February 25th, 2009

  • bispo

Obama Kisses Clinton At State Of The Union (VIDEO)

On his way into the House chamber to deliver his first address to Congress, President Obama shook hands with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- then leaned in for a kiss. Watch:
Obama also stopped for a lengthy embrace with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, back on the bench this week after surgery for pancreatic cancer.
At last year's State Of The Union, Clinton and Obama were somewhat frosty with each other.

Coleman may continue legal challenges

Coleman may continue legal challenges

Republican Norm Coleman on Tuesday refused to rule out an appeal if a three-judge panel rules against his challenge in what he called “the race that never ends.”

Coleman, who now has no Senate office to call his own, lunched with Senate Republicans Tuesday and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. In the closed lunch meeting, Coleman gave his colleagues an update on his legal challenge to Democrat Al Franken’s 225-vote lead in Minnesota.

Coleman, who has been raising funds to help with his legal bills, said he doesn’t even have to ask his Senate Republican colleagues for money because “everybody knows how important this race is, how important this seat is.”
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When oh when will the CRTC get it right?

A coalition of more than 70 technology companies, including internet search leader Google, online retailer Amazon and voice over internet provider Skype, is calling on the CRTC to ban internet service providers from "traffic shaping," or using technology that favours some applications over others.

In a submission filed Monday to the Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in advance of a July probe into the issue of internet traffic management, the Open Internet Coalition said traffic shaping network management "discourages investment in broadband networks, diminishes consumer choice, interferes with users' freedom of expression, and inhibits innovation."

"If the commission allows Canadian ISPs to apply application specific traffic management practices to legal content or applications, it would be out of step with U.S. telecommunications policy and would disadvantage Canadian consumers and application providers," wrote the Open Internet Coalition.


Collapse )Source: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2009/02/24/tech-net-neutrality.html

Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger To Congress: My Pay Has Been Cut 40 Percent In Recent Years, Pension Te

Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger To Congress: My Pay Has Been Cut 40 Percent In Recent Years, Pension Terminated

The air traffic controller who handled Flight 1549 thought ditching in the Hudson River amounted to a death sentence for all aboard. Now the veteran pilot who pulled off the ditching safely says harsh pay cuts are driving experienced pilots from the cockpit.

"People don't survive landings on the Hudson River," 10-year veteran controller Patrick Harten told a House subcommittee Tuesday in his first public description of how he tried to land the jetliner that lost power in both jets when it hit Canada geese after takeoff from New York's LaGuardia Airport.

"I thought it was his own death sentence," Harten said of the moment when US Airways pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger radioed that he was going into the river. Defying the odds, Sullenberger safely glided the Airbus A320 down and all 155 people aboard survived the Jan. 15 water landing.
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Mr. T the Patriot

Wal-Mart Agrees To Pay $17.5 Million To Settle Race Bias Suit

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) has agreed to pay $17.5 million to settle a class- action lawsuit accusing the world's largest retailer of discriminating against African-Americans in recruitment and hiring of truck drivers for its private fleet.

The company also agreed to priority job placements for 23 of the plaintiffs who submit approved claim forms, provide direct notice of all future job opportunities to all interested members of the class-action suit, establish benchmark hiring goals so future hires are proportionate by race to the composition of applicants, select a diversity recruiter, and improve its recruitment efforts and advertising aimed at African-Americans.
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Bill would legalize, tax marijuana

California may be going to pot - literally.

Marijuana would be grown and sold openly to adults 21 and older under legislation introduced this morning by a San Francisco lawmaker.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, said the cash-starved state could generate more than a billion dollars by taxing pot growers and sellers.

Ammiano predicted that the public would support loosening marijuana laws that require substantial public funds to enforce.

"I think there's a mentality throughout the state and the country that this isn't the highest priority," he said. "And that maybe we should start to reassess."


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Setbacks for Coleman grow at Senate recount trial

Setbacks for Coleman grow at Senate recount trial
Judges allowed marks to be removed and heard other ballots were properly rejected.

Ballots that Norm Coleman wants to count took a beating in testimony on Tuesday, while ballots he thinks are illegal were protected by the judges hearing the U.S. Senate trial.

In the latest in a series of setbacks for Coleman, the three-judge panel refused to preserve identifying marks on counted absentee ballots that he claims have been rendered illegal by recent rulings of the court.

