Serendipity SOUL | Friday Open Thread

We hope you’re enjoying the poetry and jazz this week.  Happy Friday, Everyone!

Wikipedia: Yolande Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni (born June 7, 1943) is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Her primary focus is on the individual and the power one has to make a difference in oneself and in the lives of others. Giovanni’s poetry expresses strong racial pride, respect for family, and her own experiences as a daughter, a civil rights activist, and a mother. She is currently a distinguished professor of English at Virginia Tech.[1]

Love Is
Some people forget that love is
tucking you in and kissing you
“Good night”
no matter how young or old you are
Some people don’t remember that
love is
listening and laughing and asking
no matter what your age
Few recognize that love is
commitment, responsibility
no fun at all
Love is
You and me

Written by Nikki Giovanni

This entry was posted in Arts, Current Events, Love, Media, Politics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Friday Open Thread

  1. Hello 3 Chics!

    Would you be so kind to take a few seconds of your time to nominate us for The Black Weblog Awards 2011? Click on the link here


    Just enter our URL the following categories:

    [Best Culture Blog]

    This category is for blogs which analyze and discuss Black culture and/or the African diaspora with respect to art, dance, Black history, music, and other related content.

    [Best Faith-Based Blog]

    This category is for blogs which feature unique religious and spiritual content from any religion or faith.

    [Best Group Blog]

    This category is for a single blog which is updated by a group of people (two or more people). This blog can be about any topic.

    [Best New Blog]

    This category is for blogs of any topic which have been started on or after September 1, 2009.

    [Best Political or News Blog]

    This category is for blogs which are about politics or current newsworthy topics.

    [Blog of the Year]

    The blog of the year has it all: great writing, frequent posts, active comments, and a strong reader base.

    [Blog to Watch]

    This category is for that great blog that not everyone knows about…but should! It’s undiscovered. It’s a best kept secret. (Although it won’t be anymore if they win this award!)

  2. The Billionaires’ Tea Party HD

    Check out the stupid woman in the black T-Shirt! Just too ignorant for words..

  3. rikyrah says:

    Why Are the Republicans Afraid of President Obama?

    One of the most often-overheard refrains from the Republican Party and its far-right base is that President Obama is the worst president in American history. Others say he “pals around with terrorists.” They say he’s destroying America. They say that he’s weak, that he dithers and that he’s effete — implying either that he’s gay or effeminate or both. Around half of all Republicans have told pollsters that he’s not even constitutionally eligible to be president, which ought to mandate an immediate removal from office.

    But what does all of this say about the men and women who are noticeably hesitant to officially announce their candidacies for the Republican nomination? Not a single one of the well-known frontrunners has declared anything more than “exploratory committees” — quite literally the presidential campaign equivalent of dithering.

    At this juncture in the 2008 cycle, most of the major Democratic and Republican candidates were underway with their official campaigns. And yet…

    Michele Bachmann, a would-be frontrunner, called the president “even worse” than President Carter. She accused him of being “infantile” and suggested he wouldn’t even run for a second term because the “floor has dropped out” from his support. However, tough-talking Michele Bachmann hasn’t officially declared her candidacy to run against this allegedly unpopular weakling.

    Mitt Romney said that his “worst fears” about the president have come true and that the chief executive is pushing an “extreme liberal agenda.” Romney also accused the president of being “tentative, indecisive, timid and nuanced” on Libya. However, tough-talking Mitt Romney hasn’t officially declared his candidacy to run against such a timid and indecisive extremist. How would Mitt react when confronted by actual extremists? Hopefully not with the same timidity he’s exercising in his run for president.

    Sarah Palin has screeched nearly every imaginable insult at the president (often while she’s utterly botching commonly-known facts about the Constitution). She accused him of “dithering” on Libya. He’s a “spectator-in-chief,” she said. She’s accused him of being a socialist. She told Sean Hannity that she “fears for our democracy” due to the president’s agenda. She’s famously accused him of being a terrorist sympathizer — this alone ought to compel her to run for president if only to rid the executive branch of an obvious terrorist. However, pitbull Sarah Palin appears to be “dithering” when it comes to her campaign to run against this alleged terrorist, socialist ditherer.

    The irreversibly somnambular Tim Pawlenty has accused the president of being “weak” on foreign policy and “clueless” on the economy. Pawlenty accused the president’s Libya decision of being “belated and timid.” Okay, but what does it say about Pawlenty when he’s only announced an exploratory committee to run against someone who he believes is “weak” and “timid?”

    Newt Gingrich couldn’t even generate a consistent position on Libya. No wonder he can’t decide whether to run against the president, who, by the way, he accused of being “weak” and an “amateur” and the most “incompetent” commander-in-chief “since Carter.” But still no official campaign announcement from Gingrich. You’;d think someone as weak and incompetent would be easy to defeat, no?

    Donald Trump is, well — he’s the driver of the GOP clown car at this point and, as we’re all aware by its around-the-clock coverage on cable news, doesn’t believe the president is a citizen much less a legal office holder. And, of course, Trump believes the president is the “worst president in history.” No official announcement from Trump even though defeating a president this criminally out of bounds should be a cakewalk.

    If what they’re all saying were true (it’s not), why are they so clearly afraid to run against President Obama: a president who they claim is some sort of gelatinous, terrorist, girlish, treasonous, Eurotrash socialist, gay, Kenyan constitutional usurper?

    There are several reasons why the Republicans are dithering.

    First, Republican voters are more convinced about the wacky birth certificate thing than they are about their preference for a nominee. While 45 percent of Republicans believe the silly, fringe conspiracy theory that the president isn’t a citizen, 56 percent of Republicans support “none” of the candidates, with most of the frontrunners sharing single-digit support. That’s bad. 56 percent of Republicans would rather see “none of the above” than any of the current roster of would-be nominees. Simply put, Birtherism is more popular than the candidates themselves.

