Monday, July 30, 2012

What Free Market?

Do you think it's hard to get your child into Harvard? Try getting a new product onto the shelf of a big chain of stores in the United States.

-- Barry Lynn, Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism
and the Economics of Destruction 


This week everybody was talking about the Olympics

but you knew that.

… and Chick-fil-A and Mitt Romney’s foreign tour

I covered Chick-fil-A in Is That Sandwich Political?, but let’s deal with Romney’s trip here.

Romney’s tour of Britain, Israel, and Poland was designed to add foreign-policy heft to his image, but the British leg didn’t work out.

That pretty well covers it. Prime Minister David Cameron is a British conservative, but Romney exasperated him to the point where he stuck this knife in:
Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.

Some anonymous Romney adviser really did talk about the “Anglo-Saxon heritage” Obama can’t appreciate, which is even a step beyond calling him “foreign”. Why not just say, “White people shouldn’t vote for Obama because he’s black” and get it over with?

These stumbles happen abroad for the same reason they happen at home: Romney’s lack of empathy gives him a tin ear. Slate’s Fred Kaplan points out that Romney’s business experience differs greatly from previous generations of businessmen-turned-statesmen, who actually built things and sold them, and so had to learn to deal with workers and customers. But Bain’s brand of financial manipulation

is not the sort of enterprise that requires even the most elementary understanding of diplomacy, courtesy, or sensitivity to other people’s values, lives, or perceptions.

Instead, it
breed[s] an insularity, a sense of entitlement, a disposition to view all the world’s entities through a single prism and to appraise them along a single scale.

Growing up as the rich son of the governor probably didn’t help either.

I agree with Kevin Drum’s analysis the foreign-policy speech that kicked Romney’s tour off: He’s trying to cast a striking image without saying anything. What little remains beyond the I-will-be-strong-where-Obama-is-weak rhetoric is either vague, outside the president’s power, or exactly what Obama is already doing.

… but I also wrote about monopolies

  • Monopoly’s role in inequality. In my previous discussions of rising inequality, I’ve always felt like a piece of the puzzle was missing. I think I found it.

and you might also be interested in …

The death of first-female-astronaut Sally Ride put a face on the injustice of the Defense of Marriage Act. Most of us learned that Ride was a lesbian only when her obituary named Tam O’Shaughnessy as her 27-year domestic partner. Under DOMA, O’Shaughnessy will not receive the federal survivor benefits that a male husband would get.

The guy who all but invented the too-big-to-fail bank has changed his mind. Former Citicorp honcho Sandy Weill now says

What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking, have banks be deposit takers, have banks make commercial loans and real estate loans, have banks do something that’s not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that’s not too big to fail.

In short, let’s just pretend the last two decades never happened.

How does a bill become law? Not the way it used to.

The NYT op-ed Israel’s Settlers Are Here to Stay by settler Dani Dayan underlines just how intractable the Israel/Palestine conflict is. Dayan presents a we’re-right-they’re-wrong history of the conflict and says a two-state solution is unworkable because

Our presence in all of Judea and Samaria — not just in the so-called settlement blocs — is an irreversible fact. Trying to stop settlement expansion is futile

If a two-state solution is out, then what happens to the Palestinians? I can only see three options:
  • ethnic cleansing: Perhaps Israel could use the Spanish Expulsion of 1492 as a model.
  • democratic annexation: Palestinians become citizens of a democratic Greater Israel, which might not have a Jewish majority. (This is sometimes called the one-state solution.)
  • status quo: Palestinians remain a subject population ruled by Israel.

Dayan opts for the status quo, which he thinks is “immeasurably better than any other feasible alternative”. It could be improved, but only if Palestinians would accept the irreversibility of their subjugation and stop resisting.
Checkpoints are a necessity only if terror exists; otherwise, there should be full freedom of movement.

If Dayan speaks for some sizable and committed bloc of Israelis – and the NYT apparently thinks he does – then I can’t see this conflict resolving for at least another generation.

He may or may not be a reliable witness, but a Florida Republican is blowing the whistle on voter-ID laws, or, as he puts it “keeping blacks from voting”. And Harold Meyerson asks: What if it works? If Romney wins, and his margin in key states is clearly the result of voter suppression, are we all just going to go along?

