Lt. Col. Vindman ended his opening statement with a stirring plea that had some spectators wiping away tears: “Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth.”
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
This is a light-hearted study which may or may not have significance. LOL!
Brain thickness determines political leaning: study
"Neuroscientists are examining whether political allegiances are hard-wired into people after finding evidence that the brains of conservatives are a different shape to those of left-wingers.
Scans of 90 students' brains at University College London (UCL) uncovered a "strong correlation" between the thickness of two particular areas of grey matter and an individual's views.
Self-proclaimed right-wingers had a more pronounced amygdala - a primitive part of the brain associated with emotion while their political opponents from the opposite end of the spectrum had thicker anterior cingulates.
The research was carried out by Geraint Rees director of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience who said he was "very surprised" by the finding, which is being peer reviewed before publication next year."
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Growing up in a southern Italian family, I participated each Christmas Eve (La Vigilia di Natale) in the tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. I've never been able to find definitively where the tradition started or why seven fishes. Here are some suggestions:
The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church -- baptism, penance, Holy Eucharist, confirmation, marriage, holy orders and the sacrament of Extreme Unction.
The seven sins of the world -- pride, envy, anger, gluttony, sloth, lust and greed.
The seven days it took Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem.
Some say it's the seven hills of Rome, some say it's the seven winds of Italy, or the Seven Wonders of the World.
Another theory is that seven is a number representing perfection: the traditional Biblical number for divinity is three, and for Earth is four, and the combination of these numbers, seven, represents God on Earth, or Jesus Christ.
I have no idea why seven fishes were used, but it doesn't matter, since the idea of the feast was to carry on a tradition that was started somewhere in the obscure past and to celebrate a holiday in a manner that Italians know best--with lots of incredibly delicious food.
My childhood memories are of my mother, grandmother (nonna) and aunts all working in the kitchen while the men smoked cigars, talked politics, and played cards in the parlor. [Beh!] One aunt made her famous ricotta filled ravioli. Nonna made the dolci: biscotti di regina, struffoli, pizzelle, pizza dolci, casatelli. My mother, aunts and older cousins cracked steamed lobsters, picked the succulent meat from the knuckles, claws,
and tails and put it into a marinara sauce that was ladled over piping hot bowls of linguini or fettucini. [We kids got to suck the little juicy bits of lobster meat from the legs, which were discarded because there wasn't enough meat in them to bother with.] I remember sweet, tender razor clams, stuffed with anchovy, parsley, and garlic flavored bread crumbs; baccala--salted cod--made into a heavenly dish with hard-boiled eggs, floating in a savory sauce along with little salty green capers and bright red pimentoes. The table was loaded with platters of lightly fried smelts, delicate sweet slender fish dredged in flour, sauted in olive oil, and served with cold lemon wedges; spicy, plump mussels in marinara sauce; scungilli salad; and my favorite, delicately battered and fried calamari. One Christmas Eve, my mother prepared eel, which was surprisingly delicious--it tasted like chicken.
After everyone's bellies were filled, the uncles took out their musical instruments--violins, guitars, the older sisters and cousins played the piano, and we sang traditional Italian Christmas songs. [One of my childhood favorites was "Tu scendi dalle stelle." I just called it "Bambino."] Finally, it was time for midnight Mass. We all left the house and walked to church. When we returned, we opened our gifts, played more music, ate more dolci and fell into bed by 2 am, exhausted, full, and happy. Christmas day we all gathered again for our Christmas dinner--lasagna (in those days lasagna was made only for special occasions), followed by a meat course--roast beef or turkey, verdure (vegetables), salad, fruit, nuts, roasted chestnuts. And later in the day, dolci--cannoli, pizza dolci, baba rum, and for the adults, caffe correcto (espresso coffee with a shot of sambuca in it).
I continued the tradition when my children were at home, but now that one lives in California and one in New York, it isn't as easy to keep the tradition. But here is a feast of seven fishes meal I've made and am happy to share with everyone:
Feast of the Seven Fishes
Mussels with orzo (serves two)
2 lbs. mussels, cleaned and scrubbed
4 Tablespoons good fruity olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium stalk of celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
4 plum tomatoes, diced with skin and seeds
1 cup good burgundy wine
2 Tablespoons of minced fresh herbs (basil, mint, oregano, thyme, parsley, tarragon)
12 pitted black olives, sliced in half
1 tspn. anise seeds, crushed
salt & pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
3 Tablespoons minced parsley
1/4 pound of orzo
Boil water for orzo. Put orzo in water and cook until just tender (al dente).
Wash and scrub mussels and set aside. In a large, deep saute pan, saute the next 4 ingredients in olive oil until golden and tender, add plum tomatoes, and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add wine and simmer until alcohol evaporates. Place mussels in pan, turn up heat and cook just till the shells open. Remove from heat. Stir in herbs, olives, anise seeds, s&pps. Add orzo to pan and stir so that the little rice-shaped pasta gets into the opened mussel shells. Place in deep pasta bowls and sprinkle with minced parsley. Serve immediately
Smelts with lemon (serves 2)
1/2 dozen smelts
3/4 cup flour
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon minced parsley
Go to your local fishmonger and select the freshest smelts. Their eyes must glisten like the newly fallen snow. No cloudiness in the eyes. Ever.
Take the smelts home. Take a pair of scissors and snip of their heads, then run the scissors down the front of the fish and degut them. Very easy.
