On Being Human...and Crimes Against Humanity

Powerful piece/plea from DKos' buhdydharma.

It is The Law that makes us civilized, that makes us more than savages. From Hammurabi's Code to the Magna Carta to the document that founded America, every advance in civilization, every step forward from savagery, has been marked and made possible by a step forward in the Rule of Law. The Constitution of the United States is widely held to be the pinnacle of that advance. Making each citizen equal under The Law and spelling out the specific individual rights of each citizen. Born of the fight against the tyranny of kings and the injustice and savagery that can be done in a kings name, The Constitution, above all of its other functions, guarantees that ALL men and women are equal under the law.


There are those who would take us back to savagery.

The Rule of Law is what stands between us and them to prevent it. The powerful believe they are above the Rule of Law. They believe in fact that their word IS the Rule of Law, because of their power. It is not. They believe that they can kill, invade, torture, steal and lay waste where ever and however they wish. And they have. What can stop them? What can stop their savagery? What can stop them from dragging us all back into the mud of savagery? They are powerful and control armies and police and even 'secret' police. Opposing them by force of arms only makes them stronger, only drags us back into the mud of killing and savagery with them.

There is only one force that can oppose them. The force of the mass of citizens, of The People, coming together and insisting that they too be accountable to the Rule of Law. Insisting that these powerful men are also equal under The Law.


NOTHING is more important to a free society and to civilization itself than the Rule of Law. It is from this Rule that all else flows. The economy is dependent on the justice provided by the Rule of Law, as we see now. Health care reform can only come through the Rule of Law. The Rule of law will be needed to stop Global Warming, to stop unjust wars, and to ensure equal rights to all citizens. Nothing is more important.

The Rule of law itself is under assault, and how we respond to that assault will define us as a nation and as a civilization. Not how the authorities respond, not how they police themselves, but how WE respond. How we insist and demand that they are policed....just as WE are.

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Joe Scarborough gets schooled (again) by Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski

Shocking that Mika comes from such a smart man, and I'm thrilled he doesn't let his unfortunate fact keep him from ripping into the dumbest man on television this side of Glenn Beck.

From HuffPo:

On this morning's Morning Joe, former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski offered his expertise on the conflict in Gaza. It was all very insightful! But you'll want to just skip to the end of this clip, where host Joe Scarborough attempts to ask for Brzezinski's daughter Mika's hand in marriage or something by insisting that "you cannot blame what's going on in Israel on the Bush administration." This prompted Zbig to reply, "You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you." Burn!

Anyway, things grew only more awkward from there...

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Laura Bush's Denial:"Bush Presidency Not a Failure".

The Stepford Wives speaks:

The two most influential women in President George W. Bush's White House — first lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — are strongly defending the president's legacy against critics who are calling his administration one of the worst in history.

"I know it's not, and so I don't really feel like I need to respond to people that view it that way," Mrs. Bush said in an interview that aired Sunday. "I think history will judge and we'll see later."

Rice took a similar view in a separate interview, saying that claims that the Bush administration has been one of the worst ever are "ridiculous."

"I think generations pretty soon are going to start to thank this president for what he's done. This generation will," Rice said.

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Andy Borowitz: RNC Issues Apology to Negroes

Nah. There digging their heals in and are planning on giving this racists the RNC chairmanship. You'll see.

Funny from Andy Borowitz:

Just days after the news broke that former Tennessee GOP leader Chip Saltsman had released a song parody entitled "Barack the Magic Negro," the Republican National Committee issued what it called "an official apology to America's negroes."

In the statement, the RNC ripped Saltsman's song, calling it "tone-deaf, unacceptable, and offensive to every negro in the country."

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Obama's Duty To Prosecute Bush For War Crimes

From DKos', Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse:

Our government authorized the use of torture, approved of secret electronic surveillance against American citizens, secretly detained American citizens without due process of law, denied the writ of habeas corpus to hundreds of accused enemy combatants and authorized the use of procedures that violate both international law and the United States Constitution.... We owe the American people a reckoning.


