Step away from the shards of glass that litter politics as Republicans have tried to shatter the President’s image. Step over the desolate landscape of unemployment that could end tomorrow with bipartisan effort in Congress. Step up and send the message: end the blame. Fix the country. Jobs now! Housing now! Healthcare now! Let all America stand before the bar of justice. Let’s take the corporate cases first.
The facts: Yahoo bought Tumblr. It paid $1.1 billion. In cash.
Background: Yahoo was supposed to be an internet company on the ropes; its current CEO, the Stanford-educated daughter of a Wisconsin engineer and an art teacher, 37-year-old former Google vice president (employee 20) Marissa Meyer is the company’s fifth CEO in five years! One hedge fund recently dumped 4.7 million shares, zeroing out its investment. But Yahoo’s current market capitalization is $27.78 billion dollars, on a profit-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of under 8, a positive sign for investors: it makes a dollar profit for every eight dollars it brings in.
And just last week, Yahoo won a huge victory in a Mexican court. A judgment against the company for $2.75 billion was overturned—and reduced to $172,500! (Appeals are pending!)
So what does Yahoo get for its $1.1 billion (in cash!)? A company founded in 2007. Six years ago. The website Tech Crunch Base describes the company:
“Tumblr is a re-envisioning of tumblelogging, a subset of blogging that uses quick, mixed-media posts. . . its extreme simplicity will make luring users a far easier task than acquiring users for traditional weblogging. Anytime a user sees something interesting, they can click a quick “Share on Tumblr” bookmarklet that tumbles the snippet. The result is a string of media links and text to pictures and videos that takes very little time and effort . . . There is little to no learning curve involved in using Tumblr. . . Users simply sign up and begin posting in a minute.”
For the record, I tried Tumblr. I did not understand it. I didn’t return. But 300 million discrete/discreet users see Tumblr pages monthly. I say that not only to define individual users but also to signal that Tumblr permits adult content; 11 percent of its user content accounts are labeled “not safe for work” (NSFW), its warning and search firewall for its adult content, which currently drives Tumblr’s highest traffic.
But Marissa Mayer says, “I think the richness and breadth of content available on Tumblr—even though it may not be as brand-safe as what’s on our site—is what’s really exciting.”
How many accounts does Tumblr have? A tech specialist at the site All Things D estimates “the total number of monthly users who will see a Tumblr dashboard is at least a third of the company’s 110 million registered user base, and maybe quite a bit higher: My guess is 30 million to 50 million.”
What is Tumblr’s current revenue? In 2012, $13 million dollars. Yahoo paid $846.15 for each dollar of revenue. Tumblr has not shown a profit. (I have a $20 ebook. At Yahoo’s rate, they would pay me $1692.30 for the right to publish each future copy; not an exact analogy, but the ratio of revenue-to-purchase is true.)
So $1.1 billion will get you $13 million in revenues, lots of dirty pictures and personal musings, hardware, intellectual property, and a promise by the new CEO that she “won’t screw this up!”
Oh. How many employees? 18. A billion-dollar company has 18 employees. Including its Alfred E. Neumann-looking CEO (I’m not kidding!), hood-wearing (stay away from South Florida, dude) 26-year-old CEO who quit high school at 14, at his mother’s suggestion, to be homeschooled.
Some Tumblr users feel betrayed and are angry. One has a petition circulating.
Seriously? You think a petition is going to overturn the sale and stop the founder and the backing venture capitalists from walking away with a cool, no-strings billion dollars in cash, to assuage your emotional boo-boo about the change in ownership of the digital platform that hosts your free account? This is your blow of outrage against the robber barons who provide you and your boys a free site for your porn? You don’t even plan a march in front of Yahoo headquarters? No pies? Not even a Twitter bomb? Keep it up, and David Karp’s mother will visit you and take away your brownies!
Seriously, several issues deserve outrage—and caution. A good staring point is a female CEO buying a site that probably demeans women and treats them as sex objects (An artful rear view photo of Hungarian actress/model Eve Angel kneeling on a chair is entitled “Super-size me”). Mayer seems more concerned about content search safety than the social impact of the attitudes that are enabled by the sites.
