Friday, October 31, 2008

Cell phone equivalencies

Hell freezes over: a Republican to vote for

A GOPer for Choice, Pot, and Gay Marriage
So why can't Marcia McCraw get the liberal establishment to support her run for lieutenant governor?

By Aimee Curl

A few things you may be surprised to hear about Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor Marcia McCraw: She's pro-choice, in favor of medical marijuana, and supports gay rights. This sets her apart on the social issues from 12-year Democratic incumbent Brad Owen, who is anti-choice, uses his rock band and his office to crusade against pot, and is lukewarm on gay rights.

Help George W. Bush write his cover letter

George will be applying for a lot of jobs in the next few months and needs your help with his cover letter. Enter the following information to lend a hand and make sure he doesn't end up on the dole!


Best of the ’08 Campaign V: Northern exposure

By Scott Horton

Is Sarah Palin a "whack job"? Yesterday, Politico quoted an unnamed senior McCain advisor describing Palin in just those words. Yet there has been little reporting in the mainstream media that would sustain this characterization. As I reported a few days back for The Daily Beast,, one of the things that led Bill Kristol—Palin's principal advocate—to push her as McCain's vice president was the fact that she was unknown, a blank slate. She hailed from a small town in the most remote state in the Union. When the Palin nomination was announced, hundreds of journalists descended on Anchorage and its northern suburb of Wasilla. A handful of serious exposé pieces emerged in the process. But only one visitor up north came back with a bag of gold nuggets. His name is Max Blumenthal.

Over the past several years, Blumenthal's work has focused on fringe groups on the right. He has excelled in covering political activism among evangelicals. His technique is simple: he confronts the subjects and lets them speak for themselves. His videos are generally under fifteen minutes and are somewhat haphazard, but Blumenthal invariably captures images and language that go unreported in the mainstream media–which prefers to allow religious-right figures to sell their snake oil unreported and off camera. In his trek to Alaska, Blumenthal focused on three aspects of Palin's background—her relationship with two churches that played a central role in her political campaigns (first for mayor of Wasilla, then for governor of Alaska); her connections to a political separatist movement, the Alaska Independent Party; and her relations with minorities.

The materials Blumenthal harvested on his trip have had a real impact on the campaign. They include clips of services in the Wasilla Assembly of God, where Palin was baptized when she was twelve and which she attended until 2002, and the Wasilla Bible Church, which she attended after 2002. Although Palin launched her political career from a religious platform, mobilizing the religious communities with which she was affiliated, she has been quiet about her religious views throughout the campaign. The footage that Blumenthal secured and published allows an extraordinary glimpse into Palin's inner sanctum. We see in some clips Palin delivering an address in which she equates religious missionary work with her political career. A series of vital political projects—ranging from the war in Iraq to a pipeline project—are described as being divinely ordained, and thus beyond discussion. In another clip, Bishop Thomas Muthee lays hands on Palin and prays, "Bring finances her way even for the campaign in the name of Jesus… Use her to turn this nation the other way around and to keep her safe from every form of witchcraft." In another segment that Blumenthal recorded in the church, Muthee sermonizes about "the enemy," using violent language. What these clips reveal is material to understanding Palin's political and religious views. They suggest that the Wasilla congregation and Palin follow "dominionism," a conviction that society must be governed exclusively by the law of God as set forth in the Bible. Biblical texts are to be construed and applied with a right-wing twist that reveals plenty of conservative social prejudices and little sensitivity to the original texts themselves. Moreover, dominionists share a millennial vision of the Rapture, coming great upheavals and political change leading to the creation of the Kingdom of God on earth. Dominionists do not embrace the separation of church and state, and tend to approach political issues from a highly dogmatic stance, often focused on particular charismatic individuals they see as ordained to govern.

Palin accuses Obama of ties to second 'radical professor'


(CNN) -- Gov. Sarah Palin on Wednesday said Sen. Barack Obama has ties to a Columbia University professor who she said is "a former spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization."

Gov. Sarah Palin says it's "not negative campaigning to call someone out on their record."The Obama campaign said on its Web site that "ugly insinuations about Barack Obama's relationship with a former neighbor and university colleague ... are completely false." The professor has denied he was a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Palin said her assertion "is not negative campaigning to call someone out on their record."

"It seems that there is yet another radical professor from the neighborhood who spent a lot of time with Barack Obama going back several years," Palin said at an event in Bowling Green, Ohio.

"This is important because his associate, Rashid Khalidi ... in addition to being a political ally of Barack Obama, he's a former spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization." Video Watch Palin say the LA Times is 'kowtowing' to Obama »

Sen. John McCain's campaign repeatedly has sought to tie Obama to former 1960s radical William Ayers, who co-founded the Weather Underground. Ayers is a professor at the University of Illinois.

