Late Night Open Thread: Wholly Fool

Grab your anodynes of choice, kiddies, because Ken Layne at Wonkette has assembled a compilation of “One Hundred Years of ReaganTube” that is too good not to share, painful though it is to those of us who had to live through the original era:

Oh can you believe it was only a hundred years ago when Ronald Reagan was born? Which side of the Civil War did he fight on, anyway? (Answer: He didn’t fight at all, but he was an extra at the Ford Theater the night Lincoln was shot, and later claimed to have played the role of Robert E. Lee in James Joyce’s movie Ulysses S. Grant.) Oh, also, back in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan was actually serving as president in some weird state of constant incapacitation? Everybody thought he was a moron. Most Republicans didn’t even support him during the regular lows of his disastrous two terms. He also didn’t defeat the Soviet Union — they ran out of money on their own, just like we’ve done here in America in the past 10 years, in the exact same Central Asian country. But Ronald Reagan did delight America with his constant, idiotic appearances on film and television. Let’s remember the empty suit who led us to a Promised Land of Fox News, Tax Cuts for Multi-Billionaires and the deliberate dismantling of what had been the world’s smartest, most prosperous society in the History of the World…

Be grateful you’re getting this warning: there’s a swimsuit shot. On the other hand, the Wonkette commentariat may be second only for high-quality snark behind some blog with a rotating tag line, so you’ve got that to look forward to.

Grass Roots Need Sunlight, Astroturf (Apparently) Does Not

After losing the 2004 Presidential election, a group of us here started a state-registered PAC. The point of the PAC was to find, promote and elect local candidates who share our views.

The PAC works like this: we collect twelve dollars a year from anyone who wants to join. We spend the money to promote the candidates and causes we support. We’re all volunteers.

I’m the treasurer of the PAC. I’m also a lawyer in private practice. In Ohio, I have to file a campaign finance report at least annually but more often quarterly, depending on PAC activity and the number of elections in any given year.

I follow these rules for filing. Because I’m a lawyer, and I’d like to remain one, I also follow these rules. (pdf).

If I don’t meet the filing deadline (which happened, once) I have to file a form to request an extension. I have hand-delivered this extension request to the county Board of Elections because I wanted to see it time-stamped, so I wouldn’t fret all weekend. I have also sat bolt upright in bed trying to recall if I did indeed attach the receipt for the candy we purchased to pass out at a parade, an episode of obsessive second-guessing every lawyer reading this will recognize.

I’m in favor of campaign finance disclosure, and sunshine laws in general, so I do not mind spending the 40 minutes or an hour it takes to compile the report and file it. In fact, our PAC members enthusiastically supported Jennifer Brunner for Secretary of State, and Jennifer Brunner tightened up the disclosure rules. She ran on it.

The PAC filing is a public record, so anyone in this county who wants to know who we are or who and what we’re backing may read the filing. This is a majority Republican county and I live and work here, as do all of the members of the PAC. Every single elected official countywide is a Republican, with the exception of the mayor of an outlying burg and a member of the school board, and all our PAC donors are Democrats.

Having said all that, I read things like this:

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has amended his financial-disclosure forms after a liberal group, Common Cause, said he was failing to report the employment of his wife, conservative activist Virginia Thomas. In filings dated Friday, Justice Thomas asked court officials to amend disclosures going back to 1989, when he served as a federal appellate-court judge. An item on the forms asks judges to disclose any “noninvestment income” for their spouse. The form asks only for the name of the employer or other party paying the spouse and doesn’t seek a dollar figure.
Justice Thomas had checked “none” for that item, but now he wants the forms to reflect the names of the employers for whom Mrs. Thomas worked, including the Heritage Foundation from December 1998 through October 2008 Justice Thomas wrote that the information about his wife’s employment “was inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.”

And this:

Federal campaign spending by groups other than candidates and parties this election cycle has far outpaced similar spending from the last midterm election and could rival the 2008 presidential campaign. But with recent decisions by the Supreme Court and the Federal Elections Commission, it has become harder to know whose dollars they are.

We went from 98% disclosure in 2004 to 32% disclosure in 2010, after Citizens. It sure has become “harder to know”!

I know Justice Thomas’ inadvertent omission isn’t a campaign finance question, but I do wonder where we’re going with this.

Did we reach some anti-transparency political consensus in this country that I somehow missed? Is sunlight not, in fact, the best disinfectant? See, I don’t think we did. I think most people agree that more information is better than less information, when making a decision on elected leaders. Yet, somehow, we ended up with a situation where local, individual activists are named where they live and work, and national corporate and moneyed interests are carefully protected.

