Serendipity Soul | Tuesday Open Thread |Blues Week

Blues week continues at 3 Chics with the incomparable Bessie Smith.Love, love, LOVE, Bessie Smith.  Madonna and nem ain’t got nothing on Ms. Smith, never have, and NEVER will. This tune was recorded in 1929… 1929!!!

Go out and make it a great day, my peeps!

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82 Responses to Serendipity Soul | Tuesday Open Thread |Blues Week

  1. Open for Questions: The Way Forward in Afghanistan

  2. Ametia says:

    Bachmann’s husband got $137,000 in Medicaid funds
    By Michael Isikoff

    Presidential candidate has often blasted growing welfare programs.

    While Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., has forcefully denounced the Medicaid program for swelling the “welfare rolls,” the mental health clinic run by her husband has been collecting annual Medicaid payments totaling over $137,000 for the treatment of patients since 2005, according to new figures obtained by NBC News.

    The previously unreported payments are on top of the $24,000 in federal and state funds that Bachmann & Associates, the clinic founded by Marcus Bachmann, a clinical therapist, received in recent years under a state grant to train its employees, state records show. The figures were provided to NBC News in response to a Freedom of Information request.

    The clinic, based in Lake Elmo, Minn., describes itself on its website as offering “quality Christian counseling” for a large number of mental health problems ranging from “anger management” to addictions and eating disorders.

    The $161,000 in payments from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to her husband’s clinic appear to contradict some of Michelle Bachmann’s public accounts this week when she was first asked about the extent to which her family has benefited from government aid. Contacted this afternoon, Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for Bachmann, said the congresswoman was doing campaign events and was not immediately available for comment.

    Read more:… /

  3. Ametia says:

    BART settles with (Oscar) Grant’s mother for $1.3 million
    Source: San Francisco Chronicle

    (06-28) 14:59 PDT OAKLAND — BART agreed today to pay $1.3 million to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the mother of Oscar Grant, the unarmed train rider who was shot in the back by a transit agency police officer on New Year’s Day 2009, attorneys said.

    The settlement with Wanda Johnson, which includes no admission of fault by BART or any of the officers she sued, was reached at about 12:30 p.m. after four hours of negotiation supervised by Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

    It closes another chapter in a case that prompted protests and riots, ushered in reforms on the BART police force and led to the involuntary manslaughter conviction of former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle, who was recently released after serving half of a two-year prison term.

    “I think it was a good settlement,” said Johnson’s attorney, John Burris. “All of the parties worked extraordinarily hard, and this is a good way to bring closure to the family. It was emotionally draining, and this allows them to look forward and build on the legacy of Oscar Grant.”

    Read more:

  4. Ametia says:

    Maddow is sucking up to her audience now. PBO has a presser tomorrow morning at 11 am.

    Maddow: “There’s nothing more powerful, no matter who the POTUS is to use the bully pulpit.”
    Cue photo of JFK….*EYEROLL* Not going to put up a fake presidential seal as a backrop and speak for PBO are you, Rachel?

  5. rikyrah says:

    Little Jon, he always tells the truth

    by DougJ in Damascus

    I have nothing special against Jon Huntsman, he seems reasonable enough as Republicans go, but when the press goes all in for the son of a billionaire, it’s hard not to smell a rat.

    “It’s very hard to tell one of the Huntsmans ‘no,’” says Doug Foxley, a lobbyist and attorney who was a senior adviser to Jon Huntsman Jr. during his 2004 campaign and remains close to him. “Let me just put it this way: I think that Jon Sr. will be watching very closely those who do and don’t give to his son.”

    Today, even the liberal Stanley Fish quasi-endorsed Jon Jr.:

    When I ran for the office of secretary of my freshman class at the University of Pennsylvania in 1955, my campaign manager was Jon Huntsman, father of Jon Huntsman, Jr., the former governor of Utah, former Ambassador to China and current candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency.


    That civility may not play well with the “base” in the primaries; but it would play very well in the general election, as would a special expertise in the culture, language and economy of China, the country everyone agrees will be our rival/antagonist for the foreseeable future. Well-spoken, well-heeled, well-informed, smart, fresh-faced and cheerful, a good administrator, slightly progressive on social issues, conservative economically and savvy about foreign policy — Huntsman is an independent’s dream and the Democrats’ nightmare.

    Has there ever been a noble, straight-shooting truth-teller who was not a member of the Galtian overclass?

  6. rikyrah says:

    June 28, 2011 4:20 PM

    Understanding the nature of a compromise

    By Steve Benen

    Everyone seems to agree that policymakers will have to reach a “compromise” when it comes to the deficit-reduction talks and the debt ceiling. And while Democrats and Republicans are struggling to strike a reasonable deal, what often goes overlooked is the fact that the parties don’t even agree on what a compromise is.

    We know how this has always worked in the past. Whenever the parties have sought to strike a fiscal deal, they’ve argued over the ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. It would make sense, then, for Dems and Republicans to use this precedent to find some common ground.

    But the GOP intends to re-write the rules. Marc Thiessen, a former Bush speechwriter and current Washington Post columnist, argued yesterday:

    Let’s be clear: Compromise here isn’t spending cuts for a tax increase; compromise is spending cuts for a debt-limit increase. Republicans elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010 campaigned on a promise to reduce the national debt. They are now being asked to turn around a half a year later and vote to raise the national debt. The vast majority of Republican voters don’t want them to raise the debt limit at all. The only way these Republican legislators can vote for a debt-ceiling increase without getting thrown out of office is to show their constituents that they secured unprecedented cuts in current spending — and ironclad constraints on future spending — in exchange. Tax increases? They are not even part of the equation.

    It’s important to understand how deeply ridiculous this is.

    For one thing, Thiessen is misstating some of the basics. Republicans vowed to reduce the debt, but they’re not, as he put it, “being asked to turn around a half a year later and vote to raise the national debt.” This is simply wrong. They’re being asked to raise the debt ceiling, which isn’t the same thing. They’ll be raising the debt no matter what policy is adopted — even if Paul Ryan’s budget plan were adopted to the letter, Republicans would still have to raise the debt ceiling, and Thiessen shouldn’t confuse people with misleading phrasing.

    For another, as Ezra Klein noted yesterday, when it comes to this process, “There’s no world in which taxes aren’t part of that equation. Without taxes, there is no equation, and no way of telling whether we’ve got surpluses as far as the eye can see, or deficits until the cows come home. “

    But the key angle here is how Thiessen defines “compromise.” Democratic and Republican leaders agree that the debt ceiling has to be raised; it’s not optional. Once that’s established, the question then becomes what it will take to get reluctant lawmakers to do what they have to do.

    Dems have an idea: Republicans can get a lot of what they want, and in exchange, Democrats will get a little of what they want. Borrowing a metaphor from a month ago, Democrats are effectively saying, “We’ve agreed to have lunch, but we disagree about where to go. You want Mexican food; we want Chinese food. Let’s compromise — we’ll join you for Mexican today, and in exchange, we’ll get some Chinese takeout for dinner.”

    Republicans are responding, “We have a better idea. Let’s compromise — we’ll get the Mexican food we want, and in exchange, you won’t starve.”

    That may seem like an exaggeration, but it’s really not. On the debt ceiling, Dems are willing to accept a trade-off — they’ll accept spending cuts in exchange for at least a little new revenue. That, to them, seems fair.

    Republicans have a very different idea about the nature of the process. They see an alternative trade-off — the GOP will accept spending cuts, and in exchange, they won’t deliberately destroy the economy.

