January 3rd, 2009


Nashville, English Only law to be voted (this is a much more article)

Language Change Could Hamper Services, Say Police, Health Departments

After waves of legal battles, petition drives and intense debates, Davidson County residents will decide if English will become the official language of Metro government.

Early voting for the English-only charter amendment started Friday, but it's still unclear to many how passage could impact the community.

If adopted, the initiative would ban the use of foreign languages in the city's official communications and publications. No one would have the right to receive any government services in any other language unless it was related to health or public safety.
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On English-only issue, sides walk emotional tightrope

With only a few weeks left to make a case, groups working for and against the city's proposed English-only measure are appealing to potential voters' emotions.

Early voting begins Friday on the proposed amendment to the Metro Charter that would limit government communications and publications to English unless a specific exemption is made by the council. The special election is Jan. 22.

When all the votes are counted, the winning side probably will be the one that says enough to ignite supporters' passions without driving others to the polls through fear or anger, experts say.

"It's a real delicate tightrope that either of these campaigns have to walk," said Michael McDonald, a political scientist at George Mason University in Virginia.
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'English Only' Early Voting Starts Friday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Early voting began Friday for the controversial plan to make English the official language of Metro government. By noon Friday, about 400 people had turned out, and the city had to set up four more machines.

The proposed amendment to Nashville's charter would make English the official language of Nashville, preventing the city from translating written materials into other languages or using interpreters to communicate with people who don't speak English well.
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College Leaders Against English-Only

Early voters will begin going to the polls next week for the special election over the controversial English-Only proposal.

However, many of the leaders of Nashville's colleges are speaking out against the measure.
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Eight Years Later

Eight Years Later
By Michael Kinsley


"We will reopen Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House." —the 2000 Republican platform

But they never did. Eight years later, the barricades remain. It was a phony issue, of course — just another stick with which to beat Bill Clinton, who closed the road at the insistence of the Secret Service. In an interview with PBS a month after Sept. 11, 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney stated the obvious: "Pennsylvania Avenue ought to stay closed because, as a fact, if somebody were to detonate a truck bomb in front of the White House, it would probably level the White House, and that is unacceptable."

Sept. 11 is the excuse for many of the Bush Administration's failures and disappointments. It is also the basis for the one great claim made on George W. Bush's behalf: At least he has protected us from terrorism. In the seven years since that day, there has not been another foreign-terrorist attack on the American homeland. The trouble is that there were no foreign-terrorist attacks on the American homeland in the seven years before 9/11 either. The risk of another terrorist attack didn't increase on 9/11 — only our awareness of the risk. The Bush Administration took office mocking the concern that someone might blow up the White House but soon enough was echoing that concern.

The platform on which Bush entered the presidency eight years ago comes from a lost world, in which even the party out of power saw an America of unthreatened prosperity and security. "Yesterday's wildest dreams are today's realities, and there is no limit on the promise of tomorrow," the GOP said. The biggest foreign policy challenge America faced in 2000, according to this party document, was to avoid misusing our enormous power. "Earlier generations defended America through great trials," the platform declared. Then it quoted the Republican nominee, Bush, on the importance of showing the "modesty of true strength. The humility of real greatness." Even enthusiasts of Bush's foreign policy would not describe it as displaying the humility of true greatness. More like the pugnacity of lost greatness. All that talk of one superpower — us — bestriding a "unipolar" world seems as dated as Seinfeld reruns.


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O.K., but didn't he do anything right? Well, he came up with serious money to treat AIDS and malaria in Africa. He used the bully pulpit to embrace Muslims in the great post-9/11 American bear hug, when there was real danger of the opposite reaction. And you could say that Bush's disastrous presidency vindicates democracy. Let's not forget that, in 2000, more people voted for the other guy.


LOL at the last paragraph.  And I pretty much agree with everything, especially this: What matters is whether there were WMD, not how sincerely he believed there were.  He's President of the United States - when he says anything, especially statements as incendiary and consequential as "There are WMDs in Iraq," it better be the truth, and not just what he wants/thinks/believes to be true.
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Fox News claims ‘magic negro’ text was ‘inadvertently cleared for air.’

As ThinkProgress recently noted, Fox News allowed at least one racist message directed toward President-elect Obama to make it on the air during its New Years broadcast. In a statement to TVNewser yesterday, Fox News VP of programming Suzanne Scott defended the incident, claiming that the text message referring to Rush Limbaugh’s “Barack the Magic Negro” song was “inadvertently cleared for air.” Instead of offering an apology, Scott took the opportunity to attack Fox’s rivals:
Fox News VP of programming Suzanne Scott explains, “We received tens of thousands of text message submissions during our New Years Eve special, and this particular viewer submission was inadvertently cleared for air. At FOX we recognize our error as opposed to networks who allow their hosts to utter crude vulgarities to the public.”
Fox New has a history of allowing racially-charged language aimed at Obama and his family to make it on air and then claiming it was simply a mistake. In June, after a Fox chyron referred to Michelle Obama as “Obama’s Baby Mama,” Fox’s Senior Vice President of Programming Bill Shine explained it by saying that “A producer on the program exercised poor judgment in using this chyron during the segment.”
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EU's new figurehead believes climate change is a myth

The European Union's new figurehead believes that climate change is a dangerous myth and has compared the union to a Communist state.

