Archive for: 2010

Late Night Snack: Adorable Baby Meerkats – Video

Dec 31 2010 Published by under Featured News

Late Night Snack: Adorable Baby Meerkats - Video

New Year’s Eve Late Night Snack: Open Thread

Late Night Snack: Adorable Baby Meerkats Explore African Wilderness for First Time – Video

A very Happy New Year’s Eve to all of our readers from the writers and editors at PoliticusUSA. Thank you for making 2010 a wonderful year; full of insightful comments, thoughtful debate & discussion, much laughter and ever-inspiring support.

Here’s to 2011:-) May yours be full of joy, peace and prosperity.

14 responses so far

The Biggest Surprises for MSNBC In 2010: Ed Schultz and Lawrence O’Donnell

Dec 31 2010 Published by under Featured News

In a year of highs and lows, and plenty of circus like atmosphere and drama, two of the biggest pleasant surprises for MSNBC in 2010 were the late blooming success of The Ed Show, and the immediate success of The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell. Let’s take a look at two of MSNBC’s bright spots for the year.

Back in 2009 MSNBC was looking for their next big hit, and they thought that liberal radio show host Ed Schultz would be it. After his debut program drew 825,000 total viewers, the audience quickly eroded and stayed mired in the 500,000 viewer range, but something interesting happened in 2010. As the post 2008 victory glow wore off and Democrats in Washington began to struggle, the audience for Ed Schultz’s blue collar populism began to grow.

According to MSNBC, “2010 marks the best total viewer performance in the 6 p.m. hour ever for MSNBC, with “The Ed Show” ranked #2 in both A25-54 and total viewers for the full year. Compared to 2009, “The Ed Show” is up +8% in A25-54 and +20% in total viewers, while CNN has dropped –28% in A25-54 and –29% in total viewers. CNN had their lowest 6 p.m. delivery in A25-54 since 1999 and the lowest total viewer average since 2002. “The Ed Show” had 642,000 total viewers (vs. 543,000 for CNN) and 157,000 A25-54 (vs. 149,000 for CNN).”

As more left leaning middle class Americans, the group that Ed Schultz advocates for, became disenchanted with the economy, they more they tuned in to The Ed Show. Back in 2009, I originally found the program to be a dull carbon copy of other MSNBC programs, but Schultz has found his voice, and his personality, love it or hate it, shines through. He has managed to capture the voice of blue collar America in a way that Keith Olbermann can’t. Ed Schultz has found his niche and he is one of the few cable news hosts who actually saw his audience grow in 2010.

The other surprise of 2010 was the immediate success of The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. For years, MSNBC viewers had been asking for a new 10 PM ET program to replace the nightly repeat of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and when they finally got their wish, they tuned in heavily and often. Powered by an interview with Vice President Joe Biden, The Last Word’s debut was MSNBC’s most watched program on September 28.

Unlike what Ed Schultz went through after his big debut, O’Donnell’s program has sustained its ratings, and on occasion draws more viewers than its lead in, The Rachel Maddow Show. O’Donnell’s show finished as the 16th most watched program on cable news, and The Last Word actually performed better with younger viewers than both Olbermann and Maddow. I had wondered when his show was announced how O’Donnell was going to approach doing a ten o’clock without rehashing all of the same stories and material that the hosts before him discussed.

The Last Word accomplished being different by doing something the other shows on the network haven’t been able to do. O’Donnell has been able to get Republicans on his show. Whereas Keith Olbermann doesn’t seem interested in having Republicans on, and Republicans are so terrified of Rachel Maddow that they won’t come on her show, O’Donnell has managed to attract a rather eclectic guest list.

O’Donnell is a veteran of both scripted television, and politics, and he and his staff appear to have an idea of how they want their show to be different from the others on the network. O’Donnell has shown himself to be a sharp interviewer who is not afraid to spar with his guests. His program is a great follow up to Rachel Maddow. Both shows share a bit of a wonkish tone, where opinion is secondary to describing what is going on and why it is happening.

MSNBC may never be in Fox News’ league, but the network has continued to add to its lineup. MSNBC’s initial success was accomplished on the back of Keith Olbermann, but now there is a lot more talent on the roster. I would love to see MSNBC add a minority host to prime time, and the network needs to be available in more homes around the country, which is something that Comcast will likely address when they take over NBC, but I think that they are missing the boat in one key area.

