October 3rd, 2009


Sarah Palin a Terrible Choice for GOP in 2012... No, Really... Tell Me More...

McCain Campaign Manager: Palin In 2012 Would Be Catastrophe for GOP

If Sarah Palin is her party's nominee for president in 2012 it will be a "catastrophic election" for the GOP, Sen. John McCain's 2008 campaign manager predicted on Friday.

Longtime GOP strategist Steve Schmidt -- who ran McCain's campaign and played a role in picking Palin as the senator's running mate -- offered a scathing assessment of the former Alaska governor's political trajectory.

"I think that she has talent," Schmidt said, "but my honest view is that she would not be a winning candidate for the Republican Party in 2012."

"She is someone who has a passionate base that constitutes millions of Americans," Schmidt said. "But in the year since the election has ended, she has done nothing to expand her appeal beyond that base into the middle of the electorate where elections are decided."

Speaking at The Atlantic's First Draft of History Conference, Schmidt was asked, initially, to respond to Palin's forthcoming book, "Going Rogue", and how he thought he would be portrayed in it.

"I think it may say that I was anti-rogue in the running of the campaign," he replied, hinting at the frictions between him and Palin that have been extensively reported since the end of the 2008 campaign.

Schmidt did compliment Palin for engendering fascination among millions of people throughout the country. "Just look at her pre-sales numbers," he said of her book. And he even added that it was not "inconceivable that she could be Republican nominee for president of the United States."

But, he qualified, it would be "fairly inconceivable" that she could end up being president. "In fact, were she to be the nominee we could have a catastrophic election."

Schmidt: The GOP "Holistically Is Bereft Of Ideas" On Health Care

In comments almost certain to rankle Republicans on Capital Hill, Sen. John McCain's 2008 campaign manager Steve Schmidt accused the GOP on Friday of having no comprehensive alternative to Democratic health care reform.

In an appearance at The Atlantic's First Draft of History conference, the longtime GOP strategist did argue that individual Republicans, notably Rep, Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), were "advancing ideas" on health care legislation.

"But the party holistically is bereft of ideas," Schmidt added.

The remarks come at a time when Republicans are already beating back accusations that the party has not been a viable or honest bargaining partner during reform negotiations. As such, they seem destined to even further Schmidt's alienation within conservative ranks. Earlier in his speech, the McCain strategist ruffled feathers when he predicted that if former VP candidate Sarah Palin -- whom he helped pick as McCain's running mate -- were to be the Republican presidential candidate in 2012, it would be "catastrophic" for the party.

But Schmidt insists that his complaint with the GOP is driven by a simple desire to ensure long-term success. Part of the recuperating process, he added, means finding a firmer and more innovative base of policy ideas around which to re-build the party

"Ronald Reagan's conservatism was relevant to the age and time that he lived in," Schmidt told the crowd, "and the challenge for the next presidential candidates is to make conservatism relevant to the time that we live in today."

"One of the things that hurt us very badly [during the campaign] and I think that this was not John McCain's fault... was that the conservative agenda -- largely enacted -- I think exhausted itself," he added. "There were no new ideas. And we would have policy meetings in the campaign and there would be a lowest common denominator product that would emerge; no innovative thinking, no new ideas, and I would joke around at the time and say 'Well, I guess we will continue to run on our platform of tax cuts for the wealthy and endless war.' It was a little gallows humor inside the campaign. But it underlined a serious point."

Another catalyst for a GOP re-birth, Schmidt stressed, would be for elected leaders to remove themselves from under the weight and influence of the conservative media elite - namely, Fox News' Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity and talk radio's Rush Limbaugh.

"I think people with regard to their vote... make their own decisions," he said. "Sometimes they agree with Rush Limbaugh, sometimes they don't.... It is up to the leaders to the party to lead the party. The leadership of the party cannot be outsourced to the conservative entertainment complex. And if it is, then it will become impossible for the party to win elections."

Vanessa Williams Talks About President Obama & Race On Joy Behar Show

Vanessa on race: I've been called the n-word. I've been accused of breaking into a car when I was going into my own car to get my child's shoe which was...incredible. I've had my kids, when they're walking for Halloween, one of my daughters was wearing a beautiful Queen of Hearts dress and the woman behind her goes, "Oh, look--the Queen of Spades". And this is in California in a very liberal area.