The views of President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic, 67, have left the government of Mirek Topolanek, his bitter opponent, determined to keep him as far away as possible from the EU presidency, which it took over from France yesterday.

The Czech president, who caused a diplomatic incident by dining with opponents of the EU’s Lisbon treaty on a recent visit to Ireland, has a largely ceremonial role.

But there are already fears that, after the dynamic EU presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy - including his hyper-active attempts at international diplomacy over the credit crisis and Georgia as well as an historic agreement to cut greenhouse gases - the Czech effort will be mired in infighting and overshadowed by the platform it will give to Mr Klaus and his controversial views.

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WaPo: Mainstream Media on Life Support

Let me be the first in the new year to declare that the mainstream media are dead.

Now, can we please move on?

Henceforth, my spam filter will bounce any e-mail that includes reference to the dying or dead mainstream media, or MSM, as the gleeful undertakers prefer.

It's over. Done. The old media are no more. We are all new media now.

All journalists, we are also the news. We are essentially a nation of news-mongering newsies making news as we do the news. At some point, the news will simply consume the news consumer-slash-provider in a big bangish event that will go unreported.

In the meantime, could we give it a rest?

The mainstream media aren't really dead, of course. The industry has merely transmogrified, splintered into a billion little reflections of its former self. One-fifth of the world's nearly 7 billion people are now Web-capable -- all reporting, opining, interacting, twittering, digging and blogging.

Bloggers, bless their hearts, are becoming the new-old curmudgeons, thinking hard before writing, still insisting on complete sentences with more than 140 characters, clinging to their gerunds, participles and semicolons. Many are camouflaged renegades from (or appendages to) newspapers, not so much new breeds as Darwinian adapters to a new environment.

Watching newspapers tumble the past few years, and especially toward the end of last, when even the once-great Tribune Co. declared bankruptcy, has been painful to watch and more painful to experience. No city editor or beat reporter ever fantasized about the day he would surrender his press pass to write releases for the local hospital.

What fresh hell, indeed.

But most painful -- perhaps odd is a better word -- has been the celebration in some quarters.
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Analysis: Bush's personality shapes his legacy

Analysis: Bush's personality shapes his legacy

President George W. Bush will be judged on what he did. He will also be remembered for what he's like: a fast-moving, phrase-mangling Texan who stays upbeat even though his country is not.

For eight years, the nation has been led by a guy who relaxes by clearing brush in scorching heat and taking breakneck bike rides through the woods. He dishes out nicknames to world leaders, and even gave the German chancellor an impromptu, perhaps unwelcome, neck rub. He's annoyed when kept waiting and sticks relentlessly to routine. He stays optimistic in even the most dire circumstances, but readily tears up in public. He has little use for looking within himself, and only lately has done much looking back.

Bush's style and temperament are as much his legacy as his decisions. Policy shapes lives, but personality creates indelible memories — positive and negative.

Call it distinctly Bush.
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Afghan corruption: Everything for sale

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KABUL: When it comes to governing this violent, fractious land, everything, it seems, has its price.

Want to be a provincial police chief? It will cost you $100,000.
Want to drive a convoy of trucks loaded with fuel across the country? Be prepared to pay $6,000 per truck, so the police will not tip off the Taliban.
Need to settle a lawsuit over the ownership of your house? About $25,000, depending on the judge.

"It is very shameful, but probably I will pay the bribe," Mohammed Naim, a young English teacher, said as he stood in front of the Secondary Courthouse in Kabul. His brother had been arrested a week before, and the police were demanding $4,000 for his release. "Everything is possible in this country now. Everything."

Kept afloat by billions of dollars in American and other foreign aid, the government of Afghanistan is shot through with corruption and graft. From the lowliest traffic policeman to the family of President Hamid Karzai himself, the state built on the ruins of the Taliban government seven years ago now often seems to exist for little more than the enrichment of those who run it.

A raft of investigations has concluded that people at the highest levels of the Karzai administration, including the president's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, are cooperating in the country's opium trade, now the world's largest. In the streets and government offices, hardly a public transaction seems to unfold here that does not carry with it the requirement of a bribe, a gift, or, in case you are a beggar, "harchee" - whatever you have in your pocket.

The corruption, publicly acknowledged by Karzai, is contributing to the collapse of public confidence in his government and to the resurgence of the Taliban, whose fighters have moved to the outskirts of Kabul, the capital.

"All the politicians in this country have acquired everything - money, lots of money," Karzai said in a speech at a rural development conference here in November. "God knows, it is beyond the limit. The banks of the world are full of the money of our statesmen."

The decay of the Afghan government presents Barack Obama with perhaps his most under-appreciated challenge as he tries to reverse the course of the war here. The president-elect may be required to save the Afghan government, not only from the Taliban insurgency - committing thousands of additional American soldiers to do so - but also from itself.

