Monday, June 13, 2011

Idi Amin's Briefs Rodeo: SNAP INTO A COAL PIT

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.

Passengers Traveling with Small Children Are Encouraged to Stop Somewhere Other Than the United States

President Obama's annual promise to end the Bush tax cuts (this year he'll finally keep his word, liberals are sure of it!) is taking a toll on conservatives who are sick and tired of class warfare. They can't even hide their disgust with his statement that taxes are lower now than they were under President Reagan, something which is factually true. As is par for the course, they respond to correct statements by mocking the person making them and joking as if laughter chases away reality. They could have even cited this shitty Politifact calculation which ignores the context of the tax rate discussions and was tailor-made for conservatives who want to misrepresent history, but that would offer too much dignity to the truth, which deserves nothing more than mockery.

Unrelenting in their anti-reality stance, Republicans blocked President Obama's nominee to the 9th Circuit Court by portraying his views as the exact opposite of what they actually are. Now Obama has no choice but to try to swear him in on Opposite Day.

President Obama's nominee to the Federal Reserve Board, Peter Diamond, has withdrawn his nomination for the position after being blocked and renominated several times since April 2010. Not even some award he got in October 2010 helped his cause, which is evidenced by the scathing and wickedly awesome letter titled, "When a Nobel Prize Isn't Enough." The letter was written by Peter Diamond.

It's really worth reading in full, as it castigates the relevant GOP senators with exactly the level of scorn they deserve. Also noteworthy is this quote from Norm Ornstein of the fucking American Enterprise Institute, of all sources:
We've had huge numbers of nominees blocked, and very few of them for reasons to do with the qualifications or character....

You wonder if there's anything that could bring some level of shame to those who block nominees for partisan purposes and just take people hostage and leave them twisting in the wind for months.
New York is bucking the current trend of how states deal with fracking: it's doing anything. NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing the state's regulators for their half-assed study of the dangers it poses.
The federal government has an obligation to undertake the necessary studies, and as I made clear last month, this office will compel it to do so. The welfare of those living near the Delaware River Basin, as well as the millions of New Yorkers who rely on its pure drinking water each day, will not be ignored.
Callous Asshole Move of the Week, courtesy of Ohio: budget cuts eliminate the position of Cuyahoga county's grief counseler, who assists over 1,000 grieving families per year. Having someone around to counsel people through their grief only incentivizes their letting family members die. When they know they won't be able to suck on the teat of Big Government Peer-Reviewed Modes of Helping People Through Crises and PTSD, Ohio citizens will focus their attentions to entrepreneurialism, using small-business innovation and the free-market principles of Jesus of Nazareth to figure out how to keep people from dying forever.

During the 1960s and 1970s, college students actively protested the presence of recruiting offices at their campuses, fed up by US involvement in an unjust war that cost the nation countless dollars and lives. So strong was the resentment for the military activity that over 88 ROTC offices closed during this period. Today, college students celebrate the ability of gays and lesbians to die in pointless wars by giving thumbs up to military recruiters on those same campuses. Better luck in another few decades, transgendered folk! Hope you aren't "triggered" by any hate speech and blow your load before then!

There was supposed to be a story about how Ohio wants to privatize the state lottery here, but instead, have a delightful blog titled Privatization Watch, which thoughtfully sums up the daily efforts of each state to make government so small, you can drown it in either a liberal's tears or — if you live on the Gulf coast or in a floodplain — some torrent of water that government has no business meddling with your liberty to hold back with usurpatious dikes, property-theft walls and boondoggle sandbags.

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) bashed the EPA in a speech he gave to a group of coal industry executives, because the EPA hates coal and this whole "clean air thing" is just a means to end to achieve a Communist liberal Nazi utopia or whatever. Jim Gooch (D-KY) takes the rhetoric a step further: evidently it's not just coal that the EPA is waging war on, but the whole state of Kentucky. Indeed, the EPA has sought for decades to enact environmental plans that change the 49 other states while unsafely imprisoning Kentucky behind glass walls that will stretch tens of miles skyward to God and into which native Kentucky birds will fly and thunk their heads and die real southern-like.

