Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day after Saturday links

Glenn Beck's rally was yesterday. Do you care? Me neither. Let's get to it.

Full body scanners are now available to anyone that wants to buy them. Law enforcement agencies appear to be a pretty good customer. These mobile scanners are pretty handy because you don't have to bother with pesky things like warrants to use them.

Your tax dollars well spent: $3 Million dollar settlement to the victims of the Metro Strike Task Force. Also, $165,000 was paid out to the zombies arrested in Minneapolis a few years back for supposedly carrying fake WMDs (yeah, seriously). The zombies are donating the majority of their settlement to the cause of the RNC 8, another group familiar with police abuse, because zombies are just classy like that.

The first step in asking your boss for a raise is making sure you have a clean vagina.


I'm still not exactly sure why the Democrats flee from liberal talking points. Republicans seem to utilize them quite often, even when they make absolutely no sense at all (via Balloon Juice).

Psycho columnist whining about no-fault divorce pretty much makes the point of exactly why we need to have no fault divorce.

No one could have predicted that whipping up rage about mosque-building as an election year tactic would lead to acts of arson. But it has nothing to do with Islam, really! We just hate terrorism!

Today is the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Or, alternatively, the five year anniversary of one of the largest governmental failures in recent history. I'm just going to link to Molly Ivin's piece published soon after all this shit went down, because it rings as true today as it did five years ago:

To use a fine Southern word, it's tacky to start playing the blame game before the dead are even counted. It is not too soon, however, to make a point that needs to be hammered home again and again, and that is that government policies have real consequences in people's lives.

We should not forget about what happened on the Gulf Coast five years ago. Not just in what led up to the levies failing, but especially the aftermath where we left the survivors (and the few brave people that stayed to help others through the chaos) stranded and hopeless. This should not happen in America, ever. We should still be very, very angry.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

No word on if Broder sent him some doughuts with sprinkles as well

You've got to be fucking kidding me.

Yes, now that he's done selling out his soul to beat a Teabagger in the primaries, John McCain can get right back to his mavericky awesomeness. Just like he did a few years ago. And a few years ago before that. And a few years before that. And just like he will in the future for many times to come, because why not? The guy could eat kittens on live TV and the press would implore you to just give him the benefit of the doubt, man, he has to do these things because that's politics.

The guy's an opportunistic asshole. He's always been an opportunistic asshole. That is all there is to him. What is it about John McCain that makes the press fawn all over him?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tom Horner will pry my $5 pack of Camels out of my cold dead hands

So Tom Horner put out his budget plan today. And before I nitpick it to death, I'd just like to state that I appreciate that he's trying to have somewhat of a blueprint for the budget, unlike Tom "Taxes, schmaxes, everything will be magically paid for with unicorn tears" Emmer. It's going to follow that everyone is going to have a fit over this proposal because there are things to attack from both a liberal and conservative standpoint, and because it is the most detailed plan we've seen so far, easy to attack and wrinkle up one's nose at. Perhaps this is the point, Horner put himself out there in a big way today, and although suggesting things like taxing new items and services can garner a lot of bad attention, it's still attention. Which Horner really needs right now (unlike the other two, he can't really buy it).

So here's what I see as the good, the bad, and the ugly.

First, the proposed tax on cigarettes and alcohol (full disclosure, I love both of these things). I find these "sin taxes" to be just lazy (Horner is predictably citing health reasons to support this tax increase). It's an easy way to push a regressive tax on the lower and middle classes without coming out and saying that's what you are doing. People will cry bloody murder if you say "You know, I think poor people should get a tax increase", but if it's smokers? Well, fuck them, right? Assigning sin taxes to addictive substances just seems sadistic to me. Sure, no one "needs" cigarettes or alcohol, but no one "needs" fancy cheeses or yachts either (but you sure as fuck need a jacket during the winter). But unlike fancy cheeses and yachts, lots of people are hopelessly dependent on tobacco and alcohol while not being dependent on fancy cheeses or yachts.Yet it's the addictive substances that come up for sin taxes every damn time. I suppose you are safe in assuming that you won't have to worry about that revenue stream running dry if you are taxing highly addictive substances. Taxing fancy cheeses, on the other hand, might make a fucker go Galt. Mah Brie!

Second, the clothing tax. I'm not necessarily against this one. I've thought it's long past due, we are a rarity in the nation because we don't tax clothing purchases. And I actually can get behind Horton's idea of dropping the overall tax rate by one percent while adding clothing on, increasing the revenue stream over a broader sense is a better alternative then narrowing it to specific areas only (I'm looking at you, Mark Dayton). But even if you could argue that a tax is needed on clothing, I'm not sure if now is the best time to impose one. I fail to see how requiring the private retail sector to take a tax hit would encourage job growth. Neighboring states patronize clothing stores in Minnesota because of it's tax-free status on clothing. The Mall of America was built here because of our tax-free status on clothing. So it seems like we should be encouraging people to shop retail, and a tax increase on clothing isn't going to have that effect. Perhaps the effect would not be that great, I couldn't say for sure. But I really see no logic in arguing that a tax increase on a person will decrease their spending while a tax increase on the product they wish to spend there money on would not.

Third, a statewide hiring freeze in the public sector and cutting off funds to counties (but allowing counties to raise their own taxes by one percent). Again, I worry about job creation here. If we are going to argue that private business cannot hire because of the strain put on them by the economy, offering jobs through the public sector may be the only way we can create jobs. Obviously a hiring freeze isn't going to create jobs, and along with his proposal to cut aid to counties I worry that we may actually lose jobs. No, you can't just have the government go in and create jobs for everyone that is unemployed. But history has shown that public works projects are a reliable way to get people working, and then spending, again during a hard recession, and if we can create jobs while at the same time investing in our infrastructure, I'm willing to take a hit in terms of debt on that.

