Daily Archives: November 9, 2009

Bill Clinton to address Senate Democrats on health care

posted by GeoT

(CNN) — CNN has learned from two senior Democratic sources that former

Pres. Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton will attend the Senate Democrats’ weekly luncheon Tuesday to address the caucus about health care.

A notice obtained by CNN went out to Senate Democrats saying, “All Senators should be aware that former President Clinton will be making a presentation on Health Care at tomorrow’s caucus lunch. Senator Reid has requested that all Democratic Senators
attend.”

A constant refrain from Democratic leaders is that wavering Democrats must heed what they say is a lesson of the Clinton administration: fail to pass a health care reform bill, and congressional Democrats will suffer on Election Day.

With this visit at a critical time for health care in the Senate, the former president will be able to deliver that message in person.

Democrats in the House of Representatives approved a health care bill over the weekend.

Read More Here: cnnlogosmall

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Man Confesses to Shooting Kansas Abortion Provider

Man accused of shooting George Tiller tells AP he killed the abortion provider, has no regrets

In this July 28, 2009 file photo, Scott Roeder attends his preliminary hearing in court in Wichita, Kansas

In this July 28, 2009 file photo, Scott Roeder attends his preliminary hearing in court in Wichita, Kansas

Associated Press/Roxana Hegeman—Defiant and unapologetic, a man accused of shooting a Kansas abortion provider confessed to the slaying Monday, telling The Associated Press that he killed the doctor to protect unborn children.

Scott Roeder, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., spoke to the AP in a telephone call from jail, saying he plans to argue at his trial that he was justified in shooting Dr. George Tiller at the abortion provider’s Wichita church in May.

Because of the fact preborn children’s lives were in imminent danger this was the action I chose. … I want to make sure that the focus is, of course, obviously on the preborn children and the necessity to defend them,” Roeder said.

Defending innocent life — that is what prompted me. It is pretty simple,” he said.

Roeder is charged with one count of first-degree murder in Tiller’s death and two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly threatening two ushers who tried to stop him during the May 31 melee in the foyer of the doctor’s church. Roeder has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial in January.

In a more than 30-minute interview with the AP, Roeder did not apologize for the slaying.

No, I don’t have any regrets because I have been told so far at least four women have changed their minds, that I know of, and have chosen to have the baby,” Roeder said. “So even if one changed her mind it would be worth it. No, I don’t have any regrets.”

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Filed under Abortion, Children, Crime, Culture, Domestic Terrorism, Hate Crimes, Health, Uncategorized, Women's Issues

H1N1 Found in First US Commercial Swine Herd

Keep Your Eye on Factory Farms, China, and the Birds

pigs SWINEFLU Huffington Post/David Kirby—On Monday, the USDA reported that pigs in a commercial swine herd at an Indiana factory farm had tested positive for novel H1N1 influenza virus. It was the first time that pigs raised for meat in the US had been found with signs of the bug. Last month, show pigs at the Minnesota State Fair also tested positive for H1N1.

This time, 3,000 “finishing hogs” being fattened for slaughter were suspected of contracting the disease. “Information points to a recent exposure of the pigs with facility caretakers who were exhibiting influenza-like symptoms,” said the website PigProgress.net. “Recovered healthy pigs are being sent to slaughter through normal marketing channels and State public health officials have been notified of the situation.”

Agriculture and health officials have adopted a low-key posture toward the outbreak, noting that herd surveillance is working, and that the pigs in question cleared the virus and recovered on their own. They insisted there was no threat to public health.

The USDA has long pointed out that H1N1 cannot be transmitted by eating or handling pork products, and that US pork is completely safe. And though it would appear that people can infect pigs with H1N1, it is not clear whether live pigs can infect people. For now, officials are far more worried about the former than the latter.

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The Berlin Wall: 20 Years Later

The Legacy of 1989 Is Still Up for Debate

BERLIN-WALL-hugeNew York Times/Steven Erlanger—The historical legacy of 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell and the cold war thawed, is as political as the upheavals of that decisive year.

The events of 1989 spurred a striking transformation of Europe, which is now whole and free, and a reunified Germany, milestones that are being observed with celebrations all over the continent, including a French-German extravaganza Monday evening on the Place de la Concorde.

But 1989 also created new divisions and fierce nationalisms that hobble the European Union today, between East and West, France and Germany, Europe and Russia.

