August 7th, 2010


On His Defense That Cemetery is Not a Historical Site Nor Has any Significance for America

Opponent Of Cordoba House Is Building A Museum On Top Of A Muslim Cemetery In Jerusalem (VIDEO)

Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center appeared on Fox News yesterday to argue against the Cordoba House project in lower Manhattan. “It’s a great idea, it’s the wrong location,” Hier said. “It’s very insensitive.”

HIER: For 3000 families, the 9/11 site is one of the — is the site of one of the greatest atrocities ever committed in the United States, and it’s a cemetery. And the opinion of the families should be paramount as to what should go near that site. Now having a fifteen-story mosque within 1600 feet of the site is at the very least insensitive.
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music | Janelle Monáe

ONTD_Political's PotD: August 6, 2010.

[On Aug. 4th], Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker will publish his decision on whether to uphold or overturn the California voter-approved ban known as Proposition 8 (or the California Marriage Protection Act) that would insert language into the state constitution saying that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." [Update Proposition 8 was just overturned.] Walker's ruling is one of a number of recent decisions made by voters and governments around the world affecting the ability of same-sex couples to marry legally. Around the U.S., several states are challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage act, both Washington DC and Mexico City legalized same-sex weddings last March, and on July 15th, Argentina became the first Latin American country to recognize same-sex marriage. Collected here are a handful of recent photos of couples in several countries, all in the process of getting married.
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Source: "Same-sex marriage" | The Big Picture |
Mail Mail

Top officials in California urge judge to allow same-sex marriage

(CNN) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked a federal judge Friday to allow same-sex marriages while an appeal over the struck-down law that banned them makes its way through the courts.

Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown filed briefs two days after Chief U.S District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8, violated the constitutional rights of same-sex couples.

In his Wednesday ruling, Walker also issued a temporary stay, which stopped his decision from taking effect.
If he lifts his stay, officials in California could immediately be allowed to perform same-sex marriages again. They were able to do so, briefly, before the Proposition 8 ban passed in 2008.

"The Administration believes the public interest is best served by permitting the Court's judgment to go into effect, thereby restoring the right of same-sex couples to marry in California," read the brief from Schwarzenegger. "Doing so is consistent with California's long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect."

Supporters of Proposition 8 argued, prior to Walker's ruling, that same-sex marriages would be performed soon after he issued his opinion and could be complicated by rulings and appeals down the road. They asked the judge to stay his decision pending appeal.

The case goes next to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and both sides say it is sure to wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Walker could issue his decision on the stay as early as next week.

Brown, a Democrat who is running to replace Schwarzenegger, also weighed in on the controversial case.
"As this Court has concluded that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, the public interest weighs against its continued enforcement," read the brief from Brown.

Brown's opponent in the governor's race, Meg Whitman, told reporters before Walker's ruling she is against same-sex marriage but favors civil unions, according to the Associated Press. The news agency reported Whitman, a Presbyterian, has explained her vote for Proposition 8 as one of "faith and conscience."

"I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman," the AP reported Whitman said at a campaign stop in East Los Angeles.

Proposition 8 is part of a long line of seesaw rulings, court cases, debates and protests over same-sex marriage. It passed in California with some 52 percent of the vote in November 2008.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in five U.S. states -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa and New Hampshire -- and in the District of Columbia, while civil unions are permitted in New Jersey.

Ed and Tomato

K-Thug vs. BS Round XVIIXIV - Krugman Triumphs Gloriously, Looks Impressive While Doing So

The Flimflam Man

by Paul Krugman

The Beltway crowd gets fooled again, this time by Representative Paul Ryan’s plan for a major overhaul of federal spending and taxes.

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ETA: K-Thug is killing 'em even harder over on his blog. He issued a wake-up call to the well-meaning young Mr. Ezra Klein, and in doing so administered further pwnage upon the person of Paul "Flimflammer" Ryan. Dude is RIGHTEOUS.

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additional ETA sourcery

Irony Decides to Cancel Vacation Time this Week. Common Sense Still Gone Missing.

American VIP humiliated at airport

Prof. Donna Shalala, Clinton's secretary of health, arrives in Israel in order to fight academic boycott against Israel, claims she was held at Ben-Gurion Airport just because she has Arab last name

This is not how she imagined her visit to Israel. Prof. Donna Shalala, who served as the US Secretary of Health and Human Services for eight years under Clinton and is currently the president of the University of Miami, was held for two-and-a-half hours at Ben Gurion Airport during which she underwent a humiliating security debriefing because of her Arab last name – all this despite the fact that her hosts notified the airport ahead of time that she is a VIP.