Several Tumblr accounts exhibit rape “fantasies” (it shows up in a Tumblr site search), a real non-sequitur, since rape is one of the most physical and psychologically violent crimes imaginable. What does it say that Tumblr users, at least some of them, see rape as a leisure time activity, a publicly hosted, private shared feature of a digital social life?
Will Tumblr advertising take on the character of the back pages of the Village Voice?
Yes, adult digital content is disease-free and can be non-exploitative (at least a case can be made), but in the current atmosphere of misogyny, adult content almost seems the softer side of what the web and real life engage as words and deeds. Remember the Onion’s twitter label for a 9-year-old actress during the Academy Awards? The recent US military report citing 26,000 incidents of sexual assaults last year? The nexus between guns in the home and domestic violence deaths? Or the guy in South Carolina who raped two women while wearing an ankle monitor? Where does Tumblr fit in? Continue reading Jobs Are Losing the Race
Increasingly pitiful Republican efforts to make a scandal – some scandal, any scandal – stick to the Obama Administration continue this week. Last Thursday, the chairs of the five House committees wasting time and public money on the Benghazi witch hunt got together to compare notes, pat each other on the back, and sing “We Shall Overcome.”
Thomas Pickering, who co-chaired the independent review of the Benghazi consulate attack, has already indicated willingness to testify publicly before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, but committee chair Darrell Issa went ahead and subpoenaed Pickering last Friday to compel a closed-door deposition this week. Transparency truly has no greater friend than Congressman Issa.
It’s not as if Congressional Republicans would otherwise be, you know, governing or anything, but when even Newt Gingrich is counseling them not to jump sharks, you know that a whole lot of sharks have been jumped.
Speaking of futility, this week the House may consider HR 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, intended to expedite construction of the northern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline by declaring Executive Branch approval unnecessary.
Thursday, the President will give a speech on security and terrorism at Washington’s National Defense University – school motto: “Did you hear that?” – and will touch on two subjects, Guantanamo and drones, on which he has drawn at least as much flak from liberals as from conservatives. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 5/20/13
It’s Scandal-palooza Sunday, y’all!!!
On ABC’s This Week, Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer goes one-on-one with George Stephanopoulos to discuss the “scandals” surrounding the White House. (And yes, I put quotation marks around the word “scandals” because . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 5/19/13
Things have gotten so bad in Washington that both pundits and Republicans are beginning to use the “N-word” to describe the president. No, no… not that N-word! Instead, Obama is now actively being compared to Nixon. This comparison is patently…
…WE INTERRUPT THIS COLUMN FOR BREAKING NEWS — We here at FTP News Network have obtained exclusive before-and-after photos of Angelina Jolie’s breasts! In these side-by-side shots, the viewer can easily see the transformation of two of the most famous breasts on the planet. As the camera zooms in and pans around our 3-D representation, we will utter pious thoughts on cancer screening which you won’t pay the slightest attention to. Later, we’ll have our resident nipple expert in to discuss what you’re seeing now…
Sheesh. Now, before anyone gets too irate, allow me to state that the preceding paragraph is (1) entirely fictional — we have no exclusive shots of anyone’s breasts, sorry; and (2) intended to satirize the media’s take on any news item with the word “breast” in it — and not Angelina Jolie, Angelina Jolie’s breasts, breast cancer, any cancer, cancer screening, or medical decisions by anyone.
Seriously, consider that there is one medical procedure which gets shown on television in pretty much any breast story: mammogram images. Are pale silhouettes of any other body part ever routinely shown on television news, for any reason? I don’t recall any testicular cancer or prostate cancer stories with such graphics, personally. Nor X-rays displayed after a story about someone getting injured. Not only are the mammogram images seemingly mandatory, but television news will also gratuitously throw in an image of a woman undergoing the procedure, just for kicks. What woman really wants a video of her boobs getting squashed by a machine to be on the news, after all? This was all on full display this week with the Angelina Jolie story, complete with CGI shots of (you just can’t make this stuff up) how “the nipples were saved.”
Am I the only one who has noticed this? Seems like there’d be a cries of “blatant sexism!” but if there have been, I guess I haven’t noticed.
But back to the political news. Scandal! Scandal! Scandal! That’s the type of week it’s been, and the only way to see a silver lining is to point out that if you’re going to have several scandals erupt, you might as well schedule them all for the same week — because Washington reporters are infamous for not being able to follow more than one story at a time. When the reporters hit “scandal overload,” then just imagine how the rest of the country feels.
