Serendipity SOUL | Wednesday Open Thread | Blues Week

Happy HUMP day, Everyone!  3 Chics hopes you’re enjoying Blues week with Ms. Besssie Smith.

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85 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Wednesday Open Thread | Blues Week

  1. rikyrah says:


    Senate Bill 5 opponents collect record number of signatures

    Opponents of Ohio’s new law restricting the collective-bargaining power of public employees Wednesday filed nearly 1.3 million signatures to put the law before the ultimate judge — the voter.

    The number of raw, unverified signatures filed with the secretary of state’s office, a record for an Ohio ballot issue, is more than five times the number that must withstand scrutiny to qualify the referendum for the Nov. 8 ballot.

    The number exceeds the previous record of 812,978 signatures filed in 2008 for a proposed constitutional amendment authorizing a single casino resort in Clinton County that was ultimately rejected by voters.

    Mike Haynes, a member of the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association, was among the thousands who protested at the Statehouse when lawmakers were considering Senate Bill 5 last spring. Unable to stop the bill then, he was among an estimated 6,000 who paraded through downtown Columbus to file boxes containing 51,000 petitions.

    “Politics are politics, and [lawmakers are] going to do what they want to do,’’ he said. “Fortunately, there’s a checks-and-balances system to make sure that they do hear our voices. We still have an avenue to come out against it.’’

    Just the filing of the petitions Wednesday will keep Senate Bill 5 from taking effect Friday as scheduled. If at least 231,149 of the signatures are determined to be valid in a review process that must be completed by July 26, the law will remain on hold until the results of the election are known. If voters reject the law, it will never take effect.

    The referendum on Senate Bill 5, backed chiefly by labor groups and Democrats, may not be the only statewide issue that voters will face this fall.

  2. rikyrah says:

    Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:48 AM PDT
    It’s Official: Black People Still Hate Uncle Clarence +*

    by KwikFollow

    Hate is a strong word, but almost not strong enough when it comes to describing how most black folks I know feel about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

    In an informal poll taken last Saturday among African-American men at my barber shop here in Melbourne, Fla., “Uncle Clarence” — as we unaffectionately call him — emerged as the most hated person in America.

    No big surprise, but the other candidates really put the brothers’ disdain for Thomas into perspective. He won out over Donald Trump, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, R. Kelly, TO, LeBron James, Barry Bonds, Sarah Palin, Nene Leakes, Herman Cain and Dick Cheney/George W. Bush (joined infamously at the hip) — all of whom came up in the discussion.

    And why did Thomas come out on top? The overwhelming sentiment was, “Dude, don’t take it out on us just because you hate yourself!” To a person, all of us share the belief that Thomas is the embodiment of black self-hatred to the point of exacting that hatred on black people in many of his Supreme Court decisions. It’s kind of like we’re part of a bad blaxploitation film called, “Clarence’s Revenge.”

    In his own warped mind, he probably thinks he’s administering tough love. But what he’s really doing is interpreting law like his neocon masters want him to. It’s like he buys into all of the negative stereotypes about us and goes out of his way to go against anything that can be seen as helpful to blacks in particular, but to the poor and disfranchised of all races in general.

    And if you have doubts about the lengths Thomas would take to please his neocon masters, remember that he threw his own sister under the bus years ago when he likened her to a welfare queen. But the true story was that she was a hard working single parent who quit working two minimum wage jobs to care for an elderly aunt stricken by a stroke. She went on welfare temporarily, not because she was lazy or government dependent, but so she could take of her aunt.

    The disdain for Thomas expressed by our barber shop group wasn’t just a bunch of guys mouthing off for the heck of it. It was genuine disgust, anger and pain based on Thomas’ willingness to shamefully villify his own sister and other blacks for political gain, coupled with his shameful voting record and how those decisions adversely affect many of America’s most powerless and downtrodder citizens.

    Our feelings were more or less captured in an article published on AlterNet when author Glen Ford called Thomas “…a hit-man against his own people… and a perverse right-wing joke played on blacks.”

    In an article published in the Washington Post back on Dec. 3, 2000, Courtland Milloy made these observations about Thomas:

    He has voted to cut off debate in a death penalty case, even when newly revealed evidence might have proven the defendant innocent. He has cast the deciding vote to make it harder for blacks to prove they were victims of job discrimination. He has even voted against expanding voting rights for blacks and, in one case, disputed the history of using the 1965 Voting Rights Act to help elect more blacks in the South.

    In last week’s case about the use of roadblocks by police, which Thomas’s side lost in a 6 to 3 vote, he wrote a rare separate dissent in which he seemed to acknowledge that he knew that such roadblocks were wrong but that he was going to side with conservative Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Scalia anyway.

    Sort of thumbing his nose at black America.

    That article was written over a decade ago and Uncle Clarence hasn’t changed a bit…and has possibly gotten worse, not only with his pitiful voting record, but also with the questionable conduct of him and his far right-wing wife.

    Thomas is currently embroiled in a controversy regarding his “cozy” relationship with a conservative real estate mogul from Texas. According to an article by Mike McIntire published June 18, 2011 in the New York Times this tycoon “has done many favors for the justice and his wife, Virginia, helping finance a Savannah library project dedicated to Justice Thomas, presenting him with a Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass and reportedly providing $500,000 for Ms. Thomas to start a Tea Party-related group.”

    All of this dependency on his neocon benefactor from a guy who loves to preach “self-responsibility.”

    Thomas’s abysmal voting record and emerging ethical improprieties should be enough to disqualify him from serving on our nation’s highest court…but they won’t because let’s face it, impeachment isn’t going to happen. But if the brothers in my barber shop could have their way, he would’ve been gone yesterday.

    One thing is for sure, I bet Thomas doesn’t set foot inside black barber shops. Otherwise, he might just have a different point of view and a better hair cut.

  3. rikyrah says:

    White House Seems a Confident Bunch

    by BooMan
    Wed Jun 29th, 2011 at 05:05:10 PM EST
    On this whole debt limit deal, the White House seems to be supremely confident that they’ll get something done and that it will be the Republicans who will blink. That’s not to say that there won’t be some ugly concessions made, but when it comes to facing their respective bases of political support, it’s the Congressional Republican leadership who will be getting the worst beating.

    The reasons are fairly simple. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are not teabaggers, and the people they answer to want no part of a default, or even the threat of a default. Moreover, the White House feels that they’ve framed this extremely well and the Republicans have screwed themselves by pushing the Ryan plan, and by walking away from table in support of tax loopholes for multimillionaires’ yachts and private airplanes. In short, the White House thinks the Republicans have an awful political argument and that they know it. Finally, and crucially, John Boehner has an incredibly difficult task. He must get a bill passed in the House that can also pass in the Senate, which is still controlled by the Democrats. Everyone knows that Boehner can’t do this by relying on his own caucus. And he won’t be able to attract any Democrats for anything remotely resembling what he’s led his base to expect. To even get a bill on the table, he’s going to have to back down and craft something widely acceptable to Democrats. It’s not unlikely that he’ll wind up in a bind where he actually pushes a bill that has more Democratic support than Republican.

    And I don’t think the White House plans on giving him a whole lot. Maybe some cost savings on Medicare, but no reduction in benefits. Certainly not a balanced budget amendment. And there will an elimination of significant tax loopholes.

    The thing I am still worried about is that Boehner won’t be able to figure out how to get this done. It’s basically a suicide mission, as I can’t imagine him surviving in a leadership position if he passes a Democratic-majority debt limit bill. But it doesn’t appear he has any other choice. The White House just isn’t buying his threats. They know his masters expect a deal, and soon.

  4. Michelle Obama expected to headline Utah fundraiser

    Washington • Michelle Obama is expected to headline a fundraiser in Utah in late July, marking her first visit to the state since she made a brief campaign stop in 2008.

    The president’s re-election team is still working on the details of the first lady’s trip. Utah Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Holland initially said the fundraiser would take place July 26, with Obama starting the day in Colorado before flying in for events in either Salt Lake City, Park City or perhaps both. After receiving a call from the Democratic National Committee, which would host the event, Holland says the date is fluid but the fundraiser is still a go.

    “We hope as many people as possible have some contact with her,” he said. “I hear people saying that they see her as someone who has added a lot of class to the White House.”

    And he added, “There is historical value to this visit.”

    President Barack Obama has yet to visit Utah since taking the oath of office. He did make a quick stop in Park City in 2007 and he planned to attend a rally in 2008, but canceled because it was scheduled on the same weekend as the funeral for late Mormon President Gordon B. Hinckley.

    His wife arrived in his stead on February 5, 2008, speaking to a group of 1,000 Utahns at a Salt Palace gathering in the days before Utah’s presidential primary.

    At that time, she told the crowd: “When you look at me, I don’t want you to see the next first lady. I want you to see the product of public education.”

    Utah Senate Minority Leader Ross Romero didn’t attend that rally but plans to be there when Michelle Obama arrives in July.

