One-year-old conjoined twins Hannah Yinneth Gil, left, and Hannah Yanneth Gil, right, from Panama, lying on the ground, play at their home in Panama City, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010. The Siamese twins, joined at the stomach, are allegedly scheduled for a separation surgery at the end of Aug. in Panama City.( Collapse )
Dar Yasin | AP Photo | Arnulfo Franco
Republican Babes are Smokin' Hot, Dems are Definitely Not, Says Minnesota GOP
at least the gawker comments are funny.
From statehouses to state fairs on Tuesday, Republican incumbents and challengers unleashed an almost unified line of criticism against the president days after he forcefully defended the construction of a $100 million Islamic center two blocks from the site of the 2001 terror attacks.
Recalling the emotion of that deadly day, Republicans said that while they respect religious freedom, the president's position was cold and academic, lacking compassion and empathy for the victims' families.
"He is thinking like a lawyer and not like an American, making declarations without America's best interest in mind," said Andrew Harris, a Republican running for Congress in Maryland against first-term Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil.
That line — emerging as a boilerplate attack — forced the endangered Democrat to respond.
"I mean, it seems to me those are issues related to local zoning laws and so forth, and that's a decision that they're going to have to make, but I don't see the federal government having any role in that," Kratovil said.
In Ohio, where the president was headed Wednesday as part of a three-state political swing, Republican congressional candidate Jim Renacci took issue with Obama's position and challenged his opponent, first-term Democrat John Boccieri, to do likewise.
"Just because we may have the right to do something, doesn't necessarily make it right to do it," Renacci said.
The Boccieri campaign said the candidate was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
In New York, one of the developers of the planned Islamic Center said in a television interview Tuesday he was dismayed that the project had become a national political issue.
"I'm surprised at the way politics is being played in 2010," Sharif El-Gamal told NY-1. "There are issues that are affecting our country which are real issues — unemployment, poverty, the economy. It's a really sad day for America."
Republicans who weren't on the ballot this year — but possibly looking ahead to challenging Obama in 2012 — sought to make it a political issue.
"Well I think it's another example of him playing the role of law professor. ... We can have a great debate about the legal arguments. But it's not about that," Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in an interview Monday on Fox News.
Obama, a graduate of Harvard Law School, was a professor at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004.
Democrats face an unforgiving political landscape 11 weeks before midterm elections, with high unemployment, ethics charges against two senior House Democrats and Obama's low approval ratings taking a toll. The president injected another issue to the mix when he said last Friday that Muslims "have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country" and that included building the Islamic center in lower Manhattan.
A day later, Obama told reporters that wasn't an endorsement of the specifics of the mosque plan.
Republicans called it the "9/11 Mosque" and the "Ground Zero Mosque," falsely describing it as if a place of worship were being built in the crater left behind when the Twin Towers crumbled. Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott started running a TV ad in Florida that said: "Mr. President, ground zero is the wrong place for a mosque."
With a steady drumbeat, Republicans tried to force Democrats into difficult positions of either standing with the president or bucking him.
GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina told reporters in Sacramento that the issue was not about religious freedom. Rather, she says it is about being sensitive to those who suffered in the Sept. 11 attacks. Her opponent, Sen. Barbara Boxer, said it was an issue for New Yorkers.
Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher also said religious rights must be protected, but the decision on the project was best left to New Yorkers — a common position shared by many fellow Democrats seeking Senate seats.
His Republican rival, Rob Portman, said it was about taste.
"It's not a question of whether or not they have a right to build it," Portman said. "It's a question of whether or not they should."
Democrats in Washington advised candidates to do what was best for their campaigns, reminding them of state demographics and poll results. Democrats sought to keep the conversation focused on job creation — their main message as economically struggling voters look to unleash their fury on the party in power.
In the end, senior Democrats told candidates, it wasn't as though the president of the United States or the White House needed their defense.
