and he's singing about High Society and sitting where again?
and he's singing about High Society and sitting where again?
Intelligence vs rationality...not to mention the emotional IQ theory.
What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought
by Keith E. Stanovich
Clumsy speech, immense overconfidence, heavy reliance on intuition rather than factual evidence: many people associate these attributes with George W. Bush, and some believe, based on these traits, that the former president is a man of inferior intelligence. That is why so many people were stunned when, during the 2004 presidential campaign, Bush's IQ score was estimated to be 120--well above average and about the same as that of his opponent John Kerry. Psychologist Keith Stanovich of the University of Toronto, however, was not surprised at all by Bush's IQ. In his new book he explains why.
Stanovich is convinced that intelligence is different from the ability to make rational decisions and that the two traits do not always coexist. IQ tests measure only part of our cognitive qualities, he argues, and critical thinking is not included. As a result "some people can have very high IQs but be remarkably weak when it comes to the ability to think rationally," he writes. Yet our society is "fixated on assessing intelligence" and completely ignores rationality. Parents and teachers place great emphasis on trying to raise more intelligent children, but teaching kids to become rational human beings receives much less attention--even though critical thinking would be easy to teach, Stanovich says. This oversight is a serious problem because "societal consequences of irrational thinking are profound," Stanovich adds. For example, jurors have admitted to having made their decisions based on astrology, and Americans waste billions of dollars a year on quack medical remedies.
In What Intelligence Tests Miss, Stanovich shows that we have enough knowledge and the right tests to assess rationality as systematically as we determine IQ. So why aren't we doing it? He thinks the reason is a "historical accident." Because we had measures of intelligence first, IQ tests became ubiquitous early on and have pushed any interest in other cognitive abilities out of our minds ever since.
Stanovich makes a compelling argument that we need to put more emphasis on measuring and teaching critical thinking skills. His clear writing and his many interesting examples make the book accessible and engaging. What Intelligence Tests Miss illuminates the actions of everyone who affects our lives, from our family members to our co-workers to former president Bush.
If this guy is a terrorist, the terrorists are in deep trouble...or maybe we are if we don't find this guy really funny.
Accused terror suspect Khurram Syed Sher is featured in a surprising new viral video that is popping up on the Internet. The video shows Sher auditioning for the "Canadian Idol" TV show in 2008 by singing a rather tortured rendition of Avril Lavgine's "Complicated"--and tossing in a not-half-bad moonwalk.
The charges against Sher, announced Friday, are "conspiracy to knowingly facilitate a terrorist activity," according to a Canadian Broadcast Corp. report. --JCL
Canadian terror plot suspect Khurram Syed Sher tried out for a spot on "Canadian Idol" in 2008, telling the judges he came to Canada from Pakistan in 2005 and performing Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" when the judges voted for that over a Hilary Duff song.
Sher, who is actually a native Canadian, sings in a Pakistani accent while performing a series of strained dance moves, one of which is reminiscent of ice skating form. Which make sense when at the end of the performance a judge asks Sher if he considered being a comedian rather than a singer.
"Not really, I like hockey," Sher replies.
by Michael Sandel Political Philosopher, Harvard University
The agenda of postwar American liberalism was set out by FDR in 1944, when he called for an "economic bill of rights." True individual freedom required more than the political rights enumerated in the Constitution, he argued. Under modern conditions, it also required basic social and economic rights, including "the right to a useful and remunerative job...the right of every family to a decent home, the right to adequate medical care...the right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment" and "the right to a good education."
From the Spring Democracy: A Journal of Ideas symposium, "What Happened?":
Obama can still redefine liberalism, but he must bring economic power to heel.
Imagine a president, or a presidential candidate, taking on Wall Street in blunt language such as this: "We have been dreading all along the time when the combined power of high finance would be greater than the power of the government. Have we come to a time when the president of the United States or any man who wishes to be the president must doff his cap in the presence of this high finance, and say, 'You are our inevitable master, but we will see how we can make the best of it'?"
Or this: "The supreme political task of our day is to drive the special interests out of our public life."
Or this: "Through new uses of corporations, banks, and securities," a privileged economic elite has "reached out for control over government itself," rendering political equality "meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group [has] concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor -- other people's lives."
Today, mainstream commentators and editorial writers would disparage such talk as irresponsible populist rhetoric. But American political leaders have not always been as deferential toward economic power as they are expected to be today. The statements quoted above were not made by far-out radicals, but by Woodrow Wilson (1912), Theodore Roosevelt (1910), and Franklin D. Roosevelt (1936).
It is striking to notice the difference between their liberalism and ours. For these icons of twentieth-century liberalism, the first question of politics was how to subject economic power to democratic control.
When Louis D. Brandeis spoke of "the curse of bigness," he meant that monopolies and big banks posed a danger to democracy. Today, we still worry about bigness, but not in the same way. When we say that Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and AIG are "too big to fail," we mean that their failure would wreak havoc with the economy, so the government must bail them out rather than let them go down. The problem with having banks that are too big to fail is that it violates the rules of the capitalist game. When times are good, they make outsized profits, but when things go badly, the taxpayer has to pick up the tab.
What the hell is the Republicans water supply that could possibly explain this level of ignorance?
Poll: Majority Of GOP Believes Obama Sympathizes With Islamic Fundamentalism, Wants Worldwide Islamic Law
by Sam Stein
A majority of Republicans believe that President Barack Obama "sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world," according to a survey released on Monday.
That figure, buried at the very end of a newly released Newsweek public opinion poll, reflects the extent to which a shocking bit of smear and misinformation has managed to become nearly commonplace within the GOP tent.
(Read the full poll results here.)
A full 14 percent of Republicans said that it was "definitely true" that Obama sympathized with the fundamentalists and wanted to impose Islamic law across the globe. An additional 38 percent said that it was probably true -- bringing the total percentage of believers to 52 percent. Only 33 percent of Republicans said that the "allegation" (as Newsweek put it) was "probably not true." Seven percent said it was "definitely not true." The rest (eight percent) either didn't know the answer or didn't read the question.
The Newsweek findings add more kindling to the already-heated debate raging around the persistent rumors that Obama is a closeted Muslim (he's not). In an illustration of just how deeply news outlets have been drawn to the topic, the magazine devoted seven of its 24 questions to Muslim-themed topics, producing, in the process, a number of telling and newsworthy numbers.
Fifty-nine percent of Republicans, for instance, said they believed the president favored "the interests of Muslims over other groups of Americans," while only 34 percent of said he had been "generally even handed" in his approach. In contrast, nine percent of Democrats said Obama favored "the interests of Muslims over other groups of Americans" while 82 percent of Democrats said he had been even-handed.
On a more uplifting front, 16 percent of all respondents said they had a very favorable view of Muslims while 45 percent said they had a "mostly favorable" view -- the highest and second highest totals recorded for those answers in the survey's history, respectively.
From the Now-You-Know-Dept:
According to Alexander of Miletus quoted by Diogenes Laertius in his "Lives and Doctrines of Eminent Philosophers" (probably written toward the beginning of the IIIrd century A. D.), book III (Life of Plato), chapter 4, his name was Aristocles, son of Ariston, of the deme Collytus (the same tradition is found in several other late sources). Aristocles was the name of his grandfather : it was indeed customary in that time to give a boy the name of his grandfather (one example of this is found in Plato's dialogue called Laches, in which two characters, Lysimachus and Melesias, worry about the kind of education they should give their sons, whom Lysimachus present as Thucydides, son of Melesias, and Aristides, his own son, both named after their grandfathers, see Laches, 179a).
His family, on his father's side, was said to trace his ancestry back to Codrus, the last "legendary" king of Athens. His mother was called Perictionè and was of the family of Critias, one of the leaders of the Thirty Tyrants who took power in Athens after its defeat in 404 B. C. in the Peloponnesian war, and also of Solon, one of the great legislators of Athens in the previous century, who was listed among the Seven Wise Men of Ancient Greece.
Diogenes goes on to say that the surname "Plato" was given him by one of his teachers in gymnastic, a certain Ariston of Argos, "because of his robust figure", adding "but others affirm that he gor the name Plato from the breadth (platutèta) of his style, or from the breadth (platus) of his forehead" : indeed, platus in Greek means "wide, broad, broad-shouldered, widespread, etc." link
And oh yeah, Plato had long hair...of course he didn't have to live in Ohio.
Now wonder Joe is saying saying "My God!" What a ridiculous time warp.
Teacher Ties Boy's Hair Into Pigtails, Encourages Class To Mock Him As A Girl
An Ohio woman has filed a federal lawsuit against her son's elementary school after his teacher mocked his long hair by tying it into pigtails. According to the suit, the teacher then brought the boy to the front of the class and encouraged his classmates to mock him with feminine versions of his name. Allegedly, the teacher finished by taking a photo of the crying boy with her cell phone."It was embarrassing," Amanda Anoai said. "They had no reason to touch my son, to embarrass him, to make him feel bad." She said her son was accustomed to some teasing about his long hair and had never let it bother him. But she said this time was different because it was humiliating, rather than good-natured, and because it involved adults who should know better. Anoai said the incident traumatized her son and prompted him to transfer from Boyd E. Smith Elementary to a different school in the middle of the school year. She said she now drives her son to a school much farther from home because the district does not provide him bus service. "He shouldn't have to switch elementaries and start over," she said. "We've had to change our lives because of this."The suit charges the school, the teacher, and the system superintendent with "offensive gender-based harassment" and failing to protect the boy's constitutional rights.
Crawl you Unworthy Worms how dare you even exist in His Perfect Universe?
Ever wonder why we give $35 billion of our tax dollars to oil companies?
I don't wonder, I know. Because I just followed the money.
