July 21st, 2009

thebirds, que

Bye bye, lower house of parliament

From Yomiuri Shimbun (English site):

Prime Minister Taro Aso will dissolve the House of Representatives at its plenary session starting at 1 p.m. Tuesday, sources have said.

At an extraordinary Cabinet meeting following the dissolution, the government is expected to formally decide the schedule of the lower house election, with campaigning to officially commence Aug. 18 and the vote set for Aug. 30.

It will be the first general election since September 2005, when then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi led the Liberal Democratic Party.

The key question at the forthcoming election is whether the ruling coalition of the LDP and New Komeito will be able to hold on to power, or if they will be replaced by a new government led by the Democratic Party of Japan.

At a Cabinet meeting set for 8 a.m. Tuesday, the prime minister is expected to formally propose dissolution of the lower house and Cabinet ministers will then be asked to sign a document agreeing to the dissolution. After the Emperor signs the Imperial decree proclaiming the dissolution, lower house Speaker Yohei Kono will read it out and the house will be dissolved.

Aso is expected to hold a press conference at 6 p.m. Tuesday to declare his determination for the election campaign.

However, despite the lower house not yet having been dissolved, the ruling and opposition parties already have, for all intents and purposes, started campaigning.

According to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey, as of Sunday, the number of would-be candidates, some of whom are running in single-seat constituencies and proportional representation seats, already had exceeded 1,200--more than the 1,131 in the last general election.

The LDP and New Komeito are trying to secure a majority of seats--at least 241--by pointing to what they say is the success of the Aso Cabinet's economic measures. The parties also plan to question the financial resources necessary to support the DPJ's policy pledges and challenge the DPJ's foreign and security proposals.

The DPJ will argue that it is time for a change of regime and will highlight its own policies, including creation of a children's allowance of 26,000 yen per month and an income compensation system for individual farming households. The DPJ intends to form a coalition by joining forces with the Social Democratic Party and the People's New Party in the election campaign.

I didn't see anything when I looked at the English site of Asahi Shimbun.

Ngl when I read it, I was like "Wat. They dissolved an entire parliament???" Is this equivalent to the U.S. dissolving the House of Reps?  I wish I were a little more familiar with the Japanese government.  I'm very intrigued w/ their term for their legislature (The Diet).


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tv | kosem sultan sends her regards.

Saudi princess 'given UK asylum'

A Saudi Arabian princess who had an illegitimate child with a British man has been granted asylum in the UK, the Independent newspaper has reported.

It said the married woman was allowed to stay after telling a judge that her affair left her at risk of being stoned to death in her home country.

The woman, who has been given anonymity by a court, is married to a member of the Saudi royal family, the paper said.

The Home Office declined to comment on the case.

The Independent says the woman is one of a small number of Saudi Arabian citizens whose asylum claims are not acknowledged publicly by either country's government.

The woman reportedly began a relationship with a British man - who is not a Muslim - during a visit to London and later became pregnant.

After giving birth secretly in the UK, she took a case to the Immigration and Asylum tribunal, it is claimed.

Under Saudi Arabia's Sharia law system, adultery is punishable by public flogging or execution.

In 2008, the country's courts ordered the execution of 102 people, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

The latest case appears to echo that of another member of the Saudi royal family, 19-year-old Princess Mishaal bint Fahd, who was executed in 1977 after admitting adultery.

When a controversial film about the case, Death of a Princess, was shown in the UK, Saudi authorities responded by expelling the British ambassador in Riyadh.


(no subject)

Buzz Aldrin Punches Moon Landing Conspiracy Theorist In The Face

CNN interviewed the hosts of the show "Mythbusters" about the conspiracy theorists who believe the Apollo Moon landing was faked, and the their extensive efforts debunking the claims of the Moon landing deniers.
However, buried towards the end of the interview is a gem of video of Buzz Aldrin, famously one of the first astronauts to walk on the Moon, being confronted by one of these moon landing skeptics several years ago. The man angrily calls Aldrin a "coward" and a "liar." Aldrin tells the man to get away from him, and when he refuses, Aldrin promptly punches him in the face.

The conspiracy theorist tried to sue Aldrin but the judge threw out the case.


i want joe biden i need joe biden

Palin’s Resignation: The Edited Version

If you watched Sarah Palin’s resignation speech, you know one thing: her high-priced speechwriters moved back to the Beltway long ago. Just how poorly constructed was the governor’s holiday-weekend address? We asked V.F.’s red-pencil-wielding executive literary editor, Wayne Lawson, together with representatives from the research and copy departments, to whip it into publishable shape. Here is the colorful result.

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Vanity Fair

There are some parts in here that are almost impossible to read because of all the red, blue, and green ink. (I'm looking at you, pages three and four.)


