Serendipity SOUL | Wednesday Open Thread

                                       NOW LET’S GET AMERICANS WORKING!

Job Market Conditions Improved in South and Midwest

Job market conditions were best in the Midwest and the South, at +15 each, but worst in the West, at +9. The year-over-year job situation improved the most in the Midwest and East, while showing the least improvement in the South.


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75 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Wednesday Open Thread

  1. Ametia says:

    Breaking News Alert: Medicare dropped from GOP budget proposal
    May 4, 2011 9:11:07 PM

    Senior Republicans conceded Wednesday that a deal is unlikely on a plan to overhaul Medicare and offered to open budget talks by focusing on areas where both parties can agree, such as cutting farm subsidies.

    On the eve of debt-reduction talks, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) said Republicans remain convinced that reining in federal retirement programs is vital, but recognize they may need to look elsewhere to achieve consensus.

    For more information, visit

  2. Hat tip Rikyrah!


    He did what he said he would do.

    Five times I have interviewed President Obama, and in each conversation I raised the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

    Going back through the tapes and transcripts, I’m reminded that he was as consistent in his remarks as I was in repeatedly asking. And in the end, it went down just the way he promised.

    That bin Laden was hiding in plain view, in the shadow of the military academy of the Pakistani army, in a community noted for the numbers of its military retirees, is testament to Pakistan’s obfuscation of our objectives. Obama was right to therefore disregard its sovereignty.

    U.S. intelligence learned of the compound in Abbottabad in August. Two months later, on Oct. 27, I interviewed Obama and asked, “Is it at a point, sir, where it’s time to send our special forces across that Afghan-Pakistan border, engaged in the hunt of bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri?”

    The president was understandably reluctant to go into details about covert U.S. operations in Pakistan, though he did allude to such activity: “I will say that we are ramping up the pressure each and every day. And I’m actually confident that the work that Gen. (David) Petraeus is doing on the Afghan side of the border, the cooperation we’ve begun to get from the Pakistanis on their side of the border, is starting to have an effect. But as you and I have talked about before, every day I’ve got a team of some of our best people who are still looking for bin Laden, still looking for Zawahiri, still focused on making sure that we are defeating and dismantling al-Qaeda once and for all.”

    In the midst of the celebrations for how this ended, it is important to remember that there was a time when Sen. Obama was derided for saying he would act in the manner he just pursued. That happened in August 2007, when he said he would move on actionable intelligence regarding high-value terrorist targets if Pakistan did not.

    Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Christopher Dodd, among others, were critical of those remarks. He did not temper his comments.

    Obama has been a constant critic of our outsourcing of the hunt for bin Laden. In March 2008, he told me that the Pakistanis “have been playing us like a violin.”

    In that same conversation, he said the Iraq war was a distraction that had allowed al-Qaeda to regroup and become stronger. “And we’ve got to do something about that because those guys have a safe haven there, and they are still planning to do Americans harm, and my job as commander in chief is going to be to protect Americans,” Obama said.

    When we spoke a month later, he said: “When it comes to military aid, we shouldn’t be propping up Pakistan’s military when they’re focused on a possible war with India and ignoring the very immediate and real threat of militants who are in their territories. And our aid has to be in some ways contingent on them making a serious effort.”

    In our next conversation, on Oct. 9, 2008, Obama again chastised those in Pakistan who were willing to harbor America’s enemies and reiterated his intention to authorize covert operations to target high-value adversaries within that country.

    As the war in Iraq wound down, he told me, the United States also would have to “send a strong message to Pakistan that we can’t tolerate safe havens for bin Laden, where he’s training terrorists to kill Americans. We can’t tolerate it. Now we need to work with Pakistan to dismantle those training camps and kill bin Laden. But if Pakistan is unwilling or unable to take bin Laden out and we have him in our sights, we’ve got to do it.”

    Once in office, the Obama administration first made good on that repeated promise by dramatically increasing the number of Predator drone strikes in Pakistan. A BBC analysis found that at least 87 drone attacks had been authorized in the first 18 months of Obama’s presidency, compared with 25 such attacks during President George W. Bush’s final year in office.

    By last February, the number of drone strikes authorized during the first two years of the current administration (at least 180) had already dwarfed such activity undertaken by the preceding administration over the previous four years (42), according to a Newsweek analysis.

    When I spoke to Obama in the White House in August 2009, he told me that the Pakistani army was “for the first time actually fighting in a very aggressive way, and that’s how we took out Baitullah Mehsud, the top Taliban leader in Pakistan, who was also one of bin Laden’s key allies.”

    But when that level of pursuit did not last, Obama acted without consulting the Pakistanis.

    In view of what he said so often, it’s difficult to fathom that so many have for so long questioned his resolve in destroying America’s enemies.

  3. Why Obama Did Not Release The Photo of bin Laden

    President Obama told CBS News Wednesday that he would not release the death photos of Osama bin Laden, grisly images that depict the terrorist leader with a major head wound. In an interview with 60 Minutes, set to be broadcast on Sunday, the President was asked if he saw the photos. “Yes,” Obama said. Then he was asked his reaction. “It was him,” the President continued.

    Obama went on to say that he had decided that there were national security risks to releasing such volatile imagery of bin Laden, saying they could lead to “incitement to additional violence.” Obama also said that a release was not in the American character. “That’s not who we are. We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies,” Obama said. “There are going to be some folks who deny it. The fact of the matter is you will not see bin Laden walking on this earth again.”

    Republicans have been divided on the issue. Fox News pundit Sarah Palin, a former governor of Alaska, tweeted her disappointment in the President’s decision, with a side swipe at Obama’s leadership on the issue. “Show photo as warning to others seeking America’s destruction. No pussy-footing around, no politicking, no drama; it’s part of the mission,” she wrote.

    Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told CBS News, by contrast, that he did not support the photo release. “The risks of release outweigh the benefits,” he said. “Conspiracy theorists around the world will just claim the photos are doctored anyway, and there is a real risk that releasing the photos will only serve to inflame public opinion in the Middle East,”

    “Imagine how the American people would react if al-Qaeda killed one of our troops or military leaders, and put photos of the body on the internet,” he continued. “Osama bin Laden is not a trophy – he is dead and let’s now focus on continuing the fight until Al Qaida has been eliminated.”

  4. Hat tip The Only Adult In The Room

    Obama Pushed for ‘Fight Your Way Out’ Option in bin Laden Raid

    A senior U.S. military official Monday credited President Obama for having a prominent role in pushing and shaping the plan to get Osama bin Laden. “In the final weeks and really months of this, his personal interest and direction and attention pushed the case to a new level that enabled real action,” the official told reporters. “And I think that role is quite important.”

    On Tuesday, White House officials began to offer more details on exactly how Obama had shaped the final assault plan. In particular, the President, they said, urged the Pentagon to revisit the number of helicopters it planned to bring into Pakistani airspace on the mission. One of those extra helicopters later played a role in the mission.The president made his concerns known in a briefing about 10 days before the assault on the bin Laden compound. According to senior aides, Obama felt that the special operations COA, or course of action, was too risky. Under the COA at that time, only two helicopters would enter Pakistani airspace, leaving little backup if something went wrong. “I don’t want you to plan for an option that doesn’t allow you to fight your way out,” the President told operational planners at the meeting, according to the notes of one participant.

    So the plan was revised. Ultimately, four helicopters flew into Pakistani airspace, including two refueling helicopters that carried additional personnel. In the end, the extra forces didn’t need to fight their way out of the compound, but a backup helicopter did play a key role in the operation. One of the two primary assault helicopters, an HH-60 Pave Hawk lost its lift, landed hard and had to be destroyed. The backup landed to lift its passengers to safety. “The President created the ‘fight your way out’ option,” explained an administration official.

    Damn! That extra helicopter was most definitely needed. Wow!

    President Obama…The man with a plan!

  5. Ametia says:

  6. Dalai Lama Implies That Bin Laden Killing Is Justified

    LOS ANGELES — The Dalai Lama seems to suggest the United States was justified in killing Osama bin Laden.

    Speaking Tuesday to about 3,000 students at the University of Southern California, the 75-year-old Tibetan leader says bin Laden, as a human being, may have deserved compassion and even forgiveness.

    But the Los Angeles Times says the Dalai Lama added: “Forgiveness doesn’t mean forget what happened.”

    He says it is sometimes necessary to take counter-measures.