This year alone, Big Oil companies like BP and ExxonMobil gave over $11 million to candidates for Congress and a staggering $8 million to sitting members. In fact, Big Oil has given an average of $34,647 to each U.S. senator. And, like clockwork, the Senate voted in favor of those $35 billion in tax breaks and subsidies to Big Oil, even during the world's most disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
They sided with Big Oil, not with the voters. They took the money and ran. If you're as tired of the greasy, dirty politics of Washington as I am, help me clean up the Senate by signing this petition. Over 65,000 people already have, and you can help by focusing on your own senators.
How much money do your Senators take from Big Oil? Click here to find out:
It's Witch-Hunt Season
By Paul Krugman
The last time a Democrat sat in the White House, he faced a nonstop witch hunt by his political opponents. Prominent figures on the right accused Bill and Hillary Clinton of everything from drug smuggling to murder. And once Republicans took control of Congress, they subjected the Clinton administration to unrelenting harassment -- at one point taking 140 hours of sworn testimony over accusations that the White House had misused its Christmas card list.
Now it's happening again -- except that this time it's even worse. Let's turn the floor over to Rush Limbaugh: "Imam Hussein Obama," he recently declared, is "probably the best anti-American president we've ever had."
To get a sense of how much it matters when people like Mr. Limbaugh talk like this, bear in mind that he's an utterly mainstream figure within the Republican Party; bear in mind, too, that unless something changes the political dynamics, Republicans will soon control at least one house of Congress. This is going to be very, very ugly.
So where is this rage coming from? Why is it flourishing? What will it do to America?
What's the opposite of competition? It what Beck seems to hate.
Glenn Beck vs. Christ the Liberator
rev james martin
After his colossal "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, D.C., Glenn Beck took aim at one of his favorite targets, Barack Obama, but in a novel way. Beck regrets saying a few months ago that President Obama was a "racist." What he should have said, he now realizes, was that he didn't agree with Obama's "theology." And what is Obama's theology, according to Beck? Liberation theology.
Here's Beck's definition of the arcane area of study known as liberation theology:"I think that it is much more of a theological question that he is a guy who understands the world through liberation theology, which is oppressor and victim....That is a direct opposite of what the gospel is talking about...It's Marxism disguised as religion."
As Ronald Reagan used to say, "There you go again." A few months ago, Beck decided to demolish the idea of "social justice," by telling Christians that if their priests, pastors or ministers use that buzz word on Sundays they should leave their churches. As he may or may not have known, the tenets of "social justice" encourage one not only to help the poor, but also address the conditions that keep them poor. He called that "communist."
That approach didn't work out that well for Beck since so many Christian denominations these days, particularly the Catholic Church, espouse social justice explicitly. So he backed off. But liberation theology? Really?
The guy is such an out of touch old school dinosaur and surprise surprise...The same old insanity of cutting Social Security and other social benefit programs he clamors for is apparently gaining currency among the deficit pundits. How does this same old crap get recycled so often and by people who should know better?
"The campaign to fire Simpson has the right spirit but the wrong target. Obama should draw a line in the sand and make clear that if the commissioners propose cuts in Social Security, he will consider the whole exercise tainted."
Simpson's 'Tits' Are the Least of It
....Given what is happening to the real economy in the real world, the prospect of a double-dip recession and the prospect of a lost decade of high unemployment, the idea that the bigger menace is Social Security is just whacko. Let's recall that Social Security is in surplus until 2037!
Yet the idea that the road to recovery leads though cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and other social outlays that are keeping the depression from worsening, if anything, is gaining traction among opinion elites.
Exhibit A is a doubly dishonest column by the New York Times' new whiz-kid pundit, Matt Bai, who used a liberal congressman, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, as a prop to make his misleading case.
According to Bai's column, Security is like a giant lottery, based on IOU's that will require a Ponzi Scheme of further debt. Now, it turns out that Bai is not just wrong on the issues, but Blumenauer doesn't believe what Bai attributed to him. In attacking the progressive coalition Strengthen Social Security, Bai wrote:The coalition bases its case on the idea that Social Security is actually in fine fiscal shape, since it has amassed a pile of Treasury Bills -- often referred to as i.o.u.'s -- in a dedicated trust fund. This is true enough, except that the only way for the government to actually make good on these i.o.u.'s is to issue mountains of new debt or to take the money from elsewhere in the federal budget, or perhaps impose significant tax increases... So this is sort of like saying that you're rich because your friend has promised to give you 10 million bucks just as soon as he wins the lottery.
But this is total malarkey. In fact, the 75-year projection of Social Security's finances shows that under fairly pessimistic assumptions about economic growth, the shortfall in Social Security's finances is just over half of one percent of GDP. Lift the cap on earnings subject to Social Security taxes, and the problem disappears.
More importantly, get wage growth back to its historic trend of increasing as productivity increases (rather than the top getting the benefit of all the economic gains) and the problem vanishes without changing the tax code. Raise wages, and we could increase Social Security benefits.
"America is a unique beacon of freedom precisely because of its founders' Christian perspective, which has protected the right of conscience and thus freedom of religion for Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and nonbelievers. Try to identify another nation on Earth that similarly advanced individual rights without being influenced by Christianity." - Robert Knight
That would explain all the religious intolerance and genocide generated during the course of American history. The history of the Bible is a bloodbath and Christianity directly descends from it. The advanced ethics and moral considerations of the founding fathers of this country stem more from the secular evolution of the Enlightenment Era than from Christianity. Christianity is relatively barbarous in comparison and the early colonists were fugitives from oppression of religion in their home countries.
The exploits of the Black Regiment are legendary. When General George Washington asked Lutheran pastor John Peter Muhlenberg to raise a regiment of volunteers, Muhlenberg gladly agreed. Before marching off to join Washington's army, he delivered a powerful sermon from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 that concluded with these words: "The Bible tells us there is a time for all things and there is a time to preach and a time to pray, but the time for me to preach has passed away, and there is a time to fight, and that time has come now. Now is the time to fight! Call for recruits! Sound the drums!"
Then Muhlenberg took off his clerical robe to reveal the uniform of a Virginia colonel. Grabbing his musket from behind the pulpit, he donned his colonel's hat and marched off to war. And as he did, more than 300 of his male congregants followed him.
Muhlenberg's brother quotes John Peter as saying, "You may say that as a clergyman nothing can excuse my conduct. I am a clergyman, it is true, but I am a member of society as well as the poorest layman, and my liberty is as dear to me as any man. I am called by my country to its defense. The cause is just and noble. Were I a Bishop ... I should obey without hesitation; and as far am I from thinking that I am wrong, I am convinced it is my duty so to do -- a duty I owe to my God and my Country."link
Now I want you to really consider what that means and what sort of internal fantasy is being promulgated inside of Beck's and other heads as a basis for such a fantasy. I think we have moved beyond the comedic aspect of beck's megalomania and into Jim Jones level psychosis now people. This is extremely dangerous.
Seriously, it falls into the category of human evil stuff you just don't want to know.
...as part of tribal "survival" tradition. I don't want this tribe to survive. Period.
Even if the tribe needed for some bizarre reason to kill off tribal members for survival, why is it necessary to do it to children by burying them alive? Could they not poison them or kill them outright with a weapon? Some of the children buried cry overnight for hours after they are buried.
There are some cultural practices perpetrated on children that I personally find repugnant and abhorrent but this one is horrifying and inexcusable. There is no description for this cultural practice other than murder.
UPDATE: I found this link which claims the video is fake and a product of evangelical missionaries who are trying to cover for their own destructive presence among the indigenous people of the forest.
Some of America, Bob...maybe 50-60%. But there's a solid core of bigots and haters captive to their ignorances and willful stupidities who will be represented by the crowds who will attend Glen Beck's self-aggrandizing fiasco at the Lincoln memorial today. Basically Beck is taking a dump on the Memorial steps and defiling the entire civil rights movement and legacy of both Lincoln and Dr King.
I think it would be instructive to see what happened if the majority of the population of Washington DC showed up at the rally to listen to Beck's words. They would at minimum add a little color to the event. Do you think he might pick and choose different words than he has presently planned? Flash mob anyone?
Whatever foul verbal ichor oozes out of Beck today, I plan to follow it up with a loud rehearing of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech...while I take a shower to remove Beck's filth.
America Is Better Than This
By Bob Herbert
America is better than Glenn Beck. For all of his celebrity, Mr. Beck is an ignorant, divisive, pathetic figure. On the anniversary of the great 1963 March on Washington he will stand in the shadows of giants -- Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Who do you think is more representative of this nation?
Consider a brief sampling of their rhetoric.
Lincoln: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
King: "Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter."
Beck: "I think the president is a racist."
Washington was on edge on the morning of Aug. 28, 1963. The day was sunny and very warm and Negroes, as we were called in those days, were coming into town by the tens of thousands. The sale of liquor was banned. Troops stood by to restore order if matters got out of control. President John F. Kennedy waited anxiously in the White House to see how the day would unfold.
It unfolded splendidly. The crowd for the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" grew to some 250,000. Nearly a quarter of the marchers were white. They gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, where they were enthralled by the singing of Mahalia Jackson and Joan Baez. The march was all about inclusion and the day seemed to swell with an extraordinary sense of camaraderie and good feeling.
The climax, of course, was Dr. King's transcendent "I Have a Dream" speech. Jerald Podair, a professor of American studies at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, has called Aug. 28, 1963, "the most important single day in civil rights history." This is the historical legacy that Glenn Beck, a small man with a mean message, has chosen to tread upon with his cynical rally on Saturday at that very same Lincoln Memorial.
Beck is a provocateur who likes to play with matches in the tinderbox of racial and ethnic confrontation. He seems oblivious to the real danger of his execrable behavior. He famously described President Obama as a man "who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."
