October 26th, 2009

Akuma River

"Balloon Boy" Hoax symptom of showing how desperate people are

In Defense of the ‘Balloon Boy’ Dad (October 25, 2009 - NY Times - Frank Rich)

FOR a country desperate for good news, the now-deflated “balloon boy” spectacle would seem to be the perfect tonic. As Wolf Blitzer of CNN summed up the nation’s unrestrained joy upon learning that the imperiled boy had never been in any peril whatsoever: “All of us are so excited that little Falcon is fine.”

Then came even better news. After little Falcon revealed to Blitzer that his family “did this for the show,” we could all luxuriate in a warm bath of moral superiority. No matter what our own faults as parents, we could never top Richard Heene, who mercilessly exploited his child for fame and profit. Nor could we ever be as craven as the news media, especially cable television, which dumped a live broadcast of President Obama in New Orleans to track the supersized Jiffy Pop bag floating over Colorado.

Or such are the received lessons of this tale.
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He has a point. I love how he ties the Wall Streets schemes to the Heene "balloon boy" hoax. It really takes things into perspective.
  • acmeeoy

I Know this's 4 years late, but I've just stumbled across this & thought I should share...

Stephen J. Ducat Dissects "Anxious Masculinity," Making Sense of America's Strutting, in a Psychoanalytic Kind of Way


I saw the Republican National Convention as essentially a hyper-masculine strut-fest. The real point of the convention was to make John Kerry their woman.... They had already done that with John Edwards by dubbing him the �Breck girl.� And Arnold Schwarzenegger went on to proclaim that any men who were anxious about the loss of jobs under the reign of George W. Bush were, as he put it, �economic girlie-men.� The inference was that Democratic candidates who were always whining about pink slips may as well be wearing pink slips.

* * *

Like a jilted lover out to prove his masculinity with a series of new conquests, our Bush regime today seem always out to prove something. They will fight any war (with or without allies). They will ram through legislation (with or without the democrats on board). They will eliminate supportive social programs (since only wimps need "safety nets"). In other words, their America is a John Wayne/Rambo/Terminator figure. But why? Recently Stephen J. Ducat, author of The Wimp Factor, talked with BuzzFlash about where this delusional and destructive mindset comes from, and how it manifests itself in our country's domestic and foreign policies. When you think about it, the right wingers have played our fears and fantasies darned well, exploiting fear on the one hand and our hopes and dreams on the other. Perhaps "anxious masculinity" played out on the world stage does help explain the right wing's virulent attitude towards Hillary Clinton, and their determination to slur Vietnam war hero John Kerry as "French." As George Lakoff has commented, "It is crucial to notice and understand the central role of a certain version of masculinity in American politics. Ducat's book helps enormously."

Stephen J. Ducat is a clinical psychologist in private practice and a professor at the New College of California. He is a candidate at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California.


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Republican Todd Gilbert Brags on Facebook: "Ha ha! Stealing is Good, Suckers!". Charges to Be Filed

Political Espionage in Virginia: A Facebook Funny or Critical Breach?

Virginia legislator Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock) not only stole campaign material from his opponent on Friday, he also had the hubris to brag about the achievement on his Facebook fan page.

"My opponent is dropping a negative mail piece in the mail in the morning...No need to worry about how we got a picture of it in advance"
reads Gilbert's fan page above a photograph of his opponent's mailer. The picture was posted before the mailer was delivered to a single home.

While the idea of a candidate bragging on his Facebook page about his unethical escapades is a little funny at first (ok, it's hilarious), there may be more serious implications. Specifically, Virginia Democrats are worried that critical microtargeting data may have been compromised, both for Gilbert's opponent, John Lesinski and for other Democratic candidates in Virginia.
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Wall Street Worried that New Regulations Will Make Them Less Rich: "Glass-Steagall Is Unnecessary"

Trying to Rein In ‘Too Big to Fail’ Institutions

Congress and the Obama administration are about to take up one of the most fundamental issues stemming from the near collapse of the financial system last year — how to deal with institutions that are so big that the government has no choice but to rescue them when they get in trouble.

A senior administration official said on Sunday that after extensive consultations with Treasury Department officials, Representative Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, would introduce legislation as early as this week. The measure would make it easier for the government to seize control of troubled financial institutions, throw out management, wipe out the shareholders and change the terms of existing loans held by the institution.

