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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

By J.D. Crowe
The Mobile Register



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The Tweet is Mightier than the Sword

By Steve Benson
Arizona Republic



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Bill O’Reilly And His Anti Abortion (Zealot) Pals

By Priscilla
News Hounds


During the last presidential campaign, there was lots of talk on Fox about Barack Obama's association with Bill Ayers – or as Sarah Palin expressed it, "pallin around with terrorists." Meanwhile, Fox's Bill O'Reilly had less than six degrees of separation from a radical anti abortion organization and a Kansas attorney general who, like Captain Ahab, relentlessly pursued Dr. George Tiller – a pursuit aided and abetted by Bill O'Reilly who was recently praised, for his "coverage" of the Tiller pursuit, by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council – a right wing organization that seeks to end a woman's right to abortion. O'Reilly's background is in journalism but his role on Fox ("hard hitting reporting") and beyond seems to be more of an advocate – a role that would seem to contradict the notion of journalistic objectivity let alone "fair and balanced." His "hard hitting reporting" on Dr. George Tiller had little to do with a function of journalism; but, rather, was a conduit for the lies and smears perpetrated by his fellow anti abortion zealot, the disgraced former Kansas Attorney General, Phill Kline, whose quest, like Ahab's was unsuccessful. And while Ahab was killed by the whale, Kline's career has definitely taken a down-turn!

Bill O'Reilly and Operation Rescue operated in tandem. A search, on the Operation Rescue website, finds a number of videos in which Bill O'Reilly "reports" on Tiller and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Readers are urged to view these videos. One article, "Operation Rescue Agrees With O'Reilly – Calls Pro-Lifers to Wichita…," opened with how Bill O'Reilly was "taking" Tiller "to task" and how Operation Rescue agreed with Bill's crusader call to his viewers to protest at Tiller's clinic. O'Reilly's anti abortion articles were also carried on the Operation Rescue Website. The article, "Who Will Save the Babies," includes Bill's trademark (and ongoing) lie about Tiller and misogynistic belief about those women who utilized Tiller's services: "But in Kansas, if the mom is feeling a bit blue on Tuesday and carries a certified check, Dr. Tiller is willing and able to terminate the baby." Like the Family Research Council, Operation Rescue is a Christian group which seeks to end a woman's right to an abortion.

Bill O'Reilly and former Kansas Attorney General also formed a tag team in that O'Reilly echoed (and continues to echo) Kline's unsubstantiated accusations against Tiller and also gave Kline some face time on the Factor. Kline, like O'Reilly, is also revered by Operation Rescue in that he was named their 2006 "Man of the Year." (Abortion, for Operation Rescue, is a "man's world!). But apart from the world of Operation Rescue, Kline isn't exactly a hero. What O'Reilly's viewers don't know, because I don't believe Bill has ever mentioned it, is that Phill Kline is being investigated for ethics violations which may be connected to his conduct involving the Tiller case. This comes on the heels of a scathing report, issued by the Kansas Supreme Court, which was very critical of Kline's use of medical records and his court conduct during the Tiller investigation. I don't think O'Reilly has cited this report which states that Kline "exhibits little, if any, respect for the authority of this court or for his responsibility to it and to the rule of law it husbands... It is plain he is interested in the pursuit of justice only as he chooses to define it...he was demonstrably ignorant, evasive, and incomplete in his sworn written responses…" During a court hearing, last November, in which Tiller's attorneys were seeking to dismiss criminal charges, one of Kline's investigators, Jared Reed said, regarding Kline's team, that "They were willing to do whatever it took, including breaking the law or going above the law, to get a conviction." It isn't surprising that anti Tiller, anti abortion zealot, Bill O'Reilly, palled around with this crew....(Remainder.)

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Graphical Overview of Same Sex Marriage Debate, v. 1.3

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Did a Shadowy Christian Group Help Keep Ensign's Secret?

By Zachary Roth
Talking Points Memo


Senate Republicans, it's becoming clear, aren't exactly lining up to defend John Ensign.

