Monday Open Thread

War (originally called Eric Burdon and War) is an American funk band from California, known for the hit songs “Low Rider“, “Spill the Wine“, “The Cisco Kid” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends?“. Formed in 1969, War was a musical crossover band which fused elements of rock, funk, jazz, Latin, rhythm and blues, and reggae.[1] The band also transcended racial and cultural barriers with a multi-ethnic line-up. The band has sold over 50 million records to date.[citation needed]

Although War’s lyrics are often socio-political in nature, their music usually had a laid-back, California funk vibe. A particular feature of War’s sound is the use of harmonica and saxophone playing melody lines in unison, sounding like a single instrument, for example in the melody of “Low Rider”. The music has been sampled and recorded by many singers and groups, ranging from R&B / pop singers such as Janet Jackson to nu metal band Korn and hip hop groups like TLC.

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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66 Responses to Monday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Planned Parenthood Indiana to stop seeing Medicaid patients

    Planned Parenthood of Indiana will stop seeing Medicaid patients after Monday because of an Indiana law that cut the provider’s funding.

    PPIN went to court last month to prevent Indiana from cutting funding to the state’s largest reproductive health care provider. U. S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt said she would make a decision on whether to enjoin the law by July 1.

    “Our 9,300 Medicaid patients, including those who had appointments Tuesday, are going to see their care disrupted,” Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of PPIN, said in a statement.

    The Medicaid funds stopped May 11, the day Republican Governor Mitch Daniels signed a law that restricts abortions and cuts federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

    Planned Parenthood performs abortions, but even before the Indiana law passed, federal money could not be used to pay for abortions. Indiana cut Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood that covers other reproductive health services, including contraception and cancer screening.

    After Monday, PPIN said it will have run out of the donations it used to pay for existing Medicaid patients after the bill made national news.

    Medicaid patients won’t be seen starting Tuesday unless they can pay, two disease intervention specialists will be laid off, and most employees around the state will be taking a day off without pay on Wednesday, according to a statement from PPIN.

    If the judge doesn’t make a favorable ruling by July 1, PPIN said it will start closing health centers and reducing staff.

    The state has until June 24 to respond to a brief filed last Friday by the federal government that sides with PPIN.

    The state is working on its response and will meet its deadline, according to the attorney general’s office.

    “The case was fully briefed until the U. S. government late Thursday filed its statement of interest, thus necessitating a thorough and thoughtful response from the state,” said Bryan Corbin, spokesman for the Indiana Attorney General’s office.

    North Carolina and Kansas have also restricted funding to Planned Parenthood, but their actions do not affect payments from the federal Medicaid program. Indiana blocks both state and federal payments.

  2. rikyrah says:

    Bad News For Mitt Romney: 22% Of Americans Won’t Vote For A Mormon
    June 20, 2011
    By Jason Easley

    A new Gallup poll released today found that 22% of Americans say that they would not vote for a presidential candidate if he/she is a Mormon.

    The Gallup poll found that American voters’ bias against Mormon candidates remains steady. Twenty two percent of those surveyed said that they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate. The bias is steady across all party lines. Eighteen percent of Republicans, 19% of Independents, and 27% of Democratic respondents said that they would not vote for a Mormon. (I suspect some partisanship is at play, because some Republicans may be accepting the fact that Mitt Romney could be their nominee).

    Age, gender, region, and religious preference didn’t matter. The numbers stayed the same across the board. The biggest divide in willingness to support a Mormon candidate was based on education level, as 86% of college graduates were willing to vote for a Mormon, compared to 66% of those with no college degree. (This poses a problem for Romney as lesser educated voters tend to support Republicans). Younger people age 18-34 (73%), Midwesterners (72%), and Protestants (74%) were the least likely to support a Mormon.

    Mormon bias is some of the largest voting bias in the American electorate. Mormons had the third highest percentage of bias in the poll. Only gays and lesbians (67%), and atheists (49%) had a less support than Mormons. Unlike how the bias declined for blacks, Catholics, Jews, and women over the last half century, the Mormon bias has remained consistent. Since 1967, the bias against Mormon candidates has ranged from 17% who wouldn’t support to as high as 24%. In contrast, bias against Catholic candidates went from 33% in 1939 to 21% before JFK was elected to 7% in 2009.

    The fact that there has been no downward trend in voting bias against Mormons in 50 years presents a big General Election problem for Mitt Romney, who may see the bias limited to individual states and primaries, but it will be a problem for him in the fall. The fact there is 18% more voter bias against Romney than Obama will make it even more difficult for him to beat the president in the fall.

    • Ametia says:

      And what about Huntsman; has he switched religions? because last I heard; he’s still a Mormon.

  3. rikyrah says:

    A Desperate Rick Scott Astroturfs His Own Fan Mail
    June 20, 2011
    By Jason Easley

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott is so unpopular that he has to write his own fan mail.

    According to the Orlando Sentinel, Gov. Rick Scott has started his own Astroturf movement. Scott’s website contains letters that have been written by his own campaign staff that can be signed and emailed to one of seven different Sunshine State newspapers.

    Here is the letter,

    Dear Editor,

    When Rick Scott ran for Governor he promised to create jobs and turn our economy around. I voted for Rick because he’s always been a businessman, not a politician. While politicians usually disappoint us and rarely keep their promises, Rick is refreshing because he’s keeping his word. His policies are helping to attract businesses to our state and get people back to work. Some of the special interests are attacking the Governor for making tough decisions, showing leadership, and doing what he told us he would do. Rick Scott deserves our unwavering and enthusiastic support. How can we expect to elect leaders who will keep their word and do what’s right for our state if we don’t stand up for those with the courage to set priorities, make difficult choices, and actually deliver on their promises made?

    It is safe to assume that Gov. Scott and his staff have seen the recent polls that show that he is the least popular governor in America. If they weren’t convinced by the polls, then maybe it was the fact that an entire police union flipped to the Democratic Party and is holding a drive to get other Floridians to leave the GOP too? Scott came into the governor’s mansion unpopular and has seen his approval rating drop to 29% since taking office.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Local designers ‘dress’ Michelle Obama

    June 20 2011 at 02:01pm

    SHE MIGHT be dressed casually and taking time to be with her family, or wearing a formal dress at a state function, but US First Lady Michelle Obama’s fashion sense commands attention.

    Called the First Lady of Fashion by many, Michelle Obama’s fashion sense has taken the world by storm, with dedicated websites where her choice of attire at different events is discussed in detail.

    Her toned and sculptured arms are discussed on the internet at length, with suggestions on exercises that could help achieve them.

    In honour of the style icon she is, The Star asked local designers what they would design for the woman who has made the “Best Dressed” list if given the opportunity.

    Machere Pooe, owner of the label House of Machere, reckons she would show the first lady’s slender figure, toned arms and beautiful legs in traditional seshweshwe dress.

    The outfit, she said, would be a cocktail dress, fully beaded in brown and gold.

    “It would end just under the knees and have a scoop neck that ties at the shoulder with ribbons… something I know she (would) wear and suit her style. It has to be quite SA. It’s a pity that when people from other countries get here, we don’t give them awesome traditional pieces,” she said.

    Stoned Cherrie’s Nkhensani Nkosi has designed two sleeveless pieces with multidirectional pleats and lines. One is very long, while the other ends just below the knees.

    Both pieces accentuate the waist and while the long one has a frilly detail on the chest, the shorter one, which has flower patterns on the skirt, has a daring open-chest detail.

    “Mrs Obama is a strong woman of strong mind and persona and embodies the elements of a powerful woman, but whose true power is her affection and love of humanity,” Nkosi said, explaining why the dresses would be perfect on the US first lady.

    Thula Sindi, whose designs are showcased during the SA Fashion Week, said Obama would fit perfectly into his modern, ladylike aesthetic and any of his shift dresses would suit her.

    He said a brown, sleeveless dress with a high belt would be perfect for her.

    “It is classic, flattering and would show her trademark beautifully toned arms.”

    Designer Jenni Button, whose new label is called Philosophy, thinks Obama would look good in something classy, elegant and languid and with African designs. But she would like to see the first lady in something sensual.

    “She has a beautiful body and a wonderful muscled tone; I would design something in ivory. A long gown that shows her shapely back and with a slit to show a leg,” Button said.

    Mangaliso Mbitshana, of Thesis, said he would choose something playful yet elegant from his winter range.

    “It is very elegant; it flows and it has a playful feeling to it.”

  5. rikyrah says:

    Was Doctor Paul Ryan consulted on this?
    by Kay

    One of the ways Democrats hope to reduce health care costs in Medicare and Medicaid is measuring effectiveness and quality, and paying accordingly.

    Because Paul Ryan is a celebrity and very bold and brave, everyone just accepted his completely unsubstantiated claim that the one and only way to reduce Medicare and Medicaid costs is for the federal government to stop paying for health care, and instead have patients pay out of pocket for it.

    The PPACA is still law, and the cost control measures are moving forward, although there aren’t any poorly spelled signs or people in colorful costumes attesting to that fact.

    We all pay too much for health care, and we can’t keep doing that. Here’s one way to address the problem, instead of dodging it, offering up sacrifices to Ayn Rand and praying it gets cheaper:

    Five of Florida’s major public and non-profit hospitals scored so poorly on return rates for Medicare patients that they will get preference this summer in a grant program to fix the problem, government documents show.

