If you go to the Eduwonk blog, you can get a good laugh at some of the names people have thought of[...]
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Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston have broken off their engagement. I write this not for the gossip element (though it's tempting), but rather to point out, yet again, how crassly political the Republicans are. Tell me this wasn't a shotgun wedding to help McCain and Palin get elected? These are young people's lives, and a baby, we're dealing with. But none of that mattered to the McCain campaign. Making political fodder of marriage and babies is just another day at the office for Republicans.
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It's not on par with Kennedy-Nixon, Ali-Frazier, or Federer-Nadal. It's more like the feuding cheerleaders in Bring It On. But I still feel kind of privileged to have the opportunity to watch the Jon Stewart-Jim Cramer spat:[...]
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Texas state lawmakers considered a GOP-backed bill Tuesday that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls, what Democrats call "a modern-day poll tax" because it disproportionately impacts minorities. Republicans claim that this law is necessary to prevent voter fraud, but have offered little evidence that such fraud is a problem. Dems, in the minority, called Attorney General Greg Abbott -- who spent $1.4 million probing voter fraud claims without finding a single vote -- to testify. But, backed by a GOPer, Abbott didn't show up. (Dallas Morning News)
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating whether the massive bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch executives were designed in part to give traders and incentive to mark down their shares, the Financial Times reports. That might suggest that B of A pressured Merrill to understate its fourth quarter earnings in order to make the companies subsequent gains under B of A appear larger. (Reuters)
E-mails released Monday indicated a number of previously unknown links between the Chicago-based Tribune Co. and the Governor Rod Blagojevich. Tribune Co. retained Marc Ganis as a sports business consultant to work with the Blagojevich administration to broker the sale of Wrigley Field. Ganis spoke to Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris about the declining state of the Chicago Tribune and openly expressed his desire for a spot on the 2016 Olympic Committee. Federal agents also allege that members of the Blagojevich administration pressured Nils Larson, an executive vice-president of Tribune Co., to fire members of the Tribune editorial board in exchange for the Governor's assistance in the sale of Wrigley Field. (Chicago Tribune)
Prosecutors in the Bernard Madoff case are investigating whether Madoff's employees and family members engaged in the alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme along with Madoff himself. Madoff claims that he worked alone, but prosecutors are skeptical because of the massive scope of the fraud and the complicated structure used to scam thousands of investors. Though Madoff is expected to plead guilty tomorrow of eleven counts of fraud, a source close to Madoff told the Wall Street Journal that he will not cooperate in the investigations of his employees and family members. (Wall Street Journal)
One of Madoff's lawyers, Daniel J. Horowitz, fought with federal prosecutors Tuesday over demands that the disgraced money manager give up $177 billion in funds and assets tied to the alleged $50 billion fraud. The lawyer argued that the sum was "grossly overstated" because precedent requires an alleged criminal to forfeit net profits, not net receipts. The lawyer added that Madoff had already ceded billions to investors. (New York Times)
The SEC chair, Mary Schapiro, told a group of compliance executives that the agency would pressure U.S. financial institutions to be more transparent with investors and make regulation a priority. Though Schapiro urged companies to implement their own compliance mechanisms, she said that the SEC would impose reforms in order to regain investor confidence. (Reuters)
I know the blogosphere has been waiting with baited breath (whatever that means) to know what I think the implications re of Freeman's withdrawal yesterday.
I don't know but, after a few conversations, I have an idea. For Steve Rosen and his followers this is the definition of a pyrrhic victory.
The terrific PZ Myers at Pharyngula brings us good tidings of great joy:
Adding to my joy of late is a remarkable article predicting the demise of evangelical Christianity in our lifetimes.Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.
Do I believe it will happen? I confess that there's a good bit of wishful thinking on my part that clouds my judgment, but I have high hopes, and I think it entirely possible. This particular article is especially interesting because it is published in the Christian Science Monitor, and it's written by a Christian (well, more accurately, "a postevangelical reformation Christian in search of a Jesus-shaped spirituality," whatever that means), writing as an insider with intimate knowledge of the evangelical movement. He's not happy about it, either, which makes the article an interesting read just because every time he intones an article of woe in his litany of doom, I'm feeling like pumping a fist in the air and shouting "Yes!"
He places the blame on several factors. 1) Evangelicals hitched their wagon to conservative politics, and that cart is busted. 2) Christian media has been superficial and failed to teach them the basics of their belief (which I don't think is quite as damaging as he thinks-teaching the actual scripture is a great way to make atheists). 3) Megachurches. Enough said. 4) Christian education has failed. 5) Christianity has become a taint rather than a selling point in efforts to do good works. 6) Confidence in the bible and faith are waning. And probably most importantly, 7) "The money will dry up."
One caveat to his explanations, though, is that he is making specific predictions about a very narrow part of the Christian spectrum, evangelicalism. We still have to worry about the crazy Charismatics, the freaky Fundamentalists, the conservative Catholics, and all those weird little splinter sects all over the place. Christianity isn't going to simply vanish, it's simply going to submerge for a bit, be a little less flamboyant and openly money-hungry, and maybe be a little less politically influential. Those are good outcomes all around, in my opinion.
He also wants to predict that a new and vital Christianity can arise from the ruins. Let's hope not - I want to see a clearing away of the detritus of superstition to allow for a new Enlightenment to shine forth, instead.
Yesterday, the National Center on Family Homelessness released a report on the extent of homelessness among America's children. The results were stunning: 1 out of every 50 children -- around 1.5 million total children -- will go to sleep this[...]
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Back when she was a cast member of Saturday Night Live, I didn't find Victoria Jackson particularly funny. I thought her ditzy-blonde routine was too over the top and demeaning; nobody could really be that idiotic, I thought.
Later, I came to realize that it wasn't just a routine. And I was wrong about that "nobody could really" thing.
For instance, there was Jackson, one of the "All American Panel" on Sean Hannity's Fox News show Monday night. And really, you have to watch the performance to believe it, though the transcript gives you some of the flavor:
Beckel: I'm just curious. Have your taxes gone up in the last six weeks since Obama's been president?
Hannity: They're about to.
Beckel: No no no no. Have they gone up? [To Jackson] Have yours gone up?
Jackson: My motivation is gone, because he will punish me if I'm successful. That's how you start communism, is just take -- Cuba. Obama wants to be Castro.
Jackson: Obama wants to be Castro!
Hannity: To each according to his needs, from each according to his ability. That's Marxism.
Beckel: So you're aligning yourself with the communist -- who's the communist?
Hannity: He wants to redistribute the wealth.
Jackson: Obama --
Beckel: You know, I'm speechless. I just won't say anything else.
Jackson: OK, I'll talk. I'll talk.
Beckel: I'm sure you will.
Jackson: Well, I've never been involved in politics. 'Cuz it's just neh neh neh, neh neh neh. But all of a sudden it was, it was: Oh, Hillary Clinton is a socialist, she wants to socialize medicine. Well, I'll have to vote against her. And then all of a sudden a communist appears! Out of nowhere! And that's when I started to get involved. So I did research. Uh, black liberation theology, his church, is Marxist. And his professors are Marxist. Redistribute the wealth --
Beckel: With all due respect --
Hannity: Black liberation theology is rooted in Marxist the -- the Marxist --
At the end of the panel segment, Jackson flourished her Bible and said we need more of that.
Is this is the face of the new conservatism? The average, Fox-watching, Limbaugh-loving American? If so: Wow.
Transcript is available from Greg Mitchell over at Editor & Publisher. One short excerpt: [CR} Will capitalism be different? [TG] I think capitalism will be different, and the financial system will be dramatically different. It?s already[...]
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