Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Real Scandal

By BOB HERBERT

It never ends. The Republican Party never gets tired of spraying its poison across the American political landscape.
 
So there was a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, Michele Bachmann, telling Chris Matthews on MSNBC that the press should start investigating members of the House and Senate to determine which ones are "pro-America or anti-America."

Can a rancid Congressional committee be far behind? Leave it to a right-wing Republican to long for those sunny, bygone days of political witch-hunting.

Ms. Bachmann's demented desire ("I would love to see an exposé like that") is of a piece with the G.O.P.'s unrelenting effort to demonize its opponents, to characterize them as beyond the pale, different from ordinary patriotic Americans — and not just different, but dangerous, and even evil.

But the party is not content to stop there. Even better than demonizing opponents is the more powerful and direct act of taking the vote away from their opponents' supporters. The Republican Party has made strenuous efforts in recent years to prevent Democrats from voting, and to prevent their votes from being properly counted once they've been cast.

Which brings me to the phony Acorn scandal.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/21/opinion/21herbert.html?_r=2&th&emc=th&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

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Winner at the Cat Show

'Barack' beats 'McCain' for purr-fect presidency

The DemoCat wins by 65 percent at the CFA-Iams Cat Championship


Winner ~ Barack Obama, a Bombay Cat




John McCain, British Shorthair
(notice the fat jowls!)
 
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CORRECTED-U.S. pilot was ordered to shoot down UFO

One pilot said he was seconds away from firing 24 rockets at the object, which moved erratically and gave a radar reading like "a flying aircraft carrier."

The pilot, Milton Torres, now 77 and living in Miami, said it spent periods motionless in the sky before reaching estimated speeds of more than 7,600 mph (12,000 kph).

After the alert, a shadowy figure told Torres he must never talk about the incident and he duly kept silent for more than 30 years.

His story was among dozens of UFO sightings in defence ministry files released at the National Archives in London.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/oukoe_uk_britain_ufo;_ylt=ApT3uq.GfCs4R7vPU3.lXK_tiBIF

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The Elite Newspaper of the Future

Stanford Knight Fellowships
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A smaller, less frequently published version packed with analysis and investigative reporting and aimed at well-educated news junkies that may well be a smart survival strategy for the beleaguered old print product.

By Philip Meyer


Philip Meyer is professor emeritus in Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of "The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age."      

The endgame for newspapers is in sight. How their owners and managers choose to apply their dwindling resources will make all the difference in the nature of the ultimate product, its service to democracy and, of course, its survival.

In an article in the December 1995 issue of AJR called "Learning to Love Lower Profits" I predicted the financial turbulence that we are seeing today. The piece urged stakeholders in newspaper companies to accept the inevitability of lower returns and to apply their resources to maintaining their community influence.

A decade later, I marshaled the evidence for that strategy in a book titled "The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age." The argument was quantitative and complex. Judging by the Google alerts the book's title has accumulated since then, readers took away the wrong message.

This reference from The Economist is typical: "In his book 'The Vanishing Newspaper,' Philip Meyer calculates that the first quarter of 2043 will be the moment when newsprint dies in America as the last exhausted reader tosses aside the last crumpled edition."

That's a clever image, and it is true that extrapolating the recent linear decline in everyday readership would show a zero point in April 2043. But newspaper publishers are not so relentlessly stubborn that we can expect them to continue churning out papers until there is only one reader left. The industry would lose critical mass and collapse long before then.

http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=4605

 
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Freddie Mac secretly paid Republican firm to kill regulation

In the cross hairs of the campaign carried out by DCI of Washington were Republican senators and a regulatory overhaul bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).

Hollis McLoughlin, an executive of DCI, watches a Washington Capitals hockey game this month. 

DCI's chief executive is Doug Goodyear, whom John McCain's campaign later hired to manage the GOP convention in September.

Freddie Mac's payments to DCI began shortly after the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee sent Hagel's bill to the then GOP-run Senate on July 28, 2005. All GOP members of the committee supported it; all Democrats opposed it.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/nation/1230514,housing101908.article

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Boogie Man

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Race to the Bottom

Talking Points Memo

If you're thinking to yourself that there's little more than two weeks before election day and Obama has a solid lead in the polls, don't be so sure.

Yes, it looks good for the Democrats. But you need to play close attention to the McCain campaign's final weeks' strategy under and just above the radar. McCain's final strategy relies on two pillars. The first is aggressively playing to voters' fears of electing a black president. Make no mistake: not just his campaign in a general sense, but McCain himself and his top handful of advisers, are banking on the residual racism in a changing America to get them over the finish line. The second is an aggressive use of innuendo to convince casual voters that Obama is in league with Islamic terrorists bent on killing Americans.

Many people have asked whether enough Americans really care any more about the cultural convulsions of the 1960s. The answer? It doesn't matter. For the McCain campaign, Bill Ayers has nothing to do with 60s radicalism. Ayers is nothing more than a tool that permits McCain, Palin and all their surrogates to use the noun "terrorist" in polite company in the same sentence as "Obama," over and over and over again. It allows them to cobble together a 'respectable' version of those Obama smear emails they can push in commercials and robocalls and surrogate talking points every hour of every day.