In my opinion, MSNBC won’t really grow until they stop catering to the small class of progressives that has issues with Obama. It is not a coincidence that the fastest growing show on the network features an old school blue collar liberal. Maybe MSNBC will someday get the message that there are a lot of potential viewers out there who might like to see less emotional criticism of the President, and more of a return to core liberal values. If MSNBC wants to reach and retain their audience in 2011 they should consider broadening the range of opinion that they present.

13 responses so far

With A Different Set of Values Our World Could Have Been Different

Dec 31 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues

Part 2 in a series. Read the first part here

Profit is one measure of worth, but it is not the only measure.

It could have been different. That’s how I ended my last piece about how our whole culture has realigned itself to Wall Street and its values over the last 30 years. But profit is not the only measure of worth. What would the last thirty years have been like if we had not been oriented toward profit, short-term returns, privatization, and creating new ways to make money by handling money?

You can’t answer that question simply by eliminating Wall Street’s poor moral values. Bad revolutions throw off the values of their oppressors and then fall into chaos because the revolutionaries never agreed on what the new values should be.

The founders understood this. They didn’t try to base a stable government on opposition to unfair taxes. They had a philosophical foundation (Declaration of Independence) and a legal foundation (the Constitution, without which the free states would have splintered).

So if I’m going to talk about how history could have been different under a different set of values, I better have some alternate values in mind.

And I do.

I start with a philosophical foundation just as our founders did. Here are just two points:

People Over Profits, Community Over Company. This says that a nation’s success is not just GDP; success is when everyone who is able has the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from that GDP.  Company practices that hurt citizens, such as polluting, profiteering, and outsourcing to cheap-labor countries, are simply not allowed. Note that this doesn’t mean that people come first or that people have the right to destroy everything else for their own benefit. It means that business and industry should exist in service of people, not the other way around.

Embrace Short, Medium, and Long-Term Goals. This is something life coaches teach as part of the foundation of personal fulfillment. By having personal short, medium, and long-term goals, you get the good feeling of accomplishment on a regular basis and you always have the good feeling of working toward something. When a community has short, medium, and long-term goals, it creates a tighter community and a greater sense of belonging and accomplishment in community goals. Members can proudly point and say both “look what we have done” and “look what we are building together.”

Already you can imagine how just these two principles would make the world much different, but let’s consider how different priorities over the last 30 years might have yielded different outcomes in just one area, job and compensation distribution. This is a high-level overview, but it is possible, sustainable, and consistent with human nature.

-Fewer people would work on Wall Street, and there would be no Wall Street cultural domination. In practical terms, there would be more people in teaching, urban planning, manufacturing, to name a few, plus assorted financial jobs that bring more benefit to the public than managing a hedge fund (which is to say nearly any financial job).

-High prestige only goes so far. Embracing people and community also means paying more to those, like teachers, who are doing more to directly benefit the public. It might be by straight wage (since teachers are already government employees) or it might be a wage supplement or tax credit on behalf of the public to certain people to make these jobs attractive in true measure of their worth to the public.

-The economy would be constructed and incented in a way to favor jobs that add value. In practical terms, the many new computer, internet, and electronics companies that started here would have stayed here, but the dotcom bubble would have happened anyway because that was based on where people thought value would be. (Gambling in the market is a problem outside the scope of the two points we’re discussing, but I’ll cover that later.)

-Long-term planning means managing the job skills of the national workforce. The ROTC offers education incentives to join the military. Why not offer incentives to enter fields where anticipated future need is more than current enrollment? With such foresight, we might have had enough nurses and geriatric specialists for today’s aging boomers. Job skills would be distributed better overall.

-Some jobs may generate a lot of money but not contribute commensurately to the public good. Much of this money would go back into the community. For example, entertainment money would support arts and entertainment programs that enrich communities but don’t generate money. Sports money would enrich public transportation, schools, after-school programs, etc. Both would support injured/disabled members, including retraining for other jobs. Both sports and entertainment/arts would be viewed as solid career choices, but neither would be viewed as the lottery ticket they are now.

-A few jobs do more harm than good. They persist because they generate money. Those jobs would disappear. I won’t try to enumerate these since some will be social judgment calls (for example, the tobacco industry).   More jobs become harmful because too many people are doing them, the equivalent of a job bubble. Some jobs would be transformed, along with their respective industries.

But for every job that goes away, more would be created and supported by the repurposed economy. This article focused on how things would be rearranged based on different objectives. The next article will look at things that do not exist today but might if we had taken a different road 30 years ago.

