The Poorman Was Wrong

ratonrat

Apparently, these rats are going to fuck themselves:

As Dana Geraghty recalls it, March 16th was a “rather quiet Wednesday.” That afternoon, she was in her cubicle at the Open Society Foundations, on West Fifty-seventh Street, where she helps oversee the nonprofit group’s pro-democracy programs in Eurasia. The Foundations are the philanthropic creation of George Soros, the hedge-fund billionaire, who is a prominent donor to liberal causes, including Hillary Clinton’s Presidential bid. Soros, who has spent nineteen million dollars on the 2016 Presidential campaign, is regarded with suspicion by many conservatives. National Review has suggested that he may be fomenting protests against Donald Trump by secretly funding what it called a “rent-a-mob.” Geraghty, who is twenty-eight, had programmed her office phone to forward messages from unfamiliar callers to her e-mail inbox. She was about to review several messages when she noticed that one of them was extraordinarily long. “Who leaves a seven-minute voice mail?” Geraghty asked herself. She clicked on it.

“Hey, Dana,” a voice began. The caller sounded to her like an older American male. “My name is, uh, Victor Kesh. I’m a Hungarian-American who represents a, uh, foundation . . . that would like to get involved with you and aid what you do in fighting for, um, European values.” He asked Geraghty for the name of someone he could talk to “about supporting you guys and coördinating with you on some of your efforts.” Requesting a callback, he left a phone number with a 914 area code—Westchester County.

She heard a click, a pause, and then a second male voice. The person who had introduced himself as Kesh said, “Don’t say anything . . . before I hang up the phone.”

“That piqued my interest,” Geraghty recalls. Other aspects of the message puzzled her: “Who says they’re with a foundation without saying which one? He sounded scattered. And usually people call to get funding, not to offer it.” Victor Kesh, she suspected, was “someone passing as someone else.”

She continued to listen, and the man’s voice suddenly took on a more commanding tone. The caller had failed to hang up, and Kesh, unaware that he was still being recorded, seemed to be conducting a meeting about how to perpetrate an elaborate sting on Soros. “What needs to happen,” he said, is for “someone other than me to make a hundred phone calls like that”—to Soros, to his employees, and to the Democracy Alliance, a club of wealthy liberal political donors that Soros helped to found, which is expected to play a large role in financing this year’s campaigns. Kesh described sending into the Soros offices an “undercover” agent who could “talk the talk” with Open Society executives. Kesh’s goal wasn’t fully spelled out on the recording, but the gist was that an operative posing as a potential donor could penetrate Soros’s operation and make secret videos that exposed embarrassing activities. Soros, he assured the others, has “thousands of organizations” on the left in league with him. Kesh said that the name of his project was Discover the Networks

I’ve seriously laughed about this a dozen times. O’Keefe and company are just hysterical.

*** Update ***

God damnit I missed Betty’s post on this. Oh well, when am I going to get another chance to use that picture?



Smug versus condescending

Remember that fun couple of months when we were all saving the Affordable Care Act? Something jumped out at me then and I still think it is incredibly salient today. At the very beginning when we started phoning Representatives, their staffs reacted like it was a breath of air to a drowning person. This really puzzled me. This blog has a lot of readers, but not that many. At any given time I don’t think we had more than a couple hundred actively burning up the phone lines. At the beginning when I started hearing this stuff it could not have been more than a couple dozen people. These politicians represent the whole country. If you count just the Democrats at that time they represent a bit over half of it. That’s a bit under two hundred million people. Say around a hundred million old enough to pick up the phone. I know that not everyone does, but enough people still do that often enough that we never should have had the impact we did.

A piece fell into the puzzle when I listened to Keith and Rachel on MSNBC. I have to confess that I don’t enjoy loud partisan entertainment all that much, even when it’s on my side. I think I watched either of them for the first time a few months after the ACA. When Maddow went to credits, what I felt more than anything was kind of smug. I felt great about being on the right side of objective reality but I did not feel like doing much of anything.