Khalidi is a leading scholar of Middle Eastern studies at Columbia, and he was a contemporary of Obama's while on the faculty of the University of Chicago. Read: Palin blasts Obama for ties to Palestinian professor

Khalidi has been a harsh critic of U.S. foreign policy toward Israel and has accused the country of "occupying" Palestinian territories. But he has denied acting as a PLO spokesman during a seven-year period in the 1970s and 1980s.

False profit

Iceland for sale on eBay

LONDON (Reuters) - Great scenery and wildlife but financial situation in need of repair -- collect in person.

Iceland, which is going cap in hand to Russia for a 4 billion euro loan to bail out its failed banks, was offered for sale as a wholesale lot on eBay on Friday.

Bidding started at 99 pence but had reached 10 million pounds by mid-morning on Friday.

Globally renowned singer Bjork was "not included" in the sale, according to the notice, but there were nonetheless 26 anonymous bidders and 84 bids.

"Located in the mid-Atlantic ridge in the North Atlantic Ocean, Iceland will provide the winning bidder with -- a habitable environment, Icelandic Horses and admittedly a somewhat sketchy financial situation," the notice read.

Bidders' questions included: "Do you offer volcano/earthquake insurance?", "Is it possible that my payment will be frozen?", and "Will you accept C.O.D. as a form of payment?"

Amazing: Guess who Helped a Stranded Stranger 20 Years Ago

The Ladner Report

The Norwegian newspaper VG has reported a truly amazing story about a newly-wed trying to get to Norway to be with her husband, and the stranger who helped pay an unexpected luggage surcharge. The blog "Leisha's Random Thoughts" has translated the story.

It was 1988, and Mary Andersen was at the Miami airport checking in for a long flight to Norway to be with her husband when the airline representative informed her that she wouldn't be able to check her luggage without paying a 100 surcharge:

When it was finally Mary's turn, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.

-You'll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway, the man behind the counter said.

Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.

-I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions, says Mary.

As tears streamed down her face, she heard a "gentle and friendly voice" behind her saying, "That's okay, I'll pay for her."
Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.

-He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this man?

Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man.

-He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants, says Mary.

She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.

Who was the man?

Barack Obama.

Obama on the Daily Show

The Republican shipwreck

The mighty right-wing Titanic is sinking, and McCain is desperately blaming Bush. But the problem isn't the captain -- it's the ship.

By Gary Kamiya

The modern conservative movement is dying in front of our eyes, and its death throes aren't pretty. As John McCain heads for likely defeat, the GOP is eating itself. Right-wing politicians and pundits who never criticized Bush in eight years are suddenly jumping ship like rats, while bitter-end loyalists angrily accuse them of being "pathetically opportunistic." After months of veering from one tactic to the next, McCain has finally settled on one message for his campaign, but it's absurd: claiming that the party whose signature is tax cuts for the rich is really on the side of Joe the Plumber.

Meanwhile, 3.1 million real Joe the Plumbers across America are sending Barack Obama hundreds of millions of dollars, a torrent of cash that is helping to flush the GOP down the national toilet.

Right-wing hacks like Palin and Minn. Rep. Michele Bachman respond by doing the only thing they know how to do -- attack, demonize and divide. They wave the flag like a cutlass, dividing the country up into "pro-America areas" and "anti-America" ones. But this old pseudo-patriotic trick that has served the GOP so well for so long doesn't work anymore. In a development that showed just how much the political landscape has changed, the attack dogs have been forced to apologize -- something neither Bush nor his party nor conservative pundits ever did while they were trashing the country during the last eight years.

McCain's choice of the insultingly unqualified Palin to be his running mate was right out of the GOP's old culture-wars playbook, but it has backfired disastrously. The changing demographics of the country are working against the right wing. The party is lost, and it doesn't have a clue what to do next.

There's something surreal about how fast the GOP has gone from arrogant triumphalism to its death throes. Just yesterday, the GOP's mighty Titanic was cruising along, its opulent decks lined with fat-cat financiers and neoconservative warmongers, all smoking cigars, drinking champagne and extolling the deathless virtues of their fearless captain. The compliant media issued glowing dispatches. Karl Rove cackled with glee as he plotted out a permanent Republican majority.

Then the luxury liner hit an iceberg known as reality.

After Calling Social Security An ‘Absolute Disgrace,’ McCain Says Safety Nets Are ‘What America Is All About’

In an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity last night, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) claimed it was a "far-left liberal view that you need to take money from one group of Americans and give it to another." Yet in the same breath, McCain praised the social safety net system, in particular Social Security:

McCAIN: Now, of course we have an obligation to take care of citizens in our society who can't care for themselves. That's why we have those programs, those Safety Net Programs. But you know, the Safety Net Program, a lot of Americans pay in to Social Security, they pay in to a number of those programs. So the point is, yes, a society and government takes care of citizens who need our help. That's what America is all about.