Orgasms, Sexual Health And Attitudes About Female Genitals

Orgasms, Sexual Health And Attitudes About Female Genitals

An Indiana University study published in the September issue of the International Journal of Sexual Health found that women who feel more positively about women's genitals find it easier to orgasm and are more likely to engage in sexual health promoting behaviors, such as having regular gynecological exams or performing vulvar self-examinations.

"These are important findings about body image," said Debby Herbenick, associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. "Our culture often portrays women's genitals as dirty and in need of cleaning and grooming. Some women may have had greater exposure to such negative messages or may be more susceptible to their impact."

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Ex-EA Dev Fashioning Game Set During Iran Riots

Ex-EA Dev Fashioning Game Set During Iran Riots

Backing up previous comments made about the value of including political statements in games, developer Borut Pfeifer is working on a title set amidst the riots of post-election Iran.

Pfeifer, an ex-full time Electronic Arts employee who is now developing his own games, while still working part time for EA, is attempting to fund his game’s development on the Kickstarter website. The 2D puzzle/action game aims to be a downloadable title for the PC or Xbox 360 and will feature around two hours of game play.

Pfeifer, who was one of the few developers to weigh in on the Six Days in Fallujah controversy, explained the impetus for making the game:

I’ve been really passionate about using games to explore more serious topics or themes. Most games are still about fun, diversionary topics. There’s even a lot of professional game designers who don’t think we can treat serious subjects appropriately, which I think is bullshit.

Pfeifer is aiming for $15,000 in seed money to develop the game. So far he has 30 backers and $2,107 pledged towards his goal.
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music | sleigh anne.

Obamas meet the coolest queen in the world

After spending time at an IOC meeting, the President and the First Lady traveled to Christiansborg Palace where Queen Margrethe II and her husband, Prince Henrik, received them.

The president's tight schedule included a brief meeting with Denmark's Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who said he hoped Obama "would return very soon" - a reference to the UN Climate Conference in December in Copenhagen.

President Obama, Michelle Obama, Queen Margrethe & Prince Henrik (I am glad to see the Obamas not towering over a head of state for once<3)

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Disclaimer: Yeah, Queen Elizabeth's pretty cool. But is she an accomplished illustrator whose illustrations were featured in the Danish translation of the Lord of the Rings? I DON'T THINK SO.
David Thewlis - Animatedly talking

O'Reilly suspects ACORN helped Sen. Al Franken to steal the election

Despite a steady stream of accusations, mostly by Republicans, the anti-poverty group ACORN has never been linked to any actual cases of election fraud.

But that isn't going to stop Fox News host Bill O'Reilly from asking the Republican governor of Minnesota to engage in a witch-hunt for proof that fraudulent ACORN registrations were behind Senator Al Franken's narrow victory last fall over a Republican incumbent.

"A published report says that ACORN in Minnesota signed up 43,000 new voters for last November's election," O'Reilly began on Thursday. "As you may know, Al Franken won the Senate race in Minnesota by 312 votes -- and now some say the fix was in."

"I despise Al Franken," O'Reilly continued. "There's nothing about him I respect. But I think this might be jumping the gun, and I'm a little conflicted about it. ... There's no doubt that ACORN is corrupt. It is. But to make an accusation without any proof that some of the ACORN voters were fraudulent and therefore Franken didn't really win legitimately ... I don't know if that's fair."

It soon became clear, however, that O'Reilly's idea of fairness has nothing to do with refraining from smearing people without proof and a lot to do with demanding an official investigation to "clean up" an issue he himself has concocted.

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Women Business Owners, We Need Your Help!

Women a Big Force in Business, Study Finds

Women-owned businesses generate about $3 trillion in revenue and employ 16 percent of the workforce, making them significant players in the national economy, according to researchers who conducted a benchmark study released Friday.

The study was led by the nonprofit Center for Women's Business Research with sponsorship from Women Impacting Public Policy, a nonpartisan group, and Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer. The research provided an in-depth look at the economic impact of women-owned businesses, which were defined as privately held companies at which women held at least a 50 percent stake. According to the study, those businesses employ 23 million people, nearly double the number of the 50 biggest companies in the country combined.

