January 31st, 2009


Someone Paid $2,025 for Shoes Sarah Palin May Have Worn

A pair of Naughty Monkey shoes allegedly worn by Sarah Palin were auctioned off for $2,025 to an unknown bidder on eBay this week.

The seller, who claims she's Sarah Palin's niece, will throw in autographed pictures of Palin wearing the shoes, plus a Sharpie that Palin used to sign stuff.

Though the shoes usually only cost about $100, this pair is worth it because not only do they maybe come with Palin's skin cells, but she'll sign this special pair for the lucky bidder. No word on where that $2,025 is going, but it makes us wonder how much could be raised for charity by auctioning off that $180,000 wardrobe of hers that's sitting in trash bags.


Church protests Ohio's gay marriage ban

Church protests Ohio's gay marriage ban

CLEVELAND (AP) - Clergy at a church are protesting Ohio's ban on gay marriage by refusing to sign state marriage licenses for heterosexual couples.

The Rev. John Tamilio III, head pastor at Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ, said the move is a civil-rights protest. Ministers won't sign the licenses until gay unions are legal in Ohio.

Ohio voters approved a gay marriage ban in 2004.

Heterosexual couples exchanging wedding vows at Pilgrim Congregational will need an additional civil ceremony by a justice of the peace or a judge to make their union legal.

The United Church of Christ, a 1.2 million member denomination headquartered in Cleveland, adopted a resolution supporting gay marriage at a national synod in Atlanta three years ago.

Greg Brekke, a spokesman for the national church, said each of the denomination's 5,600 congregations is free to choose whether to sign marriage licenses.

The church says at least five other UCC congregations have undertaken similar marriage protests.

In a different denomination, dozens of Unitarian Universalist ministers across the country, including those in Arkansas, California and Massachusetts, also have declined to sign state marriage licenses for the same reason.

That included Rev. William Sinkford, the Boston-based president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, who refused to sign state licenses until May 2004 when Massachusetts legalized gay marriages.

RDJ - Ent Week Dec 2009

Romney tries to remain relevant: Stimulus reckless, abortion extreme, closing Gitmo stupid

Romney Criticizes Obama On Abortion, Attacks Stimulus Plan
January 30, 2009 09:34 PM EST |

HOT SPRINGS, Va. — Republican Mitt Romney, a potential candidate for the White House in 2012, accused President Barack Obama on Friday of answering to the "most extreme wing of the abortion lobby." Even if the administration "will say nothing on behalf of the child waiting to be born, we must take the side of life," the former Massachusetts governor told House Republicans at a weekend retreat, according to his prepared remarks.

The GOP lawmakers gathered two days after voting unanimously against a White House-backed economic stimulus bill, and Romney praised them for their opposition.

He said the $819 billion measure that passed the Democratic-controlled House was a plan to "spend and borrow with reckless abandon."

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Most sickening criminal to "get religion" ever

I suspect some of these details are false or exaggerated, for reasons noted in brackets. But if just his claim to conversion has occurred, that's sick enough. Oh, and the political aspect? He may get off with just 10 years because there is "lack of evidence" for crimes like slavery and murder.

Incest monster Josef Fritzl says he wants the world's leading criminal psychologists to experiment on him as a guinea pig after discovering Buddhism while awaiting trial.

Evil Fritzl spends much of his 23 hours a day in his cell studying the peaceful Far Eastern philosophy and says he wants to give something back to the world after his daughter Elisabeth's 24-year nightmare as his sex slave.

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"It's a bit late in his life to present himself as a man of peace. If he ever gets reincarnated, what would he come back as? Even making him a worm would be an insult to worms," said one.

More details about the crime, with a strong warning about triggers

And someone wants to put on a play about him.

But here's the reason I can't help following the story. His daughter is a testament to the resilience and determination of a hero who refuses to let abuse pass down another generation. I know people who survived childhood abuse and somehow created themselves as wonderful, decent human beings, and I have endless admiration for them.

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movies | Impish Fräulein2

Shenanigans Saturday: GOP/Bush Admin Edishunz™

"If people can judge me on the company I keep, they would judge me with keeping really good company with Laura." --George LOLbya Bush

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Official: Gregg leading candidate for Commerce

Official: Gregg leading candidate for Commerce

Republican Sen. Judd Gregg is the leading candidate to become commerce secretary and a decision could come as soon as Monday, an Obama administration official said Saturday.