I love this piece so much, I just had to share it here! I don't agree with every single word of this piece (although I'd say I probably agree with upwards of 95% of it), and I don't know if anyone else here will, either. What I love about it is the way it strikes out at all the negative stereotypes of what being a liberal is supposedly about, not by arguing with them directly, but with clear and eloquent statements about "liberal" really does mean.

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then ... we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal." [September 14, 1960]
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I am a bleeding heart liberal, and I don't believe in a larger, more reckless spending Government. I believe in a competent, efficient Government. A Government that has the good of every man, woman and child of this country in mind and heart. A Government that doesn't discriminate toward race, color, religion, ethnicity, sex or sexual preference.

I am a bleeding heart liberal because I believe in spending more money on education for a system that is broken and producing disenfrachised and under achieving teens. An education system with an ever increasing drop out rate. An education system that has made it nearly unaffordable for the average high school graduate to attend a higher learning institution.
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President Barack Obama authorizes extended Secret Service guard for former VP Dick Cheney

WASHINGTON - Former Vice President Dick Cheney's Secret Service protection has been extended for at least another six months, beginning Tuesday.

Normally, ex-veeps only get six months of protection at taxpayer expense. But Cheney asked for an extension, and President Obama - whom Cheney has excoriated in several interviews since leaving office - recently signed off.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano signed the order extending Cheney's security detail, her spokeswoman Sara Kuban confirmed Monday.

If the Obama administration hadn't gone along with Cheney's request, he would have been forced to hire his own security agents - or go without.

Cheney's friends have said he has become more concerned about his privacy and personal safety in recent years.

Like all "protectees," Cheney can petition the government for additional extensions of Secret Service protection, and several sources close to Cheney predicted he will do so once this new extension lapses.

Normally, the "threat level" diminishes dramatically after Presidents and vice presidents step down. In the post-9/11 world, that may no longer be the case.

Since 1997, former Presidents have been limited to 10 years of government protection. Bill Clinton - and wife Hillary - is the last ex-President entitled to a lifetime taxpayer-funded security cocoon.


I can totally see this request....

Cheney: So, hey Mr. President, I know I just spent weeks trashing you to everyone with a microphone who would listen.....telling them how terribly unsafe you're making our country and all.....but would you mind terribly just signing off on me keeping my Secret Service detail for awhile longer?  I don't understand why, but it sure seems people don't seem to like me all that much.

Obama: (giving him the Spock look of contempt with one eyebrow raised) Sure.....Dick.

There's an animated icon in there somewhere, I just sense it.

RNC Reveals Brilliant "Let's Drag Our Heels and Hold Our Breath Til We Turn Blue" Strategy

Internal RNC Memo: "Engage In Every Activity" To Slow Down Health Care Reform

A private memo distributed by the Republican National Committee calls for like-minded advocates to help defeat President Barack Obama's health care proposals by delaying its consideration.

The memo, which was obtained by the Huffington Post from a Democratic source, provides the clearest illustration to date of the political playbook being used to stop Democratic attempts at a health care overhaul. Much of the material mirrors the speeches and presentations made by conservatives both inside and out of elected office to date. Obama's plan for health care is deemed an "experiment" anda "risk" that could bankrupt the country and dangerously change the doctor-patient relationship.

In particular, the 12-page memo makes the case that it is a Republican priority to slow down the consideration of health care reform before it can become codified.

"The Republican National Committee will engage in every activity we can to slow down this mad rush while promoting sensible alternatives that address health care costs and preserve quality," the memo affirmatively declares.

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Soooo, if "we have the best healthcare system in the world", then why does it need reform?

It will be interesting to see exactly who has been or will be seen to be parroting these talking points in the MSM.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you the Republican Base...

Birther Gal Goes Nuts On Republican Congressman

Poor Representative Mike Castle! All he wanted was to hold a simple Town Hall and instead he gets some loon shouting about birth certificates, and the audience goes wild. They do not like it so much when he suggests that our president is an American citizen. “The Republican Party has a HUGE problem with its base right now,” declares First Read, diplomatically.


Elizabeth Warren On Consumer Financial Protection Agency (VIDEO)

Elizabeth Warren On Consumer Financial Protection Agency (VIDEO)

Elizabeth Warren, the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel and a professor at Harvard, has been on a mini-media blitz of late. Yesterday, she released a YouTube video supporting President Obama's Consumer Financial Product Agency. Today, the Baseline Scenario has a guest post from Warren in which she describes three myths surrounding the proposed agency.

