April 28th, 2009

Icelandic voters punish free market conservatives, reward Socialist-Green coalition

Iceland was one of the first countries hit by the current global economic recession.

After the chaos, all of Iceland's top bankers and finance officials fled the country. Icelanders responded by putting pictures of the bankers' faces in urinals - Paul Krugman linked to the photo below with the title TRICKLE DOWN ECONOMICS:

April 26, 2009
The New York Times

At the Polls, Icelanders Punish Conservatives

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — It is a tale of light and dark — of a small but rugged country far from anywhere that has suffered as severely as any in the developed world at the hands of buccaneering free-marketeers, but which is now slowly digging itself out from the financial wreckage.

An important milestone was reached on Saturday, when the country’s voters went to the polls to elect a new government, three months after riotous street protests over the country’s banking collapse forced the country’s conservative-led administration from office.

With about a third of the final vote counted late Saturday, it seemed that the country’s leftist caretaking government would be formally voted into power, with the Social Democrats projected to gain 22 seats and their partners, the Left-Greens, appearing to gain 13 seats in the 63-seat Parliament.

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100 years ago: An American Martyr

Last week marked the 100th Anniversary of the death of Howard Baskerville, a 24 year-old American who literally gave his life for Iran. Even now, his name is remembered fondly among Iranians, as their "American martyr."

Baskerville's story ought to be better known in the US, for in it Americans will learn of Iranian struggles for freedom and of a still lingering reservoir of goodwill for Americans. For starters, I recommend the essay in the Princeton Alumni Weekly by Mark Bernstein. Ironically, it's also available in Persian, courtesy the US State Department web site here.

The short version begins when Baskerville, a Nebraska native and a fresh 1907 Princeton graduate, took his first post as a teacher at the American school in Tabriz, run by Presbyterian missionaries. Iran, or Persia as it was then known, was in the throes of its Constitutional Revolution era. Sustained protests had forced the reigning shah to permit the election of Iran's first parliament (majlis) which in turn wrote the first constitution anywhere in the region.

But by mid 1908, a new Shah, Muhammad Ali Shah was colluding with Russians and British imperialists to crush the constitutional reformers. (a reason why Iranians to this day remain intensely suspicious of British intentions) Tabriz, then Iran's second largest city and located in northwestern Iran, was the heart of reformist resistance. Baskerville's students included the best from leading Tabriz families, and as he learned more of their struggle, he in turn shared his understanding of America's own rebellion from imperial control and its constitutional liberties, a subject he had learned directly from no less an authority than a Princeton professor by the name of Woodrow Wilson.

When royalist forces put Tabriz under seige, Baskerville felt he could not stand by while the strangled city was reduced to starvation, much to the consternation of the US consul and to his Presbyterian mission. Baskerville took up the sword, and in March 1909, organized 150 of his students to help defend the city. The story does not end well for Baskerville, as he was killed while on a desperate mission to lead a small force through the siege lines to retrieve food.

Yet Baskerville's sacrifice was neither in vain, nor forgotten.

His funeral galvanized a national outpouring of mourning, and his death, and the cause, were reported around the world. In part due to the publicity, the Russians and British pressured the Shah to lift the siege. And while the spark of constitutionalism was nearly smothered during the past century, the flame remains lit, and constitutional democracy remains deeply ingrained as a core legitimate norm within Iran's political culture.

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The Information Pandemic

(Here's an interesting article about a different kind of pandemic. Twitter can spread info at lightening speed- whether that info is right is another matter. I never cease to be amazed at where we are in the "Information Age". It feels as though we've come full circle to a degree from the days were rumors and myth were spread from village to village without any base in objective truth or literacy. The Objective source is soon again becoming irrelevant. )

Swine flu: Twitter's power to misinform


Who knew that swine flu could also infect Twitter? Yet this is what appears to have happened in the last 24 hours, with thousands of Twitter users turning to their favorite service to query each other about this nascent and potentially lethal threat as well as to share news and latest developments from Mexico, Texas, Kansas and New York (you can check most recent Twitter updates on the subject by searching for "swine flu" and "#swineflu"). And despite all the recent Twitter-enthusiasm about this platform's unique power to alert millions of people in decentralized and previously unavailable ways, there are quite a few reasons to be concerned about Twitter's role in facilitating an unnecessary global panic about swine flu.

First of all, I should point out from the very outset that anyone trying to make sense of how Twitter's "global brain" has reacted to the prospect of the swine flu pandemic is likely to get disappointed. The "swine flu" meme has so far that misinformed and panicking people armed with a platform to broadcast their fears are likely to produce only more fear, misinformation and panic.

Thus, Unlike basic internet search -- which has been already been nicely used by Google to track emerging flu epidemics -- Twitter seems to have introduced too much noise into the process: as opposed to search requests which are generally motivated only by a desire to learn more about a given subject, too many Twitter conversations about swine flu seem to be motivated by desires to fit in, do what one's friends do (i.e. tweet about it) or simply gain more popularity.