Pastor Rick Warren appeared to blame the Aurora shooting on evolutionists, tweeting:

When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it.

It’s weird how people demonize animals, who aren’t nearly as nasty as humans. How do you think this young mountain gorilla (being comforted by a park ranger in the Congo after his parents were killed by poachers) feels about human morality?

The next installment of the Nuns vs. the Inquisition saga is about to start. In our last episode, board members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious went to Rome, where Grand Inquisitor Levada said they should regard Rome appointing a man to watch over them as “an invitation to obedience”. (I think I would have issued a counter-invitation for Levada to do something impossible with his anatomy, but I guess that’s why I’m not a nun.)

This week the LCWR will meet in St. Louis to discuss

at least six options that range from submitting graciously to the takeover to forming a new organization independent of Vatican control, as well other possible courses of action that lie between those poles.

When Republicans liked the Arab Spring rebellions, they gave the credit to Bush’s freedom agenda. Now that they’ve decided they don’t like the Arab Spring, they claim it was caused by Obama abandoning Bush’s freedom agenda.

I don’t understand why everyone isn’t saying the obvious things Elizabeth Warren says: Our infrastructure is crumbling, people need jobs, and the government can borrow money at rates lower than inflation. What’s the downside?

It might even save money in the long run: If, say, we buried our power lines, we wouldn’t lose all that productivity every time the weather turned bad.

The WaPo debunks Five myths about why the South seceded. The truth is pretty simple: The southern states seceded to defend slavery; they said so themselves in their secession statements. And then Lincoln went to war to preserve the Union, not to free the slaves.

To understand why articles like this are necessary, read the comments.

President Obama isn’t saying the kind of outrageous things the Romney campaign wants to run against, so they’re editing tape to create gaffes. Ezra Klein covers this issue seriously, and* Lewis Black approaches it humorously, but Mike Luckovich captures what’s going on in one image:

Finally, ABC’s Jake Tapper has solved the mystery of the Churchill bust. Will the Romney campaign stop telling the story now that we know there’s nothing going on, or is that too much to ask?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fragile: Handle With Care

I  was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end.  

-- Jessica Redfield, who avoided a mall shooting in June
only to die Friday morning in the Dark Knight massacre

This week everybody was talking about the Dark Knight shooting

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about it, so I won’t rehash it all.

if you know a jumble of contradictory “facts” about the shooting in Aurora, straighten your picture out by reading its Wikipedia article. That’s totally not how we were taught to use encyclopedias, but it makes sense. The news media tends to

  • sensationalize
  • try so hard to be first that they don’t get the details right
  • speculate
  • over-emphasize the newest detail
  • under-emphasize corrections of what they got wrong

But a constantly updated encyclopedia article tells the story as we currently understand it.

A shocking event naturally generates a whole series of secondary stories as people react. Two common reactions are worth paying attention to:

Gun control. The shooter’s equipment included an assault rifle, which is not hunting gear or home-defense weaponry. So one natural question is “Why do we let people buy this stuff?”

Bill Moyers presents the simple answer: The NRA is one of the world’s most effective lobbying organizations. In its absolutist view, reserving military weaponry for the military is just the first step down a slippery slope towards completely disarming the public in preparation for tyranny.

Unfortunately, we’re not going to have a serious gun control discussion in this election cycle. President Obama doesn’t want to talk about it at all, for fear of losing gun-owner votes in swing states like Virginia and Pennsylvania, and Mitt Romney doesn’t want to either embrace or defy the extreme pro-gun position.

Arizona politician Russell Pearce, for example, wishes that there had been more guns in the theater. Had the audience “been able to fire on their attacker, lives could have been saved”. The Washington Times agrees.

This point comes up every time there’s a major shooting, and pro-gun extremists will keep making it until the scene plays out in reality and we see what a nightmare it is. Imagine: One movie-goer notices the first shots, pulls out his gun and shoots back, hitting either a bystander or the shooter’s armor. More people see his muzzle-flash in the dark, think he’s the shooter, and start shooting at him. Result: chain reaction until everybody is shooting at everybody.

