Wednesday Open Thread

The Four Tops are an American vocal quartet, whose repertoire has included doo-wop, jazz, soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, hard rock, and showtunes. Founded in Detroit, Michigan as The Four Aims, lead singer Levi Stubbs (born Levi Stubbles, a cousin of Jackie Wilson and brother of The Falcons‘ Joe Stubbs)(who also led [[100 Proof(Aged In Soul)), and groupmates Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton remained together for over four decades, having gone from 1953 until 1997 without a single change in personnel.

Among a number of groups who helped define the Motown Sound of the 1960s, including The Miracles, The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, The Temptations, and The Supremes, the Four Tops were notable for having Stubbs, a baritone, as their lead singer; most groups of the time were fronted by a tenor. The group was the main male vocal group for the songwriting and production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, who crafted a stream of hit singles, including two Billboard Hot 100 number-one hits: “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There“.

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
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49 Responses to Wednesday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    did someone slip Harry gangstaflakes this morning?


    Reid to GOP: Just Try Voting Against Ending Subsidies For Oil Giants
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is following the White House’s lead by seizing on the populist idea of ending subsidies for the five largest oil giants.

    Reid said he would hold a vote as soon as possible on a bill to eliminate the tax breaks for the five largest oil companies, Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips, which have reported record profits in recent weeks and months.

    “We have to take away the subsidies for these five major oil companies,” he told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. “There’s no need for these subsidies. The companies have broken records [with their] profits.”

    With gas prices skyrocketing, Democrats have rallied around the idea of eliminating oil subsidies this week after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) appeared to open the door to the idea of ending payments to oil companies in an interview with ABC News released Monday afternoon.

    Boehner’s office has since dialed back his comments, arguing that oil companies would simply pass on any increased costs to consumers, exactly the opposite of what Congress should be doing right now. Other GOP leaders in the House and Senate quickly distanced themselves from any plan to end the subsidies and definitively declared the issue dead on arrival.

    Democrats dismiss the notion that ending oil subsidies would lead to higher prices at the pump, and Obama did his best to exploit divisions within the Republican party Tuesday when he sent Boehner a letter applauding his apparent willingness to consider jettisoning the tax breaks and calling for a vote on the issue as soon as possible.

    House Democrats, led by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR), a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, are circulating a follow-up letter to Boehner urging him to hold a vote to repealing oil subsidies for the nation’s largest oil companies.

    “As Speaker Boehner himself has recognized, these subsidies are symbolic of wasteful and unnecessary spending in an era of tight budgets,” Blumenauer said in a release. “Opinion polls show that the vast majority of Americans want these wasteful subsidies repealed, and we are urging the Speaker to respect their will by holding an up-or-down vote.”

    Blumenauer has introduced a bill to end nearly $8 billion a year in taxpayer subsidies to the big five oil giants. After all of his Democratic colleagues have a chance to sign it, Blumenauer plans to send Boehner the letter Thursday.

  2. Ametia says:

    CIA’s Panetta to head Pentagon, Petraeus to CIA
    27 Apr 2011 12:21
    Source: reuters // Reuters

    WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama plans to nominated CIA Director Leon Panetta as his new U.S. defense secretary and will replace him at the CIA with General David Petraeus, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

    The announcements are expected later this week. Obama is also to nominate veteran diplomat Ryan Crocker as the next U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. (Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Steve Holland; Editing by Vicki Allen)

  3. rikyrah says:

    Obama Slams Kasich’s Union-Busting Bill In Ohio (VIDEO)
    Evan McMorris-Santoro | April 27, 2011,

    President Obama sat down with a local reporter from Ohio on Tuesday and laid into the anti-collective bargaining bill signed into law by Gov. John Kasich (R) last month.

    SB5, as the law is known, eliminates the right of thousands of state workers to collectively bargain for benefits and makes going on strike illegal. Democrats and union supports have vowed to fight the legislation at the ballot box, and they’ve said the issue has done a lot to fire up the base after big Republican wins (including Kasich’s) in 2010.

    Republican supporters of SB5 say the law is necessary to balance Ohio’s budget. Obama told WKYC-TV the law unfairly puts the burden of cleaning up the state’s fiscal mess on state workers.

    “I strongly disapprove,” Obama said of the Ohio law.

    “Lets certainly not blame public employees for a financial crisis that they had nothing to do with,” Obama said. “And let’s not use this as an excuse to erode their bargaining rights.”

  4. rikyrah says:

    I’ll say it again..



    Among Birther Friendly Lawmakers, Mostly Radio Silence
    Benjy Sarlin |

    President Obama’s decision to release his long form birth certificate comes amid Donald Trump’s three-ring circus on the issue, but prominent conservatives have flirted with the birther movement since its earliest inception. From insisting Obama release more records, to waffling on questions about his citizenship, to sponsoring legislation winking at conspiracy theorists, there’s been no shortage of birther curious behavior over the last several years.

    TPM reached out to over 20 lawmakers and public figures who have indulged in such behavior to determine whether Obama’s release of the Rosetta stone of birtherism has settled the issue, receiving few responses.

    TPM SLIDESHOW: There’s The Birth Certificate: TPM’s Best Of The Birthers

    Some members of Congress have explicitly questioned Obama’s citizenship — Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) told an interviewer last year he doesn’t know if Obama is a citizen or a Christian (but he does know he’s a socalist). Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) said on a radio show in 2009 he was unsure of the President’s citizenship. Others have been “birther curious,” suggesting that they take Obama at his word (a popular phrase), but they just wish he’d offer more proof. Example: Michele Bachmann (R-MN) who repeatedly called for President Obama to release his long form birth certificate just last week even as she said Americans should move on from the issue. TPM has reached out to all three members for comment on its release, but has yet to receive a response.

    There are also “birther enablers,” lawmakers who deny questioning the President’s citizenship but are all too happy to humor their more conspiracy-minded constituents. Most notably are the backers — all Republican — of a bill in the last Congress that would require candidates to produce their birth certificates, a clear nod to birthers’ demands. TPM reached out to every sponsor as to whether the latest news puts the matter to rest, receiving only a handful of replies.

