Saturday, August 7, 2010

Last Call

The latest Winger Poutrage?

"How DARE Michelle Obama go on vacation to Spain when there's 9.5% unemployment!?!?  How dare she take a vacation outside the United States like an America-hating liberal!  Where does she get the idea that she's allowed to pay for her own vacation when everyone knows the First Lady is just an opinion-free adjunct to the President?  The nerve of women like her!  You should hate her!  Are YOU getting to go to Spain?  No?  Why should she?  She works for US!"

Not all Obama Derangement Syndrome is directed at Barack, folks.  And this is mild compared to what's coming.

Warren Peace

Seems that Sen. Chris Dodd has gone from saying that Elizabeth Warren can't be confirmed to "It's not worth the fight" to get her confirmed.

When it first looked like Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren might stand a serious chance of getting appointed at the first director of the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — a regulatory agency which she was the first to suggest — Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) poo-pooed the notion, saying there’s a “serious question” about whether Warren is “confirmable.”

The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber wrote that “after surveying a dozen insiders over the last few days — congressional aides, industry officials, progressive activists, and a few administration officials — I’ve concluded that the odds are good that Warren would be confirmed if nominated by the White House.” And Dodd now seems to have shifted his rhetoric, saying that even if Warren is confirmable, it’s not worth a potential fight to get her the job:

What you don’t need to have is an eight-month battle for who the director or the head or chairperson of this new consumer financial protection bureau will be.
Interesting there. Almost like Dodd is doing what he can to avoid actually having Warren run the new agency. Wonder why that is.

TIP O' The Hat

Nice to see after 20 years since I was there, Duke University's TIP program -- the ultimate summer geek camp -- is still going strong.
"Being labeled as 'gifted' as a middle school student is a social kiss of death," said Dr. Alison Stuebe, an alumna of the Duke TIP program, which had its largest season ever in 2010 with more than 3,100 students. "To go to a place where, rather than that being a liability, was actually a reason you got to go at all, was just a transforming experience," she said.

There is a misperception that talented youths get what they need in school. In fact, regular school classes don't always allow these kids to reach their full potential, said Brian Cooper, TIP's director of domestic educational programs. Summer sessions like TIP's are needed more and more because in tough economic times, schools are cutting programs for gifted students, he said.

TIP provides an environment where they can feed their passions for the subjects they love without having to worry about grades and competition, he said.

But first, kids have to prove themselves by taking the SAT in about seventh grade, and they need to score as well as or better than 50 percent of the college-bound juniors and seniors taking the SAT or ACT (you can retest later). Summer Institute for the Gifted, another program, also accepts letters of recommendation and participation in a gifted program as credentials. These camps have programs at various colleges in the U.S., and some in other countries, too.
And yeah, once my parents saw this (I had a pretty good guidance counselor back in the day) they bought me some test prep software and I knocked down a good enough score to get into TIP's science and math track all four years.  Not everyone's going to be the next Lady Gaga or Mark Zuckerberg, but hey, I turned out OK and learned a hell of a lot of stuff.  I still use my econ and programming class skills from there on a nearly daily basis and yeah, I turned out to be a pretty fearsome Ultimate Frisbee player too.

Even if I am a D-list political blogger.

Well, maybe C-list these days...

The Maine Event In Tea Party Paranoia

Maine's Tea Party community is ripping itself apart, apparently.  TPM has the story to the state's largest Tea Party group, the Maine Patriots, as the group falls to pieces:
On Tuesday night, Amy Hale -- one of the leaders of the Patriots group -- posted an odd message to the group's website, suggesting that she'd been forced to give up control of the site, according to media reports (the post has since been removed):
I was cornered in the parking lot by 10+ people and told that bad things would happen to me if I did not give them the password and hand over Maine Patriots. Therefore, I no longer have control of Maine Patriots. Amy
Hale reported the incident to the police. Last night, she refused to comment on the matter because, she told me, "the investigation is ongoing." Details beyond what she wrote that first night are sketchy.