He is an integral part of the vicious effort by the Tea Party and other elements of the right wing to portray Mr. Obama as somehow alien, a strange figure who is separate and apart from -- outside of -- ordinary American life. As the watchdog group Media Matters for America has noted, Beck said of the president, "He chose to use the name, Barack, for a reason, to identify not with America -- you don't take the name Barack to identify with America. You take the name Barack to identify, with what? Your heritage? The heritage, maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical?"
Facts and reality mean nothing to Beck.
The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c Glenn-Livid
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News
I was confronted with this situation a couple of weeks ago when I was waiting for a neighbor I had taken to a doctors office. There was a flat TV screen in the waiting room and people were glued to it watching Glen beck spouting his bigoted and erroneous crap. I thought about how many public places have Fox News on spreading the propaganda and what could possibly be done to remove it. Then I got this email. It's a start.
This Is Not a Recovery
By Paul Krugman
What will Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, say in his big speech Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyo.? Will he hint at new steps to boost the economy? Stay tuned.
But we can safely predict what he and other officials will say about where we are right now: that the economy is continuing to recover, albeit more slowly than they would like. Unfortunately, that's not true: this isn't a recovery, in any sense that matters. And policy makers should be doing everything they can to change that fact.
The small sliver of truth in claims of continuing recovery is the fact that G.D.P. is still rising: we're not in a classic recession, in which everything goes down. But so what?
The important question is whether growth is fast enough to bring down sky-high unemployment. We need about 2.5 percent growth just to keep unemployment from rising, and much faster growth to bring it significantly down. Yet growth is currently running somewhere between 1 and 2 percent, with a good chance that it will slow even further in the months ahead. Will the economy actually enter a double dip, with G.D.P. shrinking? Who cares? If unemployment rises for the rest of this year, which seems likely, it won't matter whether the G.D.P. numbers are slightly positive or slightly negative.
All of this is obvious. Yet policy makers are in denial.
After its last monetary policy meeting, the Fed released a statement declaring that it "anticipates a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization" -- Fedspeak for falling unemployment. Nothing in the data supports that kind of optimism. Meanwhile, Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, says that "we're on the road to recovery." No, we aren't.
PSSST!...Hey Military, you don't own the whole frigging country and you ARE NOT the most important aspect of America...the country is not here to serve military interests, the military is here to serve the country.
Wind Turbine Projects Run Into Resistance
By Leora Broydo Vestel
Moving turbine blades can be indistinguishable from airplanes on many radar systems, and they can even cause blackout zones in which planes disappear from radar entirely. Clusters of wind turbines, which can reach as high as 400 feet, look very similar to storm activity on weather radar, making it harder for air traffic controllers to give accurate weather information to pilots.
Although the military says no serious incidents have yet occurred because of the interference, the wind turbines pose an unacceptable risk to training, testing and national security in certain regions, Dr. Dorothy Robyn, deputy under secretary of defense, recently told a House Armed Services subcommittee.
Because of its concerns, the Defense Department has emerged as a formidable opponent of wind projects in direct conflict with another branch of the federal government, the Energy Department, which is spending billions of dollars on wind projects as part of President Obama's broader effort to promote renewable energy.
"I call it the train wreck of the 2000s," said Gary Seifert, who has been studying the radar-wind energy clash at the Idaho National Laboratory, an Energy Department research facility. "The train wreck is the competing resources for two national needs: energy security and national security."
In 2009, about 9,000 megawatts of proposed wind projects were abandoned or delayed because of radar concerns raised by the military and the Federal Aviation Administration, according to a member survey by the American Wind Energy Association. That is nearly as much as the amount of wind capacity that was actually built in the same year, the trade group says.
Collisions between the industry and the military have occurred in the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon-Washington border and in the Great Lakes region. But the conflicts now appear to be most frequent in the Mojave, where the Air Force, Navy and Army control 20,000 square miles of airspace and associated land in California and Nevada that they use for bomb tests; low-altitude, high-speed air maneuvers; and radar testing and development.
When the developer Scott Debenham told local Navy and Air Force officials in June that he was working on plans to install a wind turbine at three industrial locations near the area overseen by the military, they expressed opposition to all of the projects, saying that even one additional turbine would interfere with critical testing of radar systems.
How can people be this stupid?
Children abused, killed as witches in Nigeria
By Christian Purefoy
Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria (CNN) -- Just after midnight, the pastor seized a woman's forehead with his large hand and she fell screaming and writhing on the ground. "Fire! Fire! Fire!" shouted the worshippers, raising their hands in the air.
Pastor Celestine Effiong's congregants are being delivered from what they firmly believe to be witchcraft. And in the darkness of the city and the villages beyond, similar shouts and screams echo from makeshift church to makeshift church.
"I have been delivered from witches and wizards today!" exclaimed one exhausted-looking woman.
Pastors in southeast Nigeria claim illness and poverty are caused by witches who bring terrible misfortune to those around them. And those denounced as witches must be cleansed through deliverance or cast out.
As daylight breaks, and we travel out to the rural villages it becomes apparent the most vulnerable to this stigmatization of witchcraft are children.
A crowd gathered around two brothers and their sister. Tears streamed down their mother's face as she cast out her children from the family, accusing them of causing the premature deaths of two of their siblings with black magic.
"I am afraid. They are witches and they can kill me as well," she sobbed.
Taking his time to talk to the mother, Sam Ikpe-Itauma, an imposing man wearing a "Child's Rights & Rehabilitation Network" t-shirt, has come to try to rescue the three children.
"If we are not here there's a possibility of them being thrown into the river, buried alive or stabbed to death," Sam said.
He tries to persuade their mother and a crowd of villagers that the three children are not witches - but no one believes him. And so, putting the children in his white pick-up, he drives away to his orphanage and safety.
Sam runs Child's Rights & Rehabilitation Network, or CRARN -- an orphanage that supports nearly 200 children. All of them were accused of witchcraft and cast out by their families, often after being tortured. The orphanage provides security, healthcare, nutrition and counseling.
And it's doing a better job of destroying the basic fabric of this country than any terrorist propaganda could ever hope to. The liars of Fox news, Beck, Limbaugh and the Koch Bros are the real terrorists Americans should defend themselves against and yet they are followed religiously by 20-30% of the country. There is a major illness in this country of willful ignorance and it needs to be exorcised.
Building a Nation of Know-Nothings
By Timothy Egan
Having shed much of his dignity, core convictions and reputation for straight talk, Senator John McCain won his primary on Tuesday against the flat-earth wing of his party. Now McCain can go search for his lost character, which was last on display late in his 2008 campaign for president.
Remember the moment: a woman with matted hair and a shaky voice rose to express her doubts about Barack Obama. "I have read about him," she said, "and he's not -- he's an Arab."
McCain was quick to knock down the lie. "No, ma'am," he said, "he's a decent family man, a citizen."
That ill-informed woman -- her head stuffed with fabrications that could be disproved by a pre-schooler -- now makes up a representative third or more of the Republican party. It's not just that 47 percent of Republicans believe the lie that Obama is a Muslim, or that 27 percent in the party doubt that the president of the United States is a citizen. But fully half of them believe falsely that the big bailout of banks and insurance companies under TARP was enacted by Obama, and not by President Bush.
Take a look at Tuesday night's box score in the baseball game between New York and Toronto. The Yankees won, 11-5. Now look at the weather summary, showing a high of 71 for New York. The score and temperature are not subject to debate.
Yet a president's birthday or whether he was even in the White House on the day TARP was passed are apparently open questions. A growing segment of the party poised to take control of Congress has bought into denial of the basic truths of Barack Obama's life. What's more, this astonishing level of willful ignorance has come about largely by design, and has been aided by a press afraid to call out the primary architects of the lies.
The Democrats may deserve to lose in November. They have been terrible at trying to explain who they stand for and the larger goal of their governance. But if they lose, it should be because their policies are unpopular or ill-conceived -- not because millions of people believe a lie.
Kudos and congratulations.
Former Bush campaign chief tells magazine he's gay
Ex-GOP chair says he will advocate for gay marriage, regrets not coming out earlier
Ken Mehlman, President Bush's campaign manager in 2004 and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has told family and associates that he is gay, The Atlantic magazine's politics editor reported Wednesday.
Marc Ambinder, who is also chief political consultant to CBS news, said in an online post that Mehlman told him in an interview that he concluded he was gay fairly recently and now wants to be an advocate for gay marriage.
Mehlman told The Atlantic that he anticipated that questions would arise about his participation in a late-September fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group that supported the legal challenge to California's ballot initiative against gay marriage, Proposition 8.
"It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life," Mehlman, now an executive vice president with the New York City-based private equity firm KKR told The Atlantic. "Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I've told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they've been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that's made me a happier and better person. It's something I wish I had done years ago."
"Excuse me, ma'am (sir). You can't eat that!" - The Diabetes Police
"Yes, I can! This is MY life!" - You and Me
If you have any kind of diabetes, you have probably run into the food police. They are the kind souls that take responsibility for regulating what you put into your mouth.
(Warning: If you're a loved one of someone with diabetes, and reading this, you may be the diabetes police and not even know it.)
The police come in two main varieties:
* The well-intentioned person who has no idea how diabetes is managed in the 21st century.
* The overbearing friend or relative that wants you to be perfect. All the time.
How do you deal with the diabetes police?
Do you have ignore? Educate? Cry? Cringe?
Too bad we can't tax stupidity...we'd balance the budget in a day.
This a perfect example of the end result of all this ignorant and bigoted hate speech about the so-called "Muslim Mosque" planned to be built near the NY 911 ground zero site. It's too bad Fox News and the people it pushes who mouth their anti-Muslim crap cannot be held accountable for the injuries this man suffered.
What we need is more Michael Bloombergs stepping up and showing some actual leadership.