    “We’re very pleased to be able to host the first lady. It’s an honor to have that opportunity,” he said.

    State Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, said it would be nice if Obama brought a few other members of the first family.

    “I think that is exciting,” she said. “I hope she brings her two little girls too.”

  5. rikyrah says:

    June 29, 2011 3:30 PM
    ‘That’s why they’re called leaders’

    By Steve Benen

    One of the more common Republican criticisms of President Obama, at least in the context of the debt-reduction talks, is that he hasn’t shown enough “leadership.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took to the floor late last week to cry, “Where in the world has the president been for the last month? … He’s the one in charge.”

    One of the parts of Obama’s press conference this morning that I especially liked was the president’s pushback against the notion that he’s been a passive observer in this process.

    “I’ve got to say, I’m very amused when I start hearing comments about, ‘Well, the president needs to show more leadership on this.’ Let me tell you something. Right after we finished dealing with the government shutdown, averting a government shutdown, I called the leaders here together. I said we’ve got to get this done. I put Vice President Biden in charge of a process — that, by the way, has made real progress — but these guys have met, worked through all of these issues. I met with every single caucus for an hour to an hour and a half each — Republican senators, Democratic senators; Republican House, Democratic House. I’ve met with the leaders multiple times. At a certain point, they need to do their job.

    “And so, this thing, which is just not on the level, where we have meetings and discussions, and we’re working through process, and when they decide they’re not happy with the fact that at some point you’ve got to make a choice, they just all step back and say, ‘Well, you know, the president needs to get this done.’ They need to do their job.

    “Now is the time to go ahead and make the tough choices. That’s why they’re called leaders…. They’re in one week, they’re out one week. And then they’re saying, ‘Obama has got to step in.’ You need to be here. I’ve been here. I’ve been doing Afghanistan and bin Laden and the Greek crisis. You stay here. Let’s get it done.”

    I’m glad the president pressed this, not just because he sounded a bit like Truman slamming the do-nothing Congress, but because many in the media have bought into the notion that lawmakers have dug in on this, and the president hasn’t. That’s nonsense.

    Congressional Republicans haven’t been slaving away, trying to strike a credible deal. They’ve been making threats, drawing lines in the sand, and barking orders about what is and is not allowed to be on the negotiating table.

    “They need to do their job.” Part of those responsibilities includes working in good faith to find an equitable compromise with a Democratic Senate and a Democratic White House, and then doing what they must do, but what the president cannot do: passing the damn debt-ceiling increase.

    Tick tock.

  6. rikyrah says:

    rolling on the floor graphic for this story too.



    Poll: Perry Trails Obama In Texas

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry has reportedly been eyeing the race for the Republican presidential nomination — but Texas isn’t eyeing him for president, according to new survey from Public Policy Polling (D).

    Indeed, the poll shows Perry trailing President Obama in heavily Republican Texas, which last voted Democratic for president in 1976, when Jimmy Carter was the South’s favorite son. Obama leads 47%-45%, even though Obama’s net approval rating is underwater at 42%-55%. Of course, this could potentially change if Perry actually became the nominee in a real election, but it’s not a good starting point.

    The poll found Perry’s approval rating at only 43%, with 52% disapproval. In addition, the poll asked simply: “Do you think Rick Perry should run for president next year, or not?” The result was only 33% saying he should run, to 59% saying he should not.

    Obama was tested against other Republicans, with varying results: Michele Bachmann leads by 47%-44%, Herman Cain is tied at 43%-43%, Sarah Palin trails by 46%-44%, Tim Pawlenty edges ahead by 44%-43%; and Mitt Romney has an solid, healthy lead of 50%-42%.

    As for another maybe presidential contender with a bad showing against Obama in her home state – a Hays Research poll released on Tuesday showed only 36% of Alaska voters choosing Sarah Palin over Obama. 42% of those polls said they would vote for the President.

  7. rikyrah says:

    June 29, 2011 1:55 PM
    Obama puts GOP in a box on debt, taxes, revenue

    By Steve Benen

    President Obama is obviously aware of the fact that congressional Republicans are demanding a massive debt-reduction plan, but expect the deal not to bring in an additional penny in revenue.

    At a White House press conference this morning, the president did a very effective job at putting Republicans in a box. Either policymakers accept a balance approach, Obama argued, or the GOP will be exposed as deficit frauds who care about protecting the rich at the expense of everyone else. Greg Sargent ran this transcript from the event:

    If we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, if we keep the tax break for corporate jet owners, if we choose to keep tax breaks for oil and gas companies that are making hundreds of billions of dollars, then that means we’ve got to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship. That means we have to stop funding certain grants for medical research. That means that food safety may be compromised. That means that Medicare has to bear a greater part of the burden. These are the choices we have to make….

    “The Republicans say they want to reduce the deficit. Every single observer who’s not an elected official or politician says we can’t reduce our deficit in the scale and scope we need to without having a balanced approach that looks at everything. Democrats have to accept some painful spending cuts that hurt some of our constituencies that we may not like. And we’ve shown a willingness to do that for the greater good….

    “If you are a wealthy CEO or hedge fund manager in America right now, your taxes are lower than they’ve ever been. They’re lower than they’ve been since the 1950s. And you can afford it. You’ll still be able to ride on your corporate jet. You’ll just have to pay a little more…. My belief is that the Republican leadership in Congress will hopefully sooner rather than later come to the conclusion that they need to make the right decisions for the country, that everybody else has been willing to move off their maximalist position. They need to do the same. My expectation is that they’ll do the responsible thing.”

    The White House message is obviously taking shape. Obama and his team want the public to know the administration is committed to debt reduction and tough choices, which will include calling on broad sacrifice, but which will protect key investments in education and health care. Republicans, on the other hand, aren’t really committed to debt reduction if they’re only willing to look at one side of the budget ledger, aren’t especially concerned about education and health care, and will fight to the death to ensure the wealthy don’t have to sacrifice at all.

    The phrase of the morning is “corporate-jet owner.” I started keeping count of how many times the president used the phrase, and I think I noticed four separate instances. The point was to highlight a $3 billion perk available to those who buy these jets — a perk Republicans won’t touch because it would count as a (cue scary music) tax increase.

    As the process continues, the White House message to the public will be pretty straightforward: we can have a major debt-reduction deal if only Republicans weren’t fighting so hard to protect corporate-jet owners. Why, the argument will go, won’t the GOP look out for students and seniors the way it looks out for the fat cats on the Cessna?

  8. Michele Bachmann: Media want “mud wrestling fight” with Sarah Palin

    Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann reportedly told a voter Wednesday that the media want her to get into a “mud wrestling fight” with potential presidential rival Sarah Palin.

    “They want to see two girls come together and have a mud wrestling fight,” the Minnesota congresswoman said in South Carolina, according to CNN, “and I am not going to give that to them.”

    Bachmann also said there was room for both her and Palin in the presidential race, arguing that Republicans should remember to keep focused on “the ultimate goal” of defeating President Obama next year.

    Bachmann has faced hard questions since announcing her campaign tied to her frequent past misstatements, and critics have suggested sexism may have something to do with her reception. (Particularly galling to critics was Chris Wallace of Fox News asking Bachmann if she is a “flake.”)

    In a Tweet Wednesday, a top aide to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Stacy Kerr, wrote, “Bachmann – she’d never get my vote, but she has my ire at how media is treating her. they’d never treat a man like this week of announcement.”

    Palin, who maintains she has yet to decide whether she is getting into the race despite her daughter Bristol’s suggestion that she has made up her mind, was in Iowa Tuesday for the premiere of a documentary celebrating her career. After watching a montage of liberal critics in the film, she asked The Hollywood Reporter: “What would make someone be so full of hate?”

    Polling suggests Palin remains a divisive figure, even among Republicans. A poll from Hays research group released Wednesday found Palin losing to President Obama in a hypothetical presidential matchup in her conservative-leaning home state of Alaska.

    In the survey, 40 percent of Alaskans indicated they backed Mr. Obama, while 31 percent said they backed the former governor.

  9. Ametia says:

    Where was Mitch, “Tippy Turtle” McConnell? Did he lead these turtles to an act of OBSTRUCTION?

    June 29, 2011, 10:55 am

    Turtles Force Runway Closing at Kennedy Airport

    Runway 4 Left at Kennedy International Airport was closed for more than an hour on Wednesday morning. The cause: turtles on the runway.

    Specialists from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey removed about 100 diamondback terrapins from the runway around 10 a.m., said John P. L. Kelly, a Port Authority spokesman.

    Some flights were delayed for up to 30 minutes, said a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, Arlene Salac, but not too many: the runway is used relatively infrequently this time of year because of seasonal prevailing-wind patterns.
    The runway becomes a turtle crossing every year around this time as the terrapins gear up to reproduce.