    It’s the Dalai Lama’s first U.S. visit since stepping down recently as the day-to-day political leader of Tibet’s government in exile.

    He skipped earlier Southern California appearances this week because he fell ill with a sore throat. He has stops scheduled Wednesday in Long Beach and Irvine.

  7. Ametia says:

    Wisconsin Democrats win seat that was held by Republican for sixteen years in special election
    By Zaid Jilani at 9:50 am

    Wisconsin marks the birthplace of a burgeoning Main Street Movement defending the economic livelihood of the middle class. The movement was spawned after Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and his GOP allies passed new laws stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights. Last night, Wisconsin Republicans suffered what was perhaps the first electoral defeat resulting from a backlash to their radical anti-labor policies as Democrats won a special election for an assembly seat held by the GOP for the past 16 years

  8. Ametia says:

    CNN Breaking

    The Justice Department said in a letter to the NCAA that it has opened an antitrust inquiry into the Bowl Championship Series system.
    The BCS excludes some athletic conferences from the formula for choosing schools to play in major bowl games.

  9. rikyrah says:

    May 04, 2011
    Man-on-fog genius

    Forget methamphetamine and all manner of white bliss. For a truly mind-altering experience, try Rick Santorum.

    In Iowa, on Monday — just hours after President Obama’s Bush-postponed killing of the globe’s #1 terrorist — Santorum hallucinated before a reality-deprived crowd that Obama had made America “less safe.” He added that America’s foes, having pondered the present administration’s weakness, are now “less fearful and less respectful of us.”

    Later, on Tuesday, the former United States senator(!) told Politico that, sure, Obama “made a good call on a military mission.” Yet, but, however, nonetheless, “Going after Osama bin Laden is something that has been the policy of America for 10 years.”

    In brief — snort, sniff — it doesn’t count.

    Brushing a few fugitive snowflakes from his lapel, Santorum then observed through igneous eyes: “[Obama’s] two great foreign policy successes have been this tactical decision on a policy of the previous administration which he continued, and his decision to continue the policies of the last administration with respect to Iraq. His other strategic decisions have been, in a word, horrible.”

    Rick, let me put it this way, as gently as I can. You know your presidential prospects are rather dim when all the opposition need do is to quote you.

  10. rikyrah says:

    under CAC News:


    TX Teacher Suspended After Telling Muslim Student ‘I Bet You’re Grieving’

    A Texas high school teacher has been placed on administrative leave following an incident where he allegedly told a 9th grade Muslim girl in his algebra class “I bet that you’re grieving” on Monday following the death of Osama bin Laden.

    According to one parent at Clear Brook High School in Houston who spoke about the incident to a local ABC affiliate, the teacher also said, “I heard about your uncle’s death.”

    The parent said the student “understood that he was referring about Osama bin Laden being killed and was racially profiling her.”

    The name of the alleged victim of the comment has not been released. She is being described as an “American-born girl of Muslim faith.”

    The teacher allegedly showed no remorse after Muslim girl reacted to his comments, according to the parent (who requested anonymity from the ABC station because “she doesn’t want any retaliation against her daughter or the girl who experienced the inappropriate comment.”)

    “The student ended up crying over what was said to her by the teacher and the teacher asked her why she was crying and another student said it was because of what you said earlier,” the parent told the station. “And his response was, oh, OK, and just kind of smirked and giggled and walked away.”

    The Houston Chronicle reports the unidentified teacher “has been placed on administrative leave” following the alleged remark. The Chronicle published this official statement from the school district:

    • Ametia says:

      Maybe the unidentified teacher should go on Apprentice before the YOU’RE FIRED! Trump.

  11. rikyrah says:

    under BITCH, PLEASE news:


    Palin: Obama ‘Pussy-Footing’ By Not Releasing Photo Of Dead Bin Laden
    Brian Beutler | May 4, 2011,

    Just three days after the world learned President Obama ordered a daring special operations mission resulting in the death of Osama bin Laden, Sarah Palin has come around to claim he’s “pussy-footing around” — specifically by not immediately releasing photos of the deceased al Qaeda leader. To underscore the irony, Palin claims the pictures should be released “as warning to others seeking America’s destruction” — one day after numerous reports had her moving in a more pragmatic direction on foreign policy.

    Palin took to Twitter, one of her go-to modes of communications, moments after news broke that Obama would not release the bin Laden photos.

    “Show photo as warning to others seeking America’s destruction. No pussy-footing around, no politicking, no drama;it’s part of the mission,” she said.

    It’s unclear why she thinks photos of bin Laden’s corpse will scare suicidal terrorists.

  12. rikyrah says:

    What Changed?
    by Kay

    I’ve been expecting a number on this, and now we have one.

    Hundreds of thousands of young adults are taking advantage of the health care law provision that allows people under 26 to remain on their parents’ health plans, some of the nation’s largest insurers are reporting. That pace appears to be faster than the government expected.

    WellPoint, the nation’s largest publicly traded health insurer with 34 million customers, said the dependent provision was responsible for adding 280,000 new members. That was about one third its total enrollment growth in the first three months of 2011.

    Others large insurers said they have added tens of thousands of young adults. Aetna, for example, added fewer than 100,000; Kaiser Permanente, about 90,000; Highmark Inc., about 72,000; Health Care Service Corp., about 82,000; Blue Shield of California, about 22,000, and United Healthcare, about 13,000.

    The Health and Human Services Department has estimated that about 1.2 million young adults would sign up for coverage in 2011. The early numbers from insurers show it could be much higher, said Aaron Smith, executive director of the Young Invincibles, a Washington-based nonprofit group that advocates for young adults.

    The GOP House majority ran on repealing and replacing the PPACA. They have been busy since the election with holding useless, purely political votes in the House to repeal parts of the existing health care law. In fact, the one and only health care plan Republicans have put forth is Paul Ryan’s health care plan, which replaces Medicare with a private, underfunded voucher system and drastically cuts Medicaid under the guise of “block grants”.

    Although we all know that around 40% of Medicaid spending currently goes to the elderly and the disabled, Ryan’s proposal for drastic cuts in Medicaid continues to be portrayed as gutting a program “for the poor”. Medicaid is a program that serves the poor but it also serves the most vulnerable people in the country: the elderly and the disabled. They’re not just “the poor”. And, Medicare and Medicaid are connected. It is disingenuous to talk about health care for the elderly and limit the discussion to Ryan’s 6,000 dollar Medicare vouchers. That isn’t the reality of people’s lives.

    Republicans in the House are seeking repeal of a health care reform law that is benefiting people now, today, and they have offered nothing to replace it. Paul Ryan seeks to dramatically change the existing health care system, and has offered nothing to the people who would be without access to health care under his proposal. At the state level, Mitch Daniels in Indiana, under pressure from a certain conservative political faction, just agreed to deny access to clinics to 20,000 people who had access to those clinics.

    Less than two years ago we had a health care debate in this country. We reached broad public consensus that we need to expand access to health care. Conservatives are now seeking to limit access to health care or, in the case of Mitch Daniels, actually limiting access, and no one seems to notice.

    Did I miss something here? Did the public intellectuals and media personalities decide somewhere along the line that we don’t need to expand access to health care, but instead need to limit access? What changed?

  13. rikyrah says:

    Wed May 04, 2011 at 10:15 AM PDT.

    Paul Ryan: No big budget deal because Democrats won’t do it GOP’s wayby Jed Lewison
    for Daily Kos.

    Poor Paul Ryan. First he proposed to end Medicare, then he got the GOP to sign onto his plan, and then he got sad because President Obama didn’t agree with him on it. And now he’s not only still whining about it, he’s saying it makes a long-term deal impossible:

    “They are thinking about creating a narrative, which is: ‘If you want security in your life, stick with us. If you don’t want Republicans, they are going to feed you to the wolves in a dog-eat-dog society’,” Ryan said.
    Ryan also pushed back on the shared sacrifice rhetoric coming out of some Democrats.

    “I think that is more of a caricature. I think that is totally false. It’s a narrative of shared scarcity. We want to have growth,” the Wisconsin Republican added.

    And because Democrats don’t agree with his plan and President Obama dared to publicly criticize it, Ryan says there won’t be any long-term deal on fiscal policy:

    What I get out of that is that we aren’t going to get a grand slam agreement. We are not going to get a big comprehensive agreement just because of the political parameters that have been set now by our leader,” he said.
    “So, my hope at this moment is to get a single or a double. I’m hoping the debt limit is the opportunity to get a down payment on some spending cuts, to get a down payment on some spending reform to put the crisis off,” Ryan explained.