3 responses so far

West Wing Weekly Round-Up Dec 31, 2010

Dec 31 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, White House

Image by Pete Souza, Chief Official White House Photographer and Director of the White House Photography Office

West Wing Weekly Round-Up

From the West Wing, we have the mailbag edition of the West Wing Week, President Obama used the recess to appointed six nominees to fill key administration posts that have been left vacant for an extended period of time, signed some bills and made the world a bit safer. Not bad for being on vacation, Mr President.

First, in this special edition of West Wing Week, we look back over the last year, watch the President sign a law getting those loud TV ads under control, and find out the answers to a couple burning questions (pay attention if you have student loans) from the mailbag:

And I should add that even though your President is in Hawaii, he’s getting loads done. On December 29, 2010 he signed: The Omnibus Trade Act of 2010 which extends the Andean Trade Preference Act Trade Adjustment Assistance, To require the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to fully insure Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts which provides for permanent Federal deposit insurance coverage for Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts, the interest earned on which is used by States to support legal aid for low-income individuals and the Helping Heroes Keep Their Homes Act which extends enhanced protections for service members relating to mortgages and mortgage foreclosures through December 31, 2012.

Here’s the President’s statement on Removal of HEU from Ukraine:

“I congratulate President Yanukovych on the recent shipment of highly enriched uranium from Ukraine for secure disposal in Russia, which advances a top priority for my administration and for global security. This action brings us all one step closer to securing all vulnerable nuclear materials, as President Yanukovych and I and 45 other world leaders pledged to do this April at the Nuclear Security Summit. The low enriched uranium and nuclear safety equipment provided to Ukraine in connection with this shipment will support Ukraine’s development of safe and secure nuclear energy. These actions represent continued Ukrainian leadership in making sure that nuclear weapons never fall into the hands of a terrorist, and working toward a world without nuclear weapons.”

Pete Souza, Chief Official White House Photographer and Director of the White House Photography Office, has his year in pictures up; beautiful photography. A must see.

Well done, Mr President. Happy New Year everyone.

4 responses so far

House GOP Humors the Tea Party with an Empty Constitutional Gesture

Dec 31 2010 Published by under Featured News

The incoming 112th Congress looked like it was going to be an exercise in futility with Republican’s in charge of the House, but the new rules Republicans intend on implementing will make legislating a comedy of errors that guarantees absolutely nothing will be accomplished. On January 6, a day after John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker of the House, the entire 4,543-word Constitution of the United States, with all 27 amendments, will be read aloud on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Reading the Constitution aloud is a prelude to a rule that requires every single piece of proposed legislation to have a statement at the bottom of the bill citing where in the Constitution Congress is empowered to enact such legislation. The new rule is sure to make Tea Party members happy, but will open up disputes regarding the interpretation and relevance of the 200-year-old document as it pertains to new legislation.

It seems more than a little strange that members of Congress swear an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, but need to read the document out loud after they have been sworn in. Republicans are under pressure from the Tea Party to return to the Founders’ original intent laid out in the Constitution, and teabag queen Michelle Bachmann has taken it upon herself to be the progenitor of all things Constitutional by holding instructional classes to teach the document to incoming representatives.

Bachmann thinks the November 2nd election was a mandate for Congress to return to the Founders’ idea of America and says, “Voters called for a renewed commitment to the Constitution,” and that, “These new rules show that Republicans are serious about respecting the Constitution.” Bachmann’s comprehension of the Constitution is tenuous at best, and her remarks this past summer that she wanted Minnesotan’s to be “armed and dangerous” in case the Federal government enforced federal laws were nothing short of treason and incitement to armed insurrection.

The new rules are meant to satisfy the tea party faithful and are symbolic because as soon as the novelty wears off, it will be business as usual for the new and old Republicans who have hired industry lobbyists to advise them on legislative matters big and small. Experts agree that the Republican tactics are for the purpose of humoring the grass-roots tea party movement who turned out to vote them into office. Kevin Gutzman is a history professor at a Connecticut University and a tea party sympathizer who said that, “They humor people who are not expert or fully cognizant…and as soon as those people go away, it’s right back to business as usual.” The Republicans’ corporate sponsors and lobbyist advisers will not sit idly by and allow their puppets to waste time pouring over the articles and sections of the Constitution to justify legislation they need to continue raping America.