  10. Michele Bachmann Defends Medicaid Funds To Husband Marcus Bachmann’s Clinic

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann is deflecting questions about federally subsidized health dollars that have flowed to her husband’s mental health clinic.

    As the tea party hero tours the nation attacking the size of federal government, the Minnesota congresswoman has come under heightened scrutiny over public dollars flowing to family business interests. That includes $137,000 that Bachmann and Associates has received for treating patients in Medicaid-backed programs.

    NBC’s Michael Isikoff reports:

    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 Los Angeles Times reported last weekend:

    Michele Bachmann lists the Lake Elmo, Minn.-based clinic — which aims to provide “quality Christian counseling in a sensitive, loving environment,” according to its website — as one of her assets on her financial disclosure forms.

    Bachmann press secretary Alice Stewart issued a statement Wednesday contending that it “would be discriminatory” for the clinic to turn away Medicaid patients. She says Marcus Bachmann’s business has the responsibility to provide the care “regardless of a patient’s financial situation.”

    Neither Michele nor Marcus Bachmann would respond to questions about the arrangement during a campaign stop in South Carolina.

  11. ****rolls eyes****

    Palin: I’m still thinking about running for President.

  12. rikyrah says:

    Dem Senators Urge DOJ To Use ‘Full Power’ To Scrutinize Voter ID Laws
    Fifteen Democratic Senators have written a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging the Justice Department to carefully review the “highly restrictive photo identification requirements” that are sweeping state legislatures across the country.

    Concerned that the measures could “block millions of eligible American voters without addressing any problem commensurate with this kind of restriction on voting rights,” the Senators ask DOJ to use the “full power of the Department of Justice to review these voter identification laws and scrutinize their implementation.”

    The letter — written by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and signed by Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), Sens. Dick Durbin (IL), Chuck Schumer (NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Sherrod Brown (OH), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Jeff Merkley (OR), Mark Begich (AK), Ben Cardin (MD), Mary Landrieu (LA), Patty Murray (WA), Ron Wyden (OR), Tom Harkin (IA), Herb Kohl (WI) and Tom Udall (NM) — comes as Wisconsin, South Carolina, Alabama, Texas, Kansas and Tennessee have already passed voter ID measures.

    Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) questioned DOJ’s Thomas Perez about the Department’s review of voter ID laws at a hearing earlier this month. Perez said that the Justice Department was reviewing all of the laws that had been passed under Section 2 and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

    But the Justice Department’s ability to step in to stop voter ID measures is hampered by a 2008 Supreme Court decision which found that Indiana’s state voter ID law was constitutional. Indiana provides IDs free of charge to the poor and allows those who don’t have IDs to cast provisional ballots.

    A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed receiving the letter and said DOJ was “monitoring, as we routinely do, this type of legislative activity in the states.”

  13. rikyrah says:

    A President, Not A Governor
    There have been many times over the past two years when I have whacked the Obama administration on their “fierce urgency of whenever” on gay equality. And I regret not a single one. The job of loyal opposition is to push and corral and complain and inveigh and pound the bloggy table a few times to get a point across. But look: it worked. Here’s what they have done, and it ain’t nothing.

    They have removed the ban on openly gay servicemembers. Soooo yesterday, I know. But it is also so tomorrow. The emergence of openly gay soldiers – many of them heroes – will indelibly change the image and self-image of gays in America, in ways that expand the possibilities of being human and being noble. When the first military funeral takes place in which the folded flag is handed to the legal husband of a deceased male servicemember, the folds of the flag will reflect the folds of inclusion. It will be much harder to demonize gays when they are openly defending our country in uniform. The impact on the South in particular could be huge in the long run. Yes, Obama took his own sweet time; yes, it nearly slipped out of our grasp. But so did equality in New York State a few times. What matters is: he got it done.

    They ended the HIV travel ban. I have a huge stake in this and the ban was repealed under Bush who admirably signed it into law. But Obama implemented it; and my trip home soon to see my family was made possible by that law. Yes, it was a long, long time coming. But what matters is: he got it done.

    They withdrew legal support for DOMA. Again, a critical factor, along with moves in the states, to get the Supreme Court at some point to acknowledge that equal protection means equal protection; and that the logic of banning marriage for two percent of the population evaporates upon close rational inspection. Again, this was in the presidential bound of authority. And Obama did the right thing in the end.

    Some now want this president to be Andrew Cuomo, a heroically gifted advocate of marriage equality who used all his skills to make it the law in his state. But the truth is that a governor is integral to this issue in a way a president can never be. Civil marriage has always been a state matter in the US. That tradition goes all the way back; it was how the country managed to have a patchwork of varying laws on miscegenation for a century before Loving vs Virginia. The attack on this legal regime was made by Republicans who violated every conservative principle in the book when they passed DOMA, and seized federal control over the subject by refusing for the first time ever not to recognize possible legal civil marriages in a state like Hawaii or Massachusetts. Defending this tradition is not, as some would have it, a kind of de facto nod to racial segregation; it is a defense of the norm in US history. And by defending that norm, the Obama administration has a much stronger and more coherent case in knocking down DOMA than if it had echoed Clinton in declaring that the feds could dictate a national marriage strategy.

    More to the point, until very recently, if we had had to resolve this issue at a federal level, marriage equality would have failed. The genius of federalism is that it allowed us to prove that marriage equality would not lead to catastrophe, that it has in fact coincided with a strengthening of straight marriage, that in many states now, the sky has not fallen. That is why a man like David Frum has changed his mind – for the right conservative reason. Because there is evidence that this is not a big deal and yet unleashes a new universe of equality and dignity and integration for a once-despised minority. Obama’s defense of federalism in this instance is not a regressive throw-back; it is a pragmatic strategy.

    The president has no actual political authority over this issue. He does have moral authority. But what close observers know about Obama is that he does not think of the presidency the way he thinks of a campaign. He knows he is president of all the people, including those who voted against him and those who conscientiously oppose marriage equality. He does not seek to divide as his predecessor did. By staying ever so slightly above on this issue, Obama is doing the right presidential thing – while presiding over what may well be the most seismic period for gay equality in history. I do not despise his restraint in his office. I wish more presidents exhibited it (and I wish he exhibited it a little more in cases like the Libya war).

    One more thing. A civil rights movement does not get its legitimacy from any president. I repeat: he does not legitimize us; we legitimize him. As gays and lesbians, we should stop looking for saviors at the top and start looking for them within. We won this fight alongside our countless straight family members, friends, associates and fellow citizens. As long as Obama has done due diligence in the office he holds – and he has – he is not necessary to have as a Grand Marshall for our parade.

  14. rikyrah says:

    The Big Tell
    In tough economic times, in-parties routinely accuse out-parties of hoping for bad economic times. But this time there’s a little noticed tell that puts the question in much sharper relief. Having run last year on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs, congressional Republicans are now more or less openly saying that they’re not interested in doing anything to boost jobs or economic growth in the short or even medium term.

    Don’t believe me? Look at what they’re actually saying.

    We know that congressional Republicans are saying they won’t allow any more stimulus spending. That’s been more or less clear since last November’s election. And that doesn’t surprise anyone much since, while it prevents any real action to boost the economy, it’s also in line with Republican economic doctrines. The tell came when the White House pushed for a tax cut — something which likely would not boost jobs as efficiently as direct spending but would pass Republican economic orthodoxy. That was rejected too.

    At the time, Democrats seized on this refusal as evidence that Republicans were so intent on keeping the economy stalled through the 2012 election that they were even willing to forego tax cuts which their ideology favors. Which was a fair criticism. But more revealing were the statements from Boehner and others.

    In resisting the move for a payroll tax holiday Boehner didn’t dispute that it would help the economy. How could he? Boehner said “The uncertainty that’s out there is not going to be overcome by, you know, another little short-term gimmick.”

    Sen. Lamar Alexander expanded on the point: “We don’t need short-term gestures, we need long-term strategies that build into our system simpler taxes, lower taxes, fewer mandates, lower costs, more certainty, any changes in the debt structure of tax reform ought to come out of the Vice President’s talks or part of a major tax reform. If short-term government programs work, we wouldn’t have 9% unemployment today because the government has tried it. So we’ve proved that doesn’t work, unforutnately.”

    Boil these statements down and they amount to: we’re interested in long term structural changes to the economy not short term measures to boost jobs or growth. Nothing wrong with wanting long-term structural changes. Democrats want those too, just different ones. But I don’t think anyone could get elected today in anything close to a competitive state or district writing off any kind of immediate effort to create jobs and economic growth. But that’s what they’re saying.

  15. rikyrah says:

    June 29, 2011
    The pitiable end of Obama-bashing?
    Last night on “Hardball” there aired an engrossing discussion (hey, it happens) among host Chris Matthews, the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Cynthia Tucker and political commentator Ron Reagan about the recent and disappointing decline of trash talk and hardcore Obama-bashing by the GOP’s more leading, shall we say, presidential candidates. Mitt Romney, for instance, has of late distanced himself from the “European-socialist” chant and thereby reduced himself to referencing — get back — those “good Democrats” (presumably he’s including Mr. Obama) who love their country, and Michele Bachmann, bless her little McCarthyite soullessness, has now renounced all blather of the president of the United States’ “anti-Americanism.”