The Consumer Financial Product Protection Agency would shield consumers against exotic mortgages and confusing credit card offers. As Warren describes it, creating a new agency would, in fact, simplify the current regulatory structure:

"I believe it will reduce risk in the system and can reduce the overall regulatory burden. That's right, it can actually reduce it. Right now, there are seven federal agencies that have some piece of credit regulation...In place of old, complex regulations, the new agency can encourage and help develop some plain-vanilla products."


Warren has also compiled what she calls "3 Myths About The Consumer Financial Product Agency". Here's her summary:

"At the end of the day, industry lobbyists try hard to invent myths and make things sound confusing to intimidate the public and to keep policymakers from acting. But this issue is simple: keeping safety and soundness and consumer protection together has not ensured safety and soundness, has not protected consumers, has not fostered choice and innovation, and has not minimized regulatory burden. In fact, the current regulatory structure that combines consumer protection with other bank oversight responsibilities has led to the kind of bad regulatory oversight that has led us to this crisis. The CFPA would put someone in Washington--someone with real power--who cares about customers. "
The doctor

The Prime Minister, the prostitute – and Putin's bed


Silvio Berlusconi was facing fresh embarrassment last night after audio tapes surfaced of a supposed dalliance with a high-end prostitute at his Rome residence.

"I'm going to take a shower too. If you finish before me, wait for me on the big bed," a man purported to be the Italian Prime Minister can be heard saying. "Which bed? Putin's?" queries his companion, Patrizia D'Addario. "Oh, how cute, the one with the curtains."

The reason why the fabric-covered bed is named after the Russian premier remains a mystery. But the audio tapes – posted online yesterday by Italian newspaper La Repubblica and weekly magazine L'Espresso – offer a tantalising glimpse into how Mr Berlusconi reportedly spent the night of 4 November 2008, when the rest of the world was waiting to see whether Barack Obama would become the first black occupant of the White House.
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Silvio's secrets: The tape transcripts

4 November

Silvio: I’m going to take a shower too. And if you finish before me, wait for me on the big bed.

Patrizia: Which bed? Putin's?

Silvio: Putin's.

Patrizia: Oh, how cute! The one with the curtains.

5 November

Silvio: Everything good?

Patrizia: Yes, you?

Silvio: Me, yes. I've worked a lot. This morning I went to open an exhibition, I made a wonderful speech, that got lots of applause, and I don't seem too tired.

Patrizia: Ah, just like me in fact. I'm not tired, I've not slept. It's just my voice that has gone.

Silvio: Eh, how come? We didn't scream.



Healthcare Lobby to Sen. Max Baucus: The Best Money Can Buy.

Industry Cash Flowed To Drafters of Reform

As liberal protesters marched outside, Sen. Max Baucus sat down inside a San Francisco mansion for a dinner of chicken cordon bleu and a discussion of landmark health-care legislation under consideration by his Senate Finance Committee.

At the table on May 26 were about 20 donors willing to fork over $10,000 or more to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, including executives of major insurance companies, hospitals and other health-care firms.

"Most people there had an agenda; they wanted the ear of a senator, and they got it," said Aaron Roland, a San Francisco health-care activist who paid half price to attend the gathering. "Money gets you in the door. The only thing the other side can do is march around and protest outside."

As his committee has taken center stage in the battle over health-care reform, Chairman Baucus (D-Mont.) has emerged as a leading recipient of Senate campaign contributions from the hospitals, insurers and other medical interest groups hoping to shape the legislation to their advantage. Health-related companies and their employees gave Baucus's political committees nearly $1.5 million in 2007 and 2008, when he began holding hearings and making preparations for this year's reform debate.

Top health executives and lobbyists have continued to flock to the senator's often extravagant fundraising events in recent months. During a Senate break in late June, for example, Baucus held his 10th annual fly-fishing and golfing weekend in Big Sky, Mont., for a minimum donation of $2,500. Later this month comes "Camp Baucus," a "trip for the whole family" that adds horseback riding and hiking to the list of activities.
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McCain: Hate Crime Amendment An "Abuse Of Power"

Sen. McCain was on Fox News today where he called the new hate-crime amendment an "abuse of power." In a nice back-patting moment at the end of the segment the Fox news anchor congratulated McCain for coming out on TV: "You could be relaxing somewhere watching a Diamondbacks game. Thank you."

panda bear

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Romanian Mayor Attacked For Dressing Up As Nazi

An anti-Semitism monitoring organization in Romania has filed an official complaint with prosecutors against a mayor for taking part in a fashion show dressed as a Nazi officer and wearing a swastika.

Radu Mazare, the mayor of Constanta city, is no stranger to showmanship. He once appeared at a public event dressed as James Bond, and he has done fashion magazine spreads.

Mazare, a member of the opposition Social Democracy Party, also was charged last year, along with 36 other government officials, with carrying out illegal real estate deals that cost the country 114 million euros ($143 million).