The official said the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, was planning to endorse the changes in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday.

The White House plan as outlined so far would already make it much more costly to be a large financial company whose failure would put the financial system and the economy at risk. It would force such institutions to hold more money in reserve and make it harder for them to borrow too heavily against their assets.

Setting up the equivalent of living wills for corporations, that plan would require that they come up with their own procedure to be disentangled in the event of a crisis, a plan that administration officials say ought to be made public in advance.

“These changes will impose market discipline on the largest and most interconnected companies,” said Michael S. Barr, assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions. One of the biggest changes the plan would make, he said, is that instead of being controlled by creditors, the process is controlled by the government.

Some regulators and economists in recent weeks have suggested that the administration’s plan does not go far enough. They say that the government should consider breaking up the biggest banks and investment firms long before they fail, or at least impose strict limits on their trading activities — steps that the administration continues to reject.
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Kucinich petition establishing health care as a civil right

I spotted this because Glenn Beck RT'd it on his Twitter - apparently he thought it was a bad thing. That is just one more good reason to sign it.



Whereas, Universal Health Care was proposed by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1912; and

Whereas today, nearly 100 years later, 47 million Americans are uninsured and another 50 million are underinsured bringing great social and economic harm to the American family; and

Whereas, HR 676, authored by Congressmen John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich provides for Medicare for All, a universal, single payer, not-for-profit health care system which means the end of premiums, copays and deductibles; and

Whereas we are already paying for a universal standard of care but are not getting it because one of every three dollars in the health care system goes to the activities of the for-profit insurance system; and

Whereas HR676 firmly establishes health care as a Civil Right, consistent with the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States and Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution which defines a purpose of government "to promote the General Welfare," now therefore,


A GOP Texas Divided

Perry-Hutchison fight may cause major fallout in GOP

Texas Democrats watching the state’s top two Republicans fight for their party’s gubernatorial nomination are glad that Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison have apparently abandoned the Republicans’ 11th Commandment, established during Ronald Reagan’s run for California governor in 1966: Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican.

And they hope that the GOP gubernatorial battle creates enough division within the party to help Democrats in the general election and for years to come.

"There probably will be so many bad feelings . . . that it will benefit the Democratic Party," said Steve Maxwell, chairman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party. "For now, we’ll sit back and watch. It’s only going to get better."

Republicans say Democrats shouldn’t get too comfortable, because this gubernatorial race — pitting Perry, governor since 2000, against Hutchison, senator since 1993 — will energize, not divide, their party.

"It’s a spirited race, and sometimes that’s good," said Stephanie Klick, who heads the Tarrant County Republican Party. "One of the things that’s fair game in any campaign are issues."

Some point to last year’s Democratic presidential primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, noting that, despite the attacks, it didn’t keep Democrats from winning in November. And the same may well happen in Texas with the fight for the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination.

But there could be big fallout, said Harvey Kronberg, publisher of the Quorum Report, an online political newsletter.

"There’s a civil war that’s happening right now, and it has long implications," Kronberg said. "Nothing good for Republicans can come out of this. Everyone who is an active Republican understands that the losing side is going into exile.

"Neither side will forgive and forget."
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me: wait--what.

Franken's Anti-Rape Amendment May Be Stripped By Senior Dem

An amendment that would prevent the government from working with contractors who denied victims of assault the right to bring their case to court is in danger of being watered down or stripped entirely from a larger defense appropriations bill.

Multiple sources have told the Huffington Post that Sen. Dan Inouye, a longtime Democrat from Hawaii, is considering removing or altering the provision, which was offered by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and passed by the Senate several weeks ago.

Inouye's office, sources say, has been lobbied by defense contractors adamant that the language of the Franken amendment would leave them overly exposed to lawsuits and at constant risk of having contracts dry up. The Senate is considering taking out a provision known as the Title VII claim, which (if removed) would allow victims of assault or rape to bring suit against the individual perpetrator but not the contractor who employed him or her.