We can write laws that say we have certain freedoms and rights, and we can build courts and elect lawmakers, but if there is no rule of law, then we lose our rights bit by bit until they are no longer recognizable. This is one reason why budhydharma and Docudharma have drafted a petition asking Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any government official who has participated in War Crimes.

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MSNBC's Tamron Hall: It wouldn’t be ‘funny’ if someone called me ‘Tamron Hall the Magic Negro Anchor Lady.’

MSNBC's Tamron Hall did a segment on RNC chair candidate Chip Saltsman’s Christmas CD gist which contained the racist song “Barack the Magic Negro” on it. RNC hack, Kate Obenshain, defended the use of the song and Tamron was having none if it.

Hall rips into Obenshain saying, she wouldn't find it funny if someone called her "Tamron Hall the Magic Negro Anchor Lady." She also told Obenshain, “you’re not going to win a lot of people over calling them ‘Magic Negros.’”

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Rice: Much Of Bush’s Foreign Policy Agenda Deserves An ‘A+’

Condoleezza Rice: People Will Soon 'Start To Thank Bush For What He's Done'
I can honestly say I loath this woman. I can't wait for those who want to tell all to start spilling the bean (the one's who are waiting for this admin to be gone so they can't retaliate). There must be a line a mile long.

From Think Progress:
This morning on CBS, Sunday Morning’s Rita Braver interviewed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In a portion of the interview that does not appear to have aired, Braver noted the results of the recent Pew Global Attitudes survey which found that “the U.S. image abroad is suffering almost everywhere.” Braver prompted Rice saying, “It has to be more than just a perception problem.” Rice dismissed the poll’s results, claiming that the Bush administration has “left a lot of good foundations”:


Overall, the Bush administration’s foreign policy agenda has seen few successes. U.S. influence abroad is predicted to decline over the next 20 years. The U.S. military is weaker now than it was five years ago, while the State Department is suffering from staffing shortages and low morale. The recent violence in Israel dramatically highlights the fact that Bush largely ignored the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

No matter how many times Rice repeats herself, the fact that the world does not look kindly on the Bush administration’s foreign policy record will not change.

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Lee Camp: Obama Going Easy on Bush? Say It Ain't So

I think Lee Camp's on to something. If you want to get away with murder -- do it on a massive scale. Killing one person in a mugging might get you the death penalty, but invading a country who didn't attack you and causing the deaths of hundred's of thousands of innocent people -- well, that gets you re-elected.

...if Bush had invaded a female (with her consent) instead of a country, he would've at least lost his job. Right, Gov. Spitzer? If Bush had stolen a $1 candy bar from a convenience store rather than extorting Iraq out of billions of dollars of oil, he might have been sentenced to 16 years in jail as Kenneth Payne was in Texas. Let that be a lesson to Mr. Payne: if you want to avoid serving hard time, shoot for the billions in oil, not the Butterfinger.

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Not Another Word on Gay Marriage Til They Execute Adulterers

Damn right!

From Cenk Uygur:

The religious right picks and chooses which parts of the Bible they want to apply. And they choose based on which outsider group they would like to hate next. First, they emphasized slavery in the Bible when they wanted to hate black people. Now, they emphasize the parts condemning homosexuality so they can hate gay people.

They are completely and utterly disingenuous. They don't mean a word of it. They don't give a damn what the Bible says. They just want to use it as an instrument of hate.

The Bible says eating shellfish is an abomination. Yet there are no Red Lobster Amendments. The Bible says you shall not wear two different types of cloths at the same time. Yet there are no Propositions against cotton and wool combos.

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Episcopal Priest Makes A Name For Himself In NYC Nightclubs

Hmmmm... I wonder if he hangs out near the men's bathrooms too?

He shows up at the hottest clubs in the wee hours and spends thousands on top-shelf liquors, doling out five-figure tips like silver dollars.

He'll send bottles of Dom Perignon to tables around him on a whim, or take a waitress out on the town for a shopping spree.

His name isn't Diddy. He doesn't show up in the gossip columns or the Fortune 500. He's not even a celebrity at all.