    Dems are willing to accept concessions to strike a deal. Republicans are willing to not shoot their hostage in the head in exchange for Dems giving the GOP what it wants.

    The former is an example of a party negotiating in good faith. The latter is an example of reckless thugs pretending to be a political party.

  7. rikyrah says:

    June 28, 2011
    Reversing radicalization

    Politico takes note of the radicalization process in play, in that one formidable reason behind Mitch McConnell’s accelerating fanaticism in the debt talks is that he “is only protecting himself from the tea party right.”

    This year, or next year at the latest, the GOP must decide whether its reason for being is to help govern the country or to avoid being primaried by the Tea Party. It cannot do both.

    The problem is simple; it’s the solution that assuredly boggles the minds of those GOP pols who know what they’re now doing is borderline treasonous. No, I don’t know how the solution can — or if it even will — play out; that is, I’m no influential GOP insider, so I can’t possibly know how much pressure the GOP’s residual structural integrity can bear — how the party can wring itself and the nation out of the contemptible fix into which it has contorted matters.

    What I do know, without any doubt, is that for all the GOP talk about President Obama being the one who needs to lead, it is precisely the opposite case, here, that is far more critical. Which is to say, GOP leaders must choose between their country and radical, tea party politics — and if the former, then that will require real leadership.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Bachmann Calls The Minimum Wage An ‘Expansion Of Government’ That Needs To Be Eliminated

    By Travis Waldron on Jun 28, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) formally kicked off her presidential campaign yesterday, painting herself as a Tea Party candidate who is ready to lead the country back to prosperity (even if her former chief of staff doesn’t think so).

    Today, in classic Tea Party form, Bachmann reiterated her long-held belief that a federally mandated minimum wage is a job-killing federal regulation that may need to be abolished.

    In 2005, Bachmann told the Minnesota state Senate that abolishing the minimum wage could “wipe out unemployment completely.” When Good Morning America‘s George Stephanopoulos asked her for evidence to back up that claim today, Bachmann struggled to find an answer, initially dodging the question before finally referring to the minimum wage as a regulation that is “inhibiting job growth” and saying it needed to be examined:

    STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me try this one more time. So you’re saying the minimum wage is one of those regulations you’d take a look at? You’d try to eliminate it?

    BACHMANN: Well, what I’m saying is I think we need to look at all regulations. Whatever ones are inhibiting job growth, that’s what we need to look at.

    STEPHANOPOULOS: And the minimum wage is one of them?

    BACHMANN: All regulations, George. I think every department, we have just too much expansion of government, and what we need to do is tamp that down so the American people can keep more of what they make.

    Watch it:

    Paul Krugman has rebutted conservative arguments about the minimum wage, saying, “In reality, reducing wages would at best do nothing for employment; more likely it would actually be contractionary.” As Pat Garofalo found in 2009, almost all of the economic research shows that the minimum wage has little or no effect on unemployment.

    Recent statistics show that wages are stagnant and the majority of jobs that are being added are low-wage jobs. But the workers in those jobs making the minimum wage would actually need an increase in the wage to match the buying power of the minimum wage in 1968.

    Another recent study in Michigan showed that the current federal minimum wage — a paltry $7.25 per hour — would need to be doubled to cover basic expenses for a single adult worker and more than tripled to cover the same expenses for an adult worker with children.

  9. rikyrah says:

    CHART: States That Cut The Most Spending Have Lost The Most Jobs

    By Guest Blogger on Jun 27, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    There’s a new cult of economic thought sweeping the nation — or at least many Republican (and even some Democratic) political circles. Its adherents cling to the erroneous belief that sharp government spending cuts will revitalize economic growth and create much needed new jobs

    Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) is an ardent follower of this Cut-Grow cult, as are a number of high profile governors. For instance, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) declared, “We’re going to have to reduce spending…to create a platform for economic growth.” When Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) delivered his budget to the state Legislature he argued, “We must continue to cut government spending” to create jobs and prosperity for New Jersey families. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) vowed his budget “lays [the] foundation to create jobs.”

    Now these Republicans want the American public to drink a giant glass of their Cut-Grow Kool-Aid. But the data actually show the opposite of their claims to be true: steep spending cuts are hampering economic recovery in some states, while other states that resisted cuts or increased spending are now seeing declining unemployment rates, faster private-sector job creation, and stronger economic growth.

    From the start of the Great Recession in December 2007 through the end of 2010, 24 states have cut government spending by an average of 7.5 percent after adjusting for inflation. Another 25 states have expanded government outlays by an average of 11 percent. (The analysis excludes Alabama due to data problems reported by the National Association of State Budget Offices). And the differences in these states’ economic performance could not be more self-evident. Relative to national economic trends, states that increased spending enjoyed on average:

    0.2 percentage point decrease in the unemployment rate

    1.4 percent increase in private employment

    0.5 percent real economic growth since the start of the recession

    In contrast, states that cut spending saw on average

    1 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate

    2.1 percent loss of private employment

    2.9 percent real economic contraction relative to the national economic trend

    Steep state spending cuts have gone hand-in-hand with rising unemployment rates, falling private-sector payroll employment, and lower growth in state’s gross domestic product, or GDP — the sum of all goods and services produced by labor and equipment in each state, less imports.

    Take private sector jobs, for example. This graph shows that state spending is not just about jobs for public service workers, but also has far reaching consequences for private businesses and their workers. The downward sloping red line shows the relationship between cuts to state spending and changes in private sector employment relative to the national average since the start of the Great Recession. States that cut spending are seeing significantly more job losses in the private sector than states maintaining or increasing spending levels. For every 10 percent cut in state spending, state economies lost 1.6 percent of their private-sector jobs.

    Certainly policymakers should seize every opportunity to eliminate waste and improve the efficiency of delivering government functions. But spending cuts achieved or championed by conservatives are aiming much deeper at public services and public investments critical to economic recovery now as well as the future of U.S. economic growth and competitiveness.

  10. rikyrah says:

    John Quincy Adams Wikipedia Page Edited To Describe Him As A ‘Founding Father’

    By Tanya Somanader on Jun 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann is now getting the Sarah Palin treatment on Wikipedia. In light of Bachmann’s latest historical hiccup, people are trying to edit John Quincy Adam’s Wikipedia page to reflect her recent gaffe. One edit, for example, changes his description from “John Adams was the sixth President of the United States” to “John Adams, a founding father, was the sixth President of the United States.”

    Another more satirical edit added, “But even as an embryo, John Quincy Adams could feel pain and was a Founding Father.” In striking the revisions, the page administrator included the statement, “Please don’t edit an historical article based on current events.” Incidentally, the Founding Fathers Wikipedia page still does not list John Quincy Adams as a member.

    Suicide Bomber Blasts Kabul Hotel, Reports Gun Battle Taking Place

    KABUL, Afghanistan — At least one suicide bomber blew himself up late Tuesday night inside a Western-style hotel in Kabul, police said. Afghan police were battling the assailants with machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades as tracer rounds went up over the blacked out building.

    Associated Press reporters at the scene heard bursts of gunfire and saw shooting from the roof of the five-story Inter-Continental hotel, which is frequented by Afghan political leaders and foreign visitors. Police ordered bystanders to lay on the ground for safety.

    There was no immediate word on casualties in the rare, nighttime attack in the Afghan capital. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility in a telephone call to the AP.

    The U.S.-led military coalition said the Afghan Ministry of Interior had not requested any assistance from foreign forces.