    Second, the president’s approval numbers are artificially weak. Gas prices and the slow decline of the unemployment rate are pissing off voters, and so they’re taking it out on the president. That said, there’s a long list of accomplishments which the president can ballyhoo against these negative event-driven gripes. In other words, in the absence of jobless numbers and high gas prices, there are quite a few positives. Economic growth is up, and has been steadily growing since the passage of the president’s recovery act. President Obama successfully appointed the first Hispanic female Supreme Court justice which invigorates a growing Hispanic demographic. Unemployment is slowly declining. The stock market is up, thus stabilizing 401(k)s and mutual funds owned by middle class Americans. And despite what the Republicans say, the president and the Democrats cut the deficit by $122 billion last year: the largest single-year decline in the deficit in American history. The list goes on and on. As soon as the Obama 2012 re-election campaign gets cranking on these accomplishments, the mostly unpopular Republican candidates will be almost totally neutered. Moreso than now.

    Third, the Republican legislative record is ridiculous. Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and John Boehner have introduced ideologically far-right, inconsequential and symbolic bills that kill Planned Parenthood and NPR. They’ve passed legislation that cuts spending for pregnant women. They’ve passed legislation that magically circumvents the constitutional lawmaking process. They refuse to raise taxes on the rich while trying to gut Medicaid and kill Medicare, even though supermajorities of Americans support both of these crucial healthcare programs — including majority support from tea party Republicans.

    And finally, at this late juncture, I don’t see how the Republicans will be able to compete with the Obama machine when it comes to money, even with the awful Citizen’s United decision and its subsequent deluge of corporate cash into the Republican Party.

    The modern Republican Party fancies itself the party of quick, decisive action. Shoot first and let God sort out the rest. You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists. It’s the party of swift military action. It’s the party that’s spending $500,000 in congressional money to fight gay people. It’s the party of apoplectic, doomsday talk radio screamers. It’s the party that mocks “femi-nazis” — the party that refuses to “bend over” for the “little black man-child.” This is what they say, and it’s a whole lot of blustery, impotent noise.

    There’s one last reason why the Republicans are so cautious about declaring their intentions. They’re cowards. And they’re self-debunking the mythology that modern Republicans are bold, brave “Reagan-ish” leaders. They’re cowards and so they’re moving at granny-speed rather than light-speed to run against the president — a real leader onto whom they’re projecting their dithering and indecisiveness.

    Not that I’m complaining.

  4. Allen West: Obama ‘A Low-Level Socialist Agitator’ (VIDEO)

    Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) stood by eyebrow-raising remarks he recently made about President Barack Obama during an interview with Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on Thursday night.

    Speaking recently on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” West asserted that the president demonstrated “third world dictator-like arrogance” in delivering a speech on the federal budget and government spending.

    “I do stand by those words,” said the conservative congressman, who was elected into office last November with support from the Tea Party movement. “The truth needs to be said.”

    “I am sick and tired of this class warfare, this Marxist, demagogic rhetoric that is coming from the President of the United States of America,” West explained. “It is not helpful for this country and it’s not going to move the ball forward as far as rectifying the economic situation in our country. And I’m not going to back away from telling what the truth is.”

    The freshman lawmaker took issue with the way in which the president has regarded Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who recently introduced a controversial budget proposal for the next fiscal year. “I think that when you look at what a community organizer is turning out to be, it does seem to be like a low-level socialist agitator,” he said.

    Last weekend, West and Donald Trump were the keynote speakers at a Tea Party rally in Florida. The congressman told Newsmax at the time that he hopes the billionaire is serious about considering running for president in the next election cycle. “This is not a time for any jokes, games or gimmicks, and I hope he is very serious,” said West, who also declined to rule out running on a ticket with Trump in 2012.

    Allen West is a bootlicking house nigga of the highest order!

  5. Muslim-hating, Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones accidentally shoots his gun in Michigan parking lot

    The Muslim-hating pastor whose Koran burning triggered deadly protests in Afghanistan last month nearly claimed more lives Thursday when his gun went off in a parking lot.

    Terry Jones was entering the passenger side of his car when he accidentally shot his 40-caliber handgun and sent a bullet through the floorboard of the vehicle, the Detroit Free Press reported.

    The hate-spewing preacher had just done an interview with Fox 2 TV of Michigan to promote an anti-Islam protest planned for this weekend in the city of Dearborn.

    “Officers heard a gunshot, approached the vehicle, asked Mr. Jones if he was OK,” Southfield Police Lt. Nick Loussia told the Free Press.

    “He was, and they also observed he had a gun in his hand.”

    Both Jones and his driver, who was also packing heat, were carrying valid Florida concealed weapons licenses and weren’t charged by police.

    “Based on the facts of the investigation it did not appear a crime had been committed,” Loussia said, adding that both men were allowed to leave the scene with their guns.

    Outside the court in Dearborn Friday morning, Jones tried to explain his careless mistake.

    “I always, always have the safety on, and I guess if I can find an excuse, I’d been up since 4:30 a.m. and I forgot to put \[the safety\] back on,” he said.

    Jones was in court to get permission from local authorities to protest in front of Dearborn’s Islamic Center of America.

    While he didn’t say whether he’d burn the Muslim holy book again, he had a message for critics who claim his actions incite violence.

    “If you burn the Bible, I’m not going to kill you.”

  6. This little darling was at the “Gen 44” Fundraiser for President Obama. What?
    She’s listening to the President’s every word. :)

    Isn’t she the cutest & sweetest you ever saw in your life? Too precious for words!

  7. Believers participate to a Good Friday procession to commemorate the death of Christ, on April 22, 2011 outside the Montmartre Basilica in Paris.

  8. Haley Barbour’s Increasingly Toxic Pre-Campaign for President

    Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, an all-but-certain GOP presidential candidate, has spent the past several months making outrageous, racially loaded statements about the people he represents, and the pattern is starting to seem calculated. As a policy maker, he has thus far hung much of his national profile on his eight-year war against Medicaid, the primary program for getting poor people access to healthcare. And yesterday, he had this to say to the Boston Globe:

    “There’s nobody in Mississippi who does not have access to health care,” Barbour said. “One of the great problems in the conversation is the misimpression that if you don’t have insurance, you don’t get health care.”