On Sunday evening, Mazare, 41, and his 15-year-old son performed on stage at the fashion show in Mamaia, a Black Sea resort town near Constanta, and both appeared to be dressed in Nazi uniforms.

Television news shows later showed footage of the performance in Romania, where it is illegal to display swastikas and where people convicted of doing that can be jailed for three years.

The newspaper Evenimentul Zilei quoted the mayor as saying he was inspired to dress the way he did by the film "Valkyrie," in which a German officer "tries to free Germany of a mad dictator." Actor Tom Cruise plays Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg, the aristocratic army officer who was among those executed after a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in July 1944.

Mazare told TV station B1 that he thought he had covered up all the Nazi symbols on his uniform, but did not see a swastika on the belt because it was very small.

On Monday, the country's Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism accused Mazare of wearing a Nazi uniform and displaying a swastika during the fashion show. The center urged Romania's chief prosecutor to investigate Mazare.

In Israel, the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Tuesday called on Mazare to resign and to apologize for parading in the Nazi uniform.

Efraim Zuroff, the center's director, "expressed a sense of insult and outrage at the poor judgment Mazare exhibited," especially since he was accompanied by his son. "It would hard to adequately describe the depth of the pain that your appearance caused, not only to Jews and other victims of Nazism, but to any person of moral integrity who knows the history of World War II," the center said in a statement.

Romania denied participating in the Holocaust until 2004, when it accepted the findings of an international commission that Romanian authorities killed up to 380,000 Jews during World War II in territories under their control.

The Associated Press called Mazare's office and the chief prosecutor's on Tuesday, but neither was available for an interview.


(no subject)




    The first photo of Louis Gates in handcuffs after he was arrested at his own home in Cambridge, Mass.
    The first photo of Louis Gates in handcuffs after he was arrested at his own home in Cambridge, Mass.


    Posted: 12:45 pm
    July 21, 2009

    Charges against a famed black Harvard scholar arrested in his own home were dropped today.

    The city of Cambridge, Mass., issued a statement saying the arrest of Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. yesterday "was regrettable and unfortunate." The statement said the police and Gates agreed dropping the charge was a just resolution.

    Gates had blasted the cops as racist for arresting him after he forced open a jammed front door at his own house.

    "This is what happens to black men in America!" an incensed Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. fumed as he was cuffed for disorderly conduct, according to a police report.

    Police were responding to a call of a possible break-in by "two black males with backpacks on the porch" of the Cambridge house where the prominent African-American academic recently began renting an apartment.

    Harvard magazine fund-raiser Lucia Whalen, 77, who is white, had called police after seeing a man "wedging his shoulder into the front door as to pry the door open."

    Gates was already inside the house when police arrived but initially refused to identify himself, cops said.

    "They did not believe him when he said that he was in his own home. He was totally mistreated," said Allen Counter, a colleague of Gates who spoke with his friend after the incident.


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    Heads are going to roll for this one, people.


    So, Monday night, Rachel Maddow felt that it was perhaps in order to do a little fact checking after her tete-a-tete with Pat Buchanan last week.

    Here's a link to the video, and the transcript is beneath the cut.


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    Oh, Rachel.....I love you SO much for this!  You know, I was just thinking.....wouldn't Rachel make an OUTSTANDING future host of Meet the Press?  She's got so many of the detail-oriented qualities that Tim Russert had, and would totally not let people weasel their way out of things.


    Prop 8 Be Damned: What If California Recognized Other States' Gay Marriages?

    When the California Supreme Court in May decided to ban all same-sex marriages from that point forward, but keep valid the 18,000 gay marriages that already went down, it never addressed one other little matter: what to do about out-of-state gay marriage. Enter State Sen. Mark Leno, who wants to give the Mormon Church an aneurysm with a new bill that would recognize those unions.

    Just like Washington D.C.'s City Council did, California could be en route to banning gay marriage in its own borders, but opening itself up to gay Iowans and Bay Staters who wed in their home states. S.B. 54 would amend state family law and, argues Leno, remain within the confines of the court's ruling.

    The fine print: Only couples who wed out of state before Prop 8 passed would get to use the word marriage; couples who wed afterward would receive marriage rights, but not the M-word. The bill would seemingly encourage — or at least not disallow — Californians to travel to other states where gay marriage is legal, tie the knot, and return home demanding the same rights as married heteros.

    Naturally, Prop 8 supporters are upset. Pacific Legal Institute president Brad Dacus calls the bill a "cheap shot." Which it totally is! But no cheaper than, say, his team's decimation of the wedding industry.