    A spokesman for Rep Bill Posey (R-FL), who introduced the bill, e-mailed TPM that the Congressman had yet to read the full overage of Obama’s long form release, but sounded encouraged.

    “I emailed him that the President had released a copy of his birth certificate and he wrote back ‘That’s great!'” the spokesman, George Cecala, said.

    Another co-sponsor of the bill, Rep John Carter (R-TX), also praised Obama’s decision, albeit with a dig thrown in.

    “With the posting of the original birth certificate, which was what was requested, the issue is apparently resolved,” a spokesman for Carter told TPM. “However, the Congressman is disappointed that the president took so long to do so when he could and should have done so up front when the issue was first raised.”

    Carter’s poke at Obama for taking his time echoed quotes earlier in the day from Newt Gingrich, who told TPM, “All I would say is, why did it take so long?” Gingrich has not questioned Obama’s birthplace, but drew condemnations from the White House and others for accusing Obama of “Kenyan anti-colonial behavior,” which some considered a dogwhistle aimed at birthers.

    A spokeswoman for co-sponsor Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) repeated his support for the legislation but did not make any reference to Obama.

    “Congressman Culberson has always believed that any candidate running for federal office should be required to prove that they meet the requirements laid out in our Constitution,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Throughout our nation’s history, questions about presidential candidates’ citizenship have surfaced. H.R. 1503 was designed to prevent this question from arising in the future so we could focus on the important issues facing our nation.”

    Another co-sponsor, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TX), reiterated that she never had doubts about Obama’s birthplace, but said she hoped the bill would help clear up the issue.

    “I have never doubted that President Obama is a natural born citizen. Indeed, I agree with him that this issue has been a distraction from the important issues America faces; as it has been in several other elections in our history,” she told TPM in a statement. “I continue to believe that the best way to prevent this distraction from manifesting itself in future elections is to implement a standard of proof that all candidates must abide by when they pursue the office of President.”

    In addition to the bill’s co-sponsors, TPM checked in with a number of politicians who have danced around the birther issue at times.

    For example, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH), told a constituent pressing her on the birther issue that “I agree with you, but the courts don’t” before clarifying in a follow-up statement that she believed Obama was a citizen.

    Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said that birthers “have a point” and that Obama needed to release more proof.

    Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) told FireDogLake in 2009 that Obama should produce his birth certificate and that birthers raised a “legitimate question,” while clarifying to reporters afterwards he believed Obama was born in America.

    Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) said he had not “seen enough evidence” on way or the other on Obama’s birthplace in 2009.

    Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) was caught on tape telling constituents that he supported birther lawsuits, but denied that he had any doubt about President Obama’s legitimacy after the footage surfaced.

    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), then a congressman, wrote a letter to Obama in 2009 asking him to produce his birth certificate, while insisting he was not questioning the president’s birthplace himself.

    None of the above lawmakers have responded.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Posted at 10:57 AM ET, 04/27/2011
    An embarrassment to the country
    By Adam Serwer
    This Wednesday morning become one of the most surreal and ridiculous moments in the history of American politics when the White House decided to release copies of President Barack Obama’s “long form birth certificate,” in an attempt to quiet conspiracy theorists who believe the president was born elsewhere. The president had already released a version certified by the state of Hawaii, but because of the “volume of requests” for the birth certificate, the president asked the state to make an exception and release the original document.

    It’s tempting to make this simply about reality television personality Donald Trump, who rocketed to the top of the Republican presidential field by promoting the slander that the president wasn’t born in the United States. But there are a number of other factors that created the current situation. Chief among them is that Trump’s lunacy emboldened conservative media sources to fully embrace birtherism. According to Media Matters, Fox News has spent over two hours promoting false claims about Obama’s birthplace across 54 segments, and only in ten did Fox News hosts challenge those claims. This isn’t just about Trump. All he did was encourage the communications wing of the conservative movement to go into overdrive in an attempt to make birtherism mainstream.

    Aside from being one of the most idiotic moments in American political history, this marks a level of personal humiliation no previous president has ever been asked to endure. Other presidents have been the target of crazy conspiracy theories, sure, but few have been as self-evidently absurd as birtherism. None has been so clearly rooted in anxieties about the president’s racial identity, because no previous American president has been black.

    This whole situation is an embarrassment to the country. Yesterday Jesse Jackson described birtherism as racial “code,” but there’s nothing “coded” about it. It’s just racism. I don’t mean that everyone who has doubts about the president’s birthplace is racist. Rather, the vast majority have been deliberately misled by an unscrupulous conservative media and by conservative elites who have failed or refused to challenge these doubts.

    And birtherism is only one of a number of racially charged conspiracy theories that have bubbled out of the right-wing swamp and have been allowed to fester by conservative elites. Those who have spent the last two years clinging to the notion that the president wasn’t born in the United States, who have alleged that the president wasn’t intelligent enough to write his own autobiography or somehow coasted to magna cum laude at Harvard law, are carrying on new varieties of an old, dying tradition of American racism. Similar accusations dogged early black writers like Frederick Douglass and Phyllis Wheatley, whose brilliance provoked an existential crisis among people incapable of abandoning myths of black intellectual inferiority.

    Whether this farce ends or continues is entirely dependent on those who nurtured the rumors in the first place. This is an opportunity for conservative elites, who have finally come around to the possibility that the outsize hatred of the president they’ve cultivated as an asset for the past two years might actually hurt them politically, to purge birtherism from mainstream conservative discourse.

    Sadly, those who fostered doubts about the president’s citizenship are unlikely to relent in the face of factual proof, because birtherism was never about the facts. For its most ardent proponents, it was and is about their inability to accept the legitimacy of a black man in the White House. Nothing about the decision to release the president’s birth certificate can change that.

