August 30th, 2010



Ah, American Thinker. One of the more ironically named websites in the right-wing blogosphere, gifted us with this gem today. It seems the Coen Brothers are remaking the Western classic, "True Grit," with Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, a role immortalized by an eye-patch wearing John Wayne.

In the original "True Grit," John Wayne wore the patch over his left eye, leaving his right eye uncovered. In the remake, Jeff Bridges wears the patch over his right eye, leaving the left uncovered. This is apparently a secret commie-liberal Marxist signal for the workers of the world to unite.

Remaking 'True Grit' with the left eye exposed

The Coen Brothers version of the 1969 John Wayne classic ‘True Grit' (for which The Duke won the Oscar, back when it meant something) is set to open nationwide on Christmas Day. If the earth should move and shake it may well be The Duke rolling in his grave.

The role of Rooster Cogburn will star ‘Crazy Heart' star Jeff Bridges, who also played the title role of another American icon in ‘Wild Bill.' Other members of the cast include fellow travelers Matt Damon and Josh Brolin as well as newcomer Hailee Steinfield in the role of Mattie Ross.

In a February 2010 pre-Oscar interview social activist Jeff Bridges said "Barack Obama is my champion; I am rooting for him - he said we can eradicate childhood hunger by 2015." Of course Bridges good work in the fight against childhood hunger should be commended, do you suppose BHO is still his champion after signing legislation that will cut food stamps to help bail out the Teachers' Union? Is Jeff aware that FLOTUS says childhood obesity is the biggest problem facing America's youth?

One of the interesting decisions that was made during the filming of ‘True Grit' was the placement of Rooster Cogburn's famous eye patch. In the original film John Wayne wore the eye patch over his left eye which allowed him to view the world through his right eye as the Duke was inclined to do. According to HitFlix, in the remake Bridges covers his right eye leaving his left eye fully exposed, as a subtle reminder of where his ‘Crazy Heart' resides.

Fellow cast members Matt Damon (Texas ranger LeBeuf) and Josh Brolin are well known for their leftist views and previously worked together in the film version of Howard Zinn's ‘A People's History of the United States.' Do you suppose Matt and Josh are aware that the FBI recently released files which show that their Comrade Historian was a member of the Communist Party? Come to think of it the FBI files might just reinforce their leftist love for a fellow traveler.

Gregory Ellwood at HitFlix referred to the Coen Brothers' ‘True Grit' as a "Best Picture contender" and has placed it on his "Must-see list." If this film should achieve the level of success that many are predicting it will, it could open the door to other revisionist remakes. Imagine if you will Matt Damon starring in ‘Sergeant York', Sean Penn and George Clooney in ‘Big Jim McLain' or Jose Brolin playing George Gipp in ‘Knute Rockne All American.'

Now, let us apply Occam's Razor here. Is there a simpler explanation as to the switch? Why, yes. You might not realize it, but most people have a dominant eye, much like a dominant hand. Here's an easy trick. Stick your thumb up, and hold it out at arm's length against a fixed object on your wall. Now close each eye in succession. Did your thumb appear to jump away the target? If it did, that's your non-dominant eye. Now, walk around the house using only your non-dominant eye. Annoying? Distracting? Uncomfortable? You probably answered yes to all three. Now, imagine making a movie for months on end doing this, a film which presumably requires you to ride a horse and have choreographed fist-fights.

I'm curious as to why American Thinker didn't even mention this possibility. I learned about it when it turned out my brother was right-handed but left-eye dominant. So, he had to learn to shoot left-handed, as using his non-dominant eye with gun sights was pointless, and our father was a pretty avid sports shooter.

When I went to Basic Training, the Drill Sergeants also had everyone verify their dominant eye before we began marksmanship training with the M16A2 service rifle.

So how did this get past an editor at one of the most arch-conservative sites on the web? Does no one at American Thinker exercise their 2nd Amendment rights? Or, like John Wayne, who repeatedly refused even the softest military assignments during World War II, such as being assigned to the First Motion Picture Unit with Captain Ronald Reagan and making training films, did they all refuse to serve their country in a time of war?