From left, Mikhail Gorbachev, Henry Kissinger and former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher next to a piece of the Berlin Wall.

From left, Mikhail Gorbachev, Henry Kissinger and former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher next to a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Some of the intensity of those divisions is evident in the tug of war, in both Europe and the United States, over the achievements of 1989 — whether they owe more to the resolute anti-Communism of Ronald Reagan or its inverse, the white-glove embrace of the East by many in Western Europe.

And while many in the West saw the wheel of history spinning inevitably, causing the rise of democracy and banishing serious rivals to American power, China forestalled its own revolution in 1989 and catapulted itself to prominence through an authoritarian capitalism that the leaders of Russia are now studying.

The Chinese ended up with a Leninist capitalism, which none of us imagined in 1989, and which is now the main ideological competitor to Western liberal democracy,” said Timothy Garton Ash, a chronicler of 1989 in his book “The Magic Lantern.”

It is a tribute to 1989, not unlike the French Revolution 200 years before it, that its meaning is hotly contested. Different groups in different countries see the anniversary differently, usually from their own ideological points of view.

A group of Russian tourists gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Friday.

A group of Russian tourists gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Friday.

In general, said James M. Goldgeier of George Washington University, a historian of the period, “the big question out there for 20 years is who gets the credit.”

For many in the United States, he said, most of the credit now goes to President Ronald Reagan and his aggressive military spending and antagonism toward Communism. That view has largely eclipsed another American perspective, which was that globalization and democratization were so powerful that a Mikhail Gorbachev was inevitable, and that the cold war ended through “soft power” — propaganda, diplomacy and the Helsinki accords.

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Filed under Culture, Europe, History, Politics, Uncategorized, United Nations

The Night They Drove the Tea Partiers Down by Frank Rich

Op-ed by Frank Rich

Frank Rich

Frank Rich/The New York Times

New York Times/Frank Rich—FOR all cable news’s efforts to inflate Election 2009 into a cliffhanger as riveting as Balloon Boy, ratings at MSNBC and CNN were flat Tuesday night. But not at Fox News, where the audience nearly doubled its usual prime-time average. That’s what happens when you have a thrilling story to tell, and what could be more thrilling than a revolution playing out in real time?

As Fox kept insisting, all eyes were glued on Doug Hoffman, the insurgent tea party candidate in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. A “tidal wave” was on its way, said Sean Hannity, and the right would soon “take back the Republican Party.” The race was not “even close,” Bill O’Reilly suggested to the pollster Scott Rasmussen, who didn’t disagree. When returns showed Hoffman trailing, the network’s resident genius, Karl Rove, knowingly reassured viewers that victory was in the bag, even if we’d have to stay up all night waiting for some slacker towns to tally their votes. (Posters note: see SNL spoof video)

Alas, the Dewey-beats-Truman reveries died shortly after midnight, when even Fox had to concede that the Democrat, Bill Owens, had triumphed in what had been Republican country since before Edison introduced the light bulb. For the far right, the thriller in Watertown was over except for the ludicrous morning-after spin that Hoffman’s loss was really a victory. For the Democrats, the excitement was just beginning. New York’s 23rd could be celebrated as a rare bright spot on a night when the party’s gubernatorial candidates lost in Virginia and New Jersey.

readingtealeavesnytThe Democrats’ celebration was also premature: Hoffman’s defeat is potentially more harmful to them than to the Republicans. Tuesday’s results may be useless as a predictor of 2010, but they are not without value as cautionary tales. And the most worrisome for Democrats were not in Virginia and New Jersey, but, paradoxically, in the New York contests where they performed relatively well. That includes the idiosyncratic New York City mayor’s race that few viewed as a bellwether of anything. It should be the most troubling of them all for President Obama’s cohort — even though neither Obama nor the national political parties were significant players in it.

But first let’s make a farewell accounting of the farce upstate. The reason why the Democratic victory in New York’s 23rd is a mixed blessing is simple: it increases the odds that the Republicans will not do Democrats the great favor of committing suicide between now and the next Election Day.

