New York City again shows that the as one of only two American city cities* actually attacked by Islamic terrorism, it is the one perhaps most willing to embrace Muslims, immigrants, and its own rich cultural diversity. From Newsday:

The Empire State Building will be illuminated green this weekend to mark the Islamic holy days of Eid-al-Fitr (EED-ALL-FEET-er).
The joyous "Festival of Fast-breaking" marks the end of Ramadan, a month of intense spiritual renewal.
This year is the first time the famous skyscraper will be aglow for the Islamic holiday. A spokeswoman for the building's owner says it will be an annual event, in the same tradition of the yearly skyscraper lighting for Christmas and Hanukah.
In Islam, the color green symbolizes a happy occasion and the importance of nature.

* I am a complete idiot. Thanks to melissa in the comments.

I've blogged before about how much I love factcheck.org. They come through again with some real treats on the Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson got the facts straight for his GOP debate debut Oct. 9. But former Mayor Rudy Giuliani added to a lengthening string of exaggerations and misstatements:
Giuliani claimed Sen. Hillary Clinton once called the free-market economy "the most destructive force in modern America." She didn't say that. She quoted another author who said free markets were "disruptive." She also said free markets bring prosperity.
The mayor falsely claimed Clinton proposes to give $1,000 to "everybody." Her proposed subsidies to workers' retirement accounts would be for couples making up to $60,000 a year and would be $500 for those making up to $100,000.
Giuliani falsely claimed that more than 2 percent of the nation's gross domestic product is spent on "frivolous" lawsuits. The figure is from a study about the cost of all lawsuits.

One of the great enduring myths created by the American auto industry is that SUVs are safer than regular cars. The Ford Explorer rollover scandals in 2000 helped pierce this image a little, but Americans still seem to believe that an SUV is a safe place to store a family on the road. (The Frost children, in fact, who've been attacked by right wingers during the SCHIP debate were nearly killed when the family SUV slid off the road and hit a tree.)

The data, however, continue to show that most people would be safer in a Mini Cooper (or a minivan) than a Chevy Trailblazer. The latest news comes from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, whose new crash tests show that most SUVs perform poorly when hit from the side, even though they're much higher off the ground than other cars.

"People often think they're safer in one of these vehicles, but many cars hold up better than some of these midsize SUVs in this test," David Zuby, the institute's senior vice president, told the Associated Press.

You can watch the crash videos here.

By now, you may have heard some of the buzz surrounding McCain Blogette, the new blog put out by John McCain's daughter, Meghan, and her friends (including "political fashionista" La-Toria Haven, thank goodness). The second family campaign blog this cycle, McCain Blogette is more of a shameless self-promotional vehicle than, say, a shameless pander for family-values votes like the Romneys' Five Brothers. But this new genre has real potential. Here are some other efforts we'd like to see:

  • Chelsea Clinton—McKinsey Confidential: Chronicling an ambitious young woman's quest to make it in the all-boys club consulting world
  • Grace and Christina Dodd, Malia and Sasha Obama, Emma Claire and Jack Edwards, Jenna Brownback—The Playpen: Influential group blog for intelligentsia of the under-10 set
  • Randy Tancredo—Minuteman: Liveblogging the immigration fight, straight from the borderlands
  • Caroline Giuliani—My Obama Girl: Caroline signs on as occasional guest blogger at fan site
  • David Huckabee—Huck's Heart: Online community service clearinghouse, part of court-ordered restitution for animal cruelty incident, weapons charges

Readers, let's see what you can come up with! There's a Beau Biden gag just begging to be made here.

—Justin Elliott

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, says that he has no intention of investigating Blackwater USA and other government contractors who have been accused of criminal action.

Lieberman said he gets "angry when I hear about fraud or corruption in the spending of American dollars," but "You've got to set your own priorities, and it was clear to me that other committees were going to pick this up."

Where I come from, the alleged murder of seventeen people is not classified as "fraud" or "corruption," but Lieberman sees it another way. His counterpart in the House of Representatives, Rep. Henry Waxman, is holding hearings on the Blackwater incident.

Halo 3, the violent video game that made Microsoft hundreds of millions of dollars in its first week on store shelves, is now being used to attract young men to church, the New York Times reports today. "Teens are our 'fish,'" one youth pastor wrote in a letter to parents. "So we've become creative in baiting our hooks."

