May 25th, 2009

Krugman: GOP blocking reform that could pull nation from crisis

From Krug's latest NYT piece:

To be blunt: recent events suggest that the Republican Party has been driven mad by lack of power. The few remaining moderates have been defeated, have fled, or are being driven out. What’s left is a party whose national committee has just passed a resolution solemnly declaring that Democrats are “dedicated to restructuring American society along socialist ideals,” and released a video comparing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Pussy Galore.

And that party still has 40 senators.

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Right-wing yahoos increasingly threatening federal judges


Worried federal officials blame disgruntled defendants whose anger is fueled by the Internet; terrorism and gang cases that bring more violent offenders into federal court; frustration at the economic crisis; and the rise of the "sovereign citizen" movement -- a loose collection of tax protesters, white supremacists and others who don't respect federal authority.

@ Washington Post

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So You Think You Can Dance's Nigel Lythgoe: Not a Fan of Brokeback Ballroom

Thursday's premiere of So You Think You Can Dance featured the audition of a same-sex pair (one straight, one gay). 

The audition is introduced by zooming in on a men's bathroom as "It's Raining Men" is cued up. After their introduction, the dancing begins. Judge Nigel Lythgoe is immediately uncomfortable and points out, "the hand's on the back of his neck."

 While the dancing was certainly not in top form (they did make an error), it was the non-dancing critiques that are the problem here. Judge and producer Nigel Lythgoe has made homophobic remarks before. You may remember last year when Lythgoe told a dancer he looked like he'd been anally violated. Or in 2007 when he mocked a dancer for not being masculine enough. This was the first time Lythgoe had encountered a same-sex couple audition though.

Says Lythgoe: "I think you'd probably alienate a lot of our audience.  We've always had the guys dance together on the show but they've never really done it in each other's arms before. I'm really one of those people that like to see guys be guys and girls be girls on stage. I don't think I liked it, to be frank."

Lythgoe tells them he'd like to see them dance with a woman, "You never know, you might enjoy that, too." The exit song that played as they walked off was "It's a man world, but it would mean nothing, nothing without a woman."


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Afghanistan's Rebuilding Looms As Sequel To Iraq's

Afghanistan's Rebuilding Looms As Sequel To Iraq's

The job of rebuilding Afghanistan is shaping up as an ominous sequel to the massive, mistake-riddled U.S. effort to get Iraq back on its feet.

Since 2001, the U.S. has committed nearly $33 billion for reconstruction projects in Afghanistan. Yet as President Barack Obama sends more troops and aid to quell a growing insurgency, there's been no detailed public accounting of where the money has gone and how effectively it's being spent.

As in Iraq, where the U.S. has contributed $50 billion for rebuilding, the flow of money to Afghanistan outpaces the ability to track it. Already, an inspector general looking into the U.S. handling of Afghanistan reconstruction has found worrisome evidence of lax oversight and costly projects left foundering.

Afghanistan presents difficult challenges. It lacks Iraq's modern infrastructure and oil to generate revenue. Work sites are often in remote and primitive locations, making it hard for investigators to keep tabs on progress and ensure contract terms are being met.

Even when projects are initially successful, there are no guarantees they'll stay that way. Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest countries and can't sustain improvements without heavy international aid. It is hamstrung by a government rife with corruption, by a thriving drug trade, by weak procurement rules and by lax enforcement.

A U.S. government watchdog to oversee the American tax dollars pouring into projects throughout Afghanistan wasn't even created until 2008, seven years after U.S. troops invaded the country to hunt down al-Qaida members and oust the Taliban.

The office of the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, led by retired Marine Corps Gen. Arnold Fields, still lacks staff and money needed to do its job properly.

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&#39; if you want beef then bring the ruckus

Russ Feingold: proof that upper Midwest liberals do it best.

Feingold To Obama: Preventive Detention Is Unconstitutional

After Barack Obama wrapped up his big security and civil liberties speech last week, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) issued a strong statement of support for the President in which he drew a stark contrast between the new administration and the previous one.

