It takes a very special sort of stick-up-the-assness to ban The Diary of Anne Frank as being too suggestive ("sexual explcit material" and "homosexual themes") but damned if a town in Virginia didn't do it.
Something unusual happened today in American politics — something never before seen.
President Obama appeared at the Republican party retreat. Their invitation. He gave a speech, hitting on the same points as his State of the Union, and then….
…. he took questions.
He took questions from Republican congressmen.
It was much like "Question Time" that they have in the British parliamentary system.
And reports suggest that when Obama was questioned and put to task by Republican elected officials, who naturally challenged him on every question, he ran rings around them, coming off as far more knowledgeable.
The GOPers asked pretty typical questions. Some of them tried to play "gotcha." Didn't work. Obama answered their questions and provided his own commentary on them. He called Republicans out for their attacks on him. He noted that they've pretty much called his health care plan a "Bolshevik plot." One of the best moments was when Obama dissed Hensarling's question as a recitation of talking points.
Towards the end, Obama pointed to GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who was sitting in the front row. He noted that when many of the GOP Representatives stand on the House floor to talk issues, Luntz "has already polled it" — and they get the talking points from him on how to box Obama in. The President kept going back to the theme that the GOPers were in a constant attack mode — and how that prevented them from being able to work with him.
UPDATE: Video just in….
UPDATE: Transcript here.
And Ezra Klein writes:
Obama's Q&A session with the House Republicans was transfixing. What should have been a banal exchange of talking points was actually a riveting reminder of how rarely you hear actual debate — which is separate from disagreement — between political players.
This was a surprise. The session was clearly proposed so that Obama could appear to be taking real steps to reach out to Republicans. That implied warm feelings and a studied unwillingness to cause offense. But that was not the event we just saw. Instead, Obama stood at a podium for an hour and hammered his assailants. That makes it sound partisan and disrespectful. But it wasn't. It was partisan, but respectful.
Yesterday, I interviewed David Axelrod and was struck by his inability to explain how the White House would highlight the the difference between disagreement and obstruction. Today's session, if it becomes a regular event rather than a one-off, provided part of the answer. He'll debate them directly. But that may be tough to do. Republicans are already spreading the word that they made a mistake allowing cameras into the event. Apparently, transparency sounds better in press releases than it does in practice.
But if this is to be the last of these we see for a while, make sure to take the time and watch it, or read the transcript. It's some of the best political television I've seen in memory.
Writes the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder:
“Debating a law professor is kind of foolish — the Republican House Caucus has managed to turn Obama’s weakness — his penchant for nuance — into a strength. Plenty of Republicans asked good and probing questions, but Mike Pence, among others, found their arguments simply demolished by the president.”
UPDATE: Republicans are beginning to realize how they looked stupid… they now think the whole thing was a "mistake".
I guess it is easy for Republicans to take on Obama on Fox News, but taking him on face-to-face? Not so much.
How remarkable was it? Fox cut away from broadcasting it.
Other reacts from Twitter media people:
And indeed, they are unconstitutional:
Federal District Court Judge James A. Beaty this morning ruled that Forsyth County is violating the U.S. Constitution by allowing prayers with sectarian references before meetings of the county board of commissioners.
Beaty ordered the county to stop allowing prayers under its current policy, which had come under fire from those who said that the county was promoting Christianity because most of the prayers have made reference to Jesus.
Beaty gave the county several options in his order. He said that the county could choose to open meetings without a prayer, or could require that prayers contain no sectarian references.
Mike Johnson, the attorney representing the county, told commissioners this morning that he hopes they will appeal the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. That court traditionally also has ruled against sectarian prayer at public meetings.
Today's ruling by Beaty confirms what a magistrate recommended in November. The lawsuit was filed in March 2007 by several county residents, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union. They asked that the commission only allow non-sectarian prayer at meetings; in those, references to God are allowed, but to specific deities such as Jesus Christ or Buddha are not.
The lawsuit prompted other counties to study their policies on invocations before public meetings. Several, such as Yadkin County, changed their policies to eliminate sectarian prayer. Others, such as the Winston-Salem City Council, have held off, saying they would wait to see the outcome of the Forsyth County case.
And now it is time for the people of Winston-Salem to speak up in insane rants to the newspaper:
- My guess is this judge thinks we all came from monkeys. This is stupid. This country was founded on the basis of the bible. Nothing else. People of different countries with different relgions, close your ears. We can't go to any other country and be allowed to do this crap to their meetings. And atheist, well we all know your going to HELL.
- I always knew that devils/demons controlled our government. It's really starting to show though.
- The ruling is clearly simply against Christianity. What is the justification for allowing any prayer? There is no law or constitutional clause that creates a differentiation between Christian and non-Christian prayer. And there is no law or clause prohibiting prayer. These judges are just making things up.
This third comment amuses me. No, there is no law or clause prohibiting prayer — there is, however, a law which prohibits government endorsement of religion (particularly one religion over all others). It's called the First Amendment. And when a government body like the Forsyth County board of commissioners engages in prayer — Christian prayer — to the exclusion of all other forms of worship from other religions, that clearly violates the Constitution.
WICHITA, Kan. – A man who says he killed prominent Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller to protect unborn children has been convicted of murdering the doctor.
A jury deliberated for 37 minutes Friday before finding Scott Roeder guilty of premeditated, first-degree murder. The 51-year-old Kansas City, Mo., man faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
Roeder testified that he shot Tiller in the head May 31 in the foyer of Tiller's church in Wichita because he believed Tiller posed an "immediate danger" to unborn children.
His attorneys were hoping to get a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter for Roeder, but the judge ruled that the jury could not consider such a verdict.
The judge's ruling will no doubt be the basis of an appeal. The defense tried to argue that the jury should be allowed to consider manslaughter, based on the Kansas statute which permits a killing when the killer "is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent it appears to such person and such person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to defend such person or a third person against such other's imminent use of unlawful force."
The only problem with that is that the last two word "unlawful force". Abortion is not unlawful. And that's probably why the judge in the Roeder case didn't allow the jury to consider manslaugher. Roeder could use force, even deadly force, to prevent somone else's unlawful acts, but not their lawful act.