For instance, while there really have been at least four scandals this week, the media have mostly focused on only three. None of these (Republican bloviating aside) have risen to the Nixonian level, but all have certainly been grist for the mill this week. Here are my snap judgments as to how all three scandals will play out (the fourth one I’ll deal with in a minute…).
First, Benghazi. The “scandal” this week was based on some emails Republicans leaked to the media. The White House countered by releasing the actual text of the emails, which showed that the Republicans had lied to the press by significantly editing the text. This continues their long tradition of hyping the “scandal,” and it truly seems like nobody outside the Fox News universe is even paying attention anymore. This “scandal” isn’t going to impact Obama much (if it were going to, it already would have — and it has not), but the target has now shifted to tarnishing Hillary Clinton in pre-emptive fashion. So expect to hear a lot more about Benghazi, with little in the way of actual news contained within. Benghazi will remain the Republican “go-to” scandal for years, when they can’t dig up anything else.
Second, the IRS. Obama moved pretty quickly on this one, and his damage control may indeed work. This scandal was the easiest one to fix, when it gets right down to it. Two IRS leaders have already been cashiered, and they likely won’t be the last ones to get their walking papers. Fire those responsible in any way (all the way up and down the chain of command), institute strict rules so it cannot happen again, and the scandal goes away. That’s assuming there isn’t some sort of “other shoe to drop” in terms of the known facts, of course, but so far this scandal looks like the one which won’t go much further after the initial outrage.
Third, the AP phone records to identify leaks. This scandal may generate more outrage than the other ones, because the press was the target. Whenever the press is the target of governmental overreach, they tend to close ranks and defend their own. So this scandal will be the only one without the taint of partisanship, really. The Republicans’ hands are somewhat tied on this one, because they themselves demanded aggressive investigation over the leaks when they happened. So it’ll be hard for them to say they’re shocked that the Justice Department did exactly what they demanded, in the end. The White House damage control on this one is just getting going, after a rather pathetic appearance by Attorney General Eric Holder before a congressional committee (which, bizarrely, involved asparagus… more on this at the end). Now the White House seems to have pivoted to arguing the case on its merits — making the case of how dire this leak was to national security, and how irresponsible it was for the media to have reported on it. This isn’t going to make them friends in the media, but it may convince the public. Of all the scandals, this is the toughest to predict the outcome — again, because the outrage is mostly going to come from the media itself. Continue reading Friday Talking Points  — Scandalpalooza!
ONE: Apocalypse Whenever
The Internet has really revolutionized insomnia. By 5:00 this morning I had already finished watching a Julian Lennon interview from 1999 and several videos of cats riding Roombas, before rashly moving on to footage of speeches from the NRA’s recent annual meeting in Houston.
The only thing rivaling the brimstone stink of the rhetoric at this year’s conclave was a Zombie Industries product being hawked there, a female target mannequin – christened “The Ex” – capable of bleeding when shot. Another one of the company’s range of charming models – “Bleeding Rocky Zombie” – had been removed from the company’s kiosk at the NRA’s request due to its resemblance to President Obama. “The Ex” was hastily renamed “Alexa” after the marketing geniuses at Zombie Industries finally decided there is such a thing as bad press after all.
The NRA’s rare circumspection over “Bleeding Rocky Zombie” was deeply overshadowed by the vicious, imbecilic sentiments of many of the convention’s speakers, starting with those of the organization’s executive vice president and perennial poster boy for vicious imbecility, irascible pipsqueak Wayne LaPierre.
After a warm introduction from everyone’s favorite America-hating felon, Oliver North, LaPierre manned the podium to talk about gun control pretty much the way people in the 1940s talked about the Axis powers:
We are in the midst of a once-in-a-generation fight for everything we care about. We have a chance to secure our freedom for a generation, or to lose it forever
… we will never surrender our guns, never!
… they’re coming after us with a vengeance, to destroy us, to destroy us and every ounce of our freedom.