But Feingold was either holding fire, or the words he'd just heard hadn't settled in immediately. Because by the end of the week, a reservation had emerged. In a gentle, but resolute, letter to Obama dated Friday, May 22, Feingold says a key aspect of Obama's outlined detention policy is likely unconstitutional.

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Obama now seeks, as Feingold describes it, a statutory basis for indefinite preventive detention, but as Glenn Greenwald reminds us, his own counsel, Greg Craig, said "It's possible but hard to imagine Barack Obama as the first President of the United States to introduce a preventive-detention law," just three months ago.

Feingold is a member of the Judiciary, Foreign Relations, and Intelligence committees, which gives him a unique perspective on issues at the nexis of civil liberties and national security. He was also an Obama supporter during the Democratic primary, which makes this emblematic of the growing rift between the President and civil libertarians. Let's see how Obama responds.


Even if you support the administration on this issue, I really recommend you read his letter as it explains why even though many of us implicitly trust Obama here, the precedent set could empower future administrations to set up alterna-Guantanamos around the world.

Greenwald's post linked in the article as well as his facts and myth's about Obama's dentention program post are also good although kinda... well, Greenwald-ish. Like other people (cough Naomi Klein) he likes agitating insufficiently liberal Democrats, and even when they deserve it, it can be kinda grating.
Murasaki Shikibu

Oh, shi--

NKorea says it conducted nuclear test

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea says it has successfully conducted a nuclear test.

The country's official Korean Central News Agency reported that the test was carried out Monday.

Lee Dong-kwan, a spokesman for the South Korean president, says that a nuclear test may have been carried out in the North.

President Lee Myung-bak has called an emergency security session.


On the one hand, I'm worried, on the other, boy who cried wolf. :/

Edit - This article just came out:

Earthquake shakes North Korea

(CNN) -- A 4.7-magnitude earthquake hit northern North Korea on Monday, the U.S. Geological survey reported.

The quake occurred at 9:54 a.m. (8:54 p.m. ET Sunday) about 75 km (45 miles) northwest Kimchaek and 375 km (230 miles) northeast of the capital of Pyongyang, the agency said. The depth of the temblor was 10 km (6.2 miles).

No other details were immediately available.



Edit 2 - Now the "earthquake" is a "geological disturbance," according to CNN, and yeah, that's pretty much echoing how it was a couple years ago, when N. Korea did a nuclear test.

Edit 3 - According to Asahi news, N. Korea also fired off a short-range missile today.

Translation: North Korea also launches short range missile

[Seoul] North Korea launched a surface-to-air short-range missile with a range of about 130 km from Hamgyeong Bukdo Hwadaegun Musudanli on the 25th, according to South Korean news sources. North Korea has declared that the waters off the northern coast of North Korea for 130 km are to no-sail zones from 10 AM to 6 PM Japan Time every day this month until the 30th.
  • Current Music
    Tori Amos - Datura

Bill O'Reilly on gay marriage

Oppose gay marriage? ‘Bigot,’ says the left

Here’s the thing about homosexual marriage in the United States: It is going to be legal in about half the states. There is no stopping the gay nuptials now, even though most Americans say they are opposed to extending marital law to same-sex couples.

Right now, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa and Maine allow gays to marry. New Hampshire seems likely to join them soon. Once the legislatures of New York and New Jersey get finished taxing the life out of their citizens, they, too, will most likely pass gay marriage. And even though the folks in California voted down gay nuptials, the Supreme Court there is desperately trying to find a way to nullify the vote.

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll says 54 percent of Americans oppose gay marriage, while 45 percent support it. But if you oppose gay marriage, your opinion makes you a bigot. Did you know that? That’s what the Miss California controversy was all about.

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  • Current Mood

No Castro Street In Sunny Crete

Greeks free nun-dressed Britons

Seventeen British men arrested for wearing nuns' habits and accused of offensive behaviour have been freed by a court on the Greek island of Crete.


The prosecutors dropped the charges against them after no one showed up to testify that they had been upset by the tourists' conduct.

The men, who were also wearing women's lingerie, spent a night in police cells in Crete Collapse )

Heh, you can get arrested in Crete for causing "scandal?" This tickles me since I'm used to the old school use of "scandal" from religious life, and that's apparently how it's interpreted in Crete.