Experienced Republican legislators know that the Founders crafted the Constitution to be flexible for any eventuality, and that they will not pass anything if it is put under scrutiny of Constitutional novices. The Supreme Court cannot reach consensus on Constitutional matters, and one would expect the Justices to have a better than rudimentary knowledge of the document. There is also the matter of issues that may arise that did not exist in the Founders’ days.

It is unimaginable how the Congress will handle laws governing communications, energy policy, transportation, education, defense, or the budget if they stick closely to the original intent of the Founding Fathers. Fortunately, the Founders crafted the Constitution in such a way that allowed subsequent generations to follow the basic principles of the document instead of specific issues that will not be found regardless the amount of searching by inexperienced Republicans or their corporate sponsors and lobbyist advisers.

The interpretation of the Constitution varies from expert to expert, and there will be little agreement between partisan members of the House depending on their personal stake in a piece of legislation. The Constitution is deliberately ambiguous so legislators can apply the principles to a particular measure, and gives guidance on how problems should be approached and solved in a democratic way. Under the new Republican rules, the Congress will be mired in debate and controversy over the Constitutionality of new legislation; if any bills ever make it to the floor for debate.

Indeed, even the 2nd Amendment is ambiguous because it does not address possession of a firearm if you are not a well-regulated militia member. There is also the question of exactly when the Constitution leaves the purview of the Founders when considering the multitude of amendments passed after the Founders were long dead. Will Michelle Bachmann forfeit her seat in the House because the Founders made no provision for women to serve as legislators much less have the right to vote?

The reality is that the new rule requiring constitutional endorsement for legislation is a symbolic means to appease the tea party movement who voted for Republicans in the midterm election. Maybe for intellectually challenged legislators like Michelle Bachmann, the rule will satisfy her wish to take the country back to the 18th century. But she is stupid if she misses the point that the Constitution is not a clear document, but a guide for governance across the ages, and she certainly short changes the Founders by expecting the Constitution to address specific issues in the 21st century.

The 112th Congress will be tumultuous without strict adherence to the Constitution, and Republicans’ plans for constitutionally-cited legislation will result in gridlock the obstructionists cannot begin to imagine. Republicans claim the American people expect them to pass laws according to the strictest interpretation of the Constitution, but as soon as the document is read, their lobbyist advisers and corporate masters will demand they pass laws giving them power over the government. Power that is not in the Constitution, and power the Founders would not approve of in 1790 or in 2011. But then, Republicans have no intention of following the Founders’ wishes; or the Constitution.

9 responses so far

TLC’s Sarah Palin’s Alaska Jumps the Shark by Attacking Critical Blogger

Dec 31 2010 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party

TLC’s “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” website has a Broadsheet section written by David Murray. Last night, Mr Murray actually attacked a Texas blogger who had the temerity to correct Ms Palin over her inaccurate claim that environmentalists were “limiting deforestation” in Alaska. Mr Murray adds to the spice of this late night musing by actually suggesting that this show isn’t political as he says, “once or twice per episode, Sarah does make a quick aside with some political content.”

Yes, that’s right, Mr Murray. Once or twice an episode Sarah Palin makes a dig at Michelle Obama or the President or the feds or some other evil liberal target. The rest of the time she’s busy rehabbing her image with narratives about “working hard” and “not quitting” and being a “tough” female. Why, in one episode she ran around looking like Rambo for the Ronnnie Reagan vote. Then she takes her petty attacks at her critics, like suggesting that “refudiate” was a typing error because the “d and the f are right next to each other”. A pause while we realize that if she had used the d, she would have made an even worse mess of the word. Image rehab, fighting critics and sending political messages all wrapped up in the neat flagship of a “reality” TV show.

At any rate, I wouldn’t say that was political either if I were working for a network that was engaging in paid political advertising for a very divisive candidate and receiving tax credits from the state of Alaska (for the star’s salary if nothing else), because you see, that would be propaganda for profit at the tax payers’ expense and on public airwaves and that would be uncool on many fronts.

And that wouldn’t be good for TLC to admit.

Only TLC gave Sarah Palin Executive Producer credit and control over editing (per her own tweets), so this is her message and everyone in America knows that Palin politicizes everything she touches. So TLC has to defend her from suggestions that she is making political attacks and we all know how Palin loves to be defended, so this is another cozy relationship of money, power and elite media congloms working to sell Palin, Inc to America. Nice work, TLC.

