Saturday, October 24, 2009

Quote of the Day: LeBron James on dunking (on George W. Bush)

This is about a week old, but I thought I'd post it anyway. Interviewed in next month's Maxim magazine, LeBron James, probably the best player in the NBA, is asked the following question:

If there was one guy on the planet you could dunk on, who would it be?

Bron-Bron's answer:

If it doesn't have to be a basketball player, George W. Bush. I would dunk on his ass, break the rim, and shatter the glass.

How awesome, and how fitting, would that be?

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Dallas police wrongly ticketed non-English-speaking drivers

This must surely warm up the cold, bitter hearts of Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs, and the rest of the English-only nativist movement in the U.S.:

Dallas police ticketed 39 drivers in 3 years for not speaking English.

They will not be happy to learn, however, that Police Chief David Kunkle is not amused and has promised "to investigate all officers involved in the cases for dereliction of duty."

I was surprised and stunned that that would happen, particularly in the city of Dallas. In my world, you would never tell someone not to speak Spanish,

Kunkle said. Pending cases are being dismissed and fines are being reimbursed to those who were ticketed and paid them.

It doesn't seem there there was a department-wide effort to target non-English speakers. "The citations were issued in several different patrol divisions by at least six different officers." In some cases at least, ignorance of the law may have played a role:

In [one] case and perhaps the others, officials said, the officer was confused by a pull-down menu on his in-car computer that listed the charge as an option. But the law the computer referred to is a federal statute regarding commercial drivers that Kunkle said his department does not enforce.

Still, Kunkle is right to investigate, and those ultimately responsible ought to be held accountable. Ignorance is no defence, after all, and along the way there were officials who should have known that what was being done was wrong.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Top Ten Cloves: Surprising things found in Microsoft's Windows 7

By J. Thomas Duffy

News Item: Review: Windows 7 Is Microsoft’s Best Yet

10. Obama's Birth Certificate

9. The Lost David Letterman Apologies

8. Not sure how, but everytime you use Windows 7, Goldman Sachs employees get bigger bonuses

7. A robust, public healthcare option

6. Even with add-ons, the whole Windows 7 isn't as as big as that Ralph Lauren model's head

5. Your Windows 7 program may, suddenly, take up war with Faux News

4. A special Jay Leno "!0 at 10" with Bill Gates

3. A weird programming fluke allows you to see the CIA file on Lee Harvey Oswald

2. Falcon Henne, hiding

1. Only out 2-days, and it's already editted the Vista entry on Wikipedia, to say how great it was

Bonus Microsoft Riffs

John Battelle: Ballmer Throws A Chair At "F*ing Google"

Google Fires Back At Ballmer ... Microsoft Omitted From Searches; Google Maps Highlight Home

Breaking News! President Makes Unannounced, Surprise Visit To Redmond Tech Giant

Top Ten Cloves: Other Surprising Things Found With Microsoft’s New Windows Vista Software

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Trouble keeping the lies straight?

By J. Thomas Duffy

It's there, for anyone to look up, between testimony, media, documents, the prolific amount of lying conducted by The Bush Grindhouse.

It is such that, we could expect lightening to hit them, if they ever told the truth about anything.

So, maybe, The Commander Guy, was thinking about his his "Ek-A-Lec-Tic" Reading List, or a DVD he recently rented, when he let loose with another, in a long list of, faux pas;

Bush: I regret standing in front of the ‘Mission Impossible’ banner.

Bush also said that he regretted appearing in front of a “Mission Impossible” sign in 2003 during an address about the Iraq war. Of course, the sign actually said “Mission Accomplished.” Maybe “Mission Impossible” would have been more appropriate.

You can read more in "Shoes fly as George W. Bush speaks in Montreal".

Somehow, the Flying Monkeys of the Right Wing Freak Show will find a way to blame his "foot-in-mouth" on Obama, or the liberal media.

The Stupidest Man in the World could wear a "I'm With Stupid", t-shirt, pointing to The Decider Guy.

Bonus Commander Guy Riffs

It Will Never Be A Happy "Mission Accomplished" Day

Still Utterly Clueless

The Narrative Continues To Build!

For The Want Of A Lie ...

Where's That Apple Runner When You Need Her?

Well, It's A Destiny of Sitting at The Presidential Kids Table

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Don't chug the bong water

This has to be one of the stupidest court decisions ever. The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that bong water -- yes, bong water -- may be deemed to be an illegal drug if it contains a controlled substance. Now, sure, if it contains, say, a huge quantity of meth, I get it, sort of. But your usual bong water? Really?

Yes, really. Because, apparently, you could drink it later and get high. Now, I've never done that, and likely won't, but I can't say it sounds all that appealing.

The "war on drugs" is ridiculous enough already. But if there's still going to be a crackdown on illegal drugs, shouldn't there actually be, you know, drugs, not just bong water?

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No exit, no return

By Capt. Fogg

I like pawnshops. I've been a fan of the recent History Channel series Pawn Stars featuring a 24 hour pawn shop in Las Vegas and of course I like to hunt for treasure at flea markets. The local B&A flea market isn't so great and is only open on weekends, but since the economy tanked, every day is like a bad day at the crap tables and cool things do turn up at pawnshops.

So yesterday I happened to be passing one on US1 in a shabby strip mall between CW's Barbeque and a vacant storefront and having little else to do, eased the Red Rocket into a parking spot right by the door next to a badly repainted yellow 50's pick-up truck and stopped in.

Yes, they sure did have more stuff than last time, which was a few years ago. The walls were festooned with T-shirts comparing Obama to Mao Zedong and a whole pandemonium of tyrants. One showed some Greek columns and read "Obama -- molon labe" a reference to the words the Spartans supposedly said to the Persians when asked to turn over their weapons: "come and get them." Tools, motorcycles, construction equipment, raggedy stereos, drum sets, guitar amplifiers and shelves full of stuff to the point where I could hardly walk -- and guns: lots of them.