Wash and dry the smelts. Put the flour on a platter and generously season with s&p. Roll the smelts into the seasoned flour and set aside. Place olive oil in saute pan and heat. Saute the smelts over gentle heat until they take on a golden color. Do not overcook. Place on a platter and squeeze some lemon on them. Serve with more lemon wedges and garnish with minced parsley.
Lobster meat with fresh tomatoes and linguini (serves 2)
1/2 lb. lobster meat (buy shelled at fishmonger or cook your own)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 cup torn basil leaves
1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
3 plum tomatoes, diced, with skin and seeds.
s&p to taste
1 Tablespoon minced parsley
In a medium saute pan, saute the onion and garlic until soft and golden in the combination butter and olive oil. Add the diced plum tomatoes. Simmer for 2/3 minutes. Stir in basil and thyme leaves, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in lobster meat and heat through. Serve over linguini. Sprinkle with minced parsley.
Shrimp Scampi (serves 2)
3/4 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 Tablespoons olive oil
5 oz. of shitake mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 dozen cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 oz. good quality feta or goat cheese
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 Tablespoons combination minced fresh herbs (basil, thyme, mint, tarragon, parsley)
In a medium saute pan, saute the garlic and onion in olive oil until tender, add the mushrooms and simmer for 1-2 minutes, add the white wine and simmer until alcohol burns off. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add shrimp and saute just until they turn pink, do not over cook. Remove from heat. Serve in shallow bowls. Sprinkle cheese and parsley just before serving.
Crabmeat and scallop stuffed filet of sole (serves 2)
2 good sized filets of sole pieces (approx. 1/2 lb. in total weight
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup crab meat
3 large scallops, cut in pieces
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
salt and pepper, red pepper flakes to taste
1 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds
2 Tablespoons minced fresh herb combination (basil, thyme, parsley, tarragon, cilantro)
1 Tablespoon toasted pignole nuts
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Place the olive oil and butter in saute pan. Add the scallops and cook to tender, add crab meat and heat through. Remove from heat. Stir in breadcrumbs, salt and peppers, cumin seeds, pignole nuts and herbs. Take the two sole filets and spoon mixture evenly on each filet. Carefully roll up the filets and place in glass baking pan. Dot with butter and squeeze lemon on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with minced herbs and serve with lemon wedges.
Buon Natale e Buon Anno!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
In a big, rousing, emotional ceremony this morning, President Obama signed legislation that put an end to DADT.
Mr. Obama began the ceremony by telling the story of a brave WWII soldier who risked his life to save the life of a fellow soldier. Years later, the soldier whose life was saved came to learn that the man who rescued him was gay. Today, the saved soldier's son was at the historic signing ceremony.
President Obama thanked everyone who worked hard to get this bill passed, while the crowd wildly cheered after he mentioned each legislator's name as well as the military and civilian personnel who worked selflessly to end the dishonorable DADT.
The crowd was high on happiness and pride for this country.
Well done, America!
Except for this nutty news from the state of Virginia:
"A state lawmaker from Virginia is so upset about the Congress repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell that he wants to institute a mini-DADT banning gay men and lesbians from the Virginia National Guard.Has someone put stupid in the drinking water of that state? Because that would be the only explanation for the cringingly idiotic statements in that news report.
"It's a distraction when I'm on the battlefield and have to concentrate on the enemy 600 yards away and I'm worried about this guy whose got eyes on me," the lawmaker, Delegate Bob Marshall (R), told WUSA9. "If I needed a blood transfusion and the guy next to me had committed sodomy 14 times in the last month I'd be worried."
Marshall says he's working on legislation to institute a DADT-style state law. His authority to do so, he claims, comes from the clause of the U.S. Constitution which reads, "reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia."
But Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who as the authority to deploy the state National Guard in a state emergency, says no way.
"Whatever the final guidelines are from the Department of the Defense, I expect the Virginia National Guard Bureau to adhere to them," McDonnell said during a WTOP radio show today."
This statement is especially dumb and jaw-droppingly ignorant,
"If I needed a blood transfusion and the guy next to me had committed sodomy 14 times in the last month I'd be worried."
and is a sorry example of how people, who should know better, use stupid lies and absolute erroneous hypotheticals to scare people who don't know better. Virginia Republican state legislator Bob Marshall and Governor McDonnell are examples of why I have no respect for a party that elevates people to positions of power who continue to support inequality and pander to the worst in people's nature. They are on the wrong side of history, along with Republican Senator John McCain and all the other dinosaurs in the Republican party who bitterly cling to their hatreds and fears.
They lost this fight, and we're a better country because they did.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
RING SOLSTICE BELLS
Now is the solstice of the year.
winter is the glad song that you hear.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Have the lads up ready in a line.
Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.
Join together ‘neath the mistletoe,
by the holy oak whereon it grows.
Seven druids dance in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.
Praise be to the distant sister sun,
joyful as the silver planets run.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.
Ring on, ring out.
Ring on, ring out
The skies above Boston will be cloudy tonight, so I will not be able to watch the lunar eclipse. I'll catch it the next time it occurs on the winter solstice...
Monday, December 20, 2010
Like dutiful little parrots, a number of right-leaning bloggers are repeating the FAUX NOOZ talking points about a "war on Christmas." Of course the only war being waged is the one being fought by FAUX NOOZ and its viewers against rationality and sanity. I took one sample from the blogsphere of this manufactured angst and posted it here:
"Why is it that whenever we chose to be Happy and Merry and to Celebrate, the Liberal Atheists follow right behind to do whatever the alternative may be?"
