Pony Tail

This 7 second video shows how to create a pony tail with no fuss. It wouldn’t surprise me if some American high tech or pharmaceutical company already has the patent. So watch the video now before our corporate overlords force it to be taken down.

Come to think of it, I’m surprised no company has yet tried to patent words. “I’m sorry: you just used an article; that’s be five cents!”

Most Shameful Moment on The Daily Show

John StewartThe Daily Show annoyed me again last night with the most shameful deception I have ever seen on the show. Andrea tells me I’m just angry at Jon Stewart over his treatment of the platinum coin idea. This is not true. I am often bothered by how The Daily Show deals with issues and bends over backwards to seem “balanced” when it is anything but. Last night, the show took on Hurricane Sandy relief. I figured they would do a good job of this, but they blew it completely.

They started by noting Republican obstruction in the House. Then they showed a clip that made Chris Christie look good. That’s fine, when it comes to this issue, Christie has been okay (although not nearly as good as his press would indicate). Then they showed Representative Mick Mulvaney complaining about pork in the bill. In particular, there is money to help the fishery industry in Alaska and the Gulf Coast. Stewart followed up with a typical, “Can’t we all just get along?”

There are two problems here. First, putting pork in a bill is part of getting along. In fact, a lot of the Congressional dysfunction these last few years comes from the fact that Congress has made it much harder to do this kind of horse trading. Second, Congressmen always have some very good reason for not voting for any particular bill. Oh yes, Mulvaney would love to vote for the bill, if only it weren’t for this one thing! Stewart is showing himself to be extremely naive about the way politics works.

Then, when the House removes some of this pork and passes the bill, Stewart is thrilled. They got along! See how easy it is guys?! But note: after it was taken out, Mulvaney still voted against it. As did 178 other Republicans. So this wasn’t even the House agreeing to “all get along”!

But it gets worse. Because the bill has to go back to the Senate. Why? Because the House delayed so long on the vote that there is a new Congress. Stewart makes no mention of this. But it gets even worse. He shows video of Kerry saying that the bill will not pass without the fisheries money. Kerry looks really bad.

The reason Kerry looks really bad is because The Daily Show was as deceptive as I have ever seen. Kerry was talking about “desperately-needed aid for the Northeast fisheries disaster.” You know, in places like Gloucester and New Bedford—places effected by Hurricane Sandy!

Watch for yourself the most shameful moment I have ever seen on The Daily Show:

Republican Hostage Plans Going, Going…

Boehner with Uncle Sam as HostageMore cracks in the Republican hostage plan. Yesterday, Glenn Kessler destroyed Amy Kremer’s claim that, “It is pure baloney to say we have to pay the bills for things Congress has already approved.” And today, Kremer’s group Tea Party Express responded, claiming that they really do think that the Debt Ceiling has to be raised.

This morning, Jonathan Chait wrote, Republicans: Okay, Maybe We Can’t Shoot the Hostage, But Maybe We Can Slap Him Around or Something. It reports on a Wall Street Journal OpEd by Keith Hennessey. In it, he floats an idea that is doubtless making the rounds at the Republican retreat: just raise the Debt Ceiling every three months or so.

This isn’t exactly new. Grover Norquist floated the idea of doing this back in November. He said that Republicans should just raise the Debt Ceiling according the Obama’s behavior, “Monthly if he’s good, weekly if he’s bad.” I don’t think there has been much coverage of just how offensive such talk is. He is suggesting that the president is a misbehaving child. But that’s conservatives: authoritarian followers when they’re in power; reactionary revolutionaries when they’re not. Anyway…

Chait goes on to note that this is a bizarre idea. This just sets up a situation where Republicans have to vote to raise the Debt Ceiling over and over again. And that just provides fodder for a primary challenge. But the problem is deeper than this:

They just keep falsely insisting over and over that Obama refuses to accept spending cuts. If they think it makes sense to refuse the spending cuts Obama is offering because they can’t accept the revenue increases he insists have to go along with it, why don’t they just say that? Is the position so unpopular they can’t even acknowledge it publicly? Are they just unable to conceive of a policy change that comes about as a result of compromise rather than hostage-taking? It’s genuinely weird.

Greg Sargent thinks it is similarly strange. But he provides the way forward:

Republicans need to accept the inevitable: Either agree to a clean debt ceiling hike, or accept the need to compromise, agree to a deal with revenues that can pass the House with Dems, and attach a debt ceiling hike to that. The easiest way out of this hostage crisis is for Republicans to release the hostage.

What seems to be going on is that the Republicans are going through the process of understanding that the great leverage they thought they had—”Let’s destroy the economy!”—really wasn’t leverage at all. As I said yesterday, we will see what the next week brings. I think it will be the sound of the ceiling caving in.