    He’s even getting squishy on what he’s demanding to raise the debt limit. He wants spending reform? That sure sounds like he’s begging for a process-oriented fig leaf that won’t actually amount to much but will give him political cover to get enough Republicans to vote for a debt limit increase. Fine, whatever, if that’s what it takes, okay.

    Ryan wants people to believe that the problem here is that Democratic criticism of Republican policies is making an agreement impossible, but that’s absurd. For better or for worse, Democrats have always been willing to compromise. What’s really going on here is that there’s no way to get a real budget deal done without raising revenues, and Grover Norquist rules Paul Ryan’s world. Republicans simply cannot support a reasonable budget proposal thanks to the Norquist’s idiotic taxpayer pledge.

    So this debate won’t get resolved in 2011. Fine. In 2012, let’s choose between President Obama’s vision and Paul Ryan’s vision. I think we all know which one will win.


  14. rikyrah says:

    May 4, 2011
    QUITE A LINEUP IN SOUTH CAROLINA…. Exactly eight years ago this week, the field of Democratic presidential candidates assembled for their first debate of the 2004 cycle. It was held the same weekend as the release of the second X-Men movie, prompting Jon Stewart to draw a parallel, describing the Democratic debate as a “saga of a small group of misfits — ‘mutants,’ if you will — shunned by human society.”

    If the Dems’ 2004 field was characterized as misfits and mutants, I can’t wait to hear how folks describe the participants in the first debate for Republican presidential candidates.

    Republicans are holding their first presidential debate tomorrow in South Carolina. The state Republican Party just released the complete list of contenders:

    Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, Congressman Ron Paul, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and pizza guy Herman Cain.

    It’s a list you could just keep reading to yourself all day.

    Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer (R) reportedly wanted to participate, but has been excluded, apparently because every national poll has his support below 1%.

    Romney declined without explanation; Gingrich won’t set up an exploratory committee until next week and is therefore ineligible; Huntsman is in a similar boat; Bachmann hasn’t made any formal moves; Daniels is still figuring out what he wants to do; Roy Moore falls into Roemer’s category; and Palin and Huckabee are still on the Fox News payroll.

    And that leaves Pawlenty, Santorum, Johnson, Paul, and Cain. I’d call this a clown debate but I don’t want to insult clowns.

    One of these five, former two-term Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, obviously stands out as the most credible of the group — though that’s not saying much — and probably hopes to take advantage of the situation.

    Indeed, Pawlenty probably sees this as an opportunity. He’ll shine, the argument goes, against fringe, unknown, and unelectable candidates with no credible shot at the nomination.

    That’s certainly possible. But there’s also the problem a 15 year old experiences when he’s told he has to sit at the little kids’ table at a family gathering — being dragged down is embarrassing. Pawlenty may tower over the other four, but does he seriously believe his stature will get a boost standing alongside Herman Cain and Ron Paul?

    —Steve Benen 12:35 PM

  15. rikyrah says:

    HOW TO DEFEND THE INDEFENSIBLE…. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made his “Meet the Press” debut the other day, and was asked about his support for the Republican plan to end Medicare. Given the number of retirees in Florida, Rubio’s position is of particular interest.

    He responded that the GOP proposal “doesn’t cut Medicare,” adding, “The only people in this town that have voted to cut Medicare spending are the people who voted in favor of Obamacare. That’s a fact.”

    Except, that’s not a fact at all. Jonathan Cohn explains today, “It’s becoming pretty clear how Republicans plan to defend their budget. They’re going to lie about it.”

    Yes, the Affordable Care Act reduces spending on Medicare. But it does so gradually, by establishing a long-term goal of allowing the program to grow at the same rate of gross domestic product plus one additional percentage points — that is, GDP+1. And it’s a goal in the truest sense of the word. If the program’s starts growing at a faster pace, there are mechanisms to slow it down but not necessarily to get it all the way back to GDP+1.

    The Republican budget, by contrast, would hold the cost growth of Medicare to the consumer price index, or CPI. CPI grows considerably slower than GDP, let alone GDP+1, so that’s no small thing. The Republican budget would also enforce this target rigidly, by handing seniors vouchers whose value is set by a fixed, pre-determined formula. At the same time, the Republican budget would dramatically reduce the federal investment in Medicaid, on which so many of the elderly rely for supplemental coverage and/or long-term care, particularly nursing homes.

    Overall, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the difference between the two plans goes from about 1 percentage point of GDP in 2022 to between 7 and 9 percentage points of GDP by 2050.

    In other words, Rubio’s on-air response wasn’t even close to being accurate. I’m sure the right liked it — the senator was rehashing misleading arguments from 2010, and got to say “Obamacare” a bunch of times — but as Cohn noted, Rubio’s answer was “pretty much the opposite of the truth.”

    It’s likely Rubio didn’t know he was deceiving a national television audience. He was no doubt prepped on what to say, and the senator, who doesn’t appear to be especially bright, repeated the same phrases over and over again in the interview, reinforcing the notion that he was clinging to his talking points with all of his might.

    Or maybe Rubio is a secret wonk and knew exactly what he was talking about, in which case he was shamelessly lying through his teeth.

    But the one thing I’d add to Cohn’s report, which is worth reading in full, is how “Meet the Press” host David Gregory responded to Rubio’s lying. There was some pushback, but it was mild and superficial, and viewers likely had no idea the senator’s comments were completely wrong. Indeed, the transcript offers a script for how Republicans should lie their way through the debate: say the plan to end Medicare actually “saves” the program, and if pressed, say Democrats don’t have a plan of their own.

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

    —Steve Benen 1:15 PM

    • Ametia says:

      SMH Just a pretty boy anchor baby in a suit. He’ll make the Latino population very proud, I’m sure. //snark

  16. Ametia says:

    The president has decided not to release death photos of Osama bin Laden, an administration official briefed by the White House tells CNN.

    • I can understand it!

      The President is trying to build relationsh­ips in the Middle East. Since the photos were very graphic, releasing them would only inflame the Muslims world and his credibilit­y about having respect & bringing about peace with those countries would be gone. The photos would have circulated around the internet, photoshopp­ed, taunts etc and it would have been a nightmare.
      I respect his decision.

    • rikyrah says:

      thank you, POTUS

    • Ametia says:

      I concur.

  17. Shep Smith: Bin Laden Killing ‘Illegal’ (VIDEO)

    Shep Smith called the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden “illegal” on Tuesday’s “Studio B.”

    Speaking to Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, Smith was discussing the various reports about the intelligence that led to Bin Laden. At one point, he asked Herridge, “is anyone talking about the fact that this is illegal, this operation was illegal, or is that a matter that’s going to be left for another day?”

    Herridge said no one had discussed it with her.

    Smith is not the only Fox host to raise questions about the operation’s legality. Fox Business anchor Andrew Napolitano explicitly called the killing illegal on his Monday show, saying it violated the Constitution and several treaties.

    See, this is why I’ve never trusted Shep Smith. A scorpion is a scorpion is a scorpion!

  18. Ametia says:

    Pelosi thanks President Bush for his role in bin Laden’s demise
    By Molly K. Hooper – 05/03/11 05:08 PM ET

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said she called former President George W. Bush on Tuesday to congratulate him on the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden.

    Following a classified briefing on the operation to take down bin Laden, Pelosi told reporters that she called the former president earlier in the day to “congratulate him and thank him for the leadership role he had played in this quest over the years.”

    Pelosi was Speaker of the House for two years while Bush was in the White House.

    Pelosi said she thought Bush appreciated the call.

    “I wanted him to know the appreciation that many of us have in a bipartisan way … that his role was important,” she said.

    The top-ranking House Democrat said that she also telephoned former President Clinton to voice appreciation.

    Pelosi has been unstinting in her praise of President Obama for his leadership in getting bin Laden.

  19. rikyrah says:

    The Longest War
    By Ta-Nehisi Coates
    May 4 2011, 11:00 AM ET

    Last week we saw quite a few African-American bloggers and writers offering critiques of birtherism and race. The salient point is that the tradition of attacking the citizenship rights of African-Americans extends from slave codes to state-wide bans on black residence to black codes to debt peonage to literacy tests, to felon disenfranchisement. You literally can trace attacks on black citizenship from the very origins of American citizenship itself, up into the present day.