Of course, that's not so surprising, given the damage that sex scandals have inflicted on the GOP in recent years. But could it be that the Ensign imbroglio poses a particularly thorny problem for some Republicans because, aside from the sex and jobs angle, the story threatens to shine an unflattering light on the role of the shadowy religious group to which the Nevada senator belongs?

Here's what we mean:

In his bizarre letter to Fox News, Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign's girlfriend, wrote that in February 2008 at the senator's Washington DC home, Ensign was confronted about the affair by "a group of his peers." Hampton added: "One of the attendee's (sic) was Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma as well as several other men who are close to the Senator."

In fact, Ensign and Coburn are roommates. Last week, Roll Call reported (sub. req.) in passing that Coburn "rooms with Ensign in a Christian-oriented group house in Washington, D.C."

What might that "Christian-oriented group house" be all about?

Via Marcy Wheeler: In The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, published last year, the journalist Jeff Sharlet reported that both Ensign and Coburn -- as well as several other members of Congress of both parties, but predominantly Republicans -- are members of a secretive and publicity-shy religious organization founded in 1935 that aims, broadly speaking, to forge ties with decision-makers around the world in order to put Christian teachings at the center of public policy. Elsewhere in the book, Sharlet added that Ensign and Coburn each at times lived at the Family's group home for members of Congress, described as a "four-story red-brick Washington townhouse, a former convent at 133 C St SE, run by a Family affiliate called the C Street Foundation." (The Atlantic's Josh Green wrote about Hillary Clinton's ties to the group, in the context of a larger profile of the then-senator, in 2006.)...(Remainder.)

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GOP Hold on Koh Confirmation Comes to an End



Reid Calls for Cloture Vote on State Department Legal Adviser Nominee

By David Weigel
The Washington Independent


On Monday, nearly four months after President Obama nominated Harold Koh to become legal adviser to the State Department, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture and moved his nomination to the floor. Confirming the dean of Yale Law School to a powerful but usually uncontroversial position had proven harder than either his supporters or his detractors could have expected.

“When you consider Dean Koh’s impressive resume,” said Steven Groves, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation who signed a conservative coalition’s letter opposing Koh’s nomination, “this process should have been more of a coronation than a fight. It’s only become a fight because serious issues were raised on his views of transnational law.”

Koh’s qualifications for the State Department job have never really been in dispute. A veteran of both the Reagan and the Clinton presidencies, a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School who counts Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Alan Dershowitz among his friends, Koh’s nomination was welcomed by several influential Republican lawyers. Ken Starr, the former Clinton foe who is now Dean of Pepperdine University Law School, remembered Koh as a “vigorous adversary” but commended him to the U.S. Senate as a “truly great man of irreproachable integrity.” Ted Olsen echoed Starr, calling Koh a “brilliant scholar and a man of great integrity.” John Bellinger, who served as George W. Bush’s final legal adviser to the State Department, welcomed Koh as a “well qualified” candidate who “should be confirmed.”

After all of that came months of attacks, wrangling, and stale-mating over Koh’s thinking on “transnational” law and belief that American jurisprudence should respect for “the opinions of mankind,” as he put it in 2002. This reached a certain level of farce last week, when Koh’s brother Howard was confirmed, controversy-free, to a post in the Department of Health and Human Services. And the saga may or may not end with Koh’s confirmation. The majority leader is “optimistic we will have the 60 votes needed,” according to spokesperson Regan Lachappelle. But on Monday afternoon, Reid saw that Republicans “would not agree to an up or down vote” and that Democrats had “no choice but to file cloture.” All sides expect a contentious, tip-and-tuck vote, and Democrats are prepared for a debate that could last several days if outspoken opponents of the nomination such as Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) decide to drag out the process....(Remainder.)

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Appeals Court KOs Commandments Monument

By Bob
Rant & Reason


A few weeks ago the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that Haskell County, Oklahoma’s display of a Ten Commandments monument on its courthouse lawn violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because a “reasonable observer would find that [the facts of the case] tended to strongly reflect a government endorsement of religion.” So far, so good.

The 48-page decision is consistent with the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence relating to display of permanent religious monuments on public property.