The decision hampers the ability of Coleman, a Republican, to challenge ballots tallied in the final phase of the recount, when DFL Al Franken took a 225-vote lead.
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George Clooney demands a meeting with President Obama.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Barack Obama must have a fair bit on his 'to do' list. There's the whole messy situation in Iraq and Afghanistan to sort out, the little matter of a global recession and the fact that everywhere you go people sport worried grins as they expect you to be shot at any moment. And more important than all of these issues, Obama has to pencil in a meeting with George Clooney. Best get onto that one right away then.



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scary black man

No More Racism! I'm So Glad Obamas election proved we now live in a post racial society

 Mayor sent e-mail with watermelons at White House

The mayor of Los Alamitos is coming under fire for an e-mail he sent out that depicts the White House lawn planted with watermelons, under the title "No Easter egg hunt this year."

Grose confirmed to the AP that he sent the e-mail to Price and said he didn't mean to offend her. He said he was unaware of the racial stereotype that black people like watermelons.

He said he and Price are friends and serve together on a community youth board.

"Bottom line is, we laugh at things and I didn't see this in the same light that she did," Grose told the AP. "I'm sorry. It wasn't sent to offend her personally—or anyone—from the standpoint of the African-American race."

(read the rest here)

(no subject)

Don't Buy Here: 10 Companies That Hate The Gays

With the economy ever tanking, now is as good a time as any to take stock of where your gay dollars are going. You may not have much (or, thanks to prudent investing in gold and shares in Mr. Hobo J. Poverschmidt's Hobo Sticks Emporium, you may have quite a bit), so why spend it on companies whose executives use their cash to fund anti-gay bills or who refuse their gay employees the same benefits as their straight co-workers? With legislators using the economy as an excuse not to move on gay rights bills, we present this list so that you can vote with your dollar and hit homophobic executives where it hurts most.

These are the 10 worst companies for gays and lesbians, chosen for their national influence, prominence, history of corporate bigotry and the likelihood you can do something about it. Not a single one of them deserves a nickel.


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    Ray LaMontagne - Shelter
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RDJ - Ent Week Dec 2009

Sweden's future queen to marry a 'commoner'

Sweden's Princess Victoria To Marry Gym Owner
AP | MALIN RISING | February 24, 2009 12:23 PM

STOCKHOLM — Sweden's future queen will marry her boyfriend next year, the royal court announced Tuesday, ending years of speculation.

The court announced the engagement of Crown Princess Victoria to Daniel Westling after informing government ministers Tuesday at Stockholm's waterfront royal palace.

The wedding will take place "in the early summer of 2010," the royal court said.

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Keith Boykin Leads to Catholic Outrage


"A Roman Catholic bishop in northeastern Pennsylvania wants a Catholic university to close a multicultural center because it hosted a visit by a gay-rights advocate. Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino says Misericordia (miz-ur-ih-KOR'-dee-uh) University shouldn't have sanctioned a Feb. 17 visit by author Keith Boykin [who was just named a CNBC contributor, congrats!]. He says viewpoints that contradict Catholic teaching should not be presented "under the guise of 'diversity.'" [AP]

LAME! Keith is one of my personal idols. Step off, fuckers.

&#39; jules
  • schmiss

Machiavelli he's not.

Tennessee’s Democratic Governor Weighs Rejecting Stimulus Funds

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen says he’s still among the top candidates for a post in the Obama cabinet, but that hasn’t discouraged him from possibly rejecting some of the stimulus money that President Barack Obama is sending his way.

Bredesen, who says he is “on a fairly short list” of candidates for health and human services secretary, told a Chattanooga paper that he is considering turning down federal funds for unemployment insurance included in the economic recovery package signed by the president last week.

He would be the first Democrat to refuse part of the stimulus for states, joining Republican governors like South Carolina’s Mark Sanford and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, who is giving the GOP response to Obama’s economic address this evening.

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What gets me isn't that he's rejecting the funds, but that he's doing it while bragging that he could be HHS Secretary. ummm... fail.

(no subject)

Conservatives pan Jindal's 'weak' and 'amateurish' speech

After President Obama's strong address to Congress Tuesday, hopes were high among conservatives that their new golden boy, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, would respond with equal oratorical might. Judging from the responses of commentators and bloggers from the right side of the aisle, that did not happen.

