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Getting it Right: The Legacy of F.D.R.

Friday, June 26, 2009

By President Bill Clinton
Time


My grandfather was a dirt farmer with only a sixth-grade education. During the Depression, he eked out a living selling blocks of ice. But in those days, even though he was poor, he knew someone special: from listening to the fireside chats on the radio, he knew Franklin Roosevelt. And he believed that Roosevelt knew what his life was like — and cared about it too.

I grew up listening to my grandfather's tales of what it was like to live through the Depression and the war and what Roosevelt meant to him. When I was President, in another time of change and uncertainty, I often looked at the portrait of F.D.R. in the Roosevelt Room and remembered my grandfather's stories.

Besides having a deep personal connection to ordinary citizens, Roosevelt got the big things right. When he came into office during the Depression, he saw that the ills of the country could not be addressed without more aggressive involvement by the government. He ran for President as a fiscal conservative, promising to balance the budget. But unlike his predecessor, he quickly realized that, with prices collapsing and unemployment exploding, only the Federal Government could step into the breach and restart the economy.

Roosevelt also knew that in a highly dynamic time like his — or the one we're in now — you have to do a lot more than one thing at a time. I was often criticized, just as President Obama is now, for trying to do too many things at once. Roosevelt understood that in a complex and perilous situation, you have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, and he was masterful in doing a variety of difficult things simultaneously. ...(Remainder.)

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Belgian Headscarf Ban Sparks Heated Reactions

Many Muslim girls who wear a headscarf feel targeted by the measure.

By Expatica.com

The state secondary schools in Antwerp and Hoboken (also part of Antwerp) are in the midst of heated discussion regarding a decision taken by the school administration to ban all religious symbols from the next school year.

The principal of the state secondary school in Antwerp, Karin Heremans, explains that the decision to ban religious symbols stemmed from a growing pressure on Muslim girls to wear veils, even if they don't want to. The idea behind the ban is to take away the growing peer pressure.

When Karin Heremans addressed the students in the courtyard to explain the measure her words were met with booing. The police were massively present in the neighbourhood, but no incidents were reported.

During a protest action in the school the Antwerp imam Nordine Taouil, also chairman of the Muslim Executive, called on muslim parents to keep their children at home and not send them to school as long as there is a ban on headscarves. "I'm calling on all parents, muslim parents, not to send their children to school from the first of September until our rights are guaranteed," said the imam.

Other muslim associations are more moderate, but they are also protesting against the new school regulation. They do not back the imam's call to keep children at home.

Flemish nationalists especially are vocal about their disappointment

The Flemish conservative nationalist N-VA party (the big winners of the recent regional elections), thinks the imam has gone too far. The N-VA labels the imam's call to keep children at home "irresponsible".

"Mr Taouil talks about rights, but there are other rights too. Like the right of children to get an education," says Flemish MP Kris Van Dijck....(Remainder.)

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Clarence Thomas Drifts Further Right Than Scalia

By Matthew Rothchild
The Progressive



Finally, the Supreme Court has made a good decision on civil liberties.

The justices ruled when she was 13, Savana Redding had her rights violated when school officials insisted that she be strip-searched for the possession of—hold on here!—ibuprofen.

She had to strip to her underwear, then pull her bra and panties out and expose her privates. School officials found no drugs.

Savana called it “the most humiliating experience I’ve ever had.”

Ruling 8-1, the Justices concluded that Safford Middle School went too far.

That’s a welcome departure for the court, which has steadily increased the authority of school districts to intrude on the rights of students, with random drug testing of athletes and anyone in extracurricular activities. The court also has invited excessive monitoring of school newspapers.

For once, the court, almost unanimously, made a course correction.

The only dissenter was Clarence Thomas, who after sleepwalking through 18 years on the court, has finally settled on a role for himself other than that of Scalia’s second vote. And that is, to be even further to the right of Scalia. Earlier this week, Thomas was the sole member of the court who wanted to overturn the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

In the Redding case, Thomas defended the school, saying that “preservation of order, discipline, and safety in public schools is simply not the domain of the Constitution.”

He, evidently, would have students lose all their rights when they walk through the school doors.

I’d hate for my kid to have him as a principal.

And I hate for my country to have him as a Justice....(Remainder.)

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KKK Targets Black Neighborhood With Hate Fliers

By David Edwards and Stephen Webster
The Raw Story


Local police say racist fliers on black homeowners’ doorsteps is protected speech, though “possibly” littering.