Gregg's appointment to the post could give Obama and his Democratic Party a victory in the Senate, clearing the way for them to pass legislation without fear of a Republican filibuster. It also would provide the administration a strong ambassador to the business community in Gregg, who devised the $700 billion banking bailout package last year.

No firm decision had been made, said the administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to discuss administration deliberations. The official also said there was no word on who New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, would appoint to replace Gregg.

Lynch, a political moderate, could easily appoint a Republican, senior Democrats have told supporters in private conversation. They fret that independent-minded Lynch is likely to appoint a "placeholder" senator who would not permanently seek the office in 2010.
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Black Books - Manny "Oh No!"

Birmingham Bans Apostrophes on Street Signs - After over 50 years of trying

Time for some across-the-pond law sillyness...

Its a catastrophe for the apostrophe in Britain

Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) -- On the streets of Birmingham, the queen's English is now the queens English.

England's second-largest city has decided to drop apostrophes from all its street signs, saying they're confusing and old-fashioned.

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Let's see...time spent arguing grammar in council meetings vs. cost of changing signs and updating systems. Oh dear, better have some tea ready.

(no subject)

Want low prices? We need political-risk insurance
Dino Falaschetti and Christopher Douglass | Special To The Sentinel
January 29, 2009

On Tuesday, State Farm announced it will no longer insure property in Florida. State Farm's decision follows the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation's rejection of the insurer's 2008 request to increase rates on property policies. The increase would have been enormous; Orange County customers could have seen an average increase of $1,000 in their annual insurance premium on a $300,000 home.

There's something weird about this. Large insurers have been dropping their prices in recent years, not raising them. Usually, large insurers can offer a better deal because they can use their geographic reach to spread risks wider.

When the wind blows in Missouri from a tornado, it usually doesn't blow in Florida from a hurricane. So, in years when there is little tornado activity, but hurricanes strike Florida, premiums come to Florida to cover losses. Insurers can balance these risks for the greater good, if we let them.

But insurance isn't working in Florida. The larger companies, including State Farm, have requested the highest rates and are trying to write fewer insurance contracts in Florida. What's going on? Why aren't the large insurers offering lower insurance premiums to Floridians?

It comes down to fairness, but not the type of fairness you might think. It's not an issue of large insurers being fair to their customers after a catastrophe; the courts have seen to that. It comes down to whether we are committed to long-term, not short-term, fairness.

Insurance is never fair in the short term. In any single year, Floridians might see State Farm use their premiums to settle claims in Missouri. That's not fair.

But over the long term, it is fair. If the actuaries have done their work well, the tornadoes in Missouri (and the earthquakes in California) will balance out against the hurricanes in Florida.

Unfortunately, when politicians get involved, fairness is usually more about narrowing the benefits and spreading the costs. It's not their fault; they need to get re-elected, and denying requests from insurers to increase premiums helps. Many will vote for candidates who promise to leave other states with all of the risk -- not candidates who promise to efficiently balance those risks with other states.

Choosing a short-term solution can lead to long-term problems. We often hear that Florida's problems come from insurers not wanting to be in a risky place. But what kind of risks are they worried about? Risk of the next catastrophe or risk that politicians will change the rules after the next catastrophe?

Large insurers are pretty good at balancing the risk of wind between Missouri and Florida. But there is no way to balance against a political landscape that leaves them with almost certain losses; they can only try to get away.

Until we find a way to provide insurance against political risks, we will probably see more insurers leaving Florida. Without insurance against political risk, insurers won't be around to provide lower-priced insurance against natural risks.

Full Source Here

B-b-but I thought insurance was supposed to be a charity...! Either we'll have to force those greedy corporations to sell policies at a loss, or we'll have to just tax rich people more.

Vladimir Putin faces more signs of mutiny

By Adrian Blomfield in Vladivostok
Last Updated: 8:07PM GMT 31 Jan 2009
Subordinates have begun openly to defy Mr Putin, a man whose diktat has inspired fear and awe in the echelons of power for nine years, according to government sources. Meanwhile a rift is emerging between Mr Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, the figurehead whom he groomed as his supposedly pliant successor.
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hp; deathly hallows; come to die

American Abortion Debate Reaches into African Slums

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Nairobi's sprawling Kibera slum is far from America but not from America's battle over abortion.

Aid workers and experts say President Barack Obama's decision to allow aid money to flow again to international groups that offer abortion counseling will help restart programs desperately needed in Africa, the continent hardest hit by a so-called "gag rule."

