Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Headlines - Tuesday November 30

 
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Right after you prosecute the Bushies for war crimes, asshats
 
Senators: prosecute Wikileakers - Rep. King Urges WikiLeaks Listing as "Foreign Terrorist Organization"
 
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"Maybe we could just heat them up a little bit to let them see the errors of their ways." Sen Jim DeMint, saying gays should be put into ovens, but not murdered, just turn the heat up to teach them a lesson Link 

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"There has been no attempt to reach out to people they don't see as their people," said the wife of a senior administration official who doesn't have Chicago ties. "They don't reach out even to people in the administration who aren't from their inner circle."

Is this why Obama has made more than his share of mistakes? He's getting advice from one small group and nobody else can get thru?

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Hateful Days - William Rivers Pitt

There is a great deal of hate in my heart today. Not the healthiest condition to find myself in, but these things sometimes cannot be helped. The hate is a free-flowing thing, expanding in all directions because, simply put, there is something to revile and despise in virtually every direction I turn. Sarah Palin's ridiculous reality show was a ratings blockbuster. Hateful. George H. W. Bush is getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, because Mr. Obama just can't help sucking up to the very Republicans who are about to make a project out of throttling his administration. Hateful. There will be no punishment for those who destroyed CIA evidence of rampant torture during the Bush administration. Wildly hateful.

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/william-rivers-pitt/32671/hateful-days

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Who ever would have guessed? So once again, Obama has proposed a Republican idea but suddenly, the GOP wants him to push more to the right. Meanwhile, liberals again are angry with yet another failed sell out. What a brilliant 2012 strategy.

Republicans were pleased, but they didn't want to sound too happy with something their arch-rival proposed. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said the freeze "is both necessary and, quite frankly, long over-due."

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the ranking Republican on the committee's federal workforce panel, called it "a step in the right direction. However, the proposal does not appear to curb step increases. If that is the case, this announcement is nothing more than a hollow press release. At the end of the day, this policy will serve only to frustrate current employees while doing nothing to curb our debts."

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Kevin Richardson, star of the new documentary "The Lion Whisperer", and his white lions.

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"Six NATO Soldiers Killed by Man in Afghan Border Police Uniform:" so the headline reads.  Have you noticed how American soldiers killed in Afghanistan are now being described as 'NATO Soldiers'? Softens the blow, doesn't it?  That's how propaganda works.

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Change we can believe in!

Blatant Polluters Welcome

In the name of job creation, the Obama administration has doled out billions in stimulus funds - and granted exemptions from even basic environmental oversight - to some of the country's biggest polluters, including Westar, DuPont and BP. From a Center for Public Integrity investigation.

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Wisco: Viewing the world through the media's cracked lens 

Camera with cracked lens

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This makes me effing furious.     

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Mario: Republicans on Republicans

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If the Obama Administration thinks John Boehner is a guy they can work with, one wonders how long it's going to take for them to throw reproductive self-determination under the bus along with everything else that's already there...

Palling around with terrorists

Staffers for the forthcoming Speaker of the House John Boehner met with confirmed and current domestic terrorists immediately following the midterm election.

Digby has the photographic evidence of the meeting with Randall Terry and his cabal of evildoers.

And, yes, Terry is a terrorist.

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'Plagiarized' GOP-Commissioned Climate Change Report Laid Groundwork For Climate-Gate

By the time a report purporting to debunk the science of climate change was discredited, it had already made the rounds and accomplished its main purpose: giving climate change deniers a peg to hang their hats on.

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Teabaggers are winning the war on Xmas.

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Not near as funny as "You might be a redneck if...", but then nothing about Repugs is funny except their sex lives. Those are funny and pathetic You might be a Republican if

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Joe Scarborough is about to be excommunicated from the GOP:

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The warning bell of Democratic stupidity.

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Early next year, Julian Assange says, a major American bank will suddenly find itself turned inside out. Tens of thousands of its internal documents will be exposed on Wikileaks.org with no polite requests for executives' response or other forewarnings. The data dump will lay bare the finance firm's secrets on the Web for every customer, every competitor, every regulator to examine and pass judgment on.

Upon hearing that Sarah Palin had proposed that he be hunted like Osama bin Laden, Julian Assange said, "That's good to hear.  Otherwise, they might find me."

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A message to all of those Arab nations who want Iran "dealt with"

We've sold you guys plenty of weapons, as have the French, the British, the Russians and the Chinese.

So gather your armies, form a coalition, and do the job yourselves.

Leave us the frak out of it.

Very truly yours,
The U.S.A.
 
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REPUBLICAN Joe Barton, who famously apologized to BP for the creation of a fund to help the survivors of the Gulf oil spill, says he'd shoot at Obama. 

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Government is not your family

As we approach the next battle in the 75-year-long War to Save Social Security, we must beware of plausible-sounding analogies that undermine liberal positions.

Digby punctures one of the dumbest:

Gene Lyons made a good observation the other day about the "government is family" metaphor that describes the absurdity of it in a useful way:

"The American people are ahead of their government and their politicians on this," King said. "Because, Ali, you know this, over the past two or three years every family in America has had to make incredibly difficult choices and do things they didn't want to do. And so they look at Washington and they say why won't you do things that you don't want to do, why don't you ... do something about this and be grown-ups?"

Yes, it's perfectly obvious. The thing to do is cut government spending, reduce demand, put more people out of work. Prosperity will come roaring back.

Look, Obama asked for this. "Families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions," he said, announcing the Bowles-Simpson commission during his 2010 State of the Union. "The federal government should do the same."

