Spaceships for Obama.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

These "superhuman black men" will be coming on October 31st to support Barack Obama, according to Prophet Yahweh, Seer of Yahweh, Master UFO Caller.

He claims that these space beings are the Angels of Yahweh, the Creator of all things. And, they are talking to him, on a daily basis, via a sophisticated form of telepathic, non-verbal, none-talk, brain-to-brain communication. Most of the time, when they contact him, he is asleep.

Further, he notes that: 'Unless I am misinterpreting my visions, it's very likely that Yahweh's angels are going to descend down from space, in one of their spaceships, on two different occasions, in a different, single ship, each time, and hover over my school, in Las Vegas, NV for three days so the media can film them.'

When asked why the spaceships will appear, Prophet boldly says that:

One of the many reasons why they will do this is to show support for Presidential candidate Barack Obama. This will be done so people will know that Obama is the best choice to lead America through the troublesome times to come.

However, he admits he might off about the date and the details. But really, they're going to help Obama save the USA from Iran and Russia.  Video of Prophet Yaweh below:

You can't make this stuff up.

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I Heart Digby.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

Video from the Gala Dinner at Take Back America 2007 in Washington, DC - June 19, 2007

That is all.

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"Come back to work -- and life."

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

Today the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz is reporting that Fox News has hired former New York Times reporter Judith Miller as an on-air analyst and to write stories for Fox's website.

Miller, one of many of the sales team for the Iraq war, was a key player in pushing false intelligence that led the public into the Iraq war and was central to the Valerie Plame leak scandal.

As Think Progress notes:

On Sept. 7, 2002, she and fellow New York Times reporter Michael Gordon reported that Iraq had "stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb." As proof, she cited unnamed "American intelligence experts" and unnamed "Bush administration officials." Subsequently, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Donald Rumsfeld all pointed to Miller's story as justification for war. On April 22, 2003, she told PBS's Newshour that WMD had already been found in Iraq: "Well, I think they found something more than a 'smoking gun.'"

In 2005, Miller went to jail for refusing to testify in the Valerie Plame scandal and reveal her conversations with Scooter Libby. Miller was often criticized for becoming too close with her Bush administration sources. While she was in jail, for example, Libby wrote to her about how much he admired her and urged her to "Come back to work -- and life."

Yep - Miller is nothing if not controversial.

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Order of Canada...

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

After the culmination of months of heated debate, today in Quebec City, Dr. Henry Morgentaler received the Order of Canada.  The Order of Canada, the highest civilian honour in the country, recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement and dedication to community.

In a statement released Thursday, Governor General Michaëlle Jean said that Morgentaler has had "a major impact" on Canadian public policy.  "A Holocaust survivor, he has not hesitated to put himself at risk in his determined drive to increase health-care options for Canadian women," the statement reads.

"He has been a catalyst for change and important debate, influencing public policy nationwide. He has heightened awareness of women's reproductive health issues among medical professionals and the Canadian public."

After it was announced in July that it would bestow the award on Morgentaler, some past recipients, angry at the decision, gave back their medals in protest.  `If the majority have decided this is OK and a good thing, the minority has to accept it and understand that not all laws and rights will agree with our own personal beliefs.'  Jean said.  Among those who returned their medals were Montreal Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, former New Brunswick lieutenant-governor Gilbert Finn and B.C. priest Lucien Larré.

Born in Poland in 1923, Morgentaler and is a Holocaust survivor that lived in the Łódź ghetto until 1944, after which he was detained and sent to Auschwitz.  Morgentaler immigrated to Canada from Poland after the Second World War and opened a clinic in Montreal in 1969, where he performed thousands of what were then illegal abortions.

Morgentaler gave up his family practice and began openly performing illegal abortions in his private clinic in 1968. At the time abortion was illegal except for cases in which continuing a pregnancy threatened the life of the pregnant woman. On August 26, 1969, an amendment to the Criminal Code legalized abortion in Canada if performed in a hospital after approval of a Therapeutic Abortion Committee which was a three-doctor hospital abortion committee.  Morgentaler's abortions remained illegal under that new law; they became legal in January 1988 as section 251 of the Criminal Code (now known as section 287) was found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada.

A family physician, Morgentaler argued that access to abortion was a basic human right and that women should not have to risk death in order to end their pregnancies. Morgentaler's clinics were often raided by police, and one in Toronto was firebombed.

Morgentaler was arrested several times and spent months in jail as he fought his case at all court levels in Canada.