Let’s not forget that TLC “disinvited” media critic Jennifer Pozner from TLC’s “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” podcast because they claimed she was “too political” for the show. In the past, Jennifer Pozner has criticized “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” as nothing more than a paid political commercial wherein the politician is getting paid by the network. Too political, you say? Gee, I’m flummoxed.

Now, on to the specifics of this particular fight.

Malia Litman, author of “Rebuttal to the Rogue”, who blogs on “Malia Litman’s blog” was watching last week’s episode of “Sarah Palin runs for President” (oops, I mean, “Sarah Palin’s America”…no, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”) and she became offended that Sarah Palin claimed conservationists were somehow stopping logging and deforestation of Alaska. God forbid we should limit deforestation of our resources. However, let’s not get bogged down in that fight.

This is pure vintage Palin. She can make an enemy out of thin air. Because, see, no one is stopping loggers in Alaska. No evil environmentalists are stopping “progress” in Alaska. This is another Palin v No One fight, where the viewer gets to plug in the evil guy (who is always a liberal and usually in the White House).

Watch here. The rant against no one starts at 8:22:

Then Malia Litman does due diligence and corrects Palin:

“In the same episode, Palin criticized environmentalists for their opposition to logging and deforestation. Although nothing about Obama was mentioned by Palin, the viewer certainly assumed that Palin was critical of the Obama administration for any efforts to limit deforestation in Alaska. In this instance it was Palin’s total absence of acknowledgement of the attempt by the Obama administration to allow the expansion of logging in Alaska, that was so offensive. Just this year the Obama administration has come under harsh criticism for its approval of the sale of timber from the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. The Obama administration has approved the sale of timber from the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. The 17-million acre forest is the largest stand of continuous temperate rain forest in the U.S. and contains a lot of old-growth trees. This first sale will come after seven miles of roads are built for the 381-acre clear-cut. Either Palin didn’t know or purposefully failed to mention that the Obama administration had worked to limit the laws regulating the limited removal of trees in Alaska. The Obama administration allowed the cutting down of trees, in spite of the knowledge that deforestation now accounts for nearly ¼ of global CO2 emissions in the world.”

Do we all know whom she means? This is the woman who can’t stop making petty jabs at Michelle Obama’s healthy eating initiative, after all. Yes, if you live in America, you’re aware of whom Palin thinks of as her mortal enemy; he who stole her crown. Or as they call him on her heavily moderated Facebook page, the “usurper” President. He whom Palin can not, will not, stop criticizing at every turn until the Russian newspaper Pravda called her out as a traitor to her country. But Mr Murray wants us to pretend that we don’t have any idea whom she means. I mean, we can’t prove she meant that! She never said it. So there. That get’s TLC off the hook for Palin’s misinformation.

Wait, see how that worked? That’s called moving the goal post. Because you see, Palin did misinform her viewers and one would like to think that as former Governor she knows what goes on with logging and deforestation laws in her state. But perhaps I give her too much credit. I hear she gets her information from Fox, so maybe we should give her the benefit of the doubt.

Here comes TLC’s “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” Broadsheet to rebut the rebuttal! December 30, 2010 by Broadsheet:

….Here’s the excerpt, with the weaker assumption in bolded text:
…” Palin criticized environmentalists for their opposition to logging and deforestation. Although nothing about Obama was mentioned by Palin, the viewer certainly assumed that Palin was critical of the Obama administration for any efforts to limit deforestation in Alaska. In this instance it was Palin’s total absence of acknowledgement (sic) of the attempt by the Obama administration to allow the expansion of logging in Alaska, that was so offensive.”

Now, Palin has of course been critical of Barack Obama in the past; that’s not the part of that statement that seems (to me) to be unreasonable. It’s that, even though Sarah said nothing of Obama, the viewer would immediately think “she’s talking trash about Obama!” And if she’s not talking about Obama (which we really don’t have very much reason to believe she is, her not mentioning him at all), then why would it be offensive not to bring up his track record on logging in Alaska? She didn’t mention a lot of people’s track records. Is that offensive? I don’t think it is…

No, see, what’s so offensive is that Ms Palin attacks outward over false issues and implies that enemies like evil liberal environmentalists are out to get hard-working loggers, while Mr Murray, Malia and I know this isn’t true. That is the issue. Let’s stop moving goal posts, shall we?

I wonder why Mr Murray left that part out of his quote from Malia’s blog? I wonder why Mr Murray didn’t even have the courtesy to link to Malia’s blog so people could make up their own minds about what she meant. Maybe he didn’t want people to see the truth. After all, that would look like TLC was funding baseless attacks on the Left and we all know they aren’t doing that. They certainly aren’t funding a misinformation campaign or a political ad.

