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Whither Moral Courage?

By Salmar Rushdie

WE find it easier, in these confused times, to admire physical bravery than moral courage — the courage of the life of the mind, or of public figures. A man in a cowboy hat vaults a fence to help Boston bomb victims while others flee the scene: we salute his bravery, as we do that of servicemen returning from the battlefront, or men and women struggling to overcome debilitating illnesses or injuries.
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Democratic Party’s 2012 national platform to include same sex marriage

The Democratic Party platform drafting committee has unanimously approved language endorsing marriage equality as part of the party’s official 2012 platform. According to LGBT newspaper The Washington Blade, two sources close to the drafting process have come forward and stated that same sex marriage will be a plank in the platform, which will be ratified at the Democratic National Convention in September.

The Blade quotes retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) as saying, “I was part of a unanimous decision to include it. There was a unanimous decision in the drafting committee to include it in the platform, which I supported, but everybody was for it.”

The 15-member panel has heard testimony from witnesses backing the inclusion, including Andy Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, Army Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, a lesbian New Hampshire guardsman with stage-four incurable breast cancer and a plaintiff in Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s lawsuit against the Defense of Marriage Act, Michael Macleod-Ball, the American Civil Liberties Union’s chief of staff for the Washington Legislative Office and others.

Every four years, a drafting committee made up of party officials comes together to write the party’s official platform, which is currently still in its draft phase. The group will meet again in Detroit in August to hear a “close-to-final” draft and suggest amendments before presenting the document at the Democratic National Convention.

Source : The Raw Story : Read the full story here.

The Science of Fox News: Why Its Viewers are the Most Misinformed

Apr 10, 2012 - Tags:

In June of last year, Jon Stewart went on air with Fox News’ Chris Wallace and started a major media controversy over the channel’s misinforming of its viewers. “Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers?” Stewart asked Wallace. “The most consistently misinformed? Fox, Fox viewers, consistently, every poll.”

Stewart’s statement was factually accurate, as we’ll see. The next day, however, the fact-checking site PolitiFact weighed in and rated it “false.” In claiming to check Stewart’s “facts,” PolitiFact ironically committed a serious error—and later, doubly ironically, failed to correct it. How’s that for the power of fact checking?

There probably is a small group of media consumers out there somewhere in the world who are more misinformed, overall, than Fox News viewers. But if you only consider mainstream U.S. television news outlets with major audiences (e.g., numbering in the millions), it really is true that Fox viewers are the most misled based on all the available evidence—especially in areas of political controversy. This will come as little surprise to liberals, perhaps, but the evidence for it—evidence in Stewart’s favor—is pretty overwhelming.

My goal here is to explore the underlying causes for this “Fox News effect”—explaining how this station has brought about a hurricane-like intensification of factual error, misinformation and unsupportable but ideologically charged beliefs on the conservative side of the aisle. First, though, let’s begin by surveying the evidence about how misinformed Fox viewers actually are.

Source : AlterNet : Read the whole story here:

Pastor Dennis Terry Introduces Rick Santorum, Tells Non-Christians And Liberals To Get Out

"I don't care what the liberals say, I don't care what the naysayers say, this nation was founded as a Christian nation...There is only one God and his name is Jesus. I'm tired of people telling me that I can't say those words.. Listen to me, If you don't love America, If you don't like the way we do things I have one thing to say - GET OUT. We don't worship Buddha, we don't worship Mohammad, we don't worship Allah, we worship God, we worship God's son Jesus Christ."

In a revival type speech, Greenwell Springs Baptist Church pastor Rev. Dennis Terryintroduced Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Christians, according to Rev. Terry, are the conscience of the state and even the key to turning the economy around. The pastor offered some pointed words about abortion, gay marriage, and prayer in schools, shouting about 'sexual perversion' and putting God back in Washington, D.C., as Senator Santorum was seen clapping, if not cheering, in the background.

“I know what’s in his heart. It’s the fact that he’s a Christian,” said Vickie Raabe, a 69-year-old Baptist who told the Washington Post she would be voting for Santorum in 2012. Evangelicals have become Sen. Rick Santorum's major source of support in the 2012 election as they turn out in record numbers for the Catholic candidate.

