Monthly Archives: July 2010

More Fire In The Belly Like This Please

The House was debating a bill last night that would provide up to $7.4 billion in health care aid to rescue and recovery workers who have faced health problems since their work in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The bill ultimately failed to get the needed two-thirds majority, 255-159.  This was largely due to Republicans, who support a $676 billion extension of tax cuts for the wealthy, but can't seem to cough up 1% of that to take care of workers who got sick at Ground Zero.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was not happy about it. Not one bit.

You must watch:

Krugman Is Abundantly Right Today

I've heavily edited what Krugman writes today (it's largely an article about Elizabeth Warren) to bring out its essence:

Why does the Obama administration keep looking for love in all the wrong places? Why does it go out of its way to alienate its friends, while wooing people who will never waver in their hatred?

***

Mr. Obama rode into office on a vast wave of progressive enthusiasm. This enthusiasm was bound to be followed by disappointment, and not just because the president was always more centrist and conventional than his fervent supporters imagined. Given the facts of politics, and above all the difficulty of getting anything done in the face of lock step Republican opposition, he wasn’t going to be the transformational figure some envisioned.

And Mr. Obama has delivered in important ways. Above all, he managed (with a lot of help from Nancy Pelosi) to enact a health reform that, imperfect as it is, will greatly improve Americans’ lives — unless a Republican Congress manages to sabotage its implementation.

But progressive disillusionment isn’t just a matter of sky-high expectations meeting prosaic reality. Threatened filibusters didn’t force Mr. Obama to waffle on torture; to escalate in Afghanistan; to choose, with exquisitely bad timing, to loosen the rules on offshore drilling early this year.

***

What explains Mr. Obama’s consistent snubbing of those who made him what he is? Does he fear that his enemies would use any support for progressive people or ideas as an excuse to denounce him as a left-wing extremist? Well, as you may have noticed, they don’t need such excuses: He’s been portrayed as a socialist because he enacted Mitt Romney’s health-care plan, as a virulent foe of business because he’s been known to mention that corporations sometimes behave badly.

The point is that Mr. Obama’s attempts to avoid confrontation have been counterproductive. His opponents remain filled with a passionate intensity, while his supporters, having received no respect, lack all conviction. And in a midterm election, where turnout is crucial, the “enthusiasm gap” between Republicans and Democrats could spell catastrophe for the Obama agenda.

***

O.K., I don’t really know what’s going on. But I worry that Mr. Obama is still wrapped up in his dream of transcending partisanship, while his aides dislike the idea of having to deal with strong, independent voices. And the end result of this game-playing is an administration that seems determined to alienate its friends.

Just to be clear, progressives would be foolish to sit out this election: Mr. Obama may not be the politician of their dreams, but his enemies are definitely the stuff of their nightmares. But Mr. Obama has a responsibility, too. He can’t expect strong support from people his administration keeps ignoring and insulting.

Exactly.

Chart Of The Day: Healthcare Reform

At some point on this blog, I posited that if healthcare reform legislation passed, and people had time to just live with it for a while — far removed from the Republican scare machine talking about "death panels" and so on — they would actually come to like it more and more.

Okay, maybe I didn't say it on this blog.  I don't know.  I certainly thought it.

Anyway, as the latest Kaiser poll suggests, I was right:

Blog_Kaiser_Poll_Healthcare_July_2010

Kevin Drum adds:

So healthcare reform is safe. In fact, it's so safe that it's not even clear it will be a decent campaign issue this November, let alone anything else. Thirty years from now Republicans will probably be telling stories about how it's part of the fabric of America and it's a liberal myth that they ever opposed it in the first place. 

Yup.

Can Universities Expel Students For Their Anti-Homosexual Views?

The story is in the news this week not once, but twice.

First, in Georgia:

(July 27) When officials at Georgia's Augusta State University told counseling student Jennifer Keeton they were concerned her outspoken Christian views might affect her ability to work with gay, lesbian and transgender clients, they gave her a choice: participate in a remediation plan or leave school.

Instead, she has chosen to sue.

Not the first time this has happened.  Another student faced the same dilemna in Michigan, and also sued.  The decision was handed down yesterday:

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a public university that removed a Christian student from its graduate program in school counseling over her belief that homosexuality is morally wrong. Monday's ruling, according to Julea Ward's attorneys, could result in Christian students across the country being expelled from public university for similar views.

Conservative blogs are all over it, typically misreporting it.  Over at Redstate, Erick Erickson posts this misleading account:

In Michigan, a federal judge has upheld the expulsion of a graduate school student for believing homosexuality is morally wrong. 

But that's not the story.  And that's not what the judged ruled.

In both the Georgia and Michigan cases, the students were attending a graduate program, seeking a degree in counseling.  That's the relevant point.  This isn't discrimination based on religious belief; it's simply that the student refuses to meet the qualifications necessary to graduate.  In both these situations, the schools require that all graduating counseling students meet the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics.

Professional certification guidelines are totally constitutional.  One of the requirements of the degree both the Georgia and Michigan students are pursuing is that they treat clients equally and respectfully, and don’t impose their personal beliefs on their clients.  It has nothing to do with the student's religion and everything to do with the requirements of the job they voluntarily pursued.  

Essentially, these students wanted to get a degree in a program accredited by the ACA… without meeting the requirements of the ACA.  Yeah, I want that, too.  In fact, I want to be a board-certified medical doctor, but I have a religious objection to going to med school.  I should be able to get a degree anyway, right?  Right?  What — I can't?  Why that's religious discrimination!!

Note: both lawsuits are being handled by the Alliance Defense Fund, a right-wing Christian conservative legal organization which generally has a bad track record on this, mainly because they think the First Amendment means that people of faith can skirt rules which apply to everybody.  

Of course, there's a likely possibility that all this was a set-up: the students knew the graduation requirements and guidelines before they set foot in a classroom.  It's possible these were simply test cases pushed by the ADF in the first place.

So can universities expel students for their anti-homosexual views?  Generally, no — of course not.  But they can expel (or refuse to graduate) students for failing to do the required work to get the degree they seek.  And if a student's religion/conscience prevents that student from meeting specified graduation standards, so be it.  It's certainly not the university's fault.

More Attempted Journalistic Lynching of Shirley Sherrod

One would think that the right would want to move past the Shirley Sherrod story.