As a church-state separation fanatic, I take issue with the Court’s opinion that “The Ten Commandments have a secular significance that government may acknowledge.” Unfortunately, the appellate court relied on Chief Justice Rehnquist’s plurality opinion in Van Orden v. Perry (2005) in which the “secular” purposes given by Rehnquist were as bogus then as they are now.

I would have preferred the court to have more heavily relied on the 1980 case of Stone v. Graham, in which the Supreme Court said:
The pre-eminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature. The Ten Commandments are undeniably a sacred text in the Jewish and Christian faiths and no legislative recitation of a supposed secular purpose can blind us to that fact. The Commandments do not confine themselves to arguably secular matters, such as honoring one’s parents, killing or murder, adultery, stealing, false witness, and covetousness. Rather, the first part of the Commandments concerns the religious duties of believers: worshipping the Lord God alone, avoiding idolatry, not using the Lord’s name in vain, and observing the Sabbath Day.
In my humble legal opinion, the courts should declare “Commandments” monuments presumptively unconstitutional as their public display serves absolutely no legitimate secular purpose.

At least we can be thankful that the Tenth Circuit knocked out one more Commandments monument....(Original.)

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Iran and the Words

By Don Wright
The Palm Beach Post



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Hannity And Morris, Unhinged With Obama Derangement Syndrome, Describe Obama As Terrorist Soulmate

By Ellen
News Hounds


After watching Sean Hannity's discussion with Dick Morris last night (6/22/09), can there be any doubt that Bernard Goldberg had these two in mind when he said, "There are a couple of people... on (Fox News) who suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome?" With video.

The discussion started out with Hannity and Morris stopping one step short of accusing Obama of being more sympathetic to terrorists than to the United States.

Morris followed that up by claiming that U.S. banks have “Sharia-compliant” funds, overseen by Imams, some of whom are on the terrorist watch list, determining how almost a “trillion dollars is now invested and they’re aiming it at industries and causes and organizations that help them.” Morris continued, without any interruptions from Hannity, by saying, “They take 2 1/2 percent of the money and give it to their favorite charity which is usually Hamas.” Morris didn’t directly tie this to Obama; the way he was talking, this practice must have begun long before Obama took office six months ago; But Morris certainly suggested that it was all somehow part of the Obama-loves-Islamic-terrorists package.

Then Morris claimed that the United Nations Refugee Authority is “a front for Hamas.” “All of the Hamas leaders graduated from the UN schools,” Morris said. “The UN facilities are used as staging areas for the Hamas terrorists. And the UN has become basically a pass through for aid to Hamas... We (meaning Obama) are sending $1 billion of U.S. tax money to Hamas!”

But being in bed with Islamic terrorists wasn’t enough for Hannity. In the second part of the interview (video via Media Matters), he moved on to accuse Obama of being soul mates with domestic terrorism, too. “Who is this person? Look, I say this statement and every time I say it, people say, ‘Hannity, you’re going over the line.’ But I think (Obama) IS Bill Ayers.”...(Remainder.)


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Family, Friends Mourn 'Neda,' Iranian Woman Who Dies on Video

Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, 'was a beam of light' and not an activist, friends say. The video footage of her bleeding on the street has turned her into an international symbol of the protest movement.

By Borzou Daragahi
Los Angeles Times


Reporting from Tehran -- The first word came from abroad. An aunt in the United States called her Saturday in a panic. "Don't go out into the streets, Golshad," she told her. "They're killing people."

The relative proceeded to describe a video, airing on exile television channels that are jammed in Iran, in which a young woman is shown bleeding to death as her companion calls out, "Neda! Neda!"

A dark foreboding swept over Golshad, who asked that her real name not be published. She began calling the cellphone and home numbers of her friend Neda Agha-Soltan -- who had gone to the chaotic demonstration with a group of friends -- but Neda didn't answer.

At midnight, as the city continued to smolder, Golshad drove to the Agha-Soltan residence in the Tehran Pars section in the eastern part of the capital.

As she heard the cries and wails and praising of God reverberating from the house, she crumpled, knowing that her worst fears were true.

"Neda! Neda!" the 25-year-old cried out. "What will I do?"

Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, was shot dead Saturday evening near the scene of clashes between pro-government militias and demonstrators who allege rampant vote fraud in the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The jittery cellphone footage of her bleeding on the street has turned "Neda" into an international symbol of the protest movement that erupted after the June 12 balloting. Images of her final moments have spread virally on social networks, been beamed across the world on cable and held aloft on placards on the streets of Tehran....(Remainder.)

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Obama and Zombies

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GOPers and Iran

By Pat Bagley
Salt Lake Tribune



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Maybe if Republicans Scream Loud Enough...

By P.M. Carpenter
The Fifth Columnist at Buzz Flash


GOP agitprop squads hit the streets and took to the airwaves yesterday with some of the finest dither, highest indignation and purest neocon drivel we've heard since October, 2002.

"The president of the United States is supposed to lead the free world, not follow it," fumed Lindsey Graham on ABC's "This Week" about President Obama's measured response to all things revolutionary in Iran, just as former presidential candidate Fred Thompson, on "Meet the Press," charged the White House with "fecklessness" and by comparison praised Old Europe -- yes, it's conveniently back -- for its resonant courage.
Meanwhile, on CNN's "State of the Union," Chuck Grassley was not uncharacteristically playing the whimpering puppy dog, wailing with barely perceptible sincerity that "If America stands for democracy ... and people don't think that we really care, then obviously they're going to question, 'Do we really believe in our principles?' " And John McCain, on "Face the Nation," had long since switched to autopilot, droning, "I'd like to see the president be stronger than he has been ..., I think we ought to have America lead."

By doing, additionally, exactly what? Well, that part was a trifle unclear. Congress -- especially its right sides of the aisles -- has by now chewed every feasible carpet and valiantly issued U.N.-style resolutions of condemnation (like Old Europe, remember when those were "feckless"?); but with our once-mighty Axis of Evil-battling arsenal so depleted -- see first paragraph -- words are just about all we have left, and even congressional neocons know it.

So crank up the rhetorical heat and act the toothless paper tiger that doubles as a jackass. Give Iran's oppressive regime the ideal opportunity to paint domestic resistance as the benighted stooge of imperialist dogs. Hand the regime its best possible excuse to imprison and slaughter thousands.

Yes, that's the ticket, or at least that's as clearly as I can read it....(Remainder.)

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Wise Words On Iran

By Thomas E. Ricks
The Best Defense at Foreign Policy


If you are as weary as I am of knee-jerk nonsense from pundits and pols who would rather tear down their president than really aid the Iranian people, then you might enjoy this commentary by Karim Sadjadpour. And unlike many in Washington, he actually knows what he is talking about. An expert on the Iranian opposition, he offers these wise words of advice:
This is extremely delicate and the situation is so dynamic. We clearly have to be on the right side of history here, but I think if we try to insert ourselves into the momentous internal Iranian drama that's unfolding we may unwittingly undermine those whom we're trying to strengthen. Historically that's often been the case in Iran.  

It goes without saying that the Obama administration should clearly not acknowledge the results of these contested elections. This would demoralize people. We should also be pushing all of our allies not to acknowledge the results of these elections until justice prevails in Tehran. I was disappointed that Turkey's Abdullah Gul and Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai did not hesitate to congratulate Ahmadinejad.

But again, I think if we overtly take sides the regime could well react with a massive and bloody crackdown on the demonstrators using the pretext that they are acting against an American-led coup."
(HT to old Steve Coll)

Of course, if the crackdown does grow bloody, then the United States government can step up the rhetoric-but then it will be doing so alongside its allies, instead of having other countries wary of joining us. But for the moment, as my friend (and counterinsurgency expert) Terry Daly observes, the question for President Obama is, "Does he have the intestinal fortitude to continue to do the difficult right thing and keep hands off the events in Iran, or will he fold under intense domestic pressure and loudly support Moussavi and the demonstrators?"...(Remainder.)

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Death to the Great Satan

By Robert Ariail
The State



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Health Care Showdown

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times


America’s political scene has changed immensely since the last time a Democratic president tried to reform health care. So has the health care picture: with costs soaring and insurance dwindling, nobody can now say with a straight face that the U.S. health care system is O.K. And if surveys like the New York Times/CBS News poll released last weekend are any indication, voters are ready for major change.