A collection of black homeowners in a Tennessee town are upset and fearful after the Ku Klux Klan targeted their neighborhood with hate-filled fliers, dropped on their lawns in the dead of night.

The fliers, which call for whites to secure the future for “white, Christian children,” denounce interracial marriage and homosexuality, along with calling for an end to “white discrimination.”

Complaints to the police in Greeneville, Tennessee did not help. In an interview with local news channel WJHL, Greenville police officer Terry Webb said that the fliers, perceived by residents to be threatening in nature, “possibly” rise to the criminal level of littering. However, he claimed, it’s their First Amendment right to advertise racially-motivated hatred on a person’s doorstep.

“The Devil is busy and (the KKK) talk about being Christians, how can you say you’re a Christian displaying all this hatred,” homeowner Leroy Ripley told the station.

“Littering, are you kidding me?” jeered CNN’s Kyra Philips during a Thursday segment. “Here we are in 2009. We have a black president, gay leaders, successful interracial marriages. We have come a long way, folks. Still, in this country, you can spew hate, make innocent black residents fearful to come out their doors and all these punks get busted for is littering.”...(Remainder.)



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Battle of the Burka


Photo: AFP

By Presseurop


Whether it's the burka in France, or the niqab or headscarf in Belgium, the debate about whether to ban certain Islamic forms of dress is back on the European agenda. The European press has been weighing up the issue at a national level about the need to legislate or not.

In France, the debate on burkas (long robes that entirely cover the face and body worn by some Muslim women) was recently relaunched by a communist member of parliament. On 17 June, André Gerin submitted a proposal to create "a parliamentary commission of enquiry on the wearing of burkas or niqabs [which reveal the area around the eyes] on French national territory." A few days later, at a congress that brought together both houses of the French parliament in Versailles, President Sarkozy announced his position when he declared that "Burkas are not welcome on French national territory."

In the Daily Telegraph Cassandra Jardine wonders what would happen if the Queen of England went before a combined meeting of the House of Lords and Commons to announce that her government intended to "ban the burka?" Nothing of the kind is likely to happen in a country that tolerates the wearing of religious symbols, though the idea might be favourably received by some members of the Muslim community. Dr Taj Hargey of the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford praises the French President's initiative, and describes the growing belief that Muslim women should cover their faces as "doctrinaire brain-washing." Other Muslims were outraged to the point where they wondered if Nicolas Sarkozy had ever spoken to any of France's four million Muslims. They were also puzzled by the fact that he should choose to target the burka, which is only worn by 5% of Muslim women. Muslim News journalist Ahmed Versi remarks that when Labour Minister Jack Straw complained that he felt "uncomfortable" talking to someone whose face he could not see, “more women began to wear veils just to defy him.”

In France, there is a consensus that an enquiry should be undertaken to establish the extent of the phenomenon which jars with French social and cultural mores, but commentators have expressed doubts about the usefulness of a legalistic approach. In Le Monde, Hassan Safoui, the leader of the 15 March Committee, an association which advises Muslim schoolgirls on the 2004 law banning religious symbols in schools, questions the ability of legislation "to draw a distinction between someone who is forced to wear a burka and someone who wears one voluntarily." With a view to identifying people, managers of some public buildings like town halls, railway stations and banks, can refuse access to people wearing burkas or niqabs. But is it possible to regulate what adults wear in the street, without specifically targeting Muslims?...(Remainder.)

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Working Together for Immigration Reform


By Katherine Brandon
The White House


The President and Vice President met with a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders today to discuss one of today's most contentious issues – immigration – and how to go about reforming the broken immigration system. The President stated that the Administration is fully behind comprehensive immigration reform, and that they will be working with House and Senate leaders to have an honest conversation about the issues and come up with practical solutions:
We have members of Congress from both chambers, from parties, who have participated in the meeting and shared a range of ideas. I think the consensus is that despite our inability to get this passed over the last several years, the American people still want to see a solution in which we are tightening up our borders, or cracking down on employers who are using illegal workers in order to drive down wages -- and oftentimes mistreat those workers. And we need a effective way to recognize and legalize the status of undocumented workers who are here.
While Congressional leaders are working to tackle the complexities of immigration reform, the Administration has already taken steps to improve the system. The FBI has cleared much of the backlog of immigration background checks, the Department of Homeland Security is speeding up citizenship petitions and in conjunction with the Department of Labor, they are working to crack down on employers who are exploiting illegal workers. The President also announced a new collaborative effort that will utilize technology to improve legal immigration:
Today I'm pleased to announce a new collaboration between my Chief Information Officer, my Chief Performance Officer, my Chief Technologies Officer and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office to make the agency much more efficient, much more transparent, much more user-friendly than it has been in the past.