Because the U.S. government is just like your family. And your family can't run deficits, can it? Apart from mortgages, auto and education loans, credit cards, stuff like that. Not to mention that it's the government that actually creates and maintains the money supply. Otherwise, yeah, your family's exactly the same as the Social Security Administration, the Pentagon, the National Institutes of Health, all those. So get out and build some highways: pay as you go.


My head explodes every time I hear any of them use this stupid family metaphor. And it isn't just Obama using it. As everyone here is aware, there's a whole school of thought on the left about the dueling metaphors of government as family, with the Right allegedly preferring the "strict father" model and the Left preferring the "nurturing parent" (actually "indulgent Mommy", although the proponents of this metaphor will never admit that's what it is.)

It's dumb. America isn't a family and managing a national economy isn't like managing a family budget. It isn't like a business either (the second most common stupid metaphor.) The government has a completely different set of responsibilities than other human organizing entities, and democratic government is designed to completely upend the authoritarian model of family, church and business and put the "kids" in charge. Forgetting that is what gets us into trouble.

It would be very helpful to people's understanding of how their world works if they understood the differences between our various organizational models instead of conflating them. It's confusing rather than enlightening.


The lines in this conflict could not be more clear:

Rich people, Wall Street, conservatives/republicans/teabaggers, and corporations are determined to steal the last nickels from the working people the rich have been exploiting for decades.

Working people, Main Street, liberals/Democrats and unions are fighting to make the obscenely wealthy pay their share of the taxes that make this nation strong.

Everything else is lies and distraction.

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Friend of children Mark Foley looking to run for offie again

Leadership.

Guess who may run for mayor of West Palm Beach, Florida! Mark Foley is certain the voters would give him a chance. "I do have the luxury that I can be the last man to file if I choose to, and still have the name ID," he told a local newspaper. That does sound very luxurious! Mark Foley will announce his candidacy from a steamy hot tub full of only the finest chocolates and Taylor Lautner impersonators. Or that will probably be how he announces; we don't know for sure because he made his Twitter account private after we shared its beauty with the rest of the Internet. Sure, voters may be more likely to vote for an Al Qaeda candidate than Mark Foley. But he seems pretty sure they still like him despite everything. READ MORE »

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Pentagon study: gays could serve with no harm

Why would they want to?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Headlines - Monday November 29

 
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The Guardian: US embassy cables: The job of the media is not to protect the powerful from embarrassment

It is for governments – not journalists – to guard public secrets, and there is no national jeopardy in WikiLeaks' revelations

Anything said or done in the name of a democracy is, prima facie, of public interest. When that democracy purports to be "world policeman" – an assumption that runs ghostlike through these cables – that interest is global. Nonetheless, the Guardian had to consider two things in abetting disclosure, irrespective of what is anyway published by WikiLeaks. It could not be party to putting the lives of individuals or sources at risk, nor reveal material that might compromise ongoing military operations or the location of special forces.

Keep reading: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cables-wikileaks

Meanwhile, the NYT received its dump of diplomatic documents from the Guardian, not Wikileaks. This isn't surprising given that the Times' editor went out of his way to call Wikileaks irresponsible, ran an unflattering profile of Julian Assange alongside the last Wikileaks story, and wouldn't even link from their Iraq Wikileaks story to the Wikileaks site.

I can't think of another instance of a newspaper bashing a source while at the same time publishing a major story based on that source's revelations. The opposite is usually true, since most media outlets grant anonymity to sources in return for even the most trivial revelations, so it's impossible for their readers to even begin to judge the source's motives.

I'm sure the Times will chalk this one up to Julian Assange's eccentricity, but I have to believe that they've damaged themselves in the eyes of other potential sources. Having to rely on the charity of a British newspaper to get one of the most important stories of the year is a pretty low place for a paper that fancies itself the leading American newspaper.

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Greenwald: The FBI Successfully Thwarts Its Own Terrorist Plot

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The Rich Get Rich and the Poor Get Poorer - Hunger and Homelessness in America

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Sabotage

GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated that his principal goal is to cause Obama to lose in 2012. Tangible improvements in the economy are key to Obama's reelection. If, as the GOP claims, Obama's policies are bad for the economy, then the GOP should give him everything he proposes and reap the political benefits in the 2012 election. If, on the other hand, the GOP fears that Obama's policies will revitalize the economy, then those policies must be obstructed in any way possible.

The April raising of the debt ceiling will show if the GOP priority is the economy or their own political ambitions. Continue reading 'SABOTAGE!'

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New Jersey: Atheism Billboard Goes Up At Lincoln Tunnel

The American Atheists have erected the above billboard at the New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel as part of a campaign to encourage people to "come out of the closet" about their atheism and "stop going through the motions" of taking part in Christmas shopping and celebrations. Some Christians are upset.

"I don't think it's any good for the kids. I've got a 7-year-old daughter — she believes in Christmas," one woman told 1010 WINS' Terry Sheridan. "I don't think that's right. We don't go around telling them what we think about [atheists], so why should they put up something like that," another man said. The billboard went up the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and is expected to be up through Christmas Day. [American Atheists president David] Silverman said atheists were unfairly targeted in the "war on Christmas," a phrase often related to the public display of Christmas imagery on government funded property. "We get blamed for a war on Christmas every year. This time we're actually going to pay attention to that. We're actually going to earn a little bit of that," Silverman said. "We have been blamed repeatedly for being unpatriotic, we have been told that there are not atheists in fox holes, we have been told that we are immoral. Nobody has ever cared if we would be offended." While acknowledging "everybody has the right to believe as they see fit," Silverman said his group believed there were "a lot more people" who were atheists, but feared publicly admitting it. "A lot of people in church, a lot of people in the mosque, a lot of people in the synagogue know they're praying to air," Silverman said.
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Playing games with foreign policy

The Republicans just can't stop themselves from playing political games over this nation's standing in the world. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona is attempting to deflect blame away from himself and onto Harry Reid for his own gross obstructionism.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona denied there was any partisanship behind his calls for a delay. He said the Senate has more urgent business to attend to in the weeks before it breaks for Christmas, including dealing with potential tax increases and funding the government through the rest of the budget year.