A large plasma TV had Fox news blaring out the hysterics of the day and the friendly pistol packin' proprietor oversaw a forest of racked long guns and glass cases of overpriced handguns.
"You can't trust the government to do anything" he was saying to a couple of camo hatted compatriots. "Except maybe to run an army"
"Not even that!" replied one. "They should just tell the generals what they want done and then let them run it the way they want."

I feigned interest in an 1851 Colt Navy revolver with all the original finish gone (I'm quite sure it was a fake) while the conversation shifted to why they weren't racists for hating "that SOB" it's just that he's such a far-left radical and why any competent president would have restored the economy to it's former glory under George Bush - he's had months, after all.

I grew up on science fiction and I'm used to stories that begin with someone walking though holes in space-time into other universes. I thought maybe I'd just walked into the fantasy universe of the Republicans but I'm not too sure what I walked back into is real either. In the "real" world, there's a new video game out, I read today. It's another alternate reality where "patriots" can compete to capture Obama before he can:
"toss out the Constitution, ban guns and merge the U.S. with Canada and Mexico into a 'North American Union.' "

As with science fiction, the stuff I liked best had some degree of possibility attached to it. This thing only stinks of stale sweat, damp basements, fear and industrial disinfectant -- like a madhouse: like America.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)


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Global warming, still a tough sell to a skeptical public despite overwhelming evidence

Pew: "Fewer Americans See Solid Evidence of Global Warming."

Of course, most Americans -- and most of us generally -- think far more about the weather than we do about the climate. And that makes sense. The weather determines a good deal of how we lead our lives from day to day, even from minute to minute, while climate changes and their consequences are generally slow-moving and difficult to see if you're not, say, tracking avian migratory patterns or measuring the depth of Arctic sea ice, or if you're not impacted by them directly, like, say, the native inhabitants of Canada's north are. Indeed, even many of those who are impacted directly, like the residents of the Gulf Coast who have suffered through hurricanes of increasing intensity, or the residents of low-lying areas around the world who have experienced worse flooding than usual, may not make the connection.

It's too easy to say, as I was going to when I first thought about writing this post, that Americans should just get their heads out of their asses and deal with reality. I still think they should, and need to, but the results of this poll also indicate just how difficult it is, and will continue to be, to generate broad public support for a meaningful collective effort to address the most pressing crisis of our time.

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It's never too early to think about 2012

In case you were wondering, yes, Obama is still beating possible 2012 Republican opponents in the polls:

Almost a year after his election as President, Barack Obama continues to lead his most likely 2012 rivals in hypothetical contests for reelection.

Obama leads Mike Huckabee 47-43, Mitt Romney 48-40, Sarah Palin 52-40, and Tim Pawlenty 50-30.

And I just can't see Huckabee, popular flame of the far-right GOP base, doing that well in an actual election -- not with his inability to win moderates and independents (and not with how utterly insane and thoroughly extreme he is). Nor can I see Romney, who still faces an uphill battle in his ongoing efforts to (re)brand himself as a viable, reliable Republican with solidly conservative credentials (because he has no such credentials but merely a record of politically convenient flip-flopping), pulling it out. Pawlenty? Maybe, but he's hardly a match for Obama in terms of stature. Palin? Yeah, right.

Of course, it's way too early to call the election. Obama faces enormous challenges ahead, not to mention enormous opposition, and there's a lot that could go wrong for him. But it's hard to deny that the Republicans don't exactly seem to be posing much of a threat right now.

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The Turkey from Cranberry Township; or, when a crazy conservative attacks Iraq and Afghanistan veterans

Guest post by Frankie Sturm

Frankie Sturm is communications director at the Truman National Security Project and a free-lance journalist. For his previous guest posts at The Reaction, see here.

I work with veterans on a daily basis. Lately, I've been burning the midnight oil as part of Operation FREE, a coalition of veterans groups and national security organizations that are looking to raise awareness about the links between climate change and national security.

We're right in the middle of a nation-wide bus tour, with veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan talking to local media, veterans groups, and civic organizations. But as we made our way to Pennsylvania, all hell broke loose.

We decided to invite all members of the Pennsylvania state legislature to meet us on the bus to talk with our veterans. It was a seemingly innocuous and run-of-the-mill invitation. But the response we received from state representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry Township) was hardly run of the mill:

Subject: Re: Veterans for American Power Bus Tour coming to your state

As a veteran,

I believe that any veteran lending their name, to promote the leftist propaganda of global warming and climate change, in an effort to control more of the wealth created in our economy, through cap and tax type policies, all in the name of national security, is a traitor to the oath he or she took [to] defend the Constitution of our great nation!

Remember Benedict Arnold before giving credibility to a veteran who uses their service as a means to promote a leftist agenda.

Drill Baby Drill!!!
For Liberty,
Daryl Metcalfe
State Representative
Veteran U.S. Army

That's right, veterans who support clean energy are "traitors." Yikes. As it turns out, this isn't Representative Metcalfe's first foray into the absurd. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he opposed a resolution declaring Domestic Violence Awareness month in Pennsylvania, fearful of a "homosexual agenda." He also refused to support a vote to honor the 60th anniversary of a Muslim group in the state because "Muslims don't recognize Jesus Christ as God."

For anyone who thinks this is unacceptable behavior, I'd like to invite you to strike back!

If you'd like to sign a petition that demands an apology for his remarks about U.S. veterans, please click here.

Or if you'd like to bombard his offices with calls, emails, and letters, you can check out the contact info on his website.

Of course, it's unlikely any amount of phone calls or emails will change this guy's mind. But at least we can make sure he knows that slandering good Americans comes at a steep price.

(Originally posted at The Huffington Post.)