In the next 90 days, USCIS will launch a vastly improved Web site that will, for the first time ever, allow applicants to get updates on their status of their applications via e-mail and text message and online. And anybody who's dealt with families who are trying to deal with -- navigate the immigration system, this is going to save them huge amounts of time standing in line, waiting around, making phone calls, being put on hold. It's an example of some things that we can do administratively even as we're working through difficult issues surrounding comprehensive immigration.

And the idea is very simple here: We're going to leverage cutting-edge technology to reduce the unnecessary paperwork, backlogs, and the lack of transparency that's caused so many people so much heartache.

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Limits on Emissions Have Wide Support

By Steven Mufson and Jennifer Agiesta
The Washington Post


Three-quarters of Americans think the federal government should regulate the release into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases from power plants, cars and factories to reduce global warming, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with substantial majority support from Democrats, Republicans and independents.

But fewer Americans -- 52 percent -- support a cap-and-trade approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions similar to the one the House may vote on as early as tomorrow. That is slightly less support than cap and trade enjoyed in a late July 2008 poll. Forty-two percent of those surveyed this month oppose such a program.

The Washington Post-ABC News survey showed that support slipped slightly when people were asked whether they would be willing to pay higher prices in general or higher electricity bills in exchange for significant decreases in greenhouse gases. Although 62 percent of those surveyed said they would support regulation even if it raised the price of purchases and 56 percent would back cap and trade if it resulted in a $10 increase in utility costs, 44 percent said they would back a cap-and-trade system if it boosted monthly electricity bills by $25.

"I think there hasn't been enough regulation," said Janet Opkyke, 60, a freelance book editor in northern Michigan. "Way back when deregulation started, I thought it was the wrong thing to do. I thought it was a license for greed. And I'm glad to see it swinging the other way." She added, "I think greenhouse gases are very harmful, and we have to do something about it."...(Remainder.)

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U.S. Senate Approves FCC Chief

By John Poirier and Jeremy Pelofsky
Reuters


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved the Obama administration's nomination of Julius Genachowski, a telecommunications industry executive, to head the Federal Communications Commission.

Genachowski is set to chair the five-member panel that will be dominated by Democrats seeking to bring more power to consumers and extend high-speed Internet access to rural parts of the United States.

The Senate also approved renewing the FCC term for Republican Robert McDowell.

The FCC's broad mandate includes regulation of telephone and cable companies, oversight of ownership of radio and television outlets and management of public airwaves.

On Thursday the White House said Obama plans to nominate Meredith Attwell Baker to a Republican seat on the commission.

Baker has more than 12 years of experience in telecommunications and technology policy in the private and public sector, the White House said. She is a former Commerce Department official.

If she is formally nominated, the Senate Commerce Committee is likely to pair the nominations of Baker and Mignon Clyburn, who has been nominated to fill a Democratic seat, at a hearing. Clyburn is the daughter of House of Representatives Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina.

Expanding broadband Internet access to rural parts of the United States is among the top priorities that the Obama administration wants the FCC to tackle....(Remainder.)

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Not Enough Audacity

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times


When it comes to domestic policy, there are two Barack Obamas.

On one side there’s Barack the Policy Wonk, whose command of the issues — and ability to explain those issues in plain English — is a joy to behold.

But on the other side there’s Barack the Post-Partisan, who searches for common ground where none exists, and whose negotiations with himself lead to policies that are far too weak.

Both Baracks were on display in the president’s press conference earlier this week. First, Mr. Obama offered a crystal-clear explanation of the case for health care reform, and especially of the case for a public option competing with private insurers. “If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care, if they tell us that they’re offering a good deal,” he asked, “then why is it that the government, which they say can’t run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That’s not logical.”

But when asked whether the public option was non-negotiable he waffled, declaring that there are no “lines in the sand.” That evening, Rahm Emanuel met with Democratic senators and told them — well, it’s not clear what he said. Initial reports had him declaring willingness to abandon the public option, but Senator Kent Conrad’s staff later denied that. Still, the impression everyone got was of a White House all too eager to make concessions.