"Canada is one of the few places in the world where freedom of speech and choice prevail in a truly democratic fashion," he said, reading from a statement.  I'm proud to have been given this opportunity coming from a war-torn Europe to realize my potential and my dream - that is to create a better and more humane society."

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Feh. [UPDATED]

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

Last week the government owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) pulled the column"A Mighty Wind Blows Through the Republican Convention" by writer Heather Mallick. Written on September 5, the article in question goes after Sarah Palin and crosses a line that does way beyond political analysis and refers to Palin's supporters as "white trash".

Some of Mallick's more incendiary comments include:

"It's possible that Republican men, sexual inadequates that they are, really believe that women will vote for a woman just because she's a woman."

"Palin has a toned-down version of the porn actress look favoured by this decade's woman, the overtreated hair, puffy lips and permanently alarmed expression. Bristol has what is known in Britain as the look of the teen mum, the "pramface." Husband Todd looks like a roughneck; Track, heading off to Iraq, appears terrified. They claim to be family obsessed while being studiously terrible at parenting. What normal father would want Levi "I'm a fuckin' redneck" Johnson prodding his daughter?"

"I know that I have an attachment to children that verges on the irrational, but why don't the Palins? I'm not the one preaching homespun values but I'd destroy that ratboy before I'd let him get within scenting range of my daughter again, and so would you. Palin's e-mails about the brother-in-law she tried to get fired as a state trooper are fizzing with rage and revenge. Turn your guns on Levi, ma'am."

On September 28, CBC publisher John Cruickshank issued an apology stating "we erred in our judgment".

More than 300 people have taken the trouble this month to complain to the CBC ombudsman about a column we ran on CBCNews.ca about Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Sept. 5.

The column, by award-winning freelance writer Heather Mallick, was also pilloried by The National Post in Canada and by Fox News in the U.S. Despite its age -- it is three weeks old, several lifetimes in web years -- this posting remains a subject of fascination in the blogosphere.

Vince Carlin, the CBC ombudsman, has now issued his assessment of the Mallick column. He doesn't fault her for riling readers by either the caustic nature of her tone or the polarizing nature of her opinion.

But he objects that many of her most savage assertions lack a basis in fact. And he is certainly correct.

Mallick's column is a classic piece of political invective. It is viciously personal, grossly hyperbolic and intensely partisan.

And because it is all those things, this column should not have appeared on the CBCNews.ca site.

After Mallick's column began to garner attention both online and on Fox News, Greta Van Susteren, the host of "On the Record," condemned the column as "beyond vicious" and during the segment repeatedly referred to Mallick as "a pig." 

I guess hate begets hate...  On a brighter note, CBC included a journalistic pledge in its report that is promising.

We failed you in this case. And as a result we have put new editing procedures in place to insure that in the future, work that is not appropriate for our platforms, will not appear. We are open to contentious reasoned argument but not to partisan attack. It's a fine line. Ombudsman Carlin makes another significant observation in his response to complainants: when it does choose to print opinion, CBCNews.ca displays a very narrow range on its pages.

In this, Carlin is also correct. This, too, is being immediately addressed. CBCNews.ca will soon expand the diversity of voices and opinions and be home to a diverse group of writers with many perspectives. In this, we will better reflect the depth and texture of this country. We erred in our editorial judgment. You told us in no uncertain terms. And we have learned from it.

No wonder I have been spending less time online.

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Arnold Vetoes Bill Honouring LGBT Icon.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

Yesterday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that "would have made the birthday of LGBT political icon Harvey Milk a statewide `day of significance.'" Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated in 1978.

Schwarzenegger, who opposes efforts to ban same-sex marriage in the state, explained his veto by saying that he believes Milk should "be recognized at the local level." The AP notes that conservative groups had lobbied the governor to oppose the measure:

In his veto message issued Tuesday, the governor said that while he respected the measure's intent, he thinks Milk's "contributions should continue to be recognized at the local level."

Conservative groups had lobbied Schwarzenegger not to sign the legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Leno of San Francisco.

Milk, was the first openly gay man to hold a prominent political office in America. In November, Gus Van Sant's upcoming biopic of the icon will be released.  Click here to watch the trailer.

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Compulsory Turnout?

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

With the ever increasing partisan divide and voter participation rates steady at about 50% to 60% in presidential contests, the key to winning in general elections is turnout.  And the key to success is turning out one's ideological base.  Whichever party does a better job getting its base to the polls reaps the rewards of majority status.  And what's the best way to get the base to show up at the voting booth? Focus on divisive issues that underscore the differences between the parties.  