Advocates for women in business said the results are a wake-up call for those who consider women to be niche players.

"This really gives us good, secure statistics to go to policymakers with," said Margaret Barton, executive director of the National Women's Business Council.

The study was released during the Economic Summit for Women Business Owners at the W Hotel in D.C., convened by Wal-Mart and WIPP. Among the top issues for members were access to capital for small businesses, the impact of the government's stimulus programs and the cost of health care.

Marion Bonhomme owns Knowledge Connections, a telecommunications engineering and consulting firm based in Herndon. She said her main concern was securing financing. Her bank reduced her line of credit and increased interest rates and fees in the wake of the credit crunch, she said. That has forced her to lay off 10 percent of her more than 100 employees.

"I could not get the financing in order to support them," she said.

Bonhomme said she hoped that attending the summit would allow her voice -- and those of other women business owners -- to be heard.

Wal-Mart, the main sponsor of the event, said about 40 percent of the business members of its Sam's Club division are women who own small businesses. Chief executive Mike Duke said that was one reason behind the retailers' decision to participate.

"This is real. We really are committed to you and your business," he told the roughly 300 women at the event.

Wal-Mart has been the target of the nation's largest class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in 2001 and is still winding its way through the legal system. During the summer, Duke pledged to increase the number of women promoted within the company and established an advisory "global women's council." Wal-Mart was also a founding sponsor of WIPP, and the company's human resources director, Susan Chambers, is chairwoman of WIPP's corporate advisory board.

Thousands Rally To Defend Freedom of The Press. Berlusconi Yawns: "You Bore Me. Go Away"...

Thousands Rally In Rome To Defend Press Freedom; Berlusconi Dismisses As A "Joke"

Tens of thousands of people, including journalists and media rights activists, gathered in a Rome square Saturday to defend press freedom, accusing Premier Silvio Berlusconi of trying to silence critical voices.

Berlusconi, a media magnate, has dismissed the accusations as a "joke" and the demonstration as a "farce." He said this week that there is more press freedom in Italy than in any other Western country.

Berlusconi owns the country's largest private broadcaster. As premier, he and his conservative coalition have indirect control on the state-run broadcaster RAI.

The premier has recently sued two leftist newspapers over their coverage of a sex scandal that has been engulfing him. He has said during an appearance on RAI that there are "too many scoundrels" in the media.

Many at the rally in a packed Piazza del Popolo in central Rome wore T-shirts saying, "Now sue me, too!" Others held up signs saying, "Scoundrel" or "Art. 21" – a reference to the Italian constitutional article that guarantees freedom of speech and of the press.

The demonstration was organized by the journalist union, and it drew several members of the center-left opposition. Crowd estimates varied significantly, as is often the case in Italy: Organizers said 300,000 people attended; Rome police estimated 60,000.

Berlusconi's critics say he wants to intimidate journalists and manipulate coverage.

"The problem of press freedom in Italy isn't that they can't print the news, it's that when they print it they receive pressure or intimidation,"
said Angelo Motta, a 22-year-old political science student who traveled from northern Italy to attend the demonstration.
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Ireland backs Lisbon Treaty

Irish voters have strongly endorsed the European Union's Lisbon Treaty - 16 months after their first vote rejecting it plunged EU reforms into deadlock.

About 67% voted "Yes", official results from the latest referendum showed. Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen hailed a "clear and resounding" endorsement.

The EU Commission called it a "vote of confidence" in the EU. Nearly all member states have ratified Lisbon.

The treaty is aimed at streamlining decision-making in the 27-nation bloc.

According to final results, 67.1% of Irish voters approved it, while 32.9% voted "No". Turnout in the three-million electorate was 58%.

The treaty cannot take effect until all member states ratify it. The only other countries yet to ratify Lisbon are the Czech Republic and Poland.

The parliaments of both countries have approved the treaty. Polish President Lech Kaczynski is expected to sign it in the coming days.

But the Czech Republic's Eurosceptic President, Vaclav Klaus, said he would not sign the treaty until his country's Constitutional Court had pronounced on its validity.

