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Archive for February 6th, 2010

Archbishop Chides Blair on Iraq

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 6th, 2010 5:45 am by HL

Archbishop Chides Blair on Iraq
The archbishop of Canterbury has some choice words for Tony Blair. The public intellectual criticized Blair’s lack of empathy and his defensive posturing regarding recent inquiries into the Iraq war, declaring the former prime minister to be “one of the most un-Dostoevskian characters in Britain.” Ouch. Characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novels are famous for their soul-searching and empathy, characteristics the archbishop feels Tony Blair lacks. —JCL The Guardian: The archbishop of Canterbury has renewed his criticism of Tony Blair by urging the former prime minister to recognise his “absurdity” in the wake of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war — and suggesting he read more Dostoevsky. Repeating a previous quip that Blair is “very strong on God, very weak on irony”, Rowan Williams said the former prime minister had perhaps not done enough soul-searching. Speaking at a lecture on the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, Williams was asked by an audience member how he viewed Blair’s appearance at the hearing last week in the context of his studies of the Crime and Punishment author. Read more

The archbishop of Canterbury has some choice words for Tony Blair. The public intellectual criticized Blair’s lack of empathy and his defensive posturing regarding recent inquiries into the Iraq war, declaring the former prime minister to be “one of the most un-Dostoevskian characters in Britain.” Ouch.

Characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novels are famous for their soul-searching and empathy, characteristics the archbishop feels Tony Blair lacks. —JCL

The Guardian:

The archbishop of Canterbury has renewed his criticism of Tony Blair by urging the former prime minister to recognise his “absurdity” in the wake of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war — and suggesting he read more Dostoevsky.

Repeating a previous quip that Blair is “very strong on God, very weak on irony”, Rowan Williams said the former prime minister had perhaps not done enough soul-searching.

Speaking at a lecture on the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, Williams was asked by an audience member how he viewed Blair’s appearance at the hearing last week in the context of his studies of the Crime and Punishment author.

Read more

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Yuppie Obama Edition
Blue whales are changing their tune, medieval trial-by-floating-or-drowning turns out to have been shockingly accurate, and President Obama may have trouble with working people because he’s so damned upwardly mobile—all this and more on today’s list. On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies. The links below open in a new window and newer ones are on top. Amazon for Art Shoppers? If you need a Damien Hirst diamond-skull T-shirt or a Grayson Perry silk scarf that reads “unpopular culture,” you’re in luck. Blue Whales Are Singing in a Lower Key Blue whales have changed their songs. It’s the same old tune, but the pitch of the blues is mysteriously lower—especially off the coast of California where, local researchers say, the whales’ voices have dropped by more than half an octave since the 1960s. Medieval-Style ‘Trial by Ordeal’ Actually Worked? For the better part of a millennium, Europe’s legal systems decided difficult criminal cases in a most peculiar way. What Would Pat Robertson Say About This? There’s an interesting chart on the web that compares the religiosity of the various states—based on a Gallup poll—with other factors. Based on these stats it would seem that the five least religious states are six percent more intelligent than the five most religious states. The most religious states also have 70% more poverty, 133% more murders, 57% more thefts and 33% more divorces. Maine’s Missing Water The Stonington Water Co. has a mystery on its hands. Large amounts of water have been disappearing regularly from the system since October, and officials don’t know how or why. Why Do Late-Night Hosts Always Keep Their Desks on the Right? Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno, who have been at each other’s throats of late, had very different approaches to hosting the Tonight Show. But one thing remained the same: For the interview portion, both hosts sat at a desk on the right side of the television screen, with their guests on the left. Race to the Checkout Line: Grocers Association’s Best Bagger Championship What the National Grocers Association’s Best Bagger Championship says about work and competition. The ‘Long Tail’ Hits Manufacturing The door of a dry-cleaner-size storefront in an industrial park in Wareham, Massachusetts, an hour south of Boston, might not look like a portal to the future of American manufacturing, but it is. Why Obama Can’t Connect With the Working Class He’s a yuppie: He has trouble with working class voters because he appears to them as coming from a different world, a different realm of experience, a different class, if you like. And that’s because he does. Have Iran’s Opposition Leaders Really Sold Out? Is the Green Movement finished? That is what the Iranian government wants the world to believe. Crying Shame at UCLA: Fair Use, Videos and Higher Ed The University of California at Los Angeles has decided to forbid teachers from posting videos (or, apparently, pieces of them) to their electronic teaching platforms, after an educational media association complained about the practice. Top Doctorate Programs Shrinking Yale University has become the latest research institution to announce that it is shrinking graduate admissions. The Corporations Already Outspend the Parties For the first time in recent history, the lobbying, grassroots and advertising budget of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has surpassed the spending of BOTH the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee. The Creed of Objectivity Killed the News Don’t blame the Internet. The bloodless and soulless journalism of the traditional media left newspapers on the wrong side of the growing class divide and their readers. Amazonian People and ‘Avatar’ I’m very happy that “Avatar” has helped to bring to the mainstream some of the issues that indigenous people face—issues that all of us care about deeply. Also, I recently learned that the Fundación Pachamama in Quito, Ecuador, hosted some 90 indigenous people for a screening of the 3-D version of “Avatar.” From what I understand, the film re-affirmed the validity of what most people in the audience are doing to protect themselves and their forest. The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates Academe today is the site of myriad conflicts over intellectual property, including those of patent ownership, piracy of university press publications, and Google Books, to name just a few. But, while the rise of the Internet has given it new dimensions, the concept of intellectual piracy has existed for centuries, and the disputes of previous eras have much in common with those of our own time. Volcker Rules Finally President Barack Obama has come to his senses on financial regulation. His endorsement of what he calls the “Volcker Rule” for once puts him squarely on the side of ordinary Americans as opposed to the banking bandits who have so thoroughly fleeced the public.