The mystery man whose bottomless pockets have made him a legend in clubland is a young Episcopal priest from northeastern Pennsylvania.

"I work hard. I make good money. How I spend it - that is my business," the Rev. Gregory Malia, 43, told the Daily News. "I haven't done anything inappropriate."

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Fifty Herbert Hoovers

Paul Krugman warns the 50 Governors not to do what they seem to be doing - cutting spending - during what amounts to be the worst economic times we've faced since the Great Depression.

No modern American president would repeat the fiscal mistake of 1932, in which the federal government tried to balance its budget in the face of a severe recession. The Obama administration will put deficit concerns on hold while it fights the economic crisis.

But even as Washington tries to rescue the economy, the nation will be reeling from the actions of 50 Herbert Hoovers — state governors who are slashing spending in a time of recession, often at the expense both of their most vulnerable constituents and of the nation’s economic future.


It’s true that the economy is currently shrinking. But that’s the result of a slump in private spending. It makes no sense to add to the problem by cutting public spending, too.

In fact, the true cost of government programs, especially public investment, is much lower now than in more prosperous times. When the economy is booming, public investment competes with the private sector for scarce resources — for skilled construction workers, for capital. But right now many of the workers employed on infrastructure projects would otherwise be unemployed, and the money borrowed to pay for these projects would otherwise sit idle.

And shredding the social safety net at a moment when many more Americans need help isn’t just cruel. It adds to the sense of insecurity that is one important factor driving the economy down.

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DICK: ‘I Don’t Have Any Idea’ Why People Don’t Like Me

Once a dick...

From Think Progress:
Only 29 percent of Americans approve of the job Dick Cheney is doing as Vice President. In an interview with his hometown Wyoming newspaper, The Caspar Star-Tribune, Cheney expressed his bewilderment over his low approval numbers:

QUESTION: How do you explain your low approval rating?

CHENEY: I don’t have any idea. I don’t follow the polls.

My experience has been over the years that if you govern based upon poll numbers, upon trying to improve your overall poll ratings, people I’ve encountered who do that are people who won’t make tough decisions. And the job the president has and those who advise him is to make those basic fundamental decisions for the nation that nobody else is authorized or able to make.

In addition to his well-documented abuse of power and disregard for the rule of law, Cheney’s public disapproval ratings might be explained in part by his own personal disregard for the public. When told that two-thirds of Americans disapproved of the Iraq war, Cheney responded “so?,” adding that he didn’t care what the American people thought.

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"The Note" Embarrasses Itself on Obama/Blago non-issue

Media Matters' Eric Boehlert (via HuffPo) treats Jake Tapper's blog (ABC News), The Note, as it should be treated: like the sad joke that it is.

Doing its best to prop up the beyond soggy and now practically underwater Blago/Obama "scandal," The Note works feverishly to convince fellow journalists (news consumers are not the target audience here) that they didn't make fools of themselves hyping the non-story for weeks. That the released report showing Obama's team did nothing wrong simply vindicates the media's hyperventilating coverage.

The key takeaways from The Note's perspective seem to be that the press should feel good about its misleading work, and that the Obama team could have avoided the whole mess if it had simply confessed its sins. And oh yeah, this manufactured story's not over! It's going to "linger." (Sorta like Whitewater?)

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It's getting warm out there!

From Jed (via DKos):

Remember just a few days ago when the entire Flat Earth Society Conservative Establishment was gleefully cheering on the "heavy" snow to hit Las Vegas and other unlikely parts of the country?

You know how each and every last one of them prattled forth about how this wintertime snowfall proved that global warming was a hoax?

Well, you don't hear much from any them now that a rash of high temperatures is sweeping the country from the midwest to the southeast and threatening to unleash widespread flooding, do you?

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Who's Behind World Net Daily

If this kind of stuff interests you, ConWebWatch tries to get to the bottom of who's funding the lunatic clearing house & right-wing conspiracy shop, World Net Daily:

WorldNetDaily has been notoriously close-lipped about who its backers are. Back in 2002, ConWebWatch asked WND founder and editor Joseph Farah who owns his company and who put up the $4.5 million in startup money for it; he answered the first question (he and the Western Journalism Center he co-founded own a majority of it) but not the second.

