February 22nd, 2009

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Boston Globe Part 2: Turbulence and tragedies eclipse early triumphs

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Ted Kennedy had been entrusted with overseeing 13 western states for his brother's 1960 presidential campaign. It was a tough assignment, since many of the states were Republican strongholds. In the end, he failed to deliver all but three of them.

"Can I come back," the youngest and breeziest Kennedy wired his rabidly competitive family in a post-election telegram, "if I promise to carry the Western States in 1964?"

The move — using his fun-loving personality to paper over his failings — was classic Teddy. Even though he had grown into a handsome 28-year-old man with angular features, he was still largely seen by his high-achieving siblings as the overweight baby brother who was great for a laugh or a hug, but nothing of consequence.

Yet his telegram also masked a surprise: Ted Kennedy didn't really want to come home.

If a lifetime of unfavorable comparisons with his brothers was only going to intensify now that one was about to become president and the other attorney general,

Ted figured he'd have a better shot at being his own man if he left the compound. He wanted to move with his new wife, Joan, to one of those western states he'd explored in the campaign — New Mexico, California, or Wyoming — and maybe buy a newspaper and eventually run for office. "The disadvantage of my position," he told an interviewer, "is being constantly compared with two brothers of such superior ability."

His father shot down his wild west dream, deciding Ted would be crazy to throw his hat in any ring outside Massachusetts. No, he would run for the US Senate seat his brother Jack had vacated to become president. "We really wanted to go out West," Joan Kennedy recalls, "but in those days, my late father-in-law said, 'You do this,' and you did that."
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Bush goes to hardware store that offered him a job

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DALLAS—Former President George W. Bush has visited a Dallas hardware store that earlier this month made him a lighthearted offer to work as a greeter.

Andrea Bond, a manager at Elliott's Hardware, says Bush walked into the store Saturday and quipped: "I'm looking for a job."

The store had published an open letter to Bush, inviting him to apply for a store greeter position. The tongue-in-cheek appeal appeared in The Dallas Morning News and its commuter-oriented sister publication, Quick.

Bond says Bush spent about an hour shopping and talking to customers during the surprise visit. He bought a few flashlights, batteries and a can of WD-40. He also bought night lights.

Bush and his wife, Laura, moved into a home in the Preston Hollow area of Dallas on Friday.
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K-Box cartoon

To those who keep saying that the Obama administration should stop "feeding the trolls" ...

FiveThirtyEight.com: Santelli Smackdown Shows White House Foil Strategy (posted Feb. 20)

Cable news and Rush Limbaugh are an Obama Administration foil. Today, the White House continued to signal that the dumb things that get said by administration critics on right-wing radio and cable news networks will be used by the White House as fodder for "look how irrational our critics are."

Robert Gibbs relished the opportunity to lay some wood to the cable barkers today, specifically that CNBC reporter Rick Santelli "doesn't know what he's talking about."

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Posh Zoom

(no subject)

Firing Back on the “Fiscal Responsibility" Lobby



Yes, it's true. The conservatives—that's right, the very same folks who just dragged us along on an eight-year drunken binge during which they borrowed-and-spent us into the deepest financial catastrophe in nearly a century—are now standing there, faces full of moral rectitude, fingers pointing and shaking in our faces, righteously lecturing the rest of us on the topic of "fiscal responsibility."
I didn't think it was possible. I mean, they were mean enough drunk—but hung over, in the clear light of morning, it turns out they're even worse.
I know. The choice is hard. Laugh? Cry? Scream? All three at once? It would almost be funny, if it weren't such clear evidence of a complete break with objective reality—and their ideas of what that "fiscal responsibility" means weren't so dangerous to the future of the country.

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Everyone should really read this....because it refutes almost every conservative argument lollll
cthulhu for president, why choose a lesser evil?
  • biichan

HuffPo:SENTATOR RICHARD SHELBY IS A MASSIVELY MISGUIDED MORON.