    By Adam Serwer

  6. rikyrah says:

    April 27, 2011
    Trump, Birtherism, and Race-Baiting
    Posted by David Remnick

    Not long after the White House released the President’s birth certificate this morning, Donald Trump stepped off a helicopter, ambled up to a bank of microphones, and declared, “Today, I’m very proud of myself.” (One assumes this is a daily ritual for Trump, but today there were more cameras than usual.) Trump also declared himself relieved that “the press can stop asking me questions” about the birther issue and we can now move on to more important ones, such as “China ripping off this country.” What is there to say anymore about Donald Trump? That he is an irrepressible jackass who thinks of himself as a sly fox? That he is a buffoon with bathroom fixtures of gold? Why bother, after so many decades? There is no insulting someone who lives in a self-reinforcing fantasy world.

    No matter. What is truly disturbing is the game Trump has been participating in, the conspiracy thinking he was playing with. And here the polls—to the extent that they can be taken as hard fact—tell a disturbing story, in which no small part of the country has believed in a variety of tales about Barack Obama. There is the birther fantasy; the fantasy that Bill Ayers wrote “Dreams from My Father”; the fantasy that the President has some other father, and not Barack Obama, Sr.; the fantasy that Obama got into Harvard Law School with the help of a Saudi prince and the Nation of Islam. There is a veritable fantasy industry at work online and in the book-publishing industry; there are dollars to be made.

    The cynicism of the purveyors of these fantasies is that they know very well what they are playing at, the prejudices they are fanning: that Obama is foreign, a fake, incapable of writing a book, incapable of intellectual achievement. Let’s say what is plainly true (and what the President himself is reluctant to say): these rumors, this industry of fantasy, are designed to arouse a fear of the Other, of an African-American man with a white American mother and a black Kenyan father. Obama, as a politician, is clearly not a radical; he is a center-left pragmatist. If anything, he believes deeply in his capacity to lead with subtle diplomacy and political maneuvering, with a highly realistic sense of the possible; in fact, to many he is maddeningly pragmatic.

    The one radical thing about Barack Obama is his race, his name. Of course, there is nothing innately radical about being black or having Hussein as middle name; what is radical is that he has those attributes and is sitting in the Oval Office. And even now, more than two years after the fact, this is deeply disturbing to many people, and, at the same time, the easiest way to arouse visceral opposition to him. Let’s be even plainer: to do what Trump has done (and he is only the latest and loudest and most spectacularly hirsute) is a conscious form of race-baiting, of fear-mongering. And if that makes Donald Trump proud, then what does that say for him? Perhaps now he will go away, satisfied that this passage has sufficiently restored his fame quotient and television ratings. The shame is that there are still many more around who, in the name of truth-telling, are prepared to pump the atmosphere full of poison.

    Read more

  7. rikyrah says:

    April 27, 2011
    AFTERBIRTHER…. It’s tempting to think the “birther” conspiracy theory is now officially dead, but it’s important to realize that crazy people don’t stop believing crazy things just because they’ve been shown evidence of their craziness.

    Texas state legislator Leo Berman, a Republican, has introduced a bill that would require proof of citizenship from presidential candidates. It’s one of many such bills in the states. And according to Sharon Guthrie, Berman’s legislative director, it is still on the table, because the long-form birth certificate released by the White House today does not satisfy its requirements.

    “What I’ve seen online, what they produced today, still says certificate of live birth across the top,” she told me. And she’s right.

    But why isn’t that just a nomenclature issue? Why does it matter?

    “We want to see a ‘birth certificate,'” Guthrie explained. “The one that we have that says ‘birth certificate’ is from Mombassa, Kenya, with his footprint on it. He has still not produced an American birth certificate.”

    The document that Guthrie is referencing is a forgery, but in keeping with the larger trend, that doesn’t seem to matter.

    Tea Partiers aren’t satisfied and neither is WND. Donald Trump is now demanding college records; congressional Republicans are criticizing the president for setting the record straight; Fox News isn’t sure if the birth certificate is legit; Sarah Palin has moved on to the conspiracy theory about Bill Ayers; and National Review is just a parody of itself.

    Major media outlets, meanwhile, are questioning the quality of the president’s media analysis, after Obama complained about excessive coverage of this nonsense last week.

    “We do not have time for this kind of silliness”? That’s true, but silliness is surprisingly hard to kill.

    Postscript: I can’t claim credit for the “Afterbirther” in the headline; it came from a friend of a friend.

    Update: The Onion may have actually coined “Afterbirther” in 2009.

    —Steve Benen 1:25 PM

  8. rikyrah says:

    Finding Fault Where There is None
    by John Cole

    The clown chorus begins:

    So he had the power to get this into the public eye and yet resisted until the country’s polity was almost paralyzed with distraction. I know this was an ethically legitimate position after releasing the short-form document proving that he was indeed born in the US. I know it was politically savvy because, by the rules of jujitsu, Obama allowed the nutty right (is there any other variety with influence now?) to make fools of themselves.

    Nonetheless, I think this should have been done long ago. Because a president has to put his public responsibilities before his pride and his privacy. That’s the price of the job – to defuse or debunk conspiracy theorists or just skeptics with all the relevant information you have.

    The reason, Andrew, is because he already did everything he needed to do, and he did it in 2008:

    In 2008, in response to media inquiries, the President’s campaign requested his birth certificate from the state of Hawaii. The state sent the campaign the President’s birth certificate, the same legal documentation provided to all Hawaiians as proof of birth in state, and the campaign immediately posted it on the internet. That birth certificate can be seen here (PDF).

    When any citizen born in Hawaii requests their birth certificate, they receive exactly what the President received. In fact, the document posted on the campaign website is what Hawaiians use to get a driver’s license from the state and the document recognized by the Federal Government and the courts for all legal purposes. That’s because it is the birth certificate. This is not and should not be an open question.

    Only for truly insane people and politicians who find advantage in race-baiting and de-legitimizing the President was this not enough. How evident was it that this was ALL he needed to do to prove he is a citizen? Try this on for size- not one god damned state contested his citizenship in the election. Jan Brewer just vetoed the birther bill in Arizona because it was an exercise in redundancy exercise and ran headlong into the full faith and credit clause. This new release will solve nothing, and the birthers will still continue to spew their nonsense.