    A guest who was inside said he heard gunfire echoing throughout the heavily guarded building. The hotel sits on a hill overlooking the city and streets leading up to it were blocked. The scene was dark as electricity at the hotel and the surrounding area was out.

  12. In South Africa, A Foodie Portrait Of First Lady Michelle Obama

    Artist Jarryd Kin’s homage, “Change,” was made with everyday ingredients & hope…
    As she made history with a goodwill visit to Africa last week, her second solo international trip abroad, First Lady Michelle Obama was also making food art history. South African artist Jarryd Kin, 24, painted a portrait of Mrs. Obama made of tomato sauce, Bovril, coffee, flour, mayonnaise, and mustard. The creation of the foodie homage to the First Lady was beamed to a Facebook audience via live webcam. Kin titled it “Utshintsho,” a Xhosa word for “change.”

    The piece honoring Mrs. Obama is the best portrait he has done in a series of foodie portraits, Kin told South Africa’s Times Live.

    “It’s something else to be painting Michelle Obama’s face with tomato sauce,” Kin said.

    Kin’s “Change” homage came as Mrs. Obama was calling on young African leaders, especially women, to work for change, during a series of speeches, community service events, and high-profile meetings, including a visit to anti-apartheid icon and former South African president Nelson Mandela, which Mrs. Obama deemed the most moving part of her visit. Throughout, she drew parallels between the Africa’s many struggles for liberation and the US civil rights movement, and spoke personally of the challenges she faced as a young woman of modest means as she encouraged young people to change their continent’s future.

  13. Eric Cantor’s glaring conflict of interest
    He’s the GOP’s chief debt ceiling negotiator. He’s also invested in a fund that will skyrocket if there’s a default

    When Eric Cantor shut down debt ceiling negotiations last week, it did more than just rekindle fears that the U.S. government might soon default on its debt obligations — it also brought him closer to reaping a small financial windfall from his investment in a mutual fund whose performance is directly affected by debt ceiling brinkmanship.

    Last year the Wall Street Journal reported that Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, had between $1,000 and $15,000 invested in ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury EFT. The fund aggressively “shorts” long-term U.S. Treasury bonds, meaning that it performs well when U.S. debt is undesirable. (A short is when the trader hopes to profit from the decline in the value of an asset.)

    According to his latest financial disclosure statement, which covers the year 2010 and has been publicly available since this spring, Cantor still has up to $15,000 in the same fund. Contacted by Salon this week, Cantor’s office gave no indication that the Virginia Republican, who has played a leading role in the debt ceiling negotiations, has divested himself of these holdings since his last filing. Unless an agreement can be reached, the U.S. could begin defaulting on its debt payments on Aug. 2. If that happens and Cantor is still invested in the fund, the value of his holdings would skyrocket.

    “If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, investors would start fleeing U.S. Treasuries,” said Matt Koppenheffer, who writes for the investment website the Motley Fool. “Yields would rise, prices would fall, and the Proshares ETF should do very well. It would spike.”

  14. rikyrah says:

    Wis. GOP Loses Recall Candidate On Signatures — Stuck With Damaged One
    Wisconsin Republicans just hit a bump in the road in the state Senate recall campaigns, with one of their chosen candidates against a Democratic incumbent having just gotten knocked off the ballot — leaving another candidate who is less than ideal.

    The state Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state, knocked GOP state Rep. John Nygren off the ballot Tuesday in his effort to unseat Dem state Sen. Dave Hansen. Nygren’s campaign had initially only turned in 424 petition signatures for Nygren, just over the 400 minimum — but following Democratic challenges, this was busted down to 398, just two short of the required total.

    As WisPolitics reports, Nygren is vowing to appeal the decision in court, saying in a statement: “Since Dave Hansen has chosen legal maneuvers to silence the voters of northeastern Wisconsin, I feel obligated to my supporters to fight this decision and pursue further legal options.”

    However, another Republican will remain on the ballot: GOP activist David VanderLeest, whose signatures passed muster against Dem challenges. Thus, the good news for Republicans is that Hansen will not run unopposed.

    But the bad news for the GOP is, VanderLeest is going to be Hansen’s opponent.

    As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel previously reported in May, when VanderLeest declared his candidacy (after having organized the recall effort against Hansen), he actually has an extensive court record – involving a bankruptcy, home foreclosure, an unpaid judgment of $30,000 with a bank, building code violations, and a misdemeanor conviction for disorderly conduct. (The latter conviction was part of a plea deal for a domestic dispute.)

    VanderLeest has defended his record. “Nobody can beat me on the issues, so they will attack me,” he has said, also adding: “I had a marriage fall apart and I was in real estate. I’m not ashamed of that.”

    Another upshot of this is that this one recall election will not require any kind of primary. Therefore, the general election will be held right away on July 19, along with two Republican primaries to go up against the other Dem senators who are facing recalls.

    Meanwhile, Democrats are waging six recalls against Republican state Senators, for which primaries will be held against fake Democratic candidates on July 12, a strategy by the Republicans that will cost state and local government over $400,000. The general elections for those six seats will be held August 9.—-stuck-with-damaged-one.php

  15. rikyrah says:

    Mitt Romney: ‘Obama Will Cost This Company Jobs,’ Company: ‘No, He Won’t’
    Mitt Romney took a dig at President Obama for visiting an Alcoa plant in Iowa, saying the White House’s labor appointees will soon force them to lay off workers.

    Alcoa’s plant makes parts for the Dreamliner, a Boeing plane that is currently the subject of a legal battle between the company and the National Labor Review Board, an independent agency whose members are appointed by the White House. The NLRB recently sided with unions in Washington State who claim that a new manufacturing line for the plane in South Carolina is illegal retaliation against them for previous strikes.

    “This Boeing decision in South Carolina sent shockwaves across the nation and, if allowed to stand, will result in American job losses and I think you can be sure there will be some losses in Iowa as well as other states,” Romney said in an AP interview on Monday.

    Only one problem: Alcoa told the AP their plant’s workforce is just fine:

    Alcoa spokesman Mike Belwood said the labor board’s battle with Boeing over the South Carolina plant will not have an impact on employment at Alcoa’s eastern Iowa plants, which produce aluminum lithium plate used to make structural components of the Dreamliner.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Palin In Iowa

    It’s the big roll-out for her wonderfully mistitled documentary, “The Undefeated.” Weigel gays out:

    Should we consider Michele Bachmann’s event from yesterday and place this in the continuum of Palin’s New Hampshire visit on the same day of Mitt Romney’s launch there? Should we look at the polling and notice that Palin’s support is now a fraction of Romney’s support in New Hampshire and Bachmann’s in Iowa? There’s something very Norma Desmond about this.

    “I am big. It’s the primaries that got small!”

  17. rikyrah says:

    Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 11:01 AM PDT.

    Rick Perry Meets With Koch Brothers

    The Statesman reported that Rick Perry, in the middle of the special legislative session he called, flew off to Vail, Colorado, on a donor’s private airplane to a summit hosted by the Koch Brothers. Rick Perry is no stranger to meeting with conservative billionaires to plan how to enact corporate-friendly policies at the expense of Texan families, and it’s for this reason that he could be the preferred presidential candidate for the Koch Brothers.
    It’s rather striking given the catastrophic budget cuts that public schools, teachers, and families are facing in the special session, that Perry would choose to meet with the notorious Koch brothers. They are known for backing the astroturf Tea Party operations through the Americans for Prosperity, and supporting conservative think tanks such as the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation.

    Rick Perry hits all the marks of the Republican dream candidate for the Koch brothers. He hates “Obamacare,” he cynically exploits the Tea Party base to the benefit of his wealthy donors, and doesn’t care about how Texans are affected by draconian budget cuts to their schools, and bad environmental policies.