    This means too many of the Medicare patients they discharged were readmitted a few days or weeks later to the same or another hospital. Federal officials see this as an indication that the patients may have been discharged too soon or without adequate plans for follow-up. It’s as if these hospitals had revolving doors.Federal officials said they identified the hospitals with the highest readmission rates in order to assure they get preference when grants are handed out to community agencies this summer to find effective strategies that address the problem.
    “The thinking is that they have the most room for improvement,” said Donald McLeod, press officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    What this exercise shows is the lack of coordination in the U.S. health care system, said Linda Quick, president of the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association. “This is historically a chronic problem that the system of episodic care creates for patients and facilities,” she said. “People go home and have no real incentive to be compliant with instructions they get from physicians or institutions and they end up returning, needing additional attention.”

    CMS posted the list quietly in March on its web site, in a section describing a demonstration project that would be funded by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The project, called the Community Based Care Transition Program, invites organizations to form partnerships with hospitals to improve follow-up for discharged patients so that the readmission rate can be lowered.

    The data used for the file cover hospitalizations of Medicare patients from July 2006 through June 2009, CMS’ McLeod said. They are the same data used for the profiles in the Hospital Compare web site, and they are adjusted for severity of disease of patient populations.The hospitals that scored in the bottom quartile on this list will suffer no financial consequences, he said. However, in 2013 CMS will begin a new phase in health reform, the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), which will lower payments to hospitals that have high bounce-back rates.

  6. rikyrah says:

    June 20, 2011 3:45 PM

    McKinsey comes clean
    By Steve Benen

    As we’ve been talking about for weeks, McKinsey & Company published a controversy study recently, purporting to show that nearly a third of American businesses will stop offering health coverage to their employees as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Asked to disclose its methodology or subject its findings to scrutiny, McKinsey, a high-profile consulting firm, refused.

    Facing increasingly intense pressure, and even grumbling from its own staff, McKinsey came clean today, making the study and its results available for the first time. It’s going to take some time to review the materials in detail, but Greg Sargent flags one of the key initial revelations from the overview McKinsey released today.

    “We stand by the integrity and methodology of the survey.

    “The survey was not intended as a predictive economic analysis of the impact of the Affordable Care Act. Rather, it captured the attitudes of employers and provided an understanding of the factors that could influence decision making related to employee health benefits. […]

    “Comparing the McKinsey survey to economic estimates, such as the CBO’s, is comparing apples to oranges. While the McKinsey Quarterly article about the survey cited CBO estimates, any comparison is not apt. We understand how the language in the article could lead the reader to think the research was a prediction, but it is not.”

    At first blush, this might seem like a compelling spin. McKinsey isn’t saying employers “will” drop coverage as a result of the ACA; McKinsey is only saying that its survey shows employers “could” drop coverage.

    Of course, the problem with this is what McKinley said when it published its initial report: “How US health care reform will affect employee benefits.”

    Note the new statement again: “We understand how the language in the article could lead the reader to think the research was a prediction, but it is not.” Apparently, McKinley intends to parse the meaning of the word “will”?

    Indeed, Republicans who’ve begun using the findings as a political weapon have no use for these nuances. House Speaker John Boehner’s office argued last week, “A survey by McKinsey & Company says businesses planning for the onslaught of ObamaCare taxes, mandates, regulations, and penalties have two choices: stop offering health care for their employees, or eliminate full-time jobs and keep wages low.”

    “Not intended as a predictive” analysis? I guess Boehner missed the fine print, too.

    Except, the print isn’t especially fine at all. Today’s clarification refers back to the original report, and in the description used today, McKinsey tells the reader, “The shift away from employer-provided health insurance will be vastly greater than expected and will make sense for many companies and lower-income workers alike.”

    There’s that “will” word again.

  7. Effective July 1, 2011 NEW and IMPROVED changes to the US Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare)!! The Pre-Existing Conditions Plan rates will go DOWN on July 1 to just over $400 monthly (age 55+ with lower rates based on age) for the Standard Plan. Also, you will NO LONGER BE REQUIRED to get a denial letter from an insurance company (that’s huge)!!


    There are a few requirements to meet before you can enroll in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan – regardless of whether your program is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or your state. Applicants must:

    (1) Be a citizen or national of the United States or reside in the U.S. legally.

    (2) Have been without health coverage for at least the last six months. Please note that if you currently have insurance coverage that doesn’t cover your medical condition or are enrolled in a state high risk pool, you are not eligible for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.

    (3) Have a pre-existing condition or have been denied coverage because of your health condition.

    ‎866-717-5826, Monday thru Friday 8am – 11pm

  8. rikyrah says:

    GOPer’s Ad Depicts Chinese Army Marching On Capitol, Thanks To ‘Obama’s Debt Ceiling’ (VIDEO

    Former Nevada state GOP chair Mark Amodei, who was selected this weekend as the party’s nominee in the upcoming NV-02 special election, has a new ad out making the national debt his big issue — with the specter of the Chinese army marching on Washington!

    The ad shows a mock-up of a Chinese news broadcast in the near future, with an anchorwoman speaking while a separate English-language voiceover speaks in a heavy accent. “Once upon a time, America became its own worst enemy,” the voiceover says. “When all their borrowed money ran out, they kept spending out of control. Their President Obama just kept raising the debt limit — and their independence became a new dependence. As their debt grew, our fortune grew — and that is how our great empire rose again.”

    As the Chinese army marches on the Capitol, the ad then cuts to Amodei speaking in front of a photo background of the same building: “It’s not too late to stop this nightmare. I’m Mark Amodei, and I approve this message, because as your congressman, I’ll never vote to raise Obama’s debt limit and risk our independence.”

  9. rikyrah says:

    McKinsey Breaks Silence On Disputed HCR Study: We Weren’t Making Any Predictions!

    After two weeks of controversy, the consulting giant McKinsey & Company has broken its silence. The group came under fire from health care reformers for publishing a contrarian study finding that President Obama’s health care reform law will prompt large numbers of employers to stop offering health insurance benefits — and for refusing to publish its methodology or survey results.

    Under public pressure from top Democrats in Congress and from professional peers, the firm has issued a long statement partially defending the study and explaining the roots of the kerfuffle. McKinsey has also released both the survey materials and results that provided the data from which its report was drawn.

    “We stand by the integrity and methodology of the survey,” reads an official statement from McKinsey. “The survey was not intended as a predictive economic analysis of the impact of the Affordable Care Act.”

    Rather, it captured the attitudes of employers and provided an understanding of the factors that could influence decision making related to employee health benefits.

    As such, our survey results are not comparable to the healthcare research and analysis conducted by others such as the Congressional Budget Office, RAND and the Urban Institute. Each of those studies employed economic modeling, not opinion surveys, and focused on the impact of healthcare reform on individuals, not employer attitudes.

    Comparing the McKinsey survey to economic estimates, such as the CBO’s, is comparing apples to oranges. While the McKinsey Quarterly article about the survey cited CBO estimates, any comparison is not apt. We understand how the language in the article could lead the reader to think the research was a prediction, but it is not.

    Even as it issued the disclaimer that its report was not intended to be predictive, McKinsey linked to the report with the following teaser in its new statement: “The shift away from employer-provided health insurance will be vastly greater than expected and will make sense for many companies and lower-income workers alike.”

  10. rikyrah says:

    Romney Hugs Pawlenty-nomics
    Jonathan Chait

    Speaking of the current level of crazy within the GOP, Mitt Romney has not yet released his economic plan. But he doesn’t sound like a candidate who plans to let Tim Pawlenty out-crazy him:

    Romney, though, praised the plan as displaying “the right instincts,” and no one on stage demurred. That exchange signaled that all of the GOP contenders will likely advance proposals for retrenching Washington that vastly exceed those that Republicans offered in earlier races. “The exchange over the Pawlenty economic plan was very telling; there was no disagreement on the principles,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, a top Romney adviser. “On economic policy, I don’t see any great disagreement among the Republican candidates.”

  11. rikyrah says:

    The Big Lie: Obama’s Policies Have Made the Recession Worse

    It’s part of Mitt Romney’s talking points.

    And when one hears that if only Obama had let the banking system collapse entirely, the auto industry melt down, and slashed spending rather than offering a stimulus … all would be better, one is right to dismiss it as lunacy. Even if one believes that these would have been better policies, can anyone actually argue that if Obama had followed them, unemployment would now be lower than where it is? Or growth higher? Maybe you could argue that growth would be better in the future without the moral hazard of bailouts and stimuli, but now? Give me a break.

    The next option is to claim that the threat of higher business costs for healthcare and of re-regulating Wall Street is suppressing private investment and weakening profits. That’s Gary Becker’s line. But corporate profits are in record territory, and Yglesias hauls out the following graph:

    Case closed, I think. How am I wrong?

  12. rikyrah says:

    Bristol’s Innocence

    A reader writes:

    Sarah Palin repeatedly tells the media to stay away from her children and attack her. That’s fair for a politician. But then her daughter writes a memoir, including a tawdry expose about how she drunkenly lost her virginity to the father of her child. This is a disgusting mixture of celebrity and hypocrisy.

    Another writes:

    The new narrative is now that Bristol was a virgin and that Levi raped her. And yet she chose to have the baby. Are you not seeing how this will play out on the trail and will be catnip for her base?

    Reporter: Do you believe abortion should be allowed in cases of rape?

    Palin: No. In fact, my daughter was a victim of a date rape, but after much prayer we decided that the life of that precious angel she was carrying was most important. We even found it in our heart to forgive Levi, but he was too wicked and we had to cast him out.

    Another lays out a long pattern of Palin behavior:

    You ask if that isn’t pretty serious charge to level at the father of her child? Sure. And yet isn’t it also in total keeping with the sexual predator meme that she apparently has learned at her mother’s knee? What all do we have so far in the ongoing saga of alleged slobbering males who can’t keep their nefarious dirty minds and mitts off the Palin women?

    -Sarah moved her family from Juneau back to Wasilla because supposedly her daughters were under threat of gang rape. (Even though Palin did not inform the school, the local police and downsized her security detail at the same time.)