In situations like this, there is some pathological about people wanting to post yet another status update containing the coveted most-searched words – only for the sake of gaining more people to follow them. And yet the bottom line is that tracking the frequency of Twitter mentions of swine flu as a means of predicting anything thus becomes useless (however, there are plenty of other non-Twitter ways to track the epidemic and Mashable does a good job of summing them all up).

That aside, the "swine flu" Twitter-scare has once again proved the importance of context -- and how badly most Twitter conversations are hurt by the lack of it. The problem with Twitter is that there is very little context you can fit into 140 characters, even less so if all you are doing is watching a stream of messages that mention "swine flu." Now, the lack of context is probably not a problem in 99 percent of discussions happening on Twitter -- or, at least, it's not a problem with devastating global consequences.

However, in the context of a global pandemic -- where media networks are doing their best to spice up an already serious threat -- having millions of people wrap up all their fears into 140 characters and blurt them out in the public might have some dangerous consequences, networked panic being one of them. If you think that my concerns about context are overblown, here are just a few status updates from random Twitter users that would barely make you calmer (or more informed) about what's going on:

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bitch please
  • slurp

(no subject)

Peace Now: Olmert government built, planned 9,000 homes on war-won land

Israeli watchdog groups call on Obama to pressure Netanyahu to halt settlement expansion. 'International community must save Israel from itself, because we are losing the two-state solution,' peace activist says

Associated Press
Published: 04.27.09, 22:16 / Israel News
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IDK. On the one hand I think a two-state solution is best, on the other I know that's highly unrealistic. You can't have two states on the same land with two different religion. And Israel is divided in the first place since it STILL has no constitution deciding if it's first a democratic state or Jewish state, and goes back and forth on that. I can see Israel crashing and burning in a few years and this cycle repeating itself for the rest of humanity.


WAT. Rush's Chickens Come Home to Roost or The Day the Crazy Ate Itself

Gun Owners Attack Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh's new pet project -- fighting animal cruelty for the Humane Society of the United States -- is riling sportsmen from coast to coast, prompting fears that the talkster typically supportive of gun rights is aiding a group they say has a secret agenda to end all hunting in America.

Twenty-eight groups representing millions of hunters and sportsmen are demanding that the conservative radio commentator end his collaboration with the HSUS and stop "helping them to mainstream their image in the minds of reasonable people."

"Despite a few programs designed to attract support from the general public, HSUS is in fact an organization that opposes hunting, fishing, and trapping," the groups, including Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, wrote in a letter last week to Mr. Limbaugh.

"Its leadership has a long and established history of promoting legislation, litigation, and referenda to restrict the rights of American sportsmen and women."

The public-service radio spots cut by Mr. Limbaugh began airing in mid-April. In one, the self-dubbed "Doctor of Democracy" expresses support for the HSUS effort to crack down on organized dogfighting and other animal-cruelty crimes.

In the second, "America's Truth Detector" talks about, as the Humane Society says, "our outreach to communities of faith, and the moral obligation that we have to be good stewards of God's creatures."

Mr. Limbaugh did not answer requests for comment and has had little to say about his tacit endorsement of the HSUS. In an interview by Greta Van Susteren on Fox News last week, he was asked by the host, "Who do you admire and why?" As Mr. Limbaugh paused, citing "brain freeze," this exchange occurred:

"You like the Humane Society," Mrs. Van Susteren said.

"Who?" Mr. Limbaugh asked.

"The Humane Society."

Laughing, the radio host, who spends three hours a day talking politics, said, "Well, now, you're getting into politics," and quickly moved off the topic.

The Humane Society's president and chief executive, Wayne Pacelle, said the issue shouldn't be political.

"I'm embarrassed for them that they would criticize Rush for amplifying our message that dogfighting and other malicious forms of animal cruelty are unacceptable in society," he said.

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As for having the nation's top conservative commentator aboard, he said: "I hope this shows a side of Rush to the American people that they may not have contemplated."

Know what I hope?  I hope this shows Rush a side of the his crazy-ass fanbase American people that he may not have contemplated.

ETA: Source link
bitch please
  • slurp

Report: Gyms for Saudi women face closure

Increasingly popular sports clubs for women in Arab kingdom face shut-down because government only licenses men's clubs

News agencies
Published: 04.27.09, 13:22

Increasingly popular sports clubs and gyms for women in Saudi Arabia face shut-down because the government only licenses men's clubs, according to a Saudi newspaper report.

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bitch please
  • slurp

Hamas, Fatah resume reconciliation talks

Senior Fatah negotiator says Egyptian suggestions concern formation of government. Hamas official in Damascus: Fatah's cooperation with US main obstacle

Associated Press
Published: 04.27.09, 21:26 / Israel News

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah on Monday restarted their long deadlocked reconciliation talks in Cairo, incorporating new Egyptian ideas, said participants.