The fact that Shalala arrived in Israel as part of an official delegation of the heads of universities fighting against the academic boycott against the Jewish State also seemed not to help her.

Shalala, 69, was born in the US to Lebanese immigrant parents. She is considered a true friend of Israel and has visited the country many times in the past.

She recently arrived in Israel as a guest of the American Jewish Congress with the objective of increasing collaboration among universities in Israel, the US, and the Palestinian Authority. During their visit, members of the delegation met with President Shimon Peres, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

The official visit ended on July 12, but Shalala stayed on for another two days for a private visit.

The AJC claims that it notified the Israel Airports Authority of Shalala's VIP status as is customary prior to her departure. However, the IAA claims that it has no record on file for Shalala prior to her arrival.

When Shalala arrived at the airport, she was not recognized as a VIP and was even afforded what she claims to be "special" treatment because of her Arab last name. She claims she was held for two-and-a-half hours during which she was asked invasive and humiliating personal questions. Despite the delay, she managed to board the flight to the US. Officials who spoke with her said she was deeply offended by the treatment she received.

An IAA spokesperson reported in response: "This incident is unknown to us. We performed a thorough check. There was no contact made with us or any other body. No unusual events were registered at Ben Gurion Airport, and we have no idea about this incident, which, from our perspective, never happened."

IAA officials said that root of the problem is that the host organizations don't bother accompanying their guests to the airport.

The incident was raised Wednesday during a discussion convened by Deputy Foreign Ministry Ayalon to discuss treatment of VIPs at Ben Gurion Airport. During the discussion, it was agreed that a new protocol will be drafted that will keep incidents to a minimum.

Shalala preferred not to comment on the article.

At Hiroshima Ceremony, a First for a U.S. Envoy

HIROSHIMA, Japan — With the mournful gong of a Buddhist temple bell and the release of a flock of doves, a crowd of 55,000 on Friday solemnly marked the moment 65 years ago when the world’s first atomic attack incinerated this city under a towering mushroom cloud.

For first time, a representative of the United States, Ambassador John V. Roos, participated in the annual ceremony, raising hopes here of a visit soon by a more prominent guest, President Obama, who is scheduled to be in Japan in November.

Mr. Obama has become a popular figure here since delivering a speech last year in Prague calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The mayor and other residents of Hiroshima have repeatedly invited him to come to their city, which — along with Nagasaki — is one of the world’s most recognized symbols of the horrors of nuclear war.

Until Friday, American officials had always skipped the annual ceremony, fearing their presence would renew the debate over whether the United States should apologize for the World War II bombings, which together killed more than 200,000 people in explosions so intense that many victims were vaporized, leaving only ghostly shadows on walls, while others died in agony from burns and radiation sickness.

Such a debate would probably be politically divisive in the United States and could even drive a wedge between America and Japan, one of Washington’s closest allies. American officials have long defended the bombings as having shortened the war and avoided an invasion, which they say would have cost untold thousands of American and Japanese lives. But many Japanese see the attacks as the epitome of the indiscriminate slaughter of modern warfare, and a principal reason for Japan’s postwar pacifism.

In interviews this week, political leaders here, including aging survivors of the bombing, sought to allay such concerns, saying they had no intention of asking the president to apologize. Instead, they said they would feel some measure of solace if a visit to their city could help Mr. Obama realize his vision of a denuclearized world.


The entire article can be found at The New York Times
Bad Girl Lust

From Slate: The Facebook posts Sarah Palin doesn't want you to see.

Slate: Not Sarah Palin's Friends
The Facebook posts Sarah Palin doesn't want you to see
By John Dickerson
Updated Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010, at 2:44 PM ET

The comments on Sarah Palin's Facebook page offer a relatively unbroken chain of adulation, applause, and approval: "Tell it LIKE IS MRS. PALIN." "God Bless you Sarah!! Thanks for all you do!!" "Palin 2012!!!!" No matter the topic of her posting—an endorsement of a candidate or a remark about energy policy—scores call for her to run for office.

