Get your surprised face ready: a Washington Post investigation finds that nine of 10 folks caught up in the NSA's giant data dragnet are not in any way targets of any NSA investigation. Nearly half of the folks caught up were American citizens or residents, and the Post talks to a few good folks who understand why they were caught up, but don't understand why the NSA had to hold on to their private communications. The reason, of course, is that different elites get in the driver's seat every few years, and they all have different enemies they'd like to turn into "terrorists," and one day that "enemy" could be you or I.
I did not know, until Citizens for Tax Justice told me, that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback called his cut-taxes-on-the-rich-but-raise-them-on-the-poor-and-then-pray-for-more-revenues plan -- the one currently blowing up in his and his state's face -- an "experiment." One thing I know about people: they just love being an unwilling or unwitting part of some politician's "experiment." The ways of God may be mysterious, but sometimes I find it especially difficult to see what holy plan would be served by Sam Brownback's re-election -- until I imagine the sight of Paul Davis refusing to commit to repealing the Brownback experiment when a debate moderator asks him, thus sealing the election for Mr. Brownback and teaching Democrats yet another lesson in the political benefits of courage.
Alex Park at Mother Jones points out a major problem with the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision from the perspective of settled corporate law. Long story short: the owner of a corporation and a corporation are actually separate "persons" from the law's perspective, which is a major reason corporate owners don't very often go to jail for corporate malfeasance -- but by suggesting that a closely-held corporation's owners can infuse a corporation with "religious beliefs," the Court has severely undermined that distinction, such that corporate owners could one find themselves in jail for what they make their corporations do. Then again, the Court could simply await the chance to rule out that notion -- they don't even need to argue the point in a particularly cogent manner, which is fortunate for them.
The New York Court of Appeals rules that two small New York towns can ban oil and gas drillers from operating within their borders using local zoning laws. And conservatives all over America are proclaiming this as a boon for local autonomy, a victory for the notion that the smallest group knows best how to make decisions affecting that group? I kid, of course -- well, actual conservatives may be praising the development, but who can hear them over the din of corporate reactionaries calling themselves "conservative" on TV, radio, and internet?
Finally, my first reaction to a tale of right-wing diaper-loaded brats actually modifying their trucks to spew out more pollution was "gosh, what a bunch of assholes!" One of my readers' reaction was a bit more instructive: "because apparently only liberals breathe air." But is "coal rolling" really as big a thing as the sudden spurt of media coverage suggests? A 700% increase in "rolling coal" Google searches over three years sounds more meaningful than it is -- after all, over that same time, this blog's Facebook following has increased over 7000 percent, and that means our work is world-famous, right?