The big question here is whether health care is about to go the way of the stimulus bill....(Remainder.)

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Why We Need a Second Stimulus

Don't be fooled by dropping unemployment rates.

By John B. Judis
The New Republic


Our country's unemployment rate, which has risen every month this year, now stands well above the worst case scenario of the Treasury Department's stress tests. Yet we are inundated each month with reports that, in spite of a rising rate of unemployment, the slump has "bottomed out" or is even over. This week, the Federal Reserve announced that "information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in April suggests that the pace of economic contraction is slowing." If you want even more fanciful predictions, you can hear them on CNBC.

These reports dismiss unemployment as a "lagging indicator"--a figure that is not keeping pace with the economy a whole, and thus doesn't necessarily have any bearing on whether a recovery is occurring. This is a mistake, and it contributes to complacency about the depth of the slump and about the kind of measures necessary to get ourselves out of it. Unemployment isn't a lagging indicator, but rather at the heart of the current recession.

When people they say unemployment is a "lagging indicator," they are usually referring to the unemployment rate, or the percentage of people who are seeking work but not finding it. They argue that even if this rate is increasing from 8.9 percent in April to 9.4 percent in May, a recovery could still be underway. Literally speaking, this is true. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the 1990-91 recession began in July 1990 and ended in March 1991, but unemployment rose from 6.8 percent in March 1991 to 7.8 percent in June 1992....(Remainder.)

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The Folly of the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act — and Texas's Too

By Marci A. Hamilton
FindLaw


Recent cases applying the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and its cousin, the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (TRFRA), underscore that these laws are simply wrongheaded, not to mention dangerous.

In Potter v. District of Columbia, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held that the District was required to permit firefighters with facial hair to keep it, even though there was evidence on the record indicating that it is dangerous for firefighters to have facial hair.

In Barr v. Sinton, the Texas Supreme Court held that a small Texas town could not zone out halfway houses for ex-convicts from residential zones.

In this column, I'll discuss these two cases and how RFRA and TRFRA caused courts to reach these absurd results.

Background: Federal and State RFRAs

The federal version of RFRA and its 13 state clones all impose strict scrutiny --the highest, most demanding level of judicial review -- on neutral, generally applicable laws that substantially burden religious conduct. The burden initially rests on the believer to prove that the law imposes a substantial burden upon him or her. If that showing is made, the burden shifts to the government to prove that its law both serves a compelling interest, and constitutes the least restrictive means that could be employed.

As I have written previously, RFRA was a congressional backlash against the Supreme Court's decision in Employment Div. v. Smith. There, the Court held that drug counselors who used illegal drugs – even if they were consumed during a religious ceremony -- could not receive state unemployment compensation after they were fired....(Remainder.)

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Big Ag and Rural Dems Further Dilute Energy Bill

By Mike Lillis
The Colorado Independent


House lawmakers announced a deal last night on their sweeping proposal to tackle climate change, but not before the bill’s sponsors were forced to bow once more to a polluting industry that would be affected by the proposal.

Observers of this debate might recall that Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), both ardent environmentalists, have already diluted their bill considerably in order to win the support of House Democrats from states with powerful gas, coal and auto industries. In the latest episode, it was the Democrats representing the farm states who threw the fuss, threatening to kill the American Clean Energy and Security Act if two key provisions weren’t changed.

The first involved a program allowing polluting farmers and agricultural companies to offset their emissions by planting trees or investing in green technologies. The Waxman-Markey bill proposed that the Environmental Protection Agency would oversee the program, arguing that the agency would be the most reliable monitor of an initiative designed to protect the environment.

But farm-state Democrats, rallying behind Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, insisted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture be given that responsibility — a scenario opposed by environmentalists, who fear the USDA will prioritize farm industry concerns above the effectiveness of the offset program.

Indeed, The New York Times reports today of USDA’s shoddy record when it comes to overseeing environmental programs under its jurisdiction.
In particular, the department’s conservation agency “routinely ignored” compliance standards when giving out wetlands and wildlife grants, an investigator for the House Agriculture Committee found. The Government Accountability Office said there is potential for duplicative payments with the conservation programs, allowing the agency to release billions of dollars in payments to landowners who do not deserve them.