This race was a damaging setback for the hard right. Hoffman had the energetic support of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Fox as well as big bucks from their political auxiliaries. Furthermore, Hoffman was running not only in a district that Rove himself described as “very Republican” but one that fits the demographics of the incredibly shrinking G.O.P. The 23rd is far whiter than America as a whole — 93 percent versus 74 — with tiny sprinklings of blacks, Hispanics and Asians. It has few immigrants. It’s rural. Its income and education levels are below the norm. Only if the district were situated in Dixie — or Utah — could it be a more perfect fit for the narrow American demographic where the McCain-Palin ticket had its sole romps last year.

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Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Meets the 21st Century

Posted by Audiegrl

It’s been 166 years since the publication of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’ seasonal story of redemption wrapped up in a biting indictment of 19th-century capitalism.

Scrooge (Jim Carrey) and Tiny Tim (Gary Oldman) are prepared to get you into the holiday spirit.

Scrooge (Jim Carrey) and Tiny Tim (Gary Oldman) are prepared to get you into the holiday spirit.

Telegraph.co.uk/Paula Bustamante—Yet in the era of global financial crisis and multi-billion-dollar fraud, Jim Carrey believes Dickens’s tale about how the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge learns to change his ways remains as relevant today as ever.

I think it’s a very pressing story nowadays, too,” said Carrey, the star of Disney’s re-imagining of the classic, released in North America on November 6. “I think stories get told at times when they’re supposed to be told.”

a_christmas_carol_jim_carrey_photoScrooge is the first corporate scumbag. The unloved scumbag. So, in this time when all our constructs are breaking down because of greed, this story is so pressing,” Carrey added.

“Everybody loves a good transformational story. You know, somebody who sees the light, who finally finds out what’s important in life. And, this is one of the greatest ones ever written.”

Just like the character of Scrooge, Carrey was confronted with a vision of his future during the making of the film.

But while Scrooge’s insight came via the spooky Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Carrey’s own premonition was entirely due to his appearance after the 3D movie’s special effects wizards went to work.

Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey

Instead of the familiar 47-year-old face known to millions in hits such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Bruce Almighty, Carrey said he was left staring at the spitting image of his father.

When I saw the movie, one of the first things I said when I saw the first close up of Scrooge is, ‘my family is going to have a heart attack, because that is my father,'” he said.

It’s unbelievable. It’s really a look into the future for me. Not the long chin and the long nose, but the look is what I’m going to look like when I’m old,” Carrey added.

Disney’s new take on the classic is the latest in a long line of adaptations of the beloved 1843 novella, with the first screen version coming more than a century ago with in the 1901 British short Scrooge.

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A Christmas Carol Tops Weekend Box Office with $31 Million

5926A Christmas Carol unsurprisingly topped the weekend box office with an estimated $31 million in receipts.

The latest foray by Robert Zemeckis into motion-capture filmmaking came in lower than initial expectations but easily bested the $23.3 million open by The Polar Express, his last holiday CGI film. With the holiday season only now ramping up, A Christmas Carol should continue to play strong for weeks to come.

A Christmas Carol starring Jim CarreyCharles Dickens’ timeless tale of an old miser who must face Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet-to-Come, as they help to bring kindness to his otherwise cold heart. The Ghosts remind him of the man he used to be, the hard truth of what the world is today, and what will happen if he does not strive to be a better man. Set around Christmas, the most joyous day of the year, Scrooge realizes the sharp contrast of his own personality.

Jim Carrey plays four separate roles in this updated version of A Christmas Carol. Carrey portrays Scrooge, as well as the three ghosts (Past, Present, and Yet-to-Come). His dynamic character roles keep the four characters as diverse as being played by four actors.

Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future trilogy) has his chance to dabble in telling a story through the windows of time, as he directs the long-awaited remake.

Our Favorite Versions

Each December my family and I watch our favorite versions of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. What’s your favorite?

A Christmas Carol starring Alastair SimA Christmas Carol starring George C. ScottA Christmas Carol starring Patrick StewartScrooged starring Bill MurrayEbbie starring Susan Lucci
Ms. Scrooge starring Cicely Tyson

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Is Glenn Beck the Reincarnation of Cleon from Ancient Greece?