Watch it:

McCain has claimed that Social Security is "broken" and has campaigned alongside President Bush to privatize the system. In July, he went a step further and said Social Security is an "absolute disgrace":

Americans have got to understand that we are paying present day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers…and that's a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace.

Watch it:

In August, in honor of the 73rd anniversary of the Social Security Act, the New Mexico Democratic Party attempted to sing "Happy 73rd Birthday to Social Security" outside of a McCain campaign office, "only to have the birthday cake thrown in the trash by the campaign."

UFO alien backs Obama!

Polls suggest Palin has become a big drag on GOP ticket


MODERATES: Alaska governor alienates all but strict conservatives.

Among many independents and moderate Republicans, she's raised serious questions about John McCain's judgment, become too much of a national punch line and reinforced concerns about McCain's age.

"Nice lady, no experience. It's so sad. She's a gigantic drag," said Chris DePino, a Republican consultant based in New Haven, Conn.

The Alaska governor does help the ticket somewhat by energizing hard-core Republicans, but polls suggest that overall "she's hurting John McCain," said Andrew Kohut, the president of the Pew Research Center.

McCain Campaign: Our Health Plan Doesn't Work

Another admission from the McCain campaign that their health care plan is nothing more than a bunch of right-wing platitudes thrown together without any real serious thought as to how to solve the health care crisis. From CNN:
Changing the tax treatment wouldn't hurt the employer-sponsored system and would allow more of the uninsured to buy their own coverage, [the McCain campaign says]. Also, his advisers say a McCain administration would keep an eye on the credit to make sure it didn't lag behind the cost of coverage, while also working to lower the rate of medical inflation.

Younger, healthier workers likely wouldn't abandon their company-sponsored plans, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain's senior economic policy adviser.

"Why would they leave?" said Holtz-Eakin. "What they are getting from their employer is way better than what they could get with the credit."

Got that?

The entire premise of McCain's health care plan is that people can do better on the free market. That's why you get a tax credit. That's why you would be able to buy insurance across state lines. The market supposedly makes health insurance cheaper, makes your health insurance company offer better coverage, and makes buying the insurance you need easier. And things like tying health insurance to employment are anti-free market, which is why the McCain plan taxes employer health benefits to encourage people to get insurance on the individual, free-er market.

GOPacalypse Now Redux

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Millions of Iraqis at risk from contaminated water, says Red Cross

Country continues to face one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters

Flooded Baghdad street this week

Heavy rain flooded streets in Baghdad this week due to the inadequate sewage system. Photograph: Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty

Improved security has failed to prevent Iraq becoming the scene of one of the world's most critical humanitarian disasters with water supplies and sewage systems putting millions at risk of disease, the Red Cross said today.

The statement from the International Committee of the Red Cross said the situation has not improved significantly since March this year when the organisation published its report, Iraq: No Let-up in The Humanitarian Crisis.

The report found that the humanitarian situation in Iraq following the US invasion was the worst in the world.

Today's findings state that water supplies in the war-torn country have continued to deteriorate with even the most basic infrastructure not functioning.

More than 40% of people are relying on poor quality and inadequate supplies and millions, especially children, are at serious risk of water-borne disease, the Red Cross said.

Ronald Reagan Endorses Obama

The Paranoia and Psychosis of Meth

Medical Experts Say the Supposed Admissions of an Obama Assassination Plot Fits Behavior Pattern of Users
obama meth
The three men involved in a supposed assassination plot against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama were allegedly on a methamphetamine binge.
(ABC News Photo Illustration)
More Photos

Tharin Robert Gartrell is currently in custody, along with two other men who face meth-related and illegal possession of firearms charges.

The arrest of the three men has focused renewed attention on the paranoia and psychosis that go along with abuse of the drug which is widely used across the country.

Medical experts say their supposed admissions about an assassination plot fit into the expected pattern of erratic behavior from meth users.

Gartrell, Shawn Robert Adolf, and Nathan Johnson expressed strongly racist views and spoke about killing the Democratic presidential nominee while using meth, according to U.S. Atty. Troy Eid. The talk, Eid said, does not meet the legal standard for filing charges for threatening a presidential candidate.

Fox host berates 'Joe the Plumber' after McCain surrogate says Obama vote means 'death to Israel'

by David Edwards and Nick Juliano

The all-out effort from John McCain's presidential campaign to scare voters into backing the Republican candidate continued apace on Tuesday as McCain surrogate Joe the Plumber agreed that a Barack Obama presidency would mean the "death of Israel" and end democracy in America.

The Ohio plumber, who has no license and is actually named Samuel Wurzelbacher, spoke at a McCain campaign event in Columbus Monday. A McCain supporter asked if "a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel." JTP hardly batted an eye.