Blue whales are changing their tune, medieval trial-by-floating-or-drowning turns out to have been shockingly accurate, and President Obama may have trouble with working people because he’s so damned upwardly mobile—all this and more on today’s list.

On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

The links below open in a new window and newer ones are on top.


Amazon for Art Shoppers?
If you need a Damien Hirst diamond-skull T-shirt or a Grayson Perry silk scarf that reads “unpopular culture,” you’re in luck.

Blue Whales Are Singing in a Lower Key
Blue whales have changed their songs. It’s the same old tune, but the pitch of the blues is mysteriously lower—especially off the coast of California where, local researchers say, the whales’ voices have dropped by more than half an octave since the 1960s.

Medieval-Style ‘Trial by Ordeal’ Actually Worked?
For the better part of a millennium, Europe’s legal systems decided difficult criminal cases in a most peculiar way.

What Would Pat Robertson Say About This?
There’s an interesting chart on the web that compares the religiosity of the various states—based on a Gallup poll—with other factors. Based on these stats it would seem that the five least religious states are six percent more intelligent than the five most religious states. The most religious states also have 70% more poverty, 133% more murders, 57% more thefts and 33% more divorces.

Maine’s Missing Water
The Stonington Water Co. has a mystery on its hands. Large amounts of water have been disappearing regularly from the system since October, and officials don’t know how or why.

Why Do Late-Night Hosts Always Keep Their Desks on the Right?
Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno, who have been at each other’s throats of late, had very different approaches to hosting the Tonight Show. But one thing remained the same: For the interview portion, both hosts sat at a desk on the right side of the television screen, with their guests on the left.

Race to the Checkout Line: Grocers Association’s Best Bagger Championship
What the National Grocers Association’s Best Bagger Championship says about work and competition.

The ‘Long Tail’ Hits Manufacturing
The door of a dry-cleaner-size storefront in an industrial park in Wareham, Massachusetts, an hour south of Boston, might not look like a portal to the future of American manufacturing, but it is.

Why Obama Can’t Connect With the Working Class
He’s a yuppie: He has trouble with working class voters because he appears to them as coming from a different world, a different realm of experience, a different class, if you like. And that’s because he does.

Have Iran’s Opposition Leaders Really Sold Out?
Is the Green Movement finished? That is what the Iranian government wants the world to believe.

Crying Shame at UCLA: Fair Use, Videos and Higher Ed
The University of California at Los Angeles has decided to forbid teachers from posting videos (or, apparently, pieces of them) to their electronic teaching platforms, after an educational media association complained about the practice.

Top Doctorate Programs Shrinking
Yale University has become the latest research institution to announce that it is shrinking graduate admissions.

The Corporations Already Outspend the Parties
For the first time in recent history, the lobbying, grassroots and advertising budget of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has surpassed the spending of BOTH the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee.

The Creed of Objectivity Killed the News
Don’t blame the Internet. The bloodless and soulless journalism of the traditional media left newspapers on the wrong side of the growing class divide and their readers.