Yeah, I'm not surprised either.

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The US formally ends its combat operations in Iraq at the end of August, marking a new phase in the seven-year conflict which has cost billions of dollars and many thousands of lives.

The onus of ensuring Iraq's security and rebuilding the devasted country now rests with Iraqi leaders, even though they have yet to form a new government almost six months after an election.

Almost every figure related to the war is disputed, with none more keenly debated than the total number of Iraqi deaths. This is a summary of some of the key numbers and the arguments surrounding them.


Over 4,000 US service personnel have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom since the invasion started on 19 March 2003.

US military deaths in the operation in Iraq, Centcom

At 26 August 2010 the latest figure from the US Department of Defense stood at 4,421 of which 3,492 were killed in action. Almost 32,000 have been wounded in action.

The UK has lost 179 servicemen and women, of which 136 were killed in action.

Other coalition countries account for 139 deaths according to the icasualties website.

While coalition troop fatalities are reasonably well documented, deaths of Iraqi civilians and combatants are more difficult to track because of a lack of reliable official figures. All counts and estimates of Iraqi deaths are highly disputed.

The organisation Iraq Body Count has been collating civilian deaths using cross-checked media reports and other figures such as morgue records.

Iraqi civilian deaths, by month, according to IBC

According to IBC there have been between 97,461 and 106,348 civilian deaths up to July 2010.

The most bloody period for civilian deaths was the month of invasion, March 2003, in which IBC says 3,977 ordinary Iraqis lost their lives. A further 3,437 were killed in April of that year.

The group says the difference between its higher and lower total figures is caused by discrepancies in reports about how many deaths resulted from an incident and whether they were civilians or combatants.

Other reports and surveys have resulted in a wide range of estimates of Iraqi deaths. The UN-backed Iraqi Family Health Survey estimated 151,000 violent deaths in the period March 2003 - June 2006.

Meanwhile, The Lancet journal in 2006 published an estimate of 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths related to the war of which 601,027 were caused by violence.

Both this and the Family Health Survey include deaths of Iraqi combatants as well as civilians.

An unknown number of civilian contractors have also been killed in Iraq. Icasualties publishes what it describes as a partial list with the figure of 467.


The financial scale of the war is another area in which figures vary widely.

The respected and non-partisan Congressional Research Service estimates that the US will have spent almost $802bn on funding the war by the end of fiscal year 2011, with $747.6bn already appropriated.

US funding of its operation in Iraq 2003 to 2011

However, Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard's Linda Bilmes put the true cost at $3 trillion once additional impacts on the US budget and economy are taken into account.

The UK has funded its part in the conflict from the Treasury Reserve Fund which is extra money on top of the normal Ministry of Defence budget.

Whitehall figures released in June 2010 put the cost of British funding of the Iraq conflict at £9.24bn ($14.32bn), the vast majority of which was for the military but which also included £557m in aid.

A summary of how the war was funded was also presented to the UK's Iraq Inquiry in January 2010.


troops graphic

US troops led the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, in coalition with the UK and other nations.

The numbers of US "boots on the ground" have mostly fluctuated between 100-150,000 apart from during the period of the "surge" in 2007.

This was President George W Bush's drive to improve security in the country, especially in the capital Baghdad, by sending in 30,000 extra troops.

Barack Obama made withdrawal from Iraq a key pledge in his presidential election campaign of 2008 and troop numbers have steadily fallen since he took office in January 2009.

On 19 August 2010 the last US combat brigade left the country, leaving behind 50,000 military personnel involved in the transition process, who are due to withdraw by the end of 2011.

British forces peaked at 46,000 during the invasion phase and then fell away year on year to 4,100 in May 2009 when the UK formally withdrew from Iraq.

There are now around 150 British military personnel serving in the country with a further 1,500 assigned to the operation but not in Iraq itself (such as Royal Navy staff in the Gulf).

