Posted by Brad @ 1:09 pm on July 30th 2010

What is the ADL Thinking?

I have mostly stayed out of the to my mind valid criticisms of organizations like AIPAC and the ADL, which were created to serve the very laudable function of standing in opposition to anti-Semitism and to give voice for the defense of Israel in the American political process, but who many now view as becoming increasingly partisan mouthpieces more concerned with stifling debate and advancing a very specific foreign policy paradigm (anti-Arab, neoconservativm) than with rooting out anti-Semitism. But this to me is just inexplicable.

Today, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement coming out against the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. The statement is generally reasonable and well-couched, but more or less it argues that because there has been criticism about the though that something muslim-y might be going on in lower Manhattan, the people behind the proposed Cordoba House ought to back off and find somewhere else to worship. The ADL admits that much of the criticism against the project is founded in bigotry, but nevertheless thinks that it’s just a good idea for all involved if the muslims go away.

My immediate first thought was “what the hell is the ADL weighing in on this for in the first place?” At first blush, nothing about this issue touches, even peripherally, on issues of anti-Semitism or Israel, or even Arabs. My second thought was, “An organization dedicated to fighting bigotry is here arguing that it should be knuckled under to? I wonder how that jibes with their mission statement?” which is, by the way:

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Now the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.

A leader in the development of materials, programs and services, ADL builds bridges of communication, understanding and respect among diverse groups.

Note, of course, that in allowing that much of the criticism of the Cordoba House might be rooted in bigotry, the ADL gets cute and keeps that vague, preferring to not name (mostly pro-Israel Republican) names. And of course my third thought was how interesting it is that the ADL finds themselves giving cover to precisely those people (which, surely, had not occurred to them and in no way drove their decision to weigh in on this matter). As the GOP base is beginning to throw off the veil that they aren’t expressly anti-muslim and anti- the mere existence or expression of Islam, the ADL could take a courageous stand in line with their charter and call that out, but instead they’re advising muslims to retreat because it might hurt the feelings of the people taking a bigoted stand.

But mostly, on the sheer face of it, my last thought is how the ADL would react if the residents of Dearborn, Michigan got up in arms about the planned construction of a Jewish community center because reminding the muslim residents of their oppression at the hands of Israel would be a slap in the face to their community? My guess is the ADL would not advise the planned JCC board to just go somewhere else because they ought to be sensitive to such concerns, even if they may be rooted in bigotry.

Posted by Brad @ 12:37 pm on July 30th 2010

Meanwhile, in North Korea…

Wondering what happened to the coach and players of the NK World Cup Team after their embarrassing loss broadcast live to the people?

All things considered, they got off relatively lightly, with the players merely forced to denounce their coach, who as then kicked out of the party and shipped off to become a construction worker somewhere.

The entire squad was forced onto a stage at the People’s Palace of Culture and subjected to criticism from Pak Myong-chol, the sports minister, as 400 government officials, students and journalists watched.

The players were subjected to a “grand debate” on July 2 because they failed in their “ideological struggle” to succeed in South Africa, Radio Free Asia and South Korean media reported.

Following ideological criticism, the players were then allegedly forced to blame the coach for their defeats.

The team’s coach, Kim Jong-hun, was reportedly forced to become a builder and has been expelled from the Workers’ Party of Korea.

The coach was punished for “betraying” Kim Jong-un – one of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il’s sons and heir apparent.

However, media in South Korea said the players got off lightly by North Korean standards.

“In the past, North Korean athletes and coaches who performed badly were sent to prison camps,” a South Korean intelligence source told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

Could have been worse. They could have been caught with a cell phone.

Should have run when you had the chance

Posted by Brad @ 9:48 am on July 30th 2010

The US-Mexico Border: Still One of the Safest Parts of the Country

Sans Tom Tancredo, a nice reminder from Time. Worth noting the four safest large cities in America (population of 500,000 and up) are San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso, and Austin.

Posted by Cameron @ 11:44 pm on July 28th 2010

Music Video of the Week

Greg Laswell – Take Everything

This guy caught my ear with one of his songs featured on Dollhouse several months ago. The album this is from is actually available on sale on Amazon for only $5 for a couple more days. It’s got 14 songs and this video, making it a fantastic deal for some pretty awesome songs.

Greg Laswell “Take Everything” HD from FVMMO FILMS on Vimeo.