There you have it, prolonging tax-cuts for the rich and possibly de-funding the government are more "urgent" matters than potentially damaging our relationship with Russia and handing Iran or even North Korea a propaganda talking-point. Do we really want to do that given recent events?

So what does Senator Kyl want? More pork spending of course!

Weeks prior to his appearance on "Meet the Press," he demanded that the administration include additional funds for nuclear weapons modernization as part of the overall package.

Amidst the crescendo of deficit fearmongering, and while saying the budget is more "urgent" than ratifying START, Kyl is calling for more funding of new nuclear weapons. Who wants to bet some of those funds would find their way into the hands of defense contractors in the Arizona desert?

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Fox News pundits such as Sean Hannity, Bill Kristol and Michael Scheuer have been salivating for the U.S. to attack North Korea but behind the scenes the parent company of News Corp is not only doing business with the regime but the kind of business that could bolster North Korea's cyberwarfare capabilities.

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The bible is not a medical text

Although citing the Bible seems to be a way to fast-track bad science papers to publication. In yet another example of a journal letting bad Bible interpretations pass for science, a paper titled "Newer insights to the neurological diseases among biblical characters of old testament has been published in the Annals of the Indian Academy of Neurology. It isn't new or newer, it doesn't offer any insights, and the title isn't even grammatical. Among its inventions is the idea that Sampson was autistic because he was violent and had odd dietary habits, that Isaac was diabetic, and that Ezekiel had a stroke.

Could someone explain to me how dubious diagnoses based on vague descriptions of serially translated myths can actually advance our understanding of disease, other than by promoting the publication careers of scientists happy to pander to superstition? I suppose one use for these things is enhancing the jocularity of interactions between neuroscientists at the lab bench, since laughing at religious idiots could be a productive bonding experience between the grad students and post-docs.

(via Neuroskeptic and Autism Blog)

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Vow of poverty  ur doin it wrong

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Skippy's environmental news stories Sunday

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Great place to start cutting ....

WASHINGTON — Job-based health care benefits could wind up on the chopping block if President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans get serious about cutting the deficit.

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Copenhagen plans super highways ... for bikes.

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John Cole's thoughts on the Wikileaks dump summarized as:

1.) We really are doing everything they accuse us of doing. For me, the biggest surprise is they would openly ask diplomats to spy.

2.) Apparently, near everyone in he world wants the United States to attack Iran. They also want to make sure that it is the United States who is blamed for attacking Iran, and want no credit/blame/perception of involvement.

3.) Iraq is still an absolute mess.

I generally sense that people, overall, will be more hostile towards wikileaks after this dump. The previous dumps seemed to corroborate competing stories. This dump will just be viewed by many as an attempt to hurt the United States. I have a hard time getting worked up about it- a government that views none of my personal correspondence as confidential really can't bitch when this sort of thing happens.

*** Update ***

One final irony. All this data was available because we changed policies in response to 9/11.

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"If my presidency doesn't work out, Hillary, we could always do a remake of 'I Spy'."

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"Surely you can't be serious!"

"I am serious, and don't call me 'Shirley.'

 
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Least surprising news of the day
 
 
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Barbarians in the halls of power
Here in the U.S. we're about to find out what happens when violent nihilists bent on destroying the government are given seats in Congress.

At the United Nations, they've already turned the place over to the murderers.

PZ Myers:

So, various factions at the United Nations have been pushing for anti-blasphemy motions - after all, we can't go around picking on weak ideas. But do you know who the UN thinks are fair game? Non-heterosexual people.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people were once again subject to the whims of homophobia and religious and cultural extremism this week, thanks to a United Nations vote that removed "sexual orientation" from a resolution that protects people from arbitrary executions. In other words, the UN General Assembly this week voted to allow LGBT people to be executed without cause.

Jesus and Mohammed get a little cranky at the idea of someone being rude to their books of magic spells, but setting a gay man on fire? That's just an excuse to party.

The United Nations is a wonderful idea in principle, except for the little problem of giving barbarians a vote.


Yes: anyone who insists that a ridiculous myth deserves protection from insult but fellow human beings don't deserve protection from murder is a barbarian.

 
 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Headlines - Sunday November 27

As Taliban leadership admonish their fighters to avoid civilian deaths, locals in the Sangin District of Afghanistan's Helmand Province are increasingly angry, complaining that the US Marines who recently took over the district have been regularly killing the civilians and refusing to investigate.
 
National Guard soldiers who are not on active duty killed themselves this year at nearly twice the rate of 2009, marring a year when suicides among Army soldiers on active duty appear to be leveling off, new Army statistics show.
 
 
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There Won't Be a Bailout for the Earth.
 
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Wingnut Bait

The Democrats are attempting to bait Republicans into voting against repealing aspects of healthcare reform. Rep. Ackerman has a particularly funny one:

Speaking of difficult votes, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) has announced his intention to introduce six different bills repealing various consumer protections in the law. The package is called the Health Insurance Protects America -- Can't Repeal IT Act, which gets shortened to, yes, "HIPA-CRIT." Are Republicans really comfortable voting against the prohibition on discriminating against preexisting conditions, or the coverage for dependents up to age 26? As John Boehner has promised to allow open amendments in the House, and Democrats still control the Senate, you may see a lot of these targeted repeal bills emerging in the coming months, as Democrats realize that their Republican colleagues are split between a base that wants repeal no matter the cost and a public that doesn't.