Man Is Held in Anti-Muslim Stabbing of Cabdriver
By Karen Zraick and Andy Newman
A cabdriver was attacked by a knife-wielding passenger who made anti-Muslim remarks on Tuesday evening, the police said.
The passenger, Michael Enright, 21, of Brewster, N.Y., hailed the cab at Second Avenue and East 24th Street around 6 p.m. Tuesday, the police said. Twenty blocks north, they said, he slashed and stabbed the 43-year-old driver in his throat, face and arm.
The driver, identified by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance as Ahmed H. Sharif, 43, stopped the cab and approached a police officer on Third Avenue near 42nd Street. Mr. Enright was arrested at the scene.
According to the taxi workers alliance, Mr. Sharif's fare started out the ride asking him in a friendly way if he was Muslim, whether he was observing Ramadan, and how long he had been in the United States.
After falling silent for a few minutes, the passenger began cursing and screaming, and then yelled, "Assalamu Alaikum. Consider this a checkpoint," and slashed Mr. Sharif across the neck, then on the face from his nose to his upper lip, the alliance said.
Both men were taken to Bellevue Hospital Center. The driver, whose name was not released, was in stable condition. A law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said Mr. Enright was "very drunk" at the time of the attack.
"I feel very sad," Mr. Sharif said in a statement released by the taxi workers alliance. " I have been here more than 25 years. I have been driving a taxi more than 15 years. All my four kids were born here. I never feel this hopeless and insecure before." He added that "right now, the public sentiment is very serious" because of tensions over Park51, the so-called "ground zero mosque."
The police charged Mr. Enright with attempted murder as a hate crime, assault, aggravated harassment and criminal possession of a weapon. He was awaiting arraignment on Wednesday.
You know, you listen to the news and wonder at the degree of persistent ignorance displayed daily by various polls of what it is Americans, regardless of their access to a great educational system, still mange to believe in manner that suggests a willfulness to stay stupid. Maybe these guys should've been added to Mt Rushmore?
Silly Things We Believe About Witches, Obama and More
By David A. Graham
Chances are that by now you've heard about the August 19, 2010 Pew poll that found that nearly one fifth of Americans (mistakenly) believe that President Obama is a Muslim. Perhaps you think that a terrifying outlier; or perhaps you're a believer, and then you are in good company. Either way, you're wrong: in fact, a remarkably high numbers of Americans believe the most unusual things. Although the portion of poll respondents who believe Obama is a Muslim has risen recently, some of these oddball opinions contain more consistent numbers of believers. Here's a sampling of the nuttiest.
1. Evolution - To mark the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, Gallup thought it might be a good idea to poll Americans on their beliefs of the British naturalist's theory. But the results must have had Darwin spinning in his grave, since only 39 percent of Americans believed in the theory. The good news: only a quarter said they didn't believe it; the remaining portion either didn't have an opinion or didn't answer. (Also, only 55 percent correctly linked Darwin's name with the theory.) However, it appears that views may, um, evolve: younger people believe in evolution at far higher rates than older ones.
2. Witchcraft - It seems obvious that it's not a good idea to put too much stock in withcraft. But it turns out that 21 percent of Americans believe there are real sorcerors, conjurers and warlocks out there. And that's just one of the several paranormal beliefs common in Americans, according to Gallup: 41 percent believe in ESP, 32 percent in ghosts, and a quarter in astrology. In fairness, the numbers in this poll are a little old--they date back to 2005. But then again, if people haven't changed their mind since the Enlightenment, it's not clear another half a decade would make much difference.
3. Death Panels - From Facebook to faith: that's how a spurious rumor became part of the national dialogue. On Facebook, Sarah Palin wrote in August 2009 that Obama would institute a "death panel" as part of health-care reform. Soon pundits and politicians were demagoguing the issue into common currency. Even in August 2010, one year after the initial burst and five months after health reform was signed into law, the belief lingers. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, four in 10 Americans mistakenly believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act creates a panel that makes decisions about end-of-life care.
4. Saddam's WMDs and 9/11 Involvement - Even years after claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or had links to the September 11 attacks had been debunked, not all Americans were convinced. In a June 2007 NEWSWEEK poll, four years after the invasion of Iraq, 41 precent of Americans believed Saddam was involved in 9/11--even though President Bush had said otherwise as early as September 2003. Wild views on 9/11 are in fact still rampant. In September 2009, Public Policy Polling found that a quarter of Democrats suspected President Bush had something to do with the attacks. Meanwhile, many Americans also remain convinced that Saddam had WMD, even though inspectors haven't found any in the seven years since the invasion. Still, half of the U.S. believed that as of 2006, according to Harris. Who knows where they got that idea?
5. Heliocentrism - Didn't we clear this one up in the 16th century? Copernicus be damned, 20 percent of Americans were still sure that the sun revolved around the Earth in 1999. Gallup, the pollster who conducted the study, gamely tried to dress it up by celebrating the fact that "four out of five Americans know Earth revolves around the sun," but we're not buying.
What is it about conservative crusaders like Cuccinelli that prevents them from understanding what constitutional rights mean?
The question borders on the inane: Can Virginia regulate "facilities in which first-trimester abortion services are provided" and "medical personnel who perform first-trimester abortions"? The answer is obvious: Of course it can. Every state regulates medical personnel and facilities, from those that dispense acne medication to those that perform open-heart surgery. How a state regulates, however, is a different question -- and one that should be answered by solid medical evidence and sound public policy.
The above query about abortion clinics was submitted to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) by Virginia Sen. Ralph K. Smith (R-Roanoke) and Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William). All three oppose abortion. As a state senator, Mr. Cuccinelli unsuccessfully introduced legislation to more tightly police -- and most likely reduce -- abortion services in the commonwealth. His legal opinion, issued Aug. 20, opens the door for a more rigorous regulatory framework that could force clinics, among other things, to adopt expensive structural changes that abortion advocates say are unnecessary and could put many out of business.
The Post's Anita Kumar reports that Mr. Marshall has urged Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) to follow Mr. Cuccinelli's legal road map. "This is a victory for women and children across Virginia," Mr. Marshall said. "We should do everything possible to ensure that every woman's life and health and their future pregnancies are protected by the Commonwealth of Virginia."
But do the women of the commonwealth need additional protection? Has the state experienced a spike in abortion-related complications, including those that, as Mr. Marshall suggests, imperil future pregnancies? No, and no.
State medical and health boards already provide oversight of abortion facilities and the medical personnel who perform roughly 25,000 abortions each year. The Virginia Department of Health does not keep statistics on the number of medical complications associated with abortions. But the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit think tank that focuses on reproductive health and supports legal abortion, reports that less than one-half of 1 percent of abortions performed in the country result in complications that require follow-up medical treatment. The earlier the abortion is performed, the fewer the complications. The Virginia clinics in question perform only first-trimester abortions -- the safest of all procedures. The institute provides compelling medical information that a woman's decision to have an abortion has little to no impact on her ability to give birth later.
The Supreme Court determined nearly four decades ago that the Constitution protects a woman's right to choose. Virginia lawmakers have repeatedly rejected efforts to enact legislation that could seriously limit that right in the state. Politicians should not now try to achieve this dubious goal through regulatory sleight of hand.
The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.
by Jane Mayer
On May 17th, a black-tie audience at the Metropolitan Opera House applauded as a tall, jovial-looking billionaire took the stage. It was the seventieth annual spring gala of American Ballet Theatre, and David H. Koch (shown at right) was being celebrated for his generosity as a member of the board of trustees; he had recently donated $2.5 million toward the company's upcoming season, and had given many millions before that. Koch received an award while flanked by two of the gala's co-chairs, Blaine Trump, in a peach-colored gown, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, in emerald green. Kennedy's mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, had been a patron of the ballet and, coincidentally, the previous owner of a Fifth Avenue apartment that Koch had bought, in 1995, and then sold, eleven years later, for thirty-two million dollars, having found it too small.
The gala marked the social ascent of Koch, who, at the age of seventy, has become one of the city's most prominent philanthropists. In 2008, he donated a hundred million dollars to modernize Lincoln Center's New York State Theatre building, which now bears his name. He has given twenty million to the American Museum of Natural History, whose dinosaur wing is named for him. This spring, after noticing the decrepit state of the fountains outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Koch pledged at least ten million dollars for their renovation. He is a trustee of the museum, perhaps the most coveted social prize in the city, and serves on the board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where, after he donated more than forty million dollars, an endowed chair and a research center were named for him.
One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event's third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.
With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge. The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch--who, years ago, bought out two other brothers--among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
Donor fatigue? Connection to Taliban? Distrust?
Part 1 of 2
Here is a very good 2009 video lecture (at Emory U.) by a leading scholar of slavery and its economic impact, as well as the resistance to it-Dr. David Brion Davis, of Yale University.
This one is called "American and British Slave Trade Abolition in Perspective." This would be very good for use in a course on U.S. history, and/or racism/slavery. It is in six parts, and here are the summaries:
The historical contexts of African slavery in the Americas and the relationship with free market forces and the "New World" global economy.
The connections between enslaved African labor, trans-Atlantic trade, and the increasing availability of luxury goods for mass market consumption. How did anti-slavery movements arise in this growing market context?
Three major factors led to the U.S. and British decisions to abolish the trade of enslaved Africans: revolutionary changes in moral perceptions of slavery, Anglo American antipathy towards a growing African American population, and the population growth rate of enslaved African Americans in North America.
The North American "moral luxury" of condemning the trade of enslaved Africans while supporting domestic slavery; the increasing political enthusiasm for white immigration over black enslaved labor; the impacts of the French and Haitian Revolutions on trade abolition developments.
The political and moral debates between delegates from northern states and southern slaveholding states after the Revolutionary War that led to U.S. abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1808.