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ONTD_Political's PotD: August 29, 2010.

Sunday, August 29, 2010 will mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall in Louisiana. Five years ago, Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, centered on New Orleans, as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph (205 km/h). More than fifty levees were breached by its storm surge, causing massive flooding. Over 1,800 Gulf Coast residents lost their lives then, and damages totaled more than $80 billion - the costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Many intangible things were damaged then as well, communities were erased as their neighborhoods washed away, much of historic New Orleans was badly damaged, and frustration and anger remain towards an inadequate immediate response by the U.S. government. Collected here are images from five years ago, as well as some from the past few weeks, in New Orleans and the surrounding area.
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Despite public outcry, Taiji dolphin hunts continue

 TAIJI, Japan — Fishermen here, whose annual dolphin slaughter was depicted in the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove,’’ say they will resume the hunt this week because the 400-year-old tradition is the foundation of their industry.

“We have no intention to stop hunting dolphins,’’ said Miyato Sugimori, administrative chief of the Taiji Town Fisheries Association. “Our young fishermen can’t continue to live in this town without the hunt.’’

Of Japan’s annual quota of 20,000 dolphins, about 1,500 are killed or sold to aquariums by fishermen in the town in Wakayama prefecture, south of Osaka. Taiji’s “oikomi,’’ a method of hunting in which dolphins are herded into a bay for slaughter, drew worldwide criticism after the documentary was released.

“It’s a horrific way to kill them,’’ said Sakae Hemmi, a spokeswoman for Elsa Nature Conservancy, a Japanese environmental protection group. “Even if they let them go, the structure of the dolphins’ group is disrupted.’’

According to the Japan Fisheries Agency, Taiji is the only place in Japan that practices “oikomi.’’ After herding the dolphins into the bay, the fishermen impale them with harpoons.

Driving a spear into the dolphin’s brain can kill the mammal in as little as two seconds and is the most humane way to conduct the slaughter, said Sugimori, who is seen in “The Cove’’ observing the filmmakers. Sugimori, 59, said the hunt is needed to make the local fishing industry viable.

“If we relied solely on other forms of fishing, our annual income would be about $24,000, which is not enough to live on,’’ said Sugimori. About 6 percent of the town’s population is involved in fisheries, he said.

Japan exported 56 live dolphins to countries including China, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey in 2008, receiving an average of almost $61,000 per dolphin, according to Elsa Nature Conservancy, which cited Ministry of Finance statistics.

“Westerners eat cows, Australians eat kangaroos,’’ Sugimori said. “Japan, including Taiji, is surrounded by ocean, so we eat things from the sea which include fish, whales, and dolphins. There’s nothing wrong with that.’’

Sugimori said if dolphin hunting were banned, young people may choose office jobs that pay more rather than join his association, which has an average age of 68. The association filed for bankruptcy and was restructured in February 2007, according to Tokyo Shoko Research.

Alex Sarkissian, 17, a Canadian student who was visiting the Taiji Whale Museum, said he didn’t know that dolphin hunting was a Japanese tradition.

“I like dolphins, and I don’t see why they would slaughter them,’’ he said. “I can’t compare dolphins and cows. They’re not on the same level of mental capacity.’’

The cove depicted in the documentary can be reached by swimming for 10 minutes from Kujirahama, or “whale beach.’’ Surrounded by walls of rocks and trees, the shoreline is littered with empty drink bottles and fishing rope. A security camera stands guard atop a metal pole.

Taiji’s mayor, Kazutaka Sangen, said dolphins remain an important resource for the town of 3,500 people. The hunt lasts from September to February.

“There are no other industries here. We can’t harvest rice or vegetables and there’s very little fresh water,’’ said Sangen, 62. “If we couldn’t hunt dolphins and whales, this town would have died out a long time ago."


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Thanks, Tea Party! Your crap is going ~international~!