In the face of Farah and WND refusing to offer a straight answer, we set off to find one. A ConWebWatch investigation of Delaware corporate records (WND is registered as a Delaware corporation) shows that the members of WND's board of directors -- many of whom have presumably kicked in money for the operation -- are, in contrast to Richard Mellon Scaife's backing of NewsMax, not household names; they are mostly California-based activists who quietly support conservative causes.

The exception to those quiet, California-based traits is Robert Beale, a Minnesota-based technology firm owner who sat on the WND board of directors from 2000 to 2002. As ConWebWatch has noted, the only mentions of Beale by WND came in an April 2002 column by Farah thanking him (and many others) by name as Farah prepared to move from Oregon to the Washington area "to become more visible," and in a June 2003 article by Art Moore detailing Beale's complaint that Minnesota officials seized his $3 million, 30-room house for back taxes. Beale insisted he was not a Minnesota resident at the time and doesn't owe the taxes, but he refused to fight the seizure in state tax court because he denies its legitimacy. The end of the article states: "By way of disclosure, Robert Beale is a board member and stockholder in WorldNetDaily.com."

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You’re Likable Enough, Gay People

Frank Rich calls out Barack Obama on the Rev. Wright Warren fiasco:

Barack Obama’s disingenuous defense of his tone-deaf invitation to the Rev. Rick Warren is an asterisk to the joyous inaugural of our first black president.


IN his first press conference after his re-election in 2004, President Bush memorably declared, “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” We all know how that turned out.


In this case, the capital spent is small change. Most Americans who have an opinion about Warren like him and his best-selling self-help tome, “The Purpose Driven Life.” His good deeds are plentiful on issues like human suffering in Africa, poverty and climate change. He is opposed to same-sex marriage, but so is almost every top-tier national politician, including Obama. Unlike such family-values ayatollahs as James Dobson and Tony Perkins, Warren is not obsessed with homosexuality and abortion. He was vociferously attacked by the Phyllis Schlafly gang when he invited Obama to speak about AIDS at his Saddleback Church two years ago.

There’s no reason why Obama shouldn’t return the favor by inviting him to Washington. But there’s a difference between including Warren among the cacophony of voices weighing in on policy and anointing him as the inaugural’s de facto pope. You can’t blame V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and an early Obama booster, for feeling as if he’d been slapped in the face. “I’m all for Rick Warren being at the table,” he told The Times, but “we’re talking about putting someone up front and center at what will be the most-watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation. And the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know.”

Warren, whose ego is no less than Obama’s, likes to advertise his “commitment to model civility in America.” But as Rachel Maddow of MSNBC reminded her audience, “comparing gay relationships to child abuse” is a “strange model of civility.” Less strange but equally hard to take is Warren’s defensive insistence that some of his best friends are the gays: His boasts of having “eaten dinner in gay homes” and loving Melissa Etheridge records will not protect any gay families’ civil rights.

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No one gives a shit

Jed sends a "Memo to Republican spinners, flacks, and concern trolls." I'd have added corp media hack to the his list of recipients (although he could have been including them in his all-purpose "concern trolls" label):

First of all, you're wrong. Obama won't be tainted. People have seen your stupid GOP tricks before, and they won't fall for them again. While you were busy talking about how "unfortunate" it is that the Blago mess drags on and on, President-elect Obama was busy dealing with the nation's real problems -- and racking up an 82% approval rating for having done so.

While you were disingenuously prattling forth about transparency in the wake of the most secretive administration in American history, Barack Obama was putting all the cards on the table, holding nothing back.

While you were dreaming of another Whitewater, Obama was becoming the most admired man in America. (And by the way, Hillary Clinton -- not Sarah Palin -- is the most admired woman in America.)

And most importantly of all, while you were busy doing everything possible to avoid discussing the fundamental economic challenges that we face, Barack Obama and his administration were busy working on a plan to start the recovery from the Bush Recession.