A comparison of the impacts of the U.S. and British decisions to abolish the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the debates over what to do with the "contraband" of enslaved Africans intercepted in the newly illegal trade.
All 6 segments can be found here.
It's amazing how long past stupidities can hang around on the books. When I was 16 in 1960's Michigan, gay people could be locked up indefinitely in psycho wards by their parents or the courts just for being gay. Seriously...think about that.
Calif. legislature approves removing gay 'cure' language
From Equality California:
Code instructs state to research 'cure' for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals
The California State Senate passed a bill on Monday that would repeal a section of the California Welfare and Institutions code that instructs the State Department of Mental Health to conduct research into the "causes and cures of homosexuality," with the implication that lesbian, gay, and bisexual Californians are sexual deviants, potential sex offenders and a threat to children.
The bill, AB 2199, was passed in a unanimous 36-0 vote that included bipartisan support and is sponsored by Equality California and was introduced by Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach).
"It is outrageous that California law requires the state to expend scare resources in a futile attempt to 'cure' homosexuality," said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California. "Every reputable study has demonstrated conclusively that it is an immutable characteristic that cannot and should not be changed. This offensive code must be stricken from the books immediately."
The code, which was originally authored in the 1950s, implies that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals can and should be cured, in direct contradiction with an enormous body of research that demonstrates otherwise.
"Support for this bill has been fantastic," said Assembly member Lowenthal. "That speaks volumes about how far we've come since 1950."
This bill, Repeal of Discriminatory Code, heads back to the Assembly for a concurrence vote and will then go to the governor's desk.
Another plunge backward into the pit of stupidity...when will Americans grow up? I am so sick of being embarrassed by this country's inanities and pride in its ignorance.
U.S. Judge Rules Against Obama's Stem Cell Policy
By Gardiner Harris
A federal district judge on Monday blocked President Obama's 2009 executive order that expanded embryonic stem cell research, saying it violated a ban on federal money being used to destroy embryos.
The ruling came as a shock to scientists at the National Institutes of Health and at universities across the country, which had viewed the Obama administration's new policy and the grants provided under it as settled law. Scientists scrambled Monday evening to assess the ruling's immediate impact on their work.
"I have had to tell everyone in my lab that when they feed their cells tomorrow morning, they better use media that has not been funded by the federal government," said Dr. George Q. Daley, director of the stem cell transplantation program at Children's Hospital Boston, referring to food given to cells. "This ruling means an immediate disruption of dozens of labs doing this work since the Obama administration made its order."
In his ruling, Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia wrote that his temporary injunction returned federal policy to the "status quo," but few officials, scientists or lawyers in the case were sure Monday night what that meant.
Dr. Daley was among those who said they believed that it meant that work financed under the new rules had to stop immediately; others said it meant that the health institutes had to use Bush administration rules for future grants.
Steven H. Aden, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which sued to stop the Obama administration rules, said the judge's ruling "means that for now the N.I.H. cannot issue funding grants to embryonic stem cell research projects without any further order from the court."
Officials at the health institutes said that lawyers at the Department of Justice would interpret the ruling for them. Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, wrote in an e-mail, "We're reviewing the decision."
The judge ruled that the Obama administration's policy was illegal because the administration's distinction between work that leads to the destruction of embryos -- which cannot be financed by the federal government under the current policy -- and the financing of work using stem cells created through embryonic destruction was meaningless. In his ruling, he referred to embryonic stem cell research as E.S.C.
"If one step or 'piece of research' of an E.S.C. research project results in the destruction of an embryo, the entire project is precluded from receiving federal funding," wrote Judge Lamberth, who was appointed to the federal bench in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan.
In other words, the neat lines that the government had drawn between the process of embryonic destruction and the results of that destruction are not valid, the judge ruled.
Finally someone on the far right is demanding that this wholesale insanity and bigotry against Muslims be exposed for what it is and stopped. Kudos in this instance to Mr Paul.
Congressman Ron Paul today released the following statement on the controversy concerning the construction of an Islamic Center and Mosque in New York City:
Well that was quick. Now what should be done is to hold an investigation as to the original allegations in order to expose the source.
Sweden withdraws arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder
Issued on rape allegations that Assange calls 'without basis'
NBC News and news services
Swedish prosecutors on Saturday withdrew an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying a rape allegation it was based on is unfounded.
The accusation was labeled a dirty trick by Julian Assange and his group, who are preparing to release a fresh batch of classified U.S. documents from the Afghan war.
Swedish prosecutors had urged Assange -- a nomadic 39-year-old Australian whose whereabouts were unclear -- to turn himself in to police to face questioning in one case involving suspicions of rape and another based on an accusation of molestation.
"I don't think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape," chief prosecutor Eva Finne said, in announcing the withdrawal of the warrant. She did not address the status of the molestation case, a less serious charge that would not lead to an arrest warrant.
But Karin Rosander, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Prosecution Authority, told NBC News that the allegation of molestation remains. However, Rosander said that after a new prosecutor looked at the allegations, the arrest warrant was withdrawn because the severity of the case does not require an arrest at this stage.
Rosander told NBC News Swedish authorities have no idea where Assange is but have been trying to contact him.
Swedish prosecutors had urged Assange -- a nomadic 39-year-old Australian whose whereabouts were unclear -- to turn himself in to police to face questioning in one case involving suspicions of rape and another based on an accusation of molestation.
History Does Not Lie - Unless It Is Being Invented by Republicans
by: Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co
When you consistently irritate the hard right in the United States as I do, you quickly get used to the steady stream of accusations that you're lying, simply because you didn't present the facts in a way that suits the commenter. If I write, "The economy added 236,000 jobs a month under Bill Clinton," the responses from conservatives will range from "That's a lie! Krugman doesn't mention the dot-com bubble!" to "That's cherry-picking! What about Jimmy Carter?"
Recently, I've also noticed a peculiar argument surfacing here and there -- the assertion that people like me are exaggerating the current financial difficulties in the United States, and that things were actually worse in the 1970s and 1980s. I wonder where that's coming from -- these views are oddly similar to those disseminated on talk radio.
The simple truth is that this recession really was the big one. Catherine Rampell, who edits the Economix blog on The New York Times Web site, recently offered an updated chart comparing this recession and others since 1970. The data show that since December 2007, when the current downturn began, the economy has lost about 5.4 percent of its nonfarm payroll jobs. Compared to declines in employment during other recessions since 1970, this one is indeed No. 1.
But you might ask: Wasn't the unemployment rate higher in the past? Well, if you look at the graphic below, you'll see that in 1982 it was briefly a bit higher than the peak this cycle. But back then most unemployment was short-term -- nothing like the deeply corrosive long-term unemployment we're facing now. So these really are the worst of times.
But that's not to say there are no historically rooted deceptions out there -- the latest being the official Republican stance that President George W. Bush left behind a budget that was in pretty good shape.
Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader from Kentucky, said in late July in an interview with CNN that during "the last year of the Bush administration, the deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product was 3.2 percent, well within the range of what most economists think is manageable. A year and a half later, it's almost 10 percent."
So where's the deception? First, the Republicans are hoping that most people won't know that standard budget data is presented in fiscal years, which start on October 1 of the previous calendar year. So what they're talking about isn't actually the "last year of the Bush administration" -- they've conveniently lopped off everything that happened after the Lehman Brothers collapse --Troubled Asset Relief Program and all.
From the Real News Network
part 1: WILL CHINESE WORKERS CHALLENGE GLOBAL CAPITALISM?
Part 2: CORRUPTION COUNTERS CHINA'S PLANNING
Part 3: CHINA AND THE "END OF THE END OF HISTORY"
A bull leapt out of a bullfighting arena in Spain and rampaged through the crowd, injuring at least 30 people, local media reported.
A video shown on Spanish television showed the bull charging through the crowded stands, knocking over spectators at an arena in the northern town of Tafalla on Wednesday evening.
The incident happened during a performance meant to showcase the acrobatic prowess of bulls, rather than a bullfight, and children were among those in the audience.
Diario de Navarra newspaper reported that two people were admitted to hospital: a 10-year-old child who was trampled and a 47-year-old who was gored by the bull.
The bull weighed more than 500 kilograms (1,110lb), and 3,500 were packed into the arena, according to the newspaper.
Eventually employees of the bullring managed to control and kill the bull.
There is just no end to some official's stupidity.
By: Scott McCabe
Two fire-breathing bartenders face up to 45 years in prison each for performing flaming bar tricks.
Jimmy's Old Town Tavern owner Jimmy Cirrito said his bartenders have been entertaining his customers -- by juggling bottles of alcohol and spitting out streams of flames using matchbooks and lighters -- for more than a decade and no one's complained. But shortly after midnight on July 24, two of his longtime employees were hauled out of the Herndon bar in handcuffs and charged with three felonies each plus other misdemeanors
"They were being treated as if they were terrorists, charged as if they intentionally tried to burn down the tavern," Cirrito said.
Fairfax County fire investigators charged Tegee Rogers, 33, of Herndon, and Justin Fedorchak, 39, of Manassas, with manufacturing an explosive device, setting a fire capable of spreading, and burning or destroying a meeting house. They also were charged with several state fire code misdemeanors.
Both men have worked at the tavern nearly since it opened. They both recently became fathers and are very anxious about facing serious criminal charges, Cirrito said.
Jimmy's Old Town Tavern bartenders have performed the fire-breathing act for 13 years, at first doing the tricks on special occasions like birthdays or to honor a fallen fireman, police officer or soldier, Cirrito said. By 1999, the fire-breathing bartenders had become a Friday midnight tradition, he said. The bar uses the fire-breathing bartenders on its advertisements.
Cirrito said an investigator told him that the marshals received a letter in the mail with a photo taken of a previous performance at the bar.