Nabil Shaath, a senior Fatah negotiator, said the Egyptian suggestion concerned the formation of the government and its political program. Talks broke down earlier this month mainly over the issue of the extent Hamas would abide by past Palestinian accords with Israel.

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The Washington Post says being gay is a "lifestyle":

But the real news of this post is the counter-protest put together by students at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, in response to the arrival of seven hags from the Westboro Baptist Church on Friday:

"The police presence -- 40 officers, five horses, blocked-off streets and a football field's length of yellow tape -- seemed comically disproportionate until the counter-protest arrived. At the 2:10 p.m. dismissal, 500 students issued forth from the campus and lined up, several students deep, along the police tape, across Whittier Boulevard from the congregants. They alternately chanted the school name and "Go home!" -- drowning out voices from across the street."

The WBC was there to protest Walt Whitman's sexual orientation, if you can believe it.


Fuck YOU, buddy.

 Marriage Bill Poses a Test of Loyalties: Church vs. State

It was just three days after Gov. David A. Paterson introduced a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry, and the Rev. Floyd H. Flake had some thoughts for any lawmaker who wanted to change New York’s definition of marriage.

I don’t care what the politicians think,” Mr. Flake, a former Democratic congressman and one of the city’s most influential religious leaders, thundered last week during a Sunday service at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Queens. “Ain’t nothing perfect about laying down and signing a license with somebody who got the same body parts you got.”

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' jules


Arlen Specter Switches Parties

This is big, big, big, -- BIG.

Arlen Specter has announced that he is switching parties, and running for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary. This now puts the Democrats at 59 Senate seats -- and would be the magic 60 seats, assuming Al Franken is eventually seated from.

A recent Rasmussen poll showed that Specter was trailing his conservative challenger in the Republican primary, 2004 opponent Pat Toomey, by a margin of 51%-30%. Toomey was heavily capitalizing on Specter's support for the stimulus package.

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EVEN MOAR: Obama on the phone, congratulating Specter. Also, I just remembered to turn off comment e-mails.

Arlen Specter (D-PA)


Murasaki Shikibu

And so it begins...

Ship's cook seized by pirates blames employers

A crew member on a U.S.-flagged cargo ship captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia is suing his employers, claiming they sent him into pirate-infested waters without adequate protection, his attorney said Monday.

Richard Hicks of Royal Palm Beach, Florida, a crew member on the Maersk Alabama, was set to file suit Monday against Waterman Steamship Corp. and Maersk Line Limited, according to the attorney, Terry Bryant.

A spokeswoman for Mobile, Alabama-based Waterman Steamship Corp. said she did not know about the suit and did not immediately comment.

A spokeswoman for Maersk Line Limited did not immediately return a call from CNN seeking comment.

The Maersk Alabama was hijacked by pirates April 8.

Hicks, working as chief steward and preparing food for other crew members, heard over the loudspeaker that pirates were on board, and he and other crew members gathered in the ship's engine room for nearly 12 hours, Bryant said in a news release.

"The engine room was dark and hot, maybe 130 degrees," Hicks said in the news release. "We were all cramping up with heat stroke symptoms when we were able to take a pirate hostage and tried to negotiate the return of our captain."

The pirates promised to exchange Capt. Richard Phillips for the pirate hostage, but reneged on that agreement, the news release said.

Phillips had offered himself as a hostage in exchange for the freedom of his crew. He was held on a lifeboat until U.S. Navy snipers on a nearby ship fatally shot three pirates. Phillips was rescued, and a fourth pirate was arrested.

The ship's owners -- the two companies -- knowingly exposed their employees to danger and took no steps to provide appropriate security and safety for the crew, Bryant alleges.

"Waterman Steamship Corp. and Maersk Line Limited chose to rely on the United States military and taxpayers to provide after-the-fact rescue operations," Bryant said in the news release.

"This choice caused substantially more cost and risk to human life than what would have been incurred by defendants had they provided appropriate levels of security in the first place."

Hicks is seeking at least $75,000 and "reserves the right to amend this pleading for a certain amount in the future, as it is too early to determine the maximum amount of plaintiff's damages," according to the suit.

Hicks is still suffering from injuries as a result of the incident and is afraid to return to work, the news release said.


I guess I should not be surprised by this. This is the other half of how us Americans do things, after all--LAWSUITS!

Break out the tin foil hats.....Michael Savage makes with teh Crayzee

Swine Flu: Conservatives Blame Immigrants

Conservative media hosts, including Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck, have placed the blame for the spread of swine flu to the United States squarely on the shoulders of undocumented Mexican immigrants. Some even suggested yesterday that Mexicans were purposefully carrying the virus across the border to sabotage the United States.

There's no basis for either claim -- in fact, news reports and health officials suggest that Americans traveling to Mexico likely carried the disease home. For example, several students at the infected school in New York had recently come back from a spring break trip to Cancun.