For those living under a rock last week, the story in a nutshell is this:  Right wing provocateur Andrew Brietbart, pissed that the NAACP had accused the Tea Party movement of racism, fired back on his blog magazine by posting a video of a low-level Department of Agriculture employee named Shirley Sherrod.  In the video, Ms. Sherrod was giving a speech to a Douglas County Georgia chapter of the NAACP.  The video was from March of this year.

In the video, Ms. Sherrod — a black woman — is telling a story of how she did the barest amount possible to help out a white farmer who was losing his farm.  "RACISM" cried Breitbart, followed by the cries of "RACISM" from Fox News.  (In an embarrassing sidenote, both the NAACP and the Obama Administration quickly condemned Ms. Sherrod, and by the end of the day, she was sacked).

The problem, not surprisingly, was that the video was taken out of context.  When the full video was released, we learned that Ms. Sherrod was telling a personal account of something that happened to her 26 years ago, and the reason she was telling the story was to convey to her audience a very personal "learning experience" from her own life.  Specifically, she wanted to tell the audience how she realized that the issues facing farmers aren't issues about black or white, but about poverty… and how important it is that we all transcend race, as she did 26 years ago.  (She actually did help out the white farmer a great deal, and he came forward to say so.  Both the NAACP and Obama apologized to Ms. Sherrod, and she was offered her job back).

After last week, you would think the conservative media would drop the issue in embarrassment, wipe the egg from their collective face, and move on.

But nope.  Now they really have to put the screws to Shirley Sherrod.  Smear her they must, even though this woman has done nothing to them.

To that end, the American Spectator has a piece today accusing Sherrod of lying about sheriff Claude Screws lynching Bobby Hall, a Sherrod relative (a story she conveys in the unedited version of her speech).

If you're unfamiliar with the case, it originated in Baker County, in rural southwest Georgia, where Sherrod is from. In 1943, Screws, the white sheriff, arrested a black man, Hall, who was accused of theft and taken to the local courthouse in handcuffs. Upon their arrival, Screws and his two white deputies mercilessly beat Hall, by some accounts for as long as 30 minutes. Screws then dragged Hall's unconscious body, feet first, through the courthouse square. Hall died soon after.

Screws was convicted on federal charges, but the Supreme Court ultimately overturned the conviction over inaccurate jury instructions.

In her speech, Sherrod explained, "Claude Screws lynched a black man." The American Spectator wants readers to believe she was lying — i.e., Screws didn't "lynch" Hall, because Screws didn't use a rope. Hall was beaten to death, but to writer Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan political aide, that apparently doesn't count.

And that's the "gotcha".  Sherrod, screams the American Spector headline, is a liar.

Unfortunately, that's just B.S.  A lynching is an extrajudicial mob killing — not necessarily by rope — the murder of Emmit Till is probably the most famous example.  As Adam Serwer (among others) has pointed out:

No one who worked to document the practice of lynching in the South limited the definition of the term to solely include those lynchings that occurred using a rope. Don't believe me? Here's the definition of lynching as described in the 1922 anti-lynching bill introduced by Republican Rep.L.C. Dyer that Lord pretends to know something about:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the phrase "mob or riotous assemblage," when used in this act, shall mean an assemblage composed of three or more persons acting in concert for the purpose of depriving any person of his life without authority of law as a punishment for or to prevent the commission of some actual or supposed public offense.

So now the right's second attempt to smear this woman has failed (and honestly, what do they have against her??)

Fortunately, some at The American Spectator are distancing themselves from Lord's piece. John Tobin writes:

What on Earth is Jeffrey Lord talking about on the mainpage? He says that the sentence "Claude Screws lynched a black man" is untrue. Lynching is defined as an extrajudicial killing by a mob (which can be as few as two people). The fatal beating of Bobby Hall most certainly qualifies.

Philip Klein writes in The American Spectator:

I am rendered speechless by a 4,000-word article that is based around the suggestion that somebody is a liar for saying that a black man was lynched, when he was merely beaten to death by a white sheriff who evidence suggests had previously threatened to "get him."

One is reminded of the old "have you no sense of decency, at long last, sir" quote.  Sadly, I think uttering that to the conservative "media" would have no effect at all.

UPDATE:  E.J. Dionne has some thoughts about Sherrod and the right-wing smear machine that are well worth reading, e.g.:

The mainstream media and the Obama administration must stop cowering before a right wing that has persistently forced its propaganda to be accepted as news by convincing traditional journalists that "fairness" requires treating extremist rants as "one side of the story." And there can be no more shilly-shallying about the fact that racial backlash politics is becoming an important component of the campaign against President Obama and against progressives in this year's election.

Quote Of The Day

I agree with this (James Fallows of The Atlantic):

I agree with my colleagues Coates, Sullivan, Green, Ambinder, plus most of the civilized world, in finding this episode nauseating. Silver lining: the possibility that for the Breitbart/Fox attack machine this could be the long-awaited "Have you no sense of decency?" moment. I disagree with my colleague Clive Crook that it's hard to tell whether the people who first aired and harped on the deceptive video (Breitbart/Fox), or the officials who responded in belief it was true (ie, Ag Secretary Vilsack), are the more culpable. As Marc Ambinder pointed out, it's easy: Vilsack's now-revoked decision to fire Sherrod "was a good faith [though rash] mistake based on the bad faith of others."

The Obama Administration Hoped To Avoid A Media Circus By Firing The “Racist” Shirley Sherrod Quickly

Yeah.  Nice going.  How did that work out?

UPDATE:  Gibbs, Obama's press secretary at this afternoon's briefing:

"Without a doubt Miss Sherrod is owed an apology.. on behalf of this entire administration."

"Everybody made determinations without knowing all of the facts."

". . .a disservice was done, an apology was owed."

You think?!?  The press secretary also suggested that it was worth taking some time to consider how this mess happened in the first place — and that included reporters he was speaking to directly: "I think everybody has to go back and look at what has happened over the past 24 to 36 hours, and ask ourselves how we got into this. How did we not ask the right questions? How did you all not ask the right questions?"

Sadly, I don't think the Washing press corps is particularly interested anymore in getting stories right.  It just wants to print allegations and watch the fur fly.

On The Charge of Racism

This is the summer of the racism accusation.  It's full-on now.

In a way, it's nothing new.  As long as there has been racism in this country (which has been, well, since this country's founding), there have been accusations of racism.  Goes hand-in-hand.