Of course, the calculus is that the Republicans will vote against these repeals because they were introduced by a Democrat -- and so they're on record as voting against something they promised to do during the campaign. Yes, it's just that easy.

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"Despicable" isn't nearly a strong enough word for this. "During World War II, the Mermelsteins were living in Czechoslovakia when the Nazis hauled them off to the infamous death camps. David Mermelstein, then a teenager, lost his entire family: parents, grandparents, four brothers and a sister. ... But he couldn't collect on a life insurance policy held by an Italian company because he couldn't meet its demand for proof of his father's death. ... Decades later, the Miami-Dade Holocaust survivor and hundreds of others in his same predicament are struggling to recover payouts from Assicurazioni Generali of Italy and other large European insurers. ... They can't sue them, however, because a formidable foe is now standing in the way: the U.S. government. ... "They took away our rights to go to an American court," said Mermelstein, 81, of Kendall, who came to this country in 1947 after he was held at Auschwitz and other concentration camps during the war. ... "Can you tell me why the Justice Department would fight us instead of an Italian insurance company?" he said. "It's unbelievable.""

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It's a convenient lie for a Western elite - that Iraq is now on the way to being a stable nation once again thanks to Petraeus' magical surge ponies. But refugees from Iraq would tell another story. Out of 2 million who left, only about 25% ever returned - and of that, only 100,000 since 2008 (*) - - now even those returnees are leaving again.

A second exodus has begun here, of Iraqis who returned after fleeing the carnage of the height of the war, but now find that violence and the nation's severe lack of jobs are pulling them away from home once again.

Since the American invasion in 2003, refugees have been a measure of the country's precarious condition, flooding outward during periods of violence and trickling back as Iraq seemed to stabilize. This new migration shows how far the nation remains from being stable and secure.

...In a recent survey by the United Nations refugee office, 61 percent of those who returned to Baghdad said they regretted coming back, most saying they did not feel safe. The majority, 87 percent, said they could not make enough money here to support their families. Applications for asylum in Syria have risen more than 50 percent since May.

As Iraq struggles toward a return to stability, these returnees risk becoming people without a country, displaced both at home and abroad. And though departures have ebbed since 2008, a wave of recent attacks on Christians has prompted a new exodus.

Mr. Obeidi, who used his tribe's name instead of his father's name as a surname, left for Syria in 2006 after an improvised bomb exploded near his nephew, terrifying the boy, and insurgents threatened to kill Mr. Obeidi. On a recent evening in Baghdad, he had trouble controlling his breathing as he talked about the daily blasts in his neighborhood.

"There's no security here," he said, ticking off his close encounters with guns and bombs. "I was near a female suicide bomber a couple months ago. Then I was in my brother's truck when insurgents opened fire on a bridge. My friend was killed in front of me with a knife. I've been destroyed. My mother needs an operation for her eyes, and I don't have money. We need someone to help us."

"Feel my stomach," he said. "It's like a rock. It's going to blow out."

If the Surge did anything more than paper over the cracks, these people haven't noticed. Their lives would be just as terrible if the Surge had never happened and the US had withdrawn all its troops in 2007 or if the US now stayed in Iraq forever. The only difference would be that billions of dollars and hundreds of other lives would not have been wasted providing a figleaf of cover to politicians and careerist generals, so that they never had to use the word "defeat".

Now, we're being told - not asked - to accept the same thing in Afghanistan. We shouldn't.

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Funny thing about facts...they are stubborn as hell The next time a wingnut relative sends you an email or taunts you in person with the republican lie that "the stimulus failed" show them this link. The non-partisan CBO (that group of wonks they love when the findings support their ideology and hate when they don't) says that they are wrong.

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The climate zombie caucus of the 112th Congress. 

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It seems the upcoming Republican investigative regime may focus more on welfare queens driving Cadillacs and less on Whitewater/Lewinsky type things. The Times (via PoliticalWire):

Mr. Issa has already drawn up a list of big targets: $40 billion a year in fraud or waste in Medicare; tens of billions of dollars in subsidies to the government-controlled mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; $8.5 billion in losses by the Postal Service in the last fiscal year; tens of millions of dollars spent on redundant programs within federal agencies or squandered through corrupt contracting procedures.

Attacks on postal workers, special ed teachers, Medicare recipients, and mid-level (black) federal workers can easily be packaged for Fox/Drudge/Andy Alexander, and there is probably some political benefit for Republicans in generating an endless parade of these stories. But I still think they need to destroy Obama personally to maximize their chances in 2012. Maybe it's wrong to see this as either/or, though.

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In a NY Times piece on a bankster who got a brain tumor and then used his last few months alive to write a book telling people how to defend themselves and their money from people like him, this quote stood out:

Mr. Murray grew up in Baltimore, about the farthest thing from a crusader that you could imagine. "I was the kid you didn't want your daughter to date," he said. "I stole baseball cards and cheated on Spanish tests and made fun of the fat kid in the corner with glasses."

He got a lot of second chances thanks to an affluent background and basketball prowess. He eventually landed at Goldman Sachs, long before many people looked askance at anyone who worked there.

"Our word was our bond, and good ethics was good business," he said of his Wall Street career. "That got replaced by liar loans and 'I hope I'm gone by the time this thing blows up.' "

It is still crazy to me that this is such an open secret, yet no one does anything about it. They make deals they know are going to blow up, but don't care because they get paid now, and someone else will have to deal with it later on. That is the financial crisis in a nutshell. Yet try to deal with Wall Street and financial compensation, and the wingnuts and teahadists have a fit about the free market and socialism, all unaware that they are being fisted by the invisible hand.

