March 22nd, 2009

Get Bernie Sanders onto Twitter, and here is why! :)

A previous Twitter-related post on this very forum made me look for Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders' Twitter account, only to find he doesn't have one! You can sign a petition asking him to start a Twitter account HERE. But - why should you? Here is why!

A sorta/kinda discussion with whosmurry [heeeeyyyyyy!] made me realize -- why doesn't this guy, who is a Senator like Ted Kennedy or John McCain, get more mainstream press coverage? Although he is technically independent, he is the US Senate's current only self-professed "socialist"! Could that be why?

And, believe it or not, IMO he has great ideas, regularly draws applause on the U.S. Senate floor, and is a powerful speaker.

To wit: Here is Bernie Sanders on Rachel Maddow:

And here is US Senator Sanders recently getting some applause in the chamber in his advocacy of the Employee Free Choice Act:


The nations of political talk

Just a few weeks prior to the 2008 elections, we [Yale Project on Climate Change] conducted a nationally representative survey of 2,164 American adults aged 18+. This was a period of heightened political interest and discussion, due to the historic campaigns of then Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. Among many other questions, we asked respondents how often they watch or listen to six of the major political commentators in the media today: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity & Alan Colmes, Bill O’Reilly, John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Keith Olberman.

What follows is an analysis of the size, political leanings, demographic characteristics, values and attitudes of each “nation” of political talk within the United States. Please note that there is some overlap between these different audiences, with some Americans who tune in to more than one commentator. We have also compared the characteristics of each audience to the much larger proportion of the public (57%) who do not watch or listen to any of these commentators.

While there are some predictable patterns, such as conservative commentators attracting more conservative audiences and liberal commentators attracting more liberal audiences, it is also interesting to note that each audience is more diverse than these simple stereotypes. As just one example, some Democrats and liberals listen to Rush Limbaugh, while some Republicans and conservatives watch Keith Olberman. Likewise, while majorities of Sean Hannity watchers have strongly conservative values, not all do, just as not all John Stewart watchers have liberal values.

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Source, of course.

Victory Gardens v2.0

Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House

Published: March 19, 2009

WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama will begin digging up a patch of the South Lawn on Friday to plant a vegetable garden, the first at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden in World War II. There will be no beets — the president does not like them — but arugula will make the cut.

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Arugula Sauce

This is a great idea, although harkening back to my tomato patch when I was in grade school (grown in DC soil), I can just imagine the garden failing. I think the First Family needs to bring in some organic food specialists to figure out how to more efficiently and effectively plan this garden.
  • bispo

Kristol Complains That Obama’s Iran Message Is ‘Weak’ And ‘Embarrassing’

In his latest column for the Weekly Standard, super-hawk Bill Kristol addresses President Obama’s recent Persian New Year message to the Iran’s leaders and its people, calling it a “message of weakness.” He is upset that Obama didn’t use the words “liberty,” “freedom,” “democracy,” or “human rights” and chastises Obama for referring to Iran as the “Islamic Republic of Iran,” claiming that doing so means that Obama is “kowtowing” to Iran’s leaders.

On Fox News Sunday this morning, Kristol picked up where he left off in his column and continued to whine about Obama’s move, calling it “a weak and embarrassing statement by the President of the United States.” Fox News’s Brit Hume piled on, complaining that it “appears” that the U.S. has now “joined the rest of the world and practicing the diplomacy of talk.” Watch it:

It is sad to see that Kristol hasn’t learned from any of the Bush administration’s foreign policy mistakes. He still appears to be happily wedded to neoconservatism, the results of which are on full display, most notably in Iraq, where after six years of war, Americans and Iraqis are still dying because of the most disastrous foreign policy blunder in American history.

But also, Kristol’s vision is what has contributed to where we are with Iran today — a bigger, more powerful player in the region that is closer to a nuclear weapons program. Yet as Triti Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council, points out, rhetoric preferred by Kristol actually served to help Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and that Obama’s “historic” approach “now may ‘un-help‘” him. Carnegie Endowment expert Karim Sadjadpour agrees:

What this message does is, it puts the hard-liners in a difficult position, because where the Bush administration united disparate Iranian political leaders against a common threat, what Obama is doing is accentuating the cleavages in Iran,” Mr. Sadjadpour said. “It makes the hard-liners look increasingly like they are the impediment.”

Other experts have “applauded” Obama’s move, and called it “very significant.” The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana said it was “very constructive.” Thus, the only thing that is “embarrassing” in this instance is the fact that Bill Kristol keeps trying to play 2002 all over again.

  • war4l

Romania Weighs Decriminalizing Incest

BUCHAREST, Romania — Surprising as it may seem, incest is not always a crime in Europe.

Three European Union nations _ France, Spain and Portugal _ do not prosecute consenting adults for incest, and Romania is considering following suit.

The shocking case of Austrian Josef Fritzl, found guilty this week of holding his daughter captive for 24 years and fathering her seven children, has focused new attention on incest _ which is a crime in itself in Austria even if the acts are consensual. But in the Fritzl case it was in connection with rape, homicide and other charges that led to a sentence of life in a secure psychiatric ward.

Laws exempting parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters from prosecution for incestuous acts if they are not forced upon adult family members are decades old in France, Spain and Portugal.

In Romania, decriminalizing incest among consenting adults is being considered as part of a wide range of reforms to the country's criminal code. No date has been set yet for a parliament vote on the bill, and opposition to the proposal is fervent even among some lawmakers in the ruling coalition.
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After Voting No, Republicans Tout Funds

After Voting No, Republicans Tout Funds

Republicans railed against the Democrats' massive economic-stimulus and spending bills as fiscally irresponsible, but some GOP lawmakers are taking credit for projects in their own districts funded by the measures.