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Internet Freedom Act and Net Neutrality

By Capt. Fogg

No, no, no. The Internet Freedom Act isn't about freedom for you as an internet user and you should know by now that when a Republican uses the word Freedom it's about corporate control over your options. John McCain's "freedom act" appears now, after we've just begun to recover from eight years of the Bush FCC acting as a wholly owned subsidiary of big communications corporations; fudging the science and ignoring its own rules with impunity. Under Michael Powell and Kevin Martin, the Commission has stifled, hidden and falsified studies concerning the adverse effects on the public airwaves and even disaster relief services, of using power lines as a conductor for broadband internet and has made censorship of "indecency" a prime directive. It's high time they were prevented from protecting the public interest rather than the power of the telecommunications industry and the religious right.

If McCain's legislation is passed, the Internet Service Providers will have the power to limit your web bandwidth and mine and give preference to - you guessed it - the people they like, the people they own and the people who say what they want said. Have a blog that criticizes Comcast? Back to the days of 300 baud for you old chap! Fox News can blaze along at any speed they like with all the streaming and screaming video and Glennbeckery they can produce and the FCC won't be able to represent you. The freedom of giant corporations and puritanical moralists to censor you -- that's the kind of freedom John McCain thinks is worth fighting for!

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Quote of the Day: David Frum on "Republican fratricide"

Credit this Canadian conservative for speaking the harsh truth to his fellow Republicans:

From the point of view of most Republican commenters online and on the air, party loyalty is a highly variable principle. As they see it, third-party races by liberal Republicans who want to combine environmental protection with fiscal responsibility are selfish indulgences. But third-party races by conservative Republicans who want to combine pro-life appeals with their economic message? Those are completely different. Those are heroic acts of principle.


But the risk is that the party will draw a very different conclusion. From the New York experience, Republicans will be tempted to draw the lesson: Always nominate the more conservative candidate. From New Jersey: We need to drive pro-environmental fiscal moderates out of our party and into the Democratic Party where they belong!


[A] political formula that encourages Republicans to write off the suburbs, the Northeast, and California is not a formula for a national majority. It's a formula for a more coherent, better mobilized, but perpetually minority party.

It's always painful to lose. But defeats can be useful if they lead to wisdom. In this November's races, however, the risk is real that Republicans will lose much -- and learn nothing.

That's a fairly long QotD, but make sure to read Frum's post in full, as it delves into how Republicans are tearing each other apart in New York and New Jersey, two key races this fall.

I can't say I've ever cared much for Frum -- and I certainly don't want Republicans to listen to him, given that his very sensible outlook could actually rescue the party from the the brink of oblivion -- but in a party, and a movement, of increasing extremism (moderates out, teabaggers in), he's a voice of reason, relatively speaking, in the dark wilderness of American conservatism.

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Palin Infatuation Central

Since when is it "Breaking" (news) that Sarah Palin endorses a fellow right-wing extremist? Well, she did -- coming out, hardly to anyone's surprise, in support of Doug Hoffman in the NY-23 House race -- and The Weekly Standard, Palin Infatuation Central, seems to think it's worthy of being so hyped. (It isn't.)

If I may pose a related question, since when is Sarah Palin's Facebook page a key source of such breaking news? Well, it is to her multitude of bedazzled admirers on the right, including at Krazy Kristol's neocon rag, who seem to think that whatever she says is worthy of being treated like gospel. (It isn't.)

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Behold, the public option! -- Senate Democrats may be "leaning" towards it.

Olympia Snowe, that celebrated Republican "moderate" who seems to hold the future of American health care in her hands, is, lest we forget, firmly against the public option. Indeed, she has stated that she would likely filibuster any bill with a public option in it.

There you go, my friends. There's Republican compromise for you. If Democrats want meaningful reform -- and by that I mean a reform package with a public option -- they'll have to go it alone. Which is fine, really, given that they have solid majorities in Congress and a popular president in the White House. Surely Senate Democrats will pull together to block a Republican filibuster... right?

Well, we'll see.

Some Democrats, like Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu are, like the Republicans, opposed to a public option. As Steve Benen notes, though, Democrats seem to be "leaning toward some sort of national public option," in Nelson's words. Kent Conrad concurred: "What I'm hearing is this is the direction of the conversation."

Benen: "We've all been wondering if, and to what extent, Reid, Baucus, Dodd, and White House officials would pursue a public option. These comments suggest that's where we're headed."

Let's hope so. For there is good reason to hope.

As ABC News's Jonathan Karl is reporting, the public option is back:

The idea was believed to be dead.  Liberals wanted it, but Senate vote counters insisted it simply could not pass the Senate. The dynamic, however, has changed.  The public option may be back from dead.

I am told that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is leaning toward including the creation of a new government-run insurance program – the so-called public option – in the health care reform bill he will bring to the full Senate in the coming weeks.

Democratic sources tell me that Reid – after a series of meetings with Democratic moderates – has concluded he can pass a bill with a public option.

No, Reid doesn't have 60 votes, but he is "now convinced that Democratic critics of the public option will support him when it counts – on the procedural motion, which requires 60 votes, to defeat a certain GOP-led filibuster of the bill. Once the filibuster is beaten, it only takes 51 votes to pass the bill.

Essentially, what we need is for Democrats to stick together to block a Republican filibuster -- for how would it look, and how damaging to the party would it be, if a Democrat or two sided with the Republicans not just against a health-care reform bill but against even allowing a reform bill to go to the floor for a vote?

If the Nelsons and Landrieus want to vote against a bill with a public option, well, that's their decision. But they shouldn't hand victory to the Republicans before a vote on the substance of reform is even held.

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Republicans ain't got balls

By Carl

This comes as no surprise to liberal men:

Republican men nationwide may have experienced a drop in testosterone levels the night Barack Obama was elected president, according to the results of a small study that found another link between testosterone and men's moods.

I've long known that Republican men have no balls.

But let's take a closer look at this phenomenon. After eight years of balls-to-the-wall international violence, aggression, and bullying, in one night of repudiation, we find that aggressive men have lost a few feet off their fastball (pun intended).

Which raises an interesting question: is man, as a gender, inherently and genetically predisposed to violence?