But there's something new to it lately.  Apparently, white people can accuse black people of racism.  And that, somehow, is the moral equivalent of white people being racist against blacks.

Don't misunderstand me — I'm not saying that "black racists" don't exist.  Of course they do.  But I have yet to see one – certainly not in the public and political sphere.  Even Reverend Wright, Obama's supposed "mentor", didn't strike me as racist.  He was, at times, wary of white people — and given the times he lived through, I can certainly where that comes from.  In the same way that many Jews are still wary of Germans, many blacks are not at ease with the white power structure which had historically oppressed them.  But that's not racism — that's merely having a justifiable chip on the shoulder.  I know the difference, and I suspect most honest people do too.

So for the most part, when some black figure gets accused of racism, it's generally overblown, if not or an outright lie.  

Take, for example, a year or so ago when Glenn Beck casually referred to Obama as a racist.  He had to walk that statement back because as any sane critic of Obama would admit, there's simply no evidentiary basis for that.  None.  Nada.

Now comes Andrew Breitbart, the Joe McCarthy of the 21st century.  On his website yesterday, McCarthy posted a video of USDA worker Shirley Sherrod giving a speech to the NAACP last March:

We are in possession of a video from in which Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development, speaks at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia. In her meandering speech to what appears to be an all-black audience, this federally appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail, that her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions.

In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn’t do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from “one of his own kind”. She refers him to a white lawyer.

Breitbart's description leaves something out, which is apparent to anyone watching his video.  The "white farmer" was acting with animosity and condescension toward Ms. Sherrod — he was the bigot.  And that's when Ms. Sherrod (according to her account) was "torn over how much" she would help this man.   Context is key:

Sherrod [told the Atlanta Journal Constitution] that what online viewers weren’t told in reports posted throughout the day Monday was that the tale she told at the banquet happened 24 years ago — before she got the USDA job — when she worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund.

Sherrod said the short video clip excluded the breadth of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to help ward off foreclosure of his farm, and how she eventually became friends with the farmer and his wife. […]

“The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it’s about the people who have and the people who don’t. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race.

Nevertheless, the fallout from the video was swift and immediate.  Ms Sherrod was forced to resign for her "racism" and the NAACP issued a press release condemning her for her actions.  Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack also issues a statement condemning her remarks. to the NAACP.  

Breitbart had his scalp, and the conservative blogs rejoiced.

But then something happened today.  We learned that the video was heavily edited.  We learned that Ms. Sherrod was using the incident with the white farmer — which happened in 1986 by the way — to explain how she overcame her prejudice against whites, even white bigots like the farmer in her anecdote.  That was the point of her little speech — about how she overcame her animosity toward this white farmer.  In fact, as she told the papers today, she even became friends with the farmer and his family.  Funny how you didn't see that in Breitbart's edited video.

Even the farmer's wife has spoken out to confirm Sherrod's account:

The wife of the white farmer allegedly discriminated against by the USDA's rural development director for Georgia said Shirley Sherrod "kept us out of bankruptcy."

Eloise Spooner, 82, awoke Tuesday to discover that Sherrod had lost her job after videotaped comments she made in March at a local NAACP banquet surfaced on the web.

Sherrod, who is black, told the crowd she didn't do everything she could to help a white farmer whom she said was condescending when he came to her for aid.

"What he didn't know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me was, I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him," Sherrod said in the video, recorded March 27 in Douglas in southeast Georgia.

But Spooner, who considers Sherrod a "friend for life," said the federal official worked tirelessly to help the Iron City couple hold onto their land as they faced bankruptcy back in 1986.

Now, there are many angles to this controversy, but one of the saddest has to be this:  a right wing pundit posts an edited video which purports to show a "racist" USDA employee giving a lecture, and without investigation, the Obama Administration asks for (and gets) this woman's resignation… and the NAACP issues a statement condemning this woman.

The cowardly fear of the right is embarrassing.  [NOTE: The NAACP appears to be investigating the matter, in what seems to be a walkback from his statement of condemnation].

Which brings me back to the charges of racism.  It seems that the right is using the charge of racism as a sword, and a sword built on fabrication and lies.  It's time for those on the left not to cower in the face of baseless accusations, but instead, to fight back.

More from Think Progress.

LATE UPDATE: The NAACP backtracks and does the right thing.  An excerpt:

With regard to the initial media coverage of the resignation of USDA Official Shirley Sherrod, we have come to the conclusion we were snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias.

Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans.   

The fact is Ms. Sherrod did help the white farmers mentioned in her speech.  They personally credit her with helping to save their family farm. 

Moreover, this incident and the lesson it prompted occurred more that 20 years before she went to work for USDA.

Finally, she was sharing this account as part of a story of transformation and redemption. In the full video, Ms.Sherrod says she realized that the dislocation of farmers is about “haves and have nots.”  "It’s not just about black people, it’s about poor people," says Sherrod in the speech. “We have to get to the point where race exists but it doesn’t matter.” 

This is a teachable moment, for activists and for journalists.

North Carolina Unemployment and The Filibuster Attempt

Tomorrow, Congress will consider extending unemployment benefits to millions of out-of-work Americans.  Last time they tried this, Republicans successfully blocked it.

According to the latest numbers from the North Carolina Employment Security Commission, North Carolina currently has a double-digit unemployment rate of 10 percent. North Carolina Policy Watch estimates that when the last vote to extend unemployment insurance failed, 20,000 North Carolinians lost their benefits.

All across the state, unemployed North Carolinians are suffering as their benefits run out and they are unable to find any work due to the recession. Here are just a few examples of the pain the unemployed in Burr’s state are experiencing:

– Stephen Crockett, who has “34 years of primarily manufacturing and construction experience” in the Winston-Salem area, has been unemployed since August 2008. His benefits ran out June 14th, and he worries he will be “homeless, hungry and without car insurance by mid-July if another extension is not granted.”

– Boonville’s Melissa Carr lost her job more than a year ago at a travel agency. Living on $135 a week in unemployment benefits, she qualified for a Pell grant and is studying to become a substance abuse counselor.Yet her benefits will run out soon, and she is terrified of what she will do without them. “I am going to lose my home and most likely, my possessions,” she told USA Today.