Watch an hour of O’Reilly some time, and then check your feelings. Odds are pretty good you will be mad. If you are a liberal you will be mad at all the stupid and misleading things he said about you. If you are a conservative you will feel pretty steamed about the terrible liberals, laughing at you while they wreck everything. Either way you will want to do something. Maybe call FOX and complain about their accuracy, maybe bottle that rage up and save it for Sunday dinner when you can really stick it to that smug liberal nephew. You know what a metric shitload of conservatives do when FOX or some jackass on Clear Channel pisses them off? They call their Congressperson. I know this because Congressional phone volunteers receive what amounts to a nonstop stream of angry invective from FOX viewers and Glenn Beck fans and people who followed the very easy instructions on the all-caps mailer they just got from Tea Party Freedom Fighters Inc., a subsidiary of Koch Industries. It never ends. That is why I think the firebaggers accomplished nothing, despite outpunching this blog by a couple weight classes. A few more anti-ACA phone calls would barely register among a sea of frothy wingnuts, whereas your positive calls were literally the first supportive pro-ACA message some Reps received from the outside world. Their districts were full of liberals who really wanted to see Americans get health care, but none of them picked up the phone.

To me this disparity is one of the most crucial, underappreciated factors in Washington, DC sausagemaking. It helps explain the aggravating headwind that liberal policies always face, where progressive proposals that somehow make it to a bill inevitably get chipped down and lose support over time, whereas conservatives bills if anything pick up steam and constantly get peppered with amendments that make them worse. No matter what the polling says about how popular a policy is, elected Democrats often act like they are fighting a rear guard action against a hostile press and public because in their office it really feels that way. Every one of them gets a daily tally of where that day’s calls and (especially) letters fall on various issues.

So Kevin Drum just weighed in on the old question about whether liberals have a bigger problem with being smug being condescending. Personally, I say why not both. They’re two sides of the same thing anyway. Kevin more or less noodles at the end but that is the part that interests me.

[L]iberals and conservatives have different styles. No surprise there. The question is, do these styles work? Here, I think the answer is the same on both sides: they work on their own side, but not on the other. Outrage doesn’t persuade liberals and mockery doesn’t persuade conservatives. If you’re writing something for your own side, as I am here, most of the time, there’s no harm done. The problem is that mass media—and the internet in particular—makes it very hard to tailor our messages. Conservative outrage and liberal snark are heard by everyone, including the persuadable centrist types that we might actually want to persuade.

I certainly do not want to dismiss the persuadable moderate thing. A dumb person who is outraged at least radiates sincerity, whereas a smug smart person is practically begging for a wedgie, even when you suspect they are probably right. But at the same time the conservative outrage reflex has a much more basic kind of practical advantage. It gets you yelling at some volunteer phone intern, who dutifully makes yet another little check next to Agenda-21-golf-ban-against. Smug doesn’t really compel you to do anything. You are awesome already, even if the world does not appreciate it. I think we could all afford to meditate on that once in a while.



Lies, Damned Lies, and Wingnut Statistics

Whenever the fringe right doesn’t like something, they simply fudge the numbers:

As a heavy user of many government databases, I can attest to the fact that one doesn’t draw data “from two different data sources” by accident. Far, far from it. As good as most government databases are (and they are good), it can be a bit of a laborious undertaking to drill down to exactly what one is looking for.

Its not an accident that the two different datasets Perry’s been abusing have been mixed – they need to be accessed separately and then combined; mined from two very different locations at BLS.gov.

The takeaway here is that Professor Perry has been a dishonest broker of information on Seattle’s minimum wage hike from the very start. This was only the most recent, and most egregious, affront to honest, objective and reasoned analysis of data.

To the NY Post, Fox News, Stuart Varney, Dori Monson, Jazz Shaw, Tim Worstall, IBD, AEI, and myriad other outlets, know – if you didn’t already – that you’ve hitched your wagons to a fraud.

This will change nothing to many of these folks, because neither facts nor fraud matter to ideological zealots. The record will now reflect beyond a shadow of a doubt that data abuse and manipulation are simply business as usual to advance that agenda and pursue an ideology.

Go get em, Barry.