Religious right response. To folks like Congressman Louis Gohmert, the shooting was caused by separation of church and state. If we were the kind of Christian nation we used to be, God would protect us from stuff like this. Gohmert specifically faulted taking prayers out of high school graduations.

This is Jerry Falwell blaming 9–11 on the ACLU all over again. I feel stupid for not seeing it coming.

And finally, race makes a difference:

... which made the political back-and-forth seem trivial

This week the pressure built on Romney to release more of his tax returns, which he still refuses to do. The buzz has gone from “Why doesn’t he just get this over with?” to “What is he hiding?Even Republicans are asking.

Meanwhile, President Obama made this common-sense statement:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

which became a “gaffe” when Republicans cut it down to “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that” – as if that referred to business rather than roads, bridges, and this unbelievable American system.

I’m going to give Ann Romney a pass on her “you people” remark. She didn’t fully enunciate “you”, so some are claiming she didn’t really say it. It’s too stupid a point to argue about.

Going overboard sometimes backfires, so here’s my rhetorical advice for Democrats: Laugh at Ann, but don’t vilify her. Keep asking what Mitt is hiding, but don’t speculate too much. If you don’t know, you don’t know.

But I wrote about Peak Oil and contraception

  • Peak Oil? Maybe not. The difficult thing about living in the reality-based community is that you have to change your opinion when the world changes. Now it looks like peak oil isn’t happening – world oil extraction has headed back up. What’s that mean for the economy and the environment?
  • Reading Humanae Vitae. It’s Natural Family Planning Awareness Week in the Catholic Church, when the bishops warn their flock about the dangers of birth control that actually works. I think it’s a good time to go back and read Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical that the Church’s birth-control policy hangs on.

and you might also find this interesting

Grist’s David Roberts highlights the latest Romney betrayal-of-everything-he-once-stood-for: He now opposes an EPA rule limiting the amount of mercury power plants can release into the air. A Romney spokeswoman said:
President Obama cannot claim to support clean coal while imposing regulations that his EPA admits would prevent another coal plant from ever being built.

To which Roberts replied:
To paraphrase: “Obama cannot claim to support clean coal while passing rules saying coal has to be clean.” Uh … sure he can. In fact that seems exactly like what someone who supports clean coal would do: prohibit dirty coal!

After two years of study, the Boy Scouts announced will continue to ban gays from scouting. You can tell they’re ashamed of themselves, because their announcement explains nothing, does not say who studied the issue, and does not mention gays at all.  It just announces “no change” in its “longstanding membership standards”.

To Rabbi Clifford Kulwin, this decision betrays the Scout Law he learned as a boy.

If only Scout leaders had acted with bravery and courage, and told the world that our principles are universal and sacred — and open to every single boy who wants to try to live up to them. Instead, they caved to bigotry and zealotry.

I still owe you a LIBOR-scandal-for-Dummies article, but this post from the NYT DealBook blog explains a lot about how a few bankers could manipulate key interest-rate benchmarks.

Mortgage rates are based on the 1-year LIBOR – supposedly the rate at which banks make 1-year loans to each other. The problem? These days, banks hardly ever loan each other money for more than a month. So the 1-year LIBOR is “largely guesswork”. And because the mortgage market is so huge, even tiny manipulations produce big profits.

Sara Robinson raises an important point: If a committee of bureaucrats decides what you can buy, how much does it matter whether they meet in a government office or a corporate office?

With tongue only somewhat in cheek, here are a few ways in which Americans are now becoming a new lumpenproletariat, subject to the whims and diktats of our new Soviet-style corporate overlords.

Recent Sift articles did well on Daily Kos. A week ago yesterday, The Economics of Leviticus made the recommended list, and What Shaving Taught Me About Capitalism did the same the next day.

Meet the kids the DREAM Act is about.

And finally, an idea just wacky enough to work: What if local government uses its eminent domain power to buy up underwater mortgages at fair market value, i.e., much less than the home-owners owe? Then the mortgages can be refinanced at the actual value of the houses.

The beauty of the idea is that it doesn’t require any action from gridlocked Washington. Local government just starts using an existing power in a new way.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Shady Lane

I would like to see every single soldier on every single side, just take off your helmet, unbuckle your kit, lay down your rifle, and set down at the side of some shady lane, and say, nope, I aint a gonna kill nobody. Plenty of rich folks wants to fight. Give them the guns.