A completely different disregard for clean air: a California recycling facility right next to an elementary school illegally accepts toxic waste materials, causing health problems for the nearby children. It's okay, because they can just grow out of it. You know how girls are taller than boys during puberty, but boys get taller? It's the same thing with lungs that have emphysema.

In a true sign of a representative government, citizens beg their representative Mary Bono Mack (R-AZ) to not vote to gut the EPA, because her Congressional district has odor issues from pollution that causes health problems. Mary Bono takes a cue from California and promises that all the little Healthamaniacs will be safe from pollution if they say their prayers, eat their pasta, take their vitamins and inject Deca-Durobolin. Then she tears her shirt off. Oh—oh my God! That's not Mary Bono! That's former California GOP congressman Sonny Bono! (metal version of "I Got You, Babe" rings out) BAH GAWD—THAT'S SONNY BONO'S MUSIC!!!

Perhaps it's unfair to the coal industry to knock them for ruining the air you breathe, as they generously assist our children's education via a blatant propaganda campaign that politely informs children in coal-heavy states that their life will be a worthless shithole without the industry to give them good jobs generous school funding.

Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL) is being investigated for violating campaign finance laws, as he allegedly reimbursed employees for the company he used to own for their political contributions to his election campaign. The scandal here is almost hysterically tame. Vern Buchanan is so crooked that finding a part of his life that isn't riddled with financial corruption is like finding a part of Sonny Corleone's body without a bullet in it.

Mini-Markos Moulitsas poses the great question, "Does cutting mental health care increase the prison population?" In the typical Ezra Klein fashion — of washing your hands like Pontius Pilate going so crazy with the hand sanitizer that his fingerprints have long since rubbed off — he presents a lot of important information that overwhelmingly points to a single conclusion, then ends the article with a weakass air of doubt that throws its hands in the air and exclaims "I don't know!" before asking you to donate to Barack Obama so he can stop the mean old Republicans from cutting the budget, because that might hurt the economy.

A grant writer in Arizona who helped to secure funding for children's programs, such as schools and community centers, unknowingly did so illegally. Multiple charges were filed against her for the misappropriation of $35 million, which evidently was not supposed to go to help children. On the stand, she plead ignorance and sobbed. She was found guilty, was convicted of mail fraud, document forgery and making false statements, and she now faces over 20 years in Federal prison. In completely unrelated news, a millionaire who killed two people via hit-and-run with his Porsche paid off the families of those he murdered and was slapped on the wrist with two years of house arrest. A normal sentence for this crime is 45 years in prison. Also on his record: over 50 traffic violations and numerous arrests for drug abuse.

For all the tests corporations do on products involving vast amounts of industrial chemicals, it appears that few of them take into account long-term health risks to pregnant women.
EWG researchers searched two EPA repositories that contain more than 50,000 industry-sponsored studies about the health effects of industrial chemicals. EWG uncovered virtually no relevant submissions when researchers used "umbilical," "pregnant," and "biomonitoring" as search terms.
So, we're making sure that people are safe, which doesn't need to account for babies, since they aren't people yet. Different metrics and everything, so we just monitor how great adults are doing. Once they form into people, they're gold, Jerry—gold!

John Mica (R-FL) rails against the TSA's full-body airport scanners — not because of health risks or privacy concerns, but because "private industry can do it better." TSA employees realize that their jobs are on the line and are vigorously defending the terrible machines. Everybody's a loser, especially since TSA has already been generously farmed out to private contractors to handle a post-9/11 world. The great thing about The Shock Doctrine is that The Shock Doctrine is the obvious answer to problems created by The Shock Doctrine.

Political blog The Hill subtly called out the mainstream media for "gotcha questions" like, "Congresswoman Bachmann, can you please elaborate on your remarks?"
On Thursday, she appeared to take a swipe at former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty for expressing openness to the individual healthcare mandate during his governorship. But she didn't take the bait to elaborate on her remarks when reporters asked her about the issue following her speech.
Washington, DC: where asking Michelle Bachmann to do the bare minimum of expressing her conception of policy as regards her job is "baiting." Asking her to write down what she thinks is considered "Bear Baiting," wherein she is torn apart by packs of the wild Homosexual Agenda.