Rear Adm. Anne Schuchat, M.D., the interim deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's science and public health program, suggested that Americans who visited Mexico recently brought the disease back with them: "I know that we have confirmation of disease in people who have traveled to Mexico, and I don't know the numbers, but I know that that is definitely the case in some of our cases, and that's an important factor to consider." Media reports indicate that U.S. swine flu victims had recently traveled to Mexico.

Media Matters documents:

On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that stricter border control was not necessary at this time. That would be a very, very heavy cost for what epidemiologists tells us would be marginal" in terms of containing the virus, she said on NBC's "Today" show.


Oh, FFS.

ETA:  And in case you'd like to comment on the specifics of the CRAYZEE audio, there's a transcript here.
  • bispo

Steele mad that Specter disrespected him: ‘I know his mama didn’t raise him that way.’

In response to Sen. Arlen Specter's switch out of the Republican party, RNC chairman Michael Steele put out a statement saying that the senator "left to further his personal political interests." Later in the day, however, Steele went on CNN and unleashed his grievances against Specter, who never alerted him to his decision. Angry at being left out of the loop and relegated to irrelevance, Steele invoked all sorts of schoolyard insults:

STEELE: Look, you can tweak my nose and you can step on my toes and you can pull my hair. At some point enough is going to be enough. ... Sen. Cornyn went out on the line for this man. For the senator to effectively flip the bird back to Sen. Cornyn and the Republican Senate leadership -- a team that has stood by him, who went to the bat for him in 2004 -- to save his hide, to me is not only disrespectful, but it's just downright rude. I'm sure his mama didn't raise him this way, and it's a shame that he's behaving this way today.

BORDER: Did he give you a heads up on this?

STEELE: No, not at all, which is another form of disrespect that I don't count. At least give me a call or give the party leadership a call and let us know this is what I'm thinking, this is where I'm going, so it can be repaired. I'm not one to be caught flat-footed about these things. You get on your toes and you respond as quickly as can you.

Watch it:

Steele may still be nursing outstanding hurt feelings against Specter. Last month, the Pennsylvania senator said, "And National Chairman Steele, well he's said so many contradictory things I wouldn't pay a whole lot of attention to him."

Shirley Animated

Specter's switch not so much good for Dems as bad for Repubs.

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania has decided to become a Democrat.

This strikes me as being bad news for the Republican Party more than it is good news for the Democrats. Back in January, I described a process which I labeled the Republican Death Spiral:

Thus the Republicans [...] are in something of a death spiral. The more conservative [...] their message becomes, the more they alienate non-base Republicans. But the more they alienate non-base Republicans, the fewer of them are left to worry about appeasing. Thus, their message becomes continually more appealing to the base -- but more conservative, partisan, and strident to the rest of us. And the process loops back upon itself.

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  • bispo

CNN’s Rick Sanchez calls out DeMint’s vapid talking point: ‘What the hell does that mean?’

Today, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) appeared on CNN to talk about Sen. Arlen Specter's switch to the Democratic party. Host Rick Sanchez asked DeMint about Specter's statement that the Republican party is becoming more narrowly focused on the far right. DeMint replied, "Quite the opposite. We're seeing across the country right now that the biggest tent of all is the tent of freedom." Sanchez then stopped DeMint, demanding, "What the hell does that mean? The 'biggest tent' is 'freedom'? Freedom? You've got to do better than that!" Watch it:
As part of this "big tent," DeMint cited the people who came out for the anti-Obama tea parties.


Senator Specter explains why he's becoming a Democrat....remains classy while doing so

Statement by Senator Arlen Specter

April 28, 2009

I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the Party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. While I have been comfortable being a Republican, my Party has not defined who I am. I have taken each issue one at a time and have exercised independent judgment to do what I thought was best for Pennsylvania and the nation.

Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.

When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.

Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.

I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.

I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters. I can understand their disappointment. I am also disappointed that so many in the Party I have worked for for more than four decades do not want me to be their candidate. It is very painful on both sides. I thank especially Senators McConnell and Cornyn for their forbearance.

I am not making this decision because there are no important and interesting opportunities outside the Senate. I take on this complicated run for re-election because I am deeply concerned about the future of our country and I believe I have a significant contribution to make on many of the key issues of the day, especially medical research. NIH funding has saved or lengthened thousands of lives, including mine, and much more needs to be done. And my seniority is very important to continue to bring important projects vital to Pennsylvania’s economy.

I am taking this action now because there are fewer than thirteen months to the 2010 Pennsylvania Primary and there is much to be done in preparation for that election. Upon request, I will return campaign contributions contributed during this cycle.

While each member of the Senate caucuses with his Party, what each of us hopes to accomplish is distinct from his party affiliation. The American people do not care which Party solves the problems confronting our nation. And no Senator, no matter how loyal he is to his Party, should or would put party loyalty above his duty to the state and nation.

My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords’ switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.

Whatever my party affiliation, I will continue to be guided by President Kennedy’s statement that sometimes Party asks too much. When it does, I will continue my independent voting and follow my conscience on what I think is best for Pennsylvania and America.