    Birtherism is an alloy of that unfortunate American thread and the anti-elitist, white populism of Andrew Jackson. Calling it an alloy is imperfect, as it implies that American anti-elitism has no relation to racism, which is false. (See Howe’s What God Hath Wrought, or more appropriately, read the book. Sorry for lecturing, but it’s your history. And it’s listed on Amazon for roughly the same price as a good burger.)

    But there are also deeper reasons for why African-Americans find requests for Obama’s birth certificate, college transcript, SAT scores, high school grades etc. deeply unsettling. A reader captured this in the following note. He’d just finished watching the video above of Michelle Obama dancing with a group of kids:

    I planned on sending you an email today that offered my thoughts on why people my age ran into the streets to celebrate on Sunday night. I was going to write about how the prevalence of social networking normalized and made it easier for people in their early 20’s to congregate during important moments. Then, I ran across this clip of Michelle Obama dancing with a group of middle school students in Washington today.

    After getting over my initial shock that the First Lady was at least vaguely familiar with a dance that I might sloppily attempt in a nightclub, I thought about how familiar the image was to me. She reminded me of my aunts at our family cook outs, where they get up and try to do the new dance, but then school all of us with the Electric Slide (or in this case, the Running Man).

    That thought brought me back to your comments about why Donald Trump’s comments feel so offensive, how his comments undercut all of the things that Black parents say to children about how they will be respected if they study and work hard.

    Maybe it’s unfair, but I now realize why I am more offended by comments about the President and First Lady than I was about comments about President and Mrs. Clinton. It’s not just that they are Black and I am too. I think it has more to do with the fact that they are so familiar, they remind me of people I know, which causes a more personal reaction.

    One of things that always amazed me about the reaction to the Poundcake Speech, was the assumption among pundits, that Cosby was somehow bravely stating truths which the black community didn’t want to address. This is the sort of thing that happens when you have a pundit-class more interested in abstract thought experiments, than actually going into black neighborhoods, or really, any neighborhood that might be unfamiliar.

    In point of fact, every black parent I know is at war with their children in a way that white parents are not. I grew up in house where the history of race and racism was the air. But concurrent to that history was the deeply-held belief that American racism was never an excuse for cynicism, anti-intellectualism, thuggism or nihilism. My parents were conscious. But when I was failing my way through school, I don’t recall them ever raising their clenched fists and exclaiming “Damn the white man.”

    To the contrary, there was a deep-seated belief that educating yourself was essential, and that hard work ultimately prevails. Whatever their broader critiques, it was that essential faith that united them with the rest of the country. Preaching that faith is a lot easier when you have actual examples to point to. In terms of external examples (outside of the family) there are not better models, right now, than Barack and Michelle Obama.

    What many white people fail to realize is that though Barack Obama and his family are unique to them, they are deeply familiar to black people. Put differently, they are from our particular neighborhood. I think back to Michelle Obama’s own words:

    People have never met a Michelle Obama,” the soon-to-be first lady said toward the end of our interview. “But what they’ll come to learn is that there are thousands and thousands of Michelle and Barack Obamas across America. You just don’t live next door to them, or there isn’t a TV show about them.”

    But we do live next door to them, and the TV show is our lives. We went to church and played in summer leagues with people like them. I went to college with people like them. This is not to slight Barack Obama’s truly remarkable story, nor the indispensable labor of the people who raised him. But there were biracial black people with wild stories all across my college campus. The first girl I ever really loved was raised by her Jewish mother, in all-white small town in Pennsylvania. She was unique, but not because of her background. The strictures of segregation gifted black people with the particular beauty of being a deeply interwoven diaspora on to ourselves, rendering “Black” into a broad country.

    To see that country manifested in the White House is the sort of boon, that you can’t really attach to statistics. But for those of who are waging the fight against a crippling cynicism, who are urging our children on, who visit schools and begin our addresses with, “I remember when I just like you,” the First Family is perhaps the greatest weapon in our arsenal.

    From the perspective of race, we don’t object to people trying to defeat him. We don’t object to Hillary claiming he’s soft. We don’t object to McCain claiming he’s a celebrity. We don’t object to the GOP calling him a tax and spend liberal. We don’t even object to Mitt Romney aspiring to hang him. (We know what you meant, Mitt.)

    But when broad sections of this country foolishly follow a carnival barker in the ugly tradition of attacking black citizenship rights, when pundits shriek that Obama’s successes are simply the result of the misguided largess of white people, they undermine our most intimate war. They undermine the notion that someone familiar to that kid on the corner could legitimately reach the highest levels of the country, that someone like that kid’s Aunt could be the First Lady. The undermine this country’s social contract, and the “hard work pays” message of my parents. And to that we object.

    For if they will not take as legitimate a magna cum laude from their highest institutions, if they will not accept a man who tells black kids to cut off the video games and study, who accedes to their absurd requests one week, and slays their demons the next, who will they accept? Who among us would they ever believe?

  20. rikyrah says:

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011
    The Birth Of The Deathers
    Posted by Zandar
    If you thought the wingnut right despised Barack Obama before Sunday night, the last 60 hours or so have given rise to the next iteration of Obama Derangement Syndrome: The Deathers. Nearly the entire right-wing blogosphere is involved in various bits of tinfoil lunacy that proclaims something is amiss with Sunday’s mission to kill bin Laden.

    It ranges from “The military took over when Obama wouldn’t authorize the mission” to “Leon Panetta killed OBL behind the President’s back” to “Obama took 16 hours to make up his mind” to of course the far more blatantly evil stuff about the entire mission being faked and the government having Osama’s body on ice for years.

    But all of these idiotic rumors have one thing in common: they attempt to justify and explain Obama Derangement Syndrome. Just like the Birther foolishness, the transformation to Deathers is nothing more than a different hand of cards dealt from the same deck of lies. It centers on the country succeeding despite the involvement of the man they are obsessed with hating.

    As I said yesterday, the Republican message that Democrats are weak on national security has been garbage for years, but the notion that Obama did what Bush did not has driven the right to the depths of their current depravity. They will do and say anything to avoid giving credit to President Obama, including the foul, hateful rumors above, because the concept of Obama doing something right completely destroys their narrative that he is nothing more than the world’s luckiest affirmative action baby. They would have to admit being proud of their President. They would in fact have to admit that he was their President, period.

    That will never happen. Their crazed hatred has no room for it. And so we’ve gone in less than a week from the Birther nonsense to the even more insane Deather stupidity, all in an effort to try to find some larger movement to camouflage good old fashioned racism.

    Look at the lengths the Obama haters have gone to in just the last seven days.

    Look at the President’s response and what he has accomplished in the meantime.

    I rest my case.

  21. rikyrah says:

    May 4, 2011
    REMEMBER HOW MUCH REPUBLICANS HATE THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE?…. If there’s one thing GOP officials agree on when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, it’s their disgust for the individual mandate. Never mind the fact that the mandate was their idea, Republicans have labeled this provision of the health care law to be an outrageous, un-American assault on liberty. In some conservative circles, it’s downright tyrannical.

    Now, any serious person listening to the hysteria has to realize Republicans don’t actually mean any of this. Indeed, many of those characterizing the individual mandate as the death of the American experiment were endorsing the idea as recently as 2009 — during the debate over reform.

    But in case anyone thought to take the faux-outrage seriously, Simon Lazarus raises an important observation: the highly-touted House GOP budget plan, as shaped by Paul Ryan, includes a health care mandate, too. In fact, it includes more than one.

    The Ryan budget would reshape Americans’ access to health insurance mainly through two provisions, both of which pressure people to purchase private health insurance to an extent and through mechanisms that are materially indistinguishable from the supposedly toxic Obamacare mandate. One of these Ryan budget proposals — as yet little noticed by pundits or politicians — is almost an exact copy of its equivalent in the Affordable Care Act. […]

    Under both provisions, the result is the same: People who choose to carry health insurance have a lower tax bill than they would if they chose not to. In terms of their respective potential impact on individuals’ bank accounts and tax liability, the manner in which they affect individuals’ financial incentives, and hence the constraining effect on individuals’ financial choices to either buy or forgo health insurance, the two “mandate” provisions are identical. (Indeed, in most cases, the financial difference for the individual taxpayer made by the Republican tax credit would be greater — i.e., more “coercive” — than the ACA tax penalty.)