In sum: Mother Angelica would be pissed.


shcrkekln.... blerk...

Governor plans to completely eliminate welfare for families

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to completely eliminate the state’s welfare program for families, medical insurance for low-income children and Cal Grants cash assistance to college and university students.

The proposals to sharply scale back the assistance that California provides to its neediest  residents came in testimony by the administration this afternoon at a joint legislative budget committee hearing. It followed comments by the governor earlier today that he would be withdrawing a proposal to help balance the budget with billions of dollars of borrowing and replacing it with program reductions.

The proposals would completely reshape the state’s social service network, transforming California from one of the country’s most generous states to one of the most tightfisted. The proposals are intended to help close a budget deficit estimated at $21.3 billion.


¶ haters to the (far) right

Right then, it's on

In Utah, a National Debate About the G.O.P. Plays Out on a Smaller Stage

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah, a hugely popular Republican from one of the nation’s most conservative states, made waves and headlines in recent months by suggesting that his party would need to move toward the center to start winning national elections again.

With his support for President Obama’s economic stimulus plan, his successful effort to ease the state’s method of regulating liquor sales and his advocacy of civil unions to protect same-sex couples, Mr. Huntsman ignited a debate over what the Republican Party here should be.

Now he has been chosen by the president to be the next ambassador to China. But in exiting stage left, assuming Mr. Huntsman is confirmed by the Senate, he leaves the debate he began unfinished.

Conservative Republicans say the state party will stay right of center; Democrats agree and say they think voters will respond by looking for moderate alternatives in the mold of Mr. Huntsman — perhaps Republican, perhaps even Democratic.

Scholars say that Utah’s demographic portrait is changing, especially with the fast growth of the Hispanic population, but that only time will tell where those changes go and how prescient Mr. Huntsman proved to be.

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Mom says school interfered with pregnant daughter

TEXARKANA, Ark. — The mother of a Trinity Christian School student says schoool officials pressured her daughter into revealing her pregnancy and forced the girl into medical testing and counseling without notifying her family.

A lawsuit alleging false imprisonment and civil rights violations names the school's principal, Bible teacher, counselor and administrator, along with the school and the church with which it is affiliated. The school's attorney denies the accusations.

The woman, identified only as Mother Doe, says Principal Larry Berry expelled the girl last May after he learned the girl was pregnant. She also says Berry directed school counselor Brad Watson and Bible teacher Shannan Morgan to take the girl to the First Choice Pregnancy Center.

"The pregnancy center interviewed, counseled and tested Jane Doe without the consent or knowledge of her mother and disseminated her private medical information to Ms. Morgan and Mr. Watson without consent or authorization," the lawsuit says.

The pregnancy center said it respects patient confidentiality. "We are not in the practice of giving anyone information on our clients," executive director Kimberly Banks said.

Doe says the girl wasn't allowed to finish the 2007-08 school year even though only two weeks remained in the final semester.

School lawyer Danny Cook said that, before the lawsuit was filed, the school received a letter demanding "a huge sum of money." He said the mother was "gold-digging" and that the school looked forward to a jury hearing its side of the story.


Study: US has 2nd highest child poverty rate in industrialized nations

This is not a good news day if you are concerned about poverty!

"Hard Times for the Kids" @ New York Times "Economix" blog

The United States has long suffered from one of the highest child poverty rates among the industrialized countries, exceeded only by that of Mexico. The C.W.I. project forecasts that more than one out of five American children will live in poverty in 2010. Past experience suggests that when the overall C.W.I. is declining, it declines twice as fast for African-American and Hispanic children as for whites.

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misc. | Michelle Obama

"The Meaning of Michelle Obama".

Thursday, May. 21, 2009 | Nancy Gibbs and Michael Scherer

It was just two days after the Inauguration when an e-mail went around to Michelle Obama's staff, instructing everyone to be in the East Room of the White House at 3 that afternoon. The First Lady's advisers arrived to find the room filled with ushers and plumbers, electricians and maids and kitchen crew gathered in a huge circle, and Michelle in a T shirt and ponytail, very casual and very much in charge.