"This wasn't something that the president viewed through a political lens," White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton told reporters aboard Air Force One as Obama flew to an appearance in Seattle. "This is something that he saw as his obligation to address."
But it has been Democratic candidates who have had to address the issue of the mosque.
In Illinois, Rep. Mark Kirk, the Republican running for Obama's former Senate seat, said he respects religious freedom but suggested the Islamic center be built at a "less controversial site."
His challenger, Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, defended the decision to build the facility.
"This is about every single religion and remembering what this country was founded on," Giannoulias said as he visited the state fair in Springfield. "You can't just say things when they're nice and flowery. You have to say them when it's the right thing to do."
His remarks came one day after the Senate's top Democrat, Harry Reid of Nevada, came out against plans to build a mosque near the World Trade Center site.
Source I wouldn't read the comments if I were you.
So this whole thing is about feelings now?
They had already won passage of the 19th Amendment in Congress and secured ratification of that amendment by 35 states; Tennessee’s ratification, if they could succeed, would give them the crucial number required to add the amendment to the Constitution and guarantee American women the right to vote.
In the Tennessee House, the vote was close. In fact, it was tied, deadlocked. Then, on the third round of voting, the youngest state legislator changed his mind. He had just received a letter from his mother, urging him to do the right thing.
And so, on Aug. 18, 1920 — 90 years ago today — women won the right to vote and make our voices heard in government. In the nine decades since, women have made great strides in America. A higher percentage of us vote than men and a majority of us vote Democratic. Approximately three-fourths of the women in the U.S. Senate, House, and state legislatures are Democrats, as well. And, as we all know, the speaker of the House, third in line to the presidency, is Nancy Pelosi. Our college attendance is equal to men and we are now presidents of great universities, we have joined the work force in record numbers, and we work as doctors, soldiers, and plumbers as well as teachers, nurses and owners of our own small businesses — and so do our husbands and brothers. We have closed many of the gaps between women and men. But there is still a long way to go to secure full equality — and that is why President Obama and the Democratic Party fight to level the playing field for women.
Although women continue to earn less than men — just 78 cents on the dollar, on average — President Barack Obama took immediate action to close that gap. The very first bill the president signed after taking office was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which protects women against pay discrimination and helps to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work.
In addition, President Obama has championed flexible work policies like paid sick leave, because he believes women should not have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for loved ones. Through a White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility and through the creation of a White House Council on Women and Girls, the president is working to better identify and address the challenges faced by women in the workplace.
At the same time, the president and his Democratic partners in the Congress have enacted broad-based legislation that is not only helping America overall, but is also giving particular benefits to women.
The Recovery Act, which has saved or created more than 2.5 million jobs across America, also contains provisions that are specifically targeted to help working women and families. For example, the act authorizes billions of dollars in new funding for Head Start and other child care programs and calls for unemployment insurance reforms that encourage states to cover part-time workers and individuals who have recently reentered the work force, categories which include millions of women.
Similarly, the Affordable Care Act is an historic leap forward — for every American, but particularly for women. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will be prevented from imposing lifetime limits on coverage for women. They will no longer be able to drop coverage for women when they get sick, or pregnant. They will no longer be able to charge women exorbitant out-of-pocket deductibles or co-payments. And they will no longer be able to charge women more simply because of their gender.
These are but a few examples of how we continue the fight for equality in our country. On this 90th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, it is important to give thanks for how far we have come, and to continue to move forward together. So I hope you’ll join me in offering your support for the president and Democrats in Congress as they to work to open new doors of opportunity for women and men alike. And, I hope you will open your hearts to the plight of so many of our sisters around the world who do not share the freedoms we enjoy because of the hard work of our foremothers, those heroic suffragists, almost a century ago.