Another assessment from the USDA inspector general found shoddy accounting at the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The agency was unable to provide sufficient information on transactions and account balances.

No matter. The result of the Waxman-Peterson negotiations was to give USDA the job....(Remainder.)

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Referendum O Set to Return in 2010

Sponsors tried and failed in November to shield Colorado's constitution from the state's ballooning initiative process. They're back, and with a new plan.

By John Tomasic
The Colorado Independent


Referendum O, a bipartisan attempt to make it more difficult to amend Colorado’s state constitution, didn’t rank among the top controversial ballot initiatives last year. The initiatives that generated heat included one on affirmative-action discrimination and one on the rights of the unborn, which were controversial in part because many voters don’t even believe there are such things as affirmative-action discrimination and the rights of the unborn.

The ballot itself, though, was the longest in the country and powerful evidence for voters that the state’s initiative process has grown unwieldy, resulting in a torrent of initiatives cluttering the constitution unnecessarily with amendments, some well crafted and some terribly written, creating legal battles and generating widespread suspicion of abuse.

Yet Referendum O failed to pass.

Supporters concluded that the referendum aimed at streamlining the ballots fell an ironic victim to voter fatigue.

“There were 14 initiatives on the ballot … People were exhausted and they just said no,” Democratic State Rep. Lois Court of Denver, a longtime advocate of initiative reform, told the Colorado Independent last spring. “It’s a complex issue. People have lives… We have to approach reform cyclically.”

Back to work

The groups behind Ref O have wasted little time restarting the process.

One of those groups is the business advocacy organization Colorado Concern. Executive Director Janice Sinden said in an interview that Ref O supporters have already secured financial commitments to relaunch a campaign for 2010 and that they have learned a great deal from their efforts last year....(Remainder.)

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Forbes: Denver is America's Best City to Buy a Home

By Mark Harden
Denver Business Journal


Denver is America’s best city to buy a home, Forbes magazine says in a new ranking of U.S. metro areas.

“While the majority of the nation’s housing markets are still working toward a bottom, some cities are boasting fundamentals that make them good places to buy a home now,” Forbes reported this week.

Phoenix was ranked No. 2 on the Forbes list, followed by Boston, San Diego and Los Angeles.

The Forbes rankings seem geared more toward each market’s current and future potential as a place to buy a home, since some of the cities at or near the top of the list are among those hardest hit by the recession.

The report ranked the 25 largest U.S. metro areas on the basis of change in price per square foot, frequency of real-estate transactions, and how evenly distributed home-sales activity is in a metro area.

“Denver tops the list,” Forbes said. “It had 25 percent of its property sales occur within approximately 25 percent of the city’s ZIP codes. This means sales in various parts of the city were fairly evenly distributed, showing proportionate activity. The further a city deviates from the 25 percent mark, the less evenly distributed the market is in that city, and thus the lower that city ranks.”

Forbes also determined that average price per square foot of housing space increased 5.7 percent in Denver between February and March of this year, and that transactions decreased 8.4 percent between March 2008 and March 2009, less of a drop than many cities.

“Denver scores very well in terms of being able to bring people into a stable housing market,” the magazine quoted Moody’s economist Christopher Cornell as saying. “It has better growth potential than most cities today.”...(Remainder.)

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Rep. Jared Polis Criticizes Obama Over Gay Rights

By Matthew S. Bajko
Bay Area Reporter


Openly gay freshman Congressman Jared Polis , a Democrat from Boulder, Colorado, finds himself in the middle of his first gay brouhaha since being sworn into office in January. It is bringing him renewed national attention and his first tongue lashing from local gay blogger Michael Petrelis .

The controversy comes as Polis readies to hop aboard a red-eye flight from D.C. Friday, June 26 to be in San Francisco for the unveiling of the annual pink triangle installation atop Twin Peaks Saturday morning. He then will be flying home to Colorado later that day to take part in Denver's Pride parade this Sunday.

One of only three out members in Congress, Polis has received flack for his decision to attend tonight's (Thursday, June 25) fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee that is being boycotted by many LGBT people due to a derogatory brief filed by President Barack Obama 's Department of Justice defending the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.

The handling of the court filing has led to vociferous outcries from the LGBT community and brought to the forefront Obama's paltry record on LGBT issues thus far in his first term.