– Shari Maloney, 45, has been out of work since January and lives with her boyfriend in Raleigh, who is also unemployed. “It’s a roller coaster, honestly,” Maloney told the Charlotte Observer. “Can I say that it’s getting any better? No, I can’t say that. I talked with a recruiter recently with a group of other applicants. She said, ‘Look, you guys are all midcareer, you’re midmanagement and your jobs are the ones that are not going to be coming back soon.’”

- In Ashe County, North Carolina, unemployed couple Mark Nesselhaus and Stephanie Young were forced to live in a tent in a campground in West Jefferson after Nesselhaus was laid off twice from manufacturing jobs. As storms pounded the campground, the owner allowed the couple to move into a cabin and pay rent when they can. “You don’t realize how fast it could happen to you,” Nesselhaus told the local press. “You could be working one day, nice paycheck, nice home and within a week or a day it could all be gone.”

It's uncertain whether Republicans will prevail in their expected attempt to filibuster unemployment benefits.  Still, one wonders if Richard Burr (R-NC) will break ranks with his colleagues.  Don't hold your breath.

Unintelligent Intelligence

Everyone should read the Washington Post's recent effort in investigative reporting, Top Secret America. As a piece of journalism, it represents what actual journalism should be — not what passes for journalism in today's he-said-she-said creaming-heads world.

That said, the subject of the piece is distressing. Since George W. Bush, we've had this reckless, ridiculous, uncoordinated expansion of intelligence agencies, all sucking up tremendous sums of money, all with little oversight, and all producing floods of data…and it's all a waste because the emphasis is on sucking in lots of data, and little is done about comprehending it all.

Everyone should read the Washington Post's recent effort in investigative reporting, Top Secret America. As a piece of journalism, it represents whatactual journalism should be — not what passes for journalism in today's he-said-she-said creaming-heads world.

That said, the subject of the piece is distressing. Since George W. Bush, we've had this reckless, ridiculous, uncoordinated expansion of intelligence agencies, all sucking up tremendous sums of money, all with little oversight, and all producing floods of data…and it's all a waste because the emphasis is on sucking in lots of data, and little is done about comprehending it all.

In other words, the over-collection of data leads to a myopic view of things — an intelligence community where real threats don't get investigated because they're buried in a morass of data points.

Snippets:

  • There are nearly 1,300 government organizations and 2,000 private companies working in 10,000 locations across the country.
  • There are 854,000 people who have top-secret security clearances.
  • There are 33 building complexes for top-secret work that are under construction or have been built just in Washington, DC since 9/11… totaling 17 million square feet of space.
  • Analysts turn out 50,000 intelligence reports every year… you can bet many of them never get read.
  • And, at least 263 organizations have been created or reorganized as a response to 9/11… that of course means hiring lots and lots of people. But don't ask where Osama bin Laden is… nobody knows.

UPDATE – Ezra adds another point:

And in case you think it'll be easy to roll any of this back, consider the fact that we still take our shoes off and throw away water bottles when we attempt to board a plane.

Splitters!

First, the NAACP condemned the tea party movement as being "racist".

That prompted Mark Williams, the leader of the Tea Party Express, to pen a"satirical" response – a made-up letter from "colored persons" to Abraham Lincoln saying they had changed their minds about emancipation.  The letter received immediate and widespread criticism, and Williams eventually withdrew it from publication.

But the controversy wasn't over:

The National Tea Party Federation, an organization that seeks to represent the Tea Party political movement around the country, has expelled Williams and his Tea Party Express organization because of the inflammatory blog post Williams wrote last week, federation spokesman David Webb said Sunday.

Which prompted this response today from Williams and the Tea Party Express:

"The Tea Party Express with over 400,000 members is by far larger than the Tea Party Federation’s entire membership. Most rank-and-file tea party activists think we’re talking about Star Trek when we try to explain who the “Federation” is. Given the absurdity of the actions by the "Federation," this is quite fitting, since their conduct is alien to our membership.

"Groups trying to say who can or can't be 'expelled' from the tea party movement is arrogant and preposterous. Perhaps this explains why so many tea party groups have left the "Federation" during the past few months. Whatever the reason, most tea party activists are focused on taking back their country and the upcoming 2010 elections and not silly power games being played by individuals such as those in the "Federation."

"To add to the absurdity of the "Federation" they have also informed us that our members can't participate in something called their "basecamp" communication network, which makes us think that the individuals involved in the "Federation" spend a bit too much time watching science fiction movies and cartoons. We here at the Tea Party Express prefer a focus that is more grounded in the Constitution and electing tea party conservatives to offices of import in these 2010 elections.

The "Federation" has enabled and empowered the NAACP's racist attacks on the tea party movement, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

"Circular firing squads of groups within the tea party movement attacking one another accomplish nothing, and on this issue the Tea Party Federation is wrong, and has both enabled and empowered the NAACP’s racist attacks on the tea party movement. Which is something they'll realize when they beam themselves back from basecamp.

Which prompts me to post this:

UPDATE:  The Tea Party Nation has weighed in: they agree with the Tea Party Federation's expulsion of the Tea Party Express.

Heh.

Palin Tweets Again (and Again) About Downtown Manhattan Mosque

The controversy, for those unaware, centers around the proposed building of a mosque "at Ground Zero".  This has sent conservatives into an apoplectic fit.

It doesn't seem to matter that the mosque is to be built three city blocks from Ground Zero, and not at Ground Zero.

It doesn't seem to matter that the mosque is really more than just a mosque.  Called the "Cordoba House", it's intended to be an Islamic cultural center which would include "a prayer space, a performing arts center, a swimming pool, and other amenities." 

It doesn't seem to matter that the project was spearheaded by a longtime local imam, who's committed to fighting radicalism, and considers the building a monument to tolerance and respect. 

It doesn't seem to matter that the project was endorsed overwhelmingly by a local community board.

All that seems to matter is that Islamic people are going to be near Ground Zero, which apparently opens up a wound for conservatives. The far-right Washington Times argued a Muslim community center may represent "an attempt to hijack the memory of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks," a sentiment endorsed by Liz Cheney's right-wing activist group. A far-right radio host told listeners he hoped "somebody blows it up" if the Cordoba House is built. 

So Palin got into it this past weekend via Twitter, her favorite medium (because there are no follow-up questions).

It started with this tweet:

Palingroundzerotweet1-cropped-proto-custom_2
First of all, Palin apparently thinks "refudiate" is an actual word (it's not the first time she's used it, so she can't blame it on a typo).