I'm not surprised he had to leave the GOP.......he had entirely too much common sense.  Good for him!
' jules

Snowe and Graham slam GOP, remain pretty cool and incredibly whiny, respectively

Moderates blame conservatives

Two leading Republicans say Sen. Arlen Specter's decision to become a Democrat highlights the hostility moderates feel from an increasingly conservative GOP.

“You haven't certainly heard warm encouraging words about how [the GOP] views moderates,” said Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, one of the few remaining moderate Republicans in the Senate.

Snowe said the party's message has been, “Either you're with us or you’re against us.”

Her frustration was shared by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), who slammed right-wing interest groups for pushing moderates out of the party.

Specter switched parties Tuesday after a recent poll showed him badly losing a Pennsylvania Republican primary next year to Club for Growth founder Pat Toomey. Toomey’s staunchly fiscally conservative political action committee backs only those Republicans who support a low-tax, limited-government agenda and comes down hard on those who break with party orthodoxy.

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I defer my commentary to this beautiful post from Free Republic (check the sig line):

Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican base.

In other non-Specter related news.....

Tuesday April 28, 2009 14:52 EDT

Major defeat for Bush/Obama position on secrecy

(updated below - interview with lead counsel Ben Wizner of the ACLU)

The first sign that the Obama DOJ would replicate many of the worst and most radical arguments of the Bush DOJ was in the Jeppesen case, a lawsuit brought by five victims of the CIA's rendition and torture program (including Binyam Mohamed).  The Bush administration had argued that the entire "subject matter" raised by the lawsuit (the rendition program) was such a gravely important "state secret" that the court could not consider any lawsuit relating to that issue.  That argument was a by-product of one of the Bush DOJ's most controversial actions:  its radical expansion of the "state secrets" doctrine.  Whereas that privilege was once an evidentiary privilege enabling the Government to declare specific documents too secret to use in litigation, the Bush DOJ converted it into an all-purpose shield allowing them to have entire lawsuits dismissed even wherethe lawsuit alleged that the President's conduct was illegal.  

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Okay, I may be completely wrong (though I hope I'm not), but I still think this whole thing about Obama's administration somehow looking like they agree with Bush's on this issue is just a put-up job.  I'm pretty certain that, much like the idea of prosecutions re: torture, it's Obama's administration taking it on the chin until they can do what they wanted to in the first place, which is to be as transparent as possible.  Once it gets to this point, where the court is issuing rulings, their hands are tied, and the GOP can't bitch about it.

Yes, I know it is possibly wishful thinking......but whenever I see something that sets off my "wrongness" radar, I have to wonder what's going on behind the scenes.  I've seen WAY too many episodes of The West Wing.  ;p



Obama Welcomes Specter Into the Democratic Party With Open Arms....Remains Awesome While Doing So

Obama Will Fundraise And Campaign For Specter If Asked: Gibbs

If there were any lingering doubts about how Arlen Specter would be welcomed in the Democratic Party, or if the party would welcome a primary challenge to the now-former Republican, they were put to rest during the White House Daily briefing on Tuesday afternoon.

Asked if the president would aid the Pennsylvania Republican-turned-Democrat's primary efforts, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs replied: "If the president is asked to raise money for Senator Specter, he will happily do it. If the president is asked to campaign for Senator Specter, he will be happy to do that as well."

Later in the briefing, Gibbs was pressed whether the president would consider supporting another Democrat in the Pennsylvania primary should one choose to run. He responded: "Full support means full support."

Freshman Rep. Joe Sestak, a Pennsylvania Democrat and retired Navy officer, told MSNBC on Tuesday that he was still considering a potential run at Specter's Senate seat.

Also on Tuesday afternoon, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee blasted out a fundraising email headlined, "Arlen Specter Switches Parties," and declaring it "a great day for all of us who want to help bring real, lasting change to this country."

"The Democrats welcomed Sen. Arlen Specter into our party today," the message read. "This one's a game-changer. Specter's move immediately improves the prospects of President Obama's bold change agenda."


Well, President Obama's got some seriously badass MF'ing coattails.....Specter may not have been thinking about that when he made his decision, but it sure doesn't suck for him!

Oh and:

Later in the briefing, Gibbs was pressed whether the president would consider supporting another Democrat in the Pennsylvania primary should one choose to run. He responded: "Full support means full support."

In other words......any other Dems trying to run probably won't have a shot in hell.  *shrug*  IMO, Specter took a major leap off of a cliff to cross the aisle, so I don't have much of a problem with that.

NO one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Conyers, Nadler Call For Special Counsel To Investigate And Prosecute Torture

Members of the House Judiciary Committee asked attorney general Eric Holder on Tuesday to appoint a special counsel to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute Bush administration officials involved in decisions that led to torture of detainees held in counter-terrorism efforts. In a letter to Holder, the congressmen write that memos released by the Obama administration last week confirmed that legal justifications for interrogation techniques like waterboarding came from high-up administration officials.