Dr. Walter Odhiambo, the country director for Marie Stopes Kenya, said his family planning organization had been limping along on European aid because of the U.S. rule Obama overturned on Jan. 23 in one of his first presidential acts. Now, Odhiambo said, he would be applying for U.S. funds he hoped to use to expand counseling and other services, particularly in rural Kenya.

"Family planning was not given the prominence it needs," Odhiambo said.

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RDJ - Ent Week Dec 2009

GOP governors: "We're concerned about the size of the stimulus but we still want/need the money."

GOP governors press Congress to pass stimulus bill

NEW YORK (AP) — Most Republican governors have broken with their GOP colleagues in Congress and are pushing for passage of President Barack Obama's economic aid plan that would send billions to states for education, public works and health care.

Their state treasuries drained by the financial crisis, governors would welcome the money from Capitol Hill, where GOP lawmakers are more skeptical of Obama's spending priorities.

The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, planned to meet in Washington this weekend with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other senators to press for her state's share of the package.

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cthulhu for president, why choose a lesser evil?
  • biichan

CNN: Screw bipartisanship!

Bipartisanship is overrated, says new RNC chair

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The new chairman of the Republican National Committee praised House Republicans Saturday for their universal opposition to President Obama's stimulus bill and used his family's own life experiences to justify voting against it.

"I know we're living in the era of bipartisanship," Steele joked to the House GOP congressmen who gathered this weekend to discuss policy and politics. "I thought it was very important to send a signal, and you sent it loudly, very clearly, that this party, the leadership of this caucus, would stand first and foremost with the American people. You made it very clear that in order to grow through this recession that you not redistribute the wealth of the people of this nation."

The former Maryland lieutenant governor specifically spoke about his mother as he slammed the Obama plan.

"My mom was a sharecropper's daughter with a fifth-grade education," Steele said. "And my mother knew how to balance the budget without taking money out of my pocket."

Steele drew cheers from the crowd when he pledged the GOP would re-take the majority in Congress, beginning with the fight over New York's 20th congressional district — recently vacated by the state's newly-named senator, Kirsten Gillibrand. She defeated GOP Rep. John Sweeney in 2006.

"I'm in the business of winning elections," said Steele. But he also noted that he was unsuccessful in his 2006 bid for the Senate.

"As a black Roman Catholic conservative from Washington, D.C., and Maryland, I also know how to lose elections," he said.

cookie monster
  • capthek

Krugman does some schooling as to the advantages of Obama's stimulus

January 31, 2009, 6:37 pm
Another temporary misunderstanding

Brad DeLong links to Megan McArdle saying something wrong about the effects of a temporary increase in government spending. But he fails to note that it’s not just wrong, it’s 180 degrees wrong: a temporary increase in government spending should have a larger impact on demand than a permanent increase, not a smaller impact.

And that’s actually an important point: one way to explain why government spending is better than tax cuts as a stimulus is to say that temporary tax cuts aren’t effective at increasing demand, but temporary spending increases are.

Here’s the logic (which follows directly from Milton Friedman’s permanent income hypothesis, by the way): suppose that the government introduces a new program that will cause it to spend $100 billion a year every year from now on. To pay for this, it will have to raise taxes by $100 billion a year, permanently — and if consumers take this into account, they might well cut their spending enough to offset the increase in government purchases.

But suppose the government introduces a one-time, $100 billion program to repair bridges over the next year. The government will have to issue debt to pay for this, and will have to service that debt, requiring higher taxes — say, $5 billion a year. That’s a much smaller impact on consumers’ future after-tax income than the permanent program. So much less of the spending rise will be offset by a fall in consumer demand. (I’m not considering the effect of the spending in raising income, which would probably cause consumer demand to rise rather than fall.)

So economic theory — Milton Friedman’s theory! — says that spending is a more effective form of stimulus than tax cuts.

Is an Israeli Jewish sense of victimization perpetuating the conflict with Palestinians?

Is an Israeli Jewish sense of victimization perpetuating the conflict with Palestinians?

A new study of Jewish Israelis shows that most accept the 'official version' of the history of the conflict with the Palestinians. Is it any wonder, then, that the same public also buys the establishment explanation of the operation in Gaza?

