October 23rd, 2010

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Obama is right on don't ask don't tell

Obama is right on don't ask don't tell

Pretty much since Inauguration Day, gay men and lesbians have asked why President Obama doesn't sign an executive order ending the military's shameful, damaging and unnecessary ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military. The refrain usually goes, "Why doesn't he just do what President Truman did when he integrated the armed forces? Surely this is no less worthy of principled presidential action." When Obama was asked a similar question directly at the Youth Town Hall last week, he delivered a truth the gay community has yet to accept.

I voted for you in the last elections based on your alleged commitment to equality for all Americans, gay and straight, and I wanted to know where you stood on "don't ask, don't tell." I know that you’ve mentioned that you want the Senate to repeal it before you do it yourself. My question is you as the president can sort of have an executive order that ends it once and for all, as Harry -- as Truman did for the integration of the military in '48. So I wonder why don't you do that if this is a policy that you're committed to ending.

The president bristled at the dismissive question. "First of all, I haven't 'mentioned' that I'm against 'don't ask, don't ask,' he said, "I have said very clearly, including in a State of the Union address, that I'm against 'don't ask, don't tell' and that we’re going to end this policy." And then he said this:

Point number two, the difference between my position right now and Harry Truman’s was that Congress explicitly passed a law that took away the power of the executive branch to end this policy unilaterally. So this is not a situation in which with a stroke of a pen I can simply end the policy.

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I'm just gonna sit waaaaay over here with my ten-foot pole.
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

GOP Party Leaders Calls for Al Reynolds to Drop Out of Race

Party Leaders Calls for Al Reynolds to Drop Out of Race

Remarks on race made by state Senate candidate Al Reynolds (R-Danville) have prompted leaders of two county Republican organizations to call for him to withdraw from the race. Reynolds is running for the 52nd District seat, which makes up parts of Champaign and Vermilion Counties.

In response to a question about increasing minority enrollment at the University of Illinois, Reynolds said black men “find it more lucrative to be able to do drugs” or commit other crimes than get an education.

Champaign County Republican Chairman Jason Barickman says the comments are a “gross stereotype” that are a “stark contrast” to Republican values.

Reynolds has complained in the past about tepid GOP support. While Reynolds won the GOP primary in the 52nd Illinois Senate District, Barickman conceded he is never been a party favorite in Champaign County.

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Wow. Just...wow. But to give credit where credit is due, props to the Republican Party for trying to get him to drop out, and tea party distancing itself from him.

Oh, and another link had the full quote:

"I've been in the city and the dichotomy of the women and the men in the minorities, there is a difference in the fact that most minority women, either the single parent or coming from a poor neighborhood, are motivated more so than the minority men," the 65-year-old Reynolds responded. "And it's a pretty good reason. Most of the women who are single parents have to find work to support their family. The minority men find it more lucrative to be able to do drugs or other avenues rather than do education. It's easier.

"We need to provide ways that are more incentive, other than just sports avenues, for the men for the minorities to want to go to college and get an education and better themselves before the women have to support them all," he added.
TV | Peggy Olson

ONTD_Political's PotD: October 22, 2010.

Over two months have passed since the August 5th collapse of the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile, when 33 miners were trapped 700 meters (2,300 ft) below ground. The men were kept alive over that time by supplies delivered through narrow holes drilled down to them, and kept hope through video conferences with family - until last night, when the first of the 33 miners was successfully lifted to the surface in a specially-designed rescue capsule. Friends and relatives, many of whom had camped nearby for months, slowly let their cautious optimism become joy as they were reunited with their loved ones. [At 9:30 pm EST, October 13, 2010], all of the 33 men [were safely brought] to the surface.
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  • xerox78

Texas textbooks seep into Virginia

Virginia 4th-grade textbook criticized over claims on black Confederate soldiers

A textbook distributed to Virginia fourth-graders says that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War -- a claim rejected by most historians but often made by groups seeking to play down slavery's role as a cause of the conflict.

The passage appears in "Our Virginia: Past and Present," which was distributed in the state's public elementary schools for the first time last month. The author, Joy Masoff, who is not a trained historian but has written several books, said she found the information about black Confederate soldiers primarily through Internet research, which turned up work by members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Scholars are nearly unanimous in calling these accounts of black Confederate soldiers a misrepresentation of history. Virginia education officials, after being told by The Washington Post of the issues related to the textbook, said that the vetting of the book was flawed and that they will contact school districts across the state to caution them against teaching the passage.

"Just because a book is approved doesn't mean the Department of Education endorses every sentence," said spokesman Charles Pyle. He also called the book's assertion about black Confederate soldiers "outside mainstream Civil War scholarship."

Masoff defended her work. "As controversial as it is, I stand by what I write," she said. "I am a fairly respected writer."

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The Proper Way to Hang a Confederate Flag

DW: Ten: At Song's End

Attorney James Neal, Watergate Prosecuter, dies

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Outside the courtroom, James F. Neal had an amiable, backslapping way with friends and foes alike. Inside the chamber, the face of one of America's greatest trial lawyers often became fixed in a steely gaze.