Richard Shelby, Alabama Senator, Questions Obama's Citizenship

The Cullman Times reports that Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, in a meeting with constituents, appeared to give some thought to rumors questioning President Obama's citizenship.

Another local resident asked Shelby if there was any truth to a rumor that appeared during the presidential campaign concerning Obama's U.S. citizenship, or lack thereof.


"Well his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven't seen any birth certificate," Shelby said. "You have to be born in America to be president."

According to the Associated Press, state officials in Hawaii checked health department records during the campaign and determined there was no doubt Obama was born in Hawaii.


Politico's Ben Smith says he has emailed Shelby's spokesman to ask if the Senator actually believes there's truth in the repeatedly debunked rumor.

WTF SAUCE

Obama: People Should See Tax Cut Help By April 1

from The Associated Press

It took only weeks for the notoriously slow Congress to pass the $787 billion economic stimulus package. President Barack Obama signed it into law less than one month into his presidency.

So when should most people hope to start seeing the benefits of tax cuts in it?

By April 1, according to the president.


"Never before in our history has a tax cut taken effect faster or gone to so many hardworking Americans," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address.

The president said his signature two-year "Making Work Pay" tax break will affect 95 percent of working families, and, in six weeks' time, a typical family will start taking home at least $65 more every month.

Taxpayers won't get a separate check mailed to them like many did with last year's one-time payment designed by the Bush administration to help boost the economy.

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States Cut Spending as U.S. Stimulus Fails to Fix Budget Woes

States Cut Spending as U.S. Stimulus Fails to Fix Budget Woes
By Lorraine Woellert and Jonathan D. Salant

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- States are cutting spending and increasing taxes because aid in the $787 billion economic stimulus signed by President Barack Obama last week isn’t enough to balance their budgets, governors meeting in Washington said.

“States have a cumulative deficit that is more than double the money we get,” said Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell. Even with the stimulus, “there’s not a state in this union that’s going to be able to wipe away all its problems.”

The U.S. economic crisis dominated talk as the National Governors Association held its annual winter meeting in Washington this weekend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its lowest level since 1997 last week. Government reports showed industrial output sank in January for a sixth time in seven months and housing starts plunged 17 percent. Companies from General Motors Corp. to Alcoa Inc. are slashing jobs and cutting production as the recession threatens to become the worst slump in the postwar era.
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Beheading of Wife Poses Another Test for U.S. Muslims

The crime was so brutal, shocking and rife with the worst possible stereotypes about their faith that some U.S. Muslims thought the initial reports were a hoax.

The harsh reality of what happened in an affluent suburb of Buffalo, New York — the beheading of 37-year-old Aasiya Hassan and arrest of her estranged husband in the killing — is another crucible for American Muslims.

Here was a couple that appeared to be the picture of assimilation and tolerance, co-founders of a television network that aspired to improve the image of Muslims in a post-Sept. 11 world.

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you could cut ties with all the lies

The march of the atheist movement (atheists buses expand + pictures of famous atheists)

The march of the atheist movement
First it was a bus, now a student body has been formed to spread the secular word

In the rush-hour traffic on High Holborn, commuters were getting off one of many London buses that carry an advert proclaiming the beginning of Psalm 53: "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God."

But, in a theatre down the road, hundreds had gathered to proclaim exactly that – that there is indeed no God and those who think there is one are, in fact, the real fools.

Greeted by a cardboard cutout of Darwin, they gathered in Conway Hall, the headquarters of the Ethical Society, for the creation of the first national student body to represent and lobby for the rights of young British atheists.
 

 

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Taking a stand: Notable non-believers

Diagoras of Melos

Often referred to as the "first atheist", Diagoras was a poet and sophist who openly spoke out against religion in ancient Greece and was forced to flee Athens for doing so. Unfortunately, little record of what he thought survives although we know that he publicly questioned the Eleusinian Mysteries, an elaborate series of ceremonies.