    They share the same philosophy on these issues. The Koch brothers have long mounted a campaign against environmental issues that would affect their petroleum and mining interests they have in Texas such as these ones:

    1. Flint Hills Resources, LP which operates the Texas Pipeline system, which runs from Corpus Christi to San Antonio, Austin, Bastrop, Waco, and Dallas/Ft. Worth markets.
    2. Risk management firm called Kock Supply and Trading, which has offices all over the world, including in Houston, that provides risk management in crude oil, refined petroleum, natural gas, and other commodities.
    3. Georgia-Pacific, which has nine facilities in Texas.
    The Koch brothers have long ties to the right-wing movement here in Texas. They’ve given $174,500 to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and $40,000 to the Texas Justice Foundation. Also, the Koch brothers, their companies, and employees have donated over to $740,570 to state politicians between 2003 and 2010.

    Governor Perry received $76,000 in contributions from the Koch network in the last gubernational election.

    In short, he’s the perfect puppet for the Koch brothers. It’s why we started the Texans Against Perry Facebook page to expose Rick Perry for what he is–a friendly patsy for wealthy GOP donors and big special interests. In just three weeks, we’ve gone from 3,000 Texans to 14,000 Texans against Rick Perry.

    If Rick Perry becomes the presidential candidate for the 2012 campaign, he’d have access to Koch Brothers, their money, and their astroturf operations. Even though Rick Perry’s economic record is paper-thin, he would have the backing of the Koch Brothers to run against President Obama on the economy. And he’d have an army of teabaggers ready to give him an assist while he sells them out behind closed doors to the likes of the Koch brothers and their friends.

  18. rikyrah says:

    June 28, 2011 1:10 PM

    What’s considered extreme in the debt talks

    By Steve Benen

    The congressional Republicans’ hostage strategy is pretty straightforward: Democrats are expected to offer a debt-reduction package that pleases GOP officials or Republicans will crash the economy on purpose. In the Dems’ latest effort to pay the ransom, they’ve offered to slice $2.4 trillion from the debt over the next decade — $2 trillion in cuts and $400 billion in increased revenue.

    That five-to-one split — for every dollar in increased revenue, Democrats would cut about five dollars in spending — was deemed too liberal.

    With that in mind, it’s worth appreciating what Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recommends. From a speech he delivered on the floor yesterday:

    “Mr. President, please listen to the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe that deficit reduction must be about shared sacrifice. The wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations in this country must pay their fair share. At least 50 percent of any deficit reduction package must come from revenue raised by ending tax breaks for the wealthy and eliminating tax loopholes that benefit large, profitable corporations and Wall Street financial institutions. A sensible deficit reduction package must also include significant cuts to unnecessary and wasteful Pentagon spending.”

    Sanders believes, if there’s going to be a debt-reduction plan, half the savings should come from taxes and half from spending cuts. And some of those cuts should come from the massive defense budget. If you put this to a poll, I imagine a large chunk of the public would consider this pretty reasonable.

    With that in mind, think about how ridiculously skewed the debate has become: Sanders’ blueprint is considered so incredibly radical, it’s not even a remote possibility. The Washington Post mentioned in passing this morning that Sanders’ approach simply has “no chance of passing.”

    We have a Democratic Senate and a Republican House, but the notion of an equitable, 50-50 split is thought of as fanciful nonsense backed only by liberal extremists. When Republicans demand a 100-0 split in their favor, meanwhile, and failure to do so will mean they cause a recession on purpose, this is somehow just routine and predictable.

    I suspect if a senator suggested a 100-0 split in the other direction — no job-killing spending cuts, only tax increases — GOP officials would simply faint, en masse, at the very idea.

    • Ametia says:

      THIS: “I suspect if a senator suggested a 100-0 split in the other direction — no job-killing spending cuts, only tax increases — GOP officials would simply faint, en masse, at the very idea.”

      That’s a GREAT IDEA!

  19. rikyrah says:

    June 28, 2011 12:35 PM

    Not all of history is open to interpretation

    By Steve Benen

    Earlier this month, former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) offered her amusing-but-wrong take on Paul Revere, arguing that he “warned the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms,” and by “ringin’ those bells” and making “warning shots,” Revere made clear “we were gonna be secure.”

    Obviously, none of this was true. But conservative activists weren’t quite satisfied with history as it was, so they strenuously argued that Palin’s recollection was kinda sorta true if you tilt your head, read every other word, and looked between the lines. It was a sad display, and a reminder that much of the political world has entered a post-truth era.

    This dynamic was apparent again this morning. Michele Bachmann was asked to explain her contention that the Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly to end slavery,” which didn’t happen. Bachmann responded her observation is “absolutely true” if you “look at one of our Founding Fathers, John Quincy Adams.” She added that Adams “most certainly was a part of the Revolutionary War era. He was a young boy but he was actively involved.”

    I noted that John Quincy Adams was a nine-year-old boy when the Declaration of Independence was signed, making Bachmann’s argument foolish.

    This, of course, led the right to do just as it did with Palin and Paul Revere — make an effort to spin falsehoods into reality.

    One conservative told me Bachmann’s comments were “100% accurate,” and pointed to Adams’ work as a diplomatic envoy as teenager. Another made a similar case:

    Does Steve Benen know that 1783 found John Quincy Adams on a US diplomatic mission to Russia? Doesn’t look like it.

    As much as I appreciate this review of Adams history — I’ve always been a John Quincy Adams fan; he was something of a liberal — the effort to defend Bachmann this way is terribly silly.

    She argued the Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly to end slavery.” This is plainly false. Bachmann argued that John Quincy Adams was a Founding Father. This is plainly false, too. Pointing to Adams’ accomplishments as a youngster doesn’t change the fact that Bachmann keeps saying things that aren’t true.

    Her defenders can argue that Bachmann merely misspoke. They can also argue these errors aren’t especially important, and that the candidate’s beliefs on public policy (which also happen to be wrong) are far more relevant than her historical errors. Both of these are reasonable responses.

    But changing history to suit a partisan worldview is always a mistake. Conservatives used to understand this, and I hope they can do so again someday.

  20. rikyrah says:

    Top Economist: Even Brief Default Will Cause New Recession And Blow Recovery ‘Out Of The Water’
    How big are the stakes on Capitol Hill right now? According to one of the most influential economists in federal policy making, the next four weeks will make the difference between a slow glide toward economic recovery, and a severe tumble into a new recession.

    Moody’s chief economist, and former McCain economic adviser Mark Zandi is forecasting GDP growth of 4 percent by the end of the year and into next. But in response to a question from TPM, he told reporters at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Christian Science Monitor that his forecast would be “blown out of the water,” if Congress fails to “reasonably gracefully” raise the national borrowing limit.

    If Congress fails to raise the national debt limit by early August, the Obama Treasury Department will have to choose between defaulting on obligations to the country’s creditors — triggering higher interest rates and perhaps damaging the country’s credit rating for months and years to come — or freezing outlays to contractors, entitlement beneficiaries and others who are also expecting prompt payment as well. In either case, the macroeconomic impact will be staggering, according to Zandi.

    “I think we go into recession and my forecast would be blown out of the water,” he said. “I think if we get to August 2nd and there is no debt ceiling [increase] and there has to be significant spending cuts, I think even if Congress and the administration reverse themselves days later, I think the damage will have been serious and we’ll probably be thrown into a recession.”