LaPierre’s apocalyptic spew was echoed by speaker after speaker after speaker, with frenetic attempts to link any and all gun regulation measures to an undefined but existential threat to The Republic itself. Maybe the NRA was offering a free howitzer to the speaker who could ratchet up the nativist paranoia the highest. Chris Cox, executive director of the Institute for Legislative action, the NRA’s lobbying operation, certainly gave it his all, deftly sounding multiple dog whistles while the crowd bayed for more:
Make no mistake. We are in a culture war. Where we once faced hundreds of voices against us, there are now thousands attacking us every day, from Organizing for America to Code Pink to Occupy the NRA, Wall Street, and for that matter, Occupy Anything-but-a-Job.
Outgoing NRA president David Keene warned of the regulatory Ragnarok to come:
We all know that, as we meet here, our opponents are regrouping, and we know that they’ll be back. They’re as dedicated today as they have ever been to consigning you and me and all those who believe in the freedoms guaranteed us by this nation’s Founders to the outer darkness.
Keene’s successor, Jim Porter, kept it old school, treating his audience to the sort of seditious innuendo he knew they craved:
You know, last fall just before the elections, as community organizer-in-chief, President Obama demanded that his followers extract “revenge”. I can’t remember a president ever publicly using that word against fellow Americans.
Porter probably meant to say “exact” but it hardly matters since everything else out of his mouth was incorrect, much of it deliberately so:
[Obama]‘s now threatening Democratic senators who are friends of NRA. He will destroy them if he can… you know, Obama is meeting and plotting with the “who’s who” of the gun ban movement, scheming to create a gun control by bureaucracy.
Threatening, scheming, plotting… yes, that sure sounds like Barack Obama. And Porter brought some dog whistles of his own:
President Barack Obama is AWOL on virtually every critical threat facing this nation… but there’s one issue where Obama is not AWOL: gun control. But there’s something Obama will never, never understand: you, me, our friends, neighbors, coworkers, colleagues and family, and the larger family of patriots who know that the Second Amendment, the freedom of our Republic, trumps the Chicago political machine and its gun ban agenda every time.
Now, as basic frothing at the mouth goes, that’s not bad, but the NRA’s in-house cranks all lack a certain vim, a certain telegenic je ne sais quoi. For that, they turned to the inimitable Glenn Beck, who obliged in spades, oozing fake sincerity all over the floorboards of the stage for 100 white-knuckled minutes. Beck’s was a soliloquy equal parts hair-on-fire millenarian sermon and triumphalist Thousand-Year Reich chest-thumping. He seemed to draw inspiration from a smorgasbord of conflicting sources: the Bible, the Constitution, the Letter from Birmingham Jail, Atlas Shrugged, the Port Huron Statement, and perhaps even the cover of Sgt. Pepper:
Our right to keep and bear arms will not be infringed. We will follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ. We will follow the footsteps of Frederick Douglass, Winston Churchill, Thomas Paine, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ben-Gurion, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King. Hear me now. Hear me now. We shall overcome. Let us not talk any more about our cold, dead hands, but rather act, rather be the people who have a cause to use our hands…
Yes, because people who don’t have a cause to use their hands might as well not even have hands. Like, why are the most self-evident truths the ones most in need of repeating by visionaries like Glenn Beck? But what the hell are they all going to do with their hands? Beck had it covered:
… we will work together as Americans, not only to preserve our rights, but the rights of our children to be safe, our wives and our daughters to not be held at gunpoint, not be raped…
Possibly sensing that he was stepping on his own message with the “held at gunpoint” bit, he tacked vigorously toward the sublime:
We will not be the generation that loses mankind’s freedom. Instead, let us declare to one another that we, instead, will be the generation that historians look back to with awe and wonder, and say: How did they do it? They’ll look back for inspiration, that even in our darkest times, with the greatest reason for doubt and fear, we rose above it. We pushed the darkness back. We held the torch of liberty. We held it high for all men to see and aspire to…
And – bonus! – made damned sure that universal background checks would never spoil anybody’s Constitutionally enshrined firearm fun. Win-win! Keenly aware of the zealotry hanging moistly over the room, Beck shrewdly pitched his closing comments like unto a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal for his audience:
Jesus was a man of love. He was a man of peace. He was a man of forgiveness. But make no mistake; Jesus Christ was also immovable. The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and we will win by strapping on the full armor of God. We shall stand firm with the belt of truth, with the breastplate of righteousness, with the shield of faith, with the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit. We will fight their tactics of fear, we will fight their tactics of darkness, we will fight their lies, and we will counter them with love, peace and equal justice for all mankind.