It makes perfect sense from a public policy standpoint as well. If we allowed people to decide on their own volition when a murder is "justified" or not, then we basically make murder statutes into a dead letter law. I would venture to say that many murders are justified in the eyes of the murderer. But a criminal law system cannot work that way.
Best known for his classic, A People's History of the United States, Zinn changed the way many think about America. The book, written from an unapologetic liberal stance, decided not to glorigy America and its founders, but noted the struggles of real Americans in making change. Zinn himself would admit that the book has a biased slant — and it did. But it was also accurate, and celebrated the capabilities of everyday people to make tremendous change. A must read.
That's the fastest growth since 2003, and has caused the AP to declare that it is "the strongest evidence to date that the worst recession since the 1930s ended last year."
Of course, that's just one economic figure. Unemployment remains high. But it is a good sign in an economic world starkly devoid of good news.
Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, has condemned the US and other industrial economies, holding them responsible for the phenomenon of climate change.
In an audio tape obtained by Al Jazeera, bin Laden criticised George Bush, the former US president, for rejecting the Kyoto pact and condemned global corporations.
"This is a message to the whole world about those responsible for climate change and its repercussions – whether intentionally or unintentionally - and about the action we must take," bin Laden said.
"Speaking about climate change is not a matter of intellectual luxury - the phenomenon is an actual fact."
The reaction will be predictable: Bin Laden is bad. He believes in, and condemns, climate change. Lefties believe in, and condemn, climate change. Therefore, lefties and Bin Laden are birds of a feather. Cue stupid conservative reaction…. 3…. 2…… 1……. ding ding ding… we have a winner!
Yes, it's the meme that won't ever die:
In case you ever wanted to report the news, here's how to do it:
Yikes, this one isn't kidding.
As you can see in the graphic, plowable snow will also be found in Paducah and Jackson, KY, Roanoke and Norfolk, VA and Winston-Salem and Raleigh, NC.
There is no question this is a very sizeable snowstorm for these cities.
I would like to see Obama move away from bi-partisanship. He has left so much to Congress (especially health care) and it has given him a big fat zero. I don't think he needs to slam Republicans, but he needs to show resolve in getting the things he promised us done.
Contrary to rumors that Apple was going to announce the iPhone being available for Verizon, they instead just announced their new coolest thingee…. the iPad.
Think of an iPhone that's half the size of a laptop. .5 inches thin, 1.5 pounds, 9.7 inch IPS touchscreen display. 10 hours of battery life, runs all iphone apps, has 16, 32 or 64 GB storage … see more here.
Good, presumably, for movies, e-books….
Fox News chose to not broadcast the Hope for Haiti Now benefit concert (both CNN and MSNBC did). Instead, Bill O’Reilly aired a segment about Sarah and Bristol Palin’s “body language” during their Oprah interview and Sean Hannity conducted an interview with Karl Rove on the Obama administration’s approval ratings and health care reform.
Remember that conservative filmmaker who posed as a pimp, went into ACORN offices, and secretly recorded what happened?
Quite a coup for the guy, whose name is James O'Keefe. He got to be on Fox, he pretty much dessimated ACORN (which, despite a few bad eggs, was a very worthwhile community organization), and just a few months ago, 31 far-right House Republicans introduced a congressional resolution to praise O'Keefe's work, claiming he was "setting an example for concerned citizens across America."
So what is Mr. O'Keefe doing now? Getting snagged by the FBI:
The conservative young filmmaker whose undercover sting damaged a liberal activist group last year faces federal criminal charges in an alleged plot to bug the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
James O'Keefe was among four men who created a ruse to enter the lawmaker's downtown office, saying they needed to repair her telephones, according to court records unsealed Tuesday. O'Keefe used his cellphone to take pictures of two men, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, who are accused in an FBI agent's sworn affidavit of impersonating telephone company workers. Stanley Dai is accused of aiding the Jan. 25 plot.
All four were taken to a suburban New Orleans jail and charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony. If convicted, each man faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Bugging a senator…..Well done, conservative model citizen!
UPDATE: The Salt Lake City GOP has uninvited Mr. O'Keefe to this event:
…and even Glenn Beck weighs in against O'Keefe:
BECK: If they were doing that — that’s Watergate. Insanely stupid and illegal. … I haven’t heard his side, but you don’t do anything illegal, that’s Watergate territory. You just don’t do that. And besides that I don’t think you go dressed up — I mean it’s a senator. For the love of Pete, it’s a senator.
CO-HOST: First of all, it’s different than an ACORN office. Because you’re talking about a U.S. senator here! […]
BECK: It’s exactly the same thing I said for the state dinner. You must not allow — the Secret Service must come down on these peoples in the White House like a box of rocks. You don’t do anything to hurt security for the president or for a senator or anybody else. You don’t mess around with it. Ever, ever, ever, ever. … We have enough [evidence] to, I believe, condemn.
UPDATE: Looks like one of the four break-in boys, Stan Dai, is the same Stan Dai who once wrote an anti-feminist piece called "The Penis Monologues".
The Tea Party "movement", which was supposed to be a movement of common average people, is starting to fall apart at amazing speeds, as it tries to transform itself from a grassroots movement into an actual politican party:
A Tea Party convention billed as the coming together of the grass-roots groups that began sprouting up around the country a year ago is unraveling as sponsors and participants pull out to protest its expense and express concerns about “profiteering.”
The convention’s difficulties highlight the fractiousness of the Tea Party groups, and the considerable suspicions among their members of anything that suggests the establishment.
The convention, to be held in Nashville in early February, made a splash by attracting big-name politicians. (Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech.) But some groups have criticized the cost — $549 per ticket and a $9.95 fee, plus hotel and airfare — as out of reach for the average tea partier. And they have balked at Ms. Palin’s speaking fee, which news reports have put at $100,000, a figure that organizers will not confirm or deny.
Tea Party events exploded last winter, as increasingly large gatherings protested the federal stimulus bill, government bailouts and proposed health care legislation. While they vary by name, specific tenets and relative embrace of anarchy, such groups tend to unite around fiscal conservatism and a belief that the federal government — whether led by Republicans or Democrats — has overstepped its constitutional powers.