Polis himself lashed out at the brief, saying in a statement on his Web site that he was "shocked and disappointed to learn that President Obama chose to defend DOMA in federal court, especially given his campaign promise to call for a full repeal of DOMA." He said he was particularly outraged to see his relationship to his partner, Marlon Reis , compared to incest in the court filing. He added that he had called on Obama to clarify his position on DOMA and was "disappointed in his lack of reply."...(Remainder.)

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Man Coulter Finds Murder Funny

By The Raw Story

Like that crazy uncle who won't stop telling corny limericks involving buckets, controversial pundit Ann Coulter apparently doesn't seem to care if she's the only one laughing at her jokes.

Journalist Frederick Clarkson, at his Talk to Action website, takes a hard look at Coulter's "record of publicly justifying the assassination of abortion providers."

Clarkson notes the following four occasions:
From the 2008 Reclaiming America for Christ conference: "Those few abortionists were shot, or, depending on your point of view, had a procedure with a rifle performed on them. I'm not justifying it, but I do understand how it happened...."

From the 2008 Values Voters Summit: "For two decades after Roe, no abortion clinic doctors were killed. But immediately after Planned Parenthood v. Casey, after working within the system did not work, produced no results... for the first time an abortion doctor was killed. A few more abortion clinic workers were killed in the next few years. I'm not justifying it, but I understand when you take democracy away from people, some of them will react violently. The total number of deaths attributable to Roe were seven abortion clinic workers and 40 million unborn babies"

From her June 3rd syndicated column: " I wouldn't kill an abortionist myself, but I wouldn't want to impose my moral values on others. No one is for shooting abortionists. But how will criminalizing men making difficult, often tragic, decisions be an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the shootings of abortionists? Following the moral precepts of liberals, I believe the correct position is: If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, then don't shoot one."

Earlier this week on The O'Reilly Factor: "I don't really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester"

Clarkson notes "that's four times in the past year and a half that she has coyly or not so coyly justified political assassination."...(Remainder.)

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Obama Forsakes the Gay Rights Movement

By Kate Clinton
The Progressive


When Dick Cheeeney was asked why he had not served in Vietnam, he harrumphed that he “had other priorities in the ‘60s than military service.” Like applying for six deferments.

Side note: come to find out, the very long E in “Cheeeney” is the family’s preferred pronunciation of their surname. The ubiquitous-as-homemade sin, Liz Cheeeney announced this top-secret fact on a morning show, and now Chris Matthews has dropped the long A in Chaney and cheeses out Cheeeney whenever he can. I just thought he was being sarcastic. I won’t tell you how my household still says the name.

But forty years after the 60s, prioritizing is still a problem.

As much as I was fully prepared to be disappointed in the Obama administration, I am surprised by my disappointment. The administration seems to have other priorities than full civil rights for LGBT people.

And heck I know Obama has a lot going on – health care, the economy, two wars. I’m not one of those old coot guys complaining that Obama’s trying to do too much. I think they’re just jealous of his energy. In fact, under the federal radar, many things are changing at the agency level. The US Census will now count married gay Americans. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, now unrecognizable from its early iteration, creeps through committee. Hate Crimes legislation moves forward.

After an LGBT firestorm greeted the Justice Department’s review of the Defense of Marriage Act with its concluding argument that put gay marriage in the same paragraph as pedophilia and incest, the White House quickly announced domestic partnership benefits for some federal employees. Coinky-dink? Ya think?...(Remainder.)

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Promises, Promises: Obama Slow on Pledge to Gays

By Philip Elliott
Associated Press via Google News


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama promised gay and lesbian voters he would repeal a law banning their open service in the military, would do away with a federal marriage law and would champion their causes from the White House. In his first five months, he's taken incremental steps that have little real effect and left some people feeling betrayed.

But he's still willing to take money from a reliably Democratic constituency — he sent Vice President Joe Biden to a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Thursday evening with gay and lesbian donors.

"I am not unaware of the controversy swirling around this dinner and swirling around the speed or lack thereof that we are moving on issues that are of great importance to you," Biden said. He added that Obama is committed to "keeping the nation focused on the unfinished business of true equality for all our people."

Some gay donors had called for a boycott after Obama's Justice Department, in a court filing, compared gay marriages to incest.

"I don't think it's an appropriate time to be raising money. No one is happy now," said Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay issues and did not plan to attend the event. "On gay rights, the country is already in the age of Obama, but he's governing from the Clinton era."

