All men are enemies. All animals are comrades.

Lance Armstrong: Perspective

"Imagine working your ass off for years and getting recognized as the best employee in the company. Now imagine being fired the next day. You must be fired, they say, for cheating because no one could achieve so much, and the company doesn’t want anyone to feel bad about their lack of accomplishment.

Now you can imagine Lance Armstrong’s situation. For many, he’s one of the most heroic figures of the 21st century—a modern-day Saint George who both smote his own cancer and raised over a half-billion dollars to help others do the same. To a guy named Travis Tygart, however, Armstrong represents something far more cynical: that crab the rest of us desperately, furiously, do not want to let climb out of the mediocrity bucket.”

Islam Is a Religion, and Therefore Protected by the Constitution - Plaintiffs in a Tennessee lawsuit want to deny local Muslims the right to build a mosque. Why? They claim it's not a legitimate faith and shouldn't be allowed First Amendment rights.

It’s unclear whether a procedural victory for opponents of a controversial Islamic center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, will delay or permanently enjoin completion of a mosque, under construction since last September. Equally unclear, without detailed knowledge of the facts, are the merits of Chancellor Robert Corlew’s ruling that the planning commission had not provided proper public notice of the construction before granting a permit. But if this ruling is not a victory for bigotry (Corlew explicitly acknowledged the Islamic congregation’s rights under the First Amendment and a federal statute), it is a victory for the bigots who opposed the mosque out of antipathy toward Islam and the idiotic claim that it is not a religion.

Mosque opponents effectively “put Islam on trial,” KATV reports. At 2010 hearings, “a string of witnesses questioned whether Islam is a legitimate religion and promoted a theory that American Muslims want to replace the Constitution with extremist Islamic law and the mosque was a part of that plot.”

These are not arguments; they’re fantasies, and we have heard them all before, often from the same people who would conform constitutional rights (notably rights for gay people and women) to their understanding of biblical law. Still, the ignorance and un-self-conscious hypocrisy that underlies rants about Shariah law are breathtaking.

Here’s how Joe Brandon*, the plaintiff’s attorney in the Tennessee case, explains opposition to the mosque: “This Shariah-compliant facility must show they are a religious organization, which we vehemently dispute. They are a political organization with Shariah-compliant rules and regulations. Shariah and the U.S. Constitution cannot coexist.”


Serpent-handling pastor dies from rattlesnake bite.

Mack Wolford, a flamboyant Pentecostal pastor from West Virginia whose serpent-handling talents were profiled last November in The Washington Post Magazine , hoped the outdoor service he had planned for Sunday at an isolated state park would be a “homecoming like the old days,” full of folks speaking in tongues, handling snakes and having a “great time.” But it was not the sort of homecoming he foresaw.

Instead, Wolford, who turned 44 the previous day, was bitten by a rattlesnake he owned for years. He died late Sunday.

Who would have thought that harassing a deadly snake on a regular basis could go so wrong?

"Jack and Jill" wins all ten categories at the Razzies this year, with Adam Sandler winning the award for both "Worst Actor" and "Worst Actress."

The 32nd annual Razzie Awards, which recognize the worst movies and performances of the year, were held earlier this evening and according to Reuters, Adam Sandler’s “Jack and Jill” made Hollywood history by winning all ten categories.

That’s not just pretty bad, it’s legendarily bad.

Voted on by a panel of experts as well as anybody with an internet connection, the Golden Raspberry Awards have been given out every year since 1981. But never before has one movie crapped the bed as hard as “Jack and Jill.” Just how bad was it? Well, for his dual performance as twin sisters Jack and Jill, Sandler became the first performer to ever win both the Worst Actor and the Worst Actress awards.

The Myth Of American Exceptionalism - Americans are so caught up assuming our nation is God's gift to the planet that we forget just how many parts of it are broken.