Philip Glass, the national director of the National Precinct Alliance, announced late Sunday that “amid growing controversy” around the convention, his organization would no longer participate. His group seeks to take over the Republican Party from the bottom by filling the ranks of local and state parties with grass-roots conservatives, and Mr. Glass had been scheduled to lead workshops on its strategy.
“We are very concerned about the appearance of T.P.N. profiteering and exploitation of the grass-roots movement,” he said in a statement. “We were under the impression that T.P.N. was a nonprofit organization like N.P.A., interested only in uniting and educating Tea Party activists on how to make a real difference in the political arena.”
Mr. Glass said he was also concerned about the role in the convention of groups like Tea Party Express, which has held rallies across the country through two bus tours, and FreedomWorks, a Tea Party umbrella. He called them “Republican National Committee-related groups,” and added, “At best, it creates the appearance of an R.N.C. hijacking; at worst, it is one.”
Erick Erickson, the editor of the influential conservative blog RedState.com, wrote this month that something seemed “scammy” about the convention. And the American Liberty Alliance withdrew as a sponsor after its members expressed concerns about the convention’s finances being channeled through private bank accounts and its organizer being “for profit.”
I find none of this very surprising. The whole Tea Party movement was destined for confusion and destruction because it was founded on nothing but discontent. Even after all these months, it still hasn't defined itself.
For example, what does it want? Does it want to work within the GOP infrastructure, or create change from outside the current two-party system? Is it conservative or libertarian? Is it limited to economic, small-government issues (i.e., low taxes), or is there a plank that involves social issues as well (i.e., gay rmarriages)?
And most of all, who is in charge?
Oh, a show. Work. Life. Burnout. All that.
Plus, not a lot to say that is particularly insightful.
Haiti was bad, but I guess everyone knew that.
Scott Brown being elected to the U.S. Senate was bad, but not as bad as everyone made it out to be. He's a liberal Republican from Massachusetts, which is on a par with a moderate Democrat from any other state. He's probably to the left of many Senate Democrats, so I wouldn't sweat it out.
Really, the ONLY thing that really struck me as comment-worthy was last week’s ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, where the court declared that corporations and unions may spend money on political advertising that urges the election or defeat of a candidate for public office. Obama called it one of the worst decisions in the area of public interest; conservatives praised it as a reaffirmation of the First Amendment.
Obama was, of course, right, and conservatives were wrong. The First Amendment protections of free speech apply to individuals (as do ALL the Bill of Rights). Remember, we recognize rights as things "endowed by our Creator" to us. God did not contemplate that the oil lobby would have free speech rights.
I fear that decision will impact our political landscape profoundly and negatively, but there are sound arguments that disagree with me.
Anyway, I'm more-or-less back. And maybe I'll even have a "guest" contributor soon, too. So, stay tuned.
Glenn Beck today, speaking of Obama:
BECK: I also believe this is dividing the nation…to where the nation sees him react so rapidly on Haiti and yet he couldn’t react rapidly on Afghanistan. He couldn’t react rapidly on Ft. Hood. He couldn’t react rapidly on our own airplanes with an underwear bomber…it doesn’t make sense. […] Three different events and Haiti is the only one. I think personally that it deepens he divide to see him react this rapidly to Haiti.
See, with Ft Hood, the underwear bomber, and Afghanistan (presumably, the bombing which killed several CIA agents), what was Obama to do? The events had already happened. All of the un-exploded passengers in the UndieBombie’s airplane would have remained un-exploded after the failed attack. All of the victims at Ft. Hood who survived received immediate medical care; it’s not as if President Obama could have ordered them to heal faster or anything.
By contrast, with events like Haiti, you have generally 72 hours to recover victims. Right NOW, there must still be people trapped under the destroyed buildings in Haiti, and thousands of survivors without access to food or medical supplies. It's STILL an emergency situation.
Surely even Glenn Beck's pea-sized brain can figure out the difference.
In any event, Beck only wishes the nation was divided about this one:
Even conservatives Bill O’Reilly and Laura Ingraham took issue with the Limbaugh-Beck attack. “It’s good that he reacts quickly to Haiti,” O’Reilly said last night on Fox News, later asking Ingraham, “You have no problem with his quick response to Haiti?” “Yeah, no,” she replied.
President Obama proposed Thursday a sharp increase in the taxes paid by the nation's largest financial institutions that he said would raise at least $90 billion over the next decade while constraining the industry's ability to take large risks and to collect what he described as "obscene bonuses."
The tax, which must be approved by Congress, is meant to make a splash, demonstrating to the public that the administration is now focused on reforming the financial industry after more than a year of bailout efforts. The nation's largest banks are expected to report large annual profits over the next week, along with plans to set aside billions of dollars for employee bonuses, a recovery made possible by massive federal support.
"We want our money back, and we're going to get it," Obama said Thursday. "If these companies are in good enough shape to afford massive bonuses they are surely in good enough shape to pay back every cent they received from taxpayers."
The bank industry experts are saying this will hurt the economy, because the banks will merely pass on the tax, called the Fiscal Responsibility Crisis Fee, to the consumers. I seriously doubt it will have a huge impact, because the fee is only being assessed against the mega-banks that took TARP money. Other banks will not be passing on that fee, since it won't be asssessed by them. Or as the Obama Administration says: ""Firms that raised prices would give smaller rivals a competitive advantage, creating an incentive for companies instead to swallow the cost, potentially by reducing employee pay."
The GOP will, of course, not be happy about this, but they'll have a hard time opposing it without being branded as "being in the pocket of the big bank fatcats"
Now, he's at it again, claiming that the catastrophe in Haiti was brought on by the Haitians themselves for "making a pact with the Devil". Watch:
PAT ROBERTSON: And, you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, "We will serve you if you will get us free from the French." True story. And so, the devil said, "OK, it's a deal."
And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. Desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It's cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti; on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, et cetera. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I'm optimistic something good may come. But right now, we're helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable.
KRISTI WATTS (co-host): Absolutely, Pat.
