Archive for April, 2009

Keeping a cool head in fevered times

From The Washington Post:

“Nearly 300 schools nationwide have shuttered as education and health officials take precautions to avoid the spread of swine flu, the U.S. Education Department reported today.

As of yesterday at noon, the department had counted about 100 school closures. ….

The Fort Worth, Tex., school system closed its 80,000-student district for 10 days after confirmation of one case of swine flu at one campus and the announcement that there are probable cases at three other schools. In New York, where several schools have been hit by outbreaks, such decisions have been handled individually at the schools.

In Maryland, schools in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties with probable flu cases have remained open under advice from health officials.”

At first glance, that all seems a bit excessive. But according to the Post, the U.S. Department of Education is advising that “schools should strongly consider closing if a student or employee is confirmed to have the flu, if …

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Obama married to one of 100 most beautiful

From Reuters:

“Breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate made the cover of People magazine’s 100 most beautiful people issue on Wednesday in a list that welcomed newcomers U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and “Twilight” heart-throb Robert Pattinson.,,,

Michelle Obama, who has achieved celebrity status and has wowed the world as a fashion icon, made the list for the first time.

“I had a father and a brother who thought I was beautiful, and they made me feel that way every single day,” Obama told the magazine. “I grew up with very strong male role models who thought I was smart and fast and funny, so I heard that a lot. I know that there are many young girls who don’t hear it. But I was fortunate,” she added.”


However, I have to acknowledge that the magazine did call into question its ability to make such judgments when it also included Tim Geithner on its list.

Really? Tim Geithner?

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Young voters pose long-term challenge to GOP future

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Kristin Soltis, a Republican pollster, has an interesting piece at about the challenges confronting the GOP regarding young people. The party’s biggest problem is not that people such as 79-year-old Arlen Specter are leaving; it’s that too few young people are replacing him.

First, she notes what most of us know already: Obama did very well among young voters, and young voters in 2008 tended to self-identify as Democrats rather than Republicans. As Soltis writes, “in 2008, there was a more marked difference between young voters and the overall electorate. While Democrats held a 7-point advantage over Republicans in terms of party identification overall, that advantage jumps to 18 points among voters 18-29.”

But Soltis then looks a little deeper. The real change in party ID among the young, she discovers, occurred not in 2008 but in the 2006 midterm elections. That year, “there was a massive shift toward the Democrats ending in a 12-point …

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Obama failing to defend torture law

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Technically speaking, torture is still against the law. The words are still there, in Title 18 of the U.S. Code:
“Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”
But thanks in part to President Barack Obama, those words have all the relevance of an archaic law prohibiting pig-selling on Sunday. They mean nothing.
Publicly, Obama claims America has changed course. On his first day in office, he signed an executive order halting “enhanced interrogations.” But that did not restore the rule of law; it weakened it further. If one executive order can ban torture, as Obama claims, then another such order can restore it, simple as that.
And let’s at least be honest — what we have done is …

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To be knave or brave? The choice tortures Hannity

They used to call this “writing checks with your mouth that you lack the guts to cash.” I don’t know what they call it now, but I’m sure they still have a term for it.

If they don’t, “pulling a Hannity” might be a candidate.

From AP:

NEW YORK (AP) — The debate over torture is getting personal for two of cable TV’s prime-time hosts.

After Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity made a seemingly impromptu offer last week to undergo waterboarding as a benefit for charity, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann leapt at it. He offered $1,000 to the families of U.S. troops for every second Hannity withstood the technique.

Olbermann repeated the offer on Monday’s show and said in an interview Tuesday that he’s heard no response. He said he’ll continue to pursue it.

“I don’t think he has the courage to even respond to this – let alone do it,” Olbermann said.

Fox News Channel representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

The two men are on opposite poles of a debate that has preoccupied the …

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Obama at 100 days: Taking stock

Well, it’s 100 days into the first Obama term, and the reviews are pouring in. At the New York Post, they’re listing Obama’s 100 mistakes in 100 days. For example, Mistake #9:

“Turkey tried to block the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as new NATO secretary general because he didn’t properly punish the Danish cartoonist who caricatured Mohammed. France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany’s Angela Merkel were outraged; Obama said he supported Turkey’s induction into the European Union.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial board recounts all the major shifts in policy undertaken by Obama, noting that “the only two comparable moments in the last century were 1965, which gave us the Great Society, and 1933, which bequeathed the New Deal. Mr. Obama’s goals are at least as ambitious, resuming the march toward the European welfare state that was stopped by what Democrats like to call the Reagan detour.”

“In a mere 100 days, the Democrat has silenced eight years of criticism about the …

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The alien threat to our American way of life

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From the Washington Times:

Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, the sixth man ever to walk on the moon, has a message for all citizens of Earth: We are not alone.

“We are being visited,” the 79-year-old grandfatherly “spacefarer” told 100 or so UFOlogists gathered at a National Press Club conference called by the Paradigm Research Group (motto: “It’s not about lights in the sky; it’s about lies on the ground”).

“It is now time to put away this embargo of truth about the alien presence,” said the astronaut who made the longest moonwalk in history. “I call upon our government to open up … and become a part of this planetary community that is now trying to take our proper role as a spacefaring civilization.”
alien endorses obama

With a new, perhaps more intellectually curious president in the White House, UFOlogists say, the time is ripe for the United States to follow the lead of other nations and release all classified files about government interaction with …

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Reaction to Specter from across the GOP

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“I have traveled the state, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate.”
— Sen. Arlen Specter, who faced a difficult primary challenge by Pat Toomey of the ultra-conservative Club for Growth.

“I don’t want to be a member of the Club for Growth. I want to be a member of a vibrant national Republican party that can attract people from all corners of the country — and we can govern the country from a center-right perspective…. As Republicans, we got a problem.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC

““I would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who really believe in principles of limited government, free markets, free people, than to …

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With Arlen Specter now a D, Dems at brink of 60

The news that reshapes Washington.

From the Washington Post:

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning.

Specter’s decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in as the next senator from Minnesota. (Former senator Norm Coleman is appealing Franken’s victory in the state Supreme Court.)

“I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary,” said Specter in a statement. “I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.”

He added: “Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I …

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Gingrich looks in mirror, cries ‘EXTREMIST!’

According to someone who should know, Newt Gingrich is actually an environmental extremist. Furthermore, Gingrich believes that “to protect clean air and water, biodiversity, and the future of the earth, we have to buy into their catastrophic scenarios and sign onto their command-and-control, anti-energy, big-bureaucracy agenda, including dramatic increases in government power and draconian policies that will devastate our economy.”

Who says so? As Media Matters points out, Newt Gingrich himself says so.

In 2007, in an interview on PBS, Gingrich endorsed addressing climate change by capping the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by industry and then allowing those industries to buy and sell emission permits. According to Gingrich:

“The caps, with a trading system, on sulfur has worked brilliantly because it has brought free-market attitudes, entrepreneurship and technology and made it very profitable to have less sulfur. So people said, ‘Wow, it’s worth my time and effort.’ …

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