In a somewhat related vein, am I the only one who gets infuriated every time I try to buy an appliance or electronic device, and they offer to sell me a two year warranty? This just makes me livid every damned time it happens. My response is always the same- "No warranty, but how about we do this? I'll put this product back on the shelf, and you point me to one that you think will actually last a couple years without breaking, since you and your store obviously have no confidence in this POS."

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Sources say that a merger between Fox News and The Onion is imminent.  Inasmuch as they both have been very successful in making shit up and have become harder and harder to tell apart, it just makes economic sense to join forces in the increasingly competitive, yet very profitable, market in Imaginary Worlds, Alternate Realities, and Parallel Universes.

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If you find yourself in Alaska, resist the urge for casual sex "An outbreak of gonorrhea across Alaska that began in 2009 is continuing this year, and health officials say they are trying new ways to curb it. ... Between 2008 and 2009, the number of gonorrhea cases in Alaska rose an alarming 69 percent, according to a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. ... State health officials began calling attention to a spike in gonorrhea cases in Southwest Alaska more than a year ago and highlighted the statewide rise in March. ... The new report shows that Alaska ranks ninth in the nation for its rate of gonorrhea, compared with its ranking in recent years in the mid-20s. Alaska also is second in the nation for its high rate of chlamydia, another sexually transmitted disease that often is transmitted along with gonorrhea. ... "Hopefully, the high numbers now are more of a success story in that people are coming in and getting tested. Though I am surprised the numbers haven't declined," said Susan Jones, the state's HIV/STD program manager. "It's this continuing rise in numbers that we haven't been able to get under control.""
 
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Gulf seafood petroleum residue double what FDA deems acceptable.
 
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Hero
 

The State Department is demanding that Wikileaks halt the imminent release of its next batch of classified U.S. government documents. The latest batch reportedly will include thousands of State Department cables. Some are believed to be highly sensitive, others merely embarrassing -- to the U.S. and to foreign governments.

In an emailed letter yesterday to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his lawyer, State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh calls for Wikileaks to return the classified documents:

If you are genuinely interested in seeking to stop the damage from your actions, you should: 1) ensure WikiLeaks ceases publishing any and all such materials; 2) ensure WikiLeaks returns any and all classified U.S. Government material in its possession; and 3) remove and destroy all records of this material from Wikileaks' database.

The AP paraphrases the letter as stating "that publication of the documents would be illegal and demanding that they stop it." There's little doubt that whoever within the U.S. government had access to the documents and leaked them did so in violation of the law -- but whether Wikileaks bears any criminal liability in the U.S. for their publication is an entirely different issue.

Reading the letter closely, I think Koh stops short of stating that publication of the documents would be illegal, as the AP suggests. That would get Koh into "prior restraint" territory. The closest Koh comes to saying Wikileaks has broken the law is when he accuses Wikileaks of "furthering the illegal dissemination of classified documents." He also claims that the documents were "illegally obtained" and that so long as Wikileaks retains the documents then "the violation of the law is ongoing." Parsing Koh carefully, his ire is directed at Wikileaks but the punch of his legal argument is aimed at the original leaker(s).

The Koh letter also reveals that Wikileaks has given the latest batch of materials in advance to the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel. That's consistent with Wikileaks' prior practice of leaking the leak, as it were, in advance under embargo to major news outlets.

Wikileaks is expected to post the documents online today.



 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Headlines - Saturday November 26

Obama Needs 12 Stitches to Lip After Getting Hit During Basketball Game
 
President Obama apparently took an elbow to the face during his basketball game today and was left needing 12 stitches for his lip.
 
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Pope Benedict (who shuffled all of the molestors around): Even If God Did Make You Gay, You Still Should Not Be Gay

In another excerpt from his coming book/interview, Pope Benedict says that he doesn't know if people are born gay or not. But even if God did make you this way, you shouldn't BE this way. Or something.
He said it was still an open question whether homosexual inclinations are innate or arise early in life. In any case, he said, if these are strong inclinations, it represents "a great trial" for the homosexual. "But this does not mean that homosexuality thereby becomes morally right. Rather, it remains contrary to the essence of what God originally willed," he said.

Remember, God doesn't make mistakes. But if he DOES make mistakes, that's your problem to deal with. Benedict also says there's no inherent contradiction in calling homosexuals "intrinsically disordered" and still offering them respect. Got that? Yes, you are a mentally ill freak. But we mean that in the nicest way.

 
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Gaffes vs Dumbstupid

Everyone who speaks in front of people many times a day will eventually suffer from occasional gaffes. The smartest, best-spoken people in the world have made unfortunate slips of the tongue, but we overlook them because these people are generally considered to be intelligent and the gaffes are incidental.

But with Sarah Palin, like George W. Bush, her gaffes point to a lack of intellectual curiosity and smarts. In other words, she's a dumbstupid, so when she botches something, it's a big deal.

So it's no wonder that she simply doesn't understand the difference between an innocent gaffe and an idiot gaffe. For example, when President Obama says "57 states" instead of "50 states" it's probably because he's exhausted and multitasked -- not an idiot.

But when Sarah Palin repeatedly and unapologetically fumbles the First Amendment, it's a big deal. President Obama is a constitutional scholar, and Sarah Palin simply doesn't give a rip what the First Amendment means. Even when she confuses "North Korea" and "South Korea" it calls to mind her underlying dumbstupid. There's a big difference, and we shouldn't expect someone as uninformed and unserious as Palin to get the distinction.