    -The Tennessee hacker had supposedly compromised their security resulting in Bristol getting threats of boys who were going to crash in the door of their home to attack her, in her isolated home in the woods where she hunkered with her little baby. (In spite of the fact that the Palin’s had Secret Service detail right outside the door of their “isolated” home on a major Alaskan road and no one ever saw the threatening messages.)

    – David Letterman was a pervert who wanted to molest Willow

    – Joe McGinnis was a pervert who wanted to crawl through Piper’s window and have his wicked way with her

    And so on and so on. It’s getting to be grotesque. Now we have Bristol losing her innocence to and impregnated in the woods by a redneck date rapist. (A redneck rapist she later walked around a stage with hand in hand as an announcement of their engagement, and later made thousands of dollars with by appearing in People magazine announcing their 2nd engagement. With their baby there for the charm factor.)

    At some point, allegations of sexual perversion and victimization have just become a reflex political tool/money maker for Sarah Palin. And her daughter is just franchising out the family marketing strategy. And lest you think I’m being harsh, ask yourself this: How is it we never heard this story from Bristol before? Could it possibly be because it never happened? Could it possibly be because she has a book to sell?

  13. rikyrah says:

    Taking a hatchet to presidential power

    By Steve Benen

    In addition to the far-right policy agenda pursued by congressional Republicans, it’s worth noting that these same GOP lawmakers intend to take away as much of President Obama’s powers as they can.

    The Constitution, for example, gives the executive the authority to make recess appointments, and dozens of House Republicans are eager to ensure Obama cannot exercise that authority.

    The vast majority of freshman Republicans have told House GOP leaders they should block President Obama from making any future recess appointments.

    In a letter sent to Republican leaders Thursday, a group of 77 freshman asked them to take any steps necessary to stifle the chance for recess appointments, including blocking any more recesses for the entirety of the 112th Congress.

    “As freshmen, we came to the House of Representatives on a wave of public discontent with the lack of transparency in Washington,” the letter stated. “The next logical step in our efforts to restore the public’s trust in their government is to prevent further recess appointments.”

    Why recess appointments have been fine for centuries, but now must be considered moves that undermine “the public’s trust,” is unclear.

    What’s more, note that these Republicans aren’t just talking about this summer or even this year. The 77 lawmakers want to stop Obama from being able to use his own recess power, no matter the vacancy or the circumstances, indefinitely.

    Also note, the same day as this letter about recesses, House Republicans also began pushing a measure to prevent the president from issuing “signing statements” — another power presidents have been using for generations.

    And while we’re at it, let’s also not forget the ongoing scandal involving the Senate GOP refusing to allow votes on qualified administration nominees. While senators have “long exercised their constitutional prerogative to derail nominations,” the NYT explained today, the current “standoffs differ in at least one respect: Republicans have said they are not opposing a particular nominee but rather any nominee, whoever it may be.” A former Republican aide conceded, “This isn’t about any particular appointee — Ben Franklin could come back to life and [Senate Republicans] would oppose him.”

    What I find remarkable about all of this is comparing the seriousness of the times and the severity of the GOP’s restrictions. In effect, President Obama is being told, “You have to fix the economy, win several wars, fix the housing crisis, respond to disasters, improve American energy policy, and keep the country safe, all while being fiscally responsible. But you can’t have a full team in place; you can’t enjoy the same powers your predecessors did; you can’t use the same tools your predecessors used; and you can’t expect the Senate to function by majority rule the way it used to. Good luck.”

    This is no way to run an advanced democracy in the 21st century.

    • Ametia says:

      No this is NOT the way to run an advanced democracy in the 21st century. Tell that to the corproate owned media who REFUSE to report the FACTS. For 3 weeks we get dick news, yet not one of the cable or tv networks are reporting on the GOP’s OBSTRUCTIONISM with this administration.

  14. rikyrah says:

    More black women in college, successful entrepreneurs
    By theGrio

    9:20 AM on 06/20/2011

    From the Stanford Graduate School of Business

    In the United States today, two-thirds of African American college undergrads are women, and they are going on to excel in business, particularly in entrepreneurship, says visiting scholar Katherine Phillips.

    Some people believe that African American women are doubly oppressed in the workplace, challenged by sexism because they’re female and by racism because they’re black.

    However, that bleak assessment does not tell the complete story, says Katherine Phillips, PhD ’99, visiting scholar in organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an expert in workplace diversity.

    In fact, black women are excelling in education and entrepreneurship, she said. Two-thirds of African American college undergrads are female. And, between 2002 and 2008, the number of businesses owned by black women rose by 19% — twice as fast as all other firms and generating $29 billion in sales nationwide

    Read the rest of the story here

  15. rikyrah says:

    June 20, 2011 1:25 PM

    Awaiting a ‘Jobs First’ agenda
    By Steve Benen

    On CBS’s “Face the Nation” yesterday, host Bob Schieffer asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) yesterday, “Do Republicans have any plans to do anything on the unemployment front or are you just going to let things take their course?” It seemed like a good question.

    McConnell replied, “No, I — I think — what — what we’re doing is encouraging the president to — to quit doing what he’s doing.”

    The Senate Minority Leader has clearly given job policy considerable thought. And to think I doubted him.

    Jay Bookman did a nice job fact-checking McConnell’s other remarks — it’s as if the senator has no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to the economy — but the key takeaway here is the realization that McConnell doesn’t even think a jobs agenda is necessary. If he and his party simply stand in the way of the White House’s agenda — an agenda, by the way, that vastly improved the economy — everything will be fine.

    In theory, this should create an opportunity for Democrats. Congressional Republicans not only don’t have a plan to create jobs; they don’t even see the need for one. There’s some talk that Senate Dems are at least looking in the right direction.

    Fearing the economy may be getting worse, Democrats plan to soon unveil what they’ll call a “Jobs First” agenda — and the stakes are high. A bleak economic outlook, like the May jobs report, could cost Democrats their thin Senate majority and even the White House if they can’t make a strong case to an anxious electorate that their policies will create jobs. […]

    Sen. Mark Begich has enlisted business officials to present senators with their ideas for bolstering job creation, and the Alaska Democrat wants his party to unveil a package full of proposals — like a boost in infrastructure spending and changes to visas to boost tourism — that one by one could be brought to the floor over the next several weeks.

    All kinds of ideas are apparently on the table. The best possible idea — an ambitious stimulus that ignores deficit concerns — won’t generate any consideration, but modest measures, including a payroll tax holiday, are still being bandied about.

    Even former President Clinton is weighing in, writing a piece for Newsweek with several credible ideas for job creation.

    I’m not especially optimistic about “Jobs First.” Getting Dems to agree to a meaningful plan will be like herding cats, and getting the GOP-led House to pass it will be impossible.

    But I’m at least mildly encouraged by the shifting discussion. Instead of an all-deficit-all-the-time debate, Democrats are talking about what can be done to create jobs, while Republican deliberately ignore the issue. Here’s hoping Dems aim high and don’t let up.

    • Ametia says:

      “McConnell replied, “No, I — I think — what — what we’re doing is encouraging the president to — to quit doing what he’s doing.”


  16. rikyrah says:

    June 20, 2011
    Devolutionary inbreeding
    I reject Politico’s premise, threaded throughout today’s headline story of “GOP magic trick: Making Bush vanish,” that the previous administration governed by principles of “compassionate conservatism.” A more deceptive slogan would be hard to find in the squalid archives of political flimflam, however I traveled this wretched territory just a few days ago, so I’ll refrain from such a near repetition of the “Bush-continuum” thesis.

    Let’s just say that even some of the Bushies acknowledge it, and regret it. Said former Bush adviser Peter Wehner of the post-Bush GOP, “I worry that there’s a temptation to denigrate government, that skepticism toward government becomes a sort of corrosive cynicism about government.” The corrosive continuum didn’t begin with Bush II, of course; it hatched under the Reagan administration — government was the problem, claimed the Gipper, meaning the scapegoat: and to millions awash in white backlash, what an appealing scapegoat it was; it was cultivated by Bush I (“No … new … taxes”: oops); and it survived relatively unscathed throughout the Clinton years (“The era of big government is over”).

    Now its suppuration has quite naturally devolved into the gangrenous manifestations of a Sarah Palin, a Michele Bachmann, a Rick Perry; it has even mortally diseased the once-staid moderates of the Tim Pawlentys. GOP pols of human diversity and variation are an evolutionary memory: they’re now just pez-dispensed automatons of stepford wives and pod pals.

    Yet the ever-increasing, intensely concentric pressures of devolutionary inbreeding and ideological purification can be — indeed, always are — a real political bummer. And the GOP’s really bad trip will in time come — if not first from its Ryanesque grotesquery and McConnellite indifference — from the simple inexorability of demographics. Again, Politico:

    [M]any Bushies believe the party’s continued refusal to make a deal on immigration reform and the nativist tone of some conservative activists will consign the GOP to irrelevance as the country’s changing demographics take hold over the long-term. “If you look at it purely from a political standpoint, Republicans in Texas and throughout the nation are going to get their clocks cleaned eventually if they don’t reach an agreement on immigration,” said former White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett.

    True, yet neither does it stop at just the immigration issue. The GOP is actively hostile to women’s rights and virtually all minorities’ concerns; the party is enclosing, isolating and trapping itself in a white shell of swan-song hubris. Its old-school strategists have to know where this self-entrapment leads.

    Hence, although I reject Politico’s initial premise, I find its speculative conclusion spot on:

    Should Republicans run on unadulterated conservatism and lose next year even amid a weak economy … [s]omeone could emerge from the ashes and push a David Cameron-style effort to modernize the GOP.