    Additionally, Zandi noted, “The cost to taxpayers would be enormous, because we would nail tax revenue and spending would increase because of the automatic stabilizers in the budget. So it would be just the wrong thing for the economy and the wrong thing for trying to address our long-term fiscal issues.”

    Failure to raise the debt limit isn’t the only threat to the economy, though it may be the greatest. Another spike in oil prices could constrain growth, as could an unexpectedly steep decline in housing prices. But any big shock could throw the prospects for steady recovery into doubt.

    “The collective psyche is extremely fragile, I think. As I talk to business people in every industry across the country they’re extraordinarily nervous. And that’s why if anything goes slightly wrong, the economic consequences, the negative consequences, are amplified,” Zandi said. “People are so nervous and they freeze when things go badly.”

    Fortunately, for the members of Congress who think failing to raise the debt limit is no biggy, Zandi said markets will make it clear to them that they have to act as August approaches.

    “When you look at the price for buying insurance for the default of a U.S. Treasury bond one-year out, that price, that cost has doubled since the beginning of the year,” Zandi noted. “If we get on the other side of July, particularly as we move to the second, third week of July and nothing has happened — if the world looks like it is today — then I think people are gonna start getting nervous, one investor at a time.”

  21. Ametia says:

    Morning Murder & Crew are propping up Bachman as a viable presidential candidate.

  22. Ametia says:


    Game On: The Obama Campaign Hammers Michele Bachmann
    June 27, 2011
    By Jason Easley

    The Obama campaign quickly responded to Michele Bachmann’s claim that we can’t afford four more years of Barack Obama, by filleting Bachmann based on her own voting record.

    During her speech launching her campaign Bachmann said,

    We cannot continue to kick the can of our problems down the road, because they are problems of today and not tomorrow.
    We cannot continue to rack up debt on the backs of future generations.
    We can’t afford an unconstitutional health plan that costs too much and is worth so little.
    And we can’t afford four more years of failed leadership at home and abroad.
    We can’t afford four more years of millions of Americans out of work or in jobs that pay too little to support their families.
    We can’t afford four more years of a housing crisis that is devaluing our homes and making home ownership impossible for many Americans.
    We can’t afford four more years of a foreign policy that leads from behind and doesn’t stand up for our friends and stand up to our enemies.
    We can’t afford four more years of Barack Obama.

    In a statement OFA fired back,

    “Congresswoman Bachmann talks about reclaiming the American Dream but her policies would erode the path to prosperity for middle class families. She voted for a budget plan that would extend tax cuts for the richest Americans on the backs of seniors and the middle class while ending Medicare as we know it. Congresswoman Bachmann introduced legislation to repeal Wall Street oversight – risking a repeat of the financial crisis — and while she voted to preserve subsidies for oil and gas companies she opposes making the investments necessary to enhance America’s competitiveness and create the jobs of the future.”

  23. rikyrah says:

    Wanker of the Day: David Brooks
    by BooMan
    Tue Jun 28th, 2011 at 10:40:57 AM EST

    David Brooks must have some kind of point, but I’m not really sure what it is. He seems to be saying that different leadership styles can be equally effective. But that’s certainly not his point. He says being led by President Obama is like being trumpeted into battle by Miles Davis. It’s not clear to me if that is a bad thing. I think I might want to enlist in that army. He repeats the often heard criticism that the president is aloof and shows open disdain for large swathes of Washington DC. I wonder…would we respect anyone who didn’t stand apart from and hold in contempt large swathes of Washington DC?
    If David Brooks is concerned that the president hasn’t communicated his bottom line principles on the budget negotiations, I might be inclined to agree. But Brooks is a Republican. I don’t need to listen to his concern-trolling about the Democrats’ performance. What really annoys me is his conclusion:

    If he can overcome his aloofness and work intimately with Republicans, he may be able to avert a catastrophe and establish a model for a more realistic, collegial presidency.
    The former messiah will have to become a manager.

    I can’t discern any predicate in the column for the concluding ‘Messiah’ knock. Was Jesus ‘aloof’? Is this column really just a waste of words intended to tell us that the president must manage the budget negotiations? But, mainly, does anyone still believe that the problem in Washington is that the president isn’t collegial? He could avoid all this gridlock if he was just more intimate with Republicans? If you want a back-slapping, collegial, intimate guy, you can’t do much better than Joe Biden, who the president put in charge of the negotiations.

    The column is bad even by Brooks’s own poor standards. It really doesn’t say anything. It has no narrative arc. Its conclusion is not supported or built toward at all. And the most notable thing about it, which is his interesting take on JFK’s inaugural speech, would actually lead most readers to believe Brooks is praising the president.

    …In 1961, John F. Kennedy gave an Inaugural Address that did enormous damage to the country. It defined the modern president as an elevated, heroic leader who issues clarion calls in the manner of Henry V at Agincourt. Ever since that speech, presidents have felt compelled to live up to that grandiose image, and they have done enormous damage to themselves and the nation. That speech gave a generation an unrealistic, immature vision of the power of the presidency.
    President Obama has renounced that approach. Far from being a heroic quasi Napoleon who runs the country from the Oval Office, Obama has been a delegator and a convener.

    I’d be willing to consider Brooks’s argument about the impact and legacy of JFK’s inaugural speech, but if it was so harmful to the country and Obama has renounced it, then it should follow that the president’s governing approach is a great step forward. I know that’s not Brooks’s point.

    I know it’s a slow news cycle and we’re all struggling to find interesting content, but that’s no excuse for this Noonanesque piece of garbage.

    • Ametia says:

      David Brooks can BITE ME! Aloofness+ PBO won’t be the Republicans/GOP’s nigga. Work itimately with the RE-thugs, you say? the POTUS is taking the bait on that not clear in his communicating,and style of leadership bullshit. Y’all can’t hang with the Miles Davis pragmatic, improvisational style of the Jazzy Jazz Prez, too fucking bad.

  24. Here we go, folks! Jim McGreevey is now lying on Michelle concerning the gay marriage issue. But Flotus is having none of it!

    Michelle Obama denies supporting gay marriage

    First Lady Michelle Obama’s office on Tuesday quickly shot down the suggestion that she has ever publicly voiced support for same-sex marriage, a policy her husband opposes even as the left pressures him to take a stand.

    “Mrs. Obama has never made any public statements about same-sex marriage,” her communications director, Kristina Schake, said in an email to POLITICO.

    The response comes after former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, a Democrat, suggested Monday night on CNN that Barack and Michelle Obama may not have the same opinion about gay marriage. McGreevey said of the president: “If he could only listen to Michelle more often” when it comes to his stance on same-sex marriage.

    McGreevey, who is now openly gay, gave up the governorship in 2004 after revealing that he’d had an affair with a man.

    Contacted by POLITICO on Tuesday morning, McGreevey declined to comment.
    Schake said, the First Lady has never “had any conversations with former Gov. McGreevey about the issue.”

    McGreevey and Michelle Obama have never met.

  25. rikyrah says:

    June 28, 2011 10:45 AM

    The Spending Cuts that Could Save Progressivism

    By Steve Benen

    One of the things I like most about the print edition of the Washington Monthly is its ability to see where a larger debate is headed. The new cover story, for example, explores the importance of Democrats targeting tax subsidies, and the difference between tax “cuts” and tax “expenditures.”

    That’s awfully good timing, isn’t it?