Perhaps. Testosterone is associated with fear and stress: there seems to be a correlation between aggression and testosterone (so the old wive's tale appears intact). Since testosterone is also closely linked to the genetic drive to reproduce, and since our cave ancestors often had to fight for the right to deposit their seed in a woman, there seems to be some anecdotal association that allows for the equation "violence=sex".

Certainly the crime of rape is about violence, possession, aggression and control, and yet it is undeniable that somewhere in there is an element of sexuality.

Too, it has been demonstrated that the observation of violence and aggression can trigger violence and aggression in men (and women). How else can one explain how a bar fight turns into a brawl?

Now, our friends on the right will come up with reams of anecdotal evidence to contradict... something... here, but the simple fact is, cause and effect: they lost, their testosterone dropped. If they had won, their testosterone levels would have remained the same.

This is, of course, good news for John McCain's campaign. All he has to do is just win the 2008 election, and his followers will get erections. He'll be like political Viagra if he can just beat Senator Obama!

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Kudos to Kerry

By Creature

While I don't think a run-off election in Afghanistan will change the equation very much, I do applaud Senator Kerry's efforts to get Karzai to agree to them. A legitimate government in Afghanistan is a step in the right direction, though, I fear, having such legitimacy will simply mean America's war hawks will have an easier time cheerleading for neverending war.

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Craziest Conservative of the Day: Bill Donohue

For his "On Faith" guest piece in Monday's WaPo -- sorry, I'm a bit late getting to it.

WaPo should be ashamed of itself for publishing this extremist rant by a man who gives all faith, but especially Catholicism, a bad name. As TNR's Chris Orr put it, Donohue's piece is "really too vile even to mock," a truly "foul screed." Here, for your reading displeasure, is a taste:

Sexual libertines, from the Marquis de Sade to radical gay activists, have sought to pervert society by acting out on their own perversions. What motivates them most of all is a pathological hatred of Christianity. They know, deep down, that what they are doing is wrong, and they shudder at the dreaded words, "Thou Shalt Not." But they continue with their death-style anyway.


The culture war is up for grabs. The good news is that religious conservatives continue to breed like rabbits, while secular saboteurs have shut down: they're too busy walking their dogs, going to bathhouses and aborting their kids. Time, it seems, is on the side of the angels.

What's wrong with dog-walking? How is that part of our "death-style"? Whatever. Donohue lashes out with reckless, ignorant abandon at a variety of targets, including art and education -- indeed, he lashes out pretty much at the entirety of liberal modernity, at secularism broadly, though without much structure or focus, and certainly without intelligence.

Oh, here's another fantastic passage:

Catholics were once the mainstay of the Democratic Party; now the gay activists are in charge.

Gay activists like... Obama? Reid? Right, sure.

And another:

Secularists within Catholicism and Protestantism are so out of control that it makes one wonder how any serious-minded person would ever accuse these religions of being oppressive.

Right, because those "religions" (aren't they denominations -- isn't Christianity the religion?) aren't oppressive at all in keeping their deluded followers in a perpetual state of ignorance and submission.
Okay, enough. I've just mocked it despite its wall-to-wall vileness. But it deserves the mocking. As does Bill Donohue, bigot extraordinaire, our craziest, nastiest, most repugnant conservative of the day.

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Obama and the cowardly goons; or, Politico's incorrect and appallingly stupid "analysis" of the president's response to his critics

Politico yesterday published one of the worst "news" articles I've read in some time, an Obama smearfest by Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen. Here's how it starts:

President Obama is working systematically to marginalize the most powerful forces behind the Republican Party, setting loose top White House officials to undermine conservatives in the media, business and lobbying worlds.

With a series of private meetings and public taunts, the White House has targeted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest-spending pro-business lobbying group in the country; Rush Limbaugh, the country’s most-listened-to conservative commentator; and now, with a new volley of combative rhetoric in recent days, the insurance industry, Wall Street executives and Fox News

Obama aides are using their powerful White House platform, combined with techniques honed in the 2008 campaign, to cast some of the most powerful adversaries as out of the mainstream and their criticism as unworthy of serious discussion.

And so on, and so on...

First, note the language here: The White House campaign against the GOP/conservatives is systematic. It includes taunting. The rhetoric is combative. It is succeeding in part because the White House platform is powerful. Obama views his adversaries as unworthy.

This isn't the language of a news article, nor even of a fair-minded analytical piece. It's the language, simply put, of partisanship, and of attack.

Second, note the message here: What is happening is wholly the White House's, and hence Obama's, doing. Conservatives simply want to be part of the discussion, but they are being pushed out by the powerful effort of the presidency. Conservatives are the good guys. Obama and his minions are the bad guys.

Interestingly, the piece reflects the sense of victimhood that plagues the right. Woe is us! They're taunting us! They're attacking us! We're being marginalized! They're making us feel bad! Pity us!

Of course, the article does not consider that, actually, this analysis gets it completely wrong. Obama is, to an extent, fighting back, that much is true, but he is fighting back only because Republicans have so far spent his entire presidency trying to obstruct his every move, while conservatives have gone much further, questioning the very legitimacy of his presidency and using a kitchen sink approach to their smear campaign. Think about the Birthers, the Teabaggers, etc.

Yes, it's simple: They started it. However immature that may sound, it's true. From the very start, Obama has reached out to Republicans/conservatives -- on the stimulus package, on health-care reform, on Iraq, etc. He has done this, moreover, while alienating many on the left who supported him.

The problem for these conservatives, including those at Politico, is that they're not used to Democrats calling them out and pushing back. Basically, Obama isn't about to take their shit, nor should he. And now, as is their tendency, they're complaining about the way they're being treated. Allow me a hockey metaphor. Throughout the whole game so far, they've been slashing and hooking and cross-checking and taking cheap shots at every turn. At long last, the superstar they've been pushing around stands tall, drops his gloves, and challenges them to a fight. And what do they do? They drop to their knees and turtle, covering their heads with their hands and begging the referees and linesmen to protect them. And the superstar simply skates away, rallying his team for what lies ahead, having exposed his adversaries for for what they are, a bunch of cowardly goons.