The View's Elisabeth Hasselbeck tries to clear up some misconceptions about her in an interview with Fancast:
"I am not ultra-ultra-conservative on every issue. I actually support gay marriage. I think the gay marriage thing would definitely surprise people. I mean, for some people, it will surprise them to the point that they won’t want to hear it. 'No, that can’t be, I really want to have this sort of idea of her in my head,' so I sort of rain on their parade there. I am a person that does believe that life begins at conception, but I also don’t believe that the government should tell women what to do with their bodies. So I’m torn there in terms of supporting laws [for or against abortion]. I always say I would rather change a heart than a law. I think it has to start there. Always trying to mandate, mandate, mandate this or that is not the way that I believe this country should run."
In December 2008, Hasselbeck irked Melissa Etheridge on The View with regard to Prop 8, arguing that the majority should be allowed to vote on the rights of the minority. Hasselbeck also seemed to struggle with the concept of marriage equality in a discussion with Portia de Rossi a year later, asking "Take men and women. Women want all the rights of men, but they're not asking to be called men. Do you think...is the word [marriage] more important than the rights?"
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Nigger In America:
White people saying Nigger. That’s always pleasant, right?
White people saying nigger while minimalizing the feelings of racism? Even more pleasant. Like a massage. A really racist massage.
The shit storm that has been this past week’s news cycle due to someone simply expressing their right to free speech (if you go by Dr. Laura’s resignation interview on CNN) has once again brought race to the forefront of American media. The popular memes of “Blacks can say it, why can’t Whites?” and “No one should use the word!” are running rampant throughout the blogosphere. The underlying uncomfortableness of the discussion of “nigger” being in the everyday American vernacular comes from the underlying uncomfortableness of Blacks being in everyday America.
The reason why Whites can’t say “nigger” is because they (past tense they, relax) used this word when Black people were enslaved, beaten, and raped for hundreds of years. Then, when Blacks were free whites continued to use the word to highlight that we were NOT one of them and to clearly articulate the fact that many considered us to be less than a human.
Just a “nigger.”
So when the discussion of nigger usage rears its head, as it does every few years, we always get to have an interesting game of amnesia where some folks try to pretend as if they forget why the word is bad for Caucasian usage.
“I didn’t own slaves. Why should I be punished for what happened in the past?”
That’s one of my favorite lines. Apparently not being able to use the word “nigger” is some sort of punishment. This argument is used anytime the legacy of slavery and oppression is discussed in America. “I didn’t do it” is looked at as some sort of impenetrable force field of righteousness. And let’s be honest: they’re right. “They” didn’t do it.
But America did.
And you, my friend, are American—or you chose to live in America and by American rules. You may not owe Black people anything, but America surely does. America, contrary to Pat Buchanan, was built by Black people. America owes its reign as a first-world country to the millions of Blacks that died in slavery providing free labor so that this country could rise to the top of the global food chain This will never repay what is actually owed to Black Americans but to question policies and general rules of politeness because “You didn’t do it” is absurd. If America is in debt you pay taxes. If America is at war you may be drafted. The “Whites shouldn’t say nigger” is just another aspect of being American.
Consider it a racism tax.
President Obama's position in support of the right of a Muslim organization to build a community center near Ground Zero in New York is now picking up the endorsement of a very prominent 9/11 widower: Former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson.
Olson's wife, the late conservative author and activist Barbara Olson, was a passenger aboard the plane that was hijacked and flown into the Pentagon. This afternoon, Olson appeared on Andrea Mitchell's MSNBC show to discuss his current high-profile legal work on behalf of gay marriage. Mitchell then also asked Olson for his opinion about the Cordoba House issue.
"Well it may not make me hap-- popular with some people, but I think probably the president was right about this," Olson responded. "I do believe that people of all religions have a right to build edifices, or structures, or places of religious worship or study, where the community allows them to do it under zoning laws and that sort of thing, and that we don't want to turn an act of hate against us by extremists into an act of intolerance for people of religious faith. And I don't think it should be a political issue. It shouldn't be a Republican or Democratic issue, either. I believe Gov. Christie from New Jersey said it well -- that this should not be in that political, partisan marketplace."