    In addition to cloning the ACA’s framework for coverage of adults under 65, the Ryan budget would also apply a similar approach to Americans currently covered by Medicare. Beginning in 2021, former Medicare-eligibles would receive a voucher they can apply to the purchase of private insurance. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the vouchers would be worth approximately $6,000 for recipients age 65, and would be greater for older recipients, averaging $11,000 across the entire Medicare population. Of course, Americans would be required to continue to pay their annual Medicare tax throughout their working lives. Hence, the Republicans’ proposal to replace Medicare with partially subsidized private insurance also operates to “compel” people to pay for private health insurance policies. Moreover, this mandate is not even a pay-or-play option; Medicare taxes are mandatory, whether workers want to buy eligibility for old-age vouchers or not.

    Nearly every member of the House Republican caucus voted for this budget plan, and said nary a word about the freedom-crushing provision included by Paul Ryan.

    Ezra Klein added, “It’s not surprising, of course, that Republicans are still coming up with ideas that are similar in execution and intent to the individual mandate. The individual mandate, after all, was a Republican idea…. They’ve not come up with anything better in the past few years, and so they’re awkwardly trying out new variants of the individual mandate even as they fight the mandate itself in the courts.”

    For a political establishment obsessed with “flip-flops,” this should arguably be considered a reversal for the ages.

    —Steve Benen 9:45 AM

  22. rikyrah says:

    Hiding? No, Osama Was ‘Chilling’ in Pakistan
    Jon Stewart doesn’t exactly believe that no one knew he was there

    After years of Pakistan insisting Osama bin Laden wasn’t hiding there, not only does it turn out that he was—but that he had been for six years, noted a flabbergasted Jon Stewart last night. “And by the way, ‘hiding’ bin Laden? ‘Hiding’? Bin Laden wasn’t ‘hiding’ in Pakistan, he was chilling in Pakistan. Crashing, if you will,” he crowed. “If Waldo hid the way Osama bin Laden did, I wouldn’t find those books so incredibly frustrating.”

    And the whole time, he was just half a mile from Pakistan’s version of West Point. “If the Pakistani Military Academy were Domino’s, they would deliver to bin Laden on foot!” said Stewart, who became even more incredulous upon hearing the stories of bin Laden’s high, barbed-wire-laden walls and trash-burning habits. “What more evidence did you need that something was awry in that one cul-de-sac?” he wondered. “And now you’re like, ‘Oh, that was Osama’s house? The tall, lanky guy? We thought maybe Jeff Goldblum had been looking for a summer retreat, had grown a beard, and was burning all his trash. You know Hollywood people: eccentric!'”

  23. rikyrah says:

    May 4, 2011
    THE MISGUIDED REPEAL CRUSADE PICKS BACK UP…. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) lectured President Obama last week during an interview with ABC. “It’s time to grow up and get serious about the problems that face our country,” Boehner said.

    With that in mind, Boehner’s House Republican caucus returned to work yesterday after a two-week break, ready to “get serious about the problems that face our country.” What’s up first? Maybe a jobs bill? Ideas to lower gas prices?

    No, the first order of business was passing a bill to repeal part of the Affordable Care Act.

    Republicans insist the health care repeal effort hasn’t jumped the shark — but even they admit the bills they’re pushing through the House Tuesday aren’t exactly the biggest repeal votes they’ve taken.

    The bills are getting smaller and narrower — going after shrinking slices of President Barack Obama’s health care law, rather than the whole thing. The main one on Tuesday’s agenda, which passed the House 238-183, repeals the mandatory funding for the state-based health insurance exchanges.

    Today, they’ll follow up, voting to repeal funds for building school-based health centers.

    There are a few problems with this. First, House Republicans are working hard on legislation they know can’t pass the Senate and won’t be signed by the president. Second, it’s tricky pretending to “get serious about the problems that face our country,” while at the same time ignoring actual problems and investing time and energy in bills that won’t become law.

    “They come back this week and instead of focusing on jobs they’re going to be voting to take away more Americans’ health care and do nothing to grow our economy,” a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said.

    And third, if Republicans were somehow successful in this little endeavor, and they cut off funding for state-based health insurance exchanges, the result would be increased federal control over the exchanges — which is presumably the opposite of what the GOP wants.

    Indeed, the whole effort is pretty odd. The bill isn’t going to pass anyway, but just looking at it on the merits, the Republican measure would eliminate grants to help the states establish health insurance exchanges. But if states fall short in creating exchanges, the executive branch steps in to do the work for them.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s not the president who needs to be reminded about “getting serious about the problems that face our country.”

    —Steve Benen 10:35 AM

  24. Wow! Youtube is God-sent

    Flashback ’08 McCain, Clinton Slam Obama For Saying He’d Go Get Bin Laden In Pakistan

  25. rikyrah says:

    from The Black Snob:

    First Lady Does Dougie For “Fitness” (Video)
    Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 5:09PM

    But you can tell she really just wanted to get down. Even though she said she couldn’t fully participate because she didn’t know all the dance moves to Beyonce’s routine, created to be part of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative, you can tell Michelle Obama totally wants to be set free from the constraints of “polite society” and break it down. Lose all control, in fact. Get mad stoopid with it. Not give an “F,” and such.

    But she cannot break it down. SOCIETY WON’T LET HER! :(


    *Heavy sigh* POTUS and I may have our ups and downs, Michelle Obama is forever.


    As some of you may not have realized, I am a black girl. Unapologetically. Both in typical and atypical ways for I have all the complexities that all human beings possess. And while many people love FLOTUS, for a certain black woman Michelle Obama is “magical.” And on some level, Michelle Obama knows this and occasionally indulges us in black girl whistles that only black girls can hear. And when we hear that whistle, we do that knowing nod to ourselves and the slow clap in our brain. Because, OF COURSE if we were First Lady we’d rock it just as hard, wouldn’t we? Of course we wear that outfit to exercise with children. (We couldn’t find anything else. Honestly, we couldn’t. Our closet is just full of only those kinds of clothes.) Of course we’d wear couture to dig up a garden. What? Isn’t that what our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers would have done?


    Michelle is only doing in the White House what our mothers and ourselves would have done, of course. Because, in our minds, we all think we’re Michelle Obama. And while others would be tortured with jealousy over her figure/height/success/degrees/career/husband/children, we just smile. The thing we have with First Lady Michelle Obama is just like how it was when you were a little black kidlet. You’d see another cute black girl working it out on Video Soul or Soul Train or whatever, and then little six-year-old black girl you would point at the TV and shout “THAT’S ME!”

    This is the game a million black girls and women, no matter what age, play whenever we see Michelle Obama.

    We, literally, watch her do the Dougie and go, “OMG. That is sooooo me.”

    Therefore, why would we ever be jealous of her? We are all so convinced WE ARE HER! (Minus about two feet and the Presidential husband and the wardrobe.) And who is jealous of THEMSELVES? That’s crazy pants.

    read all of the article here:

  26. rikyrah says:

    Five– count ‘em five– set for first GOP debate
    Posted on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 by GottaLaff
    In 2007 there were how many GOP participants in the first presidential debate again?

    MSNBC’s Republican presidential debate with candidates: Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas);the former Virginia governor James Gilmore (R-Va.); the former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani; the former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee; Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.); Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.); Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.); the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney; Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.); and the former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson.


    This time around, instead of MSNBC, Fox is the sponsor. Divide the 2007 total by two and you get former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and businessman Herman Cain who are attending.

    The finalized lineup lacks several marquee names, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who said Monday he will skip the debate, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who originally planned to take part but later decided not to.

    So far, so… bad. What a group.

  27. rikyrah says:

    Tulsa Firefighters Union To Fight Order Prohibiting City Employees From Campaigning

    The Tulsa firefighters union is gearing up for a fight against Tulsa’s mayor.

    Local 176 President Dennis Moseby said Monday he’s going to court to fight Mayor Dewey Bartlett’s executive order prohibiting city employees from participating in municipal election campaigns.

    During the last city campaign, some firefighters went door to door in support of certain candidates. The firefighters union says they have the same rights of free speech as the other citizens of Tulsa.

    “As firefighters, paramedics, health care workers and other public servants, we took a vow to serve and protect Tulsa and its citizens. We did not take a vow to give up our first amendment rights,” Dennis Moseby, Local 176, said.

    The municipal workers union local 1180 will join the suit. It’s not clear yet if they’ll sue in District or Federal court, but promise it will be soon.