Of course, that's now how Politico sees it, but, honestly, what did you expect?

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What does David Vitter have against interracial marriage?

Maybe something, maybe nothing. But you'd never know it from his response to that Lousiana justice of the peace's recent refusal to issue a marriage licence to an interracial couple.

Instead of demanding that Keith Bardwell resign or have his licence revoked, as Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Mary Landrieu did, Sen. Vitter, he with the prostitution scandal in his own recent past, first avoided the issue when confronted by blogger Mike Stark, then had his spokesman e-mail this to Greg Sargent:

First, Sen. Vitter thinks that all judges should follow the law as written and not make it up as they go along. Second, it would be amazing for anyone to do a story based on this fringe, left-wing political hack's blog -- he's been handcuffed and detained in the past over his guerrilla tactics.

The first part of that statement implies that Vitter is indeed opposed to what Bardwell did, given that what he did was illegal. But why generalize the issue to apply to "all judges." What do "all judges" have to do with it? The issue is what Bardwell did. And why not mention Bardwell by name? Or, at least, why not address the issue directly? And why go on to attack the person who asked the question? Vitter may not like Stark, but the ad hominem attack is obviously just a distraction here. He wants the issue to be Stark, not interracial marriage or racism, and he wants to focus on the story, and on who started it, not on what actually happened, the facts of the story. But Stark didn't make it up. The story was reported by the Associated Press, hardly a bastion of leftism. Stark simply wanted to know what Vitter thought, but Vitter, in response, just danced around a) what Bardwell did, and b) the issue of interracial marriage.

Which begs the question that is the title of this post, as well as this one: What is Vitter hiding?

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Why Americans are woefully uninformed

By Carl

With all that's going on in the world, with Afghanistan and healthcare reform and wars and famine and global warming, this is the headline of the second largest selling general newspaper in New York City.

And it's owned by FOX, no surprise there!

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Day of rage

By Carl

I'm in a real pissy mood, and my attention span is for crap, mostly because I've not slept much these past few weeks, last night being a sort of final straw for my equanimity.

So I'm going to break from my traditional analytic posts and head off into the Eschaton-like world of slam-dunking shit and letting you folks hash it out in comments:

Item 1 --
Skinny baby denied health insurance by company that advised sterilization to woman

Item 2 -- 17-Pound, 4-Month-Old Baby Denied Health Insurance for Being Too Fat

Item 3 --
Why are some middle-class women denied health insurance coverage if they had C-Sections?

Item 4 -- Rape Survivor Denied Coverage for "Pre-existing Condition" Shares Her Story

Pretty disgusting, isn't it? Private insurers prey on the most vulnerable among us, denying coverage to sick people.

Funny, because I thought the whole point of health insurance was to try to prevent you from getting even sicker...

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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What's in a name?

By Creature

I like the idea of re-branding the public option Medicare part E (for "E"veryone, clever). However, if the public option that's actually passed is of a watered-down variety, if it's not pegged to Medicare rates (plus 5), then I'd rather they didn't confuse the two. Real Medicare for all would have been nice.

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The strangest of bedfellows: Tom Coburn and... the gay community?

As Suzy Khimm is reporting at The Plank, right-wing Republican Sen. Tom Coburn has actually co-writting an op-ed for The Advocate, a leading gay publication.

His message? Government is bad, specifically when it comes to health care. (Yes, this is part of the ongoing Republican propaganda campaign against reform.)

Indeed, he argues that, with respect to AIDS patients seeking the drugs they need, "bureaucratic inefficiencies and mismanagement have literally cost lives."

Khimm notes obvious problems here:

Coburn doesn't explain, of course, how the private market or his own reforms will succeed in making expensive AIDS drugs more affordable than the current Ryan White programs, other than repeating the line that insurers shouldn't be able to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions. But what makes the argument even more difficult to take seriously is the fact that Coburn -- one of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate -- has a long history of vicious attacks on gay rights, the gay community, and "the gay agenda."


Coburn's history makes it a bit incredible to think he can now appeal to the LGBT community when it comes to the life or death decisions surrounding health care reform. If he's softened his anti-gay views, that'd certainly be a welcome development. But if Republicans seriously want to make inroads within the gay community, they should think twice about who might be their best envoy.

There is no perfect solution to America's health-care crisis, and the proponents of meaningful reform (which ought to include a robust public option) are not arguing that every problem will be solved by offering people an alternative to strictly private coverage. (And, of course, it's not like the reform packages being proposed by the Democrats involve full-scale nationalization or the introduction of a single-payer system, whatever the lies being tossed around by the right.)

But does the gay community agree with Coburn? Well, the gay community is hardly a monolith, but I doubt that his stridently anti-reform views meet with much support among gays and lesbians.

And do AIDS patients agree with him? Again, I doubt it. While there is likely a good deal of criticism of the current system, and of bureaucratic incompetence, is the right solution to take government out of the picture altogether and to turn the system wholly over to private insurers? Hardly. What there needs to be is choice, which means a public option, and the availability of the best possible care to all Americans. I realize that the situation is different for (some) AIDS patients than, say, for parents seeking general preventive care for their children, or for those who need expensive treatment for some illness but are being denied coverage by their private insurers, or for those who have no insurance at all, and so on, but surely they understand the appeal not just of reform generally but of the sort of meaningful reform that will give people choice, rather than just whatever private insurance structure they're forced into, and bring many more Americans into a system that currently excludes so many.

Simply, this outreach to the gay community by an anti-gay bigot is nothing but a cynical ploy to spread GOP lies. There is no reason to take Coburn seriously, and, one hopes, the readers of The Advocate won't.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Traditional Americans

By Mustang Bobby

Pat Buchanan bemoans the plight of White America:

In their lifetimes, they have seen their Christian faith purged from schools their taxes paid for, and mocked in movies and on TV. They have seen their factories shuttered in the thousands and their jobs outsourced in the millions to Mexico and China. They have seen trillions of tax dollars go for Great Society programs, but have seen no Great Society, only rising crime, illegitimacy, drug use and dropout rates.