It should not surprise you that the comments to posts she makes on her page are screened. For any high-profile politician, online comments are like town hall forums: Both appear to be spontaneous but are actually highly choreographed. In presidential town hall meetings, people sit in high-school gymnasiums and wear flannel as they jockey for the microphone. They almost seem genuine, but as they ask questions, it becomes clear they have been carefully selected. Each question to the candidate features the same sentiment: You're pretty wonderful, aren't you?
Palin's Facebook page is a key tool in her public brand management. She has used it effectively to project her message, appear connected with voters, and bypass the traditional media (while simultaneously using it to rebroadcast her message). In a recent Facebook post, she celebrated her 2 millionth fan on the site and the size of her reach. "Two million! Wow! That's more than some cable news shows. Thank you all and let's keep the momentum!"
Collapse )Why am I not suprised? I recall reading that Palin's Wikipedia page was edited 1000+ times the week her candidacy was announced. By the end of the week, it was so scrubbed it bled.
wendy, south park

First Lady’s Trip to Spain Draws Criticism

WASHINGTON — A quiet holiday in a lavish Mediterranean retreat for the first lady and her daughter has turned into a bit of a headache for a White House trying to battle bad economic news at home.

Michelle Obama took her younger daughter, Sasha, to southern Spain this week for a mother-daughter getaway. But when you are married to the president, it has a way of becoming a mother-daughter-Secret-Service getaway that invariably sweeps into town, takes over much of a pricey hotel and leaves the taxpayers with a hefty bill.

The first lady is paying for her own room, food and transportation, and the friends she brought will pay for theirs as well. But the government picks up security costs, and the image of the president’s wife enjoying a fancy vacation at a luxury resort abroad while Americans lose their jobs back home struck some as ill-timed. European papers are having a field day tracking her entourage, a New York Daily News columnist called her “a modern-day Marie Antoinette” and the blogosphere has been buzzing.

The White House said it would not comment. “The first lady is on a private trip,” Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said this week. “She is a private citizen and is the mother of a daughter on a private trip. And I think I’d leave it at that.”

Other officials, asking not to be named because the first family considers it a private matter, said some reports of the trip have been exaggerated. Mrs. Obama is not traveling with 40 friends, one official said, but with two friends and four of their daughters, as well as a couple of aides and a couple of advance staff members.

The officials would not discuss how many security agents are traveling and said that number is determined not by the first lady but by the Secret Service. The staff members are present because the first lady in her official capacity will pay a visit to King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia on Sunday before heading home, they said. She flew in a government plane, as all first ladies do when they travel, but her friends took separate commercial flights.

In the meantime, she and Sasha, 9, and their friends have toured Granada and played on the beach while staying at the five-star Hotel Villa Padierna in Marbella, where the rooms run from $500 to $2,000 a night. They took in a flamenco show and danced to the music.

Sasha’s sister, Malia, 12, missed the trip while at summer camp, and President Obama celebrated his 49th birthday without his family, over dinner in Chicago with Oprah Winfrey and some personal friends. But the whole family will travel later this month to the Gulf Coast for a few days and then to Martha’s Vineyard for 10 days.

Laura Bush took solo vacations without her husband each year of George W. Bush’s presidency, likewise traveling with her Secret Service detail on a government plane to meet friends for camping and hiking excursions to national parks. But it never generated the sort of furor Mrs. Obama trip’s is causing, at least in part because visiting national parks in the United States is not as politically sensitive.

“It’s always very difficult to lead a private life when you’re a public person,” said Anita McBride, who was Mrs. Bush’s chief of staff. “No one would deny any of our hard-working public officials an opportunity for a vacation. Everybody needs that. But I think the more expensive or lavish a trip might be perceived, the more criticism you invite. It’s just the risk. It comes with the territory of being a public person.”

Bad Girl Lust

Palinisms: The Accidental Wit & Wisdom of Sarah Palin

Slate: A Grand Unified Theory of Palinisms
Why Sarah Palin says all those stupid and ridiculous things.
By Jacob Weisberg
Posted Friday, Aug. 6, 2010, at 10:27 AM ET

So far as I can tell, Sarah Palin has four core beliefs:

1. Things go better with God.
2. Yay, Alaska!
3. Let's drill that sucker.
4. Curse you, political establishment.

Palinisms occur when Palin expresses one of these views in her idiosyncratically involuted syntax ("It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia"); when she expresses two or more of them in combination ("God's will has to be done, in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that"); or when she says anything at all in her imitable my sentence went on the Tilt-a-Whirl and got nauseous way ("And I think more of a concern has been not within the campaign, the mistakes that were made, not being able to react to the circumstances that those mistakes created in a real positive and professional and helpful way for John McCain").

Collapse )The above is an excerpt from a book by the article's author.