"This government has lost the capacity to govern because a shadow government has taken over," said Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister. He quit that job in 2004, he said, because the state had been taken over by drug traffickers. "The narco-mafia state is now completely consolidated."
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List of words which should be banned in 2009

“Maverick”, “iconic” and “desperate search” should be banned because they have lost their meaning and become useless, according to a group of academics.

The words appear on the List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness which features several all too common remarks.

The annual list, of which this is the 34th, is produced by Lake Superior State University in Michigan, USA, and compiled by academics from contributions from the public.

Maverick’s overuse during the American election, perhaps in the description of Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, has “diluted” its meaning.

Iconic is now “overused to the point where everything from a fast-food restaurant chain to celebrities is 'iconic’”.

And almost all searches reported in the media appear to be desperate, in an apparent attempt to over-dramatise otherwise relatively mundane stories.

It includes less familiar words to British readers such as “First Dude” - the nickname for the husband of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin; and “staycation”, which is a holiday spent at home.

There is also the image <3, used in texting to represent a heart and sent instead of saying “I love you”.

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With More Absentee Ballots Counted, Franken's Lead Appears To Be Insurmountable

Today's events in Minnesota make it appear that a Norm Coleman victory is now pretty much impossible -- and it just so happens to have occurred on the day his Senate term officially expired. A nice extra touch.

Election officials today counted through about 950 absentee ballots that both campaigns agreed had been wrongly rejected, completing the recount unless there is any new court intervention. The result: Al Franken's paper-thin lead of 49 votes has now jumped to 225 votes -- way beyond what most people crunching the numbers expected, based on the geographic spread of the newly-counted ballots.

With these new figures, it's worth examining just how slim the odds would be of Coleman finding some way to win this thing, should he follow through on his campaign's vow to challenge the result in court.

First, there's Coleman's claim that 25 selected precincts double-counted a bunch of absentee votes for Franken, netting Franken about 110 votes. During the recount, the state Supreme Court ruled that Coleman could only raise this issue after the recount concluded and an apparent winner was determined. But if courts agree with him on that and took those votes away from Franken, Coleman would still lose. Then there's the canvassing board's decision to restore to Franken a net total of 46 votes that went missing from a single precinct during the recount. Coleman's campaign has indicated that they plan to contest that decision, but winning on it would still have him behind.


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Lynndie England Interview in The Guardian

'What happens in war happens'

In 2004, photographs of abuses at Abu Ghraib shocked the world. Seven people were charged, but the face of the scandal will always be Lynndie England, the 21-year-old private grinning at the camera.

The road to Fort Ashby, West Virginia, runs through Mineral County, an area of freezing grey farmland and barrack-style bungalows, where the sign outside the bar - "Hunters welcome" - has an unnerving effect on the passing non-hunter. In Cindy's coffee shop, customers speculate on the whereabouts of a lost cow and tell a weird Republican joke about the noise a chicken makes when its head is cut off: "Barack-Obama!, Barack-Obama!"

Lynndie England has lived in Fort Ashby since she was two, but when she appears, suddenly, in the car park, her outline is crooked with self-consciousness. She grew her hair for a while, but people recognised her anyway, so she cut it short again.

The last time journalists came to Fort Ashby in any number, they upset residents by portraying it as "a giant trailer park". There are two bars, two banks, a fire station, a school and a bookshop - the woman who runs the latter says, "I've no sympathy for what she did, but people behave differently in war than they do in their chairs at home, watching it on TV."

It is almost two years since England returned home after serving half of a three-year sentence for maltreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib. In mid-December, a report by the Senate armed services committee concluded that, contrary to the US government's assertion that a few "bad apples" were to blame for abuses at the prison, responsibility ultimately lay with Bush officials, including the defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, for policies that "conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees". (A spokesman for Rumsfeld rejected the findings as "unfounded allegations against those who have served our nation".

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Sorry for the earlier technical difficulties! If you voted there, please vote again!


The nominations are in and it's time to decide which posts will be remembered as the best of 2008! Here are the links for all of the nominations with the greatest number of seconds

1) CNN calls election for Obama:
2) Vice Presidential Debate Live Thread:
3) Make your own "Joe The Plumber" signs:
4) Election Day Live Threads:
5) All RNC Live Threads:
6) Christians pray to golden calf:
7) Troopergate:

8) All DNC Live Threads:
9) Ashley Todd's fuckery:
10) Keith Olbermann's Prop 8 Special Comment:
11) Obama/Biden rain pics:
12) McCain rape jokes/the day we made stupid_free:
13) Palin baby mama drama:
14) Ann Coulter gets her mouth wired shut:


Poll #1324951 What Are The Most Epic Posts Of 2008?
This poll is closed.

Which of the follwing are the are most epic posts of 2008?

Ashley Todd fuckery
Christians pray to golden calf
RNC Live Threads
Obama/Biden rain pics
Ann Coulter gets mouth wired shut
DNC Live Threads
Olbermann Special Comment
Election Day Live Threads
McCain rape jokes
Joe the Plumber signs
Palin baby mama drama
VP debate live thread
CNN calls election for Obama

Happy Voting!!!