"I'll go ahead and agree with you on that," Wurzelbacher said.


It's all your fault!

Weekly Reader Poll Has Predicted 12 of Last 13 Elections and This Year Obama Wins in Electoral Landslide


PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Just days before Americans choose our next president, voting has concluded in the Weekly Reader Student Presidential Election Poll. And the nation's students resoundingly say that Barack Obama will be the country's next leader. In the 14th Weekly Reader election survey, with more than 125,000 votes cast from kindergarten through 12th grade, the result was Obama 54.7% and John McCain 42.9% (with "other" candidates receiving 2.5% of the student vote). The Obama victory in the classroom electoral vote was even more resounding: The Democrat won 33 states and the District of Columbia, garnering 420 electoral votes, while McCain took 17 states and 118 electoral votes.

For the past 52 years, the results of the Weekly Reader poll have been consistently on target, with the student vote correctly predicting the next president in 12 out of 13 elections. (The only time the kids were wrong was 1992, when they chose George H.W. Bush over Bill Clinton.) This year, as in 2000 and 2004, the student election was conducted in conjunction with noted polling organization Zogby International.

"Historically, our poll has been an amazing indicator of the presidential race's outcome, so we're all waiting with great anticipation to see what happens on Election Day," said Neal Goff, President of Weekly Reader. "Throughout the past few months, we've delivered cutting-edge multimedia election materials directly to schools so that students could cast an informed vote. We're excited to have given kids this important forum to express their opinions about who should be the next president."

Credit Cards: The Plastic Trap

by: Dominique Nora, Le Nouvel Observateur

photoSome Americans have no choice, Dominique Nora recounts, but to pay $35.50 for a two-week $200 payday loan, an annualized rate of over 468 percent. (Photo: Kevin Steele / Flickr)

    "It was too easy."

    After houses, consumer credit? While bankers plug up the breaches created by the mortgage earthquake as best they can, another bubble threatens them: Americans have been living their dreams on credit. And, having overheated up their cards, millions of households will have problems making their payments ...

    Maria, a housekeeper in a San Francisco clinic, came to the Polk Street Money Mart to borrow $150 (110 Euros) on her October month-end salary. Yet the usurious rate practiced by this boutique is posted in big letters on the wall: $35.50 for $200! But Maria has no choice: "I don't have anything to buy diapers with for the baby; the fridge is empty ..." This young woman who is raising her son alone has already gone through the ceiling of two credit cards: "I've got close to a 6,400 Euro balance, while I earn barely 1,400 Euros a month." In the beginning, Maria used her Bank of America card for exceptional expenses only, such as the pediatrician's bill. Then she got into the habit of paying the grocery with it ... "It was too easy." Today, she is suffocating. Because in the United States, credit cards are commonly used to borrow. And everything pushes you to repay no more than a minimum amount every month.

    Thus do millions of Americans find themselves caught in the "plastic trap." And experts are predicting a new deflagration. "In fact, there's a double financial bubble. The real estate credit bubble has exploded ... The next will be about consumer credit," warns Robert Manning, finance professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and author of the best-seller, "Credit Card Nation." The two problems are linked: "Because of the tax advantage, Americans repaid 250 billion Euros of credit card balances with money drawn from real estate between 2001 and 2006," he explains. "During that period, in defiance of the laws of economic gravity, people's real income declined ... but the price of real estate doubled, which completely distorted their perception of their debt capacity." The global balance on American credit cards is up to 700 billion Euros. Now that their houses can no longer be used as "cash machines," and economic activity is slowing down and unemployment rising, what proportion of this debt will turn out to be toxic? In the second quarter of 2008, the national default rate jumped to 7.3 percent. But it seems that that's only the beginning: according to the firm Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, credit card issuers will have to write off 29 billion Euros of losses this year and 69 billion more in 2009.

Come visit wild Alaska

Broken Securities Industry Still Has $20 Billion to Pay Bonuses

By Christine Harper and Serena Saitto

Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Five straight quarters of losses and a 70 percent slide in its stock this year haven't stopped Merrill Lynch & Co. from allocating about $6.7 billion to pay bonuses.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, both still on track for profitable years, have set aside about $13 billion for bonuses after three quarters, down 28 percent from a year ago. Even some employees at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which declared the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history last month, will get the same bonus they received a year ago.

The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, a $700 billion taxpayer bailout, public outcry over excessive pay and the demise of three of the biggest securities firms won't deter Wall Street from offering year-end rewards to employees on top of their salaries, compensation experts say.

``Critical producers and critical managers will be retained with the same bonus they had last year,'' said Robert Sloan, head of U.S. financial-services recruiting at Egon Zehnder International, a New York-based executive-search firm. ``The others will see sharp cuts.''

