GOPer: Food Stamps “Too Darn Comfortable”

From Mother Jones:

By Andy Kroll|

Thu Oct. 28, 2010

Three dollars and thirty-seven cents. That’s the average benefit an individual on government food stamps receives each day, according to the USDA. Here in DC, it’s enough to buy, say, a box of cereal or a head of lettuce or a couple cans of beans. Would you call that $3.37 a day “too darn comfortable”?

Nick Popaditch, a Republican House candidate in California and retired Marine, did just that last week in a debate with opponent Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.). As Think Progress reported, an audience member at the debate asked Popaditch how, if elected, he would ensure there were “no further cuts are made to the food stamp benefits.” I’ll bet the questioner didn’t expect this response:

What would I do to make sure no further cuts are made to food stamp benefits? Wow. Once again, I recognize there’s a difference between an entitlement and a promise. Now that would fall under the category of an entitlement. Now I believe in a safety net, but I certainly don’t think we need to make it too darn comfortable down there on that safety net. I’m not a cruel man, but I think we absolutely need to make these systems not as comfortable as they are now.

“Too darn comfortable”? $3.37 a day? At a time when the shelves of food banks across the country are bare due to skyrocketing demand, when the country’s largest food charity is helping to feed 37 million Americans (including 14 million children) each week, when more than a third of households needing food from shelters have to choose between food and other essentials including rent and health care, Popaditch’s remark is as tone-deaf and off the mark as you’ll hear all election season.

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Religious Right Claims Gay Advocates to Blame for Suicides

From Southern Poverty Law Center:  Hate Watch:

by Robert Steinback

October 22, 2010

More than a little rhetorical contortionism is required to follow their logic, but according to several better-known leaders of the religious right, responsibility for the recent wave of suicides of gay teens rests largely with… gay-rights activists.

The argument goes something like this: Young homosexuals who are relentlessly bullied and taunted commit suicide because gay-rights advocates (eager to “recruit” new homosexuals and to make the world gay-friendly) encourage acceptance of homosexuality among normal (meaning straight) children, which confuses them about their own sexual “preference.” That, added to gay-rights activists’ purported efforts to “bully” Christians to prevent them from condemning homosexuality, creates an intolerable level of emotional stress, leading to tragedy.

Five teenagers nationwide committed suicide during a three-week span in September after being bullied, taunted or outed as homosexuals. Seven student suicides — at least four of which apparently involved anti-gay bullying — rocked a single Minnesota school district during the last year. On Tuesday, a 19-year-old Oakland University student who had reportedly been bullied since revealing that he was gay, took his own life. (Earlier this month, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a 40-minute documentary on the subject, “Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History,” that is being offered free to schools around the country.)

But even the occasion of these young suicides — something that has horrified most Americans and received intensive media attention — has been taken by some right-wing commentators as merely one more opportunity to bash gays.

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I am Not a Fashionista!

When I came out in 1969 I lived in a commune on Grayson Street in Berkeley.  It was in the distinctly unfashionable industrial area a couple of blocks west of San Pablo Ave.

I was a hippie and dressed in free or thrift store clothes.  While I had a couple of dresses and skirts I wore jeans a lot.  Bell bottoms were hip in those days.

I didn’t fit in with the sisters I met in San Francisco.  They were into clothes and fashion.  They thought me strange because my make-up and style matched that of the Berkeley radical and hippie women who were part of my community.

I got into fashion when I worked at the NTCU.  It was hard not to, what with it being an interest of so many of my peers.

But even then I felt more attuned to the feminist messages that fashion is exploitation and oppressive, a way of enforcing  conformity, consumerism, classism and objectification.

If I sound a bit ambivalent regarding fashion you would be right.

Glamor is seductive and I like pretty as much as anyone else.  Not caring about fashion does not mean I don’t like clothes or looking aesthetically pleasing.  It means I don’t like being sold a pre-packaged aesthetic, particularly one that doesn’t reflect my personality, ethos, politics but rather reflects the aesthetics of a designer who created the package.

I even like the designs of certain designers and feel their designs present a look in tune with the image I wish to present.

The clothes from these designers tend to be of a type that would fit in a wardrobe for years and never look dated.