    This development is, as hinted, most distressing. Its motivation is intrusively clear enough — any primary candidate who persists in speechifying or interviewing like, well, a Michele Bachmann, risks losing as a general-election candidate the non-lobotomized vote — nevertheless our sadness at the months-long prospect of, for example, a non-Bachmann Bachmann reaches the inexpressible.

    Yet my immediate question is, Can the Minnesota congresswoman even get away with it? The New Republic’s Ed Kilgore seems to think so:

    The hard-core Christian Right/Tea Party folk who are Bachmann’s base in Iowa and elsewhere … [are] fine with the more outlandish things she’s said over the years, but also understand it may be necessary to bring Americans along slowly to the recognition of the high-stakes holy war that Bachmann is waging on their behalf as a self-described “constitutional conservative.”

    Doubt, however, reigns at this site. The “hard-core Christian Right/Tea Party folk” aren’t exactly the kind of folk who prudently weigh the intellectual merits of a Fabian campaign and proceed with strategic caution. They want blood; they want to see it, smell it, hear it, experience it — and they want it all now. And if Michele fails to deliver it — as she must, to be taken “seriously” — what’s left of her singularly appealing shtick?

  16. rikyrah says:

    June 29, 2011
    Obama’s presser
    Moments ago, in this morning’s press conference, President Obama was visibly indignant and as to close to manifestly incensed about the GOP’s debt-talks intransigence as the president temperamentally can get.

    It was a thing of beauty: “Call me naive,” he said, but he believed that “leaders are going to lead” and “my expectation is they’ll do the responsible thing” — in contrast to the GOP’s heretofore maniacal insistence that the middle class take yet more budget hits while billionaires, hedge-fund managers and corporate-jet owners glide through the debt-resolution talks unscathed.

    Yet more intriguing, to me, was that in his opening, prepared comments, Obama emphasized not only the acute pain experienced by America’s middle class from the Great Recession, but its enduring, pre-2007 socioeconomic challenges. The palpable reelection campaign message: another Obama presidential term will spell a judicious restructuring of America’s intrinsically debilitated economy. His first term has been pragmatically limited to overcoming the GOP’s ideological insanities and consequent material desolation, Obama seemed to be saying, but his next term will be about rebuilding — fundamentally — from the bottom up.

    That, anyway, was the way I read it — I gleaned a touch of the Kennedyesque. Folks, just get me through the unavoidable pragmatisms of a first term, which always requires concessions to certain vigorous political realities that a second term does not. That lofty idealism demanded by the progressives will have to wait, but the loftiness will indeed come.

  17. Labor Wars: Michigan is the New Wisconsin

    Michigan is shaping up to be the next big battleground in the Republican-led war on unions and public workers’ rights.

    In March, the state’s Republican governor Rick Snyder signed Emergency Financial Manager Law Public Act 4, a law that grants state-appointed officials broad power to run cash-strapped communities and school districts. While the state has had Emergency Financial Managers (EFM’s) for decades, critics—including Jesse Jackson, Rep. John Conyers and members of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus—say PA-4 has enhanced their authority in unprecedented ways.

    For instance, in Benton Harbor, a predominantly black town of 11,000, emergency manager Joseph L. Harris effectively fired the town’s elected officials with an order “prohibiting all action by all city boards, commissions and authorities, except as authorized by the emergency manager.” (If you don’t believe it, read Order No. 11-05 here.)

    PA-4 also allows emergency managers to wage Scott-Brown style warfare on collective bargaining.

    Last week, 28 residents filed a civil suit against Snyder in hopes that the blatantly unconstitutional law be rescinded.

    “PA-4 establishes a new form of local government, unknown anywhere in the United States, where the people in local municipalities are governed by an unelected official who establishes local law by decree,” Sugar Law Center legal director John Philo stated in a press release about the civil suit. “It’s a backdoor way to end collective bargaining and effectively silence local firefighters, police, teachers, nurses and anyone who serves the public and provides essential local services.”

    Today, in a Chicago Sun Times editorial, Rev. Jesse Jackson puts the battle in a racial context:

    “Michigan faces harrowing economic troubles, but it is not broke. This is an expression of the governor’s insistence on cutting taxes on the rich and the corporations, and forcing working families to bear the costs of the recession. And it is not surprising that these emergency financial managers are being foisted disproportionately on cities and school districts with the poorest people and the highest numbers of minorities. Democracy, the governor seems to suggest, is something they can’t afford.”

    Jackson also calls PA-4 part of “states rights ideology,” thus connecting this latest labor battle to the Civil Rights struggle against Southern Jim Crow.

    If only he were wrong.

  18. rikyrah says:

    AMEN, Mr. President.

    they need to do their mofo’ing job,


    June 29, 2011
    Obama’s assessment: We have a prepubescent Congress
    “They need to do their job,” barked the president of Congressional trolls. If his daughters, 13 and 10 years of age, can get their homework done ahead of otherwise guaranteed disaster, then surely the grown men and women of high elected office can settle, on a timely basis, a debt-ceiling dispute that’s been charging down the foreseen tracks for months.

    Jesus, I pity him. Obama is now having to publicly scold and even ridicule the infantile, recalcitrant yokels of the United States Congress, just to get them to do their bloody homework, for which they draw government paychecks.

    On the one hand American voters have the pronounced macroeconomic dimwittedness of Jim Demint, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor and others, who have pooh-poohed projections of catastrophic ramifications of not raising the debt ceiling.

    On the other hand Americans have the president of the United States having to plead the extraordinarily self-evident: that the debt ceiling is no “abstraction,” and that “all the [negative economic] headwinds … will get worse” if the ceiling is left unlifted. Plus, today the International Monetary Fund said in a report that “Failure to raise the debt ceiling ‘soon enough,’ along with too quick a cut in spending” poses a “severe shock” to the economy here and abroad.

    The president says that, the IMF says that, virtually every economist with a human pulse says that, and still, the GOP obstructionists play games — with dynamite.

    It’s a tribute to Obama’s miraculous temperament that he doesn’t explode more often.

  19. rikyrah says:

    Glenn Beck Earned His Fate
    by BooMan
    Wed Jun 29th, 2011 at 01:27:56 PM EST

    Glenn Beck poisons our national discourse with an unending stream of lies and paranoia. That’s why he has to travel with a security team. That’s why he and his family are not welcome in Bryant Park in New York City. He seems to think that he can make himself insanely rich by virtue of shameless demagoguery and hatred in a horrible economy where people are struggling to stay in their homes and find jobs to feed their kids, and he can do it with complete impunity. There are literally millions of people who would like to give a piece of their mind to Glenn Beck. People he’s called traitors. People he’s accused of being communists or fascists. People whose religious beliefs or lack thereof he has denigrated. People who have a healthy respect for the truth and resent well-paid liars. The list is long.
    Glenn Beck forfeited the right to take his family out in public without fear of harassment. Like any other citizen, he should not be assaulted, but people have a First Amendment right to tell him off to his face and in front of his wife and kids. Should I ever encounter him in public, I would certainly have a couple of things to say to him.

    I hope all the money is worth it.

  20. rikyrah says:

    The Bullying Stops Here!
    by Steven D
    Wed Jun 29th, 2011 at 10:47:49 AM EST

    The following post was originally published by Alex Sandell (here and here). Republished with permission of the author — Steven D

    My best friend is a pharmacist in small-town Minnesota. She’s also a lifelong Republican. She hasn’t voted Democratic once in her 33 years and she helped deliver the GOP the legislative majority in Minnesota for the first time in 38 years. The two of us rarely talk politics, because it inevitably leads to a fight.

    But when we talked about the impending government shutdown in Minnesota it almost seemed like she was hearing me for the first time in our 20 years as friends. I emphatically stated how refusing to raise taxes on the richest 1% of Minnesotans — which the GOP is currently doing — doesn’t help the budget. How it doesn’t help the people of Minnesota. How it only helps Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Charles Koch, Rush Limbaugh and other Ayn Rand-ian sociopaths who, to quote Michael Caine in The Dark Knight, “Just want to watch the world burn.”

    All of this and no objection made its way from her lips. I decided to try my luck and push it further by not just naming names, but by naming parties. “Republicans are ruining the quality of life for at least 50% of this country so the 1% whose quality of life couldn’t get any better have a little extra money to put into their offshore accounts.” I waited. Still no objection. Had the fight gone out of her?

    A few days later she gave me a call. She sounded down. Almost defeated. “I’ve had trouble sleeping, lately,” she said. “I feel like I’m drowning,” she told me, “20% of my customers won’t be able to afford their meds if the government shuts down. Some of them will die. I don’t know what I can do to help. You were right. You were right the whole time. I’ll never vote Republican again.”