Now if only the rest of America would kindly swallow this lump of coal so TLC could collect it’s monies and move on before things get too dicey. Oh, and maybe TLC should supply us with the information about exactly how much money they get from the film tax credits and incentives if they qualify for them. We already know that the people of Alaska are paying 44% of Sarah Palin’s salary per the film incentive. After all, TLC is using public airwaves and they’re using tax-payer money, so this is our business.

76 responses so far

The Ten Commandments Resurface as the Personhood Amendment

Dec 31 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Take a good look: this is the Constitution of the future

Okay, I admit this is really not news. The entire Christian fundamentalist movement(s) has as its goal “restoring” a Biblical society that never existed and basically turning back the clock to the “good old days” when the Church could punish with fiery death anyone who disagreed with it.

What the AFA has done is to promote a comprehensive agenda for this return. Supporters call it a “Personhood Amendment” which is a very positive-sounding name for something that is positively medieval in construction and intent. After all, these Christofascists aren’t really all that interested in persons if they’re gay, or Muslim, or pagan, or feminist. A lot of people, if the AFA and its cohorts on the religious right had its way, would lose their personhood.

The personhood amendment was already tried in Colorado. Amendment 62, “would have banned abortion, many forms of birth control and embryonic stem cell research in the state.”

They have managed to get the Personhood Amendment on the ballot in Mississippi for 2011 to coincide with the gubernatorial elections. According to realitycheck.org, “two prior efforts in 2005 and 2007 failed to win enough support to get the question before voters.” It reads as follows:

Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Mississippi: SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hearby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ: Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” This initiative shall not require any additional revenue for implementation.

One problem is that the state’s Constitution doesn’t allow voter referendums to alter the Bill of Rights (maybe they should start calling it the Bill of Restrictions – or better, the Ten Commandments). Not at all certain how they intend to get through that except by pulling a “Dubya” and simply ignoring the Constitution. One happy coincidence for these medieval advocates: the American Family Association (AFA) is headquartered in Mississippi.

Matt Friedeman of the AFA’s American Family Radio said that if the proposal succeeds in 2011, he hopes it would lead the way to the criminalization of abortion across the country:

“So what we’re hoping for here is that one of these initiatives will be taken all the way to the Supreme Court and they’ll have to decide at that point what to do with it. And hopefully at that juncture we have a pro-life majority, and you never know from year to year to year what’s gonna happen there, but we hope we have a pro-life majority and we hope the day comes when Roe v. Wade is wiped off the books and we can go back to the states. Maybe even, if God would allow, to get a pro-life amendment for the whole country.”


Bryan Fischer used the opportunity to push his usual violations of the Constitution and his vision of a medieval-style theocracy:

“One of the things we look for from our political leaders is we want to see them work to align the public policy of our country with the standards of the word of God, that’s what we want, we want an alignment. We’re not talking about a theocracy where the clergy rules this country; we’re talking about statesmen, both men and women, who are committed as a matter of moral conviction to align the public policy of the United States with the word of God.”


This is not just a move to ban abortion and overturn Roe vs. Wade but an attack on science and on the Constitution. It is also a violation of the Constitution because it promotes the viewpoint of a specific religion. It is the insistence at the heart of these amendments that a Christian viewpoint be the only relevant viewpoint that is the most objectionable. Most of these people, if polled, would likely react violently to any suggestion that Islamic principles govern the process; so why should Christian principles be seen as any less objectionable?
If you go to a site like personhood.net you find the following rationale:

Throughout the history of the Church the doctrinal teaching of the “Sanctity of Life” (Genesis 1:26-27) has been the belief that Man is created Imago Dei (Latin: in the image of God) and therefore has worth at all stages of life. This is the bedrock of Western civilization’s understanding and practice of human dignity.

Besides being misleading (human life was valued before Christianity) the statement is also demonstrably false. Christians slaughtered human beings of all ages with happy abandon for nearly 2000 years before the European Enlightenment freed the Western World of some of the Church’s darker practices – big killers too, like crusades, inquisitions, and witch-burnings – you know,  real pro-life activities.

Les Riely, sponsor of the Mississippi amendment, revealingly says,

Isaiah 59 tells us that ,’ the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear’ so we first give all praise and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ for hearing our prayers and giving us the victory in this round.