The Great and Powerful O

From a current CNN [1] article about Our OWN Queen Confessor.

“One of Oprah’s major products is redemption,” Kathryn Lofton, a professor of religious and American studies at Yale University, told The Globe and Mail. “She sold the experience of confession — of hearing somebody’s darkest story, and offering to them the possibility of relief from its articulation.”

So if a penitent narcissist apologizes to a narcissist who is a combination of L. Ron Hubbard and Dr. Phil, but who possesses the mesmerizing power of Hypnotoad, he shall be saved! Unless she rips him a new one, then he’s damned.

I think Scientology might have some competition from OWN.

[1] I should probably stop pretending that CNN is actually a news source.

Antisemite Martin Luther

Martin LutherI shall give you my sincere advice:

First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians…

Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed…

Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.

Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb….

Fifth, I advise that safe-­conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews.

Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping…

Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3[:19]).

—Martin Luther
The Christian Delusion

Plan 9 from Republican House

Plan 9 From Republican HouseGreetings, my friends. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friends, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown—the mysterious. The unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you, the full story of what will happen on that fateful day. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony, of the miserable souls, who have studied this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places—my friends, we cannot keep this a secret any longer! Let us punish the guilty! Let us reward the innocent! My friends, can your heart stand the shocking facts of Plan 9 from Republican House?!

If so, Matt Yglesias has a story to tell you. Yes, I was being silly above, with the help of the great Ed Wood. But the truth is that if the Congress does not raise the Debt Ceiling, it is going to be bad. Really, if your heart can stand the truth, click on over to Yglesias’ article. But let me give you the most basic information. If we hit the Debt Ceiling, we will see a 7% hit in the GDP of this country. This represents about ten million currently employed people losing their jobs. This represents as big a hit as the worst of the Great Depression.

But there’s more! That’s just the primary problem. As with everything in the economy, there are lots and lots of feedbacks:

If the government can’t pay its bills on time, then some of the people to whom it owes money—whether that’s a construction company, a grandma on Social Security, a doctor treating Medicare patients, a public school expecting Title I funding, a student awarded a Pell Grant, whatever—won’t be able to pay their bills on time. That’s going to mean a rise in missed payments on mortgages, car loans, and credit cards. That means bank failures and sharply reduced credit availability even for people who aren’t specifically counting on a check from Uncle Sam. Debt financed investment—construction projects, vehicle purchases, small business expansions—will likely grind to a halt as nobody wants to lend out new money until they’re sure they’re getting paid what they’re already owed. That will create a secondary collapse in incomes, and an additional wave of business and citizens unable to pay their bills.

I know a lot of people think I am too worried about this. Actually, I’m tending to think now that we aren’t that likely to hit the Debt Ceiling. But this is so bad that we shouldn’t even be seriously talking about it. Right now, I think there is maybe a 10% chance. And that is terrifying.

Humble David Brooks

David BrooksBroadly speaking, there are two kinds of conservative pundits. First there is the bloviator that we all know from right wing radio. Rush Limbaugh is the best example of this. In fact, if you do a Google search on “bloviator,” Google offers, “Searches related to bloviator: Rush Limbaugh.” Seriously. The second is the Very Serious Pundit. Two people come to mind here: George Will and David Brooks. These guys seem very smart because they talk nice and for a conservative, that’s saying something.

But if you pay attention to what they actually say, rather than how they say it, you will find that—just like Deep Throat said—these are not very smart guys. Affirmative Action for conservatives! If they were liberals, I’m not sure they would even have been able to write professionally. But they have no lack of pretentiousness. In fact, that’s their brand.

David Brooks has been in the news recently, because he is teaching a course in humility at Yale. That’s right: a course in humility at Yale taught by David Brooks! If you made this shit up, you’d have to be a modern day Jonathan Swift. I don’t know what is more absurd: selling the children of the poor as a food source or creating a course on humility at Yale taught by David Brooks. Let’s call it toss up.

Luckily for us, Scott over at Backslash Scott is a student at Yale. And he attended the first day of David Brooks’ humility course. You know this is gonna be good, don’t you?!

He didn’t write too much. But he did provide some of the highlights:

[H]e was explaining office hours (which are Monday nights at either a cafe or a bar) and said that meeting with students individually was exciting “certainly for them but also for me.”

After reading 10 definitions of humility, Brooks literally said “God had Ten Commandments, so I figured I’d stop there.”

I learned that Brooks has met Obama, Bush, Clinton, Biden, and McCain. On day one of a class on humility.

Hopefully Scott will file more stories from David Brooks’ war on humility. At Yale!