RachelWatch: “Less Helpful is More Helpful”

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Today: Al-Qaida just noticed how pretty your eyes are.

Full Court Press

Rachel led off with the news that President Obama is having to do a little campaigning in his own party, thanks to 16 moderate Democrats in the Senate who are working to keep the current system in place under which the Republicans filibuster everything, including lunch orders.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) joined Rachel to say that she and the other Conservadems are trying to help Obama and the party by building the relationships they need to get important legislation passed.

Rachel, who is so over this argument that the Conservadems are going to need the Hubble telescope to see the bottom of her sneakers, pointed out — twice — that getting 60 votes is much more difficult than getting 51 votes and asked how exactly it is helpful to make major policy legislation less likely to pass.

Shaheen could not have been less direct in her answer, but her general gist was that setting up huge obstacles now makes things go smoothly in the long run.

Note to self: Call back Senator Shaheen and turn down her offer to help me move.

Nobody Somebody Saw it Coming

Back in 1999 when the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act allowed retail banks, investment banks, and insurance companies to merge, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) predicted that it would “raise the likelihood of future massive taxpayer bailouts,” and that in ten years we’d be sorry.

He also wrote about how terrifyingly risky derivatives were back in 1996. Showoff.

Dorgan dropped in to chat with Rachel about the problems of untangling all the banks and getting everyone behind some ironclad til-the-end-of-time regulations, but he wasn’t done there. He wants a committee with subpoena power to investigate the collapse and a financial crimes prosecution task force and seriously, you guys, I am already coloring him a homemade Regulator badge.

Anybody have a cool calculator design we can sew onto a cape?

Ms. Information

We tend to stereotype France as an intellectual, wine-drinking, art-looking-at kind of country, but zut alors! They really do not screw around during labor negotiations.

Think twice before you take that exciting management opportunity in Paris. And if you do take it, DO NOT try to restrict their coffee-and-an-affair breaks.

We still have no ambassador to Iraq. No worries. It’s a little vanity post where nothing ever happens. I’m sure things will be cool.

And, yes, it really happened: Rod Blagojevich began what is sure to be a terrifying media juggernaut on Chicago’s WLS radio Wednesday morning.

Rachel showed a life-meets-art moment as Blagojevich posed with The Second City’s brilliantly funny Joey Bland in full giant-hair getup. Which means either the ex-Governor has a sense of humor about this whole thing, or totally does not get the full ramifications of the hilarity. Fingers crossed for the second one.

Neighborhood Watch

WOOOOOOOOO! Spring beak is here, and Hillary Clinton and Andrea Mitchell headed off to Mexico to do some body shots and tear things up with the State Department Brew Crew.

Or maybe it was to acknowledge that our country’s relationship with Mexico is part of the reason they’re having such terrifying problems with drug cartels and to try to figure out how to help solve the problem we had a hand in creating.

Mitchell, fresh from an interview with Clinton, pointed out that part of the problem is that the toughest restriction on obtaining assault weapons in the United States is verifying that you’ve collected enough proof-of-purchase panels from cereal boxes.

GOP in Exile

Michael Steele is back! God, I love him. I have come close to developing a Pavlovian smiling response just from hearing his name.

Turns out all those things that looked to the untrained observer like cataclysmic humiliating public missteps were exactly what he meant to do. They were all part of a grand plan so complex and profound that its full meaning will only be clear to future generations.

In the meantime, he might run for President. The 2012 race is going to be such a great big pile of surreal comedy awesome I almost can’t stand it.

Scrub. Rinse. Repeat.

Speaking of surreal comedy popping up where you didn’t expect it, the new Al-Qaida recruitment manual has been posted online.

Either that or it’s just a translation of one of those “pick-up artist” manuals because, as Rachel and Slate’s Timothy Noah noticed, the seduction tips are remarkably similar. And just as sad.

Like amazingly similar and sad: The manual suggests you do thoughtful little things for your recruit and tells you you’re doing well if he’s anxious to see you. I really hope there’s a section on how recruits love palm reading and magic tricks.

I realize that terrorist groups may tend to draw an unusually high percentage of people who are a little light on the interpersonal skills, but are we sure we haven’t been sucked into one of those things where China accidentally reports on a story from The Onion?

Until next time, please keep in mind that it’s never too early to donate to the Steele 2012 campaign fund.

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