Barack Obama, the first black president, proved to millions this year that he is either trying his best to lead the nation during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, or he is the modern-day incarnation of Adolph Hitler. One of the two.
In 2010, Obama made a number of political compromises while still trying to pursue many of the reforms laid out during his 2008 campaign. Also, he was a totalitarian monster comparable to the perpetrator of one of the worst genocides in history. He is either a president who passed a comprehensive health care measure despite staunch opposition from powerful private interests, or a radical-Islamist sympathizer bent on systematically dismantling American democracy and eradicating all human liberty. He either lowered taxes for most Americans while failing to communicate that effectively, or he is pure evil. Whichever.
Barack Obama, two of the most important people of 2010: the one who was elected to be president of the United States and execute laws to the best of his ability, and the one who murders senior citizens and hates all white people. Only history will say which he is for sure.
A letter from about 30 prominent rabbis’ wives was causing a stir in Israel Wednesday because it urges Israeli girls not to date Arabs.
The open letter comes three weeks after the uproar caused by another letter, which was written by 50 state-appointed rabbis and told Jews not to rent or sell property to non-Jews.
The latest missive, which was published by some websites and news outlets, says Arab men act polite around Jewish girls and “act as if they really care about you,” but it says that’s a ruse. The men, it says, even change their Arab names to Hebrew forms like Yossi and Ami in order to get close to the girls.
"This behavior is temporary," the letter says. "As soon as you are in their hands, in their villages under their control, everything becomes different. You can ask dozens of girls who have been there. They will tell you it is all an act.
"As soon as you arrive at the village, your life will never be the same. The attention will be replaced with curses, beatings, and humiliations. Even if you want to leave the village it will be much harder. They won’t let you, they will chase you, they won’t let you come back."
It urges Jewish girls not to go out with non-Jews or work in places that employ non-Jews.
"Your grandmothers never dreamt that their descendants would do something that will take the next generations of her family out of the Jewish people," it says.
Physically, too, he is funny- never more so than when indulging his passion for eccentric exercise. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge has been heard yelling irritably at a portly object swaying in the sky, “Theodore! if you knew how ridiculous you look on top of that tree, you would come down at once.” On winter evenings in Rock Creek Park, strollers may observe the President of the United States wading pale and naked into the ice-clogged stream, followed by shivering members of his Cabinet. Thumping noises in the White House library indicate that Roosevelt is being thrown around the room by a Japanese wrestler; a particularly seismic crash, which makes the entire mansion tremble, signifies that Secretary Taft has been forced to join in the fun.
Mark Twain is not alone in thinking the President insane. Tales of Roosevelt’s unpredictable behavior are legion, although there is usually an explanation. Once, for instance, he hailed a hansom cab on Pennsylvania Avenue, seized the horse, and mimed a knife attack upon it. On another occasion he startled the occupants of a trolley-car by making hideous faces at them from the Presidential carriage. It transpires that in the former case he was demonstrating to a companion the correct way to stab a wolf; in the latter he was merely returning the grimaces of some small boys.
• The United States spends nearly as much on military power as every other country in the world combined, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It says that we spend more than six times as much as the country with the next highest budget, China.
• The United States maintains troops at more than 560 bases and other sites abroad, many of them a legacy of a world war that ended 65 years ago. Do we fear that if we pull our bases from Germany, Russia might invade? • The intelligence community is so vast that more people have “top secret” clearance than live in Washington, D.C.
• The U.S. will spend more on the war in Afghanistan this year, adjusting for inflation, than we spent on the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War combined.
This is the one area where elections scarcely matter. President Obama, a Democrat who symbolized new directions, requested about 6 percent more for the military this year than at the peak of the Bush administration.
The truth is that military power often isn’t very effective at solving modern problems, like a nuclear North Korea or an Iran that is on the nuclear path. Indeed, in an age of nationalism, our military force is often counterproductive.
After the first gulf war, the United States retained bases in Saudi Arabia on the assumption that they would enhance American security. Instead, they appear to have provoked fundamentalists like Osama bin Laden into attacking the U.S. In other words, hugely expensive bases undermined American security (and we later closed them anyway). Wouldn’t our money have been better spent helping American kids get a college education?