    An aide later explained to the Huffington Post that the governor meant uninsured people can go to the emergency room, as if that makes the statement less shocking. But there’s more. Barbour also offered this insight to the Globe:

    “Most of the health disparities in Mississippi are not because of the inability to get access or afford health care,” said Barbour. “They are because of diet, alcohol, because of drugs, the very high incidence of illegitimacy that leads to high incidence of low-birth weight children.”

  9. Hey 3 Chics! Before you watch this…take your blood pressure medication.

  10. For the beautiful & lovely ladies … for Rose  Cards, Rose comments,Rose graphics, Rose scraps, Rose images,Rose pictures

  11. Ametia says:

    McCain visits Benghazi; Libyan rebels welcome armed drone aircraft
    By Greg Jaffe, Edward Cody and William Branigin, Friday, April 22, 7:33 AM
    Libyan rebels welcomed President Obama’s deployment of armed Predator drones and received praise from their most prominent U.S. visitor Friday, as they expressed hope that increased American support would help turn the tide in a conflict that the top U.S. military officer acknowledged is becoming deadlocked.

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), an early proponent of helping the rebels in their fight against forces loyal to longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi, arrived Friday in Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital in eastern Libya, and told reporters that the anti-Gaddafi fighters are his heroes.

  12. Ametia says:

    Ayn Rand’s adult-onset adolescence
    By Michael Gerson, Thursday, April 21, 8:00 PM
    The movie “Atlas Shrugged,” adapted from Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel by the same name, is a triumph of cinematic irony. A work that lectures us endlessly on the moral superiority of heroic achievement is itself a model of mediocrity. In this, the film perfectly reflects both the novel and the mind behind it.

    Rand is something of a cultural phenomenon — the author of potboilers who became an ethical and political philosopher, a libertarian heroine. But Rand’s distinctive mix of expressive egotism, free love and free-market metallurgy does not hold up very well on the screen. The emotional center of the movie is the success of high-speed rail — oddly similar to a proposal in Barack Obama’s last State of the Union address. All of the characters are ideological puppets. Visionary, comely capitalists are assaulted by sniveling government planners, smirking lobbyists, nagging wives, rented scientists and cynical humanitarians. When characters begin disappearing — on strike against the servility and inferiority of the masses — one does not question their wisdom in leaving the movie.

  13. Ametia says:

    Moneygall transformed for Barack Obama visit
    22 April 11 04:52 ET
    By Mark Simpson
    BBC Ireland Correspondent

    The forthcoming visit to Ireland by American President Barack Obama has transformed the appearance of a small Irish village.

    Moneygall in County Offaly is awash with paint, as the rural village prepares to welcome the most powerful man in the world in May.

    President Obama’s great, great, great grandfather came from Moneygall and the president plans to set foot in his ancestral home during his two-day visit to Ireland.

    To ensure the presidential feet are made as comfortable as possible, the pavements are being dug up, re-laid and smoothed over. It is just one of many improvements being made.

    Houses on the main street are being cleaned with power-hoses. Gardens are being tidied, new flowers are being planted.

    The air in Moneygall is filled with the smell of paint. It seems like every spare brush in County Offaly is being used.

    Every house is being made to look its best, in preparation for the visit, which is likely to take place on Monday 23 May.

    The decision by one family to paint their house with the colours of the American flag has not gone down well with some of their neighbours.

    “It looks a bit tacky,” said one woman, as she watched the street turn red, white and blue.

    But, overall, the small rural community has pulled together.

    The parish rector, Canon Stephen Neill, said: “This has brought joy and excitement to the whole area. It’s something to celebrate in what have been very dark times in our country economically.”

    Moneygall has already received an economic boost – 3,500 litres of free paint from Dulux to help with the make-over.

    The village has no bank, no cash point, no coffee shop and a population of less than 300 people.

    However, it does have two pubs, including Ollie Hayes’s bar in the middle of the main street.

    The pub is full of Obama memorabilia, including a life-size bust which has pride of place on the bar. Now, the man himself is likely to call in next month.

    “It’s something I never dreamt would happen in a small village like this,” said Mr Hayes, as he served a group of American tourists.

    “We’re going to enjoy every minute of this.”

    Moneygall is in the heart of Ireland, about 90 minutes from Dublin, on the road to Limerick.

    On St Patrick’s Day in Washington, President Obama announced that not only would he be visiting Ireland in May but travelling to Moneygall to re-trace his Irish roots.

    One of the villagers, Henry Healy, is the eighth cousin of Obama.

    He said: “At first it felt almost surreal but now it’s becoming very real. He’s coming to Moneygall, he’s coming to my home town and I’m hopeful reality will really kick in if I’m privileged to meet the man and shake his hand.

    “You have to pinch yourself. I got a bit taken aback when I saw the CIA here two weeks ago.

    “I can only imagine what my reaction will be when the man himself actually lands here in the village.”

    A welcome song has been written already.

    The chorus goes: “O’Leary, O’Reilly, O’Hare and O’Hara, there’s no-one as Irish as Barack Obama. From the old Blarney stone, to the green hills of Tara, there’s no-one as Irish as Barack Obama.”

    In Ollie Hayes’s pub, there is a fictitious picture of Obama in Moneygall listening to traditional Irish music and holding a pint of the black stuff.

    Fiction is about to become reality. The only thing that can go wrong is if they run out of paint.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Tallahassee’s harsh immigration bills flunk common-sense test

    OUR OPINION: Immigration bills in Tallahassee a distraction of strident voices overwhelming common sense

    Some lawmakers in Tallahassee apparently believe that the way to appease the state’s most strident voices on immigration is to adopt an Arizona-style bill, opening the door to a divisive, unneeded and emotionally-charged debate. It’s a huge mistake and a terrible distraction for lawmakers, who should focus on finding solutions for the very real economic problems facing Florida.

    There is no convincing evidence that the state needs this legislation or that most voters want it. As so often happens with this topic, the politics of immigration threatens to overwhelm common sense.