The Reverand Paul Raushenbush responds at the Huffington Post:
Go to Hell, Pat Robertson — and the sooner the better. Your 'theological' nonsense is revolting. Don't speak for Haiti, and don't speak for God. Haiti is suffering a catastrophe and you offer silliness at best, and racism at the worst. Haiti was the first island in the Western hemisphere to overthrow slavery and white oppression — this is what you call a pact with the Devil? God's heart is breaking with this tragedy, and ours should be too. You never had much credibility — but now it is all gone.
The "pact" that Robertson refers to is an old wive's tale. There simply is no basis for it in history. Pat is promoting the old 19th century European worldview that because the people of Haiti were slaves who revolted, they were therefore against God's order.
More factual problems with Robertson's statement: Napoleon III cam to power in the 1850's; Haiti became independent in 1804. And the Dominican Republic is prosperous and well-off? Hardly.
For its part, the Christian Broadcasting Network issued a statement, arguing that Haitians "allegedly made a famous pact with the devil," but Robertson "never stated that the earthquake was God's wrath."
No, of course not. All he said is that is Haiti agreed to "serve" Satan, became "cursed," and is now burdened by a disaster. Why would anyone draw a connection from that?
UPDATE: As always, the Rude Pundit minces no words….
By the way, if you wanna prove your God is so goddamn powerful, let him cause an earthquake somewhere that's not on a fault line, or let him whip up a hurricane in, say, the middle of the desert. Otherwise, shut the fuck up about how big and strong he is. In fact, Pat Robertson, you saggy, sick, senile fuck who needed to be ground up into soylent green about a decade ago or buried alive with Jerry Falwell's corpse, if your God is such a dick that he'd try to prove some bullshit point by flattening a country of poor, beaten down people, then fuck your God. Motherfucker oughta spend some time hanging with his son to learn how to treat the meek.
KUDOS also to Rush Limbaugh for saying this, while tens of thousands die, power and water is cut off, hospitals are non-existent, etc.:
I could sit here and be really cynical. I'll hold off on the cynicism for a couple hours, I'll hold off on it. I'm going to hold off on it, give the show's flow a chance to establish, 'cause it's going to be the Media Tweak of the Day.
….Yes, I think in the Haiti earthquake, ladies and gentlemen — in the words of Rahm Emanuel — we have another crisis simply too good to waste. This will play right into Obama's hands. He's humanitarian, compassionate. They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, "credibility" with the black community — in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It's made-to-order for them. That's why he couldn't wait to get out there, could not wait to get out there.
Among the many things offensive and wrong with what Rush says, I wasn't aware that Obama didn't to sew up his credibility with the black community.
Sarah Palin on Glenn Beck's show, explaining why George Washington is her favorite founding father:
Sarah Palin made her first appearance as a contributor to Fox News on Bill O'Reilly's show. The whole transcript is here, and it is as you might expect.
But one particular section jumped out at me for some reason:
O'REILLY: Do you know Nancy Pelosi? Have you ever met her?
PALIN: I met her once in the Capitol building, yes.
O'REILLY: Yes? Did you have…
PALIN: She wouldn't remember me, but…
O'REILLY: She wouldn't — I think she'd remember you, Governor.
PALIN: No, no, no.
O'REILLY: But did you chat with her? Do you have any idea?
PALIN: Chatted with her a little bit, yes. She was leading a group of school children through on a tour. And I thought, well, that's nice that she has that time on her hands that she could do that.
O'REILLY: Yes, but the school children need to be led. You know that.
PALIN: Yes, that's what I'm saying. It was nice.
O'REILLY: Now, do you think that she's a kook?
PALIN: I think that she, too, is quite disconnected from what her constituents are telling her — and constituents all over the country.
O'REILLY: But she's a San Francisco liberal. But — but do you think she's actually crazy?
So Palin – a woman who quits her job as governor before her first term is out and takes a lucrative job at Fox – is mocking Speaker Pelosi who took the time to escort schoolchildren around the Capital Building. How nice.
And of course, all O'Reilly wants to know is whether that make Pelosi a crazy woman, or a kook.
The UN has stated that over 3 million people in Haiti are impacted by the devestating earthquake that hit yesterday. This raw uncut footage from CBS highlights how bad it is:
UPDATE: According to CNN, the Haiti Prime Minister is saying that the death toll could be "hundreds of thousands".
For those interested in helping immediately, simply text "HAITI" to "90999" and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill.
Twitter is playing a critical role in collecting donations to help disaster victims, CNNMoney.com reports.
Video proof from the 6.5 magnitude off the California coast on Sunday:
Apparently, the defense in the Prop 8 Trial isn't doing well. According to liveblogging reports, the opening statement by the defense included this statement:
“Racial restrictions were never a definitional feature of the institution of marriage.”
This was reportedly met with laughter from the courtroom. It is clearly not true. Even as late as the early 20th century, if women married an Asian who lived in America, she would lose her citizenship. And then, of course, there were all kinds of bans on interracial marriage until the Supreme Court struck thos bans down in the mid-1960s.
It's clear what the defense tack is going to be from another point made by the defense in its opening:
The purpose of the institution of marriage, the central purpose is to promote procreation and to channel naturally procreative sexual activity between men and women into stable enduring unions… it is the central and we would submit defining purpose of marriage.
This is going to come as news to elderly people who marry, married people who are unable to procreate, and married people who choose not to procreate. There isn't a single state which inquires into procreation plans or possibilities when two people get married, so it's a little hard to argue now that procreation is THE "defining purpose" of the institution of marriage.
For more in-depth coverage of yesterday's action, and up-to-the-minute coverage of today's events:
RELATED: Nate Silver shows us that states which ban gay marriages are more likely to have higher divorce rates than states which permit gay marriages and civil unions.
The American Dialect Society (ADS) has named google – the verb – as its Word of the Decade. According to the ADS, the verb google (meaning to "search the Internet") won out over "blog", which, according to Grant Barrett, the chair of the ADS's New Word Committee, "just sounds ugly."
Tweet was named the top word of the year for 2009.