And as much ammo as they can hoard, I expect.
TWO: Nonsense and Sensibility
Beck’s unusual wardrobe tips weren’t the only practical advice on offer in Houston. There was also this, from the “Home Defense Concepts” seminar by Rob Pincus: Continue reading Take Five (Talking Second Amendment Blues edition)
A word with Richard “The Dick” Cheney:
You recently made the following statement on the Sean Hannity Show:
“I watched Benghazi with great interest, Sean, and I think it is one of worst incidents, frankly, that I can recall in my career.”
Really, dick? Apparently your memory of the events you’ve seen over the span of your career is faulty at best, or you are yet again engaging in a deliberate, self-serving attempt to catapult the propaganda your administration was famous for.
I would think (as would most people, I’m sure) that lying a nation into war might stand out in one’s memory as one of the “worst incidents” to be recalled in one’s career – especially when one was actually the author of those lies.
Let me refresh your memory as to what YOU are responsible for – and maybe you can explain your faulty memory to the following:
Every soldier who lost his or her life fighting a war based on your lies.
Every child growing up without a mom or a dad, because a parent never made it home from their tour.
Every mother and father who grieves the loss of a son or daughter who died on a battlefield created for your political goals.
Every widow and widower who will never hold a beloved spouse again due to your malicious dishonesty.
Every man or woman who had to bury a cherished brother or sister, niece or nephew, cousin or friend, as a result of your blatant untruths.
Every community that lost a neighbor, a local merchant, a selfless firefighter, a dedicated teacher, a devoted healthcare practitioner, a skilled craftsman, an auto mechanic, a plumber, an electrician – and all of those who contributed to their community in ways great and small.
Every soldier who will spend his/her life in a wheelchair, or a hospital bed – every soldier who will never experience another peaceful night’s sleep due to the nightmares they came to know in the furtherance of your contrived “war.”
Add to the above every Iraqi mother who watched her child killed or maimed due to your lies, or cradles a baby born with horrific birth defects thanks to your endless pursuit of carnage at any cost.
Every Iraqi father who was made to stand helplessly as he saw his son dragged off to Abu Ghraib, or cried hopelessly as his traumatized daughter described the violence she witnessed and endured.
Every Iraqi citizen who saw their beautiful country systematically destroyed, their culture spat upon, their priceless art stolen, their invaluable archaeological treasures pillaged, their revered ancient sites reduced to rubble.
Every Iraqi child who was orphaned, every school that was leveled, every hospital that was blown out of existence, every business that was shuttered, every citizen who had his religious beliefs disgraced, every man, woman and child who watched their homeland decimated while you masturbated to the sounds of “shock and awe.”
Every man or woman who was imprisoned, every man or woman who was tortured; every potential ally who was turned into a potential terrorist, bent on revenge against all Americans for what was done to their people, under your direction, in America’s name.
Every world citizen who once revered the American way of life, and now despises it. Every global neighbor who once respected our nation, and now abhors it. Continue reading A WORD, If I May?
Have Republicans forgotten they were elected to govern? Not when it comes to money and power. Money, especially. It’s being used in South Carolina to raise support for Lindsay Graham, up for reelection next year, by touting an immigration solution that matches his work with the Senate bill introduced by the Gang of Eight. Now in committee, the bill is the object of scorn by Alabama’s Jeff Sessions. But Graham says he, “believes in it with all his heart.”
The same 501(c)(4) money supporting Graham opposes Vincent Sheheen, a Democratic candidate for governor, a moderate from an established political family, the kind of Democrat that once won easily in South Carolina, as Bill Clinton once did in Arkansas. A 30-second commercial opposes Sheheen by saying he wants South Carolina to be the only Southern state to accept Obamacare. The spot openly touts the region’s solidarity with regression.
Win or lose, Republicans have put buzz words in place. Now at the state level, voters hear the bell and respond. This is one reason why Republicans repeatedly raise Benghazi. It’s not only to tie Hillary Clinton to the incident, but to pound into it a connotation of failure, weaknesses and cowardice. Hence the angry testimony of State Department officers in a recent hearing which added nothing to what was known except more reports and confessions of anger.
The white men expressed their anger at being told troops would add to the confusion, especially when conditions were not clearly understood. The Republican purpose is to add anger and fear—to turn Benghazi into a brand like Obamacare. All one need do is hear the word, and a parade of negatives immediately comes to mind for the uninformed majority.