Albert Einstein

Einstein was regularly asked if he thought there was a god. In developing the theory of relativity, he realised there must have been a beginning to the universe. The question he struggled with was what came before the beginning? He concluded: "I do not believe in a personal God. If something is in me which can be called religion, then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

Mark Twain

A fearsome critic of organised religion, Twain wrote many of the soundbites atheists repeat today, such as: "If Christ were here, there is one thing he would not be: a Christian." Born in 1835, a year Halley's comet was seen, he ironically predicted "the Almighty" would take him next time the comet passed near Earth. He died in 1910, two weeks after the comet was spotted once more.

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Check out this mixed bag of famous atheists that The Independent UK has identified:

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What does Pelosi want?

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There is nobody Republicans blame more for their woes than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

It is Pelosi who loaded the stimulus bill with pork. It is Pelosi who shuts Republicans out of the legislative process, ramrods her liberal ideology through the House and imposes San Francisco values on the nation.

Even if the charges aren’t true — and some of them are demonstrably false — Republicans can’t be blamed for feeling that Pelosi is responsible for much of what ails them.

Four years ago, she set out in motion a plan to make Republicans a minority. At a time when others were talking about Republicans building a permanent majority, she sought control of the House. She wanted her party to control the Senate. She wanted a Democrat in the White House.

And now she has it all.

Her 77-seat majority in the House is the biggest either party has enjoyed in a generation. Her kinship with President Barack Obama places her in the center of nearly every major policy decision. Her clutch on fellow House members gives her wide latitude to impose her will on the chamber.

So what does Pelosi want?

Conservatives fear an explosion of big government spending, the rekindling of programs extinguished since the Reagan years. Liberals hope for a burst of progressive legislation to satisfy pent-up demand, mixed with a touch of retribution for what they feel were the excesses of the George W. Bush presidency.

Both sides are off the mark, according to those who know Pelosi best.

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P.s Excuse the young Pelosi, but I love me some young Pelosi. :)

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Marijuana Legalization More Popular than Key Conservative Leaders

Inspired by this Chris Bowers post, here’s a chart I made comparing public support for legalizing marijuana to the approval ratings for Rush Limbaugh and various Republican Party leaders that I found on PollingReport:

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Needless to say, support for marijuana legalization is pretty much a “fringe” view in national politics. And it certainly doesn’t have majority support. And yet put it in perspective and this is what you get.
source: Matt Yglesias

' jules
  • schmiss

CC <3 BO

Crist: There's Only One National Leader, "His Name Is President Obama"



In a half-hour segment on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, the varying threads of the GOP political psychology came into sharp contrast. On one side sat Charlie Crist, the moderate governor of the state of Florida, who not only openly campaigned for the president's stimulus package but also sent some very public plaudits the Obama's way.

"I think there is a national leader, his name is President Obama," he told host David Gregory when asked if his own party had national leaders. "The people elected him. And I'm willing to give him a good shot and try to help make this work. We're in a tough time, as we talked about before. I think we do need to be bipartisan. We need to be, in fact, nonpartisan. We're all Americans. Our country is at a dire point and we need to do everything we can to work together to get America through this."

Pressed as to whether he thought "the president has the right prescription to ease this recession," the Florida Republican replied, without pausing: "I think he's on the right track." Asked if he thought it was a mistake for "the Republican Party to define itself by opposition to the stimulus," he said: "It may be."

The show's other guest, Bobby Jindal, did not offer such willing praise for the president. The Louisiana Governor, known superficially as the conservative Obama, pledged that the party would and should work in a bipartisan fashion. But his pitch was one of philosophical defiance, especially on matters like the stimulus.

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America's Top 15 Emptiest Cities.

These Once Boom Cities Are Now Quickly Turning Into Recession Ghost Towns.