Hmmm. I wonder if conservative atheists do whatever the alternative may be.
"Are they that stuck in their lonely cocoon of stupidity where as they can’t even leave a believer do what they please too?"
Good question, blogger. Actually what exactly IS the question? It is impossible to determine what thought you are trying to dislodge from the obviously constricted axons and dendrites populating the cacoon that houses your brain.
"We already have bent down to their demands and have lessened the joy of Christmas..."
How is it lessening the "joy of Christmas" when I'm forced to listen to "Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!" starting the day after Halloween as I'm shopping in my local pharmacy and bending down to grab a bottle of TUMS?
"...the department stores can no longer post Merry Christmas signs, and they even want to take away our Merry Christmas greeting to one another."
See the TUMS answer above. And as yet, I haven't seen any citizen being dragged off to jail for wishing a fellow citizen "Merry Christmas."
"How much longer will we pander to these selfish groups? Not believing in the existence of God, any Gods is ok with me as long as they don’t stop me or try to stop me or others like me form doing whatever I please."
Well look pal, no one is stopping you from forming unfounded, paranoid claims about the non-existent plot to ruin Christmas for you or anyone. But by Bacchus! I wish they would!
"Yet our President seems to jump at the chance to celebrate Ramadan every opportunity he gets."
Oh goodie, here's the "I-resent-the-president-acknowledging-that other-religions-exist-in-America" part of this excellent whine. Conservative Republican President George W. Bush instituted the Ramadan celebrations when he became president, and held one every year for the 8 years he was in office. However, I admit I have no memory of Mr. Bush jumping during the celebrations.
"Obama and others like him including New York’s Mayor Bloomberg pander to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf more then to the average God loving American."
Oh I think Mr. Obama has pandered to the average God loving American. For example, recently President Obama met and tried to find common ground with the soon to be "Weeper of the House," John Boehner--you can't get any more average than that.
"What’s with that? And this trend is growing faster than any other."
Actually, I believe expanding waistlines is the fastest growing trend in America.
"Atheists in America are becoming more demanding and more assertive in their demands every year."
Oh those pushy uppity assertive non-believing Americans! And what about what Mr. Obama said in his inaugural address? The Muslim-loving Socialist, Commie, Fascist, Marxist, arugula-eating Kenyan acknowledged that atheists exist in America! What's up with that? Doesn't the president know that people who don't believe in gods should be burned at the stake or at the very least have a hot poker shoved up their anit-American arses--y'know, like they did in the good ole days of the Inquisition when people were murdered for not being the right sort of god-fearing Christian.
"While the typical citizens demands are shut out as fast as they are heard. This has become a sad state of affairs. And after all, who are the majority?"
In the near future, the typical majority won't be you, amigo. The typical majority will probably be someone named Maria Dolores Gonzales. Hola!
"I think that the only way to put and end to this insanity is to stop electing liberal politicians that cowtail to the Atheists. What has happened to our right to believe in any religion?"
We athiests demand not only more cowtail, but more cowbell!
"And yes I believe that “In God we Trust”should stay on our country's money. Who would have thought that this would even be an issue?"
Who knew? But seriously, friend, this is an issue churning in your feverish brain, influenced by other misinformed but passionate numbnuts.
"And I do believe in Prays in the schools if one wishes to. And I do believe in saying the Pledge in the schools. That should not ever be an issue. It grieves me and it bothers me that the question has even been raised and considered."
Listen, I believe in letting people Prays in the schools, too. If you want to prays in school, you prays in school--just prays to yourself.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
RACHEL MADDOW ON THE REPEAL OF DADT:
"...this is the President's victory. The President took a lot of criticism, a lot of abuse, a lot of skepticism from his otherwise most loyal supporters on this. But this is an issue on which the President did not waver. He continually insisted that this was possible. That it would get done.
It, in fact, was not possible for the President to do this through Executive action. This is something that had to happen legislatively if it was really going to happen in a definitive way.
The President did not waver. He DID work on the Senate to get this to happen. He insisted that this was possible against a lot of people, including me, saying it was not possible.
This is a difficult promise kept. It's not just a promise that was kept. It was one that was hard to keep, that cost a lot of political capital and a lot of work and this is the President's victory today and his base will reward him for it."
This is the statement from JD Smith of OutServe, an active duty military organization which supports repeal of DADT:
“Today’s vote by the Senate is a step forward for America. Today our military is stronger, our nation is stronger, and we are closer than ever to the day when our integrity will no longer be compromised. The vote to proceed to cloture on the repeal of the law barring honest military service by lesbian and gay soldiers is a victory for the thousands of lesbian and gay troops currently serving and a tribute to lesbian and gay veterans and those who have lost their lives defending our country.
OutServe looks forward to the day that repeal of this law is signed by our Commander in Chief and we can all begin to serve openly and honestly. We will remove the cloud that hangs over our gay and lesbian troops and live in a world where constantly worrying about losing everything we work and live for could be in jeopardy will finally end. As we await the implementation of repeal, expected to happen over the next year, OutServe is sensitive to the needs of our active duty troops and will remain a partner in making that transition smooth. There will come a moment when it will finally be completely safe to ‘come out’ and OutServe will be there to support the troops – gay and straight – when that day comes, hopefully soon.
There are so many people and organizations to whom OutServe is grateful as we celebrate being one step closer to equality. We won today’s vote because of the leadership of President Obama and our military leaders that have advocated for repeal. Our deepest thanks go to all of the organizations and individuals who have worked tirelessly for nearly 20 years. And our deepest thanks and admiration go to the troops discharged under DADT and proud veterans who sacrificed so much to educate the public and affect change at the policy level.”
SLDN issued the following statement:
“Gay, lesbian and bisexual service members posted around the world are standing a little taller today, but they’re still very much at risk because repeal is not final. I respectfully ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to use his authority to suspend all ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ investigations during this interim period. Until the President signs the bill, until there is certification, and until the 60-day Congressional period is over, no one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law. Even with this historic vote, service members must continue to serve in silence until repeal is final. Certification and the 60-day Congressional requirement must be wrapped up no later than the first quarter of 2011. The bottom line: for now, gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members must remain cautiously closeted,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
“We owe a great deal of thanks to many Congressional leaders who got us here today — Patrick Murphy, Susan Davis, Speaker Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Hoyer. In the Senate this would not have happened without Chairman Levin and Senators Lieberman, Mark Udall, Gillibrand, Collins and so many others. But let me also personally thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This is the defining civil right initiative of this decade and today’s bill passage would not have been possible without Harry Reid’s determined leadership. And finally, without commitment and a clear plan from the White House for the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group, we would not stand here today. I have no doubt the February testimony of Sec. Gates and Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, would not have happened without the President,” Sarvis said.
This is a wonderful day for all Americans--well almost all. I imagine Sen. McCain, who said he would support the repeal of DADT if the commanders and military leaders said it was time to do so, isn't out celebrating. When they said it was time to repeal, McCain said a study was needed to determine how the change would affect the military. When the Pentagon study was released, showing that a majority of military personnel supported the repeal, McCain said further study was needed. What happened to McCain? His behavior during this whole process has been shameful. He is on the wrong side of history, and he will forever be associated with those who wish to keep our gay brothers and sisters as second class citizens.
Andrew Sullivan over at The Daily Dish agrees:
"Like 2009's removal of the HIV ban, which was as painstakingly slow but thereby much more entrenched, this process took time. Without the Pentagon study, it wouldn't have passed. Without Obama keeping Lieberman inside the tent, it wouldn't have passed. Without the critical relationship between Bob Gates and Obama, it wouldn't have passed. It worked our last nerve; we faced at one point a true nightmare of nothing ... for years. And then we pulled behind this president, making it his victory and the country's victory, as well as ours.
We also know now what a McCain administration would have done: nothing. The disgraceful bitterness and rancor and irrationality that the Senator has shown these past few months reveal just how important it was to defeat him and his deranged, delusional side-kick in 2008.
Here's the presidential statement:
Today, the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend."
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Well that's like saying water is wet, but it's good to see it confirmed by actual polls where devoted FAUX NOOZ fans have been asked questions about current affairs and then to see how uninformed they are about them.
Also, what would we expect of a cable teevee station that employs a charlatan clown like Glenn Beck? He's been exposed as nothing more than a clever manipulator of weak-minded people who possess an inability to use critical thinking skills to see through his moronic, but dramatic, tear-soaked presentations of faux history and skewed factoids.
And then there's Sarah Palin, the silly, self-satisfied know-nothing lightweight who is promoted on the cable station that caters to the dumb and dumber. She's a star, along with Beck and that other talking-points birdbrain, Hannity, of a cable station that deals in lies and misrepresentations, and is blatantly a propaganda wing of the Republican Party.
Also, as stated above, and as you will see below, FOX is a cable news station that has succeeded in contributing to its viewers stupid quotient:
"A new survey of American voters shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources.
December 15, 2010
Yet another study has been released proving that watching Fox News is detrimental to your intelligence. World Public Opinion, a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, conducted a survey of American voters that shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources. What’s more, the study shows that greater exposure to Fox News increases misinformation.
So the more you watch, the less you know. Or to be precise, the more you think you know that is actually false. This study corroborates a previous PIPA study that focused on the Iraq war with similar results. And there was an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that demonstrated the break with reality on the part of Fox viewers with regard to health care. The body of evidence that Fox News is nothing but a propaganda machine dedicated to lies is growing by the day.
In eight of the nine questions below, Fox News placed first in the percentage of those who were misinformed (they placed second in the question on TARP). That’s a pretty high batting average for journalistic fraud. Here is a list of what Fox News viewers believe that just aint so:
•91 percent believe the stimulus legislation lost jobs
•72 percent believe the health reform law will increase the deficit
•72 percent believe the economy is getting worse
•60 percent believe climate change is not occurring
•49 percent believe income taxes have gone up
•63 percent believe the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts
•56 percent believe Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout
•38 percent believe that most Republicans opposed TARP
•63 percent believe Obama was not born in the U.S. (or that it is unclear)
The conclusion is inescapable. Fox News is deliberately misinforming its viewers and it is doing so for a reason. Every issue above is one in which the Republican Party had a vested interest. The GOP benefited from the ignorance that Fox News helped to proliferate. The results were apparent in the election last month as voters based their decisions on demonstrably false information fed to them by Fox News.
By the way, the rest of the media was not blameless. CNN and the broadcast network news operations fared only slightly better in many cases. Even MSNBC, which had the best record of accurately informing viewers, has a ways to go before it can brag about it.
The conclusions in this study need to be disseminated as broadly as possible. Fox’s competitors need to report these results and produce ad campaigns featuring them. Newspapers and magazines need to publish the study across the country. This is big news and it is critical that the nation be advised that a major news enterprise is poisoning their minds.
This is not an isolated review of Fox’s performance. It has been corroborated time and time again. The fact that Fox News is so blatantly dishonest, and the effects of that dishonesty have become ingrained in an electorate that has been been purposefully deceived, needs to be made known to every American. Our democracy cannot function if voters are making choices based on lies. We have the evidence that Fox is tilting the scales and we must now make certain its corporate owners do not get away with it."
Follow the links here to see the ABC/Wall Street Journal pdf/file on more FOX News bad news.
Capt. Fogg over at The Swash Zone has more on the fake cable news station and further proof of why people who watch it are deliberately misinformed.
From Crooks and Liars by Nichole Belle:
"MEET THE STUPIDS
Yes, the people who get their news from Fox are stupid. But Booman wonders if it's a chicken-or-egg scenario: do people get stupid from Fox or do stupid people gravitate to Fox?
I'd like to see a controlled experiment where they let one group of people self-select which cable news network they watch and another group is assigned randomly. Then we can see if the stupid people are choosing Fox News and being made more stupid, or if Fox News can draw in mentally competent people and turn them into drooling buffoons who think Charles Krauthammer isn't a deluded crackpot but a sage patriot and overall mensch.
Frankly, I think it's both. Almost every stupid, misinformed person I know is a Fox News viewer...and every single one of them gets even dumber each year."
The world according to Fox
* On his radio show last week, Fox News commentator Glenn Beck alleged that 10 per cent of the world's Muslims are terrorists, asking "why isn't this receiving coverage?" The reason: the real figure is closer to 0.1 per cent.
* Last November, Fox host Gregg Jarrett told viewers to marvel at "huge crowds" attending the launch of Sarah Palin's memoir Going Rogue. Accompanying his spiel was footage of crowds watching Ms Palin speak. But that footage had been shot during the 2008 presidential election. The network later apologised for misleading viewers, blaming a "production error".
* A year ago, Republican lawmakers held a rally in Washington opposing Barack Obama's healthcare reform. Fox Host Sean Hannity spoke wistfully of the vast turnout of "between 20,000 and 45,000 people". But eagle-eyed viewers noted that crowds depicted on screen were in fact attendees at an entirely different (and much larger) event which had taken place in the Capitol two months earlier. Hannity later apologised for "an inadvertent mistake".
* During the 2004 election, Fox's Chief Political Correspondent, Carl Cameron, quoted Democrat candidate John Kerry calling himself a "metrosexual" who enjoyed getting manicures. One problem: the quote was fabricated. A spokesman for the network later apologised: "Carl Cameron made a stupid mistake, and he has been reprimanded for his lapse in judgement."
FOX News cheats, misrepresents, lies, then gets caught and is forced to apologize . And their viewers keep coming back for more. What does that say about the crowd who watches this fake cable news station?
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Here's what Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has to say about Judge Henry Hudson's outlier ruling:
Further discussion and information here.
Amateur Hour: VA Judge Makes Elementary Error In Health Care Ruling
The Virginia federal district court judge who ruled yesterday that the individual mandate in the health care bill is unconstitutional is catching a lot of flack -- and not just for having a financial interest in an anti-health care reform consulting firm.
Legal experts are attacking Judge Henry Hudson's decision on the merits, citing an elementary logical flaw at the heart of his opinion. And that has conservative scholars -- even ones sympathetic to the idea that the mandate is unconstitutional -- prepared to see Hudson's decision thrown out.
"I've had a chance to read Judge Hudson's opinion, and it seems to me it has a fairly obvious and quite significant error," writes Orin Kerr, a professor of law at George Washington University, on the generally conservative law blog The Volokh Conspiracy.
Kerr and others note that Hudson's argument against Congress' power to require people to purchase health insurance rests on a tautology.
The key portion of the ruling reads:
If a person's decision not to purchase health insurance at a particular point in time does not constitute the type of economic activity subject to regulation under the Commerce Clause, then logically an attempt to enforce such provision under the Necessary and Proper Clause is equally offensive to the Constitution.
Kerr notes that this is all wrong. The Necessary and Proper Clause allows Congress to take steps beyond those listed in the Constitution to achieve its Constitutional ends, including the regulation of interstate commerce. Hudson's argument wipes a key part of the Constitution out of existence. Kerr says Hudson "rendered [it] a nullity."
Kerr's co-blogger, Case Western Reserve University Law Professor Jonathan Adler agreed, though he cautioned that Hudson's error doesn't necessarily imply that the mandate is constitutional.
In an interview with TPM this morning, Timothy Jost of Washington and Lee University, a supporter of the mandate, called the logic on this point "completely redundant."
"In Hudson's opinion he basically conflates the Commerce power and the Necessary and Proper power and says that each provision in a statute has to be looked at independently from every other provision, and each provision has to be independently authorized under the Commerce Clause," Jost said. "And if it isn't, the Necessary and Proper Clause doesn't grant any more authority."
As a result of this error, Hudson never engages the key question in the case: whether the individual mandate is a reasonable way for Congress to implement regulations within its purview.
"Given that existing Supreme Court case law gives the federal government a fairly straightforward argument in support of the mandate under the Necessary and Proper clause, Judge Hudson's error leads him to assume away as a matter of 'logic' what is the major question in the case," Kerr writes. "That is unfortunate, I think."
The judge who declared part of the Health Care law unconstitutional? He's a part owner of a GOP consulting firm that among other things represents Boehner, Bachmann, McCain and others who've spent the last two years arguing that reform was unconstitutional.
BLATANT AND SHAMEFUL CONFLICT OF INTEREST.
Friday, December 10, 2010
But no one disputes that he's a very smart guy and a leading conservative columnist admired by the right and by people who watch FAUX NOOZ. He was one of the few conservatives who acknowledged Mr. Obama's "first-class intellect and first-class temperament" in a column he wrote just before the 2008 presidential election.
Here's what Krauthammer said about Mr. Obama in July of this year:
Krauthammer: 'Don't Underestimate Obama'
"It’s not too often that we say this, but you should really read Charles Krauthammer’s Friday column. The conservative columnist has a warning for Republicans: 'Don’t underestimate Barack Obama.' The net effect of health-care reform, financial-regulation reform, and the stimulus is a 'structural alteration of the U.S. budget' that will eventually 'require massive tax increases' (because, Krauthammer says, 'there just isn’t enough to cut' if you take Medicare and Medicaid off the table, as Obama has). He then compares Obama to Reagan—'highly ideological, grandly ambitious and often underappreciated by their own side.' He says that Obama’s accomplished everything that he needs to for his first term, and that the next things on his agenda—energy, education, and immigration—will not be tackled until 2012. For that reason, 'For Obama, 2010 matters little. If Democrats lose control of one or both houses, Obama will probably have an easier time in 2012, just as Bill Clinton used Newt Gingrich and the Republicans as the foil for his 1996 reelection campaign.' ”
I wonder what Krauthammer's admirers think about his assessment of how President Obama got the GOP to do what they never would have done in the new Congress. Hmmmmm?
At this point, some of President Obama's detractors on the left still don't understand what Mr. Obama manuvered the GOP into doing for him.
Swindle of the year
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, December 10, 2010
"Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010 - and House Democrats don't have a clue that he did. In the deal struck this week, the president negotiated the biggest stimulus in American history, larger than his $814 billion 2009 stimulus package. It will pump a trillion borrowed Chinese dollars into the U.S. economy over the next two years - which just happen to be the two years of the run-up to the next presidential election. This is a defeat?Pardon me while I ROTFLMAO!!! Thank you, Mr. Krauthammer for telling the conservatives and the liberals what they couldn't see happening in front of their noses!
If Obama had asked for a second stimulus directly, he would have been laughed out of town. Stimulus I was so reviled that the Democrats banished the word from their lexicon throughout the 2010 campaign. And yet, despite a very weak post-election hand, Obama got the Republicans to offer to increase spending and cut taxes by $990 billion over two years. Two-thirds of that is above and beyond extension of the Bush tax cuts but includes such urgent national necessities as windmill subsidies.
No mean achievement. After all, these are the same Republicans who spent 2010 running on limited government and reducing debt. And this budget busting occurs less than a week after the president's deficit commission had supposedly signaled a new national consensus of austerity and frugality.
Some Republicans are crowing that Stimulus II is the Republican way - mostly tax cuts - rather than the Democrats' spending orgy of Stimulus I. That's consolation? This just means that Republicans are two years too late. Stimulus II will still blow another near-$1 trillion hole in the budget.
At great cost that will have to be paid after this newest free lunch, the package will add as much as 1 percent to GDP and lower the unemployment rate by about 1.5 percentage points. That could easily be the difference between victory and defeat in 2012.
Obama is no fool. While getting Republicans own reelection chances, he gets them to make a mockery of their newfound, second-chance, post-Bush, Tea-Party, this-time-we're-serious persona of debt-averse fiscal responsibility.
And he gets all this in return for what? For a mere two-year postponement of a mere 4.6-point increase in marginal tax rates for upper incomes. And an estate tax rate of 35 percent - it jumps insanely from zero to 55 percent on Jan. 1 - that is somewhat lower than what the Democrats wanted.
No, cries the left: Obama violated a sacred principle. A 39.6 percent tax rate versus 35 percent is a principle? "This is the public option debate all over again," said Obama at his Tuesday news conference. He is right. The left never understood that to nationalize health care there is no need for a public option because Obamacare turns the private insurers into public utilities, thus setting us inexorably on the road to the left's Promised Land: a Canadian-style single-payer system. The left is similarly clueless on the tax-cut deal: In exchange for temporarily forgoing a small rise in upper-income rates, Obama pulled out of a hat a massive new stimulus - what the left has been begging for since the failure of Stimulus I but was heretofore politically unattainable.
Obama's public exasperation with this infantile leftism is both perfectly understandable and politically adept. It is his way back to at least the appearance of centrist moderation. The only way he will get a second look from the independents who elected him in 2008 - and abandoned the Democrats in 2010 - is by changing the prevailing (and correct) perception that he is a man of the left.
Hence that news-conference attack on what the administration calls the "professional left" for its combination of sanctimony and myopia. It was Obama's Sister Souljah moment. It had a prickly, irritated sincerity - their ideological stupidity and inability to see the "long game" really do get under Obama's skin - but a decidedly calculated quality, too. Where, after all, does the left go? Stay home on Election Day 2012? Vote Republican?
No, says the current buzz, the left will instead challenge Obama for the Democratic nomination. Really now? For decades, African Americans have been this party's most loyal constituency. They vote 9 to 1 Democratic through hell and high water, through impeachment and recession, through everything. After four centuries of enduring much, African Americans finally see one of their own achieve the presidency. And their own party is going to deny him a shot at his own reelection?
Not even Democrats are that stupid. The remaining question is whether they are just stupid enough to not understand - and therefore vote down - the swindle of the year just pulled off by their own president."
Thursday, December 9, 2010
This won't sit well with Massachusetts--you know, the state that voted for equal rights for gays and lesbians and passed the country's first same-sex marriage law?
Brown is holding the repeal of DADT hostage until millionaires and billionaires get their needed extension of their tax cuts.
"Sen. Scott Brown, who six days ago said he would support repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, has voted to block debate on repeal.
The test vote needed to advance legislation was blocked by Senate Republicans on Thursday afternoon. It needed 60 votes; it got 57."
Here are what some Massachusetts voters are saying about his vote:
When i called his office Weds and asked his “current position on DADT” they said he supports the repeal. when i asked if he would vote for cloture they said he hadn’t made that decision public yet. such a slimy guy. i agree he’s misleading the people of the commonwealth. and he’ll be a half-termer because of it. such a coward.--Posted by mike on December 9, 2010, at 9:08 PM
He has just lost my vote. Shame on him.--Posted by Gerard on December 9, 2010, at 7:58 PM
I called his office this afternoon and an aide said that the Senator would vote to repeal DADT … when I called back after the vote another aide was feeding me a line about how the Senator was now going to focus on the economy… and she was reading off a script… He is having his office mislead the people of the Commonwealth. Maybe I am asking for too much, but why doesn’t he have the stones to stand up for what his constituents believe is right?--Posted by Mark Twohig on December 9, 2010, at 5:49 PM
I am unclear how someone who hates discrimination could stomach voting against the repeal of don’t ask; don’t tell. Politicians like Brown should stop the shenanigans and just vote their conscience…but that assumes they have one.--Posted by Jeanne Yocum on December 9, 2010, at 5:01 PM
He’s a Republican. Why would we expect him to tell the truth or do the honorable thing?--Posted by Kathy on December 9, 2010, at 4:37 PM
PART II, THE NEGATIVES, VIA ROBERT GREENSTEIN and ED KILGORE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, GIVES US HIS TAKE ON THE TAX DEAL
But the package also extends President Bush’s tax cuts for households above $250,000. The Tax Policy Center says these tax cuts average over $100,000 a year for people whose incomes exceed $1 million a year; the Congressional Budget Office ranks such an extension last among the tax and spending options it studied for spurring the weak economy and creating jobs; and Zandi ranks it near the bottom of his list of options.
The package’s biggest disappointment is a provision that would shrink the estate tax well below its 2009 level for the next two years.
President Obama sought to reinstate the already-generous 2009 estate tax rules, under which the estates of 99.75 percent of people who die would be entirely tax free, according to the Tax Policy Center. Under the 2009 rules, the first $3.5 million of an estate ($7 million for couples) would be exempt from the tax, and the maximum tax rate on the taxable portion of estates would be 45 percent; the average effective tax rate on taxable estates would be below 20 percent.
But this was not good enough for Senator Kyl, who insisted on the inclusion of a proposal that he and Senator Blanche Lincoln have pushed for some time. Their proposal would exempt the first $5 million of an estate ($10 million for a couple) from the estate tax and set a maximum tax rate of 35 percent on the taxable portion of large estates. This would provide an estimated $25 billion in tax reductions over the next two years exclusively to the top one-quarter of 1 percent of estates. Those estates would receive an average tax break of about $1 million each — the bigger the estate, the more lavish the new tax break. Only the top one-seventh of 1 percent of estates would owe any tax at all, and their effective tax rate would average about 14 percent, based on Tax Policy Center estimates.
What Should Policymakers Do?
Despite the provisions concerning the upper-income tax cuts and the estate tax, which would squander billions of dollars while doing little to help the economy, policymakers should approve the package. The unemployment insurance and refundable tax credit provisions are essential to prevent large losses of purchasing power that would slow the economy — and large increases in hardship and poverty. The temporary payroll tax cut is also important for spurring economic growth. In all, the package provides $216 billion in unemployment insurance and low- and middle-income tax benefits — $120 billion for the payroll tax cut, $56 billion for unemployment insurance, and $40 billion for the refundable tax credits. (The high-end and estate tax provisions appear to total about $125 billion.)
Moreover, congressional defeat of the package would create a need for new negotiations with the Congress that takes office in January. That Congress will be more hostile to unemployment insurance and tax credits for low-income working families, just as insistent on continuing the Bush upper-income tax cuts, and aggressive in pushing for even more egregious estate-tax policies. Many in the new House majority favor estate tax repeal.
In addition, defeat of the package could lead to a protracted period during which all of the tax cuts have expired and federal unemployment benefits have ended, damaging the economy and even possibly tipping it into a double-dip recession.
The big concern about the package is that policymakers will extend again in 2012, and subsequently make permanent, the high-income and estate-tax provisions, thereby making our serious long-term fiscal problems considerably worse. This is a serious threat, and it is the fundamental danger in the package.
However, there is a potential remedy. In 2012, the economy should be stronger than it is today. In addition, Congress likely will have enacted some significant budget cuts, and the nation likely will be debating the sort of further cuts that various commissions have recently proposed, including cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits for elderly widows and seriously disabled people with incomes as low as $20,000. At that point, the President will need to make clear that he will veto any legislation extending the high-end tax cuts or the weakening of the estate tax beyond its 2009 parameters, and he should use the bully pulpit to take this case to the country.
The country will not likely believe that millionaires should continue to get tax cuts averaging over $100,000 a year and multi-million-dollar estates should continue to receive $1 million average tax cuts while programs ranging from education to environmental policies to Medicare and possibly Social Security are on the cutting block."
And Ed Kilgore, Democratic strategist, has this to say to Democrats:
"Let's Say Tax Deal Rebellion Succeeds: Then What?Posted by Ed Kilgore on December 8, 2010 9:26 AM
It's too early to tell anything definitive just now, but there is definitely a possibility that Democratic and Republican opponents of the deal struck by the White House and GOP congressional leaders can combine forces to kill it.
Progressives avid for this to happen do need to ask themselves a simple question: then what? It's not like the collapse of the deal is going to place Obama or other Democrats in a time machine where they can start all over in mobilizing public pressure on congressional Republicans to support their own position. Given the strength of conservative opposition to the deal, GOPers are not about to recut it to make it more acceptible to Democrats, particularly if any extension of top end rates and any compromise on the estate tax are off the table. Besides, Republicans are about to take over the House and increase their numbers in the Senate; time is on their side.
If Democrats are considered in media accounts the prime factors in killing the deal, Republicans may well be happy to play a waiting game, refusing to extend unemployment benefits (much less provide additional economic stimulus through a payroll tax holiday or extension of low-income refundable tax credits) and blaming any economic or political fallout on divisions among Democrats. A tax logjam will also provide a convenience excuse for the GOP to continue to obstruct votes on DADT and the START treaty.
So are progressives willing to pay that price for the principle of not extending upper-income tax cuts? I'm asking this question honestly; personally, I consider ever-worsening economic inequality the great undiscussed issue of our time, and think the abolition of estate taxes would be morally obscene. But those who urge a course of action that makes these positions non-negotiable have a responsibility to game-plan this out a bit in terms of real-life consequences. "Fighting" is not a strategy; nor is "drawing a line in the sand." No rebellion is going to change the Obama administration's handling of the 2009 stimulus bill or the 2010 health reform bill. And you can't make the tax issue a no-brainer: yes, Obama did promise to oppose extension of tax cuts keyed to the top bracket, but he also promised, much more vocally, to extend the rest of them, so he's going to have to break a promise anyway you look at it.
In other words, it would be a shame if all this progressive anger at the president is really just retroactive, and about the public option or "card check" or the size of the stimulus or Afghanistan, because the issues bound up in the tax deal are very real and immediate, and by no means symbolic. So they should be part of the discussion, as should any thoughts the president might have about how he intends to regain some political initiative after the big Democratic Congress of the last two years officially becomes a thing of the past. "
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
"The deal between President Obama and Republican leaders on tax cuts and unemployment insurance has two substantial positive aspects: its surprisingly strong protections for low- and middle-income working families and its stronger-than-expected boost for the economy and jobs. But it also has two deeply disturbing negative features: not only the extension of the high-end income-tax cuts, but also an egregious estate-tax giveaway that Senator Jon Kyl demanded for the estates of the wealthiest one-quarter of 1 percent of Americans who die.
Congress should approve this package — its rejection will likely lead to a more problematic package that does less for middle- and low-income workers and less for the economy. Then, in 2012, when the economy should be stronger, the President should make clear he will veto any legislation to extend either the high-end tax cuts or the weakening of the estate tax beyond the estate-tax parameters that were in place in 2009, and he should take that case to the country.
The Positives in the Package
In several respects, the package exceeds the expectations we and many other observers had set when the negotiations began.
■The 13-month extension of federal unemployment benefits is a major accomplishment. Only a few weeks ago, the House fell short of passing a three-month extension. The 13-month extension will prevent 7 million jobless workers from losing essential income support, without which they would have to cut their purchases substantially, causing the loss of many more jobs. The Council of Economic Advisers recently estimated that an end to these benefits would cause the loss of 600,000 jobs and cut already-inadequate economic growth by 0.6 percentage points by the end of next year, quite a large amount; Goldman Sachs recently made a similar estimate of the impact on economic growth.
■The package continues for two years all of the 2009 Recovery Act improvements in the Earned Income Tax Credit, the American Opportunity Tax Credit (which helps students from low- and middle-income families afford college), and the refundable component of the Child Tax Credit. These measures are simultaneously effective stimulus policy, desirable social policy, and admirable anti-poverty policy. They encourage work over welfare and help more Americans obtain a college education; they provide sound stimulus by putting money in the hands of hard-pressed working families that will spend it; and they substantially reduce child poverty.
■The package also contains a one-year reduction of 2 percentage points in the employee share of the Social Security payroll tax; workers will pay a 4.2 percent tax on their first $106,800 in wages, rather than 6.2 percent. This provision, which would replace the current “Making Work Pay” tax cut, would raise workers’ take-home pay by $120 billion in 2011 (relative to current law) and consequently should provide some economic boost.
These provisions would protect low- and middle-income workers and their families and, by boosting their incomes, also preserve or create substantial numbers of jobs. Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, estimates that federal unemployment benefits generate $1.60 in economic activity for every dollar in cost; the refundable tax credits generate about $1.20 to $1.40 in activity for each dollar in cost; and the payroll tax reduction generates about $1.25 for each dollar in cost. In other words, all of these measures rank high in “bang-for-the-buck” effectiveness.
In this part of the package, the White House achieved everything it sought for low- and middle-income families. It apparently did not compromise on these issues."
Tomorrow: The negatives