Posted by Brad @ 4:55 pm on July 28th 2010

J. Christian Adams – The Whistleblowiest Whistleblower?

We mentioned in comments to a previous post that the Black Panthers controversy was largely spurred by the whistle-blowing of one J. Christian Adams. Adams, who resigned form the Justice Department before breaking the story, largely did so on the basis of this claim:

“I was told by voting section management that cases are not going to be brought against black defendants on [behalf] of white victims.” If the commission heard from other lawyers in the section, he said, “little doubt would remain whether or not open hostility exists toward race-neutral and equal enforcement of the voting laws.”

I thought it worth passing on a little bit of context on this guy, to wit:

J. Christian Adams was hired to the Civil Rights Division in 2005 by none other than Bradley Schlozman, the Bush appointee who, as acting head of the division in 2006, was found to have violated rules against politicized hiring, then lied to Congress about it.

Adams is also a former volunteer with the right-wing National Republican Lawyers Association, which just today charged that the Holder Justice Department’s stances on both the Panther case and the ACORN funding case show that “politics can thwart the rule of law.”

And in 2004, as a Bush campaign poll watcher in Florida, Adams publicly criticized a black couple that refused to accept a provisional ballot, after election officials said they had no record of the couple’s change of address forms, Bloomberg reported. Voters had been warned not to accept provisional ballots, because of the risk that they could later be discounted.

Now, I can’t say that Adams is a partisan hack, but it is worth noting that the main thrust of the US Attorneys scandal was the fear of precisely this: that partisan operatives would be installed in important DOJ posts across the country who would serve primarily right-wing campaign interests over some objective search for justice, and that they were more interested in voter suppression or at the very least putting political (as opposed to legal) pressure on swing districts or Democratic pols.

Now, again, who knows if that’s the case here. I sure don’t. But, if that were the case, one would expect that such a person might continually try to wedge themselves into the political debate and assert further things that seem specifically geared towards advancing right-wing narratives. Entirely unrelated to that thought, J. Christian Adams whistle-blows for us another startling revelation – the Democratic administration is trying to suppress the vote of our heroic service-members fighting for democracy overseas!

The Department of Justice is ignoring a new law aimed at protecting the right of American soldiers to vote, according to two former DOJ attorneys who say states are being encouraged to use waivers to bypass the new federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

The MOVE Act, enacted last October, ensures that servicemen and women serving overseas have ample time to get in their absentee ballots. The result of the DOJ’s alleged inaction in enforcing the act, say Eric Eversole and J. Christian Adams — both former litigation attorneys for the DOJ’s Voting Section — could be that thousands of soldiers’ ballots will arrive too late to be counted.


Adams, a conservative blogger ( who gained national attention when he testified against his former employer after it dropped its case against the New Black Panther Party, called the DOJ’s handling of the MOVE Act akin to “keystone cops enforcement.”

“I do know that they have adopted positions or attempted to adopt positions to waivers that prove they aren’t interested in aggressively enforcing the law,” Adams told “They shouldn’t be going to meeting with state election officials and telling them they don’t like to litigate cases and telling them that the waiver requirements are ambiguous.”


“It is just offensive to most Americans that we can send soldiers to the front lines but they can’t vote,” said Eversole. “This is an issue that tugs at the heartstrings of America and people can’t understand why we can’t get that right. This is something we have to get right. We should be fighting as hard for their rights as they’re fighting for ours.”

In addition to the aforementioned Election Law Center site, you can also find Adams at the Washington Times and blogging at Pajamas Media.

I submit to you not that Adams is an unreliable source—I honestly have no idea if he is or not, and there are certainly alternative reads where it just so happens that the former Bush campaign worker hired by the guy who specifically sought to put political operatives in sensitive DOJ posts has stumbled on legitimate problems that might have gone unnoticed by people without a right-leaning perspective, and thus he really is doing a service by shining the light. But, I do find it all worth mentioning, lest someone be given the impression that Adams was a career lifer in the DOJ’s Voting Section who has suddenly stumbled upon massive left-wing reverse-racism and anti-military conspiracy and whose neutral conscience demanded that he step down and blow the whole thing open regardless of and entirely unconcerned with political fallout and who, you know, doesn’t blog for Pajamas Media.