Secondly, why is she calling on "mosque supporters" and "peaceful Muslims" to, uh, refudiate the mosque?  And just why would a mosque at Ground Zero (or near there) stab the heart of mosque supporters?

Apparently, Sarah was dipping into the moose juice.  But not deep enough, for she soon realized her mistakes — she erased the above tweet, and tweeted something anew:

Palingroundzerotweet2
Now Sarah is addressing "New Yorkers" imploring them to refute the mosque plans.  

Of course, it was primarily New Yorkers who actually lost friends and family on the Twin Towers attacks.  But it was nice of Sarah to tell them how much pain they should be feeling over the mosque plan.

Maybe Sarah realized that telling New Yorkers how they should feel about the mosque was a little — oh — arrogant?

So then came attempt number three:

Palintweet3
She's now addressing the "peace-seeking Muslims" again.  

You see, she understands that not all Muslims are evil.  She wants you to know that.

But why can't the good Muslims just understand that their presence opens up wounds?  I mean, can't they just disappear, like the good peace-seeking Muslims that they are?  That's the truly offensive subtext to this third Tweet.

The truth is: if Palin and people like her were truly interested in healing, they would not have a problem with peace-seeking Muslims at Ground Zero or anywhere else.  In fact, they would promote it.  Healing comes when those affected by 9/11 (and by the way, it wasn't just Christians) can make a real distinction between Islamic fundamentalists, as opposed to those who merely worship the Islamic faith.

Anyway, for those who noticed Sarah's boner in her first tweet regarding "refudiate", Sarah had one more tweet:

Palintweet4
You see?  You thought she was stupid.  She's not!  She's Shakespeare!!! 

Financial Reform To Pass

Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) signed on yesterday.  Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) signed on hours ago.  That's 60, and it means that the financial regulation bill will pass the Senate without filibuster.  It should be good news — installing Wall Street reforms to prevent another meltdown is the responsible sensible thing to do.  Unfortunately, I fear the bill has been watered down so much that it contains enough loopholes so that it doesn't necessarily prevent a recurrence of the cycle of asset price boom and busts leading to financial institution failures. 

But elements of the Dodd-Frank bill do hold out the possibility of coping with the aftermath of such failures in a politically and economically viable way, that avoids the moral injustice associated with “bailouts.”

Are Republicans Really For “Smaller Government”, Or Just Tax Breaks For The Rich?

On Fox News Sunday, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) let the cat out of the bag.  In arguing to continue the Bush tax cuts (tax cuts which primarily go to those making over $275,000 per year), Kyl refused to comment on how those tax cuts would be paid for.  Those tax cuts would be mean $678 billion less to make up the deficit.

Keep in mind, Kyl and the other Republicans voted last week not to extend $30 billion in unemployment benefits to people out of work.  Their reason?  "We can't add to the deficit."  So the question becomes, if the deficit is so bad that we can't extend $30 billion to people who are out of work, how can we afford to extend $678 billion in tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans?

Kyl's comments reflect what many progressives believe is at the heart of the GOP: they are not concerned about the deficit, nor about smaller government (would a typical Republican be in favor of drastic cuts to military spending?  I think not).  No, what seems to be at the heart of the GOP philosophy is tax cuts, primarily for the wealthy.  Everything else, including Medicare, Social Security, or support for the unemployed…. be damned.

Mel Gibson Rant Quotes As Presented By Kittens

Look, you have a choice.  You can listen online to Mel Gibson absolutely freaking out on his ex-girlfriend (it's really disturbingly foul)… OR you can read the transcript (which doesn't do the audio recording justice)… OR, for the faint of heart, you can go here and read selected quotes, as presented by kittens.  Here are a couple of the more tame selections:

Enhanced-buzz-17274-1278972762-6
Enhanced-buzz-17253-1278972715-22

As for Mel Gibson himself, there's not much to say.  His career is over.  Period.  

Iran Bans The Mullet

They really did.  Also long hair, ponytails.  Basically, anything "western" in terms of hairstyles.

Banning the mullet — that'll show us they mean business.  Well, business in front.

Ironically, the mullet may not have originated in Western civilization:

The haircut may have originated in the Middle East, but Alan Henderson, author of Mullet Madness!: The Haircut That's Business Up Front and a Party in the Back, wonders whether prehistoric peoples wouldn't have discovered the benefit of trimming hair short in the front to keep it out of their eyes while letting it grow long in the back to insulate the neck from rain and cold. Archaeological evidence confirms the existence of ur-mullets in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Asia Minor, writes Henderson. Hittite warriors from the 16thcentury BCE sported mulletlike cuts, as did the Assyrians and Egyptians.

TheMullet
 

Mississippi Is Fat

For the fifth year in a row, the fatty-fatheads of Mississippi take the cake (literally?) when it comes to obesity in the United States.

Fattest-states-2010-big
Not surprisingly, the East and West coasts are the leanest, and the Southern and Midwest states are fatter. Maine rose the most places in the rankings over last year, while Oregon dropped the most, according to a new analysis by CalorieLab, Inc.