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National Poll: 75% of Americans glad that Bush is done

Ba Bye.

From CNN:
Seventy-five percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Friday said they're glad Bush is going; 23 percent indicated they'll miss him.

"Earlier this year, Bush scored some of the lowest presidential approval ratings we've seen in half a century, so it's understandable that the public is eager for a new president to step in," said Keating Holland, CNN polling director.

CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider added, "As President Bush prepares to leave office, the American public has a parting thought: Good riddance. At least that's the way three-quarters feel."
Some of the polls highlights:
40 percent call his presidency "poor"; 28 percent rate Bush the worst president ever
82 percent say he did not unite the country; 17 percent say he did
27 percent approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president; 72 percent disapprove
66 percent want him to get out of public life; 33 percent saying he should remain active
20 percent say Bush inspires confidence; 80 percent say he doesn't
13 percent brought the kind of change the country needed; 86percent says he didn't
37 percent say Bush was honest and trustworthy; 62 percent say not so much
25 percent say he managed the government effectively; 75 percent laugh at that thought

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RNC Candidate Distributes 'Barack The Magic Negro' in Christmas Gift

This asshole was Mike Huckabee's campaign manager.

From The Hill:

RNC candidate Chip Saltsman’s Christmas greeting to committee members includes a music CD with lyrics from a song called “Barack the Magic Negro,” first played on Rush Limbaugh’s popular radio show.

Saltsman, a personal friend of conservative satirist Paul Shanklin, sent a 41-track CD along with a note to national committee members.

“I look forward to working together in the New Year,” Saltsman wrote. “Please enjoy the enclosed CD by my friend Paul Shanklin of the Rush Limbaugh Show.”

The CD, called “We Hate the USA,” lampoons liberals with such songs as “John Edwards’ Poverty Tour,” “Wright place, wrong pastor,” “Love Client #9,” “Ivory and Ebony” and “The Star Spanglish banner.”

Several of the track titles, including “Barack the Magic Negro,” are written in bold font.

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More from Think Progress:

Last year, Rush Limbaugh came under intense criticism for repeatedly airing a parody song called “Barack the Magic Negro” by conservative satirist Paul Shanklin. The song, which dealt with Obama’s popularity amongst white voters, was widely attacked as being racist. Doing an Al Sharpton impersonation, Shanklin sings the song to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Limbaugh, however, tried to defend it as “creative” and “funny.” Listen to the song here:

Saltsman is refusing to apologize, telling CNN: “I think most people recognize political satire when they see it. I think RNC members understand that.”

Saltsman isn’t the only RNC candidate who has come under fire on race issues. South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson was a member of a whites-only country club until recently, when he withdrew his membership in order to lay the groundwork for his RNC candidacy.


Agencies' report warns of faster climate change

This isn't good. Of course, this is all 'just a hoax' and we'll just be fine if we simply ignore the science and listen to the Sen. Inholfes of the world.

From the LA Times:

Reporting from Washington -- The United States faces the possibility of much more rapid climate change by the end of the century than previous studies have suggested, according to a report led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The study, which was commissioned by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and issued this month, expands on the 2007 findings of the United Nations Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change. Looking at factors such as rapid sea ice loss in the Arctic and prolonged drought in the Southwest, the new assessment suggests that earlier projections may have underestimated the climatic shifts that could take place by 2100.


In one of the report's most worrisome findings, the agency estimates that in light of recent ice sheet melting, global sea levels could rise as much as 4 feet by 2100. The intergovernment panel had projected a rise of no more than 1.5 feet by that time, but satellite data over the last two years show the world's major ice sheets are melting much more rapidly than previously thought. The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are losing an average of 48 cubic miles of ice a year, equivalent to twice the amount of ice in the Alps.

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Eartha Kitt Dies of Cancer at 81 on Christmas

Rest in peace, Ms. Kitt.

(Photo h/t from AmericBlog - which also has some great videos)
Via Yahoo:

NEW YORK – Eartha Kitt, a sultry singer, dancer and actress who rose from South Carolina cotton fields to become an international symbol of elegance and sensuality, has died, a family spokesman said. She was 81.