New Dissent in Japan Is Loudly Anti-Foreign

The demonstrators appeared one day in December, just as children at an elementary school for ethnic Koreans were cleaning up for lunch. The group of about a dozen Japanese men gathered in front of the school gate, using bullhorns to call the students cockroaches and Korean spies.

Inside, the panicked students and teachers huddled in their classrooms, singing loudly to drown out the insults, as parents and eventually police officers blocked the protesters’ entry.

The December episode was the first in a series of demonstrations at the Kyoto No. 1 Korean Elementary School that shocked conflict-averse Japan, where even political protesters on the radical fringes are expected to avoid embroiling regular citizens, much less children. Responding to public outrage, the police arrested four of the protesters this month on charges of damaging the school’s reputation.

More significantly, the protests also signaled the emergence here of a new type of ultranationalist group. The groups are openly anti-foreign in their message, and unafraid to win attention by holding unruly street demonstrations.

Since first appearing last year, their protests have been directed at not only Japan’s half million ethnic Koreans, but also Chinese and other Asian workers, Christian churchgoers and even Westerners in Halloween costumes. In the latter case, a few dozen angrily shouting demonstrators followed around revelers waving placards that said, “This is not a white country.”

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After Katrina, New Orleans housing goes green

Excess is a virtue in New Orleans – luxurious cream sauces, deeply fried seafood, and late night jam sessions that can last until the sun comes up.

So one of the unexpected trends to emerge in the five years since Hurricane Katrina flooded this city in 2005 is entrepreneurship focused on green technology and home building.

Conservation was never a top priority of those choosing to live here, but that is changing, some say, because of the lessons learned from first being displaced and then trying to devise methods to cooperate with the land, not fight against it.

Beth Teel Galante, a director for Global Green USA, which has built five homes in the city’s Holy Cross neighborhood and has plans for an 18-unit apartment building, says most people were “apathetic” regarding issues like sustainable architecture and building materials.

“We have never been critically engaged about demanding reform. So we learned the hard way the true value of community,” Ms. Galante says.

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Christian Bale

Outsourced Call Centers Return, To U.S. Homes

Indian workers answer telephone calls at a call center on the outskirts of New Delhi in 2008. Increasingly, American companies are employing U.S. workers to handle customer service calls in their own homes.

Maureen Quigley-Hogan is the next generation of call center worker.

Wearing pink slippers and sitting at her desk in her home office in Virginia, she takes a call from a woman in New Jersey who has a question about her credit card bill.

Quigley-Hogan was unemployed for 10 years because she couldn't hold down a traditional job, she says. She has rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, a disease that causes severe fatigue.

"It was hard to get to a job," Quigley-Hogan says. "The idea of going through a regular schedule of getting up and getting ready for work, I would be exhausted."

She worked in customer service for more than 20 years, so two years ago, she was thrilled to land this job where she can work from home.

Rethinking Overseas Outsourcing

For years, Americans have had their phone calls about credit card bills and broken cell phones handled by people in the Philippines or India. But American firms are starting to bring call centers back to the U.S. — and this time around, they are hiring more people to work in their own homes.

Ten years ago, it made a lot of sense to outsource these jobs overseas. But that's changing. Increasingly, companies that want to outsource their customer service jobs are happy with these domestic arrangements.

High inflation and double-digit annual raises in some sectors are pushing up the cost of labor in India. At the same time wages in the U.S. are falling and companies are rethinking the trade-offs associated with outsourcing.

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Americans Don't Think Palin Could Be 'Effective President'

A new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll finds that Americans don't really know who Emily Post was, and are just as likely to see Mel Gibson's movies despite learning that the actor abused his former girlfriend and indulged in racist-slur filled rants. It also finds a majority of Americans don't think Sarah Palin "would have the ability to be an effective president."