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DE-BUNKED. Sorry!! Looks like I jumped the gun on posting this one. Daily Kos has debunked this article already. Rage switch goes off!
  • Current Mood
  • xerox78

Proposed Ugandan Bill: Death Penalty for Homosexuality

Draft Anti-Gay Bill Circulating In Uganda

Jim Burroway
September 15th, 2009

Uganda appears to be inching closer to “strengthening” its already draconian anti-gay laws which already provide for a possible life sentence for those convicted of homosexuality. A draft of the proposed bill obtained by Box Turtle Bulletin indicates that Ugandan lawmakers intend to go much further.

In a draft dated April 20, 2009 and being circulated surreptitiously, the proposed bill creates an offense of “aggravated homosexuality” and provides for the death penalty under specific circumstances. It also provides for at least five years imprisonment (and no apparent maximum) for advocating on behalf of LGBT people. This extends not just to activists and organizations, but to individuals as well, including bloggers or anyone else using the internet or mobile phones — as well as anyone who makes a donation or offers a safe refuge for LGBT people. Furthermore, if anyone is “aware of the commission of any offense under this Act” and fails to report it to the police, they will be liable of up to six months imprisonment.

The draft also extends jurisdiction to people who are Uganda citizens or permanent residents but who commit offenses outside the country. This could mean that LGBT Ugandans abroad who engage in advocacy work could find themselves in danger of being imprisoned should they return to Uganda. LGBT Ugandans fleeing the country could also face extradition should they find themselves in a similarly hostile country.

The accompanying memorandum calls on the Uganda government to withdraw from any international obligations or treaties which the government interprests as running counter to the country’s anti-gay policies.

SOURCE includes text of the full bill.

EDIT: It will probably pass :o(

Quote: The BBC's Joshua Mmali, in the capital Kampala, says the bill has a good chance of being passed as senior figures from the ruling National Resistance Movement are likely to back it.

Quote: But John Otekat Emile, an independent MP, said he believed the bill had a "99% chance" of being passed.

"Members of parliament are overwhelmingly supporting this bill because homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, and we have that clearly in the penal code," he told the BBC.
Janet: I'm better than you

Abortion Foes Take to eBay to Raise Funds for Roeder’s Defense

By Ashby Jones

Abortion opponents looking to help Scott Roeder, the Kansas City man charged with killing abortion doctor George Tiller, have organized an unusual auction: They plan to sell a trove of anti-abortion memorabilia on eBay.

According to an article in the Kansas City Star, the auction will include a host of items, including an Army of God manual, a “prison cookbook” assembled by a woman serving time for abortion-clinic bombings and arsons, and an bullhorn autographed by a Kansas City anti-abortion activist.

Roeder, charged with first-degree murder in the May 31 shooting of Tiller, is scheduled to go to trial in January.

“This is unique,” said Regina Dinwiddie, the activist who will sign the bullhorn. “The goal is that everybody makes money for Scott Roeder’s defense.”

One abortion-rights leader told the Star the auction was deplorable and that it could lead to more violence.

“The network of extremists promoting and defending the murder of doctors is contributing to escalating threats against clinics and doctors across the country,” said Kathy Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Despite, the opposition, those spearheading the auction are working hard to get it off the ground. Dave Leach, an Iowa abortion opponent who is organizing the auction effort, said he was aiming for a Nov. 1 launch.

Among items that will go on the auction block, Dinwiddie said, are three drawings she received in the mail Wednesday from Roeder. Two drawings were done by another inmate at his direction, but Roeder autographed all of them.

One is a sketch of David and Goliath. “It has David with a slingshot in one hand and the head of Goliath in his other hand and the name ‘Tiller’ on Goliath’s forehead,” she said. “On the corpse on the ground, it says ‘child-murdering industry.’”

According to the story, Leach and others would like to help Roeder hire a lawyer to present what is known as a necessity defense. That strategy would argue that Tiller was killed to prevent a greater harm. Other anti-abortion activists charged with violent crimes have tried to use such a defense but with little success.

cookie monster
  • capthek

Fascinating article, so the question becomes "what do dems have to do to get voters out in 2010?".

The Democracy Corps pollsters and strategists don't approach this as objective observers, but that doesn't mean their research is tainted. Their project seems designed to help Democratic candidates and operatives better understand voters who are intensely critical of the president. The crux of their findings is that those in the conservative GOP base -- who the Democrats estimate make up a fifth of voters overall and two of three self-described Republicans -- believe that Obama "is ruthlessly advancing a 'secret agenda' to bankrupt the United States and dramatically expand government control to an extent nothing short of socialism."