Posted by Brad @ 12:59 pm on July 28th 2010

America’s Greatest Money-Suck

Hypothetically, let’s say a Democratic administration allocated $9.1 billion dollars, taken largely from taxes of minority businesses, which the feds gathered and then declared outside of and invisible from normal budgetary processes. The government decides to spend that money on something ostensibly admirable but nevertheless potentially controversial, like increasing voter participation in minority communities. For these purposes, the work of spending that money had to be farmed out to shadowy private contractors who were given opaque legal immunity in which to conduct their business. And then let’s say, after three years, an independent audit took place to see how well that money had been spent, and discovered that $8.7—a full 95% of it—was just gone, and nobody had any specific idea where it went. For $2.6 billion of it, there wasn’t even a piece of paper—no receipts, no invoices, no internal memos, absolutely nothing. The money, 95% of it, was just plain gone, and nobody had any idea where it went, save those shadowy private contractors seemed to have gotten awful rich, and there was evidence that, whatever money didn’t disappear before ever getting to the minority communities wound up on the desks of some well-connected “grassroots organizers”, in brown paper bags, but nobody has any idea what they did with it. But aside from those rumors, nobody has any idea. And the government, for its part, just gives a collective shrug. And furthermore, both parties declare that absolutely no proposal to alter the way it spends money in minority communities will ever be on the table, so suck it.

It’s an imperfect analogy, but my guess would be there would be such a monumental shitstorm against said Democratic administration, that it’d be comparable to Watergate in its cultural impact.

When it’s all that oil money from Iraq that was supposed to pay for reconstruction…meh.

Remember how ridiculous it sounded, when the old hippies and far lefties, in the run up to the Iraq War, were making accusations about Haliburton and Republicans just trying to steal oil and yadda yadda yadda? It continues to astound me how, at the time, we all poo-pooed them as profoundly unserious, while we serious folks debated about the extent to which Iraq posted an immediate national security threat requiring of immediate U.S. unilateral intervention.

To recap: from 2003-2007, all oil revenues from Iraq were put into an account earmarked for reconstruction, and 95% of it just disappeared.

Posted by Brad @ 10:11 am on July 28th 2010

National Popular Vote Campaign Reaches 73 EVs

So, the campaign to effectively abolish the electoral college by getting states whose electoral votes equal or exceed 270 to pledge them to the winner of the national popular vote took another step forward today. Massachusetts has approved the measure in the legislature, and the Governor promises to sign it, which means MA joins HI, WA, NJ, IL, and MD as states who have passed the law (it only goes into effect if states with 270+ EVs pass it as well). When you add in the states who have also passed the law but whose Governors have not signed it yet, you get 144 EVs (the Census will change that total slightly), with New York looking like a good bet to throw in its 31 votes in as well.

I think it’s now reached the point where, if you put a gun to my head, I’d have to predict that this, or some slightly modified version of it, will actually happen in the not-too-distant future. Large states like IL, NY, CA, NJ, and others, have an incentive, because not only do they have the most people, but because the gross totals would matter more than the predictable first-past-the-post winner, politicians suddenly have every incentive to try to win, say, the 45% of Californians who are Republican, or the 52% of Texans who are Democrats, versus now instead focusing on the, say, 10% of swingable voters in Iowa. Add in a few of the “progressive” small states who will sign on just because they think it’ll protect against another Bush in 2000, and you can probably get to 270. The guys behind this campaign have been exceedingly effective at making their case to state legislatures. If only those range score voting knobs would get their act together.

Posted by Brad @ 4:18 pm on July 27th 2010

From the Department of the Bleeding Obvious

The Times of London has discovered what the Times of New York likewise found out – preventing readers from reading your newspaper leads to a decrease in readership.

Posted by Brad @ 2:42 pm on July 27th 2010

Great Moments in Political Polling

Public Policy Polling’s new poll (PDF) of the California Senate race shows Barbara Boxer leading Carly Fiorina by 9 points. But more importantly, it finds that Fiorina’s hair suffers a favorabilty deficit of only 5. I am not making this up. Out of five questions on this race, the last is:

Do you have a higher opinion of Barbara Boxer’s hair or Carly Fiorina’s hair?

Barbara Boxer’s hair………………………………… 19%
Carly Fiorina’s hair…………………………………… 14%
Not sure………………………………………………… 67%

Stay classy, PPP.

Posted by Brad @ 10:07 am on July 27th 2010

The One Question Nobody is Asking About the WikiLeaks Stories…

Is why the documents they’re leaking were declared top secret in the first place.