Imagine a glee club with 196 diverse, well-groomed teenagers preparing to sing rock band Asia’s classic “Heat of the Moment.” There’s a lot of pressure to do well because a great performance could earn them a trip to regionals. A problem arises though: Three kids won’t sing Asia’s 1982 masterpiece, inexplicably insisting on performing Jefferson Starship’s “We Built This City.” Everyone tries to convince the holdouts to switch their song for the group’s sake. “We’ve come so far,” they plead. “Don’t hold us back when we’re this close to regionals!” Nonetheless, the 193 are met with refusal, and the future of this once-promising singing collective remains in question. If you were one of the 193-strong majority, wouldn’t you be frustrated at the asinine stubbornness? Now switch the legendary sounds of Asia for the metric system and the three contrarians with Liberia, Myanmar and the United States, and the situation seems even more ridiculous. The rest of the world uses a system based on universally accepted measurements. We cling to a system based on the size of a king’s foot. Any pinko commie foreigners be damned if they try to point out the absurdity of doing so.

Welcome to the 21st century U.S., where logic is fine and dandy as long as it doesn’t threaten the infallible notion of American exceptionalism. In the past, this meant belief in the potential of a fledgling nation to thrive above the rest because of our work ethic and independent spirit. Now it’s a cover-all justification to resist “change,” which, as everyone knows, is just a liberal code word for socialism.

Never mind that American education lags behind the rest of the first world, our bloated prison system has nearly 10 times the number of prisoners as any other developed country, and a significant amount of adults believe radio hosts with no college degrees are better informed about science than actual scientists.

The War Against Youth - The recession didn't gut the prospects of American young people. The Baby Boomers took care of that.

Twenty-five years ago young Americans had a chance.

In 1984, American breadwinners who were sixty-five and over made ten times as much as those under thirty-five. The year Obama took office, older Americans made almost forty-seven times as much as the younger generation.

This bleeding up of the national wealth is no accounting glitch, no anomalous negative bounce from the recent unemployment and mortgage crises, but rather the predictable outcome of thirty years of economic and social policy that has been rigged to serve the comfort and largesse of the old at the expense of the young.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, human potential has been consistently growing, generating greater material wealth, more education, wider opportunities — a vast and glorious liberation of human potential. In all that time, everyone, even followers of the most corrupt or most evil of ideologies, believed they were working for a better tomorrow. Not now. The angel of progress has suddenly vanished from the scene. Or rather, the angel of progress has been sent away.

Nobody ever talks about generational conflict. Who wants to bring up that the old are eating the young at the dinner table? How are you going to mention that to your boss? If you’re a politician, how are you going to tell your donors? Even the Occupy Wall Street crowd, while rejecting the modes and rhetoric and institutional support of Boomer progressives, shied away from articulating the fundamental distinction that fills their spaces with crowds: young against old.

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The USPS is an unmatched bargain, a civic treasure, a genuine public good that links all people and communities into one nation. So, naturally, it must be destroyed.

For the past several months, the laissez-fairyland blogosphere, assorted corporate front groups, a howling pack of congressional right-wingers and a bunch of lazy mass media sources have been pounding out a steadily rising drumbeat to warn that our postal service faces impending doom. It’s “broke,” they exclaim; USPS “nears collapse”; it’s “a full-blown financial crisis!”


In 2006, the Bush White House and Congress whacked the post office with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act — an incredible piece of ugliness requiring the agency to PRE-PAY the health care benefits not only of current employees, but also of all employees who’ll retire during the next 75 years. Yes, that includes employees who’re not yet born! No other agency and no corporation has to do this. Worse, this ridiculous law demands that USPS fully fund this seven-decade burden by 2016. Imagine the shrieks of outrage if Congress tried to slap FedEx or other private firms with such an onerous requirement.

Why would Republicans pass this for any reason other than to slowly bleed the USPS dry, and grease the hands of FedEX, UPS and the like? Oh, that is why? Cool.