Cirrito said he has never received a warning from the fire marshals, and he would have stopped if marshals had given him a warning.
"But I don't think we've done anything wrong," he said. "There's a lot of fire in restaurants. I've been served flaming desserts, I've roasted marshmallows on tables, I've seen 75 candles and sparklers on cakes, and I've seen bartenders perform the tricks coast-to-coast and no one's been arrested."
About 10 days ago I deleted my Facebook account, which for some weird and inexplicable reason takes 2 weeks. The account had been hacked and the hacker had been putting up ersatz Apple product ads using my identity as a promoter and using my contact list for who knows what else? The first attempt to leave Facebook left me with only a choice to deactivate the account without erasing my data; ostensively to preserve the data "in case I wanted to return". Of course since the account was hacked the hacker simply re-instated the account. I went on a hunt to find a way to permanently delete the account. I found this page from WikiHow extremely helpful:
Here's the latest reason I'm glad I left:
New Facebook Location Feature Sparks Privacy Concerns
By Jenna Wortham
Moments after Facebook introduced a new feature called Facebook Places on Wednesday that allows its users to share their location and find their friends, advocates raised flags over online privacy.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California cited concerns over the new product, saying Facebook neglected to include several crucial privacy features.
The organization highlighted the element of the new service that allows users to "tag" an accompanying friend and post his or her location to Facebook - even if the friend does not have an iPhone, which is currently the only platform on which the application is available.
"Places allows your friends to tag you when they check in somewhere, and Facebook makes it very easy to say 'yes' to allowing your friends to check in for you," read the statement, released late Wednesday night. "But when it comes to opting out of that feature, you are only given a 'not now' option. 'No' isn't one of the easy options."
The A.C.L.U. also expressed concern over the integration of Facebook's Places feature with third-party Web sites and applications.
"Your friends' apps may be able to access information about your most recent check-in by default as soon as you start using Places," the organization said. "Even if you've already gone through your settings to limit the info that apps can access, you should do it again -- you may find that you've been defaulted into sharing your location info with apps."
The early stirrings of concern are reminiscent of the Facebook privacy debacle that erupted a few months ago after the company revised its platform that encouraged members to make personal details accessible more broadly on the Internet. After a string of frustrations, the company simplified its privacy settings in an effort to make the controls easier to navigate.
During a news conference held at the Facebook offices in Palo Alto, Calif., Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of the company, sought to reassure users about the service, saying it was a "really fun and interesting product."
"The main thing we are doing is allowing our users to share where they are in a really nice and social way," he said. "You can see who is around you and connect in the real world."
Could anyone have said anything more evil clown-ish?
Can you think of any reason at all that you might not want someone ...any stranger netizen...to be able to track your every move at any moment in the future?
Related important read:
Just kidding...but the rush will be on after Aug 18.
Judge gives the green light for same-sex marriage in California
A federal judge ruled on Thursday to allow same-sex couples to marry in California, starting on August 18, handing another big victory to supporters of gay rights in a case that both sides say will likely end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Last week, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling that voter-approved Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution. Walker had issued a temporary stay on his decision, which on Thursday he said he would lift.
It's your ignorance and bad habits.
Halfway through 2010, cybercrime continues to evolve and grow in both scale and sophistication.
As social networking becomes ever more deeply embedded in our everyday lives, it has become an ever more fertile hunting ground for those who would steal and abuse our personal information, and compromise and misuse our computer systems to gain financial advantage by stealing our personal or corporate funds or obtaining illicit funds from advertisers or spammers.
Just as folks have changed their habits to accommodate new technologies and new ways of conducting their everyday business, so security providers have needed to implement new strategies to cope with the massive growth in new malware and new attack vectors.
Keeping track of these continuous and rapid changes is a demanding and complex task, but one that will doubtless be rewarding to the diligent and conscientious.
Knowledge is power, and understanding the dangers posed by the modern interconnected world is the first step toward keeping one's identity, possessions and finances safe and secure.
Related: The Carlat Psychiatry Blog
and for those with the guts to face a serious horror story:
Here are some more reasons to love capitalism.
by: Jim Hightower, t r u t h o u t
With BP's well capped and CEO Tony Hayward exiled to Russia, perhaps you thought that surely there will be no additional revelations about BP to enrage you. But now comes this: prison labor.
In its national PR blitz to buff up its image, the oil giant has loudly been boasting that it has hired devastated, out-of-work local people to handle the clean-up. Many have been hired, but the people themselves say not nearly enough. The Nation magazine now reports a big reason for the shortfall -- BP has been using inmates to do much of the shoveling and scooping to remove oil from Louisiana beaches.
In the early days of the cleanup, crews suddenly appeared wearing scarlet pants and white t-shirts with bold red letters spelling out, "Inmate Labor." Investigative reporter Abe Louise Young writes that the sight of prison laborers outraged the local community, so they were removed.
Not the inmates, the uniforms. Now they wear BP shirts, jeans and rubber boots with no prison markings, and they are moved to and from the job in unmarked white vans. No officials with BP or the feds could or would tell Young how many inmates are being used or what they're being paid. However, a local sheriff's official told Young, "They're not getting paid -- it's part of their sentence."
But guess who is getting paid for this convict labor? BP. It's getting paid by you and me. Under a little-known tax provision passed during the Bush regime, corporations can get a "work opportunity tax credit" of $2,400 for every work release inmate they hire.
And that's not all we're subsidizing. For example, BP, which rented the drilling rig from Transocean Corp., used a special tax break to write off 70 percent of the rent it paid. Seventy percent! This added up to a savings of $225,000 a day for BP.
But wait!...there's more!
An excellent female perspective debunking of elitist male intellectual rationales of marriage ideals used recently in opposition to the repeal of Prop 8
The Damsels Demur
The conservative defense of marriage as protection for women is utterly unconvincing.
By Linda Hirshman
Judge Vaughn Walker's decision in the California same-sex marriage case has sure set off the right. Today gay marriage, tomorrow, the end of Western civilization as we know it. Prop 8 defenders were thoroughly Boiesed (a new verb meaning to have your groundless assertions subjected to merciless cross examination by lawyer David Boies) on their argument that same-sex marriage hurts kids raised by gay couples. So now gay marriage opponents need a new cause. If the kids are all right, same-sex marriage must threaten the other helpless population--women.
Heterosexual marriage is necessary--and must be protected by being exclusively available to heterosexual couples--the new argument goes, because those naughty heterosexuals have selfish sexual agendas. In the New York Times, Ross Douthat writes that males are at the mercy of their "impulse toward promiscuity." This makes men naturally incline toward polygamy, prostitution, and concubinage.
Females, more strategically, have an "interest in mating with the highest-status male available." By contrast, George W. Bush Institute adviser and commentator Sam Schulman attributes to women no agency. They need marriage, he asserted in the Christian Science Monitor last week, because otherwise a man "would turn her into a slave, a concubine--something less than fully human." Not just any form of marriage will do. Douthat's conception of marital union requires "two sexually different human beings" to "give up their reproductive self-interest" and "commit to lifelong fidelity and support." Schulman's marriage must make women "sacred" and "protect" them.
For conservatives, the argument that only traditional marriage can protect women has the virtue of targeting two of their favorite demons: gays and uppity women. Going back to the days before Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004 isn't enough to undo the harm the modern world has done to this essential institution. The best reset point, from the point of view of the right, would probably be before 1809. That's the year Connecticut became the first American state to pass a law allowing married women to control property by allowing the sacred little darlings to make their own wills. Before 1809, under the common law concept of coverture, married women had almost no property rights of their own. They couldn't sign contracts or keep their wages. Their legally enforced role was to take care of the household and see to her husband's and children's material needs. It was the husband's role to provide for his family, with wages he earned and distributed as he saw fit (and also, of course, to vote).
Taqiyya toq-i-ya is one component of Islam I had never heard of before. Interestingly dangerous.
I was not aware of these points...are you?
hat tip to Mr baker
Nine influential American Muslim scholars have come together in a YouTube video to repudiate the militants' message. The nine represent a diversity of theological schools within Islam, and several of them have large followings among American Muslim youths
By Michael Schwirtz
MOSCOW -- As if things in Russia were not looking sufficiently apocalyptic already, with 100-degree temperatures and noxious fumes rolling in from burning peat bogs and forests, there is growing alarm here that fires in regions coated with fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 24 years ago could now be emitting plumes of radioactive smoke.
Several fires have been documented in the contaminated areas of western Russia, including three heavily irradiated sites in the Bryansk region, the environmental group Greenpeace Russia said in a statement released on Tuesday.
"Fires on these territories will without a doubt lead to an increase in radiation," said Vladimir Chuprov, the head of the energy program at Greenpeace Russia. "The smoke will spread and the radioactive traces will spread. The amount depends upon the force of the wind."
Officials from Russia's federal Forest Protection Service confirmed that that fires were burning at contaminated sites on Tuesday, and expressed fears that lax oversight as a result of recent government changes in the forestry service could increase the chances that radioactive smoke would waft into populated areas.
It is unclear what kinds of health risks the radiation could pose, or to what extent radioactive particles have spread in the weeks that wild fires have been raging throughout Russia, consuming villages and blanketing huge tracts of territory with thick smoke.
from the NYTimes article on unemplyment by Bob Herbert The Horror Show :
The first comment by Jumper, South Carolina
What you say is true and the other part of the story is that corporations are racking up record net profits during the same period. They are sitting on roughly 1.4 Trillion dollars. The spin they give media, and too often repeated by the gullible media, is that the future is too uncertain for them to hire.
They have exactly the situation they want: workers just grateful for a job, not asking for raises and willing to be put on salary and "volunteer" ten or 20 hours a week to the company. If they don't, they may well be out the door. It's the same squeeze we've seen since at least 2000.
