A suicide bomber killed at least forty people at an army recruitment office in Baghdad Tuesday. From the New York Times:
Iraqi soldiers at the scene of the attack said only that dozens of civilians and security force personnel were caught in the explosion near the Bab al-Muadham, on the east side of the Tigris River near the former headquarters of the ministry of defense. Soldiers said they had pulled 40 bodies from the debris, and an official from the ministry of interior later said that the toll so far was 48 dead and 129 wounded. Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, forgoing water, food and cigarettes, has in recent years brought an escalation of insurgent attacks in Iraq. But this year has particular significance as Ramadan coincides with the weeks leading to the American military’s Aug. 31 deadline to reduce its troop numbers in Iraq to 50,000, shifting from combat operations to a mission designed principally to train and assist Iraqi security forces.

This post is by Tanya Somanader and originally appeared on Think Progress. Joining other neo-Nazis who are attempting to go mainstream, retired school teacher and self-professedwhite supremacist Dan Schruender is seeking electionto the Rialto Unified School Board in San Bernardino County, California. While announcing his campaign last Tuesday on his Aryan Nations blog, Schruender claimed that he “would not let his ideology affect his policy-making if he were elected to a district” of more than 27,500 students that is 75 percent Latino and 15 percent African-American. Schruender has previously admitted to dropping “racist fliers” around the neighborhood:
In April, Schruender, who at the time identified himself as Dan Collins, said hedelivers racist fliers to Rialto neighborhoods to let people know that the white race is not “going to go out with a whimper.” Some of the fliers invited residents to honor Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Othersused racial epithets to describe blacks and Latinos while saying “happy Easter to all you … from your friends at the Aryan Nations.”
Schruender insists that the Aryan Nations group is not behind his candidacy, blaming any controversy over his candidacy on the “hatchet job” of “the Jew Media.” That post along with his other recent blog posts, including ones titled “WHITE children being DEPORTED – despite being BORN on US soil” and “Smurfs: Aryan Puppets or Harmless Cartoon Toys,” suggest a continued commitment to white supremacy efforts. His opponent, John Kazalunas, bluntly reminded voters of the need to scrutinize the candidates, adding “if anybody votes for [Schruender], they’re crazy.”
This is by Roy Edroso and was cross-posted from Alicublog. Let's be fair to our anti-gay-marriage, social conservative friends. They don't just want to keep gay people from entering the bonds of matrimony -- they also want to keep straight people from ever getting out of them. You may not have noticed, but no-fault divorce has become a big deal among this crowd. It appears inspired by New York state's brand-new impending no-fault law. So social cons and their audiences take a break from the monotony of beating on homosexuals, and lament that fewer people are trapped in loveless marriages than in grandpa's day. At World magazine, Alisa Harris has a heart-rending story:
Two days after Christmas in 1993, Thomas McClintock's wife told him she was leaving him. After five placid years of marriage, he was shocked and willing to do whatever it took to keep her. "I thought we were a good match," he said. "[Our marriage] wasn't all that great but it wasn't that bad and I thought it was something we could work on." But days later she left her job, her dog, her house, her country, and her husband. She came back a few months later. They sat down and divided their finances. Then she was gone.
That bitch! Harris rubs Tom's shoulders and whispers there, there:
McClintock, then a resident of Virginia, said he considers himself a "victim" of unilateral no-fault divorce: "What other kind of legal contract can you end like that without any kind of legal consequences?"
I will have my pound of flesh -- closest to your uterus! Poor Harris has a hard job. She unwisely acknowledges that Bible Belt and anti-gay states actually have higher divorce rates than the other kind. Here's her explanation:
States that have low divorce rates also tend to have low marriage rates. Arkansas, for instance, has the second-highest divorce rate (5.9 per 1,000 people), but it also has more marriages per year: 12.1 marriages per 1,000 people as opposed to Massachusetts' 5.9 marriages per 1,000 people.
Thus red states show their respect for marriage by having lots of them, and then getting divorces. Third time's the charm, Lutie-belle! Among the remedies Harris' experts suggest: Covenant marriage, the double-secret-probation of wedlock. That should go over huge in New York! But Harris has to admit that covenant marriage's success has been negligible, and retreats into gibberish, implying that no-fault means criminal spouses go scott-free: "If a man beats his wife in the face with a barbell until she's unrecognizable, as one man did," she says, "then society should say this is wrong." Assault charges don't quite do it -- society should force that man to stay married to his abused wife! It'll teach them both a lesson! There are plenty of others out there ("No-Fault Divorce is Institutionalized Evil"), but all you really need to know is that both Gay Patriot and the Heritage Foundation are against no-fault divorce. When they think it will advance their cause, they pretend they oppose no-fault divorce for the sake of women and children. But I think it's really just a knee-jerk reaction they have when someone escapes. UPDATE. The good Roger Ailes writes in comments: "If we can force spouses to stay married, we should be able to force single people to get married. 'Do you, "Gay Patriot," take this woman, Kathryn Jean Lopez, to be your lawful wedded wife?'" I smell sitcom!
