“Biggest leak in the history of data journalism just went live, and it’s about corruption.”

It’s too much. The sheer volume of the Panama Papers may make its message indigestible — 2.6 terabytes of data? Of accounting data? It’s not exactly the kind of thing I’m going to crack open to read before bedtime.

But this summary of the initial disclosures is helpful.

* Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.

* A $2bn trail leads all the way to Vladimir Putin. The Russian president’s best friend – a cellist called Sergei Roldugin – is at the centre of a scheme in which money from Russian state banks is hidden offshore. Some of it ends up in a ski resort where in 2013 Putin’s daughter Katerina got married.

* Among national leaders with offshore wealth are Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister; Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt’s former president; and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.

* Six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs and dozens of donors to UK political parties have had offshore assets. The families of at least eight current and former members of China’s supreme ruling body, the politburo, have been found to have hidden wealth offshore.

* Twenty-three individuals who have had sanctions imposed on them for supporting the regimes in North Korea, Zimbabwe, Russia, Iran and Syria have been clients of Mossack Fonseca. Their companies were harboured by the Seychelles, the British Virgin Islands, Panama and other jurisdictions.

* A key member of Fifa’s powerful ethics committee, which is supposed to be spearheading reform at world football’s scandal-hit governing body, acted as a lawyer for individuals and companies recently charged with bribery and corruption.

That’s just the early disclosures as people start wading through it all. There are rumors that some Americans are going to be implicated in the corruption, too…just give them time.

Another factor that may make this fizzle, besides the overwhelming volume, is that nobody is going to be surprised by any of it. Are any of you at all surprised that rich and influential people of the world are also sleazy, rotten, tax cheats?

Hypocrisy to the fourth power

Jud McMillin has resigned from his position as a Republican representative in the Indiana legislature. I know this bothers you — another promising political career cut short — but the hypocrisy of this one is positively enthralling. Rarely does a politician engage in such furious foot-shooting.

  • He’s resigning because he sent explicit sex videos recorded on his cell phone to a large number of people. Oh, excuse me, his cell phone was stolen and “his cellphone sent a sexually explicit video to an unknown number of recipients”. This is what the passive voice was intended for by the good Lord Above, people!

  • This is the second time he’s resigned because of the escape of sexually explicit images of himself from his phone (AI researchers: look into this. It may be a sentient device). He previously resigned from his job as an attorney because he’d been taking advantage of a client who was a victim of domestic violence. How did he get elected to high office after that? I don’t know. Indiana?

  • A highlight of his legislative record was working to pass a “2015 “religious freedom” law allowing businesses to ban gay customers”. Because, of course, he’s very concerned about public and private morality, since God frowns upon men who touch penises, except of course, when that man is making a masturbation video to send to his mistress. Oh, wait, I just got kneemail from Jesus, and he says Dad disapproves of that, too.

  • I think this one should count as irony, rather than hypocrisy: he also helped stall a bill to outlaw revenge porn, so any Hoosiers who have copies of his porn video, there’s nothing but your conscience to prevent you from disseminating it wildly. And if you’re the kind of person McMillin counts as a friend, there’s a good chance you don’t have one of those!

But don’t you worry about Jud, he has announced that he is resigning to spend more time with his family. You all know about Republican families, right? The family is a versatile institution that both provides an excuse to sanctimoniously moralize at the public, and acts as a perfect, untouchable refuge when you’re caught violating your own moral code.

I tried to read Orrin Hatch’s defense of Republican obstructionism

I really did. I got as far as the first sentence: Justice Antonin Scalia was among the greatest jurists in our nation’s history, and decided that the flavor of that bullshit was going to be just a little too rank. So I skipped to the last paragraph, read Considering a nominee in the midst of a toxic presidential election would be irresponsible, and realized that I have become wise in my years in skipping all the crap in between. What’s making this election toxic, I wondered? Has Hatch looked at his fellow party members?

Fortunately, a historian examined Hatch’s rationalizations for me. Reeking ordure confirmed, and that mysterious scent stinking up the joint? That’s cowardice.

If Hatch and his fellow Republicans want to vote against Judge Garland, they have every right to do so. But they should stop being cowards. They should make a substantive argument against him. vote against him, and accept the political consequences of that vote. They should stop pretending that this reckless path they have chosen is anything but a desperate attempt to hold onto a Supreme Court majority.

Dishonest, cowardly, and contemptible. That’s our Republican party!

Could I ever vote for a Blue Dog? Maybe.


I have never voted for my representative, Collin Peterson.

Peterson is a co-founder of the Blue Dog Coalition, the caucus of moderate House Democrats, and is known for his conservatism. He’s anti-abortion, opposed to embryonic stem cell research, against same-sex marriage and supports the death penalty. He is also avidly anti-gun control.

I can’t stand the guy. Look at that list: he opposes everything I favor. So every time I’ve had to go into the voting booth, I look at his name, and his opponent (who is always something worse), and I just leave it blank. I’m not voting for him or a Republican.

But I might have to change my habits, hold my nose, and punch that ballot in the future. Not only is Peterson endorsing Bernie Sanders, but the Republicans are getting increasingly vile.