Forth, racinos. I'm fine with allowing more gambling, particularly if it is set in an area that already allows other forms of gambling like race tracks (I don't dislike Dayton's plan to put a casino in the Mall of America either). I understand why local tribes are concerned about this, but that seems like an entitled stance to take, they don't own the market on it. However, I'm a little concerned about Horton's plan for earmarking these funds. A fund to go towards disaster relief is all fine and well, but using it build a goddamn Vikings stadium? I was lukewarm about the idea when times were good, but now? No. Fuck no. That is the stupidest thing one can do. I suppose one could argue that this is the same as providing public works projects to increase employment, and I wouldn't deny it could, but I don't feel right with such a project when so much of the benefit would go to private owners, unlike projects to increase our water lines and roadways, which benefit the people. I would feel the same way if someone wanted to use these funds to upgrade the Walker Art Museum. It is not unreasonable to ask those institutions that are a private/public hybrid to be put on the back burner for a while.

As a few odds and ends: I appreciate Horner's desire to invest in education. These days, the idea has been painted as some sort of socialist tactic instead of a serious investment we need to make to keep on top of the global economy. I would like a plan that does even out the tax rate disparity between the the very wealthy and the middle class, so I would like to see at lease a slight increase in taxes on the wealthiest in the state. I don't really know what to say about a corporate tax decrease, but I think allowing tax breaks for businesses investing in newer technology is a smart way to go.

I suppose I should find some sort of clean way to finish this post up. But what the hell, it's my blog, so I suppose I can end it however I want. Overall, I'm still leaning Dayton. But I think that Horner's got some good ideas here, and I do respect that he's willing to piss everyone off with his proposal, because that's the way it has to be, people.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


After people totally hurt her feelings over something as minor as screaming racial epitaphs on the air, Dr. Laura is quitting her radio show:

"I want to regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what's on my mind, and in my heart, what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry"

So she's giving up the radio and joining the "era of the internet". Because as we all know, there are no "angry, hateful groups who don't want to debate" on the internet.  

This should be fun.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day after Saturday because I had shit to do links

If you are of the notion that more people voting in elections is a good thing, then this is good news. I'm sure it will produce the predictable voter-fraud hissy fit from the right, because how dare poor people walk around thinking they can go do things like vote (ew!), but it's a good way to balance out the voter suppression we've been seeing for the past ten years. I'm just waiting for the "They only sign up for welfare so they can register to vote twice" argument to pop up.

Andrew Breitbart has sex with goats.

You really can't get a better example of what is meant by white privilege then Dr. Laura's bizarre rant the other day. She now says she feels pretty bad about repeating the racial slur multiple times (but it was only to prove a philosophical point! Really!). No word on if she feels bad about telling the woman who was asking how to deal with racism from her husband's friends to basically suck it up, because apparently reacting poorly to being treated as some token black freak existing solely for the amusement and airing of racial grievances by white dudes is "hypersensitive".

This is pretty awesome. Bad-ass dancers from an Ohio strip club grow tired of constant protests from a local church, and decide to take them up on their offer to join their church - hanging out outside, grilling, and staging a protest of their own, in revealing clothing, with supersoakers. Woman with the "Beware the false prophets" sign, I love you. The pastor sounds like a total creep, promising the strippers that if they just turn to god, he "will put a roof over your heads, and your bills will be paid, and your children's bellies will be full". O RLY? Anyone that promises that sort of thing is full of shit, so good on them for calling out his little coffer-filling publicity stunt.

Via Balloon Juice - Third tier right-wing bloggers compile a list of the most terrible Americans that ever existed. Carter comes in at #1, beating out both John Wilkes Booth and Timothy McVeigh. I've got nothing, people. I can't even laugh at this level of stupid.

But at least it's still fun to pick on libertarians.

Lastly, let's talk about the Mosque in New York. So apparently Obama finally came out and scolded the bullies on the ground zero playground that keep throwing sand at kids that pray all funny. After much gushing over his mad 11 dimensional chess skillz and bravery yesterday to stand up for an unpopular project, this happy occasion turned out to be pretty short lived after Obama decided he needed to "clarify" his words the next day, after the predictable hissy-fit ensued. It's a damn shame. I would have gone all in if I were him, because in case he hasn't noticed by now, the fringe is going to paint him as a terrorist supporter no matter what, so he might as well be on the right side of history.

I don't know what to say about the "Ground Zero Mosque" at this point. This whole line of reasoning frustrates me, this idea that the moderate and fair stance is to claim that they have a right to build, but are totally assholes for doing so. I mean, no shit they have a right to build there. That's not even up for questioning. Allowing that Muslims have a "right" to practice their religion and build houses of worship isn't a reasonable compromise, dudes, so no cookies for you. I'm more interested in taking up the reasoning behind this mosque freak out, and why we are hiding behind this pseudo-civil "discussion" instead of just calling this crap out as the illogical, bigoted nonsense it actually is. I'm more interested in looking into why this freak out is happening now, instead of eight or nine years ago. As digby points out, the Bush administration, to their credit, was pretty good at keeping the crazy under wraps, it is now the combination of a well-funded right-wing media machine and the public's anxiety about the economy that is allowing the fringe a permanent home in mainstream discourse. The levels of xenophobia that the Republicans and the right-wing noise machine are sinking to as of late is becoming a bit unnerving. I have a feeling we will see a lot more of this in the next decade, as the GOP plan to appeal to the worst in it's ranks renders it obsolete. They aren't going to die quietly. And so this whole situation kind of makes me feel uneasy; I always try to take the more optimistic road and figured that this level of irrational fear and mistrust would never make it into mainstream discourse, and if it did, it would disgust people.

I was wrong.