BTW, I can't think of a post more deserving of the "I can see Russia from my house" tag.
Calvin & Hobbes: Hug
  • calybe

Kenyans back change to constitution in referendum

There were more than 27,600 polling stations open for the referendum

The official result of Kenya's referendum on a new constitution shows resounding support for reform.

The head of the electoral commission said 67% had voted in favour of the introduction of a new constitution.

Among the measures which will now go ahead are the introduction of a bill of rights, land reform and new curbs on the president's power.

Despite this last measure President Mwai Kibaki was among those who had campaigned for a "yes" vote.

Earlier, when provisional results indicated victory for the "yes" campaign, Mr Kibaki told crowds celebrating in Nairobi that he was "happy to welcome" the result.

"Fellow Kenyans, we are happy to welcome the provisional results of the referendum," said the president. "The historic journey that we begun over 20 years ago is now coming to a happy end."

"Let us all join hands together as we begin the process of national renewal."
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Source: BBC

Harvard Economist Says Unemployment Benefits Could Discourage Job Searching

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate held steady at 9.5% for the month of July. The report also showed that 6.6 million people, or 45% of those without jobs, have been out of work for more than six months.

In July, President Obama signed the extension of unemployment benefits to help those struggling to find a job. Under the extension, unemployed Americans can receive up to 99 weeks of income assistance.

The president said in a statement, "Americans who are fighting to find a good job and support their families will finally get the support they need to get back on their feet during these tough economic times."

Jeffrey Miron, Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard University says not every unemployed American would jump at the first job that comes along.

On Saturday, Miron told Fox News that when faced with a job that is less than desirable, "there are people who choose to continue unemployment for extra weeks or months to collect unemployment insurance for a little bit longer."

Miron also rejects the argument that unemployment insurance puts money in the hands of the jobless, causing them to spend money and stimulate the economy. "That money came from the taxpayers, so others in the economy have less money to spend now or in the future," he said.

The Harvard Economist has a message for those who want to defend extended unemployment benefits: rather than the claim that the insurance stimulates the economy, use an argument for compassion instead.

Still, Miron says, "At what point do we say we have to put aside compassion and worry about efficiency and worry about giving people stronger incentive to go back to work, even if it's not the job they'd most prefer?"


Now See Here. History is Full of Facts and Facts Have a Liberal Bias.

Professor Newt's Distorted History Lesson

There are any number of reasons why an American might oppose the Cordoba House, the planned $100 million Muslim-financed community center that has come to be known in the press as the "Ground Zero mosque."  I don't think any of them are particularly good reasons, but the universe of potential justification is much broader than the narrow scope of this humble blog.  There is one justification being floated around, however, that is both within this blog's purview and completely and totally bogus.  Indeed, this particular justification is such an egregious and purposeful misreading of medieval history that I feel I must speak up.
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Uncle V wants you

MIT on what a good politician looks like

MIT: MIT researchers demonstrate how much candidate appearances affect election outcomes
Per study, people around the world have similar ideas about what a good politician looks like
written by: Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office

When you vote in an election, your choice is surely not influenced by anything as superficial as a candidate’s looks, right?


New research from MIT political scientists shows that the appearances of politicians do indeed strongly influence voters — and that people around the world have similar ideas about what a good politician looks like. While few political observers would be surprised to learn that good looks earn votes, the MIT researchers have quantified a phenomenon that is more often assumed to be true than rigorously measured.

"Ever since Aristotle, people have written about the concern that charismatic leaders who speak well and look good can sway votes even if they do not share the people’s views,” acknowledges Gabriel Lenz, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at MIT, and a co-author of the study.

To test this idea, though, Lenz and his colleagues showed voters in the United States and India pairs of candidate photos from real election matchups in Brazil and Mexico. When asked which candidate would make a better elected official, the participants in the study, regardless of where they lived, largely selected the same candidates. Moreover, their choices corresponded closely to the outcomes of those Brazilian and Mexican races, meaning the public attribution of good looks to a candidate is a leading indicator of a campaign’s result.

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Crossposted from ontd_science.
misc. | Black Superwoman

ONTD_Political's PotD: August 7, 2010.

A Mexican journalist takes part in a demonstration against violence towards journalists in Mexico, on August 7, 2010 in Mexico City. The protest was triggered by the abduction of four journalists by the Pacifico drug cartel to demand television stations to broadcast a video linking the Durango state government to a rival drug gang on July 26. More than 60 journalists have been killed in Mexico during the last decade, many of them by drug traffickers.

AFP/Getty Images | Ronaldo Schemidt
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