Chad Hartman: I would say this sir, I think you are genuine in what you want [but] I don’t think a lot of these people want the help you are offering. I would say this you have talked about the issue of sexuality and have caused plenty of criticism. I just want to ask you if you still stand by what you said a few years ago that homosexuality is unhealthy sexual addiction. Do you still stand by that?
Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen: Yes I do, and I know — I have friends who are homosexual, and I have friends who are former homosexuals, okay? So it is uh — you know the CDC — the Centers for Disease Control — which is not a right-wing organization, I think we can all agree on that — recently came out with the report that we have between 65 and 100 million Americans that have an STD. 65 to 100 million. We’re approaching one third of our population has an STD.
Hartman: Many heterosexuals obviously…
Gruenhagen: This whole concept of promiscuity outside the bond of marriage is not working out real well, and people say, “Well, that’s a social issue.” Do you understand the billions and billions of dollars in health care costs those diseases brings?
Hartman: You are telling the millions of people in this country who are homosexual — and the rest of their lives are no different than me or yours — but that the reason they have described themselves as homosexual is because they have an unhealthy sexual addiction?
Gruenhagen: Yeah you can go on the internet and there’s treatment for sexual addictions right here in Minnesota, whether it’s pornography or unhealthy sexual behavior. You can receive treatment for that and be free from those compulsions.

OMG. The Republicans are making Collin Peterson look liberal! And compelling me to <choke> compromise!

Who is to blame for the current chaos in the Republican party?

I love it when Charles Pierce cuts loose.

For four decades now, ever since Ronald Reagan fed it the monkeybrains in the 1980, hitching his party to the snake-oil of supply-side economics and to the sad remnants of white supremacy, often as expressed through an extremist splinter of American Protestantism, the Republican Party has been afflicted with the prion disease that now has blossomed into utter public madness. That’s the story everyone was too blind, stupid, or afraid to tell. You know who in the media really created He, Trump? Anyone who laughed at Ronald Reagan’s casual relationship with the truth and with empirical reality. Anyone who blew off Iran-Contra. Anyone who draped C-Plus Augustus in a toga after 9/11. Anyone who cast Newt Gingrich as a serious man of ideas. Anyone who cast Paul Ryan as an economic savant, that’s who. Anyone who wrote admiring profiles of how shrewd Lee Atwater and Karl Rove were. Anyone who put Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck on the cover of national magazines based simply on their ratings. Anyone who put Matt Drudge on a public-affairs program. Anyone who watched the conservative movement, the only animating force the Republican party has, drive the party further and deeper into madness, they are the ones who share the blame. He, Trump merely has taken the bark off ideas that were treated as legitimate for far too long by far too many people, most of whom don’t really give a damn about the plight of the vanishing middle class except for its use as fuel for rage-based, self-destructive politics.

I could not believe it when that dopey clown Reagan got elected — that bozo should have been slapped down before he became governor of California. I was even more appalled when the dopier, clownier W got elected, and once again, I was wondering why the media just peddled it as a great way to sell advertising minutes on the news. And now…

Limbaugh and Beck and Drudge and Breitbart continue to be treated as oracles into the guts of the American psyche, and have become the American psyche.

I can’t even bear to watch the network pundits any more. When David Brooks is treated as if he’s the serious, sane one, we’re done.

Even our Republicans are better than yours

I’ve been bragging about the progressive Democrats we have here in Minnesota: Dayton, Klobuchar, Franken, for instance. But sometimes even our Republicans surprise me.

Minnesota GOP Chairman Keith Downey is breaking from leading Republican presidential candidates after controversial remarks about Muslims by Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Downey spoke at “Muslim Day at the Capitol” last week after deadly attacks in Brussels by Islamic terrorist group ISIL. The attacks prompted Trump and Cruz to call for closer scrutiny of Muslims to protect the country from dangerous extremists.

The GOP chairman, who spoke at the annual event for the first time, quoted extensively from letters he exchanged with Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota and an organizer of the discussion. Downey told the audience that “the political debate occurring in this context unfortunately is severely hampered by a lack of knowledge about Islam and the Muslim community in America.”

I’m still not ever voting for them. But they’re taking steps in the right direction.

(Before 300 million people pack up and move to Minnesota, I’ll remind you all of the downsides. Cold. And mosquitoes. Also, occasional outbursts of accordion music.)

I knew the Trump2016 trauma was exaggerated

It’s become the standard trope: college students are whiny, delicate, over-sensitive wimps who can’t take the real world and demand safe spaces and trigger warnings. These complaints about students are usually made by ignorant jerks who don’t know any, and who will also be complaining about too PC and of course, the regressive Left, and before you know it, they’ve put all college folk into the cultural Marxist category. Those phrases are good tells to let you know you’re dealing with an idiot.

The latest cause célèbre for the regressive trolls is an incident at Emory University, in which someone scrawled “Trump 2016” on the sidewalk. As the right-wing twits tell it, the students were shocked and horrified and demanding protection from the administration, and the administration rushed to coddle them.

It was all a lie.

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