    President Obama has done nothing wrong, other than being black, which is apparently a sin for much of the country. Stating that he had an obligation to release this form or that he waited too long to do it turns everything upside down. Obama is the wronged party here.

    *** Update ***

    *** Update #2 ***

    I know Sullivan’s reaction shouldn’t be pissing me off as much as it is, because he really can’t help himself. He really is just a stooge for whatever bullshit the right spews, either intentionally or accidentally. He doesn’t mean to be, I don’t think, just his self-identity as a conservative is so strong that he simply can not come to grips with the fact that conservatism is dead in the United States, and that those who call themselves conservative are just crazy people. But Andrew so yearns for a “sane conservatism” that he just can’t help himself, and as such, advances bullshit narratives like the Ryan plan being “serious” or it being Obama’s fault that he didn’t release this information earlier. Sully just can’t help himself.

    But still, I find it infuriating. Our President spends several years having people question his citizenship, his commitment to this nation, his eligibility to be President, and so on, simply because his dad was black and he himself is black. And this persists even after it has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that he is a citizen. The Supreme Court has laughed it off. The military has court martialed birthers. Orly Taitz is one frivolous lawsuit away from being deported to Ukraine or wherever she was spawned. There simply is no doubt that the President is American, and there has never been any doubt. These claims have been nothing but specious, ugly, racially motivated charges, yet today, after the redundant “long form” is released, Sullivan and Newt Gingrich know who the real villain is- President Obama.

    Embarrassing. I bet there is a sigh of relief at the Atlantic HQ today- “Not our problem anymore.”

  9. dannie22 says:

    Hello everyone. Another sad day in America. Well white folks, you’ve done it again. And you’ve really outdone yourself this time. Making a sitting President show his birth certificate. I hope your proud.

    • Ametia says:

      Hi Dannie. It’s a disgrace. I’ve been trying to fix the comment section on the thread…. Thanks for stopping in.

      • From


        Thanks for reporting the issue with comments being disabled on your new posts. We’ve seen other reports of this as well and are taking a look into it right now.

        Thanks for your patience as we sort this out. We’ll keep you updated as we know more details.

        Best regards,
        Russell—- Russell | Happiness Engineer |

  10. rikyrah says:

    Orly Taitz: Obama’s Long-Form Birth Certificate Should Say ‘Negro’ Not ‘African’
    In a development that will surprise no one, it turns out that President Barack Obama’s decision to release his long-form birth certificate hasn’t quieted members of the “birther” movement who promote the conspiracy theory that he wasn’t born in the United States.

    “Look, I applaud this release. I think it’s a step in the right direction,” so-called “birther queen” Orly Taitz told me in one of her many media interviews this morning. “I credit Donald Trump in pushing this issue.”

    But she still has her suspicions. Specifically, Taitz thinks that the birth certificate should peg Obama’s race as “Negro” and not “African.”

    “In those years … when they wrote race, they were writing ‘Negro’ not ‘African’,” Taitz says. “In those days nobody wrote African as a race, it just wasn’t one of the options. It sounds like it would be written today, in the age of political correctness, and not in 1961 when they wrote white or Asian or ‘Negro’.”

    Taitz says she’s not giving up her fight. She also claims Obama isn’t a “natural born citizen” because she uses a standard that requires both parents to be American citizens — a misreading of the Constitution which if enforced would have rendered several other American Presidents ineligible.

  11. Ametia says:

    Bernanke to Hold First Press Briefing as Fed Chief
    To discuss FOMC decisions
    Following a two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold his first press briefing with reporters as Fed Chief, beginning what is to be a quarterly event.
    Bernanke is expected to discuss with reporters decisions taken by FOMC members.
    He will also reiterate a previous assertion that the Fed’s efforts to stimulate the economy, through an aggressive program of large bond purchases, will not raise inflation. The Fed has kept its target federal funds rate between zero and 0.25% since December 2008.
    According to a statement on the Fed’s website, “The introduction of regular press briefings is intended to further enhance the clarity and timeliness of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy communication. The Federal Reserve will continue to review its communications practices in the interest of ensuring accountability and increasing public understanding.”
    Tomorrow, the government will release the first-quarter gross domestic product data. It is expected to show light economic growth at the start of the year.
    Watch it live here at 2:15 pm EST:

  12. rikyrah says:

    APRIL 26, 2011 Judge: Let EPA enforce cleanup rules
    Aiming a legal shot directly across the bow of Gov. Rick Scott’s anti-regulation agenda, a Miami federal judge on Tuesday cleared the way for the federal government to do something he contends the state has failed to do for decades: enforce water pollution standards tough enough to protect the Everglades.

    In the latest in a string of blistering rulings, U.S. District Judge Alan Gold reiterated frustration at repeated delays and “disingenuous” legal maneuvers by state lawmakers and agencies he charged have weakened rules intended to reduce the flow of phosphorus into the River of Grass.

    “Protection of the Everglades requires a major commitment which cannot be simply pushed aside in the face of financial hardships, political opposition, or other excuses,” Gold wrote. “These obstacles will always exist, but the Everglades will not — especially if the protracted pace of preservation efforts continues

  13. rikyrah says:

    More states moving to managed-care plans for Medicaid

    Lobbying battles are being fought in state capitals across the country as more than a dozen governors try to contain the cost of Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor and those with disabilities, by requiring more people to go into managed-care plans.

    With billions of dollars at stake, insurance companies, hospitals and doctors are fighting over money and control.

    About half the nation’s 50 million Medicaid recipients are in private managed-care plans, which the states typically pay a set amount per patient each month. These plans limit patients’ choices of doctors and hospitals. The other half has more freedom to choose where to go for medical care, with the Medicaid program paying a fee for each visit and procedure.