This post is by Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The Washington Post really really hates Social Security. They hate Medicare almost as much. Therefore they are willing to give its critics space to say almost anything against the program (the real cause of September 11th) no matter how much they have to twist reality to make their case. Today, Republican Representative Paul Ryan stepped up to the plate. The Post felt the need to give him an oped column after Paul Krugman cruelly subjected Mr. Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" to a serious analysis last week. This violated the long accepted practice in elite Washington circles of not holding proponents of Social Security and Medicare cuts/privatization accountable for the things they say. It is therefore understandable the Post would quickly give a coveted oped slot to Mr. Ryan to make amends for such a grievous breach of protocol. The rest of us may not have the power to invent the facts that would be needed to push our policies, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun. Let's count the inaccuracies (they call them something else outside of DC) in Mr. Ryan's piece. 1 and 2) In the second sentence we get the line: "Only in Washington could the government raid one entitlement program [Medicare] to finance a brand-new one [Obama's health care program] and still claim that deficits have been reduced and entitlements have been reformed." Let's see, "raid" refers to proposals to contain costs in Medicare. If I spend less on groceries this week, have I "raided" my food budget? At the least, this is an interesting use of the term "raid." Assume for the moment that the projected cost savings can be achieved without jeopardizing the quality of care (Ryan does not argue this point), what is the problem with using savings from one program to finance another and still have some additional savings left over to reduce the deficit? That's the same arithmetic they use everywhere, even in Representative Ryan's home state of Wisconsin. (I know this, when I was in high school I went to a math contest there.) And President Obama's program was scored as reducing the budget deficit by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, so it was not his administration's own funny numbers. The second sentence of the second paragraph tells readers: "Last year's report revealed a $38 trillion shortfall over the next 75 years." Presenting a huge sum like this without any context (e.g. approximately 2.0 percent of future GDP) is certainly misleading, but in keeping with the Post's policy of affirmative action for deficit hawks like Ryan, we'll ignore this one. 3) In the next sentence Ryan tells readers: "This year the shortfall appears to have decreased, but only after the Democrats' health bill cut $529 billion from Medicare." Okay, this may not be a misrepresentation, just a non sequitur. Yes, if you are to improve a program's finances you must either increase its revenue or cut its spending, so the Democrats propose to cut spending on Medicare. You caught them in the act, Mr. Ryan. 4) In the next sentence we have: "This apparent improvement was the basis for Democratic celebration -- even though the program remains tens of trillions of dollars in the hole." Okay, this one is beyond debate. The new projections show a Medicare shortfall equal to 0.3 percent of GDP over its 75 year projection period. This is equal to $2.7 trillion. And, even in Washington, $2.7 trillion is not "tens of trillions." The next sentence is: "With the same legislation that cut more than half a trillion dollars in Medicare spending, the Democrats created a nearly $1 trillion health-care entitlement." Okay, this is not an inaccuracy, but Mr. Ryan the deficit hawk has now managed to attack the Democrats for cutting Medicare three times and we have just started the third paragraph. 5 and 6) Ryan then tells us: "The Obama administration's own chief actuary has explained that in addition to the dubious assumptions on provider cuts and other claims of savings, the health-care law's Medicare cuts cannot be used to both reduce Medicare's unfunded obligations and pay for a new entitlement." Okay, the chief actuary is a non-political position. The current chief actuary, Richard S. Foster, was not appointed by Obama. The accounting used by the Obama administration with the Medicare savings is the standard accounting used for trust funds for decades. 7) Ryan begins the fourth paragraph: "Put simply, Medicare is on course to collapse." No, the trustees report released last week implies that it has a relatively minor shortfall. The trustees could be wrong, but if their projections prove accurate, then Medicare is actually in fine shape. 8) In the middle of the paragraph we get: "Exacerbating our unsustainable trajectory, health spending explodes under the Democrats' health plan -- raiding Medicare, expanding Medicaid and creating two entitlements without any clue of how to finance the ones we have now." Actually, CBO and the trustees showed health spending growing less rapidly than they had been without the plan. And, note that we have our fourth "raid" of Medicare. 9) The paragraph concludes: "the CBO warned last month of a devastating debt crisis within two decades." Actually, CBO bears part of the blame on this. It made a mistake in its projections which it subsequently corrected. 