Stripped down to its components McCain's message to voters is this: "Don't forget. He's definitely black. And he may be a terrorist." That's the message. The nuts and bolts is a concerted effort to keep Democrats from voting -- through intimidation, by striking new voters from the rolls, which is going to happen to lots of them, clogging polling stations to create delays that keep late day (predominantly) Obama voters from voting altogether. Smears in the air and voter suppression on the ground.

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/238245.php

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America's Most Overrated Product: the Bachelor's Degree

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Admissions & Student Aid
OPINION

Among my saddest moments as a career counselor is when I hear a story like this: "I wasn't a good student in high school, but I wanted to prove that I can get a college diploma. I'd be the first one in my family to do it. But it's been five years and $80,000, and I still have 45 credits to go."

I have a hard time telling such people the killer statistic: Among high-school students who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their classes, and whose first institutions were four-year colleges, two-thirds had not earned diplomas eight and a half years later. That figure is from a study cited by Clifford Adelman, a former research analyst at the U.S. Department of Education and now a senior research associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Yet four-year colleges admit and take money from hundreds of thousands of such students each year!

Even worse, most of those college dropouts leave the campus having learned little of value, and with a mountain of debt and devastated self-esteem from their unsuccessful struggles. Perhaps worst of all, even those who do manage to graduate too rarely end up in careers that require a college education. So it's not surprising that when you hop into a cab or walk into a restaurant, you're likely to meet workers who spent years and their family's life savings on college, only to end up with a job they could have done as a high-school dropout.

http://chronicle.com/free/v54/i34/34b01701.htm

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The candidate as rabble-rouser


Sarah Palin in Clearwater, Fla., on Oct. 6. (AP)

 

By Roger Ebert

Sarah Palin seems giddy with her newfound power as a rabble-rouser. She's using her charm to stir crowds of supporters toward hate. Have you been listening? What frightens me is that she is inciting to violence, which is a felony. Why do I say this? Because supporters have been videotaped at her rallies, screaming "kill him!" "traitor!" "off with his head!" and "terrorist!" At one rally, they started screaming at an African-American TV cameraman, using the n-word. The Secret Service is investigating some of these threats.

Did Palin observe these crowd reactions? Read her body language. She uses the tiniest of smiles and briefest of pauses we all use when we want to signal, "I hear you but I'm pretending not to." She uses the same sound bites at every speech, and they get similar responses. Like demagogues before her, she draws energy from the mob. She doesn't care what she's saying. She can't stop herself. She loves the applause. Don't for a moment assume she would be allowed to use those words in every speech if John McCain hadn't signed off on them.

What would a decent politician do? The same thing that all decent politicians of both parties have always done: Defuse the hate speech. Calm things down. Tell the wingnuts to chill out. When was the last time you heard a political nominee of either major party accused of treason? You'd have to go back to Joe McCarthy.

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081010/OPINION/810109997

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What Does It Say?

by Andrew Tobias

ANOTHER LIFELONG REPUBLICAN FOR OBAMA

 

What does it say to moderate Republicans that Colin Powell joins Susan Eisenhower, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, and such other lifelong Republican voters as William F. Buckley Jr. scion Chris Buckley, and former National Review publisher Wick Allison, in endorsing Senator Obama?

 

Can the case really be made, with endorsements by superbly thoughtful people like Warren Buffett and former Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker that Senator Obama is a radical socialist who "pals around with terrorists?"

 

What does it say about the McCain/Palin candidacy that this is how they're trying to win?

 

What does it say when lifelong Republican CEOs like Lennar's Stuart Miller have switched to Obama?  (Lennar is the nation's largest home builder.)

 

When the Chicago Tribune endorses a Democrat for the first time in 161 years?

 

Writing, in small part:

 

Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them.

We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready.

 

http://www.andrewtobias.com/newcolumns/081020.html

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Fishing with Dave


Senator John McCain with David Letterman on the "Late Show," October 16, 2008.

by Roger Ebert

David Letterman played John McCain like a trout. It was a masterful performance, depending on timing. If you counted words, McCain said a lot more than Letterman, who usually interrupts when a guest goes on and on. It wasn't the words. It was the music.

McCain showed nerve in appearing on the show at all, after the ribbing he's received ever since he "cratered" by "bailing" on Letterman. Just before he came on, Letterman mercilessly used a little magnetic bus on a Manhattan map to show the Straight Talk Express circling the "Late Show" studio for 18 hours after McCain said he had to rush straight back to Washington. Then the candidate appeared.

McCain possibly expected Letterman to kiss and make up. Not a chance. He received tough, pointed questions, delivered with the confidence that leaves no doubt who is the host and who is the guest. I won't describe the two segments, except to say McCain would probably prefer three more debates to going on the "Late Show" again. Let's just consider the bullet points:

* Sarah Palin. Letterman asked if she was qualified to be President. McCain answered with sound bites from campaign speeches we all know by heart. If I hear one more time that Palin's qualifications include being a member of the PTA for two of the many years her children spent in school, I may be forced to throw something across the room. How would it sound if Obama cited Biden's PTA membership?

