New And column and other political links

The column is on the right-wing meme that Islam is not a religion so it doesn’t get First Amendment protection.

•A conservative reviewer complains that a new book critical of the Koch Brothers influence on politics is wrong because big donations don’t influence politicians.

•Salon provides a quick rundown of far-right conspiracy theories (the UN! the Trilateral Commission! Jade Helm!). I wonder how long before we get to the Illuminati (which Pat Robertson mentioned in his 1990s conspiracy drivel, The New World Order).

•Toyota gives dealers some flexibility in setting interest rates for car loans. The result? Non-whites paid more interest. Toyota has settled with the government for $21.9 million.

•Two for-profit colleges lose government funding for distorting the success rate of their graduates. And Wells Fargo is paying more than a billion bucks to settle a lawsuit that it issued high-risk mortgages, under-estimated the risks to get FHA insurance, then left the taxpayers with the bill when the borrowers defaulted.

•A North Carolina editorial on why requiring a photo ID for voting is not like a photo ID for cashing a check.

•A Google computer figures out how to beat a human at Go.

•Digby on the media failing to ignore bullshit. As she notes, the standard rationale is that it doesn’t matter if it’s true—the story is out there. It’s having an influence. Of course that influence is frequently because the press put it out there, then act as if it went viral spontaneously.

•Apparently Ted Cruz claims everyone who says Cruz’s alternative to Obamacare (stopping states from setting minimum standards for health insurance) isn’t going to help is lying through their teeth.

•Megan McArdle has written that just because she was wrong about Iraq and war opponents was right is no reason to criticize her judgment. Now she’s adopted the same stance on reports that free trade with China, which she supports, has helped gut the working class’s income: her judgment was perfectly logical! And besides, the people who said it was bad were probably just made a lucky guess! And even if it is bad, we can’t stop it now,  so why make a fuss? And besides, her upper-income lifestyle churning out bullshit columns isn’t affected!

•McArdle also claims that she sacrificed financially to work in the low-paying world of journalism so she understands about debt and sacrifice and public-spiritedness. …except that by her own admission, she took on her college debt to land a high-paying job in business that went away after 9/11. Journalism was just a Hail Mary play that despite her lack of insight, talent or human compassion (like her declaration that inequality of opportunity is a good thing) worked out well for her.

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