But as then Presidential hopefuls Senator Barack Obama, Gov. Sarah Palin, and Senator John McCain found out, endorsement from pastors can be a double edge sword.

Source : Huffington Post : Read the whole story here :

Wilmington City Council Passes Resolution Urging 'Personhood' Rights For Sperm

The Wilmington City Council has a message for men -- sperm are people, too.

The council for Delaware's largest city passed aresolution by an 8-4 vote Thursday calling on the Delaware legislature, other state legislatures and the U.S. Congress to pass laws granting "personhood" rights to eggs and sperm. The resolution was authored by councilwoman Loretta Walsh as a protest in the current battle over women's health care access.

"[E]ach 'egg person' and each 'sperm person' should be deemed equal in the eyes of the government and be subject to the same laws and regulations as any other dependent minor and be protected against abuse, neglect or abandonment by the parent or guardian," says the resolution. "[L]aws should be enacted by all legislative bodies in the United States to promote equal representation, and should potentially include laws in defense of 'personhood,' forbidding every man from destroying his semen."

The vote came the same day that the U.S. Senate voted down an amendment that would have given employers the right to refuse any health care service to employees for moral reasons.

Walsh isn't the first lawmaker to introduce such a measure. Sen. Constance Johnson, a Democratic state senator from Oklahoma, introduced and later withdrew an amendment to a "personhood" bill that would have given zygotes the same rights as adults. "However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman's vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child," reads the amendment.

Source : Huffington Post : Read the full story here.

Era Of Happiness Declared In Turkmenistan

Feb 27, 2012 - Tags:

State-run media in Turkmenistan have declared that the Central Asian country has entered a new "era of supreme happiness of the stable state" in the wake of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's landslide reelection victory. 

RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports that the theme of "supreme happiness" over the president's second term in office was suggested during an official meeting in Ashgabat on February 25.

Berdymukhammedov's first term was called the Great Era of Rebirth.

Source : Radio Free Europe : Read the whole story here.

Mainstream media gets anxious about Colbert

Feb 17, 2012 - Tags:

Graphic from the Think Progress Google+ page.Stephen Colbert got a lot of comedy mileage by creating his own Super PAC. Colbert is the latest in a long line of such political satirists. Older readers may recall the Youth International Party (or ‘Yippies)’ that ran a boar hog named Pigasus for president in the 1968 elections under the slogan “Pork power!” Or perennial candidate Pat Paulsen, with his woebegone look and speeches, also from that era.

Colbert is, however, far more effective because he is taking on the very heart of the system, money, showing how it is making a mockery of democracy. As Dahlia Lithwik pointed out, his comedy was far more effective than earnest analysis at showing how absurd things had become once the Citizens United decision came down from the Supreme Court.

Once his efforts started getting widespread notice it was only a matter of time that the mainstream media would turn its guns on Stephen Colbert’s satirization of the campaign system because the media are likely still smarting from Colbert’s speech at the White House correspondents dinner in 2006 where he told them to their faces how they had descended into caricatures of what journalism should be.

Source : Mano Singham : Read the whole story here:

Are Taxes Historically High or Low?

Feb 10, 2012 - Tags:

Okay, so it's 2012 and you can expect a regular rhythm of postings that are... well... political.

== THE GREAT FURY OVER TAXES ==

To listen to Republicans, you would think we have the most oppressive tax rates ever, with the federal government hogging ever larger portions of the national economy.  Ever hear of Orwellian anti-truth?  That is where you repeat the exact opposite of the truth and people start believing it.

Top Federal Marginal Income Tax Rate from 1913 to 2011

But drop by and look at the actual facts. See thiscompilation of income tax rates.. Tax rates are at historic lows. And  this is for earned income. Rates for dividends and capital gains are even lower - byhalf - than what you see in the figure!

In the 99 years that we have had the income tax, rates for top earners were lower than they are today only twice: 

1)  during the 5 years before the US entry into the First World War in 1917, and

2) during the brief stretch from 1925 through 1930... when a massive asset value bubble pumped the economy into the Great Depression. Also note this. They are LOWER for the middle class, under Obama, than they were under Bush. The "Obama tax hikes" are purely mythical.

Source : Contrary Brin : Read the whole article here.

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