    Medicaid increasingly is becoming a managed-care program, a significant trend as the states gear up for a massive expansion required by the new federal health care law. Beginning in 2014, an estimated 16 million more Americans are expected to qualify under the law’s expanded eligibility criteria.

    Medicaid managed-care plans are gearing up. UnitedHealthcare, the largest plan, with about 3.4 million Medicaid recipients, announced this month that it plans to add another 300,000 this year.

    While some patient advocates worry about the quality of managed care, the most powerful opposition to the states’ expansion plans this year is coming from hospitals, doctors and nursing homes.

    “Whenever you are changing the way you do business,” said Matt Salo, the executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, “you are going to have winners and losers.”

    Opposition by health care groups has held up plans in Maine and Louisiana to require Medicaid recipients to enroll in managed care plans. Maine’s doctors are leery of managed care plans getting in the way of treating patients and getting paid, said Andrew MacLean of the Maine Medical Association.

    “Doctors are worried about losing local control of the program,” he said.

    In Louisiana, doctors and hospitals have said managed care could discourage provider participation in the Medicaid program. Hospitals also fear losing the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding they receive for treating large numbers of poor people.

    The state hopes to launch a program next year to require most of its 1.2 million Medicaid recipients to enroll in HMOs or less-restrictive types of managed care overseen by physicians.

    In January, Mississippi became one of the latest states to institute managed care for Medicaid. But hospitals and doctors successfully lobbied to limit the program to 15 percent of Medicaid recipients and to end it in June 2012. The health industry also made sure that managed care companies couldn’t lower reimbursement rates to providers or reduce benefits to recipients. Those provisions left managed care companies little wiggle room to control costs.

    State Medicaid officials said they expected resistance.

    “We have organizations who make a living off of sick people and they are less anxious to lessen the amount of money into their pockets,” said Francis Rullan, a spokesman for Mississippi Medicaid.

    Texas is moving toward expanding mandatory managed care into the Rio Grande Valley, beyond the cities where it’s required now: Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. Virginia plans to expand its program into the southwestern part of the state next year.

    Michigan, which has had mandatory managed care for most of its Medicaid recipients since the late 1990s, added 21,000 foster care children this year and next year plans to include 20,000 children with special health needs such as hemophilia and spina bifida.

    South Carolina joined the trend this year, and began requiring most of its 830,000 Medicaid recipients to enroll in managed-care plans. Previously, participation in managed care had been voluntary and people who “could benefit the most from coordinated care” weren’t signing up, “so we were not getting the kind of cost containment we had hoped for,” said Jeff Stensland, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

    Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, signed a bill earlier this year that aims to push half of Illinois’ Medicaid patients into managed care organizations by 2015. Today, only about 8 percent of Illinois Medicaid patients receive care this way.

    Read more:

  14. rikyrah says:

    Most in S.C. GOP think Obama a socialist
    Fewer than half say they approve of job president is doing

    Barack Obama, president of the United States. And a socialist.

    That is the view of 78 percent of S.C. Republicans or GOP-leaning independents, according to the Winthrop Poll.

    Overall, Obama does not fare well in the Winthrop Poll. That is not surprising in South Carolina, a strongly Republican state that Obama, a Democrat, lost in the 2008 presidential election.

    Only 43.4 percent of all those polled — Democrats, Republicans and independents — said they approve of the job the first-term president is doing, compared to more than 47 percent who said they disapprove.

    Among self-identified Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, Obama fares even worse in questions asked exclusively for The State by Winthrop.

    Those questions found:

    • More than 40 percent say Obama was probably or definitely born in another country, making him ineligible to be president, in most cases.

    • A quarter say he is a Muslim; only a third agree that he is a Christian, the faith Obama professes.

    In other questions, big majorities of S.C. Republicans and GOP-leaning independents agree Obama is intelligent — more than three-quarters. But more than 60 percent see him as uncaring and more than 70 percent as dishonest.

    Then, there is the socialist tag.

    “Absolutely, he’s a socialist,” said Mark McCrary, a 52-year-old finance manager who lives in Greenville. “He wants the government to take care of everything. Our government is involved in a lot of things it should not be involved in.”

    The view of Obama as a socialist comes mainly from those who view the term as an epithet, an indictment of the president’s policies. A trio of academic experts refuted the notion that Obama bears any similarity to socialists.

    “I can say with absolute conviction that Barack Obama is not a socialist,” said Dominic Boyer, an associate professor of anthropology at Rice University who has studied socialism.

    Dan Sabia, chairman of the University of South Carolina’s political science department, and Scott Huffmon, an associate professor of political science at Winthrop and the director of the Winthrop Poll, agree with Boyer’s assessment.

    “Obama is no more a socialist, as many on the right label him, than Bush was the fascist that many on the left labeled him,” Huffmon said. “We’re really talking about the extent of the role of government in a capitalist society, not the end of capitalism.

    Read more:

  15. rikyrah says:

    Caught in a Trap
    by Paul mistermix Muad’Dib

    Here’s Boehner’s spokesman on why he opened the door to ending oil subsidies:

    “He simply wasn’t going to take the bait and fall into the trap of defending ‘Big Oil’ companies,” Steel said. “Boehner believes, as he stated in the interview, that expanding American energy production will help lower gas prices and create more American jobs. We’ll look at any reasonable policy that lowers gas prices. Unfortunately, what the president has suggested so far would simply raise taxes and increase the price at the pump.”

    The president proposed cutting subsidies to oil companies yesterday, because Boehner said it was “something we ought to be looking at” in an interview on Monday. Boehner opened that door, and Obama walked right in. Since Republicans have no intention of ever causing an oil company pain, Boehner’s statement would normally be called a “gaffe”.

    Fortunately for Boehner, the current narrative is that he is a savvy insider, so his inability to elude a simple question is missed, and the stupidity of his press guy’s defense goes unremarked. Boehner certainly didn’t fall into the trap of defending Big Oil—instead, he walked into the trap of entertaining the possibility that Big Oil might actually pay a dollar of taxes someday.