Word. Suck on THAT Newt!
S.C. Rep. Dan Cooper co-sponsored the bill and said he hopes it will reduce the number of abortions by giving women more time to think.
"This just gives us another step in trying to convince people that that is an actual human inside of the mother," said Cooper. "You got three days to return some things you buy. Buyer’s remorse they call it when you buy appliances and things, so why would you have at least a 24 hour period so you could at least consider that decision?"
CONTEXT leaves the standard disclaimer about comments at the source
U.S. ending combat operations in Iraq
After 7½ years, last convoy of fighting forces leaving country
NEAR THE IRAQ-KUWAIT BORDER — The last U.S. combat troops were crossing the border into Kuwait on Thursday morning, bringing to a close the active combat phase of a 7½-year war that overthrew the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein, forever defined the presidency of George W. Bush and left more than 4,400 American service members and tens of thousands of Iraqis dead.
The final convoy of the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Lewis, Wash., was about to enter Kuwait about 2 a.m. (7 p.m. Wednesday ET), carrying the last of the 14,000 U.S. combat forces in Iraq, said NBC’s Richard Engel, who has been traveling with the brigade as it moved out this week.
The departure marks the official end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, P.J. Crowley, a spokesman for the State Department, told msnbc TV.
“We won! We won! It’s over! We brought democracy to Iraq!” a soldier shouted as fellow soldiers celebrated their arrival in Kuwait this week.
For Staff Sgt. Heon Hong of Guam, the brigade’s departure, which began over the weekend, marked the end of his third tour of duty in Iraq.
“I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad we’re done with Iraq,” Hong said as his transport arrived this week. Hopefully, I never come back to Iraq.”
Another soldier, Sgt. Devon Scarey of Deltona, Fla., said simply, “It feels awesome.”
A company promoting a pill that supposedly turns gray hair back to its original color has offered Anderson Cooper $1 million to get rid of his silver tresses. That is the stupidest thing we ever heard.
Here are all the reasons Anderson should turn down the offer:
Dubious Science: The pill, called Go Away Gray, is an "all-natural pill containing the enzyme Catalase." The science is sound: Catalase can prevent hair from turning gray. But like other "natural supplements" marketed online, we have a feeling "Go Away Gray" hasn't been evaluated by the FDA or any certified scientific board, so it might not even work. Even worse, it could have catastrophic side effects. Anderson's boyfriend would be pissed if it caused his manhood to wither up, wouldn't he?
Trademark Infringement: Gray hair is Anderson Cooper's signature. He went gray at a young age and television viewers know him by his colorless 'do. What would he be without it? Can you imagine Anna Wintour with her her bob, Carrot Top without his carrot top, or John Travolta without his toupee? Neither can we. With a head of brown hair, Anderson would just be another Brian Williams.
The Money Honey: Anderson Cooper is a Vanderbilt. Scratch that. Anderson Cooper is a Vanderbilt with a million-dollar salary. He needs money like CNN needs lower ratings. Sure, he could give the cash to charity, but Anderson has more money for charity than Larry King has pairs of suspenders. Okay, you get the idea.
It's Sexy: Andy is a studly guy. Maybe it's the blue eyes, the patrician demeanor, or the increasingly bulging biceps. No, it's not. It's the hair. There is something about a man with a head of solid gray hair that makes him look distinguished, worldly. It sets him apart from the pack and on a young man like Anderson, you get all the benefits of a youthful physique with the additional added bonus of the old-timer coloring. It's that hair that puts us at ease and makes us trust him. It's what make us comfortable enough to go back to his hotel room thinking we were just going to have a nightcap until he pulls us close and plants a big fat kiss on our lips and shoves his hand down our pants and whispers, "Don't worry, I'll be gentle," before throwing us onto the bed for an evening of sweaty, vigorous lovemaking. Oh yes! It's the hair!