Amazonian People and ‘Avatar’
I’m very happy that “Avatar” has helped to bring to the mainstream some of the issues that indigenous people face—issues that all of us care about deeply. Also, I recently learned that the Fundación Pachamama in Quito, Ecuador, hosted some 90 indigenous people for a screening of the 3-D version of “Avatar.” From what I understand, the film re-affirmed the validity of what most people in the audience are doing to protect themselves and their forest.

The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates
Academe today is the site of myriad conflicts over intellectual property, including those of patent ownership, piracy of university press publications, and Google Books, to name just a few. But, while the rise of the Internet has given it new dimensions, the concept of intellectual piracy has existed for centuries, and the disputes of previous eras have much in common with those of our own time.

Volcker Rules
Finally President Barack Obama has come to his senses on financial regulation. His endorsement of what he calls the “Volcker Rule” for once puts him squarely on the side of ordinary Americans as opposed to the banking bandits who have so thoroughly fleeced the public.

Related Entries



Nikolas Kozloff: Banana Republic, U.S.A.? “Populism” Comes to America

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 6th, 2010 5:44 am by HL

Nikolas Kozloff: Banana Republic, U.S.A.? “Populism” Comes to America
Confronting economic malaise, the country seems to be heading back into one of its perennial populist cycles. As a result, “going populist is now smart politics and good policy.”

Stu Kreisman: Congress Needs a Shot Clock
There was a time in basketball when a lesser team could try to even the odds of winning by eating up the clock or stalling….

Laura Flanders: The F Word: Another Super Bowl, Another Scandal
It’s Super Bowl season, another year, another scandal. This year’s outburst over CBS’s $3 million Focus on the Family ad has revived the mythology around…


Quick Fact: Wash . Times , Fox News’ North advance claim that repealing DADT is a harmful “social experiment”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 6th, 2010 5:43 am by HL

Quick Fact: Wash . Times , Fox News’ North advance claim that repealing DADT is a harmful “social experiment”

The Washington Times and Fox News host Oliver North advanced the baseless claim that repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” amounts to a “social experiment” and “social engineering” that would be detrimental to the military and “military readiness.” In fact, those claims are heavily undermined by the fact that other countries allow gay men and lesbians to serve in the military, and many have said it has not created problems.

Fox News’ North, Washington Times advance claim that repealing ban is a “social experiment” that affects “military readiness”

North: Obama is treating military “like lab rats in a radical social experiment.” Oliver North, host of Fox News’ War Stories, said on the February 4 edition of Fox News’ Hannity that repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a “stunning assault” on the military and that Obama “now intends to treat them like lab rats in a radical social experiment.” He also said, “[T]his isn’t about rights. This isn’t about fairness. It’s all about national security. And, apparently, Mr. Obama has forgotten it.” Later, North said of repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell”: “Now, here’s what’s next. NAMBLA members, same-sex marriages. Are chaplains in the U.S. military going to be required to perform those kinds of rituals? Do they get government housing?” North added that repealing DADT “affects readiness and recruiting and retention.”

Washington Times quotes veterans groups saying Obama is using military as “social experiment” and “social engineering.” A February 5 Washington Times article uncritically quoted two veterans groups saying that repealing the ban would be a “social experiment” and “social engineering.” It quoted the American Legion as saying, “Now is not the time to engage in a social experiment that can disrupt and potentially have serious impact on the conduct of forces engaged in combat,” and Veterans of Foreign Wars as saying changing the law would amount to using the military as “a control group for social engineering.” The article also advanced false claims that allowing openly gay servicemen and women to serve would affect “military readiness,” reporting: “[S]pokesmen for the VFW and the Legion told The Washington Times on Wednesday their groups do not want to see military readiness disrupted while the armed forces are fighting two wars.”

FACT: Other countries allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly without problems

At least 25 nations — including many U.S. allies — allow military service by openly gay people. According to the Palm Center, as of June 2009, 25 nations allowed military service by openly gay people, including North America Treaty Organization member countries Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

GAO: Other countries say allowing gays to serve openly “has not created problems in the military.” In a June 1993 report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) studied four countries that allow gay men and lesbians to serve in the military — Canada, Israel, Germany, and Sweden — and found that military officials said “the presence of homosexuals has not created problems in the military because homosexuality is not an issue in the military or in society at large.” It also found that “[m]ilitary officials from each country said that, on the basis of their experience, the inclusion of homosexuals in their militaries has not adversely affected unit readiness, effectiveness, cohesion, or morale.” GAO wrote that it chose those four countries to study because they “generally reflect Western cultural values yet still provide a range of ethnic diversity” and have similarly sized militaries.