But McCain went on about Palin. And on. And on. I've never heard a "Late Show" guest allowed to speak without interruption for so long. Letterman let the trout run out the line.

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081017/OPINION/810179997

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IF YOU DIDN'T SEE THIS COMING, I HAVE A BRIDGE I'D LIKE TO SELL YOU

No More Mister Nice Blog
"It was like watching Gidget address the Reichstag."
- Matt Taibbi on Sarah Palin's speech at the Republican convention

Of course they're going to play the Wright card. They were always intending to play the Wright card:

John McCain's campaign manager says he is reconsidering using Barack Obama's relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright as a campaign issue during the election's closing weeks.

I love the justification:

In an appearance on conservative Hugh Hewitt's radio program, [Rick] Davis said that circumstances had changed since John McCain initially and unilaterally took Obama's former pastor off the table. The Arizona Republican, Davis argued, had been jilted by the remarks of Rep. John Lewis, who compared recent GOP crowds to segregationist George Wallace's rallies. And, as such, the campaign was going to "rethink" what was in and out of political bounds....

It's yet another variant on the disingenuous nonsense I described earlier today. John McCain goes negative? It's Obama's fault because he won't do a series of joint town meetings! The McCain campaign uses vicious robocalls? It's an unfortunate necessity because it's impossible to talk to every voter individually, and the "liberal media filter" makes genuine communication through traditional channels impossible! The Wright card is played? John Lewis made us do it!

This is beyond whining; it's blaming the victim. The base actually believes that the campaign is negative because Barack Obama and his supporters forced negativity on McCain, as did the "liberal media," which won't override its biases and tell the public the plain truth, which is that Obama is the most dangerous human being on the face of the earth and his presidency will be the end of civilization as we know it.
 
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INDIAN GIVER

Indian Chief "Two Eagles," was asked by a white government official, "You have observed the white man for 90 years. You've seen his wars and his technological advances. You've seen his progress, and the damage he's done."

The Chief nodded in agreement.

The official continued, "Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?"

The Chief stared at the government official for over a minute and then calmly replied. "When white man find land, Indians running it. No taxes, No debt, Plenty buffalo, Plenty beaver, Clean Water; Women did all the work, Medicine man free. Indian man spend all day hunting and fishing; All night having sex."

Then the chief leaned back and smiled. "Only white man dumb enough to think he can improve system like that."

- Phil Proctor -

 

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Is Akko Burning?

 
 
 
THROUGHOUT ITS thousands of years of history, Akko has never been an Israelite town.

Even according to the mythological story of the Bible, the Israelites did not conquer the city, which was already an ancient port. The first chapter of the Book of Judges, which contradicts much of the description given in the Book of Joshua, states unequivocally: "Neither did [the tribe of] Asher drive out the inhabitants of Akko. (Judges 1:31)

Only a few of the world's cities can boast such a stormy and checkered history as Akko (Akka in Arabic, Acre in French and English), the main port of the country. It was a Canaanite-Phoenician town, traded with Egypt, rebelled against Assyria, confronted the Jewish Hasmoneans, was conquered by the Crusaders, served as a battle-ground for the legendary Saladin and the no less legendary Richard the Lion-Hearted, was the capital of the semi-independent Arab state of the Galilee under Daher al-Omar and withstood the siege of Napoleon. All these periods have left their traces in Akko, in the form of buildings and walls. A fascinating town, perhaps the most beautiful - and surely the most interesting - after Jerusalem.

During some of these periods, there existed in Akko a small Jewish community, but it never was a Jewish town. On the contrary: among the Rabbis there was an ongoing discussion whether Akko, from the point of view of religious law (Halacha), belonged to Eretz Israel at all. This was important, because certain commandments apply only to the Land of Israel. Some rabbis believed that Akko did not belong, while others asserted that at least a part of the town did. (That did not prevent us in our youth from singing "Akko, too, belongs to Eretz Israel" - meaning the old Crusaders' fortress on the sea-shore, where the British held prisoners from the Jewish underground organizations.)

In the 1948 war, Akko was occupied by the Israeli forces, and since then it has lived under Israeli rule: 60 years out of a history of 5000 years and more.

This is the background of last week's events in Akko. The Arab inhabitants consider Akko as the town of their forefathers, which was forcibly occupied by the Jews. The Jewish inhabitants consider it a Jewish town, in which the Arabs are a tolerated minority - at most.

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1224366421/

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The Great Sunflower Project

 

Photo by Ginny Stibolt
 
 
By watching and recording the bees at sunflowers in your garden, you can help us understand the challenges that bees are facing.
  • It takes less than 30 minutes.
  • It's easy.
  • Free Sunflower seeds for planting.
  • No knowledge of bees required!

Enter your bee counts online or send us your paper form.
We would love to have you join us; let's help our most important pollinators together!

http://www.greatsunflower.org/

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