So, uh, yeah, Andy. Don't you dare take that money or that cockamamie pill.
Featured this morning on NPR
In Eat Pray Love, Bali serves as Elizabeth Gilbert's hallowed sanctuary. It's an enchanted land where she finds emotional healing. But if her journey may in fact have been life-changing, the film version of the story she told in her best-selling book is filled with stereotypes about the East. Ketut, the Balinese medicine man she seeks out for wisdom and fortune-telling? You want to believe in their friendship, but his character is a caricature. At one point, she even jokingly refers to him as Yoda.
Eat Pray Love is just one of the recent movies to romanticize travel along the Silk Road. This year, movies about women awakening to their true passions while traveling to the Middle East include Cairo Time and Sex and the City 2.
The trope isn't limited to recent movies, or to stories about 40-something female travelers. There are epic dramas, explosive thrillers and lighthearted comedies, old and new, that don't teach you anything new about Asia or the Middle East. They rely instead on the stereotype that the East is someplace timeless, otherworldly, incomprehensible, waiting to be discovered by Westerners in search of self.
"Orientalism" is the term academic historians and literary scholars like Edward Said have used to describe this age-old pattern of depicting Middle and Far Easterners as primitive Others. Onscreen, it crops up in art films, Hollywood blockbusters and family entertainments alike.
Nearly 20 years ago, for instance, Disney was criticized for its original Aladdin lyrics. The opening song, "Arabian Nights," was later altered following protests from groups like the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Now, nobody's protesting Eat Pray Love, or saying that you should. After all, it's kinder, gentler and subtler than Aladdin.
But it operates with the same Orientalist repertoire. It may not warrant protest, but its proximity to Orientalist tropes should make you think twice.
The article doesn't really do the story justice; it's just a text companion to the full audio story feature on-air/online. Click above link to hear not only the full story, but also soundbites from the movies that are discussed in this story, including the original controversial Aladdin lyrics!
Outside Magazine has a good article about this, as one of their writers walked the same trail to write the article.
Outside Magazine, May 2010
A Mountain of Trouble
By Joshua Hammer
The lush peaks of Iraqi Kurdistan are irresistible to a certain breed of bold backpacker: They're exotic, beautiful, and way off the beaten track. But when three young Americans were arrested by Iranian border guards last July after straying too far down a waterfall trail, the costs of adventure travel got a lot higher. As the hikers languished in their cells, we sent Joshua Hammer to find out how they got into this mess—and what it would take to get them out.
The article is six pages long and can be read here.
The New York Times also interviewed members of the prisoner's families, taking a different angle for their follow-up story:
July 28, 2010
The Hikers in Iran: One Year Later
By Hilary Howard
This Saturday will mark the one year anniversary of the detainment and imprisonment of three young Americans in Iran. On July 31, 2009, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal were hiking in the Zagros Mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The area, known for its murky, poorly marked borders with Iran, is also home to Ahmed Awa, a known tourist destination where a dramatic waterfall sits scarily close to said border. At some point that afternoon, the hikers, who had reached Ahmed Awa, either crossed over into Iran (probably by mistake) or, as a recent investigation by The Nation proposed, were seized by Iranian authorities who may have trespassed into Iraq.
The continuation of that is here, with several photos to accompany the piece.
Edit: The HuffPo has a great article on this topic, too. There's links at the bottom to help support the hikers.
Grist: What climate activists need to learn from the NRA and the gun-control wars
by Robert Walker
17 Aug 2010 6:43 AM
Supporters of climate-change legislation have much to learn from an organization that is often rated as the most powerful lobby in Washington: the National Rifle Association.
The gun lobby is not invincible, but it has won a disproportionate share of its battles. The NRA and its allies have not relied on data collection and scrupulously reasoned arguments to carry the day. To the contrary, the gun lobby has focused on building and energizing its small membership base, working to influence the outcome of critical elections, and employing bare-knuckled tactics.