By ZACK O'MALLEY GREENBURG
Forbes.com

Feb. 22, 2009—

 

Call it a modern-day tale of two cities.

For decades, Las Vegas, ripe with new construction and economic development, burgeoned into a shimmering urban carnival. Detroit, once the fulcrum of American industry, sagged and rusted under its own weight.

These days, it's the worst of times for both.

Las Vegas edged Detroit for the title of America's most abandoned city. Atlanta came in third, followed by Greensboro, N.C., and Dayton, Ohio. Our rankings, a combination of rental and homeowner vacancy rates for the 75 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, are based on fourth-quarter data released Feb. 3 by the Census Bureau. Each was ranked on rental vacancies and housing vacancies; the final ranking is an average of the two.

Cities like Detroit and Dayton are casualties of America's lengthy industrial decline. Others, like Las Vegas and Orlando, are mostly victims of the recent housing bust. Boston and New York are among the lone bright spots, while Honolulu is the nation's best with a vacancy rate of 5.8 percent for homes and a scant 0.5 percent for rentals.

Still, empty neighborhoods are becoming an increasingly daunting problem across the country. The national rental vacancy rate now stands at 10.1 percent, up from 9.6 percent a year ago; homeowner vacancy has edged up from 2.8 percent to 2.9 percent. Richmond, Va.'s rental vacancy rate of 23.7 percent is the worst in America, while Orlando's 7.4 percent rate is lousiest on the homeowner side. Detroit and Las Vegas are among the worst offenders by both measures--the Motor City sports vacancy rates of 19.9 percent for rentals and 4 percent for homes; Sin City has rates of 16 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively.

"It's a mess," says Vegas developer Laurence Hallier. "Right now, things are just frozen. Everybody's scared."

Hallier, 40, knows from experience. His $600 million Panorama Towers complex was a tremendous success at its inception three years ago. The first of his four planned residential skyscrapers sold out in six months; the second, which opened in 2007, sold out in 12 weeks. As the third tower neared completion last fall, Hallier had sold 92 percent of its units. Then the recession hit, and only half the units ended up closing. Hallier says it will take years to break even, and plans for the fourth tower have been delayed indefinitely.

There are others who've made--and lost--far worse gambles on Vegas property. In 2007, Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva and partner Nochi Dankner paid $1.25 billion to buy a 34.5-acre site on the Strip, with plans to build an $8 billion mega-casino modeled after New York's Plaza Hotel. By November, the value of the lot had plummeted to $650 million--half what they paid for it. Groundbreaking on the casino has been pushed back to 2010, and today, the land may be worth less than the $625 million Tshuva and Dankner borrowed to buy it.

The Plaza debacle is emblematic of the problems afflicting millions of property owners in Vegas and around the country--and can explain, in large part, the origins of America's housing crisis.

As real estate prices skyrocketed during the boom, consumers took out massive loans to buy homes, assuming values would continue to rise. Instead they took a nosedive, especially in places like Las Vegas, Florida and Phoenix, where the housing boom had created excess inventory and so-called "bad loans" were rampant. Many homeowners suddenly found themselves with properties worth far less than the mortgages they'd taken out. In the worst cases, banks foreclosed, leaving people without homes--and with more debt than they'd had to begin with.

The situation in places like Las Vegas is bad enough, but Detroit's problems run much deeper. Though its vacancy rates are marginally better than Sin City's, Motown has been on the empty side for decades. An industrial boomtown during the first half of the 20th century, Detroit's population swelled from 285,000 in 1900 to 990,000 in 1920, reaching a peak of 1.8 million in 1950.

But starting in the 1960s, Detroit began a precipitous decline. Detroit's population is now 900,000 -- half what it was in the middle of the century -- and many of its neighborhoods languish in varying states of decay. Most scholars blame rapid suburbanization, outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, and federal programs they say exacerbated the situation by creating a culture of joblessness and dependency.