  16. rikyrah says:

    April 27, 2011
    No, no, if they come, it’ll be Calais
    Suit up for a delightful journey through GOP denial.

    This morning’s NY Times’ “House G.O.P. Members Face Voter Anger Over Budget” is a near comedic survey of electoral wrath and disowning of same by those who wrought it. For heedless Republicans this is their occupied France of spring, 1944; it’s Napoleon’s troops on June 17, 1815; it’s an impending rout of reactionary fatuity like we haven’t seen since feudalism’s demise.

    OK, that’s stretching things a bit. But it is a joy, and transcendentally so.

    For your amusement ponder, for example, this befuddled quackery from Pennsylvania’s Rep. Lou Barletta: “My town halls are being disrupted by Democrats…. I am not sensing the general public is angered over Medicare reform. When I explain that people over 55 are not affected there is almost a sigh of relief.”

    Put aside for a moment the GOP representative’s implication that town hall meetings should be for friendlies only — not, heaven forfend, an opportunity for concerned citizens to confront their somehow-elected malefactors. As usual, the rules of democracy are deemed different by Republicans, for Republicans. No, Barletta’s real topper was that phrase about “sigh[s] of relief” coming from constituents who realized his exacting malevolence was aimed not at them. Intriguing. Why did Barletta believe the over-55 crowd was so relieved? — and, notwithstanding his protestations of a carefree “general public,” would not the 54-crowd in reality be feeling a trifle cheated upon witnessing the 55-crowd’s immense relief?

    Otherwise, in their budget proposal did House Republicans not virtuously dynamite our seed of national destruction: Medicare? Would not patriotic citizens of all ages applaud these saviors and demand only to know why we must wait 10 years — 10 long, depraved, ruinous years — before righteousness descends and their blessed budget-balancing edict begins to take root?

    Meanwhile, back in Berlin, early June, 1944, in a conference call “House leaders sought to reassure Republicans that their budget approach would eventually carry the day,” reports the Times.

    One could erupt in savage and sarcastic commentary. But let’s just savor that line instead; just sort of let it hang there, while standing back, admiring the depths of self-deception to which the suicidal leaders of Boehner-Cantor-Ryan are willing to go, dragging to hell their troops along with them.

    Makes you smile, does it not?

    Still, we’ve yet to arrive at the truly heartwarming part. Which is: “Officials familiar with the [conference] call said that rank-and-file lawmakers did not seem alarmed at the response they were getting.”

    June 5th. Hey, Heinrich, see any ships out there? Nein. All clear and A-OK. Ja, it’s lookin’ good.

  17. Ametia says:

    CNN Breaking News- President will Show Origianl Birth Certificate, according to Jay Carney Press Secreatary

    POTUS to make a statement and take questions around 9:30 am this morning

    • rikyrah says:

      While I think it’s ridiculous, because if someone put a gun to my head, I couldn’t produce my long-form birth certificate. Have no idea what it look like, have no idea where to get it, because the hospital I was born at has since closed. The only birth certificate I have is one that has similar information to what the President has already released.

      It’s an absolute crock of shyt, and it’s only because this President is BLACK.

      BUT….politically, I think it’s brilliant of the President.

      Because, guess what, folks?

      The President knows what I know….


      There will be a poll taken next week, asking now, if the Republican Birthers are satisfied…

      the answer to that poll will be NO.


      Because it’s not about the Birth Certificate…it’s about him being a Black Man.


      And, once that poll is released that reveals that POTUS even releasing the Birth Certificate doesn’t make a DAMN BIT OF DIFFERENCE WITH THESE PEOPLE…

      The albatross that is the Birthers will be hung around the GOP going into 2012 like an anvil.

      PS-all I know is that I better be able to look up EVERY LAST GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE’S LONG FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE.

  18. Ametia says:

    Donald Trump’s circus act
    By Ruth Marcus, Tuesday, April 26, 8:00 PM
    There’s a reason presidents go gray. The job is difficult. The pressures are unrelenting. If you don’t realize this, you’re not qualified to be president. Or you’re Donald Trump, in which case you are also not qualified to be president.

    The self-proclaimed billionaire is fond of asserting how swiftly and simply he could solve problems that have bedeviled presidents for decades. As my colleague Dan Balz has noted, “Being Trump apparently means being able to say about nearly everything, ‘It’s so easy.’ ”

    As in Trump to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on rising gasoline prices:

    “We don’t have anybody in Washington that calls OPEC and says, ‘Fellas, it’s time. It’s over. You’re not going to do it anymore.’ ”

    Stephanopoulos: “So, what would you do to back up that threat?”

    Trump: “Oh, it’s so easy, George. It’s so easy. It’s all about the messenger. They wouldn’t even be there if it wasn’t for us.”

    Right. All it takes is for a president who knows the art of the deal to call up an emir or two — you don’t need to learn their names if you just call them “fellas” — and announce that America is outta there if the spigot slows down.

    I don’t think Trump is going to be president, so we needn’t spend too much time contemplating his comb-over gone gray. Trump is more interesting as a phenomenon of modern celebrity culture than as a serious presidential prospect. He is the ultimate in bread-and­circuses politics: a glittery amusement for voters and an avalanche of free publicity for the man who craves it.

    But Trump is polling near the top of the GOP heap. He’s headed to New Hampshire and Iowa. So it is time to look past the birther nonsense he has been spouting to consider the rest of the nonsense he has been spouting.

    Trump makes Mitt Romney look unalterably steadfast in his positions. Trump was for abortion rights before he was against them. Ditto with a tax increase on the wealthy and universal health care.

    He makes Sarah Palin look like a deep thinker. In an astonishing interchange with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, Trump said he believes the Constitution protects the right to privacy but seemed mystified when asked how to square that answer with his opposition to abortion rights.

    “Well, it’s a pretty strange way of getting to pro-life,” Trump said. “What does that have to do with privacy?” Answer: Because the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling was grounded in the right to privacy. You can disagree with that analysis, but it’s something you ought to know if you want to be president.