I Give You All I’ve Got to Give, Rings and Pearls and All

Here’s a depressing read about the absolute fucking disaster that is Louisiana:

Initially, Jindal had been able to cut taxes because Louisiana was buoyed by billions in federal money, an influx to help with the recovery from Hurricane Katrina, in 2005. But as that money ran dry, Jindal said he would veto any bills that would push taxes back up to where they had been. Instead, to plug budget gaps, Jindal relied not just on cuts, but also on controversial, one-off fundraising methods. The state sold off assets, including parking lots and farmland. It cleaned out money from hundreds of trust funds — among them, one intended to build reefs for marine wildlife. It pieced together money from legal settlements.

***

The math, now, is daunting: For the fiscal year ending June 30, Louisiana is facing a $940 million deficit, roughly one-eighth of what the state typically doles out from its general fund in a year. For 2016-17, which begins July 1, the gap is $2 billion.

“This was years of mismanagement by a governor who was more concerned about satisfying a national audience in a presidential race,” said Jay Dardenne (R), the lieutenant governor under Jindal who is now the state’s commissioner of administration. Dardenne said Jindal had helped the state put off its day of reckoning in a way that mirrored a “Ponzi scheme.”

Dardenne was elected separately from Jindal and said he wasn’t “part of his inner circle.”

Jindal suspended his presidential campaign in November, saying he couldn’t stand out in a “crazy, unpredictable election season.”

On Jindal’s watch, nearly every agency in Louisiana shed employees, and state lawmakers say some teetered because of the losses. The Department of Children & Family Services shrank to 3,400 employees, from 5,000 in 2008, and social workers began carrying caseloads above national standards. The state also cut funding for youth services and mental health treatment.

“When you cut those programs, it doesn’t change the need for people to get those services,” said Walt Leger (D), a state representative. “It just means you’re no longer providing them. Those folks end up in jail or wandering the street, not being treated for mental health issues, and all of those things have a huge societal cost.”

In recent days, lawmakers have zeroed in on a plan that would somewhat narrow the deficit for the rest of this fiscal year but barely make a dent in the $2 billion gap for next year. Lawmakers would raise sales and cigarette taxes while dipping further into a rainy day fund. They would also use settlement funds from BP, the company responsible for a 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Still, massive cuts would still be required for hospitals and universities.

The same thing, of course, has happened in the other state where the conservative ideal for fiscal governance has been implemented, and it’s a god damned train wreck, too:

Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s aggressive tax cuts have come back to haunt him. In the latest move to make up for a massive state deficit caused by his economic policy, Brownback plans to cut nearly $45 million in funding for public schools and higher education in his state by March.

Brownback shared his plans for the current budget cycle on Thursday ahead of a Senate vote on a bill aimed at eradicating a $344 million deficit projected for the end of June. More than half of the money would be taken from funding for K-12 schools, and take place as soon as March 7, The Associated Press reported. The cut would also affect Kansas colleges and universities. Top Republicans said lawmakers need to agree on a solution to fix the budget by Feb. 13 to make sure the state pays its bills on time through the summer months.

Brownback spent his first term slashing taxes for the rich, promising it would lead to boom times for everyone else. Brownback’s “real live experiment” was supposed to lift Kansas out of the recession and into economic prosperity. The tax breaks instead led to debt downgrades, weak growth, and left the state finances in shambles. The Republican-led legislature in his state previously celebrated his massive tax cuts, but his action landed the state’s budget in shambles when it didn’t boost the economy like he’d hoped.

In his State of the State address last month to kick off his second term, Brownback announced that he would pursue tax increases, reversing his past policy. Republicans are also calling for higher taxes on cigarettes and liquor as part of the annual budget.

My own state has a budget hole that the legislature is going to blow open worse next year as they expand tax cuts for energy producers, and up north in Pennslyvania, Gov. Wolf is trying to clean up Corbett’s mess but Republicans are having a god damned siezure over raising the personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 3.4 percent. You read that right. from .0307 to .034. Meaning for every hundred dollars of taxable income, your income tax rises from $3.07 to $3.40. For the median income in PA, that is basically 150 bucks a year.