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As of today, we have been in Afghanistan for as long as the Soviets were. USA! USA! USA! Proudly capturing Osama bin Laden for 9 years, 50 days.
 
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You didn't really think Palin's Alaska would do something like this, did you? Big Oil wants to drill in the area but they might have to wait until another GOP majority moves into Washington. CNN:
 
The setting aside of 187,000 square miles in Alaska as "critical habitat" for polar bears could have an impact on oil and gas drilling, federal and environmental officials said Wednesday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designated the land along the north coast of Alaska as part of a partial settlement in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups.

"This critical habitat designation enables us to work with federal partners to ensure their actions within its boundaries do not harm polar bear populations," Tom Strickland, assistant secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said in a statement. "Polar bears are completely dependent upon Arctic sea-ice habitat for survival."
 
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As if we didn't have enough environmental worries on our plate, now we add Spirit Bears to the platter the Spirit Bears are black bears with a genetic variation that gives them a white coat. They are only found in a small niche in the Great Bear National Forrest in British Columbia.  And now big oil wants to run a pipeline right through their habitat.
 
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Nancy Pelosi has chosen a former Blue Dog, Steve Israel, to lead the DCCC.
 
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The latest Taiwanese take on the Palins is like a hit of pure heroin.
 
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After banning earmarks and solving the deficit, Republicans in the House are going to ban symbolic resolutions, which by itself will lower the unemployment rate by at least a couple of percentage points.

(Via Ezra Klein, who is wrong about these resolutions – they don't make any difference in the House, which is a pretty streamlined operation compared to the tea cooling saucer/constipated old lady that is your United States Senate.)

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Second of how many? A dozen? A hundred? "Police have uncovered an 670m (2,200ft) drug smugglers' tunnel under the US-Mexico border - the second such discovery this month. The tunnel links the Mexican city of Tijuana with Otay Mesa in California. Earlier this month a tunnel equipped with ventilation and lights was found. Local media say the new tunnel may be even be more sophisticated. The authorities say the tunnels are used to smuggle marijuana into the US, bypassing stringent border controls."

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Lessons in becoming an expert

Owl

Ben Casnocha draws this moral:

I believe a key reason so many people on the road to mastery call it quits is not because drawing a beautiful owl in pencil is superhumanly hard. It's because they thought it would be easy.

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Skate culture makes its way to Kabul, a remarkable little film that captures something indelible about the capital of Afghanistan and the truly wretched subsistence of its people, and how some, including intrepid girls, have overcome it: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/11/skate-for-freedom.html

 

 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Headlines - Friday November 25

Interview on the Daily Beast with Taibbi;
 
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Our American conservative idiots have to weigh in on the tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Of course, their answer to everything is to start another war. I guess they didn't learn from the Chinese response to MacArthur crossing the Yalu (that's right, history isn't one of their strong suits).

...

Instapundit: "If they start anything, I say nuke 'em. And not with just a few bombs." In a November 23 post on Instapundit, blogger Glenn Reynolds wrote that if the North Korean military were to "start anything," the US should "nuke 'em." Reynolds went on to say that a nuclear attack on North Korea "would be a useful lesson for Iran, too." From the post: [em in orig]

...
If they think the Chinese won't come to North Korea's aid should American troops (or aircraft, or ships) cross the 38th Parallel, they're just as misguided as MacArthur was. North Korea is China's buffer with the West, much as the Eastern Bloc was for the Soviets. They won't let us, or the South Koreans, approach their border. If they think the Chinese wouldn't respond to a nuclear detonation spitting distance from their border, they're smoking something really good.

Like their adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, should the conservatives dictate Korea policy, the best case would be a protracted, drawn out war like the other two. North Korea might have a half-fed, mostly broken down army, but backed up by a million Chinese it's a whole different story (and just for perspective, you can see the lights of Seoul from the DMZ at night; think about the casualties). Like I've said since the latest hostilities began, this could get real ugly, real quick, especially if the conservatives have anything to say about it.
 
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Sam Stein reports on Sarah Palin's latest dig against Michelle Obama, and has this bit of analysis:

That the former Alaska Governor thinks the president's family members are fair game is now obvious. But the apparent glee she takes in attacking the first lady remains surprising, at least politically. Among the deficits in public opinion that Palin suffers are pretty harsh favorability ratings among female voters. Going after the first lady (who remains relatively beloved by voters) doesn't help that matter. Doing it over something as benign as trying to help children fight obesity seems confused.

This is a standard beltway political analysis, and it reflects a basic misunderstanding of Palin's strategy in general, and specifically why Palin doesn't give a shit about Michelle Obama's gender or popularity.

Palin's goal is to mobilize a base of Fox-watching, resentment-driven primary voters. These people are mainly white and male, and they do not like Michelle Obama. Palin's characterization of Michelle Obama as an elite black woman who thinks she knows better just stirs the pot of resentment that Palin thinks will drive her primary victories. In the eyes of the typical Palin primary voter, Mrs. Obama's anti-obesity program is in no way "benign"—it's another example of that uppity Princeton-educated black ballbuster thinking she knows better than real Americans.

Second, if Palin does get the nomination, she'll be a weak candidate with little or no positive agenda. So, she'll have to attack Michelle and Barack Obama, Sasha, Malia and Bo, repeatedly and without regard to their poll numbers. She will run a constant Twitter and Facebook attack machine with the goal of making Obama look weak if he doesn't respond, but also making him look like he's picking on her and her family if he does. Her strategy for attracting women voters will be to make Obama look like he isn't tough enough to defend his wife and family, and then to make him look like a jerk for attacking poor defenseless Sarah.