They watch on cable TV as illegal aliens walk into their country, are rewarded with free educations and health care and take jobs at lower pay than American families can live on – then carry Mexican flags in American cities and demand U.S. citizenship.

They see Wall Street banks bailed out as they sweat their next paycheck, then read that bank profits are soaring, and the big bonuses for the brilliant bankers are back. Neither they nor their kids ever benefited from affirmative action, unlike Barack and Michelle Obama.

They see a government in Washington that cannot balance its books, win our wars or protect our borders. The government shovels out trillions to Fortune 500 corporations and banks to rescue the country from a crisis created by the government and Fortune 500 corporations and banks.

America was once their country. They sense they are losing it. And they are right.

You can't lose what you weren't entitled to think was yours alone. And you really can't lose what wasn't yours to take in the first place.

Having the Christian faith "purged" from schools that were paid for with taxes is a good thing since it shouldn't have been there in the first place, according to the First Amendment of the Constitution. Besides, there are other faiths in America besides the Christian one, and they're not allowed to be preached at the behest of the taxpayer, either. Being mocked on movies and TV is part of life, and if your faith can't take it, then it's your hold on faith that is imperiled, not the faith itself. Shuttered factories and jobs outsourced to Mexico and China were done not by liberals wanting to spread the wealth; it was done by corporations and capitalists who wanted to make more money so they could contribute it to the Republican Party. If anything, the progressives protested the export of labor because of the sweat-shop conditions in places like the Marianas Islands, promoted by Jack Abramoff. The Great Society had its flaws, but it also gave us Medicare, the Voting Rights Act, Fair Housing, and the chance for kids of all backgrounds to get a Head Start in school. And no amount of repeating the urban myth of Welfare Cadillacs can take that away.

The problem with illegal immigration might not be so bad were it not for the small businesses and factories that knowingly hire undocumented workers and pay them pittance wages so they too can give more money to the RNC. And Mr. Buchanan's outrage might have a little more impact if it wasn't for the fact that certain immigrants -- Cubans -- are not only given a free pass if they get their feet on dry land, they get to pass Go and collect their $200. But if you're from anywhere else, like Haiti, it's back on the boat and back to where you came from.

It's nice to carry on about bailing out Wall Street, but I wonder where Mr. Buchanan was when all the laws on securities and bank regulation were being relaxed under Republican administrations. Did he see that it could lead to trouble, or was he standing up and cheering for the virtues of the unfettered and free market?

The assumption that Barack and Michelle Obama got where they are was only by affirmative action confirms Mr. Buchanan's inherent racism: no person of color can get into Columbia or Harvard Law on their own. I wonder if he feels the same way about Colin Powell, Michael Steele, or Bobby Jindal.

This country was built by all of us -- white, black, brown, and the multitudes of those in between; straight, gay, and the many different colors of that spectrum as well. Those are the "traditional" Americans. That's what E pluribus unum is all about, and while it's had its ups and downs, and even if it was started by a bunch of rich white landowners who didn't want to pay taxes, they had the genius and foresight to make room for everyone, and make room for improvement along the way.

America was never "their" country to begin with. It's always been "ours."

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Surviving and thriving

By Carl

Not that I thought there was
any danger in the brush, but...

It's increasingly possible that we will look back and see that August 2009 was this election cycle's height of Republicans' optimism over their political fortunes, and the depth of Democrats' despair.

By the time the midterm elections reach a fever pitch next year, President Obama may well have passed health-care reform, his signature domestic initiative, if not with overwhelming public support then at least with the backing of a solid majority of voters. The now common criticism that he hasn't accomplished anything will have been blunted. And while a high joblessness rate may persist, the narrative will have taken hold that the economy has either recovered or is well on its way.

The scenario above represents Democrats' best-case scenario, and no element of it is assured. But the new Washington Post-ABC News poll makes it appear a bit more likely. The survey found "that support for a government-run health-care plan to compete with private insurers has rebounded from its summertime lows and wins clear majority support from the public." While ratings for Obama's handling of health care and the overall reform plans remained roughly the same, the president has regained the support of some Independents. The Fix points out that the poll also contained bad news for Republicans, giving the party low marks for its ability to make good decisions and handing Democrats a 12-point lead on the generic Congressional ballot.

And thus the curious silence of the Obama administration in August makes itself apparent.

He figured to ride out the storm as no one was paying attention, with only the lasting echoes being the outrageous behavior of teabaggers at the "town halls" Congresscritters held.

Once September came along, with its swine flu warnings and seasonal flu warnings and just, well, cold weather forcing people inside to watch the news, Obama and his staff could take to the airwaves to promote the sensible options with respect to healthcare reform.

Let the anger flow, the thinking was. It will peter out and exhaust itself long before anything comes to a vote.

Precisely the right course to take, once it became apparent that Democrats needed time to absorb the astroturfed outcry and realize it wasn't going to translate into votes.

By not doing anything, in other words, Obama won the fight. Sort of. It's not perfect, healthcare reform, but its a start.

Likewise on Afghanistan: Now that Karzai has been forced to admit that the election was, well, not on the level, Obama has been given a bit of political cover for his Hamlet-like stance on troop increases. If you can't be sure of the palyers going forward, you can afford to wait the play out until the conscience of the king is known.

Indeed, Karzai's admission opens the door to a more palatable environment into which Obama may introduce more troops than many would like to see there. One wonders how much pressure ol' Hamid there was under from State.

There are other obstacles on the horizon, like the banksta bonuses that are about to be announced from banks and investment houses that just ten months ago were hat-in-hand at Obama's door, asking for a bailout. That one could turn ugly, but the sense I get is that people understand how important it was to bail the banks out and oh, yeah... they won't be angry at Obama, but I'm not sure I'd go out and buy a new car if I was president of JP Morgan Chase right now. it might get keyed pretty badly in the parking lot of the "Stop n Shop".