"During your confirmation hearings, you testified that waterboarding is torture," the letter says.

"This letter makes official our views on the necessary procedure in investigating those U.S. officials who allowed or actively instructed others to commit torture," said a statement from Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who along with Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) were the letter's principal authors. "Because the United States is bound by its own laws and by international treaty, we are obligated to investigate and, where necessary, to prosecute those who have violated the laws against committing torture - whether by ordering it or committing it directly."

The letter argues that there is "abundant, credible evidence of torture," that an internal justice department investigation would be hobbled by conflict-of-interest, and that the public would benefit from an investigation from an independent special counsel.

Click here for a PDF of the letter.



Michele Bachmann Keeps Bringing The Crayzee.....Absolutely No One is Surprised

Michele Bachmann Links Swine Flu To Democrats, Gets History Wrong (VIDEO)

Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, following Rush Limbaugh's cue, suggested on Tuesday that President Obama was to blame for the swine flu crisis. She went even farther than the talk show host, implying that swine flu epidemics are a Democratic phenomenon that dates back to President Carter.

"I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter. And I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence."

Unfortunately, Bachmann's facts are a little off. As Glenn Thrush notes, Republican President Gerald Ford, not Carter, led the country during the last outbreak of the virus.


Ya know, I think I've about got this worked out:

1. Democrats propose money for a particular program (i.e. volcano monitoring, global warming research, vaccine program, etc.)

2. Without even considering the actual purpose, Republicans mock it's usefulness, calling it wasteful or pork barrel spending.

3. Said spending either gets passed or not (whether it gets passed is kind of paranthetical to my point here)

4. *Something* happens to prove exactly why the spending was proposed in the first place (Volcano explodes, artic ice melts, Swine flu outbreak)

5. Completely disregarding reason, Republicans flail about how this event is all Obama's fault, and btw he's a SOCIALIST!

ETA:  Mods, I'm curious how I received one notification saying this post was approved, and another saying it was rejected?  *puzzled*

Lost in Translation...


In Pakistan, a flogger is known only as the Taliban’s choice whip for beating those who defy their strict codes of Islam.

But deep in the nation’s commercial capital, just next door to a mosque and the offices of a radical Islamic organization, in an unmarked house two Pakistani brothers have discovered a more liberal and lucrative use for the scourge: the $3 billion fetish and bondage industry in the West.

Their mom-and-pop-style garment business, AQTH, earns more than $1 million a year manufacturing 2,000 fetish and bondage products, including the Mistress Flogger, and exporting them to the United States and Europe.

The Qadeer brothers, Adnan, 34, and Rizwan, 32, have made the business into an improbable success story in a country where bars are illegal and the poor are often bound to a lifetime in poverty.

If the bondage business seems an unlikely pursuit for two button-down, slightly awkward, decidedly deadpan lower-class Pakistanis, it is. But then, discretion has been their byword. The brothers have taken extreme measures to conceal a business that in this deeply conservative Muslim country is as risky as it is risqué.

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Family claims Chicago police beat their autistic son

Family claims Chicago police officer beat autistic teenager
Cops decline to discuss incident which they say is under investigation
By Angela Rozas | Tribune reporter 
April 25, 2009


Days after Chicago police promoted their expanded training for dealing with people with autism, a teen with the disorder was allegedly struck by an officer who ignored the family's pleas that he was a "special boy."

While Chicago police refused to discuss the incident, relatives of Oscar Guzman detailed the alleged assault and said it was an example of why more officers need to be trained in handling people with special needs.

Guzman, 16, was standing on the sidewalk Wednesday night, taking a break from working in his family's fast-food restaurant in the Pilsen neighborhood. He was watching cars go by when a police cruiser pulled up and two officers began asking him questions, his family says.

Guzman didn't understand the questions, said his sister Nubia, 25, and looked down, away and eventually began walking away. Diagnosed with moderate autism at age 4, he doesn't like confrontation, his sister said.

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Source also found atautism Here

This pisses off to no end as an autist. 

Steele: Swine Flu Couldn't Be Predicted (VIDEO)

Steele: Swine Flu Couldn't Be Predicted (VIDEO)

Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele defended GOP opposition to pandemic preparedness funding in the stimulus bill in an interview with CNN Tuesday, saying the party had no way of knowing that such a threat might actually materialize. "Did we know this at the time of the vote?" Steele asked. "Don't come back and make this link six months after the fact ... we don't know what tomorrow holds." He added, "I'm not going to sit here and accept that connection."


on their defense 'swine flu' has a liberal bias... so are volcanoes...

Hate-Mongering Conservative Commentators Using Swine Flu to Promote Racism!

Hate-Mongering Conservative Commentators Using Swine Flu to Promote Racism!

Responsible members of the Republican party need to speak out IMMEDIATELY against the conservative commentators in their own ranks using swine flu as an excuse to spew out racist hatred.

Radio, TV and newspaper personalities have jumped on the illness as a platform to attack "illegal aliens" for being responsible for carrying the disease across the Mexican border and infecting innocent Americans.