If Benghazi is in, military sexual assault is out. Silence reigns about a problem so severe that both males and females in a US uniform are more likely to be sexually assaulted than killed in combat. The Republican concern for mission-readiness and discipline so displayed when gays were allowed to serve openly does not extend to violence and force within inter-gender (and intra-gender) relationships.
Any civilian organization facing year-on-year statistics for sexual assaults at the level of the military would be gravely criticized and shut down. Yet the focus of Congressional national security is on e-mails about Benghazi talking points, while the rampant, growing, out-of-control epidemic of military sexual assaults undermines military working order—widespread reports cite the difficulties of working with your rapist—and puts the nation’s security at risk. And brings home a lot of hurt.
Last year, 26,000 assaults were committed, by the military’s own score. The Air Force Chief of Staff discussed it in a Senate subcommittee hearing as the result of a “hook-up” culture. Yet the Air Force’s officer in charge of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention was charged two weeks ago with groping an unknown woman in a Virginia parking lot, and was arrested by civilian authorities. Yesterday, the Army reported the arrest of an officer at Fort Hood, a Texas base, who was the Sexual Assault Prevention Office Coordinator. He is being held on multiple charges of abusive sexual misconduct.
Outrage? The tempest over revised talking points and e-mails also ignores three of the most important global developments in recent weeks: the factory fire in Bangladesh that left more than 1,100 workers dead, calling into question issues of global working conditions and safety; the massacres in Northern Nigerian villages by the Nigerian army; and the conviction of Guatemala’s former president and military dictator, 86-year-old Efrain Rios Montt on charges of genocide. Continue reading Hooking Up the Wrong Way
Benghazi memo underwent multiple revisions by Jay-Z and William Ayers! IRS scrutiny was merely groundwork for tossing Teabaggers into secret FEMA concentration camps! They’re gonna confiscate and melt down all privately owned guns for a statue of Obama taller than the Washington Monument! The Tsarnaev brothers smoked crack on the Truman Balcony and slept in the Lincoln Bedroom! For Congressional Republicans, the Obama Administration is just one scandal after another, and – by God and the Founding Fathers! – they’re going to get to the bottom of every last fictional one of them.
Turning to more rational events, the Senate Environment Committee will vote Thursday on Gina McCarthy, the President’s nominee for EPA head. The nomination has been held up for a month by Senate Republicans, whose rationale for opposing McCarthy apparently boils down to the fact that she was nominated by Barack Obama.
In any even bigger surprise, the full Senate may vote as early as Tuesday on another stalled nominee, Ernest Moniz, who has been put forward for Secretary of Energy.
It’s National Women’s Health Week, which was part of the rationale for a White House event last Friday underscoring Obamacare’s measures to improve women’s health. The President noted on Friday:
… there are times when I just want people to step back and say, are you really prepared to say that 30 million Americans out there shouldn’t have health insurance? Are you really prepared to say that’s not a worthy goal? Because of politics?
Strangely enough, this Thursday a majority of the House of Representatives will essentially say (for approximately the 7,148th time) that 30 million Americans out there shouldn’t have health insurance, that it’s not a worthy goal. And they’ll say that because of politics. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 5/13/13
ABC’s This Week has Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) in a discussion about Benghazi and Syria. The foreign policy roundtable, with ABC News’ George Will, former Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chair Gen. . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 5/12/13
Being a student of the political lexicon, I would like to propose a new definition for an old term — a term we’ve all used since roughly the second grade. I refer, of course, to the “wedgie.” For those who are astoundingly unaware of what this term literally means, I would refer you to your local second-grader (pick any boy age 7 or 8 and ask him… and after he rolls around the floor screaming with laughter for awhile, he’ll explain and even demonstrate the “wedgie” for you, I’m sure). Ahem.
But I propose a new definition for the wedgie, one in the adult political realm which has nothing to do with underwear (to clarify: the definition has nothing to do with underwear — the adult political realm often has all too much to do with underwear). My new proposed definition:
Wedgie: When a political party’s “wedge” issue turns on them and instead of dividing the other party, begins to divide their own.
Usage: “Boy, the Republicans are really getting a giant wedgie on immigration, aren’t they?”
