Saturday, February 11, 2012

Last Call

It took nearly ten and a half years, but somebody finally said it out loud.

The number of homegrown terrorism plots hatched by Muslim-Americans has declined over the last three years and remain relatively rare despite public fears, according to a study by a University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill sociology professor.

Charles Kurzman has used data from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Center on Law and Security at New York University, as well as media sources such as CNN, to chronicle homegrown terrorism over the past 11 years.

Kurzman concludes that the number of Muslim-Americans who engage in violence against the United States has remained "tiny" compared to the more than 2 million Muslim residents.

"The public perception of threat does not match actual case-by-case attacks," he said in an interview. "We're getting a skewed perception of the prevalence of these figures."

Kurzman's eight-page report released this week shows how many violent plots have been carried out or were interrupted by federal agencies, and the number of fatalities related to each one.

Twenty Muslim-Americans were charged with terrorism crimes in 2011, down from close to 50 in 2009, a year Kurzman calls an "anomaly." That was the year that a group of eight men in Johnston County were charged with helping to fund and train for jihadist attacks against "enemies of Islam."

Kurzman also found that the number of Muslim-Americans charged with supporting terrorism, with money or information, had declined to 8 in 2011, the lowest number since the 9/11 terrorism attacks in 2001.

Kurzman acknowledges that "homegrown radicalization is still a problem," but says Americans need to remain vigilant "while maintaining a responsible sense of proportion."

Gosh, I wonder where Americans got the idea from that the vast majority of Muslims are terrorists, even though the number last year was 20 out of 2 million, or 0.001%.  I wonder if that percentage is higher or lower with white Christian terrorists as a percentage of total white Christians in the US.  Just curious, since one out of one hundred thousand is enough to condemn an entire population by the standards of the wingers.

Also, I wonder how long before we're seeing Prof. Kurzman's countertops as proof he's "one of them" and that UNC should fire him because he's History's Greatest Monster.

Read more here:

Rick Rolling The Country, Part 3

The latest PPP poll finds Rick Santorum up by double digits nationally over Romney and Gingrich.  I can't stop laughing.

Riding a wave of momentum from his trio of victories on Tuesday Rick Santorum has opened up a wide lead in PPP's newest national poll. He's at 38% to 23% for Mitt Romney, 17% for Newt Gingrich, and 13% for Ron Paul.

Part of the reason for Santorum's surge is his own high level of popularity. 64% of voters see him favorably to only 22% with a negative one. But the other, and maybe more important, reason is that Republicans are significantly souring on both Romney and Gingrich. Romney's favorability is barely above water at 44/43, representing a 23 point net decline from our December national poll when he was +24 (55/31). Gingrich has fallen even further. A 44% plurality of GOP voters now hold a negative opinion of him to only 42% with a positive one. That's a 34 point drop from 2 months ago when he was at +32 (60/28).

Santorum is now completely dominating with several key segments of the electorate, especially the most right leaning parts of the party. With those describing themselves as 'very conservative,' he's now winning a majority of voters at 53% to 20% for Gingrich and 15% for Romney.  Santorum gets a majority with Tea Party voters as well at 51% to 24% for Gingrich and 12% for Romney. And with Evangelicals he falls just short of a majority with 45% to 21% for Gingrich and 18% for Romney.
It used to be that Gingrich was leading with all these groups and Romney was staying competitive enough with them to hold the overall lead. No more- a consensus conservative candidate finally seems to be emerging and it's Santorum

Oh please let this happen.  Let the Tea Party backlash against Romney finally ignite a party civil war where Rick Santorum would lose by 20 points to President Obama.  Don't think it could happen?  If Gingrich drops out, the same poll finds Santorum would hit 50% to Romney's 28%.  Game over.  BooMan does provide some warning over this:

And, even worse, I am beginning to think that Santorum is a much stronger candidate against Obama than Romney. I think Gingrich is a stronger candidate than Romney. I just can't exaggerate how bad I think Romney is as a politician and as an alternative to the president. 

It means we're going to have to work at beating him.  But Santorum's ascendance assures that the misogynist, racist, Christian Dominionist class warfare platform is now the default mode of the GOP.  I want to see Santorum win the nomination so that America finally reaches the point where they admit the Republicans have no redeeming qualities any more and they are broken, lost in the wilderness.

A Santorum candidacy may finally give President Obama the Congressional majorities he needs to truly change the country.

Go for it, Republicans.