In addition, through the entire summer, the Republicans reveled in the label "The Party of No," talking to it like a drunk frat brother to a keg.

And now that's coming back to haunt them, as people want... no, need... answers to the economy, to jobs, to healthcare, and to their future.

They called Reagan the Teflon Don President. We need to come up with a moniker that covers a guy who slips in shit and comes up smelling like a rose.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Amusing Photo of the Day: The toilet as art

From The Globe and Mail: "Visitors take photographs of a waterfall made of recycled toilet bowls and urinals at a park in Foshan, China."

Actually, those aren't recycled toilet bowls and urinals, they are toilet bowls and urinals.

"The object of art," wrote Shakespeare, "is to give life a shape." Well, there you go.

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Craziest Republican of the Day: Michael Steele (and the issue of the number of uninsured in America)

Mustang Bobby flagged the Steele-Univision interview yesterday, focusing on the RNC chair's comments on immigration (which were appallingly ignorant in their flag-waving superficiality), but I wanted to post here on his comments on health-care reform:

Jorge Ramos - Republican Senator Olympia Snowe has announced that she will vote for a healthcare reform bill. Are you disappointed, do you expect more Republicans to vote for it?

Michael Steele - I don't, if it's what we've seen produced so far in the House and in the Senate. I don't think we need a comprehensive overhaul of our healthcare system because our healthcare system, while it remains the best in the country and while it provides largely the services that people need and the quality of those services are very, very good, there are costs associated with this system that needs to be address more directly.

Jorge Ramos - But there are 40 or 50 million people who don't have health insurance. Right?

Michael Steele - The President himself has said it's not 40 to 50 number one, number two, the President himself has reduced that number to 30 and the actual number of people who legitimately need to access this healthcare system are around 12 to 15 million, but if that's the number, I'll take your 40 to 50 million if that is the number you want to use, the question then becomes, how much, who pays and where does the money come from and the administration continues to fail to address that issue in an honest way for the people to appreciate exactly what this cost is going to be for a complete overhaul of our system versus what Republicans have argued... It's commonsense solution, it doesn't require a nationalizing of our healthcare system, and it doesn't involve or require a great government intrusion through regulation and taxation and other confiscatory policies. What it requires is applying a little, you know elbow grease, to allow those businesses, those Hispanic businesses for example, under the market place and get the healthcare that they need.

First, it is simply delusional to think that an overhaul of the health-care system isn't needed. And it's the usual right-wing flag-waving to assert that the American system is the best system (simply because it's American, it would seem, for there is little to back up the assertion). Yes, I admit, the American system is quite excellent, in some respects, like research and innovation. But you can't fully access the system unless you have a lot of money, and, what's more, costs are spiralling out of control.

Second, one of the key components of the Republican opposition to meaningful reform involves claiming that there are far fewer uninsured Americans than people think. So it isn't 40 or 50 million, or even 30 million, it's more like 12 to 15 million -- as if this somehow makes reform unnecessary. It is difficult to pin down an exact number, but, according to the bipartisan National Coalition on Health Care, Census data show that about 47 million Americans, or roughly 20 percent of the population under 65, were uninsured in 2008. This is backed up by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, according to this 2005 brief, put the number at 45.8 million. The number of uninsured in 2007 was 45.7 million.

In August of this year, NPR looked behind that 45.7 million number. There were 45.7 million Americans who were uninsured at some point that year. While this means that not everyone who is uninsured is permanently uninsured, the problem is not diminished. There were still that many people who at some point didn't have any coverage and couldn't seek the care they may have needed. NPR also notes the key conservative arguments: that some of the 45.7 million have Medicaid and falsely reported lacking insurance; that many of those without insurance are not American citizens, including many undocumented immigrants; and that many of those without insurance qualify for existing programs but haven't signed up. "So, are there really 46 million uninsured?" NPR asks. "It's the current best guess, but it might be off by several million." Yes, but the reality is that "[w]hatever the exact figure, tens of millions of people don't have insurance."

The number of uninsured is certainly much higher than the 12 to 15 million range Steele suggested, and much higher than other reform opponents would have us believe. But even if it were "just" 12 to 15 million... that's still 12 to 15 million people! And while I realize that 12 to 15 million people in a country as large as the U.S. is smaller proportionally than a similar number in, say, Canada (where, of course, there is universal coverage), it's still a huge number. How is any system that leaves 12 to 15 million people without coverage -- and hence without adequate care -- a good system, let alone the best system in the world? How is any such system fair and decent and just and humane? Forget 12 to 15 million. How about a million, or a thousand, or one? How is a system that leaves anyone without coverage a good system? Yes, there may be people who choose, for whatever reason, to opt out, who don't want insurance of any kind, but that should be a choice. Everyone, I think, should at least have the choice to have sufficient insurance to be able to seek adequate care. (I would probably mandate at least minimal coverage (but not specific care), but that's another matter.)

But let's get back to the point: It's not 12 to 15 million, it's 45+ million. And that is simply unacceptable -- a gross injustice in a land supposedly of plenty.

Back to Steele's comments:

Third, the reform packages currently under consideration on Capitol Hill do not propose nationalization, nor "great government intrusion." Not a single one of them. At most, there would be a public option: an option, a choice. The health-care market would not be replaced with a government-run single-payer system, it would be augmented with an additional choice -- a choice that would bring many of the currently uninsured into the system. How is that a bad thing?

It isn't. But Republicans like Steele -- and he is, at least by title, the head of the GOP -- oppose any and all reform and are obviously willing to lie and deceive in order to achieve their obstructionist aims.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Armed and crazy

By Mustang Bobby

We've had the "birthers," the "deathers," and the "tenthers." Now we have the "oathers":

Depending on your perspective, the Oath Keepers are either strident defenders of liberty or dangerous peddlers of paranoia.