    Some sense coming out of the clusterf*** that was the CSC ruling? And Legislative, no less. No argument of "activist courts!"
    • grant

    Muslim to be caned for drinking beer

    An Islamic court in Malaysia has sentenced a Muslim woman to be flogged with a rattan cane for having a beer in a nightclub, a court official said Tuesday. It is rare for a woman in Malaysia to be sentenced to caning — a punishment usually reserved for men in various crimes ranging from rape to bribery.

    Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno was sentenced Monday to six lashes and a fine of 5,000 ringgit ($1,400) for consuming alcohol, said a Shariah High Court official who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to make public statements. Shukarno, a 32-year-old model, pleaded guilty in the court in eastern Pahang state to a charge of drinking beer when Islamic authorities raided a hotel nightclub in August 2008.

    Consuming alcohol is a religious offense in Malaysia only for Muslims, who make up nearly two-thirds of the population. Offenders are prosecuted in Shariah courts, which handle cases mainly related to family and moral issues for Muslims. Most offenders are fined, but the law also provides for a three-year prison term and caning. Shukarno was the only Muslim caught in the raid at the Pahang nightclub.

    Malaysian clubs and lounges typically serve alcohol but are not legally required to check if customers are Muslim before serving them, so the hotel nightclub operators were not charged with any offense. Shukarno plans to appeal the sentence, the New Straits Times daily reported.

    The punishment "is aimed at making the accused repent and serves as a lesson to Muslims," the newspaper quoted Judge Abdul Rahman Yunus as saying. The judge did not elaborate on why he imposed a relatively severe sentence, but local media noted that he had a history of being tough on alcohol offenders.

    ' jules


    Feingold Hits Obama’s Intel Chief: You’re Wrong, CIA Officials May Have Broken Law

    I told you last week that it was a big deal when Obama’s top intelligence guy defended that secret, controversial CIA program as legal, because it’s bound to result in a standoff between Congressional Dems and the White House.

    Now Senator Russ Feingold is directly challenging the White House on the issue. I’ve obtained a terse, toughly-worded letter that Feingold has fired off to Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, faulting him for saying it was legal for the CIA to launch the secret program without telling Congress, and demanding that he account for the claim — a move that could put the White House in an awkward spot.

    Feingold was responding to Blair’s comments to The Washington Post, in which he claimed the CIA didn’t break the law by heeding Dick Cheney’s request to keep Congress in the dark about plans to create small teams to assassinate Al Qaeda leaders. In his letter, which hasn’t yet been released, Feingold says:
    According to a story on Thursday in the Washington Post, you stated that the failure to notify the congressional intelligence committees about a program recently cancelled by CIA Director Leon Panetta did not violate the law. I disagree and believe that the program in question fit squarely within the notification requirements of the National Security Act. I therefore request that you provide me with your analysis, and any analysis by the DNI General Counsel, supporting your conclusion.
    Feingold’s gauntlet creates an awkward choice for the White House. It can either walk back Blair’s comments, or openly defend the program as legal, putting the White House at odds with House Dems who are probing the program for possible lawbreaking. It’ll interesting to see how the White House defends the CIA’s program’s legality — or whether it does.



    Republicans Try To Connect To The Youth And Fail Miserably!

    (taken from the Mothership)

    GOP's new youth ambassador: Lady Gaga?

    Politics may make for strange bedfellows — but even for this town, this may be the oddest couple to ever make beautiful music together: House Republicans…and pop diva Lady Gaga.

    At Tuesday morning's weekly GOP conference meeting, Republicans were shown a clip of a video parody of the Lady Gaga hit, "Just Dance" that replaces the popular song's refrain with "Just Tax."

    The parody video was developed by Peter Cowman, a 23-year-old who just graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle, outside Rep Dave Reichert's district. A spokeswoman for Reichert said the congressman wanted to show his colleagues the video to encourage them to get young people involved using new media, and noted his district is home to a cluster of technology companies.

    "He wanted them to encourage the youth in their district, and share the message on a level that young people can relate to," Reichert's spokeswoman told CNN.

    Asked about the video, House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence, R-Ind, laughed and said "it's part of the Pence youth initiative."

    Pence admitted that very few members were familiar with the original Lady Gaga song.

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    This 20 year old Republican DOES NOT APPROVE OF THIS BULLSHIT!


    Advertising And Modern Minstrelsy: What's Funny About Race Roleplaying?

    Last week we came across this music video/ advertisement for Taco Bell (created by DraftFCB), a riff on Diddy's 1990s anthem, "It's All About the Benjamins". The commercial, entitled "It's All About the Roosevelts", seems to have drawn inspiration from the popular "Lazy Sunday" skit featured on SNL four years ago, a self-parodizing rap video about the banal lives of Chris Parnell and Adam Samberg.