The Hill also takes a cue from James Carville and points out that Democrats have embraced conservative policies without any fight whatsoever, making one of the more cogent arguments for voting for a Democrat over a Republican: they're your ideal representatives if what you crave the most are policies the GOP pushed heavily in the 1990s before finding them insufficiently cynical, craven, murderous and stupid.

While "Obama is a spineless conservative and a tremendous disappointment" articles are a dime a dozen, all varying in quality, it's rare that one is so on-point about his executive agenda with respect to his electoral plans: trumpet shitty, useless, weak, half-assed, watered-down "achievement" after "achievement" — no matter how terrible the outcome — just so he can tell the American people he did things and tried. It doesn't matter that what was done scurries from greatness like a cockroach hit with a floodlight. It doesn't matter that he had a massive mandate to create real Wall Street reform and pass single-payer healthcare and instead made compromises with himself after skittering at the thought of enemies already stomped into flattened boot-shit on election day. He's the better alternative. Electing Republicans dispenses with the rhetorical grace of explaining why we should knuckle under to them, replacing it with simply knuckling under to them without the nice eulogy for 300,000,000 people. This election season will leave out all the important details. Obama will tell you how he bought you your dream car, and with any luck you won't notice how it doesn't have an engine, and the gas tank is filled with DDT.

Here's a list of the 10 countries with the best work-life balance, ranking countries based on what percentage of the population works "very long hours," the employment rate of women with children and the number of hours in a day that can be dedicated to personal care and leisure. For a depressing game, try to guess how far the US is from making the cut. Once you read it, remember that not living in socialism grants you the wonderful opportunity to make sure you and your kids get more from life!

Paul Krugman's quest to encourage people to talk about creating jobs by spending on infrastructure continues. His quest began roughly a year ago, and will continue indefinitely, as people apparently don't want to listen to a liberal whacko talk about how spending cuts are exactly what led to prolonging the Great Depression — then again exacerbating it after they were instituted to halt infrastructure-expanding Keynesian make-work programs — and how deficit spending got us out of it. (Please do not mention WWII as the real reason for escaping the depression. There is not enough space in this column just for the number of uses of the word "moron" it would need to address that old canard.) If the media's narrative is any indication, people are really concerned about balancing the country's budget, not their ability to feed their family because they have a job.

Another Indefinite Quest article up at the New York Times: getting Americans to realize that the fantasy nation portrayed by Republicans already exists many times over. It's not difficult to find a country with very low-to-nonexistent taxes, virtually no government interference in anything but an abundance of love for firearms and a widespread strict adherence to religion. The country in focus this time around is Pakistan. Countries featured in the past include places like Somalia, which has not had a functioning government in over a decade. Greed is good. God is great. Still clinging to their guns. You can keep the change: it's too small to shoot, and tastes like shit when you eat it.

A Philadelphia household that incurred legal fees as a result of a baseless foreclosure case Bank of America filed and then later dropped got their revenge. They brought the town's sheriff to their branch and demanded that the bank pay the for the couple's $2,534 in legal fees — or face foreclosure. Any step toward pitchfork-wielding mobs employed as a method of resolution with big banks is an important and welcome step.

Our associates at our owner's previous blog-stop, The New Republic, have a great article illustrating how the deficit faced by the government and the largely imaginary-but-easily-solvable deficit faced by social programs such as Medicare and Social Security should be discussed as two separate issues, because trying to treat two discrete budgetary problems as one hampers debate that could produce real solutions. Unfortunately, treating the current political climate as one that can sustain debates on real solutions is also a problem.

Feeding the homeless is not a crime! Unless you live in Florida. Then it's a crime. And you'll be arrested for it. And 3 people were.

Numbers-challenged Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) isn't showering the private sector with the public's cash with complete impunity. For example, he really hates anything that could benefit the public in even the most marginal of ways, which is why he's considering killing the wind-energy sector in Wisconsin. If killing wind energy is so desirable, surely Sconies whose lives have been cheapened with unclean drinking water and assaults on their characters, earnings and means of redress would more than welcome that he turn the gun on himself.