I guess it does dovetail with the recent Washington Post series, but it seems to me that the presumption of transparency has fundamentally shifted, both by the bureaucracies involved by also on the part of the citizenry. I understand the bits that specifically name people, but in the main, of the 90,000 pages of stuff WikiLeaks has released, very little of it, it seems to me, requires it be withheld from release in the name of national security. Unless, of course, you define national security so broadly as to include any political or PR purpose the Pentagon sees fit to pursue. But now I’ve gone and answered my own question.

Posted by Brad @ 4:32 pm on July 23rd 2010

Welcome to Detroit, Goddammit

Detroit City Politics: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

This time, it’s the Chief of Police, who had to resign yesterday after a 7-minute tape he had made as a pitch for a reality show called The Chief, starring him, got in the hands of a local TV station. It is about as maniacally egotistical and cringe-inducing as you might expect.

He’ll do whatever it takes.

This would generally be considered in poor taste under any circumstances, but particularly given that last week, a 7-year-old girl was shot and killed by police during a raid that was being filmed by A&E for their reality show The First 48, in part invited at the chief’s solicitation.

Nevertheless, Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans got the boot. And that’s when the Facebooking started…

Posted by Brad @ 3:58 pm on July 23rd 2010

Buh Bye Mark Williams

First the National Tea Party Federation kicks out the Tea Party Express for spokesman and de facto leader Mike Williams’s general ass-hattery, now Williams is out of the Tea Party Express altogether, making him about as significant a Tea Party leader as, well, me.

Hopefully he goes crawl under whatever rock Jim Condit Jr. lives under.

Posted by Brad @ 3:07 pm on July 23rd 2010

The Bad Thing About Having Liberal Democrats Run the Small Government Website…

…particularly the one that asks “Which laws do you want repealed“, is that clearly, not everything is on the table, particularly public health stuff.

So, after a month or so of Your Freedom being open for business and soliciting suggestions for which oppressive laws ought to be repealed, what is the #1-by-far-most-popular suggestion? The smoking ban.

So what happens when you try to post that suggestion to YourFreedom?


Faced with questions about why the smoking ban is verboten, Clegg responds:

“Of course there are other suggestions which aren’t going to be taken up by this government… the introduction of the death penalty or changing the smoking ban; but at least the debate is now really alive.”

Like Andrew Stuttaford, it’s the “of course” that gets me.

Posted by Brad @ 10:04 am on July 23rd 2010

SC-Sen: Alvin Greene is On the Scene

Posted by Brad @ 9:58 am on July 23rd 2010

Rant + Quote of the Day

Rojas and I went a bit back and forth on whether Fox News has displayed outright racism in its coverage of the Sherrod affair, or just cynicism. Regardless, the effect is much the same, and at least semi-consciously there is a huge portion of the right wing noise machine – from Hannity to Palin to Breitbart – that seems very intent on fanning the flames of….well, I don’t know what else to call it but a race war. I’d call it a culture war, but it’s not really about culture, except perhaps a culture of persecution among a significant set of white conservatives which sees “mainstream” (read: white) America under constant assault. Kevin Drums notes that the three biggest controversies in as many weeks, the three things sucking up all the oxygen in the conservative movement, have been:

1. The Black Panthers (!),
2. The muslim community center in lower Manhattan aka THE GROUND ZERO MOSQUE!, and
3. USDA official out to get white people.

(I would add to that, of course, 4. The NAACP calls the Tea Party racist, which in many ways was the match to all this stuff and which Drum leaves out because it doesn’t fit the narrative that its just conservatives who are pushing this stuff, but still. Conservatives ARE pushing this stuff, and at least if you judge those first three things from the prism of, say, a civil rights organization dedicating to protecting against racial discrimination, you can see where the NAACP was coming from.)

In any case, putting aside race for a moment, what’s particularly striking when you look at that list of stories is that all are, to some extent or another, predicated on falsehoods—outright lies at worst, or a deliberate obfuscation of the context and full truth of the matter at best. I really hate it when one side of the partisan divide claims for itself the mantle of “reality-based”, but in the main, it’s really hard to be paying attention to politics in the last few weeks—be it Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin’s characterization of the Ground Zero mosque, the Breitbart-Sherrod-Fox fiasco, the steady drumbeat of the New Black Panthers and “Obama’s DOJ” story, even the idea that JournoList is a huge story—and not come away with the impression that the talking heads on the read seems to be doing more than just hyping stuff or offering run-of-the-mill blinkeredness. It really does seem that they’re creating an alternate reality out of thin air.