    And on matters of foreign policy, he makes Dick Cheney look like Gandhi. On Libya, “I would go in, I would take the oil and stop this baby stuff,” Trump told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “We go in, we have wars, we lose lives, we lose money and we leave. I would go in and take the oil and I’d clean up everything.”

    I’m not cherry-picking lunacy here. Trump breezily dismisses warnings of dire consequences if the United States were to default on its obligations. “I don’t care. I wouldn’t raise it,” he said of the debt ceiling. When Guthrie pressed about the implications of default, Trump waved her off. “I don’t think you have to default,” he said. “You’re going to have to make a deal someplace.”

    Trump ruled out both defense cuts — “I guarantee you, of all of the Republicans, I’m the strongest on defense” — and “doing anything that’s going to tinker too much” with Medicare. “I protect the senior citizens,” he said. “They’re lifeblood as far as I’m concerned.”

    So how does he propose to deal with the deficit?

    Trump: “You know how you do it? By stopping what’s going on in the world. The world is just destroying our country. These other countries are sapping our strength. OPEC is sapping our strength. We can’t pay $108-a-barrel oil. It’s sapping our country.”

    Guthrie persisted: “How does that go to the debt crisis?”

    Trump: “I’m saying, what we want to do is create a strong country again, and you can solve the deficit problem the easiest way.”

    The hard truth is that there is no easiest way. Trump is an unserious candidate for serious times. The sooner he decides — or reveals — that his flirtation with running for president was just another act in the Trump show, the better the political debate will be.

  19. Ametia says:

    Republicans are being held hostage by their base
    By Harold Meyerson,
    Tuesday, April 26, 8:00 PM

    Republicans have a problem. Their base is killing them. LMBAO!!!!!!!!!

    Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s announcement Monday that he will not seek the presidency is just the latest sign that politically sentient Republicans fear their party’s voters have moved so deeply into la-la land that winning their support in next year’s primaries could render their nominee unelectable in November. “Friends of Barbour,” reports The Post’s Dan Balz, “said that he had come to the conclusion that Republicans can win only if they are totally focused on serious issues and not distracted by some side issues, such as Obama’s birthplace, that have arisen in the early going.”

    But Republicans are massively distracted by birtherism. A New York Times-CBS News poll last week showed that while 57 percent of Americans believe that President Obama was born in the United States, against 25 percent who didn’t, just 33 percent of Republicans believed him American-born, while 45 percent did not. The Republican level of birtherism was effectively identical to that of self-identified Tea Party supporters, 34 percent of whom thought Obama was U.S.-born, while 45 percent did not.

    Which is to say that the loopy, enraged divorce from reality of the Tea Potniks has infected the entire party.

    That, indeed, has been the strategic premise of Donald Trump’s campaign, be it pseudo, proto- or provisional, for the Republican nomination. Nothing in Trump’s background suggests he actually believes the birther snake oil he is peddling with considerable success in GOP ranks. What his background, and foreground, do make clear is that he is utterly without shame. If stoking his campaign requires affirming the absurd beliefs of rubes whom he would instantly fire on his TV series, well — it’s worked, hasn’t it?

    And it’s not just Trump. “Birther bills,” which require presidential candidates to produce their birth certificates, are moving through a number of Republican-controlled state legislatures. In Oklahoma, one such bill is expected to become law. In Arizona, the legislature passed such a bill, only to have Republican Gov. Jan Brewer veto it, calling it “a bridge too far.” Brewer didn’t specify where that bridge was headed, but surely she meant that an official Republican crossing-over into birtherism would place the party and its nominee on the paranoid fantasy side of the gap between the real and the imagined, while Democrats and independents gaped in amazement from the other side.

    Brewer is not alone in her concerns. Karl Rove, still the GOP’s canniest strategist, told Fox News viewers that Trump was “off there in the nutty right” and a “joke candidate” for pandering to birther conspiracy theories.

    The joke, however, may be on Rove and those reality-based Republicans trying to figure out a way to defeat Obama in the next election. If Rove really wanted to stop Trump and the birthers in their tracks, he should have looked Fox News viewers straight in the camera’s eye and told them to change the channel.

    Widely shared paranoid fantasies existed long before Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, of course, but it’s increasingly clear that the success of news and opinion outlets devoted to counter-factual news in the service of partisan ends has driven a rift between their audience and the rest of the nation. If the rift were merely ideological, it wouldn’t pose a problem for the Republicans: Ideological rifts are the very stuff of politics.

    Increasingly, though, the rift between the Tea Partyized Republicans and everyone else comes on the question of empiricism. Watch Fox News or listen to right-wing talk radio long and credulously enough, and you’ll end up believing that Americans found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that sharia law is being imposed on Dearborn, Mich., that climate change is a hoax and that Obama fears revealing the truth about his birth (a frequent theme of Fox’s Sean Hannity).

    The authorities at Fox moved back from the brink a bit when they decided to let Glenn Beck go, but Beck was just one among many right-wing talksters whose cumulative effect has been to render rank-and-file Republicans a receptive audience for nonsense-spouting demagogues such as Trump. If the espousal of birtherism truly becomes a necessity for winning the Republican presidential nomination, the right’s war on empiricism will have served not merely to build and mobilize a base, but also to isolate that base from the majority of Americans who still inhabit, at least most of the time, a reality-based universe. Winning the support of crazies, Haley Barbour may have concluded, is no way to win the White House.

  20. Ametia says:

    In California, a more rational approach to budget gap emerges
    By Michael Hiltzik
    April 27, 2011

    Nobody said that closing California’s budget gap of $25 billion-plus was going to be easy, even for a new governor elected with a resounding majority.

    So it’s hardly a shock that Gov. Jerry Brown has run into a few snags. His tax extensions and budget cuts in welfare and healthcare will slice the deficit to about $15 billion, but that includes savings in newly negotiated contracts with the state’s correctional officers and other unionized employees that may be partially illusory.