It’s just incredibly dispiriting. If the objective here was to create cynicism and hopelessness in individual citizens, we succeeded. That we did that in the name of protecting and promoting political speech is obscene.

Oh Good Grief

Via Radley Balko, the most obscene thing I’ve read in a while:

On Aug. 18, Ms. Moore and her boyfriend went to Police Headquarters to file a complaint with Internal Affairs about the officer who had talked to her alone. Ms. Moore said the officer had fondled her and left his personal telephone number, which she handed over to the investigators.

Ms. Moore said the investigators tried to talk her out of filing a complaint, saying the officer had a good record and that they could “guarantee” that he would not bother her again.

“They keep giving her the run-around, basically trying to discourage her from making a report,” Mr. Johnson said. “Finally, she decides to record them on her cellphone to show how they’re not helping her.”

The investigators discovered that she was recording them and she was arrested and charged with two counts of eavesdropping, Mr. Johnson said. But he added that the law contains a crucial exception. If citizens have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime is about to be committed against them, they may obtain evidence by recording it.

“I contend that the Internal Affairs investigators were committing the crime of official misconduct in preventing her from filing a complaint,” Mr. Johnson said. “She’s young. She had no idea what she was getting into when she went in there to make a simple complaint. It’s just a shame when the people watching the cops aren’t up to it.”

Days later, accompanied by Mr. Johnson, Ms. Moore returned to Internal Affairs and was able to file a full complaint. There is a continuing investigation of Ms. Moore’s charges against the officer, a Police Department spokesman said.

One of the things that shocks me the most about this kind of thing is how willing everyone seems to be to bend over and just take it. We’ll carry guns to rallies and have a genuine freak-out if someone suggests raising the top marginal rate a point, but there are honest to goodness abuses of authority and prosecutorial misconduct every single day, and only a few people really speak up about it. Hell, even at this website, where the commenters mainly identify as center to center-left, when allegations of misconduct and abuse by our government are put forward, the reaction among a fair number of people is to get their panties in a bunch about the blogger who mentioned it, or to simply swallow the government line. It’s insane. Wikileaks is a perfect case in point- I know when I find out that my government is lying to me, my first reaction is to get really mad at Julian Assange and Bradley Manning and Glenn Greenwald, and to spend several months talking about whether or not Assange’s ego is too big or if Glenn uses too many words.

Just craziness.

Conservatives Win Again

Thanks to commenter SpotWeld for this:

In the spring of 2009, a Republican strategist settled on a brilliant and powerful attack line for President Barack Obama’s ambitious plan to overhaul America’s health insurance system. Frank Luntz, a consultant famous for his phraseology, urged GOP leaders to call it a “government takeover.Takeovers are like coups,” Luntz wrote in a 28-page memo. “They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom.”

PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen “government takeover of health care” as the 2010 Lie of the Year. Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats’ shellacking in the November elections.

The phrase is simply not true. Said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: “The label ‘government takeover” has no basis in reality, but instead reflects a political dynamic where conservatives label any increase in government authority in health care as a ‘takeover.’ ”

We asked incoming House Speaker John Boehner’s office why Republican leaders repeat the phrase when it has repeatedly been shown to be incorrect. Michael Steel, Boehner’s spokesman, replied, “We believe that the job-killing ObamaCare law will result in a government takeover of health care. That’s why we have pledged to repeal it, and replace it with common-sense reforms that actually lower costs.”

It’s a belief, so not therefore not a lie. They never said it had a factual basis.

The phrase appears more than 90 times on Boehner’s website, It was mentioned eight times in the 48-page Republican campaign platform “A Pledge to America” as part of their plan to “repeal and replace the government takeover of health care.” The Republican National Committee’s website mentions a government takeover of health care more than 200 times. Conservative groups and tea party organizations joined the chorus. It was used by FreedomWorks, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute.

In 2010 alone, “government takeover” was mentioned 28 times in the Washington Post, 77 times in Politico and 79 times on CNN. In most transcripts we examined, Republican leaders used the phrase without being challenged by interviewers. For example, during Boehner’s Jan. 31 appearance on Meet the Press, Boehner said it five times. But not once was he challenged about it.

CNN beat Politico in shilling for the GOP in 2010, so that’s an upset right there. I had Politico as the favorite.

Last year Republicans (and allied organizations) won for “death panels”.

Any guesses on The Big Lie in 2011?

Tragically, This is Real

Oh, my:

Bless their hearts. I think you can hear Rich Lowry doing background vocals.