The filibuster is something of an historical accident. Until 1917, the Senate tended to operate by informal majoritarian rule. Senators could filibuster, but did so sparingly and with a different strategic objective than they do today: to gauge the intensity of the majority’s commitment to a bill, which, if it was strong enough, usually meant the bill could pass. But as the Senate’s workload increased, it became necessary to develop a way to end a filibuster. This led, in 1917, to the cloture rule for cutting off debate so the Senate could proceed to other business. Today, the rules require “three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn” — usually 60 of 100 — to invoke cloture, which means that as few as 41 senators can bring the process to a stop.
For the past two years, the Republican minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has used the filibuster more often, and more effectively, than any of his predecessors. He has compiled a remarkable track record — Democrats would call it shameful — of holding together the 41 Republican senators, and thereby thwarting or delaying nearly every Democratic initiative. And that’s not all: last year, an extension of unemployment benefits that eventually passed 98-0 was forced to surmount three filibusters over the course of five weeks. Republicans have even blocked votes on judicial nominees offered up by fellow Republicans. All of this serves as a way to paralyze the Senate and frustrate the Democratic majority. For historical context, Lyndon Johnson presided over a single cloture vote in his three terms as Senate majority leader. This Congress has so far required 87.
The tax deal reached between President Obama and congressional Republicans could mean a higher tax bill for roughly one in three workers as a result of the Social Security tax cut Republicans pushed as a replacement for the current Making Work Pay tax credit.
The Making Work Pay credit gives workers up to $400, paid out at 8 percent of income, meaning that anybody making at least $5,000 gets the full amount — and gets as much as anybody else. Its replacement knocks two percentage points off the payroll tax cut, meaning a worker would need to make $20,000 to get a $400 break. Of the nation’s roughly 150 million workers, around 50 million make less than $20,000 and will see at least some increase as a result.
“Tragedy comes in threes. Pearl Harbor, Elizabeth Edwards’s passing and Barack Obama’s announcement of extending the tax cuts, which is good, but also extending the unemployment benefits.”—Christine O’Donnell on tragedy. (via thenewrepublic)
In the Irvine case, Monteilh’s mission as an informant backfired. Muslims were so alarmed by his talk of violent jihad that they obtained a restraining order against him.
He had helped build a terrorism-related case against a mosque member, but that also collapsed. The Justice Department recently took the extraordinary step of dropping charges against the worshiper, who Monteilh had caught on tape agreeing to blow up buildings, law enforcement officials said. Prosecutors had portrayed the man as a dire threat.
Compounding the damage, Monteilh has gone public, revealing secret FBI methods and charging that his “handlers” trained him to entrap Muslims as he infiltrated their mosques, homes and businesses. He is now suing the FBI.
On the evening before the holiday of Thanksgiving, with well over a quarter-million American troops stationed around the globe in over 150 nations and territories, with the nation’s budget buckling under the strain of supporting our military obligations, and with tensions on the Korean peninsula arguably higher than at any time since the armistice of 1953, it seems as apt a time as any to ask ourselves: Is it all worth it? Does the United States really benefit from serving as the primary guarantor of security across vast swaths of the globe? There are no easy answers to these questions. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be asked.
“Our program covers all categories of disabilities — mobility, hearing, visual and hidden," the TSA says on its website. "As part of that program, we established a coalition of over 70 disability-related groups and organizations to help us understand the concerns of persons with disabilities and medical conditions.”—
For example, Chief Justice John Roberts in a public employee privacy case before the court earlier this year tried to figure out the role of a text-messaging service in enabling an exchange between two people.
"I thought, you know, you push a button; it goes right to the other thing," Roberts said. Responded Justice Antonin Scalia: "You mean it doesn’t go right to the other thing?"
The report by The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) policy think-tank showed 92 percent of 1,000 Afghan men surveyed in Helmand and Kandahar know nothing of the hijacked airliner attacks on U.S. targets in 2001.