    Two versions of the proposed anti-immigration law are heading for floor consideration — harsh and harsher. The latter is House bill 7089, which would make being an undocumented immigrant a state crime. (Not needed: It’s already a federal offense.) It also requires police to check the status of subjects under criminal investigation if a “reasonable suspicion” exists that the person might by undocumented. Senate bill 2040 would have police check the status of an inmate. Both bills require employers to check workers’ immigration status, though the Senate version gives employers more flexibility.

    At first blush, this may sound reasonable. Don’t be fooled. All such proposals are deeply flawed on both legal and practical grounds. For all the hue and cry in Arizona, and despite the severe impact of lost tourism, the law has been in legal trouble ever since it was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer one year ago this month, forcing the state to spend money defending a widely derided proposal that courts have failed to uphold. First, key provisions of Arizona’s law were enjoined by a federal district court, and just last week the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals extended the injunction.

    The original ruling stated that “Congress has created and refined a complex and detailed statutory framework regulating immigration,” making state law unnecessary. It added that the state’s effort “will divert resources from the federal government’s other responsibilities and priorities.”

    Last week’s appellate decision specifically upheld the ban against enforcing the notorious provision requiring state law enforcers to check the status of all individuals in custody and of any person stopped in public whom officers “reasonably” suspect of being in the country illegally. The court said this preempts another federal law allowing state participation in immigration enforcement by trained officers. In other words, freelance immigration enforcement is a bad idea.

    Most Floridians don’t carry passports with them. The failure to produce proper documentation — “Let me see your papers!” — could open the door to lengthy interrogation or possible detention if the arresting officer remains suspicious. And that’s just the beginning. State laws seek to short-circuit all the built-in procedural safeguards of federal law, placing all such detentions in jeopardy and opening the way for retaliatory lawsuits.

    For obvious reasons, Florida’s business leaders don’t like this proposed law either. The state’s Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, and farmers and other agricultural interests are outspoken opponents, along with members of the clergy. “The mere consideration of this bill is causing the image of the state of Florida to be tarnished — not only nationally, but internationally,” said Adam Babington, the Florida Chamber’s chief lobbyist.

    The problem with all such proposals is that they invite intrusive questioning of any person that any law enforcement officer may consider to be here illegally. Regardless of whether the bills ostensibly ban racial profiling, Hispanics, Haitians and anyone else deemed “different” are at risk. In South Florida, that would include not only tourists from Latin America and the Caribbean, but hundreds of thousands of legal residents. Not to mention anyone with a tan and an accent.

    State Sen. Anitere Flores, Republican of Miami, who heads the Judiciary Committee, is shepherding the Senate version. She says that the bill would be worse without her efforts to soften its impact. That’s no reason to go along with a bad bill. She and other members of the Legislature’s Hispanic Caucus, many from South Florida, should be incensed by this effort to saddle Florida with a bad anti-immigrant law and should resist pressure to go along.

    Instead, they should stand united in rejecting all these proposals. Immigration enforcement has long been deemed a federal responsibility by the courts.

    Constitutional rights must never become subservient to party loyalty.

    Read more:

  15. rikyrah says:

    Patients Are Not Consumers

    Earlier this week, The Times reported on Congressional backlash against the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a key part of efforts to rein in health care costs. This backlash was predictable; it is also profoundly irresponsible, as I’ll explain in a minute.

    But something else struck me as I looked at Republican arguments against the board, which hinge on the notion that what we really need to do, as the House budget proposal put it, is to “make government health care programs more responsive to consumer choice.”

    Here’s my question: How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as “consumers”? The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered something special, almost sacred. Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car — and their only complaint is that it isn’t commercial enough.

    What has gone wrong with us?

    About that advisory board: We have to do something about health care costs, which means that we have to find a way to start saying no. In particular, given continuing medical innovation, we can’t maintain a system in which Medicare essentially pays for anything a doctor recommends. And that’s especially true when that blank-check approach is combined with a system that gives doctors and hospitals — who aren’t saints — a strong financial incentive to engage in excessive care.

    Hence the advisory board, whose creation was mandated by last year’s health reform. The board, composed of health-care experts, would be given a target rate of growth in Medicare spending. To keep spending at or below this target, the board would submit “fast-track” recommendations for cost control that would go into effect automatically unless overruled by Congress.

    Before you start yelling about “rationing” and “death panels,” bear in mind that we’re not talking about limits on what health care you’re allowed to buy with your own (or your insurance company’s) money. We’re talking only about what will be paid for with taxpayers’ money. And the last time I looked at it, the Declaration of Independence didn’t declare that we had the right to life, liberty, and the all-expenses-paid pursuit of happiness.

    And the point is that choices must be made; one way or another, government spending on health care must be limited.

    Now, what House Republicans propose is that the government simply push the problem of rising health care costs on to seniors; that is, that we replace Medicare with vouchers that can be applied to private insurance, and that we count on seniors and insurance companies to work it out somehow. This, they claim, would be superior to expert review because it would open health care to the wonders of “consumer choice.”

    What’s wrong with this idea (aside from the grossly inadequate value of the proposed vouchers)? One answer is that it wouldn’t work. “Consumer-based” medicine has been a bust everywhere it has been tried. To take the most directly relevant example, Medicare Advantage, which was originally called Medicare + Choice, was supposed to save money; it ended up costing substantially more than traditional Medicare. America has the most “consumer-driven” health care system in the advanced world. It also has by far the highest costs yet provides a quality of care no better than far cheaper systems in other countries.

    But the fact that Republicans are demanding that we literally stake our health, even our lives, on an already failed approach is only part of what’s wrong here. As I said earlier, there’s something terribly wrong with the whole notion of patients as “consumers” and health care as simply a financial transaction.

    Medical care, after all, is an area in which crucial decisions — life and death decisions — must be made. Yet making such decisions intelligently requires a vast amount of specialized knowledge. Furthermore, those decisions often must be made under conditions in which the patient is incapacitated, under severe stress, or needs action immediately, with no time for discussion, let alone comparison shopping.