  28. rikyrah says:

    May 4, 2011
    A FLEETING MOMENT…. On Sunday night, announcing Osama bin Laden’s demise, President Obama told the nation, “[T]onight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.”

    On Monday night, at a bipartisan social gathering with congressional leaders, the president stressed a similar point: “[T]here have been several moments like this during the course of this year that have brought us together as an American family…. Last night was one of those moments. And so tonight it is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face.”

    Here’s hoping Obama kept his expectations low. Dana Milbank noted, “The Pax bin Ladenis is over before it really began.”

    Thirteen hours later, Republicans answered Obama’s plea for bonhomie — with broadsides. “The command-and-control paranoia that we see in this administration is antithetical to everything that we understand about freedom in our country,” Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) declared on the Senate floor as the chamber began its first legislative day after a two-week vacation. “Individual responsibility and individual freedom and free markets and free enterprise: They’re attacking it on every front.”

    House leaders emerged from their caucus meeting Tuesday morning with a similar response to the whole unity thing. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Tex.), chairman of the Republican caucus, reported his finding that the recession and slow recovery are “attributable to the president and the previous Congress.” […]

    Senate Democrats made clear that, after passing a ceremonial resolution about bin Laden’s end, they would return to skirmishing over oil company subsidies and judicial nominees. House Republicans signaled that they would proceed with divisive legislation on oil drilling, abortion and undoing health-care reform.

    The New York Times added, “Whatever sense of unity the nation might have felt after the killing of Osama bin Laden, it did not extend to the pressing domestic policy issues that divide Congressional Republicans and Democrats, who returned to work in earnest Tuesday.”

    This isn’t surprising, and frankly, it’s not especially troubling. Washington is deeply divided, partisan differences haven’t been this stark in decades, and Congress is just returning from a two-week recess, getting ready to dig into contentious issues again. I’m sure lawmakers are pleased with Sunday’s success in Abbottabad, but by all appearances, there’s no reason to think May 1 is The Day That Changed Everything.

    The political divisions that existed before the raid on bin Laden’s compound still existed afterwards.

    When policymakers get along, it’s certainly nice, but we have parties that disagree with one another, one of which has been radicalized to an extent unseen in generations. They’re going to fight. They’re supposed to fight. Americans gave power to a center-left White House, gave center-left Democrats a narrow majority in a dysfunctional Senate, and handed a House majority to right-wing Republicans — all at the same time. Americans then, in effect, said, “Go pursue your agendas.”

    And that’s exactly what they’re doing. There’s no reason to surprised or even disappointed.

    —Steve Benen 8:35 AM

  29. rikyrah says:

    May 04, 2011
    The nuance of dumb
    So Mitt Romney doesn’t do nuance. Well, that’s a pity.

    More pitiful, though, is that some progressives don’t either.

    To explain, I sat in what you might call amused horror yesterday afternoon, exercising my human toleration of MSNBC’s Cenk Uygur, which I can now sustain for up to three full minutes. Pretty impressive, really, considering that, initially, I was a 98-second weakling. No longer. No, now I laugh when he kicks his sands of progressive fatuity in my face; I’ve learned there’s an “off” button on my remote, and just knowing that has vastly improved my endurance.

    But back to the horror angle, amusing as it was. And it was this: Cenk’s guest was Slate’s law correspondent, Dahlia Lithwick, and together they were mapping out anti-terrorism strategy for President Obama, who by now, as we all know, has demonstrated vividly that he understands nothing about battling terrorists. And any rate, somehow, somewhere in the warrooms of their overactivist progressive minds, Cenk and Dahlia concluded that, at the very least, Obama should reconsider his “broken campaign promises” to close Guantanamo and end military tribunals.

    This I found amusing, since of course Obama in no way “broke” his promises on these issues. He did encounter an institutional obstacle called the United States Congress as he attempted to fulfill those promises, but progressive memory commonly treats such inconveniences as historical trivia and mere political nuisances. Any imperial progressive president — for which progressives yearn, as a Constitutional splendor; as opposed to imperial regressive presidents, which progressives detest, as a Constitutional abomination — need only fight, fight, fight Congress, and he’ll have his righteous way.

    The accompanying horror, though, came in the realization that some of the Cenk-Dahlia Show’s progressive viewers might actually believe some of this ahistorical, self-righteous, contradictory progressive humbug.

    Ah, but my amusement quickly returned. For just as my horror and tolerance were striking three minutes, I also remembered that I was just about Cenk’s only viewer.

  30. rikyrah says:

    Bush Declines Obama’s Invitation to Ground ZeroBy MARK LANDLER and PETER BAKER
    Published: May 3, 2011

    President Obama invited former President George W. Bush to join him at ground zero in New York City on Thursday to mark the killing of Osama bin Laden, but Mr. Bush declined, a spokesman for the former president confirmed on Tuesday.

    “President Bush will not be in attendance on Thursday,” said his spokesman, David Sherzer. “He appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight. He continues to celebrate with Americans this important victory in the war on terror.”

    The White House did not confirm that the invitation had been made or comment on Mr. Bush’s decision.

    Mr. Obama has talked this week of his hope that the successful raid on the compound where Bin Laden was hiding could serve as a unifying force in a country divided by battles over fiscal policy and many other issues. Many Republicans have praised Mr. Obama for the success of the operation.

    On Monday, White House officials said Mr. Obama would go to Lower Manhattan to visit the site of the World Trade Center and meet with families of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, which were masterminded by Bin Laden.

    Since leaving the White House, Mr. Bush has generally stayed out of the public eye, and avoided commenting on his successor. He made an exception last year when Mr. Obama asked him and former President Bill Clinton to travel to Haiti after the earthquake as his emissaries.

    Mr. Bush spent much of his time in office presiding over the hunt for Bin Laden. A few days after Sept. 11, he made one of the most dramatic public appearances of his presidency, standing atop the smoldering ruins of the towers and speaking to rescue workers on a firefighter’s bullhorn.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Matthew Norman: Obama has shown the world why it fell in love with him
    He is not the Messiah, but he deserves to sleep easy in his bed, and leave the 3am angst to malevolent midgets like Donald Trump who will never trouble him again

    What seemed a cutely sculpted ironic punchline at the moment of delivery looks, with hindsight, like the joke of the millennium so far – and with only 989 years to go, it will take some beating.

    Barack Obama’s Saturday night turn at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was a masterpiece, its biggest laughs involving a cross-looking Donald Trump. Apologies if you’ve seen it, but after dwelling on a Celebrity Apprentice episode in which the team’s cooking failed to impress the folks from Omaha Steaks, Obama recounted how Trump identified the problem as one of leadership. The Donald spared two celebs, related the Prez, including Meatloaf, but fired the eccentric actor Gary Busey. “And these are the kinds of decisions,” he went on, “that would keep me up at night.” How he staved off the frantic giggles as he imagined the sleepless night to come, I’ve no idea. But no flicker in the eyes hinted at a pending decision behind imminent insomnia, and the first thought on reviewing the gag is that you really, really wouldn’t want to play poker with this guy.

  32. rikyrah says:

    U.S. to Join Suit Against For-Profit College ChainBy TAMAR LEWIN
    Published: May 2, 2011

    The Justice Department plans to intervene in a whistle-blower lawsuit charging that one of the nation’s largest for-profit college companies, the Education Management Corporation, defrauded the government by illegally paying recruiters based on the number of students they enrolled, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Monday.

    The filing by Education Management, known as EDMC, said “several states” also planned to join in the False Claims Act case, in federal court in Pittsburgh, alleging violations of their state laws.

    This is the first time prosecutors have joined such a case, one of dozens in recent years that accuse the for-profit college industry of illegal practices devised to increase federal student aid revenue.

    The company, which enrolls nearly 150,000 students, operates several career-college chains, including the Art Institute, Argosy University, Brown Mackie College and South University.

    EDMC, 40 percent of which is owned by Goldman Sachs, said in its securities filing that its compensation plan for recruiters did not violate the law, and that it would “vigorously defend itself.”

    In federal whistle-blower, or qui tam, suits filed under the False Claims Act, private citizens file fraud complaints on behalf of the federal government, seeking to recover public money that was wrongly paid out. The lawsuits are filed under seal, giving the government an opportunity to investigate and decide whether to intervene, so the one against EDMC has yet to be made public.

    Some such suits have been settled for significant amounts of money. In 2009, Apollo Group, which operates the University of Phoenix, the largest chain of for-profit colleges, agreed to pay $78.5 million to settle one.