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and eurosceptics everywhere (i.e. the UK) go into epileptic shock

Ahmadinejad is Jewish?

A photograph of the Iranian president holding up his identity card during elections in March 2008 clearly shows his family has Jewish roots.

A close-up of the document reveals he was previously known as Sabourjian – a Jewish name meaning cloth weaver.

The short note scrawled on the card suggests his family changed its name to Ahmadinejad when they converted to embrace Islam after his birth.

The Sabourjians traditionally hail from Aradan, Mr Ahmadinejad's birthplace, and the name derives from "weaver of the Sabour", the name for the Jewish Tallit shawl in Persia. The name is even on the list of reserved names for Iranian Jews compiled by Iran's Ministry of the Interior.

Experts last night suggested Mr Ahmadinejad's track record for hate-filled attacks on Jews could be an overcompensation to hide his past.

Ali Nourizadeh, of the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies, said: "This aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's background explains a lot about him.

"Every family that converts into a different religion takes a new identity by condemning their old faith.

"By making anti-Israeli statements he is trying to shed any suspicions about his Jewish connections. He feels vulnerable in a radical Shia society."

A London-based expert on Iranian Jewry said that "jian" ending to the name specifically showed the family had been practising Jews.

"He has changed his name for religious reasons, or at least his parents had," said the Iranian-born Jew living in London. "Sabourjian is well known Jewish name in Iran."

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London said it would not be drawn on Mr Ahmadinejad's background. "It's not something we'd talk about," said Ron Gidor, a spokesman.

The Iranian leader has not denied his name was changed when his family moved to Tehran in the 1950s. But he has never revealed what it was change from or directly addressed the reason for the switch.

Relatives have previously said a mixture of religious reasons and economic pressures forced his blacksmith father Ahmad to change when Mr Ahmadinejad was aged four.

The Iranian president grew up to be a qualified engineer with a doctorate in traffic management. He served in the Revolutionary Guards militia before going on to make his name in hardline politics in the capital.

During this year's presidential debate on television he was goaded to admit that his name had changed but he ignored the jibe.

However Mehdi Khazali, an internet blogger, who called for an investigation of Mr Ahmadinejad's roots was arrested this summer.

Mr Ahmadinejad has regularly levelled bitter criticism at Israel, questioned its right to exist and denied the Holocaust. British diplomats walked out of a UN meeting last month after the Iranian president denounced Israel's 'genocide, barbarism and racism.'

Benjamin Netanyahu made an impassioned denunciation of the Iranian leader at the same UN summit. "Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium," he said. "A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies the murder of six million Jews while promising to wipe out the State of Israel, the State of the Jews. What a disgrace. What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations."

Mr Ahmadinejad has been consistently outspoken about the Nazi attempt to wipe out the Jewish race. "They have created a myth today that they call the massacre of Jews and they consider it a principle above God, religions and the prophets," he declared at a conference on the holocaust staged in Tehran in 2006.


Sounds like he pulled a Hitler-esque transformation to me...

Guinea Seethes as a Captain Rules at Gunpoint

CONAKRY, Guinea — At the military camp where he makes decisions — he does not care for government buildings — the captain who is president explained why he did not get to the political rally earlier this week that his soldiers turned into a bloodbath.

"On Monday, thousands demonstrated in the soccer stadium here in the capital against Captain Camara’s intimations of wanting to keep power — an ambition he denied when he first took over.

Witnesses say his men mowed many down at point-blank range. They beat and knifed many more, bashing elderly political figures and sending them to hospitals.

Captain Camara, offering only muted apologies for the deaths, sought to shift blame to the protesters."


More on Captain Camara
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Politicians beware: Oil photo exhibit opens in DC

WASHINGTON – Politicians, cover your eyes.

The first exhibit of 56 large-scale color landscapes from Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky chronicling the impact of oil made its debut Saturday at Washington's Corcoran Gallery of Art — less than a block from the White House. The show, chronicling the world's predominant energy source, can't help carrying a political zing.

"Edward Burtynsky: Oil," opens at the privately funded museum as Congress is struggling with a climate bill that could include a "cap and trade" system to reduce greenhouse gases. Critics say it could drive up energy costs.