    That’s why we have medical ethics. That’s why doctors have traditionally both been viewed as something special and been expected to behave according to higher standards than the average professional. There’s a reason we have TV series about heroic doctors, while we don’t have TV series about heroic middle managers.

    The idea that all this can be reduced to money — that doctors are just “providers” selling services to health care “consumers” — is, well, sickening. And the prevalence of this kind of language is a sign that something has gone very wrong not just with this discussion, but with our society’s values.

  16. rikyrah says:

    April 21, 2011 06:00 PM
    Way To Go, Guys! Central Florida Unions To Pull Funds From Banks Supporting Anti-Worker Agenda
    By Susie Madrak

    As a union spokeswoman pointed out, these banks helped shape the group’s political agenda. Not wanting to fund their enemies makes union leaders “thugs” and “bullies.” I say, more like this, please!

    Unions representing Central Florida teachers, firefighters, police and other government workers are pulling an estimated $10 million from five banks affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, blaming them for an attack on public employees.

    The unions are also asking their members — an estimated 20,000 people — to withdrawal their personal money from Bank of America, PNC Bank, Regions Bank, SunTrust and Wachovia. And labor leaders across the state could follow in the coming weeks, union officials say.

    Executives from the banks in question sit on the Florida Chamber’s board of directors, and the chamber has pushed legislation that would prohibit state and local governments from collecting union dues through payroll deduction.

    Supporters say the “Paycheck Protection” act would allow public employees to prevent their wages from being used for political purposes, but opponents say it’s simply a labor-busting effort that would make it more difficult for unions to operate.

    The Florida Chamber of Commerce has lobbied lawmakers in support of the legislation and broadcast a campaign-style ad pushing for it. The measure has already passed the Florida House and is moving forward in the Senate.

    […] “It’s a shame that unions have dragged banks into their political games,” Florida Chamber spokeswoman Edie Ousley. “This just goes to show how desperate they are to keep the union gravy train by using the state of Florida to collect union dues. Frankly, we expected these bully tactics a long time ago

  17. rikyrah says:

    GOP Ignores Midterm Promise To ‘Listen To The People Who Sent Us Here’ With Ryan Budget

    With the overwhelming majority of Americans saying they oppose Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget, Steve Benen has a good post reminding us that it was just last year “when Republicans decided that opinion polls are the single most important factor policymakers should consider, especially when dealing with controversial changes to the status quo.” Here they were arguing that President Obama should drop reform because the American people oppose it:

    – SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): “The American people don’t want this bill, but our Democrat friends seem determined to jam it down their throat regardless, and I think there are going to be some very serious consequences.”

    – SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN): “The American people thoroughly reject it. So, if [President Obama] is listening to the American people, they’ve said no to his bill.”

    – SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): “The American people are very smart. That’s why two thirds of them want either stop or start over.”

    – REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA): “What we are trying to do is find out why the president wants to continue to ignore the American people.”

    Now they’re ignoring public opinion that’s far harsher than the opposition to the Affordable Care Act:

    – 80 percent oppose cuts to Medicare or Medicaid, including 73 percent of Republicans and 75 percent of Independents. [McClatchy-Marist poll]

    – 68 percent of Americans say the proposed GOP cuts unfairly favor some groups more than others. And seven in ten also believe the Republican budget will affect their families. [CNN]

    – 65 percent oppose turning Medicare into a voucher program and if they’re told that the cost of private insurance for seniors will increase, 84 percent of Americans oppose the plan. [Washington Post/ABC News poll]

    Recall that after the election, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) outlined his party’s priorities in the aftermath of a strong showing in the midterm elections. “Republicans have a plan for following through on the wishes of the American people,” he said in a speech titled “Listening To The People Who Sent Us Here.” It starts with gratitude and a certain humility for the task we’ve been handed. It means sticking ever more closely to the conservative principles that got us here. It means learning the lessons of history. And, above all, it means listening to the people who sent us here. If we do all this, we will finish the job.”

    • Ametia says:

      Nothing but talkingpoints; parroting the “AMERICAN PEOPLE” These crooks & liars don’t speak for me.


  18. rikyrah says:

    Speaking of Inhofe

    by mistermix

    James Fallows has a great set of posts on how Senator James Inhofe endangered lives with his flying, got off with barely a slap on his wrist, and how our cultural attitude toward this kind of behavior by the powerful has changed. Here’s what that jackass did:

    a) landing on a runway marked as “closed” with a “huge yellow X” at each end of the runway, in the words of one of the airport officials on the audio, and covered with men and machines doing repair work;

    b) performing a “sky hop” over the men and machines—touching down briefly, zooming over them, and landing behind them, rather than “going around” when Inhofe saw that the runway was blocked—aborting the landing, applying extra power to climb away from the runway and circle around to try again, which in theory you’re supposed to be ready to do on every approach in case you’re not well set up to land;

    c) being belligerent and assertive after the incident—“What the hell is this? I was supposed to have unlimited airspace!”—rather than shocked and contrite (and “unlimited airspace” as it applies to a closed runway -???) ;

    d) being the object of this description by the airport manager: “I’ve got over 50 years flying, three tours of Vietnam, and I can assure you I have never seen such a reckless disregard for human life in my life.”

    e) having the airport manager and others say “this isn’t the first time” and “this guy is famous for these violations.”

  19. rikyrah says:

    April 21, 2011
    ‘Completely unnecessary’

    Ezra Klein laments that when it comes to the potentially apocalyptic debt-ceiling war, “What’s so striking is that all of this is completely unnecessary.” By that he means that other countries are unburdened with artificial “ceilings”: they just borrow when needed and in accordance with need. Our fiscal methodology, on the other hand, sets the stage for “these in­cred­ibly reckless arguments over whether the government will continue paying its bills.”

    Yet to the extent that Klein’s observation — that “all of this [regarding the debt ceiling] is completely unnecessary” — is indisputable, there’s something else, too; something, I’d venture, of a last-straw mentality that’s settling in and among the thinking populace. And by that I mean that it’s all so completely unnecessary.