Woody Guthrie, who would have turned 100 last Thursday

This week everybody was talking about ... Romney's finances, Penn State, and the LIBOR scandal

The Romney thing is complicated enough to need its own article, but the Penn State buzz is simple: Penn State hired former FBI director Louis Freeh to investigate the Jerry Sandusky pedophile scandal, and his scathing report came out this week. He found
total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims.

Those senior leaders include the late Joe Paterno.

LIBOR deserves its own article, but I don't have a good handle on it yet. Basically, bankers at Barclay's have been accused of manipulating the most important interest rate in the world, but they're just the first ones to get caught. Bloomberg says this could be
one of the most costly and consequential [scandals] in the history of banking

and holds out the prospect that this time bankers could go to jail. If things proceed as usual, though, a period of public breast-beating will be followed by calls for amnesty to put this all behind us.

... and nobody was talking about the anti-austerity demonstrations in Spain

Spain is in an austerity spiral: The economy suffers from lack of demand, which caused a recession. The recession caused a budget deficit by increasing unemployment and decreasing revenue. To close the deficit, the government cut spending and raised taxes, which shrunk demand further. To the government's surprise, that didn't close the deficit, so a new austerity package is needed. They go around this vicious circle again and again. Spain has seen four austerity packages in seven months.

The picture is from Tuesday, when a multi-day march of coal miners reached the capital, where the miners were joined by thousands of other protesters.

American mainstream media refuses to take European populism seriously, having totally bought the German bankers' view that austerity is inevitable and the people will just have to get used to it. If that's how you look at the situation, demonstrations are just big temper tantrums unworthy of notice. If, on the other hand, you think Iceland-style debt repudiation is a serious option, then Spain is having a real debate you should pay attention to.

... but I decided to write about anarchy and shaving.

  • When Centralized Institutions Fail, Is Anarchy an Answer? Following up on themes from last week's review of Twilight of the Elites, I look at Carne Ross' The Leaderless Revolution.
  • What Shaving Taught Me About Capitalism. Forty years ago, the shaving problem was more-or-less solved, but the patents were expiring and nobody was going to get rich any more. So now we have "improved" razors that are no better, but ten times as expensive. How come that never comes up when we talk about unleashing the magic of the free market?

Meanwhile, you might also find this interesting

Maybe I was wrong in thinking that ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion was too good an offer for the states to refuse. It seems that red states like Texas would rather renounce federal funding and cripple their hospitals than take care of sick poor people.

FDR is still relevant today.

The next time somebody tells you they're going to solve the healthcare problem by limiting malpractice lawsuits, explain to them that Texas already did. It doesn't work.

If Amazon starts delivering the same day, can any local retailer survive?

I don't know why I'm picking on Texas this week. That's just the stuff I happened to run across. Here, Paul Begala reads the crazy stuff in the Texas Republican platform.

Let's end on a bizarre note, with a clam licking salt off a table.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Roll Over, Mr. Madison

While our legislative branch, the foundational pillar of our republic, is the least trusted institution in the country, our standing army and police forces are the most. Increasingly, we trust the men with the guns, not the men in suits. The sound you hear is the founders rolling over in their graves.

Chris Hayes, Twilight of the Elites (2012)

This week everybody was talking about ... the heat

Records were set all over the country. But unlike the DC snowstorm of 2010, it had nothing to do with global warming.

... and the Higgs boson

I love discussions where nobody knows what they're talking about, including me. I caught up a little by consulting the Instant Egghead at Scientific American.

You can also get some  general background on CERN's Large Hadron Collider from this 2008 rap by Alpinekat (a.k.a. Katherine McAlpine).

... and the political fallout from the ObamaCare decision

Some argued that the ruling was good for Romney, because it energizes the conservative base. But I agree more with Alec MacGillis:
Judging this the better outcome for Romney means seriously understating just how brutal the law’s rejection would have been for Obama. It would have allowed Romney to argue—to crow to the skies, surely—that Obama’s entire first term had been a giant zero.

