Senator Max Baucus, the Democrat known as the "Senator from K Street" for his legendary gluttony at the lobbyists' trough, has just decreed a minimum of 50 years of secrecy for the ongoing negotiations over revamping the federal tax code. Baucus is the committee chair of the tax-writing Senate committee, and he and his pal Orrin Hatch have determined that the best way to serve the American people while rewriting the entire tax code is to allow all their colleagues to defend tax loopholes for special interests painlessly -- because the public won't be allowed to know who fought for which bit of corporate welfare until the year 2065.
Archive of Articles for July, 2013
The news of Bradley Manning's conviction today on multiple charges (and his acquittal on the most serious one) has people lining up to either defend or denounce the verdict. We'll probably be hearing about it all week, in fact. When he is sentenced, it will spur another round of this debate, no doubt.
President Obama, for the first time in memory, is not going to ignore August. Augusts haven't been kind to Obama in the past. But this time around it appears he's going to proactively go on the offensive for the month, rather than sitting on the sidelines during what is now known as "town hall season." How successful he will be in this effort remains to be seen, but it is at least refreshing to see him make the attempt.
While it may seem like that headline refers to yet another poll released which proves that Congress is held in lower esteem than dead bodies (dead bodies are actually now enjoying a resurgence of support, due to the proliferation of zombies in pop culture), it is in fact nothing short of literal. The U.S. Botanic Garden is currently experiencing record-breaking crowds eager to see -- or, more accurately, to smell -- the blooming "corpse flower" (or amorphophallus titanum, which -- no lie! -- translates to "giant, misshapen penis"). We merely note the event for those in the D.C. area who are inclined to visit the blossom before it shrivels up, and not to inspire any jokes in the comments or anything. I mean, how could you possibly joke about a corpse-like stench... the Nation's Capital... or "giant, misshapen penises"?
The late night comics are, of course, having an absolute field day. Even when Weiner announced his bid to become New York City's mayor, the jokes just about wrote themselves. My favorite was from David Letterman: "If your election lasts longer than six hours, see your doctor." But now that Weiner has admitted that he didn't learn his lesson the first time around, he has become nothing short of a national laughingstock.
So the question is now: what will the big 2013 Silly Season issue be? Predicting such things is almost impossible, admittedly, due to the silliness factor itself -- if these things followed some sort of logical process, then we wouldn't call it Silly Season, would we? But that doesn't mean we can't have our own kind of silly fun guessing what it'll be, right? After setting the stage a bit, I'll offer up my own silly prediction at the end, and then we can all see who can manage to out-silly it in the comments.
Marijuana seems to be all over the news today, so I thought I'd just give a quick rundown of the recent developments, with a little call to action at the end.
[The Scene: A warm Philadelphia evening, 226 years ago. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention -- after a long and miserably-hot day of respectful debate (and quite a lot of just plain bickering) over the text of Article I, Section 10 of the proposed draft of the new United States Constitution -- take up the final item on the agenda. We join the Founding Fathers as they (somewhat-wearily) begin discussion of the final subject of the day. Since the debate was conducted behind closed doors, this re-creation uses no names for the participants, to protect their anonymity.]
As usual this week, there were several stories the mainstream media was obsessing over which I am just largely going to ignore. The most inane of these was, of course: "This just in! It gets hot in the summer! Who knew?!?" The most ridiculous one was the foofaroo over Rolling Stone using a photograph on its cover which many other media outlets had used for front-page stuff, but which somehow Rolling Stone wasn't supposed to use, for some inexplicable reason. Even though -- on the same cover -- they called the guy "a monster." Lots of out-of-context outrage ensued, including one call to buy the magazine and then burn it. Um, yeah, that'll show them! Just hand over your money, in protest!
The news that Liz Cheney is going to run for a Senate seat in Wyoming has certainly provoked a number of interesting reactions from the inside-the-Beltway set. From the Right, there has been consternation over Cheney primarying a sitting Republican, which mostly focuses on the unseemliness of it all. From the Left, there has been a mixture that I would call "horrified fascination" over the prospects of Dick Cheney's daughter sitting in the upper chamber of Congress (that's the horror part), tempered by the unrestrained glee of watching an internal Republican knife-fight. One thing's for certain, this will be one of the closest-watched primary races in the country next year.