The question now is whether we will nonetheless fail to get that change, because a handful of Democratic senators are still determined to party like it’s 1993.

And yes, I mean Democratic senators. The Republicans, with a few possible exceptions, have decided to do all they can to make the Obama administration a failure. Their role in the health care debate is purely that of spoilers who keep shouting the old slogans — Government-run health care! Socialism! Europe! — hoping that someone still cares.

The polls suggest that hardly anyone does. Voters, it seems, strongly favor a universal guarantee of coverage, and they mostly accept the idea that higher taxes may be needed to achieve that guarantee. What’s more, they overwhelmingly favor precisely the feature of Democratic plans that Republicans denounce most fiercely as “socialized medicine” — the creation of a public health insurance option that competes with private insurers.

Or to put it another way, in effect voters support the health care plan jointly released by three House committees last week, which relies on a combination of subsidies and regulation to achieve universal coverage, and introduces a public plan to compete with insurers and hold down costs....(Remainder.)

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Dept of Lousy Math and Lousier Constitutional Law

By Jamison Foser
Media Matters


Newsbusters' Noel Sheppard complains about last week's CBS/New York Times poll:
Realizing that Barack Obama's healthcare initiative has hit some roadblocks in Congress, the good folks at CBS News and the New York Times figured they'd help it along by creating a new poll on the subject that WAY oversampled people who voted for Obama.

    ...

As can be plainly seen on page 7 of the poll's data, only 73 percent of respondents divulged who they voted for last November. 48 percent said Obama, 25 percent McCain.

What this means is this poll surveyed 66 percent Obama supporters versus 34 percent McCain.
Uh ... no. What this means is that 48 percent of respondants say they voted for Obama, and 25 percent say they voted for McCain, and 27 percent either say they didn't vote, say they voted for someone else, or refuse to say for whom they voted. You can't just wish away those 27 percent and pretend that the poll "surveyed 66 percent Obama supporters versus 34 percent McCain."

And while we're on the topic, it's a pretty widely-known fact of polling that questions that ask who respondants voted for in the last election tend to overstate the vote for the winner, so Sheppard's conclusion that the poll "WAY oversampled" Obama voters isn't really supported by the evidence he provides.

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Under Misspelled Banner, Buchanan And White Nationalist Brimelow Argue For English-Only Initiatives

By Lee Fang
Think Progress


On Saturday, Pat Buchanan hosted a conference to discuss how Republicans can regain a majority in America. During one discussion, panelists suggested supporting English-only initiatives as a prime way of attracting “working class white Democrats.” The discussion ridiculed Judge Sotomayor for the fact that she studied children’s classics to improve her grammar while attending college. The panelists also suggested that, without English as the official language, President Obama would force Americans to speak Spanish.

One salient feature of the event was the banner hanging over the English-only advocates. The word conference was spelled “Conferenece.” View it here:



The panelists pressed on with their anti-bilingualism diatribe without noting the irony of the obvious misspelling on the banner:
PAT BUCHANAN: Judge Sotomayor is up there at school in New York, she gets a scholarship to Princeton, she’s graduated with all these big honors and awards they said she never won. What’s she doing there in the summer? They said her adviser told her to read children’s classics so she can learn English better. How do you graduate number one in Princeton if you’re in the summer and you’re reading Rumpelstiltskin and Snow White? [laughter] [...]
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Maine's Anti-Gay Petition Effort Telling Bald-Faced Lies to Get Signatures

By Rebekah Metzler
Sun Journal


Gerard Caron walked into the Auburn Post Office and was met by a woman with a pair of clipboards.

"This petition is against gay marriage and this other petition is to support gay marriage," she said, according to Caron.

The Poland man said he asked her why there would be a petition to support something that already happened, referring to the petition "in support of" gay marriage.

"She just kinda gave me a little grin and didn't say anything," he said.

Then he looked at the two petitions and discovered they were identical, both were supporting the repeal of the same-sex marriage law, Caron said.

Caron said he spoke to a friend who had a similar experience at the Lewiston Post Office.

Julie Flynn, deputy secretary of state, said her office has received calls from people concerned about the petitioning process, but not a surprising number.