    Just as there’s no real need for a debt-ceiling war, there is, for example, no need for unemployment having persisted in the 9 percent range. It would not have, had we not been subjected to the slithering, supply-sided partisanship of the politics-uber-alles GOP, in early 2009. Sober economists, left, center and right, looked at the numbers lost and estimated a stimulative compensation of same — roughly $1.2 trillion — but instead the GOP’s recalcitrance limited us to about $800 billion, much of it in (more) tax cuts. Completely unnecessary.

    Same for the chronic deficits themselves. Going into 2001 we were in surplus territory. But enter, again, the supply-siders. End of surplus. Beginning of massive, unthinkable debt. Completely unnecessary.

    Had the economy tanked for reasons other than the GOP’s systematic indifference to the welfare of the working classes and its obsession with coddling the well off, such tanking could have been less prolonged — and pulling out of it, less controversial. Because we would have had the fiscal means to more easily bail ourselves out. But we had chewed up our cushions and that was … completely unnecessary.

    Or, how about Iraq? Hundreds of billions — poof. For that we can thank not just the “conservatives,” but their pals, the neos. Nonetheless, W. got his trifecta and his party got a whopper of a preceding political cause in 2002, even though it was, all of it, you got it, completely unnecessary.

    One could of course go on, pondering Medicare D’s unfunded fancy and wildly expensive corporate deregulation and boneheaded military systems and K Street’s debauchery and …

    But let us be merciful and merely summarize: It was all completely unnecessary.

    And I don’t think I’m alone in thinking, as well, that a sizable American plurality has had just about enough of these completely unnecessary clowns. Forever.

  20. rikyrah says:

    April 22, 2011

    OBAMA STAYS ON OFFENSIVE, DELIVERS SOUGHT-AFTER GOP INDICTMENT…. A couple of weeks ago, after Paul Ryan introduced his radical House Republican budget plan, many on the left — pundits and activists alike — wanted to see the White House engage in a forceful pushback. The president and his team, focused primarily avoiding a government shutdown, initially demurred.

    This wasn’t well received. Greg Sargent had a thoughtful item two weeks ago, noting “the left’s increasing frustration with Obama’s absenteeism.”

    When it suits him, Obama has proven willing and able to take on big arguments with a level of ambition and seriousness of purpose that suits his status as one of the leading public communicators of our time. Republicans are initiating an argument over the role of government and the nature of our national social contract that demands — and provides an opening for — a big response. Will Obama deliver?

    He wasn’t the only one asking. Dionne, Meyerson, and Drum raised related concerns the same week, and I had an item explaining that and it’s incumbent on President Obama to lead the charge, making the case against the GOP agenda.

    Given all of this, I think it’s worth revisiting these questions, noting that they were (a) correct, and (b) answered.

    Over the last nine days, Obama has delivered his address on debt reduction, as well as hosting three town-hall events. In each instances, the president did exactly what many on the left (including me) asked of him — offering a spirited defense of progressive policies, including tax increases on the wealthy, and explaining in no uncertain terms why the Republican budget plan is simply unacceptable.

    Take these remarks in Reno yesterday, for example. After explaining why privatizing Medicare is a terrible idea, and noting that it won’t happen on his watch, Obama told attendees:

    “[A]t a minimum, we should say, for those like myself who can afford it, let’s pay a little bit more. Let’s go — we can go back — if we went back to the Clinton rates for the wealthiest 2 percent, going back to the Clinton rates — you remember back in the ’90s, the economy was doing really well, and rich people were doing just fine. And I can afford it It’s not that I like paying taxes. I don’t like paying taxes. Nobody likes paying taxes. But if the choice is keeping my tax break, or 33 seniors having to pay an extra 6,000 bucks for their Medicare, why would I want that — why would I wish that on those 33 seniors? If the choice is between me keeping my tax cut and a couple hundred kids being to go get their Head Start, why would I want that?

    “This isn’t a matter of charity; it’s a matter of what we think it is to live in a good society. And I think it is good for me, it is good for my life if when I’m driving around, I’m saying to myself, you know what, that school is producing all kinds of kids who are smart and are going to help build America’s future.

    “And I drive around and I see some seniors, and they’re out for a walk. And I know, you know what, I’m glad that I live in a country where in their retirement years, they’re going to be secure. That makes me feel good. That’s the kind of country I want to live in. That’s the kind of country you want to live in. And we’ve got to make sure we’re willing to fight for it.”

    This is the case the left demanded Obama make, and I’m glad to see him making it.

    Of course, speeches and town-hall remarks are just rhetoric, and what matters most is the follow through when it comes to policymaking. I’m certainly not suggesting that rhetoric alone is sufficient; it’s not. The point, however, is that many of us urged the president to use his bullhorn to make a progressive case. I’m pleased to report Obama is doing just that.

    Love him or hate him, “absenteeism” is no longer a valid criticism.
    —Steve Benen 8:40 AM

  21. rikyrah says:

    Deval Patrick’s rise from South Side to Mass. gov similar to President Obama

    LYNN SWEET Apr 18, 2011 11:53AM

    Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is the other South Sider who has made it big in national politics.

    “My life is often described as ‘improbable,’ ” Patrick writes in his just released memoir, A Reason to Believe, which opens with a scene where a 15-year-old Patrick braces for humiliation when he realizes he boarded a southbound Wabash Avenue CTA bus near 54th St. without money for the fare. The driver lets him ride anyway, telling him, “Just pass it on, son.”

    That act of kindness helped shape the values of Patrick, a Democrat re-elected last November after a sometimes stormy first term. He is friends with President Obama, a co-chair of his 2008 White House campaign. Patrick is poised to take on a larger role in Obama’s re-election bid, meeting with Obama 2012 strategist David Axelrod in Chicago last February and last week at the White House with Senior Advisor David Plouffe.

    In raising his profile, Patrick addressed Democrats in Colorado in January and will be keynoting Democratic dinners in Wisconsin and Florida — all critical swing states for Obama in 2012.