    That would be … Jon Huntsman, even though he’s foolishly befouling his own future nest by endorsing such witless doggerel as the Ryan plan. I would dissent from this guessed-at strategy, but maybe Huntsman believes he must be a good-soldier part of the GOP experience of hitting absolute rock bottom, before his fallen comrades will listen.

  17. rikyrah says:

    June 20, 2011
    Perry the Ditherer
    Now here’s the definition of “dithering” …

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry is still thinking, still pondering, still weighing the pros and cons; yes, he’s now and tomorrow “reconsidering his earlier decision to stay out of the 2012 White House campaign.”

    Unbelievable. There he sits, this secessionist theocrat, perhaps the most psychotic of all the GOP’s presidential wannabes — a condition which virtually guarantees him the party’s nomination, say so many of the party’s lesser psychotics — yet he just can’t seem to decide.

    It’s sad, so sad to watch a roaring Southern demagogue of antebellum conceit wallow in the harrowing indecisiveness of liberal deliberation.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Jon Huntsman: five potential roadblocks to the GOP nomination
    Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman is many things to many people: the “media’s candidate,” the GOP’s best hope to win moderates in 2012, or a non-factor. Five reasons he might have to wait until 2016. In fact, that might be his plan.

    1. The “opportunism” problem – the “opportunist” charge sticks to Jon Huntsman, almost by default. Having accepted the ambassadorship to China, only to quit the job to run against the president who hired him even sticks in the craws of conservatives who hate Barack Obama. Getting past that image will be a challenge. And the White House knows it, which is why David Axelrod — now working outside 1600 PA, for the re-election campaign, has been harping on Huntsman’s support for Obama while in office, and the fact that he never spoke up, if he had differences with the president while repping the U.S. in China. The biggest problem for Huntsman is that to win the nomination, he will have to go pretty hard against Obama, but every time he does, the opportunism question will be raised again, even if in the backs of people’s minds.

    2. The “Obama bromance” problem — Inexorably linked to the opportunism issue is Huntsman’s “bromance” problem. Just having worked for the president will cause any Republican to rub the GOP base the wrong way. And when you type “” into a search engine, you get a gushing, veritable love letter Huntsman once wrote to the president. That isn’t helpful with the GOP base, whose white-hot hatred for the president is the single biggest driving force in Republican politics right now, and as Rachel Maddow pointed out on her show last week, it also proves Huntsman’s team didn’t think ahead in terms of Internet strategy, since they failed to buy up the relevant domains.

    The Huntsman-Obama bromance in happier days
    3. The inauthenticity problem – Huntsman is a conservative, but in the sense that John McCain or former Florida governor Charlie Crist have been (or George H.W. Bush, for that matter.) His stances on global warming (he supported cap and trade policies prior to his recent flip-flop), driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants (he signed a bill into law that granted them) and opposed a border fence, support for an individual mandate for healthcare and gay civil unions, and his eager acceptance of federal stimulus money for his state (in fact, he thought the stim wasn’t big enough), have already pegged him as a RINO to base Republicans — well, the ones who know who he is. Huntsman has tried to counter that by taking a hard like against Obama’s Afghanistan policy, backing away from some of his former stances and supporting the Ryan plan for Medicare. But if you read the comments section under any HotAir story about him, it doesn’t seem to be working. Even coming in a surprise second in that RLC straw poll isn’t helping, since it’s already leaked out that Team Huntsman appears to have paid supporters to show up and vote for him (Huntsman himself missed the event … due to a cold.) And being the media’s favorite candidate (he’s the subject of a glowing NYT Magazine profile ahead of his announcement in New York) isn’t going to help build Huntsman’s credibility with the conservative base. In fact, quite the opposite.

    4. The duplication problem – Mitt Romney is a former governor … Jon Huntsman is a former governor. Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and Huntsman is too. Romney is a mega-rich son of a privileged family, and so is Huntsman. With Romney occupying much of the space Huntsman wants (reasonable, business-minded conservative who isn’t a right wing nut) there isn’t necessarily space for another version (albeit a less disliked one) of Mitt. Particularly one who essentially is to Romney’s left.

    5. The “fill in the blanks” problem. When you’re an unknown candidate, all the media love in the world isn’t going to stop reporters (and your opponents) from digging into your background. Even before he announces, potential negatives are already seeping out regarding Huntsman’s business dealings, including his family’s company selling potential weapons materials to Iran, and making bank on Chinese investments while he was ambassador to that country. Mitt Romney has never been shy about being ruthless with opposition research, and he’s sure to see Huntsman as a threat. So Huntsman should brace himself for in-coming.

    The other potential problem for Huntsman, as for Romney, is his Mormonism. A new Gallup poll suggests that about a fifth of Republicans would have a problem supporting a Mormon candidate for president. That’s not a deal breaker, particularly since hard core conservatives are wildly supportive of Mormon TV and radio personality Glenn Beck, who has probably done more than anyone in public life to mainstream adherents of the religion. The Mormon thing is also a reason why running for president now was probably Huntsman’s best gambit if he wants to be a serious contender for the jump ball election in 2016 (when the turn-coat question will be off the table, since Barack Obama won’t be running). Huntsman could not be the vice presidential nominee, to Mitt Romney (because two Mormons would likely be a non-starter) or really to any candidate, since any of them will likely have to choose a candidate with strong religious right and tea party bona fides, or someone who fills an ethnic or other niche void. So running is his only means of getting enough name ID to be a successful second chance candidate in 2016.

  19. rikyrah says:

    FL Teachers union sues Rick Scott

    Rick Scott has already been sued by the ACLU over drug testing (he has since suspended that policy while the case goes forward) and by doctors over the gun-gag law he signed. Now, it’s the teachers’ turn.
    From the Miami Herald:

    TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Education Association has filed a lawsuit today in Circuit Court in Tallahassee seeking to stop the 3 percent pay cut on teachers, school employees and other workers imposed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

    The lawsuit asserts that the Legislature enacted legislation that was unconstitutional when that body required that 3 percent of the salaries of active members of the Florida Retirement System (FRS) be taken from such employees to serve as “contributions” toward their retirement benefits. The lawsuit further contends that the actions by the Legislature to reduce the cost-of-living benefits of those employees were also unconstitutional.

    “This pay cut was used by legislative leadership to make up a budget shortfall on the backs of teachers, law-enforcement officers, firefighters and other state workers,” said FEA President Andy Ford. “It is essentially an income tax levied only on workers belonging to the Florida Retirement System. It’s unfair – and it breaks promises made to these employees when they chose to work to improve our state.

    “While the state of Florida may make the policy decision to ask future employees to contribute to their retirement, it may not unilaterally change the covenant it made with current employees,” Ford said.

    The lawsuit alleges that Florida law expressly provides that the Florida Retirement System is one in which employees do not have to contribute part of their salaries and describes that as a contractual obligation of the State. The suit claims that the Legislature’s action unconstitutionally impairs those contractual rights.

    The FRS collects retirement money for more that 900 state and local government employers in the state, covering 655,000 active employee members and providing benefits to 219,000 retired members. It has been a non-contributory plan since 1974.

    The lawsuit names Gov. Rick Scott, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and John Miles, secretary of the Department of Management Services, as defendants in the lawsuit. Scott, Atwater and Bondi are the members of the State Board of Administration that is responsible for overseeing the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund and Miles runs the agency that oversees the fund.

    Attorney Ron Meyer will be requesting the court to segregate the money it collects from the 3 percent pay cuts and place it in an interest bearing account until the lawsuit is fully settled. If the court agrees with the claims, teachers, school employees and other public workers would receive their money back with interest.

    Ford said he was fully aware that FEA risked incurring the wrath of Senate President Mike Haridopolos, House Speaker Dean Cannon and other top legislative leaders and that retribution toward the union and its members could be in the offing.

    “This past legislative session, FEA was fully in the crosshairs of legislative leaders with SB 736, which will upend the teaching profession, massive budget cuts to public education and a spate of bills designed to put our union, and other public-sector unions, out of business,” Ford said. “But the importance of doing the right thing and protecting the constitutional rights of our members trumps the fears of legislative payback.”

  20. McCain said he wasn’t blaming illegal immigrants of starting the “BIG” fire in Arizona, he was speaking about the “small” fires!

    Lying liar!

  21. Ed Henry To Fox News: CNN Reporter Becomes Chief White House Correspondent

    Ed Henry is jumping from CNN to become Fox News’ Chief White House Correspondent, Deadline reported Monday.

    A source close to Henry confirmed to The Huffington Post that the move is occurring.

    Henry has been CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent since 2008, and has covered the beat since 2006. He is on the board of the White House Correspondents’ Association, and notably called for Fox News to be given Helen Thomas’ old seat in the front row of the White House Briefing Room when she stepped down from her post.

    “We thank Ed for his contributions and wish him the best,” a CNN spokesperson told HuffPost’s Michael Calderone. “We will be naming our new chief White House correspondent in the coming days.”

    Henry sent this letter to his CNN colleagues announcing his departure:

    It was only a few days after I started on the White House beat in 2006 that I shouted a question in the Rose Garden about Donald Rumsfeld that led President Bush to now famously declare, “I’m the decider.”
    I will never forget that day. But it was just one of many thrilling moments on this beat for CNN, which makes my decision now to leave this network so difficult. It would be easy to say good-bye if I didn’t care about the people or the mission, but I am still a passionate supporter of both.

    So after seven years at CNN it is bittersweet for me to say I’ve landed a terrific opportunity elsewhere that I am absolutely thrilled about. But first I just want to say thank you for what has been a wild ride for me, from the beginning of my tenure when I was in the anchor chair when Robert Novak walked off-set — right up until the night a few weeks ago I raced from a Capitals playoff hockey game to the White House to report through the night on the killing of Osama bin Laden. I’m still getting grief for the polo shirt I wore on the North Lawn that night but what can I say, I was trying to Rock the Red.