In grad school I had a one-on-one lunch with an Assistant Secretary of Labor. Who taught me an important lesson. When you have a need, even an important need, be sure to have an answer for the question, " "How do you pay for it?"
So, let's find some serious money to get this re-employment going.
I first wrote several months ago the great entitlement program for this Nation's wealthiest is the huge personal income tax reduction started by Reagan in 1981, dropping the top tax rate from 70% down to 50% for four years and then down again so it has averaged 37% since. It needs to be put back up to 63% as it was during the worst year of the Great Depression, in 1932, from a low of 25%.
Let's justify this. In 1894, Congress passed the first peace-time income tax. However, it was designed to only tax the wealthiest 10% of U.S. households. The reason was to make up for revenue lost due to tariff reductions. 1894 was a time of economic depression; considered the worst until the Great Depression. Let's take note.
Notice it was felt that taxing the upper class wealth would not inflict harm on an economy already in a depression. That's historical precedent for now when the President wants to keep the tax cut for the middle class but let it expire for the wealthiest Americans. Take note.
Another important period is WW I. The top tax rate was raised to 67% and then went up to 73% until 1921. Why? To pay for the war expenses. Take note.
Starting in 1922, the top tax rate then dropped to 46% within three years, and then down to 25% from 1925 through 1931. Why? We had three Republican Presidents from 1922 through 1932. The top tax rate plummeted from 73% to 25% and into the Great Depression.
In the depths of the Great Depression, in 1932, the top tax bracket was raised from 25% to 63%. It remained at that level until 1936. Keep in mind that recovery occurred during this period when the top tax rate was at 63%. That revenue is part of what paid for the public works programs that re-employed the people industry would not hire. Take note.
From 1936 through 1941 it averaged 80%.
Then came WW II. We paid for those war years with top tax rates that averaged 91%. We raised taxes to pay for that war. Take note.
The taxes dropped to about 80% until 1950.
Next came the Korean War and a full-fledged Cold War. The top tax rate was again raised to an average of 91%. Take note.
91% lasted through the last years of Truman, through the Eisenhower and through the Kennedy Presidencies. Those are considered some of the most prosperous years in U.S. history. Take note.
Then from 1964 through 1981, the top tax rate averaged 70%. Those were turbulent social times but still times of prosperity - for the most part.
And, then ... we get to the Reagan era of don't tax the wealthy, let the middle class bear the expenses if they want a decent standard of living.
Since the start of the Bush Presidency, the top tax rate has been 35%.
Bush II started two wars, jacked up the military budget, negotiated a Medicare drug deal where Medicare is not allowed to negotiate drug prices, and included an 800 billion dollar TARP bailout for the Wall Street banks. Never were taxes raised.
History tells us how to get us out of this dilemma. Increase taxes in a graduated fashion until the top tax bracket is 63%. Personally, I'd say 80%. We have two wars to pay for and a huge deficit. During the accumulation of that huge deficit, mostly under Republicans, the wealthiest Americans made, total, trillions of dollars while the middle class bled. Of course they should help bear the expense of keeping our nation economically stable.
For those who doubt we are indeed in a serious depression, take a look at the unemployment figures for 1894. Our unemployment numbers mirror those of the depression in 1894.
That's where the money is to fund our re-employment programs. History tells us it won't have any negative effect on the overall economy. It should be easy. There are more of us than of them.
The second comment from Steve Hull, MA
What to do:
1. Develop solar and wind energy, and rebuild the power distribution grid.
2. Underwrite development of more efficient vehicles, and the replacement of the existing fleet. Build the infrastructure to support new vehicle modes as needed.
3. Build high speed rail networks connecting all major markets. Rebuild in rural areas all the obsolescent airports now plaguing city locations; connect them to the urban areas with high speed rail.
4. Turn internet development into the interstate highway program of the 21st century. Build the facilities it takes to make wireless internet distribution available to all at nominal cost.
5. Take public education seriously, reform it and fund it.
6. Repair the nations' roads and bridges
7. Rebuild the federally owned infrastructure, such as the trail systems and interpretive facilities in the national parks.
8. Support the domestic economy by ending globalism and penalizing the export of jobs which support sales in the American market. Rebuild domestic manufacturing with tariffs.
9. Impose a temporary moratorium on all immigration, and enforce border security.
Pay for it by:
1. Slashing military spending for new weapons systems and overseas bases. Cut to a minimum obsolescent military capabilities such as aircraft carrier battle groups. End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Get rid of costly mercenary contractors, and replace them with regular military personnel.
2. Slashing the out-of-control national security state budget.
3. Taxing people who have money, and taxing financial transactions.
4. Eliminating the ceiling on Social Security contributions.
5. Reducing national medical costs by implementing single payer national health care.
6. Borrowing money if necessary.
Do those things and you can expect a return to a thriving capitalist economy, although obviously not to laissez faire. If politicians wait before acting for the docility of the economic victims to end, they will wait too long. Don't do those things, or something similarly scaled and targeted, and it's the whirlwind.
MUMBAI, India -- Indian coast guard vessels and helicopters worked Monday to contain an oil spill from a stricken container ship that collided with another vessel in the Arabian Sea, a spokesman for India's defense ministry said.
The Panamanian-registered MSC Chitra smashed into the St. Kitts-registered MV-Khalijia-II on Saturday near Mumbai's Jawahar Lal Nehru port. The accident caused MSC Chitra to run aground and list heavily to one side, Capt. Manohar Nambiar told The Associated Press.
Helicopters sprayed chemicals on the oil spill to prevent it from spreading, Nambiar said.
The amount of oil leaked was unclear. The environment minister of Maharashtra state told reporters Monday about 2 tons of oil was pouring into the water every hour.
The MSC Chitra's cargo included several thousand tons of oil products such as diesel and lubricants, Environment Minister Suresh Shetty said, adding the government was consulting foreign experts on how best to contain the spill.
Government officials in several coastal areas near Mumbai have been asked to test sea water samples in their area to check how far the oil from the spill may have spread, Chhagan Bhujbal, another senior minister told reporters.
The captains of both vessels have also been asked to appear before local officials to explain how the collision took place, police said.
At least 250 containers from the damaged vessel fell off and port officials were trying to salvage them to avoid navigational hazards to other ships, officials said.
Crews from both vessels were rescued without any serious injuries, Nambiar said.
This kid should have been released years ago.
America Goes Dark
By Paul Krugman
The lights are going out all over America -- literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights, but similar things are either happening or being contemplated across the nation, from Philadelphia to Fresno.
Meanwhile, a country that once amazed the world with its visionary investments in transportation, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, is now in the process of unpaving itself: in a number of states, local governments are breaking up roads they can no longer afford to maintain, and returning them to gravel.
And a nation that once prized education -- that was among the first to provide basic schooling to all its children -- is now cutting back. Teachers are being laid off; programs are being canceled; in Hawaii, the school year itself is being drastically shortened. And all signs point to even more cuts ahead.
We're told that we have no choice, that basic government functions -- essential services that have been provided for generations -- are no longer affordable. And it's true that state and local governments, hit hard by the recession, are cash-strapped. But they wouldn't be quite as cash-strapped if their politicians were willing to consider at least some tax increases.
And the federal government, which can sell inflation-protected long-term bonds at an interest rate of only 1.04 percent, isn't cash-strapped at all. It could and should be offering aid to local governments, to protect the future of our infrastructure and our children.
But Washington is providing only a trickle of help, and even that grudgingly. We must place priority on reducing the deficit, say Republicans and "centrist" Democrats. And then, virtually in the next breath, they declare that we must preserve tax cuts for the very affluent, at a budget cost of $700 billion over the next decade.
In effect, a large part of our political class is showing its priorities: given the choice between asking the richest 2 percent or so of Americans to go back to paying the tax rates they paid during the Clinton-era boom, or allowing the nation's foundations to crumble -- literally in the case of roads, figuratively in the case of education -- they're choosing the latter.
It's a disastrous choice in both the short run and the long run.
How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us To Death
Did you know that:
During WWI 10% of all casualties were civilian
During WWII 50% of all casualties were civilian
During the Viet Nam war 70% of all casualties were civilian
During the Iraq war 90% of all casualties were civilian
Do you trust Google? How about Verizon? Me neither. But here's an optimistic picture of what their scheming over net neutrality might amount to...is this where we cross our fingers?
A Net Game for Google?
By Robert X Cringely
My three young sons never hit each other. They may poke, push, graze, bump or even slap, but they never hit, because Mom says hitting isn't allowed. This same semantic technique fits the mind-set of technology companies like Google. The geekier these companies are, the more tactical is their use of language.
And so in last week's controversy over whether Google and Verizon are hatching a deal to undermine net neutrality, it pays to look closely at their words. Both companies maintain that there is no deal and that no money will be paid for faster transmission of data. This is probably true in a literal sense, though something is clearly happening between the companies. I think Google has just found a way to fool Mom.
Net neutrality is the concept that all data packets are created equal and Internet service providers should not give priority to one kind of data (say, video conferencing) over another (say, e-mail). Internet partisans love net neutrality while telephone companies tend not to. Why not allow e-mail to run a little slower, they argue, if that lets services that need higher performance run faster? The difference is payment: users and the Federal Communications Commission worry that once a differentiation is made, the service providers will start charging for faster service and poorer users will suffer as a result. It's a slippery slope.
Google has always been firmly on the side of net neutrality. So the news of a deal between Google and Verizon -- one of the country's largest broadband service providers -- has caused consternation throughout geekdom. Has Google turned on its principles? The company says no, but then Eric Schmidt, its chief executive, has been making murky statements differentiating between wireless and wired data, suggesting to some a repudiation of neutrality. The truth is probably that Google has found a way to get special treatment from Verizon but without actually compromising net neutrality.