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Magneto in X-Men Legends.
  • doop

Feline Town Built for 500 Cats

In Florida, one man has carved out 30-acres to provide a home to nearly 500 unwanted felines, who travel from far and wide to settle into their elaborate sanctuary, Caboodle Ranch. The founder of the ranch fronts all of the facility's costs out of his own pocket.

LEE, Fla. -- Security is tight at the Caboodle Ranch, where the entrance is guarded by 500 strong. Yet, the formidable presence melts into purrs as guests enter the 30-acre cat sanctuary in Madison County, 50 miles from the state capital of Tallahassee.

The man behind it all is Craig Grant, the founder of Caboodle Ranch. But for a retired contractor who had an aversion to felines, Grant's golden years have taken an unusual twist.

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"GOD" - the new four letter word in public schools.

Why is religion taboo in American schools? Christian attorney John Whitehead addresses that question.

"God has become THE four-letter word in most public schools in the United States," says Whitehead, founder of The Rutherford Institute. And he explains in a commentary why that has come to pass: "An elite segment of society that views God as irrelevant has come to predominate." (View video commentary)
Whitehead gained his legal insights into the phenomenon through the many cases of religious discrimination that have crossed his desk.
"What's happened is [that] the elitists -- the people who run American society, from the public education system to certain governmental institutions and figures -- have basically decided that God is irrelevant to public discussion," says Whitehead during an interview with OneNewsNow.
"...This ignores the 120 million-plus people in America who take their religion seriously, [who] practice it, and who pay taxes to support institutions like the public schools."
John WhiteheadAnd what that does, adds Whitehead, is force those people -- along with their religious rights and their free-speech rights -- into "utter subservience" to all other beliefs.
The issue, according to the attorney, is not separation of church and state -- an argument frequently cited by those who assume the secular viewpoint. "The issue in such instances is the religious believer versus the secular state," he writes. "It is also a denial of everything this country stands for in terms of the freedoms of speech, religion, and a respect for moral tradition."
Whitehead believes that what exists now in America is akin to the old Soviet Union and China, where it is religious believers fending off the state.


Somehow I get these emails in my inbox.  I don't know why.
K-Box cartoon

To those who think they know how busy the Obama administration has been?

You have no idea:

NPR: The Obama Tracker

President Obama has kicked off his term by making key leadership appointments, carrying out an ambitious economic plan and laying the foundation for foreign and domestic policies. NPR's Obama Tracker charts significant events and developments in the new administration, and actions the president takes as he settles into the job.

( Take a look at the chronological chart for yourselves ... )
Yes, I saved this link to my bookmarks. :)
panda bear

(no subject)

Krugman Jindal Response: GOP Has Become 'The Party Of Beavis And Butthead'

The full gamut of punditry had little praise for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's rebuttal speech Tuesday night. Notably, Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman, responding to the flak Jindal gave high-speed rail and volcano-monitoring, has labeled the GOP 'the party of Beavis and Butthead':

So what did Bobby Jindal choose to ridicule in this response to Obama last night? Volcano monitoring, of course.

The intellectual incoherence is stunning. Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.

Sam Stein has more on the response from Democrats, Republicans and pundits, who more or less reached consensus: the speech was an awkward, embarrassing flop. From Stein:

"After watching Jindal," one Democratic strategist emailed, "I'd pay a lot of money to be back watching a Palin speech."

"Awkward with capital A," emailed another.

The punditry was equally brutal. Part of the problem was the crux of Jindal's address, which consisted almost entirely of red meat for conservatives. The Governor offered criticism for anything other than tax cuts and ridiculed government spending for items that are either widely supported -- "$8 billion for high-speed rail" -- or seemingly essential -- "$140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring'" (isn't Louisiana Exhibit A in the need for natural disaster warning?).

And as Jason Linkins notes, even the usually lackluster New York Times columnist David Brooks became somewhat animated in his reaction to the speech, describing Jindal's argument on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer as "just a form of nihilism". The transcript:

LEHRER: How well did he do?

BROOKS: Not so well. You know, I think Bobby Jindal is a very promising politician, and I opposed the stimulus package - I thought it was poorly drafted - but to come up at this moment in history with a stale, "government is the problem...we can't trust the government"...it's just a disaster for the Republican Party. The country is in a panic, now. They may not like the way the Congress passed the stimulus bill. The idea that government is going to have no role in this...in a moment where only the Federal government is big enough to do stuff...to just ignore all that and say government's the problem...corruption, earmarks, wasteful spending - it's just a form of nihilism. It's just not where the country is, it's not where the future of the country is. There's an intra-Republican debate: some people say the Republican party lost its way because it got too moderate, some people say they got too weird or too conservative. He thinks they got too moderate, and he's making that case. I think it's insane. I think it's a disaster for the party. I just think it's unfortunate right now.

at least i&#39;m different
  • heather

Oh, Well if LIMBAUGH says he's cool, then...