"Washington needs to stop spending money that it doesn't have,"
Michigan Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra said in attacking the $410 billion omnibus-spending bill, which funds the government through September. But once it passed, he touted its benefits for his district, which stretches along Lake Michigan.

"Safe and navigable harbors are economic engines that drive the communities that surround them," Mr. Hoekstra declared, announcing $3 million for harbor improvements.

Facing difficult economic times and looking ahead to 2010 elections, lawmakers are under pressure to show they are helping constituents. That is leading some Republicans, and even a handful of Democrats, to highlight funds in bills they voted against.
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the jumblies

Joe's got jokes.

Article round-up for the Gridiron Club dinner held last night, an off-record annual event.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama didn't have time to join a roast of prominent officials by the journalists who cover them, cracks Vice President Joe Biden, because Obama is getting ready for Easter.

"Axelrod really wanted me to do this on teleprompter -- but I told him I'm much better when I wing it," Biden said. "I know these evenings run long, so I'm going to be brief. Talk about the audacity of hope. President Obama does send his greetings, though. He can't be here tonight -- because he's busy getting ready for Easter. He thinks it's about him."

No, that's not the reason, counters California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. "He's just not that into you."

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Although newspaper revenues are in free fall, causing Washington bureaus to close at nearly the same pace as the Gridiron stage show’s weekend run, Biden told the fancy-dress audience of 600 guests at the Renaissance Washington hotel that newspapers still have a vital role to play.

“You can’t house break a puppy on the Internet,” he said, citing “Champ,” the Biden family’s newly acquired German Sheppard [sic].

For that matter, as Biden saw it, it wouldn’t hurt for Rahm Emanuel a fellow attendee whose foul mouthed reputation has followed him from Congress to the White House to master some house breaking skills as well.

The walls between his office and that of Obama’s chief of staff “are paper thin,” Biden noted, likening the experience to “listening to ‘Sesame Street’ where every day is brought to you by the letter ‘F.’”

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Video of most of the Cabinet arriving, dressed to the nines.
• Scroll down for lyrics to the satirical musical skits that were performed.

ETA AGAIN - Damn, I forgot these two zingers from Biden:
• "We are now two months into the Obama-Biden administration and the President and I have become extremely close. To give you an idea of how close we are, he told me that next year -- maybe, just maybe -- he’s going to give me his blackberry email address."

• "I now realize that we have to be extra careful when we annunciate [sic] new policy ideas to make sure they don’t look like they’re personally motivated. For example, the other day there were a whole bunch of stories about the President’s hair going gray; the next day there’s a story about a Vice President who’s trying to grow new hair, and then the day after that, the two of us come out in favor of stem cell research. That looked bad."

Testimonies on IDF misconduct in Gaza keep rolling in

Testimonies on IDF misconduct in Gaza keep rolling in

Further testimonies emerged this weekend of army units adopting lax rules of engagement during Operation Cast Lead. The reports followed Thursday's publication in Haaretz of soldiers' accounts of ethical violations in the Gaza offensive.

On Saturday, Channel 10 showed a documentary that included a security briefing by a company commander on the eve of the Gaza invasion.
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ANALYSIS / Can Israel dismiss its own troops' stories from Gaza?

The statements of the Israel Defense Forces soldiers from the Yitzhak Rabin preparatory course provide the first, uncensored look at what occurred in some of the combat units in Operation Cast Lead.

It seems that what soldiers have to say is actually the way things happened in the field, most of the time. And as usual, reality is completely different from the gentler version provided by the military commanders to the public and media during the operation and after.

The soldiers are not lying, for the simple reason that they have no reason to. If you read the transcript that will appear in Haaretz Friday, you will not find any judgment or boasting. This is what the soldiers, from their point of view, saw in Gaza. There is a continuity of testimony from different sectors that reflects a disturbing and depressing picture.
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Suze Orman sounds off on Bush, is fucking awesome.


In a long profile by WWD's Jacob Bernstein, Suze Orman sounds off on George Bush and blames the ex-president for the financial crisis (near the bottom of the first page):

Sitting in a green room after her TV interviews, she lambasts everyone from Alan Greenspan to Larry Summers to the former president of the United States, who holds an especially dark place in her heart. "Commander in Chief?" she says of George W. Bush, with a mix of disbelief and scorn. "You blew up every single financial vessel we had and if you think you aren't personally responsible, well, the blame starts at the top. There is no higher top than you, SIR! If I were you, I would feel so absolutely horrific that I would take every penny I had and distribute it to anybody and everybody to help them in whatever way I could. You owe the American people every penny of your fortune and your family's fortune."

Orman also calls being impersonated by SNL's Kristen Wiig the “greatest honor of my career" and that often during her show she is forced to stop and think, "Ugh. I’m playing Kristen Wiig."

Via HuffPo

Read the whole profile here at WWD.

I love her. People, then things, then JACKETS!

FOX News hosts mock Canadian military, who are in Afghanistan with US

Canadian military says it might remove units from Afghanistan, FAUX News proceeds to mock them for being New Age ... hippies ... or something?

***EDIT: Canadian media is discussing this clip. Toronto Sun reports on this clip HERE. (Thanks funkmonkeygirl!)

And The Globe and Mail weigh in HERE. (Thanks cursed_hyphen!)