None of the 104 experts interviewed for studies believed decisions to lift gay bans in U.K., Canada, Israel, or Australia undermined military readiness, recruiting, or cohesion. In a 2003 article for Parameters, the U.S. Army War College Quarterly, Aaron Belkin, a University of California at Santa Barbara professor who specializes in sexuality and the military, wrote that the university’s Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military had conducted studies of the impact of the decisions to lift bans on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military in the United Kingdom, Israel, Canada, and Australia, and found: “Not a single one of the 104 experts interviewed believed that the Australian, Canadian, Israeli, or British decisions to lift their gay bans undermined military performance, readiness, or cohesion, led to increased difficulties in recruiting or retention, or increased the rate of HIV infection among the troops.” According to Belkin: “To prepare the case studies, every identifiable pro-gay and anti-gay expert on the policy change in each country was interviewed, including officers and enlisted personnel, ministry representatives, academics, veterans, politicians, and nongovernmental observers. During each interview, experts were asked to recommend additional contacts, all of whom were contacted.”


Frank Doubles Down: Fund Is ‘Congenital And Habitual Liar’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 6th, 2010 5:42 am by HL

Frank Doubles Down: Fund Is ‘Congenital And Habitual Liar’
Rep. Barney Frank is doubling down on his criticism of Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, calling him a “congenital and habitual liar.”


McCain Again Cites Bogus Abdulmutallab ‘One-Way’ Ticket Meme (VIDEO)
McCain, the third-ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, again claimed that the “fact” that Umar Abdulmutallab was traveling on a one-way ticket should have been a red flag — even though he had been corrected on the same bogus point two weeks ago.


The Retcher in the Sky

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 6th, 2010 5:39 am by HL

The Retcher in the Sky


James O’Keefe, the Landrieu ‘Sting’ and the Truth About Conservative ‘Journalism’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 6th, 2010 5:38 am by HL

James O’Keefe, the Landrieu ‘Sting’ and the Truth About Conservative ‘Journalism’
As the he antics of O’Keefe and company demonstrate, the right has failed to train many genuine journalists. So why do mainstream journalists swallow their line?

As the he antics of O'Keefe and company demonstrate, the right has failed to train many genuine journalists. So why do mainstream journalists swallow their line?

The Commercial Super Bowl: Voyeuristic Horndogs, Hot Babes, Flatulent Slackers, and God’s Quarterback Star in the Big Game
Whatever happens, the Tim Tebow controversy has put the game’s spotlight back where it belongs — on the advertising.

Whatever happens, the Tim Tebow controversy has put the game’s spotlight back where it belongs — on the advertising.

How Corporations Are Secretly Moving Millions to Fund Political Ads
Gaping legal holes allow corporations to spend enormous sums on politics without leaving a paper trail.

Gaping legal holes allow corporations to spend enormous sums on politics without leaving a paper trail.

Why We Can’t Afford to Let Obama Give Bush’s War Criminals a Free Pass
Punishing the guilty for deeds they committed in the past is the only way to show the world that we are truly on a new path.

Punishing the guilty for deeds they committed in the past is the only way to show the world that we are truly on a new path.


Weekly Roundup: What We Missed

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 6th, 2010 5:37 am by HL

Weekly Roundup: What We Missed
Election season has begun. And the results of the contentious primaries in Illinois and the ranked up races across the country prove that it will be an entertaining, surprising season. There’s already a muck-drenched story in the Land of Lincoln,…



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Our Incredible Shrinking Democracy
I wish conservatives would stop complaining about big government and start worrying about the real problem – small democracy. I wish we’d all worry more about our incredible shrinking democracy. It seems as if more and more decisions that should…


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Scott Brown Claims That The Stimulus Has Not Created ?One New Job?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 6th, 2010 5:36 am by HL

Scott Brown Claims That The Stimulus Has Not Created ?One New Job?
Newly sworn-in Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has parroted his party’s line on most issues since he began receiving national attention, even changing his opinion on the health care bill. Yesterday, at his first press conference as a U.S. senator, he took another chance to side with the most orthodox conservatives, falsely claiming that the Recovery […]

Newly sworn-in Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has parroted his party’s line on most issues since he began receiving national attention, even changing his opinion on the health care bill. Yesterday, at his first press conference as a U.S. senator, he took another chance to side with the most orthodox conservatives, falsely claiming that the Recovery Act has not created “one new job“:

Last stimulus bill didn’t create one new job. Some states the money that was released hasn’t even been used yet. We lost another 85,000 jobs again, give or take, last month. Massachusetts has not created one new job. Throughout the country as well. May have retained some but has not created any new jobs.