The CalorieLab United States of Obesity Fattest States Ranking 2010
2009
Rank
2010
Rank
State % Obese
2009
% Obese or
Overweight
2009
3-year
Obesity
Average
% Obesity
Change
Ranking
Change
1 1 Mississippi 35.3 70.2 33.8 1.3 0
2 2 Alabama 31.6 68.1 31.6 0.4 0
4 2 Tennessee 32.8 68.9 31.6 1.3 2
3 4 West Virginia 31.7 67.5 31.3 0.2 -1
8 5 Louisiana 33.9 67.6 31.2 2.3 3
6 6 Oklahoma 32.0 67.4 30.6 1.1 0
7 7 Kentucky 32.3 66.9 30.4 1.4 0
10 8 Arkansas 31.4 66.5 30.1 1.5 2
5 9 South Carolina 30.0 65.7 29.9 0.2 -4
12 10 North Carolina 30.1 65.3 29.4 1.2 2
9 11 Michigan 30.3 65.5 29.3 0.5 -2
13 11 Missouri 30.5 65.5 29.3 1.1 2
10 13 Ohio 29.7 66.6 29.0 0.4 -3
14 13 Texas 29.5 66.7 29.0 1.1 1
20 15 South Dakota 30.2 67.0 28.5 1.6 5
18 16 Kansas 28.7 64.5 28.2 0.9 2
16 17 Indiana 29.9 65.0 28.1 0.7 -1
14 17 Georgia 27.7 65.3 28.1 0.2 -3
22 17 Pennsylvania 28.0 63.9 28.1 1.3 5
17 20 Delaware 27.5 63.6 27.8 0.5 -3
22 21 North Dakota 28.3 66.0 27.7 1.0 1
22 22 Iowa 28.4 67.1 27.6 0.9 0
21 23 Nebraska 28.0 64.7 27.2 0.4 -2
18 24 Alaska 25.4 63.2 26.9 -0.3 -6
25 24 Wisconsin 29.2 65.6 26.9 0.9 1
27 26 Illinois 27.3 64.3 26.6 0.7 1
25 26 Maryland 26.7 62.8 26.6 0.6 -1
28 28 Washington 26.9 62.4 26.3 0.9 0
35 29 Maine 26.4 64.1 25.8 1.1 6
33 30 Arizona 25.8 64.1 25.7 1.0 3
28 31 Virginia 25.5 60.5 25.5 0.1 -3
32 31 Nevada 26.4 63.0 25.5 0.5 1
31 31 Minnesota 25.3 63.1 25.5 0.2 0
36 34 New Mexico 25.5 61.7 25.4 0.9 2
39 34 New Hampshire 26.3 62.8 25.4 1.3 5
33 36 Idaho 25.1 61.3 25.1 0.3 -3
39 36 Florida 25.9 62.4 25.1 0.9 3
37 38 New York 24.5 60.0 25.0 0.5 -1
38 38 Wyoming 25.3 62.1 25.0 0.7 0
28 38 Oregon 23.6 60.6 25.0 -0.4 -10
41 41 California 25.5 61.2 24.4 0.7 0
42 42 New Jersey 23.9 61.8 23.9 0.4 0
43 43 Montana 23.7 62.0 23.5 0.8 0
44 44 Utah 24.0 57.9 23.2 0.7 0
48 45 Rhode Island 24.9 61.5 22.9 1.2 3
46 46 Vermont 23.3 58.1 22.8 0.7 0
47 47 Hawaii 22.9 57.8 22.6 0.8 0
49 48 Massachusetts 21.8 57.4 21.7 0.5 1
45 49 District of Columbia 20.1 51.7 21.5 -0.8 -4
49 50 Connecticut 21.0 58.9 21.4 0.1 -1
51 51 Colorado 18.9 55.6 19.1 0.2 0
Rankings were computed by CalorieLab based on a three-year average of state-by-state statistics for adult obesity percentages from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System database. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30.0 or over, overweight as a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9.

Still, very few states are doing well — only 10 have 25% or less of the population not overweight or obese.  So, why are we so fat?   Duh…..

Sticking It To The Nazis On Youtube

A Holocaust survivor and his family travel to former concentration camps throughout Europe and dance to Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive".  They don't dance well, but that's not the point, really.  It's a tribute to the tenacity of the human spirit.

New with Android: Create your Own Apps

A little debate between me and my girlfriend is being played out throughout the country: iPhone vs. Android.  Six months ago, the debate would have been one-sided — iPhone of course.  Sure — you were stuck with AT&T, and sure there was only one phone using the iPhone operating system (the iPhone), but all told, the iPhone simply had it all.

But something happened after that.  First of all, Android came out with its 2.2 operating system, which was far superior to the older system.  Older Android phones got updated with the new OS (for free — you didn't have to buy a new phone), and suddenly people found they had, for example, a navigation system on their phone which exceed the standalone GPS systems like Garmin and TomTom.  The voice recognition system was vastly improved.  And so on.

Meanwhile, Apple released its iPhone 4.0, a buggy little device which — even when the antennae worked — still didn't offer what Android phones offered (including the ability to turn your phone into a portable Wifi for your laptop).  And many trendy tech-sperts starting making the migration from iPhone to Android, seeing Android as the phone of the future.

The reason, they'll tell you, for the migration is because Android plays nice with others.  It is an "open system".  Apple continues to keep a closed business model, and is starting to pay for it.  Remember when iTunes was only compatible with iPods, rather than other music players?  That worked well for Apple for a while, but you'll notice that's not the case anymore, and Apple was forced to abandon its DRM system.  

Apple is trying to do the same thing with iPhones, but the problem is that the cyberworld isn't all Apple stuff.  Take internet browsers.  Many websites have Flash features.  Apple doesn't like Adobe (the makers of Flash), so they don't make iPhones Flash-compatible.  The list goes on.

The strength in Apple was all the apps.  And it was impressive.  But because the Android system was open-ended, developers were quick to create Android apps, and now any app for the iPhone is available on Android.  In fact, there are more Android apps now, chipping away further at iPhone appeal.

And now the Android ante has been upped again.

Because now, thanks to Google (the driving force behind Android), even non-developers (i.e., people like me) can create their own apps.  No programming knowledge required. This is good for small companies and non-profits who would like smartphone presence, but can't hire a geek to come up with an app for their company.  Plus, you don't have to jump through Apple's hoops, and get Apple approval.

The App Inventor is currently in beta.

ScreenShotAbout1
 

When Republicans Start Telling The Truth And Stop Bagging Tea

Rep. Bob Inglis, defeated in South Carolina's Republican primary last month, told the AP that the GOP is succumbing to "demagoguery" and talk-show personalities, blasted Sarah Palin's "death panels" comments, and compared American partisans to "Sunni and Shia."

While not naming names, 12-year incumbent Rep. Bob Inglis suggested in interviews with The Associated Press that tea party favorites such as former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and right-wing talk show hosts like Glenn Beck are the culprits.

He cited a claim made famous by Palin that the Democratic health care bill would create "death panels" to decide whether elderly or sick people should get care.

"There were no death panels in the bill … and to encourage that kind of fear is just the lowest form of political leadership. It's not leadership. It's demagoguery," said Inglis, one of three Republican incumbents who have lost their seats in Congress to primary and state party convention challengers this year.

Inglis said voters eventually will discover that you're "preying on their fears" and turn away.

"I think we have a lot of leaders that are following those (television and talk radio) personalities and not leading," he said. "What it takes to lead is to say, 'You know, that's just not right.'"