"This is my team that came with me from Chicago," Michelle said, pointing to her communications staff and policy people. "This is my team who works here already," she went on, indicating the ring of veterans around the room. Many of the household staff had served for decades; some had postponed retirement because they wanted to serve an African-American President. And so the two groups formed concentric rings and spent the next hour or so making sure that everyone had a chance to meet everyone else. I want you to know that you won't be judged based on whether they know your name, Michelle had warned her advisers. You'll be judged based on whether you know theirs.

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Wow, fuck you.


Friday, May 22, 2009 2:39 PM

Conor Friedersdorf at the American Scene transcribes the following exchange from Mark Levin's radio program yesterday afternoon:

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I'd offer a less sophisticated comment:

Imagine some commuter - a nonpolitical person, a family man or woman, a taxpayer and billpayer - who happens to flip the dial on the radio on the way home and hears that exchange. What would such a person think? Wouldn't it be something like, "I dont know what's wrong with that horrible man, but I do know this: whatever side he's on, any decent person would have to be on the opposite"?

Wow. I have no words, except FUCK YOU, Mark Levin.


Radio Canada rapped for Obama assassination joke

Radio Canada rapped for Obama assassination joke

Canada's public broadcaster was wrong to show a skit that joked about the possible assassination of President Barack Obama and suggested he could be a thief, an industry panel ruled on Monday.

The New Year's Eve "Bye Bye" comedy program -- shown by the French-language Radio Canada network -- generated more than 200 complaints. In one segment, two hosts discussed Obama's election in November 2008. Obama, who took office in January, is the first black U.S. president.

"We're not racists. It will be good to have a Negro in the White House. It will be practical. Black on white, it will be easier to shoot him," one of the show's hosts remarked.

The Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council said it found "nothing redeeming in the allegedly comedic notion that an American president should be shot, still less that this would be easier to achieve because of the color of the president's skin. It was a disturbing, wounding, abusive racial comment".
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For Black WWII vets, recognition arrives at last.

This was a neat Memorial Day story that aired tonight on NBC Nightly News.  The video won't embed and I can't find any blog posts about it so we'll keep this extra brief!

The legacy of thousands of African-American soldiers has been omitted from D-Day memorials, museums, and archives – until now. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports from Normandy, France.

Watch the 3-min. piece here:


ETA:  I found this amazing video with interviews of African-American WWII vets.  Most of them were there for D-Day and one was taken as a POW.  The first 2-3 minutes are slow but its a great video, especially around 9 min:
Bertie by cheesygirl

All that stuff we said was the real reason behind misogyny & homophobia? This phobe says we're right

Okay, I've had a few drinks, but seriously, what the FUCK? Who are the men who think this way in the US in the freaking 21st century and how did they ever gain entry into the same sex that produced my feminist husband?

[M]arriage is concerned above all with female sexuality...The very existence of kinship depends on the protection of females from rape, degradation, and concubinage...This is why marriage between men and women has been necessary in virtually every society ever known. Marriage, whatever its particular manifestation in a particular culture or epoch, is essentially about who may and who may not have sexual access to a woman when she becomes an adult, and is also about how her adulthood–and sexual accessibility–is defined...This most profound aspect of marriage–protecting and controlling the sexuality of the child-bearing sex–is its only true reason for being, and it has no equivalent in same-sex marriage...

Few men would ever bother to enter into a romantic heterosexual marriage–much less three, as I have done–were it not for the iron grip of necessity that falls upon us when we are unwise enough to fall in love with a woman other than our mom.

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There is much whatthefuckery at the original source, including, "[T]he illicit or licit nature of heterosexual copulation is transmitted to the child, who is deemed legitimate or illegitimate based on the metaphysical category of its parents' coition." And, "Gay marriage is blissfully free of these constraints. There is no particular reason to ban sexual intercourse between brothers, a father and a son of consenting age, or mother and daughter. There are no questions of ritual pollution: Will a hip Rabbi refuse to marry a Jewish man--even a Cohen--to a Gentile man? Do Irish women avoid Italian women? A same-sex marriage fails utterly to create forbidden relationships."

He must be joking. Please tell me he's joking. It is 2009.