    My jaw hit the floor.

    I have always been convinced the majority of people are good. And that the bulk of those who support the likes of Michele Bachmann aren’t “evil,” but misinformed. Or maybe they’re just too trusting.

    We have a corporate mainstream media telling us that black is white on a daily basis. That to find the source of our problems, we need to look down and never up. How can you look up at Goldman Sachs if you’re looking down at teacher unions? How can you look up at Donald Trump if you’re looking down at someone like me?

    Someone on Medicaid.

    I have held myself back from engaging fully in this debate as my home state is at risk of crumbling around me. Why? Because I’ve been ashamed to admit that I need, and receive, help. That I have epilepsy, can’t get health insurance and that I’m on Medicaid.

    Where did this shame come from? Could it be from the same people who have convinced others that black is white and up is down? When did they convince me that I need to feel shame, as they remain shameless while destroying the world’s economy demanding their unneeded tax cuts? As they remain shameless while kicking people to the curb as they request their bail-outs? When did I start seeing the thousands my Medicaid costs as something worse than the billions the oil companies get in tax breaks every year? When did I start looking down, instead of up?

    Maybe it was around the time an oil company tax break repeal failed in the U.S. Senate, but I received a letter telling me my Medicaid was just too damn expensive in today’s economy. I, along with over 100,000 other Minnesotans, received what we simply refer to as “the letter” a few weeks ago stating that I would likely lose my health care on July 1st. It told me if I’m too sick to essentially “hold it” to go to the hospital. “The letter” told all the elderly, sick, poor and disabled to get their care at the hospital, if their care cannot wait.

    Oh yes. I’m sure that will save the tax payers of Minnesota a ton.

    And why were we directed to take our ills to the hospital or to simply hold onto them and pray that we live until the super-rich are satiated? Because the GOP in the state of Minnesota will not raise taxes on its richest citizens. They will not compromise even slightly with Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, who has already compromised significantly. And they will shut down the Minnesota Government before angering Sean Hannity.

    Their first time in a majority in 38 years and what do they do right out of the gate? Threaten to shut the whole damn thing down if they can’t remove the safety net that has done Minnesota proud for decades. Some people just want to watch the world burn. Or at least Minnesota. Did I mention the legislative arsonists are going to continue paying themselves their salary if the Government shuts down because of them? I guess welfare is okay if they think it’s … well, fair (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    If Minnesota Republicans get their way, I’ll have to cancel the appointment I have scheduled with my neurologist on the 15th of July. My July 22nd appointment with the cardiologist will also most likely have to be canceled. I’ll be paying a small fortune to buy my meds out of pocket (and why isn’t that considered a tax hike, again?), or I’ll risk my life by not taking them at all. But I would, literally, rather die than see Mark Dayton give another inch on this. I would, literally, rather die than see this new nationalized GOP (one party, under Karl Rove) get their way in my home state. The bullying ends here.

  21. Ametia says:


    A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has ruled in favor of the Obama administration, saying a key provision in the sweeping health care reform bill passed last year was constitutional.
    The “individual mandate” requiring nearly all Americans purchase health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties was challenged in federal courts by individuals and groups. The three-judge panel ruled the requirement was constitutional.

  22. Ametia says:

    BREAKING: 6th Circuit Upholds Constitutionality of Affordable Care Act | The majority writes: “We find that the minimum coverage provision is a valid exercise of legislative power by Congress under the Commerce Clause and therefore AFFIRM the decision of the district court.” Key passage:

    By regulating the practice of self-insuring for the cost of health care delivery, the minimum coverage provision is facially constitutional under the Commerce Clause for two independent reasons. First, the provision regulates economic activity that Congress had a rational basis to believe has substantial effects on interstate commerce. In

  23. Ametia says:

    June 29, 2011 5:45 PM EDT
    President Obama speaks at LGBT Pride Month reception at The White House

    I wonder if Rachel Maddow will attend…

  24. Vettte says:

    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeats Federer and moves on to the Wimbledon Semi-Finals. As the Williams Sisters “all good things must come to and end” and leave the scene HERE COMES TSONGA. Arthur Ashe move over. Federer is now 178-1 ! Looks like all good things coming to an end for Federer now too. Jo-Wilfried MUST BE from the south of France, he goes by two first names -LOL

  25. rikyrah says:

    June 29, 2011 10:00 AM

    Rove’s Crossroads won’t go unanswered

    By Steve Benen

    Late last week, Karl Rove’s attack operation, Crossroads GPS, launched an aggressive new ad campaign, targeting President Obama on the economy. Though the total price tag for the offensive is $20 million, the first wave is a $5 million ad buy in 10 states.

    Crossroads, of course, is a leading Republican Super PAC, collecting undisclosed funds for exactly these kinds of efforts. As part of the Democratic effort to level the playing field, a rival operation, Priorities USA, unveiled a response to the Rove ad overnight.

    For those who can’t watch clips online, the spot calls the Rove ad “politics at its worst,” before telling the viewer that Republicans have “opposed economic reforms at every turn,” crafted “a plan that would essentially end Medicare,” and want to “slash education while giving huge tax breaks to Big Oil and the wealthy.”

    The ad concludes, “We can’t rebuild America if they tear down the middle class.”

    It’s a good ad, but the larger point to keep in mind is that the ad exists because Dems are choosing to play by the same rules Republicans play by. I can appreciate why this is controversial for some leading progressive voices, but without Priorities USA, it’s likely the Crossroads ad would simply go unanswered right now.

    I’m of the opinion that the national discourse doesn’t benefit from these new campaign-finance rules, but the discourse also suffers when only one side follows the rules to get its message out to voters.

    That said, it will remain a huge challenge for Democrats to try to keep up. While the first wave of Rove’s ads will come from $5 million in secret donations, the new Priorities USA spot will be backed by a $750,000 buy. Crossroads’ commercial will air in 10 states; Priorities USA’s ad will run in five states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, and Virginia).

    Presumably, if Priorities USA receives a strong response and a bunch of new contributions come in, the effort can be expanded, but it’s worth remembering that even if Dems commit wholeheartedly to fight fire with fire, Republicans will almost certainly have a bigger flame-thrower.

  26. rikyrah says:

    Priorities USA Counters Karl Rove With New Ad
    Progressive Super-PAC Priorities USA is hitting the airwaves in five states in an effort counter ad buys from Karl Rove’s anonymous-money organization, Crossroads GPS.

    The ads specifically target Rove for playing “politics at its worst” and highlight the House GOP’s plan to turn Medicare into a private voucher system with stingier benefits. They’ll run in Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Colorado, all highly competitive states in 2012 that President Obama won in his first election.

  27. rikyrah says:

    Testing the talking point

    By Steve Benen

    The strategy isn’t subtle: Republicans hope that if they say President Obama made the economy “worse,” over and over again, people won’t notice they’re lying.

    But if the process works as it should, when GOP voices make the bogus claim, we’ll see political reporters pressing them, demanding an explanation as to why the Republican talking points are at odds with reality.

    We generally don’t see the media do this — facts appear to have a well known liberal bias — so I was glad to see Brian Beutler press a leading Republican senator on this.

    For clarity, I asked Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) after the Senate Republicans’ weekly press conference to explain how the economy is worse now than it was in early 2009, and whether he’d prefer to preside over that situation, or the current one.

    “We all agree that he inherited some problems, but his job was not to get in the boat and say the boat is sinking, I found the problem, there’s a hole in the boat. The solution’s not supposed to be let’s put another hole in the boat. And that’s been the effect of what he’s done. By his decisions he’s made the problem worse. Let’s take the health care mandates, and let’s be very specific. The chain restaurants of America, which are the largest employers outside the government have all said that health care costs are going to cause them to hire fewer people — he’s made the job problem worse.”

    His list went on to include financial reform, trade agreements, and debt. Republicans can argue that his policies are stifling economic growth. But the very fact of economic growth means things are not worse. But on they go, and they’re very disciplined about sticking to this line.

    Yes, if Republicans were as effective at governing as they are at message discipline, the nation would be infinitely better off.

    But since that’s not the case, and GOP officials like Lamar Alexander are content to say things that are plainly false. In his bid to be “very specific,” the Tennessean argued that health care reform undermined the job market. Not only does reality prove otherwise, but it doesn’t even make sense — more jobs were created after the Affordable Care Act than before, and much of the law hasn’t even taken effect yet. Alexander’s point is simply incoherent.

    As we talked about yesterday, this is a very straightforward exercise for Republicans, featuring just two questions for the party to answer:

    1. When Obama took office, the economy was shrinking. Now it’s growing. In what way is that “worse”?

    2. When Obama took office, the economy was hemorrhaging jobs. Now it’s gaining jobs. In what way is that “worse”?

    As best as I can tell, there are basically only three explanations. Republicans are either lying and hoping no one will notice; they doesn’t know what “worse” means; or they consider a healthier economy worse than a deep recession.