    Patrick was also in Washington to announce the creation of a group he will help lead, dedicated to aggressively defending Obama’s health care law. The Affordable Care Act, under attack by Republicans, is modeled in part on the Massachusetts health coverage plan. Patrick is bragging about the success of the Massachusetts system, while his predecessor, former Gov. Mitt Romney, a 2012 GOP presidential hopeful, has been distancing himself from the health law he signed.

    Obama and Patrick never overlapped in Chicago. They met in 1995 at the suggestion of Abner Mikva, the Chicagoan who was then serving as President Clinton’s White House counsel. Patrick was in the Clinton Justice Department.

    When I talked to Patrick Friday in a phone interview, he recalled Mikva told him, “There is a young man in Chicago, I think you guys should know each other. There is a lot about him that reminds me of you and a lot about you that reminds me about him.”

    Obama and Patrick share common elements in their stories, their politics, their political consultants — even slogans. Axelrod and Plouffe and their firm were key strategists in Patrick’s runs for governor in 2006 and 2010 and Obama’s 2004 Senate and 2008 presidential bids.

    Axelrod told me there is a “high regard and affection between them.”

    Both Obama and Patrick were raised by their mothers while their fathers took off — Obama’s back to Kenya and Patrick’s to New York. They each attended an elite private school on a scholarship and picked up law degrees from Harvard.

    While Obama moved to Chicago after college, Patrick is a real South Sider in the sense that his roots are here, growing up in poverty far more dramatic than any Obama experienced.

    Patrick was born July 31, 1956, in an apartment on 79th and Calumet, swaddled and placed in a turkey pan and placed in an oven — the door left open — to keep him warm, he told me.

    His mother, Emily, was forced to move in with her parents in a flat at 54th and Wabash after his father, known as Pat, a sax player, left the family for New York when Patrick was 5. Patrick’s grandfather was a janitor at the old South Shore Bank, at 71st and Jeffrey.

    Patrick’s cousin, Renae Wintersmith-Griffin, and half-sister, La’Shon Roberts, still live in Chicago, on the North Side. He chuckled when I asked him where.

    Growing up on the South Side, “I had no concept of the North Side,” Patrick told me. “In the ’50s and the ’60s, the South Side was for us. In our family, we went downtown once a year” usually before the start of the school year “mostly to do clothes shopping at the State Street Sears and for the occasional movie.”

    He worshiped at the Cosmopolitan Community Church at 53rd and Wabash. He attended the Mary C. Terrell School at the Robert Taylor Homes through sixth grade, then the DuSable Upper Grade Center where he was hassled by gang members outside of school.

    At DuSable UGC, a teacher, Darla Weissenberg, saw his promise and told him about a program — called A Better Chance — that could show him another world. He wound up at an exclusive prep school, Milton Academy outside of Boston — and on a path leading to Harvard, Harvard Law, away from the South Side of Chicago.

    He switched teams on his journey.

    Said Patrick, “Growing up I was a South Side kid and a South Sider. Now I live in Massachusetts and I am a Red Sox fan through and through.”

    “. . . Sometimes if people ask me which it is, I just say I’m a Sox fan, it’s simpler.”

  22. rikyrah says:

    Parsing The Game Of Six: Will They Try To Cut Social Security Benefits?
    The bipartisan group of six senators privately drafting a debt and deficit reduction plan have been unusually tight-lipped about their negotiations. That’s probably necessary internally if the group’s goal is to come to an agreement. But it’s led to intense speculation about what’s on the table, what shape their policy options are taking, and whether progressives will get a raw deal.

    Of the six — Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mark Warner (D-VA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Mike Crapo (R-ID) — only Durbin could be fairly described as a progressive. So the race is on to figure out where his bright lines are, and to what, if any, extent he’s willing to walk away if the final agreement completely undermines progressive interests. But while his public statements in recent weeks don’t lay out exactly what those bright lines are, he’s tipped his hand in two important ways.

    One big tell was his official public response to the House Republican budget, which doesn’t meaningfully touch Social Security but basically obliterates Medicare and Medicaid, while not raising any new revenue, and lowering taxes on wealthy Americans.

    In an official statement reacting to the plan, Durbin said “The Ryan Republican budget has three pillars: reduce Medicare benefits by more than half; reduce Medicaid benefits for seniors in nursing homes; and reduce taxes on the wealthiest Americans. America can resolve its budget crisis without punishing the elderly and poor while rewarding the very rich.”

    Elsewhere he went further: “The Republican budget proposal ends Medicare as we know it and tries to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable in our society,” Sen. Durbin said. “Any proposal to solve our fiscal crisis needs to reflect our priorities as a nation. We can control spending without sacrificing our values.”

    Republicans have been clear that there’s almost no common ground between the parties on health care issues. That’s why their budget places such a heavy focus on health care entitlements, and punts on Social Security, where they hope to be able to strike a bipartisan deal.

    Which brings us to Social Security, where Durbin’s rhetoric is remarkably different. As a member of the White House fiscal commission, Durbin voted for the Simpson-Bowles proposal, which brought Social Security into long-term actuarial balance with a mix of benefit cuts, including a slow increase in the retirement age, and revenue increases. And he recently refused to endorse a resolution authored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) holding that Social Security benefits should not be cut as part of a debt reduction plan.

    “I think Bernie is going too far with his language,” Durbin said critically.

    If these starkly different postures are any indication, the so-called Gang of Six is placing a heavy focus on Social Security, including benefit cuts, while holding back on health care entitlements. Any plan they outline will have to pass muster with the Obama administration. A senior Treasury Department official recently told a group of reporters on background that the administration won’t accept entitlements that run afoul of the progressive push to preserve benefits to without making sure that revenues are on the table in a meaningful way.

    Revenues outside of Social Security are a different issue, and may ultimately be the reason why Republicans walk away from any deal. Coburn — a staunch conservative — found himself caught up in a public spat with anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist over suggesting that increased revenue of any kind should factor into what’s supposed to be a debt-reduction bill. For Republicans to be at the table at all, there can’t be talk about significant new revenues, and if Norquist gets his way there won’t be any at all.

    That’s the silhouette of the plan they’re negotiating.