Yet after more than half a century, countless scholars, politicians, community organizers developers and nonprofit workers have been unable to come up with a solution to fix Detroit.

Will Las Vegas eventually suffer the same fate?

"I don't think Vegas is overbuilt," says Hallier. "Despite what everybody says, Vegas still has 2 million people."

Time will tell if this sort of optimism is warranted. Cynics who've witnessed Detroit's decline might liken Hallier's opinions to another Dickens oeuvre: Great Expectations.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=6914381

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‘Milk’ screenwriter Dustin Lance Black wins Oscar.

At tonight’s Academy Awards, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black won the Oscar for Best Screenplay for “Milk,” the story of California’s first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk. Black — who was wearing a White Knot for marriage equality — spoke about how Milk inspired him:
BLACK: When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas, to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life; it gave me the hope that one day I could live my life openly as who I am and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married. […]
Most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value. And that no matter what everyone tells you, God does love you, and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.
Black’s speech was greeted by loud applause. Watch it:
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MISC - moustache

Wisconsin soldier says he won't return to Iraq

A Wisconsin Army Reservist refused to leave Friday to return to his unit in Iraq, saying he's become disillusioned with the U.S. role there.

Spc. Kristoffer Walker of Green Bay said he sent an e-mail to his squad leader, platoon sergeant and company first sergeant in Iraq, stating he won't return from his two-week leave.

The 28-year-old Walker has served with the 353rd Transportation Company out of Buffalo, Minn., which deployed to Iraq in October. He said he was a truck driver for the first two months, and since then he's worked in the headquarters office.

Walker said in a telephone interview from Green Bay on Friday night that he originally enlisted in the Army in February 2002, motivated by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and served a tour in Iraq as an infantryman. After four years active duty, he later joined the Reserves.

He said he now views the Iraq war as "an illegitimate, unnecessary campaign," and he feels that by making him take part, the government broke the contract under which he agreed to defend the U.S.

"I feel absolutely justified in doing what I'm doing now based on their breach of the initial contract," he said.

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RDJ - Ent Week Dec 2009

Just look at this couple. Look, damn it!

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All 50 US Governors Meet With Obama Over Stimulus
President Assures State Leaders Of Intentions To Help Them Through Economic Crisis
(CBS 2's Joel Brown contributed to this report.)

WASHINGTON (CBS) ― All 50 governors are in Washington, D.C. Sunday night.

They attended a dinner with President Barack Obama Sunday, during which he assured them that he wants to help all of their states through this economy in crisis.

The Oscars wasn't the only black tie event Sunday night.

State governors from across the nation arrived at the White House for an evening of cocktails and dinner.

Their host President Obama greeted the 50 state leaders with a toast.

"I want you to know that, regardless of our occasional differences, I hope we can work together," Obama said. "I am confident we can do that."

It was all smiles at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but earlier in the day, several governors made the Sunday morning circuit to criticize Obama's plan to cut America's budget deficit in half.

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Queen Francoise

SHOCKING! Republican is an insensitive prick

Bunning: Ginsburg will be dead in nine months

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), already in political trouble for 2010, didn’t help matters any over the weekend.

At a Lincoln Day Dinner speech over the weekend, Bunning predicted that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would likely be dead from pancreatic cancer in nine months, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The paper reports that Bunning reiterated his support of conservative judges, saying “that’s going to be in place very shortly because Ruth Bader Ginsburg…has cancer.”

“Bad cancer. The kind you don’t get better from,” Bunning went on. “Even though she was operated on, usually nine months is the longest that anybody would live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.”

News of his comments comes as Bunning continues to take fire from the very Senate campaign committee tasked to help his re-election. PolitickerKY, a Kentucky-based political website, reported that state Senate President David Williams met with officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee to explore a primary campaign against Bunning.

The report suggested that operatives of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were working to assist Williams in a potential primary campaign -- and that McConnell's pollster is commissioning a survey to assess Williams’ viability against Bunning.

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