Will The UK Stay In The EU?

Oct 23 2014 @ 5:48pm

EU Support

Iain Martin nods:

Ipsos Mori shows that support for the EU at its highest level since 1991. YouGov’s EU referendum tracker also gives the status quo a narrow lead by 40 per cent to 39 per cent this month. How can this be when Ukip is running rampant? The truth is that for all the cocky Ukip rhetoric about a people’s army, the party appeals to nothing like a majority.

Alex Massie suspects that “that UKIP, paradoxically, tarnish and hamper their own cause”:

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The Odd Lies Of Bristol Palin

Oct 23 2014 @ 5:10pm

Well, she couldn’t help herself, could she? Maybe Charles Cooke will ask Bristol Palin why she is spilling so much ink on the topic. But today she brings us her deliciously hathetic view of the past couple of months, including her account of the brawl she was in. She might have given just her side of the story. But, of course, she also had to go there didn’t she, with the usual Palinite victimology and press-bashing. So let’s fisk it a little, shall we?

First, the media said Trig was not really my mom’s kid.

Untrue. No mainstream outlet touched the question of her mother’s bizarre account of her last pregnancy, let alone stated that Trig was not her son. And the few of us who merely asked for a simple verification of the alleged improbable facts – including me and the Anchorage Daily News – were vilified by the rest of the press, treated as pariahs, and told to jump off a cliff by the Palins. There must be a mountain of medical records that could easily have verified Palin’s own bizarre “I was only pregnant a month” account of her last pregnancy – including a wild plane ride from Texas to Alaska, with one stop-over, while in labor with a child with Down Syndrome – but none was forthcoming. I begged her to make a fool out of me for merely asking. Instead, she released a reclusive doctor’s letter about her medical history just hours before the polls opened.

I don’t know the truth about this and never claimed I did. But the only reason why any doubt exists at all is because of Palin’s refusal to dispel it (even after the campaign to a news source offering to debunk the conspiracy tales). That’s not on me; it’s on her. And still is.

After a month and a half of hearing rumors about myself and family, I’ve finally decided to comment about the situation. Instead of listening to all the people who weren’t there — people who claim they heard this from their cousin/brother/sister-in-law/step-daughter/long lost little brother – let me tell you what actually happened.

“People who weren’t there?” “Rumors”? We’re talking about a public police report detailing the views of the people, on both sides, in the middle of the melee. Then Bristol gives an account of the incident in which she simply dismisses the eye-witness accounts of all the non-Palins there that she confronted the owner of the house and repeatedly punched him in the face until he finally stopped her. The incident has now become a very disturbing and unprovoked – “scary and awful” – assault on a vulnerable woman whose only crime was acting in self-defense. Which begs the question: if this is true, why on earth did she not press charges? If it’s that serious, she surely should have. Which is why CNN anchors should not be intimidated by the rightwing noise machine.

Then this:

I have mostly stayed out of the public eye for the past few years.

Oookaaay: two appearances on Dancing With The Stars in 2010 and 2012, one of the highest-rated shows in network TV; appearing on the ABC show, My Secret Life As A Teenager, in 2010; appearing on Sarah Palin’s Alaska reality TV show; her own reality-show, Life’s A Tripp, in 2012; and a memoir, Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far, in 2011. Apart from that, she was a fucking recluse.

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John Adams and Alice Goodman’s 1991 opera explores the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound American Jew who was killed during the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro by members of the Palestine Liberation Front. The Metropolitan Opera’ new staging of the play opened on Monday night, but long before the curtain was drawn, the drama had already begun, as the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish organizations (and some guy named Rudy Giuliani) protested the Met’s decision to stage a show that they claim has anti-Semitic overtones and tries to justify an act of terrorism:

Angry protesters gathered across from the Met on the opening night of the opera season last month; a pair of public talks with members of the “Klinghoffer” creative team were quietly called off; and Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said that he had received threats related to the production. He recently sent an email to the opera’s cast expressing regret that they had been subject to “Internet harassment” and defending the work from its critics, according to a copy obtained by The New York Times. Many Jewish leaders, including liberals and conservatives, are finding themselves drawn into the debate. The Met’s attempts to calm things by canceling a planned transmission of the opera to movie theaters around the world this fall accomplished little — and may have fueled more criticism. Now “Klinghoffer” threatens to become the Met’s most controversial company premiere since 1907, when Strauss’s “Salome” was deemed outrageous and banned for decades.

Alex Ross, vitally, reveals the hateful illiberalism of the opera’s prime critic:

The most aggressive rhetoric came from Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a money manager who has also worked as a political operative. A few years ago, Wiesenfeld won notoriety for seeking, unsuccessfully, to deny the playwright Tony Kushner an honorary degree, on account of Kushner’s criticisms of Israel. Wiesenfeld led the “Klinghoffer” rally, and he had much to say. “This is not art,” he thundered. “This is crap. This is detritus. This is garbage.” He declared, as he did at an anti-“Klinghoffer” event last month, that the set should be burned. He made a cryptic joke to the effect that, if something were to happen to Gelb that night, the board of the Met would be the first suspects.

Burning the set?

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Mental Health Break

Oct 23 2014 @ 4:20pm

Whom does an atheist thank after making a game-winning play?