In the 1970s when I read all the fashion magazines the most important part was usually the little name one finds along side or at the bottom of the photographs saying who took them.

My favorite expensive necklace was my Nikon F2s.

My favorite jacket was either a black blazer or the black leather motorcycle jacket.

I don’t wear high heels, haven’t put on pantie-hose in years.

Now I look to the streets for ideas, the Eddie Bauer catalog, L.L. Bean.

While I used to love Vogue so many of the photographers I loved are dead and the politics of fashion with the hard sell of gender and class has taken all the fun away from what was always, for me an irrelevant topic.

The fun has been pushed to the back ground, replaced by the hard sell of class anxiety where winning and image are everything and if you don’t have 500 dollars for a pair of shoes then you are a loser.

Fashion works class anxiety as a way of selling objects aimed at signifying membership among the rich elite, hence the law enforcement efforts to crack down on look alike handbags and watches.  After all if the retail sales slave can own a 40 dollar bag that says Louis Vuitton on it and that looks identical to an actual Louis Vuitton bag that cost 1500 dollars, that subverts the status value of the 1500 dollar bag.

Fashion has become a way of selling class status, a way of saying I have more money than you therefore I am better than you and you should be subservient in my presence.

It wasn’t always that way.

We forget the impact of the Class War started by the conservatives of the Reagan/Thatcher era with its slogan of “Greed is Good” and its ethos of “ME, ME, ME”.  We forget the rise of the ethos of “he who dies with the most toys, wins” and the end of the idea of equality.

Vogue on the outside, vague on the inside.

Nah.  I’m not a fashionista because I see the people who are as having shallow sucky values, like Marie Claire writer Maura Kelley who was taken down over on Feministe the other day:

When it comes to values and clothes I think I like my t-shirts and jeans better.  I’d rather shop at an out let store and get something at half price a season or two later.

And it doesn’t much matter because most of the stuff I like are classics and never go out of fashion.

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Ginni Thomas’ Think Tank Allied With Group That Celebrates Spanish Inquisition

Time to end the Taliban Christian Jihadi reign of terror.

Impeach Clarence Thomas.

From Alternet:

By Adele M. Stan


The Tea Party think tank run by Justice Thomas’ wife counts among its friends the far-right Catholic group Tradition, Family and Property.

In recent days, the media has turned its attention to Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — not for her troubling ties to right-wing extremist groups, but for her bizarre demand for an apology from the woman who accused her husband of sexual harassment more than a decade ago. Yet Mrs. Thomas’ Tea Party think tank, Liberty Central, promotes the causes of groups that take pride in intolerance, including one right-wing Catholic group, Tradition, Family and Property, whose founder declared the Spanish Inquisition “the most beautiful page in the history of the Church.”

Earlier this year, AlterNet reported on Liberty Central’s embrace of Gun Owners of America, whose president, Larry Pratt — guru to the militia movement — unapologetically addressed a rally of white supremacists in 1992, and more recently told attendees of a gun owners’ rally in Washington, D.C., that they are “at war” with the federal government. We also looked at Liberty Central’s relationship with the Missouri Sovereignty Project, which threatens armed insurrection against the government. Since then, Thomas has added to the “Friends of Liberty Central” page on her think tank’s Web site a plug for Tradition, Family and Property, a virulently anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-democratic Catholic group founded in 1960 in opposition to Brazilian land reform.

TFP has long enjoyed ties to the far right in American politics, including the International Freedom Foundation, which existed primarily as an American front group for the apartheid regime in South Africa during the Reagan years, according to researcher Richard Bartholomew, and was once led by convicted felon and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But TFP is better known for its role in promoting and supporting authoritarian regimes in South America. Here’s Bartholomew:

TFP played a role in the 1964 coup in Brazil, and in Uruguay it allegedly received explosives from the Brazilian military attaché that were used to attack communist installations. The editor of TFP’s Chilean magazine, Jaime Guzmán, became chief ideologist for General Pinochet’s regime.

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Pat Condell, God or Nothing

Pentagon’s threat-prediction system would scan emails, texts

From Raw Story:

By Daniel Tencer
Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 — 10:09 pm

In an effort to prevent the next Fort Hood-style shooting before it happens, the Pentagon has launched a program to scan massive amounts of communications and detect anomalies in behavior that could predict “insider threats” to the military.