Piecing together posts from tea party websites in the past couple of days, however, paints a picture of a state tea party in disarray -- and a look at tea party paranoia.

Since Tuesday, other tea party sites in Maine have been hotbeds of conspiracy theories and accusations, with some claiming that Hale was undermining the movement and others suggesting that those who allegedly removed her from the Maine Patriots site are anti-tea party plants.
"You're the evil liberal who is undermining our glorious cause!"

"No I'm not...YOU ARE!"   *scuffle breaks out*

As long as the Tea Party guys are locked in their little high school cliques fighting each other, I'm not terribly worried about them taking over the country this fall, you know?

Arnold And Jerry Do The Right Thing

On the heels of the Prop 8 ruling in California, Gov. Schwarzenegger and AG (and Dem candidate for Arnold's job) Jerry Brown are working together to convince Judge Walker to lift his stay next week and allow the state to resume gay marriages.
In an extraordinary court filing, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked Friday that gay marriages be allowed to resume immediately in California after a federal ruling that the state's voter-approved ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

The Republican governor filed his brief with U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker before a Friday deadline to submit arguments on whether to continue a stay of Walker's decision against Proposition 8.

"The Administration believes the public interest is best served by permitting the Court's judgment to go into effect, thereby restoring the right of same-sex couples to marry in California," wrote Kenneth C. Mennemeier, an attorney representing Schwarzenegger, in the brief. "Doing so is consistent with California's long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect." 
And that's really the basis of it.  Jerry Brown also filed a similar motion on Friday.  The state hasn't even bothered to try to defend the case, actually.  James Joyner at OTB disagrees however.
This is indeed extraordinary. Schwarzenegger is the representative of the people of California, a majority of whom voted to amend their constitution to reserve marriage to opposite sex couples.  So, it’s rather absurd to argue that “there is no public interest”   in upholding their decision.   Indeed, it’s his duty to stand up for their wishes here until the appeals have been exhausted.

Now, Schwarzenegger is sworn to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California,” so one could argue that this is a higher duty if he feels strongly that the amendment violates the U.S. Constitution (by definition, it can’t violate California’s Constitution, since it’s an amendment to it).   But, if he thinks that, he should have joined the suit on the other side rather than remaining neutral.
That's a weak argument at best.  He's the Governor.  Who is he supposed to pass the buck to on this?  Again, if it's clearly a violation of the US Constitution, then Arnold is indeed well within his rights to do exactly what he did.

The Legislative, Executive, and Judicial in California have all come out for treating marriage as a fundamental right that cannot be abridged by any power, even a referendum.  That's in the Constitution, and it wins the argument.  Period.

Abe Foxman's Failure

When you run an organization dedicated to correcting stereotypes and fighting bigotry and prejudice like Abe Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League does to stop anti-Semitism (which is a clearly heroic goal), you lose all credibility when you then start tarring other people's religions.

The ADL has come out against the "ground zero mosque" and as a result, CNN anchor and Newsweek contributor Fareed Zakaria has returned a 2005 award he received from the ADL along with $10,000.  It's Fortman's response to Zakaria that removes any doubt about how the ADL feels about Islam.  Unfortunately, it removed any credibility they had too.  Greg Sargent:
In renouncing ADL's award, Zakaria wrote that the decision to oppose the Islamic center is "utterly opposed to the animating purpose of your organization," adding: "Your own statements subsequently, asserting that we must honor the feelings of victims even if irrational or bigoted, made matters worse."

To which Foxman responded, in part:
I hope you have read our statement on the proposed Islamic Center at Ground Zero and, more importantly, understand our position. We did not oppose the right for an Islamic Center or a mosque to be built. What we did was to make an appeal based solely on the issues of location and sensitivity. If the stated goal was to advance reconciliation and understanding, we believe taking into consideration the feelings of many victims and their families, of first responders and many New Yorkers, who are not bigots but still feel the pain of 9/11, would go a long way to achieving that reconciliation.