Earlier this week, David Sanger reported that the administration is looking at ways to avoid a Congressional vote on a nuclear agreement with Iran, including ways to suspend sanctions via executive fiat. Jack Goldsmith takes issue with that approach, arguing that it would make any eventual deal very tenuous:

The fact that the President does not think he can get Congress on board for any deal with Iran signals to Iran that any deal would be with the President alone, and would last only as long as his waiver authority – i.e. two more years. The deal could last longer, as it did with the last major unilateral presidential deal with Iran, the 1981 Algiers Accords that effectuated the release of the hostages. In the transition between the Carter and Reagan administrations in January 1981 some in Congress and the press questioned whether President Reagan should honor the deal that Carter struck with Iran through Algerian intermediaries. President Reagan did honor it, of course, and the courts upheld his and Carter’s actions. But the situation with Iran today is different than 1981. … The bottom line, then, is that any deal struck by President Obama with Iran will probably appear to the Iranians to be, at best, short-term and tenuous. And so we can probably expect, at best, only a short-term and tenuous commitment from Iran in return.

William Tobey is on the same page:

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Earlier this week a reader from Texas gave us a great rundown of midterms down there. A reader in South Dakota follows suit:

Six months ago, I would tell anybody who would listen that there was zero chance that the Senate seat held by Democrat Tim Johnson was going to go to another Democrat. Former Governor Mike Rounds, a Republican, would win by a land slide. I used to laugh when I would see SD even put in any category but a surefire GOP win.

Now, I am not so sure. There is a big scandal here in SD that has the potential of dragging Mike Rounds down.

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Dissents Of The Day

Oct 23 2014 @ 3:20pm

A reader quotes me:

I still favor maximal religious liberty – even for a public accommodation like this one because requiring individuals to perform a marriage ceremony against their beliefs is just something we don’t do in a liberal society.

This business had two parts, based on the descriptions you provided. The first part was in the performance of marriages by the owners, and I agree that the owners should not be forced to perform a marriage contrary to their beliefs. But it sounds like their second business was in renting the space like you’d rent a ballroom at a hotel, with someone else performing the marriage. If they continue to rent the space to others, I don’t see why they should be exempt from anti-discrimination laws in who they rent to.

Another expands on that point:

I think the big legal issue here isn’t whether we should force ministers to perform gay weddings (I don’t think we should), but whether a for-profit business can use entirely pretextual changes to circumvent regulations. The ADF is picking a situation engineered to elicit a favorable response to the question – gay marriage, local ordinance – but the implications are massive. This is a shot strait at expanding corporate ability to exploit the Religious Freedom Restoration Act far beyond its intended purpose. In its Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court made the point that the courts are not in the job of measuring the religious sincerity of litigants. This case tests that proposition. Do we want a world where any for-profit business can escape regulations it finds burdensome by filing a few documents with the Secretary of State and changing the mission statement on its website? How long till a cottage industry of Corporate Religion Consultants starts advising every closely-held company on whether being Muslim or Mormon creates a better regulatory environment?

Another brings up the racial comparison:

As a country, we have been down this road before.

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The Black Plague

Oct 23 2014 @ 3:02pm

While Americans remain far safer from Ebola than you’d know from watching cable news, the epidemic still presents a real crisis in the three West African countries hardest hit, with the World Health Organization reporting almost 10,000 confirmed cases and at least 4,877 deaths, but probably a lot more:

The WHO has said real numbers of cases are believed to be much higher than reported: by a factor of 1.5 in Guinea, 2 in Sierra Leone and 2.5 in Liberia, while the death rate is thought to be about 70 percent of all cases. That would suggest a toll of almost 15,000. Liberia has been worst hit, with 4,665 recorded cases and 2,705 deaths, followed by Sierra Leone with 3,706 cases and 1,259 deaths. Guinea, where the outbreak originated, has had 1,540 cases and 904 deaths.

But how do the virus’s African origins affect the way we perceive it? For one thing, it leads to geographically ignorant nonsense such as this and, according to Lola Adesioye, it also inspires the media to stereotype the continent and its people:

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A Warmer, More Violent Planet

Oct 23 2014 @ 2:38pm

Chris Mooney flags a new meta-study on “the existing research examining the relationship between climate change and violence and conflict”:

[F]or a degree Celsius of temperature increase (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), [Stanford researcher Marshall Burke] says there could be a 20 percent increase in civil conflict in Africa. The impact of warming varies by region, however; some places are more sensitive to small heat increases than others. In the United States, the estimate would be lower: For 1 degree Celsius of warming, he’d expect about a 1 percent increase in interpersonal conflicts, a category that includes crimes like assault and robbery but also road rage and fights at baseball games.

A Small Bit Of Justice For Iraqis

Oct 23 2014 @ 2:21pm

Four former Blackwater security contractors were found guilty yesterday in the infamous 2007 Nisour Square massacre, during which they shot 14 Iraqi civilians to death and injured 17 others:

In an overwhelming victory for prosecutors, a jury found Nicholas Slatten guilty of first-degree murder. The three other three guards — Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard — were found guilty of multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun charges. The four men had been charged with a combined 33 counts in the shootings and the jury was able to reach a verdict on all of them, with the exception of three charges against Heard. The prosecution agreed to drop those charges.

Max Boot approves, calling the verdict “a step forward in holding contractors accountable for their conduct on the battlefield, but only a small step”:

After all, it took seven years to conclude this case–not that it’s concluded now since the defendants are likely to appeal. That is hardly the definition of expeditious justice.

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