Andrew Freedman said Kitt, who was recently treated at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, died Thursday in Connecticut of colon cancer.

Kitt, a self-proclaimed "sex kitten" famous for her catlike purr, was one of America's most versatile performers, winning two Emmys and nabbing a third nomination. She also was nominated for several Tonys and two Grammys.

Her career spanned six decades, from her start as a dancer with the famed Katherine Dunham troupe to cabarets and acting and singing on stage, in movies and on television. She persevered through an unhappy childhood as a mixed-race daughter of the South and made headlines in the 1960s for denouncing the Vietnam War during a visit to the White House.

Through the years, Kitt remained a picture of vitality and attracted fans less than half her age even as she neared 80.

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Report Criticizes Bush Admin for Borrowing to Fund Wars

This nightmare is going to continue long after the idiot-in-chief and his war-mongering puppet masters are long gone.

From Think Progress:

A new study recently released by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has found that the direct cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could reach as high as $1.7 trillion by 2018, despite forecasts of American disengagement from Iraq. But according to the report, the White House has “fudged the war’s true costs” by borrowing rather than funding the wars through the appropriations process:

The report also rapped the Bush administration’s paying for the wars through borrowing, rather than tax increases and spending cuts. That approach, it concluded, will lead to interest costs through 2018 that range from about $70 billion to as high as about $700 billion, depending on how much of the war funding came through bond sales.

If you want to go to war…we should probably pay for more of that war upfront rather than borrowing for it,” [defense budget expert and report author Steven] Kosiak said, because the public feels more of the war’s real burden through tax increases and spending cuts.

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Don't Buy from Bigots

Gives state-by-state lists of businesses that supported Prop 8 in California, so they can be avoided.

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Perhaps it's time for a new church -- the Church of Gay.

This is a humorous post by Andy, but it's actually a very good idea. I'd join (if I could figure out a way to get around that whole not-believing-in-an-almighty-God thing).

From DKos' AndyS In Colorado:

This will be a church and a religion with the following precepts (and ONLY the following precepts):
  1. "Sexual orientation is OK" -- to the Church of Gay, being gay (or straight, or bi, or just not interested, for that matter) is ok, and any disagreement with the above precept is sacrilege and heresy.
  1. The individual choice of marriage between any two consenting non-related adults is Holy. Those partaking of the Act are, by definition, Holy in the eyes of the Church of Gay.
  1. Discrimination or treating societally differently any person on the grounds of sexual orientation in any manner is an abomination.
  1. The existence or non-existence of a creator is beyond the bounds of Church of Gay philosophy.
First, we can demand immediate tax exempt status for all activities of the Church of Gay as any other Church. And, any funds disbursed for public referenda on gay rights would be tax exempt to the extent that such similar activities of the Mormon, Catholic, or any other Churches, would also be tax exempt for the Church of Gay...

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EXCLUSIVE: NEW new 'Star Trek' Trailer (with SPOCK!)

I get chill when I watch this.

From Ain't it Cool:

Through the generosity of J.J. & Company, and various Powers That Be at Paramount (THANK ALL OF YOU...very much...for making this possible), we thought we'd kick off your Thanksgiving/Christmas/Holiday season by dropping that little something extra into the trailer. This is pretty much the same material you saw before...but with one little tweak (which is also a rather big tweak).

See what I mean in...

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Historic 82% Approval Rating For Obama Transition Effort

This week (because of Rick Warren), I have to be counted somewhere in the other 18%. So disappointing. :-(

From CNN:

Eighty-two percent of those questioned in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Wednesday morning approve of the way the Obama is handling his presidential transition. That's up 3 points from when we asked this question at the beginning of December. Fifteen percent of those surveyed disapprove of the way Obama's handling his transition, down 3 points from our last poll.

The 82 percent approval is higher than then President-elect George W. Bush 8 years ago, who had a 65 percent transition approval rating, and Bill Clinton, at 67 percent in 1992.