Limbaugh Defends Jindal, Warns Conservatives They Are ‘Making A Real Mistake If They Go After’ Him</i></font>

The response across the political spectrum to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R-LA) speech last night has been overwhelmingly negative. Even the most enthusiastic conservative talkers had harsh words for Jindal, calling it “cheesy,” “insane,” and “not his greatest oratorical moment.”</p>

But Jindal still maintains one key supporter — Rush Limbaugh. On his radio show this afternoon, Limbaugh leaped to Jindal’s defense. “I love Bobby Jindal, and that did not change after last night,” he said. Limbaugh then directed this admonition at his fellow conservatives:

LIMBAUGH: [T]he people on our side are really making a mistake if they go after Bobby Jindal on the basis of style. Because if you think — people on our side I’m talking to you — those of you who think Jindal was horrible, you think — in fact, I don’t ever want to hear from you ever again. … I’ve spoken to him numerous times, he’s brilliant. He’s the real deal.

Watch it:

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  • bispo

Joe The Plumber is a Moron at 11

In town to promote his new book, "Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream", Samuel J. Wurzelbacher — aka "Joe the Plumber" — stopped by Americans for Tax Reform Wednesday to review President Barack Obama's Tuesday address before Congress and offer his own thoughts on American politics and current events.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Wurzelbacher, who campaigned alongside Sen. John McCain during the 2008 campaign, did not have many nice things to say about Obama's speech and stimulus proposal.

"I believe he's taking America down the wrong path," Wurzelbacher told POLITICO. "So far every step he's taken I pretty much disagree with." Wurzelbacher has been pondering a run for Congress and said, "If I became a congressman I would literally bang people's heads together and probably get in a lot of trouble."

And, for those of you interested in plumbing, Wurzelbacher has some good pointers for you.
panda bear


Obama family chooses dog

One of the most intense guessing games of President Obama’s new administration is finally over: the choice of first dog.

First Lady Michelle Obama told People magazine that her family has decided to adopt a Portuguese water dog, pointing to the breed’s medium-sized and good-natured reputation. The breed is also hypoallergenic — a must, given daughter Malia’s allergy to dogs.

The first lady said her daughters will have to wait until the end of April to get the dog, since her family is planning on going away for Spring Break.

The only thing left to pick is the name, and Mrs. Obama said she is not a fan of her daughters’ choices.

“There are names floating around and they're bad," Mrs. Obama said in the interview. "You listen and you go – like, I think, Frank was one of them. Frank! Moose was another one of them. Moose. I said, well, what if the dog isn't a moose? Moose. I'm like, no, come on, let's work with the names a little bit."

Since Obama announced on Election Night that his daughters had “earned” a dog, there has been a lot of speculation and input from dog-lovers around the country. The president has said for months that he was looking for a shelter dog that was hypoallergenic.

Mrs. Obama said she took some advice from Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, who owns two Portuguese water dogs and had lobbied the first family to choose the breed. But overall, she said found the level of excitement about the family’s dog “surprising.”

"It's all great and gracious attention,” Mrs. Obama said, in the edition of people that hits newsstands Friday. “People are just being as helpful as you can imagine. So I know that we will find the perfect breed. And we'll find people who are caring folks who will help us find the dog of our dreams."


&#39; jules
  • schmiss

Just in case you thought Jindal had a monopoly on the Louisiana lulz

Vitter Facing Possible Circus Primary: Christian-Right Activist And Porn Star

Louisiana politics is known for being a bit weird compared to the rest of the country, and it's starting to look like this cycle will be no exception -- with scandal-plagued GOP Sen. David Vitter facing a potential primary challenge from a major Christian-Right activist on the one side, and a porn star on the other.

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, told the Politico that he's considering a primary challenge against Vitter, whose conservative reputation has been damaged by his implication in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal: "I will say this: I have people in Louisiana encouraging me to consider it."