ADL has and will continue to stand up for Muslims and others where they are targets of racism and bigotry, as we have done at the request of and on behalf of Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf.
The "stated" goal, eh? Translation: The best way the builders of the Islamic center can show they're seeking reconciliation, as they claim to be doing, is to move.

This goes considerably further than ADL's initial statement, which didn't question the motives behind the center. In other words, this is no longer just about the feelings of those still wounded by 9/11, as ADL initially claimed.
It's terribly unfortunate.  I'm not sure if Foxman is trapped here or feels he has no choice but to oppose Cordoba House, but for an organization dedicated to fight religious intolerance, this seems...intolerant, yes?

Greg's take:
But look, many of those who are insinuating that the Islamic center isn't really about promoting reconciliation are targeting Muslims with bigotry. These folks are the ones who are going beyond saying this is just about respecting 9/11 victims. You've probably seen people calling this the "victory mosque," and so on. Those good people are actively trying to associate all Muslims with the 9/11 attackers. Seems to me ADL is coming perilously close to effectively siding with the bigots here.
Exactly.   But Foxman's not the only one who has failed at his mission.  The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles -- which has recently opened the Museum of Tolerance in NYC -- has also come out against Cordoba House.
The group behind the recently opened "Museum of Tolerance" museum in Manhattan has come out against a planned Islamic community center, which includes a mosque, near Ground Zero.

"Religious freedom does not mean being insensitive...or an idiot," Rabbi Meyer May, the Wiesenthal Center's executive director, told Crain's New York.

"Religion is supposed to be beautiful," he said. "Why create pain in the name of religion?"

It's a topic he knows something about. The Wiesenthal Center caused an uproar in for building one of its Museums of Tolerance on top of an old Muslim burial ground in Jerusalem. 
And if that idiocy doesn't put this whole thing to bed, the other location where 9/11 victims were killed at the Pentagon has had a mosque in the building for years now specifically because it wanted to remind the United States Military that Muslim soldiers are above all American soldiers and deserve the rights to their religious practices like Christians and Jews do.  It's nice to allow our soldiers the freedoms these same soldiers risk their lives to protect, yes?

Oh, and Rep. Anthony Weiner?  Punted.  Which is better than being an asshole.

A Moose Like A Snowhill

Sarah Palin is now deep into Captain Ahab territory on her war against PolitiFact and now she's just playing the "mean ol media" card because of course nobody would dare call Sarah Palin out on the facts unless they were America Hating Liberal Elites.

SA and the Rumpies have the rundown:
Which is why—after tripling-down on the same strawman arguments and bogus numbers that drew howls of derision the first two times she floated them—the Kween of Kommon Sentz felt compelled to remind her Facebook pals that, however hare-brained and spurious her challenge to the Evil Liberal Fact-Checkers, it had been righteously issued by a hard-working person on an actual fishing boat with, like, hooks and shit:
(By the way, the Left sure gets wee-wee’d up when they’re called on something like this, eh? And here I am, thousands of miles away from DC out on a commercial fishing boat, working my butt off for my own business, merely asking the Democrat politicos and their liberal friends in the media: “What’s the plan, man?”, and they seem to feel threatened by my question. So, I’ll go back to setting my hooks and watching the halibut take the bait, and when I come back into the boat’s cabin in a few hours, I’ll log back on here to read their reply. I’ll have succeeded if they’re forced to finally reveal to Americans how they plan to increase taxes, and what they intend to do with our money. In the meantime, I’m catching fish.)
“Watching the halibut take the bait” is, I assume, Palin-Speak for checking the PayPal balance on SarahPAC. As for the rest of Snooki’s smirking nautical aside, here’s hoping her more-authentic-than-thou dingy gets towed by Mitt’s proletarian pickup truck...around the Horn, and around the Norway maelstrom, and around Perdition’s flames.  
She's actually right:  Hey Village?  When you reply to Sarah Palin and treat her as a serious political figure with a serious political opinion, you've already lost.

Stop playing her game, morons.  Ignore her.  She's meaningless.  The more you take her seriously, the more she can punk you.  It's been her m.o. for two years now.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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