Inglis said the rhetoric also distracts from the real problems that politicians should be trying to resolve, such as budget deficits and energy security.

"It's a real concern, because I think what we're doing is dividing the country into partisan camps that really look a lot like Shia and Sunni," he said, referring to the two predominant Islamic denominations that have feuded for centuries. "It's very difficult to come together to find solutions."

Inglis also expressed sympathy for fellow Rep. John Lewis (D., Ga.), who accused tea partiers of repeatedly shouting racial epithets at him during a protest of the health-care vote. He said racism is part of what is motivating opposition to President Obama:

Inglis said he was too far away during the jeering incident to hear whether the protesters shouted racial epithets, as Lewis and other black lawmakers have claimed. But Inglis said the behavior was threatening and abusive.

"I caught him at the door and said, 'John, I guess you've been here before,'" Inglis said.

Inglis, 50, who calls himself a Jack Kemp disciple because he has emphasized outreach to minorities as the late Republican congressman did, thinks racism is a part of the vitriol directed at President Barack Obama.

"I love the South. I'm a Southerner. But I can feel it," he said.

“Glee” Gets 19 Emmy Nomination

I don't watch much TV, but it's nice to know that the few shows I did watch this past year did well in the Emmy nominations.  HBO's "The Pacific" got the most nominations (with 24), followed by "Glee" (with 19).  Glee's nominations include acting nominations for Mike Morrison (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series), Lea Michele (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series), Jane Lynch (Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series), Chris Colfer* (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series), Mike O'Malley (Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series), Neil Patrick Harris (Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series) and Kristin Chenoweth (Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series).

"Lost" did okay with 12 nominations.

* Little surprised by this, but okay…

Interview With The Inventor Of The Cell Phone

My mom now has a cell phone, which means that cell phones are now — officially – as mainstream as television, radio, and cassette tapes.  Um…. okay, maybe not that last one.

So now's a good time to point to a CNN interview with the inventor of the cell phone, Martin Cooper.  Cooper, a designer at Motorola at the time, made the first public cell phone call in 1973.  He knew, even then, that someday everyone would have one.  Interesting read.

And he's a Motorola Droid guy.

DOMA Declared Unconstitutional

A federal district court in Massachusetts has ruled that the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 — specifically, the part that defines "marriage" as between a man and a woman only — as unconstitutional.  The ruling came in two opinions, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, and Massachusetts v. HHS

The state had argued the law denied benefits such as Medicaid to gay married couples in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions have been legal since 2004.

Judge Joseph L. Tauro agreed that DOMA forces the state to discriminate against its own citizens and ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage law violates the Constitutional right of married same-sex couples to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment.

He also struck down DOMA on Tenth Amendment grounds, stating that marriage is the province of the states, not the federal government.  This is a bit of a "pie-in-your-eye" to conservatives: the Tenth Amendment is basically an anti-federalism "states' rights" amendment.  Judge Tauro basically took it and said "States' rights?  You got it.  States get to decide who gets 'married'; not the federal government."

It will probably be appealed.  Yes, it's the Obama Administration, but the Justice Department is independent of politics.

The New York Times coverage relies heavily on the viewpoints of Professor Balkin who thinks the decision will be overturned (his expanded critique of the decision is here).  Unfortunately, Balkin's argument boils down to (1) most people in this country aren't ready for same-sex marriage and (2) if you strike down DOMA as being discriminative, then you have to change all kinds of federal programs (Social Security benefits, etc.).  Those are nice arguments, but they are not legal arguments.  The bottom line is as the opinion states, i.e., it is discriminatory (violating the Fifth Amendment) and it treds upon areas of law traditionally left to states (violating the Tenth Amendment).

On the latter point, Balkin argues that the federal government has always been enmeshed in family matters:

But the federal government has been involved in the regulation of family life and family formation since at least Reconstruction, and especially so since the New Deal. Much of the modern welfare state and tax code defines families, regulates family formation and gives incentives (some good and some bad) with respect to marriages and families. Indeed, social conservatives have often argued for using the federal government's taxing and spending powers to create certain types of incentives for family formation and to benefit certain types of family structures; so too have liberals.

This overstates things.  There is nothing in the modern welfare state, nor the tax code, which "defines families".  Families and marriages are NOT defined in the tax code — I know, I've looked.  The definition of marriage (up until DOMA) has always been left to the states, and the states have always differed (for example, with the age of consent to marry).  Balkin is failing to draw a distinction between federal laws which are deal with marriage (tax breaks for married couples, etc.) and laws which define the scope of what is "marriage" in the first place.

Balkin makes another point:

Moreover, while insisting that marriage is a distinctly state prerogative, Judge Tauro argues that the federal constitution makes it irrational for the federal government to discriminate between same and opposite sex couples. But if so then it follows that it would also be irrational for a state government to discriminate, because the test under the Fifth Amendment equal protection component and the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause (which applies to the states) is the same. Thus Judge Tauro is saying that marriage is none of the federal government's business, except, of course, when a federal court thinks otherwise. He is, in essence, laying the groundwork for an equal protection challenge to state marriage laws in virtually every state. This is not a result that is particularly respectful of state prerogatives!

Indeed, Balkin is correct when he says that Judge Tauro is laying the groundwork for the claim that states cannot discriminate between same-sex and opposite-sex marriages.  I readily concede that if only because my reading of the Constitution mandates marriage equality.

But this does not mean that Tauro is at odds with himself.  In this matter, Balkin is being deliberately misleading.  On a statutory level, in the realm of the definition of marriage, the Tenth Amendment mandates that states have the prerogative.  But each state's statue much comply with the protections of the federal Constitution.  DOMA is not an amendment to the Constitution; it's a federal statute.  Therefore, as between DOMA and state law, state law has the prerogative — this is what the case was about, and what the opinion holds (i.e., it is not at odds with itself).  But as between the federal constitutional protections and state law, the federal constitution has the prerogative.

This is the first step in what will be a long-drawn out legal process….

Thought Of The Day

Whenever, in winter, it would snow – or was extremely frigid – someplace, the climate change deniers would do a little dance and sing, "How can there be global warming???  Look at my snowman!"

Of course, these morons don't know the difference between climate and weather.  Nor are they aware of their complicated relationship, and how "global warming" doesn't necessarily mean lack of snow and cold for every region of the world.