A pioneering research study dealing with Israeli Jews' memory of the conflict with the Arabs, from its inception to the present, came into the world together with the war in Gaza. The sweeping support for Operation Cast Lead confirmed the main diagnosis that arises from the study, conducted by Daniel Bar-Tal, one of the world's leading political psychologists, and Rafi Nets-Zehngut, a doctoral student: Israeli Jews' consciousness is characterized by a sense of victimization, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanization of the Palestinians and insensitivity to their suffering. The fighting in Gaza dashed the little hope Bar-Tal had left - that this public would exchange the drums of war for the cooing of doves.
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After Gaza, Iran is next?

Iran will soon pose N-threat, says Israel

ISRAEL'S ambassador to Australia has described his country's military offensives in Gaza as a "preintroduction" to tackling the military threat posed by a nuclear-equipped Iran.

Israeli ambassador Yuval Rotem told a meeting of Sydney's Jewish community yesterday that he expected Iran would soon pose a major nuclear threat.

Seven News reporter Sarah Cummings reported that after telling a camera operator to turn off his camera, Mr Rotem told those gathered he expected Iran to stockpile enough uranium over the next 14 months to "be at the point of no return".

"(He said) the country's recent military offensives were a preintroduction to the challenge Israel expects from a nuclear-equipped Iran within a year," Cummings said.

During the meeting, held in a relaxed breakfast setting, Mr Rotem spoke about the war in Gaza, which has killed more than 1300 Palestinians.

Cummings said Mr Rotem made the point that "Israel's efforts in Gaza were to bring about understanding that we are ready to engage in a decisive way."

Seven said a staff member had invited Seven News "accidentally".

While being filmed before the discussion, mr Rotem said, "The best thing to do is to have a very open dialogue if there are no reporters or journalists here," before telling the cameraman to stop filming.

He said: "I am far more reserved in the way I am saying my things (on camera)."

World Vision Tim Costello chief executive said: "There is a view there that Iran is the serious issue and the serious problem, and that is widely known and widely discussed in the Jewish community."

Later in the afternoon, the Israeli ambassador denied that Israel was planning an attack, but said Iran needed to be stopped.

Another former Gitmo prosecutor talks for the first time about why he quit...

Rachel Maddow is joined by former Guantanamo prosecutor Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld who describes the sorry state of the government's case against many of the inmates at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.


In short:
- Sloppy evidence gathering and chaotic filing.
- Hardly any chance for innocents to prove they are not guilty.
hp; deathly hallows; come to die

Red tape strands Indiana woman's baby son in Iraq

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Associated Press Writer

Baby Amir's crib is lined with blankets crocheted by his mother and stuffed animals from his 8-year-old sister. Framed photos of him hang on the walls and sit atop shelves and tables throughout his family's three-bedroom home.

He has yet to see any of it.

Eight-month-old Amir Alshemmari remains in his aunt's concrete house in the holy city of Najaf in central Iraq, where his relatives' home has electricity two hours a day. His mother, Grace, is more than 6,000 miles away in Fort Wayne, writing letters to everyone from politicians to Dr. Phil looking for help to get her son home.

She's willing to do all but the one thing the U.S. government says she must: take her son to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad to obtain the paperwork proving he is a U.S. citizen so he can get the passport needed to leave the country.

"Just watch the news. You can see Baghdad isn't a safe place," Alshemmari said. "That's where most of the conflict is, and I think that's where most of the anti-American groups have centered their organizations."
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a few more pictures here
garf tired

Cry me a River

Add Glitter to your Photos

'RESPECTING' THE OFFICE.... Former Bush White House chief of staff Andrew Card complained to right-wing talk-show host Michael Medved that President Obama is insufficiently respectful of the presidency. Apparently, one demonstrates respect for the presidency by their choice of attire:
"...I found that Ronald Reagan and both President Bushes treated the Oval Office with tremendous respect. They treated the Office of the Presidency with tremendous respect. And some of that respect was reflected in how they expected people to behave, how they expected them to dress when they walked into the symbol of freedom for the world, the Oval Office. And yes, I'm disappointed to see the casual, laissez faire, short sleeves, no shirt and tie, no jacket, kind of locker room experience that seems to be taking place in this White House and the Oval Office."
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60 Minutes under attack

Logo Image

This past Sunday, 60 Minutes aired a powerful and thoughtful report on the danger that Israeli settlements pose to the chances for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Watch the segment here.

Since the airing of the segment, 60 Minutes' Bob Simon has been under attack for supposed "anti-Israel bias." CAMERA (the Orwellian-named Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) alerted their activist network - flooding the 60 Minutes' offices and their advertisers with angry phone calls charging media bias. Jewish community leader Abe Foxman fired off a letter calling the piece a "hatchet job on Israel." J Street members are writing letters of support to Bob Simon here.