After the conference, CNN’s David Gergen took issue with Brown’s claim, saying, “I think that there are an awful lot of people out there who would dispute the assertion.” Watch it:

Gergen’s right. Among those people are the nearly 600,000 whose jobs were saved or created in the last quarter of 2009 alone. Economists have consistently praised the Recovery Act for rescuing the economy, projecting that without the “boldest countercyclical fiscal stimulus in American history,” unemployment would have hit 10.8 percent and there would have been another 1.2 million lost jobs. Today, unemployment stands a full percentage point lower at 9.7 percent.

Brown understood this last week, when he asked Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick to increase “the pace of the state’s economic stimulus spending.” This came after reports that the stimulus had added last quarter more than 9,000 jobs to the 23,000 already created or saved in Massachusetts. Despite the evidence and the economists’ consensus, however, Brown has endorsed his fellow Republicans’ “clueless” denial of the stimulus’ effectiveness.

DJ Carella


Interagency teams can now question terror suspects

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 6th, 2010 5:35 am by HL

Interagency teams can now question terror suspects
Interagency interrogation teams have started to question key terrorism suspects under a classified charter approved last week, but authorities have been slower to resolve pressing issues that emerged since Christmas — including how to draw the line between gathering intelligence and building a l…

The Tea Party is still taking shape
NASHVILLE — The 600 delegates at the National Tea Party Convention feel taxed to death, ignored by their elected representatives and the media, and appalled at the federal government’s spending — and there are millions of Americans just like them. Their anger has helped claim some political sc…

Pentagon to stock health facilities with morning-after pill
The Department of Defense will begin making the morning-after pill Plan B available at all of its hospitals and health clinics around the world, officials announced Thursday.

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The Electorate vs Obama’s Agenda

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 6th, 2010 5:30 am by HL

The Electorate vs Obama’s Agenda
Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post
“I am not an ideologue,” protested President Obama at a gathering with Republican House members last week. Perhaps, but he does have a tenacious commitment to a set of political convictions.Compare his 2010 State of the Union to his first address to Congress a year earlier. The consistency is remarkable. In 2009, after passing a $787 billion (now $862 billion) stimulus package, the largest spending bill in galactic history, he unveiled a manifesto for fundamentally restructuring the commanding heights of American society — health care, education and energy.

Rising Debt Will Do U.S. In
Brian Riedl, Boston Herald
It's a good thing President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress just agreed to raise the federal debt limit by nearly $2 trillion – they're going to need every penny of it. And fast.Last year, Obama swept into office promising to make tough choices – and then released a budget proposing the largest debt-and-spending spree in American history. This year, he's at it again: Over 2010-2019, his new plan boosts spending another $1.7 trillion and the deficit by $2 trillion over what he proposed last year.In fact, this year's budget shows yearly deficits as much as 49…

A Course Correction on Terrorism
Stuart Taylor, National Journal
Sign In nationaljournal.com > National Journal Magazine > Opening Argument Sponsored Links About National Journal MagazineSubscriptions | Contact Us Cover Story Table ofContents Contents ByTopic ColumnsBrownsteinCookCrookRauchStokesSchneiderTaylor Jr. RegularFeaturesHotline ExtraInside WashingtonInsiders PollK Street CorridorPeopleThe Week on the Hill Print …

Michigan’s Blueprint for America
Henry Payne, National Review
  SIGN UP FOR FREE NRO NEWSLETTERS FEBRUARY 8, 2010, ISSUE   |   VIEW COVER   |   BUY THIS ISSUE   |   SUBSCRIBE TO NR Page Tools TEXT RESIZE     Send to a Friend  Author RSS  Print…

Toyota: Too Good To Be True
Edward Niedermeyer, The Truth About Cars
The ongoing kerfluffle over Toyota’s recall of over 2m vehicles for a gas pedal defect which (allegedly) caused unintended acceleration has caught much of the automotive media flat-footed. How could it be, many have wondered, that the automaker most associated in the US market with the concept of quality has slipped so badly? As TTAC’s Steve Lang recently discussed, Toyota has been on a decontenting binge since the mid-to-late-1990s, putting profit above the quality obsession that had defined its operations up to that point. As a result, the current generation of…