Fail – "a noun or interjection used when something is egregiously unsuccessful" – was 2009's most useful word.
To be sure, it's been fun to share a cyber-laugh with girlfriends; after a day or so of the Facebook bra color campaign, it started to get silly: One of my favorite status updates was "commando," and my aunt told me a friend of hers who recently had a baby updated her status with the quip "soaked in milk." But because of the lack of context, this latest awareness effort is nothing more than innocuous titillation. Were Facebookers thinking more about breasts or the cancer that plagues them?
Though moments of levity are important, breast cancer is still a serious disease, says Dailey. An effective awareness ad campaign recognizes this. She quotes Kairol Rosenthal, author of "Everything Changes: The Insider Guide to Cancer in Your 20s": "You can be fun, creative, and a little bit sexy, but it has to involve the impact of the disease so that there's a call to action." Otherwise, says Dailey, "it's all sex and no substance."
Others are jealous and angry:
As a member of the all-too-exclusive club of long-term ovarian cancer survivors, let me first say I used to resent the enormous amount of attention breast cancer got over other cancers. Breast Cancer Awareness Month (also known as "pink nausea" by certain folks) seemed to begin in late July and end in late November, totally eclipsing the far more lethal (per capita) cancers of ovarian and pancreatic.
Both are valid points.
Frankly, I'm sold on the first argument. Why do we even have "Breast Cancer Awareness Month"? Is there any adult out there — male or female — that isn't aware that there is this thing called "breast cancer"? Isn't more required at this point than just promoting awareness of breast cancer? Can we move past pink M&Ms and Facebook memes and maybe put our energies into — oh, I don't know — raising money for actual research and cures?
I'm less convinced by the second argument, although I certainly sympathize. But the truth is that advances in cancer research move the ball forward for all types of cancer. Is it unfair that breast cancer seems to get top billing over ovarian, testicular, lung, brain, pancratic, and all other types of cancer? Perhaps. But to the extent that awareness of any of those cancers leads to more dollars for cancer research, all types of cancer are likely to benefit.
Finally, someone makes the argument that requiring 60 votes on every piece of legislation is not what the Framers intended. Here's the problem, in a nutshell:
So on the health care bill, as on so many other things, we now have to take what a minority of an inherently unrepresentative body will give us. Forty-one senators from our 21 smallest states — just over 10 percent of our population — can block bills dealing not just with health care but with global warming and hazards that threaten the whole planet. Individual senators now use the filibuster, or the threat of it, as a kind of personal veto, and that power seems to have warped their behavior, encouraging grandstanding and worse.
Ending filibusters require supermajorities. In effect, any bill cannot be passed if there is a filibuster standing in its way. This is clearly not what the Framers wanted:
Here’s why. First, the Constitution explicitly requires supermajorities only in a few special cases: ratifying treaties and constitutional amendments, overriding presidential vetoes, expelling members and for impeachments. With so many lawyers among them, the founders knew and operated under the maxim “expressio unius est exclusio alterius” — the express mention of one thing excludes all others. But one need not leave it at a maxim. In the Federalist Papers, every time Alexander Hamilton or John Jay defends a particular supermajority rule, he does so at length and with an obvious sense of guilt over his departure from majority rule.
References to the tone taken by Hamilton and Jay in The Federalist Papers are not particularly persuasive. However, the explicit mention of supermajorities by the Constitution does create, in my view, a negative inference that all other legislation must be passed by majority.
Second, Article I, Section 3, expressly says that the vice president as the presiding officer of the Senate should cast the deciding vote when senators are “equally divided.” The procedural filibuster does an end run around this constitutional requirement, which presumed that on the truly contested bills there would be ties. With supermajority voting, the Senate is never “equally divided” on the big, contested issues of our day, so that it is a rogue senator, and not the vice president, who casts the deciding vote.
The procedural filibuster effectively disenfranchises the vice president, eliminating as it does one of the office’s only two constitutional functions. Yet the founders very consciously intended for the vice president, as part of the checks and balances system, to play this tie-breaking role — that is why Federalist No. 68 so specifically argued against a sitting member of the Senate being the presiding officer in place of the vice president.
I find this more persuasive. The filibuster effectively denies the VP one of his constitutional duties.
Third, Article I pointedly mandates at least one rule of proceeding, namely, that a majority of senators (and House members, for that matter) will constitute a quorum. Article I, Section 5 states in part that “a majority of each shall constitute a majority to do business.” Of course, in requiring a simple majority for a quorum, the founders were concerned about no-shows for a host of reasons — not least of all because the first legislators had to travel great distances by stagecoach.
That's nice, but I don't think that really speaks to passing of legislation.
But the bigger reason for the rule was to keep a minority from walking out and thereby blocking a majority vote. In Federalist No. 75, Hamilton dismissed a supermajority rule for a quorum thus: “All provisions which require more than a majority of any body to its resolutions have a direct tendency to embarrass the operations of the government and an indirect one to subject the sense of the majority to that of the minority.”
It would be illogical for the Constitution to preclude a supermajority rule with respect to a quorum while allowing it on an ad hoc and more convenient basis any time a minority wanted to block a vote. Yet that is essentially what Senate Rule 22 achieves on any bill that used to require a majority vote.
That makes sense.
The problem is, how does this get changed? It is unlikely that the U.S. Supreme Court would dare intervene in Senate Rules — that would be one branch of government monkeying around with the internal procedural rules of another branch. Mind you, I think the Supreme Court should do that, but I'm fairly certain they won't. The author proposes another solution:
The president of the Senate, the vice president himself, could issue an opinion from the chair that the filibuster is unconstitutional. Our first vice presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, felt a serious obligation to resolve the ties and tangles of an evenly divided Senate, and they would not have shrunk from such a challenge.
That's all well and good, but once the VP does that, we find ourselves in a bit of a constitutional crisis which will have to be resolved by…. the courts. And we're back to Square One.
Still, I'm glad there is dialogue about this.
Miep Gies, the last survivor among Anne Frank’s protectors and the woman who preserved the diary that endures as a testament to the human spirit in the face of unfathomable evil, died Monday night, the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam said. She was 100.