Obama issued a presidential memorandum that expands some federal benefits to same-sex partners, but not health benefits or pension guarantees. He has allowed State Department employees to include their same-sex partners in certain embassy programs already available to opposite-sex spouses.

But that remains far short of his campaign rhetoric....(Remainder.)

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Holder Tells Congress New Hate Crimes Law Needed

By Associated Press
Via Google News


WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder urged Congress to pass a new hate crimes law so the government could prosecute cases of violence based on sexual orientation, gender or disability.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday, he cited the recent killing of a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The alleged assailant is a white supremacist.

"One has to look at the unfortunate history of our nation. There are groups that have been singled out, that have been targets of violence," the attorney general said. "We have to face and confront that reality."

Lawmakers debated the possible effect of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, named after a gay man killed in Wyoming in 1998. It would allow federal prosecution of violence committed because of the actual or perceived gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity of the victim.

For more than a decade, Democrats have sought to update the hate crimes law, which already makes it a federal crime to attack someone because of their race, creed or color.

Republicans questioned whether the change would expand federal power unnecessarily into cases already being prosecuted by state and local officials. They also asked why certain victims of violence should be singled out for particular types of protection.

"That's part of the problem. Some are protected groups and get special protection under this law," said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the committee's top Republican. "You argued your case. I've listened to it and I'm not persuaded."

According to FBI data, the number of hate crimes per year is relatively unchanged in the past 10 years. In 1998, the FBI reported 7,755 hate crime incidents and 7,624 in 2007....(Remainder.)

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Ann Coulter Needs Time in Prison…Seriously!

By James Hipps
gayagenda.com


What do you get when you put to of the biggest Right Wing nuts on a stage together?  Sometimes laughter sure, but not always.  This time, it should be cause for imprisonment…seriously.

I just witnessed one of the most vile and disgusting displays of hate I believe I've ever witnessed on television.  What has happened here is a hate crime.  Ann Coulter, whom I've had many names for other than Ann Coulter, has gone to the edge and jumped off.  I'm thinking along the lines of since here last book isn't selling so well, and people are sick of hearing this disgusting, vile piece of crap human open her mouth because all that comes out of it is vomit, she felt the need to step up her "controversy" in order to maintain her paycheck, thus keep up her lavish lifestyle earned from hate.  Regardless of her self-indulged intentions, what she says is a hate-crime.  Voicing your opinion is one thing, advocating for murder is another.  This is a crime and I want Ann Coulter to go to prison.  I'm not joking, I'm not being overly dramatic, someone needs to grow ball and shove this witch into a small concrete cell for a very long time.

I am amazed at this woman's utter stupidity and hypocrisy.  She refers to "pro-choice" advocates as "pro-death", and says that is the sum of the Democratic party, yet  she blatantly advocates for the murder of physicians that perform abortions.

Here she is talking to one of the most arrogant, pompous asses of the Right Wing, Mr. (I've got to pay off a woman I sexually harrassed) Bill O'Reilly about the cold blooded murder of Dr. George Tiller....(Remainder.)



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Mr. Savage, We're Still Listening...

By Karl Frisch
Media Matters


Perhaps you've already seen the news that Michael Savage (née Weiner), America's third highest rated radio host, has vowed to post "full pictures and other pertinent information about" Media Matters employees on his website. If not, the following links will help bring you up to speed:
Huffington Post: Michael Savage Issues Fatwa Against Media Matters

Examiner.com: Savage vows to post Media Matters staff pictures and ‘pertinent information’ on website

MSNBC's The Ed Show: In "Psycho Talk," Schultz says Savage "is pinning a 'Wanted' sign on employees at Media Matters"

And now, a response:




(Original.)

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The Obese Oxy-Moron Thinks Hypocrisy is a Moral Value

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Fat Disgusting Fabulist, Limbaugh, Trys to Blame Obama for Sanford's Affair

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Retarded Robertson of the Christian Taliban Still Selling His Lies and Hatred Over Hate-Crimes

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Why Do Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann Hate America and the Constitution?

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Supreme Court Rules That Strip Searching a 13-Year Old Girl Was Unconstitutional



By John Amato
Crooks and Liars


In a surprise verdict for the Roberts court:
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the strip search of a 13-year-old schoolgirl violated the constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

In a closely watched case filled with poignant facts, the court ruled 8-1 that Arizona school officials violated student Savana Redding's Fourth Amendment rights when they searched her down to her bra and underpants. Officials were looking for pain relievers, which they didn't find.