It’s Jesus this, Jesus that. Jesus isn’t in the Constitution. Neither is Christianity, neither are the Ten Commandments.

It’s a little late now to try to convince us you really do value life. Did you really have to kill millions to make that point? If all life is sacred, why do women have to die to save a fetus if her life is endangered by her pregnancy? That would have been the effect of the “life-loving” Colorado amendment.

There is no reason at all once you cast aside Christian insistence on being considered “True Religion” and the concomitant assertion that only their viewpoint is valid, which is exactly the determination government is not permitted to make according to the Constitution.

It is not as if Christians are being told they cannot be Christians, or hold firm to their religious convictions. No one is forcing Christians to have sex outside of marriage, or to have abortions, or to marry a person of the same sex, or to accept stem cell treatment. If you don’t believe it’s right, don’t do it. You have that right. But you positively do not have the right to force these beliefs on others by legislating them into law. The Constitution forbids this. The Constitution is about granting and defending rights; the Ten Commandments are about restricting them. Let’s not confuse them.

19 responses so far

Late Night Snack: Baby Panda Plays with Soccer Ball Video

Dec 30 2010 Published by under Featured News

Baby Panda plays with soccer ball

Open Thread: your late night snack, moment of zen. Baby Panda plays with soccer ball.

Random quote (sent to me by Thomas Bishop): “Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well. Nor is hope the willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success. . .. . . but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.” – Vaclav Havel

6 responses so far

Christine O’Donnell Responds to Federal Investigation By Going Completely Insane

Dec 30 2010 Published by under Featured News

In response to the federal investigation launched into the allegation that she used $20,000 of campaign funds to pay for her own living expenses, Christine O’Donnell has lost the last thread of sanity that she had left. O’Donnell did her best to keep the cash flowing by claiming that the left is out to get her, while forgetting that it was her own Republican campaign staff that outed her for misuse of funds. In short, Christine O’Donnell is completely insane.

Here is Christine O’Donnell on CNN claiming that there is a left wing vendetta against her:

O’Donnell accuses CREW of being “left-wing” as if this should automatically discredit CREW, which is an interesting notion given the attention and credibility that O’Keefe and Breitbart were given even though both were known for their politics and for being loose with the truth. The left wing owes O’Donnell a giant thank you, not payback. In her clearly delusional state, much like Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell doesn’t understand that having her special brand of insanity and ignorance on the ballot helps the Democratic Party.

The truth is that O’Donnell has been floating the Soros boogeyman for months now. Talking Points Memo reported CREW’s response to these allegations when they were made a few months ago:

CREW responded months ago by pointing to their record of being non-partisan, “We have a clear record as a non-partisan organization. I’m aware these allegations are out there — you know has always been an equal opportunity antagonist. CREW accepts money from ordinary citizens who support our cause and we’re supported by people on both sides of the aisle for actions that CREW takes,” Adam Ratliff of CREW told TPM. Ratliff pointed out that CREW had gone after Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters, and said the O’Donnell filing was not partisan at all.

Furthermore, Media Matters reported:

“It is true that OSI (Soros’s Open Society Institute) contributed $100,000 to CREW in January 2006 and that Soros is a member of the Democracy Alliance, a recently formed organization of donors that has provided financial support to CREW. But the Democracy Alliance is made up of nearly one hundred donors….”

O’Donnell hasn’t limited her diversion campaign to George Soros. She is also attacking the former staffer that blew the whistle on her treating campaign money like a personal slush fund. O’Donnell described the accusations as “a vendetta to stop this movement in its tracks.” She said one of her accusers, former campaign staffer David Keegan, is “obsessed” and has posted “pornographic statements” about her on Facebook. She also slammed Keegan as someone who gave everyone the “creeps”. So, we shouldn’t believe the charges against her but we should believe her slams against her accusers.

This is close to her mentor Sarah Palin’s old standby of accusing every man who doesn’t worship her of being a rapist or pedophile. Glad O’Donnell kept her smears to a minimum, relatively speaking. At least this time she didn’t float a rumor about her accusers being homosexuals like she did to Mike Castle during the GOP primary. O’Donnell is taking Republican crazy to a whole new level. She is the political bastard child of Glenn Beck (Soros, Soros, Soros!!!!) and Sarah Palin (Victimization is Us).

What Christine O’Donnell is trying to desperately hard to distract the right from is a former member of her own staff from her previous Senate run submitted an affidavit stating that Christine O’Donnell used campaign funds to pay her rent and living expenses. In short, she embezzled from her own campaign. O’Donnell thinks that by blaming the left, instead of members of her own party, she can garner sympathy and not so coincidentally more cash in her bank account by creating an alternate reality in which she is the victim.