Posted by Audiegrl

Perfecting the Paranoid Style in 500 BC and 2009 by Peter Struck

Socrates

Socrates

From Buckley to Beck

by Peter Struck Back in 1996, I had a correspondence with William F. Buckley, Jr., who, like many of those on the Right at the time, had a habit of claiming ownership over the ideas and spirit of the classical past. So it wasn’t altogether surprising to see him on television aligning himself with Socrates and pressing for the triumph of absolutes over relativism. What did catch my ear was that Buckley was arguing in favor of the death penalty, and was using Socrates to make his case. I couldn’t resist writing the man about the cruel irony of holding up as a poster boy for the death penalty the Western Tradition’s most famous victim of it. Buckley responded promptly, but never really engaged the most challenging issue: that Socrates, the paragon of classical rationalism, was deeply suspicious of that other signature legacy of his countrymen, democracy. He saw it as a system of government whose weakness was precisely that it rewarded those who could most artfully whip up a bunch of hot-headed boobs with the power to kill whoever displeased them. At its worst, it was rule by mob.

It Was Cleon Who Shouted the Loudest

The 2,400-year-old temple of Ifestos, which sits in the ancient Agora of Athens, where ancient Athenian statesman Cleon placed shields captured in a victory over Sparta

The 2,400-year-old temple of Ifestos, which sits in the ancient Agora of Athens, where ancient Athenian statesman Cleon placed shields captured in a victory over Sparta

The archetype for Glenn Beck is a fifth century B.C. Athenian figure named Cleon, our first well-documented populist. Cleon represented a new class, made possible for the first time in democratic Athens. The notion that the whole people of Athens should participate in decisions collectively allowed for the rise of figures who presumed to speak for them. Cleon became wildly famous and successful not by coming from a powerful family, or by serving in regular office, but by delivering fiery speeches to thousands of Athenians in public. The Greek sources leave behind an unsparing portrait of an impulsive, histrionic bully. Aristotle tells us that “he was the first to use unseemly shouting and abusive language in the public assembly; and while it was customary to speak politely, he addressed the assembly with his cloak lifted up.” In Thucydides’ version, Cleon’s own lack of a pedigree provided him a plentiful source of resentment against those that had one, and he cast every self-aggrandizing gesture as a motivated by a love of the people over the aristocrats. He flattered his audience as being more capable of governing than the supposed experts in power. He personalized politics and under his influence those who disagreed with the state were referred to, for the first time in ancient Greece, as “haters of the people.” The comic playwright Aristophanes vividly portrayed him on stage as a man in a constant state of anger, his voice resembling the squeal of a scalded pig.

From Beck to Buckley
William F. Buckley, Jr. and Glenn Beck

William F. Buckley, Jr. and Glenn Beck

In the line from Cleon to Beck there is hardly a wiggle. Less obvious but telling is the connection between both these figures and Buckley. Driven by an unyielding sense of their own correctness, all three are experts in the trade of absolutes, always pressing toward a higher-contrast world of black and white. While it has become utterly common to see people in the public sphere assume such a posture, it does not stand to reason that they must. Among Republicans, for example, one used to see a strain based on intellectual modesty, of resistance to grand theories and attempts to explain everything. Eisenhower built a coalition around such principles that held up for decades. Obama may well be up to doing the same. In order to get on with fixing what it was possible to fix, they recognized the usefulness of an ability to live with a degree of uncertainty, a quality that Goldwater, and later George Bush and Karl Rove, vanquished from the Republican Party.

gallery-bachmannteaparty8

Tea Party Protesters in Washington,DC

This Republicanism of certainty has had a good run, but it has likely reached the end of its appeal. David Brooks, whose sympathies attune with refinement to Eisenhower Republicanism, sounded its death knell in a recent column in the New York Times. If Beck’s days as the center of attention are numbered, as Brooks claims they are, it will not be because of his coarseness or his rejectionism, but because of his imperviousness to doubt. Intellectual hubris is tiresome in any case, but it is an especially odd standard to use to rally people who understand themselves as conservatives. Certainties are what one needs to upend things, and at a some point conservatives grow uncomfortable with that sort of thing. Cleon, that ancient voice of certainty, was not among the conservative lot at all, but a radical through-and-through.

While Buckley was of course right to point to Socrates as someone who endorsed the idea that there are absolutes, he missed the most important part of the story. The Greek philosopher was equally convinced that only a fool and a demagogue would claim to know them. If only Buckley were around to teach this lesson too.

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coinsFounded and edited by Lewis H. Lapham, Lapham’s Quarterly is a New York-based journal of history that seeks to revitalize both our excitement and familiarity with the past. History, as Mark Twain supposedly said, may not repeat itself—but it does rhyme.

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