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Obama has a crush on me

Sen. Orrin Hatch: ‘I’d Be The First To Stand Up For Their Rights’ To Build A Mosque Near Ground Zero

Harry Reid is my Senator. This shit makes me mad all over again

From Think Progress:

While virtually every Republican and conservative leader has come out strongly against the construction of the proposed Park 51 Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York City, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) strongly defended the organizers’ right to build the center today, saying, “what made this country great is we have religious freedom.” In an interview with Fox 13 News in Salt Lake City, Hatch — who has long been a proponent of religious liberty — said it shouldn’t “make a difference” that the majority of Americans don’t support the center’s construction, because religious freedom is too important, and noted that the proposed site is actually “a few blocks away” from Ground Zero.

And countering those on the right who have implicated Islam in terrorism, or who have tried to paint it as anything less than a legitimate religion, Hatch said that “there are Muslims killed on 9/11 too,” and said, “we know [Islam is] a great religion”:

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Go to the source for lots of embedded links w/in the article

Dick Morris: GOP Will Shut Down The Government Again

Republican pollster Dick Morris told conservative political activists that newly elected Republicans should shut down the government next year. Morris said the party must elect lawmakers who will stand up and say "No" to President Obama's requests for more government spending and predicted a repeat of how Republicans forced a shutdown under President Clinton after they won control of Congress.

"There's going to be a government shutdown, just like in '95 and '96 but we're going to win it this time and I'll be fightin' on your side," Morris said at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation Conference on Friday in Washington.

Now, that's not exactly campaign trail material, but it's a fascinating glimpse into what Republicans may put into action should they win back control of Congress. Morris' suggestions, memes and talking points frequently end up in GOP campaign materials, so we'll be keeping a close eye on this one to see if Republicans will back up his promise for a government shutdown.

It's also quite interesting given that Morris was a Clinton campaign operative in 1995 and 1996 when the Republicans forced a showdown over government spending. (A gamble which, of course, didn't help them much politically. Clinton was able to win reelection in part by running against the GOP's obstruction.)

Morris sounded a similar note in April, suggesting in a speech the Republicans should force a shutdown over health care funding.

He explains his thinking a bit in this April piece:
Such a defiant stand, in the face of withering criticism from the media, economists, and the Federal Reserve, can only be made by hardy souls. Indeed, such a stance by a Republican Congress will lead to exactly the same sort of government shutdown - when Obama vetoes the budget - as discredited the GOP in 1995-1996 and led to Clinton's re-election. But history will not repeat itself. The Republicans will win this confrontation with the White House. Everybody in America knows that Obama has increased spending out of all proportion. Everyone knows that higher taxes would be devastating. And the Republicans must capitalize on these convictions so deeply held by the vast majority of voters to prevail in the coming deficit wars.
During his AFP speech, Morris also offered a hat tip to the tea party movement. "We're going to be pressuring the people who we helped elect to oppose big spending, and we will be telling them you do not tread on us," Morris said.


Btw, whenever I see Dick Morris now, all I can think of is the hysterical reference to him in this Daily Show bit:

rahm and whitford

Exclusive: Glenn Beck Launches “News And Opinion” Website, The Blaze, Tonight

Having conquered TV, radio, book publishing and now live events, Glenn Beck is looking to expand his media empire into a new arena – the web (obviously is thriving too).

Mediaite has the exclusive details about a news and opinion website Beck is launching tonight. Here’s what to expect.

Beck’s new site is called, and will be edited by Scott Baker, formerly of Breitbart TV and host of “The B-Cast”. In an exclusive statement, he tells Mediaite:

Our hope is that everyone who comes to The Blaze finds original reporting, insightful opinions and engaging videos about the stories that matter most. We are excited to launch and I look forward to keeping Scott and his team busy by sending countless ideas at 3am every morning.

We talked to Baker today about what readers can expect from the new site, the team behind it and more. “It’ll be news and information,” he told Mediaite. “Some commentary and opinion stories we’re interested in that are being under-covered or not covered.”

People will inevitably make the comparison to Arianna Huffington – whether Beck’s role as figurehead behind the site will make The Blaze into a conservative Huffington Post. “The one thing pretty clear around Mercury [Beck's company] is that Glenn is not short on ideas or hesitant on input,” Baker said. “His input is already evident in how the site looks, and that’s what will continue. It will be a continual flow of tips and suggestions and encouragement.”