Palin will be able to pursue this strategy in large part because she won't be subject to the same media rules as her primary or general opponents. The mainstream media dutifully reports her every tweet but is unable to question her directly on the horseshit that she spews. My guess is that she won't travel with any press but Fox and associated friendly outlets. She's shown a basic capability of participating in a debate and not making a complete ass of herself, if she's prepped correctly, so she'll probably outperform the low expectations that will accompany that little ritual.

My point isn't that she's unstoppable, just that the campaign analysis in the mold of Teddy White and Jack Germond isn't the way to understand the Palin project. She isn't part of that system, and she doesn't play by its rules.

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United States Concerned Over WikiLeaks Plan to Release More Truth

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BooMan has some advice for President Obama in dealing with the Republicans.

Money quote:
 
...at a certain point you have to knock off the happy talk about how we can solve our problems if we just talk to each other. These idiots think you're a Muslim who isn't even an American citizen. They think you're pushing some Leninist agenda. They're cuckoo for cocoa puffs. And those who aren't are perfectly content to pretend that they are. I am not saying you should accuse them all of doing six months in Chino for exposing themselves to eight year-olds, but it might not be the worst idea. The truth doesn't matter anymore, and you'd probably be half-right with a bunch of these kooks.
 
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southpacific

Adolescents are tough. "Three teenage boys have been found alive after being lost in their boat in the Pacific Ocean for 50 days. The boys, from the Tokelau Islands, a New Zealand-administered territory in the South Pacific, had been given up for dead after an unsuccessful search. A tuna fishing boat picked them up near Fiji and is taking them to hospital for treatment for severe sunburn. The boys survived on coconuts, water they trapped on a tarpaulin and a seabird they managed to catch."

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It's been obvious for decades, but a new study confirms the flip side of coal's economic destructiveness: Turning away from coal will grow a strong, sustainable economy.

From the Herald:

Weaning Kentucky from its overwhelming dependence on coal-generated electricity offers economic opportunities and job growth, according to a new report from the Berea-based Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.

The 21-page report, Building Clean Energy Careers in Kentucky, says the state can create middle-skill jobs - those that require more than a high school degree but less than a college diploma - in fields such as making homes and factories more energy-efficient, manufacturing components for energy-efficiency systems and creating renewable energy.

Diversifying the state's energy sources also would help offset what is expected to be increased costs associated with mining and burning coal, according to the report, which was written by Kristin Tracz and Jason Bailey.


Read the whole thing.

No more excuses, Kentucky. Coal kills everything: miners, families, communities, jobs, mountains, forests, clear skies and clean drinking water.

Turn away now, before we lose our last chance for sustainable energy in a strong economy.

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Worst Persons in the World

Rush Limbaugh owns this category of blog posts. Today, it's for this.

In his Thanksgiving address, President Obama said:

"This Thanksgiving Day, we reflect on the compassion and contributions of Native Americans, whose skill in agriculture helped the early colonists survive, and whose rich culture continues to add to our Nation's heritage."

And Limbaugh responded:

"...at their casinos and on their reservations,"

As if this wasn't insulting enough, Limbaugh continued:

"So, we were the invaders," complained Limbaugh. "We were incompetent idiots. We didn't know how to feed ourselves so they came along and showed us how and that's what Thanksgiving is all about." [...]

"Every cliche that is wrong about Thanksgiving shows up in his proclamation: The Pilgrims showed up at Plymouth. The Indians have been their for thousands of years. We get off the boats. We don't know how to feed ourselves. The Indians show us how," he explained.

Yeah. And...?

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Let's give thanks that GOP tribe was not at first Thanksgiving

"Forget sitting down together, Mr. Bradford. Our top priority is that you become a one-term governor of Plymouth colony. But in the meantime, we want no infrastructure spending on path clearing, permanent tax credits for our chiefs with the most animal skins, and no regulation of corn derivatives."

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Actor Mark Ruffalo put on terror watch list for anti-drilling activism.

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Tom Delay's next stop: 'Laundering' laundry

"BY BRIBING THE PRISON WARDEN FOR AN ASSIGNMENT TO THE LAUNDRY ROOM, I'LL BE ABLE TO  CONTINUE DOING WHAT I DO BEST: PICKING POCKETS  TO ENRICH MYSELF WITH THE PREVAILING CURRENCY –  CIGARETTES AND  SHIVS."

Nothing better describes this arrogant, little dick than the time back in 2003 when a D.C. waitress asked him to put out his cigar in a restaurant because it was against federal law. DeLay told her, "I am the Federal Government."

The question now is how soon the right-wing finds a way to link the court verdict back to Obama and his evil librul cohorts.

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You may disagree w/the order, and that some have been left off, but you'll love salon's top 30 political hacks.

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Non-Decision Points

The essence of George Packer's elegant review of George W. Bush's memoir:

The structure of "Decision Points" ... reveals the essential qualities of the Decider. There are hardly any decision points at all. The path to each decision is so short and irresistible, more like an electric pulse than like a weighing of options, that the reader is hard-pressed to explain what happened. Suddenly, it's over, and there's no looking back. ...

In Bush's telling, the non-decision decision is a constant feature of his Presidential policymaking. ...

Here is another feature of the non-decision: once his own belief became known to him, Bush immediately caricatured opposing views and impugned the motives of those who held them. If there was an honest and legitimate argument on the other side, then the President would have to defend his non-decision, taking it out of the redoubt of personal belief and into the messy empirical realm of contingency and uncertainty.

Brilliant stuff.

 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Headlines - Thursday November 25

 
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Holiday travel fun in Salt Lake.
 