    SNL's characters rap self-seriously (but in actuality, self-deprecatingly) about the boring details of their daily lives, from visiting cupcake bakeries to finding directions on the Internet. The comedic effect is a result of a combined dissonance; it's not funny because it's white people rapping, it's funny because it's dorky white people rapping about their very un-thug lives.

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    See also:
    What's So Funny About Chicago-Lake Liquor Ads?
    Racially Slurred Speech

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      D.O.A. (Death of Autotune), Jay-Z

    (no subject)

    As seen in a post on reddit, there is a billboard in Gatesville, TX, denouncing gay rights as civil rights:
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    Conveniently, there is also a phone number. I'm not advocating that you call, but you know....

    I googled their phone number and came across a blog post for this very thing. Apparently they have been receiving many phone calls.

    Google also brings up the names associated with the phone number.

    Harry Potter actor was Section 44'd

    I know this seems more like a post for ONTD proper, but there's a political element, trust me.

    A Harry Potter actor, sentenced over growing cannabis, was initially arrested after taking a photograph of a police patrol, it has emerged today.

    Actor Jamie Waylett, 20, has been ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work after he admitted growing the drugs.

    He was arrested after police found pictures of the cannabis plants on his camera.

    However, a BBC report on the sentencing hearing added: 'Police seized the camera after he was arrested for taking pictures of officers as he and his friend John Innis, 20, drove past.'

    Westminster Magistrates Court heard that the pair had been stopped under the Terrorism Act, in west London, 'after the actor took a photograph of a police patrol'.

    For more on this see the BBC website at news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8161154.stm


    Nice to see anti-terrorist legislation being used for the important stuff, isn't it?

    Obama&#39;s - Love and fireworks

    Bad Day For 'Birthers' As Matthews Picks Up Where Sanchez Left Off

    Earlier this afternoon, CNN's Rick Sanchez did a segment on the so-called "Birther" movement: that merry gang of wackjobs that gallivant around the country, bitching, moaning, and filing lawsuits because they believe President Barack Obama is not an American citizen. Rather, he is, in the fever swamps of their wretched imaginations, a citizen of Kenya, whose true citizenship has been covered up by an exciting conspiracy involving his parents, his friends, his in-laws, and government officials at all levels, from both parties, spanning several generations. And the malign goals of this conspiracy include...uhm...well, no one knows exactly! But it hardly matters. These are crazy people, who live in Crazytown, and eat, sleep, drink, bleed, and crap pure Nectar of Crazy all the days of their lives.

    Earlier Rick Sanchez brought a copy of Obama's birth certificate on the air to debunk all the wackadoodle nonsense that Birtherdom holds dear. But I guess today is the day the media, after six months of the Obama presidency, finally decided they had the time to take on this issue. And so, on Hardball, Chris Matthews did his part for sanity, hosting California Congressman John Campbell, who is one of the Congressmen who have sponsored the "Birther bill" which "would require future presidential candidates to provide a copy of their original birth certificate." That bill's main sponsor is Florida Representative Bill Posey, who has never adequately explained to Stephen Colbert whether the rumors that his own mother is the mutant offspring of a human and an alligator are true.

    Anyway, Matthews called the bill "crazy." Campbell retorted that it was all about "putting the matter to rest." I think that the matter, having been rested in the minds of all of those who can lay claim to functioning ones, does not require the attention of our Congress. But, Campbell insists that if John McCain had been elected, the same questions would be raised by other people. I think he's right! But those people would nevertheless be CRAZY PEOPLE.

    Anyway, the exchange goes back and forth, with Campbell insisting that he's just supporting "implementing legislation" for the citizenship requirement, the absence of which is indicative of the Founders having given us far too much credit. Matthews accuses Campbell of merely "appeasing the wacko wing of his party," and suggests that he just mail a copy of Obama's birth certificate to all the insane people, which would probably violate his franking privileges.

    Matthews ends up being right on the merits, and Campbell gives one of those "as far as I know" answers when pressed about Obama's citizenship, but I have to take Campbell's side on one thing. About five minutes in, Matthews starts brandishing Obama's birth certificate, hectoring Campbell to take a look at it. An exasperated Campbell finally protests, "I can't see it! I'm looking at a camera!"

    Anyway, Sanchez this afternoon, Matthews this evening, but I'm honor bound to state that when it comes to the birther story, all reports should come stamped "MUST CREDIT DAVE WEIGEL OF THE WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT," because he has been straight killin' this story.