It has been suggested that compulsory voting may influence the focus of a campaign towards swinging voters, with candidates and political parties trying to win the votes of the undecided, rather than motivating their "base" supporters to the polls. Thus it could be argued that politicians might adopt more centrist and less extreme policies in order to appeal to the relatively small group of swinging voters, rather than to their broader base constituencies.

Over twenty countries in the world including Singapore, Cyprus, Greece, Austria and Belgium, have forms of mandatory voting which require their citizens to register to vote and to go to their polling place or vote on election day.  However one of the most well-known compulsory voting systems is in Australia.

All eligible Australian citizens over the age of 18 must be registered to vote and show up at the poll on election day. Those who do not vote are subject to fines although those who are incapable of voting on election day can have their fines waived.

Compulsory voting in Australia was adopted in the province of Queensland in 1915 and subsequently adopted nationwide in 1924. With Australia's compulsory voting system, there is additional flexibility built in for the voter - elections are held on Saturdays, absent voters can vote in any state polling place, and voters in remote areas can vote before an election (at pre-polling voting centers) or via mail.  

Voter turnout of those registered to vote in Australia was as low as 47% prior to the 1924 compulsory voting law. In the decades since 1924, voter turnout has hovered around 94% to 96%.  In 1924, Australian officials felt that compulsory voting would eliminate voter apathy. However, compulsory voting now has its detractors. In their Fact Sheet on Voting, the Australian Electoral Commission provides some arguments in favor and against compulsory voting.

Some arguments in favour of compulsory voting:

-Voting is a civic duty comparable to other duties citizens perform (e.g. taxation, compulsory education, or jury duty).
-Government reflects more accurately the "will of the electorate."
-Governments must consider the total electorate in policy formulation and management.
-Candidates can concentrate their campaigning energies on issues rather than encouraging voters to attend the poll.
-Voter are not actually compelled to vote for anyone because voting is by secret ballot.

Some arguments against compulsory voting:

-It is undemocratic to force people to vote - an infringement of liberty.
-The "ignorant" and those with little interest in politics are forced to the polls.
-It may increase the number of spoiled votes.
-It increases the number of safe, single-member electorates - political parties then concentrate on the more marginal electorates.
-Resources must be allocated to determine whether those who failed to vote have "valid and sufficient" reasons.

Advocates of compulsory voting might argue that such a system has a higher degree of representation, and that low voter participation in a voluntary election is in itself an expression of the citizenry's political will and could indicate satisfaction with the political establishment in an electorate.

Either way, with compulsory voting general political apathy is harder to find and that's always a good thing.

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What Makes People Vote Republican?

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

Why in particular do working class and rural Americans usually vote for pro-business Republicans when their economic interests would seem better served by Democratic policies?  Jonathan Haidt, an associate professor of moral psychology at the University of Virginia, examines why.  With the seemingly return of the culture wars and general hate being flung from across both sides of the aisle in recent days, this essay might be intriguing to some.

For my dissertation research, I made up stories about people who did things that were disgusting or disrespectful yet perfectly harmless. For example, what do you think about a woman who can't find any rags in her house so she cuts up an old American flag and uses the pieces to clean her toilet, in private? Or how about a family whose dog is killed by a car, so they dismember the body and cook it for dinner? I read these stories to 180 young adults and 180 eleven-year-old children, half from higher social classes and half from lower, in the USA and in Brazil. I found that most of the people I interviewed said that the actions in these stories were morally wrong, even when nobody was harmed. Only one group--college students at Penn--consistently exemplified Turiel's definition of morality and overrode their own feelings of disgust to say that harmless acts were not wrong. (A few even praised the efficiency of recycling the flag and the dog).

This research led me to two conclusions. First, when gut feelings are present, dispassionate reasoning is rare. In fact, many people struggled to fabricate harmful consequences that could justify their gut-based condemnation. I often had to correct people when they said things like "it's wrong because... um...eating dog meat would make you sick" or "it's wrong to use the flag because... um... the rags might clog the toilet." These obviously post-hoc rationalizations illustrate the philosopher David Hume's dictum that reason is "the slave of the passions, and can pretend to no other office than to serve and obey them." This is the first rule of moral psychology: feelings come first and tilt the mental playing field on which reasons and arguments compete. If people want to reach a conclusion, they can usually find a way to do so. The Democrats have historically failed to grasp this rule, choosing uninspiring and aloof candidates who thought that policy arguments were forms of persuasion.