The NRA's membership is not that large -- probably a little over 3 million. Its views, even in today's more pro-gun environment, are largely outside the mainstream of American thought. Indeed, many of its own members likely disagree with the organization's policies. But when the NRA speaks, the politicians in Washington listen, salute, and fall in line.
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Within the past week, a friend of mine posted an article on his LJ that included the observation about U.S. politics that Democrats hate their base, while Republicans fear theirs. In response, I asked what would happen if the Democrats feared their base as well. This article gives the answer.
I also posted what the problem would be with getting the Democrats to fear their base; the Democratic base wants to be loved; This article makes that observation as well, but points out that fear works far better at getting results.
Those of you in the UK, what is the relationship between the Tories, Labour, and Liberal Democrats and their bases? What about the relationships between the major constituencies and the parties that claim to represent them in other democracies?
by Tim Wise
This is the second part of a two-part series on racism on the right and left of the United States’ political/ideological spectrum. Part one, which can be found here, provided the reader with a working definition of racism, and then explored how racism at both the ideological and institutional levels is connected to and enhanced by American conservatism. In this essay, I will explore the other side of the equation: namely, how even liberals, progressives and leftists, despite our advocacy for equity and stated commitment to racial justice, still manage to manifest and further racism — whether deliberately or not — in our activism, messages and policy prescriptions.
His words rang out with an unmistakable certitude.
“This is the most racist place I’ve ever lived,” said the man sitting across from me, a black writer and poet whose acquaintance I had only made earlier that day.
His expression made it clear that this was no mere hyperbole spat out so as to get a reaction. He meant every word and proceeded in about twenty minutes to lay out the case for why indeed this place where we were talking — San Francisco — was far more racist, in his estimation than any of several places he had lived in the South.
Worse than Birmingham.
Worse than Jackson, Mississippi.
Worse than Dallas.
San Francisco. Yes, that San Francisco.
From police harassment to profiling to housing discrimination to a persistent invisibility he’d felt since first arriving, there was no doubt that the ostensibly liberal enclave was head and shoulders above the rest.
And it wasn’t his opinion alone. I have heard similar feelings expressed about the Bay Area by peoples of color many times since, as well as about Seattle, Portland, and any number of other supposedly progressive paradises where various “alternative” types (of white folks at least) seem to feel at home. Even those who wouldn’t rank a place like San Francisco as the most racist city in which they’d lived, are often quick to insist that its racism is comparable to what they’ve experienced elsewhere, which is to say, no less a problem.
When I’ve recounted these discussions with folks of color living in “progressive” cities to my white liberal friends, they have usually recoiled in shock, followed by a kind of white leftie defensiveness that was, sadly, unsurprising. Their responses to the news that black and brown folks don’t find the history of the Haight-Ashbury district, or the Summer of Love all that inspiring — after all, when Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead were entertaining white hippies in the Fillmore, black folks were fighting for their lives across the way in Oakland — often suggest a desire on their part to believe that the people to whom I’d spoken were seeing things.
Unfortunately the pattern is all too common. If people of color complain about racism and discrimination in rural Georgia, no one is surprised. In fact, to many the image is comforting as it fulfills every stereotype, regional and political, that so many folks continue to carry around regarding who the bad guys are.
But suggest that racism and discrimination are also significant problems in more “progressive spaces,” even among self-proclaimed liberals and leftists themselves — and that it might be unearthed in our political movements — and prepare to be met with icy stares, or worse, a self-righteous vitriol that seeks to separate “real racism” (the right-wing kind) from not-so-real racism (the kind we on the left sometimes foster). And know that before long, someone will admonish you to focus on the “real enemy,” rather than fighting amongst ourselves. “What we need is unity,” these voices say, “and all that talk about racism on the left just divides us further.”
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I only have one thing to say: