Friday, December 12, 2008
One is gay, the other isn't. And the artist won't tell you which is which. That proved too much for the bigots running the Mormon church, and its Borg incubator, otherwise known as Brigham Young "University" (air-quotes added). Apparently exposing young impressionable Mormons to art, and another point of view, runs too great a risk of damaging their fragile narrow-minded sense of hate and intolerance.
From Dan Savage:
Says the artist...Apparently the topic of homosexuality is a bit much for the BYU audience and my part of our Fine Art Classes show was taken down today. It seems that censorship is favored over support and love. This really saddens me. I found out because a friend of mine went to the show and said that my peices had been removed and the show had been rearranged.The show was rearranged so that no one who attended would realize that the works on display had been censored for political/religious reasons. So... shhh. Don't tell anyone.The student artist took pictures of openly gay BYU students—openly gay and openly ballsy—and a companion portrait of a supportive friend or family member. The artist didn't label the portraits; you don't know who in each pair of portraits is the fearsome, terrible, ungodly gay, and who is the tragically deluded enabler of evil—excuse me, "the supporter." You can see the pictures... here. But they deserve a wider viewing—hey, maybe the Salt Lake City Weekly ("We Not All Crazy Bigots Down Here, You Know!") could put them on its cover.
"If [Hillary Clinton] gets a race against John Edwards and Barack Obama, she's going to be the nominee. Gore is the only threat to her, then. … Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I'll predict that right now." —William Kristol, Fox News Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006
Weekly Standard editor and New York Times columnist William Kristol was hardly alone in thinking that the Democratic primary was Clinton's to lose, but it takes a special kind of self-confidence to make a declaration this sweeping more than a year before the first Iowa caucus was held. After Iowa, Kristol lurched to the other extreme, declaring that Clinton would lose New Hampshire and that "There will be no Clinton Restoration." It's also worth pointing out that this second wildly premature prediction was made in a Times column titled, "President Mike Huckabee?" The Times is currently rumored to be looking for his replacement.
"Peter writes: 'Should I be worried about Bear Stearns in terms of liquidity and get my money out of there?' No! No! No! Bear Stearns is fine! Do not take your money out. … Bear Stearns is not in trouble. I mean, if anything they're more likely to be taken over. Don't move your money from Bear! That's just being silly! Don't be silly!" —Jim Cramer, responding to a viewer's e-mail on CNBC's Mad Money, March 11, 2008
Hopefully, Peter got a second opinion. Six days after the volatile CNBC host made his emphatic pronouncement, Bear Stearns faced the modern equivalent of an old-fashioned bank run. Amid widespread speculation on Wall Street about the bank's massive exposure to subprime mortgages, Bear's shares lost 90 percent of their value and the investment bank was sold for a pittance to JPMorgan Chase, with a last-minute assist from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
"[In] reality the risks to maritime flows of oil are far smaller than is commonly assumed. First, tankers are much less vulnerable than conventional wisdom holds. Second, limited regional conflicts would be unlikely to seriously upset traffic, and terrorist attacks against shipping would have even less of an economic effect. Third, only a naval power of the United States' strength could seriously disrupt oil shipments." —Dennis Blair and Kenneth Lieberthal, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2007
On Nov. 15, 2008 a group of Somali pirates in inflatable rafts hijacked a Saudi oil tanker carrying 2 million barrels of crude in the Indian Ocean. The daring raid was part of a rash of attacks by Somali pirates, which have primarily occurred in the Gulf of Aden. Pirates operating in the waterway have hijacked more than 50 ships this year, up from only 13 in all of last year, according to the Piracy Reporting Center. The Gulf of Aden, where nearly 4 percent of the world's oil demand passes every day, was not on the list of strategic "chokepoints" where oil shipments could potentially be disrupted that Blair and Lieberthal included in their essay, "Smooth Sailing: The World's Shipping Lanes Are Safe." Hopefully, Blair will show a bit more foresight if, as some expect, he is selected as Barack Obama's director of national intelligence.
"[A]nyone who says we're in a recession, or heading into one—especially the worst one since the Great Depression—is making up his own private definition of 'recession.'" —Donald Luskin, The Washington Post, Sept. 14, 2008
The day after Luskin's op-ed, "Quit Doling Out That Bad-Economy Line," appeared in the Post, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, and the rest is history. Liberal bloggers had long ago dubbed the Trend Macrolytics chief investment officer and informal McCain advisor "the Stupidest Man Alive." This time, they had some particularly damning evidence.
"For all its flaws, an example to others." —The Economist on Kenya's presidential election, Dec. 19, 2007
The week before Kenya's presidential election, the erudite British newsweekly ran an ill-conceived editorial praising the quality of the country's democracy and predicting it might "set an example" for the rest of the continent. If only. The ensuing election was rife with examples of voter fraud and ballot-stuffing. What followed was a month of rioting and ethnic bloodshed that left more than 800 dead and 200,000 displaced. The carnage ended in a messy power-sharing agreement between President Mwai Kibaki and his challenger Raila Odinga, leaving the country deeply divided and its government delegitimized.
OUR OPINION: With exit in view, Bush, Rice push revisionist history
In a speech last week, Mr. Bush said the Middle East is a freer, more hopeful place today than when he took office in 2001. He said the threat from terrorist groups like al Qaeda has been curtailed and that Iran faces greater pressure from the international community than ever before. Mr. Bush described his Mideast policies as ``ambitious in vision, bold in action and firm in purpose.''
Picking up on this theme, Ms. Rice made the rounds of the Sunday-morning news shows, blaming ''flawed intelligence'' for the administration's decision to invade Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction. ''I would give anything to be able to go back and to know precisely what we were going to find when we were there,'' Ms. Rice said.
These attempts at revisionist history ignore the reams of data and evidence gathered in the intervening years that thoroughly disprove these rosy views of administration policies.
The invasion of Iraq nullified that country's influence as a counter-balance to Iran's ambitions. Neutralizing Iraq greatly increased Iran's power in the region and seriously undermined U.S. Middle East peace initiatives. The war diverted America's attention and resources away from al Qaeda stongholds in Afghanistan -- and the consequences have been disastrous. Al Qaeda remains a menace, and Osama bin Laden remains on the loose.
KBR is the largest contractor for the United States Army and a top-ten contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense.
In one class-action suit Joshua Eller, a civilian who worked for the U.S. Air Force in 2006 at the Balad air force base northeast of Baghdad, alleges KBR 'knowingly and intentionally supplied to U.S. forces and other individuals food that was expired, spoiled, rotten, or that may have been contaminated with shrapnel, or other materials'.
KBR 'supplied water which was contaminated, untreated, and unsafe', Eller charged, detailing a number of examples.
He said Halliburton and KBR 'shipped ice served to U.S. forces in trucks that had been used to carry human remains and that still had traces of body fluids and putrefied remains.'
The lawsuit says the 'defendants burned medical waste that contained human body parts on the open air burn pit. Wild dogs in the area raided the burn pit and carried off human remains. The wild dogs could be seen roaming the base with body parts in their mouths.'
by Glenn Church
Boone compared the Proposition 8 opponents to Mumbai terrorists.
Are you unaware of the raging demonstrations in our streets, in front of our churches and synagogues, even spilling into these places of worship, and many of these riots turning defamatory and violent? Have you not seen the angry distorted faces of the rioters, seen their derogatory and threatening placards and signs, heard their vows to overturn the democratically expressed views of voters, no matter what it costs, no matter what was expressed at the polls? Twice?
I refer to California's Proposition 8. You haven't heard about the well-oiled campaign to find out the names of every voter and business that contributed as much as $1,000, or even much less, in support of Prop 8? You haven't heard about the announced plans to boycott, demonstrate, intimidate and threaten each one - because they dared to vote to retain marriage as between one man and one woman? You haven't seen, on the evening news, prominent entertainers and even California Gov. Schwarzenegger, urging the demonstrators on, telling them they should "never give up" until they get their way?
Assuming you have become aware of all this, let me ask you: Have you not seen the awful similarity between what happened in Mumbai and what's happening right now in our cities?
Oh, I know the homosexual "rights" demonstrations haven't reached the same level of violence, but I'm referring to the anger, the vehemence, the total disregard for law and order and the supposed rights of their fellow citizens. I'm referring to the intolerance, the hate seething in the words, faces and actions of those who didn't get their way in a democratic election, and who proclaim loudly that they will get their way, no matter what the electorate wants!
There is no way Mumbai can be compared to Proposition 8 protests. Yes, some of the protests turned violent and some of the tactics are despicable, but in a democratic society those actions have a payback of their own. It is called voting. Those actions will only further alienate voters.
Please, Mr. Boone, psychopathic thugs crawling out of their rat holes to shoot innocent men, women and children with automatic weapons is not the same as stupid Proposition 8 supporters breaking the law. If you cannot figure that out, you have not learned much about life in a free society.
Now let's return to some of your words: "I'm referring to the anger, the vehemence…I'm referring to the intolerance, the hate seething in the words."
Mr. Boone, those same words fit many of the supporters of Proposition 8 too.
|AP photo / Charles Dharapak|
Let the record show that it was George W. Bush, the rich Texas Republican, who brought socialism to America, so don't blame it on that African-American Chicago Democrat community organizer who made it into the White House. The government takeover of the banking and automobile industries not only happened on President Bush's watch, it was also the deregulatory mania of this president's family, beginning with his father, which took this country into such starkly unfamiliar territory.
What a betrayal of free-market capitalism. And who would have thought that it would be the candidates backed by conservative pundits Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh who made it possible? You actually could trace the destruction of corporate capitalism to the much-ballyhooed "Reagan Revolution" of the movie actor who got his main training for the presidency as a huckster for General Electric, where he honed the message of "getting government off our backs." The revolution of unfettered corporate capitalism led to an era of unfettered corporate greed, which sowed the seeds of its own destruction.
True, the Democrats deserve much blame. The Wall Street runaway wouldn't have happened if President Bill Clinton hadn't cheered it on. The Great Triangulator provided seamless continuity between the administrations of the two Bushes in systematically dismantling the proven regulatory system, introduced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, that saved capitalism from itself during the Great Depression. The danger with the incoming Democratic president is that Barack Obama has turned to some of the Clinton alums, most prominently former Clinton Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, to get us out of the mess that the Clinton administration worked mightily to create.
At least in the auto bailout there is some talk from the Democrats that the failed corporate leaders must be fired as a condition of salvaging their corporate entities—and stock options. Both political parties are tougher in the auto bailout than they were in the Wall Street rescue, but what do you expect when leadership on this issue is coming from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson? Like Robert Rubin, Clinton's first treasury secretary and now Obama confident, Paulson came to government service immediately after heading up Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street powerhouse at the epicenter of the banking collapse. For the key practitioners of America's brave new game of corporate socialism, failure has its own lush reward.
It's enough to drive one back to the invisible hand of Adam Smith.
Allegations against Coleman emerged before election
by Nick JulianoThe FBI is probing deeper into allegations of fraud involving Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), his wife and a wealthy benefactor.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports Wednesday that federal investigators have begun interviewing sources familiar with the alleged scheme to funnel money to the Republican senator. A source tells the paper that individuals in Texas have been contacted by the feds.
A lawsuit in Houston alleges that financier Nasser Kazeminy attempted to deliver $100,000 to Coleman through a company that employs his wife, according to the Pioneer Press. A similar suit in Delaware says Kazeminy tried to give money directly to Coleman.
The Coleman campaign said it was unaware of any FBI investigation and had not been contacted. It dismissed the allegations as "baseless, sleazy and politically inspired," although as the Pioneer Press notes the campaign provided no evidence that the allegations were political.
The lawsuits were filed in the final days of the campaign between Coleman and Democratic candidate Al Franken, at which point Coleman tried to dismiss it as a last minute political hit or ignore it altogether. A more memorable scene from the closing days of the Minnesota Senate race saw a Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter chasing Coleman from a campaign event waving a copy of the lawsuit and shouting questions.
The outcome of the Senate race remains unknown as a recount in Minnesota continues. A state canvassing board next week will begin considering the more than 6,600 challenged ballots before it, and many details about the count remain to be worked out.
By ERIC GIBSON
We can now add colleges and universities to the list of victims of the financial crisis. The stock-market collapse has badly eroded endowments, forcing schools to suspend capital projects, freeze hiring, rethink need-blind financial-aid policies and cut budgets. The Journal reported this week that Harvard University's giant-killer endowment, which stood at $36.9 billion as of June 30, has lost 22% of its value in the months since and that the university's administration is planning for a 30% decline for the fiscal year ending next June.