In the age of town halls, talk radio and tea parties, middle ground of opinion is hard to find.

Launched in March by Las Vegan Stewart Rhodes, Oath Keepers bills itself as a nonpartisan group of current and retired law enforcement and military personnel who vow to fulfill their oaths to the Constitution.

More specifically, the group's members, which number in the thousands, pledge to disobey orders they deem unlawful, including directives to disarm the American people and to blockade American cities. By refusing the latter order, the Oath Keepers hope to prevent cities from becoming "giant concentration camps," a scenario the 44-year-old Rhodes says he can envision happening in the coming years.

It's a Cold War-era nightmare vision with a major twist: The occupying forces in this imagined future are American, not Soviet.

"The whole point of Oath Keepers is to stop a dictatorship from ever happening here," Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper and Yale-trained lawyer, said in an interview with the Review-Journal. "My focus is on the guys with the guns, because they can't do it without them.

"We say if the American people decide it's time for a revolution, we'll fight with you."

This is the same mentality that spawned the likes of Timothy McVeigh and the bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995, although this time they like to say that they're not really that crazy. Yet they view President Obama as "the domestic enemy the Constitution is talking about."

This is the same kind of rhetoric that you heard from the neo-Nazi and White Power movement back in the 1990s: that the United States government is in the hands of interlopers and is headed for a dictatorship. Appreciation of irony does not seem to be their strong suit. But when you have conservatives like Little Green Footballs saying that the right wing is losing touch with reality, you pay attention. (It should be noted that LGF has also incurred the wrath of some fellow conservatives by being the grown-up in the room and dissing the birthers.)

Is it any wonder that the Secret Service has reported an increase of 400% in threats against the life of the president since he took office?

(Cross-posted by Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Rudy Giuliani, fearmonger

It's just Rudy being Rudy, the anti-FDR*, playing to the culture of fear like he has throughout his political career:

Raising the specter of a return to higher crime and greater anxiety, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani warned on Sunday that New York could become a more dangerous city if Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is not re-elected in November.

Mr. Giuliani did not mention Mr. Bloomberg's Democratic challenger, William C. Thompson Jr., by name. But during the first of two campaign events alongside Mr. Bloomberg, he said that not long ago many parts of the city were gripped by "the fear of going out at night and walking the streets."

He "cleaned up" New York by turning it into his own police state, he ran for the Republican nomination last year as a quasi-fascist authoritarian, and he has milked 9/11 to serve his own right-wing agenda (including a penchant for torture), not to mention his own personal, political, and profiteering ambitions.

Obviously, he's still at it.

* Instead of "we have nothing to fear but fear itself," it's "we have everything to fear, because there is terror everywhere, and so we should all be very afraid and vote Republican." So classy, so uplifting, the so-called "Mayor of America.")

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Bono on Obama: The world needs America again

I highly recommend that you not read Bono's op-ed in Saturday's Times on Obama and "Rebranding America."

Actually, no, it's not that bad. It's hard to stomach Bono, I know, but his activism is admirable, particularly with respect to poverty, and he shows a welcome modesty here (false or not, I leave it to you to judge).

So go check it out, if you haven't already. Here are some of the better passages:

So here's why I think the virtual Obama is the real Obama, and why I think the man might deserve the hype. It starts with a quotation from a speech he gave at the United Nations last month:

"We will support the Millennium Development Goals, and approach next year's summit with a global plan to make them a reality. And we will set our sights on the eradication of extreme poverty in our time."


Many have spoken about the need for a rebranding of America. Rebrand, restart, reboot. In my view these 36 words, alongside the administration's approach to fighting nuclear proliferation and climate change, improving relations in the Middle East and, by the way, creating jobs and providing health care at home, are rebranding in action.

These new steps -- and those 36 words -- remind the world that America is not just a country but an idea, a great idea about opportunity for all and responsibility to your fellow man.


In dangerous, clangorous times, the idea of America rings like a bell (see King, M. L., Jr., and Dylan, Bob). It hits a high note and sustains it without wearing on your nerves. (If only we all could.) This was the melody line of the Marshall Plan and it's resonating again. Why? Because the world sees that America might just hold the keys to solving the three greatest threats we face on this planet: extreme poverty, extreme ideology and extreme climate change. The world senses that America, with renewed global support, might be better placed to defeat this axis of extremism with a new model of foreign policy.


The world wants to believe in America again because the world needs to believe in America again. We need your ideas -- your idea -- at a time when the rest of the world is running out of them.

In my more pro-American moments, I think that, too. While I object to American hegemonism, neocon-style, I do believe in America, in the Idea of America, in the American Ideal, in America's ideas and ideals -- and in the possibility of America, the hope of America -- much as Obama himself does.

Sure, I think much of it is hollow rhetoric, however high-falutin', and there is a dark side to America -- a very dark side -- that Bono doesn't mention here -- but with Obama in the White House it is definitely possible to be hopeful again. (I would also add that Bono doesn't mention the areas where Obama has fallen short so far, and where he has been too much like his predecessor: national security and government secrecy, the Afghan War, gay rights, etc. Indeed, Bono credits Obama with putting an excellent foreign policy team together, but, of course, that team is hardly uniformly progressive. Robert Gates and Jim Jones are both establishmentarian types bent on maintaining the status quo, as are Biden and Hillary, more or less. As well, his economic team includes many of the figures, Wall Street and other financial insiders, who contributed to the collapse, notably Larry Summers and Tim Geithner.)

Anyway, I do think Bono is right about why Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize -- and it's why I don't really object to his winning it, or certainly not as vehemently as many others do:

The Nobel Peace Prize is the rest of the world saying, "Don't blow it."

I would go a bit further: The Nobel Peace Prize is the rest of the world, as interpreted by a select few in Oslo, saying, "We believe in America. We have hope in Obama. It is time for America to lead again."

Here's hoping the hope is not misplaced.

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