Goldman, the biggest and most profitable Wall Street firm until it opted to become a bank holding company last month, has set aside about $6.85 billion for bonuses, or an average of $210,300 for each employee, down 32 percent from $339,400 a year ago. Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest securities firm until it also converted to a bank, has $6.44 billion for bonuses, or $138,700 per person, down 20 percent from last year. Both firms accrue a fixed percentage of their revenue for compensation, so the decline in bonus pools matches the drop in revenue.

Merrill's Compensation

The money Merrill has set aside for bonuses equates to an average $110,000 for each of its 60,900 people, up from $108,000 a year ago because more than 3,000 jobs have been cut.

The 10 Dirtiest Election Tricks the Republicans Have Tried So Far

As Arianna Huffington warns Democrats, an increasingly desperate John McCain and the GOP are throwing the kitchen sink at Barack Obama. No wonder they called Joe the Plumber. So this week brought racist mailers, a tidal wave of robo-calls, more Bill Ayers, Sarah Palin's love of the "pro-American areas of this great nation" and McCain's outlandish claim that ACORN is "destroying the fabric of democracy."

Reed Hundt from Talking Points Memo writes, "The McCain plan will be to give up on the national popular vote and re-run the Bush campaign of 2000. By voter intimidation and robo-calls and litigation and outrageous allegations, it will aim for victory in the states that can provide an Electoral College victory. In this case, that means McCain will focus his diminished but vigorous efforts on Florida, Ohio, Colorado and Virginia. In each state we need hardly ask what images, stereotypes and fears the McCain campaign will hope to evoke."

The attacks by McCain and his surrogates are already at fever pitch -- and there is clearly a tidal wave on its way:

1. Rush Limbaugh's Racist Tactics: Bringing this toxic collection together in one despicable no-goodie bag was Rush Limbaugh, who charged that Obama -- aided and abetted by Ayers and ACORN -- is "smack dab in the middle" of a 30-year plot to teach black children to "hate, hate, hate" America.

2. Racist Attacks on Immigration: Sarah Posner for the American Prospect's blog writes: "A newly formed political action committee, the National Republican Trust PAC, is buying up e-mail blasts to the readers of conservative outlets like Newsmax and Townhall to raise money for what it calls a 'shock and awe' advertising blitz against Barack Obama in key states in the last weeks of the campaign. One of the e-mails uses the screamer headline, 'Obama's Plan: Mohamed Atta Gets His Drivers License,' while another says Republicans should 'employ Hillary Clinton's strategy' to 'expose Obama for the dangerous radical he is.'" The PAC was founded by Scott Wheeler, a former correspondent for the Moonie-owned Insight magazine, and Peter Leitner, a former Pentagon adviser and president of the Higgins Counterterrorism Research Center, which trains law enforcement personnel on counterterrorism.

People against each other

Slacker Uprising


Director: Michael Moore

Cast: Michael Moore, Tom Morello, Eddie Vedder, Steve Earle, Viggo Mortensen, Rosanne Barr, R.E.M., Joan Baez

(Brave New Films, 2008) Rated: Unrated

US DVD release date: 7 October 2008 (Brave New Films)

UK release date: Available as import

by Anthony Henriques

cover artAll the negative hype surrounding Michael Moore post-Fahrenheit 911 has made me skeptical when it comes to approaching his work. Each time however, I have been struck by how funny, compassionate, informative, and simply reasonable he appears in contrast to how a lot of the media portrays him. To me, the man who, in the eye of mainstream America, carries the label of some sort of anti-American, raging, left-wing extremist, instead comes across as a patriotic, outspoken moderate who only leans left in these times.

The most enlightening section of Moore's new film Slacker Uprising – first released for free over the Internet, and now on DVD – is the portion which examines his detractors. The movie itself is a simple travelogue of his 62-city, get-out-the-vote, speaking tour of battleground states leading up to the 2004 US Presidential Election. About halfway through, the film addresses the pro-Bush protesters who showed up to most of his rallies. Several amusing, ignorance-exposing interviews with protesters are followed by some interesting statistics, providing insight into the origins of the extreme Michael Moore hatred that reached a fever pitch in 2004.

The statistics state that 44 percent of polled Republicans viewed Fahrenheit 911 positively and that 30 percent of those thought that the film was fair to George W. Bush. The film follows the stats with a few sound bites of George Bush, Sr. referring to Moore as a "despicable character", a "total asshole", and a "slime ball" among other insults. Suddenly the Fahrenheit 911 controversy comes into perspective and the anti-Moore campaign feels much larger than the product of a few angry right-wingers. It becomes apparent that certain individuals within the controlling party of the United States government felt threatened enough by a film to warrant launching a smear campaign against its maker. It is a historic testament to the power of art to see some of the most powerful people in the world fearful that the work of an ordinary civilian was convincing enough to derail their reign.