Meanwhile, porn star Stormy Daniels is publicly contemplating a bid in the Republican primary herself, in order to cast light on Vitter's moral hypocrisy. So Vitter could be facing clowns to the left of him, and jokers to the right. But which is which?

To answer that, let's ask the question: Just who is Tony Perkins?

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This will end well.
  • bispo

Holy Matrimony: Indian Politician Converts, Takes Second Wife, Vanishes

CHANDIGARH, India -- As India was reeling from the Mumbai terrorist attacks in December, Chander Mohan, deputy chief minister of the northern state of Haryana, made a shocking announcement.

Mr. Mohan, whose overwhelmingly Hindu state of 23 million people is among India's most prosperous, declared that he had converted to Islam. The 43-year-old father of two added that he had also just wed a second wife, another Muslim convert.

What's happened since has all the trappings of a Bollywood plot, replete with an alleged kidnapping and mysterious disappearances. The drama's serious subtext shows how crucial religious identity remains in a country that bills itself as the world's largest secular democracy.

Serving his fourth term in Haryana's legislature, Mr. Mohan was widely touted by supporters as a future chief minister, the equivalent of a U.S. governor. But immediately after the conversion announcement, he was fired from his job and relieved of his security detail. The Haryana government also dismissed his new wife, 37-year-old lawyer Anuradha Bali, from her position as the state's assistant advocate-general.

The official reason for both sackings was that Mr. Mohan, now known as Chand Mohammad, and Ms. Bali, who now goes by the Muslim name of Fiza, failed to perform their government duties. Both dispute this assessment.

"This was all just because we became Muslim. There is no other good reason," said Ms. Bali in a recent interview, chewing gum while fiddling with her two cellular phones.
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by &lt;lj_user=&quot;yellowbang&quot;&gt;

2 Palestinian women now Islamic court judges

RAMALLAH, West Bank - The Islamic courts were among the last male-only bastions in Palestinian society, where women have been presidential candidates, police officers and even suicide bombers.

Now two stern-looking young women in Muslim head scarves and long black robes have smashed through the thick glass ceiling.

Khuloud Faqih, 34, and Asmahan Wuheidi, 31, made history in February when they became the first female Islamic judges in the Palestinian territories.

Across the Arab world, only Sudan has had women judges in Islamic courts, West Bank-based academic experts on Islamic affairs said. Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, all relatively progressive states in the region on women's rights, do not.

"I compare us to other Arab Muslim women, and I think we've done well," said Faqih, wearing a sash in the colors of the Palestinian flag across her robe. "I think I've opened a door for myself and other women."

She spoke between meetings with petitioners in her modest courtroom — an office with a few couches, a desk and a coffee table with plastic flowers.

Muslim courts in the Palestinian Authority rule over family affairs like marriage, divorce, inheritance and custody, relying on Islamic jurisprudence rather than secular rules.

The petitioners did not seem shocked to see a woman in the judge's seat — in this case, an office chair. But they appeared to argue often and loudly with Faqih, in stark contrast to the quiet in a neighboring room where a male judge heard cases from respectful petitioners.


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  • bispo

On That ‘Sin Express’ to Nowhere…

It is the Republican talking point that won’t die, even though it has little if any basis in reality: what they claim is an earmark in the federal stimulus package for a high-speed train from Disneyland to Las Vegas.

Ever since Democrats added $8 billion for high-speed rail projects into the final stimulus bill, Republicans have cast it as pork that will give the Senate’s Democratic majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, a magnetic levitation train project that he has supported in the past that could go from Anaheim, Cal., to Las Vegas in 86 minutes.

The latest to cite the project was Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who, in his Republican response Tuesday night to President Obama’s address to Congress, complained that the stimulus included wasteful spending like “$8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a magnetic levitation line from Las Vegas to Disneyland.”

There are just a few problems with this. Nothing in the law talks authorizes a train from Las Vegas to California. The provision authorizing $8 billion for high-speed rail spending directs the federal Transportation Department to develop guidelines about who can apply for it, and then to decide how the money will be spent.

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  • bispo

Limbaugh To Convene A ‘Female Summit’ To Figure Out Why Women Hate Him

Women don’t really like Rush Limbaugh. On Feb. 23, Public Policy Polling released findings showing that only 37 percent of women hold a favorable opinion of the hate radio host, compared to 56 percent of men.