The attorney who regularly grabbed national headlines — whether prosecuting Jimmy Hoffa or key Watergate figures, or defending Elvis Presley's doctor or the Exxon Corp. after the Alaska oil spill — died Thursday night. He was 81.

Law partner Aubrey Harwell said Friday that Neal died at a Nashville hospital after a monthslong battle against cancer.

In the words of Fred Thompson, already a lawyer in real life before he became one on TV, "Jim Neal was the greatest trial lawyer of his time."

The rest of the Obit here
Film - The Old Guard

Opinion: the way we treat our troops

You can only hope that the very preliminary peace efforts in Afghanistan bear fruit before long. But for evidence that the United States is letting its claim to greatness, and even common decency, slip through its fingers, all you need to do is look at the way we treat our own troops.

The idea that the United States is at war and hardly any of its citizens are paying attention to the terrible burden being shouldered by its men and women in uniform is beyond appalling.

We can get fired up about Lady Gaga and the Tea Party crackpots. We’re into fantasy football, the baseball playoffs and our obsessively narcissistic tweets. But American soldiers fighting and dying in a foreign land? That is such a yawn.

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Can't say I agree with the draft thing, but I get the sentiment, and I COULD NOT FUCKING AGREE MORE with the part about the soldiers' mental health and how basically no one gives a fuck, and it's completely horrible.
thebirds, que

Well, THAT didn't take long!

Lillian McEwen breaks her 19-year silence about Justice Clarence Thomas

By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 22, 2010; C01

lillian mcewen
Thanks, ook!

For nearly two decades, Lillian McEwen has been silent -- a part of history, yet absent from it.

When Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his explosive 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Thomas vehemently denied the allegations and his handlers cited his steady relationship with another woman in an effort to deflect Hill's allegations.

Lillian McEwen was that woman.

At the time, she was on good terms with Thomas. The former assistant U.S. attorney and Senate Judiciary Committee counsel had dated him for years, even attending a March 1985 White House state dinner as his guest. She had worked on the Hill and was wary of entering the political cauldron of the hearings. She was never asked to testify, as then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), who headed the committee, limited witnesses to women who had a "professional relationship" with Thomas.

Now, she says that Thomas often said inappropriate things about women he met at work -- and that she could have added her voice to the others, but didn't.

Over the years, reporters and biographers approached her eager to know more about Thomas from women who knew him well. But McEwen remained mum. She said she saw "nothing good" coming out of talking to reporters about Thomas, whom she said she still occasionally met. She did not want to do anything to harm her career, she added. Plus, she realized, "I don't look good in this."

Today, McEwen is 65 and retired from a successful career as a prosecutor, law professor and administrative law judge for federal agencies. She has been twice married and twice divorced, and has a 32-year-old daughter. She lives in a comfortable townhouse in Southwest Washington.

And she is silent no more.

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hot, hot sauce!

HuffPo's summary is here because the Washington Post article I chose is a little lengthy.

A few days ago, we had this.

I was laughing my ass off!  I couldn't help myself and now, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Porn tape, porn tape!
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

The gay social network -- for straight people

The gay social network -- for straight people

How do you make a person go from thinking something to doing something? In recent years, when political or advocacy groups ask that question, they usually turn to the internet.

They create Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and Ning groups. They send out information. Organize people. Plan events. Promote action.

It's a digital riff on a traditional idea.

But an upcoming online social network called Friendfactor is adding a new twist: The gay rights-minded site aims to make people -- not causes and information -- the center of its online campaign.

Gay people post profiles on the site and then ask their straight friends to support them in their individual fights for equality.

These "advocate" pages are part solicitation for help, part online diary -- allowing their creators to post information about their coming-out process and to solicit "burning questions" from straight friends.

When straight people pledge to support one of their gay friends, they automatically send a digital alert to the page's owner -- the same kind of social feedback as "liking" a Facebook status update.

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At first I was kinda "..." at the way the article was setting this up ("Gay social network--for straight people!"), but it actually does seem to be a good idea, at least on some level, to get more straight people involved--personalize it by making gay rights less about "them" for some people and more about "helping people I know."
MISC - moustache

Wis. Senate race pits maverick against 'rich guy'

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race seems to boil down to the question of who's more qualified: a three-term incumbent or a manufacturer who's never held public office but has 30 years of business experience.

With a restless anti-incumbent mood throughout much of the country, conventional wisdom suggests that voters might prefer the challenger, Republican businessman Ron Johnson. Indeed, Johnson has a slight lead in the polls over Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.

But Feingold has been popular throughout his political career, so much so that he'd likely be cruising to a fourth term right now if the economy hadn't tanked. Instead the race has tightened, developing into one of the most hard-fought elections in the nation.

Each candidate has emphasized his opposition to "politics as usual" in Washington. Feingold, 57, says he's a maverick who doesn't toe the party line, while Johnson, 55, calls himself a "citizen legislator" who can restore common sense and financial restraint to Congress.

Both campaigns have flooded the airwaves with commercials.

Johnson's portray him as a political outsider. In one, he says the U.S. Senate has too many lawyers and too few number-crunchers like himself.