The Democracy Corps report noted "a profound sense of collective identity" on individual aspects of that argument and the seriousness of its adherents. "In our conversations, it was striking how these voters constantly characterized themselves as part of a group of individuals who share a set of beliefs, a unique knowledge, and a commitment of opposition to Obama that sets them apart from the majority of the country," the report said. "They readily identify themselves as a minority in this country -- a minority whose values are mocked and attacked by a liberal media and class of elites. They also believe they possess a level of knowledge and understanding when it comes to politics and current events, one gained from a rejection of the mainstream media and an embrace of conservative media and pundits such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh."
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Same-sex marriage battle moves to Maine; fabulousness to follow

Voters in Maine will decide next week whether to overturn the legislation signed by Gov. John Baldacci nearly six months ago that allows same-sex couples to wed.

Baldacci, who originally opposed the legislation, said upholding the bill comes down to a fundamental understanding of equal protection and constitutional responsibility.

"Initially, I had the opinion for several years that civil unions were the limitations of what I was willing to support," Baldacci said. "But, the research that I did uncovered that a civil union didn't equal a civil marriage."

On May 6 when Baldacci signed the legislation, he did so knowing there was a possibility that voters could overturn it.

"Just as the Maine Constitution demands that all people are treated equally under the law, it also guarantees that the ultimate political power in the state belongs to the people," Baldacci said in a statement released as he signed the bill.

On September 2, opposition groups delivered the 55,087 signatures necessary to put the legislation to a vote on the November 3 ballot.

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Cancer won't wait (opinion piece by Lance Armstrong)

On October 2, 1996, I was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer. Like many 25-year-olds, I was fearless, ready to conquer the world and without health insurance.

I was lucky. One of my sponsors, Oakley, stood up for me and threatened to take all their business elsewhere if their insurance carrier refused to cover me. Without their help, I might not be alive today. Or I might be completely broke, still trying to dig my way out of a massive pile of medical bills.

That kind of luck shouldn't have anything to do with whether the 1.5 million people in the United States who will be diagnosed with cancer this year go broke trying to get the treatment they need to survive.

Cancer is projected to become the world's leading cause of death next year. More than 12 million Americans alone are living with cancer today and, without greater progress in detection, prevention and treatment, that number could triple by 2030.

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(no subject)

Father accused of abducting man he believes killed his daughter.


[and leaving his bound, gagged, and beaten body outside of a French courthouse, after Germany had refused extradition. Don't think anybody will be signing a "Support Krombach" petition. Dr. Krombach was also convicted of sexually abusing one of his patients.]

Judge to Prop 8 backers: Turn over internal documents NOW.

Judge denies Prop. 8 backers delay on memos

(10-25) 17:05 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge said sponsors of California's ban on same-sex marriage may not delay in handing over campaign strategy documents to gay-rights groups that are looking for evidence of anti gay bias as they try to overturn the measure.

The sponsors had sought to keep the documents while challenging the order to turn them over in an appeals court.

But in a ruling late Friday, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco said backers of Proposition 8 had failed to show that disclosing internal memos and e-mails would violate their freedom of speech or subject them to harassment.

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(no subject)

Homophobia is a right, too

As historical analysis goes, I’m not sure it’s quite up there with Carr or Elton. According to Pauline Howe, the “perverted sexual practises” of “sodomites” were responsible for “the downfall of every empire”. I always thought the British Empire fell because of the exhaustion caused by the First World War, or specifically the fall of Singapore in World War 2, or perhaps the rise of Third World nationalism and American pressure. Maybe I was wrong and it was all down to Greek “practises”.

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(no subject)

Man Fights For Life After Homophobic Attack

3:48pm UK, Monday October 26, 2009

Emma Rowley, Sky News Online

A man is fighting for his life in hospital after being set upon by up to 13 teenage thugs in a homophobic attack.


Police on patrol in Liverpool

Police are stepping up high visibility patrols in Liverpool



The 22-year-old was with friends in Liverpool's gay district on Sunday evening when the mob of 15- to 18-year-olds launched their assault in Stanley Street.