While the Pentagon’s advanced research arm describes the project as being designed to detect threats to the military from within its own ranks, critics say such a system would inevitably invade the privacy of millions of people and could be the thin end of the wedge towards a “police state.”

Earlier this month, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency posted a notice announcing the project. The agency has set aside $35 million for the effort, which has been dubbed ADAMS, or “Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales.”

If successful, the project would “detect ‘anomalies’ in a person’s behavior by sifting through billions of e-mail and text messages prior to such a homicidal or suicidal outburst,” reports Government Security News.

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Has WikiLeaks landed in cyberattack crosshairs?

From CNET News:

October 27, 2010

Forget China or Al Qaeda. In a twist that would have been inconceivable even a few months ago, the Web site is being proposed as the first public target for a U.S. government cyberattack.

After the shadowy, document-leaking organization distributed nearly 400,000 classified documents from the Iraq war on Friday, Washington officialdom responded with a torrent of denunciations alleging violations of national security and endangering U.S. military operations.

In a rare point of congruence, The Washington Post and The Washington Times both criticized the release, with the smaller paper arguing that WikiLeaks’ offshore Web site should be attacked and rendered “inoperable” by the U.S. government. Some hawkish conservatives followed suit, including Christian Whiton, a State Department adviser under President George W. Bush, who wrote a column calling on the U.S. military to “electronically assault WikiLeaks and any telecommunications company offering its services to this organization.”

Their target’s actually not that far away. WikiLeaks’ Web site is now hosted on servers on United States soil near San Jose, Calif.

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US – Not so fast — sex differences in the brain are overblown…

Sent to me by Brenda Lana Smith

[2010-10-27 PhysOrg]

Psychology & Psychiatry

Not so fast — sex differences in the brain are overblown

October 27, 2010

People love to speculate about differences between the sexes, and neuroscience has brought a new technology to this pastime. Brain imaging studies are published at a great rate, and some report sex differences in brain structure or patterns of neural activity. But we should be skeptical about reports of brain differences between the sexes, writes psychological scientist Cordelia Fine in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The results from these studies may not necessarily withstand the tests of larger sample sizes or improved analysis techniques — and it’s too soon to know for sure what such results, even if they prove to be reliable, might mean for differences in male and female minds.

Bookstores are full of popular books on the differences between men’s and women’s brains. Fine, who works at Macquarie University in Australia, first became interested in the issue as a parent. She was reading a book about how the differences between boys’ and girls’ brains mean they should be taught differently. But as an academic, she was curious about the research on which these claims were based, and looked up the original studies.

“There were huge discrepancies between what the neuroimaging studies showed and the conclusions and claims that were being drawn from them,” she says. In the article and her new book, Delusions of Gender, Fine dissects the ways that research goes astray between the scanning machine and the sound bite.

Some of the problems start with the research. The studies Fine came across were often conducted with small numbers of men and women, where the differences seen could have been due to chance. It’s very easy and obvious for neuroscientists to compare the sexes by default. But when neuroscientists habitually check for sex differences< >, some researchers, just by chance, will find statistically significant differences between the two groups—even if there’s no real difference between men and women overall.

This problem of false positive results is understood by the neuroscientists who do the research; they know that one study with 20-odd participants that finds some small region of difference between males and females is not the final word on the issue. But these often subtle, questionable differences are readily seized on by popular writers, Fine says.

Another problem is how to interpret sex differences in the brain. Neuroscientists are only beginning to understand how neural activity < > brings about complex psychological phenomena. The temptation, to which popular writers are particularly vulnerable, is to use gender stereotypes to bridge that gap in scientific knowledge.

The fact that neuroimaging studies use complex, expensive machines that seem to take pictures of the brain may also make their results seem more real, reliable, and impressive than behavioral studies. As a result, substantial behavioral evidence of gender similarity, or the sensitivity of gender differences to context, can be overshadowed by a single finding of a sex difference in the brain.

“A healthy dose of skepticism is required when it comes to reports of sex differences in the brain < > and what they mean,” says Fine, who is concerned that claims about differences in male and female brains are reinforcing old-fashioned gender stereotypes.

Provided by Association for Psychological Science (news : web )

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