McCain's October Surprise Memo Leaked to Press

Okay team, don't forget to dispose of this memo when you're done reading it. Anyway, clearly we need a late-October surprise. Here are the possibilities I've come up with. Some may sound outlandish, but I'm willing to do anything and spend any amount to win this bullshit election.

1) Get Hillary Clinton to endorse me. I'm pretty sure I could get her to do it, but it would involve a trade-off which makes me gag every time I think about it. Anyway, let's just say this option is a last last resort.

2) Announce that I would launch a surge on the economy. It would be like the surge in Iraq that I so brilliantly invented except it would be on CEOs and investment bankers. Just imagine 100,000 of America's finest warriors storming the stock exchange and "neutralizing" those rich cocksuckers! (note: this is my favorite idea)

3) Reveal that Obama isn't black. I haven't worked out the details on this one.

4) Announce that despite being married, I've never actually slept with Cindy. I know you're probably wondering why that matters to voters. Well, I have a sneaking suspicion that a third of voters don't like me because they're horrified at the prospect of me doing the ol' inverted barrel role with that plastic ring-tailed lemur of a woman. Hell, the thought horrifies me too. If I announce I've never been in that snake pit, a lot of people would be more comfortable with me as a leader. What do you guys think? (We did try it once and let's just say it ended with a skin graft and me soaking my Johnson in Luvox.)

5) Hire someone to shoot me. You know, just a flesh wound - maybe the meaty part of the thigh. I think it would really up my star power, kind of like a rapper. Voters would think, "McCain took a shot and he's still ticking. He's hard boiled, man!" Right?

6) What if I were to strangle Palin to death? It might not help with the voters, but it would definitely help me let off some steam.

7) I personally fly a mission into Iran, take out a couple of their elite guard, and bring back their thumbs to prove I did it.

8) Hold a huge press conference where I present to America - Chandra Levy AND Natalee Hollaway alive and well!! They wave and say they're completely supporting the McCain-Palin ticket. (I haven't worked out the details of this one. Does anyone have a lead on those ladies?)

9) I come out against the Jews. I say I've never trusted those slimy loan sharks! I know, this is a risky move. But I think there's a simmering hatred I can tap into. When was the last time someone tried an anti-Jew platform? Not for at least fifty years. (Hey Joe, if you get this memo, I'm sorry. You know politics. Alls fair!)


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Red Sex, Blue Sex

Annals of Sociology

Why do so many evangelical teen-agers become pregnant?

by Margaret Talbot


The "sexual début" of an evangelical girl typically occurs just after she turns sixteen. Photograph by Mary Ellen Mark.

During the campaign, the media has largely respected calls to treat Bristol Palin's pregnancy as a private matter. But the reactions to it have exposed a cultural rift that mirrors America's dominant political divide. Social liberals in the country's "blue states" tend to support sex education and are not particularly troubled by the idea that many teen-agers have sex before marriage, but would regard a teen-age daughter's pregnancy as devastating news. And the social conservatives in "red states" generally advocate abstinence-only education and denounce sex before marriage, but are relatively unruffled if a teen-ager becomes pregnant, as long as she doesn't choose to have an abortion.

A handful of social scientists and family-law scholars have recently begun looking closely at this split. Last year, Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin, published a startling book called "Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers," and he is working on a follow-up that includes a section titled "Red Sex, Blue Sex." His findings are drawn from a national survey that Regnerus and his colleagues conducted of some thirty-four hundred thirteen-to-seventeen-year-olds, and from a comprehensive government study of adolescent health known as Add Health. Regnerus argues that religion is a good indicator of attitudes toward sex, but a poor one of sexual behavior, and that this gap is especially wide among teen-agers who identify themselves as evangelical.


"[Sarah Palin] was never a hockey mom, she was always the prom queen sitting in the back of the convertible waving to the hockey moms"
- Simon Doonan, high-end clothing store Barney's in NYC

Sexual trauma afflicts 15 percent of U.S. veterans: study

Iraq Veterans Against the War march through the streets of Denver, ColoradoNearly 15 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking medical care from the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department have suffered sexual trauma, from harassment to rape, researchers reported on Tuesday.

And these veterans were 1.5 times as likely as other veterans to need mental health services, the report from the VA found.

"We are, in fact, detecting men and women who seem to have a significant need for mental health services," said Rachel Kimerling of the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California.

The study, presented at a meeting of the American Public Health Association in San Diego, raises many questions.

Kimerling said in a telephone interview the term "military sexual trauma" covers a range of events from coerced sex to outright rape or threatening and unwelcome sexual advances.

Kimerling said for her purposes it is not necessary to find out what kind of sexual trauma occurred. Her study also did not determine when it happened.

"If you think about military service where you are living and working so closely with the same people, that even if it is not sexual assault ... it is possible that severe sexual harassment is just as traumatic," she said.