"It's a buyer beware situation for the voter; they really need to be sure of what they are signing," she said. "But people can say what they want, it's a First Amendment issue. We don't have anything in law that allows us to monitor or enforce signature gatherers."...(Remainder.)

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Lying Sack of Weasel Shit, Ann Coulter, Says GOP Punished Cheaters...Um, John Ensign?

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Hideous Homophobic Hate Cow, and Apparent Criminal, Maggie Gallagher, Probed for Tax Evasion

By Keith Eddings
LoHud.com


A national organization headed by an Ossining woman that has pledged to spend more than $1 million to defeat a gay marriage bill in New York is defending itself in California against allegations that it was organized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to defeat similar bills nationwide.

The National Organization for Marriage said last week that it would spend $500,000 to help mount primary challenges against Republican state senators in New York who vote for a gay marriage bill proposed by Gov. David Paterson. It has passed the Assembly but stalled in the Senate, as Democrats and Republicans fight for control of that chamber.

The spending would come atop $600,000 the group says it has spent on media campaigns and telephone calls to sway senators in 25 Senate districts, including those represented by Sens. Vincent Leibell, R-Patterson, and Thomas Morahan, R-New City.

NOM says it has spent $6 million to block gay marriage in several states since it was organized in 2007, including $1.8 million to place an amendment on the ballot in California that repealed gay marriage there last year.

The campaign to repeal same-sex marriage in California was fueled in large part by the Mormon church. Critics in that state say the church began the effort by recruiting Maggie Gallagher of Ossining - who has forged a career writing about marriage for conservative think tanks - to establish NOM.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating complaints that NOM operates as a front for the Mormon church and that the church failed to report millions of dollars in nonmonetary contributions to the campaign.

The complaint was lodged by Los Angeles gay rights activist Fred Karger, who formed Californians Against Hate to protect gay marriage in the state....(Remainder.)

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Why Human Rights and The Religious Right Can't Coexist

By James Hipps
gayagenda.com


I typically laugh off the blatant lies told on the little wannabe “Christian” blogs I find that spew their untruthful versions of “homosexuality” and what it does to society, but every once in a while, I find one so utterly idiotic, that I just have to blast them.

This time, there’s a one called Jesus Lives. At the risk of sounding sacrilegious, I would venture to say that if Jesus does live, it’s certainly not under a rock or with his head buried in the sand…and I’m certain he would know a bold face lie if he heard one.

The last paragraph of a post on this site states:
I know this may sound alarmist, but it’s true. If we don’t work to stop this juggernaut, we may soon find ourselves hunted down at work, at school, and even at church-as others have been-by those determined to force us to accept as a moral good what God calls evil.
What God calls evil? No, you mean what humans who think they are qualified to speak for God calls evil. Let’s at least be honest enough to admit that.

Hunted down…are they serious? Force to accept evil? This is the Right Wing Nutery that plagues the entire Right.

Anyway, this site goes on and on about how “homosexual” marriage and “religious liberty” can’t coexist. There is one post (click here) that talks about the Oak Grove Pavilion, Catholics and adoption, Maggie Gallagher, etc. and is so one sided, and untrue in the claims that it’s almost laughable. In fact it would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad that the lies being told is what fuels the fire of injustice, discrimination, hate and bigotry against the LGBT community…and all in the name of God....(Remainder.)

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Sen. Chris Dodd Comes Out for Same-Sex Marriage

By Sen. Chris Dodd
On Sunday, The Meriden Record-Journal published the following op-ed by Senator Chris Dodd


June 21, 2009

Public officials aren’t supposed to change their minds. But I firmly believe that it’s important to keep learning. Last week, while I was in Connecticut meeting with members of the gay and lesbian community from across the state, I had the opportunity to tell them what I’ve learned about marriage, and about equality.

While I’ve long been for extending every benefit of marriage to same-sex couples, I have in the past drawn a distinction between a marriage-like status (“civil unions”) and full marriage rights.

The reason was simple: I was raised to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. And as many other Americans have realized as they’ve struggled to reconcile the principle of fairness with the lessons they learned early in life, that’s not an easy thing to overcome.