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(no subject)

NOW President on President Obama's All-Male Athletic Outings: 'It's Troubling'

We asked Terry O'Neill, the new president of the National Organization for Women, what she thought of those Democratic women and others quietly complaining about a "boy's club" atmosphere at the White House, as exemplified by the president playing basketball earlier this month with 11 members of Congress and four Cabinet Secretaries -- all men.

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Why Lefty Women Are Scared Stiff of Right Wing Females



“Obama hasn’t reset the American relationship with Russia. He was taken for a ride. Maybe his vanity won’t let him admit it. But, believe me, the Russians know they have taken him (and us) for a big ride, indeed.” Obama, he adds, gave the Russians what they asked for, in the hope that Putin would then agree to tough sanctions against Iran. Secretary Clinton then goes to Russia, only to be informed by Putin that his government does not believe sanctions are appropriate. As Peretz concludes: “Of course, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. In fact, with the Russians, if you don’t demand and threaten a little, you get zero.”

There are honest members of the Left, capable of acknowledging when they agree with the Right and mounting rational arguments when they do not, as demonstrated above by Marty Peretz, but, oh yeah, he’s a man.

Here he agrees with Liz Cheney’s assessment of the Obama administration’s blunders in dealing with Russia.

What is it about the female of the species on the port side of the ideological divide that allows them to be seized by fits of hysterical snarkiness and trivial banalities like post-pubescent 14 year old girls ? Maureen Dowd, Jane Hamsher, Ana Marie Cox, et al all seem to regress into a state of suspended eighth-grade angst when confronted by a Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman or now, it seems, Liz Cheney, the latest source of their paroxysms.

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Hotel owner tells Hispanic workers to change names

TAOS, N.M. – Larry Whitten marched into this northern New Mexico town in late July on a mission: resurrect a failing hotel.

The tough-talking former Marine immediately laid down some new rules. Among them, he forbade the Hispanic workers at the run-down, Southwestern adobe-style hotel from speaking Spanish in his presence (he thought they'd be talking about him), and ordered some to Anglicize their names.

No more Martin (Mahr-TEEN). It was plain-old Martin. No more Marcos. Now it would be Mark.

Whitten's management style had worked for him as he's turned around other distressed hotels he bought in recent years across the country.

The 63-year-old Texan, however, wasn't prepared for what followed.

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Oh man, the sheer ignorance and stupidity of Whitten has me doing a super lol-facepalm combo. If the associates' names are hard to pronounce, let it be their decision on whether they want a nickname. And perhaps if you're going to live/work in TEXAS and NEW MEXICO, it might be a cool thing to learn some basic Spanish vocab. Or at least the curse words that he's so paranoid about being called.

Anyone who takes the time to read tourism/hospitality trade magazines or academic journals, knows that diversity and respecting other cultures is a main part of how hotels run these days. Maybe he'd realize that if he kept learning about the hotel industry during the 40 years he's been doing business.

' jules
  • schmiss

Give em hell Harry <3 yeah I just said that

It's Official: Senate Health Bill Has Public Option With Opt Out Clause

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced what we've been reporting today - the merged health care bill will include a public option allowing states to opt-out.

"Under this concept states will be able to determine whether the public option works best for them," Reid told reporters. He said it was the "fairest" way to go.

Reid (D-NV) said after "countless hours" of talking to his caucus, there is a "strong consensus" for this plan. He said he will not submit a plan with a triggered public option to the Congressional Budget Office.

"As we've gone through this process, I've concluded, with the support of the White House and Senators. Dodd and Baucus, that the best way to move forward is to include a public option with an opt out provision for states," Reid said.

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Gibbs says Obama is pleased. Bad news: Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) won't commit to cloture, meaning she could potentially join a Republican filibuster. ffffuuu--

"Law & Order's" anti-choice propaganda

On Friday night's "Law & Order," the abortion debate was represented by two separate, yet equally important, groups: The anti-choicers, who believe fetuses' rights trump women's, and the pseudo-pro-choicers, who are conveniently persuaded to agree with them by the end of the episode.

That sound? It's my head exploding.

Despite the usual "This story is fiction, any resemblance, blah blah blah" disclaimer, the episode was blatantly "ripped from the headlines" about Dr. George Tiller's assassination by an anti-choice activist in May. Our fictional victim, Dr. Benning, is a late-term abortion provider who's already survived one attempt on his life and is shot to death at his church, just as Dr. Tiller was. But in an episode titled "Dignity," Tiller's memory, remaining late-term abortion providers, and women who choose to terminate pregnancies are afforded none. The writers made a weak pretense of "balance" by having two of the series regulars -- Detective Lupo and Assistant D.A. Rubirosa -- espouse pro-choice views, but both are ultimately shamed into thinking they just might be wrong. See how even-handed?