Its all about their need for control in the face of uncertainty. Nobody is more frightened by every aspect of being alive than those who idolize order.
Militarization and the Authoritarian Right
by Barry Eisle
Yes, former Bush administration speechwriter and current Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen's demand that "WikiLeaks Must Be Stopped" is, as his colleague Eva Rodriguez notes, "more than a little whacky." But it's useful, too, because an infatuation with the notion of using the military in nonmilitary operations, particularly domestic ones, is a key aspect of the modern American right and of the right-wing authoritarian personality. Examining Thiessen is a good way to understand both.
Thiessen lays out his premise in his first sentence: "WikiLeaks is not a news organization; it is a criminal enterprise." The premise is silly - unless The Washington Post, for whom Thiessen writes, and every other news organization that seeks and publishes leaks is a criminal enterprise, too (apparently Thiessen didn't bother to read 18 USC 793, which he cites as the basis for his opinion about criminality, citing it instead just to sound authoritative). But as whacky as the premise is, it's nothing compared to Thiessen's conclusion.
Which is: that the government "employ not only law enforcement but also intelligence and military assets to bring [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange to justice and put his criminal syndicate out of business." This notion - that crime should be fought with the military - is part of the creeping militarization of American society. You can see it, too, in rightist support for military tribunals to replace civilian courts in trying terror suspects, in the increasing militarization of our border with Mexico, in the numbers of soldiers deployed in American airports and train stations and in then-Vice President Cheney's attempt to have the military supplant the FBI in arresting terror suspects on American soil.
Thiessen tried to back away from his authoritarian argument when Rodriguez called him on it, but his disavowal rings false. First, Thiessen claims that when he said "military," he only really meant the National Security Agency (NSA), because (after all!) the NSA is part of the Department of Defense. But the NSA, which specializes in signals intelligence, would logically fall under the "intelligence assets" Thiessen had already called for is his op-ed. If all Thiessen had in mind was the NSA, the call for "military assets" on top of "intelligence assets" would be redundant. Second, Thiessen claims he was also merely referring to the Defense Department's Cyber Command. But if by "military assets" he meant only the NSA and the Cyber Command, why didn't he just specify these two in the first place?
Regardless, the Cyber Command has on its web site the following (style, grammar, and clarity-challenged) mission statement:USCYBERCOM plans, coordinates, integrates, synchronizes, and conducts activities to: direct the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when directed, conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries.
This is one of the organizations Thiessen now wants to task with ... law enforcement? That Thiessen believes it exculpatory to explain that he was merely calling for the use of the Cyber Command, in addition to the NSA and whatever other "military assets" he might have had in mind, to fight crime is as revealing as his argument itself.
In a probably futile attempt to forestall a barrage of partisan responses, I'll emphasize that the policies and views I describe above don't correlate neatly with either of America's two major political parties. President Obama, for example, has (in addition to escalating the war in Afghanistan and privatizing the one in Iraq) deployed the National Guard to the Mexican border, has secretly deployed special forces to 75 countries and favors military commissions to try some terror suspects (and indefinite detentions and assassination for others, including American citizens). But the notion that Obama is by any meaningful policy definition liberal is, at this point, as laughable as it is baseless, and the popular view of Obama as a progressive is testament to the astonishing power of certain brands to outlast the loss of their underlying substance.
Still, my sense is that Republicans argue for authoritarian policies out of conviction, while Democrats cave in to them out of cowardice. The distinction is interesting, though, of course, in the end, the result is the same. Either way, if you believe tasking America's military with investigating, pursuing, apprehending, holding, trying and imprisoning criminal suspects and criminals is a profound and insidious threat to democracy, you'll fight this excrescence wherever you find it.
Media Matters: Of mosques and mendacity
by Simon Maloy
If you've followed the conservative media over the past few weeks, you can be forgiven for thinking that it's a tough time for white Christians in America right now, what with the New Black Panthers denying white people their voting rights and undocumented workers clogging up our civic machinery with "anchor babies." The message coming from Fox News and some of the more determined attention-seekers on the right is that we're in a battle for white America's Jesus-worshiping soul, beset as it is by immigrants and black USDA officials and, perhaps most threateningly, Muslims.
The New York City landmarks commission decided this week to act in the interest of New Yorkers rather than out-of-state conservative pundits and voted to clear the way for the construction of an Islamic center in lower Manhattan, a few blocks from the site where the World Trade Center once stood. This was unacceptable to said pundits, who insisted that this site of America's mourning should be exempted from American values. "We're all about religious freedom," explained Sarah Palin, but only "down the road." Newt Gingrich announced, "I favor religious freedom," but not "right at the edge of a place where, let's be clear, thousands of Americans were killed in an attack by radical Islamists."
The argument from the right is relatively straightforward -- Muslim terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers, therefore we should ban all things Muslim from the area, in the interest of healing and sympathy (although, as Salon noted, they were curiously silent when Muslims began praying in the Pentagon shortly after 9-11). That argument necessarily holds all Muslims accountable for the detestable acts of the small and violent minority of Muslims who take up the terrorist mantle. On its own, that would be offensive enough, but people like Palin and Gingrich purport to be sensitive to that distinction and nonetheless run roughshod over it. Palin famously took to her Twitter account to exhort "peaceful Muslims" to "refudiate" the Islamic center. Gingrich acknowledged the differences between "radical Islamists" and other Muslims before launching into an unhinged attack on the "Ground Zero mosque" and "Creeping Sharia in the United States."
Others simply can't be bothered to even pretend to understand that "Muslim" does not equal "terrorist." A "recruiting tool for domestic extremists" was how Rush Limbaugh described the Islamic center. Glenn Beck called it an "Allah tells me to blow up America mosque." Comments like these badly mischaracterize what the "Ground Zero mosque" actually is and the role it will play in America's unsettled relationship with the Muslim world.
The people behind the mosque are Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan, and contrary to what the right wing would have you believe, Time magazine says they're "actually the kind of Muslim leaders right-wing commentators fantasize about: modernists and moderates who openly condemn the death cult of al-Qaeda and its adherents." Rauf has written a book titled What's Right with Islam Is What's Right with America. In late 2001, after the 9-11 attacks, Rauf was quoted in New Jersey's Bergen County Record as saying that Islam must "define its 'American-ness,' that is, adapt to the American culture." The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, who knows Rauf, describes him as representing "what Bin Laden fears most: a Muslim who believes that it is possible to remain true to the values of Islam and, at the same time, to be a loyal citizen of a Western, non-Muslim country."
That message, however, is unimportant to right-wingers who are more interested in turning the "Ground Zero mosque" into a wedge issue and stoking Islamophobia for political benefit. The tragic farce of it all, as described by Slate's William Saletan, is that people like Palin and Gingrich, who purport to be standing up against terror and for America, are actually promulgating the same message as Osama bin Laden -- that "the United States represents Christianity, al-Qaida represents Muslims, Christians won't protect Muslims, the West hates mosques, peaceful coexistence is a fraud, and the 'war on terrorism' is really a war on Islam." It's hard to argue with that assessment when you hear the likes of Limbaugh claiming that the "Ground Zero mosque" means Muslims are "planting the flag of victory."
Jonathan Chait surveyed the right-wing opposition to the mosque and concluded that "a lot of people are going to eventually feel ashamed about where they stood." That might be true, but all signs seem to indicate that these people are about as familiar with the concept of shame as they are with religious freedom.
Same old same old voodoo economic chanting used to mobilize the supply side zombies who simply will not die regardless of the presence of a brain:
The Flimflam Man
By Paul Krugman
One depressing aspect of American politics is the susceptibility of the political and media establishment to charlatans. You might have thought, given past experience, that D.C. insiders would be on their guard against conservatives with grandiose plans. But no: as long as someone on the right claims to have bold new proposals, he's hailed as an innovative thinker. And nobody checks his arithmetic.
Which brings me to the innovative thinker du jour: Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Mr. Ryan has become the Republican Party's poster child for new ideas thanks to his "Roadmap for America's Future," a plan for a major overhaul of federal spending and taxes. News media coverage has been overwhelmingly favorable; on Monday, The Washington Post put a glowing profile of Mr. Ryan on its front page, portraying him as the G.O.P.'s fiscal conscience. He's often described with phrases like "intellectually audacious."
But it's the audacity of dopes. Mr. Ryan isn't offering fresh food for thought; he's serving up leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce.
Mr. Ryan's plan calls for steep cuts in both spending and taxes. He'd have you believe that the combined effect would be much lower budget deficits, and, according to that Washington Post report, he speaks about deficits "in apocalyptic terms." And The Post also tells us that his plan would, indeed, sharply reduce the flow of red ink: "The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that Rep. Paul Ryan's plan would cut the budget deficit in half by 2020."
But the budget office has done no such thing. At Mr. Ryan's request, it produced an estimate of the budget effects of his proposed spending cuts -- period. It didn't address the revenue losses from his tax cuts.
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has, however, stepped into the breach. Its numbers indicate that the Ryan plan would reduce revenue by almost $4 trillion over the next decade. If you add these revenue losses to the numbers The Post cites, you get a much larger deficit in 2020, roughly $1.3 trillion.
And that's about the same as the budget office's estimate of the 2020 deficit under the Obama administration's plans. That is, Mr. Ryan may speak about the deficit in apocalyptic terms, but even if you believe that his proposed spending cuts are feasible -- which you shouldn't -- the Roadmap wouldn't reduce the deficit. All it would do is cut benefits for the middle class while slashing taxes on the rich.
And I do mean slash. The Tax Policy Center finds that the Ryan plan would cut taxes on the richest 1 percent of the population in half, giving them 117 percent of the plan's total tax cuts. That's not a misprint. Even as it slashed taxes at the top, the plan would raise taxes for 95 percent of the population.