The second conclusion was that the moral domain varies across cultures. Turiel's description of morality as being about justice, rights, and human welfare worked perfectly for the college students I interviewed at Penn, but it simply did not capture the moral concerns of the less elite groups--the working-class people in both countries who were more likely to justify their judgments with talk about respect, duty, and family roles. ("Your dog is family, and you just don't eat family.") From this study I concluded that the anthropologist Richard Shweder was probably right in a 1987 critique of Turiel in which he claimed that the moral domain (not just specific rules) varies by culture. Drawing on Shweder's ideas, I would say that the second rule of moral psychology is that morality is not just about how we treat each other (as most liberals think); it is also about binding groups together, supporting essential institutions, and living in a sanctified and noble way.

When Republicans say that Democrats "just don't get it," this is the "it" to which they refer. Conservative positions on gays, guns, god, and immigration must be understood as means to achieve one kind of morally ordered society. When Democrats try to explain away these positions using pop psychology they err, they alienate, and they earn the label "elitist." But how can Democrats learn to see--let alone respect--a moral order they regard as narrow-minded, racist, and dumb?

In today's New York Times, In No Laughing Matter Judith Warner adds:

Haidt has conducted research in which liberals and conservatives were asked to project themselves into the minds of their opponents and answer questions about their moral reasoning. Conservatives, he said, prove quite adept at thinking like liberals, but liberals are consistently incapable of understanding the conservative point of view. "Liberals feel contempt for the conservative moral view, and that is very, very angering. Republicans are good at exploiting that anger," he told me in a phone interview.

Haidt also explores the meaning of morality and describes his experiences in a Hindu community in the early 90's, in which a he witnessed a hierarchical society with clearly defined gender and class roles. This gave him insight into why some in his own country might be attracted to similarly ordered social structures.

It really is a good read and I think helpful to framing the conversation in the upcoming weeks.

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What The Hell Is Going On?

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

A new Gallup poll suggests the RNC post-convention bump may now be affecting down ticket congressional races.

Today's released USA Today/Gallup poll posting generic Democratic or Republican candidates, show a Democrats' double-digit ballot lead shrinking to just 48% to 45%, within the 3% margin of error.

That is a dramatic shift from a consistently shown a strong advantage for Democrats throughout most of the year (actually Democrats have led in the Gallup generic ballot measure since early 2004)

More startling is the Republicans' new advantage among likely voters. While the Democrats lead by 3 among registered voters, likely voters say they will vote for a generic Republican candidate over a generic Democrat by a 50-45 margin.  Prior to the DNC convention, this number favoured the Democrats by a 51-42 margin.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll conducted over the same span also showed a 3% gap, 49-46, while other polls from this week have seen the generic ballot narrowing but still clearly favouring Democrats by 7 or 8...

Now while these results come from a September 5-7 survey conducted immediately after the Republican National Convention - what the hell is going on?

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For Shame.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

It's been roughly 10 hours and 30 minutes since John McCain announced his VP pick Sarah Palin.  Since that time - I think its safe to say that the American public and particularly the media and blogosphere have been chomping at the bit to get their sexist rocks off.

As shakesville says:

We defend Sarah Palin against misogynist smears not because we endorse her or her politics, but because that's how feminism works.  For the record, there is plenty about which to criticize Palin that has absolutely fuck-all to do with her sex. She's anti-choice, against marriage equality, pro-death penalty, pro-guns, and loves Big Business. (In other words, she's a Republican.) There's no goddamned reason to criticize her for anything but her policies.

And as DoctorScience says - The biggest single danger of Palin's candidacy is that it will bring enough foaming misogyny out of the Democratic side to repel some female voters over to McCain.

Let's take a look at a few examples from the last 10 hours, shall we?  

A clever blogger started the website VPILF, and I think it speaks for itself.

Progressive sites like KOS, commenters post lovely pictures like this.  Or declare Link To Sarah Palin Nude?

Suggestions that Palin is a puppet and her husband is really the Governor of Alaska.

And while the media has too many examples to being up - one comes to mind...

Palin has been the VP pick for all of five minutes, and already one of the (male) reporters on CNN just asked another reporter something along the lines of, "Now, Palin also has a baby with Down's Syndrome. Those children require an awful lot of care. Do you think she'll be able to balance taking care of that baby with being Vice President? I mean, having a Down's Syndrome baby takes up a lot of time and energy.

I guess the lessons from the Democratic primary didn't catch.

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Diaries

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