    Rick Sanchez video HERE
       (sorry can't embed)

    Chris Matthews video HERE  (sorry can't embed)

    Lawyer: 170 More Soldiers To Refuse Deployment Because “Obama Is Not Really President”

    Last week, a U.S. Army major named Stefan Frederick Cook made news when he refused deployment to Afghanistan on the grounds that President Barack Obama might not be a natural-born citizen and therefore is constitutionally ineligible to give orders as commander in chief. Now Cook’s lawyer says she has 170 more soldiers willing to file similar protests against the president.

    Welcome to the world of the “Birthers”—right-wing conspiracy theorists committed to undoing the 2008 presidential election by trying to prove that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. The movement is evidence that Obama Derangement Syndrome is going viral from the far right, proliferating beyond fringe-festival Internet sites. It’s in danger of a quiet mainstreaming along partisan lines—reaching into talk radio, cable news, the armed services, and even the halls of Congress.

    The 170 number thrown out by Cook’s lawyer has the feel of Joe McCarthy’s claim that he had a list of 205 communists working in Harry Truman’s State Department—i.e. pseudo-specific, intentionally inflammatory, and ultimately bogus. But what’s not in question is the nine Republican congressmen who have co-sponsored a bill that, in response to this much-debunked conspiracy theory, would require presidential campaigns to provide “a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate.”

    Asked whether Obama “is a U.S. citizen,” bill co-sponsor Randy Neugebauer, a Texas Republican, replied: “I don’t know. I’ve never seen him produce documents that would say one way or another.”

    full story @ source, who thinks the powers that be didn't think this one through when they let the first guy go

    Bonus lulz:

    Before going on air, Keyes had his eyes closed as if in prayer while Taitz was jumpy and pie-eyed, like a patient off her meds. Anchor Kitty Pilgrim then went through a thorough 3-1/2 minute dismantling of the Birther arguments, including the long-ago issuance of Obama’s August 1961 certificate of live birth, its validation by Hawaii’s Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, and two birth announcements published in Honolulu papers. (Both FactCheck.org and Snopes have published detailed investigations and refutations of the non-scandal.)

    Asked what more he needed to be convinced, Keyes’ response was an instant classic in the clueless overconfidence of conspiracy theorists: “Some evidence.”


    Michele Bachmann Opposes Public Option Because It's "Cheaper"

    Bachmann, Kline oppose public option because it’s ‘cheaper’

    If you’re trying to dissuade someone from buying something, it’s best not to tell them it’s the cheaper option. But that’s the strategy behind some GOP opposition to the “public option” contained in the healthcare reform efforts currently being debated in Washington. U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann and John Kline say the option is bad for America because it will be cheaper than the health insurance currently breaking the backs of many individuals and small businesses.

    On the House floor Monday evening, Bachmann railed against the public option partially because because it will provide cheaper health insurance to millions of Americans.

    Approximately 114 million Americans are expected to leave private health insurance. Why? Their employers will drop the insurance because the taxpayer-subsidized plan will be 30 to 40 percent cheaper. This action will collapse the private health insurance market, and then the Federal Government will own the health provider game.

    Bachmann’s statement echoes the sentiments expressed by Rep. John Kline in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio’s Tom Crann in late June. He also said that millions of people will flock to the cheaper insurance plan, also called the public option.

    Kline: There are some things in this legislation that I find particularly troublesome.

    Crann: Such as…

    Kline: Well, the public option. The so-called public option. The proponents of the option say you need a public option to foster competition. But the way it’s being set up the playing field will be increasingly tilted toward the public option. We’ve seen studies already that say up to 23 million Americans would very rapidly be moved from the insurance that they have to the public option. There are …

    Crann: Isn’t the public option primarily for the currently uninsured now?

    Kline: Well, that’s the claim in many cases of the proponents, but our fear is that if you actually get in there looking at the legislation that it’s set up in a way that employers would increasingly opt to letting their employees move over to the public, to the public option. And because it is cheaper, it’s designed to save money, the government-run program has some very clear advantages.

    Sean Penn FTW

    Sean Penn supports the UN Strike

    Sean Penn Pictures, Images and Photos

    Support Iran Protesters Without Meddling

    Posted on Jul 20, 2009

    By Sean Penn, Ross Mirkarimi and Reese Erlich

    Two of us (Sean Penn and Reese Erlich), during our travels to Iran in 2005, interviewed numerous ordinary Iranians. People were very friendly toward us as Americans but very hostile to U.S. policy against their country. We visited Friday prayers where 10,000 people chanted “Death to America.” Afterward some of those same people invited us home for lunch.

    That contradiction continues today as Iran goes through its most significant upheaval since the 1979 revolution. Iranians are rising up against an authoritarian system but don’t want U.S. intervention.

    Many Iranians believe that they have experienced a coup d’état in which the military and intelligence services have hijacked the presidential election. Through vote buying and manipulation of the count, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad guaranteed himself another four years in office.