"The content of the suspicion failed to match the degree of intrusion," Justice David Souter wrote for the majority.

The ruling involving Redding, who's now a college student, has been anticipated by schools nationwide, which must balance concerns about student privacy with adult fears of drug abuse and school violence.

And guess who the lone hold out was on the court? Clarence Thomas.
Justice Clarence Thomas was the only member of the court to decide that the search of Redding was reasonable.

The court divided more closely, though, on whether the individual school officials who oversaw the search should be liable for damages. While seven members agreed that the officials were immune from lawsuits, Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg contended that the school's assistant principal, Kerry Wilson, should be held liable.

"Wilson's treatment of Redding was abusive and it was not reasonable for him to believe that the law permitted it," said Ginsburg, the court's only female member.
(Remainder.)

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Loony-Toons Beck, and Whack-a-Doodle Bachmann Think Cap and Trade is Unpatriotic

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Fox News "Omits" RepubliCON Scandals in Assessment of Sanford Prospects

By Media Matters

In segments airing between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. ET on June 25, Fox News Washington correspondent James Rosen highlighted only past scandals involving Democrats during reports assessing the potential political impact of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's extramarital affair. Specifically, Rosen's first segment, during the noon ET hour of Fox News' Happening Now, featured pictures of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, former President Bill Clinton hugging then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and former Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry. Rosen's second segment, during the 1 p.m. ET hour of Fox News' The Live Desk, featured Clinton-Lewinsky, Barry, and former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey. Neither segment mentioned any of the numerous sex scandals over a similar time period that involved Republican politicians such as Sen. John Ensign (NV), Sen. David Vitter (LA), and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, among others. By contrast, during the 3 p.m. ET hour of Fox News' Studio B with Shepard Smith, Rosen's report about Sanford and prior political sex scandals featured both Democrats -- Clinton and Barry -- and Republicans -- Vitter and former Sen. Larry Craig (ID).

In addition, during Studio B, Smith and correspondent Jonathan Hunt mentioned both Republican and Democratic politicians' sex scandals while discussing other aspects of Sanford's affair. For instance, Smith said that Sanford "isn't the only political figure allegedly using money inappropriately," and Hunt then noted that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has "filed two complaints about [Ensign] wanting to know more about the alleged severance payments he made to the woman who was a campaign aide and with whom he admitted he had an affair." Hunt also noted that former George H.W. Bush White House chief of staff John Sununu and former Clinton Office of Administration director David Watkins inappropriately used taxpayer money.

Smith went on to note other politicians' responses to the Sanford scandal, reading statements from House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who Smith said "has his own problems of late." Smith then added: "We're also hearing from governors who've gone through similar scandals. The former New Jersey Democratic governor, James McGreevey, resigned after admitting that he cheated on his wife with a man."

From the noon ET hour of Fox News' Happening Now (Spitzer; Clinton and Lewinsky; Clinton; Barry):





















(Remainder.)

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Racist Pastor and Bigot Asks GAWD to Smite President Obama

By Christian Right
Hatewatch at SPLC


As if President Obama doesn’t have enough to deal with - what with civil unrest in Iran, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and economic malaise at home - now he’s also got a Southern Baptist minister praying for his death.

The Rev. Wiley Drake, pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., told Fox News Radio earlier this month that he was practicing “imprecatory prayer” – a divine curse – that would bring about Obama’s death.

“So you’re praying for his death?” asked the show’s host, Alan Colmes.

“Yes.”

“So you’re praying for the death of the president of the United States?”

“Yes.”

The pugnacious pastor later elaborated: “If he does not turn to God and does not turn his life around, I am asking God to enforce imprecatory prayers that are throughout the Scripture that would cause him death, that’s correct.”

A spokesman for the Southern Baptist Association, where Drake was second vice president in 2006-2007, responded to Drake’s comments by saying that he believes most Southern Baptists are praying for the president’s well-being.

Obama isn’t the first person for whom Drake has prayed for an untimely demise. In 2007, when Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a formal complaint with the Internal Revenue Service maintaining that Drake’s endorsement of Mike Huckabee for president violated tax laws, Drake called on his followers to pray for the deaths of the nonprofit’s staff....(Remainder.)

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