  23. rikyrah says:

    Dems Files Suit to Force Business Groups To Disclose Campaign Cash

    Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) is taking matters into his own hands when it comes to rolling back elements of the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizen United campaign finance case and requiring disclosure of campaign donations.

    Van Hollen and a group of reform advocates filed suit Thursday in federal court, as well as a petition with the Federal Election Commission, that aims to force business associations and nonprofit groups to disclose secret contributions that fueled millions of dollars in attack ads against Democrats in the 2010 midterm campaign.

    The legal steps come in the wake of news that the Obama administration is circulating a draft executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose contributions made to nonprofit groups and trade associations. Although uncoordinated, the leak of the executive order and the lawsuit pack a one-two punch and demonstrate just how determined Democrats are in overturning some elements of Citizens United before the 2012 election cycle shifts into high gear.

    The proposed executive order would affect thousands of contractors — many in the mammoth defense contracting world. Republicans and members of the business community immediately cried foul, arguing that the order would restrict free speech and could result in businesses being unfairly penalized for their political leanings and donations.

    Reacting to news of the draft executive order, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a statement accusing Obama of playing politics with contractors, arguing that the effort is an attempt “to silence or intimidate political adversaries’ speech through the government contracting system.”

    President Obama and advocates of more campaign finance transparency are trying to find ways to implement elements of the so-called Disclose Act, a bill sponsored by Van Hollen
    and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that failed to pass the Senate in 2010. That measure was designed to counter some aspects of last year’s landmark Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which allows unlimited corporate and union treasury funds to fund independent campaign ads.

    McConnell vigorously opposed the Disclose Act, and it was one vote shy of reaching the 60 vote-hurdle needed to overcome a filibuster and ended up dying in the Senate last year. The bill’s backers point to the Supreme Court’s majority opinion, which explicitly supported transparency and prompt disclosure of political spending.

    “With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable,” the high court said in the opinion. “Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are “‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.”

    Without a change in the law or an executive order, nonprofit groups and trade associations are not required to make their donations public and usually don’t.

    “Secret money in American politics is extremely dangerous and inevitably leads to corruption and scandal,” said Democracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer. “That was the lesson of Watergate and one we don’t want to see repeated.”

    Along with Democracy 21, the group of reform advocates filing suit include lawyers from the Campaign Legal Center.

    “In 2007, the FEC gutted McCain-Feingold disclosure requirements in a little-noticed rulemaking,” explained Gerry Hebert, CLC’s executive director. “The flood of corporate political spending unleashed by the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United made clear the impact of 2007 FEC regulation changes as untold millions of corporate dollars were funneled through the Chamber of Commerce and other groups to avoid disclosure of the source of the funds.”

  24. rikyrah says:

    Business group accepts tax hikes as part of any deficit deal
    An influential business group called on Congress Thursday to stop playing politics with federal budget deficits and put “everything on the table,” declaring that both tax increases and spending cuts are needed to restore the nation’s finances to health.

    More than 100 current and former chief executive officers signed a declaration released by the Committee for Economic Development, a nonpartisan policy-research group of business and university leaders.

    The initiative is significant because it adds pressure from another influential voice to the political debate over the federal budget. The business group’s push comes at a time when fiscal issues have become Washington’s most prominent topic, one likely to dominate domestic politics through the 2012 elections.

    “As leaders in the business community, we expect to share the effects of reductions in public programs or increases in taxes — or more likely, both,” said the statement, supported by CEOs and prominent experts in federal finance. “We do not seek sacrifice for its own sake. But we — and we believe all Americans — are prepared to contribute our fair share to make our country sound, secure and strong again. What is good for America is good for American business.”

    The nation is expected to have a deficit of $1.6 trillion in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. Total federal debt is around $14.3 trillion. The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s this week issued a negative outlook for U.S. government bonds, raising the chance that it might downgrade the United States’ rating of creditworthiness for the first time. The S&P warning quaked financial markets, underscoring the threat to the U.S. economy if the budget problem is left unresolved.

    “Out in the business world when this sort of thing happens, markets are very unhappy and CFOs (chief financial officers) usually get fired,” W. Bowman Cutter, the managing director of The Cedars Capital Partners, said in a conference call Thursday in support of the Committee for Economic Development statement.

    Cutter criticized the recent near-shutdown of the federal government in a dispute over less than 1 percent of the federal budget:

    “This is the definition of non-seriousness. We don’t yet see on any side of this debate the kind of seriousness that’s going to be required to actually solve the problem.”

    President Barack Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform put forth a detailed road map last December on how to shave $4 trillion in federal spending over a decade and reshape the tax code.

    Obama ignored most of the bipartisan panel’s recommendations. Instead he offered a plan that raises taxes on the rich and counts heavily on efficiencies and accountability to bring down health care spending; previously both have been elusive.

    Republicans in the House of Representatives also ignored the commission. Last week they voted instead for a plan by their Budget Committee chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, that would restructure and greatly reduce Medicare and Medicaid while slashing taxes, especially on the rich.

    “The two (plans) are almost mutually exclusive. It’s hard to imagine what the long-run middle ground is between the two,” said Cutter, a former budget director under President Bill Clinton. “We absolutely have to put everything on the table, and it’s going to take leadership to do it. We are under no illusion that this is going to be easy.”

    Significantly, most of the CEOs who signed on to the Committee for Economic Development declaration Thursday were from the services sector, and don’t rely as heavily on tax credits and exemptions as multinational corporations and U.S. manufacturers do.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have given only lukewarm support to promises from Obama and Ryan to lower the corporate tax rate to around 25 percent, offsetting the lower rate by ending tax exemptions and deductions.

    Vice President Joe Biden and congressional leaders from both parties are scheduled to begin meeting May 5 on ways to trim the budget. Lawmakers are considering adding spending reductions to legislation that would raise the debt limit, which Congress will take up in May or June.

    Read more:

  25. dannie22 says:

    Good morning all!!

  26. Shady_Grady says:

    I love those two poetry reading albums she did with the NYC Community choir.

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