So while we are all freaking out about the Drumpf the Insult Comic Hairpiece talking about his dick- and don’t get me wrong, he’s a fucking head case and a fascist, it’s worth remembering that the sane Republicans are batshit fucking insane. The sane Republicans don’t even pass the Jon Rogers legendary 2004 “I miss Republicans” test.

How about someone in the media point that shit out? How many more times are we going to have to go test these failed policies that hurt people and the nation before we stop? As Charlie Pierce has quipped, “the thing about lab rats is that most of them die.”



Easy Mark Recognizes He Might Have Been Robbed:

The ghost of Jerzy Kozinski just died a little on the inside:

For months, reporters and political operatives (including me) have been pointing out that Ben Carson’s campaign bears many of the hallmarks of a political scam operation. Now Carson seems to agree. On CNN on Tuesday, Carson discussed his year-end staff shake-up:

“We had people who didn’t really seem to understand finances,” a laughing Carson told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “CNN Newsroom,” adding, “or maybe they did—maybe they were doing it on purpose.”

It’s a remarkable statement—especially because he’s so blithe about it.

Carson has taken in incredible amounts of money during the race. His campaign has raised more than any other Republican presidential rival, though they’ve raised more when super PACs are included. But he’s also spent more than any of them, so that despite his prolific fundraising, he has barely $4 million in cash on hand.
Related Story

Where Is Ben Carson’s Money Going?

That’s because Team Carson has been plowing a huge portion of the money it raises back into fundraising, using costly direct-mail and telemarketing tactics. Pretty much every campaign uses those tools, but the extent to which Carson was using it raised eyebrows around politics. First, many of the companies being paid millions and millions of dollars are run by top campaign officials or their friends and relations, meaning those people are making a mint. Second, many of the contributions are coming from small-dollar donors. If that money is being given by well-meaning grassroots conservatives for a campaign that’s designed not to win but to produce revenue for venders, isn’t it just a grift?

I mean sweet jeebus. At least Sarah Palin’s stupid self was in on the grift. In his defense, this isn’t brain surgery.



Thrust From the Sweaty Loins of Liberty

I didn’t listen to the live feed of the arrest of the last moron because I thought it was like listening to a snuff film in the making, but I did check the Oregon paper later for a write-up, where I discovered this:

Lost in the final hours of the occupation was the original motive for starting it: the imprisonment of Dwight and Steven Hammond. The militants didn’t mention the Harney County ranchers in the closing moments. Instead, they focused on whether they would be able to live to tell their story.

Fiore gave this advice to militant Sandy Anderson about writing her story: “Be detailed Sandy, be very, very detailed,” Fiore said. “Like that author did in Fifty Shades of Grey.”

It’s only been a month since this:

We’ve reached the phase in our nation where the wingnut right is unspoofable.



Good News: Cliven Bundy Arrested on His Way to Malheur Lake

Per the Oregonian:

Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who touched off one armed showdown with federal authorities and applauded another started in Oregon by his sons, was arrested late Wednesday at Portland International Airport and faces federal charges related to the 2014 standoff at his ranch.

Bundy, 74, was booked into the downtown Multnomah County jail at 10:54 p.m.

He faces a conspiracy charge to interfere with a federal officer — the same charge lodged against two of his sons, Ammon and Ryan, for their role in the Jan. 2 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns. He also faces weapons charges…

The last four occupiers, who have camped alone since Jan. 28 at the headquarters compound, agreed Wednesday night to surrender in the morning. They did so after FBI tactical teams infiltrated refuge buildings undetected overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday. The FBI then hemmed in the occupiers with armored vehicles and negotiated with them for five hours to reach the surrender agreement…

If anything good can come out of this deplorable shitshow, it would be getting Cliven Bundy away from his heavily armed Nevada playpen and under adult supervision — without more bloodshed. Should this discourage the remaining Feeble Four loons into surrendering come morning, all the better. Let them stand on their hind legs and bleat about “constitutional law” in a situation where they can’t destroy more of our mutual property. I’m guessing (hoping) all the Facebook-fierce “patriots” ginning each other up to join the rebellion!!! will suddenly realize how vital it is that they finish re-organizing their bug-out bags and writing coded messages on dollar bills safely in their own communities, since Burns and the other communities near Malheur Lake have suffered enough already.
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