Day To Day Stupidity: Epic Win

This article from Mental Floss serves up eleven brilliant tips that just about anyone can use with a little tweaking.  Here's a sample, with more genius to follow if you click the link:

1. Take scratches out of your CDs and DVDs using a banana

1. Peel the banana
2. Rub the banana on the CD in a circular motion
3. Use the underside of the peel and rub the banana in deeper
4. Wipe away the residue with a lint-free cloth, like you’d use to clean your car windows
5. Using another cloth, remove smudges with a spritz of Windex
6. Voila, she is like new!

The only thing I thought could be added is using sliced cheese to pick up tiny glass particles when you are trying to clean up a broken bottle or glass.  I was a clumsy child, and I've used cheese many times.  Bread can be used, but it doesn't hold up as well as cheese, and you can't check it to see what it's picked up.

Do any of you have lifehacks to share?

Celebrity Divorce Really Is Shocking

I have a soft spot for Katy Perry, I admit it.  I wish she'd sing stuff a little more... substantial, but once in a while you just like a celebrity, and she's on my list.  I didn't expect her marriage to Russell Brand to last forever, but a silly part of me hoped they might just because they looked so darn in love.  Once in a while, marriage really does last forever, so why not them?  However, the announcement was not shocking in itself.

The shocking part is how it was handled.  Two known free spirits fall in love, marry in a whirlwind, and are fair and reasonable when dissolving the union.  I don't know that I have ever heard of such amicable and noble behavior, especially from celebrities, and even more especially from the generation of celebrity that is privileged, proud and generally spoiled.

There was no prenup, unheard of for two young people who may be at the beginning of huge careers.  Katy Perry brought in $44 million during the time of their marriage.  Brand not only passed on his chance to take his half, but was appalled at the idea of taking money he didn't earn.  They've both been good to each other in the media, and were too smart to fall into the normal paparazzi traps.  They both speak of mutual respect and go no further.

I'd respect any couple who could end a marriage on such good terms.  There are so many emotions in divorce, even ones that begin on a reasonable note.  These two had money worth squabbling over, intense public scrutiny and whatever led to the split to contend with.  Yet they showed some real character and I have a whole new respect for both of them (Russell, I loved Arthur, I don't know what the hell those people are talking about).

How The GOP May Have Just Lost Women For Good

The reality is that at some point in their lives, about 98% of American women will use birth control.  This fight was settled long ago, and by dredging it back up as their new crusade against women, the Republicans have all but lost 51% of the voters.  Igor Volsky at ThinkProgress:

Earlier [Friday], in response to criticism from Catholic groups, the White House altered its regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide no-cost contraception coverage as part of their health care plans. Churches and religious nonprofits that primarily employ people of the same faith are still exempt from the requirement, but now religiously affiliated colleges, universities, and hospitals that wish to avoid providing birth control can do so. Their employees will still receive contraception coverage at no additional cost sharing directly from the insurer.

But Republicans and some conservative Catholic groups are not satisfied with the accommodation and hope to use their false claim of “religious persecution” to deny women access to preventive health services. Despite Obama’s decision to shield nonprofit religious institutions from offering birth control benefits, next week Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is expected to offer an amendment that would permit any employer or insurance plan to exclude any health service, no matter how essential, from coverage if they morally object to it.

Now the game becomes what will the GOP attach the Blount Amendment to?  A cursory examination indicates with the deadline for the payroll tax cut expiration on February 29, Republicans will insist on this poison pill and then blame the President for "raising taxes on tens of millions of working class American families" or leaving him to rightfully suffer being torn apart by his base.  The GOP believe either way, they have won it all.

They couldn't be more wrong.  Scott Lemieux:

As of now, employees will be entitled to exactly the same substantive benefits they were last week, and there’s no reason for insurance companies to object because covering contraception actually saves them money. Nor is true that refusing to make these symbolic non-concessions would somehow make it less likely that the policy will be changed for the worse in the future. Precedents created by Obama will mean less than nothing to President Mittens or President Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver. The only way to preserve political gains going forward is to create powerful allies, and to the extent that they matter today’s changes are a net positive: they created new allies among Catholic health care providers without giving up anything, they didn’t create any new opponents, and they politically undermined the remaining opponents, forcing them to fight on political terrain that is extremely inhospitable.

And the Blount Amendment would allow employers to opt out of covering anything they "object" to.  It's a plan to pit Americans against each other in a race to the bottom where we all lose.  Voters will see that and they will turn on the GOP like lightning.

I can't wait for this to come up.  It's political suicide for them and they know it.

The View From Up High

Here is an awesome video, linked to by Wired, that shows the view from space.  It includes amazing footage of cities, the auroras and the Milky Way.  The video below is the North American coast.  The link above will take you to more views from other places around the world.  It just gets cooler the further in you go.  Hope you science nerds enjoy!

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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