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Former GOP House Majority Leader Tom Delay Found Guilty Of Money Laundering

 
Former Republican House majority leader and one-time Dancing With The Stars contestant Tom Delay has been convicted of multiple counts of money laundering. Delay was found guilty of funneling almost $200,000 to the campaigns of GOP House and Senate candidates.
"I still maintain that I am innocent," DeLay told reporters. "The criminalization of politics undermines our very system. I'm very disappointed." Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said the verdict showed no one was above the law. "This case is a message from the citizens of the state of Texas that the public officials they elect to represent them must do so honestly and ethically, and if not they'll be held accountable," Lehmberg said. DeLay's sentencing was set for December 20, and he faces a possible maximum prison term of 99 years on the money laundering charge and 20 years on the conspiracy charge. Two other men facing charges in the case are awaiting trial. DeLay, a conservative Republican, helped Newt Gingrich spearhead the GOP revival in 1994 that won control of the House and Senate in the first midterm election under Democratic President Bill Clinton.
In 2006 Delay resigned from the House in the face of the scandal.
 
Fun fact from 2005:
President Bush said yesterday he is confident that former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) is innocent of money-laundering charges.....
 
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Randall Terry Will Run For President In Order To Air Graphic Anti-Abortion Ads

Infamous anti-abortion activist Randall Terry says that he will run for president in 2012. But he's doing so in order to exploit advertising rules that prevent television stations from refusing or editing the ads of political candidates. Terry plans to solicit donations that will allow him to air graphic images of aborted fetuses on stations nationwide. Catholic Online reports that the strategy was successfully test-run this year in a local Washington DC race:
The 2010 campaign for the seat of Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives for Washington, DC, was also a test run for Pro-life candidates as Missy Smith used pro-life graphic ads that illustrated the truths of abortion. While Eleanor Holmes Norton was re-elected, Smith's ads were allowed to run and we seem by scores of people in and beyond the District of Columbia. The ads were run more than 235 times with repeats given during media coverage of the campaign. Smith's Campaign Manager, Randall Terry, indicated this past Friday that, based on the results of the Washington campaign strategy, they are planning to enlist 25 new candidates to run in the 25 largest media markets in America for the 2012 elections.
Randall Terry: "I am under no delusion that I can win. But we know that debate concerning the truth of abortion could brought into the political spotlight just by carefully placing one ad on national TV before Super Tuesday."

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Interesting how there's no trickle down
 
Record $1.659 trillion corporate profit under Obama's socialist jackboot undercuts GOP spin on government economic policies.
 
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Remember, the bad guys hate us for our freedoms.

The next step in tightened security could be on U.S. public transportation, trains and boats.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says terrorists will continue to look for U.S. vulnerabilities, making tighter security standards necessary.

"[Terrorists] are going to continue to probe the system and try to find a way through," Napolitano said in an interview that aired Monday night on "Charlie Rose."

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Via PoliticalWire:

In an interview on the Laura Ingraham Show, Sarah Palin blasted back at Barbara Bush's recent comments suggested she "stay in Alaska."

Said Palin: "I think the majority of Americans don't want to put up with the blue bloods. And I say it with all due respect because I love the Bushes. The blue bloods who want to pick and choose their winners instead of allowing competition to pick and choose the winners."

Blue blood vs trailer trash. That pretty much sums up the state of the Republican party nowadays.

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Science Friday

Why do dentists, doctors, med techs, etc.. who work in other x-ray environments gladly wear these exposure detectors on their clothing but TSA employees do not or cannot?

Because then the world would know beyond the shadow of a doubt how dangerous those scanners are. We'll find out in a few years anyway when the cancers show up.
 
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Ray McGovern writes about Bush's dismay at failure to get us in a war with Iran
 
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There's nothing I hate more than seeing people smeared for daring to speak up. It would be an exaggeration to compare this to the ballad of Graeme Frost, but it's not that far off. The Nation should be ashamed, and it's good to see that some staff members are.
 
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Texas Bug Man Fumigated
 
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A good Thanksgiving story

Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps wasn't able to picket the funeral of a 20-year-old soldier yesterday:

By 9 a.m., an hour before the funeral of Army Cpl. Jacob R. Carver, an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people, many of them waving American flags, lined nearly a half-mile of the street in front of the church, making sure Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church/family congregation were crowded out, peacefully kept far from shouting distance of the funeral.[...]

"He was a really good kid," said Principal Doug Dahman, who joined a group of letter jacket-clad students in the line in front of the church.

Next to him was a man from Platte City, who got up at 4:30 a.m. Farther down was John Yeager, who came as part of a group of Blue Springs firefighters.

"We're here for the family," Yeager said. "Nobody should have to hear that on this day."

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When asked to explain her success on Dancing with the Stars, Bristol Palin replied, "I was praying all the time and just relying on God and knowing that He is on our side."

Oops. I don't think he was.

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Jill: The story of terrorism, and the fight against terrorism in this country, always contains a question: Who Benefits?

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Gotcha journalism, redoux.

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Good thing global warming is a hoax, otherwise this would be a real problem. "The number of people living in African cities will triple over the next 40 years and by 2050 60% of Africans will be city dwellers, a UN report has said. In five years Lagos in Nigeria is set to overtake the Egyptian capital Cairo as Africa's biggest city. UN-Habitat's Joan Clos said Africa needed to invest urgently in housing. He told the BBC that sub-Saharan Africa could learn from North Africa as Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia had almost halved slum areas in the past 20 years. Some 199.5 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in slums, the highest number in the world, the UN said earlier this year. According to UN-Habitat's State of African Cities 2010 report, urbanisation is happening faster in Africa than anywhere else in the world."

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