Like she doesn't already?
Ms. Palin will not have her own regular program, one person with knowledge of the deal said, though she will host a series that will run on the network from time to time. This person would not elaborate, but the network does have a precedent for such a series.
Host a series. Presumably, with a script. Damn. I was hoping they would just let her talk.
The Washington Post has a nice preview of the federal case involving same-sex marriage, which is about to begin its trek through the federal court system. This will be the first case which attempts to argue that banning same-sex marriage violates the United States Constitution. If it succeeds, then all states (being subordinate to federal law) will have to allow and recognize same sex marriage.
The case is notable not just for the subject matter, but also because of the attorneys arguing in favor of SSM:
Theodore B. Olson, a conservative Republican, and David Boies, a famed litigator and Democrat. The two are close friends who were on opposite sides in Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court case that decided the 2000 presidential election, but they found common ground pressing for constitutional recognition of same-sex marriage.
"From a conservative standpoint, people who wish to enter into the institution of marriage wish to enter into something that is the building block of our society, and that is itself a conservative value," said Olson, who served as solicitor general under President George W. Bush.
Said Boies: "This team really sends a message that this isn't a question of anything to do with political ideology."
Also unique about this case is the fact that the court proceedings will be uploaded at regular intervals onto Youtube [UPDATE: see below].
The trial, dubbed Perry v. Schwartzenegger, challenges the constitutionality of Prop 8, which California voters passed last year, overturning the California legislature which permitted SSM. It begins today.
Some say this is a long judicial road to the inevitable end: a rejection of SSM by the U.S. Supreme Court. Most do not believe the U.S. Supreme Court will have the votes in favor of SSM. I'm a bit more optimistic than most. Having Olsen argue in favor of SSM, bring the conservative argument to the fore (which he does in Newsweek here), will go a long way. Also, despite the fact that this court leans conservative, it is only SLIGHTLY conservative. We must remember that a conservative Supreme Court overturned Lawrence v Texas.
UPDATE: Okay, I guess the proceedings will not be on Youtube. The U.S. Supreme Court is blocking the broadcast…. they just issued an emergency injunction barraing broadcast…. for 36 hours while they decide whether broadcasts can go forward at all…
UPDATE 2: With the Youtube broadcast being 86ed, it looks like the place to follow the proceedings is this site, which is liveblogging it….
Because I'm not blogging much today:
A very short Youtube went slightly viral the past couple days. It was of a very unenthusiastic girl playing the cowbill for the Boise State marching band during the Fiesta Bowl.
It was all fun and games until this tweet showed up….
Researchers at King's College London in the United Kingdom have brought the elusive G-spot to the forefront with a study of more than 1,800 female twins. The study suggests that there is no genetic basis for the G-spot and that environmental or psychological factors may contribute to whether a woman believes that she has a G-spot. The new study is published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
I would take this with a grain of salt. Let's remember that:
- the researchers were British
- the women in the studies, who were twins, were British
Maybe all it means is that British female twins lack that particular erogenous zone.
Andrew Sullivan quotes at length from an anonymous reader who has very interesting thoughts on the Christmas underpants terrorist. You can read Sullivan's post here, but I will attempt to summarize.
It starts with the question: "Why didn't the terrorist just go to the airplane toilet and blow up the plane from there?"
And the suggested answer is that al Qaeda probably had a good idea the attack wouldn't necessarily result in carnage – i.e., they suspected that this naive young recent-convert-to-fundamentalist-Islam might get caught at airport screening or something like that. The goal of terrorism, one needs to remember, isn't necessarily to kill, but to create terror — something at which (arguably) the Christmas underpants terrorist was successful (gauging the reactions — or over-reactions — of some in the political sphere).
So that's probably why he wasn't trained to go to the airplane loo to detonate himself. Because that wasn't necessary in order for al Qaeda to spread fear. It was to be done in the open. If the bomb detonates, great (from an al Qaeda perspective). If it doesn't, you still get nationwide fear and over-reaction, something you wouldn't get if all that happened was that the Christmas underpants terrorist took a humiliating stroll from the airline toilet back to his seat with a failed bomb in his pants.
This is technically a timely post, since we are still in the 12 Days of Christmas. Today is in fact the 12th Day, because the star appeared above the manger on Christmas Eve and it took the three magi twelve days to follow it and arrive at the manger and who the hell cares?
Anyway, for "The Sing-Off" fans, here's Straight No Chaser doing their version of 12 Days of Christmas, live, although it's really a tribute to Toto's "Africa" (starting at the 2:00 mark or so):
The Darwin Awards are given every year to "those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it." In other words, the awards are given to those who are too stupid to live… literally.
The 2009 Darwin Award winners were announced, and they included a Greensboro (N.C.) woman:
(3 June 2009, North Carolina) Greensboro was innundated with four inches of pouring rain in two hours, stranding several cars on flooded roads. Rosanne T., 50, was not deterred. She hopped on her moped and drove to a convenience store where she "possibly had a beer," according to her mother, before deciding to blunder home through the storm. She phoned home to say, "My moped has two rubber wheels, Mom, I'll be fine."
North Carolina does not require a license to own a moped. Ms. T. had acquired hers two years previously after a DUI conviction.
The Highway Patrol had blocked off several roads that were inundated with water, including Rosanne's path home. But she rode right past the officer and the barriers, lost control of her vehicle, and fell into the swollen creek below. The officer retrieved rope from his vehicle and proceeded to haul her from the water.
He then interviewed the woman, probably inquiring about her motivation for speeding through a roadblock during a flash flood. When the officer returned to his patrol car to call for assistance, Rosanne took the opportunity to escape–by jumping back into the creek!
The officer attempted to rescue her again, but alas, it was too late.
The victim's mother speculated that her daughter's motivation for jumping into a flooded creek was to rescue her drowning moped. "She loved that thing."
The 2009 winners were from Belgium:
(26 September 2009, Belgium) The city of Dinant is the backdrop for this rare Double Darwin Award. Two bankrobbers attempting to make a sizeable withdrawal from an ATM died when they overestimated the quantity of dynamite needed for the explosion. The blast demolished the building the bank was housed in. Nobody else was in the building at the time of the attack.