After Lupo's partner, Detective Bernard, goes around asking questions that underscore anti-choice propaganda (e.g., late-term abortion providers are indiscriminate baby killers who aren't too fussy about staying within the law; women choose abortion because the irresponsible men they stupidly spread their legs for won't step up and offer to help), Lupo calls him out, mentioning that perhaps a murder investigation might not be the most appropriate context for arguing with strangers about abortion. And here we learn the moral of this episode: The question of whether it's morally correct to kill a living human being just for doing his job actually cannot be separated from the question of whether it's morally correct to terminate a pregnancy! This message will be delivered repeatedly throughout the episode, via a series of painful blows to the head the "edgy" "dialogue" representing "both sides" of the issue.

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Fairfax "nude coffee maker" defends himself against charges of indecent exposure

 Man disputes indecent-exposure charge
Suspect showed naked self to woman, boy, Fairfax police say



The way Eric Williamson tells it, he might have been making coffee or flipping eggs or taking a picture down from the wall when a woman and her 7-year-old son walked by his Springfield house and saw him, through the window, naked.

He says he never saw them and never knew they'd seen him -- until the police showed up.


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This whole thing is still just so unreal to me.

• prime
  • schmiss

(no subject)


A conscience-stricken member of the House Armed Services Committee is writing a book called "My Daddy's Not Dead Yet" in hopes it will atone for what he now considers his sinful vote to empower former President George W. Bush to invade Iraq in 2003.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., whose district includes the sprawling Marine base of Camp Lejeune, told me the title was inspired by a little boy who feared his Marine father would be killed in Iraq.

The setting for Jones' searing moment in 2007 was a classroom in the Johnson Elementary School at Camp Lejeune. He had been invited to read Dr. Seuss to the kids. Jones did that; then asked for questions.

"My daddy's not dead yet," said a little boy. "My daddy's not dead yet," the boy repeated. Jones said he reeled as if punched in the gut, a wave of guilt washing over him. The remark devastated him because he knew deep down that he had played go-along-politics with the life of the little boy's father instead of "listening to God" and voting against the House resolution in 2002 that authorized Bush to go to war in Iraq. "I profess to be a man of faith," Jones said, "but I didn't vote my conscience."

"My Daddy's Not Dead Yet" will set forth Jones' beliefs and concerns about America's out-of-control militarism and current spending spree . Any money his book makes will go to those treating the wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

"The American people have no idea of what's coming as it relates to taking care of those veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," Jones said.

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(no subject)


Pastor Matt Anderson, Bishop Harry Jackson, and others were on hand yesterday at the 'People's Rally' in Washington D.C., opposing the proposed marriage equality bill there. 269 people are scheduled to testify at hearings on the bill beginning today.

Listen to the hate spewers, as brought to you by the homophobic Missing Peace Productions,

Good As You)


We need to protect women from the EMOTIONAL TRAUMA of multiple sex partners

WASHINGTON — Faced with a request to give an unmarried female patient a prescription for birth control pills, Dr. Michele Phillips looked to her conscience for the answer.

"I'm not going to give any kind of medication I see as harmful," said Phillips of San Antonio. The drugs would not protect her patient from "emotional trauma from multiple partners," Phillips reasoned, or sexually transmitted diseases. "I could not ethically give that type of medication to a single woman."

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Posh Zoom

Vote No on 1:Protect Maine Equality

Hey Everyone,

I really don't want what happened it CA with Prop 8 to happen in Maine to their ballot initiative, so I was looking for ways to get involved for those that live out of state (like me). Vote No on 1 is looking for people to make phone calls to encourage people to get out and vote no, and I wanted to pass along the information to this community, hoping that some people may want to join me in helping out. I haven't actually done it yet, but am signing up for Thursday.