10) The fifth paragraph begins: "We do not have a choice as to whether Medicare will change from its current structure." No, if the trustees projections are correct, then we do not have to change Medicare's structure beyond the changes in current law. 11 and 12) Later in the paragrpah Ryan tells us: "the Democrats' political machine has attacked my contribution to this debate, making the false claim that the only solution put forward to save Medicare would "end Medicare as we know it." The main attacker of Ryan is Paul Krugman. Krugman is very far from being part of the "Democrats' political machine." In fact, he is almost certainly the prime embodiment of the "professional left" recently criticized by White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs. Of course Ryan's plan would end Medicare as we know it. It replaces a Medicare system that pays directly for health care with a voucher system. The voucher is explicitly designed not to keep pace with health care costs. Ryan describes the rate of increase in the size of the voucher as "a blended rate of the CPI and the medical care component of the CPI." In other words, something less than the rate of increase in health care costs. It is also means-tested, so that individuals with incomes above $80,000 would see their voucher cut in half (we might see a lot of people earning $79,999 under the Ryan plan) and those with incomes over $200,000 would not get the voucher. 13 and 14) In the next paragraph Ryan boasts that his Medicare cuts (raids?) would maintain the program's solvency: "while reforming the program to ensure it will be there for younger generations. Future seniors would have access to the same coverage I enjoy as a congressman." Of course the current projections already show that the program will be there for younger generations, so they don't need Mr. Ryan's plan, if the projections are correct. Of course there is absolutely nothing that ensures that Mr. Ryan's Medicare voucher will provide seniors with the same coverage that he enjoys as a member of Congress. 15) The next paragraph reads: "Far from the claims of "radicalism," this proposal is based on a key reform from the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, chaired by then-Sen. John Breaux (D-La.). That commission in 1999 recommended "modeling a system on the one Members of Congress use to obtain health care coverage for themselves and their families." Ryan's Medicare voucher might be a voucher system in the same way that a Yugo and a BMW are both cars, but there is absolutely nothing about Ryan's proposal that ensures Medicare beneficiaries the same quality of care as members of Congress. 16) Ryan then describes his Medicare voucher: "The Medicare payment would grow every year, with additional support for those who have low incomes and higher health costs, and less government support for high-income beneficiaries." Actually, the payment is explicitly designed to fall behind the rate of medical care cost inflation. Rather than those with lower incomes getting more, those with higher incomes (above $80,000 a year) would fall further behind inflation. 17 and 18) The penultimate paragraph begins: "If we act now, we can avoid disruptions for current seniors while advancing patient-centered reforms so Medicare will be strengthened for future beneficiaries. The alternative is the European-style death spiral of the welfare state: kick the can down the road as our debt explodes." Again, the latest projections from the Medicare actuaries imply that there is no great urgency to "act now." The "European-style death spiral" might be useful political ad hominem, but it has no meaning. Some European countries, like Greece and Italy, do face severe budget problems, however some of the countries with the most expansive welfare states, like Denmark and Sweden, have much lower debt burdens than the United States. 19) Ryan continues: "Under an ever-expansive, all-consuming central government, costs will be contained with Washington's heavy hand imposing price controls, slashing benefits and arbitrarily rationing seniors' care." Actually no one has raised the issue of rationing in any context. President Obama's plan will limit the procedures for which the government will pay, as is currently the case with Medicare. However, there is nothing that President Obama has put forward that would do anything to prevent people from getting whatever care they are willing to pay for. Apparently the word "rationing" scores well in focus groups, which is why Ryan and other Republicans use it frequently in their attacks. 20) The second to the last sentence in the last paragraph tells readers: "Ironically, if Democrats succeed in demagoguing to death efforts to save Medicare, that political victory will hasten the program's end." Of course, the Medicare trustees projections are correct, the program is nowhere near death, so we don't need Mr. Ryan's voucher plan to save Medicare. Ryan concludes by telling readers that his proposal is "my sincere attempt to break the political paralysis on entitlement reform, to show that this challenge can be met -- mathematically and politically -- and to challenge those who disagree with my proposal to offer their own." In the forgiving spirit of Friday the 13th, I will not count the reference to sincerity as an inaccuracy. The 20 inaccuracies and 4 references to raiding Medicare can speak for themselves. Of course to the seniors who would be unable to afford decent health care if Mr. Ryan's plan became law, his sincerity won't make any difference. But, I am happy to offer my own test of Mr. Ryan's sincerity. How about giving Medicare beneficiaries the option to buy into the more efficient health care systems in Europe, Japan, and Canada. The beneficiaries and the taxpayers will split the savings. This leaves the current system intact for those who like it, while offering seniors who opt to go elsewhere for their health care the opportunity to pocket tens of thousands of dollars while saving taxpayers money as well. What's wrong with giving people a choice, Mr. Ryan?
Judge Walker has lifted the stay on same-sex marriages, allowing gay couples to wed in California starting on August 18th. Officials all over the state had prepared to marry gay couples as soon as Walker's decision came down, and many couples had lined up -- unfortunately, they'll have to wait until the stay is officially lifted. It appears that the week-long delay is designed to allow Prop. 8 supporters the opportunity to appeal, according to LA Times blog:
U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who overturned the measure on Aug. 4, agreed to give its sponsors until Aug. 18 to appeal his ruling to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. No new marriages can take place until then.