From Day 1, the right-wing drumbeat against Obama has been that his presidency is illegitimate: He's not really American, he doesn't understand America, he doesn't follow the Constitution, and so on. John Roberts saying ObamaCare is constitutional makes that look like the crank theory it has always been.

Of course, you fix a crank theory with another crank theory, so Roberts' betrayal sparked wild conspiracy theories on the Right.

My theory: Roberts doesn't want to go down in history as the Chief Justice who broke the Supreme Court. As much as people have always complained about the Court, it used to be seen as above partisan politics. But controversial decisions like Bush/Gore and Citizens United have put that image in serious jeopardy. If a party-line vote threw out the biggest Democratic legislative accomplishment of the last half century, with a majority opinion based on a new legal distinction invented precisely for that purpose, the Court might not recover.

The Court doesn't control any money or soldiers, so it needs its reputation. If they're just nine over-the-hill political hacks who can't be fired, then why shouldn't presidents defy them? Why wouldn't some future President Nixon just burn the tapes?

[I covered the ruling itself last week. Harvard's Einer Elhauge has an enlightening refutation of Roberts' reading of the Commerce Clause.]

Meanwhile, the Partisans made fun of people who now want to leave the country to avoid socialized medicine.

... but I decided to write about institutional failure and Leviticus

  • In Search of a Universal F***-Up Theory. It's not hard to come up with specific theories explaining why our political institutions are dysfunctional, our religious institutions corrupt, our economic institutions rapacious, our media institutions untrustworthy, and so on. But why is all this failure happening at once? (And no, I don't think it's the Internet, the Koch Brothers, or the end times.)
  • The Economics of Leviticus. You can't have a culture-war conversation without somebody quoting Leviticus. What if you couldn't have an economic conversation without somebody quoting Leviticus? That would change a lot of things, right down to our basic understanding of property.

Meanwhile, you might also find this interesting

Verizon has opened the next front in the corporate-personhood battle: It says that the FCC's net neutrality rules are unconstitutional because
Broadband networks are the modern-day microphone by which their owners [e.g. Verizon] engage in First Amendment speech

Weird. I thought I was engaging in First Amendment speech, and that Verizon's broadband network was just carrying that speech to some of my readers. But no, Verizon is speaking. Can you hear them now?

The Obama campaign is making hay out of Romney's offshore accounts and his refusal to release tax returns before 2010.

Here's why Romney might carry Pennsylvania: Under the new voter-ID law passed by the Republican legislature and signed by the Republican governor, 9.2% of registered voters don't have the appropriate IDs yet, including 18% of voters in the Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia. That's more voters than Obama's margin in 2008.

One of the mysteries of polling this year is why Romney is sometimes ahead in the Gallup tracking poll, while Obama is consistently ahead in polls of swing states and close in states Romney has to carry, like North Carolina. It seems unimaginable that Romney could win the national popular vote and not carry North Carolina handily.

Possible answer: Gallup's methodology systematically undercounts non-whites.

Meanwhile, polling wonks will love Nate Silver's attempt to model the influence of the economy on presidential elections.

A good, practical talk about teaching:
The Myth of the Super Teacher from EdWriters on Vimeo.

I was going to write my own decline-of-Justice-Scalia article, but Salon's Paul Campos did it for me. Back in the day, Scalia was the kind of conservative a liberal could admire. He viewed the world through a different lens, but he challenged us to raise our game. I always learned something from reading a Scalia opinion. Now, though, he just repeats what he's heard on Fox News. It's embarrassing.

Anybody who goes to a big 4th of July celebration must wonder: What if all the fireworks went off at once? Well, in San Diego they found out.

I spent Wednesday evening in Lowell, where the fireworks were backlit by lightning over Boston. But if I had been in Alabama Friday I could have attended a different night-time ritual: the "sacred Christian cross lighting ceremony" that culminated a conference sponsored by the white supremacist Christian Identity Ministries. Apparently this was not a hoax.

After waffling for a few days, Mitt Romney now has his position on whether an individual healthcare mandate is a tax: It's a tax when Obama does it nationally, but it wasn't a tax when he did it in Massachusetts. In his own words:
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the nation, and it said that it’s a tax, so it’s a tax. ... The chief justice in his opinion made it very clear that at the state level, states have the power to put in place mandates. And as a result, Massachusetts’s mandate was a mandate, was a penalty, was described that way by the legislature and by me, and so it stays as it was.