    So far, the GOP can’t answer these questions. Here’s hoping enterprising reporters keep asking them anyway.

    • Ametia says:

      THIS: “As we talked about yesterday, this is a very straightforward exercise for Republicans, featuring just two questions for the party to answer:

      1. When Obama took office, the economy was shrinking. Now it’s growing. In what way is that “worse”?

      2. When Obama took office, the economy was hemorrhaging jobs. Now it’s gaining jobs. In what way is that “worse”?

  28. rikyrah says:

    une 29, 2011 8:35 AM

    Why the blame game matters

    By Steve Benen

    At first blush, it appears the new McClatchy-Marist poll will not warm any hearts in the West Wing. While most Americans have a favorable opinion of President Obama, the public is deeply unsatisfied with the nation’s most important issue — a 58% majority disapproves of the president’s handling of the economy, and only 37% approve. It’s the worst rating of Obama’s presidency to date.

    And yet, the same McClatchy-Marist poll shows the president leading all of his Republican challengers in hypothetical match-ups. Why? It may have something to do with the fact that as frustrated as Americans are, they’re not blaming Obama for the mess.

    There were glimmers of hope for Obama in the poll. Fifty percent of voters said they had favorable impressions of him, while 44 percent didn’t, and by 2-1 Americans said that today’s economic conditions mostly were something the president inherited rather than the result of his own policies. […]

    [V]oters don’t necessarily blame him for the economy. Sixty-one percent said he mostly inherited the economic conditions, including 30 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of independents. The recession began in December 2007, when George W. Bush was president.

    The results are pretty similar to an NBC/WSJ poll released two weeks ago, which showed a fairly small number of Americans holding Obama responsible for “the country’s current economic conditions,” and actually blaming George W. Bush in much larger numbers.

    Indeed, that poll asked, “When you think about the current economic conditions, do you feel that this is a situation that Barack Obama has inherited or is this a situation his policies are mostly responsible for?” A large 62% majority said he inherited the mess — roughly identical to the new McClatchy-Marist results.

    This is no doubt one of the driving factors behind the “he made it worse” push from leading Republicans. The GOP knows Americans don’t blame Obama for the weak economy, so the party has to convince voters they were actually better off during the 2008 crash — an insane idea that’s easily disproven.

    The larger point is, people are frustrated and pessimistic, but they don’t necessarily see President Obama as the culprit. Whether this keeps up remains to be seen, but the public’s attitude on this issue will be critical in deciding the 2012 election.

  29. Le Chele says:

    How about the politics of natural hair?? Check out Oprah’s hairstylist and his comments on “kinky” hair.

  30. Ametia says:

    Alaska poll says Obama would beat Palin in her home state
    By Sean Cockerham
    Anchorage Daily News
    June 29, 2011

    ANCHORAGE — A new Hays Research poll shows Barack Obama would beat Sarah Palin among Alaskans if the presidential election was today.

    The poll found 42 percent of Alaskan voters would pick or are learning toward Obama in a head to head race against Palin for the presidency, while 36 percent of the voters would choose or are leaning toward Palin over him.

    Conservative Anchorage radio host Mike Porcaro paid for Hays Research to ask the question.

    “Sarah Palin showcases her Alaska roots at every opportunity, but the surprising reality is she has become highly unpopular in her home state,” Porcaro said in an emailed statement.

    “Whether it is the fact she left office after serving barely two years or that some Alaskans believe her tax policies have punished our vital oil and gas industry or the ‘rock star’ nature of her media coverage, these results show Sarah Palin would lose to Obama in Alaska, where voters overwhelmingly support conservative candidates,” Porcaro said.

    Porcaro hosts an afternoon show on KENI AM and owns an Anchorage advertising agency.

    Hays Research of Anchorage polled 500 Alaskans statewide who voted in at least two of the four statewide elections. The poll was on June 21st and June 22nd.

    It asked:

    “Although it is some time from now, thinking about the election for President of the United States next year, if the election were held today and the candidates were Democrat Barack Obama or Republican Sarah Palin, for whom would you vote or are you undecided?”

    Respondents who had “strong” views favored Obama 34 percent to Palin’s 25 percent

    Read more:

  31. Ametia says:

    Tropical Storm Arlene forms in Gulf
    :21 a.m. CDT, June 29, 2011

    Tropical Storm Arlene, the first named storm of the 2011 hurricane season, has formed in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico.

    At 5 a.m. Wednesday, the center of Tropical Storm Arlene was located about 190 miles east of Tampico, Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Arlene is moving west-northwest at 8 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph, with higher gusts. Some strengthening is forecast, the Weather Service predicted.
    Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 115 miles, mainly to the northeast of the center.

    A turn toward the west is forecast during the next day or so, and the center of Arlene is expected to reach the Mexican coast by Thursday. The Mexican government has issued a tropical storm warning for the coast of northeastern Mexico from Barra de Nautla north to Bahia Algodones, the Weather Service said.

    Arline is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 4 to 8 inches over the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Veracruz, with some totals in mountain areas reaching 12 inches.

    The storm surge is expected to raise water levels by 1 to 2 feet above normal.,0,157687.story

  32. Ametia says:

    Top Bush Health Officials Are Profiting From Obamacare
    By Igor Volsky on Jun 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    A funny thing is happening between the two Republicans who ran the Department of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush and did so little to expand access to health insurance: they’re now both supporting President Obama’s health care exchanges — the new market places that will allow Americans to easily compare and purchase health insurance in 2014.
    Bush’s first HHS chief — former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson — has written an editorial for the Huffington Post urging Republican governors to adopt exchanges, and Mike Leavitt, his successor under the Bush administration, recently told Kaiser Health News that “even if the courts or Republicans succeed at unraveling the law, companies and states are likely to keep moving ahead with exchanges.”
    So what’s driving this new-found love for what some have described as the most important part of Obamacare? Well as KHN notes, Leavitt’s consulting firm, Leavitt Partners, is heavily invested in the law’s exchanges. It “has been advising companies and state legislatures on how to create exchanges” and even hired two former government officials who helped build the Utah exchange soon after the federal health law passed.” Thompson’s connection is less direct, but as a partner for Akin/Gump, he “focuses on developing solutions for clients in the health care industry, as well as for companies doing business in the public sector.” His clients potentially include America’s Health Insurance Plans — the powerful health insurance lobby — Aetna, and other sectors of the health care industry that may stand to benefit from the very exchange structure he’s advocating.
    As Politico’s Sarah Kliff notes, “for health consultants and information technology vendors, it’s already shaping up to be a gold mine“:

  33. Ametia says:

    SG2, here you go! Fresh brewed; elp yourself.

  34. Ametia says:

    This bitch is BATSHYT CRAZY. Really, folks, there are a few SANE folks left in Minnesota. LOL

  35. Ametia says:

    Breaking News Alert: Greek parliament approves austerity plan
    June 29, 2011 9:31:40 AM

    The Greek parliament on Wednesday approved a controversial package of tax hikes and spending cuts, clearing the way for $17 billion in international emergency loans needed to stave off a possible default.

    The party-line vote gives Prime Minister George Papandreou a critical victory in the midst of crisis talks with other European leaders and the International Monetary Fund.

  36. Ametia says:

  37. rikyrah says:

    June 29, 2011 9:15 AM

    No recess for you

    By Steve Benen

    The 4th of July holiday is quickly approaching, and members of Congress will be heading home. The House has already shut down for the week.

    There will not, however, be a congressional recess.

    President Barack Obama won’t be able to make any recess appointments next week because GOP maneuvering has blocked the Senate from adjourning over the Fourth of July break.

    Under the Constitution, each house of Congress must approve of the other adjourning for more than three days at a time. The House, controlled by Republicans, left town last week without approving an adjournment resolution for the Senate’s holiday recess next week. That means the Senate will have to convene a series of “pro forma” sessions, which are lightning-quick, gavel-in, gavel-out sessions so the chamber can say it’s technically not in adjournment.

    With a backlog of nominations and fearful that Obama will name Elizabeth Warren to head a new consumer agency, Republicans are in no mood to give Obama an opportunity to make recess appointments, and Senate Republicans employed a similar maneuver during the Memorial Day break.

    It wasn’t unusual for Senate Democrats told convene pro-forma sessions in the final two years of the Bush presidency, but Dems were in the majority at the time.

    Also note, congressional Republicans are determined to prevent President Obama from being able to exercise this power for the indefinite future, regardless of the seriousness of the vacancies or the extent of the Senate GOP’s obstructionism.

    The White House has been under a fair amount of pressure from the left lately to use the recess to make key appointments. It’s unclear whether the West Wing is inclined to use the president’s prerogative or not, but so long as these Republican tactics continue, it’s a moot point — Obama can’t make recess appointments if there’s no recess.