Robber One was rushed to the hospital with severe head trauma; he died shortly after arrival. Investigators initially assumed that his accomplice had managed a getway, but the second bungler's body was excavated from the debris twelve hours later. Would-be Robbers One and Two weren't exactly impoverished–their getaway car was a BMW.
The other winner was this guy:
He phoned authorities when he got into trouble, but he wasn't able to tell them where he was, because he didn't know how to operate his GPS device, which he packed with him.
His body washed up on the beaches a few weeks later.
Rush thinks American health care is boffo, but a great graphic making the rounds lately (one originating from National Geographic) says otherwise. Give it a couple minutes of your time — it plots U.S. health care versus the health care of other nations.
Here's all you need to know:
- the left side is the cost of health care per person for each country
- the right side is the average life expectancy for that country
- A country/line in red represents a country without universal coverage (U.S., Mexico) while a country/line in blue represents a country with universal coverage (everybody else)
- the thicker the line, the more people in that country avail themselves of heath care (doctor's visits, etc.)
Click on it to embiggen:
The first thing you'll notice is that Americans spend more — waaaaaay more — on health care than citizens of other countries. And we spend way more even though we don't use health care as much.
And what about the bang for the buck? We actually have a lower life expectancy than most other countries.
Best health care in the world, Rush? By what measurement?
Politico's Mike Calderone:
Fox's Brit Hume has taken some heat since advising Tiger Woods yesterday [Sunday] to embrace Christianity as a way to cope with his problems, while knocking another religion in the process.
"He's said to be a Buddhist," Hume said on Fox News Sunday. "I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. … Tiger, turn to the Christian faith, and you can make a total recovery."
On Monday night's "Factor," Bill O'Reilly asked Hume a good question: "Was that proselytizing?"
"I don't think so," Hume said, before reiterating his comments from Sunday that Woods should convert to Christianity.
It's that last phrase that gets me. Read it slowly.
Hume said he wasn't prosyletizing, and then repeated his belief that Woods should convert to Christianity.
Perhaps he doesn't know what the word "prosyletizing" means?
And Hume didn't stop there:
Hume said that given Woods problems, he "needs something that Christianity, especially, provides and gives and offers." That includes, he said, the chance for "redemption and forgiveness." Later in the segment, Hume said: "I think that Jesus Christ offers Tiger Woods something that Tiger Woods badly needs."
Calderone is right on the money here:
I don't think criticism was leveled at Hume over the past 24 hours or so simply for being a Christian, but more for what seemed like a jab at Buddhism. But apparently, Hume doesn't see pushing his own religion on air, while dismissing another, as proselytizing.
So how does Merriam-Webster define the word? Let's see: "to induce someone to convert to one's faith" or "to recruit someone to join one's party, institution, or cause."
How can Hume NOT be prosyletizing?
With the cold snap hitting most of the country, you're likely to hear that phrase. But if you want to know what it is really like to freeze to death, read here. It's horrifying. Not at all like the supposedly "pleasant" experience of drowning. An excerpt:
As you sink back into the snow, shaken, your heat begins to drain away at an alarming rate, your head alone accounting for 50 percent of the loss. The pain of the cold soon pierces your ears so sharply that you root about in the snow until you find your hat and mash it back onto your head.
But even that little activity has been exhausting. You know you should find your glove as well, and yet you're becoming too weary to feel any urgency. You decide to have a short rest before going on.
An hour passes. at one point, a stray thought says you should start being scared, but fear is a concept that floats somewhere beyond your immediate reach, like that numb hand lying naked in the snow. You've slid into the temperature range at which cold renders the enzymes in your brain less efficient. With every one-degree drop in body temperature below 95, your cerebral metabolic rate falls off by 3 to 5 percent. When your core temperature reaches 93, amnesia nibbles at your consciousness. You check your watch: 12:58. Maybe someone will come looking for you soon. Moments later, you check again. You can't keep the numbers in your head. You'll remember little of what happens next.
Your head drops back. The snow crunches softly in your ear. In the minus-35-degree air, your core temperature falls about one degree every 30 to 40 minutes, your body heat leaching out into the soft, enveloping snow. Apathy at 91 degrees. Stupor at 90.
You've now crossed the boundary into profound hypothermia. By the time your core temperature has fallen to 88 degrees, your body has abandoned the urge to warm itself by shivering. Your blood is thickening like crankcase oil in a cold engine. Your oxygen consumption, a measure of your metabolic rate, has fallen by more than a quarter. Your kidneys, however, work overtime to process the fluid overload that occurred when the blood vessels in your extremities constricted and squeezed fluids toward your center. You feel a powerful urge to urinate, the only thing you feel at all.
By 87 degrees you've lost the ability to recognize a familiar face, should one suddenly appear from the woods.
At 86 degrees, your heart, its electrical impulses hampered by chilled nerve tissues, becomes arrhythmic. It now pumps less than two-thirds the normal amount of blood. The lack of oxygen and the slowing metabolism of your brain, meanwhile, begin to trigger visual and auditory hallucinations.
At 85 degrees, those freezing to death, in a strange, anguished paroxysm, often rip off their clothes. This phenomenon, known as paradoxical undressing, is common enough that urban hypothermia victims are sometimes initially diagnosed as victims of sexual assault. Though researchers are uncertain of the cause, the most logical explanation is that shortly before loss of consciousness, the constricted blood vessels near the body's surface suddenly dilate and produce a sensation of extreme heat against the skin.
All you know is that you're burning. You claw off your shell and pile sweater and fling them away.
But then, in a final moment of clarity, you realize there's no stove, no cabin, no friends. You're lying alone in the bitter cold, naked from the waist up. You grasp your terrible misunderstanding, a whole series of misunderstandings, like a dream ratcheting into wrongness. You've shed your clothes, your car, your oil-heated house in town. Without this ingenious technology you're simply a delicate, tropical organism whose range is restricted to a narrow sunlit band that girds the earth at the equator.
And you've now ventured way beyond it.
The Tea Party movement is going to show all us libruls that they are here and they mean it, if by "it" we're talking about their general opposition to government, Obama, and America (but not the flag and country music). I guess….