Basically, you register for a training schedule (below on the right), which lasts 20 minutes, and then start making phone calls. The information is below:

Call for Equality

Training Schedule

Get started with Call for Equality by signing up for a training and call shift!
Tuesday 6:30-8:30pm
Thursday 6:30-8:30pm
Sunday 4-6pm
(All Eastern time)

Our campaign has been working hard to identify marriage equality supporters across the state. Now, just weeks before the election, we've made our list of likely NO on 1 voters who we need to turn out to the polls-- and it just happens to be the number of votes we need to win.

If you've got a phone and an internet connection, you can be a part of our massive Get Out The Early Vote program. It only takes two hours to make a difference.

To get started, sign up for a training and call shift (right). Or, if you've already done a training, sign up for a call-only shift here.

Source : http://www.protectmaineequality.org/page.cfm?ID=151&CFID=34502860&CFTOKEN=16278678

part of the weekend never dies

Musical Torture

PsyOps Rock!
“Hit me, baby, one more time.”

This week, a broad coalition of musicians got behind a Freedom of Information Act request to reveal which songs the government used while interrogating detainees. In fact, we already know some of the artists on the soundtrack to the dark side of the war on terror. Suspect Ruhal Ahmed reportedly was subjected to Britney Spears’s “… Baby One More Time”; Binyam Mohamed, tortured at one of the CIA’s dark sites, claimed he was forced to listen to Eminem for twenty days straight. Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” Nine Inch Nails’s “March of the Pigs,” and, of course, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” have come up in reports. Mohammed al Qahtani, the so-called twentieth hijacker, said that whenever he fell asleep, the guards would crank up Christina Aguilera.

The Army’s Psychological Operations command didn’t invent “acoustic bombardment,” as it’s technically known. During its standoff with cult leader David Koresh, the FBI blasted Nancy Sinatra; in their quest to smoke out Manuel Noriega, U.S. troops played Guns N’ Roses’s “Welcome to the Jungle” and Van Halen’s (yes) “Panama.” During the second siege of Fallujah, our troops played AC/DC’s “Hells Bells,” letting it echo off the walls of the city. (“It’s like throwing a smoke bomb,” the PsyOps spokesman told the St. Petersburg Times.)

So what is it specifically about music that gives it the potential to torture? Loud music can’t be shut out in the same way that loud speech can. Neurologist Oliver Sacks, author of the book Musicophilia, once referred to “musical brainworms, the annoyingly repetitive musical phrases that may run through one’s mind for days on end.” That’s partly what makes effective pop music.

But, strangely, what makes effective “acoustic bombardment” is the very unfamiliarity of the music to non-Western ears. “Our brains automatically process music and try to figure out what comes next,” says Daniel Levitin, a psychology professor at McGill and author of This Is Your Brain on Music. Because the brain can’t help but anticipate music’s next steps, “any Western music would have done the trick,” he says. “These were tonal structures the detainees’ brains can’t figure out. They kept trying, and they kept failing. Just as if I made you listen to Chinese opera, it’d probably drive you crazy.”

Many musicians from last week’s coalition—from Rosanne Cash to the Roots—issued statements expressing their outrage. As Tom Morello, the guitarist in Rage Against the Machine, put it: “The fact that music I helped create was used in crimes against humanity sickens me.” And it’s impossible not to sympathize with him.

But if these musicians were to be completely honest, they’d have to admit that music has a darker side, or at least a side they can’t control. “One thing that makes music so powerful is that it activates circuits in the brain that are not under conscious control,” says Richard Friedman, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. “It has the power to augment all human drives, including aggression.” Some of the music soldiers used to torture detainees is the same they used to pump themselves up before battle—one thinks of that scene in Fahrenheit 9/11, with the fellows talking about listening to Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” as they rattled along in their tank. Whether it’s a soundtrack for a battle or one for torture, both work. “In each instance,” says Friedman, “you can use music to facilitate the process.”

Don't get me wrong -- I love NIN, and this song -- but on repeat 24/7? I'd go nuts.


Butthurt Chamber of Commerce Sues Yes Men. Predicts They Will Win Since Yes Men are Greedy Bastards.

Chamber Of Commerce Sues Yes Men Over Climate Change Policy Prank

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a civil complaint on Monday against members of a liberal activist group who staged a news conference to falsely announce that the 3 million-member business federation had reversed its stance on climate change legislation.

"The defendants are not merry pranksters tweaking the establishment," said Steven Law, general counsel for the chamber. "Instead, they deliberately broke the law in order to further commercial interest in their books, movies and other merchandise."