    The editors’ summary of the cover story helps set the stage for a must-read piece:

    As talks resume in Washington this week to raise the debt ceiling, Republicans are signaling that the only additional tax revenues they might be willing to accept would be from cuts in federal tax subsidies, $1 trillion of which are provided each year for everything from ethanol production to mortgage interest. Budget hawks have long understood that cutting such “tax expenditures” would greatly improve the nation’s fiscal health. But what liberals should understand is that doing so would also be a major victory for the cause of progressive government.

    So argues Cornell University political scientist Suzanne Mettler in the cover story of the July/August issue of the Washington Monthly. Using original survey data, Mettler shows that tax subsidies, which have exploded in size and number in recent years, remain largely invisible to the American people. Citizens who benefit from direct social programs, like food stamps and unemployment insurance, know the government is helping them, but those who receive tax subsidies for things like higher education and home mortgages — most of them affluent — tend not to recognize that the government is coming to their aid. Hence, cutting these social tax expenditures, which Metter calls “the submerged state,” would not only improve the nation’s balance sheet and restore some fairness to the tax code. It could also address the real if inchoate sense many Americans have that government has been “growing,” as measured by deficits and new programs, but in ways that don’t perceptibly make their lives better. Strange as it may sound, doing away with these “submerged” social programs — which, again, accrue mainly to the wealthy — could help restore faith in government.

    Read Mettler’s story “20,000 Leagues Under the State.

  26. rikyrah says:

    June 28, 2011 11:15 AM

    Advancing the cause of civil rights

    By Steve Benen

    The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen devotes his column today to praising New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) achievement on marriage equality. There’s no doubt the governor deserves the praise, and I’m delighted to see him receive great accolades.

    But Cohen goes a step further, using praise for Cuomo to condemn President Obama.

    It has been forever since a single politician did so much to advance what is, after all, a civil rights cause. Certainly, Barack Obama has never done so. Aside from his own presidency — no small matter, I grant you — he has been Mr. On-The-Other-Hand, a man so contained he is his own political sump hole, into which hot issues just disappear.

    We talked yesterday about the flaws in the comparison between Cuomo and the president, so let’s put that aside.

    When it comes to same-sex marriage, obviously the president is not yet where he needs to be. Obama’s position is “evolving,” and I’m extremely confident that he’ll support marriage equality in the not-too-distant future, but if Cohen and others want to criticize him for being too slow to do the right thing, I’ll gladly agree.

    But to say the president has “never” advanced civil rights, and has simply allowed hot issues to “disappear,” is both wrong and lazy.

    Cohen wouldn’t even have to look very hard to get the facts — the White House has a page on its website, which Cohen should have taken a few seconds to look at, devoted to the administration’s achievements on civil rights, and after two-and-a-half years in office, there are some important breakthroughs:

    * The President signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers.

    * President Obama pushed for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in his first State of the Union address, and followed through to sign the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law.

    * President Obama signed a memorandum expanding federal benefits for the same-sex partners of Foreign Service and executive branch government employees.

    * The President signed into law the FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act which included the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

    * The President issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the HHS Secretary to ensure that those hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds will give gay and lesbian patients and their families the compassion, dignity and respect they deserve in difficult times, as well as widows and widowers with no children, members of religious orders, and others whom otherwise may not have been able to receive visits from good friends and loved ones who are not immediate relatives, or select them to make decisions on their behalf in case of incapacitation.

    * The President signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduces the disparity in the amounts of powder cocaine and crack cocaine required for the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences and eliminates the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine.

    * Signed the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 providing funding and statutory authorities for the settlement agreements reached in the Cobell lawsuit, brought by Native Americans; the Pigford II lawsuit, brought by African American farmers; and four separate water rights suits, brought by Native American tribes.

    This is not to say the work is complete, and one can hope Obama does even more, especially on marriage. But after two-and-a-half years in office, this is the start of a record the president can be proud of.

    Richard Cohen makes it sound as if Obama has ignored civil rights altogether. That’s absurd.

  27. rikyrah says:

    June 27, 2011
    McConnell: Remember all those GOP voters
    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is scheduled to meet later Monday with President Barack Obama to discuss how to end the partisan divide over deficit reduction. Obama meets with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, later Monday morning.

    McConnell is adamant taxes not be raised and spending be cut dramatically. But he also wants Obama to keep in mind who triumphed in the last election, when Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives and gained seats in the Senate.

    Democrats, the Kentucky Republican said, “seem to recognize that the voters are asking for a different approach. Americans didn’t elect dozens of additional Republicans to the House of Representatives last November because they wanted their taxes raised. They sent them here to reverse the runaway spending policies that failed.”

    Writing on’s opinion page Monday, McConnell said, “We have seen the consequences of giving Washington a blank check — and we think it’s time Washington make some of the hard choices that the average American has made over the past two and a half years.”

    No agreements are expected Monday. Unless Congress raises the government’s $14.3 trillion debt limit before August 2, the government is expected to exhaust its borrowing authority.

    Read more:

  28. rikyrah says:

    Inside Nancy Pelosi’s drive to win the House majority back for Democrats
    By Karen Tumulty and Paul Kane, Published: June 26
    Nancy Pelosi no longer has a balcony with the grandest view in Washington. The size of her staff has been cut by a third. And it took months, she said, to get rid of the smell of cigarette smoke from the second-floor suite she received in her swap with now-House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

    In the corridor where the House minority leader greets visitors hangs but one decoration: a photo of her at the front of the House chamber, lifting the gavel in triumph, on Jan. 5, 2007. That was the day she was sworn in as the nation’s first female speaker, arguably the most powerful post any woman has held in the nation’s history.

    The fact that the pale-yellow walls remain bare suggests that Pelosi has no intention of getting settled in her new offices. What drives her these days is the realization that, with the party’s upset victory in last month’s special election in a heavily Republican Upstate New York district, Democrats need just two dozen seats to take back their majority.

    “I feel comfortable about our ability to win it back,” Pelosi said in an interview, as she approached the six-month mark of being in the minority again. “I have a sense of responsibility to win it back, a plan to do so, and a confidence that it is very much possible to do so.”

    And yet the challenges and frustrations are evident. Pelosi can no longer get things done in the House — or stop them. She and her diminished caucus have been rendered all but irrelevant as President Obama and congressional Republicans accelerate the fight over spending, taxes and debt.

    Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), a close confidant of Pelosi’s, acknowledged the tensions between the White House and House Democrats. “Not great. Not great,” Miller said. “Listen, this is a rough-and-tumble world, but I think their relationship with the caucus has not been good.”

    But while Pelosi has been largely absent from the ongoing negotiations over lifting the debt ceiling, she may yet have a role to play, as it becomes clearer how difficult it will be to bring around enough Republican votes to pass it.

    On Friday night, Pelosi found herself onstage in Lexington, Ky., between Boehner and former congressman J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), the man she had unseated as speaker. They were there to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Henry Clay’s speakership.

    As the three speakers discussed the legacy of the man who went down in history as the “Great Compromiser,” Pelosi noted that few issues are more difficult than asking members to go on record in favor of deeper indebtedness.

    “The speaker has all of my sympathy,” she told Boehner, not very convincingly.

    “Can we get any of your votes?” he shot back.

    On Sunday, Pelosi indicated in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Republicans shouldn’t count on support from her caucus for the legislation — which must pass by early August to avoid a default on the nation’s debt — unless they are willing to consider boosting taxes as well as cutting spending.

    “We’ve all said we would vote for the full faith and credit of the United States to be honored by voting for this increase in the debt ceiling,” the Democratic leader said. “If they don’t want to do taxes, maybe they don’t want to do anything.”

