KS) just straight-up fucking eliminated it, making it the only state in the union without an arts program. Judging by the pace of everything else going on, though, it won't be lonely for very long.

Jacob Weisberg of Slate decided to ruin a perfectly good false equivalency between right extremists and "left extremists" — none of which exist on the left, at least to the degree where they're given any kind of voice in mainstream political discussions — by surrounding it with a not-too-shabby article about how Republican politicians consistently defy scientific and common-sense consensus about climate change, evolution and Barack Obama's citizenship for political expediency. Look at this beautiful example of no details whatsoever when trying to "be fair" by slamming the left:
Moments like this point to a growing asymmetry in our politics. One party, the Democrats, suffers from the usual range of institutional blind spots, historical foibles, and constituency-driven evasions. The other, the Republicans, has moved to a mental Shangri-La, where unwanted problems (climate change, the need to pay the costs of running the government) can be wished away, prejudice trumps fact (Obama might just be Kenyan-born or a Muslim), expertise is evidence of error, and reality itself comes to be regarded as some kind of elitist plot.
It's not like there aren't sixteen or seventeen different things you can specifically mention to back up what he says about the Democrats, who are largely spineless, unprincipled and overly submissive to business interests, although they might portray themselves as champions of working citizens. But such a "comparison" serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever when examined in the context of the rest of his article. It does a good job of highlighting the deferential attitude many liberals have when talking with or about right-wing extremists, by similarly insisting that "both sides" have extremists and problems, as a show of some kind of fairness, where often, no equivalency exists.

Aside from sad references to the SDS, 12-year-old bugaboos about a misreading of the Seattle WTO protests or the specter of non-existent communism, invariably what's dismissed in the mass media as left-wing extremism is the "radical" desire to preserve wildly popular government programs via a 0.04% tax increase on the super-rich. This gets contrasted against the somehow "reasonable" right-wing call to privatize these programs with zero increase in costs to the citizen or diminution of services while eliminating their availability to all sorts of brown people who pose an existential threat to history, small towns, stickball and Jesus.

Meanwhile, as per the above link, the Southern Policy Law Center tracks a striking rise in right-wing hate groups; white men with assault weapons gather in front of government buildings; a man flies a plane into an IRS building (and Newsweek makes soft-pedaling acts of right-wing terror into an editorial policy); a sitting GOP congressman instantly follows someone on Twitter cheerleading birtherism and claiming a shooter on an American military base was a Muslim agent of Barack Obama, and the most popular conservative website online cheerleads a fucking Nazi shooting people in the nation's capitol.

Maybe liberals should have thought of this before holding up posters of Bush as a chimp, because this is the fault of those crazed Weather Underground types with Photoshop, according to the political principle of You Started It.