  22. rikyrah says:

    looking for links to follow the First Lady’s trip in Africa.

    any help appreciated.

    • Ametia says:

      We’re looking too, rikyrah. If you find any links, please drop them here. We’ll do the same. Thanks

  23. rikyrah says:

    Doing it again
    by Kay

    Went to a panel on turning out young voters yesterday. I didn’t have high hopes for the session.

    Turning out young/new/second time voters is one of those perennial election topics, where there’s a lot of handwringing and analysis on what motivates “them” to vote, and vague talk about “connecting”.

    Every expert says the same thing. We have to keep them engaged in between elections working on issues, etc. I’ve never liked the whole approach because it’s always framed so passively: we have to do this for them. It’s like they’re all just sitting somewhere, frozen in time between elections, waiting for their elders to arrive and start barking out orders

    Time passes. The first-time eligible voter of 2008 may be (essentially) a completly different person by 2012, with completely different priorities and concerns, because all kinds of things happen fast between age 18 and age 22, or between 22 and 26. Any young voter’s life is probably going to change more in any four year period than that of any middle aged voter. Hopefully, the new voters I chatted with in the community college student center in 2008 aren’t still there, wondering where I got off to.

    Too, a first time eligible voter in 2012 was just entering high school in 2008. New voters in 2012 will be different people, with a different set of national/political experiences or exposure than those who were newly eligible voters in 2008.

    That said, this panelist was actually interesting. I liked what this panelist had to say, so I’ll just have her say it:

    Black voter turnout is key for the upcoming presidential election and Democratic candidates would be mistaken if they think it is in the bag for them simply because Blacks vote overwhelmingly Democratic during elections.They will have to work to encourage many in the disenchanted Black electorate to head out to the polls come November 2012. As a group, African Americans have fared worse during the recession, still struggle through double-digit unemployment and faced the brunt of the housing crash, suffering through a disproportionate amount of foreclosures. To say “the thrill is gone” would be an understatement. Some are starting to feel taken for granted by the Democratic party and will not likely vote Republican because there is a sense of hostility towards them from that party. What may likely happen is that would-be voters will simply sit out the 2012 elections.

    It is true that during the 2008 presidential election, Black voter turnout was 65.2 percent — an all-time high — with about 15.9 million black Americans casting ballots, including an estimated 5 million first-time voters. That year, Blacks alone increased votes for the Democratic candidate by 3.2 million from the previous presidential election, according to the PEW Research Center. In the Democratic presidential candidates in 2000, 2004, and 2008 , Blacks voted 90 percent, 89 percent, and 95 percent of the time Democratic, respectively.

    This upcoming year is indeed a critical one for courting the Black vote. Like other groups, Blacks turn out to vote in greater numbers during presidential races than during midterms. State and congressional Democratic candidates get the benefit from that bump and extra churn. Many assume that in 2008 it was the race of presidential candidate Barack Obama that was responsible for the record black turnout. Not so fast, says one analysis. Using data from the 1984 and 1996 National Black Election Studies and the 2008 American National Election Study, Public Opinion Quarterly published a report that found personal contact from a campaign worker or official contributed more to higher than normal black turnout in 2008, not the race of the presidential candidate alone.

    5 million first-time voters in 2008.

  24. rikyrah says:

    June 20, 2011 10:40 AM

    Bush the liberal
    By Steve Benen

    Over the weekend, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) reflected on his party’s ideological bearings. “I think what you’re seeing is the Republican Party going back to its conservative roots and, yes, going back to its core principles and I think that’s a good thing. I would argue that we did lose our way for a while.”

    It’s not exactly a mystery what period of time “a while” represents.

    Republicans head into 2012 united in their disdain for an unpopular, big government-loving, internationalist president.

    The name of that president: George W. Bush.

    From Capitol Hill to the statehouses to the presidential primary, Republicans are turning their back on almost every important accomplishment of the Bush administration.

    Bush’s attempt to reposition the GOP to the center-right has been rejected in favor of an unmodified brand of conservatism that would rather leave people alone than lift them up with any “armies of compassion.” Many of Bush’s distinctive policy ideas have fallen by the wayside, replaced by a nearly single-minded focus on reducing the size of government.

    Now, it’s tempting to think Republicans would be distancing themselves from Bush and his legacy because he failed so spectacularly, and the GOP wants to avoid the stench of the eight-year fiasco.

    But that’s not what this is about. Rather, party officials and activists are looking back at the Bush/Cheney era and rejecting the policies of the Republican administration on ideological grounds.

    For the GOP, Bush was wrong about everything from education (NCLB) to health care (Medicare Part D), immigration (comprehensive reform) to international aid (PEPFAR), national service (AmeriCorps, USA Freedom Corp) to foreign policy (growing Republican skepticism about Afghanistan).

    Even on taxes, Republican presidential hopefuls are inclined to make Bush look like Robin Hood, with new measures that would cost more and be tilted more dramatically in favor of the rich.

    Never mind that Republicans supported nearly all of Bush’s agenda when he was actually in office — they’ve now decided to go in a new direction.

    Consider the Republican debate last week in New Hampshire. The candidates spoke almost entirely in boilerplate conservative terms, endorsing spending cuts, tax cuts, sweeping regulatory rollbacks, a crackdown on illegal immigration and devolving as much power as possible back to the states.

    That’s a far cry from the agenda Bush ran on in 2000, and it’s not enough to satisfy some Bush alums who remain convinced the party needs a “robust domestic agenda,” as former Freedom Corps Director John Bridgeland put it.

    But even more interesting to me is the implicit message the Republican Party is bringing to voters: vote GOP in 2012 because the party now believes George W. Bush was a big liberal.

    I’m skeptical this will work. As Bush left office, I suspect the number of Americans thinking, “Bush would have been a better president if only he wasn’t such a left-winger” was fairly small.

  25. rikyrah says:

    Florida Tea Party Leader: GOP Medicare Plan A ‘Public Policy Nightmare’

    South Florida Tea Party Chairman Everett Wilkinson thinks the GOP budget — and in particular its call to phase out Medicare and replace it with a marketplace for private insurance — is a total disaster. He’s saying that Republicans, including members in his sphere of influence like Rep. Allen West (R-FL), should back away from it.

    In an email to fellow Tea Partiers last week, obtained by The Palm Beach Post, Wilkinson called the GOP plan a “public policy nightmare” that could trigger “huge Democratic wins in 2012,” and prompt Republicans to blame the Tea Party for their losses.

    “Republicans will lose if they support the Ryan Medicare plan. Americans do not support the [Paul] Ryan plan,” he wrote. “Expect the GOP to then blame the Tea Party for losses.”

    The GOP’s Medicare plan polls terribly everywhere, so it makes sense that some conservatives in states like Florida with large elderly populations are jumping ship. But Florida has also become a redoubt for conservative policy, and high-profile Republicans there are heavily invested in the GOP plan already. Either this places a wedge between electeds and the base, or else Republicans like West, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) will have to rethink their positions — and explain away their votes.

  26. rikyrah says:

    June 20, 2011 11:10 AM

    Clarence Thomas’ Abe Fortas problem
    By Steve Benen

    After a series of embarrassing revelations over the last several months, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ year got a little worse yesterday. The New York Times reported that the right-wing jurist maintains an “ethically sensitive friendship” with Dallas real estate magnate and GOP financier Harlan Crow.

    Despite the fact that Crow’s company has multiple cases in the federal court system, he’s apparently showered Thomas with lucrative gifts, including a massive check to the justice’s wife to start her lobbying organization, and a multimillion-dollar deal in which Crow created a museum at a cannery where Thomas’ mother worked.

    Much of this would seem to run afoul of the code of conduct for federal judges, which Supreme Court justices are not bound to follow, but which current members have said they would adhere to.

    Ian Millhiser notes that situations like these are not without precedent, but the last justice to get caught up in a similar controversy was forced to resign.

    [T]he Thomas scandal is little more than a remake of the forty year-old gifting scandal that brought down Justice Abe Fortas. Like Thomas, Fortas liked to associate with wealthy individuals with potential business before his Court. And like Thomas, Fortas took inappropriate gifts from his wealthy benefactors.

    Fortas’ questionable gifts first came out when President Johnson nominated him for a promotion to Chief Justice of the United States in 1968. Fortas had accepted $15,000 to lead seminars at American University — far more than the university normally paid for such services — and the payments were bankrolled by the leaders of frequent corporate litigants including the vice president of Phillip Morris. Fortas survived this revelation, although his nomination for the Chief Justiceship was filibustered into oblivion.

    Just a year later, the country learned that Fortas took another highly questionable gift. In 1966, one year after Fortas joined the Court, stock speculator Louis E. Wolfson’s foundation began paying Fortas an annual retainer of $20,000 per year for consulting services. Fortas’ actions were legal, and he eventually returned the money after Wolfson was convicted of securities violations and recused himself from Wolfson’s case, but the damage to Fortas — and the potential harm to the Supreme Court’s reputation — were too great. Fortas resigned in disgrace.

    The controversies aren’t identical, of course, but given the scope of Thomas’ connection to Crow, the generosity Crow has shown towards Thomas, and the fact that Crow has business before the federal judiciary, there are parallels.

    At a minimum, it doesn’t inspire confidence in Thomas’ integrity as a justice. In January, we learned that Thomas was required to report his wife’s income on his financial disclosure forms, but for several years, for reasons that remain unclear, he chose not to. A month later, reports surfaced that Thomas may have lied about his role at a political retreat for wealthy conservatives, organized by the right-wing Koch Brothers, where participants discussed legal strategies for overturning campaign finance laws — laws that Thomas later ruled on. His wife’s bizarre right-wing activism and lobbying efforts have also raised eyebrows.