    In June over a million Iranians marched in the streets of major cities across the country. The spontaneous demonstrations included well-to-do supporters of opposition candidates, but also large numbers of workers, farmers, small business people and the devoutly religious. They were fed up with 30 years of a system that used Islam as an excuse for union labor strikebreaking, lack of women’s rights and repression.

    The Iranian government responded to these peaceful protests with savagery, killing dozens of people. Some human rights groups put the number at over 100. The government admits arresting 2,500 people nationwide and continues to hold at least 500. Most are being held without charges or have simply disappeared.

    The repression hasn’t killed the movement. On July 17, over 10,000 people came to Friday prayers in support of the opposition. Instead of chanting “Death to America,” they chanted “Death to the Dictator,” a reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Police attacked them with clubs and teargas.

    Meanwhile in Washington, some politicians tried to use the crisis for their own ends. Sen. John McCain criticized President Obama for not taking a stronger position against the Iranian government. It’s ironic to hear McCain and other conservatives proclaim their support for the people of Iran when a few months ago they wanted to bomb them.

    That doesn’t exactly build credibility among Iranians.

    President Obama faces tough choices on Iran. If he speaks out loudly against Ahmadinejad, he is accused of meddling in Iran’s internal affairs. If he says too little, then right-wingers in the U.S. accuse him of being soft on Ahmadinejad.

    In reality, the U.S. has very little ability to impact what has become a massive, spontaneous movement for change. And it shouldn’t. The CIA overthrew the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953, bringing the dictatorial shah back to power. The Bush administration attempted to overthrow the Iranian government by funding and arming ethnic minority groups opposed to Tehran.

    The U.S. government has no moral or political authority to tell Iranians what they should do. Iranians are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves.

    That’s why citizen diplomacy is so important. Iranian demonstrators welcome the support of ordinary Americans. Joan Baez recorded a Farsi language version of “We Shall Overcome” that has shot around the world on YouTube.

    Iranian activists are holding a hunger strike in front of the U.N. in New York from July 22 to July 24 demanding that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon send a special commission to Iran.

    We urge you to participate in the July 25 demonstrations around the U.S. and in Europe. Stand in solidarity with Iranians and against U.S. intervention in Iran (www.norcal4iran.org).

    Sean Penn is an actor who wrote about Iran for the San Francisco Chronicle in 2005. Ross Mirkarimi is a San Francisco supervisor, the first elected Iranian-American to hold that office. Reese Erlich is a freelance journalist and author of “The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of US Policy and the Middle East Crisis.”

    From: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090720_support_iran_protesters_without_meddling/

    my own source for this: http://strike4iran.com/?p=271
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    Bailout Watch


    This site is endorsed by the left-leaning CEPR (Center for Economic and Policy Research), which is the home of economist Dean Baker (of the Krugman-Galbraith-Roubini left axis of economists) and the EPI (Economic Policy Institute), which was the home of Jared Bernstein before he became Joe Biden's Chief Economic Adviser.

    In other words, if you have been looking for a bailout watch site that is not sponsored by Republicans or "libertarian" (CATO, AEI, etc.) economists, this is the one to watch.
    leighton meester loves the bight lights

    Battered Afghan wives opt for divorce instead of suicide

    By Golnar Motevalli Golnar Motevalli

    HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) – After regular beatings, torture and attempted murder by her husband, 35-year-old Zahra tried to burn herself to death to escape her marriage. Then she learned of a safer option: divorce.

    Zahra is among a growing number of women in Afghanistan's western Herat province who, with the help of a women's charity, have taken on patriarchal laws to get a divorce, a taboo in the devoutly Muslim, formerly Taliban-led state.

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    Michael "I am not a Token" Steele keeps embarrasing himself...

    Michael Steele Should Stick to Embarrassing Himself With Slang

    Someone asked Michael Steele a very simple, very elementary question about health care reform—does he support an individual requirement?—and he did not seem to know what that meant.

    "What do you mean by an individual requirement?" Michael Steele asked.
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    Steele Struggles To Name His Own Health Care Provider

    Michael Steele provided a bit of fodder on Tuesday for Democrats trying to frame both him and the GOP as obstructionist forces in the national debate about health care.

    The RNC Chairman stumbled during an appearance on CNN on Tuesday when he was asked to name what type of insurance he has and who exactly is his health care provider.

    "What company is it?" host Kyra Phillips asked.

    "Blue Cross Blue Shield I believe," Steele replied. "Or maybe not. I think it is Blue Cross Blue Shield."

    The slip-up was immediately seized upon by the Democratic National Committee, which charged that Steele's hesitation was further evidence that he and the RNC are out of touch and only interested in political warfare when it comes to health care.
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