But the fact that I was raised a certain way just isn’t a good enough reason to stand in the way of fairness anymore.

The Connecticut Supreme Court, of course, has ruled that such a distinction holds no merit under the law. And the Court is right.

I believe that effective leaders must be able and willing to grow and change over their service. I certainly have during mine – and so has the world. Thirty-five years ago, who could have imagined that we’d have an African-American President of the United States?

My young daughters are growing up in a different reality than I did. Our family knows many same-sex couples – our neighbors in Connecticut, members of my staff, parents of their schoolmates. Some are now married because the Connecticut Supreme Court and our state legislature have made same-sex marriage legal in our state.

But to my daughters, these couples are married simply because they love each other and want to build a life together. That’s what we’ve taught them. The things that make those families different from their own pale in comparison to the commitments that bind those couples together.

And, really, that’s what marriage should be. It’s about rights and responsibilities and, most of all, love.

I believe that, when my daughters grow up, barriers to marriage equality for same-sex couples will seem as archaic, and as unfair, as the laws we once had against inter-racial marriage.

And I want them to know that, even if he was a little late, their dad came down on the right side of history.

I have always been proud of my long record fighting for the civil rights of the LGBT community. I’ve co-sponsored legislation to strengthen hate crime laws and end discrimination in the workplace. I’ve spoken out against “don’t ask, don’t tell” and always supported equal rights for domestic partnerships.

But I am also proud to now count myself among the many elected officials, advocates, and ordinary citizens who support full marriage equality for same-sex couples.

I understand that even those who oppose discrimination might continue to find it hard to re-think the definition of marriage they grew up with. I know it was for me.

But many of the things we must do to make our union more perfect – whether it’s fighting for decades to reform our health care system or struggling with a difficult moral question – are hard. They take time. And they require that, when you come to realize that something is right, you be unafraid to stand up and say it.

That’s the only way our history will progress along that long arc towards justice.

(Original.)

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Synagogue Nets $10K from Antigay Protest

By Julie Bolcer
Advocate.com


A Manhattan synagogue serving the LGBT community turned a protest from the antigay and anti-Semitic Westboro Baptist Church into a fund-raising opportunity on Sunday, reports the New York  Daily News. The West Village–based synagogue netted $10,000 in under an hour in response to the visit from the homophobic Kansas church.

Congregation Beth Simchat Tora asked supporters to pledge one dollar for every minute that six protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church stood near the synagogue yelling insults and holding signs that read “God Hates Fags” and “Jews Stole the Land.” The effort raised $10,000 in 50 minutes.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church picketed several synagogues, Jewish institutions, and related celebrations over the weekend in New York.

Synagogue leaders say the money raised will help their group, which currently uses rented space, find a permanent home....(Remainder.)

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Cash Machines Hacked to Spew Out Card Details

By Paul Marks
New Scientist


"SKULDUGGERY," says Andrew Henwood, "is a very good word to describe what this extremely advanced, cleverly written malware gets up to. We've never seen anything like it."

What he has discovered is a devious piece of criminal coding that has been quietly at work in a clutch of cash machines at banks in Russia and Ukraine. It allows a gang member to walk up to an ATM, insert a "trigger" card, and use the machine's receipt printer to produce a list of all the debit card numbers used that day, including their start and expiry dates - and their PINs. Everything needed, in fact, to clone those cards and start emptying bank accounts. In some cases, the malicious software even allows the criminal to eject the machine's banknote storage cassette into the street.

The software is the latest move in a security arms race after banks and consumers got wise to the fitting of fake fascias onto ATMs. These fascias have been criminals' main way of using ATMs to get the details they need to clone cards. They contain a camera to spy on PINs being entered on the keypad, and a card reader to skim data from the card's magnetic stripe. It's big business: across Europe, losses due to such fraud grew by 11 per cent to €484 million in 2008, according to the European ATM Security Team (EAST), funded by the European Union and based in Edinburgh, UK (see graph).

Banks responded by investing in anti-skimming technology - which can detect a fake fascia overlay and disable the ATM. So crooks are developing new tricks, which are being uncovered by Henwood and his colleagues at SpiderLabs, a computer forensics research centre in London....(Remainder.)

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