"Barack Obama is having a better honeymoon with the American public than any incoming president in the past three decades. He's putting up better numbers, usually by double digits, than Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, or either George Bush on every item traditionally measured in transition polls," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The poll also suggests that the public approves of the President-elect's cabinet nominees, with 56 percent of those questioned saying Obama's appointments have been outstanding or above average, with 32 percent feeling the picks have been average, and 11 percent saying Obama's choices have been below average or poor.

That 56 percent figure is 18 points higher than those who said then President-elect Bush's cabinet appointments were outstanding or above average and 26 points higher than those who felt the same way about then President-elect Clinton's nominees.

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Hate the GOP? Blame Orange County

From Gustavo Arellano (also at The Daily Beast):

It seems like the roots of every Republican blunder can be traced to this sunny Southern California hamlet.


Orange County has long been a political Eden in GOP circles, the place Ronald Reagan once described as “where all the good Republicans go to die.” The conservative notches on our belt do indeed bolster the Great Communicator’s quip: this is where the Goldwater revolution most fervently took hold. Years after his 1964 electoral embarrassment, the Arizona Senator proudly boasted that he carried five states “and Orange County.” This is where Reagan found the foot soldiers that propelled him to California's gubernatorial office in 1966 and beyond. Here, the Lincoln Club (according to its website, “the largest and most active political club in the United States”) raises millions of dollars from Orange County’s business community to make or break politicians. Both Fred Thompson and Charlie Crist saw their White House ambitions fail after lukewarm receptions from the club, while Arnold Schwarzenegger found the support needed to make the jump from actor to governor. These suburbs birthed Nixon and his Southern Strategy, served as a testing ground for the 1990s culture wars, and currently boast some of the largest and richest base-rallying Christian megachurches.


One of fundamental Christianity's primary financiers resides here: Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr., who has used his multimillions to fund the schism in the Episcopal Church over ordaining gay bishops, creation institutes, and has personally donated $900,000 to Proposition 8, the noxious California ballot initiative that would repeal gay marriage in the Golden State.


...Orange County has emerged from the long, liberal shadow of Los Angeles to assert its own civic identity. The problem is that Orange County’s reputation betrays its reality: the politics that succeed in our land of milk and Mickey are downright toxic when practiced on a national scale.

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How Rick Warren Became a Media Darling in Spite of Himself

From Max Blumenthal over at The Daily Beast:

Warren’s acknowledgment of climate change, his reputation for open mindedness and his calm manner enabled him to draw both Obama and John McCain in August to his Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency, where he sequentially questioned the candidates on their faith. Warren’s stature was never higher than on that day. He was ascendant as the 21st century version of Billy Graham, pastor to presidents, minister of the national soul, but moving away from the hard right.

But his tolerant image is belied by what he says on Sunday.

A week before Election Day, here is what “America’s Pastor” told the 22,000 members of his Saddleback Church in Orange County: “Here’s an interesting thing: there are about 2% of Americans [who] are homosexual, gay, lesbian people. We should not let two percent of the population determine—to change a definition of marriage that has been supported by every single culture and every single religion for 5,000 years. This is not even just a Christian issue, it is a humanitarian and human issue, that God created marriage for the purpose of family, love and procreation. I urge you to support Proposition 8 and to pass that on.”

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Warren Endorsed Anti-Gay Laws Worse Than WWII Third Reich

But. But. But. Warren's a 'moderate!"

From Bruce Wilson (vis HuffPo):

Many sharp journalists, such as Michelle Goldberg, Sarah Posner and Max Blumenthal, are cranking their talents into exposing the angry underbelly beneath Rick Warren's carefully airbrushed and polished public persona. And, a number of political bloggers [1, 2, 3] have noted Rick Warren's support for the virulently anti-gay Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, but the story has lacked some needed historical context; In 2006, Warren publicly lionized (literally) Akinola three months after the Archbishop had endorsed legislation more draconian than comparable anti-gay statutes passed prior to World War Two under the Third Reich. .

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Bush signs law protecting retirement savings for gay couples

The idiot-in-chief did whaaaaaat?! This one's left me scratching my head.