As Jill Zimon notes, Limbaugh brought up this poll yesterday on his radio show, noting that it was one of the largest gender gaps Public Policy Polling has seen on any issue it has polled in the past year. His solution? To convene a summit of women to find out why they dislike him:

We’ll have a summit of all the women in this audience — or as many of them as we can get into breakout groups — and perhaps devote an hour in an upcoming program to calls only from women who genuinely want to talk to me. They can be liberal, conservative. They could be non-audience members, could be audience members. But I want some of these women to start telling me what it is I must do to close the gender gap — or, if not what it is I must do to close the gender gap, what it is I’ve done that has caused the gender gap; assuming the gender gap is true and that the poll is true. […]

I own the men, and what must I do now to own women? And who better to ask than women? Including some of those who may agree that that I’m unfavorable. So stand by for that.

Listen here:

Women generally don’t like sexist remarks. A quick scan through some of Rush’s past statements shows that he does:

– “She’s actually a very smart cat. She gets loved. She gets adoration. She gets petted. She gets fed. And she doesn’t have to do anything for it, which is why I say this cat’s taught me more about women, than anything my whole life.” [11/30/06]

– “He’s trying to figure out how he can get involved in the deal down there at Duke where the lacrosse team…supposedly, you know, raped, some, uh, hos.” [3/31/06]

– “You know, there’s a crisis of young man-boy education in the schools. And they did this on purpose, to eliminate male competition in the work force. This is part of feminazi grand plan.” [5/21/08]

– “Classic example of the castrati, the new castrati. Jack Carter is — has been castrated by the feminization of this culture since he grew up.” [2/21/06]

– “I just heard Erin Burnett sounding a little wifey. … Well [she was] whining.” [10/23/07]

Rush later followed up, saying, “The first unsolicited reports from the upcoming female summit already in. They’re saying it’s a waste of time, women will not like me any more than the ones that already do, that you have to be an Oprah today in the media to attract.” He said that he was nevertheless still intent on holding a summit.

Face it, Rush. Women are just not that into you.

&#39; jules
  • schmiss

Oh snap?

Sanford: Anybody Who Wants Obama To Fail is An Idiot

In an interview with the website Real Clear Politics, Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) was asked about the “view that perhaps Republicans are rooting for President Obama to fail.” This question was a clear reference to Rush Limbaugh, who infamously said, “I hope Obama fails.” Sanford responded in unequivocal terms:
SANFORD: I don’t want him to fail. Anybody who wants him to fail is an idiot, because it means we’re all in trouble.

In the past, Limbaugh has attacked other Republicans who have expressed hope for President Obama to succeed, declaring that they are “drinking the Kool-Aid… they’re afraid of being called racists.”


Countdown to backpedal in three... two... one...

Fantasy Prosthetics

Mermaid dream comes true thanks to Weta

Nadya Vessey lost her legs as a child but now she swims like a mermaid.

Ms Vessey's mermaid tail was created by Wellington-based film industry wizards Weta Workshop after the Auckland woman wrote to them two years ago asking if they could make her a prosthetic tail. She was astounded when they agreed.
She lost both legs below the knee from a medical condition when she was a child and told Close Up last night her long-held dream had come true. "A prosthetic is a prosthetic, and your body has to be comfortable with it and you have to mentally make it part of yourself," she said.
Ms Vessey told a little boy: "I'm a little mermaid" when he asked what happened to her legs and the idea stuck.
Weta Workshop director Richard Taylor, more used to winning Oscars for visual effects from movies such as Lord of the Rings, was delighted to make it happen. "She was very patient. We haven't always been able to fulfil some requests. We were engaged in it pretty quickly because it was a challenge." Weta costumer Lee Williams, who worked on the suit between film projects with seven other staff, told Close Up she "wanted [Nadya] to be beautiful and sexy".
After seeing Ms Vessey test the tail in Kilbirnie pool then frolic in the harbour, Ms Williams was stoked. "It was absolutely amazing. It's beautiful to watch Nadya swim and to see that dream come true and to be a part of that. I feel quite blessed."
The suit was made mostly of wetsuit fabric and plastic moulds, and was covered in a digitally printed sock. Mermaid-like scales were painted by hand. Mr Taylor said not only did the tail have to be functional, it was important it looked realistic. "What became apparent was that she actually physically wanted to look like a mermaid."

Under the sauce
spike gone

Jindal Tanks. A Lot.