Salon checks in on the Elizabeth Warren campaign. To me that race comes down to: Do you want your senator to be owned by the bankers, or not?

Here's the difference between public and private: Public employees have a mission that goes beyond profit. Case in point: A private Florida lifeguard company fired a lifeguard for saving a life outside company territory.

Republicans want to replace ObamaCare with "patient-centered health care". What is patient-centered health care? A phrase that tests well in focus groups. It does not refer to any specific proposal.

A legislator who voted for Louisiana's radical new school-voucher program is now opposed to it. What changed? She suddenly realized that a "religious school" doesn't have to be Christian. She supports freedom of religion, just not for Muslims.

Factoid discovered while researching something else entirely: The word boycott comes from Captain Charles Boycott, who was the agent of an absentee landlord in Ireland in 1880. To protest Boycott's eviction of tenant farmers, the local community ostracized him, and workers refused to harvest the land he managed.

Come November, women shouldn't forget what conservatives stand for.

But let's end on a moment of cute. Pandas on a slide are like 4-year-olds who are too round and fluffy to get hurt.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Necessary Measures

Let the national Government be armed with a positive & compleat authority in all cases where uniform measures are necessary. 

James Madison
letter to  Edmund Randolph (1787)

Where we find that the legislators, in the light of the testimony and facts before them, have a rational basis for finding a chosen regulatory scheme necessary to the protection of commerce, our investigation is at an end.

Justice Thomas Clark
writing for the unanimous Supreme Court in Katzenbach v. McClung (1964)

This week I'm continuing to experiment with the format of the Sift. In particular, I'm combining the weekly summary with the Nuggets (which used to be called Short Notes).

This week everybody was talking about ... the Supreme Court

Some days the Court seemed like the only thing to talk about. (Not true. Even on Thursday, ObamaCare decision day, I clearly remember my wife saying, "What should we do about lunch?")

I look on the Sift as serving two purposes for its readers. Most weeks, it makes you aware of facts and ideas that you might have missed while you were busy living your life or doing some other silly thing. But it also sometimes covers issues that you hear too much about. This week, that's the Court, whose decisions have been good/bad up/down right/left ... who can keep track?

Here's the short version: The end-of-term flurry of decisions were mostly OK. Yes, the Court missed an opportunity to reconsider Citizens United. But these two articles explain why the ObamaCare and Arizona decisions were as good as I could have reasonably expected.
  • What the Court Decided About ObamaCare. If the Court had just followed its own precedents, the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act would have been a non-issue. But politics got into it, so the decision was 5-4, and the decision was more strained and nuanced than it needed to be. Still, in the end ObamaCare gets to go forward and 30 million people are going to get health insurance who wouldn't otherwise have it.
  • What the Court Decided About ImmigrationFlacks and fund-raisers tried to spin this in a variety of directions, but when you read the decision it's clear that the Arizona immigration law went down. The immigrant-haters lost.

... but I also wrote about

  • I Was Undocumented in Arizona. As luck would have it, I happened to be in Phoenix when the Arizona decision came out. Part of the reason I was there was to protest S. B. 1070 and the treatment of undocumented immigrants in general. But it was ironic that (because I had left my driver's license back home in a laundry hamper) I was undocumented myself for a whole week. Fortunately, I had the foresight to be born white.

... and you might also find this stuff interesting

Right-wingers are now vowing to stop eating Oreos. I wonder why.

Mississippi came within hours of legislating out of business the last abortion clinic in the state, but yesterday a federal injunction stopped the new law from taking effect.

After a 6-month investigation, Fortune magazine tells a very different version of the Fast & Furious gun-walking story:
the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust.
Exxon's CEO now admits global warming is happening, but doesn't think it's a big deal. We'll "adapt" to changing temperatures, just like the dinosaurs did. The article does not include any comments from polar bears.

Surprising no one, Anderson Cooper announced that he's gay. continues to do useful journalism: The 6 Creepiest Lies the Food Industry is Feeding You.

I love whiteboard animations. This one gives a powerful Marxist critique of what's been going on in the world economy.