O’Donnell has responded to the news of the federal investigation by possibly suffering a psychotic break with reality. Christine O’Donnell knows that it is awfully tough to land a cushy gig on Fox News, sell a book, and hit the right wing speaking circuit while dressed in a orange jumpsuit and having all your mail forwarded to the federal prison, so she has concocted a nonsensical defense that is completely out of touch with the facts. It is stunning that the Republican Party could nominate someone so devoid of ethics as a candidate for the United States Senate. Christine O’Donnell is more G. Gordon Liddy than Sarah Palin, and she may soon have the rap sheet to prove it.

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After 2 Years Obama’s Approval Rating Is Higher than Clinton and Reagan

Dec 30 2010 Published by under Featured News

The latest Gallup poll on President Obama’s job approval rating contained an interesting nugget of information. After two years on the job, Barack Obama’s approval rating is higher than that of two recent presidents who had big reelection victories, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. One term Presidents George HW Bush and Jimmy Carter, and post-9/11 president George W. Bush had higher ratings than Obama at the halfway mark.

According to the Gallup poll, Obama’s weekly job approval rating is holding steady at 47%. Despite all of the criticism that this president has faced his approval rating is down only slightly from the same week in 2009 when it was 51%. The problem with weekly job approval ratings is that at best they only provide an immediate snapshot of public opinion. They do not encompass long term trends, or the possible shifting of attitudes based on long term unfolding political developments, but with the economy continuing to struggle, the fact that Obama’s approval rating is remaining steady is good news for the White House.

At the halfway point of Obama’s term, his approval rating is right in the middle of the pack when the last six presidents are ranked. George H.W. Bush had the highest approval rating at the midpoint of his term, (63%). Second on the list was his son, George W. Bush, (61%). Next on the list is Jimmy Carter at 51%. Obama was fourth at 47%, and surprisingly two most popular recent presidents were at the bottom. Ronald Reagan was at 43%, and Bill Clinton was at 40%.

Both of the Bush presidencies had their midterm popularity boosted by the patriotism of being war time presidents. For George H.W. Bush, the Gulf War boosted his approval, while George W. Bush was still benefiting from the nation’s emotional reaction to 9/11 and their support of the war in Afghanistan. Because of this neither of these presidents’ approval ratings are an accurate comparison to Obama. Carter is an interesting case, but his approval rating was soon to plummet under the weight of the Iran hostage crisis.

A more accurate comparison for Obama is to the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. In 1994, Bill Clinton saw his approval rating sink to as low as 39%. The high water mark for Clinton from July of 1994 through the rest of the year was 48%. President Clinton’s approval rating from Thanksgiving until the end of the year did not go any higher than 42%. Clinton also suffered a disastrous midterm defeat where his party lost control of both the House and the Senate.

Until the current recession, the Reagan recession was the worst in recent memory. It might seem hard to believe now, because Reagan is remembered as a popular president, but Reagan’s job approval rating for his second year in office was 43%. Reagan struggled through most of 1983. He began the year with an approval rating of 35%, and it took him 11 months of the year to reach a 50% job approval rating.

After closing the year with a string of legislative successes, the talk of Obama being a one term president, or facing a 2012 primary challenger has faded, but the ongoing recession has taken a toll on the President’s job approval ratings. By looking at the differential between Reagan and Clinton’s recessionary and post-recession approval ratings, it is possible to argue that a poor economy can cost a president 10-15 points of approval. These things considered, President Obama isn’t in that bad of shape as he heads into the second half of his first term.

Only George W. Bush had a midterm approval rating of over 50% and went on to win reelection. Bush is somewhat of a special case as he benefitted at the midpoint from terrorism concerns and the war in Afghanistan, and he was able to narrowly win reelection by campaigning on being a wartime president, and the war in Iraq. In 2004, Bush was able to capitalize on American voters’ reluctance to change presidents during wartime.

As the economy turns upwards, Obama’s approval ratings will follow. The fact that this president has managed to keep his approval rating near 50% despite the economy, an epic midterm election loss by his party, and daily criticism by his opposition is not good news for Republicans looking ahead to 2012. Should the economy improve by the time Obama faces reelection, I think he will probably achieve a similar result to what Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton will able to accomplish with their reelection bids.

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