The chamber said it filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Washington to protect its trademark and other intellectual property from unlawful use by members of the group known as Yes Men and others involved in the group's commercial enterprises. The activists misappropriated the chamber's logo, created a fraudulent Web site and falsely claimed to be speaking as the chamber under the group's copyright, the chamber said in a statement.

As part of its hoax on Oct. 19, Yes Men announced at the National Press Club that the chamber would stop lobbying against the Senate's 800-page climate bill. Reuters moved a story based on the false press release, and both CNBC and Fox Business Network reported it – with the anchors correcting themselves mid-story upon learning it was false.

The chamber has taken heat from some of its members because of its position against the climate bill.

Some companies have defected from the group, including Apple Inc., Exelon Corp., Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the Public Service Co. of New Mexico.

The Afghan War: Not Worth It.

U.S. official resigns over Afghan war

When Matthew Hoh joined the Foreign Service early this year, he was exactly the kind of smart civil-military hybrid the administration was looking for to help expand its development efforts in Afghanistan.

A former Marine Corps captain with combat experience in Iraq, Hoh had also served in uniform at the Pentagon, and as a civilian in Iraq and at the State Department. By July, he was the senior U.S. civilian in Zabul province, a Taliban hotbed.

But last month, in a move that has sent ripples all the way to the White House, Hoh, 36, became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency.

"I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan," he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department's head of personnel. "I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end."

The reaction to Hoh's letter was immediate. Senior U.S. officials, concerned that they would lose an outstanding officer and perhaps gain a prominent critic, appealed to him to stay.

U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry brought him to Kabul and offered him a job on his senior embassy staff. Hoh declined. From there, he was flown home for a face-to-face meeting with Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We took his letter very seriously, because he was a good officer," Holbrooke said in an interview. "We all thought that given how serious his letter was, how much commitment there was, and his prior track record, we should pay close attention to him."

While he did not share Hoh's view that the war "wasn't worth the fight," Holbrooke said, "I agreed with much of his analysis." He asked Hoh to join his team in Washington, saying that "if he really wanted to affect policy and help reduce the cost of the war on lives and treasure," why not be "inside the building, rather than outside, where you can get a lot of attention but you won't have the same political impact?"

Hoh accepted the argument and the job, but changed his mind a week later. "I recognize the career implications, but it wasn't the right thing to do," he said in an interview Friday, two days after his resignation became final.

"I'm not some peacenik, pot-smoking hippie who wants everyone to be in love," Hoh said. Although he said his time in Zabul was the "second-best job I've ever had," his dominant experience is from the Marines, where many of his closest friends still serve.

"There are plenty of dudes who need to be killed," he said of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. "I was never more happy than when our Iraq team whacked a bunch of guys."

But many Afghans, he wrote in his resignation letter, are fighting the United States largely because its troops are there -- a growing military presence in villages and valleys where outsiders, including other Afghans, are not welcome and where the corrupt, U.S.-backed national government is rejected. While the Taliban is a malign presence, and Pakistan-based al-Qaeda needs to be confronted, he said, the United States is asking its troops to die in Afghanistan for what is essentially a far-off civil war.

As the White House deliberates over whether to deploy more troops, Hoh said he decided to speak out publicly because "I want people in Iowa, people in Arkansas, people in Arizona, to call their congressman and say, 'Listen, I don't think this is right.' "

"I realize what I'm getting into . . . what people are going to say about me," he said. "I never thought I would be doing this."
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Good News: AHIP Hates New Reforms.

AHIP Reacts Unhappily To Reid Remarks

Soon after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced today that health care reform legislation taking shape in the Senate would include a provision for a public insurance plan that would compete with private insurers, the top lobbyist for the health insurance industry called the milestone a roadblock.

"A new government-run plan would underpay doctors and hospitals rather than driving real reforms that bring down costs and improve quality," said Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, in a statement. "The American people want health care reform that will reduce costs and this plan doesn't do that.

"The divisive debate about a government-run plan is a roadblock to reform," Ignagni continued. "It's time we focus instead on broad-based reforms that will ensure the affordability and sustainability of our health care system."

AHIP spent $2.4 million lobbying the government over the summer, $6.3 million so far for the year.