    And now this.

    I’d still love to know what the reaction would be if Thomas were a liberal justice appointed by a Democratic president. Just how loud would the calls from the right for his resignation be? How many hearings would Senate Republicans hold? How many “special reports” would Fox News run?


    First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to South Africa and Botswana during an official visit to Africa from June 20 – 26 focused on youth leadership, education, health and wellness.

    The trip is a continuation of Mrs. Obama’s work to engage young people, especially girls and young women, at home and abroad.

    First Lady Michelle Obama is calling on young people at home, in Africa, and around the world to follow the trip and connect with each other.

    TRIP ITINERARY Tuesday, June 21, 2011
    Pretoria, South Africa

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011
    Pretoria and Johannesburg, South Africa

    Thursday, June 23, 2011
    Cape Town, South Africa

    Friday, June 24, 2011
    Gaborone, Botswana

    Saturday, June 25, 2011
    Gaborone, Botswana

    Sunday, June 26, 2011
    Gaborone, Botswana

    • Thanks for the link and info. My SIL says that BBC world news/Africa should have some good coverage too. If I get a link for online, I’ll post it here. SIL and Daughter have a satellite dish for TV so they can get international channels I don’t have access to but some stuff should be on line too.

  28. rikyrah says:

    June 20, 2011 10:00 AM

    Gauging Obama’s support at Netroots Nation

    By Steve Benen

    One of the more notable discussions at this year’s Netroots Nation conference was when White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer sat down with Daily Kos’ Kaili Joy Gray. Pfeiffer joked about going into “the lion’s den,” but even he probably wasn’t prepared for the pushback from the left.

    At times, the discussion was uncomfortably hostile — Pfeiffer was even booed at one point — and reinforced the notion that President Obama faces serious and widespread discontent among many on the left.

    It also made these results unexpected.

    Despite their grousing about the administration during the Netroots Nation conference, liberal activists and bloggers are relatively happy with President Barack Obama’s performance.

    A straw poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showed that 80 percent either approve or strongly approve of the president more than a year before voters head to the polls to decide whether he deserves a second term. The results broke down to 27 percent strongly approving of Obama and 53 percent approving “somewhat.” Thirteen percent said they “somewhat disapprove,” and 7 percent strongly disapprove of the president.

    I wasn’t at the conference this year, but based solely on reports from those who were there, I wouldn’t have expected the president’s support to be nearly this high among attendees.

    This is not to say that liberal discontent with Obama is a myth. Those attendees jeering Pfeiffer on Friday weren’t just kidding; they were expressing anger, frustration, and at times, pure contempt.

    The question is one about numbers. GQR Research found roughly four out of five NN attendees still support the president, while Gallup shows Obama’s standing with the Democratic base a little higher than that.

    For all the talk about Obama’s base abandoning him, the evidence to support this is shaky, at best. The discontent is real, but it doesn’t appear to be wide or deep, at least not at this point.

    • Ametia says:

      No suprirses here. The folks who came to Minneapolis this past weekend, don’t support anything this POTUS has done, since 1-20-09. They don’t canvas, man phonebank, write congress and push for meaningful legislation. These Netroot nuts just sit around blogging, making TV appearances, writing books, and bashing the POTUS. It’s a LUCRATIVE business. They have NO desire to help effect any meaningful change; just like the GOP.

      Meanwhile OFA and REAL Democratice supporters of PBO are making it do what it do, BOO!

  29. Ametia says:

    Breaking News Alert: Supreme Court sides with Wal-Mart in major sex-discrimination case
    June 20, 2011 10:31:47 AM

    The Supreme Court has ruled for Wal-Mart in its fight to block a massive sex discrimination lawsuit on behalf of women who work there.

    The court ruled unanimously Monday that the lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cannot proceed as a class action, reversing a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The lawsuit could have involved up to 1.6 million women, with Wal-Mart facing potentially billions of dollars in damages.

  30. Ametia says:

    CNN Breaking:

    The Supreme Court put the brakes on a
    massive job discrimination lawsuit against mega-retailer Wal-Mart
    Stores, Inc., saying sweeping class-action status that could potentially
    involve hundreds of thousands of current and former female workers was
    simply too large.

  31. rikyrah says:

    As Survivors Dwindle, Tulsa Confronts Past
    Published: June 19, 2011

    With their guns firing, a mob of white men charged across the train tracks that cut a racial border through this city. A 4-year-old boy named Wess Young fled into the darkness with his mother and sister in search of safety, returning the next day to discover that their once-thriving black community had burned to the ground

    Ninety years later, Mr. Young lives not far from where he lost his home that day. He is part of the dwindling ranks of the living who can recollect what may be the deadliest occurrence of racial violence in United States history — an episode so brutal that this city, in a bout of collective amnesia that extended more than a half-century, simply chose to forget it ever happened.

    The Tulsa race riot of 1921 was rarely mentioned in history books, classrooms or even in private. Blacks and whites alike grew into middle age unaware of what had taken place.

    Ever since the story was unearthed by historians and revealed in uncompromising detail in a state government report a decade ago — it estimated that up to 300 people were killed and more than 8,000 left homeless — the black men and women who lived through the events have watched with renewed hope as others worked for some type of justice on their behalf.

    But even as the city observed the 90th anniversary this month, the efforts to secure recognition and compensation have produced a mixed record of success.

    The riot will be taught for the first time in Tulsa public schools next year but remains absent in many history textbooks across the United States. Civic leaders built monuments to acknowledge the riot, including a new Reconciliation Park, but in the wake of failed legislative and legal attempts, no payments were ever delivered for what was lost.

    Before becoming president, Barack Obama once met with some who lived through the riot “to thank the survivors for surviving.” But fewer are surviving each year; today the number is about 40. And before they die, some of their most dedicated advocates continue to fight for greater awareness and compensation, even as they lament that they no longer believe the effort has sufficient momentum.

    “These people are still alive,” said Reggie Turner, who has toured the country with the survivors, showing his film about the riot and the failed federal lawsuit to win reparations from the city and state governments. “And despite their dwindling numbers — in fact, because of their dwindling numbers — it should be easy for us to take care of them.”

    “They are just looking for a better life as they approach death,” he added.

    Some, like Otis Clark, the oldest survivor of the riot at 108 and one of those who joined a federal lawsuit seeking compensation, are at peace. “God has a whole lot of good things lined up for us when we’re by his side,” Mr. Clark said. “It ain’t going to be very long before that is going to happen.”

    Others, like Mr. Young and his wife, Cathryn, worry that their passing will simply make the riot easier to forget. “I think they are trying to keep this hidden,” Ms. Young said, referring to the white residents of Tulsa. “Don’t talk about it, don’t do nothing about it until all these people are dead. Then they think it’ll be over with. But it won’t.”

    All that remains of that black community of 90 years ago, Greenwood, is a block of red-brick storefronts in a neighborhood transformed by a new minor league ball field, a university campus and an elevated highway. Metal plaques set in the sidewalk describe the hundreds of businesses that were there when the area was a bustling enclave in a statutorily segregated oil town. Within the black community, it was known as the Negro Wall Street.

    Long before black neighborhoods erupted in rioting in cities across the country during the 1960s and 1970s, a string of violent riots were started by whites in the years after World War I. As with some of the others, the Tulsa riot seemed to have started with the explosive accusation that a black man had sexually assaulted a white woman. (The charges were dropped after the riot.)

  32. rikyrah says:

    Debt Deal Could Spare Middle and Upper Class Seniors, But Slam The Poor
    Democrats’ rallying cry on deficit talks couldn’t be clearer: It’s the elderly, stupid.

    That means Medicare benefits are off-limits, a message that Democrats plan to reinforce at every opportunity through November 2012. With Republicans demanding trillions in cuts to raise the debt limit, however, savings are going to have to come from somewhere. The most logical option left is Medicaid, a favorite conservative target whose low-income recipients carry little clout in Washington compared to Medicare’s elderly and middle-class base.

    But there is one politically tricky obstacle to cutting Medicaid: Millions of seniors — including those who consider themselves middle class — rely on Medicaid cover their nursing home care, meaning any raid on its funding could complicate Democrats’ image a the tireless champion of retirees across the land.

    Mindful of the problem, aides and lawmakers are floating a way forward: shielding the elderly from Medicaid cuts while slashing aid to poor and uninsured Americans.

    “A lot of us are concerned that Medicaid as it effects nursing home patients and people with a disability is irreplaceable,” Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) told reporters on Thursday when asked about potential cuts. “For low-income people who are otherwise healthy there may be creative ways to help fulfill our obligations for health care.”

    On the Senate side, a Democratic leadership aide told TPM that the caucus was prepared to dig in and hold the line on cuts to benefits seniors receive from Medicaid as well.

    “Democrats are not going to let Republicans force seniors out of nursing homes, period,” the aide said. “We should be cutting taxpayer giveaways to oil companies, not making seniors bear the burden of Republicans’ fiscal irresponsibility.”

    President Obama proposed finding hundreds of billions of dollars in savings to Medicaid and Medicare by improving efficiency and reducing waste in his April speech on the deficit. He notably singled out two groups as his primary source of concern in any deal: seniors in nursing homes and poor and disabled children.

    For the GOP, cuts to Medicaid are a top issue this year. House Republicans included a major overhaul to Medicaid in their budget and want to give governors more flexibility to shut out residents from coverage. On the state level, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) recently proposed a major overhaul of eligibility levels that would require a family of three to make under $5,317 a year to qualify for Medicaid, down from $24,645 currently. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry (R) has threatened that his state might leave the program entirely.

    Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) told reporters that Christie’s proposal and similar attacks elsewhere have left Democrats particularly uneasy.

    “I don’t think the majority of Democrats will accept huge cuts in Medicaid: we’re already fighting many of our states on the subject,” Pascrell said.

    Recent newspaper reports that Medicaid is on the chopping block in deficit talks are raising red flags within the party. “There has been an unsettling silence around Medicaid — even from members of my own party,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), told the Wall Street Journal. “Medicaid suddenly looks like the sacrificial lamb.”

    TPM asked Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), a leading advocate of expanding coverage, if he expected Democrats to include substantial Medicaid cuts to end up in a final deal.

    “They better not,” he said.

  33. rikyrah says:

    Darrell Issa Poised To Get First Win In ATF Fast And Furious Scandal
    Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) seems poised to collect his first scalp. The Obama administration wants to oust Ken Melson as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) over the troubled anti-gun-trafficking program called Fast and Furious, the Wall Street Journal reported late Friday.

    Issa’s committee released an email last week that showed that as deputy director of the agency, Melson was closely monitoring the Fast and Furious operation — an effort to stop the flow of weapons from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels. One email from ATF described a request Melson made for a web link so he could watch from hidden cameras in the gun stores that were cooperating with the operation.

    Issa held two hearings last week examining ATF’s strategy of letting guns “walk” by instructing cooperating gun dealers to sell to people they suspected were straw purchasers in the hopes of building cases against major arms smugglers. He released a report revealing that ATF agents were deeply divided over the agency’s risky tactic of letting gun sales to suspected straw purchasers proceed.

    ATF had been struggling to curb the flow of weapons from the United States into the hands of drug cartels in Mexico, with the Justice Department Inspector General knocking their program for only going after low level straw purchasers. But the report noted the numerous obstacles that agents face.

    The suspicious purchases were not, in and of themselves, illegal because there is no federal statute banning individuals from purchasing weapons for someone else. The only thing they can be brought up on is a so-called “papers” charge for lying on a federal form.

    The charges that are brought against straw purchasers are extremely difficult to prove, former ATF agents have said.

    In one 2008 case, a federal judge ruled that a case against a man who allegedly purchased over 400 weapons in 18 months (what he called “a rather breathtaking number”) couldn’t proceed because the jury shouldn’t be allowed to infer that he was trying to make a business out of it.

    Issa made clear at his Wednesday hearing that he’s not interested in a reexamination of the nation’s gun laws, telling ATF agents testifying before his committee that they could “anecdotaly” offer their opinions on gun laws, but said their views “would not be considered valid testimony.”

    While the Wall Street Journal article didn’t lay out the exact timeline for when Melson could be asked to step down, Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole are meeting with Andrew Traver, the head of the ATF’s Chicago office on Tuesday. Traver was nominated to head ATF in the fall, but his nomination stalled in the face of opposition from the NRA because it didn’t like the tone of a news segment he appeared in and because he appeared on a panel hosted by a group it didn’t like.

    “I sat at my computer when this guy’s name was first brought up and Googled him,” NRA’s top lobbyist Chris Cox said.

    Melson was appointed as acting director of ATF by President Barack Obama, but his position was downgraded to deputy director under rules regulating executive appointments. He previously served as Executive Office of United States Attorneys, a post he was appointed to by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

  34. rikyrah says:

    June 18, 2011
    Springtime for the right

    It’s a bit past the fecund season of spring, nevertheless the right’s enchanting ideological edicts of candidate-straitjacket design are still blooming afresh across this once-great nation of Republican wreckage.

    There’s Grover Norquist’s all-encompassing no-new-taxes pledge, of course; admittedly battered after this week’s Senate vote to repeal ethanol subsidies, but you can bet your voter ID card that Grover will be back, shoving his wretched extortion demand under GOP noses with renewed, Corleone-like vigor.

    As well, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have all obediently signed the Susan B. Anthony List diktat that as president they would only “nominate judges and appoint executive branch officials who are opposed to abortion,” that they would “push legislation to end all taxpayer funding of abortion,” and, naturally, that they would ruthlessly assault half of our population by defunding the boogeywoman of Planned Parenthood.

    (Note of interest: Mitt Romney refuses to sign the diktat, which indicates not, of course, that Mitt Romney has finally adopted a principle, but merely that Mitt Romney believes he’s the nomination in his pocket and therefore he doesn’t really need to play nicely with all the other children.)

    And now comes Sen Jim DeMint from the doctrinaire (and primary) cesspool of South Carolina, vowing to oppose any GOP presidential nominee who intelligently rebuffs the new “Cut, Cap, and Balance” pledge, which, as you know, would in reality cut, cap, and balance the federal budget with the same threefold and exacting degree to which Voltaire defined the Holy Roman Empire: neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.

    It is, in my opinion, a good thing for Republican presidential candidates to sign such pledges, various edicts and assorted diktats, for each conceptually points to the absolute essence of the contemporary GOP: Leaders should be forbidden to think, to ever act pragmatically on the exigencies of the day, to even once apply independent thought to a national problem or predicament; they should instead be bound by the untender chains of an inescapable ideology, for in that lies an unthinking, prefigured comfort. Individual initiative and human intelligence and the small-r republican capacity to grow — i.e., what the framers of the U.S. Constitution embraced and encouraged — are suspect, unpredictable, and quite possibly perilous.

    I give you, the modern GOP — stuck in its own muck.

  35. rikyrah says:

    June 18, 2011
    Michele Bachmann, dimly lit

    Historically there have in America been presidential candidates who campaigned on behalf of the most singular of issues: one thinks of the Prohibitionist or Greenback or Silver or Anti-Masonic parties, organizational creatures of intense narrowness whose chief protagonists were of similarly narrow intensity on the campaign trail.

    They’re still kicking around out there, these pathetic hopefuls, plotting national and possibly world domination and, in their own minds, with invariable and inexorable success — for they, or so they hallucinate, have stumbled on the one invincible key to electoral victory.

    We should be thankful that candidates of our two enduring political parties resist the third-party temptation to go cheap and easy; to land on some one, electrifying issue that might mobilize broad discontent, stir the phlegmatic masses and portend a national revolution of most unAmerican rebelliousness. And that’s why I, for one, enthusiastically endorse the cerebral universality of GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, who announced last night, at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, in New Orleans, and I quote …

    President Bachmann will allow you to buy any light bulb you want.

  36. rikyrah says:

    June 20, 2011
    Another ‘facts holiday’

    As the NY Times reports this morning, the latest politico-corporate swindle (see GOP facilitation) — yes, it is impossible to keep up — is the “repatriation holiday” for overseas U.S. corporate cash, which would slash taxation here of “vast profits” held there.

    The suits never tire of overselling:

    Corporations and their lobbyists say the tax break could resuscitate the gasping recovery by inducing multinational corporations to inject $1 trillion or more into the economy, and they promoted the proposal as “the next stimulus” at a conference last Wednesday in Washington.

    They were treated to such a holiday in 2005, and according to MIT economics professor Kristin Forbes, who was a member of Bush’s council of economic advisers:

    “For every dollar that was brought back, there were zero cents used for additional capital expenditures, research and development, or hiring and employees wages.”

    The facts simply and plainly defy the politico-corporate promise of “the next stimulus.” Therefore, look for this proposal to go far in Congress.

  37. rikyrah says:

    Does Fox Make People Stupid?
    by BooMan
    Sun Jun 19th, 2011 at 10:32:21 PM EST

    It’s a chicken and egg kind of question. While it’s true that multiple studies have shown that Fox News viewers are incredibly misinformed about current events and basic facts, it’s hard to say how much of that is a result of watching Fox News and how much of it is explained by the type of people that are attracted to Fox News in the first place.
    Imagine if you could somehow hold Fox News’ viewership constant but change the programming so that it was entirely factual, as objective as possible, and aimed at educating the public about complex and confusing aspects of public policy and government. In this thought experiment, these viewers wouldn’t become bored and switch the channel to American Dad and new voters would not become attracted to the better quality programming.

    Would Fox News viewers begin to show signs that they understood current events and basic facts as well as or better than the viewers of other networks?

    My suspicion is that they would make some gains but they would never reach parity. The reason is because their higher brain function is undeveloped or simply damaged. They are attracted to fear and they get some kind of positive rush out of hate. Their capacity for empathy is either lacking or it has atrophied. Without the kind of stimulus that Fox News provides to feed their distorted emotions, they’re unlikely to function, let alone learn.

    Of course, this thought experiment is silly. We can’t force people to watch Fox News or any other network, nor would we want to. Yet. I think it’s still true that Fox doesn’t so much misinform as entertain. As Chris Wallace says, Fox viewers “aren’t the least bit disappointed” with what the network does. They don’t really care that they’re being fed a line of bullshit.

    I know the feeling. It can be pleasurable to watch a segment on MSNBC that blasts the Republicans even if I feel the segment is ridiculous. But, I don’t really like MSNBC programming for the same reason I don’t like Fox. They both are trying to feed the same thing: permanent outrage. It’s like an addiction, and their audience tunes in for a fix.

    But, what am I saying? I’m in the same business. I guess I don’t want to buy what I’m selling.

    On the other hand, the shit I am outraged about is at least real.