That's right, on January 20 of this year, Tea Partiers everywhere will… well, nobody's quite sure. "Strike" presumably means they won't show up for work, en masse. That's a good thing, because now all of us socialist librels can talk openly about them at work without offending them.
No, but seriously… it's not clear how the strike will work. From the strike's website (yes, it has a website already), this is the most information I can glean relating to what is going to happen on January 20:
On January 20, 2009 tea party groups around the country will work together to direct massive attention to the businesses, in a legal manner, that are the largest supporters of the most liberal members of Congress as well as those that support extreme liberal media outlets that have gone after the citizens represented in the movement. I will not be more specific than that as to the action.
The idea is to focus attention on the supply lines of the far left agenda of taxing everything that moves and cradle to the grave control of our lives.
Going after businesses? So it sounds like a boycott, which means that they probably should have called it a "boycott", rather than a "strike". It's not clear who their targets are. Are they not going to watch Rachel Maddow and MSNBC (like tea parties do already???)
Also, "going after businesses" kind of has that long hair, socialist, hippie protest vibe to it. Just sayin'.
One gets the sense that maybe the Tea Party organizers are making it up as they go along.
Anyway, somehow the nation will crumble to its knees on January 20, as Tea Partiers take back their country, wresting this great land from the hands of the plurality of voters who voted for change. Obama will voluntarily relinquish the White House, Democrats will resign in shame, and Ronald Reagan will be re-animated using… well, something really cool I can tell you that. Mark your calendars.
Pictured above: The American Bald Eagle, with arrows in its talons, uses a shield to crush the laurel leaves (which symbolize peace and socialism and communism and marxism and the kind of tax-and-spend islamic muslimism that Hitler had)
P.S., But seriously, someone could get hurt on January 20… and rhetoric like this feeds the flames….
UPDATE: CNN took up the story and discovered something:
CNN reached out to a number of national Tea Party organizations. While some were aware of the planned strike and some not informed, none said they were going to actively take part in the event.
From this morning's events:
I guess the lockdown at the Newark Airport (due to terrorist fears) this past weekend wasn't a total bust:
This unproduced musical intrigues me —
- Book by Stephen King
- Music by John Mellencamp
Okay. That's cool. And the original concept album recording will include King, Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson, Elvis Costello, and…. boxing legend Joe Frazier?
I'm going to keep an eye on this one…..
So, last March, three American evangelical Christians went to Uganda and gave a series of lectures on homosexuality (its evils, how it can be "cured", etc). Presented as "experts" on homosexuality, they talked to thousands of Ugandans, including teachers, policemen, and politicians.
And then they left Uganda, pleased with their work.
And a month after they left, Uganda started the political process of criminalizing homosexuality, which was to banned under (in some cases) penalty of death.
The New York Times has a good story today about how those three evangelicals are distancing themselves from the fruits of their labor.
Here she is….
Who is she? Ahhh… wouldn't you like to know.
The truth is, she doesn't exist. She's a composite.
Here's a simple composite — you blend Angelina Jolie with Anne Hathway to create a third woman (below):
And what if you kept doing this…. and then blended the composites? And then blended those composites?
You end up with the perfect woman, supposedly. Like this (click to embiggen):
What I find interesting about this experiment (h/t: Blame It On The Voices) is that the final woman actually strikes me as a little bland. Anne Hathaway's eyes, Angelina Jolie's lips, etc, all get washed out with each successive generation. Go figure.
There's a lesson in that, I suppose.
Rush Limbaugh thought he was being so000 clever, utzing it to the left. Rush took some time out from his near-heart attack recovery to ooze his considerable mass in front of a microphone at the hospital in Hawaii where he recuperated. He wanted to tout how the experience showed him what he already know — how great the American health care system is:
Of course, it is great that Rush's heart problem wasn't serious, and that he's fine. But what he didn't realize, apparently, when he was praising America's great health care system was that his treatment was especially good because…
Hawaii has had nearly-universal employer-mandated health insurance since 1974. Although its Pacific Island location makes the costs of everything–from gasoline to milk to ice cream to housing–the highest in the nation, health care premiums in Hawaii, for comprehensive care with small co-pays and deductibles, are nearly the lowest and their costs per medicare beneficiary are the lowest in the nation.
Why? There are a variety of reasons, most traceable to universality. With everyone covered by primary care, emergency room visits tend to be for real emergencies, not the non-emergent care mainland ERs dispense for people without coverage. That reduces the costs of ERs and the costs of non-emergent medicine since patients can be handled less expensively and more effectively by their primary docs. Hospitals have not overbuilt, acquiring expensive machines to compete with their neighbors for patients. Insurance companies have instituted screening and other measures to improve wellness among their covered populations.
Of course, Rush isn't Hawaiian, so Hawaii's socialist health care policies didn't apply to him. But the point is that he still was able to receive high quality medical care, which he praised, from a system which has been practicing European-style universal health care for nearly three decades.
UPDATE — And also, as Think Progress reminds us….
While Limbaugh has repeatedly attacked Democrats’ efforts at health care reform, he also regularly vilifies unions, calling them “thugs.” “Find a business in trouble,” Limbaugh has said, “and you will find a union involved.” Apparently, this isn’t so for Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.
The Tiger Woods story, as I've often said, isn't a news story. It certainly doesn't warrent a panel discussion on a Sunday morning "news" channel.
And it certainly doesn't require commentary like that offered by Brit Hume, who said this weekend that Tiger Woods isn't going to be made whole until he rejects his religion and accepts the correct religion (Christianity). Specifically, Hume said:
"The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith… He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger is, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'"
I love how Hume's comments make Bill Kristol and the other panelists uncomfortable. Perhaps they, too, are wondering why a senior political analyst for a so-called "news" network proselytizing, on the air, during one of the network's "news" programs.
Welcome to Fox News Ministries.
Seriously? This photo is what has some on the right all in a tizzy?
OTHER ANTI-OBAMA DERANGEMENT IN THE NEWS: Effigy of Obama Hanging in Jimmy Carter's Hometown