This touches on another issue, I think, that often comes to mind for me, and that is the Republican idea of who their base is. I’ve always felt that Republicans have a curious notion of what “real” America is, and a strange relationship to it. It is, at the same time, both a lionizing mythology of the “common man” or “Joe Six-Pack”, white Christian small-towny Americans who are authentic and hate wind-surfing, coupled with a staggering, sneering cynicism about them, their ignorance, and what it takes to placate them and thus be acceptable to the base. The race within the Republican party right now is a race to the bottom. Sarah Palin is not trying to prove her policy mettle or political knowledge, she is, if anything, running away from any pretense of it, and now has guys with policy mettle and political knowledge, say Gingrich and Romney, furiously trying to out-ignorant her. And the media, of course, is naturally playing right along.

All of this is a lead-in to the quote, a dead-on characterization from Matt Yglesias:

At some point conservatives need to ask themselves about the larger meaning of this kind of conduct—and Andrew Breitbart’s—for their movement. Beyond the ethics of lying and smear one’s opponents, I would think conservatives would worry about the fact that a large portion of conservative media is dedicated to lying to conservatives. They regard their audience as marks to be misled and exploited, not as customers to be served with useful information.

Posted by Brad @ 2:33 pm on July 22nd 2010

Letter to the Editor of the Day

(Great site)

Posted by Liz @ 10:41 am on July 22nd 2010

A More Perfect Union

First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Newt Gingrich:

There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.

The proposed “Cordoba House” overlooking the World Trade Center site – where a group of jihadists killed over 3000 Americans and destroyed one of our most famous landmarks – is a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites. . .

Those Islamists and their apologists who argue for “religious toleration” are arrogantly dishonest. They ignore the fact that more than 100 mosques already exist in New York City. Meanwhile, there are no churches or synagogues in all of Saudi Arabia. In fact no Christian or Jew can even enter Mecca.

And they lecture us about tolerance.

If the people behind the Cordoba House were serious about religious toleration, they would be imploring the Saudis, as fellow Muslims, to immediately open up Mecca to all and immediately announce their intention to allow non-Muslim houses of worship in the Kingdom. They should be asked by the news media if they would be willing to lead such a campaign. . .

America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization. Sadly, too many of our elites are the willing apologists for those who would destroy them if they could.

No mosque.

No self deception.

No surrender.

The time to take a stand is now.

Posted by Jack @ 11:52 pm on July 21st 2010

Music Video of the Fortnight: Low Red Land

The internet, it is teh awesome. Found this band doing the standard random connection net surfing thing. I was looking for different video version’s of Pink Floyd’s greatest anti-war song ever, When The Tiger’s Broke Free, a tune that was (sort of) track four on their greatest unloved album ever, The Final Cut, when I found a cover by Low Red Land, which led to their other videos, and voila, love at first listen. This is Dreams That Heroes Dream.

You should also try, I mean definitely try, Dog’s Hymn as well.

Posted by Brad @ 1:12 pm on July 21st 2010

The Admirable Courage of Shirley Sherrod and the Sad State of Us

I haven’t had time to post any comprehensive post about the Sherrod fiasco, although I did some back and forth in the comments to this post that should make my disgust, right at the outset, very clear. At some point I want to sit down and collect my thoughts about the sudden upsurge of racial divisiveness – I think the story here touches on that in a significant way but is by no means the only data point. I also think it says a lot about the sort of right that Breitbart represents, and the inherent problems of both the media machine and the present Democratic administration. But I just don’t have time at the moment to give those thoughts the reflection and airing they deserve.

But I did want to say something. I believe that we get the kind of political rhetoric we deserve. We love to bemoan how politicians seem trained to speak a lot while saying nothing, but we rarely reflect that it’s us that is doing the training. Here is the full video, again, of the speech Shirley Sherrod gave to the NAACP chapter she was invited to address. Watch it. Remember, as you do, that it was taken, out of context, as an example of black racism against whites and, presumably, some kind of race war that Democrats and Obamacites are conducting. Eric Holder caused a storm of controversy for saying we are a nation of cowards when it comes to discussions of race. You cannot say that of Shirley Sherrod. But through the prism of the last 36 hours of this story, reflect on whether or not he was, on the whole, right.

Glenn Greenwald also elaborates on this angle.