I highly recommend watching the segment. It's quite eye-opening.
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And People Wonder Why I Get Uppity About Israel...

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNN) -- Armed men forced their way into a Caracas synagogue, defacing its administrative offices with anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalizing an interior room where the Torah is kept, officials said.

About 15 men forced their way into the Mariperez Synagogue in Venezuela's capital about 10 p.m. Friday, staying until about 3 a.m., police said. They tied up a security guard at the synagogue before vandalizing the rooms.

Graffiti left at the scene included the phrases "Damn the Jews," "Jews out of here" and "Israel assassins." The men also left behind a picture of a devil, authorities said.

The men stole computers and administrative papers or documents, officials said. They did not cover their faces, but took the recordings from security cameras with them.

The synagogue had canceled services in recent weeks because of a feared backlash from the Israeli military operations in Gaza, which resulted in the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Venezuela.


I've been trying to resist commenting on the Israel/Gaza situation...but my big issue is that so many people automatically think Israel = Jews and when Israel does something, it gets taken out on the Jews as a whole.

Guidelines on Bailouts Said to Be in the Works in Europe

Guidelines on Bailouts Said to Be in the Works in Europe

DAVOS, Switzerland — The European Central Bank is working on guidelines to prevent bailout plans from one country from being significantly more generous than plans from another, a central bank official said Saturday.

The central bank official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the guidelines have not been completed.
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Herbert Hoover Lives

Herbert Hoover Lives

HERE’S a bottom line to keep you up at night: The economy is falling faster than Washington can get moving. President Obama says his stimulus plan will save or create four million jobs in two years. In the last four months of 2008 alone, employment fell by 1.9 million. Do the math.

The abyss is widening. Of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones industrial index, 22 have announced job cuts since October. Unemployment is up in all 50 states, with layoffs at both high-tech companies (Microsoft) and low (Caterpillar). The December job loss in retailing is the worst since at least 1939. The new-home sales rate has fallen to its all-time low since record-keeping began in 1963.

What are Americans still buying? Big Macs, Campbell’s soup, Hershey’s chocolate and Spam — the four food groups of the apocalypse.
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I wish the republicans could get their act together... as useless as they are, they are more of a hindrance than a help at the moment...

Sheila Bair shakes up Washington, Wall Street

Sheila Bair shakes up Washington, Wall Street

The Wall Street crowd that packed into the ballroom of the fancy Times Square hotel didn't know what was about to hit it.

As the bankers and analysts sliced into their grilled beef tenderloin and chicken, Sheila Bair stepped up to the microphone and told them off.

Too many people couldn't make their mortgage payments, she said. The mortgage industry was sitting on a ticking time bomb and just didn't get it. Pick up the phone, she said, and talk to borrowers.

"The sense of hostility from that audience was overwhelming,"
said Howard Glaser, a Washington-based mortgage industry consultant who sat at Bair's table that day in October 2007.

"I thought they were literally going to throw their desserts at her."
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Steele to Obama: 'How do you like me now?'

Michael Steele emerged victorious in the election for chairman of the Republican National Committee Friday, and proclaimed a fresh start for a party that faces a long road back to political power.

“This is the dawn of a new party,” Steele said at a press conference following his victory. “There is not one inch of ground we’re going to cede to anybody.”

Steele, a former Maryland lieutenant governor, is the first African American to win the office of RNC chairman.

He vowed to dispel public perceptions that the GOP is “a party unconcerned about minorities, a party that’s unconcerned about the lives and dreams of average Americans.”

“For so long we’ve allowed the Democrats to define us. We’ve allowed the media to define us,” he said. “And so it’s important for us to be able to establish with clarity what we believe.”

Steele also had a message for President Barack Obama, who stumped for his opponent during his unsuccessful 2006 Senate campaign.

“I would say to the new president, congratulations. It is going to be an honor to spar with him,” Steele said. “And I would follow that up with: How do you like me now?”

The former Senate candidate’s election was greeted enthusiastically by members of the RNC. But his victory only came at the end of a tense, six-ballot election that ultimately became a contest between Steele and South Carolina Republican Party Chair Katon Dawson.

Steele and Dawson, who placed second and third, respectively, on the first ballot, rocketed to the top of the candidate field after incumbent RNC Chair Mike Duncan announced his withdrawal from the race following the third round of voting.