In Post-Speech Afterglow, Obama Lays Out Regulatory Reform Principles

Jindal v. Obama continues to dominate the storyline, on a day when the reviews for each were so strong that the White House has little incentive to change the story.

As mockery poured in from all partisan corners, here's what happened to Bobby Jindal-for-President in 2012 on Intrade after reaction to his speech last night:

Meanwhile, polling reaction to Obama's speech was as good as the White House could have hoped for: CBS News showed a 17% bump, from 63% before the speech to 80% after the speech. Additionally, Obama gained a 15% bump in respondents who believed Obama's economic plans would help them personally, from 36% to 51%.

The post-speech CNN/Opinion Research poll concurred. 68% of viewers reacted to the speech "very positively," 24% reacted "somewhat positively," and 8% negatively.

Today, Obama sought to parlay the afterglow of a strong previous evening into his layout of principles on regulatory reform. In remarks, Obama disputed what he argued was a false choice characterized by much of the debate that has dominated the "nationalization" discussion.

The choice we face is not between some oppressive government-run economy or a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism. Rather, strong financial markets require clear rules of the road, not to hinder financial institutions, but to protect consumers and investors, and ultimately to keep those financial institutions strong. Not to stifle, but to advance competition, growth and prosperity. And not just to manage crises, but to prevent crises from happening in the first place, by restoring accountability, transparency and trust in our financial markets.

While eschewing specifics (like the budget, this is a week of "stay tuned"), the seven principles on regulatory reform Obama outlined in remarks this afternoon were:

1. The big financial institutions that can have systemic impact if they fail need strict regulatory oversight.

2. Modernizing and streamlining the regulatory structure to strengthen the markets.

3. Openness and transparency lead to trust in the markets.

4. Strong and uniform supervision for financial products based on actual data rather than abstract bank-created models.

5. Strict accountability for executives.

6. Comprehensive, loophole-free application of regulation.

7. Challenging other countries to adopt similar high regulation standards so their crises don't virally hurt the global economy.

In testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke continued to push back on "nationalization" as he saw it: “Nationalization, to my mind, is when government seizes the banks, zeros out the shareholders and begins to manage and run the bank, and we don’t plan anything like that."

Last week, knowing that the markets were taking the measure of every carefully-parsed word, Robert Gibbs took tremendous care in his language on the subject. Today, Bernanke's attempt to define "nationalization" as "seiz(ing)" banks and "zeroing out" shareholders, as well as Obama's pushback on unhelpfully caricatured language ("oppressive government-run economy" vs. "chaotic and unforgiving capitalism"), clearly signals that as we move into further and further specifics, the White House is sensitive to and even worried about letting the terms of the debate get away from them.

Where we go tomorrow -- as details begin emerging over the next 12-18 hours on budget specifics (the wire services are upstairs in a bloc getting the embargoed scoop), you should anticipate Republicans eager to put the Jindal black eye behind them and onto a redux of picking out projects and screaming "pork!"

The big question. Will any Republicans see the way the public has reacted to Obama versus their caucus on the stimulus debate, the reactions to the speeches last night, and will those lessons inspire any have a change of heart (dose of sanity) on throwing Obama some support?

Sean Quinn at 5:08 PM

Tank Sauce
music | The Beatles

"An Evening With Stevie Wonder (Feat. Barack Obama)".

(CBS) Perhaps President Barack Obama is a little stressed out from addressing a joint session of Congress last night (and, you know, trying to save the economy). What better way to unwind than an easy-listening concert at the White House featuring Stevie Wonder and special guests?

Actually, the concert has been on the calendar for a couple of weeks. Wonder was there to receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, a lifetime achievement award for American songwriters.

The guests, performing Wonder's songs, included Paul Simon (the first recipient of the award in 2007), Tony Bennett, and will.i.am. Collapse )


Lobbyists Line Up to Torpedo Speech Proposals

Lobbyists Line Up to Torpedo Speech Proposals

Industries from health care to agribusiness to mining that stand to lose under President Barack Obama's policy agenda are ramping up lobbying campaigns to derail or modify his plans.

The day after Mr. Obama formally laid out his policy goals in his first address to Congress, the former chief executive of HCA Inc. unveiled a $20 million campaign to pressure Democrats to enact health-care legislation based on free-market principles.

"What you see is when the government gets involved, you run out of money and health care gets rationed," former CEO Richard Scott said Wednesday, after announcing the creation of Conservatives for Patients Rights.
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