In a letter to the Harvard community two days ago, President Drew Gilpin Faust announced that the school is "reconsidering the scale and pace of planned capital projects, including the University's development in Allston, and . . . taking a hard look at hiring, staffing levels and compensation." Many private colleges and universities are doing the same thing. In response to falling endowments, some have considered suing their brokers for putting funds into risky investments, while others are trying to get a slice of any future congressional stimulus package. Can clamor for a bailout be far behind?
Incredibly, one or two schools have even contemplated making up their shortfalls the old-fashioned way -- by increasing tuition. If you'll pardon the pun, that's rich.
This weekend, President-elect Obama announced in a radio address a plan to craft what he described as the largest public investment in national infrastructure (roads, bridges, schools, broadband, and health-care-information technology, among other things) since the Eisenhower Administration. The package is being skillfully positioned as a response to the economic crisis, and if it is crafted to support speedy project decisions and fast-track job creation, it should provide as effective an economic stimulus as consumption-sparking tax rebates—but with more transformational long-term effects.
What's fascinating about his announcement is how quickly this idea has migrated from the relative fringes of economic discourse into a pillar of centrist conventional wisdom. I know this only because of my work over the last eighteen months or so running the New America Foundation, a think tank that happens to house some of the people who have conceived and pushed the infrastructure focus. I take zero credit personally—my job is to keep the lights on and the computers plugged in, and also to serve as chief intellectual cat herder (a characterization meant only to reflect, of course, my respect for the independence of mind that causes cats to resist herding.) Still, I've become acquainted with the intellectual history of the recent neo-Keynesian emphasis on public-investment strategies of the sort Obama is now embracing so centrally.
At the end of the Clinton Administration, when it became clear that a combination of tight fiscal policy and the Internet boom would produce a rare surplus in the federal budget, there was a quiet debate within the Democratic Party about what to do about that surplus. Neo-Keynesians such as Bernard Schwartz argued that Vice-President Gore, heading into the 2000 cycle, ought to announce a program of public investment into twentieth-century infrastructure, perhaps using public-private financing mechanisms. The argument was that the U.S. lagged in research-and-development spending, its basic infrastructure was in obvious decay, and the country was falling behind Europe and Japan in broadband, air-traffic-control capacity, education, and other modernizing infrastructure. This argument did not prevail, however; among other things, the fiscally conservative, Robert Rubin-led wing of the Party resisted. Political calculus may also have figured in. It is easy to imagine the temptation of a budget-surplus policy that would protect Gore, in 2000, from attacks against Democratic tax-and-spend profligacy. In any event, although a program of public- infrastructure investments was conceived and argued for at this time, it gained little traction.
If Gore had won, given his interests in climate change, green infrastructure, and the digital economy, he might well have returned to these ideas.
By Hugh Son
Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- American International Group Inc., the insurer whose bonuses and perks are under fire from U.S. lawmakers, offered cash awards to another 38 executives in a retention program with payments of as much as $4 million.
The incentives range from $92,500 to $4 million for employees earning salaries between $160,000 and $1 million, Chief Executive Officer Edward Liddy said in a letter dated Dec. 5 to Representative Elijah Cummings. The New York-based insurer had previously disclosed that 130 managers would get the awards and that one executive would get $3 million.
"I remain concerned, as do many American taxpayers, that these retention payments are simply bonuses by another name," Cummings said in letter responding to Liddy.
AIG, which received a U.S. rescue package of more than $152 billion, has been criticized for saying it will eliminate bonuses for senior executives while still planning to hand out "cash awards" that double or triple the salaries of some managers. The payments are designed to keep top employees at AIG while Liddy seeks to sell units and pay back the federal government, which owns 79.9 percent of AIG.
"We are indeed fortunate to have benefited from the assistance extended to us by the U.S. government and we are grateful for the support of American taxpayers," Liddy wrote. "We would be doing a disservice to the taxpayer -- and would place AIG's asset divestiture plan at risk -- if we did not act decisively to ensure that our key employees remain."
Congressman Wants Answers
Cummings, a Maryland Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asked AIG to disclose how much each of the 168 recipients made in salary, bonuses and other kinds of pay. In a letter dated today, Cummings also asked for an estimate of what AIG would have spent on employee compensation in 2008 had the firm not sought U.S. help, compared with what it expected to spend.
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