  29. rikyrah says:

    Johnson Has Yet To Produce Written $10M Compensation Agreement
    Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who defeated longtime campaign finance crusader Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) last year, has been under the microscope in recent days for possibly violating laws against corporate underwriting of campaigns.

    Last week the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel started asking uncomfortable questions about $10 million in deferred compensation Johnson received from his former company, Pacur, weeks after his $9 million self-financed successful 2010 campaign came to an end.

    Johnson, a freshman Tea Party favorite, disclosed the $10 million windfall in his recently filed personal financial disclosure, available here.

    When asked about why the $10 million payment was so close to the $9 million figure Johnson spent on the campaign, Johnson got a bit testy.

    “You take a look in terms of what would be a reasonable compensation package, OK?” Johnson told the Journal-Sentinel last week. “It’s a private business. I’ve complied with all the disclosure laws, and I don’t have to explain it any further to someone like you.”

    So far Johnson has not produced a written deferred compensation agreement that was signed and dated before he launched his campaign. Absent such an agreement, Johnson could face serious charges that he violated campaign-finance laws barring direct corporate funding of federal candidates, election law experts tell TPM.

    Arent Fox’s Brett Kappel, an election law attorney, said evidence of a written agreement before Johnson ran for the Senate is critical to prove he did not rely on corporate funds for his campaign.

    “It depends on whose money it was,” Kappel told TPM. “If there was a deferred compensation agreement before he ran for office, that would be a legitimate corporate payment [to him personally]. If there was no deferred compensation agreement at all, and the company is paying for his campaign, that would be a problem.”

    The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling enables companies to spend unlimited funds on independent campaign expenditures benefiting candidates, but companies still cannot give directly from their corporate treasuries to federal candidates’ campaigns.

    If Pacur were a publicly traded company, Johnson would have had to recuse himself from all discussions involving his compensation, deferred or otherwise. But because Pacur is a private company, the Federal Election Commission could target him personally.

    “If he’s the officer…he would have personal liability [for cutting the checks to his campaign from the corporate coffers],” Kappel added. “The FEC has historically gone after the officers of the company in these cases. He would be liable not as a candidate, but as a former corporate officer.”

    After his election to the Senate, Johnson handed over control of the company to his brother.

    Johnson spokeswoman Mary Vought did not return several inquiries from TPM Monday.

  30. Danziger Bridge Trial Opens In New Orleans For Police Charged In Katrina Shootings

    NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans police officers decided to “shoot first and ask questions later” when they gunned down two unarmed people and wounded four others on a bridge in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, a federal prosecutor said Monday during opening statements for a trial spotlighting one of the epic storm’s most notorious episodes.

    The jury heard a vastly different account of the encounter on the Danziger Bridge from lawyers for five current or former officers charged in the deadly shootings. Defense attorneys said their clients feared for their lives and were justified in using deadly force.

    “They stayed,” said Paul Fleming, a lawyer for former officer Robert Faulcon. “They didn’t desert. They didn’t go work other jobs. They stayed and did the best they could.”

    Justice Department attorney Bobbi Bernstein said police plotted to plant a gun, fabricate witnesses and falsify reports to cover up “atrocities” and tried to use Katrina’s chaotic conditions as an excuse for gaps in their investigation.

    “They lied because they knew they committed a crime,” Bernstein said. “They lied because they knew police officers were not allowed to shoot first and ask questions later.”

  31. President Obama Speaks on the Critical Role the Manufacturing Sector Plays in the American Economy

    June 28, 2011 2:05 PM EDT

  32. Ametia says:

    Time To ‘Redefine’ Media Portrayals Of Black Women

    On the surface, it might appear that many black women have achieved the American dream; they’re excelling in politics, business, media and academia.

    But Sophia Nelson, a political commentator and author of Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama, says that despite these women’s having achieved a level of success that their mothers could only dream of, their accomplishments aren’t being reflected in popular American culture.

    Nelson tells NPR’s Lynn Neary that it often feels like successful black women are “under attack” in America. She cites reaction to Michelle Obama’s statements during the 2008 presidential campaign as an example.

    “[Michelle Obama] was attacked for her statements that she was proud of her country for the first time,” Nelson says. “Then they looked into her senior thesis at Princeton and said that perhaps she had racial issues.”

    The final straw, Nelson says, was the now-infamous July 2008 New Yorker cover depicting Michelle Obama “with an afro, with a machine gun on her back … looking like [she was] about to start some type of takeover, or burn some kind of building down.”

    listen here:

  33. Ametia says:

    Get’em Lawrence O!

    • Ametia says:

      Bottom line with this fat bastard is that he’s a woman hater. Just like the majority of the GOP white men. He might be married to a woman and have children, but how does he explains his attitude and tone with that lady GAIL vs. Joe Scarborough, Matt Lauer, and David Greogory asking him the same question?

  34. rikyrah says:

    June 27, 2011
    Of Breitbart and other pissants
    With a de rigueur dose of unimpeachable fair-mindedness, the NY Times’ media correspondent Jeremy Peters reveals this, via us, about the guttersnipe Andrew Breitbart:

    If you agree with him, you think what he does is citizen journalism. If you don’t, his work is little more than crowd-sourced political sabotage that freely distorts the facts

    Well, well, what a conundrum. Breitbart could be either. It’s all a subjective matter of how one sees him. And who’s a media correspondent for the world’s most distinguished newspaper to venture an opinion? That would be unprofessional. But, tell you what, he’ll allow another professional, James McPherson, author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press, to report the objectively unpleasant:

    [T]here are no standards of fact anymore for a lot of people. We have gone from selecting sources of opinion that we agree with to selecting facts we agree with.

    To offer this troublesome shift as a recent phenomenon, one would first have to define “recent.” In 2009, for instance, 200 years after Darwin’s birth, only one of every four Americans said they believed in the blithering obviousness of evolution. Roughly a couple of hundred years before Darwin’s arrival on Earth, the Church insisted, in its ecclesiastically infallible wisdom, that Galileo’s telescopic findings in the heavens were factually mistaken; and for hundreds of years before that, Western man knew not the correct number of teeth in a horse’s head, since Aristotle had got it wrong but no one bothered to actually peak into a horse’s mouth to learn otherwise.

    OK, that last one slipped into personal reverence over the scientific method, nevertheless it still adds to the astonishing sum of human gullibility.

    So it seems to me that what really troubles is not so much that human beings remain ignorant slates to be written on, but that virtually any jackass can do the writing these days.

    I mean, Andrew Breitbart? Who the hell is Andrew Breitbart? Is he a thinker of uncommon depths? a magical political organizer of Van Buren-like talents? a visionary of Spinozan splendor? Again, one asks: Who the hell is Andrew Breitbart, except a bundle of ferociously ignorant biases with a Web site …

    … who gets profiled by the New York Times. Thus the artificial eminence of Breitbart, and Beck, and Limbaugh, and all the other right-wing pissants mutated by the modern media into real political players.

  35. rikyrah says:

    Lawmakers Tight-Lipped As Minnesota Government Shutdown Looms
    Budget negotiations are going down to the wire in Minnesota — where the state is heading for a government shutdown if a budget deal isn’t passed by the end of the week. And lawmakers are keeping tight-lipped about the progress of their negotiations.

    Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton met with Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch Monday evening to continue hammering out a deal. But details of the meetings have, for the most part, been kept under wraps. The meeting Monday follows negotiations over the weekend that broke off abruptly Sunday.

    “I’m not going to lay odds on it but there are two possibilities and we are committed to doing everything possible to (avoid) a shutdown,” Dayton said after the meeting Monday, the Star Tribune reports. “We had a very good conversation. They asked some very good questions and I had some answers.”