  38. rikyrah says:

    June 29, 2011 8:00 AM

    When the GOP meets a tax cut it doesn’t like

    By Steve Benen

    It’s generally considered one of those truths that’s so obvious, it’s simply taken as a given: Republicans love tax cuts. They especially love business tax cuts. What could possibly make GOP leaders oppose one of their own tax-cutting ideas?

    President Obama’s support.

    As part of the debt-reduction talks, Democrats, who haven’t lost sight of the struggling economy, desperately want to include some measures in the compromise that might give the economy a short-term boost. Knowing that Republicans won’t even consider public investment of any kind, Dems have been reduced to seeking a simple payroll tax cut, an idea the GOP has long championed. It’s not the most effective idea — Republicans adamantly reject the most effective policies — but it’d be better than nothing.

    We talked two weeks ago about the GOP moving against their own proposal. Brian Beutler reports this morning that Republican opposition to a business tax cut appears to be intensifying.

    Here’s how Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) — until recently the principle GOP negotiator in the debt fight — explained his newfound opposition to the idea.

    “My view generally is that if you can leave more money in the private sector it’ll be easier for a recovery to occur,” he said. “Now — if you — there’s been talk about matching the one that was given to employees with one for employers, that would leave more money for the employer to hire and invest. So it could well help businesses be in a financial position to hire more people and begin to expand. The problem is that a payroll tax is supposed to fund couple of our entitlement programs, and since it wouldn’t be able to do that we’d have to get that money from general revenues, so that puts more pressure on general revenues and makes it more difficult for all the other things we’re trying to fund. So, the answer to your question is yes it might help business, but I’m not sure that its overall impact might not be as positive as we think given the pressures on all the other programs that rely on general revenues.”

    To summarize, Jon Kyl, the second highest ranking Republican in the Senate, believes a payroll tax cut, which he’s long supported, might help create jobs. But he’s against it anyway because he now thinks the Republican idea would be too expensive.

    A year ago, this same Jon Kyl proudly proclaimed, “You do need to offset the cost of increased spending, and that’s what Republicans object to. But you should never have to offset cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans.” In other words, as far as Kyl’s concerned, policymakers shouldn’t even try to pay for tax cuts.

    Kyl has apparently changed his mind, now that Obama wants the same tax break for businesses that Republicans have supported for years.

    When we talk about the GOP’s seemingly inexplicable motivations, Kyl’s shift becomes that much more important. Republicans are actively opposed to any ideas, even their own, that might help give the economy a boost. They are, however, equally enthused in support of ideas that are likely to hold the economy back.

    I wonder why that is.

    • Ametia says:

      We can talk about debt ceilings, tax breaks, tax cuts, spending cuts, medicare, social security till the cows come home


  39. 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.

  40. rikyrah says:

    June 29, 2011
    Palin’s come-hither tease
    Let’s see. Sarah Palin has hired no political staff, to speak of. She timed her recent bus tour only to eclipse publicity of the Palin-skewering Blind Allegiance, or so the patently serendipitous timing would seem. Her favorability numbers within the GOP are diving, or have done dove. The conservative wagons are beginning to circle around establishment Romney and tea-partying Bachmann. Conspicuously Palin has made no attempts to familiarize herself with, uh, the issues? Like Mike Huckabee, she has retained her contract with Fox News, while genuine candidates were chased from the network. She was indifferent to governing when she governed, and she couldn’t wait to cancel that contract. She is making loads of money.

    Now Fergus Cullen, a former New Hampshire GOP chairman, tells Politico:

    I’ve become convinced that there is no grand strategy behind Palin’s activity. There is no rhyme. There is no reason. The only common theme to her schedule of activities, statements and appearances is her seemingly unending ability to attract media coverage.

    So, what does Politico conclude about the odds of a Palin presidential run?

    [T]he mystery continues.

    The media can’t do it. They, like a cuckolded husband, just can’t bring themselves to acknowledge the distressing reality that the easy woman of their sensationalist dreams is playing them for a fool. She only has to bat her lashes and flash an immodest come-hither look and back they race, swooning and speculating that she’s theirs, all theirs, faithfully, once again.

  41. rikyrah says:

    Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 08:15 PM PDT.

    New Details Revealed in Wisconsin Supreme Court Choking Incident+*
    by Giles Goat BoY

    Both the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are reporting in their online editions that Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney has, in essence, recused himself from the investigation of an alleged attack by one Wisconsin Supreme Court justice against another.

    The Journal-Sentinel is also reporting more details of the choking incident, including a report that the alleged victim, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, suggested that the alleged attacker, Justice David Prosser, attend an anger management seminar. She made the suggestion on June 15, two days after the incident.

    According to the Journal Sentinel:

    About 6 p.m. on June 13, Prosser and the others walked together to Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson’s office. She wasn’t there, so they went to Bradley’s office, where Abrahamson and Bradley were.
    The encounter quickly grew heated and did not last long – perhaps 10 minutes in all.

    Bradley’s chambers consist of three connected offices. Bradley and Abrahamson were in the office where Bradley herself works. The others were in a connecting room, with at least some of them positioned in the entryway into Bradley’s office.

    They argued about when the decision would be released and their frustrations over what the majority considered delays.

    Bradley asked Prosser to leave, but he did not and the justices continued to argue….

    …Bradley got close to Prosser and again demanded that he leave, with some sources saying she charged at him with her fists raised.

    It is here that accounts differ most significantly, with some saying Prosser put his hands around Bradley’s neck and others saying Prosser touched her after raising his hands in defense or to push her back.

    Bradley yelled for Prosser to get his hands off her neck or that she was being choked, sources said.

    The incident is being investigated independently by both the Wisconsin Judicial Commission and by the Dane County Sheriff’s office. Sheriff Dave Mahoney said on Tuesday that he had assigned the investigation to a deputy and that he would not be personally involved in any way.

    Both the Wisconsin State Journal and the Journal Sentinel implied that the sheriff distanced himself only after it was noted by the papers earlier in the day that Mahoney had endorsed Prosser’s opponent in the recent Supreme Court election. Some right-wing bloggers had suggested that Mahoney, a Democrat, would be biased in the investigation, but it was almost comical that his endorsement earlier this spring of Joanne Kloppenburg was portrayed today as a revelation. It was a public endorsement.

    The choking incident was originally investigated by Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs (I “met” Chief Tubbs in the antechamber of the Wisconsin Assembly on March 10th. He politely asked me to leave. When I politely refused, two state troopers impolitely dragged me out while I sang “Solidarity Forever”. Smart guy – very good at using psychology to get what he wants. Didn’t work that day, though.) Tubbs referred the investigation to the Sheriff’s office after consulting with members of the Supreme Court, according to the State Journal.

    Prosser has reportedly not ruled out hiring an attorney. Attorney or no, his strategy of having anonymous allies cloud the investigation with last-minute allegations against Bradley appears to be working. Many observers are now predicting that the investigation will dissolve into a he-said/she-said dispute and that no charges will be filed against Prosser (or against Bradley, who is apparently being accused of attacking Prosser by thrusting her neck into his open hands.)

    There is no dispute that Prosser earlier this year called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a “total bitch” and threatened that he would “destroy her.” Prosser has admitted that. But hey, who needs anger management training? Doesn’t everyone call his or her a boss a total bitch to her face and threaten to destroy her? All in a day’s work, right?

  42. rikyrah says:

    R&B diva LaBelle files countersuit in beating case

    The Associated Press

    HOUSTON — Veteran R&B diva Patti LaBelle says in a countersuit filed against a West Point cadet who claims she ordered her bodyguards to beat him up outside a Houston airport terminal that the altercation began after the cadet hurled racial insults at her.

    But an attorney for the cadet, Richard King, denied his client ever said any racial slurs to LaBelle.

    King’s attorneys say he was waiting to be picked up by family outside one of the terminals at Bush Intercontinental Airport on March 11 when three of LaBelle’s bodyguards attacked him without provocation.

    King, who was in his hometown of Houston while on spring break from West Point, filed his lawsuit earlier this month, naming LaBelle, the three bodyguards, one of whom is the singer’s son, and two others as defendants.

    King’s lawyers say the alleged attacked resulted in a concussion and lingering dizziness and headaches for the cadet. A surveillance video from the airport that was previously released by King’s attorneys shows the 23-year-old cadet being pushed and punched by two men and a woman, all alleged to be LaBelle’s bodyguards.

    LaBelle filed a countersuit last week, accusing the cadet of attacking her bodyguards after he directed profane and racial slurs toward the singer.

    In the countersuit, LaBelle’s lawyers accuse King of being intoxicated, staggering around outside the terminal, screaming obscenities and trying to enter the singer’s limousine. King was politely asked to walk away from the vehicle, according to the countersuit. King’s attorneys have said the cadet had a few drinks on the flight to Houston but denied he was intoxicated.

