American Morning

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October 9th, 2009
06:30 AM ET

Avlon: 'Wingnuts' race to the bottom

Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics and writes a weekly column for The Daily Beast. Previously, he served as Chief Speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Rep. Alan Grayson (L) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R)."]

With Congress’ approval ratings hitting 21%, according to a new Gallup poll, the polarization and hyper-partisanship is taking a toll. This week we look at two more members of the House of Representatives who’ve been adding fuel to the fire, earning them entry into the Wingnut Hall of Shame: Republican Louie Gohmert and Democrat Alan Grayson.

On the right, Texas Republican Louie Gohmert drew stunned reviews after a rambling speech on the House floor, speaking on the subject of a hate crimes provision attached to a defense bill. Here’s part of what he said:

“If you’re oriented toward animals, bestiality, then that’s not something that could be held against you ... which means that you’d have to strike any laws against bestiality. If you’re oriented toward corpses, toward children. You know, there are all kinds of perversions, what most of us would call perversions, some would say it sounds like fun, but most of us would say were perversions and there have been laws against them and this bill says that whatever you're oriented toward sexually that cannot be a source of bias against someone.”

We’ve heard this riff before from conservatives like Rep. Steve King and Chuck Norris. It’s reaching for slippery-slope legal arguments sure sounds scary – but it’s thoroughly debunked by sources like Politifact – because for, among other reasons, pedophilia, necrophilia and bestiality are criminal acts while gays and lesbians are protected by basic civil rights.

Gohmert’s ramble somehow drew Hitler’s Germany into the conversation – which is an ever-popular wingnut tactic. He also took time to announce that he was not racist because he once voted for Alan Keyes for president – a man most recently seen calling Obama a communist and defending the birthers.

But Gohmert’s been busy developing Hall of Fame Wingnut credentials this year. He’s a co-sponsor of the Birther Bill and waded into the health care debate on 9/11 Truther Alex Jones’ radio show by stating "this socialist health care ... is going to absolutely kill senior citizens. They’ll put them on lists and force them to die early." Stay classy, Louie.


Filed under: Wingnuts of the week
October 9th, 2009
06:15 AM ET

NASA to give moon 1-2 punch in search of water

(CNN) - Two U.S. spacecraft are set to crash on the moon Friday. On purpose. And we're all invited to watch.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="An artist's rendering shows the LCROSS spacecraft, left, separating from its Centaur rocket."]

NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite is scheduled to drop its Centaur upper-stage rocket on the lunar surface at 7:31 a.m. ET.

NASA hopes the impact will kick up enough dust to help the LCROSS probe find the presence of water in the moon's soil. Four minutes later, the LCROSS will follow through the debris plume, collecting and relaying data back to Earth before crashing into the Cabeus crater near the moon's south pole.

The LCROSS is carrying spectrometers, near-infrared cameras, a visible camera and a visible radiometer. These instruments will help NASA scientists analyze the plume of dust - more than 250 metric tons' worth - for water vapor.

The orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will watch, and photograph, the collisions. And hundreds of telescopes on Earth also will be focused on the two plumes.

NASA is encouraging amateur astronomers to join the watch party.

"We expect the debris plumes to be visible through midsized backyard telescopes - 10 inches and larger," said Brian Day at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. Day is an amateur astronomer who is leading education and public outreach for the LCROSS mission.

Ames will host "Impact Night," an event with music and food starting Thursday evening before a live transmission of the lunar impact will be shown around 4:30 a.m. PT Friday. Other science observatories and amateur astronomy clubs across the country will be hosting similar events. iReport: Are you planning to watch?

Read the full story »

Filed under: NASA
October 9th, 2009
06:00 AM ET

What’s on Tap – Friday October 9th, 2009

Here are the big stories on the agenda today:

Two big breaking stories on tap...

  • Stunning news this morning that made every jaw in the newsroom drop.  President Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize... Less than nine months into his presidency.  The announcement coming a little more than an hour ago from Oslo.  We're reaching out to the White House to see whether anyone there even knew this was coming.  Our experts are weighing in all morning long about what this means, if anything at all, in places like Iran and Afghanistan.
  • NASA bombs the moon.  The space agency fired a rocket at the lunar surface in hopes that the fallout will reveal signs of water.  It’s an extraordinary mission to see if the moon could sustain life… maybe a real estate opportunity too.

Filed under: What's On Tap
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