"I'm not a politician," he says. "I'm an accountant and a manufacturer."

Feingold's ads highlight his maverick streak. The senator says in one that little has changed since he was first elected in 1992, after painting a pledge on his garage door to be an independent fighter in Washington.

"I continue to always keep my promise to put the people of Wisconsin ahead of any party or corporate interests," he says.

A third candidate also will be on the ballot. Rob Taylor, a software engineer from Cumberland, is running as an independent for the Constitution Party of Wisconsin. However, he has made no effort to introduce himself to voters.

Johnson, a multimillionaire, has financed much of his campaign himself. He had contributed $6.8 million of his own money as of Sept. 30, according to his latest campaign-finance report, and has said he's willing to spend as much as it takes to unseat his opponent.

Feingold, meanwhile, is one of the Senate's least affluent members, reporting a net worth of $440,000 earlier this year. Yet he has always been a formidable fundraiser and raised $4.2 million between July 1 and Sept. 30.

Johnson raised $3.3 million from donors in the same quarter and added $5.3 million from his own pocket.

That means both candidates have the ability to mount an all-out blitz on the airwaves in the final weeks of the race.

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If Ron Johnson wins please call the police and have them come and put me on a 72 hour psych hold or something because I will honestly be suicidal.
  • fynoda

Transgendered Sea Anemone Denounced As 'Abomination' By Clergy

HUNTSVILLE, AL —A coalition of Baptist clergymen spoke out Monday against the Telia felina, a transgendered sea anemone they are decrying as "base and depraved."

"This filthy anemone, which exhibits both male and female characteristics, is turning our oceans' intertidal zones into dens of sin and perversion," said Rev. William Chester, spokesman for the Save Our Seas Coalition, a Huntsville-based activist group dedicated to "the preservation of aquatic decency and morality." "For God knows how long, this twisted sea creature has been running rampant in our oceans, spreading its unnatural, bisexual lifestyle. And it's high time somebody took a stand."

The controversial anemone, common to warm-water reefs and basins worldwide, has been practicing its alternative sexual lifestyle at least as far back as 1859, when Charles Darwin first catalogued its phylum and species. Since then, over 40 subspecies of Telia felina have been identified as dually gendered.

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Dangerous games people play

Dangerous games people play
Aijaz Zaka Syed

Can you really call them games, the kind my son loves to play all the time? And despite being a pacifist by nature and sweet as an angel, he seems to relish playing those violent video games on his Sony PlayStation. Most games involve chasing and bashing up of the baddies.

And since most games originate in the land of the free, they are shaped by the simplistic, With-Us or-Against-Us doctrine propounded by, you know who. Not surprisingly, almost always the ‘enemy’ is from the Middle East.

Some times while he’s lost in his fantasyland, with eyes glued to computer screen and a divine smile playing on his lips, I try to remind my boy that all this is in the realm of imagination and “terrorists” do not always behave the way they are shown to do in the videos. ‘This is just a game, you know,’ I tell him. Things are not what they seem to be in the movies and videogames. The Arabs and Muslims are not the rogues they are made out to be in the make-believe world of Hollywood. Reality is a little more complex, I try to reason. He grunts in response.

But I continue to worry about the impression all this must be making on his tender, impressionable mind. What if he grows up loathing himself, his own people, beliefs and values? Come to think of it, what impact those freakish video games must be making on the impressionable young minds—and those of adults — in the West and elsewhere? The lampooning and demonisation of Arabs and Muslims in popular Western culture is as old as the Hollywood, in fact even older.

The late Arab American philosopher and a passionate champion of the Palestinians, Edward Said, God bless his soul, wrote and spoke extensively on the issue, including in his 1978 classic, Orientalism. Said argued that Western approach to the Orient or Muslim East recreated Islamic society as a “timeless, exotic entity.”

Through arts, literature and culture, the Orientalists presented the Middle East in a naïve and historicising way, divorcing it from modernity and perpetually locking it away in a time warp. Subtly patronised, the Arab-Muslim world is projected as a fairyland peopled by Bedouins, belly dancers, djinns, slaves, swarthy sheikhs and their large harems. So despite being the birthplace of three great religions and cradle of civilisation, the Middle East is portrayed as a place without history, culture and untouched by modernity.

As Bushra Karaman notes, “22 (Arab) countries and hundreds of years of history (are) reduced to a few simplistic images.”

A good example is Disney’s blockbuster fantasy, Arabian Nights, which opens with the song:

Oh, I come from a land,

From a 
faraway place,

Where the caravan camels roam,

Where they cut off your ear

If they don‘t like your face,

It‘s Barbaric, but hey, it‘s home.

The distortion of the Middle Eastern reality has undergone a watershed change since 9/11. Gone is the subtlety of the spin. In fact, in our terrorised times, it is an open but undeclared war on the world of Islam. And this is done not just by way of the Hollywood, television twaddle like the Kiefer Sutherland-starrer ‘24’ but by a constant blitz of murderous video games.

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This is from an English-language paper in the UAE, and I thought it was interesting to get another perspective on trends in American video games and representations of Muslims.