You’ll have to forgive my irreverence, but we’ve been waiting for this fight to be joined for a long time. The immigration bill was supposed to be debated in February, and has been slipping ever since, but we’re now finally in the thick of it. Patrick Leahy’s Senate committee is voting on proposed amendments to the bill, and they’ll be doing so for weeks to come, because there are 300 of them so far (77 by Chuck Grassley alone!).
This has intensified the struggle within the Republican Party between the nativists and the realists who can read demographic data. More on that in a bit. But what’s amusing is that the wedge has turned so quickly, in historic terms. Starting in the 1990s, Republicans have scapegoated Latinos mercilessly on the immigration issue, and have won many elections because they have successfully driven a wedge between Democratic voters (in the same way they used “tough on crime” in the 1980s).
Now, however, Latinos have truly come into their own as a political force in American politics, and Republicans are on the brink of losing this entire bloc for another generation or so. Which is why there’s a comprehensive immigration bill even being discussed, right now. Unfortunately for those trying to drag the Republican Party into coming to some kind of terms with the new reality, there are still quite a few Republican politicians (and — more importantly — a whale of a lot of Republican primary voters) who are still echoing the old party line and will not budge one inch. Listen for the cries of “Amnesty!” to identify them.
And so the wedge turns. Republicans are giving themselves a wedgie. And it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving group, could it?
To be scrupulously fair, however, we must also point out that Democrats have their own immigration wedgie in their near future. Sooner or later, an amendment will be proposed to allow gays to sponsor their spouses for immigration. This will be kind of a double-reverse wedgie, as two Democratic goals come into contention. But for this week, it’s been mostly Republican-on-Republican infighting.
Senator Elizabeth Warren is making all kinds of sense with the first bill she’s introduced as a senator. Here are the facts, in a nutshell. The federal government loans money to students for their education. The interest rate currently charged is 3.4%. If Congress doesn’t act, this will go up to 6.8%. The federal government also loans money to large corporate banks. It charges them 0.75% interest. So why should students pay up to 800% more on their loans than giant Wall Street banks?
Senator Warren’s bill would fix this disparity, by charging students the exact same rate as we charge the banks. Here’s what she had to say about her bill: “As a country, every time we advance money to the big banks at low interest rates, we invest in those banks. We should be making at least that same kind of investment in our students.”
This is exactly why Democrats across the land cheered Warren’s victory in her Senate race. This is exactly the kind of thing we had all hoped for from Senator Warren. For making her very first bill such a commonsense measure, and for stripping away all the governmental nonsense to make a very salient point, we are happy to award the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week to Senator Warren.
[Congratulate Senator Elizabeth Warren on her Senate contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts, and you can show support for her bill by becoming a citizen co-sponsor of the legislation.]
Well, if we had a “Democrat Who Disappointed The Most Other Democrats” award to hand out, it would have to go to Elizabeth Colbert Busch, who did better in the vote than Obama (in the district) by five percent, but who also still lost a South Carolina special House race to Mark Sanford. Our only consolation is that we now will be able to make Sanford jokes for the next year and a half, my favorite so far being: “Mark Sanford (R-Appalachian Trail).”
Don’t like that one? Feel free to make your own. The most historic joke about South Carolina was when it was notably described by one of its own sons as “too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.”
Kidding aside, we’ve got a pretty revolting Democrat in our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week category. The story starts nine years ago, when the mayor of Jersey City, Jerry Healy, got drunk and wound up naked on his front porch, where a photo was snapped of him, wallowing in his own crapulence. As if this weren’t bad enough, this week Healy offered an explanation for how the photo happened which just defies comment:
A nude photo of Jersey City Mayor Jerry Healy that surfaced years ago is making headlines again following Healy’s new explanation behind it. The photo, which shows Healy sitting naked on his front porch, was first published nine years ago. However, in a newspaper interview this weekend, Healy said a group of Hispanic girls drew his attention by making noise outside his home. Then, he said, they touched him and did “filthy” things.
It’s rare that a story strikes us speechless here, but this one certainly qualifies. There’s nothing in the way of chastisement which can even be offered up, as the story indeed speaks for itself. Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week is the mildest way we can put our own feelings towards Healy, in fact.
[Contact Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy on his official city contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.] Continue reading Friday Talking Points  — Wedgies For All!