    The contracts will save the state general fund money in the near term, but not nearly as much as the more than $300 million Brown originally claimed; the nonpartisan state legislative analyst placed the savings in the next fiscal year at only about $180 million — and said the pacts would raise costs starting as soon as 2012-13. That’s a problem for Brown, because the shortfall from expectations will make it harder to obtain the Republican votes needed for the Legislature to ratify the labor agreements.

    Nor has the Legislature’s Republican bloc, which is weak in numbers but strong in constitutionally endowed veto power, been cooperative. It has walked away from budget talks, jeopardizing Brown’s plan to extend increases in the sales and car taxes beyond their expiration June 30 and place those on the ballot along with changes in the income tax.,0,1097810.column

  21. Ametia says:

    h/t BWD- OAITR Thank you!

    Contact: Mary Mahon
    Commonwealth Fund

    New study: Health reform to make health insurance affordable for nearly all families
    Report finds that 90 percent can afford premiums and costs under Affordable Care Act; out-of-pocket costs will still be a concern for some families
    New York, NY, April 27, 2011—Ninety percent of American families living above the federal poverty level will be able to afford health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report by Jonathan Gruber and Ian Perry of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The report finds that new subsidies available through health insurance exchanges established under the law will make premiums affordable for most families. But the authors also warn that high out-of-pocket costs will likely mean some families will still be unable to afford health-related expenses.

    “The Affordable Care Act is very good news for millions of Americans who are struggling to afford health care, going without health insurance, or skipping the care they need because they can’t afford it,” said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. “The new law makes health insurance and health care affordable for nearly all families, and introduces delivery system reforms that have the potential to greatly improve quality and efficiency. If implemented well, new entities like accountable care organizations may bring even greater savings and affordability than this report predicts.”

    The report, Will The Affordable Care Act Make Health Insurance Affordable? uses consumer spending data to analyze family budgets across income levels, and compares them to the costs of purchasing health insurance through the health insurance exchanges scheduled to begin in 2014, and typical out-of-pocket health care spending. The analysis finds that the vast majority of American families, even lower-income families, have room in their budgets for premiums and typical out-of-pocket costs. For example, households between 100 percent and 150 percent of the poverty level (up to $33,525 for a family of four) spend 75 percent of resources on necessities—including child care, food, housing, taxes and transportation—leaving most families in that income range able to afford some health-related expenses.

    However, in each income range that the authors examined, some families would still struggle to afford all their health care because of high out-of-pocket costs. For example, 10.8 percent to 17.5 percent of families with incomes between 100 percent and 200 percent of poverty, and about a quarter of families earning between 200 percent and 300 percent of poverty, who have high out-of-pocket costs could not afford all their necessities plus health-related costs. Families with incomes over 500 percent of poverty, or $111,750for a family of four, have room in their budgets for health care, even with high out-of-pocket costs.

    “Our analysis is promising, as the vast majority of people will be better off because of the premium subsidies and cost-sharing limits in the Affordable Care Act,” said Jonathan Gruber, professor of economics at MIT and lead report author. “However, the concerns about high out-of-pocket costs are notable and should be addressed so that people who become very sick don’t face out-of-pocket costs that they are unable to afford.”


    The full report will be available on April 27 at: Briefs/2011/Apr/ACA-Health-Insurance-Affordable.aspx.

    The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation supporting independent research on health policy reform and a high performance health system.

  22. Ametia says:

    Six Questions for Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke
    Tue Apr. 26, 2011 12:01 AM PDT
    By Andy Kroll and Nick Baumann

    On Wednesday, Ben Bernanke will do what no other Fed chairman before him has ever done: Hold a press conference.

    That’s big news for the quasi-governmental body known as the “Temple of Secrets,” which controls the flow of money in the economy and often acts as a lender of last resort for crumbling banks. On Wednesday afternoon, the Fed will host reporters after a two-day meeting of its Federal Open Markets Committee, the Fed’s main body shaping monetary policy in the US. With public distrust of the Fed soaring, the much-anticipated event gives Bernanke a chance to openly discuss the Fed’s deliberations and try to build trust in the 98-year-old institution. Bernanke will speak directly to the media at the Fed’s headquarters in Washington, DC, then take 45 minutes of questions. The interrogation will undoubtedly range from the Fed’s monetary policy, to its role in spurring the US economic recovery, to the country’s long-term fiscal health.

    Here are six questions we’d like to see Bernanke answer. (Any questions you’d like see posed to the Fed chief? Share them in the comments section. Or tweet them @motherjones using the hashtag #FedSpeaks.)

  23. GOP Reps Screen Questions, Duck Out In Secret At Town Halls

    WASHINGTON — The wave of town hall protests targeting House Republicans, and aided by labor and progressive groups, is forcing lawmakers to put restrictions on the forum’s traditionally open structure.

    On Tuesday night, Rep. Allen West’s office (R-Fl.) reportedly screened questioners during his town hall event by requiring individuals to fill out index cards which were then vetted by his staff. This was, the Boward County Sun Sentinel noted, different from “his usual practice at previous town hall meetings, where West took questions from people who lined up at microphones.”

    Separately, House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who has chosen to publicly broadcast his town hall locations rather than avoid the protests, was forced to leave Tuesday night’s forum in a different car and from a different exit out of security concerns. The Wisconsin Republican told a local reporter that the decision to leave hastily was precautionary but not something that should be “blown out of proportion.”

    Nevertheless, those groups and individuals trumpeting (and assisting) the town hall disruptions found in Tuesday’s latest stories another favorable narrative.

    “Is this the type of transparency Alan West promised when he ran for office?” emailed one labor source, whose members and retirees have been attending town halls.

    The source, who pointed out the West news, declined to go on the record but didn’t shy away from touting the role played by his and other organizations in causing discomfort for West and others. The labor union, the source said, had been sending members to other West town halls (though not the one Tuesday night), “to ask pointed questions of their members where they stand on privatizing Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security versus ending spending on tax cuts for the richest 2% of all Americans.”

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