    “King directed profane and racial slurs towards LaBelle. When LaBelle’s son (Zuri Edwards) heard the profanity and racial epithets, he informed King that the woman in the limousine was his mother,” the suit said. “Without warning or provocation, King violently and deliberately punched Edwards in the face.”

    The surveillance video, which has no audio, shows King talking on a cell phone when one of LaBelle’s bodyguards appeared to push up against him. It appeared that King then pushed him back. King’s attorneys have said King did not push back but was protecting himself from a punch.

    The bodyguards told Houston police King attacked them.

    King’s attorney, John Raley, said LaBelle’s claim that the cadet hurled racial slurs at her is part of her “attack” on “an innocent man by telling the same false story they told the police.”

  43. rikyrah says:

    PGCPS Student Receives More Than $1 Million in Scholarships
    June 8, 2011For Immediate Release

    Nevasha Noble, graduating senior from Central High School, has received more than $1 million in scholarships from various colleges and universities. Noble, an International Baccalaureate student, will earn her high school diploma on June 9 at the Show Place Arena, joining more than 240 students of Central High School’s graduating class of 2011.

    “I am extremely proud of Ms. Noble,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Jr., Superintendent of Schools. “She is the perfect example of high student achievement, and is equipped with the knowledge, skills, and resources for higher education.”

    With many college choices to choose from, Noble has decided to attend New York University on a full 5-year scholarship where she will major in Biology and Chemical Biomolecular Engineering and minor in Spanish and Portuguese.

    “I am very excited and happy for all that I have accomplished,” said Noble. “The hardest thing for me in applying for all of these scholarships was to write about myself.”

    Noble has earned a 4.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) or higher throughout her entire high school academic career. She is ranked fourth in her class, and has served as editor and chief of the Science Newsletter; president, Spanish Club; vice president, National Honor Society; president, Science Club; member, National Society of Black Engineers; vice president, Student Government Association, and member, Mock Trial.

    Outside of school, Noble is a counselor with the AnBryce Foundation whose mission is to provide multiple settings for underserved youth to become confident thinkers that stimulate the curiosity of learning and the discovery of self. Noble facilitates workshops and mentors elementary and middle school students through this program. She is also the first AnBryce scholar to receive a full scholarship to New York University.

    Not only has Noble excelled as a high achieving student, she is also an entrepreneur. She is the president and founder of Handling with Care, an organization that supports homeless youth. She has created and developed a student-led organization that mobilizes schools, churches, and organizations to collect food and clothing for homeless youth raising more than $9,000 to help provide supplies to homeless individuals, shelters, and foster homes. While a student at New York University, Noble plans to continue her business efforts as she expands her organization.

    As part of the Step-Up High School Summer Internship Research Program, Noble has conducted biomedical research on depression in Arab-Americans at the National Institute of Health, as well as research on depression in minority groups at the MedStar Health Research Institute.

  44. rikyrah says:

    WI Supreme Court “choking” case could be decided by… the WI Supreme Court
    Posted on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 by GottaLaff
    As I posted earlier, here’s the latest on the investigation into the Prosser “choking” scandal:

    Two investigations have been opened into an altercation involving two Supreme Court justices.

    The Dane Co. Sheriff’s office will handle one probe into June 13 physical contact between Justices David Prosser (left0 and Ann Walsh Bradley, and the Judicial Commission confirmed it’s also looking into allegations of “an incident that occurred at the Wisconsin Supreme Court.”

    If you don’t know the backstory, here is a quote from Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, in part, via JSOnline::

    “The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he [Justice David Prosser] put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold… Those are the facts and you can try to spin those facts and try to make it sound like I ran up to him and threw my neck into his hands, but that’s only spin… I’m confident the appropriate authorities will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident involving abusive behavior in the workplace.”

    That altercation took place during the Gov. Scott Walker anti-union, anti-collective bargaining, anti-worker, anti-middle class legislation battle, and the subsequent decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Walker’s favor.

    Of course, it goes without saying that only the finest legal minds will ultimately determine the outcome of this astonishing and violent conflict, and only in the fairest, most responsible and objective manner.

    Or not.

    Via TPM:

    Commission spokesman James Alexander explained that the commission itself does not mete out judicial discipline. “The commission is just an investigatory and prosecutorial agency,” Alexander explained. “It can’t make findings of fact and law. We have to try our cases like anyone else.”

    Instead, in cases of alleged misconduct by a judge, the commission’s attorneys try a case before a three-judge panel, selected by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. “They make findings of fact, and conclusions of law,” said Alexander, “and make recommendations to the Supreme Court.”

    It is then the Supreme Court that makes the final decision. […]

    TPM asked Alexander whether in a case of alleged attack by one judge against another judge, would both judges be required to recuse themselves. Alexander declined to comment.

  45. rikyrah says:

    Browse: Home / International News, White House / Analysis: Mrs. Obama hits her stride as first lady
    Analysis: Mrs. Obama hits her stride as first lady
    By The Admin on June 28, 2011

    After more than two years as America’s first lady, Michelle Obama won’t say she’s hit her stride.

    Her performance on a good will mission to Africa, including an emotionally rousing speech about youth leadership and a packed itinerary that rivaled her husband’s traveling schedules, said otherwise.

    On her second overseas business trip without the president, and to the black motherland, America’s first black first lady was warmly received everywhere she went, often with song and to the point of almost being moved to tears.

    She spoke passionately about her causes, tickled and danced with some of the youngest Africans, and sat with presidents and first ladies, including Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s former president and a hero of the anti-apartheid movement.

    She held 20 public events in five days, landed on newspaper front pages and was fashionably dressed, as usual, including outfits with an African connection.

    In between all that, Mrs. Obama squeezed in dinner with gal-pal Oprah Winfrey, who was in South Africa for unrelated business.

    It was the first lady’s biggest moment on the world stage.

    She was reluctant to grade herself, telling reporters that it embarrasses her to “talk about my stride and being on my game.” But she does realize her power as first lady and says it’s a time-stamped opportunity that she doesn’t want to waste.

    “I have the advantage of really being able to set my own agenda and not having to deal with the day-to-day challenges that … just keep coming at you,” she said, speaking of President Barack Obama. “That’s a privilege and there is real opportunity there.”

    Her signature issue — both in the states and around the world — is encouraging young people to become the next generation of leaders and problem-solvers. It’s a major reason why she spent a week visiting the model democracies of South Africa and Botswana, her first visits to those countries. In Africa alone, nearly two-thirds of its population is younger than 25.

    Mrs. Obama also promoted education and uses the story of her upbringing by working-class parents in Chicago to inspire high school students to dream big.

    She lately has taken to arranging for groups of students, particularly those who aren’t from the best backgrounds but who have shown academic promise, to spend a day at a top university. She held such as session at the University of Cape Town for 50 South African high school students, following up on one last month at the University of Oxford in London.

    “I want to make sure that you all see the promise in yourselves,” the first lady told the youngsters. “It’s so clear to me and so many others. The challenge is to make sure you see it in yourselves.”

    Mrs. Obama’s message resonated with women in Africa.

    “She gives hope not just to women of color, but to women everywhere,” said Kiri Maponya, a member of one of Soweto’s leading families who now lives in the U.S. The first lady spent Wednesday in Soweto, a black township in Johannesburg that was at the center of the uprisings against apartheid, the now-abolished system of racial separation.

    Before the youth leadership speech, Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, gave Mrs. Obama a rousing introduction that nearly moved the first lady to tears.

    “We welcome you as a daughter of African heritage and we can call you the queen of our world,” Machel said.

    Mrs. Obama said she doesn’t understand why some things, such as that speech, go really well, and why other things just go OK.

    “I just want to be useful,” she said.

    There’s no question that she is useful and will continue to be because, as she often says, there is much more work to do.

    For one thing, the presidential campaign season is revving up in the U.S. and her husband wants another four years in office. While also shies away from the idea that she’s the president’s “secret weapon,” as she came to be known during the 2008 campaign, Mrs. Obama is helping him raise money this coming week at three fundraisers in Boston and Burlington, Vt.

    Darlene Superville, AP

  46. rikyrah says:

    LOVE the series on Bessie Smith

  47. Ametia says:

    BUSINESSJUNE 29, 2011.
    BofA Nears Huge Settlement
    $8.5 Billion Payment to Investors in Mortgage Securities Would Be Biggest Yet

    Bank of America Corp. on Wednesday announced an agreement to pay $8.5 billion to settle claims by a group of high-profile investors who lost money on mortgage-backed securities purchased before the U.S. housing collapse.

    The payment would be the largest such settlement by a financial-services firm to date, exceeding the total profits of the Charlotte, N.C., bank since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. Bank of America’s board approved the settlement during a meeting Tuesday to discuss the matter, one of these people said.

    The bank also plans to release preliminary 2nd-quarter earnings on Wednesday, people familiar with …

  48. Ametia says:

    Happy Hump Day, Everyone! :-)

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