The “small scrappy staff” behind The Blaze include Baker as well as Jon Seidl, formerly of the Manhattan Institute and American Spectator, and Meredith Jessup, formerly of Town Hall. Also, Pam Key of Naked Emperor News will contribute as a video editor. Baker moved over to Mercury at the beginning of June and began shaping the site. He will continue hosting “The B-Cast” the daily web show, with Liz Stephans.

Baker says there “seemed to be a lot of synergy” between what Beck was doing and what he did at The B-Cast. But now Baker is working with another conservative media mogul – he worked with Andrew Breitbart in his last role. “Obviously I worked with Andrew for a long time and have great respect for him and his sites and what he’s doing,” said Baker. “They emphasize different things. Also Glenn is a broadcaster and my background for 20 years was in broadcasting. There’s a shared sensibility from that end.”

Baker recently experienced the Beck influence first-hand – down in D.C. at the Restoring Honor rally, which he called an “extraordinarily remarkable event.”

Ultimately, like any site launch (I remember ours just 15 months ago), the true test will come in the weeks and months as the audience gets used to coming on a regular basis and the tone and style take shape. “We’re going to be what we are, and others will judge what we’re like,” said Baker.

If it’s like past Beck media ventures, it’s probably headed for major success


It alllll makes sense now... 
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Kitty post

No more pussyfooting around as city sues cat lover

Hava Baumatz, who keeps 30 cats in her two Petah Tikva apartments, is being prosecuted for violating municipal bylaws.

By Ofra Edelman

Cats mean the world to Hava Baumatz. In her late 50s and living alone in Petah Tikva, she so loves the creatures that instead of feeding them outside she keeps 30 of them in her two apartments, both in the same building. She spends most of her time caring for the cats, going up and down the stairs between the apartments.

A year ago neighbors complained to the municipal veterinary services, saying the cats had become a nuisance. They said the stairwell smelled awful, the cats made a constant racket and jumped between balconies and that they brought fleas and cockroaches into the building.

City officials soon visited Baumatz's door, and after two visits ordered her to reduce the number of cats in her care to two per apartment. When attempts to reach a compromise failed the city prosecuted her for violating municipal bylaws.

The case has gone on for six months in the city's court for local issues. All attempts by Judge Shalhevet Kamir-Weiss to reach a compromise have foundered. Throughout, Baumatz has maintained, through her attorneys, that no city regulations restrict cat ownership to two per apartment.

One after another, Baumatz's neighbors and city officials testified on the deteriorating living conditions in the building. "I entered the apartment and saw a lot of cats running around," one official told the court. "Moldy chairs had urine and feces on them, as did the cats' sleeping areas and mattresses. One of the mattresses was covered in urine. We lifted it up, and the stench was horrible." He said one of the cats had a serious eye infection that city veterinarians determined to be highly contagious.

"We live in a putrid nightmare," said one neighbor. "Our quality of life has disappeared. I myself am considering moving."

Baumatz said the situation is "complex," and that her neighbors' complaints stem from unrelated disputes she has had with them as well as their envy over the fact that she and her family own five of the building's 16 apartments.

Taking the stand, she referred to her cats as "my entire world," adding that she follows a strict cleaning regimen in each of her two apartments. "I sweep up at least twice a day, wash the floors once a day, wash the sheets, vacuum and do laundry daily. It's very demanding, but I do it all with love," she said.

In her defense, a tenant renting an adjacent apartment said he had never been bothered by the cats. A Petah Tikva municipal veterinarian said the cats were in "excellent" physical shape and that he noticed no stench in the premises. "The complaints are all personal, based on jealousy and envy," she said.

The veterinarian told Haaretz that she had been surprised to hear city officials describe her own impressions of the apartments as negative, and said she is considering suing them for slander.

I don't see how indoor cats can bring cockroaches into an apartment building TBH.