    For-profit schools enroll about 12 percent of the nation’s higher-education students yet receive about a quarter of all federal student aid; their students account for almost half of all defaults. In general, these institutions get more than 80 percent of their revenues from federal student aid.

    The United States Department of Education and Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who is the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, have become concerned in recent years that such colleges too often leave their students with mountains of debt and no marketable job skills.

    The Education Department has taken action to rein in abuses by the for-profit sector but has so far delayed the most controversial regulation it has proposed, the “gainful employment” rule that would cut off federal aid to programs whose graduates have high debt loads and not enough income to pay them.

    The for-profit schools are lobbying intensely against the rule, and last week more than 100 members of Congress wrote to President Obama asking that his administration drop the gainful employment rule, which they say would cut off access to higher education for many poor minority students.

  33. rikyrah says:

    Congregation is first black church in D.C. to be powered by solar energy
    By Darryl Fears, Published: May 3
    A historic black church that has sat on the same corner in LeDroit Park for 99 years has become the first African American church in the District to rely on renewable solar energy for electrical power.

    Florida Avenue Baptist’s installation of 44 solar panels was hailed at a ribbon-cutting Tuesday by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and other government officials as a breakthrough in the black community, where the clean-energy divide mirrors its well-known high-tech digital divide with the white community
    “This is an important first,” said Jackson, whose agency recently started a faith-based initiative to increase clean-energy awareness among religious groups. “They’re saying: We’re going to take the lead in helping African American homes to become energy efficient.”

    The church’s pastor, the Rev. Earl D. Trent Jr., said the panels’ installation, by a North Carolina-based company in March, was important not only because the church will save money on its $3,000 monthly electric bill from Pepco but also because it will reduce “dirty” coal-fired energy and enable him to establish a “green ministry” that could awaken churchgoers who know little to nothing about clean energy and its benefits.

    African Americans tend to live in older, less energy-efficient homes equipped with older appliances and, therefore, have higher energy bills.

    According to “Energy Democracy,” a 2010 report by the Center for Social Inclusion, African Americans spent an average of $1,439 on electric bills in 2008, more than what Latino and Asian Americans spent, and significantly higher than what white Americans paid.

    “We want to be a model for green energy,” Trent said in an earlier interview. “I’ve gotten calls from pastors who want to find out how they can do this,” he added, raising his hope that the renewable-energy divide can be bridged.

    African American churches have historically led social change in black communities, raising awareness of civil rights in the past and now, possibly, environmental justice, Trent said. Helping to lower coal-energy production, even marginally, at power plants is a symbolic step in a nation where, he said, many black people live near such plants and their smokestacks.

    “African Americans have more sources of pollution in their neighborhoods than others,” Jackson said, standing on the roof of the church near Howard University Hospital as the sun beat down. “We have mercury, neurotoxins building up in our bodies . . . mothers pass it to children. We have . . . developmental disorders. All that comes back to this,” she said, pointing to the row of solar panels.

    “I think it’s an extraordinary thing,” said Vernice Miller-Travis, vice chair of the Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities. “For me, this is a big story, even if it’s just one church. You know how black churches are. If one pastor does it, the others have to do it because they don’t want to be outdone.”

    When ministers inquire about getting panels, they’ll learn that they’ll have to spend green to go green.

    At Florida Avenue Baptist, which has 500 members, the cost was $60,000. With prayer, and 12 members of the flock who were willing to invest money in exchange for Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, the cost was overcome.

  34. rikyrah says:

    Teacher shaves for first time since Sept. 11, 2001
    A middle school teacher in Ephrata, Wash., vowed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that he would not shave his beard until Osama bin Laden was caught.

    EPHRATA, Wash. —
    A middle school teacher in Ephrata, Wash., vowed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that he would not shave his beard until Osama bin Laden was caught.

    Gary Weddle shaved his lengthy beard off on Monday.

    School principal Jill Palmquist honored Weddle on Monday, telling students they should admire the teacher for sticking to his vow not to shave for 3,454 days. Weddle’s stringy, gray beard came to resemble bin Laden’s beard.

    Palmquist said Weddle endured ridicule, jokes and people telling him it was a lost cause.

    An elite crew of American forces killed bin Laden during a daring raid on Monday, capping the world’s most intense manhunt. He was the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

  35. rikyrah says:

    Koch brothers pick a fight with The New Yorker
    Oil baron brothers David and Charles Koch aren’t the types to throw out old magazines, according to recent reports. The Koch brothers have taken up against the American Association of Magazine Editors, who recently nominated an anti-Koch New Yorker article for a National Magazine Award in reporting.

    Jane Mayer’s “Covert Operations: The Billionaire Brothers Who Are Waging War Against Obama” ran last August. The Koch brother declined to be interviewed for the piece.

    Now, a representative for the Koch brothers has written a letter to the ASME board, protesting the nomination of Mayer’s piece.

    “Her article is ideologically slanted and a prime example of a disturbing trend in journalism, where agenda-driven advocacy masquerades as objective reporting,” wrote Koch Industries Senior Vice President and general counsel Mark Holden, according to the New York Post.

    Mayer said she tried to get either of the Koch brothers to agree to an interview for about five months, and that the brothers also refused to cooperate with the magazine’s famously rigorous and thorough fact-checking operation.

    David Remnick, editor of the magazine, defended Mayer’s work.

    “Jane Mayer put together an accurate and honest piece of reporting. To watch them go around to try to undermine a superb piece of reportage is pathetic,” he told the Post.

  36. rikyrah says:

    Osama bin Laden’s compound: 4 oddities
    The press has descended en masse to the sleepy town of Abbottabad, Pakistan, considered an idyllic vacation spot until Sunday when it became more famously known as the final hideout of Osama bin Laden. Any hopes of catching a glimpse inside Mr. bin Laden’s secret compound were dashed, however, as Pakistani forces are tightly guarding the area and the Army literally chased down Western journalists who attempted to get close.

    After the Army departed today and left security in the hands of local police, reporters were able to climb atop nearby buildings to see what they could of the mysterious hideout of America’s most-wanted terrorist. Here is what one reporter observed:

    – Issam Ahmed, Correspondent

    4. Missing census markers
    Mysteriously, census takers apparently avoided Osama bin Laden’s compound. Painted on the entrance gate to most homes in the neighborhood – but not at Osama bin Laden’s compound – was a note in Urdu saying that census enumerators had visited over the past two months. Houses that participate in the census have to give details about everyone who lives there.

  37. rikyrah says:

    Indiana sets the stage for clash with Obama administration over abortion
    By David G. Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau

    May 4, 2011
    WASHINGTON–Indiana’s move to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood clinics has not only created a national abortion controversy, but posed a dilemma for the Obama administration.

    While the state’s action appears to violate the Medicaid Act, federal officials have few obvious remedies other than to cut off money that pays for health care for low-income women.

    The controversy revolves around abortion even though the federal law says none of the Medicaid money can be used to pay for them. Indiana Republicans say, however, that paying for medical services provided by a Planned Parenthood clinic supports the facility and indirectly subsidizes abortion.

    Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a possible Republican contender for the White House, set the stage for a legal and political clash with the administration last weekend when he announced he will sign legislation requiring the funding cut off for Planned Parenthood. An “overwhelming majority of Hoosiers” are opposed in principle to any use of “tax dollars to support abortion,” he said.

    But the federal Medicaid Act, which pays for care for patients who are poor, says these persons may choose any provider who is “qualified” and “willing” to provide the service. In many states, Planned Parenthood clinics provide basic health care and medical tests for low-income women.

    Still, the federal money flows through the states. And this week, Indiana will become the first to bar funding for “any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed.”

    The measure targets the 28 clinics run by Planned Parenthood in Indiana, four of which offer abortions, according to Betty Cockrum, the group’s president.

    This week, U.S. health officials have been pondering how to respond.

    “If the state denies payment to these providers, that would be illegal,” said Mary Kahn, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the U.S. agency that administers the two huge health care programs. “There are some options available to us. But I can’t say what action will be taken to bring the state into compliance. All we can say now is we will review the matter once Indiana decides.”

    The long-standing assumption has been that the federal government and the states would work together to provide health care for poor patients, said George Washington University Law Professor Sara Rosenbaum. “I have never seen a situation quite this,” she said.