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Empire State Building criticized for China lights

Rights groups have criticised the move to bathe New York's Empire State Building in red and yellow in honour of communist China's 60th anniversary.

Managers of the building said the lights were to honour the Chinese people, adding that they celebrated many cultures and causes in such a way.

But Human Rights Watch, which has offices in the building, voiced dismay. The group objected to celebrating the Communist Party, whose rule it said had seen many rights abuses. "We have no objection to honouring China as a nation, a great civilisation or a vibrant people," HRW associate director Carrroll Bogert said in a letter to the Empire State's management.

"However, this date commemorates the rule of the Chinese Communist Party, a political entity that is responsible historically for many grave violations of human rights."

On Thursday, China staged mass celebrations to mark 60 years since the Communist Party came to power. Some 30,000 people were invited to watch the events in person, but others were encouraged to stay at home and watch the festivities on TV to "avoid complications".

Application form

Human Rights in China, another group with offices in the Empire State Building, also criticised the illuminations. "This anniversary has been accompanied by massive rights abuses," Sharon Hom, the group's executive director, was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

The lights on the building change in honour of many events during the year, including St Patrick's Day, Australia Day and India Day.

A spokeswoman for the Empire State Building, which receives hundreds of requests a year, told Reuters that no fee was charged to have specific lights and that there was an application form. "All special lighting requests are considered based on the merit of their cause, the benefit of their use of the special lighting and their treatment of the Empire State Building's iconic image for the event and on an ongoing basis," the building's website says.



Alan Grayson: Gutsy Hero or Suicidal?

Grayson Not Worried About Future: "Whether You're Democratic Or Republican, You Want A Congressman With Guts"

Is Alan Grayson the Democrats' Joe Wilson? After stirring up a media firestorm with his statement on the House floor that Republicans want sick people to “die quickly,” Rep. Grayson drew frequent comparisons to the South Carolina legislator who shouted “You lie!” at President Obama.

Like Wilson, Grayson became an overnight sensation—an instant hero to his party’s base, and Public Enemy No. 1 to the opposition. Unlike Wilson, however, Grayson offers no apologies. In fact, he's gone on a media blitz since his initial speech to amplify his incendiary arguments.
He returned to the House floor to denounce the estimated 45,000 annual deaths due to lack of insurance in America as a “holocaust.” On CNN, he called Republican lawmakers “knuckle-dragging neanderthals" who “should apologize to America.”

The NRCC recently launched an entire Web site devoted to attacking Grayson, while Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer labeled him “the laughing stock of the House of Representatives.”

There’s no reason to back down, Grayson says, because he’s right—and the right’s wrong. “There's a fundamental difference: They're lying about our bill and we’re telling the truth,” Grayson said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast. “There is no moral equivalence between truth and lies.” So much for the post-partisan era.

But Grayson differs significantly from Wilson in one key respect. The South Carolina Republican is in what has, at least until now, been fairly solid GOP terrain. Grayson, on the other hand, won election last year by beating a four-term Republican, thanks in no small measure to Obama’s coattails. His district twice voted for George W. Bush for president. He’s a liberal in center-right territory—and Republicans are licking their chops at the prospect of making him a one-termer.

“Everyone wants to make these comparisons with Joe Wilson but Joe Wilson is in an incredibly Republican district,” a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, John Randall, told The Daily Beast. “[Grayson] may be able to bring in national money, but that money won’t convince people that don't agree with him.”

The NRCC recently launched an entire Web site devoted to attacking Grayson, www.alandisgrayson.com, while Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer labeled him “the laughing stock of the House of Representatives.

“I'd be very surprised if Congressman Grayson wins reelection,” a Republican consultant based in Florida, Randy Nielsen, told The Daily Beast.

While he might look vulnerable on paper, Grayson does start the race for reelection in 2010 with one big advantage: He’s rich as Croesus. A defense lawyer who successfully sued defense contractors in Iraq on behalf of whistleblowers, he amassed a personal fortune of $31 million, making him one of the wealthiest members of Congress. His latest outburst will only fuel donations from liberals cheering him on. Thus far, anyway, his campaign war chest has helped scare off any big-name Republican challengers.
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