From Think Prgroess:

Yesterday, Bush signed into law the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 (WRERA), requiring employers to allow employees to roll their retirement plans over to nonspouse partners. The Human Rights Campaign hailed the bill for allowing gay couples to share benefits:

PPA [Pension Protection Act of 2006] made it possible for employers to allow any nonspouse beneficiary of an employee’s retirement plan—including an employee’s same-sex partner—to roll inherited retirement benefits directly to an individual retirement account (IRA) and avoid immediate taxation. WRERA requires that all employers provide this rollover opportunity to nonspouse beneficiaries.

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Minnesota Supremes Shoot Down Coleman. Franken Win Likely.

Good news from TPM's Eric Kleefeld. It's almost over. The Minnesota Senate battle is just about over and it ain't looking to good for rethug sleazebag, Norm Coleman:

Norm Coleman just got a Christmas present from the Minnesota Supreme Court: A giant lump of coal.

In a unanimous decision handed down just now, the state Supremes denied Coleman any relief in a lawsuit he was waging to deal with allegations of double-counted absentee ballots, which his campaign says have given an illegitimate edge to Al Franken. The Coleman campaign was seeking to switch 25 selected precincts back to their Election Night totals, which would undo all of Franken's recount gains in those areas and put Coleman back in the lead.


Simply put, Coleman is in very big trouble right now. With Al Franken leading by 47 votes, this lawsuit was Coleman's best shot at coming from behind. And it just failed, making a Franken win nearly a foregone conclusion when this recount finishes up in early January.

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Here' what Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight had to say about it:
In a brief, unanimous decision handed out earlier this afternoon, the Minnesota Supreme Court denied Norm Coleman's request to prevent certification of the recount until claims regarding alleged double-counted ballots are resolved. Nor will it require any further efforts from the counties in pursuit of such ballots.

The Court decided simply that Coleman hadn't presented enough evidence, essentially challenging him to contest the election if he could come back with more. As we pointed out yesterday, while it is nearly guaranteed that there were at least some instances of double-counting, the same discrepancies could be explained by other phenomena, an Coleman's case relied on what might could best be described as circumstantial evidence.

It now appears almost certain that Al Franken will be certified by the state as the winner of the election at some point in early January. Although Franken's lead over Coleman is narrow -- 46 votes -- the only substantial group of ballots remaining to be counted are rejected absentees. But both campaigns have been operating under the assumption that those absentee ballots are more likely to add to Franken's margin than subtract from it.

Coleman's attorneys, however, have strongly hinted that he will be back in court to contest Franken's victory if and when that result is certified.
UPDATE: Coleman On Franken Victory: We'll Sue

Coleman's attorneys, who said the campaign was "deeply disappointed" by the decision, added that it virtually guaranteed the recount would end in litigation and delay the seating of a Minnesota senator past Jan. 6, when the next Congress convenes.

"This is close enough so that inevitably as a result of this decision, either party is going to be filing a lawsuit," said Fritz Knaak, Coleman's lead attorney for the recount.

Rick Warren Doubles Down

If you didn't catch this, watch it now. It's truly unbelievable.

Via Jed:

Via John Aravosis at AMERICAblog, Rick Warren is doubling down and accusing his critics of "hate-speech" and "Christophobia."

Rachel Maddow has the video, and takes Warren to task for the hypocrisy of saying that it's unfair to call his views hateful while simultaneously accusing his critics of hate speech. Moreover, as Rachel notes, Warren flat-out lies about his comments comparing gay marriage to pedophilia and incest.

Setting aside Warren's role as inaugural invocation speaker (for a brief moment), I don't think there's any way to defend what he is now saying. I accept the proposition that it's possible to disagree on the issue of gay marriage without calling someone names.

But there's really no comparison between gay marriage and incest or pedophilia, and if Warren thinks they are equivalent, he's either a fan of incest and pedophilia, or he has serious problem with gay people. And calling his critics "Christophobes" just makes matters worse.

A simple apology from Warren for having made the comparison probably would have made this whole controversy go away. But now he's doubling down, and it's just making matters worse.

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