Despite the fact that there is no evidence to support such claims, talk radio hosts Michael Savage and Neal Boortz, radio and Fox TV personality Glenn Beck, and columnist Michelle Malkin are spreading them faster than the contagion.

"Illegal aliens are bringing in a deadly new flue strain. Make no mistake about it," blares Michael Savage.

"I've blogged for years about the spread of contagious diseases from around the world into the US as a result of uncontrolled immigration," writes Michelle Malkin.

"What happens if there's a rash of deaths in Mexico... and if you're a family in Mexico and people are dying and Americans are not, why wouldn't you flood this border?" announces Glenn Beck.

These loud mouths are also trying to convince their audiences that Islamic terrorists have somehow been able to do what has eluded scientists elsewhere in the world — concoct a deadly new flu virus — and then introduce it into the Mexican population.

"What better way to sneak a virus into this country than to give it to Mexicans....then spread a rumor there there are construction jobs here, and there they come," blathers Boortz.
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music | sleigh anne.

Madagascar names new government, ports remain open while doing so

Supporters of Madagascar's ousted President Marc Ravalomanana have announced a new government.

There are now two governments in the country after a former city mayor, Andry Rajoelina, swept to power in a military-backed takeover in March.

Meanwhile, sections of the army loyal to the current administration have been trying to round up opposition figures.

The naming of a new government has increased the sense of confusion within an already deeply divided country.

Whether or not the new ministers can actually work effectively remains to be seen and the current administration has dismissed the announcement as childish.

However, the move is likely to increase tensions in the increasingly bloody political standoff.

According to the spokesman for Mr Ravalomanana's prime minister, civil servants and, perhaps more significantly, high-ranking members of the armed forces are prepared to work with them.

Meanwhile, the bloodshed continues. A young man was very seriously injured on Monday evening after a package he had been given exploded.

Forces loyal to the transitional authorities have been continuing to try to arrest alleged political opponents and have also searched office blocks in the capital, apparently for money.

Whether or not they are acting on direct orders from the current administration remains unclear.


Tom Hiddleston - Prince Hal

Rush Limbaugh: "Obama Goes To Mexico -- [They] Get Pig Flu"

On his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh went on a long rant about how anything associated with President Obama ends up failing. He used newspapers and CNN as his primary examples, but then turned to some far more inflammatory (and completely inexplicable) examples.

"[E]verywhere Obama is spreading Obamaism, there is a deadly disease taking place, either in the TARP community or in the newspaper business," he said. "Obama goes to Mexico -- they have an earthquake. Obama goes to Mexico -- get pig flu."

Asshole, crazy, asshole alert.

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The Real Reason Dems Wanted Arlen Specter On Their Side? The Jokes (VIDEO)

The Real Reason Dems Wanted Arlen Specter On Their Side? The Jokes (VIDEO)

Many people don't know this, but Arlen Specter fancies himself a funny man. In 2007 he competed in the "Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest." He finished second after Joseph Randazzo, assistant editor of the "The Onion," but ahead of Ana Marie Cox. [VIDEO BELOW] "Arlen has always loved stand up comics," says Joan Specter. "If he has the chance to go to a comedy show, that's his first choice."

Sometimes this jovial nature gets him in trouble, like when he cracked some Polish jokes at New York's Rainbow Room while speaking at the annual meeting of the Commonwealth Club. The "New York Post" reported that Specter began by asking if anyone in the room was Polish. At that, around 10 people raised their hands. He proceeded to tell a few jokes about Polish people until one guest interrupted him, saying, "Hey, careful. I'm Polish!" Specter responded, "That's OK, I'll tell it more slowly." This was met with grumblings of tastlessness, and Specter eventually apologized saying it was a mistake.

Here is some video of senatorial humor that went over better with the people around him. It's from the aforementioned competition in which he mocked Trent Lott saying:

"Trent Lott was really despondent after the Hurricane hit. He had a lot of property damage but the thing he was most concerned about was that it destroyed his entire library. Both books. And Trent wasn't even finished coloring one of them."


Hannity Waterboard Offer: Olbermann Increases The Pressure

Hannity Waterboard Offer: Olbermann Increases The Pressure

The debate over torture is getting personal for two of cable TV's prime-time hosts. After Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity made a seemingly impromptu offer last week to undergo waterboarding as a benefit for charity, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann leapt at it. He offered $1,000 to the families of U.S. troops for every second Hannity withstood the technique.

Olbermann repeated the offer on Monday's show and said in an interview Tuesday that he's heard no response. He said he'll continue to pursue it.

"I don't think he has the courage to even respond to this _ let alone do it," Olbermann said.

Fox News Channel representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

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What Specter's switch says about him, the Democrats and our political spectrum


I just contributed my thoughts on Arlen Specter's party switch to the New York Times' "Room for Debate" segment, so I'll post the link to that once that is available (see Update II), but for the moment -- and since this, presumably, is what many people want to discuss -- I'll note a few brief points:

(1) The idea that Specter is a "liberal" Republican or even a "moderate" reflects how far to the Right both the GOP and our overall political spectrum has shifted.