    In the past, disputes arose over whether to cut off funding to nursing homes or clinics because of questions about the quality of their care. “This is radically different. This is about the exclusion of a qualified provider over something that is unrelated to Medicaid,” Rosenbaum said. “But the Secretary (of Health and Human Resources) doesn’t have an obvious remedy other than a total cutoff of federal funds.”

    In February, House Republicans, led by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), voted to cut off all federal funding to Planned Parenthood. Senate Democrats and President Obama blocked that bill from becoming law. But Republican-led states could partly achieve the same goal by following Indiana’s lead.

    “I expect a lot of states will try to do this,” Rosenbaum said.

    Gov. Daniels, a former budget director for President George W. Bush, has strong support in Republican circles because of his background in overseeing state and federal budgets. He irritated some social conservatives earlier this year when he called for a “truce” on social issues. But his announcement last week that he will sign the Indiana bill into law instantly raised his standing with them,0,3018063.story

  38. rikyrah says:

    Everything’s Bigger In Texas, Including Tax Breaks for Big Yachts!
    Ian Power-Luetscher | May 3, 2011

    In the face of a daunting $27 billion dollar budget shortfall, a Texas bill that would give huge tax breaks for large yachts, has been green-lighted by a House committee. The decision comes as the “Lone Star State” faces scores of teacher-layoffs, and deep cuts to education and social services like medicare and medicaid.

    House Bill 2187’s original text would cap the amount of tax paid on any sale of a yacht at $15,625, roughly the amount paid for a $250,000 vessel. This means sales of yachts with price tags in the high hundreds of thousands or even millions wouldn’t be subject to more tax, although the figure has been raised to $18,000 in order to match the figure neighboring Florida employs.

    Republican State Rep. John Davis, who introduced the bill, argues that it’s necessary in order to gain back the boating business Texas is currently losing to nearby competitor Florida as a result of its sales tax limit. “We’re losing a lot of downstream jobs and sales tax revenue,” Davis is reported as saying, in a San Antonio Express News article.

    But the state stands to lose too; the bill’s original fiscal analysis shows Texas as being out an extra 1.4 million in tax revenue annually, and at a time when billions are being cut in public school funding and social services, many see it as the wrong choice. In an article in the Houston Chronicle, Texas State Teachers Association spokesman Clay Robison called the bill “an absurd step in the wrong direction,” and said that with these education cuts “within a few years, fewer and fewer people will qualify for jobs that pay enough for anyone to even think about purchasing a yacht.”

    Rep. Davis argues that the bill would keep yachts in Texas apart from just purchase, boosting other boat-related economic activity within the state-lines, things like repairs and slip fees. However, Democratic State Rep. Mike Villareal, one of the committee members who voted against the bill, and who also serves on the appropriations committee charged with budget cuts, disagrees. In a bitingly sarcastic response reported by The San Antonio Express, Villareal asks Davis if he’s “considered turning this into an omnibus bill, and including limousines and fur coats and other luxury items? Because you know, we haven’t cut education enough this session, and there apparently aren’t enough nursing homes on the verge to close. What else can we do to bleed the state?”

    The next step for the bill is to pass the full state house, and The Houston Chronicle says that Davis and his allies are optimistic about the outlook. However, as of last week, Davis hadn’t found a Senate sponsor.

  39. Ametia says:


    Obama’s WHCD Monologue Now Top C-SPAN YouTube Video of All-Time
    2011-05-03 1:47pm -07:00T


    C-SPAN said its YouTube video of President Barack Obama’s appearance at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner is now its most viewed ever, approaching 6 million views at the time of this post, despite only being available since late Saturday night.

    The public-affairs network’s previous No. 1 YouTube video, of Obama’s inauguration speech in January 2009, has totaled more than 4.7 million views in two-and-a-half years.

    Obama used the WHCD pulpit to poke fun at the debate over his birth certificate, entering to “I Am a Real American” by Rick Derringer and showing footage from The Lion King as his “birth video.”

  40. Ametia says:

    New W.H. battle: Corporate taxes

    This won’t be like health care, where you put out specific ideas people have to take or leave,” an administration official said. “We’ll be more than willing to make trade-offs — to look at alternatives that lower the rates and broaden the base,” a euphemism for cutting back on loopholes.

    One top business lobbyist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said corporate tax reform should be “the easiest piece” of a complex fiscal bargain “because you have people in both parties in the business community.”

    “There’s definitely demand,” the lobbyist said. “Politically, this can get done in a time of economic stress because it is clearly in the frame of helping American businesses compete and innovate and adjust.”

    Aides in both parties warned, though, that they see notable hurdles. Some House Republicans are pushing for individual tax reform at the same time, with one top aide contending the administration “is leaving the American family out of the picture.”

    “Their interest seems to be big business and whether they can win some corporate friends” ahead of the 2012 reelection campaign, the Republican said.

    Opposition is likely to break down regionally and by industries, rather than by party or ideology. Small- and medium-sized businesses without sophisticated tax planning are likely to benefit, while highly international conglomerates might wind up paying higher rates under reform.

    Read more:

  41. Ametia says:

    Bush Declines Obama’s Invitation to Ground ZeroBy MARK LANDLER and PETER BAKER
    Published: May 3, 2011

    WASHINGTON — President Obama invited former President George W. Bush to join him at ground zero in New York City on Thursday to mark the killing of Osama bin Laden, but Mr. Bush declined, a spokesman for the former president confirmed on Tuesday.

    “President Bush will not be in attendance on Thursday,” said his spokesman, David Sherzer. “He appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight. He continues to celebrate with Americans this important victory in the war on terror.”

    The White House did not confirm that the invitation had been made or comment on Mr. Bush’s decision.

    Mr. Obama has talked this week of his hope that the successful raid on the compound where Bin Laden was hiding could serve as a unifying force in a country divided by battles over fiscal policy and many other issues. Many Republicans have praised Mr. Obama for the success of the operation.

  42. Ametia says:

    Posted at 06:10 PM ET, 05/03/2011
    Osama bin Laden: putting ‘We got him’ in perspective
    By Jonathan Capehart

    The tweet was simple enough: “Must read.” And the link attached to it was to a post written by Rebekah Sanderlin for the “At War” blog of the New York Times. Her powerful piece was as advertised. Sanderlin recounts her harrowing life as an Army wife and then ponders the palpable disconnect in the cheers of “We got him” of the young 5/1 celebrants at the White House and Ground Zero in Manhattan.

    But watching the spontaneous celebrations outside the White House and ground zero, we were struck by the paradox inherent in the cheering crowds. People, mostly in their 20s and 30s — the same age as our friends who have died and been forever injured — were cheering, “We got him!”


    For nearly a decade of war, it hasn’t felt much like “we.” During this, the longest war in our nation’s history, a war fought by less than 1 percent of the population, the rest of the country has seemed mostly to ignore those of us in the military community, tuning in only for our scandals or deaths. And so “we,” in the context of victory, most accurately applies only to the very small number of men and women who have given more than any of us had a right to ask.

    Alexandra Petri put the cheering Sanderlin wrote about in perspective, writing on her blog, “Osama is our Voldemort. He’s our Emperor Palpatine. He is the Face of Evil, a mythical holdover from when we were too young to realize that evil has no face.” She continued:

    So for people my age, the idea that you would greet the news of Osama’s demise with anything short of unmitigated exhilaration is ludicrous. Call up the Ewoks and get the bonfires started. . . . This capture puts a cap on half our lives. We beat this level. It has long been our generational inclination to see life as a video game. Challenges to be overcome. Negotiations to be mastered. . . . Each level is controlled by a boss, a malignant figure who must be defeated for you to progress. And Osama was one such figure.
    Osama as Voldemort. Seeing life as a video game. This puts distance between Petri’s generation and the very real war being waged to ensure that terror isn’t visited on U.S. soil again. And it feeds into Sanderlin’s point about Americans in general. One that Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other have been making for a while. “[F]or most Americans the wars remain an abstraction,” Gates said in a speech at Duke University last year. “A distant and unpleasant series of news items that does not affect them personally.”

    This nation’s wars are being fought — and the consequences being suffered — by a very thin slice of the population. While the rest of us are oblivious to what’s happening a world away, families such as Sanderlin’s can’t escape it. Not for a minute. Now that “we” are celebrating their collective success at bringing bin Laden to justice, let’s endeavor not to forget them, their sacrifices or the fact that said sacrifices will continue long after the last servicemember returns home.

  43. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone. Happy HUMP day! :-)

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