Walker's decision came after supporters of the same-sex marriage ban warned that they would take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary to ensure that his ruling did not take effect.
bmaz at Firedoglake on what happens now:
So the case now moves on from the meticulous hands of Vaughn Walker and up to the 9th Circuit. First there is the matter of assignment to a panel. Then we will see whether the automatically generated briefing schedule set upon filing stays in place or is accelerated, whether by motion by a party or sua sponte by the court. UPDATE: And, as a simply beautiful little parting shot poke in the eye to the DI H8ters and bigots, Judge Walker’s court also just executed and lodged the Permanent Injunction prohibiting any and all enforcement of Proposition 8.
This action having come before and tried by the court and the court considered the same pursuant to FRCP 52(a), on August 4, 2010, ordered entry of judgment in favor of plaintiffs and plaintiff-intervenors and against defendants and defendant-intervenors and each of them, Doc #708, now therefore: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that: Defendants in their official capacities, and all persons under the control or supervision of defendants, are permanently enjoined from applying or enforcing Article I, § 7.5 of the California Constitution.
Vaughn Walker is something special, and the way he has worked this case is simply a work of art. My hat is off to a wonderful man and great judge. Liberty, justice and equality are beautiful things when you really see them in action. Let’s hope the 9th keeps that vision intact and alive; I think they will.
Geoff Kors, of Equality California writes, "This is an incredibly joyful moment in our history, not only for all of the committed couples who will finally be able to get married, but also because a fundamental constitutional freedom has been restored in our great state." Read Walker's latest ruling here.
Last night, Stephen Colbert took on family values philanderer Newt Gingrich. Newt's philosophy? "Do as I say, not who I do." Watch:
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The right-wing propaganda machine continues its manufactured freak-out over plans to build a Muslim Center near Ground Zero. Now, the American Family Association has weighed in, with predictable results -- grotesque anti-Muslim propaganda, open calls for discrimination, endorsement of totalitarian tactics, etc. Kyle at Right-Wing Watch:
Yesterday we noted that the AFA's Bryan Fischer was demanding the end to the construction of all mosques on the grounds that "each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government." He made the same case on his radio program, at first talking about the "Ground Zero Mosque," but then issuing a call for a blanket ban on the construction of any new mosques anywhere in the country:
On last night's show Jon Stewart wondered why plans to build a Muslim Center a few blocks from Ground Zero has met with such fierce criticism ... and why the same has happened in Tennessee, Wisconsin, California ... Watch:
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UPDATE: The AP confirms that former Senator Ted Stevens is among the dead in a plane crash in Southwest Alaska Monday. Agence France-Presse WASHINGTON — A plane believed to be carrying eight passengers has crashed in Alaska, the US state's National Guard said early Tuesday. The Anchorage Daily News reported that Alaska's former US senator Ted Stevens was traveling by plane Monday in the vicinity of the crash, and that his wife was concerned that he was on board the doomed aircraft. Reuters confirmed that Stevens was on the flight. The daily said Stevens, 86, was flying to the Agulowak Lodge, owned by the GCI company which also owns the single engine plane that crashed. A woman at the home of retired US Air Force general Joe Ralston, a Stevens family friend, said Ralston was comforting the politician's wife Catherine as they sought information about the accident, the report said. NBC news confirmed that former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe was on board the flight. O'Keefe is currently CEO of EADS North America. Medical personnel had reached the scene of the crash, which occurred Monday night in apparently poor weather near the town of Dillingham, about 300 miles (480 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage. The crash site is 17 miles northwest of Dillingham near Lake Aleknagik, close to where the Agulowak Lodge is located. A passing aircraft spotted the wreckage, and the National Guard said its squadrons were "battling inclement weather en-route to the scene" late Monday. The crash of the aircraft, which the newspaper identified as a de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter propeller plane, is the third in less than two weeks in the remote, sparsely populated state. Three people died earlier this month when a twin-engine cargo plane crashed in Denali National Park, and a US military C-17 Globemaster cargo plane crashed on a training mission late last month at the Elmendorf base near Alaska's biggest city Anchorage, killing all four crew members aboard.
Paul Krugman:
[Paul] Ryan has become the Republican Party’s poster child for new ideas thanks to his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a plan for a major overhaul of federal spending and taxes. News media coverage has been overwhelmingly favorable; on Monday, The Washington Post put a glowing profile of Mr. Ryan on its front page, portraying him as the G.O.P.’s fiscal conscience. He’s often described with phrases like “intellectually audacious.” But it’s the audacity of dopes. Mr. Ryan isn’t offering fresh food for thought; he’s serving up leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce.
Read the whole thing at the New York Times.