Consider Specter’s most significant votes over the last eight years, ones cast in favor of such definitive right-wing measures as: the war on Iraq, the Military Commissions Act, Patriot Act renewal, confirmation of virtually every controversial Bush appointee, retroactive telecom immunity, warrantless eavesdropping expansions, and Bush tax cuts (several times).  Time and again during the Bush era, Specter stood with Republicans on the most controversial and consequential issues.

(2) Democrats will understandably celebrate today’s announcement, but beyond the questions of raw political power, it is mystifying why they would want to build their majority by embracing politicians who reject most of their ostensible views.

Reports today suggest that Democratic officials promised Specter that the party establishment would support him, rather than a real Democrat, in a primary. If true, few events more vividly illustrate the complete lack of core beliefs of Democratic leaders, as well as the rapidly diminishing differences between the parties. Why would Democrats want a full-blooded Republican representing them in the blue state of Pennsylvania? Specter is highly likely to reprise the Joe Lieberman role for Democrats: a “Democrat” who leads the way in criticizing and blocking Democratic initiatives, forcing the party still further towards Republican policies.

(3)  Arlen Specter is one of the worst, most soul-less, most belief-free individuals in politics.  The moment most vividly illustrating what Specter is:  prior to the vote on the Military Commissions Act of 2006, he went to the floor of the Senate and said what the bill "seeks to do is set back basic rights by some 900 years" and is "patently unconstitutional on its face."  He then proceeded to vote YES on the bill's passage.

(4) Today is the best day to watch Fox News since the election -- mass grieving flavored by impotent bitterness.

UPDATE:  In his Press Conference, Specter just reiterated that he opposes the nomination of one of Obama's few truly excellent nominees:  Dawn Johnsen as OLC Chief.  What a great Democrat Specter will be.  Specter also just detailed how key Democratic officials promised to support him and raise money for him in the 2010 election if he switched, so now Democrats -- Harry Reid and the rest -- are committed to keeping him in power for another 8 years, committed to keeping the Pennsylvania Senate seat in the hands of Arlen Specter.

Specter is also complaining incessently about the fact that Lieberman lost his primary and Specter only won his 2004 primary by 1%.  This apparently demonstrates all sorts of bad things about our political process.  They really do believe that they are divinely entitled to keep their seats forever, and anything which threatens that is intrinsically illegitimate and wrong. 


UPDATE II:  The New York Times discussion on Specter to which I contributed is now available here.

K-Box cartoon


Cincinnati Superhero Patrols Streets Fighting Crime

'Shadowhare' Among Nationwide Group Of Superheroes

Eric Flack

POSTED: 4:57 pm EDT April 27, 2009
UPDATED: 12:06 pm EDT April 28, 2009

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati police have a new ally in their fight against crime, whether they want it or not.

He calls himself Shadowhare, and he wears a mask and a cape to conceal his true identity. He's Cincinnati's own version of a superhero fighting crime and injustice where he finds it.

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So ... how long until we see the Keene Act passed for real?

Ex-Communicated Mormons Making Thousands of Dollars as Models



"It's friendly. It doesn't tear down the beliefs of the church at all. Underneath, it makes people realize, 'Oh, they're sexy Mormons. They're real." That's the position Chad Hardy takes when it comes to defending his prize creation: the "Men On A Mission" calendar of hot Mormon guys. As you might expect, this annual glorification of ripped bodies doesn't sit well with huge swath of the Mormon community. Depicting Mormons as sex objects? OMG NO!%@#%$! (As you also might expect, the calendar sits perfectly well with gay men, even if the guys featured HATE THEIR SOULS.)

Nevermind that.

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Supermodel Kathy Ireland Lashes Out Against Pro Choice Movement

I guess I'm the official stealer of relevant ONTD posts:


It’s no secret that the majority of Hollywood stars are strong advocates for a woman’s right to choose whether or not she wants to terminate a pregnancy, however former "Sports Illustrated" supermodel-turned-entrepreneur-turned-author Kathy Ireland has gone against the grain of the glitterati and spoken out against abortion.

"My entire life I was pro-choice — who was I to tell another woman what she could or couldn’t do with her body? But when I was 18, I became a Christian and I dove into the medical books, I dove into science," Ireland told Tarts while promoting her insightful new book "Real Solutions for Busy Mom: Your Guide to Success and Sanity."

"What I read was astounding and I learned that at the moment of conception a new life comes into being. The complete genetic blueprint is there, the DNA is determined, the blood type is determined, the sex is determined, the unique set of fingerprints that nobody has had or ever will have is already there."

However Ireland admitted that she did everything she could to avoid becoming a believer in pro-life.

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I would add rape/incest to Ireland's restrictions. I hope the Liberals in Hollywood treat her in a respectful manner now.