The headline of the article is "Thou Shalt Not Kill, Except in a Popular Video Game at Church," which seems to be trying to paint church leaders as hypocritical for using Halo parties to get kids in the door, and then selling them the gospel. Sure, being against violent media and then using that same media to recruit churchgoers is hypocritical. But even though the author mentions evangelical opposition to violent games, he never presents an example of a pastor who condemned violent games and then used them for outreach. Without that, there is no evidence of hypocrisy. There are just some pastors disagreeing with other pastors about what is appropriate.

Simply believing in the 10 Commandments and then playing a violent video game is not hypocritical. Killing virtual aliens is not equivalent to violating the 5th (sometimes 6th) commandment, and it's insane for the Times to imply that it is. Most religious scholars agree that killing animals doesn't violate "Thou shalt not kill." Why would killing imaginary characters be prohibited?

But even if the author didn't want to hunt down actual evidence of hypocrisy, there were still plenty of other interesting questions left unasked. As I wrote in an article two weeks ago, the Halo games have always been an online playground for bigots of all stripes. Homophobia, racism, and antisemitism are rampant in the smack talk that is a staple of the multiplayer game. So it's especially interesting to learn that some of the young men (they're almost all men) who are playing Halo are doing it at church. Are they shocked to hear what other players say? Do their pastors insist that they play with the mute button on? Or, more disturbingly, are some of these young Christian soldiers and the hate-spewers one and the same?

The missing mayor of Atlantic City has officially resigned after spending a week in a psych hospital. Robert W. Levy may have been in a little over his head as mayor. Before getting elected, he had served for decades as the city's chief lifeguard...

Che-nniversaries

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the killing of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. World Hum has the stories behind the popularity and endurance of the Che image, and Gridskipper has a list of all the places in San Francisco you can go to talk about The Motorcycle Diaries and sip mocha frappa whatevers. As they put it: "Oh socialist politics, you are so delicious when you're co-opted for a capitalist enterprise." Viva La Revolucion!

Does living in a house worth $250,000 in Baltimore make a family of six rich? That's what conservatives seem to think.

After 12-year-old Graeme Frost helped Democrats lobby Congress to pass a bill expanding the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), conservatives vilified his family, claiming they were too affluent to qualify for the program. The state health insurance program helped pick up the tab when Graham and his sister were injured in a car accident that left them both in comas and hospitalized for five months. Because, among other things, they live in a house assessed at $263,000 (originally bought for $50,000) and make a little under $50,000 a year, critics seem to believe that the Frosts and their four kids were living high on the hog (and were apparently just too cheap to buy private insurance).

"Bad things happen to good people, and they cause financial problems and tough choices," Mark Steyn wrote on the National Review Online. "But, if this is the face of the 'needy' in America, then no-one is not needy."

The implication, of course, is that before getting any help from the government, the Frosts should have sold their home and everything else they own to pay the medical bills first. Aside from being highly irrational—a quarter-million dollars will barely buy a parking space in some parts of D.C., much less cover five months of hospital bills for catastrophic head injuries—what good is government-sponsored health insurance if you first have to become homeless and bankrupt before you're worthy enough to use it? The vicious attacks on the Frosts seem like a harbinger of things to come, unfortunately, should any democratic president actually succeed in getting some sort of health care reform off the ground.

Friedman, from today's column:

I've been calling them "Generation Q" — the Quiet Americans, in the best sense of that term, quietly pursuing their idealism, at home and abroad. But Generation Q may be too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country's own good.

He's right to call for activism and political engagement, but it's pretty ripe that a war supporter as influential as Thomas Friedman is criticizing young people for being the "Quiet Generation." The Iraq war didn't happen because too few students were marching in the streets. It happened, in large part, because trusted liberal public intellectuals like (gasp!) Thomas Friedman supported it. They legitimized the Bush administration's story and worked as cheerleaders for intervention. Just because it happened behind the TimesSelect paywall or on Charlie Rose doesn't mean we don't remember. The saddest part is that Friedman's still such an influential figure that many people in his generation will pick up on this convenient, self-absolving narrative: "It's all the kids' fault. They didn't protest enough." Don't be surprised if you hear your parents spouting this to you two weeks from now. But that's a pretty big glass house to be throwing stones from, sir.