Just as CNN fired Octavia Nasr for one of the few insightful and interesting observations she ever voiced about the Middle East, Sherrod’s speech — which caused her to be fired — is simply inspiring in its uncommon candor, courage and wisdom. Few people are willing so publicly to confess to tribal biases and detail how they struggle to overcome them, even though that’s a challenge which any person who evolves at some point must confront. That process — far more than the pretense of having always been bias-free — requires difficult self-examination, and its public discussion offers vitally needed lessons for everyone. Many people are unwilling ever to engage that process privately, let alone candidly describe it publicly. Those with the courage to do so, like Sherrod, should be heralded for that candor. Instead, she was slandered, falsely disparaged, and fired.

Thankfully, the massive injustice here appears to be in the process of being corrected, in no small measure because, as Greenwald points out, Sherrod had the courage to stand her ground and the confidence to know that she was, in every way, in the right. And the NAACP has walked back their reaction, I expect Vilsack will do the same, and even many on the right (NRO, Glenn Beck, Hot Air, etc.) have admirably pointed fingers in exactly the right directions. So maybe this is a teaching moment.

But I keep going back to the Holder remark, and my own maxim about getting the kind of political rhetoric we deserve. Watch the speech, and remind yourself that this was a personal, honest, and reflective rumination on race and a black woman’s own racist tendencies in the past that she had to overcome to become a better person – this in a speech given to the NAACP – and the mere mention of that truth, which we all share to some extent, the mere admission that even she had to overcome prejudice, on her own part, in the course of her life, caused her to be crucified. That’s the way, sadly, that so much of politics and media today operates. Where the adult conversations are verboten and instead it juts becomes a game of point-scoring and scalp-collecting with no reflection on, or even interest in, the truth of the matter.

Posted by Liz @ 8:49 pm on July 20th 2010

AIDS Prevention

In really welcome news, the Center for AIDS Research in South Africa has produced a gel that has reduced the HIV infection risk for women in preliminary testing.  The researchers report that the women who used the gel had a 50% lower infection rate than women who didn’t after one year and a 39%  lower infection rate after two and a half years.   The gel is cheap and easy to use and the World Health Organization said that it will work quickly to make products available as soon as the clinical trails are compete. 

This isn’t some miracle prevention and needs further testing, but this gives women some way to protect themselves:

Of the 33 million people worldwide infected with the AIDS virus, 16 million are women. In Africa, 60 percent of people with HIV infection are women, nearly all of whom acquired the virus through sex. For many, the proven methods of preventing infection, such as abstinence, being faithful and using condoms, are either not an option or out of their control. A vaginal microbicide that could be used with or without a man’s knowledge is considered essential, missing until now.

Gilead Sciences, the US company that developed the drug contained in the gel, tenofovir, donated 100kg of the drug’s active ingrediant for the study and has agreed to wave royalties in the event that the gel is distributed in Africa and other poor countries.

Posted by Liz @ 8:16 pm on July 20th 2010

Constance McMillen

Back in March, the Itawamba County school district in Fulton, Mississippi cancelled the prom when student Constance McMillen, with the help of the ACLU, challenged the policy that required prom dates to be of the opposite sex.  A U.S. District judge later ruled in her favor, acknowledging the fact that her First Amendment rights had been violated by the school, both in not allowing her to bring her girlfriend and in not allowing her to wear a tuxedo.  He did not force the school to throw another prom because a parent sponsored prom was going to be thrown, one which Constance and her girlfriend were to be invited to.  Constance went the country club, the purported prom location, to find few other students:

“They had two proms and I was only invited to one of them,” McMillen says. “The one that I went to had seven people there, and everyone went to the other one I wasn’t invited to.”

In the meantime, and after the judge’s ruling, the ACLU sued the school. Yesterday, the school district agreed to have judgement entered against them:

The school will adopt a comprehensive nondiscrimination and non-harassment policy that covers sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, which is the first such policy in any public school in Mississippi. And they’ll pay Constance $35,000 in damages and cover her attorneys’ fees.

Constance McMillen:

I just want to thank everybody so much for all the support. I appreciate it so much because I never thought in a thousand billion years there would be that many people who are supporting something that I was doing. And I think it’s great that there’s that many people out there that understand the difference between wrong and right. And I just want to say that I think you should stand up for what you believe in, stand up for who you are, and that’s just the message that I’m trying to send people.

Posted by Brad @ 4:29 pm on July 20th 2010

Music Video of the Week 2

One of my favorite bands, The Books, have a new album out tomorrow! Huzzah!