The study does not cover active-duty servicemen and women, as VA services are only available to discharged veterans.

A spokeswoman for the VA said about 40 percent of all discharged veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have sought medical care of some sort from the VA, which has a universal screening program for military sexual trauma.

Kimerling said that may mean many veterans are unaware they can be helped and she said she hoped more would come forward to seek treatment.;_ylt=ArdI186IRwkWfaq6Ra89EoEDW7oF

How these gibbering numbskulls came to dominate Washington

The degradation of intelligence and learning in American politics results from a series of interlocking tragedies

George MonbiotHow was it allowed to happen? How did politics in the US come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? Was it charity that has permitted mankind's closest living relative to spend two terms as president? How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numbskulls get to where they are? How could Republican rallies in 2008 be drowned out by screaming ignoramuses insisting that Barack Obama was a Muslim and a terrorist?

Like most people on my side of the Atlantic, I have for many years been mystified by American politics. The US has the world's best universities and attracts the world's finest minds. It dominates discoveries in science and medicine. Its wealth and power depend on the application of knowledge. Yet, uniquely among the developed nations (with the possible exception of Australia), learning is a grave political disadvantage.

There have been exceptions over the past century - Franklin Roosevelt, JF Kennedy and Bill Clinton tempered their intellectualism with the common touch and survived - but Adlai Stevenson, Al Gore and John Kerry were successfully tarred by their opponents as members of a cerebral elite (as if this were not a qualification for the presidency). Perhaps the defining moment in the collapse of intelligent politics was Ronald Reagan's response to Jimmy Carter during the 1980 presidential debate. Carter - stumbling a little, using long words - carefully enumerated the benefits of national health insurance. Reagan smiled and said: "There you go again." His own health programme would have appalled most Americans, had he explained it as carefully as Carter had done, but he had found a formula for avoiding tough political issues and making his opponents look like wonks.

It wasn't always like this. The founding fathers of the republic - Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton and others - were among the greatest thinkers of their age. They felt no need to make a secret of it. How did the project they launched degenerate into George W Bush and Sarah Palin?

A terrorist too

CNN: Thousands purged from voter rolls in Georgia

Update: Federal panel tells state to let those flagged vote anyway, ballots can later be challenged; GA sec. of state says screening to continue

With reports of voting problems rife in the media, and instances of vote flipping seen in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Texas, elections watchdogs are on their toes for any more foul play.

In spite of their activism, thousands of voters have been lopped off Georgia's rolls.

CNN's Abbie Boudreau and Scott Bronstein reported:

College senior Kyla Berry was looking forward to voting in her first presidential election, even carrying her voter registration card in her wallet.

But about two weeks ago, Berry got disturbing news from local election officials.

"This office has received notification from the state of Georgia indicating that you are not a citizen of the United States and therefore, not eligible to vote," a letter from the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections said.

But Berry is a U.S. citizen, born in Boston, Massachusetts. She has a passport and a birth certificate to prove it.

Berry is one of thousands of registered Georgia voters who have been "flagged" because of a computer mismatch in their personal identification information. At least 4,500 of those people are having their citizenship questioned and the burden is on them to prove eligibility to vote.

Respondele a Obama

Latin music video to get out the vote for Obama. Music written and performed by Jose Conde. Video by Nicole Betancourt.

Early e-voting results in vote flipping in three states so far

I noted in passing last week that West Virginia has had the distinct honor of being the first state in the union to report problems (surprise! surprise!) with its electronic voting systems. There are now also reports that similar problems have been happening in Tennessee and Texas as well. No doubt these won't be the last.

So what exactly has happened? Largely, the problem has been what's been dubbed "vote flipping" or "vote switching" -- which is exactly what it sounds like. According to a report by my buddy Scott Finn over at West Virginia Public Broadcasting from late last week:

Voters in at least two West Virginia counties -- Jackson and Putnam -- say electronic voting machines are switching their votes from Democrats to Republicans.

The two county clerks, both Republicans, say they don't think there's a problem. But these voting problems have gotten the attention of everyone from CNN to liberal website The Huffington Post.

So far, eight voters from Jackson and Putnam counties have come forward to say their electronic voting machines kept changing their votes from Democrats to Republicans -- usually, from Obama to McCain.

Wired News also reports that Ohio and Berkeley counties have been having similar problems.

It appears that some of the problems have to do with the fact that the software is simply faulty, and requires "recalibration" by voting officials.

But in Tennessee, there's a different, albeit opposite problem, where votes intended for McCain are actually going to Obama. (One blog has raised questions as to the veracity of this report.) Further, apparently it's not always obvious to tell exactly what part of the screen you're touching.

According to an account in the Decatur County Chronicle:

"The way the machine is set up, when you are standing in front of it and seeing it at a certain angle, it looks like you are touching the middle (of the button) when you are actually touching the line above it," Box said.