  38. rikyrah says:

    On Orrin Hatch and GOP Poll Numbers
    by BooMan
    Mon Jun 20th, 2011 at 09:24:57 AM EST

    I don’t think it’s a great idea to put too much stock in any poll that has less than 500 respondents and a margin of error of +/- five percentage points. So, with that caveat, Deseret News reports that 59% Utah’s voters want someone other than Orrin Hatch to represent them in the U.S. Senate. Only 38% are inclined to vote him into another six-year term. In another sign of his weakness, he pulls the support of 47% in a hypothetical matchup against Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson (46%), who is at least considering a challenge. Lest you think this is all about disenchantment with Hatch, there are other numbers to consider.
    Hatch actually has a small lead among GOP voters against his most likely in-party challenger, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (47%-44%). And Chaffetz also hold a one-point lead over Matheson (46%-45%). If you look closer, it’s clear that Matheson’s support is softer, with many more voters saying that they would probably vote for him than definitely vote for him when compared to his hypothetical Republican opponents.

    Hatch, his staffers, and independent Republican analysts express confidence that Hatch’s numbers will improve and that Obama’s presence on the top of the ticket will doom any Democratic challenge. That may be the case, but something is definitely afoot when the GOP is polling so anemically in the Beehive State.

    With so few opportunities for the Democrats to pick up Senate seats, and with so many seats to defend, the DSCC has to make a play for this seat. Holding the Senate will require a landslide win by Obama, and while winning Utah outright could be impossible against any conceivable opponent, don’t forget that Reagan won Massachusetts in 1984. Sometimes, a major party nominates someone that is unacceptable to the entire country, regardless of normal lean. The GOP looks vulnerable to just that possibility in this election cycle, and Democratic strategists most plan to take advantage.

    If Jim Matheson were to win this seat, he would probably vote with the Republicans on every polarizing bill and most polarizing nominees. But he’d vote for a Democratic majority leader, and could keep all Senate committees in Democratic hands.

    But, setting aside the particulars of Utah and this seat, these poll numbers are not good news for the Republicans. It’s a sign that they are alienating voters in a major way and setting themselves up for a bloodpath the November after next.

  39. rikyrah says:

    June 20, 2011 8:00 AM

    McConnell eyes possible short-term debt extension
    By Steve Benen

    Those involved in the bipartisan debt-reduction talks hope to have some kind of deal in place before the 4th of July. The point is to prevent the debate from getting too close to the early-August crisis point, because even nearing that deadline would likely to serious damage to the global economy and U.S. credit worthiness.

    And what if Republican hostage takers aren’t quite satisfied with their ransom by July 4? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested yesterday he could support a short-term extension.

    “The president and the vice president, everybody knows you have to tackle entitlement reform,” McConnell said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “If we can’t do that, then we’ll probably end up with a very short-term proposal over, you know, a few months, and we’ll be back having the same discussion again in the fall.”

    Leaders of both parties have said throughout the debt-limit debate that they would prefer a measure to raise the $14.3 trillion borrowing limit through at least the end of 2012 so as to spare members the politically unpopular move of voting to raise the country’s borrowing limit multiple times.

    Still, the remarks by the Senate’s top Republican Sunday are a reflection of the potential consequences if congressional leaders and the White House fail to strike a sweeping debt-limit deal.

    Obviously, if the choice comes down to a temporary reprieve or Republicans causing a recession on purpose, the former is the more attractive option.

    Having said that, McConnell’s approach still seems deeply irresponsible. We’ll have one potential debt crisis created by congressional Republicans, followed by another potential debt crisis created by congressional Republicans.

    There was a period of time — I believe it’s called “January 2009 through December 2010” — that the GOP swore up and down that “economic uncertainty” was the single most dangerous threat in the world. To thrive, policymakers must stamp out uncertainty wherever it exists, which will in turn generate confidence and expand investments.

    And yet, here we are.

    McConnell is basically positioning himself as an uncertainty-creating machine, telling the world, “Maybe the U.S. is willing to pay its debts; maybe not.” And then, choosing to say it again a few months later.

    Indeed, playing incremental games with the ability of the country to pay its bills sends a loud signal to foreign countries and markets around the globe: there are just enough children in positions of authority in Congress to cause genuine concern about the nation’s finances.

    The only thing more irresponsible than Republicans holding the economy hostage is Republicans holding the economy hostage twice.

  40. rikyrah says:

    June 20, 2011 8:35 AM

    McCain attempts to fan the flames

    By Steve Benen

    There are massive wildfires sweeping Arizona, causing considerable damage in recent weeks to over 500,000 acres. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) toured some of the most affected areas over the weekend, and decided it’s time to start pointing fingers.

    “There is substantial evidence that some of these fires are caused by people who have crossed our border illegally,” McCain proclaimed, pointing to nothing in the way of substantial evidence. He went on to say that immigrants “set fires in order to divert law enforcement agents and agencies from them,” adding that part of the solution to the wildfire problem “is to get a secure border.”

    Not surprisingly, the comments aren’t going over well in the Latino community. Angelo Falcon, the president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, told CNN, “The degree of irresponsible political pandering by Sen. McCain has no limits. With the lack of evidence, he might as well also blame aliens from outer space for the fires.”

    But the Republican senator says there’s “substantial” evidence. Is that true or isn’t it? Justin Elliott followed up with McCain’s office and got an interesting response.

    McCain did not detail the “substantial evidence” for his claim, so I inquired about it with his spokeswoman, Brooke Buchanan. She told me in an email Sunday that the senator “was given the information by a Forest Service official during his visit to the Wallow fire damaged area on Saturday.” (That fire, in the eastern part of Arizona and New Mexico, has burned more than half a million acres.)

    A spokesman for the agencies fighting the Wallow fire, however, told ABC that while the fire is believed to be human-caused, he knows of “no evidence” that illegal immigrants were involved.

    What’s more, a U.S. Forest Service official told CNN yesterday that while it appears that an “escaped campfire” initiated the widespread blaze, there’s nothing to suggest immigrants who entered the country illegally were involved.

    As far as McCain is concerned, is the Forest Service lying? Not at all, the senator’s office said. McCain was simply talking about a different fire.

    Got that? McCain toured the Wallow fire in Southeastern Arizona, spoke at a press conference for reporters covering the Wallow fire in Southeastern Arizona, talked about immigrants as being responsible, but was really just talking about some other fire.

    And to think, some find it difficult to take John McCain seriously.

    • Unfortunately, too many here in AZ “take McCain seriously.” He made this statement and it will be gospel fact in some people’s minds even after the true facts come out. Just like Bruja Brewer’s “headless bodies in the desert.” Some people still believe that despite all facts to the contrary.

      My nephew is down there with his crew working the fires now. The Forest Service will make no statements about causes until their investigators actually can ‘investigate’ which won’t be happening quite yet. McCain probably got his info from ‘Joe the Bigot’ not from any official. The investigators are really good at what they do and they will nail down the cause and any people responsible just like they did with the Rodeo fire.

      My guess would be that if Mexicans are involved in setting fires, they are not would-be immigrants but rather drug cartels and gun runners. These guys have been jumping back and forth across the border like fleas. They might have even set fires on purpose to give them cover for their smuggling opps.

      McCain is just fanning the fires, no pun intended, against Latinos. That’s such a successful political tactic here in AZ.

  41. Ametia says:

    How states are rigging the 2012 election
    By E.J. Dionne Jr., Published: June 19

    An attack on the right to vote is underway across the country through laws designed to make it more difficult to cast a ballot. If this were happening in an emerging democracy, we’d condemn it as election-rigging. But it’s happening here, so there’s barely a whimper.

    The laws are being passed in the name of preventing “voter fraud.” But study after study has shown that fraud by voters is not a major problem — and is less of a problem than how hard many states make it for people to vote in the first place. Some of the new laws, notably those limiting the number of days for early voting, have little plausible connection to battling fraud.

    These statutes are not neutral. Their greatest impact will be to reduce turnout among African Americans, Latinos and the young. It is no accident that these groups were key to Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 — or that the laws in question are being enacted in states where Republicans control state governments.

    Again, think of what this would look like to a dispassionate observer. A party wins an election, as the GOP did in 2010. Then it changes the election laws in ways that benefit itself. In a democracy, the electorate is supposed to pick the politicians. With these laws, politicians are shaping their electorates.

    Paradoxically, the rank partisanship of these measures is discouraging the media from reporting plainly on what’s going on. Voter suppression so clearly benefits the Republicans that the media typically report this through a partisan lens, knowing that accounts making clear whom these laws disenfranchise would be labeled as biased by the right. But the media should not fear telling the truth or standing up for the rights of the poor or the young.

    The laws in question include requiring voter identification cards at the polls, limiting the time of early voting, ending same-day registration and making it difficult for groups to register new voters.

    • rikyrah says:

      FINALLY, the MSM is paying attention to what’s happening.

      • Ametia says:

        Always a day late and a whole lotta dollars short, though. You’ve been on this travesty from day one, rilyrah. Thanks for staying on it.

  42. Michelle Obama leaves for Africa, second solo trip

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. first lady Michelle Obama left for Africa on Sunday, embarking on her second official solo journey abroad with a goal of advancing U.S. policies on education, health, and democracy.

    The first lady will arrive on Monday in South Africa, where she will make stops in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Later in the week she will visit Botswana.

    Her trip will be rich with imagery.

    As the wife of the first black U.S. president, Mrs. Obama’s travel on the continent adds a different symbolic heft than previous first ladies’ trips there have had.

    In South Africa she will meet Graca Machel, the wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela. She will also visit the island where Mandela was imprisoned under apartheid.

    In Botswana she will meet with President Ian Khama and with women leaders. She will also see a nature reserve.

    Her trip comes as the United States starts gearing up for the 2012 presidential election, when her husband, President Barack Obama, hopes to hold on to the White House. Pictures of Mrs. Obama in Africa could appear in the campaign to appeal to black voters, a critical voting bloc for Obama’s Democrats.

    White House officials said her visit would advance her husband’s foreign policy goals.

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