Here’s the first video off it, in which little kids threatening to kill each are remixed to a jaunty little beat.

The Books – A Cold Freezin’ Night

Way late edit

…and the second.

Album review, album review.

Posted by Brad @ 3:50 pm on July 20th 2010

I Don’t Think “Conscientious Objector” Means What You Think it Means

Like the guy who tried to get court martial to start a trial on Barack Obama’s citizenship and, well, halfway succeeded, I think the fail tag applies here.

Posted by Brad @ 3:32 pm on July 20th 2010

Your Dog in Hot Car Story of the Day

Animal cruelty charges have been obtained against a woman whose dog died from being left in a car in 104-degree heat July 6, according to charging documents filed in Frederick County District Court.

A summons has been issued charging Cathryn Cordyack Washington, 67, of Fairmont, W.Va., with two cruelty charges for failing to provide adequate food, water and shelter and infliction of unnecessary suffering and pain, documents state.

Harold Domer, director of Frederick County Animal Control, said the investigation by Sgt. David Luckenbaugh found that Washington arrived at the Frederick Costco parking lot about 9:30 a.m. and found that the store did not open until 10 a.m.

Once the store opened, she left her 14-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, Delta, in the car and shopped until about 11:15 a.m.

When Washington returned to her car, she found Delta in distress and the dog died, Domer said.

Washington then went back into the store and returned dog products she had purchased, he said.

Posted by Brad @ 4:51 pm on July 19th 2010

Music Video of the Week

There are four things my musical taste tends toward, at least if you’re talking genomes: chick music, banjos, americana folk, and vocal harmony.

Behold, the culmination.

The Be Good Tanyas – the Littlest Birds

Jolie Holland also does a terrific version (she was a former bandmate and co-writer of this tune).

Posted by Brad @ 3:23 pm on July 19th 2010


I don’t watch wrestling, but good to see a Ron Paul guy doing well. Kane takes the WWE heavyweight title, making him only the second wrestler in the company’s history to hold the ECW, RAW, and Smackdown world titles, and probably the first to have an archive on and to have served as ad hoc bodyguard to a small Texas congressman at campaign events in 2007.

Posted by Brad @ 11:25 am on July 17th 2010

The Tea Party Caucus

In my post about Rand Paul, I mentioned that he views his role in the Senate, if he’s elected, as being a core member of a kind of Tea Party caucus.

Well, Michelle Bachmann has gotten the same idea in the House, and has gone ahead and registered an official Tea Party Caucus as a member organization. She appointed herself the chair.

One step forward, two steps back – as usual with Tea Party stuff.

Posted by Brad @ 11:21 am on July 17th 2010

Another Placeholding Patron Appointed to Nation’s Highest Legislative Office

In a move that’s become so commonplace as to cease to seem remarkable, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III has appointed…his chief legal counsel to hold Byrd’s Senate seat. Carte Goodwin sounds like a fine attorney, but his principle qualification is very clearly his connection to Manchin, to the extent that this fact isn’t even really under discussion.

I know it’s old fashioned, but I still think Governors should be encouraged to use a “best person for the job” standard when filling Senate vacancies—a way of rewarding and advancing long time public servants who have toiled away for their states. Instead, in the recent tradition of Paul Kirk (Senator for MA), Ted Kaufman (Senator, Delaware), Michael Bennett (Colorado), and so on, the Governor goes for a lackey whose only qualification is in serving, not the state, but the Governor. It’s a trend I’ve written about before, and I’m still amazed it doesn’t create outcry—nay, even a whiff of disapproval—every time it happens.

Posted by Rojas @ 10:14 am on July 16th 2010

The Other World Cup

One of the weirder and more interesting sporting events on Earth, the Homeless World Cup, kicks off in September in Rio. Not a great city to be homeless in…

Posted by Rojas @ 12:03 pm on July 15th 2010

The drug war goes digital

As delightedly reported by the local Kansas media, our neighbors to the immediate south are now extending the war on drugs to online music. Yes, apparently there ARE teens who are dumb enough to buy MP3s allegedly designed to put the user in a euphoric state (which, I guess, is a state that teenagers would rather live in than Oklahoma), and yes, Oklahoma authorities somehow seem to think the prevention of this is a good expenditure of resources in a time of budgetary crisis.

Here’s a hint, kids: if the drug in question requires a forty page instruction manual in order to supposedly “get you high,” you have more or less just bought a baggie of oregano.

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