[Election Commissioner Rick Box] and fellow Election Commissioner Grafton Dodd tested the machines on Monday. Dodd could not be reached for comment but Box said he found the area of the screen where the buttons for President are located are extremely close together. He blames the problem in part on poor design by software programmers, and adds that there may be sensitivity issues with the screen itself.

In other words, it's the voter's fault.

Election revelations: 666 reasons not to vote for Barack Obama

Election road trip, day 15: While the Guardian's Ed Pilkington was researching a story on biofuels in Missouri, the general manager of an ethanol plant told him why he could never vote for Obama

Roger Hill reveals his fear of Barack Obama

Sometimes the most revealing insights strike at the most unexpected moments, jolting you out of the reality you thought you were in and transporting you somewhere else entirely. For instance, when reporting a story on the political differences between Barack Obama and John McCain over ethanol as an alternative fuel, you don't expect to be confronted with details of a plot by the devil to take over the White House.

I had hopped on to the GuardianFilms bus as it made its way across the US. We were joining forces to make a film about the ethanol issue, which has earned Obama the criticism of environmentalists because of his support for the controversial corn-based variety of the fuel that has helped to drive up world food prices.

We stopped at an ethanol plant in Craig, Missouri, where we were greeted by the general manager, Roger Hill, and shown around the plant. He said something odd early on in our tour, responding to the news that I was British by commenting on how Muslims had become dominant in my country. I only half heard his remark, and let it go; we were here to talk about ethanol.

Later though, he brought up the subject again, when I suggested to him that as an ethanol manufacturer he must logically back Obama over McCain, who has openly criticised federal subsidies of the fuel. That's when he invoked Revelations, chapter 13. If you lack instant recall of the contents of Revelations 13, as I have to admit I did, it's the bit in the Bible where the beast rears his ugly head, or rather many heads, and reveals the mark on his right hand or forehead: 666.

Yes, Hill was likening Obama to the devil, with Revelations 13 as the proof. Which gave me pause. I've heard many, many people tell me that Obama is a Muslim, but I'd never quite heard him compared to Satan.

Palin’s Nightmare

By Scott Horton

In a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin told the crowd that an Obama presidency would present the specter of a socialist state in which fundamental American freedoms are undermined. Let's go to the video:

Does Sarah mean a state:

  • That snatches its victims off the street, denies them all form of legal process and whisks them away to secret "blacksites" where they can be tortured using all the techniques described in Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon?
  • That arrests and prosecutes its political adversaries for imaginary crimes so as to eliminate them from the running in election cycles in which they could do some damage?
  • That destroys the careers of professional military men because they got promotions under a prior regime and therefore considers them disloyal?
  • That believes it can detain and hold its enemies forever without any charges or any evidence against them, denying them access to courts to prove their innocence?
  • That constantly manipulates the population's fear whenever its public popularity slips and elections begin to approach?
  • That believes that it can make no errors, and that those who point to its errors are traitors?
  • That systematically spies on millions of its citizens in direct violation of a criminal statute which forbids such surveillance?
  • That signs new laws with its fingers crossed in the form of signing statements, so that no one knows whether the laws—or any part of them—will actually be enforced?
  • That lies to its people about threats from abroad in an effort to build popular support for a series of wars and then cites the existence of those wars as a reason to suppress dissent?
  • That nationalizes the debt of predatory capitalists so they suffer no punishment for their misconduct and then nationalizes major financial institutions, converting the nation's free market system into a socialism in which crony capitalists are a privileged elite?

Sarah, you have no need to fear the future.


Nazi memorabilia secures auction best sale in five years

A rare collection of Nazi memorabilia, including a death head ring owned by Nazi SS leader Heinrich Himmler, has helped an auction house to secure its best sale in five years.
Himmler's Nazi hunting knife to be auctioned Jonathan Humbert, of Northamptonshire-based J.P.Humbert Auctioneers, said his three-day sale which included the controversial items, raised a total of £90,000.

The death head ring itself sold for £2,200 and a selection of Nazi daggers and swords fetched hammer prices of £200 to £800. A Nazi pin badge made as much as £180.

Mr Humbert said they also sold an original 8ft by 4ft Nazi war ensign from Second World War German pocket battleship The Admiral Graf Spee, for £550.

He said that Nazi items had poured into the auction house following a recent sale which included a range of Nazi goods recovered from a council house clearance.

He said that the popularity of the collection had surprised him.

"I was quite surprised, especially as some items sold to within the room. That's very rare, usually people bid over the phone for these kind of things.

"Some people say it's disgusting to sell this stuff, but my view is that they are all a part of our recent social history and they belong in museums.

"A lot of the people at our sales are private collectors interested in preserving the history and I don't see any harm in that."