    Minnesota House GOP Director of Public Affairs Jodi Boyne told TPM the vagueness is the “most productive” way to achieve progress.

    And Dayton press secretary Katharine Tinucci told TPM the governor and legislative leaders “committed to not talking publicly about what happens in the room.” Dayton himself has called it a “cone of silence.”

    But both parties remain optimistic — publicly, at least — that a deal can be reached before the end of the week.

    “[Speaker Zellers] remains committed to getting a budget agreement before the June 30 deadline,” Boyne said. “[He’s] ready to work around the clock to make that happen.”

    And Tinucci said the meetings over the weekend were “productive.”

    “It is certainly possible to reach a deal before the end of the week to avert a shutdown,” she added.

    Dayton and the Republican-controlled legislature remain divided on how to close the state’s projected $5 billion deficit. Dayton’s approach has focused on a combination of tax increases on the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans and spending cuts, while the Republican plan has focused on mostly on spending cuts.

    Minnesota Public Radio has a helpful side-by-side comparison of the Dayton budget and the legislature’s budget. Both were passed and eventually vetoed by Dayton, as MPR reports.

    The budgets differ most on taxes, state government workforce spending, transportation and economic development. Dayton’s budget would seek to raise $1.8 billion in income tax increases. On the other side, the legislature’s “cuts to state aid could create up to $534 million in property taxes in the next biennium.”

  36. rikyrah says:

    June 28, 2011 8:40 AM

    Bachmann’s unique understanding of history

    By Steve Benen

    As Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann takes on a higher profile role, I suppose it’s only natural that the media would take a closer look at the frequency with which she says ridiculous things. Take her appearance today on “Good Morning America,” for example.

    Host George Stephanopoulos began by noting, “In your announcement you said ‘my voice is part of a movement to take back our country.’ From whom?” Bachmann replied, “Well, from the people all across the nation.”

    Maybe she didn’t understand the question.

    Stephanopoulos went on to note that Politifact has found that Bachmann has “the worst record of making false statements of any of the leading contenders,” and he wanted to give her a chance to “clear up” some of the misstatements. He mentioned, for example, the right-wing lawmaker’s claim that the Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly to end slavery.” Stephanopoulos explained, “That’s just not true.”

    Bachmann: Well if you look at one of our Founding Fathers, John Quincy Adams, that’s absolutely true. He was a very young boy when he was with his father serving essentially as his father’s secretary. He tirelessly worked throughout his life to make sure that we did in fact one day eradicate slavery.

    Stephanopoulos: He wasn’t one of the Founding Fathers – he was a president, he was a Secretary of State, he was a member of Congress, you’re right he did work to end slavery decades later. But so you are standing by this comment that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery?

    Bachmann: Well, John Quincy Adams most certainly was a part of the Revolutionary War era. He was a young boy but he was actively involved.

    I hate to be a stickler for reality, but when the Declaration of Independence was signed, John Quincy Adams was a nine-year-old boy. To say he was “actively involved” in the Revolutionary War era is awfully silly. Wouldn’t Bachmann be better off simply acknowledging she misspoke?

    Stephanopoulos went on to ask Bachmann to back up her claim that “taking away the minimum wage” could eliminate all unemployment. Bachmann couldn’t provide any evidence — she tried three times to dodge the question — but Bachmann did suggest she would consider eliminating the minimum wage if elected president.

    The problem for the congresswoman is that this seems unlikely to go away. If Bachmann is going to be a top-tier candidate for president — yes, of the United States — and an arguable frontrunner in the Iowa caucuses, reporters are probably going to ask about some of her more colorful claims. She’ll struggle to explain them away, as she did this morning, because there are no credible explanations for madness.

    Bachmann insists she’s a “serious person.” If that’s put to the test, even a little, the far-right Minnesotan should be prepared for quite a bit of embarrassment.

    Bachmann’s fans probably won’t mind — they’re not exactly fact-oriented, and I assume they’ll be touching up John Quincy Adams’ Wikipedia page any minute now — but for the American mainstream, Bachmann’s destined for clown status.

  37. Ametia says:

    GO TOM!

    Tom Petty reportedly issuing cease and desist letter to Bachmann
    Posted on 06.27.11
    By David Edwards

    Tom Petty may be taking legal action to make sure Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann stops using his songs at her campaign events.

    “NBC News: @TomPetty unhappy with Michele Bachmann’s use of ‘American Girl’ and in process of issuing (a cease and desist) letter,” Matt Ortega reported on Twitter only hours after hours after Bachmann used the popular song to kick off her campaign.

    Petty also issued a cease and desist letter to then-Governor George W. Bush for illegally using “I won’t back down” at his rallies.

    “The impression that you and your campaign have been endorsed by Tom Petty, which is not true,” music publisher Wixen Music Publishing Inc. told the Bush campaign.

    Read more:

  38. Ametia says:

    Breaking News Alert: U.S. backs Lagarde to take helm of IMF
    June 28, 2011 8:45:11 AM

    Just before the IMF board meeting to choose its new director, the United States announced it would support French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde for the job, ensuring Lagarde’s appointment and maintaining the fund’s tradition of having a European banker at its helm. Many emerging economies had been lobbying for a non-European chief.

    For more information, visit

  39. Ametia says:

    Republican Secretary Of State Criticizes Voter ID Bill Because It ‘Excludes Legally Registered Voters’ Ballots From Counting’

    By Scott Keyes on Jun 27, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Ever since Ken Blackwell’s oversight of the Buckeye State’s 2004 presidential election resulted in the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters, the Ohio secretary of state has played an outsized role in election administration.

    Seven years later, with Republicans in at least 22 states across the country pushing voter ID laws, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) has broken with his party and criticized the effort, which restricts voters’ access to the ballot box.

    As the GOP-controlled Ohio legislature considers a bill to restrict voting rights by instituting a photo ID requirement, Husted came out forcefully against such a move last week. In a statement from his office, Husted declared:

    “I would rather have no bill than one with a rigid photo identification provision that does little to protect against fraud and excludes legally registered voters’ ballots from counting.”

    Unfortunately, Husted is virtually alone among Ohio Republicans in opposing photo ID bills. Republicans in the state legislature will likely vote on such a measure next week, and Gov. John Kasich (R) has indicated he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk. Husted conceded that, despite his role as the top elections official in the state, the matter “is in the hands of the General Assembly.”

  40. Ametia says:

    Next Stop for Obama: Iowa
    June 27, 2011, 3:48 PM ET.

    By Laura Meckler
    Republicans running for president aren’t the only politicians thinking about Iowa. With no Democratic opposition in sight, President Barack Obama doesn’t have to worry about winning the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses next year, but he’s heading to the Hawkeye State anyway to talk up American manufacturing.

    The White House says his visit to Alcoa Davenport Works Factory in Bettendorf, Iowa, on Tuesday is meant to focus on manufacturing, not politics. But Mr. Obama’s political advisers are concerned that with the Republican presidential nominating contests heating up, voters in states such as Iowa will hear a steady, unanswered stream of Obama bashing. Today, for instance, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) announced her candidacy for the GOP nomination in Waterloo, Iowa, by saying, “We cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama.”

    The White House and the Obama re-election campaign are determined to do what they can to counter those attacks. Asked about the politics of the trip, Jen Psaki, deputy White House communications director, emphasized Mr. Obama’s connection with the state, where his victory in the 2008 Democratic caucuses propelled his campaign.

  41. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Good Peoples! :-)

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