But setting aside their ignorance, shouldn't those global warming deniers — by their own (ignorant) logic – be owning up to global warming now, where colder regions of the country are seeing 100 degree days?

The Rough Draft Of The Declaration Of Independence

Scientists at the Library of Congress have been analyzing Thomas Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration of Independence.  Today they announced a discovery: Jefferson apparently was so accustomed to monarchical rule that he used the word "subjects" — as opposed to "citizens" — when he referred to the American public.

Full story here:

Fenalla France, a research chemist at the Library, said her lab made the discovery last year by using hyperspectral imaging, using a high resolution digital camera that compiles a series of images to highlight layers of a document. Some of those invisible layers — like erased text and even fingerprints — pop into view on a computer screen.  

In switching from "subjects" to "citizens," France said it appears Jefferson used his hand to wipe the word out while the ink was still wet. A distinct brown smudge is apparent on the paper, although the word "subjects" is not legible without the help of the digital technology.

There's also good stuff at the Library of Congress website including this photo of the rough draft (click to embiggen)

Us0034tt_1_725

Happy Fourth everyone! 

Bush: The Worst President In Modern History

Every eight years, a couple hundred president scholars are asked to rank the presidents on various scales, including communication, honesty, intelligence, foreign policy achievements, economic achievements, etc.

The 2010 assessment is out — you can read the PDF here – but the "headline" results are:

  • In overall rankings, Obama comes in at 15th
  • In overall rankings, Bush 44 dropped from 23rd (in 2002) to 39th today
  • Bush 44 also ranked next to last in communication ability and intelligence (Andrew Johnson was ranked last in both categories)

Here's the top ten's over the life of the survey:

Top5

…and the 2010 top two and the bottom two for each category:

Top2bottom2
Clinton, for what it's worth, ranked 13th this year — one ahead of "Bloody Bloody" (Andrew Jackson) and two ahead of Obama. 

Showdown in Pahrump

Maybe all elections should be decided this way….

CARSON CITY, Nev. — The 10 of clubs wasn't quite good enough. 

That's what Carl Moore Sr. drew Thursday in the tiebreaker between two rural Nevada county commission candidates who sought the Republican nomination in the June 8 primary. 

Nye County Commissioner Andrew "Butch" Borasky, who survived a recall last year and is seeking a second term, drew a queen of clubs to advance to the November general election. 

The drawing took place in a courtroom in Pahrump, 60 miles west of Las Vegas. 

Both tied with 381 votes in the primary. They remained tied after two recounts. State law calls for candidates to draw lots to get a winner when an election is deadlocked. It can be cutting cards, throwing dice, drawing straws or flipping a coin.  

Before the big moment, Borasky and Moore agreed on procedure, down to the color of the deck that Clerk Sandra Merlino used – red. 

Merlino then shuffled the cards seven times and fanned their fate out on a table. "We decided on high card," Borasky told The Associated Press in a telephone interview afterward. "There was no disagreement between us. We shook hands before and after."

Android vs iPhone

Which is better?  It depends on what you want from your smartphone.

Lifehacker does a run-down, summarized by this chart here.

500x_iPhone-versus-Android

The powerusers of Lifehacker prefer Android to iPhone 66% to 30%, but as the full article suggest, it's all highly subjective.  If customization, navigation, and Google integration is a big thing for you, Android is the clear way to go.  If music, gaming, etc. are important to you, then you need an iPhone.

I've always had iPhone envy, but I'm warming up to Android, so much so that I might just stay with it even if iPhones become available to Verizon.  Apple's big problem (for me) is that they don't play nice with others.  For example, Apple won't allow for display of Flash websites, simply because Apple doesn't like Adobe (the makers of Flash).  I like my phone to do things and look the way I want it to do/look, and in that sense, I find iPhones limited.  I also like how my Android phone can become, in effect, a modem for my laptop — whereever I am.  But damn, I wish Android had better music and iTunes integration.

One in Four Americans Don’t Know Who America Gained Independence From

I find this to be depressing:

(CNN) – As Americans get ready to spend a long weekend marking this country's independence 234 years ago, a new poll suggests more than 1 and 4 Americans don't know which country America declared its independence from. 

According to a new survey from Marist College, 26 percent failed to correctly identify Great Britain as the country the United States fought an eight-year war with to gain its independence. 

That percentage of Americans includes the 20 percent who were "unsure" and the six percent who thought the U.S. fought a revolution against another country. Among the countries mentioned were France, China, Japan, Mexico, and Spain, according to the poll. 

The polls internals show younger Americans know least about this country's founding: Only 60 percent of 18-29 year-olds could correctly name Great Britain. Men also had a considerable 81-67 percent advantage over women in naming the correct country. 

The poll surveyed 1,004 Americans between July 17 and 24. It carries a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

I swear we need to get education fixed in this country.

Man Bites Dog

Gallup poll released today finds:

There is significant overlap between Americans who identify as supporters of the Tea Party movement and those who identify as conservative Republicans. Their similar ideological makeup and views suggest that the Tea Party movement is more a rebranding of core Republicanism than a new or distinct entity on the American political scene.

You think?!?

*********

TEA PARTY BY THE NUMBERS

Who they are

Seven demographic characteristics of Tea Party supporters:

78% are Republicans or independents who lean Republican.

77% are non-Hispanic whites.

69% are conservatives.

62% are married.

56% are men.

47% are 55 or older.

23% are under 35.

What they believe

Seven defining attitudes of Tea Party supporters:

92% believe the federal government debt is a very serious/extremely serious threat to the nation's future well-being.

90% believe terrorism is a very/extremely serious threat to the nation's future well-being.

90% are dissatisfied with the way things are going in this country.

87% disapprove of the job congressional Democrats are doing.

85% believe the size and power of the federal government are a very/extremely serious threat to the nation's future well-being.

83% say most members of Congress don't deserve re-election.

83% say President Obama doesn't deserve re-election.

Source: USA TODAY/Gallup Polls taken May 24-25 and June 11-13 of 697 Tea Party supporters. Margin of error +/-5 percentage points. Analysis by Jim Norman.

No Good Way To Spin This

The job recovery under Obama had a bit of a setback last month…

Junejobs

The economy shed 125,000 job in June.  Yes, the unemployment rate fell from 9.7% to 9.5%, but the unemployment rate only reflects people who are looking for jobs.  It seems that a lot of people have given up still.