"The lack of awareness of why we are there contributes to the high levels of negativity toward the NATO military operations and made the job of the Taliban easier," ICOS President Norine MacDonald told Reuters from Washington.
“The President of the United States can unilaterally order the assassination of an American citizen, but needs the cooperation of opposition party Senators to get an Assistant Secretary of Commerce or a US Marshall in office.”—Yglesias » Living in America
In July 2009, after a cliff-hanger of an election and an ugly court battle over the results, Al Franken finally arrived in the United States Senate. Eager to lay the groundwork for legislative accomplishments, the author of Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot looked for common ground with his new GOP colleagues. In the case of Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, that common ground was music. In addition to his senatorial career, Hatch is a prolific songwriter—he has written odes to John McCain, America, Hanukkah, and Princess Diana, among other subjects—and so Franken approached him and asked to hear a few tunes. Hatch played a recording of a song called “Headed Home,” which was written before his close friend Ted Kennedy died and had a metaphor about sailing into the ocean. “It was obvious what that was about, and I began to tear up a bit,” Franken told me. Then Hatch played a sad song in which an American wife entreats her husband, a soldier in Kandahar, to “Come Home.” “The waterworks started,” Franken recalled. “I’m a crier.”
Despite a stubbornly sour national economy congressional members’ personal wealth collectively increased by more than 16 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to a new study by the Center for Responsive Politics of federal financial disclosures released earlier this year.
And while some members’ financial portfolios lost value, no need to bemoan most lawmakers’ financial lot: Nearly half of them — 261 — are millionaires, a slight increase from the previous year, the Center’s study finds. That compares to about 1 percent of Americans who lay claim to the same lofty fiscal status.
And of these congressional millionaires, 55 have an average calculated wealth in 2009 of $10 million or more, with eight in the $100 million-plus range.
Here is our normal: 40 percent of North American adults have metabolic syndrome. The syndrome is caused by being fat, even at levels North Americans would not recognize as abnormal. Obesity prompts the receptors that insulin acts upon to become numb to its effects. As we grow fatter, and insulin resistance proceeds, higher and higher levels of insulin are necessary to get the sugar out of the blood. Eventually, overt diabetes may supervene, as it has for 8 percent of North American adults, a tenfold increase since the turn of the last century. But even prior to the development of diabetes, metabolic syndrome insidiously eats away at the bodies of those it affects.
“Today, Senate Republicans voted unanimously against legislation to close the pay gap between women and men. The Senate voted 58-41 against allowing debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help end discriminatory pay practices against women. It had already passed the House.”—
Tea party critics won’t be surprised to hear that 61 percent of people who identify with the movement said discrimination against whites “is as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.” (White evangelicals also saw doors slamming in the faces of white people, with 57 percent agreeing that discrimination against people like themselves was equal to that against minorities.) That view was shared by only 28 percent of Democrats and about half of independents. Republicans were closer to the tea party on that question, with 56 percent agreeing that discrimination against whites is a big problem.
Just as tea partiers think claims of discrimination against minorities are overrated, they also believe by a 6 in 10 margin that the government has paid too much attention to them—and to women’s problems, too. While most Americans, according to the survey, believe that discrimination is still a significant problem for women, more than 58 percent of tea partiers think that women no longer face discrimination in the US.
Tea partiers are no fans of Islam; 66 percent of them said that Islam is at odds with American values. Three-quarters of them also believe that their God has granted the U.S. a special role in the world, a view that makes them much more inclined than other Americans to say that torture is justified in some cases.
“And, you know, politics aside, the success of Sarah Palin and women like her is good for all women — except, of course, those who will end up, you know, like, paying for their own rape kit ‘n’ stuff. But for everybody else, it’s a win-win. Unless you’re a gay woman who wants to marry your partner of 20 years. Whatever. But for most women, the success of conservative women is good for all of us. Unless you believe in evolution. You know, actually, I take it back. The whole thing’s a disaster.”—the missing portion of Tina Fey’s acceptance speech, which was snipped by PBS from last night’s broadcast of the Mark Twain Prize ceremony. (via washingtonpoststyle)