The image above comes to us from the Frinkiac, a searchable database of the first 15 seasons of The Simpsons that matches lines of dialogue with frames from the episodes in which they appear. I think we can agree it’s the best thing that ever happened to Combat! blog, except for maybe Sarah Palin. We live in a golden age of memes, some of them pure and good but others products of our hideously mutual delusions. Today is Friday, and the internet is full of perfectly cromulent words. Won’t you remember a time before you moved to Springfield with me?
According to the precedents set by Citizens United v. FEC, so-called super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in support of presidential candidates, so long as they remain independent from their campaigns. The key word in the Supreme Court’s decision has become “coordination”: the super PAC cannot work with campaign organizers to direct how its money and volunteer hours are spent. In practice, “coordination” has become impossible to prove—partly because super PACs and candidates cynically twist the spirit of the law, and partly because the Federal Elections Commission has lost its ability to enforce its own rules. That’s why the super PAC Carly For America—which received a letter from the FEC saying its name could not include a candidate’s name—changed to CARLY. Problem solved.
Well, it happened: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigned before I could record the rap lyric I serve humans like Kathleen Sebelius, / reading Jack Handy and Marcus Aurelius. She also resigned before I could design and construct the machine that would allow me to join the Beastie Boys in a time when that rhyme scheme was appropriate, but that’s the thing about building a time machine. You can finish it whenever. Today is Friday, and we’ll bestow our gifts on the people when we damn well please. Won’t you do a basically adequate job of serving humanity with me?
If you want to understand the problem of false equivalence in political reporting, consider this article from the Wall Street Journal about new IRS rules governing the political activities of 501(c)4 nonprofit organizations. The designation is intended for social welfare organizations, but it also covers the NRA and a slough of Tea Party groups, whose primary contribution to social welfare is relentless advocacy for their own legislative and political interests. As the Journal puts it in the story’s second paragraph:
Rules proposed Tuesday could at once help to curb the explosion in political spending by nonprofit groups, such as conservative heavyweight Crossroads GPS and the liberal Priorities USA, while setting clearer standards that could help the government avoid future dust-ups with politically active nonprofit organizations.
It sounds like Crossroads GPS and Priorities USA are two sides of the same dark-money coin, right? Except nine paragraphs later, we learn that Crossroads raised $180 million in 2011-2012, and Priorities raised $10.7 million.
The Republican National Convention has blown out of Tampa with a whoosh of salt air, leaving behind it only litter and fact checkers. By all accounts, it was a fine affair that Combat! blog covered not at all. I don’t go in for political kabuki. I only like political Noh, on which the RNC verged several times. A bunch of crazy stuff happened in Florida this week, and none of it was true. Super PAC and campaign operatives stayed in the same hotel, not coordinating at all. Paul Ryan blamed Obama for a bunch of stuff that happened before he was president, and Clint Eastwood did a ventriloquist act with no dummy. Also, a Montana man was killed while impersonating Bigfoot, in what for now seems to be an unrelated story. At this point, though, I woud believe anything.